Funeral For A Friend

  • Felicia Stanikmas posted
  • Interviews

Funeral For A Friend - Matt Davies

  • November 14th, 2003
  • Toronto, Ontario

Thank yous to Steve and Ken at Warner Music for setting this interview up, and of course Matt for hanging out with me.

All photos were taken by Gary Hampton

When I heard that Funeral For A Friend would be coming into town I got excited. This would only be their second time here, and I would be there once again. Then when I heard they’d be playing two nights in a row, that got me even more excited. These guys put on a great live show, and when they came through recently I had the chance to sit down with Matt Davies and discuss anything we wished to discuss.

MATT: I am Matt Davies and I pretend to sing and sometimes dance quite crazily in Funeral For A Friend.

As a british band they have conquered the british market and have set their sights on America. Since the Coheed And Cambria tour last April the band released an album here in North America and are in town with back to back shows at the Kool Haus with Taking Back Sunday. Not only are they rocking hard and entertaining the crowds, but also the crowds are reacting back and taking notice to all that the band has to offer. But exactly how much of difference is there between playing opening shows over here than playing headlining shows in England?

MATT: To be honest with you there’s not much difference I think. I think the only differences would probably be the fact that we’re probably bigger in the UK than we are over here and the attendance I guess is probably, you know, more for us than there is over here but it’s kind of cool to kind of try to win over new audiences over here with the new bands we’ve been playing with. It’s generally kind of like a nice challenge thing again, because sometimes you can get kind of complaisant with playing in front of an audience, and when you’ve played an audience that has already converted to your music than it’s kind of easy to get more comfortable with your situation. This way, these shows keep us on our toes, kind of keep us edgy and stuff which is always a good thing in my point of view. So I guess the shows over here are probably a lot edgier than they are over here.

For a new band starting out it’s a task to make a name for yourself in your area, and eventually grow and spread to bigger areas and build a large fan base. That’s exactly what these guys had to do in England, and now coming overseas it’s pretty much like they have to do all of that hard work again.

Funeral For A Friend	MATT: It’s kind of like starting over again which is an enjoyable experience in itself because that’s what I enjoy about being in a band is the shock of people that have never heard you before and have really gotten into you. It’s always kind of gratifying when people come up to you and say ‘i’ve never seen you before’ or ‘this is my first time seeing you and you guys blew me away’ and that’s the kind of reaction we want to get. We want people to take notice of us, even though we are from the UK and the kind of music we play is kind of popular now and there’s alot of bands about it I think we do it well enough for people to actually sit up and take notice.

But Funeral For A Friend isn’t the only UK band to be making it big in North America recently. Bands like MuseLostprophetsSnow Patrol, they’ve all been getting their break within the past year or so. Why is it that North Americans are finally starting to notice what Britain has to offer?

MATT: I think the popularity of the post-hardcore, whatever, emo genre in the states has taken off over the past couple of years and most of the bands who play that kind of music have been influenced by alot of UK bands, like in the early days, the 80’s like The Smiths and The Cure. I think kids now are looking back over to the UK to see what the next wave of stuff is coming out, you know? Bands like Snow Patrol and Muse and stuff like that and Coldplay even are getting bigger up in hardcore and post-hardcore circles now which is kind of weird. But I guess it’s kind of a reflection of what it was like back in the day when, as I said, The Smiths and The Cure were a major influence on kids. I think it’s awesome, I think it’s cool that bands from our area, our peers, are getting recognition over here because Muse are a fantastic band, they’re really cool guys as well and are a really good bands. I’m glad that people are opening up their eyes and ears to accepting what we have to offer instead of, ’cause usually it’s what America has to offer all the time so we’re going to swing things your way for a bit.

The band’s most recent work is an album entitled Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation, with artwork inspired by the paintings of Rene Magritte. Why did they decide to use his work as inspiration for their album cover?

MATT: The original concept artwork which we were shown, which was the original painting, kind of had a really subconscience affect on us as a band because it captivated and encompassed the title and the feel of the record anyways. We were really, really up for going for that imagery because it was very surreal and very non-typical [for the] artwork that went along with the music that we play. We wanted to show a really personal identity for the record so we kind of elaborated on that.

The band even put out a series of videos for their songs Bullet TheoryYou Want Romance? and an acoustic version of Juneau using that imagery.

MATT: They’re my favourite videos that we’ve done and we’re not even in it. I’m not even sure [who’s in it].

Funeral For A Friend have actually done quite a few videos for a bunch of their songs, one of them being my favorite video of all time, She Drove Me To Daytime Television. The video is actually pretty basic but the videography in it is amazing to me. But when I mentioned this to Matt he gave me some information about the shoot that I never knew before.

MATT: The weird thing about that video is we’re not actually playing together in that video, it’s all digitally put together. Me and Ryan played together, Gareth and Darren played together and Kris played on his own and the guy just put them all together. It felt really weird making that video because it didn’t feel like we were making a video.

The sound of the band is generally a hard sound, songs to mosh to. But on the last album they recorded an acoustic song, Your Revolution Is a Joke which Matt tells me is the scariest song to play live because it’s so personal and stripped down to just a man and a guitar. I wondered what ‘revolution’ Matt was speaking about in the song, so I asked him.

MATT: I guess sometimes the revolution I’m speaking of sometimes is…when I wrote about it it was my revolution, you know what I mean? My thoughts, my ideas, my perspective on events in my life and in the world around me at the time and how the things that I believed in I would contradict myself with sometimes, I would find myself contradicting my own beliefs. That’s like confronting my own bullshit filter kind of thing, realizing that sometimes what I think is at the least stupid and it’s just complete bullshit. But it can adapt to other people, other people’s situations, other people’s beliefs. Sometimes people believe in things for what they believe is the right reason when it’s so obviously not the right reason to go for something. It’s just kind of realizing and filtering the information and believing what you believe and maybe not what the media tells you or force feeds you.

So what’s next for the band? Rumors have been floating that their new album will be released next spring, so how much writing have they done so far? What can we expect from the next album?

MATT: We’re recording it in January through February and probably mixing it early March so it should be out I would say by early, yeah early spring. We’re hoping, we’re actually discussing it right now with our label because we want it to be released simultaneously in the US and the UK so that means we can tour pretty much without any lag, we can go wherever we want to and people are up to speed with what we’re putting out. That’s kind of important this time around.
There’s not album title at the moment but we’re working with an amazing producer called Terry Date (Deftones, Pantera). We want to put something like 10 songs on there, you know? We don’t want to overload people with 14 or 15 songs. I come from a mindset, I come from kind of a hardcore background where albums are over in 35 minutes, and that’s cool cause you have to press repeat again, start again. We have about 9 or 10 songs written so we’re hoping to write a couple more before we get into the studio just so we can whittle things down and put the best songs on it.

Being in a band in a genre where people have picked up on your sound and more and more bands are coming out with a similar structure, it can be hard to separate yourself from everyone else. How doesFuneral For A Friend manage to make a personal name for themselves and separate their music from everyone else’s?

Funeral For A Friend	MATT: This is the one question I despite, it’s really hard to answer. I don’t know, it’s very hard to say because every band has a little quality that kind of makes them what they are. I think for us it’s maybe our european approach to the sound. Our guitarists are influenced by alot of british heavy metal bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, Def Leopard and things like that. I think we have a very european sensibility. We’re not trying to force ideas down or project an image which is not us, what you see it what you get. This is what we are. I’ve been into hardcore since I was like 13 or 14, for me it’s very important for me that this music that we do is very honest and everything do, everything I write is very honest and it’s me, it’s me it’s not for anyone else. We’re not trying to impress anyone, we do what we do and people like it they can like it and if they hate it they can hate it I don’t care.

We spent some time discussing music and fans of music and we starting talking about what’s coming out now that is new and exciting. So what has Matt been listening to lately?

MATT: I listen to everything. I used to be narrow minded when I was a teenager, I used to listen to only hardcore bands which made me an asshole. Recently I’ve been picking up records by…what have I listened to recently? The new Codeseven album on Equal Vision which is unbelievably good. It’s a beautiful, beautiful piece of music, the entire record is amazing. Muse, Snow Patrol, Head Automatica, The Faint, you know I’m pretty eclectic I like Ryan Adams, I like Johnny Cash. Everything pretty much, my iPod is just loaded up with so many different styles of music. I’m through being a narrow minded hardcore kid. People should really expand their horizons and listen to whatever they like. If you like it you like it, don’t dis it because your friends think it’s not cool. You know, I bought a Third Eye Blind album the other day because I just happened to think ‘hey, i’ll try it out’ and I kind of like it.

I mentioned how I had a similar experience when I started getting into The Smiths, how people would ask me why I listen to them because they’re so old and so far from what I would normally listen to. But Matt had the answer to their question.

MATT: Seriously, that band is probably the reason why emo bands these days exist. Look at Thursday, pretty much.
GARY: Brand New…
MATT: Exactly! Seriously though they’re the US [version of] The Smiths, it’s not even funny. Even Jesse the way he styles himself is a bit Morrissey, you know? 
GARY: Even in their lyrics you can tell the influence.
MATT: I love Jesse’s lyrics. I think he’s one of the best lyricists of his generation right now. It’s amazing to read his words, and I’m not saying this because I’m kissing ass or anything, but I believe he’s going to be quite an important figure in modern music. They have so much to offer, the new record is so good and even their old record is amazing as well, i’m excited to see what they do next.

Bands sometimes have a hard time keeping themselves going strong, touring can put quite a strain on you. Matt mentioned that it’s great these days for bands who don’t get that MTV play or strong radio play because they build up a fanbase of people that will be around for more than one record and who are there for the music and the music only. I teased him about fans coming to the shows just because they think he’s hot, and I found out just how true that is.

MATT: I found out yesterday in L-Girl magazine I’m number 47 in the ’50 Hottest Rock Stars’. And I was laughing my ass off, I was like ‘that is so gay.’ I beat Nick Lache! In theory I should be able to have a girlfriend that’s hotter than Jessica Simpson, which is SO bullshit it’s not even funny. It’s just things like that, if you measure success by that then you’re an ass hole. I measure success by how many kids know the words when they come along to the shows. How many people are there to watch us and who care about us, that’s more important to me than being number 47 or being on the cover of a magazine.

So when bands start getting noticed and start getting requests for interviews, how do people handle it? How do people handle success? Apparently Matt doesn’t enjoy this side of his job so much.

MATT: No offense but interviews like this are, I’d say are a ‘necessary evil’. Sometimes I like explaining stuff but sometimes certain people who interview me don’t understand where we come from. Like you’re obviously a fan of the band, it’s cool to talk to you because you know stuff about us and I can converse with you about stuff where some people don’t even know jack shit. We can have conversations outside of the interview, and some people are just asking the same things over and over again. It’s like ‘don’t you read about us, have you read our lyrics, do you know anything?’. But I’d say it’s neither a good thing or a bad thing, it just is. Success, it just is. You either deal with is or you don’t deal with it.

Throughout the interview myself and Matt would go off on tangents, almost forget that we were doing an interview and discuss anything and everything. We even got on topic of my job at ThePunkSite and how I get to meet so many bands, but really it’s not as a big a deal as some people seem to think it is. People in bands are just people; they’re nothing special. Out of all the people who I’ve discussed this with, Matt could relate the most as again we found that we’re not so different.

MATT: Seriously man, I used to do a fanzine myself and I’ve met so many bands, the people are just absolutely normal, they say the same things I’m saying now. People ask for my autograph and I think ‘why? what worth is my name on a piece of paper?’. I used to be like that and then I asked bands about it and I was like ‘oh. yeah’. The music is more important than the people who make it.

As the interview came to an end I ask Matt about his life, and when it’s over and he’s being buried in the ground, what would he like it to say on his tombstone. How does he want to be remembered?

MATT: That I was hopefully a loving husband and probably a decent father by then, hopefully. If not then that I made a difference. That I didn’t conform to the bullshit of the world and that I stood up for what I believed in.

As final words Matt discussed what he would recommend to people who enjoy his music. He mentions movies by Wes Anderson, any book by Kurt Vonnegut, the new Codeseven album and comic books like Superman and even the series I’m reading right now, Bone.

MATT: Read comic books people, because they are the true genius of the world.