By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Los Angeles-based indie-folk/bluegrass revivalist trio Water Tower have tried to make the most of their year, as the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States just before the release of their album ‘Fly Around’ on March 27, 2020.
For founder Kenny Feinstein, this was his sixth album, but the first of a two-album record deal with Portland, Ore.-based Dutch Records. ‘Fly Around’ is a keen mix of bluegrass, folk, indie rock and electronic – yet marks a period of transition for Feinstein and a “rebirth” of sorts for the band, as they settled into Echo Park in L.A.. In essence, the concept album focuses on the idea of leaving home for an ideally better home.
Feinstein handpicked Joe “Juice” Berglund and Tommy Drinkard as his formal touring lineup, as they each shared a passion for traditional bluegrass and punk/indie music and played multiple instruments – fiddle, banjo, guitar and lap steel.
The Music Bugle had the chance to chat with the band about what they’ve been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt the music industry?
Kenny Feinstein – We believe that it levels the playing field for the musician. Social media gives the artist the chance to do things that labels have always been able to do. With social media, we can connect with the people who can help our career and path to become better humans. We now can team up with our musical friends and share each others’ content across our platforms, which is beneficial for all sides!
Music Bugle – How was the band name decided?
Kenny Feinstein – We started playing music at A Water Tower in Oregon. We used to play there everyday after high school and many kids would come to hang and listen, so it only made sense to name our project after the place where we played our first shows and met our first following.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Los Angeles to someone who has never been there before?
Kenny Feinstein – L.A. is the city of dreams. Many people think it is a city that never sleeps, but after 6 p.m., the actual downtown skyline we think of as L.A. is usually pretty empty-looking, compared to a city like New York. There is a rush hour and then people go to their respective “worlds.” That is part of why Southern California is such a paradise in general for everyone, but especially artists. The reason is that there are so many types of creative people here congregating that you are bound to find like-minded people, no matter what it is that you are passionate about. L.A. is all about the sprawl, the endless communities of culture and people from the ocean, all the way inland for miles and miles. I like to think of L.A. like that paradise next to the sea that everyone in the world knows about. The scary part is coming here and claiming a piece of your own paradise. In L.A., you can create your own paradise. If you like palm trees, badass food, rad culture and endless creativity, then L.A. is the place for you. This area of the world can seem overwhelming during the first year of driving around and walking the streets. You may notice many people having their absolute worst days of their lives here on the streets, but you also might just be part of someone else having the best day of their lives and sharing it with you. It is the ultimate challenge of ego, death and self. Being here has helped me on my journey of learning how to be a better person.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest struggle lately?
Kenny Feinstein – My biggest struggle is my constant work with breath. The key to life is breathing and sometimes, I forget to take a full breath, so I am really deeply working on how to breathe deeper at all times. Meditation is the key for me getting better at this, so I have been studying many different types.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Kenny Feinstein – The pandemic took away our day job as a band. We used to busk full-time here on the streets of L.A.. The situation ended up being a blessing in disguise for us, though, because it forced us to “busk” online. We have since more than doubled our following in five months. It has also caused us to study the way music is consumed online and work on adjusting accordingly.
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Kenny Feinstein – The most productive thing we have done as a band has been start new musical projects. For example, Dre Drinkard produced my first single as Vocalista 182 Water and now, we are dropping the second single we made during quarantine as a collaboration with a Mexico City artist @adryannamusic – that’s their Instagram – plus, a music video on October 1! It is called “Stressed Out” and has a super chill vibe. It is a fun song about de-stressing with your romantic partner. Feel free to share the pre-save here. The rad thing about the way we write songs here at Water Tower Studios is that the internet writes them and Dre produces them! (Laughs) That reminds me of another thing we did during quarantine. Dre started a show called, “Producing The Internet,” where you can come and comment your lyrics on the Facebook chat live as we produce the song.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about you guys?
Kenny Feinstein – We work out every morning and meditate as a band. Juice, our fiddler, is also a professional builder of tiny homes.
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to go back to this past New year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?
Kenny Feinstein – I would say this is the year of learning how to breathe deep and focus on the journey. Every step along the journey is as important as the goal.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your particular genre?
Kenny Feinstein – Our genre is exciting to us, because it is ever-shifting. We do happen to play hillbilly instruments, but all genres of music are expressed through us and we like it that way. Our musical diet is plentiful, when it comes to the styles and genres we love to play on a daily basis.
Music Bugle – Are you working on any new music at the moment?
Kenny Feinstein – Yes! We are working on a down-tempo EDM/Lil Peep style remix of one our country singles, “Town”! If you want to follow us, we go hard!