Welcome Back: Feeder – "Finally, after 20 years, I'm happy with how I'm singing"

photo of the band Feeder

Following a four-year battery-charging hiatus, Feeder are back with a vengeance. You might think that having 11 of their singles and seven of their albums in the UK Top 20 across a two-decade career would be enough for most bands. But not Feeder. Having just delivered what’s quite possibly the most dynamic album of their career, they’re still very much in the ascendant. We caught up with frontman Grant Nicholas as he soaked up some Balearic rays in Majorca.

Why did Feeder go on hiatus in 2012?

It felt like we needed to have a break. We wanted to stop on a high, and our last official gig was Brixton Academy – a really blinding gig. There was a really good vibe in the band, but I wanted to break that cycle of album, tour, album, tour. I needed time away to come back feeling fresh. There was no timeline put on it and we didn’t know what we’d be doing.

What did you end up doing?

I get asked to write for people, pop stuff, which I’m not particularly into doing, but the publishing company are always on my case so I thought I’d concentrate on doing some of that. When I started writing the material it turned into quite a personal record, so I decided to keep it for my solo album. It was never planned, it just happened. I thought I’d take a year off, and it became almost four years. Taka [Hirose, bass] and I have both been busy, and while it’s good for a band to have a break sometimes it’s great to be back together.

All Bright Electric sounds like a band bursting through a glass ceiling. Was significant reinvention a precondition of re-forming Feeder?

I always planned to get Feeder back together. It’s a massive part of my life. Even if my solo thing had been hugely successful, Feeder’s like one of my little babies. I couldn’t not go back to it. The break did me good in terms of being a writer. I approached my solo record differently and I brought that approach to the new Feeder record. When I started writing and recording I had a definite sound in my head and it all came together. We didn’t have the pressure of a label hassling us for singles, so we were able to do it in our own time, and that also brought something to the album.

You’re singing differently, brimming with confidence. What’s so good in your life that’s making you sound so positive?

God knows. Maybe being a parent. I love heavy music but I’m not a massive fan of screamy vocals. I wanted to bring more soul into the Feeder vocal sound. Finally, after twenty years, I’m happy with how I’m singing.

But you’re never completely satisfied.

Maybe that’s why we’re still going. I’m quite driven. I’m so lucky to be doing this. There’s a lot of bullshit that comes with being in a band, but the musical side, I still love that. If it comes to a point where we’re not moving forward, it’ll be time to stop, but things feel fresher now than at any point since the first record.

After twenty-one years, is it fair to say that Feeder’s career is just beginning?

I’m very self-confident musically, but I’ve never been more confident than this. As a body of work, All Bright Electric is my favourite Feeder album so far. It’ll probably be the least commercial now I’ve said that. But you know what? I don’t care.

Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.