We caught up with Dan yesterday, on his way to the Al Murray show, to find out what he thought of the Porchester show, whether he really can tap dance and how one can tell if something has been auto-tuned. Do leave your comments below. And if you have a question for Richard next time, please email it to email@example.com. Thanks!
Hello Dan, how are you?
I'm fine thank you. I'm on my way to record the Al Murray show, which we're guests on this week.
Did you enjoy the Porchester Hall gig last week?
Yeah, it was fun, although I felt a little bit under-rehearsed, because our rehearsals had inevitably ended up being a little bit interrupted by promo meetings and that sort of thing.
The fans seemed to love it.
Did they? That's good. The thing is, it was our first show playing new material and we did it in London, in front of reviewers, television cameras, our biggest fans and our families. That's quite high stakes! It wasn't like we'd done a couple of warm-up gigs and settled into it a little bit. In fact, we didn't do one clean run of the songs before we did the gig, because there were little technical things that had to be worked out right up until the last minute. So literally the first time we ran through all the songs was there, in front of everyone, on camera!
Well it worked very well.
It was OK. There were things that people maybe didn't notice that were supposed to go slightly better. It's like when you see a show at the end of a tour and there's something about it that's slicker and more relaxed. But, yeah, thank God it was an audience of our fans, because they made it a lot easier for us. So it ended up being good fun.
Some of the people posting comments on the site were saying that they'd hung out with your mum at the show.
Yes. My mum is always involved. She seems to think that walking around and being friendly to everyone is going to make a substantial impact on my career. I'm sure it will have an impact, but maybe not as substantial as she thinks. But bless her for her enthusiasm! She's been a die-hard supporter since the very beginning and she comes to all the shows in London. You'll usually find her at the front, bouncing up and down. She was doing her networking after the show on Thursday too. And very successfully. She should really be working for our record label.
We saw her accosting Kev in the dressing room for not knowing in the last catch-up whether your surname is Gillespie, Sells or Gillespie Sells.
Really? Well it's Dan Gillespie Sells. Although, saying that, I'm not exactly sure what's on my birth certificate. Actually, I think it might just be Dan Sells. But my middle name is Giles. So the full thing is really Dan Giles Gillespie Sells. My mother's always used Gillespie Sells, so I'm continuing the Gillespie line.
And is it Daniel or Dan?
Oh, Daniel. That's what my mum calls me when she needs to get my attention.
What did you do on the day after Porchester Hall?
Ooh, let me check my diary. Ah yes, I was being followed around by a film crew and I did a shoot for Attitude magazine. It's my first ever front cover of a magazine. It was good actually - but it started at 11am, which was a bit tough after the night before. However, I did do a pretty rock 'n' roll shot in a vest. It's pretty revealing for me, a man who isn't normally seen without a decent collar. But it was fun.
Did you do the interview too?
No, that was on Saturday. And I did an acoustic session for E4 that day too.
Sounds like you've been busy.
Yes, but I had Sunday off, which was quite nice. According to my diary, Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day, but I didn't mark it, which I now feel bad about.
What did you do?
I went to the market in the morning and then went to the cinema in the afternoon to see Sweeney Todd. It was great. Helena Bonham Carter is genius in it. She entirely stole the show for me. I know the original musical and they did miss out quite a lot, but it was a ludicrously long musical. I thought the singing was very good. Normally when they do modern musicals using Hollywood stars the singing is all auto-tuned and it sounds disgusting. I think there may have been a bit of auto-tune, but it was mostly pretty good.
So a musician can hear when something's been auto-tuned?
Oh yeah, every time.
What are you listening out for?
There's an unnaturalness to it - the way the voice goes to the note just doesn't sound right. Although, saying that, a really good auto-tuning person can make it sound natural. But it's when the voice hits the note and doesn't waver from it at all and the natural vibrato is coming from the timbre as opposed to the pitch. But nowadays people who can sing in tune still get auto-tuned, because it's got a certain radio tone to it. You know like the perfect radio pop tone?
But The Feeling have a perfect radio pop tone!
Ah, but people think our sound is retro. And do you know why they think that?
Because we haven't fucking auto-tuned it to buggery! It's not retro, it's just not auto-tuned!
Aha! So, after your day off on Sunday, it was the Album Chart Show on Monday.
Yes, we did the soundcheck and then went to Radio 2, where we did an interview with Simon Mayo. He was a really nice interviewer, he knows about our music and he's been to see us live. His daughter is a fan too, so she came to the studio. I signed her science book.
Because we didn't have any CDs to sign and she had her science text book with her. And then while we were there I did some photographs with Paul Gambaccini, cos there's a piece coming out in Gay Times where I'm talking about how I met him when I was 12. He was the patron of my mother's charity that we used to run from our front room. We used to have these annual general meetings and Paul would come along to support the charity. The meeting was always followed by a social and fundraiser and I would always play the piano. So it was about 15 years before I saw him again when it was all kicking off for The Feeling and I said, "Do you remember me?"
No! But he did once I gave him some context. He remembered my mother and then remembered me as the little kid from the fundraisers. So I'm doing a little piece in Gay Times for one of their regular features called How We Met.
So then it was the Album Chart show gig in the evening. How was that?
It was alright, but our dressing room was absolutely freezing cold. I mean, you could see your breath it was so cold. So when I came downstairs and went on stage, my voice suddenly shifted. The weird thing is, they make sure that my guitars are left in front of certain lights so that the temperature doesn't change too quickly and doesn't put them out of tune, but I went from a freezing cold dressing room onto a really hot stage! So I had real trouble singing. I don't think I did the greatest vocal performance ever, but I think it probably looked OK visually!
And now you're on your way to record the Al Murray show.
Yes, I've actually just arrived. It's quite a fun show - and we get to play another Queen cover, of course. I won't spoil the surprise by telling you which one we're doing, though.
Right, readers' questions. Melly Moo's in Norwich would like to know if you've ever thought of releasing a live DVD.
Yes, we have. We'd really like to and hopefully we will before too long.
Katherine has heard that you started tap dancing at the age of 6 and she'd like to know if you can still tap dance.
I can still tap dance very nicely, thank you very much. I've kept my chops up, as they say in the business.
You should do a bit of that on stage.
Well I thought a drum off might be good, where Paul does a drum solo and I do a tap solo with my feet, like drums versus tap. He's got sticks and I've got shoes. We can see who kicks the most arse.
That would be the highlight of any live show.
Don't you think so? But I'm not gonna do that until we get to arenas!
Finally, Ellie would like to know if anyone in the band has ever been arrested.
I don't think so, but I did end up in the back of a meat wagon once for throwing eggs at Michael Portillo.
Yes. He was holding a party to celebrate ten years as an MP and the Coalition against the Criminal Justice Bill organised a demonstration. We got chased around the block outside Alexandra Palace by the police. But nobody was actually arrested or charged.
Did you make contact with any of your eggs?
I don't think so. But most of his guests certainly got pelted. It was one of those nights where you're young, you want to cause some trouble and you've got some eggs...