Talk about being hooked on The Feeling
. This U.K. band delivers an amalgam of harmonic melodies and catchy choruses that reaches full fruition on its Cherrytree/Interscope debut, Twelve Stops and Home
, which has already produced a pair of Top 10 international hit singles in "Sewn" and "Fill My Little World."
The quintet's sonic touchstones range from the classic (the Beatles
, the Stones
, the Kinks
, The Carpenters
and the Beach Boys
) to the more esoteric (10cc
, the Human League
and the Pet Shop Boys
) to the timeless (Cole Porter
, Irving Berlin
, Harold Arlen
"I'm very restless about my influences," explains the band's chief songwriter and lyricist, singer/guitarist Dan Gillespie. "I've never been prepared to just listen to one thing enough for it to affect me overall. I'm just incredibly greedy to hear more and more pop gems."
It's an approach that has created a whole new category of music for fans starved for the golden age of Top 40 radio, with the sprightly sing-along pleasures of "Sewn" and the a cappella Beach Boys harmonies of "Fill My Little World" masking the song's themes of obsessive masochistic love, twisted romance and outsiders in lyrics like the former's "'Cause you've got my heart in a headlock/You stopped the blood and made my head soft," evoking the sinister stalking mentality of The Police
's "Every Breath You Take."
"It does become almost like a physical thing," says Gillespie about his take on matters of the heart. "When you're in love with someone that intensely, it's like getting kicked in the stomach. It's very much about being trapped by someone."
The Feeling has been together in its current incarnation for a little more than two years, but the individual members have played with each other off and on for almost a decade since meeting in school. They cut their performing teeth as a covers band playing a pair of two-hour-plus shows every night for snowboarders in the French Alps, like a colder Beatles-in-Hamburg! "We played our asses off," says Gillespie about the experience, "then we got up the next morning and hit the slopes. We really bonded. Touring now is easy compared to that."
Upon their return, Gillespie and the band then set up a studio in their the shed in their backyard, recording a total of 25 songs before they were discovered by a music business rep who happened to hear some of them in a friend's car. Many of those original demos were subsequently used on the album, mixed by legendary mixer Mark "Spike" Stent, who has worked with the likes of Massive Attack
, Depeche Mode
The 12 songs on Twelve Stops and Home
cut deep, with Gillespie literally revealing the competing voices in his head on tunes like "Never Be Lonely" and "Sewn," where he admonishes himself, "Danny boy/Don't be afraid/To shake that ass/And misbehave."
The album's title refers to the number of subway stops on the "Blue Picadilly" line in the journey from Gillespie's home in London's outskirts to the center of the city, and also to the listener's voyage through the disc's 12 tracks.
"Like everything we do, it sounds like it might have been well-planned, but it all just fell together by accident," laughs Dan.
There are all sorts of musical touchstones along the way, from The Cars
-by-way-of-Motown thump of "I Want You Now" to the McCartney
-esque "Maybe I'm Amazed" melody and spacious reggae bass lines of "Kettle's On," the blue-eyed pop soul of "Strange," a tribute to Dan's mom, a big R&B fan or the 10cc nod to "I'm Not In Love" and the L.A. pop of Fleetwood Mac
and the Eagles
in "Never Be Lonely." The Feeling create a musical smorgasbord inspired by the past, but puts their own twist on the recipe. Then there's the metal guitar rave-ups which make "Helicopter" and "Same Old Stuff" so dynamic in concert.
"It's something that happens live and came naturally for us," says Dan. "We're all secret Iron Maiden
fans. And that's what I love about Queen
. They randomly and sometimes even violently, go into a quite mad Brian May
After playing a one-off performance last spring at Austin's South by Southwest Festival, The Feeling are looking forward to playing for more North American audiences, with club shows planned for New York, L.A. and Toronto.
"America is the land of radio music," says Dan. "I feel positive about coming to the U.S. because that's where we come from. Our music is not part of any trend. We want to come across as straightforward and honest."
Twelve Stops and Home
... The trip starts here.
Listen to "Sewn": Windows
Find lots more about The Feeling here on Starpulse
(Streaming audio and/or video links may expire without notice)