Funeral For A Friend

It’s Your Funeral!

It’s weird when you find yourself disliking a band intensely for several months and therefore dismissing everything they do in that time as total tripe. I did that with Funeral For a Friend, and was convinced they were some kind of evil prank for some time. However, upon receiving my review copy of “She Drove Me To Daytime Television” something inside me, I don’t know what, inspired me to give this five piece a fair crack of the whip this time around. I was surprised, because not only did I not hate the CD, I actually quite liked it. So I was intrigued to hear what the album was like, and that, really, is where the turning point came. It’s a magnificent record and I felt very foolish for having spent six months of my life ignoring them! Still, at least guitarist Darran Smith was gracious enough to forgive me for my previous misdemeanours and chatted freely with me for the following interview!

AD:Congratulations on your excellent debut album. But how did you feel about being outsold by Daniel O’Donnell on the week of release?

DS: (laughs) Oh we were disgusted! And distraught! I mean, what’s the world coming to?

AD: I know, it was shocking. Anyway, let me be honest with you, when I first heard Funeral For a Friend I wasn’t exactly blown away, and it’s taken this album to convince me that the band is brilliant. In other words, the more I’ve actually bothered to PLAY your stuff, the more I love it. Why do you think your music has such a “growing” quality to it?

DS: Well, generally I do think we spend a fair bit of time trying to create more depth in our music, rather than just saying “Yes that sounds ok” and just going along with it. For instance, we’ve got two guitarists in the band, and we could so easily both play the same things, but we rarely do. One of the worst things you can do is think you’ve got it right the first time and never try anything different because of it. We just try to make things as interesting as possible for ourselves and the listeners.

AD: I gather you had a bit of trouble getting into the States for your tour…

DS: Yeah! I was just waiting for my visa. US Immigration and the Embassy weren’t in any hurry to get it done – I think really they just like to show you who’s the boss. It was just a red tape thing really, I mean I’m not a terrorist or a criminal or anything – I’ve never been in prison or had any trouble with the law. It’s just that I left it too late to apply. Ryan nearly didn’t go too – he had to get a new passport so he was in a mad panic as well. It was more frustrating than anything but I was just so pleased and relieved when I DID eventually get there.

AD: Why did you choose to release “She Drove Me To Daytime Television” as a single so soon after it had already been put out as a track on the “Four Ways To Scream Your Name” EP?

DS: Partly because it was such a strong song, but it was more to do with coming to a compromise with the label, who desperately wanted to put it out. We were a bit against it at first, because we’d already released it before, but then they agreed to let us put it out with “Bullet Theory” as a double a-side, so even though we weren’t too pleased, there was still a perk to it.

AD: And you also re-recorded a new version of “Juneau” for the album…

DS: Yeah, well it was always the plan to re-record that, because it was such a good song and it WAS just a demo originally. We thought we could do it a lot more justice with a real big production and we were really pleased with it. It’s funny though because there seems to be a split down the middle with the fans – half of them like the old version better and the other half prefer the new one. So we play a mixture of the two when we perform it live. That way we avoid getting lynched!

AD: You’ve toured with some illustrious names already – Lostprophets and the Juliana Theory to name but a couple. What’s been the highlight for you?

DS: That’s gotta be the festivals we played. They’re the sort of things you dream of doing when you’re struggling, so treading the hallowed turf of places like Reading and Donington was such a buzz. Then of course we played with the ‘prophets at Newport Centre, and we’ve seen so many bands there in the past that, from a sentimental point of view, we feel really cool and lucky to have been able to do so.

AD: And you’ll be touring with Iron Maiden soon…

DS: …and that’ll be “shit your pants every night of the week” for us. Well it will be for me anyway! It’s gonna be amazing. We’re really blown away that we’re on the tour at all, let alone as the main support! It’s great because Bruce Dickinson is a big fan and has played us on his radio show loads of times. Steve Harris also loves us and that’s just mindblowing because Iron Maiden have definitely had an influence on this band. In fact, if you listen to some of our harmonies, or some of the vocals on the verses, you can probably tell.

AD: So, what do you put your seemingly meteoric rise to fame down to?

DS: Honestly? Complete and utter luck! I don’t know, I guess it’s because we all totally believe in what we do. I don’t think we’re any more great and amazing than plenty of other great and amazing unsigned bands. There’s some brilliant groups out there, so it’s very flattering to get all this attention and so many “Best Band” nominations. But it’s just as much of a headspin for us as it is for anybody else. It’s as though the ball started rolling, and now we can’t stop it. Not that we’d WANT to stop it, mind…

AD: What’s all this malarkey about your studio being haunted?

DS: There were a couple of things that freaked us out when we were recording the album. Things like the hi-fi being turned down on its own – twice! Then Gareth shouted at it and it was ok! Then there was a big puddle of water in the bathroom and nobody knew how it had got there, because there was nothing leaking, no hole in the roof and nobody had even used the bathroom that day!

AD: Hang on a minute, so you’re saying that, if you have ghosts, all you have to do to get rid of them is to….SHOUT at them?!!

DS: Oh yeah. You’ve gotta control those spooks…

AD: Interesting….so, do you think this whole supernatural experience added to the recording of the album?

DS: Haha! NO!

AD: Do you think you’ve increased the pressure on yourselves to make the second album even better than the first? Because that’ll be tough…

DS: It could be if we wanted to look upon it that way, but the most likely thing would be that we’ll ignore that pressure and angle, and just try to write the best we can. We all have strong enough personalities to be able to overcome that. One thing the second album won’t be though, is a carbon copy of the first. I always think it’s really unfair on the fans when bands do that, so the next album will be more about us progressing. We’ll still stroll along at our own pace though.

AD: Ok, which celebrity would you most like to punch in the face?

DS: Oh. Um. Good question. (pause). Oh I know – Tara Palmer Tompkinson! Not that I advocate hitting women, but she really deserves a smack in the chops. I mean, the woman’s got not one ounce of talent…and she’s famous! Yes. I think that’s a good choice!

AD: Talking of famous people, I hear you’ve been seeing a bit of Paul McCartney recently…

DS: That was weird! We were recording at Rack Studios in St. John’s Wood and we were told he lived around there somewhere, but never in our wildest dreams did we think any of us would see him walking around in broad daylight with a jacket draped casually over his shoulder! We just bumped into him. It was really strange, but pretty cool too, ‘cause I quite like The Beatles.

AD: Careful. You know what happened to Glen Matlock?

DS: Shit, yeah you’re right. Scrub the last bit!

And I would’ve scrubbed it too, but it made me laugh so it’s staying in! Plus of course, the FFAF guys seem like a really nice bunch of lads who deserve every moment of success they have achieved so far. Fingers crossed that this is one Funeral that lasts a long time.

Interview and transcript by Tone E



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