Fed Pennies see their name grow

Formed in Halifax in 2004, hard-rockin’ band The Fed Pennies know a thing or two about the ins and outs of the giant wheel that is the music business. Fortunately for them, the “biz” has been largely kind to them over the past seven years. After all, not too many bands from Atlantic Canada can claim having opened for Ozzy Osbourne on their resume. There is more to the Fed Pennies than “opening band status” however.

The band has cultivated a loyal following here on the East Coast, built primarily on the strength of their songs and live show. The band’s single “To Your Senses” from their self-titled debut disc received impressive airplay on mainstream radio in the Halifax area, prompting vocalist-guitarist Jake Smith to jokingly marvel at the accomplishment knowing he admittedly recorded the tune in his underwear.

After the release of their debut record, Smith and drummer Aaron Farr added bassist John Matthews, allowing Smith to focus more intently on getting the precise sounds that he was looking to get from his guitar setup. It was the fine details that some might consider insignificant that ultimately drove the band when recording Brain Disaster, their most recent album.

“We ended up spending a lot of time working on tempos and getting better sounds in general,” Smith says. “As far as the songs go I tried to write catchy riffs and melodies without being too poppy. I do think though that the best music has great hooks so I want to focus on that even more on the next record.”

The Fed Pennies affiliation with Sound of Pop Records and Sound of Pop Publishing, both Maritime companies, certainly isn’t hurting their chances at spreading the Pennies gospel on an international level.  In Smith’s opinion, having the record deal isn’t a bad thing by any means but admits that the band’s publishing deal, a joint effort between Sound of Pop and Ole Publishing, as being potentially more lucrative.

“Through the publishing deal, we get our songs pitched to TV shows, films and video games, which can have a pretty good pay off if we hit the right thing. Having a record deal means something completely different today than it did 25 years ago. Being signed to Sound of Pop is nice because we have direct contact with the person running the company and have the freedom to do what we want. On the other hand, we don’t have a huge budget to work with to pay for outside marketing and promotion so we do a lot of that ourselves.”

It seems as though others are taking note of the band’s work ethic: Just last month, the band took home the East Coast Music Award for Loud Recording of the Year edging out some equally worthy competition. Smith says that having won the award is proving to be a nice feather in their hat, helping secure the band some extra shows this coming summer.

“Our summer is looking good – it seems as though we have a lot of offers to play shows,” Smith says. “There are other great benefits too: I have been doing a lot more in the way of press which is great because it introduces the band to an audience that may not have heard us or heard of us before. We have also noticed a few more people coming out to our live shows to see what we are all about.”

Article published in May 27, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript