For more than a decade, The Fervor has made some of the best indie rock in the city, a sound dense with layers and ideas. At the core of the group are couple Ben and Natalie Felker. The pair started out in 2003 or so, as an outlet for Natalie’s songs. They took to the studio, recruiting along the way, before settling on their current lineup featuring longtime drummer Mat Heron, Brandon Duggins on bass and Mary Liz Bender on guitar and back-up vocals. They’ve released a string of records culminating with their most recent EP, Nightfall in the Kali Yuga.
The Fervor’s catalog builds on tension and indie-rock tropes, but never displeases the ear. This is imminently listenable music, by and large a reflection of their craft. “If you look at our stuff, it comes from soft and quiet to heavier and louder,” Ben said. “We always kind of sound like it’s the same band playing it. It always sounds like The Fervor to me. Natalie’s voice is so unique that we’re lucky that it adds a lot of definition to our sound. We’re lucky that we’ve got that voice of hers.”
The dynamic between Ben and Natalie is compelling, romantic in that way that committed relationships work. Parents, the two split their time accordingly, giving space to allow the other opportunities to demo songs and develop ideas. As such, the band has to contend with scheduling issues, but time and experience have trained them on how to work as efficiently as possible.
The Felkers are united in their passion for their craft. Backed by the stalwart Herron, the three have carried the band through a succession of changes. Ben attributes at least some of that to the ease of their operation: “Natalie and I are married. We’re going to be together and continue writing songs. We don’t always work on each other’s material, but very frequently we do. It kind of seems weird to not bill something as The Fervor if Natalie and I both work on it. We probably would have quit if we could, but you kind of get to that point where you’re kind of a lifer.”
He continued, adding of writing, “There is definitely a level of understanding that you have with your partner that I see that other musicians don’t. If you’re a musician who hasn’t made it per se, the amount of grief that we have to go through to do it doesn’t really make sense to a lot of people. If you’re looking from the outside, you’re starting to push 40 and dealing with paying the bills, so we don’t have to question that stuff.”
Of course, the march of progress has not come without consequence. The band has endured a number of line-up changes, although Ben believes they are all better off for it.
“We’ve had some cases where people were on a life course where they weren’t going to be in town for long,” he said. “You try not to have any bad feelings for anything like that. We don’t want anyone in the band that doesn’t want to be in the band. We’ve had periods of transition where we start to second-guess it, but the fact that the three of us [have stayed] in place has helped, I suppose.”
With maturity comes a realization of what it is to succeed.
For Ben, that is, “Just being able to continue to put out records and have some genuine audience for them regardless of the size of that audience. I would love to not have a day job and just play music. I guess that’s what we would all love in terms of the grand prize. Just to do it. Just to actualize your own self. To keep a band together that likes to play the songs. To be able to pay rent on your rehearsal space.”