Red Feathers strive to be anything but human

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From the August 7, 2014 edition

Offstage, Red Feathers guitarist Ian Mausoleum prefers to keep a low profile.

He arrived at a Clintonville coffee shop for our late July interview wearing a pair of dark sunglasses and a ball cap pulled low on his face, like an a-list celeb trying to remain incognito, and he noted he preferred to keep certain biographical details (his age, upbringing, etc.) off-the-record.

“I’ve lived a private life, and I’ve gone out of my way to live a private life,” he said.

Onstage, however, Mausoleum and his Red Feathers bandmates — singer the Pink Owl, drummer Blake Pfister and bassist Joe Rex — refuse to hold anything back, adopting over-the-top personas as outlandish as the quartet’s music, a road-grading stew that incorporates elements of art-rock, glam, metal and blues. It’s a transformation most clearly seen in the Pink Owl, who becomes a shirtless, contorting, swaggering maniac the second he takes hold of a microphone.

“We all strive to be something else when we’re making music,” said Mausoleum, who joins the band at Rumba Cafe on Friday, Aug. 8, for a concert celebrating the release of its latest seven-inch. “I don’t want to see a bunch of normal guys onstage. I’ve always been of the mind you should strive to feel like you’re not human anymore when you’re up there. Other people might tell you you’re being arrogant or over the top, but it’s like this is the only place I’m allowed to be this type of person. You don’t have to be a guy who works in a store or a guy who delivers pizzas when you’re onstage. You can be freaky.”

Prior to launching Red Feathers two years ago, Mausoleum, who has played guitar as far back as he can remember but only started taking it seriously at 19 after becoming obsessed with local bands like Deadsea and Teeth of the Hydra, had given up music altogether, and he credits the Pink Owl with revitalizing his interest, saying, “Hearing him sing and watching him do his thing … brought me back to music.”

Fittingly, the guitarist’s biggest hope for the group is it will inspire a similar passion in audiences. Love them or hate them, he said, just so long as you’re feeling something.

“I don’t want you to walk away from a show we’ve played thinking, ‘That was alright,’” Mausoleum said. “In the end it’s about inspiring someone to do something. So if the Pink Owl gets up there and then some kid goes home and takes his shirt off and looks in the mirror, like, ‘I’m going to be glam as hell.’ Good. That kid’s going to grow up and have a sweet band. And that’s what it’s all about.”

Photo by Maddie McGarvey