Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani
Mike Feuerstack Drops a Name, Kicks Up the Rhythm
Michael Feuerstack has changed his stage name. He now performs music under his given and family names, having outgrown the Snailhouse handle, which he used over eight albums.
“I was afraid to be branded as a singer-songwriter in the media or by other musicians,” Feuerstack explains. “I wanted to work with collaborators and not be stuck with just guitar and voice and so I used that name, but artistically Snailhouse wasn’t speaking for me anymore.”
Aside from the name change, much will be familiar to fans of Feuerstack’s work, which dates back to the early ‘90s when he played guitar for the Wooden Stars.
The Ottawa band earned national acclaim with their 1999 Juno win for their album collaboration with Julie Doiron. Their music — reflective, with an almost meditative quality — launched dozens of other bands on the same musical ilk. It was practically the soundtrack of Centretown and is often cited as a definitive mark in the evolution of an Ottawa sound.
Nearly 15 years on, time finds Feuerstack in a different place in some ways and in other ways he’s the same. He’s grounded in the Montreal scene where he’s been living now for nearly a decade. He is still pre-occupied with his own existence and has a rotating cast of musical collaborators to put voice and sound to his musings.
His new album Tambourine Death Bed is probably his most enthusiastic in its production. Songs are a little bolder and less lilting which nicely amplifies the navel-gazey lyrics about modern life. Touches of dark humour make light of a heavy heart.
“When I tackle heavy subjects, I have fun with them,” Feuerstack says. “It makes for a thorough and holistic approach.”
He describes song writing as a “coping mechanism that emerges for those fears in life.”
Those fears are never really expressly stated on Tambourine Death Bed. Much like the title, the lyrics are rhythmic and poetic. Feuerstack describes it as “a rich combination of things that come together” as he is working on an album.
“I make songs that are these impressionistic riffing sessions and some poetry comes out of it,” he says. “Words are infused with the feelings of the music and that gives it a tone. It’s an expression of those moments when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the world.”
Feuerstack is back in Ottawa on Saturday, May 25 for a CD release show at Raw Sugar Café.