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Friday, 25 April 2014

Come back around

FEEDER have been one of British rock's success stories for two decades, but appeared to hit a wall with a couple of disappointing albums. Frontman Grant Nicholas tells KARL STEEL that Wales' finest are back firing on all cylinders ahead of their appearance at Kendal Calling

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FEW bands have experienced such incredible highs and drastic lows as Feeder have in their 20-year existence.

In the early Millennium they were the darlings of the British music press, had hit single after hit single, and headlined Download, one of the world’s biggest rock festivals.

But original members Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose had to come to terms with the suicide of drummer Jon Lee at the height of their fame, and after a couple of poorly-received albums, they were in danger of fading into obscurity.

Earlier this year, the Newport trio – now with Karl Brazil taking the sticks – released Generation Freakshow. The rejuvenated alt-rockers now have a string of festival dates, including Kendal Calling at the end of July. Frontman and guitarist Nicholas is excited about their first visit to Cumbria’s premier music festival.

“I’ve read a lot of good things about it and I know that it has won best small festival, so I’m definitely looking forward to it,” he says. “We did a couple of festivals last summer, but I prefer these smaller events where you get 10 or 15,000 people. It’s more compact, there’s a better atmosphere and the fans can get a better view.

“It is easier to connect with the fans, but there’s also that chance things can go wrong – with the weather, with the gear – but as long as both the band and fans don’t expect too much, then usually we all have a great time.

“Don’t get me wrong, playing the Isle of Wight festival and headlining Download were amazing experiences, but some of the smaller festivals can be just as memorable.”

Feeder will be in the company of some old friends at Kendal Calling, with Britpop stalwarts James headlining and the newly-reformed Shed Seven also making an appearance.

Nicholas is confident his band can win over a raft of new fans, but he is happy to bring a touch of nostalgia to proceedings.

He says: “I think we’re very different to those bands, even though a few people will be fans of all of them.

“James have always been around and I think they’ve got a lot of loyal fans, and Shed Seven broke up for a while, so it’ll be interesting to see how they go down.

“Our fans sort of cover all bases, from 14 to 40, because we seem to appeal to even die-hard Stone Roses fans, and then we’ve got some really young kids.

“We’ve got a very different audience to James, but I think at a festival a lot of people would come and see us all.”

In the spring, Feeder performed a dry-run in tiny venues and have a tour later in the year, and they have their new set down to a fine art. One of the biggest criticisms levelled at them in recent years is that they appear to be going through the motions and playing the same songs over and over.

Nicholas says: “You can’t win, because if you play too many new songs then people moan because they don’t know them, and if you do your greatest hits then they say that you’re just doing the same old stuff.”

Feeder appear on Sunday’s main stage at Kendal Calling, at Lowther Deer Park, near Penrith, over the weekend of July 27-29.

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