Funeral For A Friend
Charlie Ralph 24/10/2008
Funeral For A Friend aren't a "big new thing" in the music world any more, they're definitely not a flavour of the month kind of band. After 3 albums containing consistent post-hardcore hits like 'Streetcar', 'Juneau' and 'Into Oblivion', the band have finally released their fourth record, (an album that was rumoured to be their heaviest since their debut), 'Memory and Humanity' to an awaiting crowd of around 1000 Scottish metal/emo fans in Inverness' Ironworks venue.
Before the show, I caught up with Matt Davies (lead vocals) and Darren Smith (rhythm guitar) and had a little chat with them about their upcoming tour, the various welsh successors to their emo crown, and that complicated problem of pre-show bathroom trouble.
So you're finally out now on the full 'Memory and Humanity' tour, supporting the album, how does that feel?
Matt: feels good! Really positive to be back out on an extensive tour this time playing shows and kicking ass.
Darren: Apart from a few shows we did a few months ago this will be the first time in almost a year and it's good to be out playing the new songs.
Matt: So yeah, we're greased up, oiled up and ready to go!
You've been playing for around 6 years now, do you still get nervous going out to perform in front of such large audiences?
Matt: Maybe, I don't really feel like its nerves, more like an adrenaline rush. It's the kind of adrenaline rush that really makes you want to take a shit before you go on stage.(laughs)
Darren: As Matt says, the adrenaline is definitely still there you know, the stomach starts going and it is a little nerve-wracking. But if you didn't have that, and walked out without the nerves, it wouldn't be nearly as fun.
Yeah, it's always good to have those nerves otherwise the performance isn't as good.
Matt: Well the two go hand in hand with the audience you know, if the audience is bad then you've got nothing to feed off, so the show isn't as good. Like last night we played Belfast and the audience were insane, and that definitely helped our performance.
Well, talking about crowd excitement, is it weird playing festivals and stuff audiences can be kind of…
Matt: Shit? (laughs)
Darren: Well yeah, like I say you've got to work with what you're given, you've got a mishmash of people, there's some of your biggest fans, and some people who've never heard you before, so it's difficult to find a balance
So what about the set lists for the tour, you've got 4 albums now, how do you decide what to play?
Matt: Just sort of democratically go through the songs we like to play, songs that would probably get a good audience reaction and then finding a good balance. There are quite a few songs thankfully that we love playing live that the audience seem to love too, so that's great.
I read comments on the myspace and stuff with people asking you to play really early songs like 'You Want Romance?', do you find it hard to fit in stuff like that?
Matt: Well with b-sides like that we kind of have a policy. We've got 4 albums now and we don't really want to play songs that we deem ourselves as not good enough to make onto our albums. When we do play those old songs there usually actually the least familiar to the crowd. We played '10:45 Amsterdam Conversations' (from their debut EP 'Between Order and Model') on the last tour for a couple of days and no one really knew what it was, so the people asking must be a minority.
So I mean, in Wales at the moment there's a lot of post-hardcore-esque bands coming through like The Blackout and Kids In Glass Houses and breaking through to the mainstream. Do you feel sort of responsible in any way for this?
Darren: Yeah, why not. (laughs) I think that it all the heavier bands breaking through, came from the Lostprophets and we followed fairly closely behind them and that sort of opened up the field for all the others to come through.
Matt: There's always been a place in Welsh culture for great rock bands like Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and Super Furry Animals and we just like to think we're continuing that trend.
So, your first album Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation was released 5 years ago, and it's gone on to sell over 300,000 copies since, how do you feel about that?
Matt: There's definitely a sense of pride.
Darren: Yeah, and when you put it like that. I guess a lot, of young bands might have been influenced by us.
Matt: For instance You Me At Six were playing a festival that we were headlining a while ago and they said on stage that they "grew up listening to us" which was a really strange thing to hear. It definitely made us feel very honoured that people feel like that.
So this tour is about 2 months long at the moment, taking you right up to Christmas. There's only 5 of you in the band, how do you manage to keep yourselves entertained between shows?
Matt: Well right now we have a bunch of buffed up guys in our dressing room exercising to heavy metal that we like to watch (laughs) but yeah, just the normal stuff, this is a pretty big tour bus and it's just like our home really, except we just don't go to sleep with our wives at the end of the day. I mean, this is the first time that we've been on tour where I've really felt comfortable and relaxed, because usually my voice gives out or something goes wrong, but these days I'm a lot more confident.
So last question, after this tour, what does 2009 look like for the band?
Matt: It looks busy. We're going to be touring again in January to about march, then do another UK/Europe tour in spring, then the summer festivals obviously, then maybe, by this time next year, October 2009, we might get some time to ourselves, maybe even start writing the new record.
Funeral for a Friend are in the middle of a UK tour in support of their new album 'Memory and Humanity.'
Fri 24 Oct Manchester Academy 2
Sun 26 Oct Birmingham Academy
Mon 27 Oct Coventry Kasbah
Tue 28 Oct Nottingham Rock City
Thu 30 Oct Exeter Lemon Grove
Fri 31 Oct Portsmouth Pyramid
Sat 01 Nov Oxford Academy
Mon 03 Nov Norwich Waterfront
Tue 04 Nov London Forum
Tue 09 Dec Tenby De Valence Pavilion
Wed 10 Dec Swansea Sin City
Fri 12 Dec Cardiff University
Sat 13 Dec Wrexham Central Station
Sun 14 Dec Aberyswyth Arts Centre