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A Brief Biographical Q & A with Fellaheen
Q: What’s the band name mean?
A: It’s an Arabic term for peasant farmers. Philosophically (or so said Oswald Spengler in The Decline of the West), “fellaheen” refers to the great mass of peasants who adapt and survive from one civilization to the next without becoming part of any, thus remaining separate from the great movements of history. [Cue: crickets chirping]
Q: What’s the band sound like?
A: A lyrical mix of sit-down alt rock ’n’ roll, scratchy blues, Americana-rama, and downbeat jazz informed with a murky existential wit.
Q: Right. What’s the band sound like?
A: OK. Let’s say: comparable to the likes of Tom Waits, Wilco, the Velvet Underground, and Kurt Weill if we're lucky. More deeply-rooted influences include Beggar’s Banquet-era Stones, the Beatles, Captain Beefheart, Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen, and Mose Allison. The lyrical approach is borne out of a head space created in part by the works of Walter Benjamin, Susan Sontag, Cornel West, Mad Magazine, Flannery O'Connor, Roberto Clemente, Jack Kerouac, George Carlin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Pynchon, Madeline Kahn, Bugs Bunny, Haruki Murakami, moderately-priced red wine, insomnia, and Dante Aligheri, along with the movies of Vittorio De Sica, Jim Jarmusch, John Sayles, and Wim Wenders.
Q: Seriously?
A: Yep. That was written with a completely straight face. But please feel free to arrive at your own conclusions.
Q: Who writes the songs and sweeps up after everyone’s gone home?
A: Bruce Hanson, a somewhat-grizzled 40-something-year-old musician born in Chicago and raised in New Jersey. He specializes in writing slightly off-kilter original songs about shady characters, particle physics, love ’n’ hate, and works of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, not to mention, mildly amusing self-interviews.
Prior to Fellaheen, Hanson played in dozens of bands no one ever heard of (or at least remembers now) from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. Pausing to nap, he rediscovered his muse sometime around 1998, and so returned to music more-or-less full-time. And in a world dominated by giant record companies with little interest in nurturing music beyond that which can move a gazillion units in less than a week, he went the route now available via accessible recording technology, the Internet, and good ol’ fashion DIY: he built a recording studio in his home, and recruited a cadre of crack musical malcontents to join him in recording and releasing a succession of CDs.
And the rest, as they say, is mystery.
Q: Oh look ... my ride’s here. One last thing — what are the band’s goals?
A: For you to listen to our music, maybe get a song or two in a movie in the scene right after the murder, get airplay on YOUR station, and for you to come on out to see us play live. Oh, and world peace.