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Killing Students

I first saw Friendly Fires live a few years ago at The Dublin Castle in Camden when the band were still at university and went under the awful name First Day Back.
November 1, 2006, 12:00am

Photo by Rob Lee

I first saw Friendly Fires live a few years ago at The Dublin Castle in Camden when the band were still at university and went under the awful name First Day Back. They sounded like an incredible cross between LCD Soundsystem and At The Drive In, but needed more than just a punk-funk tendency, some staccato shouting and a couple of spiffy melodies if they were ever going to get anywhere. Some added hooks, a catchy debut single and a great Jamie Principle cover later, and now everyone’s name-dropping them as the band to look out for next year, even me. Their lead singer Ed MacFarlane spent three years in Nottingham, studying at Nottingham Trent University, so we got hold of him to ask what it was like being a student there. Vice: You look like a proper wimpy, limp-wrested, indie-loving student. I bet living in Nottingham was hell on earth for you. Ed: Personally, I don’t like listening to too much indie. I’ve been listening to a lot of house and good soul music recently, like Jamie Lidell’s album. I also like the new album by Converge, the metal band. Great. Tell me about Nottingham. I was living in Radford. I’ve never seen any problems on my road, it was mainly on the hill next to me where all the prostitutes hang out that stuff happens. I was mugged at knifepoint on that hill. I was walking to my friend’s house, it was about 9 PM it wasn’t too late, and these two chaps with zipped up, hooded tops came up to me. I knew something was going to happen when I saw them walking towards me because they had their faces almost completely covered. They saw me wearing white earphones, and they asked me “What’s that?” When I showed them it was just a shitty CD player, they were like “Oh. I don’t want that,” and then one of them pulled a knife, so I tried to carry on walking, but they took my wallet, which had no money or credit card in it, and my phone, which was bottom of the range. I felt sorry for them for wasting their time. What was Radford like apart from that? It was okay, in general. I only had that one incident the whole three years I lived there, but while I was at the police station reporting the mugging, I had a look at the notice board of all the crimes that had happened that week and one of the notices said that two rotting women’s corpses had been found in this factory which was right next to my house. Sounds like an interesting part of town. Did your friends ever get robbed at knifepoint or beaten up? Yeah, one of my friends was mugged by two guys with knives. He had his wallet on him with his credit card, and they took him to a cash machine and said, “Take some fucking money out.” I was lucky, really, compared to him. Also, my friend Matt got lamped in the face right in the town centre by local drunkards that go out on Friday night. Since I’ve moved away, I’ve heard some stories from my mates. The “best” I heard was about this kid who got shot on his bike outside the Victoria Centre, the main shopping centre in town. He obviously had some issues with some other kids because this other guy came up to him and shot him off his bike and then cycled off on the bike as a getaway. I miss the place, really. JOHN MCDONNELL