1995 – present (25 years)
Newport, Wales, United Kingdom
- Grant Nicholas
- Jon Lee (1995 – 2000)
- Mark Bullock (2000 – 2001)
- Mark Richardson (2002 – 2009)
- Taka Hirose
Feeder are an award-winning Welsh rock band that formed in Newport, Wales in 1992. By 1995 they released their debut EP Two Colours and a second EP titled Swim, which was followed by their 1997 debut album Polythene, after being met with critical acclaim and made the UK Top 75. Their second album, Yesterday Went Too Soon (1999), again found favour with critics and reached number eight in the UK.With the lead single "Buck Rogers" from their 2001 album Echo Park, Feeder entered the mainstream, around a time manufactured pop was frequently dominating the top 10. After their breakthrough year, their drummer Jon Lee committed suicide in his Miami home in January 2002. The band vowed to continue and would then in October 2002 release Comfort in Sound; an album musically and lyrically focused around the band's emotions at the time, and was well-received by critics. Former Skunk Anansie and Little Angels drummer Mark Richardson joined the band in August 2002. Alongside Jon, the band were originally comprised of Grant Nicholas (lead vocals, guitar, piano) and Taka Hirose (bass).
The band have released six studio albums and two compilations, including the platinum-selling singles album. In total they have three platinum albums, two gold albums and one silver in the UK. Their only sales award outside the UK is that of a gold award in the Republic of Ireland for their singles album.
As of December 2006, according to the ranking system in the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles and Albums, Feeder are one of the most successful UK chart acts of all-time based on the combination of single and album chart weeks, as they rank at #500 or above at #457. To date they have twenty-three top 75 singles, and five top 10 albums.
At the age of 14, singer and guitarist Grant Nicholas joined a band called 'Sweet Leaf', named after a Black Sabbath song- the first band Grant had seen play live. At this time bassist Taka Hirose along with drummer Jon Lee, were both playing in different covers bands before they would meet Grant.
While both playing in different bands on the Newport unsigned gig circuit, Grant and Jon became friends and would take part what was described by the frontman as a "friendly rivalry". They decided to train to become sound engineers, but were interested in playing in bands as opposed to recording them. They formed a band called 'Rain Dancer' after Jon left Newport band The Darling Buds during the previous year, the formers sound was described by Grant as that of The Waterboys. However, before then they formed an electronic duo called 'Temper Temper' and like 'Rain Dancer', they failed to work out.
Going back to the drawing board, they formed a three piece band called 'Reel' in which they fired their bass player before changing their name to 'Real'. During this time they recruited Japanese bassist Taka Hirose via an advert in Loot. The band then changed their name to Feeder named after Grant's pet goldfish.
They won their recording contract with Echo after sending a demo tape and then completed the deal after an employee from the label witnessed one of the bands gigs. A track from the demo titled "Don't Bring Me Down", appeared as a b-side on the "Day in Day Out" single, but uses an electric guitar as opposed to an acoustic as heard on the released version.
In 2006 a demo tape of their early demos surfaced on eBay, selling for £180 pounds. It contains the recording of "Suffocate" under the name of "Give", alongside an unreleased track titled "Believe". "Give" is reportedly "slightly different musically and lyrically" from that of "Suffocate".
Two Colours - Swim (1995-1996)
Feeder's first official release was the 2 track Two Colours EP in 1995, which was only available at the bands first gigs. It was limited to 1500 CD's and 1000 7" vinyls and today is valued at £40-60. In 1996, the band released their first commercially available release the Swim EP, on Echo. The record had six tracks on it with a running time of 22 minutes, with a 2001 re-issue including b-sides and two videos from the era of their debut album proper. The EP was given a 4/5 review in Kerrang! magazine (KKKK).
Shortly before the record was released, a tape called Two Tracker was given away free with Kerrang! magazine and contained the tracks "Sweet 16" and "Waterfall", the latter was described in the inlay card as one of the tracks that was on their forthcoming debut album proper then entitled Here In The Bubble (which soon changed it's name to Polythene). Some of the photography for the EP's inlay was produced by Grant himself, while Chris Sheldon produced the album. The band released "Stereoworld" from the record as it's only single, after appearing at the Reading festival. The year also seen the band participate in a tour, visiting seaside towns like Newquay.
After building a strong fanbase with the release of Swim, the following year the band released their first full album. The result Polythene is now widely regarded as a classic by Kerrang! magazine readers, as they voted it the 87th best British rock album of all time in a January 2005 issue, and was also Metal Hammer magazine's album of 1997, in which it scored a mark of 10/10 in it's review. Two tracks from "Swim" were used for the album with those being "Descend" and "Stereoworld".
After the recording sessions were completed, the album's first single "Tangerine" was released and charted at #60 in the UK charts. This was followed by "Cement" charting at #53 and then the release of the album in which it charted at #65. Two more singles were released either side of their main stage debut at the Reading festival of 1997, with "Crash" making #48 and a new song entitled "High" charted at #24.
The album as of March 2003, has been certified silver by the BPI for shipments of 60,000 units. They also re-issued the album in October 1997 with "High" included and the "Stereoworld" b-side "Change" replacing "Waterfall" from the original tracklist. Also included as an enhanced element was the video for "High". The album caused many critics to label the band "The UK's answer to the Smashing Pumpkins", and also draw comparisons to The Pixies and also Talk Talk. The bands tour of the album took part in April before the release of the "Cement" single, and would also tour after the release of the album. The bands earlier sound on the album was once described by Grant as "heavy but melodic rock".
In early 1998, following the band's final 1997 tour in support of Polythene, the band traveled to the USA as a support act for Everclear. During the tour the band released back home in the UK a re-worked version of "Suffocate" from their album which charted at #37. After their return to the UK, they played their own headline tour with Everclear this time in the support slot. Later on in the year Feeder then started to play various music festivals in the States, before a tour took place with "High" being released to radio stations and charting at #24 on the rock chart as a result, and was the follow up to "Cement" which charted at #31. During the first US tour, Grant said he used to get very tired and sometimes couldn't wait to return home to work on the next album. Alongside a broken ankle and other injuries, he also said he used to find it hard to sleep at nights, which inspired him to write "Insomnia" which appeared on their second album. They stayed in the US for the majority of the year, with a trip back to the UK for their V98 appearance. It was during their gigs of 1998 they introduced as a live guitarist Dean Tidey who plays at the band's gigs, and has his own band called the Sandstone Veterans. Grant said in a 1998 interview in Kerrang!, that he was considering bringing in another guitarist for their live gigs. Polythene sold 25,000 copies in the States during 1998.
Yesterday Went Too Soon (1999)
For 1999's "Yesterday Went Too Soon", the band decided to self-produce the album and brought in Matt Sime for engineering duties, while the album was mixed in New York by Andy Wallace. "Dry" was re-recorded as a full band version after the original acoustic version appeared on "Suffocate" as a b-side. That single's b-sides featured tracks from their sessions for the album, and therefore gave an idea on how this album was going to sound. The working title for the album was originally A Life Through Headphones, and was originally planned to be a double album. The name change was due to former Take That singer Robbie Williams releasing his solo debut album Life Thru a Lens, and did not want to be associated with him.
When the album was released, the bands awareness raised and it would enter the UK charts at #8. Before then the band released the albums first single "Day in Day Out" in March 1999 which charted at #31, which was followed by "Insomnia" at #22 and was their first appearance on TOTP. A week before the band played once again the main stage at the Reading/Leeds festival, the title track from the album charted at #20 and the album was then released on August 30, 1999. Only one single was lifted from the album afters, in which a re-recorded version of "Paperfaces" charted at #41.
Some of the album's lyrical themes were that of Grant writing from a persons perspective of working daily in a menial supermarket job ("Day In Day Out"), his experiences after gigs on their US tour ("Insomnia"), relationships ending (the title track and "Dry"), journeys back to Wales via the M4 ("Hole in My Head"), relationships ("You're My Evergreen" and "Anasetic") amongst others. Musically the album employed an indie rock feel to it which also featured extended appearances of an acoustic guitar on some of its tracks.
Prior to the album's release it was delayed from June to August, which was due to Grant writing material after it was originally completed that they felt was too good to leave off the album, and was then included. When it got it's release the UK music press immediately warmed to the album, in which Rob Fitzpatrick then of Melody Maker citing "An absolute stormer it is. unmissable. absolutely", and also receiving the magazine's "Album of the Week" accolade, with Metal Hammer awarding the album a 10/10 mark. The year ended with a support slot at the Millennium Stadium supporting the Manic Street Preachers, and also before that Red Hot Chili Peppers at Wembley Arena shortly before the "Paperfaces" release. As of March 2003, the album has gone gold shipping 100,000 units in the UK.
Echo Park (2000-2001)
The following year, Feeder spent most of 2000 at Great Lindford Manor studios writing and recording for their next album. During the year the band also played festivals around the country previewing the new material they were working on, such as V2000 and Glastonbury, but would end the year promoting "Buck Rogers"- their first single since November 1999, and then playing a mini-tour at the end of the year to mainly showcase the new material. The same night the band played the Leeds Cockpit in December 2000, they were told earlier on in the day that their new single has made the radio 1 A-list, meaning the single would be given a high degree of airplay rotation. The release of the single on January 8 2001 was coupled with a signing session at London's now closed Tower Records store, and then TV appearances on Top of The Pops and The Pepsi Chart Show due to the singles midweek performance. This seen the band become forced to cancel two signing sessions as a result. The single charted at #5 becoming the bands first top 10 entry in that chart. In South Africa, the track reached #1 on the 5FM top 40 and would headline a one-day event celebrating the station's 26th birthday.
In relation to the public reaction to "Buck Rogers", Grant was asked in an April 2001 edition of a Feederweb fanzine if he felt under pressure to deliver another radio-friendly song, in reply he said:- "Not really, I think with the radio thing you have to be really careful; at the end of the day Feeder's not a typical daytime radio band, but what we've done is that we've proved that a guitar band - a British guitar band, and a band that doesn't have the profile of U2 or someone can still get into the top ten. It is possible!, it just seems to be that it's always the big American bands who sort of dominate the top ten; a Limp Bizkit or whatever, but saying that I think the whole Travis and Coldplay thing has been really good as sort of a stepping stone, and also I think people are getting fed up of just seeing Westlife or Steps on the TV. I think people are finding rock, and real bands again - I think that the market is currently so bombarded with pop stuff that we're just quite refreshing. Rock never went away, but it never really got the exposure. Hopefully It'll get "Seven Days in the Sun" away…".
Grant once said that the song is about a relationship ending but also uses humour, with the name for the song originating from a keyboard piece Grant created which sounded "futuristic", and named it "Buck Rogers". In a 2005 interview in Q Magazine he said of the song- "It's funny, I don't even particularly like that song, I've always thought I was a pretty dark songwriter, and what do I finally get known for?. A throwaway pop song. But I really shouldn't complain, should I?. If it wasn't for "Buck Rogers", I probably wouldn't be here talking to you now". Grant wrote the track for an American band called 'Radio Star', but was convinced by producer Gil Norton not to give the song away as he felt Feeder themselves could have a hit with it. The single appears in many all-time lists generated by XFM and Kerrang!, with a 2004 peak of #25 in the annual XFM list. "Buck Rogers" is featured on the soundtrack of the 2001 film Behind Enemy Lines starring Owen Wilson.
After a sell-out tour of two legs, ending at the London Astoria the said album Echo Park entered and peaked at #5 in the UK album charts, and reached gold sales status. A third single "Turn" reached #27, before festival season in which the band played the main stages of Reading/Leeds and also T in the Park. "Just a Day" a b-side from "Seven Days in the Sun" reached #12.
The album saw the band take on much more of a commercially influenced sound, and also the appearance of Moog synthesizers, while being lyrically focused on a comedy approach like with "Seven Days in the Sun", but also dark emotions such as those shown on "Turn", "Oxygen" and "Satellite News". It was during the campaign for Echo Park, that the band played another slot on the main stage at the Reading/Leeds festival. As of March 2003, the album has shipped 300,000 units in the UK, going platinum.
Grant said in a Melody Maker interview that if the album didn't sell the band would probably split up, in which he said at the time "It's the same with any band. That's just the way the music business is. There is only a certain amount of money a label will put into a band. I'm just being realistic. We've been around for seven or eight years and I am not planning on giving up, but we're putting everything into this record and I'm just hoping that people like it". The album was voted the 25th best British rock album of all-time by Kerrang! readers, and was the highest placed Feeder album in the list. On August 28, 2001 the band won "Best British Live Act" at the 2001 Kerrang! awards, and would end the year supporting the Stereophonics before releasing "Just a Day".
Comfort In Sound (2002-2003)
The following year their drummer, Jon Lee, took his own life in his Miami home, meaning that the band kept out of the public eye for most of the following year. Grant started to write songs regarding his feelings at the time and these songs would form the bands fourth album Comfort in Sound. The band drafted in former Skunk Anansie and Little Angels member Mark Richardson for drum duties. The album focused mainly on themes such as loss, depression, grievance, and positivity while dedicating "Quickfade" to Jon. The album was released in October of the same year to widespread critical acclaim in the British music press with Kerrang! stating "Comfort in Sound harnesses the anthmetic appeal of a latter day U2 … and a quality that propels Feeder from the confines of the everyday into the neighbourhood of everyman …" and giving the album their "Album of the Week" award, alongside the heavy rock magazine Metal Hammer giving the album the similar accolade of "Album of the Month" while citing "an album they should rightfully be proud of … ". The band decided to play at the Reading/Leeds festivals that year, making a low-key appearance by playing the second stage. Comfort in Sound was voted by Kerrang! readers as one of their top 100 British rock albums of all-time at #32.
Musically, the album was much more mellow with the use of a string orchestra on "Forget About Tomorrow". Other tracks on the album also used an accordion, trumpet and a piano played by their manager Matt Page, with "Godzilla" being one of two tracks on the album to use loud guitars. This caused many fans to say it didn't fit in with the main feel of the album, with Feeder Fan Site suggesting "As a package CIS is almost as well formed as Yesterday Went Too Soon. The playlist is spot on (Godzilla being the only track that sits, not entirely sure if it really belongs)". The album was their first to receive a platinum sales award, (with Echo Park going platinum later on). It also spawned their second top 10 single with "Just the Way I'm Feeling" in January 2003 and is seen by Grant as the single that made the album successful, once saying- "It’s one of the best songs I’ve done, but we nearly didn’t do it. I wrote it right at the end of making Comfort in Sound, and our producer Gil Norton said he wasn’t sure we really needed another mid tempo song. But when we played it, we all thought that it definitely did have something. Lyrically it’s quite dark but it’s still an uplifting song. This was the single that really made the album a success. It’s the kind of song I’d like us to be remembered for". In December of the same year they took on their first and only arena tour to date, after the albums first tour sold all of its 60,000 tickets.
The album's final single wasn't available to buy commercially but was limited to 3,000 CD copies on their 2003 arena tour, Four singles were released commercially with those being "Come Back Around" (#14), "Just The Way I'm Feeling" (#10), "Forget About Tomorrow" (#12) and "Find the Colour" (#24) which was released after their V2004 appearance and Kerrang! award win for "Best British Band", in which Grant dedicated the award to Jon saying it was the award he always wanted the band to win.
Pushing The Senses (2004-2005)
Feeder returned to the studio to record their fifth album. The album was seen by Grant as more of an extension to "Comfort in Sound", as it focused on the same lyrical themes and musical styles, with Grant Nicholas also saying that it had more of an organic sound, and more upbeat tracks added into the mix. It also seen a number of piano driven tracks, with "Frequency" being an example. "Frequency" was produced by Coldplay producer Ken Nelson. For the rest of the album, Gil Norton was on production duties.
As a result, 2005's Pushing the Senses received criticism from long time fans and critics, although the album was Feeder's highest charting release at #2 on the UK album chart, received a gold certification, and created their third top 10 and second top 5 single ("Tumble and Fall"). Press response to the album was mixed with Paul Brannigan of Q Magazine citing the album as "An album that could finally establish Feeder as major league players", and Chris Heath of Dotmusic dismissing the album saying "Pushing the Senses is by no means soppy, but Feeder's young fanbase might need some convincing". Kerrang!'s review was seen as unfair in which Grant told Kerrang! radio:- "You know, being like brutally honest with you I was a bit p*ssed off with the Kerrang! review. I thought it was a very unfair review, and reviewed by the wrong person. If a different journalist had done it, we might have had a great review. I only cared about it as it was a magazine we've been with for a very long time".
The album helped them win a headline slot at the Download Festival, shortly before supporting U2 for a brief period on their Vertigo tour, which was followed by an appearance at the Live 8 concert in Edinburgh. The album in total spawned four UK top 40 singles, which included "Shatter"- a reworked version of the original track that was a double A-side with "Tender". Other singles, apart from the top 5 hit "Tumble and Fall" included "Feeling A Moment" (#13) and "Pushing The Senses" (#30). "Tender" and "Shatter" both featured on the European release of the Russian film Night Watch, with the latter getting fanbase attention after appearing as a b-side on "Tumble and Fall" and a successful petition followed to see its release as a single in its own right.
In September 2005, Grant Nicholas was misquoted in an interview that the band were set to split, which caused the rumour to be reported on music television and radio. The bands website soon denied the claims made in an official statement that read "Contrary to inaccurate reports in the press and on the radio, Feeder are not recording their last album, nor set to split. An over-enthusiastic reporter seems to have put 2 and 2 together and come up with 43. Indeed the group are looking forward to the release of new single "Shatter"/"Tender" in October and a Far East and UK tour in November. They have already started writing new material for a Singles Album to be released in the New Year and a further studio album to follow the current album Pushing the Senses". Soon later in a Kerrang! interview, Grant said that the interviewer misquoted him, and that he said the next album would be Feeder's last album on their current deal with Echo, before deciding to either re-sign or look for a new label.
Feeder would end the year seeing their then latest album appear at #39 on Q Magazine's end of year list, and win an award for the album at the Pop Factory Awards in Wales. However the day before, they postponed a winter tour after Grant picked up bleeds on his vocal chords.
The Singles (2006-2007)
The following year in 2006 Feeder returned to the studio with this time Stephen Street working as the bands producer, to record three new tracks to appear on their then forthcoming singles collection The Singles. "Lost and Found" (which Grant described as "an urban love song") became the first single to promote the collection, and would reach #12 in the UK singles chart in May 2006, after completing their delayed winter tour. The Singles, released in the same month of "Lost and Found" was the first Feeder album to have involvement from a major label, with EMI talking part in a one-off collaboration with Echo as the albums distributor. The album reached #2 on the UK albums chart, and was certified platinum in under three months including a gold certification in Ireland. Save Us was the second and final single from the album charting at #34 in late July. A version of the album included a DVD of all their videos filmed up to that point, and extensive sleevenotes by Ben Johncock- a freelance author and writer.
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