Feeling GoodWords Paul Watson | Photographs Tom Shaxson
Ten years after their debut album, 12 Stops And Home, The Feeling are going stronger than ever. Technologically, this BRIT-nominated five-piece have always had their finger on the pulse, and they’re always reinventing their sound. As they head into their second decade in the music biz, an exhausted Headliner editor bends their ears over a lot of coffee in rural Hertfordshire, England...
It’s 10am on a Friday. I’m already three Americanos deep, sitting in St. Albans’ Bakehouse Cafe, fresh off a long Trans- Atlantic flight. Fresh is the wrong word. It was a total dog of a flight, and I’m barely awake, but the caffeine kick is right on schedule, as I spot drummer, Paul Stewart, and guitarist, Kevin Jeremiah, waltz through the door. There are no airs or graces about these lads, either; when not on the road or in the studio, you’ll find them in pubs and clubs, playing in friends’ bands for no fee, as they’re all about the music. That said, free time seems hard to come by...
“Yeah, we’re pretty damn busy, that’s for sure... I think this will be my first free weekend until [pauses to check iPhone diary] ... Christ, October!” Stewart beams, eyes wide open. “We head into the studio on Monday, for about a month, and we’ll see how we get on from there.”
The Feeling will record their fifth album at Gillespie-Sells’ home studio in London. The writing process, as ever, will stem from the lead singer’s ideas, and the band will then cultivate them into true Feeling ‘anthems’. That’s about right, isn’t it?
“[smiles] Every record we’ve made has a slightly different take on it to the last, but because we’ve been playing together for so many years now, we gel very easily,” says Stewart. “This album is a bit ‘70s rock, really – a bit Talking Heads, I suppose; and we’ve created some nice interesting grooves rather than going for bog standard stuff on many of the tracks.”
What also makes a difference, Jeremiah adds, is their Genelec monitoring setup:
“We’ve got the big ones and the medium sized ones [pauses to think]... I’m not sure on the models, but they’re both by Genelec! Then in my studio, I’ve got the Genelec GLM [loudspeaker control system], which is amazing; it self-calibrates the speakers with the room, which means I always know exactly what I’m hearing.
“Because the first album was mixed on Genelecs, we decided to stick with them, and we have a pair of them each at home, to provide that perfect reference point when we need to listen to or approve certain tracks when we’re not all together.”
The Crew, The Are A-Changin'
The Feeling have just finished the latter stage of their UK tour, where they were joined by new and improved personnel: Jon Lewis, and Sean Busby-Little (FOH, monitors, respectively); and a pair of DiGiCo SD9 consoles.
“We were keen to get a new crew onboard that were fresh, full of ideas, and ready to get out into the touring world. We wanted to catch them on their first tour out, so to speak; and although Jon [Lewis] has done a lot of festival stuff before, his desire was to get on the road with bands, so that’s starting now,” Stewart explains. “Jon and Sean went for SD9s, a) because they’re bloody good desks; and b) because they’re tiny! The footprint is actually a major benefit to us, and you can also use them on festivals, too, whereas in the old days, there’d normally be this huge house desk and the engineer would say, ‘well, there’s no room for anything else’. Now, we’ve got something that sounds great, is only slightly wider than a person, and is totally versatile; the SD9 has been brilliant for us.”
“Both engineers are always asking us if we want to try different mic placements, and things like that, which also makes a huge difference,” adds Jeremiah. “It actually rubs off on us, too, and makes us want to get things sounding better all the time.”
According to Busby-Little, it works both ways, which is also refreshing to hear:
“It’s important that everyone involved in the show realises the limitations of everyone else’s job. That understanding makes things a lot easier, and ultimately results in a better show for all concerned, including the most important people – the ones paying for all the tickets.”