Interview with Mark Richardson (Feeder)

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Features - Interviews

Freeq catches up with Mark Richardson, drummer for rock giants Feeder for a lovely chat on drums, the music industry and his successful career with Feeder, Skunk Anansie and other bands.

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What inspired you to play the drums? 

I was so young I don't even remember starting. My grandma bought me a tin drum for my 3rd birthday in '73 and that was it, I was hooked. My first kit I received as a Christmas present in 1976! I remember playing along to a lot of my dads records, Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle, Abba, Neil Diamond, Showaddywaddy and that was when I made the connection that people played drums for a living. My first inspirations came from my sisters record collection which was full of the Clash, Led Zep, Black Sabbath, the Police, the Who and Deep Purple. 

What was your first real break in the industry and how did it come about?

When I moved to Scarborough from Whitby in '86 I got wind of this band 'Mr Thrud' who were the hottest thing on the Yorkshire scene and were from Scarborough. I made a beeline for their gigs and eventually, after a show one night to just start helping them load their gear. We got talking and started helping them out regularly. That band became Little Angels and in '88 they signed to Polydor and disappeared to London. They didn't keep me on but I heard through the grapevine that Dave Hopper (the original drummer) had been replaced with Michael Lee. I went down to London for the auditions but was told that I was too green and didn't get the job. Then a few years later Michael Lee was sacked for auditioning for the Cult behind the Angels backs and I was asked to go to London to sit in for them while they found a new guy. They had a TV show to play which turned out to be Jim'll Fix It (an old 'dream comes true' BBC programme hosted by Jimmy Saville). The next day I stood in for them again in the studio but little did I know they were testing me. It just didn't click until the evening of 19th December '91, the manager came over to me with a brown envelope and said 'welcome to the band, here's your first wage packet'. I was on the ceiling for months... literally. 

What advice would you give to someone starting out as a musician?

The reason I got the call to come to London to stand in for the Angels was because, I was more brazen and worked harder than the next man (for nothing) at the start and made sure I got numbers so I could keep in touch. Then when I got my break I was prepared to sacrifice more than anyone else. There will always be someone willing to work harder, go further, do more for less than you, so if you keep that in mind and never stop trying you stand a good chance of meeting like minded people and going places.

Tell us about Drumfest…

I pulled out due to Feeder commitments but I've done clinics before and they're full of amazing technicians. My motive for doing them though is to get to the kids in the audience that may well be put of by the technical wizardry of most clinicians. I go on stage and play along to Skunk and Feeder records. My motivation to do these events is to tell the kids that if I can do it, so can they. It's a chance for me to give something back.  

The current Feeder album is ‘rockier’ than the previous one – a throwback to much earlier albums. How much of that is your influence? (as we know you like the heavier stuff!)

None of it is my influence, Grant writes, arranges, co-produces all the music so I get very little artistic input which is frustrating but that is just the way it works in this band. With Skunk, most of the songs were written by all four of us in a room jamming out ideas, but this is Feeder and it works in a different way.

You’re on tour with Feeder at the moment, what’s a typical day like for you?

For me, I wake up on the bus quite late due to the previous nights late night, walk round town, grab a coffee, read a book/go to a museum/go for lunch, do some interviews maybe, sound check, dinner, catch up with friends and family at the show, play the gig, hang for a bit with the liggers, get on the bus and watch a movie/latest funny series (last tour it was all 5 series of Peep Show) then bed. I leave the rest to the rest.

Do you have any touring horror stories from days gone by?

The worst part of touring for me is always the US/Canadian border. Whenever a band goes through, they always strip the bus and even if you're guilt free they will still make you feel like you're going to jail! Two Skunk crew got deported from there for having... er... Skunk. An old drum tech ran through Dover early one morning joking about taking smack and we were then held for four hours while they checked us out. He never worked for me again. Having a pregnant wife at home just about to give birth isn't much fun either. But generally it's an amazing way to live and earn a living.

You appeared in the movie Souled Out due for release in Aug 2009, how was that experience?

It's a blink and you'll miss it part but it was fun when I was acting. I was in Stoke for a week and did two hours of filming! There were severe budget restrictions on the movie and the schedule was changed everyday to make the best of things. In the end my other scene was moved outside of my week there and I just couldn't give them anymore time. Shimmy (Marcus) directed 'Headrush' before this and is a great guy to work with as were the rest of the cast. Really good fun.

What does the future hold for Mark Richardson?

Well, there will be another Feeder record sooner than you think, then I have new tracks to write with Skunk Anansie for the 'Best Of...' later next year followed by a tour and then who knows? More movies? I don't know what the future holds but I feel incredibly fortunate to still be drumming 17 years after I first turned pro and to have the next two years, at least, panned out. When it's over it's over, I have felt that acceptance for a long time and to that end the biggest crime would be to not enjoy myself along the way.

Are you still following Leeds United?

Oh yes, for better or worse. We'll go up to the Championship next season for sure and then we'll hopefully go back up to the Premiership. It's been a tough few years but it was the only way we were going to get rid of the debt. A slow build back to the top is the only way. The sad thing is I think a lot of other clubs will go the same way if the current global financial crisis has her wicked way. Hopefully we'll be playing Newcastle and Tottenham next season! 

Anything else you’d like to talk about?

I would like to say thank you to all the fans who keep on coming to the shows, buying the records and talking about us online, you're our heartbeat.