'We've always done it our own way', says Feeder frontman of band's 25-year history

Feeder frontman Grant Nicholas performing in Singapore on Saturday (14 Sept). (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — I first caught Feeder at London’s Wembley Arena way back in 2003.

The Welsh rockers were still touring off their 2002 album Comfort In Sound, their first following the death of the band’s original drummer Jon Lee. I’d followed the band since their previous effort, 2001’s Echo Park, and was hooked on their sound: part Pixies, part pop punk.

While Comfort was a more melancholy affair given the loss of their friend, the band’s remaining members – frontman Grant Nicholas and bassist Taka Hirose – pulled off a high-energy show that showcased the band’s strength: catchy guitar riffs, singalong lyrics and a textured yet still in-your-face sound.

For a tropical kid experiencing his first winter, Feeder brought a blast of summery warmth to a cold, grey day.

Cut to 2019 and the band’s latest record, Tallulah, is as classic a Feeder album as it gets. Catchy from the get-go, it marks a return to form and is sure to please longtime fans with tracks like the life-affirming Blue Sky Blue and the charging Fear Of Flying. For a band with 25 years under its belt, Feeder still sounds like they were born to play stadiums.

On Saturday (14 Sept), the band made their Singapore debut with a 90-minute performance at The Pavilion @ Far East Square. Making up for lost time with their local fans, the set covered newer singles along with older hits like Buck Rogers and Seven Days In The Sun.

Breaking into their anthem-for-a-night-out High during their encore, for me, was the highlight of the night, with everyone on the floor singing along. While Grant and Taka may be in their 50s, Saturday’s gig proved that they likely still have a long way to go before they’re done making music.

Feeder's longtime bassist Taka Hirose. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

‘We’ve always done it our own way’

Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore before their show, Grant described the band’s latest album as having been written in a “pretty good headspace”.

What influenced this was the band having come off two years of touring and the success of their 2017 two-disc singles compilation.

“We realised we’d done a lot of stuff. It’s quite impressive. Especially for a band that has always been seen as more indie rock,” said Grant. “You know, we’ve never been as big as Muse or Coldplay but we’ve always done it our own way.”

He said the album’s title was inspired by his wife’s friend’s eight-year-old daughter who is also named Tallulah. While he had initially intended to write songs to release as singles over Spotify, things eventually coalesced in a “very natural way” into a full-length work.

“I think it’s a classic Feeder album with elements of virtually all our previous records,” said Grant. “Some will be into our heavier side, some will be into our anthemic side... that’s what we’re about.”

With 10 studio albums and a quarter-century’s worth of songwriting in Feeder, Grant said he continues to enjoy what he’s doing, adding that the band has kept true to its identity after all this time.

“We do experiment as a band... but there’s always a danger. If you try too hard to be whatever’s happening musically at the time, like working with some R&B producer in (Los Angeles) or some hip-hop dude, sometimes it works,” he said.

“But sometimes it can be an absolute car crash.”

With 25 years under their belt, Feeder has kept true to its identity, said frontman Grant Nicholas (left). (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

Rock’s not dead

With bedroom-produced pop music seeming to be all the rage these days, I asked Grant if he thought rock was dead in 2019 – a notion to which he, surprisingly, disagreed.

“I think (rock music) is having a bit of a revival. It’s quite a good time for bands like us as well. As long as your songs are good and you keep making music,” he said, noting the importance of ensuring that their set-lists include a mix of old and new songs.

Having started in the CD and cassette era of music and continued into the internet age, Grant said the band has adapted to the changing times.

Commenting on dealing with social media, he said, “Everyone’s a critic, not just the journalists. Sometimes it can be quite difficult but, in general, we’re lucky to have really good fans.”

I asked if Grant thought starting a band in 2019 would be easier or harder than when he first started off with Feeder.

“I think it’s probably harder for young bands than ever. In those days, you could make a pretty good living (from CD sales) and it was just about playing live.

“That’s why a lot of the young bands I’ve met, they’ve got record deals but they’ve also got part-time jobs,” he said. “In the old days that never would have happened.”

While Grant feels no pressure for Feeder to keep putting out records, he said he does look forward to having his music reach new fans.

“New people coming to the shows is really important to us. As much as we love seeing the same faces, it’s great (to play a show) and go ‘I don’t know these people’,” he said.

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PHOTOS: Welsh rockers Feeder play the hits on their Singapore debut