Interview: Taking the long route: Best Friends get hot, reckless and totally insane

Taking the long route: Best Friends get hot, reckless and totally insane

Sheffield group discuss giving back to the DIY community and their head-turning debut album.

It might read more like a sheepish dating profile, but the title ‘Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane’ means a lot for Sheffield garage punks Best Friends. Four years after forming and cementing themselves as staples of the UK DIY scene, this first work is a fuzz-embellished mission statement. Penned in Christmas 2013, sessions took place with producer Adam Jeffrey. The band’s Lewis Sharman tells DIY that while they’d intended for this full-length to be a self-release or something low-key, they decided to send to to bigger labels to see who’d bite. Within minutes, FatCat were on board, the Brighton-based label signing up the group for a spring 2015 release.

“We’ve worked hard for it. Not that other bands don’t, but… It’s not been a press hype thing for us,” says Sharman. “We’ve proved that we can write good songs over the course of four years. We’ve proved ourselves. It’s nice to be able to look back and think that. Some people put one song on Soundcloud and it goes massive for them. We have a lot more experience. And we’ve come through a scene. Sometimes a band who blows up quickly, they miss out on so much. They’re straight into a van with a tour manager - which would be nice, sometimes. But they miss out on the stupid situations you get into.” Just about past getting into every stupid situation possible, Best Friends are finally ready for their first big step.

It’s brilliant to see the last few years amount to a debut album. When did that all come together?

We finished writing it in Christmas 2013. And then we were asked if we wanted to go into the studio with Adam Jeffrey, just to do a little trial. And it went well. We recorded the album with him, finished it in like March. And we were debating what to do with it, so we sent it round to labels that we liked. One of them was FatCat. One of their staff was walking to work one day, ‘Happy Anniversary’ came on the iPod, and they thought, ‘Oh, I wonder what these guys are doing’. And by the time she saw her inbox, our album was in there.

And by the time that happened, was it a done deal?

We had talked about maybe doing it somewhere like Art Is Hard. We’ve done a lot of stuff with them before, and it’d be nice to carry it on. But we put it out there to see what we got back. We really like what FatCat do - Traams and Honeyblood.

I was interested in the Art Is Hard association - I think people are always going to look back on that as an important label for UK DIY. What was it like being a part of it?

That pizza club they did - for me, everyone who’s made themselves in the UK DIY circle, they’ve all done something for that. It’s a really cool body of work. And it’s become a bit of a network. I think we got an email from Art Is Hard when we first put our demos online. And then The Black Tambourines - who we thought were really cool - we’ve been friends with them for a long time. At their shows, everyone comes together - everyone sleeps on each other’s floors.

Do you feel like you’re still a part of it?

We definitely do. Obviously Joanna Gruesome - they’ve gone off and they’re doing really great things. Nai Harvest have been in it from the start. Black Tambourines are on their second record, getting recognition. A lot of it feels like we’ve been in it for the long haul. We’re trying to do a similar thing. We built a studio in Sheffield, using it to record bands, like how we did our first recordings - local bands helped us out. A few of our friends - Radical Boy and a few others - we’ve all come together. I’m not going to take credit for building it, though. But it’s cool to be able to invite people over - if anyone wants to record anything, they can. Fruit Bomb - the band from Nai Harvest - they recorded their tracks at ours.

Is there any particular show from the last four years that might be written into folklore?

Maybe the Art is Hard one that we did in Dalston, Victoria. It was fucking bad. We were on last and we ended up getting absolutely hammered. Far beyond our ability to play. It was a shambles. A really fun show, super fun. We haven’t got any live footage anywhere apart from this one gig where someone’s filmed the entire set.

Where did the title ‘Hot, Reckless, Totally Insane’ stem from?

It’s from an amazing skateboarding film called ‘Thrashin’’. It’s like Romeo & Juliet with skateboards. There are bad guys, and the guy whose sister he’s trying to get with - they’re called the Daggers, this super cool skate gang who cruise around with denim jackets emblazoned with daggers. There’s a scene in it where they joust at one of those reservoir scenes with banks either side. I’ve wanted to use it as a title for so long. Every opportunity where we’ve done a release, I’ve been hoping to use it.

Best Friends' 'Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane' is released on 4th July via FatCat Records.

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