Those Bridgend boys Funeral For A Friend are back with a vengeance, having just announced a headline tour next January, to coincide with the release of their new album, ‘Chapter and Verse‘. Back in June, they had top spot at the prestigious Voodoo Rocks Summer Ball at Electrowerkz in London and I was lucky enough to interview them after they smashed their set. So, in case you missed it the first time around, sit back, relax and have a read!
Did you manage to catch any other bands playing tonight?
Pat: Yeah, I managed to catch two songs from The Dirty Youth – they’re from Wales so, big up The Dirty Youth. It’s not massively my type of music but you have to support good, positive people who just do it for the love of the music. They’re out all the time working hard and that’s what touring is about – people paying their dues and cracking on and they’ve been on it from the get-go.
Your sixth studio album ‘Conduit’ came out last year, was it well received?
Pat: It got to number two in the rock charts in the UK and we broke the top 40. It was a big success and surpassed expectation.
You’ve got a huge number of fans on Facebook so you must have had some really good feedback on social media?
Pat: Yeah, I think YouTube views and comments were good. There are a lot of avid, serious Funeral fans that give our videos and singles time, so yes, it’s always good.
You did the ‘Hours’ headline tour back in April, was it sold out?
Pat: Yes, every date was sold out.
Do you prefer playing live or being in the studio?
Pat: I think it’s a mixture. When you’ve done your fill of live shows, you’re stoked on new material that you’ve been writing in dressing rooms and meeting up at people’s homes and when you go into the writing process, you fully launch yourself into it. For us, on the new record (the seventh album) we just set aside two weeks and smashed right through it. It’s in the bag and it’s coming out, probably early next year.
We’ll look forward to it! What do you listen to when you’re travelling?
Pat: We’re going to go from extremely cold to extremely hot here, but ‘m going to say Predator, Rude Kids and a lot of drum related things that I like to listen to, as well as hard-core and metal. It’s a massive varied spectrum of all different musical tastes.
Let’s talk about the Wrexham Comic Con (FFAF are performing at the after party) …
Matt: We were asked to do it in April, but we were already on tour with our shows. Jamie, the guy that runs it was talking about next year, but then he put on a second event; we could do the date, so yes, we’re going to be playing to a shitload of geeks. We’re looking forward to it – we get to hang out at Comic Con all day!
Funeral For A Friend with myself and Natalie Conway from Red Dragon Records, Voodoo Rocks Summer Ball, June 2014 (Photo courtesy of Emma Radwanski, Emma Radwanski Photography)
You’re going to be doing some smaller festivals, like NASS, Godiva and those sorts of events this year; what are you aiming to achieve in the next couple of years?
Matt: There’s no real goal or plan, we just want to play. There’s no world domination theory. We love playing, especially to people who give a fuck about what we do. We never really set out with any kind of goal to be big or successful; the success we’ve had has come through people wanting to come and see our band, which is awesome. We’ve been a band for 13 years now and like everything, there have been peaks and troughs. We feel privileged that people still care enough about what we do to come and support us. We can’t ask for more than that, really.
You’ve been at it for so long, what sort of advice would you give to any up and coming bands that may be struggling?
Matt: Don’t set out with a goal to make a lot of money, be successful and sell a lot of records.
Pat: Further than that, don’t set out to be in a band, set out to be good with your instrument; be passionate about singing, or be passionate about playing the drums. Don’t buy an instrument or kit to go and join a band, it’s stupid. Have fun playing, fall in love with your instrument, your voice, yourself and then be in a band.
Matt: Do it for the fun of doing it, for the love of music. As soon as you write for anybody else, rather than yourself, then you may as well just stop.
Pat: Trust me, you’ll stop loving it when you get to 22 and realise you can’t play your instrument. Get good and then be in a band, otherwise you’re saturating an already over-saturated market, if you’re shit and you can’t play music.
Well, you guys should know, you’ve survived the digital revolution …
Matt: So many people are doing bands now that have never toured, that have never put the work in but are becoming successful. In my eyes, if you want to be in a band, playing live shows and getting out there is the first thing you should be looking at; it’s the key thing. If you’re not good at what you do and you can’t play live, there’s no point in you going any further.
Pat: The more you need to rely on digital aids, the more you mug yourself off.
Matt: God, anybody can make a record now. All the shit bands will fall at the wayside and eventually we’ll be left with the good ones …
What do you think about the changes to YouTube? Do you think it will have a big impact on you?
Matt: To be honest with you, little by little everything is being taken away from the independent sector anyway. Anyone that is trying to rape an artist’s ability to progress and get their stuff out to more people … it’s terrible. It’s a misguided way to try to claw money back from an industry that’s trying to figure out how to operate now, with the way technology is moving forward and the way people consume music. For me, one of the things I like currently is the resurgence of people getting into vinyl again. It actually makes you a part of something, you have to invest time into a record and you end up caring about it. You can download a track and just forget about it the day after.
Well, although rock has been outselling pop in the UK, a lot of people are saying that 2014 will see the death of the album. Do you agree?
Matt: I think that within this kind of music, albums will always be something that people will be into, even if it’s just collecting them. I collect vinyl, as do a lot of my friends and even the kids coming to our shows. If you’re, say, Coldplay, or a proper mainstream act, it might change drastically in terms of physical sales of records, but for metal and hard-core and punk it will always be there.
Pat: Thank God you can’t download merch.
Do you sell a lot of merch?
Pat: It’s what keeps bands like us going on the road. When records cost £250,000 to make, bands aren’t going to see anything off of that. When you sell out shows and you’re selling merch by the bucket, that’s where you make a little bit of money, but even then it’s percentages. As long as a band can stay on the road doing what they love, it’s all good, money is not the biggest thing.
It’s sad, though, because back in the day, record sales were everything.
Matt: We’d like to go back in time and be immersed in that situation again. I got into records in the nineties so for me it was the last decade where music actually meant something. With my generation I think there’s still a need to be part of something physical in terms of music, whereas kids who are brought up in this generation, they’re the iTunes and Spotify generation; it’s all done on the click of a button. There’s no hard work involved and no emotional investment in bands any more.
Do you have anything that you would like to say to fans that have supported you all the way through your journey so far?
Matt: Just, cheers. We really do fucking appreciate it.
The new Funeral For A Friend album is released on 19th January 2015 via all the usual channels – interestingly enough, as well as vinyl and CD, they’ll also be releasing a cassette version! You can catch them live – check out their website for the most up to date gig listings.