Funeral For A Friend

author TL date 09/10/07

With their two latest releases Funeral For A Friend has taken considerable steps away from where they started out on their EP's and on their debut album "Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation" and as this have been the source of much debate among their fans, I couldn't resist getting a hold of the band when they headlined the Take Off #3 event in Lille Vega, Copenhagen. Getting there I hooked up with guitarists Kris and Darran and drummer Ryan, and we then had a talk about their changes, writing methods and views on the music scene. Enjoy! How's it going with the band and the tour and everything?
Kris: Good, all good. We've just started out this tour and everything is going well.

Darran: Yeah, it's the 4th date I think

Ryan: Many to come! We're curious about your name, because even though it's widely known that it's from a "Planes Mistaken For Stars" song, we wonder if there might be more of a story to it than just you thinking it was a cool phrase?
Kris: Well that is all really, because when we started out we didn't think we'd reach the level we've reached. It was basically just something to call the band, as we figured we'd just play a couple of shows and then that would be it and even then it isn't that important. A band makes a name, a name doesn't make a band. So no, there's not really anything more to it than the song..

Ryan: I wasn't even in the band at the time, and I didn't like the name, I thought it was terrible.

Darran: When I first heard it I thought it sounded like some black metal band from Norway or something like that. I'm kind of dying to ask you guys, what the f*ck is going on in Wales these days. In other parts of the world Wales is considered to be, no offense, but kind of a backwater corner of the world, and then all the sudden we have bands poppin' out of there like yours, Lostprophets, Bullet For My Valentine and most recently Anterior. Why do you think that a lot of good bands are emerging from your middle of nowhere all the sudden?
Kris: There's pretty much nothing else to do there really?

Ryan: I think there's always been really good bands in Wales, nowadays it's just much easier to share your music through things like myspace and the internet in general. Growing up in Wales there was always a lot of good bands but back then people just weren't able to hear them, but now the world's just become a much smaller place so it's easier to get out there..

Darran: There's a lot of indie bands as well from there that've made an impact, like Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics, it just took a while for people to pay attention to the heavier bands like Lostprophets and then we came after those guys and from then on it seems a lot of bands like that have been breaking through and it's a cool thing..

Kris: Yeah there's a lot of newer bands as well coming out right now, like Kids In Glass Houses, The Blackout and Attack Attack!, so the music scene in Wales is looking very healthy at the moment..

Ryan: In the UK in general I think Yeah, we envy you!

Ryan: Well we envy you back, you Scandinavians have a lot of good bands as well! If we start talking about the considerable changes you've made from album to album, you've managed to stir up your fanbase quite some, as a lot of the fans of your older stuff, have a lot of resentment towards the new material. Aren't you afraid to alienate some of your existing fanbase every time you make a large change in direction?
Kris: Well it's not something you can really think about when you're writing music, because you've gotta write music for yourself. You're going on tours and playing like 200 shows and you get up there night after night after night, so you kinda' have to play something that you really believe in, and if you don't then people will see through that straight away. If people like the old records well they're still there to listen to, but we've developed as a band and it would just feel wrong for us to make the same record again..

Darran: .. Or stay in one place.. We all want to progress and move on because we never saw ourselves as just one particular style of band.

Ryan: Yeah I mean I'd much rather alienate people than stop enjoying what I'm doing and stop enjoying music, and that's what would happen if we were to just fake it. We wouldn't enjoy it anymore and that would be a lot harder for me than alienating some fans who don't want to change and progress with us.

Kris: Another thing is that some people dislike the fact that we're not as a aggresive a band anymore, but the thing is that when we started there weren't a lot of bands around that sounded like us, but now there's a lot of bands that sound like we did back then, and when that many bands sound alike there's going to be a lot of bands you don't want to listen to. So we just want to try and do something different instead of just sounding like what everyone sounds like right now. There was also a substantial amount of people who kind of got off the FFAF bandwagon when you made "Hours" and then returned when you did "Tales Don't Tell Themselves" because they liked that one better. Why do you think that is?
Darran: Yeah see that is kind of weird but maybe they thought that we had made a mistake on "Hours" and we totally hadn't, and then they realized that as well on "Tales..", that this was actually kind of the direction we were aiming for and that made it easier for them to understand..

Ryan: A lot of people's criticism of "Hours" seems to be that it was massively overproduced, where the truth is that it was done with little more than a couple of mics in a room and was pretty much as close to being a live recording as it could possibly be. We played everything from start to finish so it's actually sort of a compliment, that we sound overproduced when we're pretty much just playing by ourselves.

Darran: It would've been easy for us to have done something like "Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation" over again or whatever, because you're appeasing to a certain audience that you know you've already got, but I think we rather wanted to do something different, and progress and explore something else.

Kris: Yeah, there's a lot of people who say that if you become less heavy you're selling out, which is a complete bollocks comment because, if you have an audience and you know they like what you do, you can go "oh there's an audience there" and capitalize on that, but if you do something different you don't know if that's the case and if people are going to like what you do, so that's actually more "brave" if you think about it. How do you yourselves, as a band, see these changes you've been making?
Kris: I don't think we thought too much about it, it's not something that's very considered or thought over or planned you know. We never planned to do things a certain way, we just naturally write and I think some bands maybe set themselves rules or guidelines for what they can do and we're just not one of those bands. If we're doing something right and we think it's sounding good and we enjoy listening to it, that's really all we need. We don't set any boundaries for ourselves and that's why things have happened the way they have.

Darran: Bands that are for instance part of the screamo genre or something might tend to do the same thing over and over you know. Scream the verses, sing the chorus and then always have that breakdown in the middle and I think having a formula like that for writing your songs is just boring if you're doing it over and over again. So you haven't had any times after doing an album where you sat down and decided to take something out and add something else on the next one or something like that?

Kris: Well it comes in the writing. When you start writing a song, the song pretty much tells you where to go. If you do anything which seems unatural to the song and just put it in there for the sake of it being there that doesn't work. For example a lot of the songs off "Tales.." and "Hours" just don't have no call for aggressive vocals in them, they just worked better with melodic singing so that was it really..

Darran: Yeah, no reason to just put screaming in for the sake of screaming

Ryan: We actually wrote some quite heavy songs for "Tales.." that simply didn't make it, because we frankly didn't feel they were as good as the other ones, and that's why they're not on there. We did write some, they just weren't good enough. Did your influences change over the years then? and how?
Darran: To a certain degree yes. We've always had a wide array of influences from metal, hardcore, punk, straight up rock, classic rock.. So we always had a load of influences to draw from..

Ryan: I think we've more shared our influences with each other because, obviously when you're in a band you're very close when you're travelling together and someone might put on some music that you haven't heard and then you become interested, and you listen to other people's cd collections and become inspired by those maybe. And that goes for all of us five, and I think that really changes the way we write individually and then in the end it affects the writing of the band.

Kris: We're five very different individuals in the band and we all have very different taste of music and there's only about a handful of bands we can all agree on really liking. So we've got a lot of diverse influences there. So what are you listening to right now for instance?

Ryan: I was just listening to "All For Love" by Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams and Sting, from "The Three Musketeers"..

Kris: "Ghetto Gospel" !

Ryan: Yeah "Ghetto Gospel" by 2pac and Elton John and "500 Miles" by The Proclaimers.. I've got a lot of sweet songs on my itunes! Oh boy, the fans are going to be worried about that!

all laugh Okay, we actually have a fan who's asking the quite typical question: Is he ever going to hear a new song sounding like what you did on "Casually Dressed" and the EP's?
Kris: I don't think you can really say what you're going to write. You don't sit down and try to write a song in a certain style. You write something you think is good and you take it to everybody else and you ask them "What do you think of this and what can we do with it?", and it's kind of hard to say we're going to do that, because it would have to be very close to those songs, and we've already written those songs you know. So yeah, we definetely don't want to repeat those songs.

Ryan: I think it would have to be, if anything, heavier than what we did back then. Either heavier or faster or more aggressive or well.. just aggressive in a different way. I don't think you can say it would be just like those songs. Also I don't think that we could write songs that would be just like the ones on "Tales.." either you know.. Everything we do will be a progression and trying to do something that we haven't done or take things that we have done and push those even further.

Kris: Yeah what we're interested in is simply making a record that is different from the three records that we've done already. Okay, last question about the whole style topic. With "Tales.." you've done this very grand and dramatic record, and I'm curious as to how a band would move on from this kind of record, seeing as it sounds sort of like a climax?
Darran: I think that, again, we don't really know. We don't know what comes next because it's never preplanned, it's never worked out in advance. The songs just develop into what they become and that's all there is.

Kris: Yeah one thing we're not going to do is sit around like here and say "Yeah we're going back now and make the next album heavy as fuck"

Darran: Yeah "Sorry we didn't mean to make these last two albums so soft, we didn't mean to!"

Kris: Yeah we're not going to do that, because obviously we like the records!

Ryan: I think you can say a way it's going to be different is that so far on every one of the last three records there have been kind of an overall theme to them, and I think what we're going to do next will be more grand in the sense that we'll have songs that'll have very melodic riffs as well as very experimental and very raw, straight ahead stuff. Some heavier stuff as well So it'll be a lot more diverse this time around?

Ryan: I think it'll be the most diverse, because playing the live set that we do, that takes songs from all our releases is really interesting to us, and I think it'd be interesting as well to write an album takes the whole line of influences in scope you know.

Darran: What I quite like is to be in a band that's always a surprise to someone who's already a fan. When they pick up the new cd they don't quite know what they're going to get when they put in on. There's so many where I know exactly what they're going to sound like before I even put their cd in the player because it's been the same for the last three or four records. So yeah I kind of like the idea that we're a band that always surprises you.

Ryan: I think we've earned ourselves the right and ability to do anything we want now, by doing the albums that we've done and I think that people who want to listen to our next album will be willing to accept anything we'll be doing because at this point I think they'll have a good understanding of what we are as a band and thus be a bit more accepting. Yeah and you don't seem to be a band that rests on their laurels, as you'll be touring for the rest of this year and the beginning of the next as well..

Kris: Yeah and when we've finished touring with this record we're probably going to go right into writing the next one.. In England you're used to headline massive venues, but now you're here in "Lille Vega" which is a pretty small venue. How do you feel about that?
Darran: Great!

Kris: Yeah awesome.. All that matters is that there's people there to play to. It doesn't matter how many people there are as long as there's an audience there who've come to listen to your music then it's going to be a good time.

Ryan: Yeah I think it's just amazing to be able to come to a place like this and other places that we're travelling to, places we've never been before, it's just great to come and see that also here there's people who appreciate our music, and then we'll just start here and see what happens.

Darran: We love both big and small venues really. So you don't have trouble getting motivated for the smaller shows?

Darran: No, it can be more intense if anything, more personal.

Kris: When you play in bigger venues the audience tends to be far away and it's always very dark, and you can't really see much. When you play smaller shows you can pretty much see everyone's faces which does make it somewhat more intense. A lot of people out there still associate Funeral For A Friend with the term "emo" one way or another, so I want to ask you what your perception of the term is and where do you feel your band stands in relation to it?
Ryan: I don't even know what it is. Noone's ever been able to explain it to me.

Kris: It's the same as grunge you know, noone can actually define what it's about.. Haha..

Ryan: Yeah, if anyone could explain to me what it's actually about, I could answer the question but noone's ever been able to really..

Kris: For me the whole emo term has been thrown around quite some over the last 5-6 years and all the bands who are considered emo now are nothing like the bands that were considered emo when the term actually emerged. So for me it's like something new just came out and someone decided to kind of just chug this label on it and it evolved into this whole thing people could live their lives by and cut their hair and dress by and that's ultimately all it is.. I mean there's two kinds of music, good music and bad music and that's up to the individual to decide.

Ryan: I have no more problem with being called emo than with being called metal or hardcore, I just don't think any one term or label does justice to the music we do.

Darran: There's so many styles of music that it seems weird to limit yourself to one. I think some of our earlier EP's could be kind of classed as emo..

Kris: The irony is thought that when those first EP's were released we were called post hardcore. In the end it doesn't matter. People call you what they wanna call you and that's it.

Ryan: I wonder why it's called post hardcore, I don't know where hardcore ever went..

Kris: Yeah it was always there, you know.. Metal bands are still metal bands, they're not post metal are they now?

Darran: We're not offended when the labelling happens, we realize that it's mostly journalists who have to come up with things to explain styles to people.

Kris: I think the worst was "EXTREMO".. That's probably the worst thing I've ever heard and that's the one I would be offended if we were called!

Darran: Yeah and I think we've always just considered ourselves a rock band. That kind of covers it all best. So what do you think is the most encouraging thing about being in a band today, and what do you think is the most discouraging?
Ryan: I think the most encouraging thing is the amount of people that actually are interested in music these days.. Young people who're motivated enough to join a band, I think there's a feeling among young people that if they work hard and learn their instrument then they can be in a touring rock band. It's a lot easier than it was before. There's a lot of barriers that've been broken with the internet and myspace and that's a very good thing.

Darran: The most discouraging is probably how fickle everyone's become because of that as well. Because of the internet and myspace, you can have a new favourite band every day..

Kris: Also I think that one of the most discouraging things about music is that, as much as the internet helps new bands, it also means that a lot of people simply download music and forget about buying the cd's from the bands they really like, and that kind of takes away some of their opportunities as well. So within the music industry, as much as the internet helps it also damages and you need some kind of balance at some point. Yeah, actually my next question is one we ask every band, namely what your feelings are on that topic, illegal downloading of music?
Kris: Like I said I don't mind people downloading because they can get into a lot of new bands that way, but at the same time if you really love a band you have to buy their albums because otherwise they wont be able to continue playing, so it's a double edged sword really. Okay, final question is what have you got planned for the future apart from the extensive touring?
Ryan: That's the most part really.. And writing for the new album.. Any festivals next summer maybe?

Darran: Probably yeah!

Kris: We've just done a bunch and they've all been very good so..

Ryan: I'm quite the fan of the whole festival setup..

Kris: Yeah you play a 30 minute set and for the rest of the day you just walk around checking out all the great bands and making new friends, it's really good.

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