Funeral For A Friend

By paul

Paul: Hey Ryan, how is everything in the Funeral for a Friend camp right now?
RYAN: Hey there Paul. To be honest, everything in the camp is better than it’s been for a long, long time. With the new lineup and new tracks, it really does feel like a rebirth of sorts for the band. To have things sounding and feeling so fresh almost ten years into our career is a great feeling.

PAUL: I understand that you’ve just finished tracking some drums in the studio. Is it right that you’re recording a new album? If so, do you have any names etc you can share with us?
RYAN: That’s right, we’re currently tracking the new record down in South Wales and we’re hoping to have that out by March/April next year. We’ve got a title, but we want to wait until we can share the artwork to reveal it so that it all ties in and makes sense. It’s very much a continuation of the themes and artwork of the ‘The Young and Defenceless’ EP.

PAUL: You’re recording with Romesh Dodangoda – why did you choose to work with Romesh?
RYAN: Besides the fact that Romesh gets some serious tones in the studio – working with Romesh is like having a spokesperson for our fans in the studio with us. He’s grown up with Funeral For a Friend and he knows what we do best and what our fans expect from us. I think for a while, we lost sight of what our strengths were and what made us tick and Romesh has definitely been instrumental in encouraging us to get back to doing what we do best and playing to our strengths.

PAUL: What has influenced you as a band in terms of these new songs – both bands/records and subject matter?
I think it differs from band member to band member. A lot of Matt’s lyrical themes are based around the state the world is in at the moment and the the general feeling of apathy in people that seem resigned to the fact that the bad things going on in the world are too far down the line for us to be able to change them. I suppose you could call it a ‘call to arms’ record, without sounding too cheesy. For myself personally, seeing Deftones’ resurgence has been a real inspiration for me. I was a huge fan of their first couple of records but found myself falling out of love with the band with each subsequent album that came out after that. It just felt I was losing connection with something I’d loved. We toured with the band in the States a few years ago and they were just an awful parody of the band I fell in love with – bloated, sloppy and demotivated, and they completely lost me from that point. It was at that point that I realised that that was how a lot of people felt about MY band, and it was quite sobering realisation. I knew we’d let things slip and I knew how our fans felt because I was in their position, feeling the same about one of MY favourite bands. Seeing them coming around again looking and sounding fit and fresh, and delivering (what I consider) their best album of the career so far down the line was a real inspiration to me, and I’ve taken that attitude into what we’re doing now with Funeral for a Friend. I truly believe at this point that the band is better than it’s ever been and that we’re writing the best music we’ve ever written. This album is us back on top of our game, giving our fans what they’ve been missing for a long time.

PAUL: How would you describe the new songs? The new EP is released this week and I’ve seen it described as ‘Between Order and Model for 2010’. Is that a fair description? Some people seem to be a little surprised at just how aggressive it is…
RYAN: I think new EP is similar to ‘Between Order and Model’ in that it shares the same honest approach. When ‘BOAM’ was written, there were no commercial aspirations for it or any real pressure because it was just intended to be a demo. It was just a band writing music they liked and wanted to record so they could listen back to it and enjoy it themselves. It really feels like we’re back at that point now with the new lineup, and there wasn’t so much pressure for us this time around as a lot of people have lowered their expectations of us over the years. I think people were surprised at the aggression, but I think a lot of people forget that this is a new band with a new impetus and fire. Having Gav and Rich bringing their level of enthusiasm to the fold has really pushed Matt, Kris and myself and that can only be a good thing for our fans. If the fans thought the EP was aggressive though, then the album is going to tear their faces off!

PAUL: Why did you choose to do an EP rather than straight into a new album?
RYAN: Probably the reason we did it with ‘BOAM’ – being that we wanted to hear what this band really sounded like with the 5 of us writing together before going for the album. The songs on the EP were the first 4 that we wrote together and it was something we needed to do to give us that sense of what works for us as the band we are now. We knew we had some bridges to build with fans too and we wanted to give them an insight into what they can expect from our next full length record. After seeing a lot of people’s reactions to the EP then it seems apparent that in general, people are a lot more excited and curious about our new album now that they maybe were a few months back.

PAUL: The reaction so far has been really positive – is it always a relief when fans are positive or do you not tend to worry about what people say whenever they hear new music?
RYAN: I can honestly say that this was the first time that I wasn’t concerned about what people were going to say because I knew how good the new songs were. We knew people would be into them, because we knew how into them WE were. I’ve always been unsure of what people might think of previous albums either because they’ve been so different to what we’ve done before or honestly just not as good as what we’d done before. We don’t have those feelings anymore. We know these tracks are great, but it feels especially good knowing that the songs we’ve got on the album to follow up the EP with are even better.

PAUL: How has the songwriting process changed since Darran announced he was leaving the band? Are there any songs you will record for the album that include parts Darran may have brought to the table? How has Richard changed the dynamic of the band in terms of writing?
RYAN: In the past, things were usually done in a way that we’d write the songs and Darran would then come in at the end and add his parts, some times even after Matt had done his vocals. If you go into our back catalogue you can really hear that it was done that way. That’s not a criticism – it was a really important part of our sound, as Darran was a very different type of guitar player to Kris – whereas now we have Gav, who is a very similar player to Kris. Rich has changed the dynamics not by just by being an amazing bassist, but by being a great guitarist as well with a much different style again to Kris or Gav. Even with the EP, each of the initial skeletons of those songs were written by a different member of the band – but when everyone puts their stamp on those songs they sound like Funeral songs and belong together. There’s a great chemistry there.

PAUL: You’ve always been a pretty prolific band with new releases on a constant 12-18 month basis. Some bands take considerably longer – what is it about FFAF that makes you such a slick songwriting machine? Have you ever been tempted to take some time away?
RYAN: I just think we’ve got a good work ethic, and also really enjoy writing. This band has pretty much been a non-stop machine since we started – between touring, writing and recording. We’ve never really had any time away, as such. By the time this album comes out, it’ll actually be there longest gap between records that we’ve ever had so I guess that counts as our “time away”!

PAUL: Who came up with the idea of recording and releasing the EP through There were some pretty cool offers and options available to fans – were you surprised at how quickly fans snapped up the offers and how quickly you managed to reach your target?
RYAN: I won’t lie – we were pretty sceptical at first. It was something that was untried and we felt like the Guinea Pigs to a certain extent. Putting yourself out there in such a way could really backfire if it doesn’t connect, and there was a real concern that we could end up with egg on our faces – which for Matt, being vegan, wouldn’t have been very nice. But yeah – seeing the target being reached on only the 2nd day was really amazing. Having that sort of support really made us want to reward those fans with as many studio videos/updates etc as we could and I like to think we’ve repaid their faith with this EP.

PAUL: One of the pledges was to sing gang vocals on one of the EP tracks – how did that work out? Was it a fun experience for everyone?
RYAN: It was great actually. Some of the people who Pledged couldn’t make it so are going to to their vocals on the album, but the guys who came down were great and really did a good job. The vocals were on ‘Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t’, so hopefully fans will take the opportunity to lend their vocals every night when we play the track live!

PAUL: Would you consider working on something like Pledge again? Would you recommend it to other bands?
RYAN: I think Pledge will become a popular tool for bands in the the future. There’ve already been a few who jumped on it lately and I think it’s great for the fans. We’re looking into doing it for the album – but this time we’ll probably look at Pledge being an option rather than the exclusive place to get the record. If fans want to be part of that again then cool. If not then they can just buy the record from the shops, online or through itunes.

PAUL: Which release do you feel pushed you into the limelight the most and which, if it’s different, was the most successful? Linked in to that, which release are you most proud of and why?
RYAN:Well, in terms pushing the band into the limelight, then ‘Casually Dressed..’ was definitely our breakthrough record – both in the UK and overseas. In terms of getting into the public conscience then probably ‘Tales..’ being a Top 3 record in the UK and having songs from it being played on Eastenders, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks etc haha. But then again ‘Streetcar’ (from ‘Hours’) got us on ‘Top of the Pops’ so it’s hard to say! At the moment – I’m most proud of ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’, just because we were brave enough to take a risk and to do something that we knew we probably shouldn’t do, but needed to for our own artistic fulfilment at that point. I still love that record – I just wished we’d made a side project and released it in that way instead. A lot of fans never really ever accepted it as a FFAF record, where I think just as a record in it’s own right, it’s pretty solid.

PAUL: If it was to all end tomorrow, what would you say was the one defining moment you would remember forever?
RYAN: One thing that really stuck in my mind was when we headlined the 2nd stage at Reading/Leeds in 2004. We’d been out in the States for 2 1/2 months playing to about 30 people a day in a car park on the Projekt Revolution tour with Linkin Park, Korn and Snoop Dogg (who obviously played to more than 30 people) and we flew home especially to do Reading and Leeds before flying back out again. To come back to the kind of reception we got at those 2 shows was amazing. I remember playing ‘Roses for the Dead’ for the first time at those shows too and it going down amazingly well. The icing on the cake was being presented with gold discs for ‘Casually Dressed’ before the Reading set. It really was an amazing weekend. Then we flew back to play parking lots for another week! But yeah, good memories there. Meeting Ross Kemp was pretty rad too – what a gent.

PAUL: You have a very close relationship with your fans. How important is it to the band that you maintain that ‘special’ relationship? Most bands don’t seem to interact with their fans to the level that you do so why are you so different in that respect?
RYAN: I’d say it’s because we’re such huge music fans ourselves. I was the kid who always got to shows early to say hi to bands and have them sign my stuff, and to stay behind after the show to let them know how much I enjoyed it and maybe grab a photograph. I remember every band that treated me with respect and every band that acted like they were above all that, and I always wanted this band to be the former. It’s a cliche maybe, but we really wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our fans supporting us. It may be considered “cool” to some to not give a shit about what anyone else outside the band thinks, but we do. I care if a kid goes home from our show disappointed, and I love being able to talk with fans about our music and making them feel part of what this band is about.

PAUL: What will 2011 hold for Funeral for a Friend?
RYAN: 2011 will be all about the new album. It’s the first record from this new lineup, and the one that we hope will be the new benchmark release for us. We’ve lived off the back off our early success for too long now – this year is all about looking forward. It’s going to be a big year hopefully, especially since the world is apparently ending in 2012. If it doesn’t then we’ll make another album then as well. Perhaps we’ll make the last album EVER! That would be a nice way to go.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]