Grant Nicholas, (seen here on the right), songwriter, lead singer and guitarist with rock band Feeder, chats with Kevin Cooper about crowd surfing at Rock City, what is currently on Feeders tour rider, their latest album Black/Red and their forthcoming 2024 tour of the UK.

Grant Nicholas is a Welsh musician and the lead singer and guitarist with the rock band Feeder.

He originally joined his first band Sweet Leaf as a trumpeter. After leaving school Nicholas worked as a bike courier in London and it was whilst doing this that he learnt how to be a songwriter. When he was 19 years old he joined a progressive rock band called Multi Story as their lead singer, but after releasing one album they disbanded. He then joined Welsh nine piece Temper Temper where he met future Feeder drummer Jon Lee.

Lee and Nicholas formed an electric and acoustic rock band named Raindancer. In 1994 after several name changes, they finally settled on Feeder, with Taka Hirose taking over bass duties. In 2002 Lee took his own life which saw Feeder take a hiatus after the release of their third album.

In 2014 Nicholas released his debut solo album, Yorktown Heights, released after a short break from Feeder. He toured the album which reached number 29 in the UK album chart. Feeder later resumed working with the release of their 2016 album All Bright Electric and the 2017 compilation album, The Best Of Feeder.

Feeder have released eleven studio albums with their twelfth being Black/Red which will be released in April 2024.

Whilst busy rehearsing for their longest UK tour to date, Nicholas took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Good afternoon Grant, how are you today?

Hi Kevin, I’m good thanks, but more to the point, how are you today?

I’m very well thank you, and before we move on let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

That’s fine, thank you for taking the time to see just what Feeder are up to. After we have spoken, I then have to start sorting out the merchandise for the forthcoming tour (laughter).

A day in the life of a rock star, it never ends does it (laughter).

(Laughter) no, it doesn’t but you know what, if I wasn’t doing it I would be constantly moaning. I am always moaning if I am doing it then when I am not I keep feeling that I have to do something (laughter). Things at the moment are all good if a bit hectic I have to say. It’s always like this, there is this big build up once you finish the record, then all of the deadlines start coming in. You finish and then suddenly everything goes quiet, and then suddenly you are back in complete chaos about four weeks before the tour starts; it really is bonkers (laughter).

Apart from all of that, just how is life treating you?

Being totally honest with you, life at this moment in time is good. It’s a case of getting back into a routine, releasing a new double album, getting back into that head space of being out on tour again after not doing it for a while. Obviously, we have always been playing, a few festivals here and there but whenever you are playing new material it’s a whole new chapter and it really is quite exciting. It keeps it fresh for us and I think that it’s nice for the fans to hear new material as well and I am really looking forward to it.

I understand that you are currently in rehearsals; how are things going?

That’s right; we have already had a couple of sessions. We did one rehearsal just before Christmas, just to enable us to get back into the room, which allowed us to try a few new things out, then we have had a couple of sessions this week, so we have two weeks of rehearsals coming up very shortly. Not every day perhaps every other day and then yes, that’s it. So, we have made a start in learning some of the new stuff from Black/Red and I have to say that it’s all sounding good. It’s not an easy album to play actually so we really do have to be on it (laughter).

Am I right in thinking that the forthcoming tour is one of the longest that Feeder have ever undertaken?

Yes that’s right, the forthcoming tour will be one of the longest that we have undertaken in many years now. There are not that many bands out there that will do a month-long tour of the UK anymore; they will play more like two weeks. This will be the longest tour that we have played since the Silent Cry Tour way back in 2008. I am really going to have to look after myself as we are no spring chickens and, as you know, a Feeder set is a total workout, not only vocally but also for the drummer (laughter). Poor old Geoff (Holroyde) he’s got quite a job on his hands. He will most probably have lost a stone after doing the tour (laughter).

You have briefly mentioned the latest album Black/Red, are you pleased with it?

I am actually, yes. I think that it is one of our best albums and I’m not just saying that I think that it ticks a lot of boxes. I have to say that sonically the last few Feeder records have been some of our best. Some people may very well disagree, but I am much happier with them. Black/Red is most undeniably Feeder, but I am so pleased at how the album came out sonically. I really do beat myself up whenever I make a Feeder record. I go through the usual insecurities; is it good, is it terrible, I’ve been through all of that, and I have come through the dark tunnel, and I am out the other side now (laughter).

How long was it from writing to recording?

That’s a good question and it is really hard for me to say because I wrote some of these songs during lockdown so basically Torpedo was going to be a double album, but I got slightly cold feet thinking, ‘CDs come and go so quickly so perhaps a double album would be too long.’ So we just decided to make it a single album. However, I suddenly got the urge again to make a double album, thinking, ‘you know what, you have been in Feeder for thirty years, so let’s do something new. I am always writing songs so it’s not like we were short of material; we have got loads of tracks so let’s do the double album now and make it a trilogy’ (laughter).

So, this album is very much connected to Torpedo, but it is still an album in its own right. I have made it as if it is two separate CDs. You could actually listen to it as two separate albums, but they are very much connected. CD two is slightly different to CD one in the fact that there are a few more anthemic tracks on there. Soldiers is on CD two and as I said earlier, I think that the album ticks a lot of boxes. I think that it touches on a lot of stuff that we have done in the past, but in a good way, plus we have experimented on this record, but it is still, I think, very Feeder and very much in the style of our song writing.

I personally think that Playing With Fire grabs you and takes you on a journey. Would you agree?

Yes, it does, it’s a fun track that. It’s one of the more riffy, it’s almost psychedelic in a weird sort of way. I wanted something that would reflect some of our earlier Feeder days, going for more of a riff-based track that still had a bit of a melody in the chorus. It really is a fun track. I have to say that track is almost a stand-alone track on the album; there isn’t really anything else like that. There are some other rock tracks, but they are all slightly different. I think that one just has a certain place and I just felt that it was an interesting song.

I personally feel that it is Feeder doing what Feeder do best, putting you firmly back on top.

Wow, I am so pleased to hear you say that; hopefully everybody else will feel the same. I have to say that I feel that we are currently in a good place. There is a really good vibe in the band; we have got a great live band; we all feel that we have still got quite a bit to do before we call it a day. We don’t want to outstay our welcome but when you are still inspired, and when you are still making music, it is so very hard not to. As long as we can still physically do it, then we will go on with Feeder for as long as we can while it feels as though we are still relevant, and we are enjoying it. We are in a good place at the moment. Obviously, I wouldn’t mind being twenty years younger but that’s just life isn’t it (laughter).

You have been quoted as saying that making the album, for you, was like a ‘musical pilgrimage.’ Is that really how it felt?

I really did push myself on this record, but not in a negative way. I really wanted this record to be right, and I found myself constantly going back over arrangements, getting it to the best place that I could, and it really was a labour of love for me. I love recording, writing, and recording for me is a huge part of why I love being in Feeder and being in a band. Obviously, I love playing live; I feel as though I am enjoying playing live even more now than I did in the early days actually. I feel that as you get older you accept what you do and you just do it, to the best of your ability. I really worked hard, and I think that when you are going to put a double album out, I think you have to, as it’s a big body of work.

You have got a release date of Friday 5th April; is the album all good and ready to go?

I think so unless there is something that changes anywhere but as far as we are concerned, it is all good and ready to go. I think that hopefully the albums are arriving sometimes towards the end of next week when Taka (Hirose) and I will spend at least a day or two signing all of those off (laughter).

Just what formats will the album be available on? I take it that there will be a vinyl release?

Oh god, yes, big time, I would go mad if it wasn’t on vinyl. Being a double album it has to be available on vinyl doesn’t it (laughter). In answer to your question the album is available in a few different formats; we have got the clear vinyl double, there is a black and red one on vinyl, we have a few picture discs for the independent shops, and there is also another bespoke record on another format so if you are a vinyl lover, which I know that you are, there are quite a few out there for your collection if you are interested.

For me, it has got to be black and red on vinyl hasn’t it (laughter).

(Laughter) knowing you as I do then I would have to say, yes, it has, but watch out as we have a few little twists on it as well if you take a look on the shop, there are also a few others that are only available in the independent shops, which I don’t think have been listed on there as yet, which are quite interesting. We have got a few picture discs and all manner of other things (laughter). Take a look. Obviously, we have got it on cassette, we have it on CD, we only did one CD as it is very hard to do a deluxe CD when you release a double album, so I felt that we should just do the one CD and just keep it simple. Having said all of that, it is still a double CD as I tried to make sure that the CD was like the vinyl edition so there are two separate CD’s.

You are about to embark upon a UK tour, does touring still excite you?

Yes, it does but I have to say that it also terrifies me because I want everything to be great (laughter). People can and do get ill when they are out on tour, and it very soon can become a singer’s nightmare. So, all of those things that you worry about are in actual fact, the same things that everyone worries about. So, you have just got to get out there and do it, and hopefully the whole buzz of it will get you through. Once you get the first few shows out of the way, you actually get in to a kind of routine, and then it often becomes easier.

The more that you do it, then by the end of the tour you start to wish that the tour was longer, which is another reason why we have made this tour double the number of gigs that we normally play. Usually, we go out for two weeks whereas this time we are going out for four weeks, which is double the norm for Feeder. So, as you can imagine, we do have to look after ourselves, but it really is going to feel more like a proper tour because we haven’t done a tour this long for quite a while now here in the UK.

Monday 25th March you are back here in Nottingham to play Rock City once again. What makes Rock City so special?

Oh, Rock City, I just love playing that place. It really is one of my favourite venues. We really have had some amazing nights there, the audiences, the vibe, the feeling; it really is such a special place. It feels like a small club gig, but it is actually really big (laughter). I think that it holds around 2000 people, or close to that, so it really is an intimate show but at the same time a big show. There aren’t that many venues that can do that. The audience is really close to the stage, which is great, but the only criticism that I have about the place is that it is quite difficult to get a decent production on the stage in there because certain things that we would use are simply too big for the stage.

We have had to be a bit careful on this tour because we are doing some bigger shows, places like The Roundhouse in London. So we are also doing some smaller ones together with some middle ones, so it is very difficult to do a really big production on some of them. However, we are trying to make it as interesting as we can, but not do something that doesn’t work in all of the venues. We have made an effort on it, and we are trying to find something that is very compact and portable, that works in both larger and smaller venues.

I hear that the forthcoming four week tour may not be the last time that your fans are able to see you this year is that correct?

(Laughter) and just who have you been talking to (laughter). You are absolutely correct when you say that. There are plans in place for us to add a few more shows later in the year, but this is the main tour. Anyone who wants to come and see us then the forthcoming UK tour is most definitely the one to come and see.

And what can we expect on the tour?

We are going to be performing a few surprises, whilst obviously concentrating on the new album, as that is really the whole point of the tour. We are going to be playing a few Feeder classics, and we are going to revisit a couple of gems that we haven’t played since back in the 90s. We just might throw them in the odd night, so if you are a diehard fan, you just might get to hear those for the first time in many years. This should really be a special tour for some people.

The more albums that you make, is putting a set list together for a tour getting harder?

(Laughter) oh my God, yes. I’m a nightmare when putting a set list together at the best of times, for me it is equally as hard as producing an album. If you get the set list right, it can really improve the gig, but on the other hand it really can break a gig. I have to be totally honest with you and say that I spend hours on it (laughter). When I am travelling to rehearsals, I am thinking about the set list, when I’m at home I’m thinking about the set list; it really is crazy (laughter). I’ve even written up a set list in the past whilst sitting on the toilet; there you go, that’s an exclusive (laughter).

On the subject of the toilet, the last thing that you want during a gig as a band is when everyone either goes to the bar or the toilet leaving you performing to no one.

Oh God, yes, yes, yes. So, writing up a set list really does get more difficult as you write more material. You find yourself trying to keep everyone happy, and take it from me, that really is impossible unless you play a five-hour set. I personally don’t like sets to be too long. I feel that rock music is intense so it should be a really great set, but I also don’t want it to be too long. I think that you can lose attention when sets are too long. I have seen some huge bands play too long. It has got to be good value for money, and just the right amount of time and songs. Being totally honest, it is always hard to achieve that, sometimes it can take you two or three gigs so by the time that we get up there to Nottingham, we should have the set in a good place (laughter).

Knowing you as I do, and how you work, are you already working on the next album?

(Laughter) I have already got another album in the can. Whether or not it ends up being the next album is yet to be seen. I saved back a lot of material from Torpedo and quite a bit from the new record that felt like they were a slightly different vibe to what we were trying to do at that time. They were all classic Feeder tracks, but a bit bouncier, a bit more summery, and I felt that they didn’t follow on the concept from Torpedo or Black/Red. So, that could very well end up being the next Feeder album. I may well add to that, so yes, we have got quite a lot of other stuff in the can including eight of those tracks that are already mixed as well.

So, could it be another Feeder double album?

I don’t know about a double album; I think that you only release one double album. I think that if we should ever release another double album then it would be a live one, but I personally think that I have ticked that box now (laughter).

What is currently on Feeder’s tour rider?

Oh God, just the usual stuff really. I haven’t worked out our rider for the forthcoming tour but Taka loves his whisky so there will be a decent bottle of whisky, and usually a nice bottle of Vodka or Tequila. There will be some beer and we have a lot of wine drinkers, so we usually ask for a few decent bottles of red wine. Tommy (Gleeson) likes a nice rosé so we usually get a nice bottle of French dry rosé for him. I personally drink a hell of a lot of water when we are on tour so loads of water plus a few odd things like avocados (laughter).

I have to say that I do tend to get a craving for some chocolate, so a few little chocolate bars are on there, just to keep me going. What we are really into, which the tour manager keeps stealing, are those Marmite cashew nuts (laughter). Oh my God, I’m mad on them. I really can’t stop myself from eating them. So, hopefully, I will be able to pinch a bag and hide them somewhere during my warm-up (laughter). So yes, there will most definitely be some Marmite cashew nuts (laughter).

Do you have any thoughts on a new solo album?

You know what; I mean it is difficult for me to separate the two, simply because it is the same guy writing them, but the way that I approach the solo stuff is how most Feeder songs start off, with me playing an acoustic guitar. I write them without the big, heavy guitar thing in mind. I will make another solo record at some point; in fact, I am even contemplating re-releasing my first one. A lot of people have heard that record and it was put out on a very small label, in fact I did it myself and I don’t think that it really had enough exposure.

I’m really proud of that record and I’m not just saying it but, it is one of my favourite records that I have done. I actually played it the other day and it reminds me of a certain time in my life; my kids when they were younger and it really is a very special record to me. I would really love to do something with that record again. I have also got a few songs which I have kept in the can which could maybe go onto some future stuff. I will do it but Feeder are my main priority, they always will be, so if I do a solo thing it will have to fit around when Feeder take some time out or we are doing something different.

It won’t be a four-year break like we did the last time, I might just put a few tracks out there so that people can hear something new, and maybe that might just build into a new record at some point, when the time is right. But, for the moment, I am focusing on Feeder, but there will be another solo record at some point, before I call it a day, I’m sure of that (laughter).

Grant, on that point, let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been enlightening. Will you be crowd surfing at Rock City?

Thanks Kevin, you take care, and I will see you when we get up there to Nottingham. If I can get my radio mic sorted out, then who knows? I might be getting older but I’m certainly not past it, just yet (laughter).