Feedtime on the reunion, intensity, and future plans
Often celebrated as one of the unsung legends of the '80s, Feedtime's music coupled the propulsive grit of American hardcore with standard blues traditions. Their material was so uncompromising and raw that, even after two decades, the songs still sound just as engaging as ever.
And after disbanding 22 years ago, the Australian-bred noisemakers are back on a tour which coincides with the Sub Pop-sponsored release of The Aberrant Years -- a four disc box set containing Feedtime's body of work from 1978-1989. Gimme Noise caught up with bassist Allen Larkin to talk about being back on stage, feedtime's breakup and potential plans for the future.
Were you ambivalent before you guys officially decided to tour or was this something you've wanted to do for a while?
No, there's been a series of events happening in the last couple years involving various people. And then just before Christmas last year we got an email from Scott Sirano from S.S records and he was having a 10-year birthday celebration and he particularly liked us as a band and asked us to play at his party. We hadn't really had that much contact with each other and we'd all been doing other things and we're all in a head space where we're like 'hey, okay this might be a bit of a hoot,' so we got together and flew over and did the show and it was quite good.
And while this was happening Sub Pop was in the background and were ready to re-master and re-release all the stuff from the 80's. They set a release date for March and suggested we come out and do a few shows, you know, when they release the box set and we thought that could be good.
We enjoyed San Francisco and thought we'd do a few more shows and a few more cities and so far it's been really, really fantastic.
Your songs can be so heated and intense. Did you find it difficult to recreate that during a live performance after all these years?
Yeah, before we did that show in San Francisco in May last year, when we agreed to do it, that was probably my greatest feat. We played pretty physically. I thought that might be difficult. It's still difficult, but I think the intensity is there but I think that's the nature of the band. We just get the feel and the groove happening that was there in the 80s and I think we re-create that now. And according to reports to people who had seen us back then and see us now during the couple shows that we have done, they seem to all agree that we can create that which is pretty special.
Where did that aggression originally come from?
I don't know if it's aggression, but there's an intensity that comes from trying to create a rhythm or a groove that has got feeling. I think it's not so much aggression as it is passion and since we play with a certain intensity it can be seen as aggression but I don't think it's necessarily that. It's loud and it's uncompromising and its joining passion with aggression.
Do you think you guys will be playing for a while now?
Really it's just one thing at a time. We're enjoying playing together and spending time together. We're happily playing now, we're enjoying what we're doing and we're just going to see how things go. We all have other jobs and families so its not the main and only thing in our lives but its certainly something that's close to our heart and we absolutely enjoy it and enjoy presenting it and enjoy getting a reaction. No big plans, but we're not really saying no to anything, we're just taking it as it comes.
You guys have managed to retain a bit of a following. Have you been surprised at all by the reaction from fans?
Absolutely blown away. We just feel so humbled by the fact that Subpop felt that what we did years ago was still valid and important and worthy of being re-released. It's amazingly gratifying. We were unaware of, especially in America, the impact we had on some people over here. Of course in Australia we struggled to get any strict press or support, so very surprised but very flattered. Also, there are so many younger people who have never seen us before and come up to us and tell us 'hey, that show was awesome. I've never heard of you.'
That has to be reassuring to know that you can still connect with a younger audience.
Absolutely. It seems that what we do and how we do it is still relevant to some people now.
Why did Feedtime originally break up?
There were a lot of emotional and psychological issues going on. Basically, we needed a change from where we were and Johnson, well he had a breakdown. So it was really a lot of stress and pressure. There were certain personality issues, not only within the band but outside of the band. And nothing was happening anyway. We weren't famous in Sydney and we weren't aware of the kind of following we had in [America]. We didn't feel totally control of where we were.
I know you said you're taking everything one step at a time, but can you see yourself writing new material in the near future?
Yeah, Rick and I both had new ideas, new songs. We're actually doing a recording in New Jersey, when we're over there. We'll probably try a couple new ideas we got, which is usually the way we wrote songs. We might start with a riff, might start with a phrase. And then we just jam and something would click or not click and try to forget it if it wasn't going anywhere. Rick has presented some ideas for music and I probably got three or four riffs and lyrics bubbling around in my head.
Feedtime. With Condominium. $15, 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24 at Grumpy's Bar & Grill, 1111 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis.