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An Interview With Sam Jeffers, Percussionist, Multi-Instrumentalist, And Artist With Fridge

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With seemingly limitless exuberant energy, Fridge burst out of the trap to remind us what we have been missing from Adem Ilhan, Kieran Hebden and Sam Jeffers on their latest album, The Sun. A musical expansivity, the creativity to renegotiate the sonic spectrum and the vitality of spirit to produce sounds that make us listen in unexpected ways are some of my key reference points to their latest album. The term post-rock is a weary one, worn threadbare over the years as musicians have sought to mangle and distort those sacred musical patterns that we are familiar and safe with.

Bark Psychosis were the band that first did it for me and there are many other mavericks who push the possibilities into the unfamiliar. Fridge is another band I would always cite as inhabiting this space and The Sun is a beautiful example of this. From the first crack of driving percussion from Sam Jeffers, they set the tone for the rest of the album.

It`s not a punk album, but it has the vibey edge and snarl of a garage band. This vibe of exuberance seeps out of The Sun, regardless of the tempo. The art and the process are of great importance to Fridge. Whilst the three members have all been hard at work on their own musical projects they can mix and match instruments at will. An instrument that is also pushed to the fore is the studio itself. Sounds and loops flicker in and out of the mix, as if they are caught in a swirling eddy that churns and spins the tones and resonance into new forms for aural interpretation.

It would be unwise to read into this total unfamiliarity of form, and the one thing that becomes clear is the warm rich harmonies at play on this album. Yeah, it has tunes. Beautiful harmonies that take shape like the tattoed skin(s) a coiled snake sheds in time to the seasons natural rythmn, it all takes place under The Sun. Did you think it was all awkward sounds, stuttering and crawling at you like a manic ecstasy casualty, brain fried, nodding out to the tin foiled morning come down ? Well, you thought wrong buddy!

Fridge member Sam Jeffers spilt the beans with me;

Sam, how does it feel to be about to pick up the sticks and the reins after a longish hiatus?

It’s been a longish pickup really. It feels good, but it’s been nearly a year since the record was finished. It’s been hard to get us all together.

What have you all been up to since last playing together as Fridge?

Kieran has been Fourtet, Adem has been Adem and I have been a student and running Worklesshard. We all have had a great time doing it, but we’ve always wanted to make another record.

Who does what in Fridge?

The roles aren’t always as clear as this, but Kieran plays guitar, Adem bass, and me drums. Kieran tends to do most of the production work and Adem most of the other weird other instruments. I go to the shops and buy chocolate.

And who are your personal musical inspirations?

We all love (in no particular order) – John and Alice Coltrane, the Battles records, Caribou, and Ghostface. At least, these inspire me this week. You can probably guess which inspire me every week.

They all shine brightly through, for sure, so what made you decide to record and release a new album?
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We’ve actually been recording it for a long while. We’ve been about half done for two years and the last year has been a pause between finishing the recording (last August) and releasing (now). The decision was an easy one – we love to play together, we love the way we make music, we even love some of the music we make and we hope that as many people as possible will get pleasure from it too.

So where did you record the sessions that became The Sun?

Last August in a concentrated two week period at the Exchange Studios in London. We built on a lot of earlier recording we’d done at Adem’s house over the previous couple of years.

You have a warm up gig at Bardens Boudoir, in London and a bigger gig soon afterwards, in August, will you be performing anywhere else?

We’re playing at Field Day on August 11th, then in Dublin, Belgium and at The Green Man Festival a week later. We still hope to book a few more shows, but time is ticking and I have to be back in the US for my studies in early September.

I hope to catch one of these shows, I am looking forward to hearing how you sound live, what is your set up for these gigs?

We’re going to add two extra people to the band to help fill out the sound. This should mean we’re able to better reflect the sound of the records than ever before (previously, we’ve had to lose some of our most-loved songs because we’re unable to play them at all faithfully).

Do your lives overlap beyond your musical connections?

We’ve been friends since we were 11. Our lives are entirely intertwined, we speak several times a week and, provided we’re in the same town, hang out as much as possible. I just got back from a nice BBQ with Kieran. Lamb kebabs – very civilized.

What were your greatest moments in the life of Fridge?

We never really played enough shows, so that’s really a regret, but I think we played one at the Scala in London that felt very triumphant and home-comingy. We had a ton of friends and family there, so it was just a really lovely night. The other, which isn’t strictly as Fridge, was when we played "Born in the USA" with Badly Drawn Boy at a giant French festival. It felt boss.

So Sam, what will your eco shelter contain to get you through?

Some basics – Marmite (for me and Adem, but not for Kieran), 3100 pieces of long-life, toastable bread, Margarine, 1 x Netflix warehouse, 1 x laptop, 1 x great library, some more conclusive Sopranos episodes.

What has been your defining moment when making The Sun?

As always, it’s the moment when the finished thing drops through the letterbox. As with Happiness, I designed the art for the record, so there’s a big will it/won’t it work moment there too. Seems to look good, so now it’s just a case of people being as into it as we are.

Any final thoughts before the gigs and The Sun is released?

Can’t wait.

Will there be another album and more dates?

Yes – there’ll be more of both, but when and where is very, very vague. Life does appear to be remarkably short and there’s plenty to get through.

With thanks to Sam Jeffers and Fridge. The Sun is out now on Domino
in Europe and Temporary Residence in the USA on the bands own Text Records imprint.

Conducted from the front with zero stress and a very slacked off bowline by Paul Hawkins.

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