Hooked on a Feel­ing

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

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‘IF 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 song- writ­ers 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.”

The Feel­ing with singer Dan Gillespie Sells (cen­tre front with up­turned col­lar) and bassist Richard Jones (far right, wear­ing shades)

John McCrea and the cast of Ev­ery­body’s Talk­ing About Jamie per­form at The Olivier Awards

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