Interviewed by Kai Slater
“When Friko takes the stage, it’s hard not to notice. Between sweeping pop melodies and a series of jumpsuits traded between Bailey Minzenberger (drums), Luke Stamos (bass) and frontman Niko Kapetan, this high drama, heavy show is a force to be reckoned with.”
1. These latest singles have been super good, and notably, all done by yourself at home - what did the process look like for these songs, and how did this compare to how you’re tracking the full length? The two singles were pretty different processes. With Repeat Yourself I did it by recording each drum separately with 3 or 4 mics to get the best sound I could at home, and was more of a recording project. With Get Numb to It!, I wrote that on a really shit day during the winter. I was listening to a Broadcast song and started singing the outro to Get Numb to It along with the end of that Broadcast song. So I just took that outro and wrote around that. I went and recorded the first chord progression that came to my head and just recorded it super blown out and put on really roomy drums. That song was the quickest song to come together, because it was very angsty. With the full-length, the band are working more collaboratively in the studio.
2. Repeat Yourself is especially awesome to me because it shows a deeper delve into (super funky) driving rhythmic focus. It sounds like you really felt free to experiment with it, and that's super cool. The lyrics also seem darker and more direct. How did this song happen? With that song, before anything, I had the chorus melody in my mind with that phrasing. Then I went on to thinking about the drum beat, which is not normally the first thing I think of, so that was definitely a change for me. So I just started with laying down the drum beat fully through with a structure I thought would work, and went from there. That’s the only song I’ve done like that and it’s probably why it’s so rhythm oriented and gridded and angular. With that guitar sound, I used an auto-wah DIed and used Logic’s built-in PhatFX imaging to make it feel even closer. Very cool plug-in, I recommend it.
3. You say on your website that your songs featured on your demo album were written throughout your late adolescence; how far back does your songwriting go and have the themes changed? I started recording on Logic in 7th grade or something with these little loop songs, just making loops of stuff. At the time I didn’t play guitar, just drums. I was just screwing around with recording and having fun. I didn’t make anything worthwhile until around sophomore year of high school when I made my first song song. A common theme in my songs is probably just the reason to have the determination to do it and need to do it, and that irritation that’s kind of impossible to address or talk about properly and it’s something that you kind of just deal with. In my experience, you can only show it, and you can’t put it into words. So that’s kind of the main motivation between all the music I make.
4. Who plays in your band? How did you meet them? What role do they play? Before Friko, there was this 5-piece called the Marquees and we played mostly songs on Burnout Beautiful* at the time. That was junior year/senior year of high school with all school friends. And that was fun, but yeah, school people move away and all that stuff. So right now, the band is Bailey Minzenberger, who I went to school with and had an AP music theory class with, but we never talked until after high school. Now we live together. Luke Stamos does too, who plays bass in the band, and I’ve known him since kindergarten, so that’s been a long long friendship.
5. Going off of the live thing, obviously your solo gigs and full band gigs are kind of separate entities that have their own feels. How’s your general show history, and how did it start? And when you’re writing songs, are you thinking about both solo and live settings, or do those come together later as a band? With the full band, if I’m not bringing a home recording to them, they add a lot both live and in the studio. On the record Bailey plays both drums and guitar. They’re an amazing musician in general, so they’re kind of like the ringer. For the most part lately we’ve been doing that collaboration more, cuz I’ve been writing songs fully through on guitar and vocals and bringing it to them, which I didn’t use to do when it was more recording based. Now it’s more songwriter-y. Starting off, I played shows in middle school with a cover band called ‘Opening Doors’, stupidest name ever. We just played early 2000’s and classic rock covers at block parties and shit. That’s where I started playing shows. I just played drums at that time and would sing periodically. I didn’t start playing original stuff live until the Marquees. With Chicago, it’s so cool what you guys have got going with a bunch of younger people passionate about original music and passionate about each other’s original music, it’s really awesome. We didn’t really have that in Evanston, I didn’t really feel that. So I was kind of on my own with the original stuff for a long time until Friko formed. With Covid, I did a couple of solo shows in random places, like literally just playing at parties to make some money, and I thought, well, I could do this, not play too many covers and adapt a bunch of originals for solo gigs.
6. Your look is a big part of your stage persona, what/who inspired your looks and what does fashion mean to you? In early high school I went through an obsession with glam rock, and that eventually faded, but not with everything. I still love a lot of stuff that stemmed from that. Another Green World is of course one of my favorite albums still. I guess it was just kind of a cross between the glam rock and the post-punk I listened to growing up. Kind of the mix of the “fabulousness” with the makeup and the casualness of the coveralls or something. I just found the red coveralls I have at a thrift store one day and I just really loved it to the point where I wanted to wear it all the time, so we all ended up getting some. So that’s the inspiration for that.
7. You mentioned glam rock; who are some of your more general musical influences? With the glam rock back then, it was just the main ones, Bowie, T. Rex, Roxy Music. There weren’t too many, honestly *laughs*. General music stuff, I definitely grew up with a lot of Elliott Smith songwriter-y stuff as well, Niel Young, and all the post-punk stuff too like Sonic Youth.
8. Do you feel like you’re more of a song artist or an album artist? I feel like the ethos of “power pop” is obviously focused a lot on creating well-crafted songs, as you do, and your singles show this as standalone pieces, but how has your sound translated into a full-length album format? The power pop thing definitely describes a good amount of the music, but that’s just kinda to put a name on it, because there’s definitely a few songs that are more singer-songwriter-y. I’ve always been an album person, cuz I’ve always loved records. I’ve never thought about singles too much. I love the idea of a perfect pop song, but an album is what means a lot to me cuz that’s what connected to me when I was younger. I’ve definitely put a lot of thought about putting interludes on the record, and some songs going into each other - that’s extremely important to me, along with having solid songs. I think it’s a midway point for me.
9. Anything you want to say about upcoming songs/shows? We’re playing the DZ Fest on September 25th!
* A demo album including a lot of the songs that Friko plays live today.