“It was now or never”: Friendly Fires talk their triumphant return and confirm plans for album three

"I want to put out this third record and get on with the next chapter of this band"

Friendly Fires have opened up on their huge 2018 comeback, as well as confirming that their anticipated third album will finally emerge next year. Check out our interview with singer Ed Macfarlane in full below.

After returning with recent single ‘Love Like Waves’, the group embarked on a string of sold-out UK comeback dates earlier this year. They’ve also been a constant presence during festival season, which sees them taking a headline slot at Lincolnshire’s Lost Village Festival this weekend.

MacFarlane says that the band aren’t doing it for nostalgia, a new album is definitely on the way – and he’s keen to point out how their unreleased material has been going down a storm at festivals across Europe….

You’re back for the first time since 2013. What’s changed?

“Well, that  the very first show we did at Brixton was weirdly quite emotional, for me especially. I kind of felt like I had to apologise that it had taken so long. But since then it’s just been about ironing out all the rough edges, and it’s just been great.

“It feels natural. We now have a percussion player, Julio, who’s been playing with us for these gigs and it’s just nice having that extra member and just taking the live shows up an extra notch. It just feels like it’s all a well-oiled machine now.Even with about three hours sleep or playing at 3 in the morning, which we have been doing for these last few festival shows, we can still just step in and do what we have to do. It’s been good.”

With the massive reaction to ‘Love Like Waves’ that came out earlier this year, what else is on the horizon?

“We’ve been playing three new tracks during the live set. There’s a song called ‘Can’t Wait Forever’, which has been going down really well, maybe better than ‘Love like Waves’, which is really exciting.

“It’s good to be able to get that instant reaction from the new material. It’s something we’ve never done before. We first played that track at Brixton and we could see that there were bits that the crowd were really reacting of, and bits that lulled a bit, so we went back and re-wrote the song after that. So it’s nice to be able to approach the songwriting process in that style. Normally we write the song, we rehearse it and we play it live, and that’s it. So it’s good to be able to sort of manipulate and mould the song that way.”

Friendly Fires

Friendly Fires

So is a new album in the works? Or are you just working on these tracks to see where they go?

“The new album is 100% in the works. We’ve broken the back of it. We’ve been doing sessions in the studio – we just did one with Paul Epworth, which was great. It’s really fun to just get back in the studio with him, especially because we wrote ‘Jump in the Pool’ together.  It’s just nice to get back to working with him again. We also have a new single which is coming out end of August. It’s our track but it was sort of written with the Disclosure guys.

“Things are coming up ahead and we’re taking it seriously. I want to put out this third record and get on with the next chapter of this band and really smash it this year!”

What made this year feel like the perfect time to come back?

“It did feel like it was a ‘now or never’ moment. I think if we left it any longer it would probably never have happened, and I think to be honest with you I missed it. There’s something about playing our music live which I don’t get when I write music that’s different from Friendly Fires.

“When we’re together as a band and we can do the Friendly Fires thing live, everything runs more freely and I just wanted to do that again. It doesn’t feel like it’s the last chapter of our band. With ‘Pala’, we left it on a high and we sort of disappeared, and then I feel like something else has to happen.”

And why did it take so long to come back? Was there a struggle to find creative inspiration?

A whole manner of stuff, really. I just didn’t feel like writing pop music, and there were other things in my life that I wanted to do. I also really don’t like it when you see bands who feel they have to just keep riding with some sort of momentum and push out half-arsed records. I appreciate what our band’s done too much to just throw it away like that.

We have to be 100% proud of it. It has to be something that we’ll want to play on the road and still like in ten years’ time, like our other record.

You’ve got Lost Village festival coming up.  How nice is that to do a comeback and to instantly have a headline slot?

“It feels great.  It feels good to know that we have something that people want. I’m not speaking badly of current live music, but I just think there’s a trend for more laid back ’90s RnB kind of stuff which I feel, for me, is more home-listening. I feel like we have a real live show that really stands out on the live front, and it’s exciting and it’s energetic and it draws you in, and I think that’s why we’ve been given this headline slot.”

What’s coming up for the rest of the year when festival season comes to a close?

“We’ve got our new single coming out at the end of August and we’re off to Japan now, and then we’re doing Festival No.6 and Lost Village. In between that it’s just writing solidly and just getting this record done. That’s the priority as well as doing the shows. We’re really immersing ourselves in this – every day we’re getting up and writing together, like the old days.”

Have you got a rough idea of a date in your head for when the album will be done by?

“We want it early next year, early-ish – before halfway through next year. We want to be playing this stuff live, for festival season, we don’t want to be pushing this stuff further back than that. It sounds really practical and lame, but the reality is we want that as well.”

Lost Village Festival takes place from August 24-26 at Norton Disney in Lincolnshire. Visit here for tickets and more information.