It has been four years since hard-rockers Feeder’s last album – the longest break the band have ever taken between albums.
All Bright Electric, their ninth album, is released today, and sees the band come roaring back with the kind of anthemic tunes they’ve become known for over the past two decades.
But that’s not to say they’ve been idle – far from it. Frontman Grant Nicholas put out a well-received solo album Yorktown Heights, while bassist Taka Hirose had his own Muddy Ape project – and set up a website dedicated to his native Japan’s cuisine.
‘It took a little while,’ Grant tells WOW247, ‘it wasn’t just ‘‘let’s jump back into Feeder’’ – it happened in a natural way.
‘I really enjoyed doing the solo project, I found it hard to stop doing that, it was building quite nicely. I did really well with that.’
Grant seems genuinely taken aback by how well the solo project went.
Not only is Feeder our livelihood, it’s good to be doing it and it’s feeling pretty fresh.Grant Nicholas
‘It’s not like you’re guaranteed any success, even if you’re in a bigger band. No matter how big a star you are it’s almost like starting again.
‘For me, it was time to have a little break from Feeder. There was no plan to have four years off, it just kind of worked out that way.’
Grant originally planned to use the break to do some writing with other artists after being approached by some production companies, but the songs he was writing felt too personal to give to someone else.
‘It just kind of felt like the songs were close to me on a personal level, and it became this nice body of work that it was hard to let go of, so it became a solo record.
‘There was no burning desire to be a solo artist. I’m obviously the main writer for Feeder, so I’ve always had that outlet any way. It just kind of happened, I wasn’t trying to prove a point.’
However, he was adamant when touring Yorktown Heights that he wouldn’t play any Feeder material.
‘I think I was pretty brave – I think most people would throw in a couple of hits, and we could have done Just The Way I’m Feeling or High, and it would have worked, but I had enough confidence in that record, that I didn’t feel as if I wanted to play that card. And I didn’t want to confuse the message between what I was doing with that record and what I was doing with Feeder. Even though I write both, it was a very different headspace,
‘It was very important to me to not fall back on throwing in a few Feeder songs, I’m sure it would have gone down really well, like when Noel Gallagher plays Oasis songs in his sets, but I didn’t think it was the right thing to do and I’m pleased I stuck to it.
‘I think if I’d carried on doing that and done another record, I could have got it up to a decent level – like Shepherd’s Bush level. But I felt it was time to go back to Feeder. I probably will do another solo record at some point, but I’m not in hurry to – if it happens it happens, now I want to focus on Feeder.’
Feeder are now ostensibly the duo of Grant and Taka.
‘Taka has had other things going on but he’s obviously pleased to get Feeder back together. Not only is it our livelihood, it’s good to be doing it and it’s feeling pretty fresh.
‘I’m not saying we feel like a new band, but it feels quite different, that break was good for us.’
After the band’s original drummer, and Grant’s close friend, Jon Lee committed suicide in 2002, the drum stool was occupied by Mark Richardson for several years, until he returned to his previous band, Skunk Anansie.
For the past three albums, Karl Brazil has been drummer, but never officially joined the group.
‘It has just been me and Taka the past three records, to be fair. The main thing and the original members is still me and Taka. We had Karl but unless he can be around all the time, it’s very confusing for people. And of course it would be Jon if he was still around. We had Mark with us for a few years, but that ran its course and now he’s gone back to Skunk.
‘It just felt like it was time to do something different.
‘We might go back to getting a full time drummer, and that would happen naturally – we’ve got a few people in mind.
‘Karl played on the album - it’s just unfortunate he’s playing for Robbie Williams as well, and that’s a very big, well-paid show for him. He loved to do both, but there are clashes.
‘We have a great chemistry with him in the studio, and that’s great.’
Feeder returned to live action at the start of the summer, headlining the Big Top at the Isle of Wight Festival.
‘That was our first show back together – literally a couple of rehearsals and straight on stage. It’s quite a big old tent as well.
‘It was pretty nerve-racking, but once we got out there it was fine.
‘We didn’t want to do anything new at the festival though, we felt it was too early to start playing the new album stuff, so we did a set of all singles, and we’ve never really done that before but, you know what, it worked really well.
‘We’re quite lucky, the advantage of having been a round a few years, you can build up quite a repertoire of singles.’
From Insomnia, to Buck Rogers, Come Back Around and Tumble and Fall, the band notched up an impressive run of 20 top 40 singles.
‘When the new record’s out, of course can play a few of those in the set, but for this, it worked really well. It was like a little reminder of what we’ve done, what songs you might now, but we’re going to be on tour with a new record – and its like a new chapter for Feeder.’
The time off from Feeder has given Grant a new focus on the band, and he hopes that the public will feel the same way.
‘It feels exciting, and it feels like there’s a little bit out there for us and I think you have to go away for a while to realise that – and for people to realise that they quite like the band.
‘I think we’ve got a very diverse age group of fans now. From quite young fans, whether they’ve been influenced by their parents collections I don’t know, and we’ve always had a good student following.
‘I don’t how it happens, but we still seem to appeal to that group – a few of our songs still get played at student indie nights and it’s quite nice to have that.’
Next year sees 20 years since their debut album and Grant is not averse to the idea of doing some anniversary shows where they play the album in full.
‘There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s always tempting to go to those shows because they remind you of your childhood or college or whatever – it’s something we’ve looked to do, but we didn’t want to come back and feel like we’re living off what we’ve done in the past. It was important for me as a writer and us as a band to push forward,
‘We possibly might do something towards the end of next year. I think it would be good fun to do.
‘When you get bands who’ve been around for 10-20 years, often they’ve got that fanbase that stays with you and grows older with you, and that’s fine, but we’ve been lucky enough each time to get a new generation of fans.
‘We’ve got the diehards, and then you’ve got the people who know a few singles and aren’t that into music but go to a few shows, and then you’ve got the indie kids, so it’s quite a good mix and I like that we have that.
‘I’m really proud of this new record. I think it’s got some different-sounding things on there as well. It’s got those elements that people like in the band, but we’re doing some things a little bit different.’
Feeder play at The Pyramids in Southsea on Thursday, October 13, doors 7.30pm.
Tickets cost £24.75. Go to pyramids-live.co.uk