Gainesville’s newest jam band has gone through many changes before becoming Whale Feral, self-described as a southern jam band combining intricate compositions and raw improvisation. The band consists of Will Bethea (bassist), Ricky Cagno (rhythm guitar and vocals), David Havens (drums) and Matt Urban (lead guitar and vocals).
The story of the name Whale Feral is an interesting one and depending on which member of the band you talk to you will get a different story every time. My favorite version comes from Urban. He starts off with “A tale as old as time,” and tells his story of the time he spent in his local library when one day a book fell on the floor and he “went inside the novel.” That book was The Neverending Story and Falkor, one of the main characters, gave him the inspiration. It might sound a little far-fetched, or even familiar, but the name stuck. The band spent about month coming up with many interesting options for a name but in the end, Whale Feral felt right.
It’s hard to capture the essence of the group’s sound in just one sentence. Inspired by bands like The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, and Phish; Whale Feral emulates these artists’ ability to encompass multiple genres. In a single song, you can hear undertones of hip-hop, funk, bluegrass, reggae, and jazz all blended seamlessly for a powerful delivery.
What can you expect from Whale Feral on the day of any performance? 1- Someone will stay with Urban all day to ensure he gets to the show. 2- The band will toast with a shot of Jack Daniels before hitting the stage and 3- They’ll give the audience a show that they have never experienced before.
This year Whale Feral will be performing at Swamp Records Showcase. “I’m excited to show people this sound we have, I feel like it’s pretty unique… we’re influenced by so many genres and I’m just curious to see how people will react to that,” said Cagno. The band is also friends with many of the acts this year and they said it’s always a great time watching them perform as well. Twelve’Len, King Complex, Just Neighbors, and Animal Prince are just a few of the acts they can’t wait to see. Immediately following their performance, Bethea and the band's manager Kris Koepke must race to UF to take a heat transfer exam, so if you see them at Showcase be sure to buy them a drink for good luck.
The Swamp Records Showcase question of the year is pineapple on pizza? Yay or nay? To which Cagno replied, “Gordan Ramsay said it all.” Urban and Havens agreed but Bethea had some different opinions. This 3 to 1 split marks the band's search for a new bassist so catch them at Showcase while you still can.