Hooked on a
Everybody’s talking about... The Feeling. MARION McMULLEN chats to band members Dan Gillespie Sells and Richard Jones about sheds, songs and smash-hit West End shows
F we never make another album or do another gig we will always be friends,” declares The Feeling’s lead singer and songwriter Dan Gillespie Sells. He is enjoying success in the West End at the moment with award-winning musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, inspired by a teenage boy’s true story about wanting to wear a dress to school.
The run at London’s Apollo Theatre has been extended until next April and there has already been a live cinema broadcast of the coming-of-age story across the UK.
So how many times has Dan’s mum, disability rights campaigner Katherine, been to see the show?
“Mum’s been to see it four or five times,” admits Dan.
His bandmate Richard Jones quickly jumps in and laughingly points out: “Dan’s not in the show otherwise she would have been to see it more. On tour she will be in the front row saying ‘Bring out my boy!’ She’s a super-fan so she’ll definitely be there on tour.”
Dan gives a mock groan and wails: “How did we end up talking about my mother? It’s so embarrassing. I’m officially a middle-aged guy. It’s definitely official now.”
The banter flows quickly and easily between the two friends as they tease each other and joke throughout the interview. They and fellow bandmates Kevin and Ciaran Jeremiah and drummer Paul Stewart are about to perform their celebrated million-selling album Twelve Stops And Home in full in concerts across the UK.
It is 12 years since the release of their acclaimed debut album and it has been reissued and newly mastered from the original tapes. There’s even a limited edition double yellow vinyl.
Richard says: “It’s the first time I had properly listened to the album in years and it was interesting hearing it again. Some things work and other things, well, you just think ‘What were we thinking there?’”
He laughs: “We were much more creatively free then and didn’t really know what we were doing. We were young and inexperienced. The tour itself just seems to have come together naturally and the response has been incredible.”
Dan adds: “I think we sound better now. There were some songs we never got quite right live because we were not experienced enough, but now all the songs work.”
Twelve Stops And Home was named after the Piccadilly Line underground journey from Leicester Square to Dan’s home stop of Bounds Green in London.
It was recorded in the garden shed of Ciaran and Kevin’s parental home in Sussex and was an instant hit following its release on June 5, 2006.
Five of the album’s Velcro-catchy songs became hit singles – Sewn, Fill My Little World, Never Be Lonely, Rose and Love It When You Call – helping the band to become the most-played act on British Radio in 2006 and earning them the Ivor Novello award for songwriters of the year.
Dan remembers: “We had no record deal, no expectations, and we recorded everything in the shed. That album changed our lives. It was our first record and after that we toured for 10 years – that was our world. We brought out albums and toured and it was overwhelming to be honest. People were singing our songs back to us at concerts and the first time we heard one of our songs on the radio was amazing.”
Richard adds: “It was an incredible experience but we only had 10 days off in three years during that period... and then it was off to Japan.”
The 39-year-old bassist and his wife singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor have four sons and will be welcoming baby number five in January, post-tour.
The band members have all been busy on solo projects – such as Dan’s work on Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – but say they always come back together.
“If Dan needs a bassist, I’m there,” laughs Richard. “We’re always there for each other. We’ve known each other since we were
16. We’ll always be mates. Good mates are hard to find.”
Dan recently turned 40 and has already decided how he will celebrate. “A fancy dress party around my house, always,” he says firmly. “It’s such a blast. I’ve been thinking of a Victoria Wood Acorn Antiques theme with everyone coming as their favourite characters, like Mrs Overall.”
Richard laughs: “Everyone would come as Mrs Overall. There would be a party filled with Mrs Overalls. It will take a lot to beat your Golden Girls party though.”
The tour starts this month, following on from a special performance at London’s Apollo Theatre.
Dan says: “I’m so excited to be playing with the band again. To be performing an album that has always meant so much to me is going to be quite an experience. What a party it’s going to be.”
John McCrea and the cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie perform at The Olivier Awards