Friko Where Weve Been Where We Go From Here

Friko – Where We’ve Been, Where We Go From Here (ATO Records)

These are two questions actually: “Where have we been?” and “Where do we go from here?” Let’s start from the first one and look at what Billie Eilish, David Byrne, Usher, and other wise singers could tell us about it.

As Genius shows us, this is quite a common question among many musicians, from Rihanna and Migos to Ben Howard and Bonnie Tyler, from Loretta Lynn and Jackson Browne to Stevie Wonder and Mary J. Blige. Well, “we’ve come a long way, but we’re not too sure where we’ve been”, sing Take That in ‘Never Forget’. “Look at where we’ve been / We’ve been runnin’ around, year after year / Blinded with pride, blinded with fear”, continues Barry Manilow in ‘Daybreak’. However, if you scroll down a bit through the list with such songs, it will inevitably lead to a bit different question, directed to the future: “Where we start”, asks David Gilmour; “Wonder where we land”, continues SBTRKT; “Where we go”, sings Ty Segall; “Where we will be going”, thinks Chris De Burgh. Even Billie Eilish questions herself, “When we all fall asleep, where do we go?” And these examples are just the ones on the surface. I dare to assume that this topic pops up in almost every song if we dig deeper into any lyrics. Because every singer wants to figure out through their oeuvre, where they have been, where they are now, and where they will be after.

“Where we’ve been, given doubt. Where we are? In the wild now”, concludes Doja Cat in ‘Wild Beach’, adding that we can be exactly at “wild beach”, meaning her vagina. Whoa-whoa-whoa, let’s stop our philological research here, might tell a sensitive reader. Anyways, given such tips, we can already make some important observations related to the main topic of this review. For the last five years, before the day of the release of their debut album, Friko have been gigging around trying to answer the main question which Arctic Monkeys already voiced in 2006 on their EP Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys? It’s also consonant to the first part of the name of the LP, discussed by us here, and this intention is clear, for example, from the url of their site: whoisfriko-dot-com. At the same time, their Instagram nick friko4u shows us that no matter what this band are, their music is made for listening, i.e. for the pleasure of their fans. In other words, “I’ve been everywhere, man, looking for you, babe”, as Rihanna put it in ‘Where Have You Been’. And thanks to their debut full-length, they have finally found each other, and a much wider audience as well.


It’s hard not to notice that the opener ‘Where We’ve Been’ is one of the smartest examples of cross-media dialogue between musicians where Friko seems to be reacting to Dinosaur Jr.’s most prominent question “Where You Been”. By rephrasing J Mascis’s line, they can answer: We’re out there. And they definitely are, delivering their raw, harsh, and grungy sound with similar melancholic and encouraging approach at the same time. Johnny Depplooking singer and co-front Niko Kapetan practices familiar breaking and cracking vocals with tortured scream in the vein of ex-Black Country, New Road’s Isaac Wood or even Conor Oberst, simultaneously squeezing Black Midi-ish acrobatic sounds from the guitar while co-front and drummer Bailey Minzenberger kicks marching stomps out of drums. Their refreshing and energizing chemistry is especially evident on punchy ‘Chemical’ and ‘Where We’ve Been’ , cuts that sway from whispering with minimalistic guitar strums to almost growl, supported by a tour de force batch of cacophonous noise. And somewhere, rare flashes of lonely piano plucks surface. A very convincing way to convey the confusion, fear, and anger pursuing them and many of their listeners. 

“I haven’t said what I mean to say / Haven’t done what I mean to do”, worriedly hums Kapetan. “Dorm rooms”, “cold rooms”, “basements”, and “forest winter stays” from their lyrics are full of frustration, self-doubts, and even fear of death. An existential-humanistic psychotherapist could find in these lines a lot of talking points to work with. However, as with the aforementioned Dino Jr. at times, their restless music also brims with warmth, joy, light sadness, and nostalgia. At such times almost classical tunes break through the noise and distortion. For example, waltz-tempo lullaby ‘For Ella’, obviously referring to Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise’ and evoking Erik Satie’s piano compositions in mind alongside Giuseppe Tornatore’s intergenerational movies, drenches the heart and soul in romantic feelings and calmness. “Ella we’ll remember who you are”, sings Kapetan flowing somewhere in the past like the Narrator of Proustean In Search of Lost Time in the “episode of the madeleine”. This piece intersects with another post-Wagnerian impressionistic cut ‘Until I’m with You Again’ with a gentle percussion part, showing us the band’s interests in classical tradition, including the duo’s beloved Chopin.


Speaking of classics. Another band, whose music was based on it, is Can, and despite obvious differences and belonging to totally different genres, Friko’s sound has not gone very far from them and krautrock in general. It’s obvious from the raw sonics and live-y spirit of Where We’ve Been, Where We Go From Here. “We wanted to get the live show on tape,” Kapetan says. And they have achieved it, by making the record sound like a very intense gig in a small and crowded bar or library, which synergy level is close, if not to Black Midi, but to, say, Feeble Little Horse for sure. Such cohesive teamwork became possible thanks to the terrific closeness and understanding between Kapetan and Minzenberger, which developed over just in a few years. Starting Friko in 2019, Kapetan released a collection of demos called Burnout Beautiful and gathered a pretty decent fan base by doing local gigs around Chicago, gathering bandmates on the way or, er, catching ’em all. “While our friend group was building”, as Kapetan says, this record had been slowly coming to life too. And it’s recorded with such energy and dedication as if this is their last work.

This album sounds like they have given it everything they had. Which returns us to the second question: “Where do we go from here?” Or as Gracie Abrams might put it, “Where do we go now?” As you might guess, I have some answers for you from big thinkers. “Ain’t where we’ve been, it’s where we gonna be”, Will Smith asserts in ‘Will 2K’, and Mumford & Sons echo him in ‘Babel’: “You ask where will we stand in the winds that will howl”. “We don’t have to go back to where we been”, proposes Fiona Apple in ‘I Want You to Love Me’. “Well, we know where we’re going”, add Talking Heads. Oh man, as Stagg R. Leigh from American Fiction might put it, I tried to find answers in all these songs that served as sources of quotes and managed to find only one in Usher’s recent tune ‘Room in a Room’: Like Friko, he asks, “Oh, where do we go from here to fix the disconnect and reconnect” and quickly answers: “I need a room, I need a place / A place to get off / Some shit that’s on my mind”. Well, fair enough. Kapetan and Minzenberger definitely could use the same room after such hard work. But as Bruce Springsteen assures, “Baby, we were born to run”. As this album has shown us, they don’t plan to stop.

Finally answering their own question, it’s fair to say, wherever they were before and wherever they go next, we perfectly know where they are right now. “Best is yet to come and babe, won’t that be fine?” as Frank Sinatra sang.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.