Indietracks interview #8: Friends

Some of you may even been lucky enough to start the festival season early last weekend at the inaugural San Francisco PopFest, which our Stuart is involved in organising when he’s not on Indietracks duty. The Popfest was a weekend of indiepop fun taking place across San Francisco, playing host to several past and future Indietracks bands, including Ballboy, The Smittens, Northern Portrait, Gregory Webster, Eux Autres and Pocketbooks. Sadly we didn’t make it but from all the excited messageboard posts it sounds like it was a fantastic weekend with a very warm and friendly atmosphere, and it’s just made us look forward to Indietracks even more now. Still, it’s less than two months away now, so not long to wait!

In the meantime, here’s a chance to get better acquainted with another of this summer’s Indietracks bands. Friends were formed in 1986 by singer/guitarist/songwriter William Jones . Drummer and percussionist Martin Parker joined in 1992 and these two form the nucleus of the London-based band today. The band excel in classic English romantic pop, with lyrics that range from incurable optimism to the darkest miserablism. Think Teardrop Explodes, The Chameleons, and 70s acoustic music such as Nick Drake and Renaissance.Friends have released a series of albums and singles on the Summerhouse label, all of which are still available. Their latest album, Spangleland, was released in May 2007.

Hi, please tell us a little bit about yourselves

We are Friends (not THOSE Friends, they nicked our name well after we’d started). We formed in Stockton-on-Tees in 1986 and we’re still here, writing and playing and recording. We’ve done nine albums and six singles on Summerhouse Records, and now live mostly in London . There are six of us, the line-up has changed a bit since the beginning but William Jones and Martin Parker have been a constant presence since the early days, and everyone else has been involved since the mid 90s too.

Tell us about an unusual place you’ve played a gig in the past

We’ve played in a cemetery – yes, really. It was a rather strange festival in Sheffield some time in the early 90s and the acoustic version of our band was booked to play there (just William and Martin ). There are obvious opportunities for jokes about the responsiveness of the audience etc, and as it happened, on the day there were far more people under the ground than above it. Also the PA system was extremely dodgy and I remember being terrified that I’d be buried there too after the electric shocks I was getting.

Do any band members have any particular skills, hobbies or claims to fame you wish to share?

William, our singer and guitarist, runs marathons and has done seven so far, in New York , London and Edinburgh . Martin , our drummer, is a graphic designer. Edwin , our bass player, is a father (twice). Richard , our other guitarist, is a brilliant impressionist and regularly completes the Guardian cryptic crossword. Kath, our backing singer, is an actress and you’ll have seen her on the telly. [Wow, Kath was Sally Hunter in Hollyoaks!]

What attracted you to play the Indietracks festival?

What attracted us to play at Indietracks was many things. First, we were asked, and it would be rude to say no! Second, in all our years it’s our first festival appearance and it would be good to experience that at least once. Lastly, it’s a great opportunity to play to people who like our kind of music, and many who don’t know us, in a great setting.

Thanks William . And Friends have kindly left us with a free MP3 download: This is the Start

Comments are closed.