Back this year with their ninth studio album, All Bright Electric, Feeder frontman Grant Nicholas pays tribute to the lasting influence of the first record he owned, Black Sabbath’s timeless Paranoid.
For me, Black Sabbath go all the way back to when I was first learning to play guitar at about 10 or 11 years old and being in a school band. I didn’t have any lessons so I really learned from trying to play along to records, and Paranoid was one of the first.
It was introduced to me by my older brother on vinyl. I don’t know if it’s just where I grew up, in a small town, but I loved all the riffs. And although Tony Iommi is a great guitar player, you could work them out if you were patient enough. He wasn’t playing these crazy technical things. So although they were fantastic riffs you could get the gist of them. There was the song Paranoid which we covered, and War Pigs – but that was quite difficult. We always struggled as our drummer could never play the drum part! It’s a pretty tricky song to play, War Pigs. And although it’s not from Paranoid we used to cover N.I.B as well.
Even in his early days Ozzy was a great singer. He’s never had as much credit as he’s due as a singer, but he has a really powerful voice. I think he had a unique sound and quite a ballsy voice, especially back in those days. I was lucky enough to see them at their Hyde Park show, and he’s still doing it. I also saw Ozzy years before – it might have been the first proper gig I went to. It was Ozzy Osbourne with Randy Rhodes. That’s going back a while.
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When I was a kid I didn’t really listen to the lyrics so much, I was just going with the riffs and the melodies. There were all these stories going around like if you play it backwards there’d be some kind of devilish thing going on. I remember being intrigued, but as you grow older you realise there’s just a lot of entertainment going on there. They were quite good at doing that. And it’s fun, really. They were never the full Spinal Tap – the music was good so they never fell too far into that. They’ve always had that bit of mystery about them. Are they really devil worshipping? This all made them a bit more interesting.
And it’s really just the sound of the earlier records – just so organic and really analogue which you find with so many 70s bands. Led Zeppelin are the same. On the new Feeder record there’s a track called Geezer that’s got Sabbath all over it. While it’s not a direct reference to Geezer Butler – it’s more based on a character – it’s secretly a little tribute to Sabbath in some way. I’m often seen wearing my Black Sabbath t-shirt around. I had it on yesterday, in fact, in the rehearsal room.