Interview with: Sam Jeffers (Fridge)
Location: Via Email
Your recording output has been incredibly prolific yet you've remained very much an underground band. Is commercial success something you are aiming for or would that just be an added bonus for Fridge?
I don't think we're aiming for (or ever have been) aiming for anything that most people would term 'commercial success'. The most we've ever really hoped for was that the band could afford to make records as we want to, with full access to the sound that we hear for the records and to support the relatively frugal lives of its three members. The closest that we ever came to achieving this was at the time of the release of Eph in the UK. I think the main reason we've remained underground is that the music has been quite eclectic and that there's not a real commercial base of understanding about instrumental music. Nobody, least of all us, seems to know how to promote an instrumental band.
Whilst still remaining outside of the mainstream, you still have limited exposure when producers on TV use your music for trailers and documentaries. Is this how you like your music to be heard, or does decontextualizing it in this way displease you?
I'd say that hearing our music outside of it's original form brings us some small pleasure. I guess that most people hearing our music have no particular thing to link it to - there aren't relevant titles or lyrics to guide them - so they have to conjure their own linkages. It's interesting to see therefore the visual links that people who put our music to pictures make. I suspect lower motives however...
I guess you could say that the 'Happiness' album was critically acclaimed, how happy were you within the album and the critics' reactions to it? We're very proud of happiness as a complete album. After Semaphore, we wanted to introduce a more coherent feel to our albums, to make the 45-60 minutes feel like a single piece. We achieved this in part on Eph, but I think we're much closer with Happiness. The aim of trying to give the album 'wholeness' in this sense is to try to use it to guide the mood of the listener as the album progresses. It's not really music to put on when you're angry, or about to go out dancing, more to listen to when you know you want to feel a certain way at the end of listening to it. Our hope is that it leaves you feeling warm, calm and happy. That's a good way to be isn't it? As for critical acclaim for the record, the reviews have been generally very good and we hope that shows that we've met some of the aims of the record.
You toured the US with 'Explosions in the Sky', a band who were highly recommended to us when we interviewed the American Analog Set. How did this tour come about?
The tour came about through the usual nefarious channels that set these things up - the label in this case. This could have potentially set two bands up playing with another that didn't suit them and having to hang around with people who they didn't like. The opposite was true. The two bands complemented each other well - they are a really wonderful live band - and they are people I take pleasure in calling 'friend'.
You still record in bedrooms. Don't the neighbours complain? And does it affect your dynamic in any way (ie being quieter than you would?)
Recording in bedrooms is partly true. The loud guitars, bass and drums for Happiness were recorded in a small studio, the overdubs (i.e. the bulk of the record) were done in my basement. These overdubs aren't usually loud, so while my neighbours show kindness and understanding, we don't fuck-shit-that's-too-fucking-loud them either. I think the way it affects the dynamic is that we record in totally familiar surroundings always. We know where the bathroom is, the fridge is two seconds away, we know the local shopkeeper. It creates the nice homely atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie that we hope shines through the music.
Although Keiren's extra-fridgular activities are well known (Fourtet, label etc.), does everyone else in the band also go out and do their respective 'things' as well?
Kieran is Four tet obviously. Currently this takes up the most part of his time. He's touring with Radiohead in Spain next month for example. Adem has a solo project under his own name that kicks off with his debut London show tomorrow. It's folk music of a sort. Quite English folk music I think. His longer term aim is to put his own band together and record an album. I'm in the middle of redesigning the website for Domino (our European label) and am returning to university to read International Relations in October.
What's next for Fridge? Is their new material in the pipeline, and what's it like? When's it out?
Next for Fridge will be to record another album. Hopefully this will happen before October, although schedules are being packed as we speak. We haven't really talked about it at all... I guess this might mean that we return to making strategy free records, but maybe we'll come up with something. Free rock might be the way I'd go, but I did see Sonic Youth last night so it might be that enthusiasm talking.