Friendly Fires - Biography
Friendly Fires are a UK-based synth-driven dance-rock outfit that hail the northeast of London. The band was formed in 2006 by Ed Macfarlane (vocals/keyboards), Jack Savidge (drums) and Edd Gibson (guitar), though the trio had been performing together since they were 14 years old in the post-hardcore band First Day Back. Since evolving in what Macfarlane likes to call “romantic, epic pop music,” Friendly Fires burst on the scene first with a couple of highly regarded EPs, followed by their 2008 self-titled debut, Friendly Fires (XL Recordings). The hit single “Paris,” on the aegis of a slick video by Price James, garnered them plenty of new attention when it became the “Single of the Week” in The Guardian and helped land them land a slot opening for Interpol on the road. Since that time they have toured all over Europe, Australia and North America, while being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and having their shake-a-leg numbers appear on television shows and as the backdrop for commercials.
Growing up in the suburban town of St. Albans, Hertfordshire, the adolescent students came together musically around 13 and 14 years old to shake the doldrums from their sleepy burg. At first modeling their sound after pop-punk bands like Green Day, they formed First Day Back before Gibson knew how to play guitar; they played birthday parties and the like, but the experiences gave them scaffolding for their live shows when they would become Friendly Fires (so-named after the opening track of Section 25’s debut album from 1981, “Friendly Fires”).
While still in their early twenties, the trio began making headway before signing to a label when they appeared on Channel 4’s Transmission programme as Friendly Fires and played around the UK, developing a devoted fan base. They released their debut EP Photobooth (2006 People in the Sky), which sold out of the first press, and followed that up with a second EP, Cross the Line. Soon, their infectious style of music—nu-rave shattering dance-rock with strong traces of shoegaze and disco—was raising the eyebrows of fans and A&R people alike, and Friendly Fires were becoming a bit of a MySpace sensation. Armed with a defining song in “Paris” from their early output, the band approached London-based indie-label Moshi Moshi, and the single was released in the fall of 2007. Once the track was out there, Friendly Fires received numerous offers to sign with major labels, but went with revered XL Recordings.
Friendly Fires released their long-in-the-making debut full-length, Friendly Fires (2008 XL Recordings), which was produced by Paul Epworth. Besides containing the hit single “Paris,” the album also featured “Jump In the Pool,” “Lovesick” and the escapist track “Skeleton Boy,” all of which have become quasi-hits in their own right. With massive dance-floor exposure and excessive touring, by 2009 the album was being recognized far and wide. It went certified double gold in the United Kingdom, and the magazine NME awarded the act its “Best Dancefloor Filler” stamp at its awards show. They also performed on the NME Awards Tour that same year, and make become shortlisted top 12 finalist for the Mercury Music Prize.
Friendly Fires have continued touring throughout Europe, releasing their follow up record Pala in 2011. Plans for a third are in the works.