the comfort of Funeral For A Friend's tour bus would be a lie. Retreating
into a bus which has become the unfortunate victim of an enduring slog
around the country should help paint a image of what I'm certain was
once a lounge.
'Four Ways To Scream
Your Name' is the excellent follow debut EP 'Between Order and Model'.
"'Four Ways To Scream Your Name' was intended to be four different
representations of a similar feeling. That was my concept in the EP,"
begins Matt, perched on the edge of a sofa, seeming happy to divulge
about each track on their latest offering. "The first track, 'This
Year's Most Open Heartbreak' is probably the most immediate. It's very
kind of metal mixed with the more melodic aspect of what we do. It's
the anger emotion, the sudden shock, so to speak. That's what the idea
with that track was to put across. 'She Drove Me To Daytime Television'
was the first song we wrote after the release of 'Between Order And
Model.' It's been in our set for a while and is kind of a look at people
in the media. How people perceive themselves by basing their look or
their visual element on what they see people in magazines. It's the
same vibe as 'Red Is The New Black' has on the first EP. 'Kiss And Make
Up' is another bitter song. It's about regaining the feeling of being
with somebody when you're not with anybody. It's probably the most relationship-wise
song we've ever written. I try to steer away from that kind of lyrical
content. Finally 'Escape Artists Never Die' is just about escaping your
environment and going to better things. That whole escapist attitude,
which is what we're doing now, getting out of our town, our area, our
humdrum lives and experiencing a whole different perspective of life."
'Four Ways To Scream
Your Name' is a clear jump forwards for Funeral For A Friend in both
the music and writing sense from their debut release.
"The first EP was written by just myself and Kris. This new EP
is more of a band effort," admits Matt. "Everybody approached
it with a certain idea of what they wanted to achieve on every song
and all of our influences show through. There's the metal side, the
hardcore side and the more melodic rock aspect. Production-wise we had
a chance to work with Colin Richardson (InMe, Machine Head), which gave
it a bigger sounding feel. The first EP was done in three days, and
a really rushed job. We were asked for a wish list of producers that
we wanted to work with. Ryan threw in Colin. He was one of the people
in this country who could capture the aggressive and melodic element
of the band and do them justice. He wanted to work with us as well.
He'd heard some of our stuff and was eager to work with a band who had
that kinda two sounds going on."
One of the most
striking elements of 'Four Ways To Scream Your Name' is the front cover.
Set on a dark rustic background the head of a cat, mouth open, teeth
showing, quite possibly screaming, looks poised to close its jaws and
bite at any second. Any possibility of Matt poised in front of cats
taking photos is quickly destroyed. "We went with this design house
in the US called Asterisk Studios, they've done stuff for Poison The
Well. We're big fans of their design work and gave them the music and
the title and they gave us some concepts and that was just the most
striking image. I know it's meowing or yawning, but it looks like it
fits the brief of 'Four Ways To Scream Your Name.' The scream does link
with it and it was just so striking to see that cat. It was good to
have them do stuff for us as well, almost a dream come true for us."
With two successful EPs under their belt, the logical step for FFAF
is unquestionably a debut album. Chatting about when work on their debut
would start, it quickly transpires it's already well on its way.
working between tours on the album," Matt hints. "We've got
the first half of it recorded and after this tour through the month
of June we're going to be back in the studio again. We're constantly
writing stuff. We've re-recorded two tracks off the first EP because
I think we can give them a bit of a different vibe. We've been playing
them for about a year and a half and they've found a new level. Besides
that it's completely new stuff. We recorded the first half at Chapel
Studios in Lincoln. We were there for three weeks. For the benefit of
our sanity doing that in the middle of nowhere was a bit of a pain.
We're going to East London to Rack Studios, which will be quite cool
to be in a more populated area."
Hailing from Wales,
Funeral For A Friend are the country's latest export to follow hot in
the footsteps of LostProphets. With stories of Welsh bands from the
valleys achieving success across the border firmly implanted in the
minds of many of the English, it's unsurprising to see the trend continue.
"I'm from South Wales," says Matt talking about life back
home. "Some of the guys are from the same region as LostProphets.
I live closer to the coast in Maesteg, a little town in the middle of
nowhere surrounded by mountains. The line-up has changed since the first
EP and a really good friend of mine who was the second vocalist in the
band, a guy called Matthew Evans, introduced me to the band because
their original singer left. They ran me through some Ignite songs which
I nailed and from then on I've been part of the band."
In the past, a
distinct sense of national identity has been seen from Welsh bands successful
in England. Maybe this is a natural reaction of any foreign band achieving
success abroad, or maybe it demonstrates a lack of identity shown by
the English. Either way, any Welsh band breaking further afield is almost
always, surely frustratingly, confronted with an immediate stereotype
of escaping life in the valleys. Far more rare is a band breaking out
from the darkest corners of East Anglia paid as much attention. "Yeah,
it's always pick on Wales. Why pick on Wales? Fair enough, it's got
mountains and fields, so has England as well!" comments Matt, having
paused briefly to consider the argument. "I don't know what it
is about it but there are a lot of bands that have made it out of there.
Catatonia, LostProphets, Manic Street Preachers, Tom Jones, Badfinger.
We're just people who want to go out and experience new things. This
band has provided the means for us to do that, to travel around the
country and possibly abroad. I know some of us feel like we're trapped
by our surroundings back home. For a certain period it can get really
boring when you're on the road and go home. It keeps us grounded."
upbringing in admittingly "the middle of nowhere," many acclaimed
punk bands still infiltrated Maestag, making their impact and without
doubt providing the inspiration leading to his current position of Funeral
For A Friend vocalist. "I'm a punk hardcore kid," he begins.
"I got into punk when I was about 13 - bands like Pennywise, Bad
Religion, Black Flag, Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, Fugazi. Bands like
that I've grown up with and have been part of my teenage years. Refused
were an amazing band, they kind of paved the way for hardcore and taking
it to the next level. Hardcore is not purely fast fucking music. They're
an influence, maybe not an obvious influence but idealistically they
probably are, musically I wouldn't say so much. The way they went about
what they did, their beliefs and stuff. It does leave an impact on you."
In the past year
there has been no escaping the upsurge of bands coming from the similar
vein as Funeral For A Friend. The likes of Hell Is For Heroes, Hundred
Reasons, Finch and Thursday have all broken further into the mainstream
with the words 'post hardcore' being casually thrown into play. Like
any scene or trend, the likelihood of it quickly saturating itself and
its fans is only a matter of time. Quite how Funeral For A Friend will
attempt to keep their heads above water may very well come down to the
success of their debut album. "We're a rock band who play some
metal riffs once in a while," argues Matt. "You're going to
get lumped into a category regardless of what you are. We'll keep doing
what we're doing and people seem to like what we're doing. We're not
going to rehash the same old shit over and over again. We're going to
evolve and explore new ideas and things. Hopefully fans and people who
are into us are going to evolve and grow with us. We don't want to just
stay the same, releasing album after album which sounds the same, ala
Arguably Limp Bizkit
demonstrates a band that has drastically changed since their debut album
though. "I suppose there's changing to what's popular and evolving
in an organic way. I feel that what we will always strive to grow organically
into is what we want to explore as a band. We're never going to consciously
think what other people want from us. That'd spoil it from me. I'd have
to leave," jokingly laughs Matt, despite the seriousness behind
Moving away from
direct talk about Funeral For A Friend, at the time of this interview
one piece of music news which made broadsheet press was the decision
of two American fans to sue US rockers Creed for a 'substandard performance'.
Despite Funeral For A Friend sharing little common ground with Creed
their paths do cross, albeit as performance artists. Intrigued by the
whole ordeal, Matt's reaction is equally one of amazement. "Shit!
Bloody hell!" he begins sounding bemused. "You're gonna make
me worry about getting off my microphone stand a bit more now! If you
haven't got the capacity to respect the band for what they do, you feel
you have to criticise in that kinda way, that is the deepest criticism
I think I've ever heard. That's worse that getting a shit review in
a magazine! People in bands are just the same as everyone else. They're
just fortunate to be in the position they are and as a band. Knowing
the fans we play to, I think they can relate and we try to relate to
the crowd. We just perform as we do and hopefully people want to. Every
show we play, this is who we are and if people criticise us for being
that, well, it's a bit fucked up. I feel bad for Creed."
With their tour
supporting 'Four Ways To Scream Your Name' coming to an end, Matt's
happy to reminisce about life over the past month. "It's been absolutely
amazing. We didn't know what to expect. We felt a bit half and half
about coming out and doing our own headline tour so soon after doing
support tours. The Manchester show was phenomenal. There were so many
kids singing along. Every show we've had really good crowds. We've had
amazing support bands come out with us."
the word Instruction is replied to with the words "fantastic band."
A glowing endorsement if one was at all needed. "I'm a massive
fan of Quicksand and Errortype:11. Meeting Tom Capone for me was a big
thing. They're a great bunch of guys. They're like our big brothers,
taking care of us on this tour. The Halo Friendlies, those ladies looked
after my ass in Leeds when I blacked out on stage. I wasn't feeling
too good, running myself a bit low, and collapsed halfway through the
show and had to be taken to hospital where they did all these tests.
I'm ok; I've just been taking it step by step since then!"
Having played the
previous night at Northampton's Soundhaus, Cambridge's Boatrace, smaller
in size, is a venue with an altogether different feel about it. "I
like playing small little venues," adds Matt. "The shows we've
been playing have been in small little clubs. It's cool for us because
we get to see people, we're not like five miles away. Some crowds go
apeshit and knock each other over, some crowds which I respect are the
ones which stand there and take it all in, actually perceive the band
for what they are, rather that jumping all over the place and going
ass over tit all the time. That's the kinda person that I am. I like
to watch a band."
Judging by his
final comment, the majority of the Cambridge Boatrace should have gained
his respect following the evening's gig. Packed to almost bursting point
hundreds of eyes remained fixated on Funeral For A Friend throughout.
Even those going 'apeshit' were showing their admiration of the band,
albeit in different ways. Still unclear about when a debut album will
surface, hinting only towards the end of the year, in the meantime it's
certain hundreds more will be 'standing and taking in' many more exhilarating
Funeral For A Friend performances.
Visit www.funeralforafriend.com for more info.