DocFell & Co
Please introduce your band
We are from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and currently have a 5 piece band. I call our style Post Modern Country and Western. We fuse red dirt, classic country, gospel and funk.
Tell us about your lineup
John Fell - Vocals, acoustic guitar. Founded the band in 2012
John Barker - Bass, vocals. Joined the band in 2014
Jordan Cox - Vocals, lead guitar, harmonica, accordion. Joined in 2018
Gavin Haddox - Drums. Joined in 2018
Matt Mcrary - Lead guitar. Joined in 2020
We have all played in various bands and the lineup for DocFell has changed over the years but the current lineup is the most solid so far. We have released 4 studio projects and a few singles with this lineup
How did the band meet?
Fell and Barker met when they were in different cover bands playing the same circuit but wouldn't begin playing together for another 5 years. Fell and Cox met when his band Osage County opened for DocFell. We soon became great friends and eventually decided to combine our powers for the greater good of mankind. Cox and Haddox played together in Osage County and he was a natural fit to join the band and beat the drums. Mcrary is the newest member and started playing with the band in 2020. He said off the bat the most important things were the hang, the money and the music in that order.
What's the story behind your band name?
John Fell the founder is an actual doctor taking care of people. We decided to embrace that and playoff all the famous Docs. Doc Holiday, Doc Watson, etc.
Tell us about your influences!
Music has been an inspiration from a young age. I feel like the roots of DocFell are based in southern Baptist hymns but the tree is built out of classic country tunes and rock music of my youth. Somehow we learned to use all those sources to create music that at times can be hard to categorize. Currently, I think our greatest influence is each other as we really have begun to create our own sound.
Could you describe your approach to songwriting?
Songs are always floating around in the air waiting to land. I always try to keep the creative door open for ideas. I don't normally have any dedicated time to just write so my process has to fit into my normal busy day. I generally keep a running list of ideas and song starts on my phone. I saw a good quote by Cash recently that said: “I start a lot more songs than I finish”. I don't throw them away, I just store them until they are ready.
Describe your band's first big break
We have played a few large festivals and opened for some major acts but generally, I don't think we have really had a big break. Certainly playing for a few thousand people is way different than playing the local bar crowd. Generally, we always approach it all with the mindset that there are no small crowds, just small performances. So we come out like you are swinging from the fences at every gig.
Tell us about some of your most memorable gigs - both good and bad!
A make or break for us tends to be the sound. If it’s dialled in and we can feel it as well as the crowd, I think we really feed off the energy so much better. I know we have had times where we have had to play gigs with a terrible mix in our monitors - basically flying blind and really just relying on instinct. The funny thing is that even though we feel like we struggled at those times, we generally still get a great response from our audience.
What advice do you have to those who want to start a band?
If you have the passion then chase your passion. I think music is a wonderful thing to perform and to listen to. It is a healing balm for a sometimes harsh world. So if someone wants to start a band, I say give it hell. I guess the thing I would say is; relish the small milestones. Playing a new venue. Releasing a new track. Getting reviewed. Selling out a show. It is easy to lose focus and have your eye on the big prize. I think the hardest part can be dealing with your band members. I think it’s important to play with people you like. Currently, if I wasn't playing a gig, I would choose to hang out with the guys in my band.
What are some of the challenges you face being in a band?
Over the years I have had no joke about 20 different band members. I feel like the hardest part has been dealing with members who just don't fit well. Personally, I want everyone in the band to feel like they are a part of the band and not just hired guns. I feel like the passion is more genuine and that it shows in the music we play.
What does it take to be successful as a band?
I always say that talent only gets you so far. I know plenty of musicians with all the talent in the world and still going nowhere. The key to me is perseverance. Despite the frustration and rejection, we are always pressing onward. I would say to anyone starting out, build a good foundation and then just keep building toward the sky.
How important is music theory?
As a songwriter, I have had to learn theory on the fly. I certainly continue to learn more as time goes by and it continually opens new doors for me with the music I create. Lately, I have found a lot of benefit in learning new songs and really breaking down the structure and chord progression. It has opened my eyes to new possibilities.
Tell us about the releases you've put out to date
Our first album was released in 2014 called Scissor Tail. I had only written about 40 songs and going into the studio had no clue what to expect. Luckily I was able to work with a great producer who held my hand. Our second album came out in 2016 called Dust Bowl Heart. Returning to the same studio and having a few more years of music I was able to create a more definitive DocFell sound. In 2018 we released Heaven, Hell or Oklahoma. It was our first album recorded at a major studio, Yellow Dog. It was the first time we used studio musicians and technically so far our most complete album. In 2020 we released Revelations. I decided to record in my home town using local musicians in addition to my band. We have had several songs on the Texas charts and have had our greatest success so far.
What has been your band's biggest achievement?
I feel like each album release was the biggest achievement. I enjoy playing live music a lot but I really really enjoy creating music in the studio. It is a tough journey and the path is often difficult to navigate but completing an album is so rewarding. Our latest album especially was rewarding as I did all the legwork getting musicians lined up to record and being the most hands-on with any project to date.
How do you view the current state of the music industry?
It’s evolving. Clearly, we are a streaming society. The album is dying but music is more abundant. I think it is great that so many musicians have access to affordable options to record and release tracks but it also muddies the water so to speak. I luckily get to make music regardless of streams and lack of revenue. If I had to do it for a living I would have starved by now.
What are you working on right now?
I have a single called I Only Cry that I am releasing this spring. We are about to start recording an EP called 5ths for our fifth studio project. We are constantly touring and have most of 2021 booked at some level. I continue to write songs on a consistent basis, trying to find that perfect one.
What is your focus for the year ahead?
We have multiple dates booked and get offers weekly for new venues. I would like to play more festivals in the coming year. We continue to have songs on the Texas charts and I have been focusing on promoting our music online. As much as it isn't as fun working on the business side of music, I have found that it is necessary.
Thank you so much for dropping by the WeJam studio! Where can we follow your progress?