Tuesday 19 February 2013

Funeral For A Friend Tour Special // Interview with Funeral For A Friend & Live Review, Leeds Cockpit

Funeral For A Friend are back with not only a new album, “Conduit”, but also back out on the road, giving fans an opportunity to see them playing more intimate venues. With over ten years since their debut, “Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation”, the band has come a long way and the new album sees them re-discover their hardcore roots.
Est.1987 caught up with bassist Richard Boucher [& lead singer Matt Davies-Kreye] to chat about the new record, a decade of FFAF and stage invasions…

Matt Davies-Kreye on stage at Leeds Cockpit

How’s the tour been going so far?
RICH- Yeah, brilliant. A lot of the dates have been sold out which is amazing, so it's great. It's small venues for us; they're very intimate which we like. It's been crazy just seeing people’s reactions, and nice playing a lot of the new record and seeing how people feel about that. So it’s been fantastic so far. 

With such a large back catalogue how do you go about compiling the set list, especially with the new album just coming out too?
RICH- In the past it's usually been quite difficult to choose set lists, but this time it seemed very easy and we were all on the same page. We obviously wanted to champion the new record, but give the older fans something a little bit special. We've added a few songs that haven't been played much or not played at all so we've mixed it up. 

"Conduit" the latest album
“Conduit” came out a couple of weeks ago. It was all recorded by last summer and just waiting to be mixed. Is it nice to finally have it out?
RICH- Yeah, it kind of felt like we were waiting ages to release it which is always a bit annoying but it gave people the anticipation for it. And we're very pleased.

It’s had a great response- do you still get nervous releasing new material?
RICH- Not really, I kind of didn't know what to expect; it's a slight change in direction for us I suppose and it's always interesting to see what people think. But it's been received so well it's kind of a bit of a shock to us really.

It’s your shortest album. It’s direct, to the point and a breath of fresh air compared to some of the others. Was that intentional?
RICH- Initially it wasn't no. But it became very apparent early on that that's the sound we were going for. The hardcore sound was intentional, but the length wasn't. Then it became a bit of a joke; as we were writing, it was like "how much time can we shave off here" and it got quite funny in the end. "How short's this one? Can we get it to under two minutes?" [laughing]. 

Are the shorter punchy ones fun to play live?
RICH- Extremely fun, yeah. They seem over as soon as we start but. But these kind of venues lend themselves to these kind of songs, so it's good. 

Bassist Rich Boucher at Leeds Cockpit
The newer stuff is taking things down the more hardcore route. Have the crowd been going crazy on those ones?
RICH- Yeah, when we played The Haunt in Brighton we actually had a stage invasion; one guy got up and then pulled a girl up and one by one they just followed until the stage was actually jam packed with people. And Devan the drummer from Such Gold actually ran and jumped on Pat's drum rise and crowd surfed across the people that were on the stage. So yeah, there's been a few wild moments but we welcome all that. As long as no one’s breaking stuff or getting hurt have a good time and do what you want. 

You’ve been a band for over a decade now. If you could go back and give your earlier selves any advice what would it be?
MATT- Save money! [laughing]
RICH- I don't live my life by any regrets; the band is so happy where it is now, if I changed anything in the past then maybe we wouldn't be where we are now, so I wouldn't want to change a thing. 

Matt on stage in Leeds
And the next ten years?
RICH- Yeah, we take every step as it comes really, we don't look that far ahead [laughing]. 

Being a band for over a decade you’ve probably gone through your fair share of ups and downs. Was there ever a point where you considered calling it quits
MATT- Yes, definitely. 
RICH- I suppose like any band, when you first start there's no outside influence, there's no pressure; you just write the music you want to do for the fun and love of it. But I suppose as time goes on and you have pressures of labels or fans you can lose your way a little bit. I suppose the band did lose our way a little bit on a particular record but you live by those mistakes and you rectify them as we've done with the past two records. So we're back on track. 

And do you feel stronger than ever as a band?
Definitely. I think the band’s the strongest it's been; and we’re the happiest and most comfortable that we've been. And the music that were writing for this record is the best thing that we've done. 

And finally, what’s next for you?
More touring, we literally want to get to every little bit of the globe and play our hearts out and play to our fans.

Thanks guys!

And here's what happened when Funeral For A Friend took to the stage...

FFAF front-man Matt in Leeds
Chants of “Fun-er-al, Fun-er-al, Fun-er-al” soon draw the Welsh five-piece to the stage at The Cockpit. With the new album, “Conduit”, released a matter of weeks ago the set was a combination of new songs, classic Funeral For A Friend hits and lesser played live B-sides.

Warming the crowd up with oldie “She Drove Me To Daytime Television” the set is non-stop from here on in. Front-man Matt Davies-Kreye pacing the stage relentlessly, a bundle of energy. The thrashy “Conduit”, taken from the synonymously titled album, sees the band return to their hardcore roots. Funeral For A Friend also take the opportunity to treat fans to older B-side “You Want Romance?”, explaining how the song is about listening to vinyl records and is the expression of what music is to the band. Tonight was about celebrating the life of Funeral For A Friend and indeed the new life that they’re embark on with the release of “Conduit”. Looking more relaxed than ever before it was an opportunity for the band to look back on career highlights and also look forward to more great things, with bassist Rich Boucher admitting they are feeling stronger. Tight and more forceful than ever, drummer Pat even breaks a monitor; cue a humourous filling of time by the rest of the band; “too hardcore for the monitor” jokes Matt whilst the band dabble in a “jazzy interlude”.  Happier than ever before Matt opens up about “Juneau”, taken from their seminal debut, “Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation”. He confesses that he didn’t expect the height that the song would reach, written when he was just sixteen years old. The force of the song remains tonight and sends the crowd into a united furore; front of stage to back, the entire room sings along.

Funeral For A Friend at Leeds Cockpit
Amidst the circle pits and crowd surfers Matt divulges that with age comes selfishness and that’s why they haven’t played some of the crowds’ favourite songs. However, fans have been satisfied here tonight and have gotten the opportunity in an intimate setting, something which Rich admitted that the band preferred. Closing the set with “History”, tonight Funeral For A Friend have a new vigour: they seem like a new band, happier in themselves and disclose that it’s the first time they’re comfortable about talking where songs came from. As much as the set, at times wavers towards a political speech, it is also a great moment to savour the life of the band. Matt explains the story behind the poignant, slower song “History”; how if he hadn’t discovered his parents’ record collection he wouldn’t have gotten out of the negative way of life in Bridgend where he grew up in the decline of the miner’s jobs. “This song is a big middle finger to the assholes who said he wouldn’t amount to anything” he strikes out.

Tonight, music veterans, Funeral For A Friend prove that songs from the new release, “Conduit” with its onslaught of big riffs and punchy choruses, keep the band as current as ever.