FELIX HAGAN & THE FAMILY
“I’m trembling with naked aggression, compounded by delusions of might.”
Felix Hagan and the Family may create catchy, almost theatrical pop-rock but their lyrics are far from the clunky lines of their counterparts. Instead of cheap rhymes and odes to girls in leather, Hagan uses black comedy, vivid imagery and unashamedly poetic verse to put lyrical substance into a very visual performance.
Front-man Felix Hagan and guitarist Tom Webber talk dark lyrics, happy outlooks and theatrical performance.
Felix Hagan is as confident and flamboyant as you would imagine a man who describes himself at one gig as ‘sow-eared in makeup and stupid trousers’ with a huge grin on his face. The first ten minutes of the interview are spent discussing Edinburgh Fringe Festivals past and the band’s unsuccessful trips every year.
Despite Hagan’s eccentricity and penchant for the dramatic he remains kind, as demonstrated with an anecdote regarding a flyerer down on their luck is accompanied with outstretched hands, a hanging head and a desperately woeful tone, “I don’t like speaking ill of people’s creative endeavours because at the end of the day, we’re all in this together.” This is discussing a show that received reviews including “What would be a mundane but pleasant enough performance is something that’s rather tiring” and other 'hypes'. Felix is not a despiteful frontman.
The final line-up of his seven-piece band, a favourite of Frank Turner, has been together for just under a year. The polished nature of their performance however, lends itself to a much older group, a group who rehearse more than The Family’s sporadic and scanty practices: “I can’t remember the last time we rehearsed... when we do, the girls practice their dance routine and we just work on making it sound ‘big’.” According to Tom, a reserved figure with a blonde polished look and quick humour, “notes are never a problem.”
The band came together through various channels but began when Felix and Tom met at the University of Liverpool where they both studied music. In a rare display of male, platonic sentimentality, Tom talks of his pride in Felix completing his degree; “I didn’t think he’d finish... when he did I was so proud. And then the bastard had to go and get a First... mostly due to me.” Whilst student lifestyles are often associated with excessive drinking and unhealthy attitudes, Felix’s time in Liverpool became a little too “weird and wonderful”; "It all got a bit silly and I ended up having to be rather expensively ‘dried out’ in a cosy little rehab clinic in Hampshire.” Paradoxically, considering their sombre lyrical tone, Hagan and his Family are “surprisingly positive.” The cynical nature of songs like ‘Poser Boy’ on their EP ‘String Up the Entertainer’, aimed at “those terrible people who you just can’t pin down why they’re terrible but they just are,” is atypical to their real-life character. “There is a very pleasant pervading air of happiness when we get together. It's like we're the cast of a show. There's this real sense of camaraderie and shared purpose which makes everything we do very rewarding in itself.”
This sunny outlook has coloured not only their extrovert stage presence but also Felix’s attitude to his ‘overhaul’; “All the weird and wonderful things that happened would be too harrowing to put into lyrics so instead I have this imaginary world where I can make them into fables and stories. I can paint them in certain ways, insert characters and finish them with this illusion and metaphor, which believe me was not there at the time.”
This marriage of dark times and unstoppable imagination has created a “mile-wide theatrical streak”, according to Radio 1 favourite Frank Turner who has promoted the band endlessly and asked them to support his Hatfield Forum concert in August. Frank’s support has increased their audience by almost double, but it is undeniable that it is their skill and stage presence that make their fans loyal.
Friend and Tankus the Henge frontman Jaz Delorean once told The Family that “a deaf person should be able to come to our shows and enjoy it just as much.” That they took this to heart is obvious; when on stage Felix, Ellie and Tash, who all have links with theatre, create a performance that is as visually engaging as it is musically brilliant with endless energy and a femme fatale accompaniment to Felix’s ringmaster flamboyance.
The band has released their EP ‘String Up the Entertainer’, signed to Debt Records and are constantly playing throughout the UK.