Saskatoon-based band Friends of Foes is gearing up for a show at Bo’s in Red Deer on Feb. 14th in support of their new EP Faults.
The project is set for release on Feb. 12th, following the band’s exceptional 2013 debut release Chronophobic and subsequent 2014 single Winter. They were in town just last summer and are excited about a re-visit to Red Deer as part of their current tour.
“We’ve matured as songwriters, and we took a lot of time between the first album and this second EP and we took a more collaborative approach,” said bassist Anthony Nickel of the sentiments they had heading into the production of Faults.
“That was one of the main goals – that we wanted to work together more now that we’ve playing a lot longer, have toured and have also gotten more used to each other’s style of music.
“For me it’s also definitely a point of pride on a personal level and also on a band level, showing how much we have grown and matured.”
Rounding out the band are guitarist Matt Stinn, singer Celeste Nicholson and drummer Keegan Stretch. Each member comes with a knack for various styles of music, and it’s that element that really sets Friends of Foes apart.
Nickel said the project marks his first recording with the band after having signed on two years ago shortly after the release of Chronophobic. His own passion for music was sparked as a youth and over the years, has explored a number of genres from jazz to metal to folk.
Stinn said Nickel fits right in with the band on several levels.
“When we were looking for a bassist, we wanted somebody who technically had the chops to match up with the rest of the band,” he said. “At the end of the day, if you have a weak point musically it certainly shouldn’t be in the rhythm section,” he added with a laugh. “He also just gelled with the band right away.”
During the transition period between bassists, Stinn said Nickel was spending hours a day practicing Friends of Foes’ catalogue. “His work ethic really lined up with the way we work as a band and the ways we continually try to function in all of our business,” he said. “He’s also just a perfect fit personality-wise.”
Faults was recorded by long-time collaborator Jordan Smith as well as co-produced by Smith and Stinn.
The CD indeed marks a turning point in the band’s writing and lyrical content, as well as a shift to a fuller and more atmospheric sound.
Having already shared the stage with some of Canada’s best bands, topping numerous ‘Best Of’ lists with their debut Chronophobic, and drawing comparisons to Death Cab for Cutie and Stars, Friends of Foes has been described as a relentlessly hard working band dead set on carving a name for themselves in the Canadian music scene.
Hailing from the heart of the Saskatchewan prairies, the band ‘hit their listeners with a roaring wall of sonic talent’ as their bio so strikingly puts it.
There’s certainly much that sets the band apart, and it stems in part from the members’ individual commitment as artists as well.
Stinn had embarked on a sociology degree with a minor in jazz, but halfway through realized he was there pretty much because he had been told it was the proper path for his life.
These days, aside from FOF, he’s a full-time guitar teacher – and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Nickel said he’s currently an education student, set to graduate this year. “Teaching has been a huge goal in my life, but music has been a much longer passion of mine. My goal is to make both things work in my life as much as I possibly can,” he explained. “I don’t ever want to give up playing music. It makes up a huge part of my identity.”
As for finding the energy and drive to pour so much into the demands of being a musician, both men say it just comes naturally.
“Recording is absolutely amazing,” said Nickel. “And the experience of playing ‘live’ shows, seeing the looks on people’s faces when they are dancing – those are the things that keep me going every single day. Also, touring – just to be able to hand out with friends – driving to the west coast and back. It’s so much fun.
“You get to make new friends every single night – you see new faces. It’s really the life I always wanted – the experience of musicianship on every level.”
Stinn echos those thoughts. “Tony sums it up really well – it’s about that mastering of your craft and seeing it come to fruition, and that sense of gratification you get.”