WITH HEAVY ROCK and metal seeping its way into the mainstream via outlets like NPR and the New Yorker, it's comforting to know there are still bands like Fellwoods lurking beneath the surface. Hell, this rock and roll four-piece (formerly the Moss) is barely even known in their home base of Portland.
Most of Fellwoods' notoriety lies across the pond—not surprising considering the members' proclivity for proto-NWOBHM bands like Leaf Hound and Black Sabbath. It was steady press for Fellwoods' excellent new debut LP Wulfram by European rock blogs that eventually landed them a deal with Scottish label At War with False Noise (a vinyl pressing will be released later this year through Swedish label Bear Trail Records).
The acclaim from afar fits the band's mystique. Fellwoods guitarist/vocalist Adam Burke works his way through a sandwich the size of his head at a Southeast deli as he discusses the band's origins.
"Part of the inspiration for the band was discovering a lot of that '70s stuff," he explains, adding early-'70s American rock bands Captain Beyond and Sir Lord Baltimore to the list. "This is purely from a music fan point of view. This to me is when rock was at its peak."
Burke has a lumberjack physique and sports a denim vest with a large patch on the back that reads "Death and Destruction." It belies his quiet demeanor. And you'd never guess it was Burke delivering that banshee wail on songs like "Widow Trakk" and "Brutal Hoof," which are wall to wall with heavy blues guitars. "I wear very, very tight underpants," he says.
"A huge part of it is playing riffs that are so dumb, a three-year-old could come up with it," Burke continues. "And just playing it full-bore."
Which they've accomplished. Fellwoods—rounded out by bassist Beth Borland, guitarist Tony Pacific, and former Hunches drummer Ben Spencer—play music for crate-diggers with an eye for something loud and musty. "We're playing record-nerd rock for people who like those kinds of bands," Burke says. "And creatively I feel we're barely scratching the surface."