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”The loud songs need the ballads to calm down” – An Interview with Friko

Following on from their acclaimed 2022 EP Whenever Forever, Chicago’s Friko have just released their excellent debut full length record Where we’ve been, Where we go from here. On their first release for ATO Records, vocalist/guitarist Niko Kapetan and drummer Bailey Minzenberger merge elements of post-punk and chamber-pop and experimental rock, magnifying their music’s exhilarating power with a steady barrage of spirited gang vocals.

The album is full of all-out rockers like opener “Where We’ve Been”, “Crashing Through” and “Get Numb To It” but also has delicate operatic moments like “For Ella”. Produced by Scott Tallarida and Friko with additional production from Jack Henry, the record was mainly recorded live at Tallarida’s studio Trigger Chicago.

Friko are playing an album launch show on March 1st at Metro in Chicago before heading to play the SXSW Festival in Austin. You can get tickets for the launch show using this link.

We had a chat with Niko about the record and the influences gave the band their sound.

Hi! How’s everything going right now?
Good! As of right now writing this it’s the day before our release and we’re very excited but also much more nervous than we thought we’d be hahaha

What classic album cover art is your current mood?
Lately I’ve been listening to “Four-Calendar Cafe” by the Cocteau Twins a lot and that cover is also one of my favorite album covers of all time. The color is the perfect blue and I love the “I-Spy” element of it

Your full-length debut Where we’ve been, Where we go from here is released on Feb 16th. When and where did you write and record it?
We wrote and recorded over the course of the past couple years either in our apartment or my parents basement where we practiced full band up until this year. There was never really a point where we were like, “We’re writing an album right now.” We were always just writing, hoping enough songs would come together that made sense as a whole.

The album has more guitar-forward rock songs than your 2022 EP “Whenever Forever” but also has delicate classical moments like “For Ella”. Did you deliberately set out to create a record with such a range of sounds?
For the most part yes. We love loud guitar music as much as we do gender ballads so we like to write those side by side and see if we can make them work together. The loud songs need the ballads to calm down and the ballads need the loud ones to bring the energy.

If you could only listen to one record, what would it be?
I’d have to say “And Their Refinement Of The Decline” by The Stars Of The Lid. I’ve been listening to that ambient record on repeat now for the last couple months and it’s good for almost any situation.

Who were your influences when you were going up that made you want to be in a band?
When I was really young I only listened to retro 60s pop like The Beatles and The Beach Boys, so that initially inspired me to make music when I was around 12 or 13. But then as I got older (around high school age) bands like Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs made me really want to make music with a band.

You signed with ATO Records last year – why did you sign with them and how have they helped you as you get ready to release the album?
ATO was just super excited about the album and gave us a full rundown of how they wanted to get it out there. That genuine interest and care made us super excited to work with them and it’s been great so far. 

You have a release show at Metro in Chicago on March 1st. Do you have any more shows planned and where would be your dream location to play the new record?
We have a bunch of unannounced tours that will be happening in the first half of the year that I don’t believe we can talk about yet but they hit pretty much every part of the US! 
Dream location would probably be a city in Japan, I’ve just never been and Japan seems so cool and has so much culture surrounding it.

What would go on your signature pizza and what would it be called?
I’d put feta, lamb, gyros, and onion, and call it the Greek Boy.

What else do you have planned for 2024?
Just a lotttt of touring coming up and we’re super excited! 

Formed in 2019, Friko soon began taking the stage at legendary Chicago venues like the Metro, Empty Bottle, and Schubas Tavern, self-releasing their acclaimed debut EP Whenever Forever in 2022 and making their festival debut at Bonnaroo the following spring. Known for their high-energy live show, Friko aim to deliver a live experience that’s fantastically disorienting in its emotional arc. Mastered by Heba Kadry (Björk, Big Thief) and engineered by Jack Henry and Scott Tallarida, Where we’ve been, Where we go from here sustains that combustible energy on recent single “Crimson To Chrome”: a downhearted yet exultant track that landed on Pitchfork’s “Selects” playlist and held the No. 1 spot on the SiriusXMU chart for three weeks.

You can find out more about Friko on their website, get a copy of Where we’ve been, Where we go from here from their Bandcamp page and follow them on Instagram and Twitter for all the latest news.

Feature Image Credit – Pooneh Ghana

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