FOLLOWING a hugely successful 2016, which saw them achieve their 7th top 10 album, play a rapturous sold out UK tour and a host of festivals, 2018 sees Welsh rockers Feeder touring the UK in support of their forthcoming best of collection with a gig in Wrexham to kick things off.

"I know I've definitely played Wrexham at some point but we never played there a lot which was why I asked for it to be on the tour this time," says frontman Grant Nicholas, who led the band through 25 top 75 singles between 1997 and 2012.

"We're learning a lot of stuff we haven't played for a while. We really want to have a few of the early songs up our sleeves that we can drop because it will be really special for the fans."

Forming in Newport in 1994, by vocalist and guitarist Nicholas, drummer Jon Lee and bassist Taka Hirose, the band slogged away on the live circuit for years before 2001's third album, Echo Park, and its lead single, Buck Rogers, made them stars, with further hits such as Just The Way I'm Feeling and Come Back Around cementing their place as one of the UK's biggest bands.

“I remember sitting in a classroom at school aged 11 drawing pictures of flying V guitars and dreaming of being in a band, a band that could fill arenas and stadiums," says Nicholas, 50.

"The dream came true and here I am 25 years later with Feeder and still riding the rock and roll train. It’s hard to believe that Swim, the first mini album, was released 21 years ago. It feels like yesterday.”

Tragedy was to strike the band at the height of their success when Lee took his own life early in 2002 at his home in Miami and Nicholas admits he still thinks about his former bandmate all the time.

"Of course, playing so many of the old songs brings back a lot of memories," he says.

"It's strange doing stuff from Polythene (the band's first full-length album released in May 1997) because it reminds me so much of Jon.

"I've got a little studio at home and I've been getting used to playing it again. We always used to play the song High (which was played at Lee's funeral) but we haven't for a while and it reminds me of America and being out there touring with Everclear and the good old days as three piece.

"I feel like that the whole time though. Thinking about Jon brings a smile to my face too because we had some good times but of course it's just sad he's not with us now."

The latest tour which comes to Wrexham's William Aston Hall on Monday, March 5, sees Feeder promoting their new best off collection which came with a new nine track mini album Arrow.

“After the success of All Bright Electric (2016's ninth album) it felt like the perfect time to release a best of, to remind people of our story so far, and the music we have created over the years” says Grant.

“We really wanted to include some new songs to this package to give the best of something new and fresh amongst the older tracks and to make it feel a bit more special for the fans. It also adds something different to the singles album that we released 11 years ago.

"It's amazing really - we were always a really determined band and I'm really driven about songwriting and I knew we were in it for the long term if we got a break, worked hard and the label stuck with us.

"To be honest though you don't think about being in a band for 25 years and the fact we're still here playing indie rock songs and it doesn't feel forced and we're not hobbling on stage is quite an achievement.

"In a weird kind of way it actually feels more natural now because I think you learn a bit as you get older and your playing gets better."

With contemporaries like Stereophonics and Manic Street Preachers both enjoying successful comebacks in the last few months, I suggest to Nicholas it's a good time to be Welsh and in a band again.

"The Manics always come up in interviews and I guess there's a similar type of history with us and Jon and them and Richie," he replies.

"We're different musically but we have a lot of fans who are into both bands and although maybe we haven't been as political as them down the years there's a lot in common."

Feeder's 2018 tour will see the band return to the Brixton Academy for the first time since a sold-out headline show five years ago and for Nicholas it's an important sign that Feeder haven't just survived the last two decades but are thriving once more.

"For an indie rock band like Feeder to have had two consecutive top ten albums is pretty good," he adds.

"We've obviously crossed over into a new generation of fans which is really hard to do and I wouldn't want to do it unless we were still relevant.

"I understand people want to hear the hits and they're always there for us to fall back on but we're writing new songs that have the potential to be just as good."

Feeder's The Best Of Tour is at Wrexham William Aston Hall on Monday March 5. Doors 7pm. Tickets: £27.50. / 0844 888 9991