Interview: Feeder’s Grant Nicholas
It’s hard to believe that it has been 20 years since Feeder first burst onto the UK music scene with their mini-album ‘Swim’ in 1996, and since then they have clocked up 9 albums – 3 of them Top 5 hits.
After a four year break ,which saw front man Grant Nicholas release his first solo album ‘Yorktown Heights’, Feeder are back with a new single ‘Universe of Life‘ and their 10th studio album ‘All Bright Electric,’ set to be released on 30th September 2016.
I was lucky enough to catch up with the front man and talk to him about the album.
Sarah: Hi Grant, great to talk to you. So Feeder are back after a 4 year hiatus,why was the time right now to return?
Grant: “I don’t know that it is [laughs]! The plan was to have a bit of a break and I was going to do some writing for other artists. I didn’t have plans to do a solo album really but then I wrote material that was different to Feeder and then I had enough for an album, then a mini-album. I was just keeping busy and Taka [Hirose, bass player] was off doing a side thing in Japan. I was writing more and it just moved into Feeder songs. It’s a really good album. My solo stuff has brought something to these songs and in a way the new Feeder album was born from it.”
GNI: The first single off the album is ‘Universe of Life’ which was released on 15/7/16 and it marks a return to the old Feeder sound of down tuned sludgy guitars. What can we expect from the new album?
Grant: “Well the music is more riffy so I can see what you mean about the ‘old’ sound but we’ve always had a specific guitar sound and we have great chemistry. But there is a sound similar to back when we made ‘Polythene‘. I feel this album has a bigger sound, more analogue. It touches on elements of 1970’s rock also.
“I feel in a way Feeder have always been misjudged as a band and we were once called the ‘British Smashing Pumpkins’ in an attempt to pigeon hole our sound. But just because we had went slightly poppier doesn’t mean we weren’t Feeder anymore. Personally I like music that is new but sounds influenced by older stuff like The Black Keys, Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age and even Arctic Monkeys sound so I am hoping we will pick up some fans of bands like those with the new album as well as pleasing our fans who have always been there.”
GNI: So do you intend to carry on with the solo stuff and which do you prefer, Feeder or solo writing and playing?
Grant: “Well, the solo stuff influenced the new record a lot. Like, I wasn’t going to go away from the band and do a dance record or typically catchy stuff so while it was different to Feeder, it helped with the new album. But I intend to carry on the solo writing and it’s good for my head space.
“But at the minute I want to focus on Feeder as too many things can leave people confused. Plus I have two kids [laughs]! I see people in like 8 bands and think ‘how do you have the energy?’! But I have been doing some producing and really I am enjoying Feeder more than ever. Its more natural. There’s no pressure now like there was with previous album making. I’ve been writing and recording tracks at home, then Taka will come round and have a listen and give his input. Plus, I got to take long breaks and really live with the tracks.”
GNI: ‘Polythene’ will be 20 years old next year as it was release on 18th May 1997. Any plans for touring and playing it as an album in full?
Grant: “Well , ‘Swim’ is 2o years this year too. So, we might do! [laughs] Why, would you come? [laughs] We just started with ‘Swim’ as we wanted to do a mini-album and we got great reviews so it was a great launch pad and ‘Polythene’ just went from there.
“For now though, the plans are to tour the new record and go to Japan. There’s talk of other places like the US as we have fans there also, then blitz as many festivals as we can get [laughs]! That’s why we only did the Isle of Wight festival this year so we would be back with a bang. We also had Nathan Connolly from Snow Patrol playing with us at that. He lives near me and had done a solo project too (Little Matador).”
GNI: Will Connolly be touring with Feeder on the UK dates and was he brought in to beef up the sound?
Grant: “Well, we usually have a keyboard player who triggers guitar samples for some songs, but I like a live guitar to play the little subtleties and melody lines. We have never needed extra people really. Feeder have always had a big sound anyway.”
GiggingNI: After over 20 years of touring are there any standout moments for you?
Grant: “We’ve played with Red Hot Chilli Peppers, U2, Coldplay and The Rolling Stones. They were all high points for sure. But doing our own arena tour was massive. Other high points were playing festivals like Fuji Rock in Japan. And the first time we played Reading Festival everyone was like ‘Who’s this band?’ and we got a great welcome and Steve Lamacq came and watched us, totally got it and championed us from then on.
“I feel that Feeder have consistently made good music and but I feel more inspired now than ever. I don’t know why, maybe its because having 2 kids has broken me [laughs]! I have an 11year old and a 9 year old. My daughter had done artwork for my solo album and sings on this Feeder album. They are both artistic , and that’s cool because my wife and I are also so its good to pass that on. For some people they have a family and then are really uninspired but for as long as we do Feeder I want to keep pushing forward.
“For me Feeder is about moving forward. And you know, I think we do well at it. It could be worse. At least I still have my hair! And its all natural now ha ha with a few greys! [laughs] But really, the record is a mixed bag, I feel more comfortable now in the band and I really believe in the album. I hope you do too.”
GiggingNI: And finally, are you looking forward to playing Belfast?
Grant: “I can’t wait to get back to play in Belfast, I’ve had some great nights there. And some rough hangovers! It sounds terrible but a bit of alcohol sometimes helps me to write. But the hangovers aren’t great now I’m older! (laughs) I look forward to seeing the Belfast crowd and playing the new album and some old songs.”