Recent murmurs in and around music circles seem to touch on the death of guitar music – when do they not? – in favour of swathes of dance and R&B flooding the airwaves. Make of this argument what you will but cast your mind back to 2003 when it seemed the scene was certainly in much better health. Was there not a worthy alternative rock band born each week? At least the whiff of a sort of rock music in the nostrils of music fans of all ages? Wasn’t Kerrang great?
One product of those heydays was Funeral For A Friend. Forever defined as “Welsh rockers”, FFAF rose to prominence on a wave of popular post hardcore. On the crest of that wave they stayed before it slowly shallowed on the shore – supposedly where all guitar music paddles – and now, no disservice to them, but they are a band on which we look back and not forward.
Almost in recognition of this, they have just released a live DVD of ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’ played in full. Part in homage to the debut album, part as a farewell to long-term guitarist Darran Smith, the show from Shepherd’s Bush marks a watershed for the band as we await the release of their sixth album. “It was a product of its time and of the people we were at that point,”lead singer Matt Davies Kreye say of the making of ‘Casually Dressed’, “Wide-eyed optimism was pretty much the feeling we all shared along with the sheer disbelief we were actually making our first album.’
“I accept it and respect it but when you spend your life creating things it’s hard to see past the things you would have done differently. You always want to better yourself otherwise there’s no real point to making another album,” he adds. With the benchmark set so high and with the scene so strong, it is understandable the reception of the band is now more subdued. ‘Casually Dressed’ was a tour de force of audience-friendly post hardcore – it was a zeitgeist album borne of the new-found optimism in heavy guitars, riffs and black fringes. Matt reckons the new album, currently being mixed, is a return to those roots. “It’s kind of hard to anticipate what people are going to think it. We love it. It’s extremely direct and gritty,” he says, “It’s a post-hardcore record that is not afraid to drop into some hardcore for good measure.”
This should be reassuring news for Funeral fans - it represents a return to what made the band great. Having just lost their drummer of ten years Richard Boucher (he has been replaced by former-Rise to Remain man Pat Lundy), the band has few summer gigs and should look to consolidate themselves before touring their new record. “Leaving was Ryan’s choice and we have to respect that but we never thought for one moment that we would throw in the towel,” explains Matt. “The music we make is more important than the individuals in the band.”
He describes the change of personnel as “reinvigorating” and sees Lundy’s involvement as the chance to take things to another level. They are not playing many shows over the summer – save Wakestock and a few others – because they want to remain flexible. It is not easy playing the sort of music Funeral For A Friend do in a time of musical transition and self examination. If it’s not the chart’s dearth of rock music, it’s the lead taken by twee, indie folk revivalists. But the band have a chance to begin again. “I’m extremely happy with where we are right now, it feels like where the true heart of the band lies.”
Funeral For A Friend will be performing at Wakestock later today (Sunday 8th July).