Moving on after the Felix Culpa

By Paul Durden

Sometimes we have the misfortune of hearing about a band after they have already parted ways. The Felix Culpa is such a band for me, and probably for most of you reading this. With a sound that can best be described as “their own”, the Felix Culpa created thoughtful and artistic pieces since their formation almost a decade ago. The strange thing is that they never really gained widespread national popularity, which has been accredited to the gaps of time between the band’s full length albums, with six years between Commitment and Sever Your Roots.

Marky Hladish, former vocalist and guitarist of the band, said there were a score of reasons behind the long period of silence.

“For one thing, bands typically tend to pump out releases as quick as they can,” Hladish said. “We very specifically wanted Sever Your Roots to be the antithesis from modern music production, we wanted to capture the time and space we were in.” They wanted to experiment, rewrite, and make the album, “…the best it could be, and everything we wanted it to be.”

Hladish feels strongly about allowing music to grow and mature before it is released into the wild, but he said of musicians who release albums in rapid succession: “Do whatever you need to do to make your art your own. If you’re trying to pump out other albums, go ahead and sound like all of the other bands on your label. I like music with a soul, purpose, that exudes the artist’s intentions. There’s entertainers, and then there’s artists, which is the reason why we never achieved national success. I wouldn’t recommend it.”

The message is sharp, but a good one. The Felix Culpa’s library contains songs that exhibit what happens when musicians plumb the depths of their talents in order to produce something that is uniquely their own, and serves as an example of what more mainstream musicians should strive to achieve.

There is still a chance to hear their music played in some capacity, however, as Hladish will be playing a solo show at this year’s Middlewest Fest on Saturday, 8:40 PM, at the Smltwn Skate Shop, 229 E. Lincoln Highway. Hladish said he is still trying to pinpoint what he would like to play at this year’s festival, but that it would definitely include some songs from the Felix Culpa’s set, which he feels attached to, and that would work as part of a solo performance. Hopefully, he said, this would be a treat for those fans who had been expecting a show from the whole band. Although he did not want to give too much away, he also said that he will play some covers of songs that mean a lot to him.

The breakup of the band was rather sudden, and Hladish has only one solid plan at the moment.

“Vacation,” he said. “It’s nice to have a minute to not worry about the next tour or recording release; to sit back and observe.”

He has definitely had enough to do, because Hladish is also the man in charge of the promotional material for Middlewest Fest. However, that has not stopped him from feeling the effects of the breakup.

“We’re healthier as individuals now that the band has gone its separate ways, but back then it was hard because of the internal strife,” Hladish said. “Like any drastic change in life, it’s bittersweet. None of us will ever be fully over it. None of us will let it go. But it’s nice to move forward.”