FRIENDLY Fires kept their fans waiting for six years, but now they’re back with a bang.
Having returned with a sold-out show in London and released a sound of the summer contender in Love Like Waves, it’s now time for the band to head out on the festival circuit once again.
And the St Albans trio’s performance at Glasgow’s TRNSMT on Sunday was one of their first stops.
“We’ve only done one festival [so far] and that was really good,” says singer Ed Macfarlane. “In my head I was imagining about thirty hardcore fans standing at the front and just emptiness.
“It actually did start out a little bit like that but by the end it was a sea of people getting into it. It felt like yes, this is what we’re good at.”
Fittingly, Macfarlane and bandmate Edd Gibson are chatting to The Sunday Post in the tropical surroundings of the Winter Gardens as they prepare to take to the main stage.
Joining Franz Ferdinand, CHVRCHES and headliners The Killers on the bill, they’re straight back in with the festival big-hitters.
This reincarnation of Friendly Fires comes with a few tweaks, including upping the live show with the addition of a percussionist.
“We’ve always had it in our veins but never bit the bullet and got another guy in to do it,” says Gibson. “It’s really made the set come alive and bubble so nicely live.
“We’ve got new songs to play too, it’s a strange balance between the old songs that everyone knows and testing the waters with new bangers.”
It’s a decade since the indie-funk band’s self-titled and Mercury nominated debut album was released, with tracks including Paris, Jump In The Pool and Lovesick.
But after the release of Pala in 2011, Friendly Fires would, while never being fully extinguished, disappear into the ether.
Macfarlane recalls: “After the second record I thought: I’m done with touring, I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”
He and Gibson, plus the band’s other member, drummer Jack Savidge, all worked on a number of different projects as the band entered an extended hiatus.
But eventually, they came together as a group and decided to write another album – and ‘do it properly’.
In September of last year, fans who had kept a watchful eye on the band’s social media accounts finally got what they’d been waiting for – a date for a return show.
And in April, they played their first gigs back together as Friendly Fires, a warm up in Leeds before their big revival at London’s Brixton Academy.
“I was really, really nervous on our first show back in Leeds, before the Brixton show,” admits Macfarlane. “It was really emotional, you could see the look in people’s faces and that it really meant something to them.”
Gibson adds: “We just need to do more and build up a steam. It’s great, every gig you see how much it does mean to the faces out there in front of you.”
Yaldi! We had a great time on the TRNSMT Festival main stage yesterday. Check out some of the set here…
Posted by Friendly Fires on Monday, 9 July 2018
With the band’s return has also come new music. Their first single back, Love Like Waves, brings a slice of summery joy, and other new songs in the set are going down well with fans.
“We’ve been recording all the way, up until yesterday, any time we’re not playing live we’re in the studio,” says Macfarlane, revealing that a new single is coming out soon.
Written with the help of their friends Howard and Guy Lawrence of dance duo Disclosure, he says it’s “still fundamentally a Friendly Fires track” and that he can’t wait to play it live.
Of course, accompanying the song, and the entirety of the set, will be Macfarlane’s trademark inexhaustible dance moves.
While at first he needed a little liquid courage to bust out the dad-dancing, it’s now become one of the big attractions of seeing the band play.
“In the past I’ll admit to having to probably drink a bit more just to get the confidence to do it,” Ed says. “Now I’m like, this is us, take it or leave it. People know what to expect so there’s less of a nervous pressure for me to worry about what people think.”