Sharing a house has worked well for band members. "It has a practice space down in the basement, so we don't have to worry about neighbors' bothering us, because it's well insulated," vocalist/ bassist Eddie Schubert boasts of the house's many advantages. "We set practice times and say everyone's going to be here at this time, but then sometimes people just come home and we migrate down there. That's when the really good stuff happens, when you don't force yourself into it."
There's another bonus: The struggling musicians don't risk raising the ire of roommates with real jobs. Nevertheless, as sometimes happens with people living together, occasional character clashes occur, during which the guys pull no punches. "We're pretty good at saying, 'Screw you, I'm tired of you and I'll talk to you later,'" Schubert says.
The boys developed such communication skills during the four years of friendship that predated the band's founding in 1999. In fact, Full Feature had a gig before its members started playing music together. "A friend of ours knew someone at The Granada that was booking a benefit show, and they were trying to get some bands," Schubert recalls. "We had about two months, and we figured we'd throw a band together and try to make it. Needless to say, we didn't beat the deadline."
Still, Full Feature soldiered on, as its members had developed a taste for making music together. Fortuitously, guitarist Marshal Loo, whose brother Craig Loo is the band's other vocalist and bass player, had a stash of unused songs. "I had been playing for a couple of years with a friend of mine that moved out to California, so basically I needed someone to play with," Marshal says. "We just used old songs that I had been playing around with, and then once we actually started to find a sound, we'd have to decide whether that's us or that's not us." The band eventually made its debut as a birthday favor at a friend's house party in September 1999.
Now Full Feature is an extremely close-knit bunch -- so close that its members felt comfortable posing naked together for the inside photo of its album ... Bootleg Version of Life .... "We've been around each other so much for the past year that it just melded," Marshal explains. On that disc, Full Feature covers rootsy grooves with harmonies and acoustic/electric guitars, a mix any frat boy should dig. And that's not even to mention the hip-hop element, which manifests itself in a delivery not too far removed from the Barenaked Ladies' "One Week."
Marshal started pushing this influence on Craig long before the band missed its first gig: "De La Soul, The Pharcyde, rappers that have more of musical quality," Craig says, recalling his first few hip-hop discs. "We try to make it flow."
Schubert emphasizes that Full Feature hasn't tried to shoehorn rap into its music -- it's just what works. "Sometimes, things are just best expressed in a rhythmic spoken word," he explains pragmatically.
And sometimes, bands are best served by having two full-time bass players, but Full Feature has no plans to take the Girls Against Boys route, which means it's gradually phasing out the redundancy of having both Craig Loo and Schubert play bass and sing, albeit not at the same time. When the musical chairs have stopped, Craig will handle all bass duties, while Schubert will stand out as the frontman.
Full Feature also just switched over to an all-electric format, with Marshal trading in his acoustic guitar. Luckily, when the change was unveiled at The Bait Shack right after Christmas, the change didn't inspire any fans harboring feelings of betrayal to cry "Judas!" à la Bob Dylan's inaugural plug-in on May 17, 1966, in Manchester, England.
"[Marshal] got that amp two days before the gig and then decided to just play the whole show electric," Schubert says, adding that the band's decision was made for practical reasons. "The interaction between our two guitars is really important, but because the acoustic is such a warm, midrange sound, it just got drowned out."
Full Feature hopes to capture its new, louder sound in the studio later this year, but its main priority is to get out on the road as much as possible. "In June, I think we're hoping we'll be a full-time touring band throughout the Midwest, coming home on the weekends to make ends meet," Schubert predicts. Sounds promising, as long as the band doesn't forget to use some of that dough to pay the rent.