The industry landscape for independent musicians in America has been in a continual state of evolution ever since the internet went and changed the game. Still, though, it come down to the fact that hard work, perseverance, raw talent, and being at the right place at the right time seem to be working out for those who hold out long enough. Filligar is an example of that.
Full disclosure: I first heard Filligar back in Chicago when I was a freshman in high school. I was 14-years-old and performing in my first “Battle of the Bands.” They were playing too. It was the day that George Harrison passed away. The date was: November 29, 2001. As it turned out, three out of the four members of Filligar just so happened to be in my high school class (Pictured Above: Casey Gibson – keyboard, Pete Mathias – drums, Teddy Mathias – bass), while lead singer and guitarist Johnny Mathias was a couple years behind us.
Back then, they went by the moniker Flipside, sported shorter haircuts, and played a very different style of rock than they do now. But that’s the beauty of age — as you grow, you learn, and Filligar’s made it a point to utilize their personal growth as the means to create one of the most engaging live rock shows in the country.
Hailed as “one of the best young bands in America,” this quintet’s been given an opportunity that they and any other independent musician can appreciate — they’re opening up for Counting Crows on the first leg of their Outlaw Roadshow this Summer. But before they leave on tour with Counting Crows, they’re playing a live show at DC9 Saturday May 26.
Filligar took a few minutes to exchange thoughts with We Love DC via e-mail. Here’s what they had to say.
Rachel: Filligar’s been a band for over a decade. How would you describe your evolution from the time you first sat down to jam and now that you’ve been touring for a few years with several albums under your belts?
Filligar: Well, the first time we sat down to jam we played a song that wasn’t our own: Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. We butchered it, and ever since we’ve been playing original music. As times go on, our music has changed just as we’ve changed. Touring the country and experiencing America the beautiful has definitely impacted that sound.
R: You’ve performed at a few different addresses in the District. Do you have a favorite venue you’ve played or a “stand out” memory from any of those lives shows?
F: We played one of the last shows at Grog and Tankard before it closed— that was memorable also because it was our first show in DC.
R: Your most recent release, “The Nerve,” is nominated for an Independent Music Award. How does that feel?
F: It’s a nice honor, but really it’s nothing more than a little encouragement to keep doing what we’re doing. It’s nice to have validation of your craft, but it doesn’t make us content or complacent. There’s lots more we want to do with our music.
R: One of you once said in an interview that you’ll consider the band to have “made it” once you get someone else to unload your gear for a live show on tour. Now that you’re headed on the road with Counting Crows — as part of Outlaw Road Show this June — are you guy’s still going to be unloading the van? And what about this opportunity! Tell us a little more about that. You guys must be excited.
F: We’d like the answer to your question to be “No, we’re not going to be unloading the van.” But, we’re afraid the answer will inevitably be “yes”. Honestly, loading in and out the van (her name is Dee Dee btw), has become part of the show ritual. Aside from lugging Casey’s Fender Rhodes Piano and perhaps Pete’s drum hardware (and Teddy’s bass head and Johnny’s Fender Twin Reverb… and the guitar stands too) most of the load in can be a nice warm-up for the show. It’s after the show when all you want to do is hang with your friends that hauling gear is so devastating .
As far as the Crows tour– it’s going to be great time and learning experience. How many times do you get to see a band as the top of their game in action for a month? We’re excited. Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows and Ryan Spaulding of RSL Blog have been tremendous supporters of ours over the years– we’re psyched to kicked it with them.
R: What’s got you most excited for the DC9 show over Memorial Weekend in the Nation’s Capital?
F: No doubt: Full band Rachel Levitin and of course, The Grey Area.
R: Extra Credit Question! Rumor has it you’re baseball fans. Thoughts on the Nats? Would love to hear ’em!
F: In baseball we only have one thought: White Sox.
Filligar will be performing at DC9 on Saturday May 26 with The Grey Area and Rachel Levitin at 8 p.m. Admission is $8. Filligar will also return to the District on June 20 as part of the Outlaw Roadshow at Wolf Trap on June 20. Tickets are now available.