By Ffion White
Two years after dropping their debut track ‘Swim’ online, Fickle Friends are taking the music world by storm. I caught up with members Natti Shiner and Jack Wilson to talk about touring, their next album and red wine.
You’ve just had a couple of rare days off from tour. Were you in full on sluggish mode?
Natti: Our first day off was a travel day, but we left Exeter at the crack of dawn and had to go do rehearsals for like three hours. We wanted to add a song to the setlist, so I guess that counts as being productive. We’re doing secret Santa in the band, and we’re giving the presents on the day of the last tour date, so I think everyone spent the day secret Santa shopping.
Looking at your social media you guys seem to be constantly busy. Do you ever just stop?
Natti: Not really. When we have a day off like yesterday, I literally went for a run and I watched all the Planet Earth episodes, just caught up on it. But it’s literally two days off and then back to it really.
So, after the last tour date is that it for 2016?
Natti: Yeah that’s it. It’s our first full December off, which is pretty cool.
Are you excited for the show tonight?
You payed Cardiff earlier this year I believe?
Natti: February, yeah. I think it’s going to be a different vibe this evening.
In a better way?
Jack and Natti: Yeah!
Tell me, how does Cardiff rate on the scale of places you’ve played?
Natti: We can’t really give it a rating yet, because we haven’t played a proper show. So after tonight ask me again. Positive vibes.
You’ll have to come to Swansea.
Natti: Maybe on the next Tour!
So have you gotten to the point yet where you have any pre-show rituals?
Natti: Red wine.
Is that just you or the whole band?
Natti: Most of us!
Jack: Yeah most of us. We don’t have any weird rituals though really.
Natti: No we don’t really. We literally just drink red wine!
Your fan base is constantly growing. Have you started to notice certain faces in the audiences?
Natti: Yeah. It’s really difficult when you’re trying to break as an act, especially after the first year of getting a deal. You’re just constantly thinking ‘You’ve got a record deal now’. You have to keep it, and make it work. Every time something shit happens and you have to play a sold out venue with people who are just super into it, interacting with them on twitter just kind of reassures you a little bit.
How does it feel being on a tour where you’re the headliners? Now you’ve got support acts like Huntar opening for you.
Natti: Well, we’re still openers for other people. It’s just depends how big the tour is. This is a tour we’ve booked ourselves so we had the luxury of doing what we like and then taking Huntar with us, which is really cool.
Plus now you’ve got your single Brooklyn out! Were the fans showing a lot of love for it?
Natti: I think so.
Jack: Yeah, everyone’s been singing it on tour so.
And the video came out last week. How was the shoot?
Natti: It was so fun, my favourite video shoot.
Jack: We drank lots of wine.
Natti: We were really drunk. Just wasted eating Swedish fish. We went to this Mexican place, and everyone was eating tacos while we were still filming. It was great. We filmed it as this house we were staying at in LA.
Sounds like you had a blast! Is it ever difficult agreeing on video concepts or music? Especially with there being 5 of you?
Natti: Well no, it’s more like a power thing. People have different interests. Our drummer is like ‘I play the drums, that’s cool’, and that’s his responsibility. Whereas me and Wilson are very much creative control freaks, so everything from the merch to videos is more us than anyone really.
You’re a band that’s known to play nearly every festival. Did you miss not doing your usual amount of festivals this Summer, what with working on your new album?
Natti: I did yeah, it was really weird because it felt like a disjointed summer. Although we got to play some amazing festivals, I missed doing something every weekend. Instead it was a month in LA recording-which was our downtime I guess-and then coming back and being really excited to play 3 shows one weekend, then going back again. It’s kind of a bit like emotional whiplash.
So, what do you prefer. A good festival? Or are your own shows more fun?
Natti: Our own show if it’s really great, because everyone’s paid specifically to see you. But saying that, with festivals people are on a high. You could come on and play an awful show, and they’d still love it.
Which I’m sure you don’t! You’re currently working on your new album. Any rough release dates yet?
Natti: We’re looking at next Summer for it to be released I think. So it should be done by then, and we’ll be playing lots of festivals.
You guys met in University. As past students, which of your songs do you think is the best pre-night out tune to get you in the mood?
Natti: Well I get snapchats from all our fans, and they always have Fickle Friends on there doing pre-drinks at the weekends and stuff. It’s mostly ‘Swim’.
Jack: Yeah ‘Swim’ is a banger. But I got a snapchat from someone singing ‘Cry Baby’ the other day.
Natti: It’s whatever’s new most of the time with our fans. They always go back to ‘Swim’, but it’s ‘Brooklyn’ at the moment!
Is there any song you guys like playing live in particular?
Natti: We all love doing ‘Cry Baby’ because there’s lots of different parts to it, so yeah.
Any advice for Uni students out there hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Natti: Be prepared to sacrifice stuff such as being financially stable! It’s mostly money, because you’re going to be disgustingly broke starting in a band, having to put all your time into it. There’s no half-arsed way of doing it at all! You’ve got to tour, make fans, do it the old-fashioned way. Or, you can write an awesome song and pay for some PR for a month and hope that it does really well online.
Jack: Both are good ways. We put a song out online and that’s what started us off. Then we spent 2 years touring with no money, no pro-labels. It all payed off in the end though.
Do you think there’s more pressure now that you’re signed to a big label like Polydor?
Natti: Way more. I remember when we were really broke. Our manager at the time would say ‘You’ll have really fond memories of this’ and we were like ‘no we won’t!’. Now we’re like, ‘Do you remember when we used to pile into that family car, be in charge of everything and not have to please everyone’.
So, the tour finishes Thursday in London. Silly question, but are you looking forward to it?
Jack: Yes, very.
Natti: I’m terrified actually. London specifically because it’s the whole record label and people from radio 1. Whereas the rest of the tour it’s just a bit of press and our fans which is great, because we can be chilled about it.