Since they exploded onto the scene in 2003, Funeral For A Friend have gone from strength to strength- an impressive fan base, sell out shows worldwide, and festival appearances both in the UK and the USA. Their follow up to their Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation, is freshly in stores. The Hours LP, featuring “Streetcar,” their new single, promises more of the emo / hardcore magic that Funeral For a Friend deliver and an upcoming UK tour and Carling Weekend appearance will bring the Welsh boys back to their fans and once again, into the music spotlight. Despite a hectic touring schedule, I managed to catch bassist Gareth Davies, who gave me some insight into the album, the tour, the festival … and being emo.
How are you today? What’s been keeping you busy lately?
Davies: Flights. I’m really tired; we just flew back into the States. We’ve been in Japan.
Your new album is now in stores. Was this album harder to make, or do you feel you’ve got to grips with the record making game now?
Davies: This one was easier, actually. All of us contributed – we wrote some of it on the tour bus, every member of the band had imput.
Did anyone inspire you? Did anyone offer you his or her expertise?
Davies: Nobody but ourselves, really. This is something we never expected – two years ago we wouldn’t have thought we’d see Japan, or every shithole in America!
Would you say that your sound and style have changed and progressed?
Davies: Well, yeah, definitely.
What can fans expect from your new album? Is it a lot like Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation, or…?
Davies: Its still Funeral For A Friend; but Ryan’s vocals have been cut out – they just don’t fit with the songs that we write now.
You’ve just announced a UK tour, which has, unsurprisingly, sold quickly – there’s a few sold out venues now –
Davies: Really? It’s a surprise that, you know!
Really? It must reassure you that your six-month absence hasn’t deterred your fans!
Davies: Yeah, yeah, but its crazy – its something we never expected. We used to think, ‘yeah, never!’ – we’re just completely dumbfounded.
It’s generally made up of the same small venues that featured on your first tour – universities in Leeds, Manchester – is this preference? You have played larger venues; you supported Iron Maiden on a stadium tour – but you also played the NME tour in a much more intimate setting – which size do you prefer?
Davies: I don’t really mind. The hot small sweaty shows are a good laugh – but the bigger shows … you walk offstage with your jaw wide open. Reading and Leeds last year was just insanity – it was like, “how the fuck have we got here, boys from the valleys?” We’ve all been to reading festival, as punters … did I think we could do it? Bollocks, no chance!
You’ve just confirmed to appear on the main stages at the Carling Weekend for the third year in a row. Would you say the festival atmosphere was a completely different experience to your tour gigs?
Davies: Yes. Yeah, they are from a bands perspective – because you always play to a few people who don’t necessarily haven’t a clue who you are: that’s always quite a challenge.
I was one of those people – I saw you for the first time ever in Leeds 2003, having not heard from you, and the tent was packed – but you blew me away.
Davies: It blew us away, to be honest! I remember walking to the dressing room, having a bottle of water, changing my t-shirt – then finally walking on stage and people couldn’t get into the fucking tent – I was like, “this is madness!” I actually got scared for the first time in a long time. I was shaking before the show, but it was a good laugh. 2004 was the same thing. Went to the dressing room, came back, and there was a load of people in the tent!
I’m a loyal Leeds girl, I go to Leeds Festival every year and so I’ve always said it has the better venue and atmosphere. So, I ask you to choose: Leeds or Readingfestival?
Davies: Oh, you can’t ask me that, surely?
I have to, friend’s orders.
Davies: Reading’s got the name, Leeds has got the vibe.
Are there any bands you’re hoping to catch at the Carling Weekend this year?
Davies: Bloc Party I want to see, definitely. I’ve never seen Incubus live, and I’ve always been a fan of their older stuff. My Chemical Romance I’ll have to see. Erm … Bullet For My Valentine, Mastodon as well.
The crowd participation during last year’s performance was entertaining – bringing two people onstage to make out for the duration of a song! Do you plan to incorporate more participation at this year’s festival?
Davies: I dunno, I think that was a one off thing – a once in a lifetime opportunity! We did it at Reading – Matt said, “We’re gonna bring some people up” and I was like, “Are we really?!” We nicked it off Less Than Jake though – they did it but with lots and lots of couples. They’re great showmen.
This year’s line up has also seen your promotion to the main stage. Does this scare you?
Davies: I don’t think we’re scared – it’s a challenge. I mean with Iron Maiden it was a 45-minute set, 65,000 people watching us – it was ridiculous! We were like “Oh my god, what are we gonna do?” But we learnt from Iron Maiden how to put on a bigger show – work the crowd, use a larger space. The only difference between a smaller stage and a larger one is you have to try and make everyone feel involved.
Do you see yourself drinking backstage with Iron Maiden at this year’s festival?
Davies: Yeah yeah … they were just guys, who are in a band … that are amazing! I remember sitting with them backstage, drinking champagne … I was thinking the same thing I think most days – “How did this happen to us?”
In the past year, the emo-hardcore genre you made famous has exploded – there’s more and more support for the genre as the year goes on. Does this inspire you to continue, or do you feel some people are jumping on the ‘emo bandwagon?’
Davies: Some are jumping on the bandwagon; a lot of bands are doing it. There are a lot of very bad ones, some changing themselves to become emo because it’s ‘cooler.’
Are there any bands in the scene that you see big things for?
Davies: Hondo MacLean – they keep getting better and better.
What are you hopes for the future of Funeral For A Friend?
Davies: My goal is … to be, this time next year, writing a third record.
Where do you see yourself, and the band, in five years?
Davies: Four or five years … Christ … call me in five years! Or pop into your local Spar. We’ll see. The record industry is a very fickle place – I think we’re all well aware of that. If things don’t go well, we could all be working a 9-5. That’s the reality of it. I’ll have enjoyed it while I’d been doing it – I’d have no regrets.
What do you see as your biggest achievement to date?
Davies: Having a gold record. Me and Ryan just burst into tears. It was just the biggest thing that had ever happened to us. [Laughs] It sounds so stereotypically emo, crying!