Band with a mission

  • By Amy Daybert Enterprise editor
  • Friday, January 18, 2008 9:15am

Staying in luxury hotel rooms and dining out may be the life of some musicians, but members of the Ian McFeron Band have different plans for their 2008 tour.

This year, the local folk rock group hopes to complete a tour throughout the country in a bus-turned-RV. Before they leave, Shoreline native Ian McFeron, 26, said he and his band hope the vehicle is fully converted to be fueled by used vegetable oil.

“I just felt like going that route would be good for us,” said McFeron, who sings and plays guitar. “For me, I’ve been looking for a long time for ways that I could combine things I studied in college with the music I make.”

During his junior year at the University of Washington, McFeron studied conflict resolution in Northern Ireland and in Cape Town, South Africa. Back home for his senior year, he said he pondered what he wanted to do with his life.

A decision to perform his music led him to contact band member Alisa Milner, who plays the Texas style fiddle. Although the pair graduated from Shorecrest High School, they did not know one another until they started playing music together.

In 2003, the band released their record debut. Their latest release, “Let it Ride,” was introduced in 2007 and multiple songs have been played on the radio station 103.7 FM The Mountain.

While some band members have come and gone, McFeron and Milner continue to produce music and play in local venues. They will be joined by band members Mark Bateman on drums, Paul Fischer on electric guitar and Jon Markel on bass for a show at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard.

Although being a full time musician isn’t easy and doesn’t always secure a good pay day, each project the band pursues has been greater than the last, McFeron said. The band follows a sustainable business practice, he added, and works hard to furnish new projects without living too far beyond their pocketbooks.

“You have to find ways to cut corners,” Milner, 27, said about the group’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Before the end of the year, Ian McFeron Band fans can expect a new record. But the band’s latest undertaking encompasses environmental, economic, artistic and political aspects, according to McFeron.

“Running on waste vegetable oil is not going to solve the energy crisis in America, but for bands like us there’s a huge economic net effect. If we can reduce our fuel costs then we can compete with the guy who walks down the street in San Diego and plugs in his guitar,” he said.

The band intends to raise the money necessary to buy an engine converter known as a “Frybrid” made by Seattle resident Chris Goodwin that will turn vegetable oil into fuel for their RV as they perform throughout the Seattle area.

McFeron said he also sees the project as a way to help others learn about their own personal energy consumption choices.

“Music is an important thing to break down barriers and bring people together and this project can also be a way of raising awareness,” he said. “This bus project and dreaming all this up, to me, is all part of being a full time musician.”

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