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Feeder

Post-grunge combos from Brit shores were not all that rare when one thinks of BUSH (from London), IDLEWILD (from Edinburgh) and ASH (from Downpatrick). The Welsh link was indeed, FEEDER, two-thirds of which were made up of Newport-born pair Grant Nicholas and Jon Lee; their integral third part was Japanese bassist Taka Hirose. While FEEDER’s American antecedents PIXIES, NIRVANA and SMASHING PUMPKINS were a global force to be reckoned with, only Old Blighty, Ireland, Asia and a few other places had the inclination to push out their senses – so to speak.
One can trace the band back to Newport’s Temper Temper, an early 90s electronic duo consisting of Grant and Jon; the former having cut his teeth in 80s BLACK SABBATH covers act Sweet Leaf, the latter as a fill-in drummer (briefly in ’92) with The DARLING BUDS. Also part of Raindancer, who evolved into Real, the major turnabout for singer/guitarist/songwriter Grant and drummer Jon, arrived in ’94 when Hirose came on board (the result of the Welshmen answering his classified ad in Loot).
After slogging around the toilet circuit supporting LITTLE ANGELS off-shoot b.l.o.w. (featuring Mark Richardson), FEEDER’s prayers were answered when demos they’d sent to The Echo Label – then home to JULIAN COPE and BABY BIRD, respectively – turned out vital enough to furnish them a start-up contract. `Two Colours’ was released in October ’95, although it wasn’t actually a song, just the sub-text title of tracks `Chicken On A Bone’ and `Pictures Of Pain’. The 6-track mini-album, SWIM (1996) {*6}, consolidated their pop-metal/post-grunge credentials, while an appearance at the CMJ music business conference in New York led them to sign for the American branch of Elektra Records.
Following on from the glistening dynamics and sonic confetti of three singles (`Stereo World’, `Tangerine’ and Kerrang! 5-star `Cement’), all from their well-received debut album proper, POLYTHENE (1997) {*7}, FEEDER secured a number of ascending Top 50 chart successes, including `Crash’ (#48), `High’ (#24) and `Suffocate’ (#37). Without garnering much airplay at a time when Britpop ruled the waves, they’d still built up quite a loyal support before they took to the stage at Reading that August.
Always never far from the pages of the aforesaid Kerrang! or the NME, FEEDER continued to gravitate up the charts by way of the equally enterprising hard rock-meets-indie Top 10 set, YESTERDAY WENT TOO SOON (1999) {*8}. Previewed by a triumvirate of chart spurts, `Day In Day Out’ (#31), `Insomnia’ (#22) and the title track (#20), the trio were fast-becoming staples in among the FOO FIGHTERS and the tiring Britpoppers of the era.
Featuring high-end hits, `Buck Rogers’ (#5), `Seven Days In The Sun’ (#14), `Turn’ (#27) and `Just A Day’ (#12) – reinstating their philosophy of coloured 7-inch vinyl – 2001’s ECHO PARK {*7} brought together epic nu-metalish melodies. The Top 5 set was co-produced by American Gil Norton, and it showed. However, Gil’s home-land were not enraptured by the worldly sounds of the cathartic FEEDER and, with that, no release was scheduled.
The band were then dealt the cruellest of blows with the suicide (hanging) of 33 year-old Jon Lee on the 7th January 2002 at his Miami abode. After deciding to carry on at the behest of Jon’s family, they recruited former SKUNK ANANSIE/LITTLE ANGELS drummer Mark Richardson and set about recording COMFORT IN SOUND (2002) {*7}. As its title inferred, this was an attempt to both come to terms with, and find some kind of meaning in tragedy; emotional hits such as `Just The Way I’m Feeling’ (#10), `Forget About Tomorrow’ (#12) and `Find The Colour’ (#24), searching and touching. Often uncomfortably intimate (exception to the rule `Come Back Around’ at #14), the record nevertheless achieved its own natural catharsis over the course of its song cycle and reached No.6.
While a new wave of Welsh acts stormed the pop barricades, veterans like Nicholas still had enough good tunes to count: many enlightening B-sides that surfaced on a double-disc “Picture Of Perfect Youth” (2004), which also included covers of FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD’s `Power Of Love’ and The POLICE’s `Can’t Stand Losing You’.
January 2005 saw the release of Top 5 single, `Tumble And Fall’, and near chart-topping fifth album, PUSHING THE SENSES {*6}; co-produced once again by Gil Norton. For the remainder of the year, FEEDER further served up three other hits, `Feeling A Moment’ (#13), the title track (#30), and the double-A sided `Shatter’ / `Tender’ (#11); all lining up – together with fresh recordings `Lost & Found’ (#12) and `Save Us’ (#34) – on a career-spanning “The Singles” retrospective the following year.
Difficulties within the Echo Label and their insistence to allegedly hold on to their top acts (FEEDER and MORCHEEBA) while losing BAT FOR LASHES and a few million in revenue, the trio’s 7th album, the Top 10 SILENT CRY (2008) {*6}, was somewhat poignant in its title. Unable to secure any airplay for attendant single, `We Are The People’ (which still managed to crack the Top 30), things looked decidedly ominous for the band. Long-time friend of Grant and Co, Matt Sime had co-produced the set, and the inclusion of the Bang Bangs’ Sarah Clark on three pieces (the single, plus `Itsumo’ and `Fires’) was admirable. When confusion over what to release next resulted in a double-headed download of `Tracing Lines’ and `Silent Cry’ flopping miserably, drastic action was necessary for FEEDER’s survival.
Richardson could not be tempted away from a SKUNK ANANSIE reunion, so in his place came Karl Brazil. Shows/gigs under the pseudonymous moniker of “Renegades” were underway in 2010, and therefore avoiding any performances of older songs. The Chrysalis/self-financed (Big Teeth Music) FEEDER album, RENEGADES {*6}, mapped out their next Top 20 proposition; `Call Out’, the title track, and `Down To The River’, all failed miserably in a singles charts geared up to favour stream-lined pop music.
2012’s GENERATION FREAKSHOW {*6} once again divided “marmite” critics, depending on their hard-rock/power-pop credentials. Chris Sheldon would now help Nicholas with the studio angle of the – at times – predictable Top 20 album. FEEDER’s recurring nightmare was that reviewers would see songs such as `Children Of The Sun’ drum to a post-OASIS beat, while others like `Idaho’ and `Tiny Minds’ veered west of centre to sub-FOO FIGHTERS terrain. All ‘n’ all, with only their own loyal support, who saw so much more substance in their sonic sojourns (`Borders’ et al), there was little to entice fresh fans.
Japan had already tasted the all-new FEEDER sound in September 2016, as the trio’s “comeback” ninth set, ALL BRIGHT ELECTRIC {*7} hit the shops. To tie in with a tour that autumn, the classic rock album unveiled an almost unanimously satisfying response from reviewers to the Top 10 record’s taught and trippy neo-psychedelia. Prompted by support from the all-serving Cooking Vinyl imprint, FEEDER seemed to re-capture their mojo on `Universe Of Life’, `Eskimo’, `Geezer’, `Infrared-Ultraviolet’ et al.
© MC Strong 2000-2006/GRD // rev-up MCS Oct2016

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