On 17th June 2011 at 19:01 Anonymous 15767 wrote...
John Harvey talks with Darren from Welsh emo hardcore band Funeral for a Friend, who recently headlined the NME tour in Leeds...
It's a rainy Thursday in Leeds and I get a surprise call on my mobile while I'm traipsing around town asking me to conduct an interview with a member of Funeral For A Friend the following day. I have to confess I'd never heard their music before but the bands name has popped up quite a lot recently.
A bit of on-line research reveals that they've sold 100,000 copies of their debut album, supported Iron Maiden, have enjoyed much critical acclaim and are also headlining the current NME tour. It seems there is a genuine buzz at the moment around this band so I hastily knock some questions together for my first ever interview not knowing quite what to expect.
I'm given a number to ring the following afternoon at 12.30 and I'm told I have half an hour to conduct the interview, however due to an especially bad traffic jam I'm running fifteen minutes late. Things aren't boding well on my part and I'm expecting to be speaking to a vexed impatient rock star with better things to do with his time.
So I dial the number and after a couple of minutes I'm speaking to guitarist Darren from Funeral For A Friend. He patiently takes the time to answer my questions and is surely a prime candidate for the nicest guy in rock.
Which band inspired you to pick-up a guitar in the first place?
Metallica with two of their albums 'Ride the Lightning' and 'Master of Puppets'.
How did you guys get together and what is the story behind the band name?
All of the group members played in different bands around South Wales so we gradually got to know each other and through various incarnations gradually got together and formed in 2002.
People have previously thought that we named ourselves after the Elton John instrumental song 'Funeral For A Friend', but the band name actually came about because the singer Matt is a big fan of an American hardcore band called Mistaken for Stars and his favourite song by them is called Funeral For A Friend.
How would you describe Funeral For A Friend's sound to someone that hadn't heard you and how are you different to other rock bands?
A combination of heavier styles of music such as metal, thrash, death metal, hardcore, post-hardcore combined with emo and also some singer-songwriter stuff. I'd describe our sound as energetic and uplifting. We concentrate on writing good songs, great hooks and we focus on the song itself without trying to be to overplay and be too flashy.
You had tremendous success in 2003 with a top-20 debut album and two top-20 singles along with loads of acclaim by the music press, with Kerrang describing you as the hottest new rock band giving you the best new comer at their annual awards ceremony. How does it feel looking back on what you've achieved in such a short space of time and was this what you were aiming for when you guys started out?
Insane! The Kerrang comment was a ridiculous statement as we'd never say anything like that and besides nobodies heard ever band! When we started out putting our first e.p out surpassed our expectations on what we expected to achieve. For us to get to play Download, Reading and Leeds was just mind blowing. So the success we've had has just snowballed and we never expected it.
What was it like supporting Iron Maiden and how did their fans take to you?
Well it was an amazing opportunity and we felt really honoured. Personally I'm a big fan of Iron Maiden and I know several other members of the band are as well. In the past bands that have supported Maiden have had some problems with Slayer and the Murder Dolls being coined for example.
We did get the odd bit of heckling with Germany being the worst for it. However we were playing in front of 10,000 people each night and even if just a small percentage gain a slight interest in the band and if some of those check out our album then that's what we're aiming for really.
You've had success here in Britain, how are things going in other countries?
It's like starting over again going to other countries but the aim is to slowly build things up much like we did in Britain. For example we did a little tour of the States last year and when we go back this year hopefully we'll be playing slightly larger venues. But for us it's not really about "Breaking" a particular country, it's more about "Playing" a country you know. If we get some recognition then that's a bonus.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
I'm listening to Swedish Death Metal bands like In-flames, the Haunted Boys Night Out and Story of the Year (none of which I expect you'll be hearing on top of the pops in the foreseeable future).
Are there any bands around the Welsh scene you'd recommend at the moment?
Well the Lost Prophets helped to open the door for a lot of Welsh bands including us. There are a couple of bands I especially like at the moment, one is called 'When Reason Sleeps' and the other is 'Indifference'.
The Darkness, in your opinion are they good or bad?
When I first heard them I thought they were shit. However at the Download we saw them play on the Sunday and I found them really entertaining. For me the joke is wearing a bit thin now but good luck to them.
You played the Download, T in the park, Reading and Leeds festivals last year. What did you think to the crowd at the Leeds festival?
They were awesome. We were the first band on the concrete jungle stage. I remember looking out fifteen minutes before we went on-stage and the tent was totally empty but when we went on stage the tent was totally rammed!
We'd certainly like to play the Leeds festival again this year. We now have a higher profile however we'd like to still play the smaller stage in the tent as I think the sound and atmosphere tends to be a lot better.
With a headlining slot on the forthcoming NME tour, along with the release of a new single 'Escape Artists Never Die', your profile is continuing to sky-rocket, what are the bands plans for the rest of 2004?
Well the mixture in bands at the N.M.E tour will make things really interesting. We have a couple of dates in Japan lined-up along with a European tour. We also plan to tour the States with the Lost Prophets.
We also plan to play lots of festivals including Glastonbury, T in the park, along with lots of European festivals and if we get invited we'll play Leeds.