Blue On Blue
The past two years have been intense for English synth-poppers Friendly Fires. It's no surprise then that drummer Jack Savidge gets his rest where he can.
â€œI'm actually in bed at the moment,â€ he informs us down the line, no doubt exhausted after 24 whirlwind months thatâ€™s seen the Hertfordshire band rack up a Mercury Music Prize nomination and considerable chart success with tracks like 'On Board', 'Paris', 'Jump In The Pool' and 'Skeleton Boy'. â€œI'm awake, but, just to warn you, I'm lying down.â€
Warning noted, if not necessarily needed. Of course, Savidge is still adjusting to the attention afforded the band since the then-unknowns took home Single of the Week honours from The Guardian, NME and BBC for 'Paris' in 2007.
â€œThere's been no one moment where it's hit home â€¦ I really try to avoid this term, but it's been an organic process. It's grown and grown, and everything that's happened to us since the release has felt right. There hasn't been a massive wake-up call. It's funny, it's hard to explain. It's so gradual that you don't really notice it happening.â€
And then one day you find yourself lying in bed making calls to journalists on the other side of the world. It's just one of the lifestyle changes the band has been forced to make.
â€œA large chunk of all our lives is taken up by touring now,â€ he explains. â€œThat's the major difference. You spend a large amount of your life on a bus with the same people for months on end. But nothing else has changed that much. None of us are terribly seduced by celebrity parties or anything like that. We're probably a bit too normal for that kind of thing. I mean, obviously some aspects of our lives have changed for the better - we're not living at our parents' houses and eating baked beans out of tins.â€
That incessant touring took its toll on the recording of 'Kiss Of Life', a welcome addition to the recent re-release of their self-titled debut LP. Savidge's prominent drumming on the track has a primal, tribal quality; it seems like this can largely be put down to frustration.
â€œIt took us so long â€¦ if something's taking ages, we tend to think, 'ok, that's not working, let's move on'. But this took so long because we were doing it on our days off from touring. It was just the odd day here and there, and sometimes it just felt like banging your head against the wall. There just wasn't enough time. We finally managed to get it done in June or something, and it turned out great, but there was a time when I thought it wasn't going to work.â€
It's only a matter of time until 'Kiss Of Life' gets the high-profile remix treatment. In this, as in all things, the self-produced band retains complete control.
â€œWe just choose people we like, really. We've had remixes done by a few fairly high profile people that we've rejected, because they turned our songs into loads of shit. We don't want that, so we don't release anything we don't like. You see some major label remix packages and they're awful. They're all the same people doing pretty grim electro house remixes. We want more control than that.â€
'Kiss Of Life' is an obvious example of the band's ability to pen that perfect pop tune; the type you can't get out of your head and don't really want to. It's a far cry from the gang of 14-year-olds who formed all those years ago in the sleepy town of St. Albans to indulge their love of Mogwai - how did these self-confessed, former math rockers learn to stop worrying and love pop?
â€œI don't know! I guess it's just the biggest cultural thing â€¦ that sounds like bullshit, sorry. But I suppose listening to pop is the most satisfaction you're going to get in three minutes. If you listen to a really good pop song - like, I don't know, 'She-Wolf' by Shakira - all the strands are tied up in about three and a half minutes and it all works as a perfect little pop mechanism. I think that's what I find really, amazingly, attractive about it.â€
Friendly Fires play Good Vibrations at Gold Coast Parklands on Saturday February 20. For the full lineup, visit gvf.com.au The deluxe edition of Friendly Fires' self-titled debut EP is available now through XL/ Remote Control.