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The Feeling - Getting away with murder in pop?

The Feeling

Feature by Jack Foley

THEY’VE dazzled us with hit singles Sewn and Fill My Little World and are set to release their debut album, Twelve Stops and Home on June 5 – but who are The Feeling?

Amazingly, they’re all aged between 25 and 27 and are widely being dubbed as overnight sensations with a bit of a past, cutting their teeth as session musicians on a variety of mainstream and marginal recordings.

Richard Jones (bass), Kevin Jeremiah (guitar), Ciaran Jeremiah (keyboards) and Paul Stewart (drums) are all from Sussex, except lead singer, Dan Gillespie Sells, who’s from London.

Paul, Kevin and Ciaran even went to the same school, while Paul and Ciaran were in the same year. The Sussex axis of the band have been friends for 13 years.

They subsequently met Dan and Richard at music college in Croydon 10 years ago, and they’ve been working together in various forms ever since.

As The Feeling, they combine a love for big no-nonsense, hook-filled, giant-chorused pop music – music for the masses, only intelligent, with sunshine hooks and killer choruses.

Singer Dan, who admits to having had an indie phase once, explained: “There are no guilty pleasures anymore. You’re allowed to like Andrew Gold, ELO, Supertramp or 10CC. It’s really liberating.

“You can get away with murder in pop music and we like getting away with murder. We like great big choruses with great big hooks.”

As a Queen fan, Dan admits he doesn’t just like “concise pop songs” – he’s also a bit partial to “prog epics with ludicrous outros.”

This perfect blend of pop and prog is evident throughout the debut album, Twelve Stops And Home, a debut effort that, by the band’s own confident admission, is a 12-track affair “with no fillers, all stonkers – a classic album”.

Dan goes on to cite early Elton John records, The Beatles’ swansong and The Carpenters as examples of the feel The Feeling are after.

“They were epic but not lavishly orchestrated,” he explains. “Rocket Man is just bass, guitar, piano and drums, but it’s vocally driven with not much else going on.

Let It Be was still powerful without the orchestration. It still had epic-ness; a melodic strength to it. Or Solitaire by The Carpenters: that’s a great example of a song that’s epic but stripped down. The Carpenters were a big influence on me.”

Despite being together for some time, their success as The Feeling has only been recent. Five years ago, for example, they went through their “Hamburg era” when they appeared for several seasons in the Alps as a covers band who specialised in versions of Rolling Stones, Kinks, Stevie Wonder and Beatles songs as well as rocked-up versions of ‘80s hits like A-ha’s Take On Me and Walk Like An Egyptian by The Bangles.

The band still go back there, to try out new material.

“It’s our spiritual home,” says Richard, adding more seriously: “That’s how we got good at playing.”

Given their love for covers, it’s little wonder that their own music wears its influences on its sleeve – albeit bringing something fresh and summery to the mix.

So finally, who inspired them as individuals?

“Loads of people,” exclaims Paul. “Mick Fleetwood, Bernard Purdie, Roger Taylor and Ringo are all big influences. There seems to be a misconception that Ringo was crap, but some of his parts were genius – I’d love to contribute as much to our sound as he did to The Beatles.”

Dan, meanwhile, states: “Karen Carpenter was one of the greatest vocal technicians ever. She had a clean, pure voice, only filled with oodles of emotion. It was heartbreaking. But it doesn’t have to be flourish-y or over-elaborate.

“I’d choose Freddie Mercury for his stage presence, and Neil
Young for his guitar-playing. I’d like to be Karen Carpenter in Neil Young’s body. With Freddie Mercury’s trousers.”

Richard, meanwhile, says: “I like to get involved with the whole arrangement and see how I can complement it with my part. Bassists like Paul McCartney or John Deacon were great in this way. For technicality, I’d pick Jaco Pastorius [jazz-rock fusion supremo] or James Jamerson [Motown].”

And Kevin states: “Slash and Brian May – Slash for the sheer attitude of his playing, and Brian May for the fact that his solos are always an indispensable part of every Queen song.”

Concluding the line-up is Ciaran, the quiet keyboardist, who observes thoughtfully: “Maybe Joe Zawinul – but my favourites would be Garth Hudson of The Band and Tom Waits.”

Read our review of the album

Listen to our album sampler