Separating a band from its fans and comfort zone often reveals its work ethic. Originally from Boston, all four members of pop-punk band Feels Like Home made a collective decision in 2011 to relocate 2,000 miles to Texas to pursue musical ambitions.
The band formed nine years ago when Matt DiPietro, lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Mike DeMellia, lead guitar; and Dave Belmont, drums and vocals, met playing in the all-city middle school jazz band. After competing in several battles of the bands, they achieved moderate success playing around Boston. In 2009, when he graduated from high school, DiPietro wanted to place the band in the context of Austin’s renowned music scene by attending the University of Texas.
“When Mike was close to graduating [from Springfield College] I had brought up the idea of having the band move down with me,” DiPietro said. “I wanted to go to UT because of the location. I wanted to be in a city with a good music environment, and Austin is the Live Musical Capitol, which led me to apply.”
However, the move wasn’t as clean as they hoped it would be. Their bassist at the time, Andy Talbot, was forced to return to Massachusetts because of financial and relationship troubles. The band promptly recruited friend and fan Trent Simmons as a replacement, encouraging him to learn to play the bass.
“I’ve probably been playing bass for six months now,” Simmons said.
So far the band has been happy with its decision. It cites a higher capacity for networking and increased professionalism as a key part of why Austin is a better town for music.
“The scene in Boston is different. There aren’t a million venues there. They don’t care what the fuck you sound like, as long as you bring in a lot of kids, then it’s cool,” DeMellia said.
Although the band agrees that the Austin music scene has been a more conducive atmosphere to its musical progression than Boston, it is also coming to terms with the problem of increased competition.
“I guess one problem with Austin is that it’s so saturated with bands,” Simmons said. “It’s a great place to play music, but at the same time it’s harder if you’re just starting out. I mean, how many local bands do you see popping up every day here?”
The band built its following from the ground up through networking and do-it-yourself promoting.
“It’s crazy. We went from begging for shows and not knowing anyone to being at the point where we’re selecting shows and turning some down,” DeMellia said. “I think that’s the coolest feeling in the world.”
After releasing its Feels Like Home EP in May 2012, the band expects another release sometime this spring. Other short term goals include buying a tour van and incorporating more screaming vocals to attract another niche audience.
Unfortunately, because of financial troubles and DiPietro’s looming graduation, the band expects to move back to Boston after a planned summer tour to minimize rent costs.
“I think we learned a good lesson,” Belmont said. “It’s a reality check too. For a second we were like we’ll move and get noticed immediately, but we were a little naive in that sense.”
They’ll be playing a show this Friday at The Parish Underground with Searcher, The Tired and True and Post Season.
“I’m so glad we moved here. It’s one of the best decisions of my life,” DeMellia said.
Printed on Friday, January 18, 2013 as: From Boston to Austin, Feels like Home spreads pop-punk around Music Capital