Funeral For A Friend just do not want to stop, do they? With consistent releases and touring since day one, the Welsh quintet are just about to drop their seventh record, ‘Chapter & Verse’. Switching out former producer Romesh Dodangoda, the band instead worked with Lewis Johns (Goodtime Boys, Gnarlwolves) and have created an album that is not only sonically powerful (like all of their music) but varying in its themes – from sexism, religious bigotry, social inequality, the importance of family and much more. In light of the band’s stellar new record, we spoke with humble frontman Matthew Davies-Kreye.
Hey Matt, Alex from Killyourstereo, how are you today?
Hey Alex, I’m good man, you?
I’m not too bad thanks, what have been up to?
Just getting over the whole New Year/Christmas period, sorting out logistics for tours starting next week and having new album out, and I’m just chilling on my bed.
With the albums title, did you have it in mind before writing ‘You’ve Got A Bad Case Of The Religions’, or did that come about once that song was written?
This is the first record in a while that we didn’t have an album title in mind. I think some people wanted to call it ‘Funeral For A Friend’, which is a bit lame (laughs). We just went though a bunch of ideas about what the album meant and signified, and with that song, the album kind of felt like a bookend on the first 14 years of the band. With all the records that we’ve done, it feels like it’s all come full-circle. We’ve realised that where we are as a band right now is where we are most comfortable, and that we never should have done stupid things like making records about fishermen lost at sea (laughs).
It’s like one of those eye-opening moments. Maybe it’s also with getting old, like we don’t give a fuck, this is what we want to do, let’s just do it. It’s also an open-ended title, ‘Chapter & Verse’, kind of has a literary feel to it and I’m big into literary things for album titles.
Good to hear man. It’s definitely open-ended and you guys cover a lot of different themes on it, and I was wondering if you thought that this makes this album, not more complete, but more relatable and relevant?
It’s very much a ‘me’ record. Not like it’s about me specifically, I guess with the lyrics it is, but these are all aspects of what I care about. Whether its songs like ‘Brother’ and ‘The Jade Tree Were My Best Years’ are more personal, to songs about inequality in ‘1%’ and ‘Inequality’ itself and ‘You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself, these are all things that I find very important, they’re concepts that are quite close to me. Having the outlet of the band is really the only way I have of addressing that. It’s like a dairy; it’s like a scrapbook in a weird way. I think it’s the most complete record in terms of what it represents. So I’m really stoked on it.
For the album, you guys switched up producers and went with Lewis Johns instead of Romesh…
Yeah, we wanted a different sound, something that was more natural and less studio-based, and something more organic and stripped back. After being in a band for 14 years, I see a lot of bands and how they make records [that are] so formulaic and they all sound the fucking same. I’m just scared that people will think that that’s how bands sound. Where we are just very critical about how our songs are presented. With this record we wanted to work with somebody new and exciting with them and I knew for a fact that we wanted to record them live and be as a close as what we are live. So there’s very little overdubs, very little thinking about perfection, and to be emotionally invested and wear its heart on its sleeve and not be ashamed of imperfections. I think with these kinds of records, the imperfections really make them stand out. For us, that was key, as I just wanted a record to sound like us, in a weird way (laughs). Not to say other songs don’t, it just felt like something was missing and to have these songs stripped back really paid off for me.
I really noticed those imperfections, like its raw and live elements. Especially your vocals, sometimes your voice breaks while singing or screaming and I thought about other bands in your genre and how they would have just edited that out or done another take, but you leaving it in makes it way more authentic.
It was something I learned when doing ‘Hours’, it’s about the power and the feeling. Do you want to hear someone reeling off a performance and it’ll sound perfect or do you want someone to feel like they have some backing in it? There are songs on that record which we just picked the takes where my voice broke cause it sounded real because it brought the point across more than if it was just clean. I’ve always respected that. All of the records I’ve loved while growing up are like that, that kind of honesty
We loosely planned out what we were going to do. There was no demo for this record, so there was no blueprint to work towards. We all just went in and did our parts, I would go in and do three takes, each slightly different from the last. We would just choose the best, the one that made the hairs on our neck stand on end, so we went with the gut and the gut ruled on this record.
How did Pat’s departure from the band affect this album’s recording process?
Pat left back in April last year and so far our friend Casey [McHale], who plays in Goodtime Boys filled in on drums. Lewis recommended him because he plays guitar in Goodtime Boys as well, and he knew that Casey could do the job. We are at a point in our career where we don’t want to bring anyone new in and worry about that stuff. We’re just happy to have someone who loves playing and has as much as fun with us as we have with him. Casey’s just really chill and he plays the songs amazingly, so we’re stoked on him.
Yeah, that’s what you want in that situation. You guys recently did a re-issue of ‘Between Order And Model’ for charity, and the band has always been pretty adamant about that, so do you think bands should help out in that sort of way?
If you have the opportunity to do it, then you should do it. That’s what a part of the scene is. Over the years, Funeral For A Friend has had very close ties to the hardcore scene and we grew from that, so we want to give back and raise money for charity that help communities in countries that need the help. If you have the means and the platform to do it, you should take part in it because the world is bigger than just your band.
I fully agree with you dude. I was keen to hear your thoughts on the ‘1%’ video and how it turned out?
I think it could have been a bit better. But people have taken to it really well, and it surprised me as well. We were adamant about not being in the video. We’ve had enough of being in them; people know what the fuck we look like anyway (laughs). We just wanted it to focus on the scenes, to really play home the message and what the song about, and the platform that the music video can create to get an idea across. I don’t think that enough bands and artists use that to their advantage.
It’s probably my favourite music video from you guys, up there with ‘Best Friends & Hospital Beds’.
Oh, thanks man!
No worries. Now, I wanted to get in on this early as I’m sure you’ll be asked it heaps, but does the band have plans to do something special for the ten year anniversary for ‘Hours’?
We’ve always been crap at combining anniversary shows with anything cool. We did the ‘Hours’ anniversary shows last year purely because we were playing with Boysetsfire for the first time in ten years, so it was a big deal for us. Those shows were fucking amazing, and now it’s a year of the ‘Hours’ record, so I’m hoping that Atlantic Records will do a re-issue of it. Be cool if it did. But we recorded a live DVD of our show in London, so if anything, that’ll come out.
Oh, that would be sick. That album makes up a large portion of your set list. I remember when you toured here in 2013, most of the show I saw was material from ‘Hours’.
I love that record. ‘Chapter & Verse’ and ‘Hours’ are probably my two favourite Funeral For A Friend records because they both complement each other really well and they’re both very special to me. Mainly because of where and how we recorded those albums, and for what they mean to me. They’re kinda like siblings to me.
Well with that Matt, I think we should leave it there, thanks so much for your time.
Oh no worries, take it easy man.
‘Chapter & Verse’ is out January 23rd through Roadrunner Records Australia.
Grab your tour tickets via Destroy All Lines.