It’s been 10 years since their debut album was released but Welsh rockers Funeral For A Friend are still going strong, and are currently touring the UK in support of their new album Conduit. Having recently played at The Waterfront in support of the record, Venue got the opportunity to speak to guitarist Kris Coombs-Roberts.
Their latest album Conduit recently reached the Top 40 and has been well received by fans and critics alike – how have they found the reaction to it? “It’s always nice when you put a record out and people appreciate it, especially after we took most of 2012 out writing and recording. It feels like we’ve been sat on it for quite some time; you almost forget that people are actually going to hear it. But so far it’s been really good, everything seems really positive – so yeah, we’re all very happy.”
Conduit is their sixth studio album, accompanied by many EPs and even a “best-of” collection, and Coombs-Roberts notes that choosing set lists is now proving quite a task. “I think it’s quite difficult because we’ve now got quite a hefty back catalogue, but the fact that we’re releasing a new record makes it easier as the best way to promote an album is to play the songs live. It’s a lot easier when you’re doing an album campaign as opposed to a one-off festival, which can be a bit of a nightmare as we’re picking from probably 90-odd songs I think.”
When asked about favourite moments on the album, he modestly replies: “Gav’s [Burrough, guitarist] guitar part from the chorus of Best Friends and Hospital Beds – when he wrote that I thought that was a really good guitar line. For playing live though I’d have to say the breakdown from Conduit – it’s simple to play but muscular, and sounds really tight.”
2011’s Welcome Home Armageddon brought a return to the heavier sound that had defined their earlier work, after delving into mellower, more refined territory on their third and fourth albums. Conduit continues on from Welcome Home… and is possibly the heaviest the band have ever sounded. Coombs-Roberts opens up as to why they’re writing heavy music again: “At the time that we did [third album]Tales Don’t Tell Themselves and [fourth album] Memory and Humanity I think we got a little lost maybe, a little bit disillusioned – we were touring so consistently and not taking any time out and you kind of forget the reasons why you play music in the first place.
But when Rich [Boucher, bassist] and Gav joined they both spoke about what they liked about the band and it made us realise we’d been trying to force ourselves into a direction because we were always being pigeonholed by being called screamo, or emo, or extreme-o, or I don’t know, bloody nemo! We didn’t want to be that band, we never considered ourselves an emo or screamo band.
“We pushed artistically to make people view us differently and it made us stop making music that naturally comes to us. Rich and Gav were honest enough with us about our back catalogue and we started playing for the enjoyment of playing again – we found our feet with Welcome Home Armageddon and this album is a continuation of that. This is the most settled and happy we’ve been as a band for a very long time, and I think that comes through on Conduit.” Even so, Tales is still a fine album, and to an extent he agrees: “I still love Tales, I think it’s a great record but for a different band maybe; not for us, not for what we do.”
Conduit is also the third album that they’ve worked on with producer Romesh Dodangoda. “We were friends before we started working together, and then we were hearing the work he was doing on the up and coming bands in the South Wales scene, and couldn’t hear any difference between huge name producers and what he does; he’s at that standard. We believe in him as a producer and he believes in us as a band, and it’s just a really good working environment where we’re all mates and we all get on. It makes it really easy to just go into a studio and record some music with some of your best mates.”
The biggest news in the music industry over the last few weeks was, of course, HMV going into administration. Conduit was due to be released two weeks after the news broke, so were the band worried about the impact it could have had on the albums release? He pauses slightly before replying: “I don’t know to be honest with you – the thing with HMV is that people are blaming iTunes and Amazon but what it comes down to is that people aren’t buying music anymore because everybody steals it. People think that downloading a record is a victimless crime, that it’s faceless companies who suffer for it, but the reality of it is bands put a lot of time into making a record.” He adds: “Without people paying for records, nobody’s going to want to put the albums out.”
So, what’s next for Funeral For A Friend? “We have about a week off after the UK tour finishes and then we’ve got some dates in Europe; a few days off here or there but it’s mainly tour, tour, tour, tour, tour, tour, tour.” He then joking adds: “we’ve been off for a year so we can’t really complain!”