Names, positions, ages, amuse me…
MATT: My name is Matt, I’m 24 and my favorite position is doggy-style
DARRAN: I was going to say that! My name is Darran I play guitar, I’m 29.
M: No he likes the monkey it’s when you grab on to the back of her legs and like… imitate monkeys…
D: No I think I like it on top.
M: Oh, he’s a top man.
How does your mom describe your sound?
M: My mom describes it as noise but with a bit of singing pretty much…
D: Yeah, my mom is sort of the same way when people ask ‘what sort of band is he in?’- ‘Oh I don’t really know? It’s just really noisy I don’t really like it much.’
M: There’s not a washboard in it! (laughs)
Does your name ever make people slightly abrasive to hearing you guys for the first time?
M: Yeah pretty much but it’s our faults.
D: Yeah Matt came up with the name and most of us were kind of like ‘um it sounds a bit dark, gothic sort of Norwegian black metalish?’… But yeah- when people hear the name they usually get a sort of different idea of what we might sound like.
M: But usually they just go with it or the screaming, emo does his own screaming a little bit or some shit like that. But I don’t care I’m happy with what I do, I’m content.
D: Even after a while we gradually just all got used to the name and sort of thought that for a while but then thought- well actually it’s quite original. Doesn’t sound like anybody else once you hear it once or twice you won’t get it mixed-up.
M: I’d like to thank ‘Planes Mistaken for Stars’ for writing and recording ‘Fuck With Fire’ and calling their track ‘Funeral For A Friend’. It’s my favorite song off their record which is why I chose it.
D: And it’s got nothing to do with Elton John contrary to certain beliefs.
M: There’s a lot of shit beliefs that people have these days but I guess people can’t be asked to look hard enough so they go for the assumption- Elton John.
You guys released a few EP’s before any international attention, are you still proud of those recordings, any big changes since then- would you want FFAF fans to pick-up those records?
M: Yeah, I think it’s changed but I think it’s still got elements of what we were back then. We haven’t changed dramatically.
D: It’s still got the ‘Funeral’ thread running through it but I think we’ve progressed and developed our sound.
M: it’s not like we got a DJ in it or some shit.
D: The first EP we released was basically the first four songs we ever wrote. As we got further into writing and recording the songs…
M: It’s got a bit more rock I think.
D: The song writing I think between us has gotten a lot more comfortable.
M: Yeah I think a lot stronger- when you can comfortably hit your guitarist with a punch to the face and make his nose bleed by accident…
D: Which he did this morning!
M: Then you know, you’re in a comfortable position.
So explain the releases a bit, you have 2 releases but one U.S and one not…
M: Um we have an album out in the UK and Europe for the moment and Japan and stuff like that ‘Casually Dressed Deep in Conversation’. But the U.S release- which is actually out right now called ‘Seven Ways to Scream Your Name’ is a compilation of the EP’s that we released. It’s not a full-length or any new stuff- it’s just all of the things that we’ve had in the UK for a while.
D: Probably like 2 tracks are from two EP’s plus there’s like a demo track on there, something we re-recorded in between two EP’s.
M: It’s kind of like one of those year discography things to show where we came from.
D: It shows the progression of the band.
Will North America get ‘Casually Dressed Deep In Conversation’?
M: Yes, yes you will.
D: Of course you will, you really want it?
M: It’s coming out in the United States July 13th. Some people think it’s the end of April but no it’s July.
Juneau was re-recorded, it sounds different as well as the spelling, what was up with that?
M: Yeah, only cause I fucked up the first time around. There’s a band called Juneau and I thought that’s how you spelt Juno…
D: Juneau as in…
As in the Canadian Awards every year.
D: As in the capital of Alaska. (laughs)
M: But that’s what it was meant to be initially and I thought that that was the actual spelling but it was different so… And when we rerecorded it we’d had a chance to work with a really cool Producer called Colin Richardson- and the record label kind of wanted to give some of the older songs that we felt we’d be able to give a new push, a new lease on life so…
D: Yeah two we rerecorded but we did use two from the second EP but they were just remixed.
M: We did it maybe because that EP was only a very, unlimited release there was only something like seven thousand copies available or around there… and a different line-up mind you.
D: And the two tracks we did rerecord that were on the first EP, we basically recorded it in three days it was only ever meant to be a demo. The studio we used also had a record label side to it and they loved the songs so much they wanted to release it as an EP. So it went from being purely a demo for us to send out and to help set-up shows. To pretty much being our first release, first four songs we’d ever written. So we were signed before we’d even played a show.
M: Which is just…? Looking back on it now… at least if we would’ve gotten a bit of a grounding before actually having to go in a studio to record those songs…
D: Yeah it would have made a bit more sense but they’re sort of rough recordings.
You guys seem to know each other for a really long time?
M: Never, I’ve only just recently started calling him by his first-name. Bitch wasn’t working out too well. Hey I am boy fucker that’s all- sometimes I like girls too but… I am not keen on Kris though, he’s too hairy for my liking. Too much body-hair I’ve seen the crack of his ass, it meets his back-hair. He’s like a Persian rug man.
You guys sound real somber, morbid in some of your lyrics also extremely metaphoric and never give any initial meanings to where songs are leading…
M: I don’t give away meaning in interviews either. I never do interviews either (laughs)… No, no initially when we started doing interviews and stuff I hated explaining my songs, my words and I was really like- make up your own minds people, have a good go at it. But you know some are about relationships, some are about my personal viewpoints on the world around me. I never try to give things away too sappy or too easily because I like people to think on their own.
D: I think lyrically Matt always approaches stuff in a non cliché way.
M: Pretty much like Bon Jovi. (laughs)
D: Matt kind of writes his lyrics from a different angle, not the usual sort of cliché scenario words you tend to hear in some songs.
M: Well thank you there bitch, oh I mean Darran. But yeah I just write about what I know and what I know is, me- so there we go. No better thing to write about. I’m not going to write about politics, I know jackshit about politics pretty much. Instead I write about all the crap in my life and life that I experience around me with these fuckers.
D: You know we have to force plenty of crap into his life so, you know he’s always got plenty to write about.
M: And you see I’m happy right now so you’ll see it’s going to put a big dent in the next record so they’re trying their best to make me unhappy.
D: It’ll be a short career if he’s too happy too long. (laughs)
The lay-out of each songs are different every time, do you work longer on writing the music than the lyrics, try to kill any stagnancy?
M: Oh yeah of course, when some people work a 9 to 5 in an office job we work in a garage.
D: We have an 8-track recorder in there and we demo all the songs in a very rough format in the garage.
M: We’ve all got different influences so that kind of lends itself towards the song writing process. I should hope so…
D: Even musically I think we’ve tried to approach every song with the point-of-view it’s going to be the best song we’ve ever written.
M: But not a number one hit single or number two even…
Do you think in that format it could ever be a song you’d like?
M: No! I’d be against everything I do.
D: First and foremost it’s about keeping it musically interesting for us. It’s got to be interesting for us to expect anything else.
M: I’ve had days where I’ve come to the garage and viewed a track. Initially the music just does nothing for me, where like I’ve had problems working things out with certain songs but the more you sit with something the more you kind of realize that by doing something yourself on the track you can make something different and it opens up the track a bit.
D: Sometimes it will be like me and Kris- we’ll work out our guitar parts. Then Gareth and Ryan will come in to help arrange stuff.
M: Basically we tell them what to play.
D: NO! (laughs) And then Matt will come in there, with a song- usually in a rough sort of stage.
M: Yeah and then I take it to a new and wonderful place, ‘I make it unbelievable.’ (laughs)
Is this your first time in North America- worked-up any over reception?
M: No actually this is our second time we were out here last year. Darran was only out here for half of the tour last time unfortunately. Because he’s reckless! He’s reckless, disobeying and breaking the law. A lot of explaining.
D: Actually, I had to wait for my visa to come through, so it ended up I missed the first week or so.
M: Why did you miss the first week? (bursts out laughing)
D: It’s a long story…
M: C’mon, I love it.
D: Basically I was coming to visit a friend I knew from Fort Lauderdale and I showed up at the immigration sort of knowing fuck all about the immigration laws and I had planned on staying with my friend for about a month and they were asking me questions like- ‘well how much money do you have?’ and all these crazy questions I really wasn’t expecting and I showed them how much money I had. And they were like ‘man, you’re not going to stay in this country with that sort of money for a month. Are you thinking of working there?’… And it sort of went from there to ‘I’m sorry we’re not going to let you in.’
M: Yeah they fucked him up.
D: So yeah they just sort of held-up my visa for awhile the last time we wanted to tour over here. It’s all cool now but it meant that I missed part of our first tour here.
And to know your records went worldwide?
M: You know actually it didn’t even cross my mind to be honest. You know it was talked about on a semi-professional level with people I guess but I never really considered it. It’s not until we get to these places that we actually realize that our record is being released out here- seeing people who know the words. It’s not easy to accept in the UK cause it’s just everywhere but when you go to places like this you don’t expect it. I don’t come here with any expectations either…
D: We’ve just been to Japan a few weeks ago- it was our first time there and it was crazy there was, loads of kids singing along.
I read this and couldn’t stop laughing, pls elaborate… Your recording studio was haunted?
M: Ah yes!
D: It was in Rak’s Studio in London.
M: It’s where bands like U2 have recorded and Depeche Mode…
D: It’s a really kind of old legendary studio.
M: We stayed in the apartment next door and fuck it freaked me out. One night I was in the apartment on my own the guys were out going to see a show as usual and I was there listening to music on the stereo just lounging back and forth. Then all of a sudden the stereo would just- not turn off but the volume dial would just gradually go down lower & lower & lower. I remember stopping and going- what the…? I went over and turned it back up, carried on walking around and it did the same thing again! Like then I’m really freaked out… anyways I then go up to the fridge, not the freezer part but the fridge where I had a bottle of Sprite. And it’s the first time I have ever experienced a completely frozen bottle of Sprite coming out of a fridge and not a freezer. I had put it in there the night before no one else put it anywhere else. And it was just ice in the entire bottle, the temperature in that fridge was lukewarm at best it wasn’t even cold hardly. But now it was ice. I remember showing Gareth when he came back and he was freaked out.
D: And then there was the puddle of water upstairs…
M: Upstairs there was no leak nothing was leaking but there was always a puddle of water in the middle of the bathroom. And you’d even open-up the window, a nice sunny day and you’d think it would dry up the floor? But you’d come back three hours later and the water was still there, the sun had done nothing at all- freaked the hell out of me that did. So yeah I pretty much believe that studio was haunted, we were sleeping with ghosts pretty much. No the way you’re thinking but.
D: What do you mean why would you think she’d think that (laughs). Next question
Any certain songs you wrote, now no matter what when they’re performed live you can’t help but reminisce?
D: Yeah definitely and I’ve got quite a few personal favorites like ‘Escape Artists Never Die’ being one of them. I think it’s a really full song how it explores all our styles, feelings and mood changes we do in practically all our songs. I think it kind of encompasses all the vibes we’ve got going on in one song. It’s definitely a favorite of mine.
M: Well there’s one or two songs which are kind of, not difficult to get because of what they bring out live in me. But sometimes I’ve written things that I sometimes regret writing about because every time I sing them I have to kind of relive that memory of it, when I just want to get on with things and move on. So that pisses me off ever so slightly. Like the song ‘Juneau’ was about my first proper serious girlfriend. Who I was completely head over heels for, I thought she felt the same way but she was fucking my best-friend behind my back and I caught them at a Christmas party and that really fucked my head up for a while. So that’s that one, that’s what Juneau’s about. And there is a track; ‘Moments Forever Faded’- off the record which reflects how people tend to focus on world events when there’s things happening behind closed doors in their neighborhoods which, is kind of scary as well. I fucking hated it when my parents used to argue and argue loads of times and I’d be hiding out from it. I always thought you know why is, this shit going on downstairs that shouldn’t be going on? I just hated when my parents argued and that song is basically about being a kid and not being able to understand why things like that go on & not being able to deal with it till you get older.
Memorable tour van moments?
M: I think one of the funniest was when we went out on our first UK tour and we decided to dye our hair black and boy did we not think that one out properly.
D: We went out on tour to support this band, our first month long proper UK tour and one of the members of the headlining band used to dye his hair black. We were crashing at his house for a couple of shows that were close to his house and while we were crashing there he decided he was due to dye his hair. Then a couple of us were like ‘oh wow I’ve never died my hair I’d try that’… Then he was like ‘ah well you guys should do it as well’. So we all ended up dying our hair black without washing it out properly. So when we played a show the next night we were all full of black dye running down our faces.
M: I’m sure we started the black hair movement in the UK. There was, also instances where our old merch guy- he bought these like leopard skin print thongs.
D: Such a frightening sight a big shaved-head man full of stretch-marks with lady breasts…
He wore them doing merch?
D: oh no!
M: Just for fun, to entertain us on the bus...
D: I don’t know why? (laughs)
M: Oh do you know those electric pads you use to tone your muscles with? Our old sound-guy used to bring some on tour and Ryan our drummer and a band we were on tour with fell asleep in the back of the bus. So we decided to attach these things to them. So there was Ryan sleeping in the back on the couch ever so casually and we attached it to his hand. And I shit you not, his hand woke-up before he did, shot straight up in the air. He woke-up screaming ‘what the fuck is going on!’ So then we decided to put it on the other guys face but he didn’t even wake-up his face just kept twitching, weirdly enough the next day when he woke-up he had pinkeye. I’m still trying to think if that was the cause?
D: How wrong is that…?
Did you guys all grow up listening to punk rock?
M: I did, since about… When I was 12yrs old I saw an MTV special on punk rock and it’s probably the first thing MTV’s done right.
D: My first love was definitely metal, same goes for Kris and Ryan as well. We’re all really big metal fans but I’ve always been a big fan of the Pistols and stuff like that. But I recently started getting into American punk rock & hardcore bands because of Matt. He turned me on to lots of punk bands. He’s kind of a really big underground freak.
M: I used to run a fanzine and a record store so I’d always be giving the boys CD’s to see what they think.
What were some of the first punk records you gave the guys?
M: Everything- I leant Darran some ‘Bane’, ‘Dag Nasty’, ‘Texas Is the Reason’…
D: And then we turned Matt onto ‘At The Gates’ and ‘In Flames’…
M: They’re great, really good bands like Killswitch Engage- the hardcore, metalcore crossover stuff, it’s pretty damn good.
You guys even toured with Iron Maiden that had to be an influence.
D: Yes we did, how freaky is that. Oh yeah! They were definitely a big influence on me, and the other guys, maybe not Matt as much.
M: They only wrote one song I ever liked called the ‘Wicker Man’ and they never even bloody played it on the tour, bastards.
D: Oh yeah but we found it to be sort of a dream come true, crazy to have that sort of an opportunity you know. We were out with them for about a month, a month and a half in the UK and Europe. It was an awesome experience.
M: It was awesome but for me it was the fucking scariest thing I’ve ever done because you walk out to an audience that is just Maiden fans, first couple of shows I was afraid that I’d…
D: Well lets just say that a high percentage of the Maiden crowd weren’t accepting of what we do and our angle- so um yes it was quite a challenge every night. But at the same time we learned a shit-load out on that tour, even the arenas and stuff like that.
M: Oh yeah playing such a big stage you know in the face of utter fucking… Um yeah we just had to knuckle down and continue to play. And play well in the face of adversity. It was the ones with the video screens that I was really worried about.
D: We were playing for on average of about ten-thousand a night, so it was an insane sort of experience to go through. A memory we cherish (laughs). It’s an experience only a handful of bands ever get to live.
Like you said you used to own a fanzine? Do you still, you’ve even interviewed bands you later ended up touring with (Boy Sets Fire…)?
M: Exactly man that was the freakiest shit… I don’t anymore, I ran it for…
D: Aren’t you thinking of bringing it back again?
M: Yeah man, actually there’s been talk. Our label just recently was interested in the fact that I used to do it and asked me if I wanted to write reviews and stuff for other magazines. They said they’d be sure they could pimp me off to other magazines, I was like- well thanks guys! (laughs) and I am not even a writer for christsakes. All of those people I got to meet… Well I used basically my fanzine to meet all of my heroes like J Robbins I got to sit in a van with him talking about crap, just about anything so I could speak to him.
J. Robbins, nice call, thanks guys.