Having seen so much success with your brothers, why did you decide to leave the Felice Brothers and take on a different project?
Moving on from our band was never an intentional thing. In the winter on 2008/2009 my wife and I had a terrible miscarriage and I stayed home to look after her instead of going on tour. In that reflective time I wrote 'If You Ever Get Famous', 'One More American Song', and all the songs that I later recorded that became the Duke & The King debut (Nothing Gold Can Stay). I felt I needed to share this work with people and my brothers gave me their blessing to do so and I'm thankful for that.
You worked with your brothers on ‘Celebration, Florida’, was it good to be back and helping them out?
Yes, I helped with some vocal and lyrical work on the song 'Ponzi', a really timely story Ian had divined, all about greed and big business and excess, I had watch the album take shape over the course of a year and was captivated by the new sounds and approach, it felt fantastic to spend some time in the studio with the boys again.
Playing with your brothers must have felt like a very tight group. How much different was it being in D&TK?
All the folks in the Duke & The king had been close friends for years and we all had a shared musical experience in one way or another long before the project took shape. So it felt very natural, which really is a prerequisite of mine to work with anyone in the delicate and holy endeavor of music. Its gotta feel like family, I suppose that comes from my ramshackle journey of discovering what it really means to be a band with my brothers.
Now you’re moving on with a solo career, does this mean the end for D&TK? If so, will you miss D&TK?
I'd call it more of a change then an end. Miss? I'm a great sentimentalist, sometimes at by own peril, missing things is what I do best.
Do you think you’ve always wanted to be a solo artist? Is this something that has been a burning desire for a long time?
I wouldn't say wanted. There are many paths in the woods and this is the one I've come to. The silence is a welcome change and the light is different here, my leg hurts more in the cold seasons, but I walk on.
With all these twists and turns in you musical career does it help you to stay creative? It is easy for you to find fresh ideas?
Great question. The answer is an unequivocal: yes.
Do you feel you’re influenced by anything musically? If so who or what and why you think that’s important to you?
I was born right outside of Woodstock New York in ‘70’s. The first music I heard, before I could even speak, was my father and mother's music, the ghost of the ‘60’s was omnipotent. Dylan, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Hendrix, they were gods in my ear and still are.
Do you think your song writing has grown or changed from your time in the Felice Brothers, through D&TK and now with your solo material? What are the biggest differences now if any?
None what-so-ever. The capturing of whispers is the way to write a song. It’s been my approach all along.
With so much going on musically you still managed to find time to write a novel. Again, have you always wanted to write a book? Will there be any more?
I began 'Black Jesus' in the autumn of 2005 and whittled away at it like a crude wooden figure. Writing in the tour van, by the riverside, in the country, in the city, on the plane, in crowds and all one alone. It was a labour of love and took several years to complete and yes, I've begun a new story, but I'm sure it'll take many years to reach the end.
Your new record is set for release in the UK on Reveal Records in April. Where was it recorded? Was it a long process?
In my barn, also with my brothers in a derelict high school building by the Hudson River, and in the old church in London's Crouch End. All recorded over the long year following my open heart surgery and the birth of my first child.
A little birdie tells me you’ve had some guests on this record, have a Mumford or two made an appearance?
My friend Ben Lovett produced a few songs on the album with me, and he and Ted sang beautifully with me on 'You & I Belong', which we recorded in the old church on Crouch End. It was a special session for many reasons, not least of which is because it’s where the Traveling Wilburys did a lot of their recording. Roy Orbison is there on my album, if you listen close you'll hear him.
As such a hard working artist no doubt you have plans for lots of touring. Where are going? When will we see you in the UK? Are there any shows lined up that you’re particularly looking forward to?
I'll be doing 23 dates in the Uk and Ireland in April and early May. I'll have a wonderful group with me including lap steel, Rhodes organ, mandolin, banjo and my dear Simi from Duke & The King, we're looking forward to each night being a magical one.
You’ve become quite a figure head of a new era of Americana in Britain, why do you think Americana is so popular with the Brits? Why do you think your music has been such a success here too?
Us Yanks and ya'll Brits are like kissing cousins. We wonder at one another from across the water, you give us The Beatles and Bowie and we give you Dylan and Patti Smith, and so on. When its all said and done we're family, admiring, cursing and wooing the other throughout time.
There seems to always be so much going on in the career of Simone Felice, where will you be or what will you be doing in the next 12 months? Another band? Another project
Simone Felice is who I am, I've been a long time stitching this ragged manner and I intend to fly it til the last bullet.
Finally, what have you been listening to lately and what is your favourite record of 2011?
Mostly a single song: 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes' by Sandy Denny, rest her soul.