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When one of the biggest British rock bands of the decade, Feeder, decided to temporarily rename themselves ‘Renegades’ in 2010

When one of the biggest British rock bands of the decade, Feeder, decided to temporarily rename themselves ‘Renegades’ in 2010 – it left a lot of people scratching their heads… In the lead-up to the band’s appearance at this year’s Soundwave Festival, vocalist/guitarist Grant Nicholas explains the reasoning behind the band’s decision. And, yes, they are still officially Feeder…

"If Feeder is like the rock end of the spectrum for us, then ‘Renegades’ was the more restless, uninhibited shadow of that," explains Nicholas. "In many ways changing the name was also a promotional thing for the album (their new album Renegades) so it served a double purpose at the time. It was our seventh album, which is quite a few to have behind you, and we thought maybe it was time to try something a little bit different."

Sure it was a risk, and sure it had some people confused at the time, but Nicholas claims it was a decision the band does not regret making. First formed back in 1991 in Newport, Wales, Feeder mostly stuck to their arena-rock roots for the better part of their career – until last year, that is.

"We’ve been around for a long time, I’m not sure if people even realise just how long!" laughs Nicholas. "I’d like to think that we managed to fuse the rock and melodic style really successfully and have managed to stick around longer than our peers because of that fact.

"We have been in a funny position at the same time where it’s been difficult to slot us on a bill with other bands. Sometimes you’re considered too heavy, other times you’re considered too mellow… Maybe the best way to explain it is that we’ve had a great response from magazines like Metal Hammer but at the same time we’ve had praise from magazines like Melody Maker. It can be a blessing and a curse, definitely."

For Feeder, it’s thankfully mostly been a blessing, however. As Nicholas points out, between 2001 and 2005, the band earned themselves numerous British awards – including 2001 Best British Live Act and 2003 Best British Band according to the Kerrang! Awards – which served as proof that whatever Feeder were doing was clearly working.

"It’s been a band that’s in-between sounds, but I’d say we’ve obviously been on the right track for the most part," claims Nicholas with a chuckle. "For us, gaining that kind of recognition and awards brought a real spark to the band. Again – we never thought we’d be a ‘Kerrang! band’ either; I’ve always thought we’d be too indie-rock for them. I was very pleased they championed us. With this last record, they’ve come back on board for us and supported us in a big way and they’re loving the album."

To put it into perspective, Nicholas claims one of his favourite bands are Coldplay. It’s a bittersweet fact, but as the singer admits, it’s also the very same band that Feeder mostly get compared to. Nicholas simply blames it on his love of the piano…

"I love Coldplay, but I don’t get the comparisons," he states with a laugh. "I think we’re so much heavier. Maybe the whole thing comes from the fact that we’ve toured with Coldplay. I think that Chris [Martin] writes great songs, but I just don’t see it [the comparison]. There are a million other bands that we get compared to as well, like Muse. Again, it’s another band that we toured with.

‘I think maybe it’s because what we do is definitely very melodic when we do the mellower songs. Actually, the three main bands we get compared to are Coldplay, The Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins. All of these bands write amazing music, so it’s not that I’m complaining, I just don’t really always agree," he grins.

As Nicholas claims, Feeder are probably going to be one of the mellower bands featured on this year’s Soundwave lineup, especially since the band are making an appearance as a trio in Australia.

"But because it’s a ‘metal’ festival, we’re definitely going to play a lot of stuff off Renegades because that’s quite heavier. I really want to turn up the rock element, I’m planning to go back to my classic guitar sound but I want to make it a bit more stripped back as well. We’ve pulled it off as a three-piece here in the UK before, though we had a keyboard player on the side doing some backing vocals as well. We’re happy to do it as a three-piece, we can’t really bring a massive crew all the way to Australia anyway.

"It’s been about five years since I came to Australia, it must have been for Pushing The Senses (their brilliant 2005 album). It’s a shame it’s been six years because even though we weren’t huge in Australia, we did have a fan-base and we did the Livid Festival. I’m disappointed that once we sparked that interest at the time, we didn’t get a chance to continue to expand on it. I guess maybe this is our second chance at that."

According to Nicholas, along with touring Australia again this year, Feeder are in for a big year on the studio front too, with plans for a follow-up to Renegades currently underway.

"We’ve been rehearsing a bit and working on some new songs back in the studio," he reveals. "When we did the Renegades album, we came up with loads and loads of songs that we really wanted to use but just didn’t have room for. Our next album is looking like it’s going to be a continuation of Renegades but with maybe a bit more mellow songs added in there. Hopefully it will appeal to a wider audience than ever before."

FEEDER play SOUNDWAVE at the Melbourne Showgrounds on Friday March 4 alongside Iron Maiden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Primus, Social Distortion, The Bronx and heaps more – it’s sold out. They also play a SIDEWAVE with Social Distortion and The Gaslight Anthem at The Palace Theatre on Wednesday March 2 – it’s sold out as well. Their new album Renegades is also out through Shock on March 4.