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London, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 1992 | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1992
Band Rock


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"Feeder - All Bright Electric album review"

When Grant Nicholas announced that Feeder were embarking on an indefinite hiatus in 2012, it looked like the end for a band whose commercial ubiquity was sliding from guaranteed Top 10 to respectable Top 75. Feeder had grafted, been resilient in the face of tragedy, but when Nicholas decided to call a halt, most offered an unsurprised opinion that they’d had a good innings.

Having recharged and reassessed while sowing wild solo oats, Feeder are back in scintillating style. Sequenced with an old-school dynamism perfectly suited to vinyl, All Bright Electric finds the trio bursting through the glass ceiling of a familiar modus operandi with vitality to spare. Blazing, fiercely contemporary opener Universe Of Life is irresistibly reminiscent of QOTSA. Elsewhere, there's a brooding quiet authority, and a vocal performance beyond anything Nicholas even promised previously, with maturity emotion, reflection and sou. Eskimo creeps up on you and delivers in spades. Guitars crush, tantalise and seduce. There are shades of Porcupine Tree, but not too many. Climatic closer Another Day On Earth finds strength in fragility, thus defining the compelling forward momentum of Feeder's most satisfying album to date. - Classic Rock

"Feeder interview: Grant Nicholas on All Bright Electric, going solo, and that time he smashed a guitar at Download"

'Being in a band for a long time, especially a rock band, I think people have been quite lazy in pigeonholing what we are'.

The riff on 'Universe of Life', the opening track on Feeder’s new record, All Bright Electric, pummels the listener into full consciousness, very much like a sting from the wasp on their front cover.

This is the band's ninth record in a career spanning more than 20 years, arriving after a four-year break from studio releases. Featuring the classic, heavy sound Feeder are known for along with some surprises (unless you've been following frontman Grant Nicholas' solo work), it's an ambitious work; one that has clearly had a lot of thought go into its production.

At the Picturehouse - a cinema/cafe round the corner from the band's studio in Crouch End - frontman Grant Nicholas sounds a little hoarse. They've been rehearsing pretty much non-stop with a new drummer and a new guitar player for the new tour, and it's been a while since they poured through their older material.

"It is quite bizarre because now we’re rehearsing stuff like 'Just A Day'," he says. "It's a bit of an encore song, quite a cult one. But I appreciate the fact that I’ve been to see my favourite bands and they’ve just played the new album when you want at least one or two of their old songs, the ones people actually bought.

"The good thing about where we are now, is that we want people to know we’ve got new music, it’s important that we’re not seen as a band living off past glories. I just couldn’t do that. And also i think I’ve got better songs to write, still, and as long as I feel like that…"

It’s a struggle putting the setlist together, he admits, and there’s one album that hasn’t made it on at all - instead they’re settling for a handful of songs off the new record each night. Surprisingly he seems more nervous about the older material than the new.

“It’s a workout, trying to sing songs you wrote 20 years ago. But I’ve managed to pull it off so far. And I’m singing differently now, I’ll still belt it out, but I want it to be a bit more soulful in some way. I love singers like Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, and Josh Homme… a bit more croony. And as you get older I find your voice suits that delivery a bit more. It’s getting the balance right, which is a tough one for me."

All Bright Electric is a natural progression from the 48-year-old's solo work: "We didn’t do a great job on the press so I think it missed a lot of areas where it could have shown me as a writer," he says. "Being in a band for a long time, especially a rock band, I think people have been quite lazy in pigeonholing what we are. We’ve always been quite a diverse band, we have songs that are like my solo stuff, some quirky songs, and then the heavier stuff.

"And that’s always been there, but I think some people don’t realise that, they just think of 'Buck Rogers' and stuff. But people who know about the band, who listen to the B-Sides and everything, they know that. Every band has that problem of being labelled."

"'Oh Mary' [from All Bright Electric] is one of my favourites because it touches on the solo work," he adds. "How we started in that 90s period where people like Nirvana had a beautiful acoustic side. I think when he [Kurt Cobain] did MTV Unplugged it surprised a lot of people… it’s a shame he didn't go onto do more. And I'm trying to touch on something that has a similar message."

Feeder have often drawn comparisons to the Manic Street Preachers for the fact that they’ve consistently done things their own way, at their own pace. "I think the only record we mad which was kind of similar to the one before,"Nicholas says slowly, "was where 'Comfort In Sound' was so successful - on the back of that one we had a single called 'Forget About Tomorrow'… that’s one of my favourite Feeder tracks that I’ve written from that period.

"I’m not saying I had a more mainstream approach in my head but that’s how Pushing the Senses turned out. A couple of fans felt it was too light for them but I think it was a good record, and I think it’s good to take risks. I couldn’t do the same thing again and again, I’d find it very boring. But some bands have amazing careers doing that."

Nicholas is still "flying the flag for Jazzmaster", asides from one Gibson acoustic (he doesn't own a Les Paul): "The only Gibson that I use on every Feeder record is a Gibson Explorer which looks like a proper metal guitar, I’ve used it since Swim. But the Jazzmaster rack is pretty obscene. Not as many as Kevin Shields though.”

A now-infamous moment at Download Festival in 2005 saw Nicholas smashing a rather beautiful guitar to pieces, footage of which, frustratingly, has proven impossible to find.

"I just lost it," he says, laughing, a bit sheepish. "I think it was a really tough gig at Download, at the time they were trying to bring in some more alternative rock. The first half we thought ‘let’s go really heavy’… but it was still hard work. I was feeling the pressure, getting very frustrated.

“Someone’s got footage of it, they must have, but I’ve never actually seen it. I had Taka looking at me like ‘he’s not gonna do it’. Once I started doing it… Now I've got the neck which is cracked and about two or three pieces left of the body."

It must have been a gratifying moment for anyone craving a smidgeon of old school 'rock and roll' behaviour at a festival that, at the time, was trying to branch into the mainstream. And despite a cluster of older musicians who come forward every few years to pronounce the ‘death of rock’, Nicholas has no doubt that there is still plenty of talent out there.

"People say rock is dead for attention," he scoffs. "There are kids with so much talent, bands like Arctic Monkeys, they’re proving rock’s not dead every day. There are so many great rock bands in London, but it’s hard, it’s always been hard. We were around for a long time before we started to get people’s attention, then we did Reading, and it kind of went from there. Steve Lamacq saw us there and was a great supporter since then.

"Labels don’t have the time or funding now to let bands develop, and unless it’s a quick hit… Unless you’ve got outside funding, like a rich guy who’s decided he wants to manage a band for a bit. At the same time though, it’s a great time for music. As someone’s who’s been in a band who’ve been around for a bit… I think it’s probably better now than it has been. People are going back to that 90s sound a bit."

Nicholas is upfront about how he can still be hurt by negative reviews, particularly those aimed at his lyrics. It's a trait he shares with Sting of The Police - one of Feeders' early influences - they bug him, even though he knows they shouldn't.

"I think when you’ve had a bad review it can kill you. I know people say never read them, but sometimes it’s impossible not to," Nicholas says. "When you’ve created something, you can tell when someone’s actually read the record, and that's the worst kind of negative review. It’s hard to write songs and it’s easy to criticise. I think people still take that for granted, even pop songs. And with rock it’s even harder.

"Making a record is quite an emotional process for me - there’s always insecurity for an artist, you start to over-analyse it. I think that’s a natural thing."

All Bright Electric may have been a natural progression from Nicholas' solo work, but it also stemmed from when he was supposed to be writing other people, and realised he was still putting 'too much' of himself into his lyrics.

"I’m sure my accountant would be happy if I wrote something for Adele," he laughs, "but you know… It feels good, this record. It was very natural to write.

"Maybe just being away for a while helped - I just didn’t know it would be for that long. But it's exciting, we feel like a new band again. And I’m still learning all the time."

Feeder's ninth album All Bright Electric is out on 7 October. They play London's Roundhouse on 12 October. - Independent

"Feeder - All Bright Electric (Album Review)"

If awards were given out for unbridled consistency, Feeder would surely be among the nominees. Active for nearly a quarter of a century. In that time they've put out a plethora of records cementing their status as one of the finest rock bands of their generation. Indeed if there wasn't such a high degree of quality control surrounding their output, it's unlikely the band would still be here now making records and effortlessly selling out Academy sized venues. What's most interesting about Feeder is that unlike other bands who emerged from the same era – Suede or the Manic Street Preachers – they've never obviously inspired the same rabid devotion, yet have quietly amassed a loyal following who've stuck with the band through and thin. When discussing Feeder albums it's hard to dismiss any of their output, unlike either of the aforementioned whose back catalogues contain releases pitched at either end of the scale marked 'good' and 'bad'. Whether it be debut long player Polythene, released against a tidal wave of Britpop some 19 years ago, 2001's Echo Park and its successor Comfort In Sound, still their commercial landmarks to date or most recent release Generation Freakshow which suggested a return to their noisier roots might be imminent. Feeder have never slackened or taken the easy option.

So it's probably just as well that album number nine All Bright Electric, released four years on from their last, doesn't stick to the formula but reinvigorates it instead. 'It's important that we're not seen as a band living off past glories' said frontman and guitarist Grant Nicholas in a recent interview and like the consummate professional he's always been portrayed as All Bright Electric is the sound of anything but a band going through the motions. If anything, it represents arguably their most vibrant collection of songs for the best part of a decade. Never stopping for a rest or even the slightest breather.

Recorded in the latter part of last and the early part of this year, Nicholas and long term cohort Taka Hirose sound rejuvenated to the point of almost becoming a new entity. From beginning to end, All Bright Electric clearly highlights Feeder at their most potent, occasionally visceral but never complacent or dull. From the moment 'Universe Of Life' kickstarts the record in a thunderstorm of gargantuan riffs and crashing drums courtesy of Karl Brazil, there's little there's no let up. Relentless and energetic, it bears a slight resemblance to 'Sweet 16' off 1995's Swim EP as Nicholas, who claims to have been inspired by skydiving when writing the song sings "No surprises, no excuses... Don't be fooled by foolish minds." As introductions go its probably Feeder's most incisive statement of intent since 'Anaesthetic' introduced Yesterday Went Too Soon back in 1999.

Recent single 'Eskimo' takes a more refined approach similar to that of 2002's 'Just The Way I'm Feeling' while the expansive, Eastern-flavoured 'Geezer' showcases another side of the band's make-up. Albeit one that's aiming for the stars and beyond, such is its widescreen vision and otherworldly demeanour. Indeed, when Feeder do melancholic - and they've had plenty of practice to startling effect over the years as the likes of 'Day In Day Out' and 'Tumble And Fall' to name but two ably demonstrated - they're on a different plateau to most of their peers and contemporaries. None more so than on 'Infrared-Ultraviolet', which fuses heavily orchestrated guitars with a finely tuned piano segment that rivals some of Feeder's biggest and best known songs for anthemic beauty.

The riffs keep coming as 'Paperweight' with its "Should I stay or should I go?" refrain and 'Divide the Minority' both go for the jugular. The latter reminiscent of Echo Park standout 'We Can't Rewind'. Indeed, for all their critics mutterings that the band are a spent force, All Bright Electric sticks two fingers up at each and every one of them in style. While 'Oh Mary', 'The Impossible' and 'Angels And Lullabies' keep things ticking over - I won't use the phrase Feeder-by-numbers - its left to penultimate composition and album centre piece 'Hundred Liars' to forcefully ram home what an inspired record All Bright Electric really is. "Love is not a criminal" insists Nicholas before declaring "We can be heroes", he and his bandmates slugging out yet another anthem as they go. It ranks as arguably Feeder's finest four-and-a-half minutes in over a decade, and firmly cements their position as a dynamic force in their respective field.

The choices we make can change the rest of our lives" sings Nicholas on closer 'Another Day On Earth', a song that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "power ballad". It's a fitting climax to an album that doesn't so much announce Feeder's return as bellow it from the rooftops. - Drowned In Sound


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