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Keeping Up With Malaysia’s Indie Alt-Pop Veterans – The Fridays

Keeping Up With Malaysia’s Indie Alt-Pop Veterans – The Fridays

Second album in 18 years but still truckin’.

Maya Suraya

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If The Fridays were a person they’d be old enough to vote, smoke, and marry without parental consent. But they aren’t just one person, they are a group of people who have lived long enough to know the indie spirit is still strong in Malaysia.

In light of their second album No One Realizes This Is Nowhere, dropping soon in July, TRP spoke to their vocalist Acap F about beginnings, the middle, the not-quite end, and what? Only two albums in 18 years?!

In the beginning

In 2003, four “socially backward” neighbourhood friends with a penchant for pop culture formed a band and called themselves The Fridays.

The Fridays were largely inspired by Girl Friday, a term to describe an office assistant / Jane of all trades that keeps the ship running. Amid their testosterone-laden hometown Acap F coins as Ampang Metal City, the ode to something feminine and bold was their way to stand out.

Since their formation, the band has seen several band member changes. They’ve gone through 2 drummers, 2 bass players (though the first one has returned), and 3 generations of guitar players with vocalist Acap F, being the only constant in the band.

The core of the current line-up has been playing together for a decade, longer than the original line-up or the so-called ‘classic’ line-up of 2006/2007

Acap F to TRP

Alongside Acap F, the band now is comprised of Afniaz ‘Kakak’ Afiq (Drums) Fikri ‘Usher’ Zulkifly (Guitars) Pak Iran (Guitars) Adib Azhari (Bass), and Subkhi Pamungkas (Keyboards).

Music for a lot of musicians is about having fun and having a creative outlet to express themselves. The Fridays are no different, attributing not taking themselves too seriously and laughing at everything including themselves as a factor to their long shelf life.

Pre-pandmemic times playing at Chaos Hotel in 2015
(Credit: Chaos Hotel / Facebook)

A slice of indie alt-pop with a touch of neuroses

While The Fridays may easily be classified as “indie” due to their independent do-it-yourself approach to writing music, playing small gigs, and their laid-back aesthetic, the best way to describe them is indie alt-pop.

I would call it (our music) a cross between golden age American alt-pop (e.g. Better Than Ezra, Toad The Wet Sprocket) and the tail end of Britpop (e.g. Theaudience, Sleeper). Mixed in there with some Pixies and Talking Heads’ neuroses for good measure.

Acap F to TRP

They have been described as ‘sparkly pop’ and ‘weird-not-quite-hardcore screaming madness’. Their sound is raw pop with a medium-well level of jangly guitars and lyrics reminiscent of English band like the Smiths but with emotional crooning.

Though not a lot has changed musically in style, Acap F said the band has gotten subtle about weaving statements more seamlessly into their songs, versus the brash sloganeering in their younger days. The music is also more focused now.

18 years of experience, two albums, and one pandemic that’s still going

There were only so many episodes of The OC that they could stomach in the early 2000s and the band happened to have some songs already written.

From there, The Fridays started playing in hole-in-the-wall venues like Paul’s Place (now-defunct) nearly every weekend and eventually playing to wider audiences at Urbanscapes and Good Vibes in 2016.

When asked why is there a large gap of time between the band’s first album Verklempt in 2015 and their second one, Acap F shares how the band likes to let their songs marinate.

We play them live and we rehearse and we find ourselves adding bits to it until suddenly it comes into its own probably a few years later. Then we record. Hence the long gestation period.

Acap F to TRP

Music video of the lead single Constellations. Shot in February by Hafiz Anson at the Grey Cube Media Studio.

It took 12 hours on 1 March 2020 for the band to record their second album. Between then and now, a lot of life events transpired – including setbacks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

When there seemed to be a little light at the end of the tunnel in 2021, the band played a live show in March and thought about finally releasing the record. They had hopes to throw a small launch party and play some shows in selected venues as well, but MCO 3.0 happened. In spite it all, the band made the most of the situation and decided to release it this year nonetheless.

In response to how Acap F thinks indie musicians should tackle the pandemic, he said:

Collaborate and help each other more with alternative measures to combat the current situation…online shows and stuff like that

Acap F to TRP

READ MORE: This Song Was Written, Recorded, And Produced Within 24 Hours After MCO 3.0 Was Announced

Their second album, No One Realizes This Is Nowhere, is opened for pre-order until 31 July.

Support the local music scene and visit The Fridays on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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