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Hero. Legend. Good Bloke.
John Peel OBE, 1939 - 2004

Red Lick Records



Early Blues Interview
Feed Me
Winners of the Maryport 'Battle of the Bands' competition 2010


© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.

Feed Me (from left to right) are:
Phil Lowery - Bass
J.J Fletcher - Vocals
Jamie Francis - Guitar
Kiefer McCrickerd - Guitar
Andrew Bates - Drums

After hearing of the winners of the famed 'Battle of The Bands' competition run by the Maryport Blues Festival committee, and the impressive reputation the band has rapidly achieved in the North West, I arranged to interview the band before their gig at the ever-popular Barrow R&B Club.

Alan:    How did you all get started as musicians?

Jamie:  Me and Kiefer have been playing guitar together since we were about nine and weíve been in lots of bands since then. 

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.Jay:    I was in musical theatre.  I wasnít a blues boy!  Iíve been in about three different amateur operatic groups and I did performing arts at college.  Then I bumped into the others at a Mayorís Charity do by chance

Andy:  Again, I met these guys by chance.  South Quay were playing in Egremont and I went down and thought they were amazing.  I saw Jamie playing and knew I wanted to play in a band with this guy.  And then they bumped into me and said, ďI need a drummer for Feed Me, are you interestedĒ  Yes!  But all these things just happened by chance.

Phil:    I started on bass when I first met Jamie about 6 years ago.  My dad used to play bass so I took his and learnt.  When we left school, we said, why not start a band, and now weíre here.

Jay:    If it wasnít for Jamie, we wouldnít be here

Andy:  I started playing when I was about three on pots and pans and worked myself up.  Just like Keith Moon!

Alan:    Did you always want to become musicians?  Was it in the blood?

Andy:  It was definitely in my blood and goes back to my grandparents and Frank Hall.   Frank was in a band called Necromandus which was managed by Black Sabbathís Tony Iommi and Frank still lives in Egremont and I know him well so I was very influenced by Black Sabbath and classic rock. 

Alan:    What first attracted you to the blues?

Jamie:  I remember listening to the White Stripes when I was about 12 and really liking them, and then I read an interview about what Jack Whiteís influences were and I kept going further back and the further back I went the more I liked it. 

Kiefer: And weíve got the Maryport Blues Festival.  

Jamie:  Thereís world class blues bands just in the pubs.  Itís a really small town and you get Gary Moore and Van Morrison.

Jay:    It was never anything I was really interested in until Jamie said they wanted to sing it, so I went and had a go Ė but I really like it.  You can put so much into it.  Thatís what blues is about, itís so expressive and passionate and you can put so much into it that you canít with other types of music.  Itís a big release and I like it.

Phil:    We started off when we were young and we were a covers band, a fairly poor covers band.   And then one day, we thought, ďHey, this song sounds goodĒ and it was a blues song, Hoochie Coochie Man I think, and it went down so well we decided to just do blues.

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.

Alan:    What does the blues mean to you?

Jamie:  Itís the origins of most popular songs really.  Listen to the really early stuff like Robert Johnson and itís all there.

Jay:    To me, its about freedom.   Thatís how it started, with the slave trade, and it was the one thing that nobody could take away from them.

Kiefer: Thatís what it is to me too.  Itís about expressing  yourself

Andy:  Itís not like having a musical formula.  You can express yourself and be completely in your own performance.

Jay:    And itís a nice way to depress people.

Alan:    How would you describe what has been described as your original slant on the blues?

Jamie:  We take our influences from more than one genre.  Me and Jamie really like to experiment with the progressive side of things, like odd time signatures.

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.Kiefer: But the audience doesnít like that sort of thing!

Jay:    Weíve all got such different backgrounds and influence so that when it all comes together, it gives us a unique sound.

Jamie:  When me and Keifer were growing up we saw quite a lot of guys playing the same 12 bar shuffle again and again, which can be good, but we just wanted to do it a bit differently.

Andy:  My influences come from things like Dream Theatre and Porcupine Tree, all the progressive, ancient classic rock bands.

Kiefer: Thatís the best thing about this, you need to evolve and you donít want to be stuck doing the same thing every night.  Itís so easy to do a 12 bar shuffle but itís what you do to it that makes a difference and thatís how we define ourselves.  People like Joe Bonamassa and Ian Siegal have done their own thing with it.

Alan:    Who are your favourite blues artists?

Phil:    Joe Bonamassa

Jay:    Jamieís got me hooked on Kelly-Jo Phelps, I think heís amazing.

Jamie: I was going to say Kelly-Jo Phelps actually.

Kiefer: For me, itís people who do something different.   People like Matt Schofield.

Jay:    Janis Joplin.  The passion when sheís singing just blows me away. 

Andy:  I like more hard-hitting rock blues like Eric Sardinas.

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.

Alan:    Whoís influenced you the most?

Jamie:  Me and Kiefer saw a gig by The Hoax a few months ago and they blew us away.  Thatís the influence on us at the moment.

Jay:    Apparently we were compared to them last year.

Kiefer: As far as the band goes, I donít think thereís anything that influences us.  Itís all about our own individual ideas and styles and bringing them together.

Phil:    The one that blew me away was the Steve Bye band at Newcastle City Hall back in 2005.  I was on the front row and it just blew my head off with the sharpness and the dexterity.  The whole musicianship, the progressiveness. 

Alan:    The blues has to progress too.  Thatís what you are doing. 

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.

Alan:    Are there any particular songs you play that have special meaning to you?

Jay:    The ones that weíve written are all very deep seated.  I donít think this lot know what Iím singing about half the time. Your experiences do influence you, even if you donít know it, and they come across in your music.  Itís probably why most of what I write is depressing!

Alan:    Tell me about the gigs youíve been doing recently; you seem to be very busy.

Jamie:  In the past year, itís been mayhem.

Kiefer: In the past few months weíve managed to break out of Cumbria and weíve done quite a lot in Leeds and Yorkshire and weíve gone down really well. 

Alan:    What about London?

Andy:   We have, but itís not too great at the moment because trying to convince people in London that youíre worth taking on is hard. 

Jamie:  Itís kinda catch 22 because they donít want you unless you can bring people but you canít bring people unless you can get a few gigs. 

Jay:     We're also really excited about the Maryport Blues Festival.

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.Alan:    Whatís it like as young musicians in the current music business?

Jamie:  Hard. 

Kiefer: Really hard

Phil:    If you just take the gigs, weíve had to push and push and push really hard in the past 3 years just to get anywhere.  Around Maryport and Whitehaven now itís a lot easier because weíre recognised from the local paper but when we go to Leeds youíre nobody to them and they want you for nothing. 

Jamie:  The chances of us ever getting on a major label are really slim because nobody wants to listen to blues music anymore.

Jay:    I donít know about that.  Maryport Blues Festival gets a huge following.

Alan:    And thereís a lot more festivals like it around the country that get big audiences.

Jamie:  I suppose I meant that itís not as popular.

Jay:    It is a definite minority compared to the popular music thatís just getting churned out week after week.  Thatís slightly annoying.

Phil:    Itís getting more popular with the likes of Oli Brown and the younger generation. 

Andy:  Heís playing at Glastonbury this year and when you hear about people like him who have actually got somewhere with it that gives you confidence when you are young. 

Jay:    Music is constantly evolving and whatís getting listened to now you would never have thought 10 years ago that it would be popular.

Alan:    I read somewhere that you opened for Sherman Robertson.

Jamie:  It was kinda lucky that we got the gig because we knew the person who was organising it.  It was fantastic. He was really good to us and he paid more attention to us than the older ones.  He played to us.  He came out and said to us and said he really enjoyed the set.  He was such a nice guy.

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.Andy:  I asked him at the end what he thought of our band and he said, ďYeah, man, itís a good band.  Youíve got a good funky fiveĒ

Kiefer: We knew some of the other people too, like Roger Innes was playing his bass and weíd seen him with the John OíLeary Band.  Roger Innes was just as nice. You know, heís been all over and played with everybody, but he was really really nice.

Jamie:  We were booked to open for Ian Siegal as well but fate was against us because it was when all the floods happened in Cumbria and he couldnít make it.

Phil:    We also opened for The Producers recently in Carlisle.

Jamie:  That was kinda weird because their music is very different to us.  They were really good and we really enjoyed it. It was a good experience for us.

Alan:    How did you get involved in the 'Battle of the Bands' competition in Maryport?

Phil:    Weíd been in it a few times but we donít really want to listen to what we did then. 

Jay:    Iíve spoken to a couple of people on the Blues Committee and they said that every year we were getting a little bit closer but we werenít really there, and this year we were.

Kiefer: Me and Jamie entered every year with different bands but to take the prize at the end of it was just amazing.

Andy:  And to open the festival this year is just going to be amazing

Kiefer: I think everyone would like to give credit to all the bands; everyone played absolutely amazingly and the final was hard.

Jay:    We played that stage at the Youth Festival and we all said that we wanted to be there again on the first night of the festival with an audience.

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.

Alan:    Today is the official launch of your first album, 'Blood on the Moon'.  Tell me about the making of the album.

Jamie:  Weíve done about four recording sessions and each time weíve come away and then a few months later weíve thought, ďActually, we can do better than thatĒ, so we finally managed to get it all done so that weíre happy with it.  Itís twelve original songs and all of them are recorded at The Music Farm in Egremont with Tom Tyson.

Phil:    Tom Tyson has been fantastic.

Jay:    The bonus track was a home grown song recorded in a very pleasant basement in Maryport.

Kiefer: We did the album over two weekends, one to record and one to mix, but itís taken a year and a half to get to this point.

Jay:    We are really happy with it though because weíve taken our time to get it right.

Kiefer: We are really grateful to Emma Bell too, who did all the artwork for nothing and sheís done an amazing job.

Alan:    Some music are arguably fads that come and go, but the blues is always with us.  Why do you think that is?

Jamie:  Because you canít get rid of a good thing

Phil:    Itís built into people. Itís always been there.  Pop music is just a trend.

Jamie:  And you can say that any music, even now, has come from the blues.  If you look at even rock music in the 70s it was just loud blues really.

Jay:    Blues is comfortable though.  You could put it on in any venue with any group of people and they will, to an extent, enjoy it.   Everyone can associate it with somehow and it might mean something different to everyone but everyone can make a link to it, so I don't think it will ever go away.

Phil:    Weíve adapted the blues to our style but itís so versatile.  We like to take old songs, rip them up and put them back together in a different way.

© Copyright 2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.

Alan:    What are your future plans?

Jamie:  We are just going to push it as far as it can go really.

Andy:  We think we have something that people will want to listen to so we just need to convince venues to have us now.

Jay:    Itís just getting out there and getting further afield.

Andy:  Since weíve gelled together as a five-piece and felt that, yes, we do have something here, weíve watched other bands and thought that, we can do too.  A couple of us have full-time jobs so it does make it hard but we want to try and push this as hard as we can.

Alan:    Thank you very much, and the very best of luck to you all for your future.

Check out gig photos


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