We called up Dan at Bradley House as the band continue working on their third album. Thanks to Kev for the pics. Do leave your comments below. And email questions for Richard next time to email@example.com. Thanks!
Hello Dan, how are you?
I'm good, thanks. We're back in Bradley House for a few days.
The place where you recorded Join With Us.
That's right. Our second home, almost.
They say you should never go back.
Well, we've already proved that one wrong with the Alps! But we're not doing the album here, just some rehearsal. We wanted to get some intensive playing done. We can do ten hour days here, which is great.
How's it going?
Great. It's lovely to be back here. We get so much done, because there are no distractions and none of our phones work. It's good because you can finish off lots of bits you've been meaning to finish.
Paul always dresses like this when he's not on stage
Are the same staff there as last time?
Yes, Kim and David are looking after us again. Kim's still over-feeding us, with roasts and pies. We come down here and sleep lots, get fed too much and do a lot of playing. After the last bit of touring, we've been concentrating on recording and writing, but we haven't done much actual playing, so we thought it'd be good to come here and set up in the big room, rather than doing it in an expensive London rehearsal studio.
Is a stately home cheaper than a rehearsal studio?
It's a tiny bit more expensive here, but it's better value because you do much longer days and you don't have to travel to get there. And it's about a million times nicer.
How far through the album are you?
Well, I've written about 25 songs, which is normally what I like to do for an album, then whittle it down to the best material. But I think I want to make the process a bit longer this time, so I might do around 50 songs. Just because I want to be sure that I've got the best material.
How do you pick the best ones?
I think the really good stuff tends to keep coming back at you. It's about developing them too. And some of them are dark horses; they start off sounding like quite modest tunes and then they become really hard-hitting and strong when they're recorded up.
The others have said that you've had more time to work on the lyrics this time around.
Yeah, I've just been getting them done a bit earlier. Last time it was a bit of a rush to get them finished. Our music comes very easily and quickly, and there's five of us doing it. But with the lyrics I'm kind of on my own and I find it a bit slower, because I want to get them right.
Is there a theme to the lyrics?
No, I don't think so. I suppose it's just a more grown-up version of me. There are themes in there, but I don't really think about it. I just do it. We just want all the songs to be brilliant.
What's going on in this pic? Your guess is as good as ours...
Do you have any deadlines?
No, not at all. That's the whole point of taking this year off from doing gigs. It's a conscious decision to go low profile. We still get asked to do gigs and events all the time, but we've said no to absolutely everything, except for the odd charity thing. We want to disappear from the limelight a bit, to give the world a break, and then come back fresh and excited with a new album. I'm not going to deliver this record until I'm absolutely happy with it. And it gives us the chance to really experiment and re-invent ourselves, too, by working with a producer or a remixer or something. But that all takes time. Which is why we've given ourselves time, so that this next record can really be something special.
Does anyone get to hear songs outside of the band?
No, nobody. And they're not going to for quite a while. There's just no point until we've got stuff finished.
But you are doing this one gig at the Ha Ha Hammersmith event.
We are. That's a little acoustic charity thing.
Are you missing playing live, having played so many gigs over the last few years?
No, not yet. I think I'll really enjoy the Hammersmith thing, but I'm just really liking some time away from it. It's so up and down when you're doing gigs; you've got this mad adrenaline rush and the collapse of exhaustion afterwards. I don't really miss that at the moment, because I've been able to concentrate on writing and making music. It's quite difficult to do that if you're doing shows too. But give me a few months and I'll be dying to get on the road, especially when the material's all recorded and sounding good. I think we'll probably start gigging in the autumn, to get the ball rolling.
Might you play anything new at the Hammersmith gig?
Maybe, yeah. And we've still got this idea that we'll do a couple of really small gigs playing just the new material, to get a sense of what we think's gonna work. That's another part of the process of making the record.
Is it just us, or is that bloke in the wig staring *right* at the camera?
We see from Twitter that you've been flying helicopters in your spare time.
I have! I've only done a few lessons, but the instructor says that I'm doing well. Ryan bought me five hours of lessons for my birthday present, back in September. I hadn't had a chance to do it, because we've been touring. Now that we're finished, I've started my lessons up. It's great. I've always been obsessed with the damn things. It's this comically small helicopter and it looks ridiculous and unsafe, but I've flown it! It's absolutely petrifying, like flying a little bubble with some Meccano attached to it. But it's great fun.
Do you find yourself humming the song, Helicopter, while you're up there?
No, I try not to. I do hum the Airwolf theme occasionally.
And Richard's flying too.
I know. He's Top Gun and I'm Airwolf. Although Ryan says I'm Budgie the Helicopter and Richard is Jimbo. That's probably more like it!
Do pop stars not have insurance issues about flying tiny helicopters?
I haven't asked. I've just kept it really quiet. Well, except for now.
What else have you been doing in your spare time?
Not much really. I've been mostly working on the record in my basement like a weird little hermit. I went to see the Noisettes. They're old friends of ours who've suddenly become very successful. They decided to do a pop record, which is great. They told us about it ages ago, cos we were rehearsing next to them before the last tour. It's great that it's worked. Shingai's such a talented frontperson and Dan is a great musician. We've known them for about 14 years. They stuck at it in the same way that we did. I'm really happy for them.
What's the latest on Sophie Ellis Bextor's guest vocals on the new album?
Well, I changed the key, so we've got to re-record the whole thing and she's obviously been very busy with Kit. So we had the vocal, but now it's not in the right key. She did a lovely job, though.
That'll be the first guest vocal on a Feeling song.
It will, yeah. It's very exciting. We didn't do it for the sake of it, it just happened naturally. I'd demoed a song and sent it to Richard, who played it in his house. Sophie heard it and loved it, so she ended up singing on it.
Have you met little Kit?
Yes, he's amazing. Still very, very wee, but he's doing well.
How's the weather down there at Bradley House?
Absolutely stunning. We've been very lucky. Although saying that, when it's sunny you want to go for a walk across the fields.
Is the pub nearby still doing its Wacky Wednesday cheap beer and steak night?
No, I'm afraid not. They've made the pub all modern. It's nice though, the people who run it are very nice and they've got a Great Dane called Henry. But it's too chic for Wacky Wednesday now. It's like the Soho house of Wiltshire. Although they do have Poker Monday.
That's not nearly as catchy.
No, but they're doing their best!
Perhaps Bradley House is a little too relaxing...
Right, readers' questions. John would like to know when you started singing.
Ooh, not until quite late. I used to play music, but I imagined myself as a backing singer and guitarist. I never saw myself as a lead singer until we were 21. Even when I sang along with records I'd sing the backing parts.
What was the tipping point?
I was forced into it because our lead singer had left the band. But as soon as I did it, I really enjoyed it.
Hannah J would like to know where you'd most like to go before you die.
Oh, goodness. Um... let me think. I've never been to Venice. I'm going to have to do that soon, or it'll be under water. I'd love to go there on the Orient Express. That would be amazing.
Nick Ball, age 10, would like to know where you had your best ever audience.
I'm going to say the first time we played V, at Staffs in 2006. It was raining, but the crowd was amazing. It was our first proper festival gig and it was a real seminal moment for us. The turnout was enormous.
The next one is form the Loteria Naccional Program. They've written to tell you that you've won €870,812.79. Congratulations!
That's not true. Do they want my bank details by any chance?
Yes they do.
Ha ha! OK, the sort code is...
Next question is from Lara in Derby who'd like to know where you bought the jumper that you're wearing at the end of the Join With Us video.
Well it's not mine. It's owned by a friend of mine called Luke, who did our styling that day.
Do we know where he got the jumper from?
Knowing him, it's probably something posh like Burberry. But hang on, I'm wearing a shirt in the last bit aren't I?
In the fairground bit?
Wait there. Let's have a look. Oh yes, you are wearing a shirt.
Yep, thought so.
Lara may have been confused by the scarf.
Sorry Lara. It's actually a shirt. But it is Luke's! Funny thing is, I've seen him wearing it on nights out since we did the video.
The last question is from Jessers who wonders if you've had any strange dreams recently.
I have! Since we've come to the house, I've had some really weird ones.
The last one involved me walking across a field. I was normal, but everything else had gone all weird, with all the opposite colours. It was really psychedelic. There's a field near here where there's a strip of grass going right across for a footpath, so it was based on that. The strip was normal, but everything else was crazy stupid colours. And then I looked up and it was all mirror and I could see myself looking down. It was really weird.
Did anything happen?
No, I think I just woke up.