Last month, the Wild Feathers wrapped up a six-week headlining tour with Desert Noises and the Apache Relay, all three bands descending upon New York City's Irving Plaza in a cloud of guitar chords, stacked harmonies and… hidden bananas? "That was a crazy night," remembers Ricky Young, one of the Wild Feathers' three frontmen. "It was the final night of a tour with two great bands. We'd gotten extremely close with them, playing music together and sharing the grind of a month-and-a-half on the road in some really cold cities. It was a bittersweet moment, to know we were all leaving the next day." Photographer Nicole Fara Silver was on hand, capturing the highlights — onstage and off — of the November 21st show.
Joel King stands in front of the band's trailer, which has logged tens of thousands of miles since the Wild Feathers released their self-titled debut in 2013. "We did 230 dates last year, and about 100 this year," bandmate Ricky Young says. "Touring is a big part of who we are. Nothing was handed to us; we had to play shows and chase it down, slowly but surely."
"This was our first time having a bus on tour," explains Young, pictured here taking a break before the show. "It was football season, so we got to watch a lot of games. When it comes to teams, the band is totally split. Joel and I are Titans fans, which is an unfortunate thing right now. Taylor and Preston are Cowboys fans. And Ben is just obsessed with the Georgia Bulldogs."
"Touring with a bus was rad," adds Taylor Burns, "but I definitely took the least amount of showers on this tour as I have on any other."
Here, Taylor Burns restrings the Gibson ES-335 semi-hollow electric guitar he bought in 2007, the same year he moved to Austin, Texas. "Dude, I have too many guitars," he admits. "That's my 335. It's from 2007, and I just can't seem to put her down. The action is solid. I do tend to break a lot of strings, so I change them before every few shows."
Although the band tried to eat well during the tour, they also found alternate purposes for some of the food items that regularly crossed their plates. "The whole 'banana thing' started with Kellen and Brett from Apache Relay," says Young, who — along with Preston Wimberly (pictured here) — purchased $7 worth of prank-worthy bananas before the Irving Plaza show. "They started secretly putting bananas in weird places, like our pedal boards and suitcases and under the pillows in our bunks. So we starting doing it, too. It got completely out of control."
Here, Preston Wimberly hides a banana in the Apache Relay's dressing room. Some bananas were so expertly tucked away that that weren't discovered until weeks later. "After the tour, I heard from Kellen that he found a random banana that he never knew was there, and it was completely rotten and disgusting," Young says. "The things that you do on tour to entertain yourselves."
"Backstage can be a good hang," admits Ricky Young, shown here with Ben Jarvis, Taylor Burns and Jarvis' girlfriend, Claudia. "We try to take it easy and hang out and pool that energy into something we can use onstage. There's always a lot of hurrying up and waiting, too — that never fails. But you have to remind yourself it's a pretty damn good job. I've had way worse."
The Wild Feathers' guitar rack is extensive. "There's three guitar players in the band, so even if everybody just had one guitar each, plus a backup, that's a lot of instruments already," says Ricky Young, who plays a Gibson Southern Jumbo onstage. "Then sometimes, you're out on the road and you're going to all these great guitar stores, and you wind up saying, 'Dammit, I just bought another one.' And then that winds up on the rack, too."
Here, the Wild Feathers rush the stage during Desert Noises' opening set. "There's a camaraderie on the road," Young explains. "It's this feeling of 'We're all in this together.' It can get lonely when you're constantly gone and working nonstop and lacking sleep. We kind of lean on each other to make the best out of it. It's like summer camp. You become super-close in a matter of weeks, then it's over and you say, 'Shit, I hope I see you at ACL or Bonnaroo.' It's a strange world."
"Some of the markets we've hit four or five times on this record, so I was nervous about coming back and saturating them without releasing anything new," admits Taylor Burns. "But we stepped it up, as far as venue size, and it was good to see the crowds still growing."
The Wild Feathers are currently enjoying their first big break from touring in nearly three years… but that doesn't mean they've stopped working. "We're about to make another record," Young explains. "I definitely think it's gonna be a lot different than the first one. We've become such a live band. There's a lot of energy there. We've never wanted to repeat records and do the same thing, so this is the time to challenge ourselves. We're always gonna be the Wild Feathers, though."
"We love writing and recording and making records," Young says, "but to go out there and play a show and feel that thing between you and the audience… it never gets old to me. I don't think the rush ever goes away. Every night, my mind is reblown. It's like, 'What? How is this possible? How is this happening?'"
Ben Jarvis is the band's newest member. The Wild Feathers crossed paths with him one night at the 5 Spot, a small club in East Nashville, where Jarvis was playing drums for another local act. He was offered a permanent spot in Wild Feathers' lineup later that week. "We had just finished recording our album when Ben joined the band," Young says. "Fred Eltringham had played drums on the record, and he's great, but we needed a full-time dude. Ben's an animal. He grew up listening to soul, and he's got a creative mind. He's not just trying to hit the cymbals hard; he's a thinker."
"If you get up there and play your stock set, you're gonna get bored," admits Ricky Young. "The audience is gonna get bored. We always try to keep it interesting. We'll go off on little instrumental parts — anything to keep it fun. It's cool to be part of something that moves like that."
Here, bass player and vocalist Joel King take a break from the microphone. "We like it to be super packed and sweaty in the venues," says Young, who shares lead vocal duties with King and Taylor Burns. "A rock & roll venue with a rock & roll band playing."
Friends since their teenage years, Taylor Burns and Preston Wimberly played together in the Austin-based blues band Noble Dog before joining the Wild Feathers. Burns credits that shared history for adding to the onstage chemistry between the two guitarists. "Preston was in my first band ever," he explains. "We've really locked it in over the years. We can tell where the other wants to go, musically. I'll also try to change it up a little bit, too, to keep it interesting. I'll try to to get him to give me more, or to make him go longer on the solos."
"Irving Plaza has a good vibe," Young says. "A lot of bigger bands will go play there, because it's a 1000-capacity venue that feels like an intimate place. The Foo Fighters played the place right after us, for their Sonic Highways series."
"I prefer the crowd to be directly up on us," says Young, pictured here sharing some one-on-one time with the front row. "As a music fan and a concertgoer, whenever I'm in the audience, I like to be up there. I like to see the guitar pedals the guys are using. I don't like distance; I want to get up close and feel that energy."
Every tour has its traditions. As the Wild Feathers' headlining set wound to a close each night, Desert Noises and the Apache Relay would come back to the stage for a collaborative version of the Band's "The Weight." "We've been on great tours with great people," says Taylor Burns, "but every single guy in both of these guys was genuinely down to earth. Good dudes, good vibes. We were all hanging out, singing the encores together, getting everybody up on stage. It was my favorite tour so far."