Snailhouse plays Sackville

Canada has a great history for churning out legendary singer-songwriters that rank among the most revered of the past 50 years.

Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the list goes on and on. And while he might not be a house hold name just yet, it wouldn’t be all too surprising if Mike Feuerstack, professionally known as Snailhouse, joins these ranks at some point down the road.

Feuerstack has been making music both solo, and as a part of the now-defunct Wooden Stars for more than 15 years now. There has been a total of five Snailhouse releases to date, including his newest work, Sentimental Gentleman, released just three weeks ago.

Like Young and Mitchell before him, Feuerstack seems to have little difficulty navigating his way through creating memorable songs. There is an honesty and openness to his material that other artists attempt to sound sincere in conveying; with Feuerstack’s gentle vocals backed by an indie-roots-inspired soundtrack, there is no question of his authenticity.

As a part of the Wooden Stars, Feuerstack, along with Moncton’s Julie Doiron, took home a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy Award equivalent) for their collaborative 1999 self-titled release. Since then, the Wooden Stars have released only one record, People Are Different, in 2007. According to Feuerstack, fans of the Stars shouldn’t be holding their breaths while waiting for the group to reconvene to make another album.

“The chance of us doing anything anytime soon is rather slim. You never know though, something might materialize between now and when we hire ghostwriters to assemble our memoirs,” he jokes.

All kidding aside, the seeds for Snailhouse had actually been planted prior to the Wooden Stars becoming an active band. After a while, he says, his solo work became something that he wanted to focus his energy upon.

“The freedom of playing solo can be very gratifying. I can be languid with tempos and change up the moods of songs and re-interpret things in subtle ways.

“Playing with a band is amazing on a whole other level though. The exchange and interplay between instruments and imaginations is always exciting if you are playing with the right people, and I definitely am!”

Feuerstack recently returned from a tour of Europe where he performed alongside New Brunswick’s The Olympic Symphonium for a series of dates. Feuerstack estimates that he has made six prior trips overseas and continues to find the experience to be a rewarding one.

“Every time we go, we are making new fans and increasing the web of people we know and like to work with. Although the schedules can be grueling, it is immensely rewarding to have the opportunity to travel and see new places all in the process of making music. I also love the people I collaborate with – they are my friends – so we know how to enjoy shows no matter where they are,” he says.

Asked why a growing number of bands and artists are choosing to tour Europe instead of the United States, Feuerstack says it is a matter of going where his records are available and not simply avoiding the U.S.

“For my own part, I can simply say that because Snailhouse records are available in Europe and audiences seem to be responding to our shows, we keep going back to build on that. I would love to tour the U.S., but there is no label partner there at the moment. Also working visas for U.S. shows are prohibitively priced, and it is daunting unless you have reason to believe your tour will go really well. Touring the States is definitely a part of my upcoming plans though.”

Article published in June 10, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript