Haphazard West Midlands band FEET don’t do things by halves. A glance at their Youtube account reveals music videos featuring alien abductions, cowboys armed with kettles, and rainbow-coloured parasols. Beyond that, hours of footage of boozy nights out and general mischief dubbed ‘FEET TV’ litters their online presence. As the band enter today’s East London record store meeting place, meanwhile, offers of coffees are quickly disregarded in favour of something stronger: “They’ll want alcohol,” their accompanying pal nods sagely as we put away the mugs.
Formed at Coventry University, the band initially bonded over the music society that they “ran into the ground” there. Counting The Kinks, Parquet Courts and The Stone Roses among their influences, they’re adamant that the Britpop-revivalist tag they’ve been lumped with is “bullshit”; more of note is their chameleon-like tendencies. Seeming to change their skin with every new track, they don’t give each other an inch of space on songs like the admittedly Blur-esque ‘English Weather’ and wonky, stop-start single ‘Petty Thieving’. Each is its own wild nugget, complete with a more-often-than-not equally odd back story (more on that later…).
Cracking open a round of brightly coloured tinnies, it emerges that FEET have a long and troubled history - in the minds of former neighbours, at least. The band first upended from Coventry to a barnyard in Bedfordshire in 2016, which amounted to a less-than-fruitful season of songwriting. “We wrote about two songs in two months,” notes handlebar mustachioed lead singer George Haverson. “It was during a heat wave, so we just sat outside drinking Carling most of the time.” Guitarist Callum Parker, also sporting some striking facial hair, pipes up: “There was an incident with a quad bike and some combine harvesters…”
The quintet - completed by guitarist Harry Southerton, bassist Oli Shasha and drummer Ben Firth (formerly of Dead Pretties) - then moved onto a retirement village near Portsmouth shortly after, where, perhaps unsurprisingly, “everyone was really old,” says Harry. “Nobody liked us because we were really loud. Everyone was telling us we were disrespectful and ruining their community,” adds Callum. “I’m sure we were talked about at a lot of book clubs.”
“If every show was like Saturday Night Fever, I'd be really happy."
— George Haverson
Even their first show was like something out of a Young Ones episode. “It was an absolute shambles,” recalls George. “It was a charity acoustic show, and we covered ‘Under The Bridge’. Someone was playing a cajón [a sort of percussive musical box]. We were asked to leave before it was finished because we’d built this tower of beers that fell over during the headliner’s set.”
Despite being scouted by Felix White’s Yala! Records and taking their particular strain of mayhem up and down the country and further into the bosom of the music industry, the band’s reputation for vibrant live sets shows no sign of letting up any time soon - and they’ve got big ideas about where to take things in the future, too. With dance routines already an integral part of the show, FEET are looking to the “theatre element” of artists like OG firestarter Alice Cooper and, er, Earth, Wind and Fire to guide them. “Ozzy Osbourne paid someone to fire a dwarf out of a cannon in the 1980s,” says George. “I think we’d definitely aspire to be able to do something like that - as long as we had the dwarf’s consent,” he caveats.
“We’re going to make a fool out of ourselves one way or another when we play live,” Callum shrugs, referring back to a recent show where the neck of his guitar snapped after he threw it at someone. “I just want people to come and dance,” continues George. “If every show was like Saturday Night Fever, I’d be really happy.”
And if you think their dancefloor-favouring influences are a little out there, then FEET have only just begun. On insanely-titled forthcoming debut album ‘What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham’, the stories - somehow (!) - get even more colourful. “It’s a love story told from the point of view of a hot dog,” explains George of the title track. Obviously. Jagged indie bop ‘Ad Blue’, meanwhile, refers to the time Oli accidentally put diesel engine coolant in the kettle, while ‘Axe Man’ is about the time Callum found out his house had been robbed when he popped home to cook a frozen pizza on the way to the pub.
With their set sights on eventually cracking America, Australia and Japan (lord knows what they’ll make of them), FEET are suitably excited about the potential of adding any new adventures to their gaggle of stories. “That’s why we started a band, I guess,” says Harry. “To feel like we’re on holiday more often”. Pack your suitcases, it’s gonna be a wild ride.
As featured in the September 2019 issue of DIY, out now.