Five Questions With… Craig Fahner of Feel Alright
It has been seven years between albums for Feel Alright, longtime favourites of the Calgary alt-rock scene. The group's mastermind explains the delay here and reveals he's itching to get back onstage.
By Jason Schneider
Longtime favourites of the Calgary alt-rock scene Feel Alright are back after a seven-year absence with their sophomore album entitled In Bad Faith, set for release on May 18 through Toronto-based Pleasence Records.
As evidenced by the album’s sparkling first focus track “Truth About Us,” Feel Alright mastermind Craig Fahner continues to mine his classic power pop influences (Big Star, Wings), with a healthy dose of ‘90s Halifax vibes ever-present as well. Fahner’s innate melodic sensibilities have been a leading reason why Feel Alright has maintained its status despite periods of inactivity. The band is geared up to re-establish ties to eastern Canada with dates in June.
Feel Alright began in 2011 as Fahner’s recording project but soon evolved into a collaborative live band that bounced around between Pittsburgh and Montreal before settling in Calgary. Their fuzzy garage pop was first heard on their full-length debut, Hahahahahaha, which was followed by a couple of singles.
In Bad Faith is a long-overdue return, with hopefully more to come in the not too distant future. For more info go here.
In Bad Faith is the follow up to your debut album, which came out in 2011. What happened in between?
Lots and lots of changes! I got my MFA in Pittsburgh in 2013, after which I moved back to Calgary and started putting together the home studio where I eventually recorded the album. In the midst of recording lots of other Calgary bands like Empty Heads, Knots and PMMA, and working on my art practice, I was writing material for this record, and gradually recording it with some of my favourite musicians.
What are the most significant changes to your sound on the new record?
The pace that the album was written and recorded in comes through a lot, in comparison to the slapdash and spontaneous process for the first record. The songs are a bit more developed and varied, and the recordings got an upgrade from lo-fi to mid-fi.
What songs on In Bad Faith are you particularly proud of?
I spent about a year tinkering with writing “Sweet Surrender” before I recorded it all in one sitting. It wound up being the song I'm most connected to on the record. I think it's the most “me,” flubs and all.
I'm also really proud of “A Lengthy End to a Bullfight.” When I was writing it, I was really afraid I was knocking off the riff from “Sister Golden Hair” by America. I was really glad that I wasn't, but I'd like to think it's almost as catchy.
How has the band evolved live and what are your touring plans?
The live band has gone through a lot of changes as people have moved around the continent, with active members in both Calgary and Toronto. We're planning a handful of shows in Ontario and Quebec in June—Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal—before coming back to Calgary to play the Sled Island Festival. I’m looking forward to getting out on the road again.
If you could fix anything about the music business, what would it be?
Living a dual life as a musician and visual artist, I've come to appreciate that many arts institutions operate by CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des Artistes Canadiens) guidelines, which ensure that artists are remunerated equitably for their labour. I would be interested to see more venues and festivals running by similar standards.