Few bands have had to work quite so hard to fight preconceptions about their music as The Feeling. After reaching #2 and #1 in the charts with first two records, their third studio album was a relative flop, both critically and commercially. But 2 years on and newly signed to BMG Chrysalis, The Feeling are back with a new album, ‘Boy Cried Wolf.’
They’re more excited than ever to prove that their own blend of pop rock is so much more than ‘a collection of jingles in search of an ad sync.’ (NME)
After announcing the news of The Feeling’s new album, Performance Reviewed’s Tim Higgins spoke to drummer Paul Stewart about the upcoming release:
The new album began with Dan’s return to London – do you find the city a more inspiring place to write generally?
Yeah, I guess it is to an extent. When we’ve done residential recording away, which tends to be in the countryside, you tend to not do anything other than record and sort of hang around in the evenings. Whereas in London, you’ll be recording all day and then go out in the evening, go and see a gig or go and have dinner with somebody or home with families. So you kind of live life a little bit more and I guess the more you’re living life and the more you’re doing, the more there is to write about in your songs.
This is the first album you’ve done with BMG Chrysalis – have you found it very different working with them?
Yes, very different and very fantastic. We are overjoyed to be working with them and they are extremely supportive of us in everything we want to do. Everything from the songs themselves to the order on the album, the song choice, the artwork, absolutely everything has been completely up to us and they’ve just let us get on with it. They say “you make the decisions, let us know and we’ll make it happen but it’s got to come from you.”
Does that contrast with how things were under Island Records?
Yes, it does.
Does the way you’re working now feel like a new chapter or are you going back to something you had to begin with?
Well, I guess it’s definitely a new chapter but it just happens to be a chapter that’s based on the same idea as our first album. In that sense, there’s a sort of going back in time a little. The reason being that when we made our first album, we made the whole thing before we had a record deal and therefore there was nobody influencing or trying to make us things a certain way or write certain types of songs or produce them in a certain way. So, the first album was really the sound of the 5 of us in a room, left alone to get on with it. It’s entirely up to us how we sound. That was our first record and this fourth record we’ve just made was exactly that again. In that sense, we were back in the place we were before we had a record deal at all.
Dan has said recently that making a record because you want to make it is very different to making a record because you have to make it. Do you think that will come across in the live sound when you take the new album on tour?
I think so and I hope so. We’ll do our best to convey that because we are extremely proud of this record. The same couldn’t have been said for the last one really. There were some great moments on it, individual songs that we are very proud of but, as a whole, it was a very difficult album to make due to constant disagreements with the label as to what they wanted us to do and what we wanted to do. So, I think that when you’re performing material that wasn’t necessarily the stuff that you wanted, that come across in a gig. I would hope that it never really did but this time when we’re out we will be properly hearts on sleeves, chests out, really proud of this record. We’ll play to the absolute best of our ability and hope that people can see how much we love it.
Sounds like something to look forward to…
Yeah, I hope so; we’re definitely looking forward to it. We really enjoyed rehearsing these songs and making sure that we can play them. We aren’t going to play the entire album because that would take too long but we’re really proud of the songs we’ve got together, about 8 of them I think. We can’t wait to play them to people.
Would you says that your touring habits have changed with experience or is it still going out with the boys and playing shows?
I think it’s the same pretty much when we’re out. The only difference now is that 3 of the 5 of us have children now and so that’s changed things slightly. We’ve always been keen to come home on days off before but nowadays I think it’s a necessity to get back home and see the family. In that sense, I suppose it’s slightly different to the old days. We don’t tend to drink before the gig really; we find that can’t play if we’re a bit drunk! But we always have a bottle of single malt on our rider and that normally gets polished off quite quickly.
Music is hugely subjective and so alongside the good reviews, there will inevitably be bad reviews. How do you deal with those as an individual and as a band?
I suppose I look at it the same way everyone in the band does. As you say, it’s totally subjective and everyone has their opinion. If someone is criticising the album in a negative way and it’s a well-constructed view with a point put a cross in an intelligent, journalistic fashion but they don’t like the record, then that’s up to them and that’s perfectly fine.
I think the problem is quite often we’ve encountered journalists who’ve already decided they don’t like us and they’re predisposed to not like it before they’ve really listened to it. People have existing ideas about us as a band. People like the NME tend to give us negative reviews and we’re sort of dumbfounded as to why they’re even reviewing our album. It’s really not music that’s meant for the NME and its readership, so it’s confusing as to why they would even do that. It was such a brutal review and there were a couple of things in it that were really funny.
But you have to have a decent frame of reference musically; you have to understand music and be able to analyse it based on a huge knowledge of music, as musicians do when they’re working on something. We’ve had problems with certain members of staff at record companies who don’t appear to know of any music recorded before 1990.
As an artist, you can find 9 good reviews and 1 bad one and it’s the bad one that sticks out. You want to sort of find that person and talk to them and say “so, tell me again why you don’t like it” even though 9 people have said it was great. There are certain journalists whose opinion we really respect and we’re always keen to see what they say about our music. If they were to criticise it negatively, then we would really sit up and take note of what faults they could see with it. People like Pete Paphides who heard the new record and tweeted about it as well, even though he didn’t review it officially for anyone. He sent us a personal review, saying “heard the record, thought it was great, well done.” That kind of thing counts for an awful lot.
Over the years, you’ve played some huge venues, including Glastonbury Pyramid and Wembley Stadium – are there any others you’d like to tick off the list?
I don’t know really; the bigger the better in some respects! But then little club gigs are always fantastic too. To be honest, we have been incredibly lucky and to do Glastonbury Main Stage, you don’t get any bigger than that in the UK. So yeah, we’ve pretty much achieved everything we’d have ever wished to achieve when we were practicing in the attic when we were 16. We used to talk about that kind of thing, like young bands do.
It would be great to play Hammersmith Apollo again at some point; that’s just a really great venue with great sound. Hammersmith and Shepherds bush are our favourite gigs in London. You get a feeling for the gig from just being on the stage and how easy it is to connect with the crowd. Those 2 venues are fantastic for that.
A little birdie told me that you had a bit of an accident recently whilst installing nitrous on your car…
(laughs) Yeah, well yeah that got twisted a bit actually. I have a drag car that I race as often as I can. I had an incident recently during an install; I had a nitrous backfire which took my eyebrows a little bit. But it’s all to be expected when the car’s already about 600 horsepower and this is adding another 150, so it’s getting up into the arena of things going bang. I promise I’ll be more careful with the tuning in future.
To be honest, the bit I enjoy as well is the building of the car and all the work on it; I do everything myself. I’m constantly learning and talking to people and getting advice on how to do things. Burning the car on the track and it not going bang, bringing it back home in one piece is as exciting to me as the bit where I’m behind the wheel.
The Feeling are all too aware of the effect that their third album has had. From a band writing top 10 hits with alarming regularity to one suffering at the hands of critics and fans alike, they now have a point to prove. If their own confidence in the new record is anything to go by, we could be in for a treat.
‘Boy Cried Wolf’ is out 7th October 2013.
For tour dates, click here.