Grant Nicholas is one of the UK's most prolific and well-respected songwriters, with a catalogue of explosive pop-rock singles that have provided a soundtrack for rock clubs and festivals for almost two decades. As he launches his debut solo album Yorktown Heights, we asked the ever-affable Nicholas to take a trip with us down memory lane...
Feeder - Stereo World
Feeder’s first single, taken from the 1996 mini-album Swim.
Grant: “This was a really important song for us, because it was the first thing most people heard from us. We shot the video in a lift in Camden, North London, and it was the most intense video ever…with some really embarrassing moments, not least the tie I was wearing! I remember that Korn gave this single an amazing Single Of The Week review in Metal Hammer magazine, they loved it, and that was an exciting time for us. I think Stereo World showed off the trademark Feeder crossover sound, with heavy guitars but a pop chorus.”
Feeder - Cement
The second single to be lifted from Feeder’s acclaimed debut album Polythene.
“The main thing I remember about this video is that a stunning French girl had to suck my finger, which was a little bit strange at the time, if nice. That song did well for us, it really connected with people and was always a strong live number. We spent quite a bit of money on this video, I’m pretty sure we had about triple the budget that we had for Stereo World, which is always an indication that things are starting to move in the right direction and that the record label’s belief in the band is growing.”
Feeder - High
The trio’s first UK Top 20 single.
“High was a real turning point for us at radio, not only in the UK but also in the US. I think it showed the more anthemic side of Feeder. It started off as a simple little acoustic song and then we piled on the big guitars afterwards. The video was shot all over the place - in the east end of London, in Dungeness - and it was made by the same guy who did the Stereo World video. I think High is a timeless Feeder classic really, it’s still in our set. It made it onto the soundtrack of a not very good film called Can’t Hardly Wait, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, and so we had to make a different video just for the American market, and it was awful. They spent a fortune on it: we were put up in a 5 star hotel in LA and we were hanging out with all these actors and actresses, but it’s just the worst video, it’s horrible, I can’t even watch it. Talk about a complete waste of money…”
Feeder - Can’t Stand Losing You
A cover of the Police classic, filmed live at Reading festival in 2001.
“The Police were a huge influence on us, and our drummer Jon [Lee] was a huge Stewart Copeland fan. I used to cover Police songs in my first band in school actually. We just really liked this track, and we felt it was time to do a cover, so we did this song for the Just a Day EP. I remember when we played it at Reading all the young kids in the front row were looking at each other like ‘Is this a new Feeder song?’ because obviously they didn’t know The Police that well. I think my haircut that day surprised a few people too! But I think we did a good version of this song, particularly since it was done in a single afternoon!”
Feeder - Just A Day
Another Top 20 hit for the fast-rising band. This December 2001 cd:uk TV recording was drummer Jon Lee’s final appearance with the band. The drummer, Grant Nicholas’ best friend, committed suicide at home in Miami in January 2002.
“This was the last time I saw Jon. It was Christmas time and Jon was flying back to the US on the afternoon we recorded this performance so we had to get him a motorbike taxi to get him to the airport as quickly as possible. I remember he had all his presents for his kids and his wife and he was excited about going home, and we were all on a high because we’d just done a big TV show and all was going really well, and I remember waving him goodbye as he shot off on his bike. And then I didn’t ever see him again. That was such a sad, weird time.”
Feeder - Come Back Around
The rebirth of Feeder following the tragic passing of Jon Lee. The video featured four female drummers.
“This was my tribute to Jon really, my way of saying ‘There isn’t ever going to be another Jon Lee’. We had these four beautiful models playing drums, which I know we would have highly approved of, as he always wanted us to have more girls in our videos. I think we did it in a really tasteful way. I love this video, and I know Jon would have liked it too. There was so much goodwill for us when we returned, and that was important to Taka and I, because it was a nervous time too.”
Feeder - The Power Of Love
A Frankie Goes To Hollywood cover, recorded for a War Child charity album.
“We wanted to do something a little bit different for War Child and I remembered this being a really great ballad, an ‘80s classic: Frankie were such a good band, quite outrageous for a pop band. Apparently Holly Johnson from Frankie did hear this, and he liked it but he said that I got a lyric wrong! I thought it was quite a brave cover to do.”
Feeder - Pushing The Senses (live at Download festival, 2005)
The title track of the band’s fifth album, which debuted at number 2 on the UK albums chart.
“That was a tough gig. I remember smashing my £2000 Fender Jazzmaster about three-quarters of the way through the set, after Descend. That year Download was trying to be more of a crossover festival, and we were guinea pigs in a way, alongside the likes of Garbage and JJ72, and I think it’s fair to say that some of the diehard rock fans weren’t really ready for that. What was funny was that I tried to make the set really heavy, but it wasn’t until we played the hit singles that the set actually worked, so it just shows that you shouldn’t try to second guess an audience. We should have just done a regular Feeder set: trying to go in heavy and hard just didn’t quite work. People want to hear songs they know at festivals and I just called it wrong.”
Feeder - Renegades
NSFW promo for the title track from Feeder’s excellent seventh studio album.
“I thought this video was really cool and we thought it’d get a bit of press because it was a bit risky, but it didn’t really! My friend who shot this has gone on to work for a massive advertising agency, so it worked for him at least! This album was us going back to out noisy roots, and having a bit of fun, but I think some people didn’t quite get it.”
Grant Nicholas - Soulmates
“We shot this video up in Queens Woods, just down from Highgate Woods, in London. I know this Australian camera man in Crouch End and we just went up to the woods one day and shot this in a few hours. We wanted it to have an almost 1970s feel, and because of all the light and shadows and lens flare it looks really good. The song is simple and I didn’t want the video to overpower the song and I think it came out really well. It was a really cheap video to make, but this is one of the key songs on my new album Yorktown Heights, and so it was important for me to get it just right.”
GRANT NICHOLAS’ SOLO ALBUM YORKTOWN HEIGHTS WILL BE RELEASED THROUGH POPPING CANDY RECORDS ON AUGUST 11. NICHOLAS SPOKE TO US ABOUT THE ALBUM HERE: