The Manchester six-piece band, Feed The Kid, are building themselves a good reputation and a solid following for their ’70s West Coast sound that shows clear influences from the likes of The Doobie Brothers.
Chris Patmore spoke with singer Curtis Taylor and guitarist Ciaran Egan in the back of their van, in a damp alley behind the iconic 100 Club on Oxford Street in London, before their set supporting renowned Manchester band Audioweb.
A bit of an obvious one to start. How did the band get together? It always fascinates me what cosmic confluences bring a band together to create a certain sound.
Curtis: Me and Ciaran worked together, and we started it off. I was writing and couldn’t play guitar so needed someone to do it, and he was like, I’m writing too, so hand in hand we started doing that. Adam [Smith, drums] also worked with us and said we should set up a band and do some open mics and pursue this a bit further because we’re all right. Adam had a kid when he was 19, and we were just messing about and said “feed the kid”, and which we’ll use as the name until we come up with something better, and it just stuck. Dane [Stubbs, bass] is my cousin and he was in a band before.This is mine and Ciaran’s first time, and Dane said, “I’ve done this before and we get nowhere”, but we did all right for the first few shows, then we got a little bit better, and we’ve stuck at it.
Ciaran: We kept drafting in new members along the way.
Curtis: Yeah. We got two more, just when we thought we had our sound, we thought we’d push it a bit more. A bit heavier here, a bit fuller there. We always had this idea of being something like The Doors, but it never really went that way, until our sound started to develop into 100% Doors now. We go through different phases. Then we got keys to add that sort of element to it.
Your music does have real ’70s sound to it. Did you raid your dads’ record collections for inspiration?
Ciaran: When me and Curtis were young, in that noughties era, in my opinion there weren’t really anyone good. No one that stood out, to cling onto. Maybe Amy Winehouse, she stands out, but then again she had a classic sound, and as a result I had two CDs knocking about, a Creedence one and a Bob Dylan one, and I got into them, and one thing led to another from that. I just think it was a lack of good things around. If you’re a young lad now, just getting into music, there’s loads of good bands about, and there’s load to latch onto so that you don’t have to go back to the ’70s.
But lots of the music now is ’70s influenced, so you end up there anyway. And there’s the whole resurgent psychedelic scene.
Ciaran: It probably just caused us to get there a bit quicker, I suppose.
Curtis: My dad listens to a lot of The Doors, The Stranglers, and that Manc influence from Joy Division, and on the other side there’s the ’90s and Britpop, where there’s some good stuff and bad stuff. We listen to a bit of everything, but like in the ’90s there was some cool stuff about, but in the noughties there was a lot of shite and you really only had Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian that pushed on and pushed out of that indie shit, because there was a lot of it.
Ciaran: Over in America there was White Stripes and Raconteurs, and anything Jack White touched is really good. I probably got into that later, and missed it at the time. It was our parents’ era and it gets passed on.
Was it possibly the lack of decent guitar bands in the noughties?
Curtis: A lot of it was rap. We did listen to rap growing up, but there was a lack of good guitar bands. We’ll probably remember some later, but what Manchester bands were there in the noughties?
Has the Manchester scene grown a lot recently?
Ciaran: Yeah. We watched that Oasis DVD (Supersonic) on the way down here, and for the great that Oasis did, I think they ruined it a bit for new music. Everyone was so obsessed with copying them…
And they were already copying The Beatles…
Ciaran: Exactly. I think people have been blinded for years, and they’re just getting over it now, in the last five or six years, there’s been a flurry of really good bands. It’s sort of been like a suppression that’s been waiting to come out, and the expectations have gone away now because nothing’s been done in a few years and it’s starting to warm up.
How’s the live music scene there?
Ciaran: Really strong.
Curtis: There’s something going on there all the time. Every night there’s something on. There’s Apotheca on Monday night, Tuesday there’s an open mic at Whisky Jar, Wednesday to Sunday you’ve got four gigs on, whether it be Night and Day or Band on the Wall or Deaf Institute. There’s new ones sprouting up. There’s a new one that’s already working now that opened a few months ago, that’s how saturated bands are. Not just here but everywhere.
Does that make it tougher, or is it better for you?
Curtis: It makes you better.
Ciaran: I recently went to a night that Clint Boon put on, and he was talking about how the competition is only healthy for each other, obviously, if you’re not as good as the next band you’re going to push yourself to be better.
Curtis: I think we’re there with the best of them. We wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t think we were much cop.
And you wouldn’t have this gig at 100 Club if you weren’t any good.
Curtis: Yeah. We’re all right, I suppose. We’re in the run.
Ciaran: We weren’t the best to start with. We’ve worked hard at it. We’ve developed, like we said with adding new members. You learn so many artforms being in a band, whether it’s recording, performing live, writing, your sound, you’ve just got to learn them along the way. As long as you’re always open to being influenced, you’re just going to get better, aren’t you?
How much do you think the choice of instruments affects your sound? For example, if you see Ibanez guitars, you have a pretty good idea what sort of band you’re going to get. If it’s Gibsons, it’s going to have a more bluesy sound.
Ciaran: It’s a bit of a weird one that because that Gibson [SG] I have, I didn’t go out and buy it, my dad gave it me. If I could get any guitar it would probably be a Fender Telecaster. They’re my favourite because I had a country influence growing up. But then again, like you were saying, it goes back to the records, there probably wouldn’t have been a Gibson knocking around the house if we didn’t have those records or that type of music about.
Not so many bands these days have a really strong singer frontman, or woman. They are nearly all singer-guitarists.
Curtis: Yeah. I’ve seen a lot of that. I tried to play the guitar, but I thought it’s not rock ’n’ roll if you have to learn to play it.
Ciaran: I think it’s important that a frontman isn’t chained by his guitar.
Curtis: You can hide behind it.
Ciaran: Like Casablancas from Strokes, he played and wrote all the tunes on guitars but he made a point of saying he wanted to be free. Look at any great frontman, like Jim Morrison, who didn’t stand there with a guitar. Robert Plant, who had the option, but it’s the aesthetic of being able to dance on stage, or do whatever you do. I think it’s important.
Curtis: It’s an artform in itself, and you’re right, you don’t see many when you watch them live now.
Ciaran: I might be getting into too much, but it could be down to their personal dynamics.
Curtis: Usually, if you get a guy who starts a band, and he gets it in his head that he wants to write the tunes and be the frontman, and he gets everyone to back him. With me it was, I can’t play and I was lucky with being in the right place at the right time: “Want to do this?” “Yeah. All right.” “I’m not too bad at singing, let’s give it a crack.” With most bands, they’re already made from that solo artist, and they get it in around him.
There are so many two-man bands around these days, with someone on guitar and someone on drums. Slaves, Royal Blood, The Pearl Hearts…
Curtis: Black Keys. For me it must be pretty lonely. I like a big team bus, and you’re not in it for the money, and I don’t think they are either, even if there’s only two of them.
Ciaran: You are limited though. There’s nothing like it. You mentioned Oasis copying The Beatles, there’s something quite romantic about the cliched bass, drums, rhythm and lead, and a bit of keys. That’s probably why we all strive for it, and it’s been going for so many years, it’s right. You know what I mean?
Curtis: Slaves are good though.
What about recording? Do you have any releases imminent?
Curtis: That’s another artform. We’ve bashed about. There were studios that weren’t right, or we weren’t too good at it. We were trying to recreate a live sound. We’ve just been working at Blueprint in Salford, which is where a lot of Elbow stuff gets done. It has that iconic status from Elbow recording there, even though they don’t own it.
Ciaran: We’ve been in there recently. We released a single in October and we’ve got another one ready to go.
Curtis: It’s going to come out in January, and we’ll give it a good push then. The other one was self released, and we had our first national air play through that, with backing from Radio X, and some backing from BBC Introducing. It’s all going in the right way. We’re just sitting on loads of stuff.
Ciaran: We’ve got the next three singles done, and we’ve got other ones written, but they’re not down or recorded.
Do you want to keep it as independent as possible?
Curtis: No, not really.
Ciaran: We don’t want to sell our souls, but we want to turn it into our jobs.
Curtis: We here to live, not make millions.
Ciaran: And just enjoy it. We’d love to play London every week, but you can’t. It sounds like a bit of a charity squabble here but you need money in this industry to pay for vans, pay for recording.
Nobody wants to pay anyone these days.
Ciaran: I know. You get it from gigging. we need to get big enough to put on the tours and that. We’ve been working with This Feeling and did our single launch with them, and they’re looking to put us on a bit. They’re good at picking up bands at the right moment.