“It’s an absolute pure joy to be headed back down there for…I guess the first gigs that we’ve done this year as well. We’re trying to write [more songs] at the moment, but it’s sort of nice to be in that space, and to have that quick trip to the other side of the world to look forward to as well – just to, you know, have some sort of excitement on the horizon as well.
“We’ve been going for ages now. I think I’ve been going in the band longer in my life than I have outside of the band. We all met at school and, not long after, we were in the band. I actually think that I was in the band before I could even play the guitar,” he laughs. “We started off playing happy pop-punk covers at people’s birthday parties, trying to organise gigs…The music has just sort of kept us together. I think it helped us form our identity and kept us going for hours on end, but then we ended up at different colleges and, by that point, we’d been doing this for around eight years…We really just saw how far we could go with it ‘cause, yeah, I suppose it was one of those things where only time would tell.”
“We’d [be in the band] while still having crappy day jobs on the side, but then we got the offer from XL Records and we wanted to be part of their label, so we just went, ‘Yeah, let’s have it.’”
In May of 2008, numerous songs of the bands became featured on various programmes, magazines and radio shows throughout the UK, but that wasn’t where they stopped. The band’s music even ventured as far as appearing on popular American drama Gossip Girl with their song White Diamonds. You know that you must be doing something right when all of this has happened and you haven’t even released your debut LP yet. That came a little bit after, in September of that same year, when the band released their debut self-titled album, Friendly Fires; an album which Edd himself admits that the band toured for extensively.
Fast forward three years, and May of 2011 saw the band release their sophomore record, Pala – an album which many, especially Fires fans, can identify the difference between both records.
“Here’s the thing, because we toured the first record for so long, we put [the first album] out, and then did the tour, and then we wrote Kiss Of Life. That song was just sort of meant to be a bridging single, and that was sort of a new thing for us without us writing an entirely new album.”
“The label really liked [the song] and it really caught on; I actually think that it was the first single to chart in the UK, so we sort of toured the album all over again for ages before we were actually given a chance to properly get in the headspace of writing in the studio again. I think it was only towards the end of the first record that we actually found something unique to us.
“I mean, we were influenced by the New York disco scene that was going on at the time. You know like DFA Records, LCD Soundsystem – we’re really into that sound. I think more towards the end of [touring the first record], we really started to find our own sound.
“With writing, [we’re not the type of band] that could just take an acoustic guitar on the road with us and sort of strum out the guidelines or blueprints for future songs. [We’re the sort of band] that has to not be distracted or have anything that would get in the way of us writing. It takes quite a while for us to really hammer through a song. We’ll probably be writing for a solid ten hours and just get totally immersed within it all. [With our songs] I think sometimes we always end up with the goods, I’m very pleased. I mean, every song that we start, we tend to finish, so I’m really proud of that fact.”
But, in the words of Uncle Ben from Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. Despite the utter joy that the threesome get from writing, recording and performing their music, as well as the undying appreciation they have for their fans, they find that the job can be quite taxing on them.
“When we finish touring, normally everyone gets ill from about a fortnight to a month – I think it just all catches up with us…It can be quite a mind-fuck. When you’re on the road, you kind of have to switch off in many ways because you are always surrounded by people for about 80 percent of the day, or you’re waiting for cars, or planes, or waiting to go on stage.”
Is that enough to deter them from doing what they love doing, though? Not in the slightest.
“Being on stage is definitely the best part of the day. That sort of hour that we’re up there is the best because you get to see other people besides your crew or your band, and we just have fun performing. You just get to throw yourself into it wholeheartedly.
“We’re not too bothered about replicating the record [on stage] at all – live is something totally different for us. And even though we’re up there sweating our arses off like Barry White on a regular day, we just get into throwing ourselves all over the place and just having fun with the crowd. That’s why I like listening back to live recordings because things just get really chaotic. Sometimes I just get so into it that I’ll forget what I’m playing,” he laughs.
For anyone that has ever seen Friendly Fires live, you’ll know what I mean when I say that there has to be some sort of pre-show stretches involved. Have you seen Ed MacFarlane’s dance moves? The man could easily take on Ian Curtis for the title of Most Eccentric Dancing Frontman.
“I think everyone does have their own little ritual to get hyped up. Ed [MacFarlane] sort of just paces back and forth, doing stretches and stuff like that. We also play some pretty loud music to just get into it and get the heartbeat up. I prefer to sort of think about what I have to do on stage so I make sure that I don’t mess up.”
Having released their latest LP, Pala, in the earlier stages of last year, I felt compelled to ask the guitarist if we could expect any new material when they head down here in March.
“I don’t know. We’re desperately trying to write at the moment. We’ve only had a couple of weeks off, really, because we only finished our UK tour at the start of December. Instead of sort of getting up, Christmas shopping, we actually just got straight back into the studio to write some new stuff. But I think it will sort of be a while before we properly are able to perform the new stuff live. So, there’s potential, but I don’t want to get any hopes up.”
Okay, I’ll accept that ambiguous albeit direct answer. How about any sideshows, Edd?
He laughs, “I honestly don’t know, I hope so. I think [the Future shows] are all that we’ve got pencilled in for now, but you come all that way [to play in Australia], you’d want to make use of it. But as soon as one gets organised, I’ll let you know.”
It’s hard for you not to notice these guys. With tunes that will undoubtedly make your bums wiggle, your hands clap and your boots dance, the sound of Friendly Fires is unlike any other sound. And if you need, for whatever reason, some dancing inspiration, I can’t stress enough – frontman Ed MacFarlane will lead by example.