Update: The band is now known as Weather. Their website can be found here

Friendly People have a light-hearted feel to their music, the kind that lovers of Grizzly Bear, The Shins, and Spoon should check out. I saw Friendly People open for San Fermin last week at Brighton Music Hall. Although the two bands are quite different, Friendly People proved to be a solid opener, and the venue filled up within their first few songs.

They opened with the song that gave them their name—“Friendly People”— a catchy, carefree and nostalgic song. Every member of the band had a huge smile on his face. “I cannot wait for that feeling again / The Friendly people are all letting me in,” Pat sang in the refrain. A few people beside me sang along, revealing that people were not there only for San Fermin.

We’re kind of like Nickelodean magazine,” the bare-footed Pat claimed near the end of the show. “My favorite t-shirt is a manatee hugging an acoustic guitar. Who’s not a fan of manatees?” Upon hearing the sound of confessions from some embarrassed audience members, he said, “That’s so sad, they’re just doing their thing, you gotta love manatees.”

Next up—and the highlight of the show—Friendly People performed “A Lot of Work to Do.” The song began with Pat singing solo over some acoustic guitar. Some members of the audience were speaking to each other, a little bit unfocused. But the tension in the song builds and Pat slowly sings more aggressively, the audience goes quiet.  There’s a sharp switch from acoustic singer-songwriter sound to raw, cathartic vocals: an energetic ride that ended with Davis knocking off his ride cymbal.

Just before the show, I sat down backstage with the group and talked with them about their latest album, their songwriting process, and the Boston music scene.

Nitesh: Tell me about yourself.

Pat: Well we formed as a band three years ago. it was at this singer-songwriter circle at All-Asian Cafe actually in Cambridge. I was playing some songs and Mitch and Davis were in the audience and liked what I was doing. We started playing music together and it happened like that. It’s been through many formations since then.

Nitesh: After listening to your album “Shake” all the way through, I have to ask, is it a concept album?

Pat: No, but that’s really cool! What makes you think that?

Nitesh: It seemed to follow a trend, in the first few songs about questioning and finding your place, then letting yourself love, and then well, the aftermath of all of that.

Pat: That’s a pretty beautiful description. That’s pretty great.

Jeff: That’s pretty cool. We did obsess over each track a lot. We definitely took our time to choose what song order goes where. We thought about dynamics, and the emotional content. It was a long and respectful, we creatively critiqued everything.

Mitch: All of those songs were written at different times over a long span. Some of those songs, Pat’s had for years.

Pat: Yeah, there are the themes of relationship troubles because everyone goes through that and that’s what I was going through when I wrote some songs. After that, you try to make sense of your place as a person. And that came from relationship troubles. So I guess it was naturally thematic. I tend to write from a personal point.

Nitesh: How did you come up with your name, Friendly People. Did you come up with the song “Friendly People” first?

Pat: The song came first, yup. We were sitting around a coffee table one day and were trying to think of a name. It was kind of just like that–why not friendly people? I mean, we’re friendly people. But now we have this dilemma where we have to constantly be friendly…

Nitesh: Is there a story behind the song “Friendly People”?

Pat: Yes [laughs]. I was just with some really beautiful folks that day and it was just a magical experience. I really wanted to love everyone and I just understood things that day. It was just the best day ever.

Nitesh: Without using any sort of genre names, how would you describe your music?

Pat: I’d say dynamic.

Colin: Groove-based and free.

Jeff: I would say that it’s like the ninja turtles pop from the ice cream truck in the middle of the hottest day of the summer.

Mitch: I think there are a lot of cathartic aspects to the music. A lot of energy fluctuates, dynamically speaking. Songwriting is a huge element in our music.

Nitesh: I really like how “A Lot of Work to Do” starts out soft and has a sudden angry jump to it. How does the audience typically react to it?

Jeff: I’d say they get scared!

Mitch: It’s the change in something that’s so soft and so lyric and story-driven, a huge change in dynamic level and intensity. At least when I first heard the song, it just brings a rush of adrenaline which carries right to the end with the big release.

 

Nitesh: How have you guys found the Boston music scene?

Pat: We love the Boston music scene. Partially just because it’s our foundation–it’s where we’re from. But it’s always a blast playing here. The audience is always so receptive and energetic to our music.

Nitesh: What’s your favorite show that you’ve played?

Pat: Our CD release show was really fun! We just played the record from start to finish at the Middle East upstairs. There was one part of the show, before we went on, where somebody shaved a  handlebar mustache on my face, right before we went on, right in the middle of the audience. And we went on to play our song.

Nitesh: That’s so great! Do you have a favorite venue?

Jeff: If I had to choose one –and this is just my opinion–but I would say the Elk’s Lodge. We used to do shows at the Elk’s Lodge in Central Square and it was just a multi-purpose space. It was a suggested donation and tons of people came out and donated! It was loud and fun and most of our Boston fan base was gained with those shows.

Pat: Actually, one of the Elk’s Lodge shows—I almost threw up because it was so energetic when I was running around on stage during one of our punkier songs, “Speak.”

 

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