The OC. Oh, how we used to fawn over their sunny side escapades and awkward but highly entertaining love triangles, fraught with brooding teen angst and terrifyingly alluring mother figures [in some cases too much, Luke!] But not all of Orange County’s youths are hanging down at the Bait Shop to catch The Walkmen on stage, some of them are working hard to make their own sounds…and in a genre far, far removed from commercial indie rock.
Feeding People are one such band…not least because the Orange County quintet are barely at drinking age to be let into the vicinty. Yet despite their lack of years, the sound that resonates from the group’s latest release and sophomore record, Island Universe, is one of beguiling beauty and we for one, are keen to unlock the mysteries behind it. We catch up with Jessie and Louis of the band to talk hair raising psychedelia, the 90s San Diego noise rock scene and headlining over Thom Yorke.
The Girls Are: Feeding People is founded and headed by lead singer, Jessie Jones but how did you guys all get together?
Louis: It’s a long twisted story…The same way everyone else meets each other; circumstance, good luck, bad luck, random decision making, fate.
Jessie: We met at a homeless shelter.
TGA: Your track ‘Big Mother’ [and incidentally, a TGA favourite] was featured in the soundtrack of FX’s drama series, American Horror Story; are you big fans of the show? Has this new wave of ghost enthusiasts brought you any new dark followers?
Louis: We’ve only seen that episode! When it aired no one had heard of the show but now I hear it is some cult sensation? Is that right? [laughs]
Jessie: We don’t watch TV, so can’t say we are big fans! Yes, we have noticed a large growth in our satanic teenager demographic.
Bands like Jefferson Airplane and Sabbath are often referenced as sharing similar psychedelia sounds but what bands inspired you initially when forming Feeding People?
Louis: To be honest, we never talked about it or really thought about it. There was a small noise rock scene in San Diego in the late 90’s that really inspired me. Bands like The Locust, Le Shok, Dystopia, Charles Bronson, Holy Molar. I used to go see these bands almost every weekend and they had the most unforgiving and uncompromising sound and at the same had catchy song writing. Those bands influenced me at a young age.
Jessie: I’d say bands like The Beatles, The Kinks, Bob Marley, The Doors, Nirvana…
TGA: ‘Island Universe’ is your second full length release which was recorded by two rather distinctive producers – Hanni El Khatib, known for his electroshocking blues, and Jonny Bell of Crystal Antlers; how did this collaboration come about?
Louis: My first real introduction to psychedelia was through Crystal Antlers who, in my opinion, are one of the best California bands of all time. They were playing a passionate hair raising brand of psychedelic rock way before any band around circa 2004 and have subsequently been ripped off at an appalling level with little credit given when due. We owe a lot of our sound to them and we love them. They are the real deal. Khatib had been a fan of ours early on and a great supporter of us. His knowledge of classic instruments and amps added a unique spin on what we were trying to do. We had heard about “Jazz Cats”, Johnny’s new studio, for a while and when Hanni came to us with the idea of recording there, it was a very simple decision. We love Johnny El Khatib!
Jessie: Mr. Khatib and Mr. Bell are closely knit into the circle of artists we play with. Khatib is a label mate so naturally he was involved and Bell has always been supportive so when he built his studio we leaped at the chance to record with him. We admire Johnny’s song writing, and Hanni’s style!
TGA: We read that when recording your debut LP Peace, Victory & The Devil in a walk in closet and mic stands made of broom handles taped to fire extinguishers. How did the recording of Island Universe differ from this
Louis: The recording of Island Universe was our first album ever in a real studio. I think the studio atmosphere took us aback a little. It wasn’t what we were used to and some aspects of recording in a studio are way more convenient than recording in a closet and some aspects of recording at home are obviously more convenient, such as having no time restraints. The clarity of sound we got from our new record wouldn’t have been possible at home and some of the new songs called for a more produced approached.
Jessie: For Island Universe, all the equipment wasn’t broken so it was a totally different experience!
TGA: After playing only a couple shows, you became the second band ever invited to play storied electronic music club Low End Theory in California, where you shared the stage with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. Was this daunting for you to play as part of such a radically different genre? How did the crowd respond to Feeding People?
Louis: [laughs] No, it wasn’t daunting. I think we were too naive to be nervous. The crowd didn’t really seem to care about us after seeing Thom Yorke. He was a hard act to follow but funnily enough, I thanked Thom Yorke for opening up for us. I just had to!
Jessie: Seeing that Yorke is most known for playing music in Radiohead, it was fitting for us to play after his electronic debut. At Low End, everyone was into listening to his new music so crossing into even weirder territories with us was okay with them too.
TGA: What are the future plans for Feeding People? Are there any tour dates in the pipeline [particularly overseas!]
Louis-We are playing three Dates with King Khan and the BBQ show in April which we are excited about. We’d love to come overseas but as of yet haven’t been approached about it.
Jessie- Future plans are too far away to plan..
TGA: Can you describe Feeding People in five words?
Jessie-Five Best Friends Four Ever.
Louis- Can I borrow a pick?
Island Universe is available now from Innovative Leisure.