By Nicholas Jason Lopez
A fixture in the Queens, N.Y. Rock community ever since their 2013 formation, the quartet of Omar Feliciano (Singer/Songwriter), Nick Narlis (Bass), John Narlis (Guitar) and James Narlis (Drums) collectively make up The Phoenix Within.
Later in 2013, they unveiled their self-titled debut LP and followed up with EPs ‘The Great Deception’ (2014) and ‘Natalie Rose’ (2015), the latter of which was released via Cry Baby records.
After numerous singles in 2019, The Phoenix Within made their return with a new track called “Daddy Issues” on March 13, 2020. Lyrically, “Daddy Issues” deals with Feliciano’s personal ordeals, as most expressed in the chorus – “I fear I’ll never really know what it is to trust someone other than myself.”
The Music Bugle recently had the chance to talk with Feliciano about “Daddy Issues” and other happenings.
Music Bugle – Now that it’s had some time to “settle in,” how do you feel about the way your single “Daddy Issues” has been received?
Omar Feliciano – Personally, I feel great about it. For me, it’s always nice being able to get the song out of my head into a piece of paper, then into the studio and out into the digital world. The band collectively worked very hard on the track and we were very happy to hear from some of our friends and a few fans who took the time out to reach out and let us know their thoughts on the track. Shares, views and streams can always be better, but it’s not a race and so we do what we can.
Music Bugle – Has the COVID-19 outbreak affected the band in any way? You guys come from Queens, N.Y., which has been called the “epicenter” of the spread.
Omar Feliciano – In our home state of New York, the current virus deaths are more than 4,500. We’ve been blessed and lucky enough so far to not have any family members or friends of ours sick. A hard knock on wood! As musicians, the COVID-19 outbreak affected us the same way it has millions of performers, musicians and artists across the United States. As a result of the fast spread of this virus, our live shows, practice sessions and studio recording sessions have come to a hard halt. Our bassist Nick is a Paramedic who is currently under self-quarantine and our drummer James is an FDNY firefighter who is out there on NYC streets everyday. It’s a scary thing, but we are all in this together one way or another. Solidarity and safety are a big and important piece to this chapter in our lives, so let’s remember to stay safe and be kind to each other now more than ever.
Music Bugle – In what ways have you felt the band progress throughout the years?
Omar Feliciano – Personally, I feel the band has progressed a great deal. The current lineup consists of four dedicated members, who each have something to deliver and bring to the table. Separately and on our own, we are constantly trying to hone and improve our musicianship skills, so that when we are working collectively in the same room on any given song, we can again push ourselves even further. This results in works that we are happier with and proud to present to anyone. We’ve also shifted a great deal into constantly thinking of the band as a business as opposed to a hobby or a pastime. This change of mind was pivotal and has helped us tremendously with our capacities as musicians, our seriousness on the matter and has eventually reshaped our view towards our musical work and the quality that is infused into it.
Music Bugle – Which of your musical influences do you feel shows the most in your work?
Omar Feliciano – These days, I’ve heard reviewers, bloggers and interviewers compare us to bands like Coheed And Cambria, Bayside, Fall Out Boy, Sum 41, NOFX, Everclear, Blink 182, All Time Low and 90’s grunge. Personally, I can see that happening and I feel honored to think that we have even minute traces of these acts in the selected songs which we have currently been releasing.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder to stand out in your genre?
Omar Feliciano – I am going to stay positive with this question and say that it makes it easier and here’s my reasoning – if you are unique enough and hard working enough, it doesn’t matter where you are placed. Why? Because the music and the art and that’s all you! That work and output is all you. The platform is there, but it is up to you to generate and populate it with your own unique and original work. That work and your uniqueness will find a way out of the buzz and speak for itself.
Music Bugle – What is the band’s most meaningful song or set of lyrics?
Omar Feliciano – From personal observation, I’d have to say the Narlis brothers are more musically inclined than lyrically inclined, although James has developed a skill where he is able to take any song we have and turn it into random inappropriate and rude jingles which he likes to use during practice sessions. Personally though, I feel like I haven’t written the most meaningful song or set of lyrics just yet, so I’ll have to get back to you on this one. Soon…soon.
Music Bugle – Hopefully, sometime soon we will get back to concerts being a regular occurrence. That being said, what has been your most memorable moment while onstage?
Omar Feliciano – I have had so many, it’s hard for me to be selective, but if I must bring it down to one day, it’ll have to be our last live performance before the crisis at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC. It’s a terrific venue with a great sound system, crew and lighting. To top it all off, we shared the night and stage with a great local NYC act named The Dreamland Fire and were amongst old friends and new friends, as well as caring and attentive fans that made me appreciate our music scene so much more. Sometimes, it’s all about the little things.
Music Bugle – What do you feel is the most frustrating aspect of the music industry and how can it be fixed?
Omar Feliciano – I am going to give this answer to you in two parts. Part one – locally, the most frustrating aspect of the music industry for me has always been the lack of knowledge and integrity exhibited and shown countless times by fellow artists, musicians, performers and creators. It is important that we stay informed on important policy and show mutual respect to the people working hard on their art and craft. It isn’t wrong to support each other. Part two – in a way, currently, we are in the middle of a fork road that can lead to a very good place for artists, musicians & other parties of the music industry. Although there is a lot of work to do moving forward, a number of important policy issues have been addressed, such as the Music Modernization Act, which was signed into law in 2018. These recent changes equate to fairer standards for songwriters and musicians. A change that makes me feel good about the current state of the music industry are the opportunities labels and artists are presented with when talking about popular streaming platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Google Play or YouTube. These avenues are currently detrimental for labels and artists and their ability to reach fans and higher revenues via online streaming.
Music Bugle – What are your future plans?
Omar Feliciano – We plan to tour, perform at festivals and keep up with our writing and releasing of new music.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?
Omar Feliciano – Back in 2012, I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine about zodiacs. He explained to me that Scorpios are the only sign on the zodiac that can take on another form. Even though they start as Scorpios, they can evolve into a phoenix through their hard work and vision and ultimately transcend their older selves and achieve a sense of clarity on their own. I don’t know why, but at that moment, I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, so you have a Phoenix Within.” I am not going to lie to you, it sounded pretty cool in my head and I am a huge comic book fan, so I stopped what I was doing, wrote it down on a piece of paper and didn’t think about it again until I’d completed the recording of our first self-titled album later that same year.