Interview: FEET on the Method Behind Their Madness

Thursday, October 3, 2019
Photo by Dave Willis

Coventry-formed band FEET might do some incredibly outrageous things, but there’s a method to their madness. They’ve retreated to a farm to live off of the land, lived in a retirement home, and danced with kettles whilst dressed as country-western stars in a music video — it might all sound fictional, but we assure you it’s all true. Tomorrow (October 4th), the band will be finally releasing their highly-anticipated debut album What’s Inside is More Than Just Ham, we spoke with George Haverson from the band about remaining independent, visuals and the outlandish places they worked on the album.

More recently, we’ve seen bands shy away from signing with bigger labels to instead create their own record labels — local Melbourne band King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard created Flightless Records, The Growlers have Beach Goth Records to share their music, and in the UK, Sports Team formed Holm Records. FEET are part of the pack of artists taking control of their own art with their own label, Clapped Records — along with using the label to release their debut record, they’ve got bigger plans to sign other artists and host events.

George noted that having their own label has some obvious monetary benefits since they get to keep a larger cut of the money they make, but the band want Clapped Records to be part of something bigger. “Making the record label was a decision that made sense for us,” he said, “We can use it as our own platform to then find other bands and help elevate them. We hope that it can be the start of an empire.”

So far they’ve had the chance to host one event back in July called Clapped Night Out, which they packed out, though he jokes that tickets were free. The band recently moved to London and are looking at hosting more events in the near future. “We’ve just moved to London, and there’s a lot of cool venues. Once we settle and get our act together we’ll start booking some more shows and try and find a scene.”

The label’s first big release will be the band’s debut album What’s Inside is More Than Just Ham — which saw the band venture out to a farm for over six weeks, as well as spending time living in a retirement home. Their time on the farm wasn’t as fruitful as they expected, with George admitting that they only got to finish a couple of songs during their stay before they “overstayed their welcome”. “We lived in a caravan next to a working farm with tractors and combine harvesters. We got on relatively well with the farmers but we definitely overstayed our welcome.” Their time on the farm led to the album’s opening track ‘Good Richard’s Crash Landing’.

Photo by Dave Willis

After moving on from the farm, they headed for a retirement home in Portsmouth, which was by the sea. The retirement home belonged to the grandparents of Callum, who had passed away a few years ago and the home was in need of inhabitants. Though they enjoyed their time there and spending time near the ocean, they felt like they also overstayed their welcome there as well.

Ultimately it was the cold weather and lack of heating that drove them out and not the retired residents, though he admits that they were probably scheming to get them out anyway. “They didn’t kick us out, but I’m sure there was a couple of book club meetings or neighbourhood watch meetings where they were like, ‘these boys have got to go’, but lucky for them we left in December because it was too cold and we didn’t have any heating.” Once they departed from the retirement home, they spent a bit of time in London where they recorded the album and finished writing the rest of the songs.

For FEET, the overall process of creating the album was enjoyable, but working on their debut came with a degree of pressure — especially since you only get one shot at a debut album. “For us, it’s a job now, which seems really strange to say. So with that, we have a responsibility to put everything into it and make sure we’re delivering something that’s worth an album and worth everyone’s time. There’s a bit of pressure that comes with that.” Even with the pressure, it’s a record they had fun making and they want you to feel that when you hit play. “Hopefully people will enjoy the record and it’s as immersive as it felt making it.”

Unlike that box of chocolates that has a couple of flavours you don’t like, What’s Inside is More Than Just Ham features ten sublime pieces of FEET’s untamed fusion of a range of different subgenres, whether it’s psych-rock, post-punk, Britpop, psych-pop, it’s something entirely their own, and it’s why the album sounds so damn good. The difficulty of sticking a label onto their sound is a result of each band member having different music tastes. “As a band, we listen to a lot of music together. We’ve got a semi-extensive record collection between us. I think we’re very much our own hypebeasts, if someone finds a cool song they’ll show everyone else and we link up our ‘Discover Weekly’ playlists. There’s a constant flux of music at all times, so our influences are so varied because of that.”

Across the process of sharing the singles from the album, the band have gained a bit of attention for their eccentric music videos. George does all the artwork for the band and has written the videos. So far, they’ve embraced their inner hippies for ‘English Weather’, played intergalactic detectives and then partied with aliens in ‘Outer Rim’, made a crossover between Monty Python and Robin Hood for ‘Petty Thieving’ and turned into kettle-wielding country-western stars for ‘Ad Blue’, the latter being George’s favourite to work on so far.

“‘Ad Blue’ was the first video where it felt like a proper thing. We went to a make-shift town in Kent that was a model village. The town is a member’s club where they dress up for the weekend and put their phones away and live in the village and do cowboy stuff. It was a full working set with costumes and everything, it was quite surreal and certainly an experience for us.”

He has grand ambitions to try and create a music video underwater, and without spilling too many secrets he hinted it could be something along the lines of The Little Mermaid. Working on the visuals gives George another way to channel his creativity through the band and use the skills he picked up at uni. “Visuals are one of the most important things. It’s a bit like an art project for me. Each of us has their own distinct character so that's always really great to play with. It's a bit strange trying to do a project with your mates, It feels like a bit of school work, but we absolutely love it.”

Their peculiar videos, narrative-like lyrics and wild live shows all capture distinct aspects of FEET, all of which play an essential part of the story of their debut album and its immersive listening experience for fans. “I hope people go into it open-minded or it's not just taken on face value. The album captures who we are as a band and we want everyone to enjoy it with us. I don't want to shove anything down anyone's throats or ask them to think in a certain way. I think it's just trying to give them something that's a bit more left-field, something that they can make their own mind up on.”

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

What's Inside is More Than Just Ham will be released tomorrow (October 4th). You can check out their recent single and video for 'Dog Walking' below:

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