Lauren Wade Music Editor and Glenn Houlihan Deputy Editor
Photo credit: Nick Walker
From the moment The Badger met up with Brighton-bred Fickle Friends they’re buzzing with energy and excitement, a theme that continues throughout our discussion with them. They’re in high spirits and it’s infectious, perhaps a factor in why they’re converting a legion of fans onto their side and rising through the ranks swiftly.
The band consisting of Natti Shiner (lead vocals), Jack Wilson (keys), Sam Morris (drums), Chris Hall (guitar) and Harry Herrington (bass) have been hopping between continents all summer for debut album recording sessions in LA with legendary producer, Mike Crossey, and their set at Brighton’s Together The People Festival is what brings them home again – even if only for the shortest of visits.
Despite racking up more air miles than your typical international businessman, the group maintain a calm approach to their music and haven’t let the near-constant travelling affect them too much.
“It’s a bit weird,” begins front woman Natti. “We go out there (to LA) and we do a four-week session and then your head is all in the game but then you have to come back and it becomes a bit fragmented. We do a lot of writing out there though because we have a writing room.”
Previous material such as the band’s first cut ‘Swim’ was released over two years ago initially but didn’t quite achieve the desired result. “We put it out online and we paid a small amount of money for a bit of PR for a month and it happened to catch on, on the blogs, which was amazing and everything we’ve done is because we put that song online.”
They’ve come a long way since ‘Swim’ first appeared on music blogs nationwide but the band decided to revamp the single. Natti tells us they “made it sound a bit more like it does now and then it got spot plays and it got playlisted everywhere. It jumps up 200,000 plays on Spotify every other day and it’s mental.”
That’s the thing about Fickle Friends, they remain as modest as when they first broke onto the scene a couple of years ago and they can’t quite perceive the success that’s (rightfully) come their way, even if they wholeheartedly believe in their brand and the music they’re putting out.
When the conversation turns to the financial side of the music industry, The Hunna naturally came up as an example of a group who are shifting records and racking up the cash, even if they’ve been perceived by others as letting their folk origins slide as a result.
“You can’t criticise people who are selling out venues all over the UK, as obviously something is working,” says Natti. “You may hate it or you may think it’s very rudimentary indie-rock music, but it’s just opinion and people like to be bitter. They’ve got a huge fanbase and people love them, people were screaming their lyrics back to them at their set at Reading. Fair play to them.”
The approach that Fickle Friends take is different, preferring to spend money on “making songs that we want to make and making a record that we think is great” is what keyboardist Jack states their focus is as a collective.
Reading Festival was a whole other experience for them. “It was just mental. I’ve never been to Reading before, I don’t think anything can prepare you for the crazy kids.” The post-GCSE rite of passage is the kind of event that artists embrace and they love the energy the younger audience bring.
“They’re all really young kids, they’re really into it.” Jack explains whilst Natti continues that “They’re up at the crack of dawn, they’re through the doors.” It’s these kinds of young and impressionable audiences that are the most vital to their continued success as an established act on the British music scene and they understand this and try to adapt to it.
The five-piece also understand the massive influence and impact the radio can have on getting their music out there to more people. “People obviously do well without having any story at radio at all but for a band like us with a target audience of the main bulk of Radio 1 listeners, which is 16-25 year olds, that’s our target audience. It would seem stupid not to do everything we can to do well at radio.” And doing well they are…
Fickle Friends may still have some way to go before they reach their golden moment but they’re well on their way and nobody should doubt them. They’ve got a solid debut album in the works, an ever-increasing fanbase and absolute 80s inspired pop belters under their belts, which sounds like a winning formula if we’ve ever heard one.