Funeral For A Friend


PETE: Right then, so how are you? What’s the mood in the band like right now?
GARETH: The mood is really good! The vibe is fantastic! Things have been going better than we could have hoped for this second record. “Casually Dressed” was a tough act too follow, the two and half years we had surrounding that record was just fucking incredible, but this just one seems to be stepping up a gear. We’re just having a damn good time.

PETE: So there is a good feeling about what you’re doing?
GARETH: Oh yeah! Absolutely everything. About the record, the touring schedule, about… just everything!

PETE: Looking at the new album, it seems like some people have criticised it, some people have loved it, what’s your feelings towards the way it has been perceived by people?
GARETH: To all the people who said they didn’t like it, that’s exactly what we wanted. We sort of half lost those people when “Casually Dressed” came out. We’ve said from scratch that when “Casually Dressed” was first released we said, “Well this is alright, but it’s not fucking incredible” by what we knew we could do. So then we decided to step it up a gear, just personally, and sort of say “We’re not gonna be that band that’s not just “alright” anymore.” You either like it or you don’t.

PETE: So it was a conscious decision?
GARETH: Yeah, we didn’t want to be that band, we were reading reviews that were like “This record is O.K,” There’s a lot of stuff that’s ok. We want people to hold it up or completely cast it aside. It seems that more people embraced it.

PETE: We’re you scared of the fans reaction when you were writing the album?
GARETH: Not at all. Not even the slightest little bit. We’d been poked and shoved around so much with on the first record, and the general experience anyway that when it came round to the second we were like “Fuck it, we wanna do this on our terms. This is the way we wanna write, this is the way we wanna sound, and this is how we’re gonna record it.” We called all the shots, which doesn’t happen very often anymore.

PETE: I think it’s a bit Catch 22, whichever way you go, people will probably criticise you.
GARETH: People are talking about the next record already, and I hear kids saying, “I hope it goes back towards “Casually Dressed”” Well that’s just not gonna happen. Why would we take two steps backwards? It’s all about thinking forward and thinking ahead. It’s the only way bands ever make it these days, you’ve gotta progress. If you keep churning out the same shit, then what are you going to achieve?

PETE: It seems now FFAF have three fan bases. The early fans of the heavier stuff, the people who liked “Casually Dressed” and now fans of “Hours.”
GARETH: (laughs) Yeah you’re right; it’s nice, choosing a set list is a pain in the arse though.

PETE: If you could change anything about how the writing has progressed, would you?
GARETH: If I knew people were going to be so fucking forgotten, then I wouldn’t. Id have said right from the off, “Lets just do what we want.” I mean, at the time, that’s what sort of music we were listening to, that’s why it sounded the way it did. I don’t listen to that shit anymore – oops sorry, I didn’t mean to say “shit.” It’s not shit. There are bands that are doing very well. I just don’t listen to that anymore.

PETE: Leaving “Casually Dressed” behind and the scene that sort of followed must have been hard.
GARETH: Yeah, that engulfed us. I still think back to the day I read the Metal Hammer review for it; it was like, “You bastards! But thanks, you gave this record 10 out of 10!” Could you honestly put any more pressure on a band? How can you improve on what in their eyes was a master piece and in our eyes was second rate. It was just a compilation of songs! We had blagged out way through it, and it was stupid really. At the time the label was like, “We’ll do an E.P” and we were like, “We have an albums worth of material,” – we were trying to play it cool and impress the record label. That was stupid really. They turned around said “O.K Go to the studio in a month.” We had to start writing. Fast. We fucked ourselves royally with that record. It did really well. We don’t “dislike” the record; we just wish that it could have been so much more.

PETE: “What would you have changed about “Casually Dressed” then?
GARETH: It would have been all brand new songs. If we had had time to focus on it…. It’s like we don’t play much of “Casually Dressed” anymore because the songs aren’t finished in our eyes. It’s a bit shitty. It tough trying to play a song every night and trying to get into it and be thinking, “I don’t like this bit, it sounds crap.”

PETE: So is the set list mainly from “Hours?”
GARETH: Yeah. “Hours” is like one complete, straight from scratch, exactly how we wanted it. It felt more like a debut than “Casually Dressed” by a mile.

PETE: What reaction did you pick up from the DVD?
GARETH: Good, good. I think there was bad review that was from Q magazine, just one sentence that said, “Nice guys, just not very funny.”

PETE: I thought the live footage could have been better.
GARETH: It was filmed at the Islington Academy for a programme for channel 4. We were just being cheap skates and didn’t bother hiring any new crew. For a start we weren’t even on tour, our schedule wasn’t falling into place, so we couldn’t actually record anything and then put it onto DVD. We just had to buy it off channel 4. We sat there for days thinking if the live stuff was good enough. I mean Matt’s voice… Matt came off stage after that show and smashed the dressing room with a chair, because he didn’t enjoy it whatsoever. But I was like, “To an extent you had a bad show, but that’s what being in a live band’s all about. You’re allowed to make mistakes; you’re allowed to be a little out of key, a little bit flat.” That was the idea of it. The whole DVD shows that we’re just normal people and that normal people can make mistakes and drop bum notes, and drum beats. It’s just part of who we are.

PETE: What do you make the Guardian newspaper saying that you’re an effeminate Iron Maiden?
GARETH: I haven’t read that! That’s the first time I’ve heard that!
PETE: Proud?
GARETH: (laughs) Yeah! We just needs some balls don’t we! That’s our problem. There’s no scrotum in rock anymore! I guess thanks!

PETE: What was the tour like with Maiden?
GARETH: Hellish! It was a good experience, but fuck me it was hard work. It was the first time we had come across any hostility. Up until that point, people had been coming to our shows, and people wanted to see us play. At a Maiden show, everyone wants to see Maiden! Nobody gives a fuck for the opening act! We’d sell 2 or 3 shirts a night, but the experience was incredible! Some of the sizes of the rooms we played were incredible. Like Earls Court for fucks sake! 2 years of being a band and we are opening for Maiden in Earls Court! What the fuck was going on!

PETE: Did they ask you to play?
GARETH: Yeah they requested it.

PETE: How bad was the hostility?
GARETH: It was bad in our eyes because we were so young and naive about it all. We didn’t expect it to go smoothly. We just got told to do what we do. In 6 weeks, we had 2 McDonald’s toys, a pint and a half of beer, 3 Euros and 4 lollies thrown as us. When the Murder Dolls went on stage, the crew told us there was enough change on stage to sweep it off, and get 50 crew members drunk. People were throwing hockey pucks at the stage. I was like “I’ll take 4 chupa chups as a result!”

PETE: How is this tour going?
GARETH: It’s the best one I’ve ever been on in my life. Flat out. The best tour we have ever done. Australia, Japan and the U.K, The vibe has been one big happy family. We’ve been out for about 2 weeks, and it’s just full on incredible.

PETE: O.K, I have a few “Reader’s” questions now for you if that’s cool! What do you think of the U.K unsigned bands opening on the Taste of Chaos tour?
GARETH: They’ve all been pretty good. There wasn’t any in Manchester last night, but I’ve been impressed. Some of the ones in Australia were remarkable.

PETE: What do you think of the British scene at the moment?
GARETH: Its booming isn’t it! It might not be this scene anymore but music is still coming through. You can’t kill rock. The hottest band in the U.K for me at the moment that is unsigned is Days in December they have some incredible songs.

PETE: Who else have you you’re tips on?
GARETH: Shaped By Fate… who else, erm… Seven Stone Lighter from Scotland, Next Nine Years from Wales, there are a lot!

PETE: What advise would you give to up and coming bands, based on your experiences with Funeral?
GARETH: (pauses) Be honest with yourself. Don’t write things because it’s cool at the time, because your only gonna get criticised when you realise that your bored of it. Be prepared to jeopardise everything in life. To just tour extensively and to realise it’s gonna be a good time, but it will be hard work!

PETE: What is the idea behind the art work on “Hours?”
GARETH: O.K, basically you have the girl on the front cover, bullet proof vest and brass knuckles. Is she the defending herself or is she the aggressor? Then you open up the booklet and see her in the fifties, all sweet and innocent golden girl. Then it goes 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and it just shows the deterioration of innocence over the last 50 years. How the image of the golden girl is so sweet, but now you don’t know who can stab you in the back next.

PETE: You’ve always enjoyed interesting art work concepts, like “Casually Dressed”
GARETH: Yeah, that was just an image brought to us, and we made a theme out of it. There was a deep meaning behind it, although a lot of people searched for it! We stuck with it because it was instantly relatable with Funeral For A Friend. We want to do the same with this record. We’re suckers for themes. I’m sure the next record will be concept, but don’t quote me on it.

PETE: You’ve played Leeds Festival three consecutive years now. For you which was the best?
GARETH: First time. Because it just completely took us by surprise. Concrete Jungle. Doors opened at midday and went on at ten past. We were just line checking all our gear and thought it would be empty. 10 minutes for people to get in here. Five to twelve we left the stage to get ready, changed t-shirt, got our guitars and looked round the curtain and the tent was fucking rammed. We were like “What the fuck is going on?” When we went on stage the cheers went up!

PETE: I was at Leeds, and I couldn’t even get in there I was about 15ft back from end of the tent, and it was rammed back there!
GARETH: It was nuts. That is one of the memories I will take with me to my grave. I’ve
still got it on video. The entire day on video.

PETE: Are you doing the festivals this year? Carling Festival, fourth year in a row?!
GARETH: Not many bands have done 4. We didn’t think we were gonna get a third offer. I think four is out of the question.

PETE: Three years on the run, just shows how you have grown.
GARETH: It was just such a step at a time. 3,000. 20,000. 60,000 this year. Where do you go after that? We’ll be headlining the fucker next! I don’t think that makes sense at all.

PETE: How was it this year?
GARETH: It was good, but you could have built a block of flats between us and the crowd. It was like I could see them kicking off, but there was no vibe. It was horrible. We still had fun; we played for ourselves more than anything. But it would have been nice to see some kids kicking off, as apposed to little pink dots.

PETE: Do you think you got too big, too quick?
GARETH: I don’t think we did. Look at The Darkness. That’s big, quick. I think slowly but surely, we just grew. It wasn’t like a bombshell, selling 12 million records a year. The Darkness did 2 million copies of their first record. We did 250,000 – we were chuffed as fuck with that, but we were just taking it one step at a time! “Hours” has taken it to that step and hopefully the next record will take it further! I suppose I understand why the pressure was on us. The iron was on us at the time and something needed to be struck. I’m more than aware of the fact that it was absolutely a case of “right place, right time” with us and little bit of talent. And we shined to it, and with “Hours” now, that’s just taken it to the next step.

PETE: Are you considering doing an acoustic CD?
GARETH: Yeah. We’ve sat down and spoke about it in great detail, about doing a Funeral For A Friend acoustic CD. It just a case of us sitting down and working out the songs. It is gonna happen at some point. It’ll be like a one off show, Funeral For A Friend sit down and do an acoustic; it’ll be a more show in a theatre. And probably release it. We do acoustic sessions regularly. We did one at Reading and Leeds this year. It always nice, because I get to sit it out, but it would be nice to do something where all of us are playing.

PETE: A bit like the Nirvana one?
GARETH: Nirvana! The Bryan Adams one is amazing.

PETE: What did you make of Give It A Name festival?
GARETH: Weird. That was weird. I enjoyed it but it felt like too big too soon.

PETE: It was poorly arranged.
GARETH: Yeah I know. We heard. We got a lot of the flack for that! We we’re just booked as a headliner! People were asking why there was no water! There wasn’t even any for us! The bad thing about Alexandra Palace is that on a hot day, that place is just an over sized green house. It was an absolute nightmare. Kids hitting the deck everywhere. I remember watching from the stage thinking, “fuck.” It didn’t feel like we had earned it. Other tours we had done, with “Casually Dressed” it was like, we’d do a town, go away for a bit, come back to that town again, but a bigger venue, go away for a bit, do that town, but a bigger venue, but then we just came back from doing the record and BANG! Biggest show we’ve ever headlined. It was really uncomfortable. Other bands on the bill had been busting their balls for the last few months touring and we just stepped into it. It was a good experience.

PETE: O.K, in terms of the future. What’s next?
GARETH: We’ve got this tour to finish. Then we go to the U.S to do our headline shows on the East Coast. That’s exciting because it’s our first headline tour on that side. Then Christmas comes and we’ve got a month off. Then we’ll start thinking about a new record.

PETE: What’s the new material going to be like?
GARETH: You’ll know when you hear it. We haven’t written anything yet.

PETE: Will you ever go back to writing anything like “The Art of American Football?”
GARETH: We’ll see how it goes at the time. We didn’t make any pre conceptions when it came to “Hours,” and that was one of our biggest accomplishments. I don’t think any of us are prepared to make a statement just yet.

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