Feet are gathered around a table in a pub garden. It’s a comfortable home for the five-piece, who’ve come to embody that fresh injection of fun and mischief needed right now (don’t know if you’ve looked out the window lately, but the world ain’t doing too good). Instead of tearing the place up though and adding another boozer to their barred list (there are a few), today there’s a different atmosphere. “I’ve just realised,” chimes in guitarist Callum, “we need a picture of it, so the guy knows what to tattoo…”
You’ve heard of blood pacts, right? Well, Feet are primed and ready for one of an ink-based nature. With a debut album together, it’s an appropriate time for a shared tat to truly bond things – the large logo for their own Clapped Records, a definite choice the tattooist won’t have seen before. “How big do we want it?” calls bassist Oli, briskly walking out of the pub as his turn beckons.
The band look around. “THIS?” comes the response from Harry, holding up an almost empty bottle of water and pointing to the bottom. It looks like that’s decided.
It’s rare when a band can come along and draw everyone into their bonkers world, but Feet are doing just that. A combination of feel-good twists, punchy raw energy and spinning laugh out loud brilliance has them apart from any new band doing it right now, firmly embracing the moment. “It feels like…” contemplates frontman George, “every time we get near to one of those milestone moments we’re like ‘FUCK FUCK’. You’re thinking, have we done everything to be at this point? I mean, I think we’ve done everything for the album, but I’m not sure…
“We cause a lot of problems for ourselves, but they kinda work themselves out!”
Happy accidents and jumping on every opportunity around them, it’s all led to ‘What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham’ – a fitting first statement of intent that’s packed with ridiculous moments. A jukebox of different styles and cracking jokes, unstoppable in its sheer infectious swagger, it’s like the ultimate box of Celebrations. “There’s no formula to what we do,” cracks Callum. “Like, we’re not a punk band, and it would be impossible for us to simply be a band who do one genre only, because we don’t just listen to that. We try things out as they come, and that definitely has spawned the sound of the album.”
“We wanted to set up the first album so that from this point on, we can do anything,” continues George. “We can do what we like… I mean, we kinda do that anyway as you can tell. It sets a precedent though, we can go from a trippy or psychedelic track to one that’s a pretty straight guitar track. They sit next to each other, and it means we can kinda get away with it.”
The title itself has caught the eye of a few. Fan reactions at Truck Festival earlier this year included a couple of folk coming up to ask, ‘What’s it all about lads, fucking meat or something?’ (“Half right,” jokes Callum). From Coventry, farms and a holiday park in Portsmouth to being minutes away from the needle, Feet have more stories and laughs than many witness in their entire life. As another round rings out after recalling frontman George’s ‘Things I Want To Steal’ playlist (look out for the Hot Chocolate hooks soon), he makes a point.
“I like to think we take making the record really seriously,” he explains, “but the music is not really serious, if you know what I mean?”
The story of Feet isn’t that typical tale of growing up as childhood mates and knowing exactly what they wanted to do from the get-go. First meeting in Coventry when they all gathered for University, they quickly found each other amid a wider town where music wasn’t particularly at the front of people’s minds. “Thing is in Coventry, being a musician is like ‘oh my god’,” details Callum. “If you like music and actually leave the house, people will know who you are. Every band and artist were aware of every other band or artist – there wasn’t many. There was no scene, there were the students who did music, and that was it.”
“After three or four weeks of knowing each other, Oli and George stayed up at mine for about twelve hours putting away beer and recording our first track with a microphone in a shoe,” recalls Harry. “I have a picture somewhere of George in this little cubby I had under the stairs, which was about two feet tall, packed in with pillows and suitcases. George was in there for about two hours with this microphone recording for a track that’s never seen the light of day.”
Hanging out together, they turned heads when compared to everyone else. “We get so much shit on the street or about,” laughs George.
Harry picks up, on a roll. “Right, the amount of places we’d walk into in Coventry and people would be like ‘hey, these guys look like they’re from the 70s – what do they look like?’ We were like, ‘well, what the fuck do you look like? You look like everyone else in here – fuck off with your trainers and tracksuits!'”
It bonded Feet even more. There were the failed attempts at launching a club night (“It was called ‘Party Or Die’,” explains George, “which we advertised by standing outside our Student Union with a boombox playing Beastie Boys and some Lidl cream liquor shots – we eventually got told to fuck off”), but Feet were started on their course. When ‘Petty Thieving’ dropped, things escalated. “We’d get messages from managers as we’re travelling to work,” remembers Harry. “I looked at one once. I thought I might as well walk back to the car and drive away from this job because this job is shit, and that sounds better.”
Feet are the first to admit how far they’ve come in the years since. Touring across the UK with Declan McKenna, making their mark at festivals in kimonos, wigs, masks (the list goes on) – it’s been a honing process on how best to channel the carefree spirit they’ve fostered since the beginning. Enter: a farm near Little Staunton in Bedfordshire and the sort of wild summer that could only produce ‘What’s Inside Is More Than Ham’. “Don’t ask the council about us…” slips George. “Or their sign…”
Living in a caravan next to a grain store during one of the hottest summers in recent memory, things continued to escalate in the usual Feet manner. One final party on the last night nearly put pay to any goodwill they’d built up in the months previous – keeping things secret proving slightly trickier than they hoped. “It was a fancy dress theme, and before everyone arrived the farmers knocked on the door of the barn,” remembers Callum. “Oli opened it and was dressed like Willy Wonka. They were like ‘oh, are you having some sort of party?’ and Oli was like ‘Naah’ – just dressed there as Willy Wonka.”
A night full of streamed YouTube boxing matches, smashed bottles and Jaws, Jaws 2, Jaws 3 later – the morning after saw the band quickly tidying up and departing. “The next day I shit you not,” lays out Callum, “the farmers went around in a pickup truck and drove past us slowly – with a fucking rifle.”
Songs emerged from the sessions, but a second jaunt down to Portsmouth was where the ham met the plate. Solent Breezes Holiday Park to be precise (“It’s where oldies go to live out their days,” explains Callum). There for two months, and with new drummer Ben (who previously was seen knocking about with risers Dead Pretties), the impact was immediate. “That was a transitional moment for us,” notes Callum.
“Yeah, his impact has been huge,” picks up George. “We pretty much rewrote the songs and recorded them with Ben, and they sound the way they do because of him. Not just because of his drumming and the way he plays, there’s just an ease he brings to the writing process. He came in at the right time, and that’s nothing against our old drummer.”
“It was pretty much catch-up time when we lived in Portsmouth,” admits Harry. “Doing the work we should have done at the barn before!”
The results speak volumes. ‘What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham’ is filled with the sort of joyously fun and instinctive hooks that will have venues and discos shaking. A frenzy of hip-shaking anthems, it’s impossible to take one listen and walk away – from the bubbling singalong swoons of ‘Ad Blue’ and tongue-in-cheek crack of ‘Dog Walking’ and ‘Axe Man’ to the epic jumps in ‘Good Richard’s Crash Landing’, the title-track itself (the inside look at a hot dog’s life we all needed) and the back-n-forth of ‘Chalet 47’ – there’s simply no stopping Feet and their uncontrollable box of ideas.
“Whatever we listen to at the time, and we all listen to different things, in our individual parts we just chew it up and spit it out,” points out Harry. “The collaboration of those all make up the music.”
“We don’t want to be one of those bands who do an album, waits a couple of years and then takes another three to release it,” lays out Callum. “We want to be spitting them out.”
Til then, attention turns to sorting out what comes their way. In this instance, there’s that small matter of dashing off to the tattoo parlour, the cracked laughs continuing even in the face of it all. The burly owner standing guard with an equally burly dog, before wandering up to find Oli and Ben already tatted up. “Can I have a go on that?” George asks (for legal reasons we won’t say what happens next). Yet what rings through is that bond, of a band up for having the best of times with the sort of LP that drives them apart from the rest – from every ridiculous experience to the next.
“I see different lanes,” notes George. “There’s the recording aspect and making albums in one lane. The touring aspect is one lane, I mean it’s such a big thing for a band anyway – you can’t be a popular band if you’re not good live, so that’s another lane clearly. But it all feeds back.”
He catches himself before letting out a smile. “I think… firming ourselves on the gravy train a little bit and then just ride that boy all the wayyy.”
Harry dives in – “we’ll give it some petrol money!”
Wherever Feet are going, count us in. Petrol money and all, there’s no predicting what on earth they’ll be up to next.
Taken from the November issue of Dork. Feet’s debut album ‘What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham’ is out now.
Words: Jamie Muir