Interview/ Q&A: Grant Nicholas from Feeder

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By Guy Marcham, Deputy Music Editor

As Feeder gear up to release their 10th album Tallulah this September, frontman Grant Nicholas took the time to answer our questions and reflect on over 20 years leading one of the 21st century’s most successful British rock acts.

Nicholas touches upon the highs and lows of a lifetime in music – through the death of drummer, Jon Lee, in 2002, to the heights of indie rock fame with hits such as ‘Buck Rogers’ and ‘Just A Day’ to now cementing and pushing forward with their legacy in 2019. An opportunity to delve into the experiences of band who have provided hit after hit, even culminating in their own Best of compilation in 2017.

Your new album, Tallulah, is out this September - would you be able to describe to us what the album is about? The themes that the album touches upon and the influences that you have incorporated into the new album?

“I feel that the album has a positive, retrospective feel to it. It feels like a good road trip album and is really all about the songs and the journey that they take the listener on. Lyrically it touches on childhood memories, life, escapism, relationships and experiences. As I get older I find I have more to write about and we have experienced so much as a band over the past 25 years. I wanted the album to run a bit like a Feeder live set in some way and open up in the second half to a slightly different mood and landscape.”

Having been a band since 1994 - how do you keep things fresh and keep moving forward with your sound?

“Feeder has always been about the songs, but we do try and approach each album slightly differently to keep it fresh. The songs all start out as acoustic tracks. I like songs that work in a simple portable way as well as with the classic Feeder elements and dynamics that are added later in recording and production. The best songs always work acoustically in general, I find.”

Frontman Grant Nicholas (left) and bassist Taka Hirose (right) who together make up Feeder

Do you still feel the same excitement when embarking on worldwide tours and releasing brand new music now as to 20 years ago or have things become harder as the music industry has developed?

“I still get a massive buzz when releasing new music and playing different places is still exciting. There are still so many countries we still would love to play, and this is what keeps it fresh and addictive. Releasing new music can however still be slightly daunting at times as you don’t know what the reaction will be. All we can do is make the best music we can at that time. Tallulah feels like a complete record to me so I’m happy with it and I’ve had a lot of time to live with it over the past few months.”

Are you finding the current musical landscape difficult for your brand of British rock or are you witnessing a revival in enthusiasm for guitar-based music when you play live and release new songs?

“We have so many young fans coming to our shows currently as well as the usual diehards.  It’s the new generation that keeps the Feeder army growing. This is something we are really happy about and shows that the kids like guitar bands.

There are also some great young bands around, which is encouraging, and I feel we are still relevant in this current musical climate.

There are not so many bands like us left and I hope younger bands may get some hope or inspiration that you can still have a career in indie rock and guitar music if you work hard. It’s really about belief, hard work and the right tunes.”

Welsh music and even Welsh language, particularly with the likes of Gwenno and Gruff Rhys, have had something of a reprisal in recent years. How do you reflect on being a Welsh band and incorporating a distinct Welsh identity in your music?

“I’m the only Welsh member of the band as Jon sadly passed away but I still see myself as Welsh even though I have spent the past thirty years or so living in London. I was born in Newport but grew up just over the border in South Wales. Feeder however got discovered in London as it was where we relocated to as we felt there was more opportunity there. I do however think my upbringing and life growing up in Wales still influences me from time to time when writing, but it has always been about songs that have a more universal message for me.

Being in London, travelling and having children has definitely made the musical canvas a lot bigger as a writer. If I hadn’t grown up in South Wales would I have written some of these songs? I really don’t know.”

Suicide and depression has devastated the music industry in recent years, especially the rock and indie genres with the loss of Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison and Soundgarden's Chris Cornell. Having lost your previous drummer, Jon Lee, to suicide in 2002, how important do you find having open and honest discussions around mental health and making more people aware of the issues at hand?

“Losing Jon was devastating, and it still frustrates and saddens me to this day. He was a great guy and none of us really saw it coming or the black clouds that maybe haunted him.

I’m very aware of mental health issues, especially in the business but I don’t really have open discussion about it. I touch on it in songs here and there and I know it’s a growing issue. At least there is an awareness nowadays which has to only be a positive thing.”

Only in 2017 did you release 'The Best of Feeder'. Is that not something that signposts the closing of chapter or end of days for a band? What are your thoughts on that interpretation?

“We decided it was a good time to release the Best of. I guess we have gone kind of full circle as a band and it was great to hear all those singles on one record.

I think it was more opening a door to people rather than a closing of a chapter for us. So many people know our music but still don’t necessarily know it’s Feeder.

The 'Best Of' was a good reminder and it brought back a lot of memories rehearsing and playing some of those songs again live.

I feel I have so many more songs to write and as a band we feel we are in a great place at the moment.

'Tallulah' came out good as we just want to enjoy the next leg of the journey, wherever that takes us.”

Feeder's brand new album 'Tallulah' comes out on the 9th August. You can catch them on tour this Novemeber here - https://feederweb.com

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