The Feeling

As The Feeling get set to release their debut album "Twelve Stops" at home they're giving a forewarning that 2006 is the year that indie will die. Speculating on the rumours that Arctic Monkey's don't play on their own records, claiming that major record labels have manufactured most alternative bands, they're a pop band that claim to listen to everything from Metallica to the Carpenters although admit to going through an indie phase and owning a Shed 7 album. The Feelings frontman Dan Gillespie explains to Designer Magazine how they're nothing like Orson and why their record label is scared to release their big pop hits

Q: The Feeling, the band that's come to save pop music in the year that Smash Hits died?
A: I suppose so, but I don't know if we'd ever have been part of the Smash Hits side of pop. I think that's the problem actually, the first thing to go wrong was that pop was always this bubble-gummy stuff and I think that's what kinda killed Smash Hits. And I think the same thing will happen to indie if people aren't careful. We all know how bad the NME's doing and stuff...and if indie has to be this incredibly edgy cool trendy thing without melodies and pop influences then I think indie will die too. I just think there's room for people who exist in the middle naturally, guitar bands who write songs with big choruses and have more than one thing to say musically. I think we exist in that space in the middle just by accident

Q: The thing people seem to forget is that Smash Hits used to have Morrissey and The Pet Shop boys in it as well as Banarama?
A: Exactly. Then all of a sudden it was all just Blue and whoever the boy bands were at the time. I think that pop became that. My idea of pop was different. In my indie period I always thought Suede were pop and in the 60s Beatles were pop. My idea of pop music I think is slightly different from what people see as pop music nowadays. They see it as a dirty word almost.

Q: Were you surprised about the success of "Sewn" because it's the least pop track on the album?
A: Yeah, we released it because we wanted a slow start. Record companies are so scared of pop, they absolutely shit their pants, so they put out the song that was the least poppy because they were scared about not being credible. As a bunch of guys we don't give a shit about being credible. All of this bullshit about being credible - it's a simple if people like it they'll buy and if they don't they don't.

This idea that indie is credible and anything else isn't when most indie bands are put together by record labels and as dreamed up as any pop act. I don't believe credible really exists. I just think you write good songs or you don't. "Fill My Little World" is out next and then "Never Be Lonely" which is the real test because that's a real radio pop song.

Q: So what were you and the Feeling listening to growing up?
A: I suppose it's always parents record collections that start it off for you and my dad listened to anything from Bruce Springsteen all the way to Pink Floyd. And then we had Clapton and Cream, that sort of period. My mum had load of Motown records so I listened to loads of Motown when I was a kid as well.

What was the other stuff? My dad was into Elvis Costello and Squeeze that at the time weren't just old fogey music, when I was growing up it was a little bit younger and cool. Then I listened to huge amounts of early Elton John records, we had that "Yellow Brick Road" album in the house and I thought it was amazing, it didn't sound like anything else around.

When I got older I went through that whole indie phase of Suede, but I also liked the really poppy side of it so I liked Shed 7 and stuff like that. I was never into that Oasis'y kind of side of it. I was always into the much more pop bands. And when I was a kid everyone was into Michael Jackson so I always had a few of his records amongst the cooler stuff.

I think our generation was a lot more eclectic in our listening tastes. I'll listen to Bob Marley records as much as i'll listen to Mozart because it's just good songs and good music.

Q: Did you get into that stage where you hear one indie record and then suddenly denounce your love of anything vaguely commercial?
A: Yeah. It wasn't really about the music at that stage. It became about the clubs and the scene. My brother was 18 months older than me and going to the Dome in Tuffnel Park and Camden Palace and places like that so I used to go along to them even though I was a bit younger. I got into that scene but I never really felt like I belonged there, I felt like a faker, so that's why when this band came about the whole idea of us trying to do the whole indie thing just didn't seem like it was going to work because we'd have just been faking it.

We're pop people and I suppose we've all got different musical tastes. Like anything from Metallica and Maiden through to Queen to really daft things like The Carpenters and Abba. Our tastes span whole breadth of things from quite cool to incredibly uncool. Being cool actually doesn't matter to us, what matters to us is whether the music's good.

Q: As you said you're not the type to hang around a certain scene. How did the Feeling meet as a band?
A: We didn't come from a particular scene. We just met at school and it was just a case of these guys are good musicians, lets work together. We met 10 years ago and always worked together in different projects and different bands, whatever we could do to make money because none of us wanted to get day jobs. None of us have actually had a day job cos we've always worked as musicians for the past 10 years.

About 3 years ago we put this band together and it wasn't even in the sense of lets make a band and get a record deal, we'd been through that whole thing. It was just a case of lets record some of these songs and see what they sound like, just do it for fun when we weren't doing other work. It just turned into this - someone heard it and then someone played it to someone else and before we knew we were getting called by management and it all took off.

Q: You used to be session musicians didn't you?
A: Bits of that and bits of just playing in pubs and bars. And playing up in the Alps and stuff. Whatever we could do to keep playing for a living because you're just desperate not to get a day job. None of us are that good at anything else. None of us could even get a job in McDonalds.

Sometimes it was glamorous like doing session work, but then sometimes it was playing hideous weddings or really rough pubs. The best time for us was going to the Alps because that's where we had the most fun and we did the most amount of gigs, you could do 10 gigs a week out there because they have the Apres Ski gig and then the evening gig. We've been doing that for a few years and the last time we went back we just went out there and played our own tunes.

Q: Did you session for anyone famous? (Ed: I think everyone knows now they working with Sophie Ellis-Bextor by now)
A: We've played on a few records, nothing of major notoriety but you'd know then. We've played on tours and backed other people. One of the bonuses of having done that is we know how the studio works we know how the record industry works and we know what it's like to tour so we were never going into this blindly. And it's informed us with who we've worked with and what company and what deal we signed.

Q: So there's no one like Bewitched or Steps?
A: No one quite dodgy. I'd tell you if it was Bewitched though - you'd be like wow, you've played on that record. There's nothing wrong with being a session player - Jimmy Paige and Jimi Hendrix were session musicians. I very much doubt Arctic Monkeys play on their records.

Q: Surely Arctic Monkeys and Babyshambles are the anti-Feeling?
A: It worries me when they get marketed in such a heavy way. It's weird, it gets marketed in this mainstream fashion when it isn't mainstream music. It exists in bars in Camden and the towns that they come from where there's a scene and it makes sense, but they're never going to be international. It's not universal enough, it's not melodic enough.

A couple of years ago you couldn't get signed if you weren't alternative. It's a paradox because what are you the alternative to if nothings getting signed except from the alternative. So if every major label's only signing alternative stuff then that's not really alternative anymore (laughs).

When we started we were urged and pushed to make our sound a bit more spiky and angular, a bit more skinny jeans and floppy hair. We were even told to grow beards. We thought we could do that and we could do that to our music. We could make our music more angular and spiky and take out some of the hooks, but we refused to do it. We didn't want to do that with our music. We want it to be lush, giving and generous and full of ideas, pomp and ceremony.

Q: Are you aware that the NUJ demands we put you and Orson in the same bracket?
A: I think that's record companies. They like to do that thing and it's complete and utter bullshit. They quote quite a lot of the same reference as we do, but having listened to their record they don't sound anything like us. They're Americans and they'll never do British pop music the way that we do and we'll never do American rock like they do. We've got a very British sentiment to what we do and they've got a real American rock sentiment to what they do so I don't see where we lie in the same bracket. I suppose none of us are spiky Northern English rock band or Hoxton Art School - that's the only connection.

Q: The album keeping it to the classicism of 12 killers singles with no filler
A: Each track is completely different. None of them step on each others toes to much so you don't get one track and thing that's a little bit like the other one. So many albums do that nowadays and I think it's a little bit boring. We wanted to have an album with as many tempos and as many keys in it and more importantly as many different moods. I remember listening to Queen records when I was younger, and modern records don't do this, where they'd go from some ludicrous big pomp ceremony to cute little pop songs to a weird little folk number. They'd do everything on their records and they didn't really give a shit what anyone thought. That's the kind of attitude we took with the record ourselves.

Q: So if you get this first album perfect how do you follow it up with the second album?
A: The second album's virtually already written. We written and recorded 23 songs because a lot of the album is our own recording as we produced the album ourselves. In that process we wrote off a lot of the songs which were just as good but we wanted to make the album balanced so there's an awful lot of material for the second album. The funny thing is I write a lot when Im on tour and given that the net few weeks are given over entirely for touring I think i'll have enough material for the next album.

Q: How do you recreate it live because it is a very lush sounding album?
A: There's nothing on the album that we don't play live. There's 5 of us in the band, all of us sing and we're able to pretty much play everything live without any backing track. Doing session work you often hear records that are really well produced with synths and then before you know it you have to do it live and you have to use a sampler to play it all live. We've seen that happen before and known what a nightmare it is trying to play like that so when we made the album we were careful that we didn't put a load of stuff on it we couldn't produce live.

Q: As well as touring and writing you also offer restaurant reviews on your website as well
A: It was something we thought would be a good idea for other bands at first. We were figuring we were part of a new generation that didn't just want to eat in Burger King or the local Nando's Chicken outfit. When you're touring around the country, like we're in Manchester today, we do our soundcheck and have a good few hours to hang around. We were trying to find nice places to eat and there isn't really any good places to eat near the venues or any website that tells you. So first we thought it was an idea that would be nice for other bands and then everybody else got interested. We're hoping to get some free grub out of it at some point...apart from in Wetherspoons where its the most hideous thing ever.

Q: Apart from blagging free food what's your plans for the summer?
A: The German's don't really like English bands, but they've been playing "Sewn" a lot on the radio so I think we're heading over there. We've got V Festival and T In The Park and the American's are quite keen to get us over there because we're signed to Interscope in the States. I feel the rest of my life is planned and booked up right now (laughs)

"12 Songs And Home" is out June 5th
The Feeling tour throughout June and support Richard Ashcroft at Old Trafford

For more information and tour dates

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