Interview: Fickle Friends

Fickle Friends

Words: Gary Lambert
Photos: Gaz Jones
Fickle friends intreview

At the recent Bingley Music Live we at Popped Music were able to catch up with the brilliant Fickle Friends. In the time before their afternoon slot on the Discovery Stage we sat down and chatted about the summer and career so far. It was an enlightening meeting even if it took all my skills of hearing to pick out their words over the sound of Weirds soundchecking at the stage next door to the band’s dressing room.

The first band member I was introduced to was Sam, the drummer and tour manager. Now I do lament the general loss of the wildcat drummer, Sam was so courteous and professional in his tour manager role that it was a shock to find that he was the guy who would be hitting things hard later on. Sam left me in the capable hands of Chris, Nattie, Jack and Harry whilst he made sure everything that was needed on stage was ready for the band. It had been a long, memorable summer for the band as they have travelled Europe to perform throughout the festivals. I’d asked them where they played and the four of them racked their brains to remember as many as possible, interjecting in the middle of each other’s sentences like four parts of a hive brain. “We played at Best Kept Secret in Holland…Czech Republic… Sweden AND Finland… We even went over to Ibiza for Ibiza Rocks”.

For a band still driving themselves in a van to gigs, it seemed a wonderfully hard-working way to spend a summer. It wasn’t as if they were able to leisurely jaunt between all these different countries either as the band explained that they have been hitting the British festival circuit in a big way, “every weekend through the whole summer we’ve been busy with UK festivals, from boutique events like Secret Garden Party and Boardmasters, to large scale events like Radio One’s One Big Weekend”. The band seemed unanimous in their love too for Boardmasters which they agreed was great. I could see the high energy levels of Fickle Friends playing well to any crowd.

Even though we were in September, the festival season had not yet finished for the gang who were going to have to leave straight after the gig so that they could get a 3am ferry over to Ireland and Electric Picnic. And then the following weekend they had a slot at Bestival lined up. “It never stops for us. We see some bands who say to each other ‘thanks for an amazing summer, see you soon’, but for us it doesn’t stop”. Considering the band had reach Bingley after an eight hour drive from Brighton, they were still laughing and joking with each other.

GAZ_5657There is a togetherness with the band that has come from their hard work together. Nattie described them as being a DIY band with Sam being the switched on organiser of it all. But Sam’s skills do not make for a life of luxury for them. “Driving to Berlin was a twenty hour round trip. It was hard. We are not signed to a label like everybody thinks we are, we have got ourselves where we are now. We don’t bump into bands who we would class as at our level doing it off their own backs. That’s why we say it’s bleak sometimes as we have to deal with all the shit that other bands have people to help with… But we do it proudly”. The acknowledgement of the positive and negative helps to magnetise the forces within the band, “we all get a bit grumpy sometimes… But we are lucky with the people we have in the band. If someone is feeling a bit off, there’s always someone there who will make them laugh and pull them through it”.

I could see this in action there and then as everybody tries to do their bit so that no particular person is under scrutiny or feeling the pressure to keep talking. This band knows when to take over from each other and to help out. It is a different dynamic to the band that has grown up with each other from primary school and everybody intrinsically understands each other. This band works to keep each other going. Whether it is taking responsibility for answering a question, organising a tour or farting just to make a friend laugh when talk turns a bit deep and serious.

Fickle Friends though know that there is good reason for the hard work they put in. There is a collective understanding of the good times as pay off for the tough times. This summer playing at Secret Garden Party in Holland they experienced one of the very best times. “It was out first time playing in Holland and we played this small, but really well organised festival. We thought no one is going to be here to watch us, but when we walked out on the stage there was 2,500 people waiting for us. And they seemed to love us too”.

As someone who has seen Fickle Friends perform I can comprehend why they would have been loved by music fans of The Netherlands. To my mind, European music generally has a greater comfort with fun, pop elements to the songs played and Fickle Friends fire lightning bolts of enjoyment out with tracks like new single Say No More. “We like to bring the party on stage. We like to boogie and we like to move around. A lot. We do bring a lot of energy and share it with the crowd”.

“On tour we like to get amongst the crowd and get the crowd with us”. Stage invasions have been known and there was definitely a hint of sadness as Nattie lamented today’s stage would be too high to get anybody from the audience on to it. An hour or so later, the audience’s inability to get on the stage was from their minds as they took Fickle Friends to their hearts. No more so than when they played their acclaimed debut single Swim.

Swim came about in a way you would never expect from any band, let alone a band with such a DIY ethos. I would have put money on minimum wage, zero hour contract jobs with every penny not needed for existence being put aside for studio time. Swim though is a special song and deserves a special tale. “We entered a competition in Brighton to get the opening slot at Jamie Oliver and Alex James’ Feastival. And after getting through the knock out rounds, we reached the final and after a public vote we won”. That was not to be the end though, “Jamie Oliver called up and said that he wanted to give some money to be able to do something extra for us, so he arranged for us to go over to Wales and record Swim”.

You can say what you want about Jamie Oliver as a TV personality, but he does seem to make the effort to give as many people as possible a chance. And I’ve danced enough times to Swim to feel the need to declare a truce with regard to my traditional ranting over repeats of The Naked Chef. It probably means though the people who complain about their kids getting healthy meals in school might not buy Fickle Friends releases, but they will cope with that – and if someone doesn’t they know there will be a not-so-fickle friend at their shoulder.

Listen to the new single Say No More here:

Find Fickle Friends on Facebook

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  1. […] had lunch together – in what then turned out to be our photo-shoot for an exclusive interview that happened several months later. I’d been in work mode then. But Tuesday night, as horrible […]

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