Funeral For A Friend On Ignoring The Haters, Shaking Off The Past & Being A “100% Feminist Band”

Funeral for a Friend are past the point of caring. Not in an “all hope is lost” kind of way, which would be more befitting of their early days and the angst of the MySpace days. Rather, the band are done with fussing over their public perception. Whatever people may take away from who the band are and what they do is entirely their prerogative. All that matters to the band anymore is the music.

That’s not to say that they’re the same band after all this time – far from it. If their latest album is hell-bent on proving anything, it’s that they have made the effort to change and grow. This itself may well be why the band are the survivors that they are – they traded in the fifteen minutes of fame offered to their contemporaries in exchange for a lease on life that’s renewed with each album.

We’re now up to their seventh, entitled Chapter and Verse. Once again, the winds of change bristle against it – it’s their first album since 2007 not to be produced by Romesh Dodangoda; who has been responsible for albums from artists as diverse as Motorhead, Twin Atlantic and Bullet for My Valentine. Here, the band have gone with Lewis Johns, who’s worked with several notable names in the heavier spectrum of British music such as Rolo Tomassi, Vales and Gnarwolves. The band have also come to terms with the loss of drummer Pat Lundy, going through a series of session players in the interim.

Nearly fifteen years on from their beginnings, the Welsh band have seen countless trends come and go. They, conversely, have remained a constant. Music Feeds spoke with vocalist Matthew Davies-Kreye honestly and candidly about what it means to still be here after all this time.

Watch: Funeral For A Friend – Pencil Pusher

Music Feeds: Whereabouts in the world are you?

Matthew Davies-Kreye: You’ve found me currently at my home. I’m sat in front of my bed, just chilling out.

MF: Wait… in front of it? Not on it?

MD-K: I’m actually on my knees, huddled over in some kind of weird foetal position. It deserved an explanation for some reason. I don’t know why!

MF: Are you comfortable, at least?

MD-K: I’m warm! I’m cosy! I’ll be just fine.

MF: That’s good to know. Let’s talk about the new record – I just heard it for the first time and I quite liked it!

MD-K: Why, thank you! As long as you quite liked it and didn’t quite hate it, that’s surely a good sign.

MF: I honestly think that the best thing about the band is the fact you guys have never put out something that I flat-out hate. There’s albums and songs that I like more than others, of course, but it’s all a generally positive experience.

MD-K: I wish there were more people like you in the world! You’re on the right side of the fence, I think. You’d be surprised at the kind of shit we still get.

MF: Really? It’s that bad?

MD-K: I mean, put it this way: we’re in our fourteenth year as a band. We’re at that teenage point where we’re starting to get really petulant, bitchy and moody. We’re just saying “Fuck you, dad!” all the time, really. [Laughs] People just think of us indifferently a lot of the time. It’s like “Oh, that’s cool. Whatever.” It’s like, “I’m sorry we’re not as fucking cool as Sleeping with Sirens,” or some shit. I’m still happy to be doing this, though.

The thing is, there are still people that give a fuck about this band. As long as they – and everyone, really – are aware that we don’t make records for them, then things will be great. The best thing is when people understand and appreciate that the music that we’re making is being made for ourselves. That’s the way that it should be. It makes for interesting conversations. We’re very different people – I mean, the band itself has changed a lot in the last few years anyway…

MF: How so?

MD-K: Well, musically, our band is made up of so many different parts. There’s a lot of complexities and a lot of different sounds, which are all guided by pretty different influences. I’d like to think that we’ve gotten pretty hard to pigeonhole.

I’m always interested to see what people think whenever we make a new record – like I said, the dialogue is always going to be different. At the end of the day, though, I’m into it. We’re into it. People might like it. Even if some don’t initially like it or understand what we’re going for, I’d like to think they can grasp onto it and give it the time that it deserves.

MF: It must be good to know that, whatever happens, you’ve got at least a handful of lifers that will follow your every move.

MD-K: Yeah, we do. We also have a lot of people that think that our band begins and ends with [debut album, 2003’s] Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation. They refuse to believe that we did anything of merit after that.

I do try to ignore it. It even gets me thinking that I have probably had a similar attitude to bands I like in the past. It’s something you don’t want to spend time overthinking – especially when debut albums in general are always held against bands. They’re the marker. People see those records as the template for what the band should be, and it feels really restrictive. You feel like you’re trying to get something across to people, and some just aren’t willing to listen just because it doesn’t fit to a certain mould you’ve set in the past.

MF: I can’t believe that’s still a thing for you guys. That record was over ten years ago!

MD-K: One album isn’t the be all and end all of a band. It never was. We’re not AC/DC. We don’t have a formula. We don’t have a sound or a motif that follows through on every record. Our band makeup is always so different as we go into each record. It’s always influenced and inspired by something different. I think now, where we are as a band is allowing us to revisit the influences and the bands that made us want to start playing to begin with. They’ve kind of come to the forefront as of late.

MF: What kind of bands are we talking here?

MD-K: The kind of bands that found themselves at the head of the pack – ones that lead by example. We’re most inspired by the bands that wanted to be the very best that they could, rather than those that just aspired to be every man’s rock band. The kind that top the charts and play arenas. We’ve never fucked with that.

MF: That’s completely fair. It feels like you guys have a very clear idea of the path you want to take these days.

MD-K: I think you have to, in a way. I think you’ve got to make the music that matters to you. You’ve got to put your art where your mouth is. You’ve got to make it count. If we’ve ever been guilty of anything as a band, it’s that. We certainly don’t feel guilty about it, though.

Watch: Funeral For A Friend – 1%

MF: Nor should you! That actually brings me to the point of wanting to talk about a track on the album – it’s called You People Should Be Ashamed of Yourselves.

MD-K: Ahh, yes. [Laughs] I get the feeling we’ll be talking a lot about this one.

MF: It stopped me completely dead in my tracks when I heard it. I had to come back around and spin it a few extra times just to wrap my head around it. It’s such a forward-thinking and honest song, and it tackles a very important issue for a lot of people…

MD-K: It’s a completely feminist song. This band is a 100% feminist band. I’ve learned through this band that you have to bring what matters the most to you to the forefront. It has to mean something. I’ve seen too many bands that are just so reluctant to say anything. That just does not make any sense to me at all.

We’ve been criticised recently – I shit you not – where people have been genuinely asking why we’re not singing about relationships and broken hearts and stuff. Fucking hell, man. I’m thirty-five years of age! I’m not a teenager crying into my fucking diary anymore! I’m a married man – I’ve been married for eight years!

MF: Of course. There are bigger fish to fry. People change, of course.

MD-K: My viewpoints have changed since even being in this band. We’ve always written politically. Some of my favourite bands, as we were talking about before, were political bands. I grew up in the valley of southern Wales. Socialism is seen as a way of life around that way. You have the ability, as someone in a band, to start discussions about things that you feel are important. I just wish more bands took advantage of that.

MF: This could be completely off the mark, but Chapter and Verse feels a lot like it’s dealing with maturity, masculinity and the concept of manhood. It feels like a reflection on who the band was just as much as who the band are now.

MD-K: You’re probably not far off, honestly. As you grow older, things change. So many things have happened to this band over the years, both good and bad. It’s all assisted in making us who we are now, and influencing our decision making. We have a much greater idea now of what we want to do, where we want to play… we have a greater idea of where we belong as a band.

We used to run to the hills when people would use our band name and the term “hardcore” in the same sentence. I still have no idea why we did that – hardcore music informed me as a musician and as a music fan. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that kind of music – its politics, its attitude, its mindset, its positivity.

It’s taken us so long to come around to it, and people still might not be comfortable with referring to Funeral for a Friend as a hardcore band as such. That’s where our roots are, though. That’s where we stemmed from. We’re not ashamed of that.

MF: There’s a lot to take in, isn’t there. Do you feel you’ve become a better person – a superior person, even – through this cycle of acceptance and progressiveness?

MD-K: I in no way feel superior! [Laughs] I’m more content, if anything. I feel more comfortable. Whatever people liked about our band, way back when, we would always desperately and often inexplicably try to change that. We’d throw it out for the next record.

I don’t think that we could deal with people liking our records. We wanted to challenge people’s idea of who we were, somehow. Now, our attitude is more or less “fuck it.” Let’s just write. Let’s just create.

MF: One last thing. What’s your favourite Elton John song?

MD-K: Ahh! Ahh! Fuck…umm… Rocket Man!

Funeral For A Friend’s new album, ‘Chapter and Verse’, is released in Australia Friday, 23rd January. They tour Australia this April — details below.

Listen: Funeral For A Friend – You’ve Got A Bad Case Of The Religions

Funeral For A Friend 2015 Australian Tour Dates

w/ Vices

Thursday, 16th April

The Brightside, Brisbane (18+)

Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Friday, 17th April

Shark Bark, Gold Coast (18+)

Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Saturday, 18th April

Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle (18+)

Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Sunday, 19th April

Manning Bar, Sydney (18+)

Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Tuesday, 21st April

The Basement, Canberra (18+)

Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Wednesday, 22nd April

Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)

Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Thursday, 23rd April

Fowlers Live, Adelaide (Lic AA)

Tickets: Destroy All Lines.

Friday, 24th April

Amplifier Bar, Perth* (18+)

Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Saturday, 25th April

Prince Of Wales, Bunbury* (18+)

Tickets: Destroy All Lines

*Vices not appearing at these shows

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