The Welsh guitar band’s frontman and chief songwriter reflects on the creation of one of his rock group’s best-loved songs
As one of the most successful British guitar bands of the early 00s, Feeder’s wall of sound was instantly recognisable. Having formed in 1992 under the name Reel, it was the release of their third album Echo Park and its ubiquitous single Buck Rogers which saw them rise to fame. Tragically, drummer and founding member Jon Lee committed suicide in 2002, and it was this loss that inspired the band’s 2004 platinum record Comfort In Sound. The record is perhaps best summed up by its second single Just The Way I’m Feeling, and here Grant Nicholas, the Feeder frontman and chief songwriter, took time out from his solo career to recall how the track was written.
“It’s really hard to think back but I remember we’d almost finished the album. I was working with Gil Norton – we co-produced Comfort In Sound together – and I didn’t quite know what we were going to do because everything just stopped when Jon passed away. It was like, all these years of working together, and then getting to a point where we were starting to get quite big with Echo Park… we were finally starting to make it. And then it suddenly stopped, and we were like, ‘So what do we do now?’
“The shock with Jon could have gone either way. I could have just given up music but instead I locked myself away in a little demo studio in North London with an engineer. I think I gave him a nervous breakdown because the songs just poured out of me, I was inspired and I just didn’t even know what I was doing, I was drinking too much and working crazy hours, not really eating, just totally on this mission to put songs down.
“So after all this had happened we were working with Gil and the album was basically done and I said, ‘Gil, I’ve got this new song, it’s called Just The Way I’m Feeling. And he goes, ‘I don’t think we need it, I think we’ve covered that side’ but I was like ‘I’ve got a good feeling about this track, I really think we’ve got to do it’ and it went from there.
“It was so simple but I felt like it was something I wanted to say. The lyrics and everything were very simple. I was trying to touch on the Lennon thing – some of the best Beatles songs are really simple but just sound great. I don’t know if I got close but that’s kind of where it’s coming from. It was just a song that came really naturally, it was quite easy when the lyrics came. People think it’s really dark, but it’s just touching on what people have to deal with every day and it connected with people. I think because it was quite melodic as well, that balanced out the darker lyrical side of it. I remember I had most of the lyrics quite quickly: I find with my best songs I normally have at least the majority of lyrics upfront.
“That song was really about the importance of friends and family when you’re going through a hard time. I didn’t even touch on what Jon’s parents must be going through. I started the band with Jon, he was a real bundle of energy and life and a real personality within the band and also an incredible drummer. He was just so gifted and suddenly it didn’t make any sense, so that song was about how to deal with that, and I think people liked it because they found a connection with something that was happening in their lives – maybe they’d lost somebody too.
“It’s almost an acoustic track and I could almost put it on my solo record, just take the big guitars off and it wouldn’t sound out of place. It’s one of those songs, you could do it any way you want really. When you have songs that are portable like that, that can work acoustically or with a full band, I think those are the ones that you know you’ll end up playing for a long time.
“It’s the biggest radio hit we ever had and I don’t know why it’s not the first song people remember me for. I think it’s because of the quirkiness of some of the others, but Just The Way I’m Feeling was a massive, massive radio song for us. But it was also a way back after Jon passed away. I think it was a big reason why the Feeder legacy has carried on. If we hadn’t had a song like that, I don’t know if we would have survived.”