Aged 14, St Albans school friends Ed Macfarlane, Edd Gibson and Jack Savidge formed First Day Break. “It was all guitars, no vocals… far too serious,” says Gibson. University changed all that. Thanks to a student diet of German techno and Prince, in came romantic melodies, propulsive drumming and rib-rattling bass. In 2006, three months before graduating, the trio met in The Beehive – “St. Albans’ most depressing pub” – and reinvented themselves as Friendly Fires. Their self-titled debut album – recorded in the garage of Macfarlane’s parents using “a laptop and a crappy mic gaffer-taped to a stand” – is out now on XL Recordings.
Do you have a post-show routine?
Ed Macfarlane: Champagne and forget all the mobile phones, jackets and things that we’ve left on stage.
Edd Gibson: Maybe a short informal debrief. ‘How was that?’… ‘Yeah, it was alright’… ‘Good, see you later.’
Jack Savidge: I was backstage straight after an Iron Maiden concert and the singer and drummer were hanging around in dressing gowns two minutes after they’d walked off stage. I saw Nicko McBrain putting his robe on as he was walking out of his dressing room and there was the faintest glimmer of a penis. He was decently hung.
Who is your musical nemesis?
JS: We need to get one of those!
EM: I’m trying to think of a shit Indie band… Someone like Pigeon Detectives. Pretty bollocks.
EG: If we’re going to start a proper Blur/Oasis rivalry with someone then it might as well be Pigeon Detectives.
JS: Who’s No. 1 at the moment?
EM: Actually someone like Late of the Pier because we play gigs a lot with them. They copy our every move. Their synth player Sam Potter said, ‘I don’t like Friendly Fires… I see them as competition.’
What’s the worst show you’ve ever played?
EM: Barcelona. We were playing at the Razzmatazz event and there were only about ten people in the room. After about five minutes they just turned around and looked the opposite way towards the bar. We played our set to their backs and then after we’d finished they put the Spice Girls on the sound system and everyone went crazy!
EG: If we’d have known that was the magic formula beforehand we’d have just got up and played “Wannabe” and cashed in.
If you had to kill one of the Spice Girls, which one would get it first?
JS: There’s something about Sporty Spice…
EG: No, she’s my favourite. And Baby.
EM: I’d put a cap in Posh.
EG: “Ed Is Dead” by The Pixies.
EM: Yeah, has to be.
JS: I can’t have that one.
EG: You’d play “Sparklehorse,” wouldn’t you?
JS: No. The last two minutes of “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. It’s really cheesy but it sounds like you’re going into another world.
EM: Played on an organ would be good.
Which song do you wish you’d written?
EM: “Happy Birthday.” We could do with the royalty money!
Photography: Ben Rayner
Words: Ben Cobb
A full version of this article first appeared in Wonderland #15, Oct/Nov 2008