Another Welsh band. Another set of slackers from South Wales dressed in black and trucker caps. Another emo-core, (post) hard-core, expressional-core ‘expra-core’ band of the moment with ten thousand swooning teenage fans (more girls than boys would you believe) ready to sing and buy and dress in black and trucker caps, and why? Why do Welsh bands create this furore? What made Funeral for a Friend so fucking massive before they’d even released their first album? Why should almost the entire tour be sold-out? Why, at Reading festival this year, did the first band on the smallest stage on the middle Saturday draw every motherfucking mosher camping out that weekend to their thirty minute set?…
…because FfaF are the answer to corpro American metal. Funeral for a Friend (as part of the enraged South Wales scene) are very, very good, and there is just no denying it.
“It’s weird. The very first day of the tour we all turned to each other and were like, ‘how the fuck did we get here’?!”
Even before Funeral for a Friend’s debut album, ‘Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation’ hit HMV’s metal sections across the country, ‘the fans’ were heckling choruses louder than the band themselves on stage – such has been the intensity of interest and thus, intensity of downloads in FfaF. Despite this, FfaF’s team have incredibly high (and highly credible) hopes for the chart and financial success of the new record, which took six months to record. But what would a top ten position in the UK album chart mean for FfaF.
“Top ten? We don’t even think about chart position, especially with the album. If we did then things would start changing. We wrote that album for ourselves. First and foremost we have to be happy with everything. If people like it, that’s awesome and if they don’t, that’s just as fucking cool. Chart position didn’t even come into question when we were stuck in that fucking garage, slogging our arses off for nine hours a day, trying to write it all."
Before the current album, two EPs were released, 'Between Order & Model' and 'Four Ways to Scream Your Name'. A lot of familiar material from those CD’s appears on 'Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation' and their anthem, 'Juneau' is in the tracklisting of its fourth record. Although this first appears like a cheeky way to avoid any more song writing, the band has understandable reasons for taking this approach.
“Basically we’ve taken our two favourite songs from both EPs. For the first one the distribution was quite poor and subsequently it was difficult to find. We wanted to give it a wider audience. The second EP was limited edition so we figured we’d do those songs a little more justice as we liked them so much and bring them out again. ‘Four Ways to Scream Your Name’ will never see the light of day again – it won’t be repressed so if you have it, sell that one! Ebay the motherfucker! I did! I even sold my 7"! Ha Ha!”
The band also admit that they “struggle to write b-sides”. They feel that specifically writing a b-side would be cheating themselves. “We like to think that every song is as good as the next, so for someone to turn round and say, ‘we need you to write a song that’s not as good as your others’, well, we’re like what’s the fucking point?!"
So lets talk Reading. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I watched FfaF from the centre of the Concrete Jungle Stage this summer, amazed and bemused at how ANY band could get the whole of Reading festival up before lunchtime the morning after one of the biggest drinking sessions of the year!
“Reading was my favourite show ever! It was weird because two weeks before. we got a phone call from the organisers and they were like, ‘We want you to do the Main Stage’ and we said NO! So they said ‘OK, how about the Evening Session Stage’ and we said NO we’re not doing that. We wanted to open the fucking Concrete Jungle Stage. We wanted to play alongside Thrice, Poison the Well and Boy Sets Fire especially. It was a fucking awesome day. The sun was shining, the ladies were looking BAM! Everyone was fucking awesome, every single band on. It was all good!"
You get the feeling tonight, standing outside the Manchester University Union where FfaF will later play, that Reading is repeating itself all over again and will probably do so on many other nights this tour. FfaF could have probably have filled an even bigger venue than this – and over 800 people can fit in there! Funeral for a Friend have Sold Out but does this apply to their ethics, as well as their shows?!
“Sometimes it makes me laugh. Before we even released the second EP people were already accusing us of selling out, and we were still playing the same fucking six-song set that we’d been playing since we started! I remember all the faces that would stand along the front row when we were playing TJ’s back home who would sing and cheer and fucking preach every word back to us; the same guys who now stand at the back - still buying tickets – but shouting that we’re sell-outs, that we’re faggots."
But can you see how some people would say you play pop songs for the hardcore kids, which would seem like selling-out? “You put us into the hardcore category and now you point the finger and say ‘you sold out’! Fucking hell I grew up listening to Radiohead! I don’t know the first fucking things about hardcore music, I really don’t. I can understand the hardcore ethic, but for me it means nothing because I was never a hardcore person. I like hardcore music, but the ethic means fuck all to me.” Fair enough.
Despite FfaF’s insane rise to mass popularity, they still keep a check on reality, and have plans to release a clothing line – they know the music may not keep them going forever. The clothing label Atticus also wants to release a Juneau Jeans line at some point in the future. Merchandise-wise FfaF certainly do have a mass of shirts and skinny fit Ts and badges, and someone, somewhere is banking on their success in a big way. “We’ve been working our merch guys arse off! You know you’ve made it when you have enamel badges”, say FfaF. You also know you’ve fucking made it when you hear your single being played in the Queen Vic on Eastenders man. Then you know its fucking over man!”
“We were offered personalised pics recently and we said yeah! They’re cheesy and metal and we’re gonna have our names engraved in them as well! That way we don’t have to sign shit, we can just give them straight out! Ha ha”
Drowned in sound prophesised Funeral’s stardom a good two years ago. Kerrang! decided Funeral were a ‘great band’ this summer. “It was so weird seeing them say that”, say FfaF. “We can play, but we’re no fucking great band. There are bands out there which are better. I refuse to believe we’re a great band but our management team are talking about us playing Brixton Academy in London next February. Brixton Academy! What the Fuck!”
Funeral’s appreciative view of fame is nice to see. They really can’t believe what all the hype is about and perhaps that’s why they haven’t fallen off tangent – sticking to what they started out as, tho’ some don’t believe it. Soon they are to set off to support Iron Maiden. Its amazing how FfaF can still stay dismissive of their rockthority, even when such classic bands choose them as tour mates! Incredible. What an incredible band. Still as credible as they have always been.