Brooklyn’s Friend Roulette are not only really fucking good, but they’re also really fucking charming…They’ve been described by Kodi McKinney as “Bambi having a god damned acid nightmare,” and they, themselves, describe the genre that they fit into as “Good Music.” The band, whose members are regularly fluctuating and whose sound is most often described as chamber pop, released their sophomore LP, I See You. Your Eyes Are Red, June 2nd, via Goodnight Records. And for every indie pop group of the 21st century that is characterized as resembling a David Lynch soundtrack, that makes me want to roll my eyes, vomit, or punch the writer, Friend Roulette’s latest actually resembles something that would underscore Mr. Lynch’s work – in fact, the two opening tracks of I See You. Your Eyes Are Red (“Strange Girl” and “Dutch Master”) would seem to transition from a morbid appropriation of the 1950s pop found in Blue Velvet to the frantic and avant-garde jazz that is perhaps the most beautifully disturbing element of Lost Highway. They present a brand of orchestral indie pop that is a perfect balance of the twee and the psychedelic that equally enables sing-alongs and LSD trips.
I recently got a chance to chat with some core members of Friend Roulette, violinist/vocalist Julia Tepper and guitarist/vocalist Matthew Meade, about the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2013 LP, I’m Sorry You Hit Your Head, who have recently played a number of Philly dates in the basements and galleries that make up our “indie” scene. I ask the two about the highlights of Friend Roulette, as a relatively new band, and Julia tells me that the touring has left a significant impression on the band: “It’s just been fun to find new places and finding new cities. We’ve gotten to make some really good connections, like in Richmond, Virginia (The home of our good friends, AVERS.)
When I ask Julia and Matt if there’s anything especially important for fans to know about Friend Roulette Julia tells me, “We like feelings that go beyond happy and sad. We want a deeper level of emotions,” before Matt quickly adds, “I don’t want people to know anything about me… I want to be GWAR [laughs], but I guess it’s a little late for that.” When I ask them about their latest album and how it compares to their debut, Matt tells me that the finished product isn’t exactly what he foresaw in the recording process: “It’s actually a lot more similar than I thought it would be (Our EP in-between was different.); It’s a continuation of it. The biggest difference is there aren’t songs about love. The first album was a fucked up love album and this is just a fucked up album.”
Friend Roulette will be playing live sporadically throughout the year (They played 3rd & Girard last week.) At the moment they have dates booked on July 16th, at NY’s Highline Ballroom, opening for January Jane, and on August 27th they’ll be playing the Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard the Jewel with (THE FUCKING INCREDIBLE) Alex Winston (Seriously, if you’re in New York, you really need to go to this!) I ask the band what can be expected of Friend Roulette in a live setting and Matt tells me, “I don’t want anyone to expect anything other than a night of good music. I don’t want the audience to know whether it’s a ballad set or a loud set,” before Julia adds, “But expect it to not sound like the album and not sound like the last time you saw us.”