Glasgow’s fresh five-piece False Friends have recently released a vivacious bop encouraging us to stand out from the crowd. And the track itself certainly does just that.
The majority of the band were originally from Omagh, Northern Ireland, and part of the band Don’t Shoot. After realising Glasgow’s appreciation for the indie-folk style of songwriting they loved, the band decided to move to Glasgow, where they met drummer Callum Little.
When I spoke to guitarist Fearghal McMahon about the music scenes in Ireland and Scotland, he said: “Northern Ireland’s music scene has changed quite a bit since we left, but at the time we moved it was either folk artists or really heavy stuff, and we just sat right in between! That’s why Glasgow always appealed, as the home of so many indie bands that we admire. Frightened Rabbit and Fatherson are massive influences, so it’s nice to be in the same postcode as these guys. We love Glasgow’s music scene and consider it home now.”
Recorded at Magic Box, Dundee, the song’s delightfully bright and cheerful sound is perfectly suited to our currently wonderful weather. The zestful electric guitar hook immediately ignites the track with enormous energy that makes you want to dance.
The lyrics, “Can’t say it saved me, and it’s bringing me down. Must be contagious, what’s going round”, highlights the band’s message to “avoid fitting in for the sake of it, as it might end up making you uncomfortable or unhappy”. And if one thing is contagious, it’s ‘Dress Like A Tourist’’s vibrant sound.
The racing nature of the passionate vocals and the lively instruments is truly breathtaking.
The tune features dual vocals from Jonny Kirwan and Anna Doody. I must bring attention to the sheer power of Kirwan’s voice at the end of the first verse, as the soaring vocals exert so much spirit alongside the bouncy guitar hook. Doody’s sweet-toned vocals also complement them so well. One of my favourite parts of the track is when the instruments stop for a second before Doody begins to sing, drawing attention to both the reflective lyrics and her radiant vocals.
It is impossible not to sing along to ‘Dress Like A Tourist’. Belting out the chorus fuels you with such motivation and happiness. The lyric “disguised it as patter”, is a nice little nod towards their adopted Scottish culture and dialect. I can imagine crowds singing the chorus back to the band at gigs is going to be insane. A False Friends gig after lockdown is a must!
Speaking to Alternative Atmosphere, guitarist Fearghal McMahon explained: “The song is entirely about trying to fit in somewhere you feel you don’t really belong. The idea is you should really try to avoid fitting in for the sake of it, as it might end up making you uncomfortable or unhappy. Being in with the crowd isn’t necessarily always a good thing.”
The masterful mix of the indie rock energy and the spirited synths pays homage to one of their influences, The Killers.
I love the final reminder of the encouraging lyric, “Preach to yourself, no one else matters”, at the end of the track. Being unique and happy with yourself is something we should all feel. The creation of self-belief makes the song more exciting, and leaves you wanting more. There is no doubt ‘Dress Like A Tourist’ is an addictive listen!
On the band’s Facebook page, it states ‘False Friends enjoy movies [and] board games’. As we all now have a lot of time on our hands due to lockdown, I made sure to ask False Friends which movies and games they recommend.
McMahon replied: “In terms of games we’ve been doing pretty much bi-weekly quizzes among the band and a few other friends which have really kept us going! We also played a bit of Skribblio, a kind of online Pictionary, with Edinburgh based band LaKyoto which is great! I think we’re all diving into box sets at the minute cause we have so much time on our hands. I’ve rewatched ‘Westworld’ and am now waiting patiently week by week on new episodes. Watched Aisling Bea’s ‘This Way Up’ on 4OD and that’s a brilliant series! Also though, somewhat shamefully, I have been working through some 90s/2000s teen films like ‘Clueless’, ‘Freaky Friday’ and ‘Mean Girls’. All of which are a nice warm hug that we need at the minute. As myself and Anna live together, we’re playing some Scrabble and drinking wine quite a lot to pretend we have at least some brain cells during this”.
To help raise money for our NHS, as well as keeping us entertained during lockdown, False Friends will be hosting a live-stream gig as part of Indie Midlands Live. They will go live on their Instagram page on Wednesday 29th April at 7pm BST. Make sure you follow @falsefriendsmusic so you don’t miss out on an epic showcase of their incredible talents. If you wish to donate, click here to be directed to the Just Giving page.
To support the band during lockdown, you can purchase ‘Dress Like A Tourist’ for just £1 on Bandcamp. Additionally, their entire discography is available for only £9.89. ‘Dress Like A Tourist’ is also accessible on all major streaming platforms.
In my opinion, Scotland’s music scene is currently thriving with talent like no other. This is thanks to upcoming bands like False Friends, The Capollos and Black Dove, and established champions like Gerry Cinnamon, Steve Mason and Snow Patrol.
Be sure to share False Friends with your real friends as we all need an uplifting tune in this time of uncertainty and chaos. You can purchase or stream the track, or watch the official music video below.
This review was originally published on Alternative Atmosphere in 2020.