Feeder return to The Pyramids Centre, Southsea: ‘Talullah ticked off a lot of boxes of what we are as a band’
Feeder are one of those bands who could, and have, quite comfortably stack their sets with wall-to-wall hits.
The full triple-CD version of their 2017 Best Of… featured a whopping 41 singles (plus a bonus nine-track album), many of which you’d probably be familiar with even if you didn’t realise it.
But now they’re back with Talullah, their 10th studio album, and first since 2005’s Pushing The Senses to crack the top five of the album charts.
Twenty-five years in, the band is still breaking new ground globally and with the album doing so well on the home front, frontman Grant Nicholas is in bullish mood.
And he’s looking forward to playing some new material on the forthcoming UK tour, which kicks off here in Portsmouth.
‘We’ve just come back from Singapore and Japan, and we did about seven new songs in the set there, which is quite a lot, but we’ll probably do even more than that.
‘You never know quite how it’s going to go, we’ll see.
‘We've had four official singles out, and they’ve been pushed quite hard at radio and they’ve all got videos, so they’re all out there, and the album will have been out for three months which is a big advantage to us because we can play more of the new stuff.
‘Often on album tours the album hasn’t actually come out yet, or is just out at the same time, which makes it a little bit harder.
‘We spent the last two years touring the Best Of, so we felt like it was time to play people some new music, not just for ourselves, but for the people who’ve been to the shows already.’
While they regularly play Japan – bassist Taka Hirose is from there, they’re just now breaking into new territories in Asia.
‘Singapore was quite an experience, it’s the first time we’ve played there. It was actually a really good show, so hopefully we can go back and do a bit more. It’s strange we haven’t played before because it's not that far from Japan, you know?
‘And we did China for the first time last year, which is a whole new area for us.’
But there are still more areas they have yet to play.
‘There are so many places we haven’t been, it's often the way with bands, you go to the same places over and over again.
‘We've never played South America – that’s one place I've always wanted to play. We've come very close to it yet, but either something’s happened or there’s been a last minute cancellation. There are some great festivals down there, they’re really into their rock, so that’s next on my list of places to tick off!’
As well as charting at number four, Taluallah has been receiving some glowing reviews.
‘Of course it's nice to get good reviews, and great to see that the fans are really digging it.
‘I think we’ve made a classic Feeder record, and it seems that's what people want from us. It's all about having good songs really, and if you deliver those, that’s the key.
‘It’s the same for any band of our era, whether it's Feeder or Foo Fighters or whoever, where people just want you to do what you do, but also to deliver those songs.
‘We also don't want to lose our focus as a band and try too hard to be something that we’re not.
‘But it's kind of playing to our strengths and yeah, we're really very much a song-based band. I think there’s elements on this from all our records, but here on one album, which is why I think the fans have liked it.’
With that ‘all our albums in one’ approach, does Grant think that doing the Best Of tour before this fed into the creative process for the new album?
‘I think it has. The Best Of did come with Arrow which was a nine-track album, which was important for us to do, because we had done The Singles album a few years back, so we didn’t want to feel like we were just churning out best ofs.
‘I only agreed to it if we could have new stuff on there, not just one or two new tracks like most people do.
‘It’s important for us to make new music, but of course we appreciate that we’ve got a catalogue of music that people want to hear as well.’
It was towards the end of that album’s cycle that Grant started writing for what became Talullah.
‘I think the Best Of left us in a very positive place, and then the festivals put us on a summer high.
‘It definitely brought an upbeat feel to the album in general, particularly in the first half, then in the second it goes off a bit more into what we do live – there’s a few more anthemic tracks, a couple of heavier ones, some mellow stuff as well.
‘It ticked off a lot of what we are as a band. We’ve always had that kind of diversity.
‘You like to have that freedom as a band, where you can go from something quite riffy and heavy – like Kyoto on the new album, to (album closer) Lonely Hollow Days, and that’s kind of what we do, and how I write.'
Back in 2012, Feeder was put on hold while Grant pursued a solo career and Taka pursued other projects. Grant’s debut Yorktown Heights was a marked departure with an altogether more restrained sound, and still went top 30.
Feeder’s 2016 next album All Bright Electric was the sound of a band reenergised, and Grant agrees.
‘I think that break was good.
'I approach things a little bit differently now, the way I'm doing things in studio and the way I'm writing.
‘Doing the solo thing, in certain areas it’s actually given me a bit more confidence. Before maybe I was so hiding behind the big wall of sound of Feeder and burying the voice a bit more.
‘Now, we still manage to keep the band powerful, but make the vocal a bit more of the centre point, which is something I would have been kind of nervous about doing when I was younger.
‘I never really planned on being a singer – I still think of myself as a guitar player who sings. It still sounds weird to me when people say: “Oh, you’re the lead singer in Feeder”, which I suppose I am, but that wasn’t the original plan.
‘When I was younger, I just wanted to play guitar in a band and write songs. The whole vocal thing happened naturally.
‘I think the whole solo thing was quite brave. It was very intimate, you know, all about putting the voice right up front.
‘And just the way the songs were written. On this album, as an example, I got the vocal on the tracks very early on, so I could build around that rather than in the early days of Feeder, I'd often put the vocals on last. I kept putting it off to the end!
’It helps with the whole production. Once you realise you've got a good vocal on there and it's working, you don't always need as many layers around it, which can confuse the message sometimes.
‘It’s only takes me 20 years to realise that,’ he laughs. ‘But that’s all part of being a producer and all part of learning isn’t it?’
Grant has been involved in producing Feeder since 2002’s platinum-selling Comfort in Sound.
‘I’m more involved the kind of arrangement/sounds side of it, not the technical side.
‘I worked in a recording studio for three years before Feeder, but that was old-school tape machines, stuff like that.
‘My Pro Tools skills are not that great, so I usually work with an engineer, and we co-produce together.
'I’m more of the kind of Rick Rubin, social-style of producer, rather than an engineer-style of producer.
‘It’s good to work with other people, otherwise you can get too close to it – it’s good to have someone to give you a kick up the bum, or push you a bit harder.’
The new album’s title does come from a real person.
‘She’s an eight-year-old girl – she’s the daughter of my wife’s best friend and she's a real character.
‘I’ve always liked the name so I just started writing this song. The name was obviously inspired by her, but this song, I was trying to write a song that really touches on the importance of children and family, and how that made a big change in my life.’ Grant has a daughter, 14, and a son, 12.
‘It’s massive, specially when you’re on tour and you’re away – it keeps things stable for you.
‘So yeah, the name comes from her and she’s very happy about it.'
But it was only when he saw the some potential artwork for the cover that he knew the album had to be called Talullah.
‘It’s nice when things happen like that. It's quite an unusual name, and I had three album titles and I had a few ideas for the art.
‘When we started to work on it, I gave my friend, the artist Anthony McEwan, three ideas and when the first artwork started to come in I thought: “It’s got to be Taluallah”, because he had this really lovely image. It’s got this kind of unusual female face with these icons on it. Sometimes with album titles, it just feels like the right one.’
Feeder last played here at Victorious Festival, 2017, and they wouldn’t say no to coming back.
‘Portsmouth’s always been a fantastic place for us, it’s been a very loyal fanbase and, yeah, we’re hoping to do a lot of festivals next year, so we’d love to do it again.’
Feeder play at The Pyramids Centre, Southsea, on Friday, November 1, doors 7pm. Go to pyramids-live.co.uk