Q&A: Feeder's Grant Nicholas
On their drummer's suicide, their label and survival
Gotta be blunt, Grant, this is a damn awkward time for an interview. Even as we speak, Italy v Slovakia is unfolding ...
Yeah, we missed the [England] game yesterday as well. We had a big feature in a rock magazine. And a photo-shoot. That's dedication for you.
Well, this time you are putting the album out on your own label ...
We've set up our own record company, it's called Big Teeth. Echo, who we've been with for 15 years... they basically folded after our last album. We looked into signing another deal. After considering what was on the table, we felt we might be better off doing it ourselves. It's a whole new learning curve. It has been quite exciting, but a lot of extra work. The great thing about it is that we can handpick people we think are good to work with.
You've probably got to worry about a lot of minor details as well ...
We know that, this time, if we make any mistakes, it's down to us. We have no one to blame but ourselves.
It certainly hasn't affected your productivity. Apparently, you're putting out two albums this year.
That's the plan, yeah. We have recorded this album, Renegades. We also kept a load of songs back. We wanted this album to revive the vibe of our live shows; for it to be a rock record. We didn't want to put too many acoustic tracks on and do what we normally do. The ones we didn't use -- the ones that are slightly more mellow -- they'll probably end up on the other record.
You did some club shows under the name Renegades so that fans didn't turn up expecting greatest-hits sets.
Exactly. I wanted to get out and get back to the gigs where we started, go back to the small venues and showcase some new music. If we were doing it as Feeder, people would want to hear all the hits and stuff. We didn't want to have to do that.
Your previous drummer Mark Richardson has gone back to his old band Skunk Anansie. How is recruit Karl Brazil bedding down?
It has been great. The chemistry is really good. Me and him sort of clicked musically. Actually, I better say nice things. He's sitting next to me. Oh, he's a right loser.
I'll just drop you here, Karl. He's back off to Birmingham. Cheers. Bye Karl ...
[Karl] Cheers ... bye ... (sound of car door slamming).
Er, bye Karl ...
Yeah, he's been great. In many ways, he's similar to Jon.
Jon, of course, being your original drummer Jon Lee, who took his life in 2002. How did his suicide affect you as a songwriter?
It made me try new things. It fuelled me lyrically. We hit some real lows there. That obviously inspires songs, I think it still does. He's still very much part of the history of Feeder. He's always going to be in our memories. It's possibly the reason why we are a very driven band. It's hard to be the new thing. We've never played that game, we've always tried to make the best music we can. That's what we are still doing. If he was still around now, he'd like the stuff we're doing.
Unlike many UK acts, you've escaped the curse of being flavour of the month one minute, forgotten the next.
Right. We've never been flavour of the month [laughs]. When Britpop came along, we were a noisy little grunge band. We were compared to people like Nirvana, Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins, with a bit more of a British influence about us. The difference is that with us, the whole power-trio thing was influenced by bands I grew up listening to, people like The Police and early Jam. Grunge was the name the press gave it. It was really a mixture of rock, garage, punk and pop.
Renegades is released today