Dominic Storer If you've got sweet moves you can try your damnedest to make…
- Posted on Feb 7th 2011 12:40PM by Laura Ferreiro
Spinner caught up with lead singer Ed Macfarlane, who says that the band has been perfecting its sound and are looking to shatter the stereotypes they found themselves saddled with after their first album. "People sometimes write us off as a clueless indie band, which is entirely the opposite of what we're about," Macfarlane says. "We all love and listen to lots of different kinds of music, especially dance music."
For the new album, Macfarlane found unlikely inspiration in the Bee Gees' 'Spirits Have Flown' album, which the legendary disco band released in the late 1970s at the end of the genre's heyday. "It came out after the Bee Gees had done their whole 'Saturday Night Fever' thing and disco was kind of dying, so they really pushed the production side of things," Macfarlane says. "I found that we've really done that with this record as well."
To change things up, Friendly Fires used unusual recording techniques on several tracks. "On the song 'Blue Cassette', the bass is built around old dictaphone recordings I made when I was 12 or 13," Macfarlane says. "We have another track called 'Hurting' and the basis of the track is a chopped-up old '80s disco record, and we play on top of that and add layers to it."
Friendly Fires produced some of the tracks on the new album themselves, and also worked with renowned producer Paul Epworth, who produced a few songs on their debut album. "Paul has had more of an influence on the new record than before," says Macfarlane. "Although we haven't taken a massive drastic leap from our original sound, I think we've perfected it. The latter tracks we wrote on the first album, like 'Jump in the Pool' and 'Kiss of Life', was us discovering our sound. This is kind of a continuation and a progression of that sound."
The album is titled 'Pala' after the locale in Aldous Huxley's novel 'Island,' where parrots whisper uplifting messages to the people living there, and Macfarlane says they plan to feature a colorful parrot on the album cover. "The parrots in the book are trained to give uplifting messages like, 'Live for the here and now' and 'Live every moment while it lasts,' so we thought that the parrot was a good representation of what the music's like as well," he explains. "It's a far less escapist record than the first record -- it's much more about reality and being brought back to earth and appreciating the world that's around you rather than trying to escape it."
'Pala' features guest spots by the Harlem Gospel Choir and Holy Ghost's Alex Frankel. "On the track 'Hurting' we got the Harlem Gospel Choir to sing backing vocals and it really suits the track because it's got a really soulful, '80s R&B, classic pop edge," Macfarlane says. "We asked Alex to play clavinet on the song 'True Love'. He's an amazing keyboard player and that track has sort of a funky, Talking Heads-style clavichord line."
Friendly Fires are set to play a couple of warm-up shows in New York and Los Angeles this February, with full US tour tentatively planned for this spring.