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Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Rock Folk




"Boston Globe SXSW 2014 Feature"

AUSTIN, Texas — It’s always a pleasant surprise to run into fellow Bostonians during SXSW, the annual music festival that draws tens of thousands of attendees from around the world for what seems like just as many live performances, and twice as many corporate sponsors.

These encounters have become a regular occurrence in recent years, with so many more Boston bands making the trek to Texas. Bostonians may maintain an edge on our home turf, particularly in the music scene, but drop us together into another city, and all of a sudden people you don’t talk to, and bands you might not otherwise see regularly, become a comforting, familiar anchor amid the hedonistic chaos — much like the bond among local sports fans at an away game.

That was especially true this year at the ninth annual Berklee College of Music showcase, “Boston and Beyond.” Held on Thursday of last week in Brush Square Park, adjacent to the SXSW convention center, the daytime lineup (also sponsored this year by music site and streaming radio station Vanyaland) had the added bonus of being a sort of roll call after the horrible crash the night before a few streets over, where a drunken driver plowed into a crowd of dozens outside a show, killing two. “It’s so nice to see you today,” Jackie Indrisano, talent booker for Berklee’s venue The Red Room said to guests as they meandered into the park space. “It’s always nice to see you, but particularly today.”

Friendly faces were a welcome respite indeed. Friendly People were too, in fact. The five-piece band, who met while students at Berklee about three years ago, were about to perform along with a bill of other Boston-based and Berklee-affiliated acts like Cask Mouse and OldJack.

“We’re such a cool city. I feel like so much talent came down this year it’s almost unreal,” OldJack’s Dan Nicklin, who would host a showcase featuring Boston bands the next two days, explained as Friendly People took the stage. “It’s weird, we get so diluted at shows in Boston, so when we’re all here in one place, you realize how great it is.”

Friendly People’s easygoing, brisk, tuneful indie rock and folk, as on songs like “Friendly People” from the band’s 2012 debut, “Shake,” was the perfect early-afternoon balm if you happened to feel a little worse for wear after a week of show-hopping in the Texas sun. “Isn’t this great,” vocalist and guitarist Pat McCusker said after the show, near a large, ice-filled bucket where Massachusetts oysters were being shucked. “Now all we need are some Harpoon IPAs and it will feel like home.”

Friendly People recently released a video for its song “Hello Montana,” a live performance recorded in a Pennsylvania lake house. It’s a more aggressive vocal from McCusker, with hard-charging bass and guitar lines that stood out in the afternoon set.

McCusker, who grew up in Watertown, and guitarist Mitch Stewart met as engineering majors at Berklee in 2010 and have worked together since, although Stewart and drummer Davis Rowan’s recent move to Brooklyn has made getting together for practices more difficult of late. Colin Lee and Jeff Butcher round out the band on keys and guitars.

“It’s become such second nature, we try not to think about it as difficult,” Stewart says of the commute a few days later. “I’d like to say it’s definitely one of the most boring drives of all time,” McCusker jokes. “We’ve been to every stop in every exit.”

The band hasn’t returned from Austin yet, but they’re still riding high on the infectious energy of Boston camaraderie. “One of the coolest things was seeing so many Boston bands down here. Bands that we’ve all heard before, but being in Austin, it’s this really cool amplified experience,” McCusker says. They also played the next day at OldJack’s showcase. “It’s so awesome seeing all that going down at such a far-away place.”

Of course, Friendly People wouldn’t want to make that trip too often, especially as they write songs for their planned second full-length album. The band, which has about 12 songs demoed at this point, will release “Hello Montana” as a single in a couple of months. That song’s distinctive sound isn’t a mistake; they’re keen to not repeat themselves.

“It’s been quite a change since we did our last record,” Stewart says. “We had so many people collaborate on the last record. . . . Like 20 musicians helped us out with whole process. Since then we’ve become a bit smaller of a unit, a little more compact. Even though it’s not as many instruments and layers I think it’s going to pack a big punch. The songwriting has really changed and grown a lot.” That means more of a focus on reproducing their live sound on record and vice versa, McCusker adds. “We layered and layered the sound on the first one. That gave it a big sound, like a wall-of-sound sort of thing, I guess.”

One thing that will remain, he suspects, is the balance of playful, off-kilter experimentation mixed between louder, more energetic rock. “As far as aggressive versus happy, that contrast, we’re all sort of, in a sense, loopy, all over the place guys, and maybe for whatever reason we need that in our music too,’’ McCusker says.

“We don’t like limiting ourselves to one emotion. Like an aggressive in-your-face groove, but at the same time with a very optimistic message . . . that’s like the way we hang out with each other.”

Friendly People’s “Hello Montana” video can be viewed on YouTube. For upcoming local dates, check - Boston Globe

"Allston Pudding - "Hello Montana" Video Premiere"

Happy Friday! Allston Pudding has a video exclusive for you, we’re thrilled to premiere the latest from Friendly People. It’s called “Hello Montana” (but shh, this killer live video was actually recorded during a songwriting retreat the band took in Pennsylvania). ”Hello Montana” is a taste of the grittier prog-rock side of Friendly People.

We had the pleasure of catching Friendly People open up for San Fermin earlier this month at Brighton Music Hall. If you missed it, you’re in luck – you can catch them next Sunday, March 9 at the Middle East Upstairs with Arms and Ears. Plus, if any of you lucky lads and ladies are heading to Austin for SXSW, Friendly People will be there too! Check them out at the Berklee Official Showcase and the Sonicbids Official Showcase and tweet about it so we can all live vicariously through you.

- See more at: - Allston Pudding

"Sound of Boston - Local Spotlight"

Friendly People have a light-hearted feel to their music, the kind that lovers of Grizzly Bear, The Shins, and Spoon should check out. I saw Friendly People open for San Fermin last week at Brighton Music Hall. Although the two bands are quite different, Friendly People proved to be a solid opener, and the venue filled up within their first few songs.

They opened with the song that gave them their name—“Friendly People”— a catchy, carefree and nostalgic song. Every member of the band had a huge smile on his face. “I cannot wait for that feeling again / The Friendly people are all letting me in,” Pat sang in the refrain. A few people beside me sang along, revealing that people were not there only for San Fermin.

We’re kind of like Nickelodean magazine,” the bare-footed Pat claimed near the end of the show. “My favorite t-shirt is a manatee hugging an acoustic guitar. Who’s not a fan of manatees?” Upon hearing the sound of confessions from some embarrassed audience members, he said, “That’s so sad, they’re just doing their thing, you gotta love manatees.”

Next up—and the highlight of the show—Friendly People performed “A Lot of Work to Do.” The song began with Pat singing solo over some acoustic guitar. Some members of the audience were speaking to each other, a little bit unfocused. But the tension in the song builds and Pat slowly sings more aggressively, the audience goes quiet. There’s a sharp switch from acoustic singer-songwriter sound to raw, cathartic vocals: an energetic ride that ended with Davis knocking off his ride cymbal.

Just before the show, I sat down backstage with the group and talked with them about their latest album, their songwriting process, and the Boston music scene.

Nitesh: Tell me about yourself.

Pat: Well we formed as a band three years ago. it was at this singer-songwriter circle at All-Asian Cafe actually in Cambridge. I was playing some songs and Mitch and Davis were in the audience and liked what I was doing. We started playing music together and it happened like that. It’s been through many formations since then.

Nitesh: After listening to your album “Shake” all the way through, I have to ask, is it a concept album?

Pat: No, but that’s really cool! What makes you think that?

Nitesh: It seemed to follow a trend, in the first few songs about questioning and finding your place, then letting yourself love, and then well, the aftermath of all of that.

Pat: That’s a pretty beautiful description. That’s pretty great.

Jeff: That’s pretty cool. We did obsess over each track a lot. We definitely took our time to choose what song order goes where. We thought about dynamics, and the emotional content. It was a long and respectful, we creatively critiqued everything.

Mitch: All of those songs were written at different times over a long span. Some of those songs, Pat’s had for years.

Pat: Yeah, there are the themes of relationship troubles because everyone goes through that and that’s what I was going through when I wrote some songs. After that, you try to make sense of your place as a person. And that came from relationship troubles. So I guess it was naturally thematic. I tend to write from a personal point.

Nitesh: How did you come up with your name, Friendly People. Did you come up with the song “Friendly People” first?

Pat: The song came first, yup. We were sitting around a coffee table one day and were trying to think of a name. It was kind of just like that–why not friendly people? I mean, we’re friendly people. But now we have this dilemma where we have to constantly be friendly…

Nitesh: Is there a story behind the song “Friendly People”?

Pat: Yes [laughs]. I was just with some really beautiful folks that day and it was just a magical experience. I really wanted to love everyone and I just understood things that day. It was just the best day ever.

Nitesh: Without using any sort of genre names, how would you describe your music?

Pat: I’d say dynamic.

Colin: Groove-based and free.

Jeff: I would say that it’s like the ninja turtles pop from the ice cream truck in the middle of the hottest day of the summer.

Mitch: I think there are a lot of cathartic aspects to the music. A lot of energy fluctuates, dynamically speaking. Songwriting is a huge element in our music.

Nitesh: I really like how “A Lot of Work to Do” starts out soft and has a sudden angry jump to it. How does the audience typically react to it?

Jeff: I’d say they get scared!

Mitch: It’s the change in something that’s so soft and so lyric and story-driven, a huge change in dynamic level and intensity. At least when I first heard the song, it just brings a rush of adrenaline which carries right to the end with the big release.

Nitesh: How have you guys found the Boston music scene?

Pat: We love the Boston music scene. Partially just because it’s our foundation–it’s where we’re from. But it’s always a blast playing here. The audience is always so receptive and energetic to our music.

Nitesh: What’s your favorite show that you’ve played?

Pat: Our CD release show was really fun! We just played the record from start to finish at the Middle East upstairs. There was one part of the show, before we went on, where somebody shaved a handlebar mustache on my face, right before we went on, right in the middle of the audience. And we went on to play our song.

Nitesh: That’s so great! Do you have a favorite venue?

Jeff: If I had to choose one –and this is just my opinion–but I would say the Elk’s Lodge. We used to do shows at the Elk’s Lodge in Central Square and it was just a multi-purpose space. It was a suggested donation and tons of people came out and donated! It was loud and fun and most of our Boston fan base was gained with those shows.

Pat: Actually, one of the Elk’s Lodge shows—I almost threw up because it was so energetic when I was running around on stage during one of our punkier songs, “Speak.” - Sound of Boston

"Performer Magazine 'Shake Review"

"Energized, experimental chamber pop with summer-vocals and shimmering guitars"

Cambridge, MA's Friendly People tapped 20 musicians to record 'Shake'. The result edges the quartet closer to the experimental horizon, more Dirty Projectors than Vampire Weekend, yet both influences can are heard. The strength of 'Shake' lies in the use of complex instrumentation, which rhythmically swirls and folds melodies around ambushing instrumentation and tempo changes ("Here We Are" and "Maps").

The difficulty in writing big songs lies in succinctness. Most songs on Shake clock in over five minutes. Certainly, some could dive in sooner but the extraordinary variance and melodic contour rises above any residual self-aggrandizing; the songs are catchy.

Stylishly employed guitars, banjos, percussion, and horns are scattered throughout 'Shake', baring the specter of Americana roots while the band surveys the edge of pop and experimental genres. Singer Pat McCusker approximates Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend) in his boyish lyrical interplay with fiery heaves of instrumentation, uniting and bridging the rambling background. "Branches" showcases one of the album's strongest songs, which initially tugs the heels of bedroom folk, slowly throbbing into a dazzling arch of acoustic and electric guitars, pounding rhythms and warm harmonic embers. 'Shake' offers a blissful crunch of pop-listenability and furtive experimental tinkering, resulting in surprising cohesiveness.

-Christopher Petro - Performer Magazine

"Our Vinyl 'Shake' Review"

Boston based band Friendly People have been around for a couple of years and have released a song here or there on youtube and the like. They have played live in front of cameras often and were quite capable of turning people on to their energetic and heartfelt live performances before they had ever recorded anything for release. As their debut record “Shake” (which you can stream at the bottom of this article while you read) hit the scene in mid-December, they were already on the radar for many and have even managed to arrive on some end-of-the-year polls for top albums of 2012. Strong work for a fresh band that brings excellent energy to age-old indie rock, alt-country, and folk pop songwriting.

The record starts out with “Here We Are”, a very natural sounding interplay of meter with interchanging 6/4 and 4/4 that illuminates both their singing ability and instrumental prowess. In the next “New York,” lead singer Pat McCusker adopts a modified vocal delivery as he describes with excitement meeting someone in NYC who ignites intrigue in that butterflies-in-my-stomach kind of way.

“Branches” plays out with McCusker questioning himself when faced with external criticism, relying on thudding percussion and bright guitar lines to keep him standing. Fourth track “A Way Home” plods bluntly and sparsely before a beautiful unfolding of bass and drums propel the track forward into one of the record’s more rewarding choruses.

The fifth track, “Move”, gets going with percussive acoustic guitar rising out of a wall of reverb eventually segueing into playful lyrics and lively vocals which do well to keep the listener attentive over the consistent staccato guitar work. The next number, “Maps”, starts with what sounds like washboard and lo-fi guitar that drips with a gypsy dance sound that contrasts well with southwestern guitar melodies surrounding the choruses, only to end with a more meditative instrumental about-face which is most welcome and unexpected.

Moving on to what is probably the best of the record, “A Lot of Work to Do” is perhaps the best example of the band’s true essence. Reflective lyrics are delivered over mature guitar work and the track erupts into McCuster’s hollering that reaches into the hearts of the listener and grab them up onto their feet to join in the emotionally rich indie rock head-banger climax. McCuster gut-wrenchingly begs “so cheer up for me honey, I wanna see your pretty face one more time. I want you to believe me, I want you to believe me. We’ve got a lot of work to do,” and the band keeps in impeccable rhythm and harmony to plead his case to his unnamed lover. The band’s carrying of the instrumental break with the extremely heartfelt harmony “we got a lot of work to do” is a sincere highlight to the entire record.

The aptly titled track “Friendly People” comes out punching and maintains the energy with a singable quality that harkens to Band of Horses style hard strummed alt-country. This proves the first of a one-two punch of tracks with the next track “Speak” the closest thing to an over-driven rock anthem on the record.

The closing track, clocking in at 8 minutes, is “The Rules”. It’s a fine track which starts out as a lament with great meditative reverb slide guitar enhancing McCuster’s apathetic fly-the-white-flag lyrics. This opening leads to a reversal of heart when the band explodes with McCuster’s recognition that it’s “time to let go” and coordinated chord strikes bring to the listener’s attention that there is always a return to form and an excitement about life just around the corner. The shimmering end to the record is one of the strongest moments, the decompression much appreciated after so many opulent instrumental crescendos track after track.

Far and away, the most impressive aspect to the record is the epic swells in the latter half of most tracks with consistent driving rhythms and the occasional unexpected silent beat that gathers momentum and functions as a calm before the enormous instrumental follow-through. The band’s two percussionists give the record potential for thundering depth, but the band decidedly excels at playing softly with great impact. They play with patience; the shortest song on the record is 4:15, and only two songs are less than 5 minutes in duration. This patience allows them to fully squeeze the most impact out of their crescendos, with the rush of noise sounding far larger by comparison to the gentle beginnings. This rush of noise is the breakout moment where each track realizes its full potential and to learn of the number of instruments and additional musicians used in the record is impressive in its own right.

Vocally, Pat McCusker has a delivery that can play chameleon in each track as necessary, sounding at different times similar to John Bell from Widespread Panic, Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and Win Butler from Arcade Fire to name a few. Though this can at times lead away - Our Vinyl

"The Wild Honey Pie 'Shake' Review"


In spite of (or perhaps because of) forming during one of Boston’s coldest winters, Friendly People have created a fresh new sound on their debut album, Shake, that spills over with warmth. Over twenty individuals contributed to the recording process, giving the album a varied depth that’s as haunting as it is beautiful. One standout track is opener “Here We Are”, which combines afro-shuffle rhythms with songwriter Pat McCusker’s playful, spontaneous melodies.

“A Lot Of Work To Do” is another not to miss. Revealing maturity beyond their years, Friendly People build over a simplistic acoustic guitar riff throughout the track before opening the floodgates for a raw, red-blooded finale. If not for its end of year release, I would have expected to see Shake at the top of many independent release lists. Don’t miss this album if you’re a fan of Grizzly Bear, The Avett Brothers, or Wilco. - The Wild Honey Pie

"Allston Pudding 'Shake' Review"

You’re awakened suddenly on a beach. You’re cuddling an empty bottle of Ezra Koenig’s cachaça. The scrapes of percussion and blips of close harmonies drifting between your ears are the sea-glass shards of the lingering night. Soft voices coo a series of rhetorical questions in your head. A pressure begins to build with a ringing mandolin pedal and dips of synth bass. Then energy runs over with the distorted bridge, as Pat McCusker screams into open space, confronting the bottle dream of 6/4 topsider boogie he was just singing along with. The wave rolls back, handclaps resuscitate the beat, and the cycle begins again. This is “Here We Are,” the opener for Friendly People’s debut long player, Shake.
I focus on this track because it introduces and best represents the strengths of the entire record: meticulous arrangement guiding drastic dynamic changes. The boys layer multiple, highly rhythmic lines, some so brief they appear for only a few seconds and most generally in the same timbre. These layers create dense but subtle and evocative textures (hence the posturing above). Ideas are tossed back and forth between different instruments and voices, built up only to drop out and restart, forging calculated sonic movement within the familiar parameters of pop structure. Plus, it’s simply purdy; a sheen of sound filling out solid songwriting. The best moments of the record, such as the slow build up of “Move” and “A Lot of Work to Do,” use this level of craftsmanship to pull you in and maintain energy.

“Here We Are” also singularly bangs together some of the schizoid styles Friendly People explore song by song on the rest of the record. There’s the slightly warped spin on genre tropes (I’m looking at you, manic outlaw country of “Maps”) and of Indie canon bands (the pop-punk Arcade Fire influence of “Speak”). There’s the “ooh-ahh” sweet tooth of several choruses tempered symbiotically by back-of-the-throat yowling. There are lyrics both quickly spat out and lyrics decanted like melismatic wine.

The bottom line is these are earnest musicians, they took their time to shape a rewarding pop album, and they deserve your attention. Check out Friendly People's Shake below. - Allston Pudding

"Maimed and Tamed Top albums of 2012"

Voted #23 for Best Albums of 2012 - Maimed and Tamed

"Voted New England's Band of the Month"

Friendly People’s debut, self-titled 3-song EP gives a concise taste of a promising young Cambridge, MA-based band. Their jangly indie pop is peppered with hints of Americana, roots rock and folk with vocals that owe a debt to Neil Young. The EP’s clear highlight is its opening track—their namesake song—“Friendly People”. It’s a tremendous, positive track buoyed by a horn section in the bridge which lends a mariachi feel. “A Lot of Work To Do” brings out Harvest-era Neil Young, starting as a plaintive acoustic ditty which builds slowly into a passionate electric number. Closing track, “Branches”, follows the same acoustic-to-electric path. As the song builds, it introduces tribal rhythms that are reminiscent of 80s indie-punk legends, the Volcano Suns. Friendly People are scheduled to record their debut full-length in March. If the Friendly People EP is indicative of what we can expect from this young group’s next batch of tunes it will be a record to keep an eye on later in 2012.--George Dow - New England Deli

"Voted New England's Band of the Month"

Friendly People’s debut, self-titled 3-song EP gives a concise taste of a promising young Cambridge, MA-based band. Their jangly indie pop is peppered with hints of Americana, roots rock and folk with vocals that owe a debt to Neil Young. The EP’s clear highlight is its opening track—their namesake song—“Friendly People”. It’s a tremendous, positive track buoyed by a horn section in the bridge which lends a mariachi feel. “A Lot of Work To Do” brings out Harvest-era Neil Young, starting as a plaintive acoustic ditty which builds slowly into a passionate electric number. Closing track, “Branches”, follows the same acoustic-to-electric path. As the song builds, it introduces tribal rhythms that are reminiscent of 80s indie-punk legends, the Volcano Suns. Friendly People are scheduled to record their debut full-length in March. If the Friendly People EP is indicative of what we can expect from this young group’s next batch of tunes it will be a record to keep an eye on later in 2012.--George Dow - New England Deli

"Maimed and Tamed 5 Boston Bands You Should Know"

Friendly People- The story of Friendly People starts off the same as that of many Boston bands– kids meet at Berklee, start a band, record a few tracks, play some local shows. For many bands out of Berklee that is where the buck stops, graduation comes and members go off their separate ways to pursue various projects. Here’s to hoping that Friendly People will not meet a similar fate, because from what I have seen/heard this group has the potential to make some noise beyond the local music scene. Frontman Pat McCusker (also guitarist of Moss Points North) has a personality and stage presence that is engaging and infectious to say the least. Watching his mannerisms and demeanor both on and off the stage, I can’t help but be reminded of Jim James. Regular readers of M&T would understand that praise like this is not doled out lightly as Mr. Yames is regarded as a higher being around these parts. When we caught Friendly People play Brighton Music Hall as part of Air Traffic Controller’s CD release show a few weeks back, we couldn’t help but be drawn in by McCusker’s energy and the deft musicianship of each of the other band members. The group is currently working on new music and to say that we are excited for fresh tracks from Friendly People would be an understatement. While you anxiously await new tunes from Friendly People, check out the epic “A Lot of Work To Do” and download three tracks for FREE here. - Maimed and Tamed Music Blog

"CMJ Interview with Passwords"

Mention of Friendly People when asked about interesting acts that the band Passwords saw. - Maimed and Tamed Blog

"We All Love Friendly People"

Review of live show and interview - Boston Music Uncovered

"We All Love Friendly People"

Review of live show and interview - Boston Music Uncovered

"Friendly People EP Review"

Review of Friendly People EP - 1146 miles

"Friendly People at T.T. The Bear's"

Video of live performance of "A Lot of Work to Do" at T.T. the Bear's Place - Boston-area live video blog, Meet Your Beat

"Friendly People"

Video of live performance in a living room of "Move" - Chicago-based music blog, Couch Potatoes//Living Room Songs

"Friendly People"

Video of live performance in a living room of "Move" - Chicago-based music blog, Couch Potatoes//Living Room Songs


Still working on that hot first release.



Weather have performed at festivals such as SXSW, Summerfest, CBGB Fest, Canadian Music Week, and CMJ. The band has also shared the stage with notable acts such as San Fermin, Cold Specks, Mother Mother, JJAMZ, and You Won't. The band started 2014 with a highly successful trip to SXSW and the release of a new video for non-album track "Hello Montana."

The group, now residing in both Brooklyn and Boston, has had a successful year of touring that has included showcases at South by Southwest in Austin and CBGB Fest and CMJ in New York City.

Weather plan to release their debut album in 2015.

Band Members