FAIRBANKS — Babies have a thing for Feeding Frenzy.
“If we play in the street, we always seem to attract babies and toddlers,” said Rebecca File, a vocalist and bassist for the Fairbanks-based bluegrass band. “We’re very popular with babies and their mothers.”
They’re not just popular with moms and their offspring, but also with Alaska. The band is hoping to spread that popularity a little more with the official release tonight of their second album, the self-titled “Feeding Frenzy,” and a tour later this summer that’s taking them to the Dawson City Music Festival and across the western states of the Lower 48. It’s a big move for the band that put out its first album (“Positive Vandalism”) three years ago, which helped put them on the Alaska bluegrass map.
“We did a three-week tour in the Pacific Northwest three years ago,” File said. “This is our first real big, long-haul tour. Now we’re touring in a refurbished short bus with a bed and a loft and a sink. It’s a lot like dry cabin living. We feel right at home.”
You can’t get much more Alaskan than that.
Feeding Frenzy officially formed about four years ago when bandmate Ryan Bateman approached File at a party and casually asked her if she wanted to be in a band. Her response? “I was like, yeah, sure, whatever,” she said. The rest is a classic bandmates-meet-each-other-at-college type story with the group growing to include Bateman, File, Daniel Firmin, Ephy Wheeler and Chad File. They started meeting and playing gigs around Fairbanks, notably at The Marlin, the home to many Fairbanks musicians.
“We’ve played The Marlin more than anywhere else,” File said. “The Marlin is kind of a counterculture icon. People have a vested interest in it.”
It’s at The Marlin tonight where the band is releasing “Feeding Frenzy,” the product of a collaborative effort with each member pitching in with lyrics and music. The group worked on the album for about five months with the bulk of the recording happening over one weekend at a friend’s log house near Wasilla.
“Even lots of really popular folk bands, you’ll see them going to a cabin in the Catskills or somewhere to get detached. It’s kind of funny in that there’s this impression that folk musicians have to get back to nature,” Bateman, who plays banjo, said. “It’s good to be aware of the tropes of the genre and not play into them too much. That being said, we’ve all been friends for a really long time and it’s enjoyable. It’s a fun time to go through that process with them and do the recording. They’re my best friends, and it’s an easy thing to work with them.”
Feeding Frenzy spent last week in Anchorage playing the Taproot and several private house shows, as well as a music festival in Alaska’s largest city before returning home this week. They performed at the Howling Dog Saloon in Fox on Thursday before heading to The Marlin for tonight’s official release concert.
In those four years since the band formed and the three since the first album, their name has spread among bluegrass and folk music circles in Alaska. They’re counting on that when they hit the Lower 48 later this summer.
“Our fan base is pretty good,” File said. “We’re always surprised when we go out of town and people have heard of us and are singing our songs. It’s a little strange and awesome at the same time.”
Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/FDNMfeatures.
If You Go
What: Feeding Frenzy performance and album release party
When: 10 p.m. tonight, Friday, July 11
Where: The Marlin, 3412 College Road
Cost: $5 cover. Ages 21 and up.
Daniel Firmin — vocals, guitar
Ryan Bateman — vocals, banjo
Rebecca File — vocals, bass, melodica
Ephy Wheeler — cello, violin
Chad File — percussion
Today — Pioneer Park performance
Tonight — The Marlin
July 10 — Ivory Jacks
July 11 — Denali Salmon Bake
July 12 — Angry, Young and Poor during the day, The Marlin that evening
July 18-20 — Dawson City Music Festival