The Trentham Estate are delighted to announce the headline act for Thursday 17th August at this year’s Trentham Live 2023 is the incredible Feeder performing at the stunning grounds in Staffordshire. Performing alongside Feeder on the Thursday night will include singer-songwriter Jake Bugg and pop-rock band The Feeling.
That’s not the only big reveal as the organisers have also confirmed that the historic gardens and lakeside location will host not 4 nights of live music, but 5! As this latest announcement also sees Trentham Live add a new date, Wednesday 16th August to the festival with one last big act to be announced later this month!
Tickets for the Feeder, Jake Bugg and The Feeling – Trentham Live 2023 show taking place on Thursday 17th August are available from – https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/artist/5345201
Feeder were on a magnificent roll, then came COVID. Since launching out of South Wales in 1992, they’ve maintained an enviable forward motion, all but uninterrupted, releasing 10 studio albums and over 40 EP’s or singles accumulating 26 Top 40 chart singles, spending 185 weeks in the UK charts and shifting well over two million albums in the UK alone.
One of the few flat-out rock bands still firing in the face of a predominantly synth-pop world, they secured new heights of popularity around the world with 2017’s ‘Best Of’. After following up two years later with their tenth album, ‘Tallullah’, which garnered another British Top 5, the sky was the limit for these indestructible sensations, until the pandemic scoobied everything.
Typically, however, main man Grant Nicholas and bassist Taka Hirose have finessed a victory-defeat-victory combination from the jaws of lockdown, emerging with one of the strongest and heaviest records of their career. Called ‘Torpedo’, it unleashes some of the filthiest noises they’ve summoned to date, with tunes like the monster-riffing ‘Magpie’, the awesome title track and the Nirvana-ish ‘Decompress’ reflecting the universal experience of darkness, frustration and worry that we’ve all come to accept as reality in the early-’20s.
“Before COVID,” says Grant, “we’d got maybe nine or ten songs in pretty good shape, all recorded and almost mix ready, but then everything came to this grinding halt. For the first time ever, I didn’t feel like writing anymore because there was no real plan, no gigs – nobody knew what was happening. Then after a few months I suddenly picked up my guitar and started writing, and songs poured out of me.”
Where the first batch of songs was Feeder at their most commercial and anthemic, the second was them at their rockiest, and also their most diverse, capturing the edgy moods of the time. Feeling that this stuff was the more immediately relevant, Grant prioritized finishing this material, “chipping away” at his Treehouse home studio in North London, pinging tracks up to Taka at his home in Yorkshire to add the final bass parts, and between lockdowns grabbing the odd day in a big studio for touring sticksman Geoff Holroyde and Karl Brazil to apply live drums. “For me it was great,” says Grant, ever positive, “because it really gave me something to focus on, and I didn’t feel the pressure of any timeline.”
Thus was ‘Torpedo’ conceived, an empowering and highly cathartic triumph amid the challenging conditions that we all faced in 2020-21.
Come early ’21, with as many as thirty finished songs to choose from across those two batches of material from pre- and mid-pandemic, Grant Nicholas had half a mind to go the whole hog and release the majority of them on one glorious splurge of a double-album. Then his better instincts took over, and the best ten from the second batch were honed and sequenced into the often torrid, but ultimately uplifting narrative of ‘Torpedo’. “We’ve always had that kind of freedom,” states Grant, “to say, ‘Hey, we can do an acoustic song, a really heavy, riffy song, a song with strings on, and then one with keyboards and electronic stuff on it.’ It’s quite hard to get that freedom – there aren’t that many bands who can pull it off.”
That sense of rollercoaster unpredictability arrives just in the album’s opening number, ‘The Healing’, where initial acoustic strumming gradually builds into a stadium-pleasing anthem, before left-turning into a burst of apocalyptic metal, only to resolve into a feelgood coda radiating warmth and security, fully justifying the track title. “There’s a lot of Feeder in that one song,” Nicholas laughs. “I wanted to write something with classic chords, not too many, really simple, almost like you’ve heard this before but you haven’t. But then I had West End musicals in my head, almost like ‘Les Misérables’, or ‘Tommy’ by The Who. That’s why it goes off on this tangent in the middle, like a different scene. “The message,” he goes on, “is a come-together hippy thing. It’s a recovery song – a recovery from anything. Everyone has issues with mental health at the moment. I’ve got a lot of friends who’ve been through that stuff lately, so the song is extremely universal.”
Such is Grant Nicholas’ skill as a writer, he manages to articulate the fear and isolation we’ve all experienced under COVID, but leaves his words sufficiently open that the song will never be tied to its time of creation. Instead of obsolete, the moment the pandemic is over (fingers crossed!), ‘The Healing’ will apply for anyone experiencing their own private dark night of the soul, maybe in a relationship or a family situation. Similarly, the themes of division and misunderstanding in stormy-riffed ‘Magpie’ were inspired by “how social media can affect people’s belief, dreams and general well-being”, but thanks to Grant’s skilfully unspecific lyricism the song won’t be forever mired in Twitter’s toxic cesspool.
The album’s opening four tracks deliver a masterclass in heavy-rock action: midway through the third, ‘When It All Breaks Down’, a mammoth riff crunches in, fit for any of the rock giants of the 1970’s. Grant is forever influenced by how Led Zeppelin, and his heroes as a kid in the early ’90s, Smashing Pumpkins, would take their listeners on an epic long-playing journey through storm-tossed seas and calm rustic landscapes. ‘Torpedo’ is just such an odyssey, as track five, ‘Hide And Seek’, suddenly “takes you off somewhere else”, a dreamy ballad with images of yearning for domestic stability.
While ‘Decompress’ opens Side Two with echoes of primetime grunge (think ‘Bleach’-era Nirvana verses, and a mighty Soundgarden chorus), Grant says ‘Wall Of Silence’ was originally constructed around a drum machine and a keyboard part, later fuzzed up with those ‘hovercraft guitars’, but essentially instigated by a love for Peter Gabriel’s massive solo records in the ’80s. “I know some people think the ’80s were an awful time, but there was some really amazing songwriting going on in there, and some great production.” That song typifies Grant’s outlook: channelling the negative energies – the frustration at lockdown’s unwanted stasis – into positive music, as desperate lines about “living in our heads…the weeks just slip away…day after day, we hide away”, ultimately lead to a happier conclusion – “today it feels like everything will be alright… somehow we’ve connected, unified”.
In its final section, ‘Torpedo’ moves through further diverse moods, as ‘Slow Strings’ hints towards ‘Songs Of Faith And Devotion’-era Depeche Mode, ‘Born To Love You’ borders on “croony anthem” territory, and ‘Submission’ closes with images of loss, amid acoustic strums and synth strings à la Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’, on what Grant calls “a broody moody groove, a grand ending like ‘The Healing started with, which tops and tails the LP”.
Mr Nicholas says the umbrella purpose of ‘Torpedo’ was “an uplifting record – I didn’t want it to be a total downer which it could easily have been under the circumstances. I wouldn’t be human if what’s gone on didn’t have a huge effect on what I was writing. Hopefully it will touch people, and they’ll find a connection in those lyrics, and it’ll help them to deal with anything they’re going through. That’s the beauty of song writing”.
The beauty of Feeder’s position right now is that their momentum is rolling on, and they’re sitting prettier than they were even before the world was gripped by the dread virus. Having turned off-road isolation to the positive with another burst of writing, they’ve blasted out ‘Torpedo’ while those difficult feelings were fresh, but also have the pre-pandemic songs still up their sleeve, which Grant remains confident are yet more commercial and anthemic.
When Grant, Taka and their team hit the road in April ’22, they really will be firing on all cylinders, from a position of unrivalled rude health and confidence. Optimism, anyone?