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The Fridays
Photo: Hafiz AnsonThe Fridays

The Fridays interview

At the slackerdaisical end of the spectrum, the peerless pop act trawls the detritus of pop culture, talking teen TV series, The Smiths, and their debut album

Written by
Su Ann Ng

It’s never easy, so I go back to bed,’ Acap F sings on ‘Responsible’, a call-to-arms tagline to the currents of disaffection and disenchantment for Generation Y, the semi-mythical swath of selfie-takers, social media narcissists and slackers.

The Fridays – fronted by Acap, with Afniaz ‘Kakak’ Afiq on drums, Muhammad Said on keyboard and synthesizers, Yazid Beruang on bass, and Pak Iran Squire and Wan Bellon on guitars – released ‘Verklempt’, their debut album in May. It was ten years in the making. It’s not surprising, then, that much of the conversation surrounding the six-piece cites the slacker factor: Both in art and in real life, The Fridays sling sarcastic assaults on their generation, while simultaneously celebrating self-flagellation and self-mockery. It’s an ambivalent, almost two-fold relationship: playing to and perpetuating the slacker stereotype, but satirising and squandering it.

The thing is, though, The Fridays disagree.

‘There’s more to all these than meets the eye. We’re laidback, we’re passive aggressive, self-loathing, but I think we have a strong work ethic when it comes to songcraft and song writing,’ Acap stresses.

Take ‘Lemons’, for example: The fatigued lyrics, the frazzled, jangly fingerwork, the frenetic furor of solid, strong, simple rhythms, all aspiring to an early-The Strokes – and The Coral-meets- Sonic Youth – aesthetic, but more importantly, this gem of a line, ‘’Cos you cease to exist / when you lose your pin number’. This post-modern, post-ironic anxiety, in the thick of millennial and modern existence, peeks out again in ‘Pocket Rocket’ – ‘Your iPod’s running low / Technology refuses to let go’ – and once more in ‘Bedridden Chic’, with ‘I’ll try to wait forever / but no one should hold your password’.

‘It was from my salad days. You know, it was PTPTN with the student loan thing; they gave me an ATM card and I forgot my password. As Luddite as I try to put myself to be, I felt like I stopped existing for a while,’ Acap says.

A perennial breeding ground for independent acts and yong tau foo stalls, it appears Ampang also birthed a few existential boys.

‘I’ve said this before – nothing ever happens in Ampang, at all. You can only play Resident Evil so many times; you can only watch ‘The O.C.’ so many times. Out of the boredom and out of the stillness and out of the nothingness that is our hometown, we decided to, you know, play in a band. Being safe, suburban middle-class kids, we’re not the futsal-going type nor do we smoke pot, and why wouldn’t you be proud of Ampang?’ Acap asks, and answers himself. ‘You’ve got Ampang Point, you’ve got Kerry’s – it’s a self-sustaining town Everything that I write is a reflection of this era, this particular place.’

Listening to the album, one wonders if ‘Verklempt’ – Yiddish for ‘choked up or overcome with emotion’ – is about Ampang, or if it’s about a girl. ‘Schadenfreude’, the opening track, has a line that sounds a lot like The Smiths: ‘Falling in love is like waiting for a train / in a town where nobody knows your name’ – and there’s a sense of self-awareness in the ironic, tongue-in-cheek whiny wail. It’s a pity party, and we’re participants of the pity party. The Fridays is the anti-hero, the boy who never gets the girl, the outsider, long labouring on the fringes of the contemporary because they ‘refuse to sign up for conventionality’.

‘We’re pop, but I’m not sure we’re contemporary pop. We’d need to be in the vanguard, we’d need to be accepted and embraced, but I don’t feel any hands, I don’t feel any arms,’ Acap states, softer now.

‘Back in 2006, 2007, we were more an artistic statement, a live, walking, talking installation of some sorts. We act more like a band now, but we only recently knew how to act more like a band. We rehearsed, we got tight, much like the chick who went away to summer camp and got hot. So yeah, that’s us, preferably with Alyson Hannigan playing us.’

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