"Screamo, emo, metal, thrash, new-wave country - whatever, I can't keep up, this is Funeral for a Friend from the UK - another band to get its rush and nudge through a major. Now they're international and touring America, teaching me words like gar-edge [aka garage]. This was one hell of an interview to type figuring out accents and the lingo - they were very entertaining & amusing nonetheless. "
Names, positions, ages, amuse meâ¦
MATT: My name is Matt, Iâm 24 and my favorite position is doggy-style
DARRAN: I was going to say that! My name is Darran I play guitar, Iâm 29.
M: No he likes the monkey itâs when you grab on to the back of her legs and likeâ¦ imitate monkeysâ¦
D: No I think I like it on top.
M: Oh, heâs a top man.
How does your mom describe your sound?
M: My mom describes it as noise but with a bit of singing pretty muchâ¦
D: Yeah, my mom is sort of the same way when people ask âwhat sort of band is he in?â- âOh I donât really know? Itâs just really noisy I donât really like it much.â
M: Thereâs 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 itâs our faults.
D: Yeah Matt came up with the name and most of us were kind of like âum it sounds a bit dark, gothic sort of Norwegian black metalish?ââ¦ 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 donât care Iâm happy with what I do, Iâm 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 itâs quite original. Doesnât sound like anybody else once you hear it once or twice you wonât get it mixed-up.
M: Iâd like to thank âPlanes Mistaken for Starsâ for writing and recording âFuck With Fireâ and calling their track âFuneral For A Friendâ. Itâs my favorite song off their record which is why I chose it.
D: And itâs got nothing to do with Elton John contrary to certain beliefs.
M: Thereâs a lot of shit beliefs that people have these days but I guess people canât be asked to look hard enough so they go for the assumption- Elton John. You guys released a few EPâs 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 itâs changed but I think itâs still got elements of what we were back then. We havenât changed dramatically.
D: Itâs still got the âFuneralâ thread running through it but I think weâve progressed and developed our sound.
M: itâs 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 songsâ¦
M: Itâs 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 accidentâ¦
D: Which he did this morning!
M: Then you know, youâre in a comfortable position.
So explain the releases a bit, you have 2 releases but one U.S and one notâ¦
M: Um we have an album out in the UK and Europe for the moment and Japan and stuff like that âCasually Dressed Deep in Conversationâ. But the U.S release- which is actually out right now called âSeven Ways to Scream Your Nameâ is a compilation of the EPâs that we released. Itâs not a full-length or any new stuff- itâs just all of the things that weâve had in the UK for a while.
D: Probably like 2 tracks are from two EPâs plus thereâs like a demo track on there, something we re-recorded in between two EPâs.
M: Itâs 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 âCasually Dressed Deep In Conversationâ?
M: Yes, yes you will.
D: Of course you will, you really want it?
M: Itâs coming out in the United States July 13th. Some people think itâs the end of April but no itâs 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. Thereâs a band called Juneau and I thought thatâs how you spelt Junoâ¦
D: Juneau as inâ¦
As in the Canadian Awards every year.
D: As in the capital of Alaska. (laughs)
M: But thatâs what it was meant to be initially and I thought that that was the actual spelling but it was different soâ¦ And when we rerecorded it weâd 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 weâd be able to give a new push, a new lease on life soâ¦
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 thereâ¦ 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 weâd ever written. So we were signed before weâd even played a show.
M: Which is justâ¦? Looking back on it nowâ¦ at least if we wouldâve gotten a bit of a grounding before actually having to go in a studio to record those songsâ¦
D: Yeah it would have made a bit more sense but theyâre sort of rough recordings.
You guys seem to know each other for a really long time?
M: Never, Iâve only just recently started calling him by his first-name. Bitch wasnât working out too well. Hey I am boy fucker thatâs all- sometimes I like girls too butâ¦ I am not keen on Kris though, heâs too hairy for my liking. Too much body-hair Iâve seen the crack of his ass, it meets his back-hair. Heâs 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 leadingâ¦
M: I donât give away meaning in interviews either. I never do interviews either (laughs)â¦ 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 clichÃ© way.
M: Pretty much like Bon Jovi. (laughs)
D: Matt kind of writes his lyrics from a different angle, not the usual sort of clichÃ© 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. Iâm 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 heâs always got plenty to write about.
M: And you see Iâm happy right now so youâll see itâs going to put a big dent in the next record so theyâre trying their best to make me unhappy.
D: Itâll be a short career if heâs 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: Weâve all got different influences so that kind of lends itself towards the song writing process. I should hope soâ¦
D: Even musically I think weâve tried to approach every song with the point-of-view itâs going to be the best song weâve ever written.
M: But not a number one hit single or number two evenâ¦
Do you think in that format it could ever be a song youâd like?
M: No! Iâd be against everything I do.
D: First and foremost itâs about keeping it musically interesting for us. Itâs got to be interesting for us to expect anything else.
M: Iâve had days where Iâve come to the garage and viewed a track. Initially the music just does nothing for me, where like Iâve 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- weâll 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, âI make it unbelievable.â (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 heâs reckless! Heâs 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: Itâs a long storyâ¦
M: Câmon, 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- âwell how much money do you have?â and all these crazy questions I really wasnât expecting and I showed them how much money I had. And they were like âman, youâre not going to stay in this country with that sort of money for a month. Are you thinking of working there?ââ¦ And it sort of went from there to âIâm sorry weâre not going to let you in.â
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. Itâs 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 didnât 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. Itâs 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. Itâs not easy to accept in the UK cause itâs just everywhere but when you go to places like this you donât expect it. I donât come here with any expectations eitherâ¦
D: Weâve 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 couldnât stop laughing, pls elaborateâ¦ Your recording studio was haunted?
M: Ah yes!
D: It was in Rakâs Studio in London.
M: Itâs where bands like U2 have recorded and Depeche Modeâ¦
D: Itâs 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 theâ¦? I went over and turned it back up, carried on walking around and it did the same thing again! Like then Iâm really freaked outâ¦ anyways I then go up to the fridge, not the freezer part but the fridge where I had a bottle of Sprite. And itâs 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 wasnât 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 upstairsâ¦
M: Upstairs there was no leak nothing was leaking but there was always a puddle of water in the middle of the bathroom. And youâd even open-up the window, a nice sunny day and youâd think it would dry up the floor? But youâd 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 youâre thinking but.
D: What do you mean why would you think sheâd think that (laughs). Next question
Any certain songs you wrote, now no matter what when theyâre performed live you canât help but reminisce?
D: Yeah definitely and Iâve got quite a few personal favorites like âEscape Artists Never Dieâ being one of them. I think itâs 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 weâve got going on in one song. Itâs definitely a favorite of mine.
M: Well thereâs one or two songs which are kind of, not difficult to get because of what they bring out live in me. But sometimes Iâve 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 âJuneauâ 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 thatâs that one, thatâs what Juneauâs about. And there is a track; âMoments Forever Fadedâ- off the record which reflects how people tend to focus on world events when thereâs 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 Iâd be hiding out from it. I always thought you know why is, this shit going on downstairs that shouldnât 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 âoh wow Iâve never died my hair Iâd try thatââ¦ Then he was like âah well you guys should do it as wellâ. 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: Iâm 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 breastsâ¦
He wore them doing merch?
D: oh no!
M: Just for fun, to entertain us on the bus…
D: I donât 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 âwhat the fuck is going on!â So then we decided to put it on the other guys face but he didnât even wake-up his face just kept twitching, weirdly enough the next day when he woke-up he had pinkeye. Iâm still trying to think if that was the cause?
D: How wrong is thatâ¦?
Did you guys all grow up listening to punk rock?
M: I did, since aboutâ¦ When I was 12yrs old I saw an MTV special on punk rock and itâs probably the first thing MTVâs done right.
D: My first love was definitely metal, same goes for Kris and Ryan as well. Weâre all really big metal fans but Iâve 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. Heâs kind of a really big underground freak.
M: I used to run a fanzine and a record store so Iâd always be giving the boys CDâs to see what they think.
What were some of the first punk records you gave the guys?
M: Everything- I leant Darran some âBaneâ, âDag Nastyâ, âTexas Is the Reasonââ¦
D: And then we turned Matt onto âAt The Gatesâ and âIn Flamesââ¦
M: Theyâre great, really good bands like Killswitch Engage- the hardcore, metalcore crossover stuff, itâs 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 âWicker Manâ 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 Iâve ever done because you walk out to an audience that is just Maiden fans, first couple of shows I was afraid that Iâdâ¦
D: Well lets just say that a high percentage of the Maiden crowd werenât 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 fuckingâ¦ 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). Itâs an experience only a handful of bands ever get to live.
Like you said you used to own a fanzine? Do you still, youâve even interviewed bands you later ended up touring with (Boy Sets Fireâ¦)?
M: Exactly man that was the freakiest shitâ¦ I donât anymore, I ran it forâ¦
D: Arenât you thinking of bringing it back again?
M: Yeah man, actually thereâs 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 theyâd 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 meetâ¦ 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.