Noise Annoys: Brand New Friend sell out
Freshly minted Xtra Mile recording artists Brand New Friend play a sold-out gig at Belfast's Duke of York tonight. Noise Annoys quizzes frontman Taylor Johnson about the Castlerock/Belfast indie popsters' rapid rise to Next Big Thing status
HI TAYLOR, are you looking forward to the Duke of York tonight? You’ve played there a couple of times now, does it have special significance for the band?
Absolutely! We’re buzzing for it, to have people believing in your band so much and buying tickets in advance means the world.
We love the Duke of York too, it was the venue for Aaron’s (Milligan, bass) first official gig with us and it’s always a sweaty one!
Congratulations on your recent signing to Xtra Mile, what influenced your decision to commit to them?
Thank you so much! It’s a huge deal for us. We love Xtra Mile because from day one they seemed to really get us, giving us full creative control to make the album we wanted and backing us constantly.
We love how involved they are, even Frank Turner has taken the time to listen to our record and been very encouraging, giving us a slot with him in Camden this May.
It feels like a family and we’re very grateful for the chance to be a part of it all.
It’s only been a couple of years since you put out the debut Brand New Friend EP, American Wives. To what do you attribute this rapid ascent to indie rock stardom?
Our mums have always said we’re superstars so we’ll take the compliment!
American Wives was the first time Lauren (Johnson, keys/vocals) and I had ever been in a studio. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing, we just had loads of songs and very little money to do anything with them!
Thankfully our producer Rocky O’Reilly had heard a few of our demos and stepped in to make the whole thing real.
When it came to our debut album we knew he was the only one we wanted to work with!
It’s been a tough slog just to reach this point, but we’ve always believed in the songs and never stopped gigging. My dad was driving me to open mics when I should have been studying for my A-levels – this has been our number one priority since day one!
We’re determined to do our absolute best.
Best Brand New Friend moment to date? And your worst/most difficult?
I think we’ll all have different moments which stand out along the journey, but I think I speak for all of us when I say the night we signed our record deal was incredible.
Being able to make an album with a label behind you is phenomenal, we’re grateful for every second we get to do this.
Also, meeting Rag ‘N’ Bone Man at Electric Picnic was class!
When we signed our record deal the gigs started getting bigger, but you can’t play in your local every week with your mates, which is how we started.
That was a tough thing to take at first, but we soon adjusted to it and are now used to bigger stages and actuallybeing able to hear yourself when we play!
Which of your songs are you most proud of, and why?
Luke (Harris, drums) and I love a song called The Blame, a slow builder that nearly ends our record. It’s a personal song for me and ends with all four of us singing together, so to me it’s special.
Lauren loves a song called Milk Chews, which has a beautiful synth part and is again quite emotional.
Aaron is big into Seatbelts For Aeroplanes, the title track of our album and a subtle nod to A Plastic Rose, a band who have had a mammoth influence on us since before we even formed!
He’s also got an unreal bassline running through the verses which really lifts the tune.
Please reveal your biggest influences, musical or otherwise.
Lauren idolises Hayley Williams from Paramore and I think she definitely channels a lot of her spirit on stage!
Aaron is big into Fugazi, which means his bass playing never just follows the chords. In our band, his bass and Lauren’s synth are our lead instruments – my guitar is strictly rhythm!
Luke loves the 90s Seattle grunge scene, so Matt Cameron from Soundgarden is a big thing for him. He hits harder than any drummer I've ever met!
For me it’s all about Morrissey. His words mean everything to me.
What advice would you give to those who might hear your music and be inspired to form their own band as a result?
Brand New Friend started as a safe place to write about how I was feeling – writing songs makes me happy.
If you’re the same and wondering whether to let anyone else hear it, I’d say do it. You might make one other person feel a little better about things and if that happens, it’s all worth it.
What is your ultimate ambition for the band?
We want to be the biggest and best band in the world.
When’s the album coming out then?
You can expect it in April! There should be a single out before then though.
Finish this sentence: “Brand New Friend will never…?”
:: Brand New Friend have another Belfast show on sale now, at The Black Box on April 28, priced £8 via Blackboxbelfast.com