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Funeral For A Friend

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Gareth Davies, am: 18.11.2003 ]

Auf der Insel haben Funeral For A Friend schon große Worte des Lobes für sich verbuchen können. Dass hier allerdings nicht nur die britische Hypemaschine am Laufen ist, zeigt ihr just erschienenes Debütalbum "Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation", das die Waliser zielsicher zwischen Thursday, Waterdown und Taking Back Sunday verortet. Ich sprach mit ihrem etwas nervösen, aber sehr sympathischen Bassist Gareth vor ihrer ersten Show ihrer Europatour mit den Althelden von Iron Maiden über die britische Presse, amerikanischen Football und große Tourbusse.


Musicscan: Just tell me a little bit about how you guys got on this bill.

Funeral For A Friend: We fluked our way onto this bill by two reasons really. We have the same manager as Iron Maiden which is a very good start and the second one is Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris are big fans of Funeral For A Friend and they invited us out. And you definitely don't decline this kind of offer. That is pretty much it.

Musicscan: How many shows are you going to play with them?

Funeral For A Friend: We are starting today, which is the 4th and we finish on December 16th , so that's approximately a month and a half.

Musicscan: In the British press you have been called a lot of amazing things such as "the hottest new band on the planet" or "the best newcomer artist". How much does that mean to you?

Funeral For A Friend: Yeah, those are bold statements. I mean it is nice to hear these things, but we never let it get to us ever. Because as soon as you start taking in that kind of thing you become very self-indulgent and that is not what we are about. We stay focused on writing songs and playing shows and that is it. People can say these things and we appreciate it very much, but it does not really affect us. We just do what we do and if other people like it than that is cool.

Musicscan: How is your relationship with the British press in general?

Funeral For A Friend: It is really good actually. Everyone has been really good to us. Of course, there is always a point where there is a backlash and we are waiting for it.

Musicscan: What would you say makes for a good show?

Funeral For A Friend: That is hard to tell actually. Energy is very important, being friendly to the crowd and just generally having a good time on stage. As long as everyone in the audience is having a good time then we are having a good time, too.

Musicscan: So it does not matter to you if there are 20 people or 2000 people?

Funeral For A Friend: Oh regardless, it really doesn't matter how many. We love our small shows as much as we do our bigger ones. I mean this is our first arena tour with big ass venues. But ultimately we don't mind, we'll play anywhere.

Musicscan: Were you Iron Maiden fans when you grew up?

Funeral For A Friend: Oh shit yes, all of us.

Musicscan: What other kind of music did you listen to?

Funeral For A Friend: Now our tastes are so eclectic. I listen to a lot of Massive Attack but also Metal as well. Ryan listens to his fucking Metal and Darren listens to his fuck off Metal. Between us all it is really eclectic and Matt is a big hardcore fan and he is into his old-school punk and stuff like that.

Musicscan: How much of that do you think influences your music?

Funeral For A Friend: It does influence us definitely, but it more of a subconscious thing. We never sit down in the garage and say to ourselves "let's write a metal song or let's write this". It is just what comes out. We get called all these different labels by the music press in the UK ranging from emo, metal, screamo, extremo, there is a list as long as my arm. But we are just a rock band really with these emo and metal overtones and lots of different elements to the sound, but nothing is deliberate about it at all.

Musicscan: Would you also say that you grew out of a hardcore and punk background, out of that scene?

Funeral For A Friend:Oh yes definitely.

Musicscan: So did you get a lot of shit for being on EastWest for being on a major, at least in Germany?

Funeral For A Friend: We got shit before we even signed to a major. The scene in the UK and Wales specifically, it is only the minority of people for granted, but people can be so fickle about it, it is unbelievable. There was a point when we released our first EP "Between Order and Model", we'd be playing shows with the same six songs we have been playing, but because we have been on a tour, we did a DIY tour that we set up ourselves, people who stood up front six months previous singing all the words now stood at the back with arms crossed and saying things like "they are all a bunch of fucking sell-outs". And if people take that attitude than they should just better fuck off. Don't even pay your money to come see us anymore, because we don't give a shit. We don't really care about a backlash, because we know we haven't sold out, but we know if you go to a major label you get the distribution to make anyone, absolutely anyone in the world hear your record. And for somebody doing music, turning around and saying "oh I am never doing that", than what is the point? If you don't want anyone to hear your songs then why are you even doing it.

Musicscan: Do you still feel connected to that scene, though?

Funeral For A Friend: I think we are definitely still connected to that scene and there are still a lot of underground kids that do listen to the hardcore and they still listen to us. They are good friends with us and we are good friends with them and we do keep in contact. We try to keep an element of "undergroundness" about it all, but is difficult trying to contain something which is out a bit. We still like playing underground shows, though. We are going to start take underground bands on tour with us as well and help them out.

Musicscan: Let's talk about the album a little bit. Tell me a little bit about the recording process. Who did you work with, where did you record etc.?

Funeral For A Friend: It was a long ass process. We worked with Colin Richardson who worked with Machine Head and Fear Factory among others. He is a big fucking metal producer and he is just a really nice guy. He understood where we were coming from. We recorded in two different sessions, two six week sessions. It was a long, gruelling task, but it was worthwhile.

Musicscan: Were there a lot of songs that weren't finished yet when you entered the studio?

Funeral For A Friend: Yes, we did about a week worth of pre-production on either side of both recording sessions and touched up on songs that we thought were a bit sketchy and a bit rough around the edges. Since our touring schedule was so busy over the last years, it was our main concern that songs weren't completely finished before we went it, but we got it all sorted now and it eventually all found a place and it came out fine. There are a couple of songs that didn't get finished. I personally would have liked to be on the album, because Matt came down ill, he ended up with laryngitis. He re-vocaled those, though, and they are going to be B-sides now for the new single in the UK.

Musicscan: The album sounds very American to me. I don't know if that is a good thing or not, but...

Funeral For A Friend: That is a funny thing you should mention that, because on the band e-mail account I checked yesterday before I came out, somebody asked us "so when are you going to come and play in the UK". I thought that was funny.

Musicscan: That's hilarious. Do you think that is because you influences are mostly US bands?

Funeral For A Friend: It is pretty much the same as writing the songs. It is a subconscious thing, because we grew up listening to American bands. Matt sings like an American person, too, but that is from years and years of singing along to the Beach Boys with his dad. It is weird how things influence you in different ways.

Musicscan: On the other hand, you are also pretty critical of the US in some songs as I understood them. For example "The Art of American Football" is pretty critical to me.

Funeral For A Friend: No, it is not really critical. It is just a bit of a piss take. When we were in the States, people just didn't get it. What is the art to American football? It is just thugs throwing around a football around the field. Don't get me wrong, if I ever meet one of those thugs I will be nice as pike to the guy.

Musicscan: So it isn't a political statement in any way?

Funeral For A Friend: No, by any means. We are not a political band. None of us have the brain capacity to understand politics to be able to criticize anything about it.

Musicscan: So I take it the lyrics are mostly on a personal level?

Funeral For A Friend: Yes, all the songs are about things we experienced and things we know, rather than things we would like to know about such as politics.

Musicscan: How are the lyrics connected to the music? Are they independent of each other or do they need each other to make the perfect song?

Funeral For A Friend: I think they need each other. On a couple of occasions, Matt's lyrics didn't complement the song and we asked him to change it, but we always compromise. It works both ways. But I don't think it would work if one of them was slightly different.

Musicscan: Does the music come first or the lyrics? What is dictating what?

Funeral For A Friend: Matt has enough lyrics for four or five albums saved on his computer, just loads of poems. He takes his interpretation about how he sees the song, the same as we do when we write the song, because Matt sits in on the writing process as well. Eventually we just give him a tape and see what he comes up with. Nine out ten times he comes up with something good.

Musicscan: Does the band pay the bills for you guys yet or do you have to take on jobs when you are not on the road?

Funeral For A Friend: We have a monthly wage right now, we are on a monthly retainer, which just about pays the bills. We don't have time for day jobs anyway.

Musicscan: Has that changed your approach to music at all? Being able to focus on it completely.

Funeral For A Friend: Being able to focus on it 100% totally. A year and a half ago I was selling mobile phones for Orange in the UK and now I travel the world with Iron Maiden in a big ass fucking bus. It is difficult for you to not totally focus on it, because it is the only thing I will ever do between now and the day we record our last album. I have no other choice. My friends at home are getting bored of me talking about the band all the time, but that is all I do. I don't go out for drinks with friends anymore. I don't have any family gossip because I don't see my family. All I do is tour and play my guitar.

Musicscan: Do you miss that life sometimes?

Funeral For A Friend: Yes, of course. You do miss friends and you do miss family, but then this is what I have been dreaming of since I was eight years old and I am 22 now. I don't know many people in my school who have had the same dream and managed to achieve it so far. I am just really enjoying it. It would be criminal of me to be in this situation and not enjoy it. I would cheat myself.

Musicscan: What are the goals with the band? How far do you want to take it?

Funeral For A Friend: We have already taken it as far as we ever dreamed of taking it. Everything changed when we played Donington. We all went to Donington when we were younger and it is just shocking. We just completed exceeded as far as we thought this band would ever go. So now we are just taking each day as it comes and we are having a good time with it.

Musicscan: Would you be satisfied or content if it was all over tomorrow?

Funeral For A Friend: No, I would be absolutely devastated. If we could stay at this level right now I would love it.

Musicscan: You probably get this question a lot but I was just wondering why "Funeral For A Friend"? Where did that name come from?

Funeral For A Friend: It comes from a band called Planes Mistaken For Stars and we ripped off one of their song titles. It just summed up the whole vibe and feel of the music and the vibe of the band and us as people.

Musicscan: What can we expect from Funeral For A Friend in the near future?

Funeral For A Friend: The albums comes out in the next couple of days and then we will finish this tour and we have six weeks off until the end of January. Then we will do another UK tour and then we will come back into Europe for another support tour early next year.

  Funeral For A Friend
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