The Feeling, Interview

07 December 2011

Interview with The Feeling

Interview with The Feeling

The Feeling, despite having 'only' been in the public conscious for the past five years, have actually been together for over fifteen. Pretty impressive, seeing as most have self-combusted by the time they reach even half this number. As they prepare to release their first Singles collection album, I caught up with the quintet (and lead singer Dan's dog Teddy) at their studio to discuss their career so far, aspirations of playing in outer space and the effects of filling up the trophy cabinet.

You're just about to release a Greatest Hits album yet you've also mentioned you're working on your fourth record. Usually when a band releases a Greatest Hits it's because they're finishing; are you worried people might get the wrong impression?
Dan Gillespie Sells (singer): Yeah, we are worried. No, it's a Singles Collection really rather than a Greatest Hits.
Richard Jones (bassist): We told them we weren't splitting up.
DGS: That's not always the reason why people do it. Blur had a Singles collection and people do do it at certain points in their careers. There were lots of reasons. In our contract, it says we have to do one at some point. Other reasons are our advertising campaign with Burberry, [the band's single Ros' is currently featured in the new Burberry Body perfume advert] which essentially takes us and that song to other territories where we haven't been before. So the choices were [this] or to tag it onto the third album as a limited edition re-selling, which we weren't really comfortable with.
Paul Stewart (drummer): It's not fair on the people who have already bought it.
RJ: It felt totally contrived, to re-release an album that only came out three months ago.
DGS: So we thought that instead of doing that, we'd do a kind of retrospective package. It is important in this country for people who are still yet to learn about us. If you work in the media and that kind of stuff then you think everyone's heard of you, but then you go out and realise you've barely scraped the surface of a country like this, or especially across the world. What's nice is that this album goes out there and it's like an introduction to the band and what we've done up until now, really. That's the main reason why we did it.

So what can we expect from the fourth album? Is it going to be of a similar sound to previous material?
PS: I don't think we know yet.
DGS: It could go any way. They do tend to go all over the place our records, don't they? We're just having fun and messing around and seeing what happens and then eventually put something together that we are proud of. I think we're getting better at doing it. Every time we make a record we learn and three albums in we're just still learning. Even though we'd been around for ten years before we were successful, we were still learning on the job. It's quite a hard thing to get your head around.

You were the most played band on UK radio in 2006. Were you ever worried about becoming over-exposed?
RJ: You don't have any control over it. We just felt fortunate. Very lucky that we got played, it had nothing to do with us.
DGS: It was across five different singles, that year. We were away, actually. We were in America or in Japan and travelling so we didn't really know what was going on.
RJ: All we really experienced was that we'd put out an album, people kept telling us it was selling a lot and we kept playing bigger venues.

Who writes the songs in the band? Is it Dan or more of a collective?
DGS: It's a collective. Sometimes it's stuff I've written but the boys are definitely involved in the way that it sounds at the end of the day. It's a combination of different ways of working.

You won the Ivor Novello for song writing a few years ago. Has the lyrical content always taken more of a precedence over the instrumental aspect?
DGS: Not really. I've always struggled a lot with lyrics. I think because they don't come that easily. Music comes very easily but lyrics are definitely more hard work. I think that I work harder at them because of that. I am proud of them when I get it right. If it came more easily to me, maybe I wouldn't be so proud of them.

Did you feel under more pressure with your lyric writing after winning the award?
DGS: No, not so much with that. They [awards] give you confidence, and confidence is something that actually helps with song writing. The thing that doesn't help is the knowledge that there's criticism out there and that there are people who are anxious about your success. Before we were successful nobody gave a sh*t and I kind of wish that were the case again because when nobody gives a sh*t you've got nothing to lose. It's easier to be creative and take risks.

You've toured pretty extensively over the past six years or so. Do you see touring as a mere necessity for promotional and financial reasons or do you actually prefer being on the road than in the studio?
It's about 50/50 in terms of what we prefer. The live experience is important.
RJ: You don't want too much of one thing. When you get stuck in the studio for too long it gets a bit boring, but being on the road for too long you miss home. We just did a tour that we finished a couple of weeks ago and we had an amazing time because we hadn't properly toured for a couple of years.
DGS: It inspires you to get back in the studio. When you do a tour and it goes well, you want to get back in the studio and when you've done some good work in the studio you want to go out and play it to people. The cycle is quite natural, really.
Ciaran Jeremiah (keyboardist): It's been a big part of our lives for quite a long time, gigs. We don't like to go for too long a period of time without doing gigs. You do get a bit twitchy.
DGS: The longest periods we've gone without doing gigs were when we were signed. Before we signed a record deal, we didn't go for more than a couple of weeks without doing a gig. All of sudden you sign a deal and you tour like crazy and then go for months without playing. We're getting better with dealing with that; we do charity shows and things, keep our hands in.
RJ: We're musicians, it's what we do. We don't really know how to do anything else.

Who were your greatest influences in your early days and how have they changed over the years?
PS: Queen, The Beatles.
DGS: I don't think they've particularly changed.
PS: It's all the same bands we used to listen to.
DGS: I think we've just expanded [our influences] as we've got older. You go back in time and discover old man music! You start to appreciate it realise how amazing it is. It's all the same guys as when we were growing up, Pink Floyd and Beach Boys. I love Eurythmics records and I have a big thing for Motown. They're all still there, but once you've listened to every Motown record you can get your hands on, you do move onto other territories.

You gained rather a famous fan in the form of Kiefer Sutherland. Did he end up directing one of your videos? It was all over the internet a couple of years back that that was the plan.
RJ: He was in a documentary that we made, he did the interviews and voiceover for it. Which was fun, it was very nice of him to do it! It was a thing we made ourselves, we self-funded it, about our experiences in the French Alps. He came over to my house a few years ago and did that. We never did a video with him, it was just the DVD.
DGS: It would have been a video cassette years ago.

What's been the highlight of your career so far?
RJ: Today. (All laugh)
DGS: That's a hard question!
RJ: There isn't one specific thing but playing the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury was a childhood dream. Playing Wembley Stadium and Isle of Wight Festival. There are quite a few moments like that.
DGS: The firsts. your first Top of the Pops was a nice one.
PS: Royal Albert Hall with Squeeze.
DGS: Yeah, that was amazing.
PS: First time you hear your record on the radio, things like that.
DGS: First time you make a pop video, you know?
RJ: First time you go to the toilet by yourself. (All laugh)

Not including any of your own, which song do you wish you'd written?
PS: I'm In Love With My Car. Anyone else?
DGS: That's not a statement, that's a song. Which one?
PS: Roger Taylor!
Kevin Jeremiah (guitarist): Happy Birthday.
DGS: Happy Birthday! (laughs)
PS: But seriously, Bridge Over Troubled Water.
DGS: Yeah, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Any of those songs really that feel anthemic.

What would you like to accomplish in the future? Is there anywhere you'd like to play that you haven't played yet?
PS: Madison Square Gardens!
RJ: Hollywood Bowl!
DGS: It'd be good to do more gigs in America.
RJ: We want to go to China. And going back to Japan would be good.
PS: You know how they're doing those flights now where you can go to space? Could we be the first band to go into space?
DGS: Muse are doing it already.
CJ: Aren't ZZ Top playing on the moon?
DGS: (Laughs) They've been booked to play on the moon? Who booked them?
RJ: They'll be dead by the time it actually happens, probably.
PS: Well yeah, the moon then, if ZZ Top die before. Or we could support them maybe. They must need a support band.

Well if you're supporting, then technically you'll have played first.
PS: I like it! They might not think of that as well and so we'll just sneak in.

Finally, what can we expect from The Feeling in the future?
DGS: Goodness knows. We don't know so we can't even tell you!
RJ: More music.
PS: We generally find that if we make a plan then we don't do it. If we think we're going to do one thing we end up doing the opposite. So it's difficult to predict!
RJ: (laughs) Have you got an example of that?
PS: Well, the last album. It was like, 'oh you know, we'll do it in this kind of way', and it turned out going the other.
CJ: Don't count your chickens before they've hatched.
DGS: And other such sayings!

Chantelle Pattemore

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