With their infectious 80s-tinged pop sound and glam rock aesthetic, Manchester’s latest indie sensation Girl Friend have been generating a lot of buzz. Shortly before they made their Brighton debut at The Prince alkbert, BN1’s Gary Marlowe sat down with Amory, Jake, Sam and Eleanor to find out more about their hopes and aspirations.
How long have Girl Friend been together?
In our current line-up, since January. So just a few months.
But you’re already being touted as one of the coolest bands of 2015 and a couple of months ago The Guardian named you its new band of the week saying your music was ‘immaculate’. How did you find out about that?
One of their journalists got in touch with our management. We were just pleased to be featured. That he was so positive about us was a bonus. You can be band of the week and still get a scathing review!
This is the penultimate date of the tour, what’s the reaction been like?
The aim of the tour was to garner new fans and generate a buzz around our EP. Most of the places we’ve played are towns we’ve never been to before, so we were relatively unknown to most people. The reaction has been really good. We’ve yet to have a negative review.
You’ve gone from playing pubs and clubs to supporting The Kooks. That must have been quite a learning curve?
It wasn’t hard though. It’s actually easier than playing somewhere like this The bigger the venue, the more organised the technicians are. And you don’t have to worry about the attendance as you know you’re going to be playing to a big crowd. Tonight, for example, we have no idea how many people are coming to see us.
Is this your first time in Brighton?
It’s the first time we’ve been here as a band, but most of us have been to Brighton as kids.
Have you had time to look around?
Only for a quick walk around the North Laines. It reminded us of being in Camden.
This is a town that champions new music, so it’s somewhat surprising you’re not going to be here for The Great Escape…
We’d have loved to have been part of The Great Escape, but we’re just about to go back into the studio to finish off our album.
When you went into the studio to record your EP, did you have a clear idea of what sound you were trying to achieve?
Not entirely, no. We did go in with a few references of sounds we liked, but in terms of the finished article, sonicly we didn’t have a fixed idea in our heads. Although Amory writes the lyrics, we all collaborate on the music. Usually with us it’s the music that comes first and from that Amory comes up with some rhythmical phrasing which then evolve into lyrics.
Already you’ve been compared to bands like Hurts, while others have cited the Human League. For those who’ve yet to hear you, how would you describe your music?
We certainly didn’t try to sound like those two bands and we find it hard to compare our music to any one band in particular. We like a lot of different music, but we’re huge fans of Roxy Music as well as American bands like Hall & Oates and Chromeo.
Speaking of Roxy Music, image is clearly also important to you guys, you even wear sparkly tops onstage…
That was inspired by Roxy and the whole 80’s music scene. We just thought it would be a good idea. It helps accentuate the music.
So when you visit new places, is looking for vintage sparkly gear No 1 on the agenda?
Yeah, we’re like magpies! We did try on a couple of jackets today, but they were a little bit over the top. Eleanor tends to be the one who knows what will work best.
Beyond the sparkles, how important is the band’s image?
With the kind of music we play it’s very important. It helps us feel the part. Ideally, we want a massive neon version of our logo, but it’s so expensive. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get one one day. We’d also like to get some of those sparkly microphones!
How challenging are you finding it having an un-Google-able name?
It’s probably something we should have thought about at the time, but the name just felt right to us. We’ve now adopted it as a challenge!
You’ve got into the industry at a time when a lot of people are questioning where the money’s going to come from. Where do you feel the revenue will be for the band?
To be honest, we’re not quite sure. All our income comes from touring. We’re fortunate that we have enough to get by for the moment. We’re OK with that as long as people are listening to our music. Once more people know us, we can then indulge in some merchandise. We do have some badges, but we can’t imagine selling too many T-shirts until we’ve got an audience. The priority right now is getting our name out and releasing our first EP.
So how challenging economically is it starting a band?
We decided we were going to fully commit to this, so we cut all our outgoings and pooled resources. All of us are doing this full time, although Eleanor is still finishing her A-levels.
You’re about to record your debut album. Do you have all the tracks written?
We have an album’s worth, but we’re forever adding new songs. Since we sent the track list to our management, we’ve written two or three new songs. So we’ll have to see what we like best. We’ll be recording it in Liverpool in a couple of weeks time with Rich Turvey who also did our EP.
So what can we expect from tonight’s show?
Sparkling polished pop music! Or, as we like to say, international cosmopolitan art rock!
The debut Girl Friend EP ‘Arrive Alone, Leave Alone’ is out now
Read Gary’s review of the Girl Friend show at the Prince albert HERE.
Portraits by Images Out Of The Ordinary