I first heard about Feredon when I saw them play at Exit Rock Café last December. It’s not a big place so the band where not able to use their full set-up, such as drums and electric guitars. Despite this, they played a very good set, including some great covers such as Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers, and Hurt by Johnny Cash. The band consists of Srdjan Petric (lead vocals and bass guitar), Ivica Glunčić (drums and percussion), Tomislav Grković (guitars) and Nikola Kapidžić (keyboards). I met with Srdjan, the lead singer, to talk about the band, their music and their videos.
When did the band form?
This particular form of the band got together in about 2012. We’ve been musicians for most of our lives and this is a small city so every musician knows every other musician, so we have kind of played together most of our lives.
How did you meet?
Ivica, the drummer, and I were dancing together in a folklorni ansambl (folk dance ensemble). We did a bit of travelling together when we were younger, so that’s where I met him, and I met the others just in the city. There are just a few musicians here, and as I said, it’s a small city, so you just know the other musicians. Everybody pretty much knows everybody else.
How did you get your name?
Our name actually means nothing. It’s a made-up word. We picked it up from this funny clip on YouTube where this old deaf gypsy granny is repeating words that this guy is telling her. Because she’s deaf, she obviously can’t hear, she just lipreads. She’s just giving these new words that nobody’s ever heard of, and this is one of her made-up words. We were laughing at this. We got a call saying we had to do this gig and we needed a name, so we picked up the name. It means nothing. We thought we’re never going to have to use that name, we were just playing together.
Who writes your songs and what’s the process? Is it lyrics first? Or music first?
I’m the only one who writes the songs, and it all comes out together. Either I have an idea and I sit and try and get it out my head, or I just sit and play, and after an hour I’m playing the full song. With ‘On My Mind’ there were no written words so I just decided to make it, to play it and by the end of it I knew it, and I just played it to them, and we started playing together, so I never wrote the lyrics at all. For most of the songs actually.
Your own songs are always in English. Do you only ever write in English? And is it so the songs appeal to a wider audience?
Ivan Jakić, (the guitarist from Gruhak) and I have recorded a song together, which is in Croatian, and we’ve just finished with the video. Tonight, me and Nikola, our keyboard player, are going to put the last pieces of the video together, so this song is in Croatian. Everything else I write is in English. I find it much easier to write these kind of lyrics in English because it flows better. Croatian is a difficult language and it sounds harsh. If I want to write poetry I can’t do it in English, I need Croatian because Croatian describes things so well, but if I want to write a pop song Croatian is not so good, it’s not singable. I know it’s weird but it’s easier for me to think in English in these kind of terms. I need to rhyme, so English works very well for me. It’s a benefit that it gets to a wider audience, but I don’t have any secret plan behind that.
You describe your music as power funk/heavy pop/new grunge, but you play covers such as Johnny Cash’s ''Hurt'' Bill Withers’ ''Ain’t No Sunshine'' and Natalie Imbuglia’s ''Torn''. They are quite different from your own style of music.
We have different set-ups depending on where we play. I think every band in Dubrovnik has two set-ups. One is our own music we play, and the others are a set-up for the gigs. There’s a lot of work during the season in Dubrovnik because every hotel wants live music. They don’t want loud bands, they don’t want rock band stuff, they want you to be as quiet as possible so that nobody notices you, or so that nobody complains. We are all hungry to play, and we know how to play, so we invented this kind of set-up thing. For these gigs we don’t have a drummer so Ivica plays small percussions, and we don’t have electric guitars but we have acoustic guitars, so it’s kind of a quiet set up so that we can do the gigs. Then these guys from bars figured out that they could use this too so they invited us to play bars, and then we had to play energising or loud music, but still with this acoustic set-up, so we found some rock classics to play and we’re trying to be louder. We actually make quite a good living off of it. We play during the summer, we’re going to start in a couple of weeks’ time, and we are going to play every night in different hotels and bars throughout the whole season. Not one day off. That means that the band, with our own songs that we want to do, has to take a break. We play these gigs in the summer, and then winter comes and we can produce new music and travel with our band. I think we’re lucky that we have this opportunity to make some money off the music. When I was a kid I imagined that one day I’d like to get paid for my music but I imagined it in a certain way, but now it’s become a reality but in a bit of a different way. I get paid to play, so I don’t complain about that. I’m happy.
How often do you play what you want to play? Is it only in the winter, and is it only in Dubrovnik?
It’s mainly in the winter, then it’s everywhere except for Dubrovnik! We’ve played Zagreb, Split. All the major cities in Croatia, and small places in between. You have a lot of good, big festivals in Croatia. Most of them are in the summer, that’s the problem. We do maybe one or two places in the summer. We could do much more but we’re not interested in doing that because we’re doing fine here, but if we want to do it we find a way. If we get an opportunity that we don’t want to miss because it’s paid well or it’s a nice trip or something, then we’ll travel, but only in Croatia. We also have our second jobs. Ivica the drummer and I have a small business, Nota Kayaking. We have a small number of kayaks and we do exclusive tours for tourists. It’s just the two of us and we have a lot of work, so we can’t afford to miss out on the kayaking. So, I spend all day on the sea and every evening playing. But winter is best for travelling, and for producing. The way I see it is the production of music is the point, not the travelling. I want to give myself enough space and time to produce, that’s the need that I feel, so I clear my winter [schedule] to do that. It’s not my wish to go around the world and play.
You’ve made a number of videos and they are all very different from each other.
Yes. For the video for ‘It’s Just You and Me’ I wanted to have three completely different stages. Here I wanted to take animation in the beginning, so we had to figure out how it’s going to look, what’s going to happen, and why. Then we shot the it in the rehearsal room while we played, and then we decided to bring in the girl (actually, she’s my sister, and she’s an actor), which is the third completely different segment. She’s doing the facial expressions which are from the worst possible state that a person can be in, like struggling and crying, and she ends up with a smile at the very last second, and that’s not easy. So, we had these three completely different things in one video, so if somebody who knows how to shoot a video sees this he knows that there’s a little bit of effort in it rather than just us dancing on the beach in the different shots. The video for ‘I Ain’t’ was filmed in Lazereti for a live Christmas show on the TV. Every Christmas they play that, they just play a bit of snow over it, like it’s snow falling. The latest one for ‘On My Mind’ is actually a 360 video, and it’s the first 360 music video in Croatia. If you watch it on a laptop you should see the arrows up in the left corner. You can move it all the way around and see whatever you want. If it’s on your phone, you have to move your phone to see it. You should see the next thing we’re doing right now. It’ll be the weirdest, definitely! That’s the point. Thinking about it, and the production, and being creative. Not just playing in a club in Zagreb. That’s not the point.
Who comes up with these ideas? You, or everyone in the band?
I do the scripts, not because I’m the best at it, it’s just because I like doing that. It’s like me asking them ‘Please, I have an idea. Let’s do this...’ Nikola, the guy on the keyboards, is the one who knows how to actually do it. He’s the camera guy, so it’s me with the idea, I write the script, and then we shoot it, and then he puts it together and makes it the way it is. We kind of trust each other. We’ve been together long enough so when I come up with the idea he trusts me.
To find out what we’re talking about, you can watch Feredon’s videos on YouTube, where they also have some of the covers that they play.