There may be a lot of artists currently exploring Americana and the idea of the Great American Wanderer, but Blessed Feathers may have an edge, when it comes to authenticity. Although Philthy Mag first introduced the band to you this March, in case you’ve forgotten, Blessed Feathers are Donivan Berube and Jacquelyn Beaupre, musical and real-life partners, who first got together in 2009. Although they first made a name for themselves in Wisconsin, they are currently homeless and travelling the country. I first met them earlier this year when they were on tour with Mount Moriah and had a local stop at Johnny Brenda’s. The band has put out a small handful of short releases, but their first full-length drops this Tuesday, November 5th. They recorded the album in the Catskills of upstate New York, with Kevin McMahon, who was responsible for their Peaceful Beasts in an Ocean of Weeds EP. The album is called Order of the Arrow. And while their earlier sounds have generally drawn comparisons to American musical traditions, in a recent chat with the band, they tell me that the inspirations behind Order of the Arrow primarily come from outside our lands.
Izzy Cihak: So you’re about to release a new LP. In addition to working on that, what have the two of you most significantly been up to since we hung out in Philly/Philthy earlier this year?
Donivan Berube: Hi, Izzy! So glad to hear from you again. The morning after seeing you at Johnny Brenda’s, we got to check out “Old City” in Philly. Is that what you call it? We loved it. Jacquelyn sent her mom some postcards from the Ben Franklin Post Office.
After finishing off the remainder of our tour, we went back to the Catskills to record the new album. That was the first two weeks of April. Then we had a week at home in Wisconsin before heading west to start our National Park tour. We’re still on that trip, even now in the fall. I’m writing you from our tent on the Gulf of Mexico. There are tree frogs everywhere. And armadillos.
IC: How has living out of a car been? I hope DC didn’t screw you again [Their van got broken into on their first trip there.]… I try to stick up for the city, but can only do so much…
DB: No, luckily DC didn’t screw us again! The show sold out and we had a great time. It’s been strange to not have a home, but it’s been a remarkable and untamed year of traveling.
IC: For the matter, what have been your highlights of 2013?
Jacquelyn Beaupre: The color of the sand in Pensacola. The deserts of Joshua Tree. The untouchable beaches of Big Sur. The massive Redwoods of California. Sitting in a hot spring, southeast of Portland. Every day is new.
IC: How would you compare Order of the Arrow to previous releases, both in terms of sound and the process of writing and recording it?
JB: This was the second time we recorded there with Kevin, so in a way we were a lot more comfortable and familiar with the process. But this trip was also planned on the fly, as we didn’t know we were heading into the studio until we were halfway through that tour.
DB: In terms of songwriting, it was done the same way we’ve always made albums: demo for a year…pick the best ones. But a few of the songs that had already been demo’d, were sort of fleshed out during that tour: “Salvation Army,” “Everyone I Love Is You,” and “Wide World,” in particular.”
IC: What would you consider to be the album’s biggest influences?
DB: The only music I’ve bought in the last year or two has been 60’s and 70’s African or South American funk and blues. A lot of those polyrhythms and intricate strum patterns made their way into all the instrumentation on the new album.
IC: What are your most significant hopes and plans for 2014?
JB: I hope that the car keeps running, so that we can continue traveling and touring and meeting new people all over the country. I’ll keep writing music and hope to get better at it and feel inspired by it.
DB: I’ll be in Peru from just after the New Year through the end of February. Winter here is summer there. That’s the extent of my hopes and dreams right now.