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Friendly Fires

February 2009

BEFORE he arrived in Nottingham Ed MacFarlane wasn't capable of writing the sort electro-funk that made Friendly Fires self-titled debut album one of the critical picks of last year.
"I was some kind of indie snob," he admits.
"I started understanding pop music properly when I was in my first year at Nottingham uni. Now the art of writing a good pop song is something that I'm really interested in."
He'd even sling a tune together for Girls Aloud if they asked.
"I wouldn't say no to be honest."
Ed graduated two years ago from The Nottingham Trent University with a degree in photography.
"I did photography as an excuse not to get a job. I think I've always had my heart set on making music."
He adds: "It was great. I met lots of people that influenced me a lot. People doing things in Nottingham, promoting gigs, DJs, bands and musicians.
"The Liars at The Social was always really great and Rescued on the Saturday night (at the Rescue Rooms)... they had one room that was more indie/electro and the main room they were playing house. It had a nice variety of music.
"And I saw some amazing shows. Do Make Say Think at the Rescue Rooms was probably one of my favourite gigs of all time. And there's an amusing picture of my friend Matt watching Bloc Party at Liars Club. There's about ten people in the audience and he's right at the front with his arms folded."
Liars Club was at The Social (now The Bodega Social Club) and along with putting on pre-fame gigs by Franz Ferdinand and the like, influenced its punters to make mix indie with electro.
First out the traps were Late Of The Pier.
"We played our first gig with Late Of The Pier in London."
A fine product of Nottingham.
"They're a Castle Donington band."
But they live in Radcliffe-on-Trent so we're having them.
And we can claim one third of Friendly Fires.
St Albans has a greater claim of course, the trio were school mates there and shared a passion for Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Mogwai and And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead.
"When we first started we sounded like a rip-off of Trail Of Dead," he laughs.
"We weren't trying to write pop music at all."
Not that friendly Fires are pure pop protagonists.
"We've written music with the intention of it being accessible but we've always wanted to incorporate styles of music that aren't pop."
And the intentions are clear.
"We want be massive."
For now they're content with sharing the bill with three other great new British bands.
"We've played with all of them. We supported Glasvegas in Aberdeen. We did a little tour with White Lies when they were first coming out. It's funny because we're sandwiched between two No. 1 album selling artists so there's a bit of pressure but I think we sound different enough that people will pay attention."
Maybe they'd pay even more attention if he threw on the smoking jacket he used to wear when he was at Nottingham uni (which we know because a fellow student at the time is now a Post photographer).
"(Laughs nervously) I went through a stage of trying to wear the most overly debonair clothes I could think of."

The NME Awards Tour featuring Friendly Fires, White Lies, Glasvegas and Florence & The Machine, Rock City, Talbot Street, Wednesday February 11

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