There are plenty of “buzz” bands coming out of Brooklyn, but something about Friends sets them apart. Best known for their singles "Friend Crush" and "I'm His Girl," they’re a fun-loving group of genuine friends who are making the best of the attention brought their way.
A bed bug infestation brought the soon-to-be band members into a tight living situation that resulted in the band’s formation. Six days after practicing, Friends played their first show. Soon after, they were signed and thrown into the touring musician’s lifestyle. They released their debut album, Manifest! (Fat Possum Records), on June 5.
College Timeschatted with singer Samantha Urbani during a rare off day in Seattle. She dished on touring, trading and her never-ending ambition.
College Times: What’s up?
Samantha Urbani: Today we went to the park. We did yoga. I went to a thrift store and bought this insanely amazing jumpsuit. It’s really cool, and now we’re eating Indian food. It’s actually a really good day, which is awesome because sometimes touring can be really dark. I’m just really happy to be back in really good weather and being back in the States is cool, too. I wasn’t sure I’d look forward to it but it’s actually really nice.
You’ve been on the road a lot lately.
Yeah, being on tour is a very strange lifestyle. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t done could it really understand. It’s really alienating in a lot of ways, but in a cool meditative way. I feel like we’re a troop of aliens and we always help each other even when the world is very strange. Usually it’s just the five of us in the band and maybe like a tour manager. It can get really weird just hanging out with the same people every day. It’s almost like “Groundhog Day” where the same day gets repeated over and over but you’re also doing time travel and [there’s] a lot of complications.
I’ve noticed you’re into bartering on the road.
Totally! Yeah, I really think money is really silly most of the time. It makes sense as a measurement of what we’re trading each other but I think it’s better to get rid of the middle man, and going directly to trading makes more sense. It’s a lot more personal and fulfilling. Like, last night I was walking around before our show and I went into a yoga studio because I wanted to buy a coconut water. And I started talking to the girl, told her I was playing, she really wanted to come, so I told her I’d put her on the list and she instantly offered to give me two free passes for her yoga classes. Bartering is an excellent idea. I trade a lot. I trade clothes. I trade books, plants, cooking, volunteer work where you help your friends work on their venue or space. It’s unspoken bartering where you help each other out, and it’s all open and interchanging and stuff.
Where were you at this point last year?
Last year I had just moved to Rockaway Beach. We had just started with our first record label. We didn’t really know what the timeline was going to be. We were talking about recording an album and going on tour, but we were still playing tons of shows all the time in Brooklyn. We were constantly playing shows in Brooklyn. It’s all relative. Sometimes I feel like everything’s going really fast and other times I feel like it’s driving me insane how slowly things are going. Like, it seems like things are going really fast for us because in the last year we started touring in Europe a lot and getting more attention, whatever, but for me, I’m like, “Holy fuck, did we really only release, like, two singles in the last year?” That’s insane! How am I supposed to continue to feel fulfilled if we can only put out 12 songs a year on an album when I want to put out 12 songs a month? And then I don’t have any time to write or record because we’re on tour all the time. It’s just a mix of things and there are some points where I have these epiphany moments where I’m like, “Holy shit, I’m living a dream life. I’m doing everything I wanted to do when I was a kid.” But then there are other times when I completely question what I’m doing. [Laughs] I’m gonna’ figure it all out as I go along.
Friends w/Wild Nothing, Splash!, Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, 602.716.2222, June 30, 8:30 p.m., $10 adv, $12 dos