This weekend sees the 15th anniversary of Echo Park, the third album by Welsh rock legends Feeder.
The band had existed for almost a decade before the album’s release, peddling a grungier sound with roots in a Smashing Pumpkins influence, but never really picked up a following outside of a hardcore cult group.
But a move to a more influential sound saw their star rise meteorically, and by the mid-00s the band were regularly playing arena shows.
15 years on, we take a look back at some surprising facts around the album you (probably) didn’t know.
1. Grant Nicholas didn’t think Buck Rogers would be a hit
Speaking to Kerrang! in 2008, the frontman said:
“If I put my hand on my heart, I was just trying to write a song that sounded like the Pixies. The end result was a bit poppy, a bit throwaway.
“I thought it would be a B-side at best; the label went berserk for it though. I actually re-wrote it and changed all the words but Gil Norton, our producer, made me stick with the original.”
2. “Drink cider from a lemon” doesn’t really mean anything
“I was just being stupid. It was fun! If I’d have known people would still be asking about it, I definitely would have changed it. We’ve written so many better ones and that one’s the hit.
“It’s not the deepest song I’ve ever written but there’s nothing better than standing in front of a big festival crowd and seeing the reaction.”
3. The track was a number one hit
At least in South Africa. Over on home soil, it still managed a respectable No. 5, and continues to be one of the band’s best known tracks to this day.
4. The album saved the band from break-up
Before the success off Echo Park (the album debuted at number five on the UK Album Chart) Feeder were in danger of splitting up if their next record didn’t sell well.
The band had been active from 1992, releasing the Swim EP in 1996 and the Polythene album in 1997 (both heavily influenced by the Smashing Pumpkins), as well as Yesterday Went Too Soon in 1999. Despite a loyal cult fan base, however, they were looking to call it a day should Echo Park not sell well.
Thankfully it did, and the band remain to this day – having released a further five records.
5. It was the last album recorded with original drummer Jon Lee
Jon Lee tragically committed suicide about a year after the album’s release in 2002, meaning Echo Park was the last record Feeder recorded in their original line-up.
Lee’s death led to the band keeping out of the public eye for the better part of a year. When they returned with fourth album Comfort In Sound, they’d taken on a more somber tone to reflect their dealings with the loss of a band mate and friend.
6. The video for ‘Just A Day’ was the first of its kind
While not included on initial pressings of the album (it was more of a standalone single), ‘Just A Day’ now comes packaged with it, and is considered an integral part of the same era.
Its video features a montage of fan clips, something that hadn’t really been done before.
Nicholas told Kerrang!:
“No one had really done that before but there have been loads of videos since then that have copied the idea. We thought it was a bit of a gamble-we couldn’t work out whether it was brilliant or completely crap at first.”
7. It’s an album of light and shade
Despite the band moving to a more commercial sound after their previous efforts, there is still a vast amount of darkness hidden among the lyrics.
Songs like ‘Seven Days in the Sun’ are almost comical in their stories of seasonal getaways, while others like ‘Turn’ talk of regrets and wanting to change the past.
8. It was put together by a veritable super-producer
As well as self-producing a lot of the record, production duties were also handled by long term Feeder knob twiddler Gil Norton, who has worked with everyone from Pixies to Echo & the Bunnymen, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, The Distillers, Maxïmo Park, James, and Twin Atlantic.
9. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing
Nicholas said that there were periods of time in which there was friction between Norton and the band, but despite the occasional arguments, they remained good friends, and continued to work together on the next two studio albums.
10. The video for ‘Seven Days In The Sun’ is a bit weird
Perhaps to tie in with the song’s comical pretense, the video shows the band on a beach in South Africa, where they attempt to implement various methods of reeling in some girls, including swapping passports in exchange for bicycles, and dressing up in drag.
11. It was mastered by a rock legend
Bob Ludwig might not be a name familiar to many music fans, but when you consider he’s worked on mastering projects for artists such as Led Zeppelin, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, The Police, Paul McCartney, Nirvana, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, and Daft Punk, you realise the band were working with a real behind-the-scenes legend.
12. It was Feeder’s first step into electronic music
True, they never went full electronica, but Echo Park was the moment the band began to experiment with electronic sounds and Moog synthesizers.
13. The band considered some tracks on the album ‘experimental’
Particularly opening track ‘Standing On The Edge’, which was created almost entirely electronically, something the band had never tried before.
14. And that’s engineer Matt Sime you can hear at the beginning
“Where’s this bit?” “No, we’re in the wrong bit.”
15. It was all rather successful
In a way that no modern day rock band would be able to replicate. Perhaps a sign of changing attitudes towards alternative music, not only did the album land at number five on the UK Albums Chart, it also gave the band three consecutive Top 30 singles.