It’s really rewarding to look back at what we and our friends have achieved together, starting from absolutely nothing.
Best Friends have been embroiled in the hands-on lifestyle of DIY music for years. This year however, the Sheffield bunch bagged their debut album ‘Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane.’ with limited resources and money, holding down modest full-time jobs all the while. The imminent release of this hard-earned record is an undoubtedly significant moment for the band, so I caught up with the guys to see what it’s all about.
Vocalist Lewis Sharman tells me, “The weird thing was that it almost felt like writing a second album.” This isn’t surprising considering the rate of their past releases; in the days under well-loved DIY label Art Is Hard we were gifted quite an impressive string of material. Things change though and, this time, they’re going out on larger indie, FatCat Records, home of underground mainstays Twilight Sad and 2015 blog darlings Honeyblood alike. “As much as it would have been really cool to do the full-length with Art is Hard, we decided to send it out to some bigger labels to see what would happen.” Putting the feelers out there proved to be a sensible move: “It was a dream come true for us as we’d been fans for years, but we’ll always be part of Art Is Hard. It’s definitely a community there and we’ve made so many great friends through being part of it. It’s definitely not a case of signing and leaving all that behind. There’s a real sense that we’re all in it together.”
The record itself is one of angst-packed garage-pop; a sound working well for contemporaries such as FIDLAR or Hooton Tennis Club, as Best Friends sit confidently in a wave of acts pumping out warm, instantly-likeable tunes right now. Those already familiar will likely know the band for their spontaneity, but the album is a more a calculated affair. “We spent over a year writing this debut; we knew we wanted to put something together that was more concise than our previous releases. We spent way more time on song structure and getting things to sound right, rather than just smashing them out.” This is certainly evident on tracks like ‘Fake Spit’, a burly, hormonal mess, yet with something more mapped out bubbling just below the surface.
‘Hot. Reckless…’ indeed appears to be about maturing in a sense. “Lyrically there wasn’t really a specific rationale, but it is more bittersweet than our other releases, which I think comes from us all leaving university and realising real life isn’t as easy as we thought. We were pretty carefree before.” You could say that this is the band growing up on all fronts; their songwriting being more honed and precise than before, matching their new sense of lyrical direction.
As the name suggests, the band rely very much on their friendships, both inside and outside the band, when it comes to realising their goals. “There are loads of people who’ve helped us along the way and we’re indescribably grateful. With the album coming out it’s really rewarding to look back at what we and our friends have achieved together, starting from absolutely nothing.”
Getting in a van with your friends and going to new places to play music is what it’s all about.
Working with their pals has often made Best Friends a somewhat insular entity, their penchant for looking for help ‘in-house’ earning them a reputation as a staunchly DIY band. However, they don’t want defending such a tag to limit their potential as they go forth into the world. Lewis explains, “We do hate to see people getting slated for doing things that ‘aren’t DIY’. It’s pretty unlikely that you start a band one day and the next someone turns up with a cheque, so what else are you going to do? If you get offered something fair that would allow you to play music and see the world early on you’d be stupid not to go for it. There’s no need to take it so seriously.”
Best Friends hit our corner of the world this month, playing The Louisiana as part of a tour they’re particularly looking forward to. “Getting in a van with your friends and going to new places to play music is what it’s all about. It’s our first proper headline tour and we’re going to be celebrating the album release pretty hard.” Old labelmates Birdskulls will join and, judging by their memories together, it will make for a chaotic pairing. “The last time we played with those guys I got up in the morning to grab a glass of water, and saw Jonny and Jack from Birdskulls asleep on a second-storey roof surrounded by beer bottles.” Sounds like just the kind of debauchery we love here in Bristol.
Best Friends and Birdskulls play The Louisiana on 14th July.
Check out our old favourite ‘Dude Love’ right here: