Releasing their debut EP ‘Picture House’ on October 20th, new Leeds-based indie band Friends of Friends are a three-piece band consisting of Robbie Tooth (singer and guitarist), Dominic Marshall (guitarist) and Tom McAndrew (drummer).
With no label, management or booking agent, the band so far has independently funded everything themselves, attracting attention from BBC’s Introducing as well as venues across the North like Leeds Brudnell Social Club and Lending Room. This week GIGsoup caught up with them in an exclusive interview to find out what drives the young band…
What was the ‘eureka’ moment where you decided you wanted to make a serious move with the band?
Robbie: There wasn’t really a eureka moment so much as a series of events that lead to the band coming together.
It kind of started as my solo project. I was writing and demoing songs at uni and then Dom got involved with recording some of the guitar parts. After that we ended up doing a lot of writing together as we really similar tastes and writing style.
I’d known Tom for years, we’d played in bands together before uni. After a couple of the bands he was playing in had folded, I shared a few of the tracks with him, and he ended up coming up to Leeds to record some drums for the demos as he was still living in Bristol at this point.
After that there was a lot of sharing unfinished songs back and forth, until Tom decided to move up and it turned into a proper project.
We’ve all been playing music since our early teens, and can’t really see ourselves doing anything else, so we just do it because we love it really.
A lot of GIGsoup readers will really relate to your independent approach – working without any label, booking agent, or management. How have you found this process?
Robbie: It’s great because we can write anything we want and have complete creative control. It also means we can choose who we work with and have made some really great contacts and friends along the way.
There are of course a lot of challenges to this approach it does take a lot of patience, time, and saving up. I guess this will always be the case if you haven’t got help from management, labels, and booking agents.
Juggling a full time job and band commitments is hard! We have to think a lot about money as we’ve had to pay for all our own studio time, mixing and mastering, promo shots, venue hire, gear etc. etc. We like to give ourselves deadlines so we’re always working towards something and not panicking about not getting enough done.
In the grand scheme of things it’s all worth it because we don’t really know what else we’d be doing. We love writing and playing music and it’s a great feeling to set to out to accomplish something like recording a new song from scratch, or releasing an EP, and knowing you did it all yourself. Any progress is all the more satisfying as a result and it makes you all the more grateful when any help comes your way.
Tell us about ‘Picture House’. There’s a real summery, intricate sound in your debut single – is there any band or artist you were particularly influenced by? Did the sound come quite naturally to you?
Robbie: Between us we have a varied taste in music, so it’s actually pretty hard to pin down one particular band or artist that influenced us. We make a point of actively searching for new music to keep our ears fresh. But back when we were writing this EP we were listening to a lot of 90’s emo music and math rock. Bands like Algernon Cadwallader, TTNG (This Town Needs Guns), American Football and Colour spring to mind.
When writing the single Crossroads we laid down the groove as a foundation which left a nice amount of space for us to play around with riffs and lines on top. From there it all came together very naturally. This set the precedent for Picture House as a whole, as we didn’t really overthink anything and kept the process quite organic.
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How do you find the music scene in Leeds? What plans do you have for live shows in the future?
Robbie: There’s loads of awesome new music coming out of Leeds at the moment and so many great venues across the city. We’re pretty lucky as touring bands usually play a date here. You’ve also got Sheffield and Manchester on your doorstep so it’s easy to link with other cities on the northern circuit.
As we’re pretty new on the scene, we’re always looking to get our music out to new people. We’ve played most of our shows locally and around the north, but we have plans to branch out to the rest of the UK and are excited to see how we go down.
Our live set is very dynamic. There are moments that are upbeat and energetic, and moments that are intimate and close. We’ve tried to create a bit of a musical journey in that we ordered the songs carefully to have a clear flow from one to the next. Even lyrically it tells a sort of story. If you hit up our socials, you can keep updated with upcoming dates we have.
Hopefully people will come along and enjoy themselves.