Rock band Feeder have just released their ninth album, All Bright Electric. On Sunday October 9 they play at Leeds Beckett University Students’ Union. The YEP spoke to singer and guitarist Grant Nicholas.
Eschewing the practice of touring a greatest hits or anniversary album, you’ve broken the mould of many bands from the 90s and released a full album of new material. What still drives you creatively as a band and how has the momentum been maintained?
I think the passion to still push forward and make the best music we can. The music business is a very different place now to when we started out, but good songs are still the key and what connects people to the music. As a writer I feel I still have a lot to do musically and I am fortunate that the inspiration and passion is still there.
You’ve always been lazily tagged as a grunge band, often overlooked unfairly by the UK music press, yet the fans have remained loyal throughout. Is going on the road to the fans the most rewarding aspect?
We have always tried to do things our own way and tried to keep away from the trends. I think some of the music press have never really listened to Feeder properly and have a perception of the band which is often incorrect . Saying that, we have also had some great support out there regionally and from certain publications, especially the rock and alternative press side of things.
Your songs tend to lean towards feelings, emotions and escapism. Have you found your own happiness or are there still unfulfilled ambitions?
I think I will always keep pushing to write the best songs I can for Feeder and my solo work, but I am not sure if I will ever feel totally fulfilled as a writer. Maybe this is what still drives the passion and keeps us moving forward. It would be nice to look back one day at our career and to see what we have achieved but I feel we still have so much more to do before we take a back seat. I really feel we are in a good place at the moment musically after our hiatus and the ambition and passion still burns bright.
Their will be a cassette release for this album as well as all the modern mediums, why this format and why now?
It’s nice to still do something old school and in a physical format in this world of downloads. Cassette and vinyl is something different now and very collectable for some people. We are only doing very small runs as we want to offer people something special. A lot of time and thought has gone into the various formats for the new album ‘All Bright Electric’ and it’s great to also see it in cassette form like our earlier work.
For various reasons the band has seen differing line-ups, but have maintained a three-piece. Are there any ambitions for solo work or more ‘band-in-band’ concepts like Renegades?
After spending the last few years working on my more acoustic solo work I felt it was time to return to the more electric sound of Feeder and crank the guitars up again.Grant Nicholas
Each album has been different in some ways and that is why the live line up has changed a bit over the years. Some albums have more layers so need a bigger band to make it work live. Feeder will always be a three-piece at heart and we still always record and often rehearse this way to keep that chemistry. Renegades was still very much a Feeder record and I think an important step in our evolution as a band at that point. It was important to shake things up and find our roots again. After many big shows and touring I really felt it was time to return to a more stripped back organic sound and to find our energy and soul. Some people maybe found the album too heavy but it’s still one of my favorite sounding Feeder albums and was great fun to play live.
It seemed like both a smart and creative decision to self release and produce work, were labels and radio stations just pushing for another ‘Buck Rodgers’?
We have always been lucky as our label never really forced us or myself as a writer to repeat past hit single formulas. I think they had the confidence in us and always knew we would deliver something accessible on each record, so let us get on with it. The production experience I have gained has come from years of recording and working with some great producers like Gil Norton, Steven Street, Ken Nelson and Chris Sheldon. Production for me is now almost like part of the song writing process, how you hear the finished song in your head.
We decided to release the last two albums on our own label and retain the masters and financially we were lucky enough to be able to do it. The new album is going to be released jointly with Cooking Vinyl and Big Teeth Music which I think is a good place for us to be at this moment. Cooking Vinyl have great experience as a label and we will work together. I feel we have a great team and the passion we need for this record and Feeder’s future.
What is the overall theme of your new album ‘All Bright Electric’?
There is no real theme as such but I really wanted to make an album that felt complete sonically and musically like a lot of great records from the 70s. Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin etc made such amazing sounding music and I love that more analogue sound and approach. After spending the last few years working on my more acoustic solo work I felt it was time to return to the more electric sound of Feeder and crank the guitars up again. There are still some mellow moments on the album however, which hopefully make the journey more interesting for the listener. The theme is very much about life, relationships and whatever was going on at that moment in time and I like to have an image in my mind when I write lyrics. Imagery is so important to me and sometimes it feels like I am making music for a soundtrack or short film in my head. Some of the songs are connected in some way so it gives the album a kind of thread.
Early signs from material released so far, is that you have returned to a more rock oriented sound in lieu of some of your more acoustic work. Would that be a fair impression?
It’s definitely a rock album but also has some mellow more reflective moments. I don’t think I would have approached or made a Feeder album like this if I had not taken time out to record my solo album Yorktown Heights and mini album Black Clouds. During these recording sessions I touched on something different, more organic and analogue in some way. Taka also did some side projects in Japan to fill the gap and try new things and I think the break did us both good. I really feel this record captures Feeder’s heart and soul.
You are often described as a Welsh band, almost as though there is a ‘Welsh sound’, Manics, Stereophonics etc. Has that ever hindered the band, and how are you received internationally?
I don’t know if we were ever part of the so-called Welsh scene but have always been proud of our roots. I started the band after meeting Jon in Newport back in the day so we still feel very close to Wales. At that time it was hard to get noticed living in a small town so we relocated to London where we finally got noticed. We met Taka there and that was the Feeder line. There are some great Welsh bands out there and I have still have a massive respect for the Manics. I am just happy if we have a place in the hearts of the Welsh people and it has certainly never held us back. Internationally we are fortunate to have fans all over the world and hope Feeder get the opportunity to play and tour different countries that we have still not visited. We play Japan in November which is always such a great trip and Taka gets to see his friends and family.
What surprises do you have in-store for fans at the forthcoming gigs?
We are just really looking forward to getting back out there and playing some new tunes as well as some old favorites. We will also have a new drummer for this tour and a second guitarist to add to the line-up.
Feeder play at Leeds Beckett University on Sunday October 9. For details visit www.feederweb.com