Family and Friends Share Debut Full-Length 'Felix Culpa': Premiere

Chelsea Kornse
Family and Friends

After releasing a pair of EPs, Athens, Ga.'s Family And Friends figured a full album -- Felix Culpa, which comes out June 8 and is premiering exclusively below -- was the logical step. 

"We knew that to be taken seriously by the industry, and within ourselves as a band and collective unit, (an album) is what we had to do next," frontman Mike MacDonald tells Billboard. "The past two, three years have been a lot of navigating that process, kind of changing the writing process a little bit and the way we work. What came out of that is what Felix Culpa turned out to be."

The greatest change was that the folk-rock troupe became more of a band in the creative process. Where songwriting was once primarily MacDonald's domain, he began opening opportunities for his five bandmates to bring in original ideas -- and the music was all the better for it.

"It took a lot, to be honest," MacDonald concedes. "It was difficult at first, but I think it was humbling in a lot of ways, and at the end of the day I think we made something that we're all much more proud of and something we wouldn't have done otherwise. It's a lot more playing off each other as opposed to one person dictating what's happening. It was a lot more bringing ideas from different sources, different musical backgrounds. For us as a band that's something we want to do, to continue to grow and expand -- even beyond what we did this time."

After talking with a few producers, Family And Friends enlisted Brad Wood (Liz Phair, Ben Lee, Say Anything) to helm Felix Culpa. "Every time we got off the phone with Brad, he was really excited about it, which got us excited and motivated," MacDonald recalls. "Looking at his past discography, what he's done, the sounds he's made, he seemed like the guy for this album, for what we do." The group, meanwhile, is lining up live dates to support the album, including a release party on June 7 in Atlanta. There are a few sporadic dates slated afterwards, with more to be added in the near future -- once, MacDonald notes, Family And Friends gets a handle on playing the new songs live.

"It's exciting for us right now," he says. "We're still experimenting with how to play these live because we added so many layers and instrumentation to these (songs). We're trying to figure out how to get to a more bare-bones structure that we can play. But it's been great; Our favorite aspect of all this is playing live, so we can't wait to do that with this record."