Fickle Friends have long been a band with promise. Previously, they've dropped their fair share of bangers. New single 'Cry Baby' marks out something new, though. A Godzilla of pop hooks and infectious vibes, it's less a step up, more a quantum leap for a band marked for the big time. We caught up with Natti Shiner to celebrate.
You recently signed to Polydor for your debut album - how far are you into the process of creating it?
So we’ve recorded only one single so far [that's 'Cry Baby' - Ed] and we’re flying back next weekend to crack on with a big chunk of it. So I guess my answer is… we’re not very far into the process at all! Ask me again after the summer!
How have you found putting it together so far? Will it see you re-record much of your earlier material?
There are a few key old tracks that we’re going to re-record and rework a little bit. We just want this album the be the best it can be and we’ve been writing so much is kinda proven quite difficult choosing what actually makes the cut song-wise, y’know? It feels like we could get to the last two days of tracking and write something wild and throw it on there. That’s the vibe of this record. Lots of freedom… and chaos, ha.
What do you think is most key to making a good album?
A combination of things including but not limited to: red wine, coffee (in our case something called ‘jet fuel’ which I think speaks for itself), mad ideas… nothing is ever stupid or too ‘out there’, and a willingness to experiment and give up some control (which is something we’re not used to, having always done everything ourselves).
What was the catalyst behind finally signing to a label, was there a point where you thought ‘yes, we’re ready’?
It was playing that sold out Dingwalls show in London. It really felt like a moment and definitely a game-changer. I was talking about gut feelings and after that show I think all of us knew that things were going to change.
Our now-publisher was at the show and said to me that very night, ‘I want to chat about publishing you’ and me being the cynic I have become just thought ‘ah another throw away comment’, but we received an email the next day and the deal was done within two weeks.
It feels like everything happened so quickly after that gig. The two years of being the ‘DIY band’ paid off and we definitely felt ready for that next step.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt from your first two years as a band?
Not to J walk in America. Ha, nahhhh I’m joking. We’ve learnt many things. I guess it’s probably to trust your instincts. It’s very easy to take people’s comments and opinions to heart when you’re in this line of work and sometimes it has proven counterproductive. We had to trust our gut on a lot of things, especially this last year where we found ourselves self-managing for a bit and we were going round in circles with visits to the same labels who were asking us to do things and then expecting us to jump through similar hoops ‘next time’. It felt like we had plateaued and it really made me consider how long I could keep doing that for. So eventually we were like ‘fuck it, let’s just do this how we want to and if people want us or want to get involved they can’, but really everything we do is for our fans and I think once we sold out Dingwalls people kind of looked at us differently.
From where do you take most inspiration lyrically? Does writing come easily to you?
I write about all sorts of things… mostly in a relationship context and using other experiences and painting them in a similar way so people can identify with the topics in their own way. Our next single is about anxiety and not recognising the person you are at that time. A lot of what I write about has been inspired by our time on the road which has certainly had its ups and downs, as I’m sure it does for many other acts.
Is there anything you’re especially looking forward to doing over the summer?
We just got announced for Reading & Leeds. We’re playing the NME/Radio 1 stage which is just nuts. That and the fact that we’re recording our album with our dream producer in LA. It really doesn’t get much better than that.