About the Song
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of very talented and passionate songwriters and musicians over the years, but I’ve never known anyone who could make songwriting seem so impossibly easy and second-nature as my friend and bandmate in Featherduster, Thomas Grzep. Tom would turn out these catchy, genre-defying little tunes in his college dorm room that somehow managed to incorporate wonderfully thought-provoking, socially-conscious lyrics in a way that was neither overbearing nor oftentimes immediately obvious. I don’t know if there could’ve been a more striking contrast between us in that regard – I could spend weeks, months, or even longer agonizing to write simple pop songs about less sophisticated topics like unrequited love or high school crushes and still come away with painfully little to show for my efforts.
I started learning to play the bass guitar on my own during college, inspired by the intricately infectious stylings of players like Duran Duran’s John Taylor and Yes’ Chris Squire. Featherduster not only served as an effective way to get Tom’s songs out into the world in a more fully arranged form, but it also provided a great incentive and driver of my bass training, as it pushed me to really dig in and hone my skills in a much more concentrated way.
One of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of performing with this band was the fact that both Richard and I were able to challenge ourselves by taking up roles that didn’t involve our primary instruments. I was a keyboardist and percussionist, yet there I was picking and pounding away on a bass guitar. Richard had far more experience with a bass at that point than I did and was a trained singer and trombonist, but he elected to climb behind a drum set. The emphasis was decidedly not on who had the most experience, training, or ability on a given instrument, but rather on what role each person actually wanted to play, felt that they would enjoy the most, or felt the most creatively inspired to take on.
“The Authority” was our closing selection for this performance. I’m not sure who originally shot and edited this video, but I know it was done on VHS and then copied back onto another VHS tape (and possibly copied yet again). I did what I could as far as remastering the audio (and video to a far lesser degree) and am hoping that the spirit of the original performance is still able to shine through here.