Remember singing out loud in your car a few years back to The Feeling's "Love It When You Call", and thinking that "Rose" understood you better than any song before? These boys never stopped writing songs, and as they start off this year by releasing their new album "The Feeling", you may find that with their years of life experience and perfection of their craft, they still produce songs that understand you just the way you want them to.
An enlighteningly optimistic morning feels better than a sip of coffee. The Boys by Girls team has a bright start to the day as we prepare to hang out with Dan Gillespie Sells, Richard Jones, Ciaran Jeremiah, Kevin Jeremiah, Paul Stewart of The Feeling. You may recognize their quirky narrative-led music videos, but most likely from their 2007 single 'Fill My Little World,' which earnt them recognition from both the BRIT and NME awards. Exploring their gorgeous East London studio felt like Charlie entering Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, finding different exciting quirks every corner you turn. From a visually elegant Vodka and Bacardi refilling station. It's hard not to notice the intricacies of the creative environment The Feeling have created for themselves.
Each wall contains beautiful artwork that compliments the music they make and listen to. There's a personal connection between each art piece with Dan, the band's lead singer. For instance, several pieces occupying the walls are vintage posters, as his grandfather worked as a poster designer. Grease, Sonny & Cher, Gilbert and George, are just a few cool contemporary pieces that fill the ground floor space. As we move up, there is a slightly more refined feeling with portrait paintings featuring a variety of women, tall clean windows that welcome the sun, and delicate tea sets. A wonderful collection of a mature and sophisticated taste, mixed with a boyish sense of humour and that you simply cannot live without your dash of Star Wars memorabilia.
captures The Feeling in raw emotion, where the strong light stares into the humour and tight bond between the five piece band. For their wardrobe, Abena Ofei
dresses the boys in tailored, contemporary pieces to accentuate their refined taste. Nick Jones
polishes up the hair with a fresh clean look complimenting every outfit. As we sit and drink our tea whilst enjoying the boy's incredibly laid back and friendly company, we build a newfound obsession with some of their new songs like "Spiralling" and "Young Things", as the hours go by and the noises of the city vanish for a while.
From Left to Right: Paul wears Jacket by HARDY AMIES, Shirt by JOHN VARVATOS, Jeans and Boots are Pauls own. Dan wears Suit by PAL ZILERI, Shirt by DUCHAMP, Socks by FALKE, Loafers by LOUIS LEEMAN. Richard wears Suit by DUCHAMP, Shirt by THEORY, Shoes Richards own. Kevin wears Jacket and Shirt by THEORY, Shoes Kevin’s own. Ciaran wears Suit by SAND, shirt by JOHN VARVATOS.
Could you guys introduce yourselves?
Richard: I’m Richard.
Paul: My name is Paul and I sound like this.
Dan: I’m Dan and I’m the singer.
Kevin: I’m Kevin and I am reading an email about merchandise, which I’m going to stop doing.
Ciaran: I’m Ciaran.
You have a new album coming out!
Dan: It's our fifth album, we never really stop doing what we want to do and we just keep working at it. If another album is ready in a couple of years, then we put it out, tour and it just becomes part of what we do now after the past ten years.
How does having years of experience perfecting music make you stronger as a band?
Kevin: We’ve got a lot of stuff out the way in the first ten years before becoming successful. Success can be difficult for some, particularly younger artists, but we were already quite long in the tooth before we had our first bite of success. It still affected us, it wasn’t always plain sailing. I don’t think it is for anyone, because you're so busy and there are so many demands where so much is expected of you. Having had a good deal of time working together before, actually made us stronger and that's one of the reasons why we still work together.
What is it like working together?
Ciaran: We are going back a while now. How many years is it? Twenty years?
Dan: It’s longer then that.
Richard: Well it’s 2016, so it's been twenty years.
Paul: It’s like family. but almost more then family in some ways.
Above Left: Dan wears top by NORSE PROJECTS.
Above Right: As Before.
What is the secret for new bands out there trying to make it work?
Dan: You can’t contrive that really. Like anyone in your life you have to try and get on with them and make it work if you can.
Paul: The only thing, like Dan said, is we didn’t immediately get signed when we were seventeen. A lot of people do, because they’ve got talent, but we had to work a bit harder then that and I do think thats why we ended up in a position where we haven’t fallen out, because we were already pretty grown up by the time we got the big opportunities. Prior to that, all we were doing was putting ourselves out there and that's the only advice you can give. Eventually you hit the right thing and the right time and with the right songs, which is the most important thing.
Richard: I think it's important as well that as a band you all want the same thing. You all want to push it in the same direction, because then collectively, creatively and everything else it all pushes together, and then you have strength in that. We had friends in other bands that have finished and have fallen out because someone wanted to go in a slightly different direction to someone else, and then theres someone that ends up unhappy about it.
Dan: It’s a lot of luck.
Ciaran: All the potential violence I think we got out the way in our teens.
Kevin: And actual violence. Although you inflicted most of that on yourself Ciaran.
Ciaran: Occasionally yes.
How do you think the music landscape today has changed from when you started?
Dan: Drastically, it's not even comparable The record business is a totally different thing. When we signed our first big deal, it was right at the tail end of the old model, which was essentially were you sign a deal with a record company and they will pay to promote your album, which had been going on since the sixties pretty much. Then literally a year or two after that, as record sales declined, the whole business model started to shift in drastically different ways. Now it's albums that we are releasing ourselves and we are very fortunate to be able to do that, as we have our own studio here. Also because we had that opportunity to build up a fan base to the point where we can do that, because the hardest thing is started from zero.
Richard: Facebook didn’t even exist. Twitter, Instagram none of these existed when we started.
How do you guys feel about social media?
Richard: Paul is pretty much the only person I know that's not on Facebook. Even my mother joined Facebook the other day, which to be honest made me realise it is all coming to an end. It is a generation thing, I have kids and my eleven year old who started secondary school is all about Instagram and Youtube. He wouldn’t even go anywhere near Facebook, because all the parents of his mates are on there being embarrassing. I've kind of kept in touch through having children, I'm aware of what's actually being used.
Do you use it as a tool to tell people about what is happening with the band?
Kevin: Yes, it does work for the fans of ours that are on it. It’s a very useful way of getting hold of people directly. It does work, but it also has the negative side of it in that you feel like there's an awful lot of pressure to be heard in a very noisy world.
Paul: What I don’t like about it is how much it can consume your time, in a totally impractical way. It’s taking up time, which you can spend doing something much better. The people that really benefit are Instagram and Twitter, because you're giving them all this content and ideas.
Richard: The truth is there's always going to be a balance with how much work and time you're going to spend creating art, and then how much time your going to spend trying to promote that on social media. You want to make sure you actually get time to make the art you want to get out there. This pressure has always been there, but it's more immediate now, and actually it is an arms race between people that have more time then you to do more tweets, more cool pictures and get more followers to sell more music that they aren’t spending any time on making. There's a huge irony there.
Dan: It's a really good tool for making people aware of what we are doing, but we try not to delve to deep.
Kevin: Yes, it's just about focusing on the music first and foremost.
Do you have a loyal fan base that have been with you from the start, or are you also reaching a new audience?
Kevin: It’s been a bit of both. There are definitely die hards that have been with us, that have become a part of the family all most. There is a big community of existing fans, and then there are people that have kind of rediscovered us, like youngsters who remember us from ten years ago and now that they can follow bands themselves they can almost claim us for their own. They made have been too young to see us live when we first came out, but now they can. Then there are also people that have never heard of us, that have now just discovered the band with our new music, that is also discovering our old music now.
For me you guys bring back memories of my ex husband.
Dan: Oh wow, is that good or bad? It doesn’t sound good.
It brings back good memories, like singing in the car. He was singing to your music in the car a lot.
Ciaran: We have heard that so many times, I think we were a big car band.
Dan: It’s like 'we went on a road trip and listened to your music'.
Kevin: I just think that CD was sitting in a lot of cars.
Ciaran: I think it came free with every Ford.
Richard: We did get a lot of radio play as well, so it could have been a radio thing.
There was also drunken singing in the garden, waking up the neighbours.
Paul: It works in every environment. In the bath, it’s good. As long as people are singing along to it we are happy.
How does your new self titled album sound compare to some of your previous work?
Dan: I don’t know, but I feel like it's probably going to be a similar experience, because we are the same people. It's the same people; but in a different part of their life I suppose. It's the same writing, the same ideas and the same musical tastes and maybe, because we are a bit older, it's a bit more….
Dan: Thank you, Kevin. No, I’m writing stuff personally that’s a bit more varied. Your life becomes more varied when you get older.
What things are important to you now?
Dan: The first album would have just been about longing for stuff. Longing for things to happen and then things that you wanted to happen as a teenager; for people to love you and things to work out or what have you. That kind of longing, you can’t keep writing that album forever. Then our fourth album was all heartbroken and you can’t keep writing that album forever either.
Richard: You just write about what you're feeling at the time.
Dan: Yes, you just have to write about whatever is going on in your life at the time, and when your life becomes more full and interesting you start to write more fuller and interesting things. There are songs about all sorts of stuff in this album. There are songs about rediscovery, experimentation, new beginnings. This album also has a more live sound to it, as we have got better at recording. In the old days we recorded our first album in a shed, so it took a lot of work for it to sound proper. Whereas with this album we have got our own studio with a very big mixing desk.
Paul: I'd say as well that we did three albums with major labels. I remember spending two years making one of the albums and delivered sixty songs, to the point where we couldn’t see the wood from the trees, we didn’t even know what we thought anymore. Then on our fourth album ‘Boy Cried Wolf’, we just got together again, started playing just us with no other voices involved and it was quite good, and we realised why we wanted to be a band and play together again the same way that we did when we started. That album was very important to us and it was very well received, it is critically our most successful record. So with this new record we kind of wanted to take that a step further and we recorded the whole thing as a live lounge, which we have never done before. We’ve got a great engineer and we recorded the whole thing downstairs in the studio, and put most of it down as a full band, so it is definitely by far the best representation of us as a band playing together.
What can people expect from the release of the album?
Richard: It releases on the 4th March.
Dan: We are doing a small tour and we are playing the album on the tour, the full album from top to bottom, which is something we haven’t done before.
Richard: We did it one time. When we finished all the recording, there was a venue that is like a stone square away from here, and we thought it would be nice to get out and say 'this is what we’ve been working on'. To do a gig in a small club with friends, family and our most dedicated fans. So we did that and it was really really well received and we love doing it, so we thought it would be nice to take that out around the country a little bit for people that couldn’t get to the ones in London.
Ciaran: It feels more interesting and inspiring to us, and actually we realised that it is better for our fan base to go out and play the new record especially, because we cut the whole thing live. It's not produced in a way where we need to get an orchestra in, because in the past we have done that. We kept this one quiet minimal and authentic, which makes it even more exciting to go and tour and play it live. We are intentionally doing it in smaller venues, to go with that experience. This record feels like its the start of a new chapter.
Where is the tour?
Ciaran: We are just starting in UK, and we are only doing a handful of dates to begin with. Then we are doing loads of festivals this summer and then we are planning to do another tour in the autumn, which would be more of our usual stuff.
How would you describe your fashion style?
Richard: I think it constantly evolves. The older we get though, the less fashion works. Classic stuff is timeless, isn’t it? The eccentric, quirky stuff looks great when you're a teenager, but then you start to appreciate the classics.
Paul: I'm about to have a massive clear our actually.
Richard: I actually did a massive charity clear out yesterday.
Paul: Really? Yesterday? I’m going to do it this week.
Richard: I just thought, "Why am I holding onto bright red jeans? I’m never going to fit into those or wear them again."
Above: Ciaran wears navy suit Jacket and green floral print Shirt by PAUL & JOE.
How has your journey of being in the lime light effected you?
Ciaran: It's so momentary I think. We have been very lucky that our music has always been much more famous then any of us. Even for Dan, as the front man you get the majority of that, but we still have never been hounded. We had that at the beginning, when we got our first hit records. It was a bit weird to go from having nothing to being recognised.
Kevin: Everyone recognises you. That's a weird moment that even when you're trying to walk out your front door, and you’ve been on the telly a few times, been in the papers or you’ve got a video rotation. That doesn’t last very long.
Ciaran: It's all momentary.
Kevin: Then it goes away and then you do another album, another single and one TV appearance and the next minute you realise you're getting noticed a lot more, because you were on TV the other night. It's weird how you get forgotten really quickly.
Paul: You realise that you know not to take any of it too seriously or be effected by it.
Kevin: Not to panic.
Dan: I mean, I won’t say there are no upsides to it, because there are. We live in a world were....
Ciaran: .... were I feel a lot of people feel quite ignored. It's quite easy to ignore people and for some people that's what they want. They would rather just get on with their life, but actually what is it like to be that person standing at the bar just getting ignored by everyone all the time. If you're wining about being recognised all the time, I would like to turn round to that person and say ‘try being ignored all the time’. I don’t think anyone should really complain about it, because it is what it is. You shouldn’t let it get to your head, because it doesn’t mean anything.
Richard: For a lot of people I feel it gets very overblown in their own ego. Some people who end up employing full time security to go around with them, and I’m just thinking you do not need that. You have to be at that level of fame, but anyone else underneath that it's totally momentary.
Kevin: When you're at the real hight of it, when your friends and family don’t act normal around you, that's when its stressful, because all you need is for them to act normal around you. Some of their responses to it is to really put you down, because they don’t want you to get a too big head, and actually what you really need is for them to just act normal and be understanding. Some get defensive, some become like gate keepers and they feel like they have to be a bit mean to other people around you in order to protect you. All sorts of weird things go on inside of people brains, they just need to act the way the say before.
Paul: Adele said that though, didn’t she. I thought this was a great quote; she said she felt like fame didn’t happen to her, it happened to everyone else. As suddenly everyone around her changed the way they were around her. She felt the same person she was before, but that everyone else around her changed.
Richard: But I think I said in the beginning, overall we have been quite lucky. Some people have it the other way where ther are more famous then the thing they do. At least we have it the right way around.
Above from Left to Right: Kevin wears Jacket by JOHN VARVATOS, Shirt by DUCHAMP, Jeans and shoes Kevin’s own. Ciarian wears Jacket and Shirt by PAUL & JOE, Jeans and shoes Ciarian’s own. Paul wears Jacket by BLK DNM, Shirt by SAINT LAURENT by MR PORTER, Jeans and boots Paul’s own. Dan wears Blouson by HARDY AMIES, Top by NORSE PROJECTS, Trousers by PRINGLE OF SCOTLAND, Trainers by POINTER. Richard wears Jacket by BURBERRY LONDON at MR PORTER, T-shirt by CALVIN KLEIN PLATINUM, Jeans and boots Richards own
What do you want people to take away from your new album?
Dan: Just enjoy it. It’s us, it’s honest.
Ciaran: It's just doing what we do and just sing along… in the car.
Paul: There's nothing more satisfying than to do this as a job, make music with your mates and have people sing along to it. It’s a massive privilege. To be still doing it on our fifth album, we massively appreciate that.
You can find out more about what The Feeling is up to on their website.
Their new album "The Feeling" is out now.
Interview by Cecilie Harris.
Words by Nicole Chui.