Music interview '“ Feeder: '˜We always planned on doing it for the long term'

Formed 25 years ago and still going strong, Feeder appear at Bingley Music Live next week. Duncan Seaman reports.
Feeder play at Bingley Music Live. Picture: Steve GullickFeeder play at Bingley Music Live. Picture: Steve Gullick
Feeder play at Bingley Music Live. Picture: Steve Gullick

Grant Nicholas might have been busy making a new music video with his band Feeder since 8.30am but he sounds bright and fully engaged when we catch up during his lunch break.

“It’s called Veins,” he says of the track for which they’re filming the promo clip. “It’s a song I originally wrote for my solo record but decided to keep it back for Feeder. We re-did the drums and added a few heavy guitars and it’s ended up being the first single from the Best Of.”

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Feeder’s new Best Of, which is due out on September 29, marks the 21st anniversary of their first mini-album, Swim. For Nicholas, now aged 49, it offers a moment to look back on a career that’s spanned ten full-length albums.

“We’ve been going for just over 25 years now, which is a hell of a long time, but it’s flown by, it doesn’t feel that long. It’s like in any job, you’re busy and time goes quickly, but I always thought we were never a trend band so it was always about the music. I always felt if we played our cards right we could have a pretty good career and not just be a one-album-here-then-gone-the-next, but I wasn’t thinking, ‘Hey, we’re still going to be here in 25 years’, so it is amazing, really.

“We always planned on doing it for the long term but you never know in this business how long that can last for.”

Nicholas remembers the recording sessions for Swim with evident fondness. “It was me and Taka [Hirose, on bass] and Jon Lee, our original drummer who sadly isn’t with us any more [he took his own life in 2002]. We were just a young band, we’d done lots of gigs so we were pretty rehearsed. We went in and worked with a producer called Chris Sheldon and we just put those songs down.

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“It was fun, enjoyable, it was our dream, making our first record with a producer in a studio. I loved that whole process. I used to work in a recording studio so I felt very at home. I do remember it was a good vibe, we felt we were doing something that was a bit different to what was happening with the rest of the UK music scene, which was very much about Britpop at the time. We weren’t necessarily seen as what was the trendy or cool thing at the time but we were doing our thing and we were still building a really loyal fan base by doing gig after gig after gig.”

Instead of just releasing a standard Best Of, Feeder have included a full album’s worth of new material which they’re calling Arrow. “It wasn’t really planned,” says Nicolas, explaining their record company originally asked if he could write three or four bonus tracks to go with the package. “I just thought for me if I was a fan of the band who’d been collecting our music giving something fresh to them felt like a really good thing to do. The fact that I was inspired to write and we were up for doing it, I thought ‘Why not?’ It’s quite rare to have a new record as part of a Best Of. I actually had 12 songs, we just didn’t get time to finish the last few in the deadline that we were given.

“It was recorded in quite a short space of time. I gave myself and the band quite a lot of pressure to get it all finished but I think it was worth it. It was quite nice to write something in a slightly different headspace because I wasn’t really aware at the time that it was going to be an album, it was just me putting down this collection of songs that we could pick some from. Then it just became this body of work.”

One personal highlight for Nicholas came early on in Feeder’s career.

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“We got to do the main stage at Reading and that was a massive deal. Everyone talks about Glastonbury but Reading was a very important festival for 90s bands so for us to finally get on there and have an amazing response as quite a new band pulling this audience early in the day that was a massive achievement for us.”

He adds: “There’s been so many highs. Supporting the Rolling Stones and U2, playing at festivals with Queens of the Stone Age and Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters. It’s a dream.”

On Sunday September 3 the band play at Bingley Music Live. Nicholas says fans can look forward to some old favourites: “I think festivals are really about giving songs people know so it’ll be a good mixture of greatest hits, a few old favourites and possibly one or two new songs from Arrow if we get time to rehearse them.

“I think for us this really is more a celebration. You don’t really look back when you’re in a band, it’s not until to actually start going through all the tracklisting you realise you’ve actually done quite a bit. Sometimes when you’re in a successful band you get sick of playing [old] songs and it’s always about playing the new ones but I think this year is about playing some new songs from Arrow but also just as a reminder to ourselves about what we’ve done so far.”

Bingley Music Live runs from September 1-3.