Five things you need to know about Free Love
David Pollock shines a light on the surprise stars of this year’s Edinburgh Hogmanay, the band formerly known as Happy Meals
1. They’re a small-town band at heart
Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook are Free Love, one of the most excited recording teams and thrilling live acts in Scotland right now. Although their sound and style is distinctively Glasgow, they grew up watching the big city from afar. “We’re from quite small towns, but within an hour of Glasgow,” says Rodden, who is from Thornhill in Dumfries & Galloway, “so we’d be aware of the music scene and all these DIY bands, people who were creating things from nothing.”
2. They’re a perfect team
From very different musical backgrounds, the pair’s skills and experiences complement one another perfectly; Rodden took her piano grades and had a classical background, while Cook, from Moffat, is entirely self-taught. “I’m from that first generation where you can learn how to do something from the internet, by watching YouTube and asking the world for advice,” he says. And they’re also engaged to be married next year.
3. They “had the most 2000s relationship ever”
“We were introduced by mutual friends, and then we got to know each other on MSN and MySpace,” says Rodden. Although they’ve known each other since they were in their teens and went to Glasgow University, it wasn’t until 2014 that the duo started working together, after taking a course at Glasgow’s infamous analogue Green Door Studios. “There was no intention, other than to co-write some material which she could record on the course,”says Rodden. “But it felt like it was going in a good direction, so why stop?”
4. They’ll be the band formerly known as Happy Meals for a while yet
Based in improvisation and with a varied aesthetic which takes in French disco-pop and more dance floor-ready house tracks, the pair already have two Scottish Album of the Year nominations (for Apero in 2015 and Full Ashram Devotional Ceremony earlier this year) behind them. Yet they’ve recently hit the reset button, changing their name from Happy Meals to Free Love. “We’d be lying if we said there wasn’t a concern McDonald’s would come after us,” says Cook, “but it wasn’t a false start, we’re perfectly happy with those records.”
5. Their thrilling live show is coming to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay
The fiercely energetic Rodden may not be able to go walkabout in the audience, but we’re sure they’ll improvise somehow. “If we go a couple of weeks without playing live we really feel it, because what we do is based on a real energy that we share with the audience,” she says. “I dunno, maybe that’s an egotistical thing to say, but it’s important to me that you can see us at any one of our shows and have a different experience every time. Some bands put on a perfectly good show, but you could be listening to the record at home. Every single live show we do is a unique experience.”
Free Love play the Poetry Club, Glasgow, on 02 December and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, supporting Franz Ferdinand and Metronomy, on 31 December. The EP Luxury Hits is out now.