“I started with piano when I was super young. My mom realized I was interested in music so she put me in piano lessons. My teacher got frustrated with me because I refused to read music. Eventually she was like maybe you should encourage him to play an instrument that doesn’t require reading. My uncle had this accordion and wasn’t using it. I was messing around with it one day at his house and he let me take it home. On the way home I learned a song. ‘Well,’ my mom said, ‘I guess he has an ear for this’ and set me up with lessons with Steve Riley.
After that, I started playing guitar. My mom showed me some chords and I just ran with it. I was at a friend’s house and he had just gotten a Fender Stratocaster. I was like whoa, an electric guitar. I realized you can play much higher up on the neck. I figured out how to play melodies, pentatonic blues and major scales. For most of my childhood, I had a guitar in my hands.
Feufollet was formed because I was in French immersion and we had this singing group Les Petits Amis led by Jane Vidrine. We would learn French songs, sing and perform. I was learning accordion so she let me play accordion in the group. We formed this band called Les Acadiens and played around town. Eventually we had a few changes in personnel that led us to reform the band and name it Feufollet in 1999. But it grew out of the French immersion scene and this cultural renaissance community of Lafayette. I’m very much a product of that movement.
Steve [Riley] was the producer of our first two records. He had a huge part in my musical development at a young age. To me, [Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys] made it okay to be creative in Cajun music. They wrote their own material but it wasn’t writing songs that recycled the same, old motifs. They were writing songs that mattered. They made albums like rock bands did. All the songs went together and told a story. Nobody ever did that in Cajun music before. I don’t think I was aware of that at the time but I’ve always gravitated towards their music.
Later on in my life, in high school, I got into the Beatles, then New York underground rock, post-punk and proto-punk and later new wave and power pop. That has all made the band what it is today. We are into all kinds of different music now. We all like country music and that has been a big influence in the band, especially with Kelli [Jones]. She has been a country music fan her whole life and she is propelling the band in this different direction.”