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People are getting that it’s honest. Dan’s writing, the five of us together created this thing. It’s got purity to it.
Sitting in the plush lobby of a Lower East Side hotel of New York City, Dan Gillespie- Sells and Richard Jones blend right in to the crowd, so much so that I walked past them lounging around a table with two tea pots, near a roaring fire without recognizing them. When I set myself up at another table and brought out a notebook, Gillespie- Sells figured I must have been their 5:30 interview and came over to collect me. Deliciously friendly, stylishly attired and completely unassuming with movie-star good looks, one would not guess that these two have played Wembley. They immediately feel like old friends, not celebrated musicians.
In town to do some press and play some gigs, on the day that their latest CD hits shelves in the US, Gillespie-Sells and Jones are the founding members of The Feeling. With huge popularity in the UK, the band's latest, Boy Cried Wolf (BMG, 2014) has already come out to critical acclaim in the UK. Other members of the band include the Jeremiah brothers Ciaran and Kevin on keyboards and guitar, respectively as well as drummer Paul Stewart. The group shares a history of meeting in Music College, working as session musicians and performing together in different configurations including as a covers band Superfly which was the house band on The Richard Blackwood Show and as the resident band at La Tania Ski resort in the Alps. As The Feeling, they have shared great success. Their debut album Twelve Stops and Home (Island, 2006) rode the top of the UK charts and produced three top 10 singles. They were crowned the most-played band on UK radio in 2006 and were named as the Songwriters of the Year at the Ivor Novello award soon after. Two more albums followed, increasing their already solid fan base.
The songs from Boy Cried Wolf share the heartfelt theme of an ending, a striking finality stringing itself through the chords. These songs were born out of a tumultuous time when singer songwriter Gillespie-Sells found himself dealing with the end of his long time relationship, as well as the band ending their association with their record label.
"It all happened at the same time, in one week," recounted Gillespie-Sells thoughtfully. "And I suppose my response to that was just to get back to the work and to get back to writing. I kind of threw myself into it as a form of therapy as much as anything. Everything else kind of goes upside down and you just go to the things you know and for me, it's sitting at the piano, writing songs. It's what I know best. So that's what we did and before we knew it, the album was just done."
Bassist Jones agreed," Professionally, we were mirroring the same thing that Dan went through with his relationship breakup and so the music became such a lovely thing for us all to do because it was a release of the feelings and emotions that you go through, like feeling obviously all feeling a bit worried."
Gillespie-Sells interjected, "And dejected, as well."
Jones continued, "Being dumped essentially but then beyond that, really excited and liberated and just totally joyful because there was no pressure anymore and no reason to do it than any other reason but we wanted to do it."
A few years back, Gillespie-Sells purchased an old pub in the East End of London called the Royal Oak which has been converted to his residence upstairs as well as a recording studio downstairs, now affectionately known as The Dog House. Having their own studio gave them freedom that has proven priceless.
"If Dan hadn't bought the building at the time and we didn't have that, I don't know if the band even would have continued or if we would have made the album," explained Jones. "When we made our second album, we bought a lot of equipment so we had that in a rented space that was costing a lot of money per month to store our gear. So when Dan found the pub, it was a great opportunity to put it all in one place. He was living upstairs and it actually totally liberated us because when we left our label after many years, it took all the pressure off and put us back into the situation we were in before, before anything happened when we were just recording in bedrooms and sheds! Back then we improvised. We went to Kevin and Ciaran's parents' shed, borrowed a load of mics. Having the pub meant we could just make music for the sake of it again. There was no contract, there was nobody paying us, no reason to do it other than cause we wanted to. The album came out naturally. "
Getting positive feedback to the songs felt good. Gillespie-Sells said," We played them to a few labels and BMG offered us a deal. They heard it and they liked what they heard and they just trusted us. Total creative control and we got to finish the album and do the artwork and everything exactly as we wanted it."
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.