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Get to Know: Friko

Two men and woman look at the camera with serious expressions while standing against a wall covered in ivy.
Brent Mullins

Radio Milwaukee’s stations introduce you to new artists every day. This is your chance to learn a little more about them beyond what you hear on our playlists. Consider it a meet-and-greet, CliffsNotes and elevator pitch all rolled into one.

Chicago pop-rockers Friko aren’t exactly new to the Midwest. They’ve been releasing material since 2020 and recently started popping up on the radar even more.

Friko’s musical home is Open Tab, an imprint of indie label Fire Talk Records that counts likeminded Chicago-based artists Dehd and Bnny among its ranks. It feels like a great fit in that the bands on the roster have one noticeable thing in common: youthful emotion that feels relatable, no matter their actual age.

Friko’s Bailey Minzenberger, Luke Stamos and Niko Kapetan use their combined energy to convey as much natural emotion as they can in songs that are packed to the brim. Kapetan’s quavery vocals can go from a hushed, trembling whisper to a rock-and-roll yowl in mere moments.

On their newest single, “Crimson to Chrome,” he sings: “We’re either too old, too bold or stupid to move / I guess we’re caught on the wrong side of the shoe again.” The overarching feeling is that of resigned frustration, and it’s tangible.

We caught up with guitarist/vocalist Kapetan and drummer Bailey Minzenberger following the release of that new single and hot off some fun tour dates, including SXSW in March. They dished on the music they grew up with, the Chicago scene, and who (and what) is currently inspiring them.

What was on the home turntable or radio when you were growing up?

Bailey: Allan Holdsworth, Christopher Parkening, the Garden State soundtrack — all from my dad. These were the first to come to mind.

Niko: A lot of Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, ELO and Elliot Smith. A classic rock household for sure.

Describe your sound in three words.

Bailey: Frenetic, soft, blue.

Niko: Dynamic, red, powerful.

What (or who) is "Friko"?

Bailey: A family!

Niko: Friko has become the three of us who make up the band, as well as everyone around it. It used to be a nickname of mine in high school though.

What's cool about being a musician in Chicago right now?

Bailey: All of the music that is coming out of Chicago right now is really unique and inviting, and the level of kindness and support that is circulating is really inspiring and energizing. It’s a really special feeling to have some of your favorite music come from your friends!

Niko: The community of musicians in Chicago is so friendly and welcoming. There are also great scenes happening that stretch from folks in their teens to others in their 30s. Along with that, there are so many great venues.

What's your favorite venue in your current city and why?

Bailey: As of right now, my favorite venue is Sleeping Village. I’ve seen a number of really inspiring performances there, and the space itself is really cohesive for connecting with people. And the staff is incredibly kind!

Niko: Metro for me. It just has so much history, you can have all ages shows there, and it sounds great.

What are you currently reading (or watching)?

Bailey: I am reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and watching The Last of Us.

Niko: Currently watching The Last of Us and looking forward to the new season of Barry!

Favorite non-you artist right now and why?

Bailey: I’ve been listening to the new Fran record, Leaving, basically on repeat for the past few weeks. I’ve also been loving Wants a Diamond Pivot Bright by M. Sage in the mornings/evenings.

Niko: I’d say in general Black Country New Road. They’re just making emotional rock music feel new and immediate again, and that’s amazing. Some local Chicago faves include Ohmme, Free Range, Sharp Pins, V.V. Lightbody and many more.

What are Friko's summer plans? Any visits to Milwaukee plotted or planned?

Niko: Southern/Eastern tour! Hoping for a Midwest tour as well. Milwaukee is so close, hopefully we can shoot up there sometime in the very near future :)

Friko’s latest single, “Crimson to Chrome,” is currently in rotation on 88Nine, and you can also find it on their Bandcamp page.

88Nine Music Director | Radio Milwaukee