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— by James Montgomery

There was a time, roughly a decade ago, when the rock landscape was dominated by aggro-rock behemoths in backwards baseball caps and baggy pants. With their drop-D tunings and pro-"Nookie" leanings, they stomped and spat for a brief period, and when they finally exited, left a path of destruction in their wake, be the damage physical (see Woodstock '99) or mental (see goofball beatboxing, the Family Values tour).

And for the super-nice guys in the Feeling, that era probably couldn't have ended fast enough — because they were undoubtedly tired of having their lunch money stolen.

London's so-called 'soft-rock archeologists' honed their skills by playing gigs in the Swiss Alps, of all places. Will Americans soon be feeling the Feeling?


"We're all in music because it makes us smile, and I make music that puts a smile on my face. Everyone wants to do that," frontman Dan Gillespie laughed. "I think the world is a miserable place sometimes, and it's nice to have music that is uplifting and takes you somewhere else. That's the kind of music I love."

"I think maybe something happened with school [lunches] between when we went to school and the generation after us," guitarist Kevin Jeremiah added. "I think maybe there's some chemicals in the school [lunches] that make kids angry, so all these kids are coming up in bands just being angry. Maybe we just slipped through and didn't eat those meals."

Make no mistake, the Feeling are soft rock to the core, and incredibly proud of it. Formed at Croydon College in London more than a decade ago, the group — which also features bassist Richard Jones, Kevin's brother Ciaran on keyboards and drummer Paul Stewart #&8212; honed its act as a covers band at ski resorts in the Swiss Alps and proudly namecheck Supertramp, Steely Dan and ELO as key influences.

"We're not ashamed of any of it. We've all got huge record collections and it's everything from Cole Porter to Madonna to ABBA, all kinds of different influences all over the place," Gillespie said. "Some of them are quite surprising but I think it's important to keep listening to great songs, no matter where they come from. ... We don't want to look cool. We don't care if we come across a bit stupid, because everyone wants to look cool."

And that's a good thing, because the songs on their debut album, Twelve Stops and Home, (due in September) are anything but. The first single, "Sewn," rocks a gently strummed guitar line and jaunty piano, and "Never Be Lonely" is a deadringer for Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." It's epic, swooning pop music that belies its humble roots (they recorded most of the album in a shed in Sussex), and it's already struck a chord with record buyers in the U.K. — Twelve Stops debuted at #2 on the album charts there, ahead of acts like Paul Simon and Primal Scream — and now they're aiming to win over soft-rockin' fans here in the States.

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"I don't think anyone really knows who we're supposed to be appealing to, and it's quite interesting because there's loads of teenage girls and then loads of football lads, you know, who are a bit more boozy and singing along," Gillespie said. "Lots of really kind of trendy kids as well. Considering we never really see ourselves as part of any kind of trend, it's strange to see the young trendy kids that come to shows. And now in America, who knows who'll be into us, or who we'll be playing for."

"Who knows," Jones snickered. "Maybe we'll open for Slipknot."


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