The appeal and success that The Feeling has perhaps lies in the fact that their songs strike a nice balance between being accessibly mainstream and somewhat indy.
This does make them slightly difficult to characterise in terms of style, although pop rock would probably be the best description. Their songs in most cases possess strong and memorable melodies, my personal favourite being in “I thought it was over”, giving their music a distinctively popular feel. Yet there are odd musical flares littered throughout their catalogue that move them out of the firmly mainstream category.
So with little regard for the bleak weather, I found myself sat back stage, across from 35 year old lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Dan Gillespie–Sells. With tickets to their performance that night in Leeds, I begin by asking about musical inspirations. Leaning back and looking relaxed he explains “well everything really. I suppose I just love anything that has a true voice and that can be in any style of music. I mean go back to classical music or go back to the more modern classical stuff. Im really into composers like Bernstein from that songbook period of writing, and then all the way up to pop stars who are doing amazing things today”. Commenting on current artists Dan explains “Now I really love Robyn, for some reason I am just obsessed with her songs. They are really wonderful. I never say that in interviews. But I think she is absolutely fucking brilliant.”
I move on to ask if he had ever felt a tension between writing songs for purely artistic reasons whilst feeling the pressure of needing to produce something commercially successful. “I just write what I want,” he explains, “I don’t think about it while I am writing it. It is a disaster if you start thinking about that while you are writing the song, you don’t come up with anything good. But occasionally we have come up with songs on a record, and as we write 30 or 40 songs to put a record together we have a tension as to what songs get put on the record”.
“I mean I could happily make a record that is just 15 minute prog songs that are really delicate and intricate and go into different things. I love that, but I also love the no messing, balls to the wall, connects to masses of people and lets them in, pop song. There is a challenge and a art in creating that. I think being arty is great but it is no where near as challenging as making that 3 minute, perfect pop song.”
Moving on I ask about the bands new album, ‘Boy Cried Wolf’, which was released on the 7th of October. “Well it’s a brand new record with a brand new label. We stopped working with Island records and started working with a new label, and actually they have been wonderful. I find myself thanking them every night on stage, which is a weird thing to do. I never did that with Island. Island records were brilliant for the time and for what they were and what they did for us, but it became very stressful when you are not the band you used to be. You get older and it evolves and develops and becomes more grown up and Island did not respect that”.
“I mean, I don’t like to judge my music, but the response we have got is that we have made a very special record and we get people saying “wow” and part of me is going “yeah that’s because we were left alone,” he says laughing. “It is great to have a record company that respects us for who we are, and because they left us alone we have made our best record yet.”
With this in mind, I wonder if there was anything he did not like about the current state of the music industry. “Oh lots of things. The music industry has always been vile and repugnant, and more and more so now. Its becoming full of accountants and conmen, but thank god that some of those major record companies are losing their power, downing their operations and being more honest about how the music world works.” Chuckling, he continues “ I guess its free market economics, people act like cunts.” He adds “The only great people in the music industry are those not worried about making money. They’re the happy people.”
With the interview coming to a close, I ask one final question; What is the best way to approach musical success? “I don’t know…learn to enjoy it, I think. Learn to appreciate it. There are negative parts to it and there is a lot of pressure, and people know who you are and you don’t have the same level of freedom. But that’s nothing compared to the positives of being a artist for a living.”
After thanking Dan for his time I head back and, after a little wait, watch The Feeling perform. I am glad to say it did not disappoint. Various old fan favourites appeared such as ‘Fill my little world’ and ‘Never be lonely’ as well as some of the bands new work from their Album ‘Boy Cried Wolf’. This included one song which became a particularly sudden and heart-warming tribute to Lou Reed, who had died that day. The band followed a typical but effective path throughout the performance, starting out strong and loud, mellowing during the middle before picking up to climax at the end. All in all a highly enjoyable show.
I guess when all is said and done, how much you will enjoy a performance of The Feeling will depend very much on how much you like what they do; an excruciating tautology I know. But The Feeling do provide a very particular experience, one which is purely and simply fun and enjoyable whilst far from thoughtless or soulless. In my humble and possibly quite misguided opinion, we could do with far more bands like this. It is nice to have popular songs that do not veer into the absolutely asinine.