They were the first unsigned band to appear on Channel 4’s Transmission show, Radio 1 DJs Zane Lowe, Colin Murray and Rob Da Bank are fans and now, signed to XL, they count Radiohead, The White Stripes and Adele as their labelmates.
It’s not hard to see what all the fuss is about either.
Macfarlane (vocals, synths, bass), Gibson (guitar) and Savidge (drums) met at school and formed their first band, called First Day Back - “I know,” says Savidge with a wry smile - when they were 14. They played a hybrid of Fugazi-inspired post-hardcore with lots of math rock guitars and no vocals. “I think we took everything a little too seriously back then,” says Macfarlane. “Obviously, it’s changed a lot since then. Writing a pop song wasn’t very high on our agenda, but now we definitely want to write songs with a pop edge.”
There’s also a dance influence clearly audible in Friendly Fires. They’ve covered house tracks such as Good Life by Inner City and, most successfully, the Chicago house classic Your Love by Jamie Principle. They trace it all back to local St Albans hero Chris Clark, signed to Warp records, who inspired them to explore abstract Aphex Twin-style electronica. In turn, that led to “four-four dancefloor stuff”.
The band have a already had a pretty busy year, as well as the album release, they have a full festival diary, with a string of high-profile appearances at Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds in the UK, Summersonic in Japan, Melt in Germany and Plage De Rock in France.
The last word goes to Macfarlane. “It’s not long ago that I thought things might not happen for us.” Now they are, he puts it down to “songs that are catchy and don’t mess about.” Simple really.
FemaleFirst - Ruth Harrison
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