The indie-pop outfit discuss their 2021 and how they’re are ready to take on the new year.
It goes without saying that this year has been a rollercoaster, between lockdowns, the new variant and the return of “outside”, we’ve been through it all. And channelling all those adventurous moments in their new project is Make Friends with “Is This Real”. Through the fresh alt-pop productions and energetic vocals, the group take us through an ambitious project filled with euphoric hooks and dreamy melodies. Putting their flair and signature prowess on full display, the band hold nothing back as the perfectly sum up their vibrant yet wild year.
“Our new EP is a culmination of songs written during the tumultuous period of the last year and a half or so,” the band said. “The title ‘Is This Real’ is a statement that reflects the frantic and surreal nature of recent events that have become the norm in our day to day lives. These songs present a change in our thoughts and feelings, and the mental challenges we’ve experienced.”
Having sold out their Bristol-hailed show at Rough Trade pre-pandemic, the group are set to finally hit the road this December, headlining at Night People in Manchester and Muthers in Birmingham. With 2022 set to be a huge year for the indie outfit, we caught up with the band virtually talking all things pandemic and the new year.
Check to the interview below now…
Hi Make Friends, how are you doing?
Doing good! A tad battered after our first show of the tour last night, but bloody happy to be back!
How did you meet?
We all met in Bath whilst studying music together at Bath Spa uni a few years back. We quickly found we had a lot of the same musical interests, which led to us living together and the rest is history!
You are based in Bristol, do you think your location has influenced your sound?
As a city, Bristol has a unique energy about it. The nightlife is a huge part of the culture, and there’s always something going on in the music scene, but also it’s hugely diverse. There’s so much going on which has definitely influenced the way we’ve operated as a creative unit, and our live performances are a tribute to the bustling energy that a city like Bristol provides.
What is your favourite part of operating as a band? Are there any challenges that come with being in a group?
The camaraderie and the ability to bounce off each other when we’re playing live are definitely our favourite parts of working as a unit and that includes moments off stage too. Being able to share responsibilities between each of us means we’ve been able to operate more efficiently as a machine, especially when it comes to the balance of admin/writing – we all have things to bring to the table and balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Making sure it all keeps moving is always the biggest challenge, there’s so much to do! But that’s where our togetherness has definitely helped and being able to share the load makes sure that no one person is snowed under.
Congratulations on the release “Is This Real”, can you talk us through the production process behind the project!
We were super happy to be working with Peter Sené (who plays live keys for Everything Everything and John Grant, as well as being an all-round musical genius) once again to produce these tracks. It all kicked off by Dave and Tom living together through the first lockdown and just using the time to get super creative with ideas. We bounced these around between the band and Pete, and gradually got to a point where we were ready to hit the studio when COVID allowed. Eventually, we managed to jump into this cool little studio in Bath, called Mizpah, with the help of Marc MacNab-Jack (who is another phenomenal touring musician) and we managed to smash it all out relatively quickly. I think a lot of themes of the EP come from that period of Tom and Dave being stuck together for extended periods. It’s definitely got a vibe of surrealism but also escapism from the world we’re living in at the moment.
What is your favourite track on the EP?
I think we’ve all had different favourites since we started recording them all, but I think we’ve universally settled on ‘Fever’. It’s probably up there with the best songs we’ve ever written. The hook is great and Pete’s production has turned the song from a really catchy tune into something really special (to us, at least). The way the track explodes at the end is particularly excellent, in our opinion. But we’ve had loads of people loving different tracks, which is great. It’s a really varied collection of songs, so how they are touching each individual differently is an absolute dream.
How do you want people to feel when listening to your new project?
It’s always been about bringing energy and positivity, and definitely transmitting the sensation of hearing the songs live, which has always been a big part of our time as a band, even though, that’s not always been possible in the last year or so. Writing these new songs in that time has slightly put a spin on how we write music. With these tracks, we definitely want people to feel like they can experience some escapism and really lose themselves in the EP.
You have your headline show coming soon! What are you most looking forward to about touring?
It’s a big one for sure. It’d be an understatement to say we’ve massively missed it. Over the last year we’ve been lucky enough to have continued reaching new audiences with our music, but so many of the tunes have been released in a time of no live music. So we’re really looking forward to sharing how they sound in a packed room with everyone, especially when seeing some new faces… and hopefully a whole lot of old ones too! We’re so happy to be finishing the tour in Bristol and just before Christmas, we’ll be hoping for a merry one.
What is next for you guys? Do you have any other projects you are working on?
Smashing this tour has been our main focus! Putting together a new live show with all our new material after a good old while off has been a fun challenge. It’s fair to say we might have been a bit rusty to begin with, but things came back to us pretty quickly. Now we’ve just got to make sure we deliver the best live show we possibly can – we think we’ve started well though! Then we’re trying to squeeze in writing before the year’s out. We’ve managed to link up with some of our all-time-faves for writing next year… So we’re buzzing to see what comes out of it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get back into the studio and get a new body of work together, which we’ll follow