An Interview With Pop Rock Father and Sons Trio, THE WIZBANGS!
Posted On 14 Jul 2017
The WizBangs are a multi-genre rock-pop band father-and-sons trio out of southeastern Pennsylvania.
They recently released their debut album, “Life, Love and Other Mishaps.” This father-and-sons trio consists of Jim Feenstra (vocals) and his two sons, Charles Feenstra (vocals, guitar, keys) and J.P. Feenstra (drums). Written as a collaboration among the threesome, their music is a combination of rock, rock-a-billy, jazz, and indie singer-songwriter. Life, Love and Other Mishaps is now available on all major digital sites.
The Feenstra clan has music in their genes. Jim grew up in Los Angeles honing his love for music by seeing Elton John, Crosby Stills Nash and Young and Linda Ronstadt among other music icons in concert throughout his youth. His boys, Charles and JP, grew up playing music and performing in various bands in Philadelphia and Reading, including Charles performing with the Reading Youth Orchestra. While Charles wrote songs for years, it wasn’t until Charles was in rehab that he and his father started writing songs together. Collaborating on lyrics and melodies became part of the healing process and reconnected the two.
The father and sons aspect came to fruition when Charles lived with Jim while caring for his ill girlfriend. J.P. added his strong musical talents to fine-tune the songs and recruit friends to join in on creating the album. By the time Jim retired as head of marketing for Penske Corporation’s Reading, PA based transportation business, he and Charles had a large repertoire of original songs. Jim focused his full attention on music and invited his sons to bring the songs to life in the studio. The trio were joined by their musician friends on bass, keys, fiddle, accordion and sax. Grammy Award-winning producer, Will Russell, produced, engineered, mixed and mastered the album. Thus their debut album, Life, Love and Other Mishaps, was born.
AudioFuzz calls The WizBangs “One of the great new bands this year!” Be sure to check out their debut album, Life, Love and Other Mishaps, now available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CD Baby and other digital sites.
Learn more about The Wizbangs in the following All Access interview:
What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for this band and your music?
Exciting comes to mind first. Creating the album, launching, preparing for our launch show was all a great experience. From dad’s perspective, it was also playing music with his sons. THAT’S memorable.
What were some of the highlights? What has been the most exciting part about this year?
There were so many singular steps that created wonderful moments. It was really about the entire process. Collaborating on the music. Listening to edits and fine-tuning the songs. Hearing the final master. Creating the album artwork. Simply (if there is such a thing) “pushing the button” to get the album manufactured. Opening up the boxes of cd’s when they arrived…like Christmas. Probably the most fun we had was creating the music videos, which are in essence live performances in studio. We had a blast.
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians?
JP and Charles have always been musicians at heart; performing classical, marching band, rock band, and open mic songs. At the same time, they’ve developed their other talents as careers as well. JP as an art director and designer; Charles as a massage therapist and yoga/meditation teacher.
I (dad) was always on the periphery be it joining my dad at barbershop harmony events, singing with my friends or performing in a church band. Actually, singing in the church band literally got me out extreme shyness. It was like, “what was I afraid of?” But until I took an early retirement, I rarely touched music except to sit at the piano with Charles.
Can you recall the moment you realized that you could really make music together and be a band?
It was an iterative process. Charles and dad were writing songs together, doing rough tracks. When JP engaged in the process, we felt we could and should do it. It became somewhat of a “go big or go home” thing…but it was a very natural progression.
Was it hard to narrow down a band name? How did you finally decide? What other names were you considering?
Honestly, since I (dad) was a Chief Marketing Officer for years, I took the ball and ran with it. I wanted it short, simple, memorable, and unique, if possible. And of course, all the digital things like URL and social media names had to be available. I also wanted to protect us by trademarking the name and logo.
I ran the name by the boys and they said fine. Honestly, I can’t remember if we discussed any other name.
What’s been the best part about being in a band with your sons and being in a band with your father?
The question is the answer, it’s that we’re writing songs and performing together. There are moments when we’re playing, whether it’s in rehearsal or on stage, and I catch myself looking at the boys…we’re just in a groove…and wow, that’s cool. How many others can say that. I (dad) said from the start that if we never sell a single album, I’m happy because we created music we liked together.
Let’s talk about your recently released debut album, “Life, Love and Other Mishaps.” Where did the inspiration for these songs come from? You call the album “a potpourri of sound.” Can you elaborate on that?
Each song reflects some point in our lives, whether it is good or bad. There are love letters, break-up songs, songs expressing our feelings about societal issues such as addiction, climate change. So there aren’t any real stories that were made up. It’s actually why naming the album was so easy. We were sitting around the table toward the end of recording discussing what to call this thing. At some point we said, “You know, all these songs are really about life, love and f*** ups. So clearly we cleaned up the title but the title is succinct.
The “potpourri of sound” comes from us working hard to create unique tunes. We have what you can call 60s sounding songs, indie singer/songwriter songs, jazz infused songs, a seafaring themed song…we like to let the song take us to the melody, not crank out similar sounding melodies. We’ve challenged ourselves to make sure each album will sound unique in its own right.
What was it like working together and putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you three about the whole process?
I think the boys were surprised that I could actually sing ;-> Look, we have 30 years of being a family. So, along with any creative dynamic tension, we, (re:me (dad)), had to learn NOT to be the dad and be one of the band. That being said, all that creative juice/tension helped to get the songs where we all liked them.
Why do you think Charles being in rehab catapulted the songwriting between him and Jim?
Songwriting while Charles was in rehab was important, as, from my perspective, it was the first element of reconnecting with him. It was a small step, but it planted the seed. When he moved in with me several months later is when we truly began clicking.
Are you going to be touring a lot this summer in support of “Life, Love and Other Mishaps”?
First and most importantly, JP just became a father for the first time, so we’re celebrating that. The plan is to be in the studio in late July and August to create an EP and two singles. We’ll start shows sometime in the fall.
1. Who are some of your favorite artists? 2. Who would you all to work with in the future? 3. What would be dream collaboration for each of you and The Wizbangs?
Dad – 1. Beatles (duh), Billy Joel, Beach Boys, Duane Eddy, Elton, Clapton/Cream, M.Ward, Carole King, James Taylor, Sergio Mendes, BB King, Muddy Waters, Tower of Power, Raspberries, Squeeze, Barenaked Ladies, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and any Broadway performer (especially Kristen Chenoweth and Sutton Foster)
Anyone who wants to work with me. I’m always in awe watching professional / studio musicians. Working with Carol Kaye would intimidate the hell out of me.
It begins and ends with McCartney for me.
JP – Among the living and the dead: Peter Gabriel, Tool, Tori Amos, Trent Reznor, Phantograms, Philip Glass, Coltrane, Sigur Ros, Bonobos, Beethoven, Amanda Palmer … The list goes on and on, man.
Whomever. It pays to be adaptable; to find joy in the unique experience each musician brings to the table. Rock stars, jazz guys and gals, you name it.
I’d kill to drum for Peter Gabriel or Amanda Palmer. Just to play around with those musical brains.
Charles – Flaming Lips, Beatles, A Perfect Circle, Spoon, Sunset Rubdown, Of Montreal, Chopin, Medeski Martin and Wood, etc… Father John Misty
Yup, I’d work with anyone as long as we got along and could connect on a personal level.
Steve Drozd of the Flaming Lips does some of my favorite composing /arranging, so that would be pretty awesome. Father John Misty
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
Any art is so personal; so from my (dad) perspective I hope our songs get a reaction…could be a smile, a nod, foot tapping, and a tear. Just to touch the listener emotionally in some fashion.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this band or your music?
It’s only the beginning, so stay tuned. There are a few surprised on the horizon.