Radio 1's Bethan Elfyn spoke to Feeder before the release of Comfort In Sound, and continuing after the loss of Jon Lee.
Last updated: 23 January 2009
In one corner of the BBC studio Grant sits tuning his guitar ready for a radio session, Taka's deep in conversation with a record company rep in the middle of the room, and near the door leaning against an old disused piano is Mark. It takes a while to realise this is Mark Richardson, formerly of Skunk Anansie, and the most recent member of Feeder.
Grant strides over with a smile on his face, a smile of confidence in the new outfit and their great new album.
Do you feel the title track Comfort In Sound is representative of the body of work?
Grant: It doesn't cover everything. That song came very early on in the writing process, and it was so true. I got back into writing, that was my way of dealing with Jon's death. And so I felt that it was an appropriate lyric, and a very appropriate album title as well.
I think it's a very typical Feeder-sounding track in some way, quite heavy, but the lyrics are uplifting - which is quite important. There are obviously songs on the album which go a lot darker than that one.
You've said that you feel these are the greatest songs you've ever written.
Grant: 'Greatest' is a big word - I'm not sure what that means. All I can say is that we're really proud of this. It's the most focused album so far. I'm not saying that there aren't previous songs that I've written on previous Feeder albums that aren't strong as well, but as a body of work I think this one is the best.
Were you quite apprehensive that people are going to be reading so much into the lyrics?
Grant: Yeah! It terrifies me. There are certain songs on the album where I'm not sure if I'm being too honest, but that's what I needed to say. But I didn't really plan it.
The great thing about this album and these songs is that they all came very naturally, there was no big plan. It wasnt even "We're making a Feeder record!" - it was just a bunch of emotions and feelings that went into making this our fourth album.
When it happens that spontaneously, and in that way, it just makes it quite special. I'm not sure if it's going to be that commercially successful. I don't even care that much, but people so far who have heard it seem to like it. That's a good sign!
I think it will be a comfort to a lot of fans who felt like they actually knew Jon. When you read some of the lyrics, they are very expressive of your loss - for example, Quick Fade's refrain "I miss you more than words can say". It must be difficult playing live and singing these lines over and over.
Grant: I did actually find that one quite hard to sing. I had to bite my lip a few times when we played that at the festivals. Obviously there is a lot of sadness in there because people know what happened, they know a bit about the band, Jon and the whole history. But for someone who didn't know anything about Feeder, I'm really hoping that they can find their own comfort in these songs.
You mentioned the festivals, and Reading was one of the first big outings. You looked like you had a weight lifted from your shoulders. Was that how you felt?
Grant: I felt like I was shedding skin in some way. There's always going to be that memory, but we have to move on. Jon lives on on three Feeder albums. He's always in our minds anyway, but this is about the next chapter, and I did suddenly feel like we can still do this. And I turned round and saw Mark and thought, we can still do this and it still sounds good.
And the fans really made a point of saying that to you?
Grant: They were so amazing. If they hadn't been so good I dont know if we would've got through the gig.
Just before we went on it was an emotional moment, and I didn't realise that it would hit so hard, not only for us but for Mark as well.
Mark: It was very bizarre. Jon is going to be a massive part of this group and for whoever is drumming, that's always going to be there. The Reading thing was a definite point where it was either make or break. You either go on stage and it stops there or we carry on, and it's a new Feeder.
How did you feel before you went on stage?
Mark: It actually affected me worse the day before the warm up gig in Portsmouth. I was beside myself. I've never ever been that nervous before. I didn't know what the reaction was going to be - I was just worried about being accepted.
Just before we played a girl came up to me and said, 'We love Skunk Anansie, and we love Feeder, and we couldn't think of a better person to do the job". That just made me feel really nice - that people out there were open minded and just wanted us to get on with it!
You had started writing back in November last year?
Grant: Bits and bobs. We had a few rehearsals with Jon, and finished up on the Stereophonics tour so I was writing in Europe, but the main chunk were written around January and February time.
Tell me about Godzilla. The track really stands out on the album.
Grant: The energy is a big part of what we do. It's a lot of fun to play in the rehearsal studios - it's so full on! It shows the frustration and the anger that we all felt after what happened. Although there's a huge emptiness, and sadness, there are some days when you just feel angry, and I just want to shake him. That song is kind of that side.
There's quite a heavy line in that song, "Lost love in suicide", which I wasn't sure If I should have said. But again I really needed to say it, so that's why that song is on the album, really. It's a positive anger.
Words: Bethan Elfyn