Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Interview: Funeral For A Friend


As if one UK Tour in 2011 wasn’t enough – and it wasn’t! - Funeral For A Friend are about to set off on another. I spoke to guitar turned bass player Gavin Burrough about tour, the latest album and legendary crooner Tom Jones…

How has the touring been this year?

Great! The new album has been really well received, we have been playing a lot of new material live and it seems to be working well alongside the older ones. Earlier in the year we completed a mega tour of the UK, it was great to play some places we had previously never been like Saltash and Penrith.

Do you have a favourite stop on tour?

Anywhere that’s hot, has a beach, and waterproof money, ha that would be Australia then!

How do you cope with touring these days?

Im not sure the word “cope” really applies to touring for me. It’s never a chore to travel around the world meeting different people in different situations. It’s probably the most enjoyable aspect of what we do. 

Which tracks do you most enjoy playing on tour?

I suppose it depends really. There are certain old tracks that are always a staple of the set like ‘Juneau’, ‘Roses For The Dead’ and ‘Escape Artists Never Die’, they are always super fun to play. I probably just as enjoy the new tracks though, they can be more unpredictable because you are not sure how people will react to them. 

Funeral For A Friend have had quite a few line-up changes throughout the years, do you think this has had an effect on the music?

Well seeing as I am a newer member I’d probably have to say yes. The other guys have been doing this for over 10 years now, it’s not as though they had lost interest just maybe a little perspective. I suppose seeing how excited me and Rich were about the band kind of reinvigorated them and gave them that perspective. Both me and Rich had our part to play in the writing process, with different members brings a different dynamic. 

The latest album Welcome Home Armageddon has been labelled by some as 'Casually Dress & Deep In Conversation: Part Two'. Do you think there’s any truth in that?

Nah not really, it’s true that we were focused on bringing back a heavier, more intense sound that was represented in the earlier stuff. But we are not in the game to rehash versions of old songs. I think ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ stands testament to this, having a clear defined sound of its own.

How was the recording process for ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’?

The album was recorded over the space of a month with our good friend and producer Romesh Dodangoda. We have worked with Romesh a number of times before, namely Memory and Humanity our fourth studio album, it was pretty seamless, picking up where we had left off before. It was nice to work in an environment where everybody was on the same page.

Funeral For A Friend have been around for a while now, what has been the highlight of the last 10 years?

For me it would have to be joining the band just over 3 years ago. It’s been an absolute whirlwind that which I could never have anticipated; the best years of my life. 

Have you had any regrets?

Nope, not a single one

You played Download Festival this summer, which bands on the line up did you check out?

We were pretty busy that day so didn’t really get to see that many bands; I think I caught a bit of letlive, they were awesome and I remember I was being interviewed, I could hear Down playing Walk – Pantera …I almost weed myself!

What do you guys do when you’re not making music and touring?

The band keeps us pretty busy, but for me, Ryan and Rich we have another band called Ghostlines which we work on. It’s very mellow and chilled out, the antithesis of FFAF I guess.

Wales has produced a lot of good musicians over the years, who are your favourites at the moment? 

Tom Jones … got to love that fella! Some great bands in Wales though at the moment Tiger PleaseStraight Lines, The Dead Wretched. I could go on forever! 

Do you think Funeral For A Friend will still be around in another 10 years? And what do you think you will you be doing in 2021? 

As long as we have limbs and mouths to make music we will still be here, barring some freak boating accident! 

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Rise Of The Planet of Pop Punk

They say that everything comes back into fashion at some point, be it shoulder pads, crop tops or Noel Edmonds. But right now it’s the turn of pop punk. There is no denying that since the return of pop punk titans Blink 182, the genre has experienced a sudden surge in popularity. From Jimmy Eat World’s triumphant album shows which saw fans singing along to every single word of 2001’s smash hit ‘Bleed American’ to New Found Glory’s packed out Reading & Leeds warm up gigs championing their new T-Shirt slogan ‘Pop Punk’s Not Dead’, it is clear that these 90s icons are as popular as ever.

And talking of Reading & Leeds, this year’s line-up is scattered with more pop punk bands than ever before. Gone are the days when pop punk’s finest were restricted to Slam Dunk Festival alone. With New Found Glory, Jimmy Eat World, Panic! At The Disco, The Offspring and Decedents popping up across the weekend, 2011 seems to be the year pop punk creeps back into the mainstream. Even headline act My Chemical Romance could be considered inductees into the realm of pop punk with their latest, more upbeat, release Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys.

This year has also seen an unashamedly summery pop punk record from the sugary Simple Plan, featuring collaborations from Rivers Cuomo and Natasha Bedingfield no less, and a packed out tent for ‘popcore’ pioneers Four Year Strong’s headline performance at this year’s Sonisphere Festival. And it’s not just the old stuff making a comeback, with the relatively new kids on the block All Time Low and You Me At Six playing bigger and bigger shows across the world, its certain that there is room for fresh faced pop punkers on our stages too. You don’t even need a pair of Dickies and a blonde mohawk to listen to them either.

Why pop punk ever went out of fashion still remains one of life’s unanswered questions. Much like ‘why do Jedward exist?’ We’ll just never know.

But ‘why has pop punk suddenly wormed its way back into our hearts and onto our iPods?’ is slightly easier to consider. It could be that warm and fuzzy ‘getting drunk down the skate park’ nostalgia that listing back to classic records like Blink’s ‘Enema Of the State’ or Sum 41’s ‘All Killer No Filler’ brings? Or it could be that the genre is just generally a big ol’ barrel of fun? And who, apart from Alan Sugar, doesn’t like fun? Whatever the answer, let’s hope that the infectious hooks, huge sing-a-longs and teenage angst of pop punk continues to park its behind in the world’s festival lineups and iPod playlists for a while longer. New Found Glory for Glastonbury 2013! Just me? Okay…

Album Review: In Gold Blood - Kids In Glass Houses

The third album from Welsh outfit Kids In Glass Houses is like an enchanting treasure hunt - there are moments of superbly produced brilliance in there, you just have to search for them. From the vintage undertones delivered by the brass section in ‘The Florist’ and ‘Only The Brave Die Free’ to the monster riff in ‘Animals’, and the magical hooks of ‘Teenage Wonderland’ to the beautiful bridge and bizarre saxophone solo of ‘Fire’, this LP has some bite. Experimentation aside, ‘In Gold Blood’ has some refreshingly heavy moments, and anthemic sing-a-longs we’ve come to expect from KIGH. As for the rest of the record, well there’s enough of your standard foot tapping and memorable hooks for the teenage fans to be getting on with.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Live Review: Lostprohets @ O2 Academy Bournemouth 16/08/11


Warming up for their performance at V Festival, Welsh titans Lostprophets have embarked on a mini tour of the UK, and tonight they will be blowing away the cobwebs with an intimate show in Bournemouth.

Fellow natives of the Valleys, Town, have been selected as tonight’s support act and look pretty excited to be playing in front of their biggest audience to date. The indie boys with their on-trend hair dos and shirts buttoned up to the chin provide some bouncy , Kids In Glass Houses-esqu indie pop. However, their set lacks originality and with the exception of a few chants and catchy hooks they fail to make any lasting impression.

When Lostprohets take to the stage however, the excitement instantly floods the room. For the first few songs the band are practically invisible, what with all the strobe lighting and more smoke than an episode of Stars In Their Eyes. But once the fog clears the band get stuck in and begin to fire out hit after hit. In fact, tonight’s set is something of a greatest hits showcase, serving as a great reminder of just how many fantastic tracks the band have produced over the last 11 years. Although nothing can quite match such anthems as ‘Last Train Home’, ‘Last Summer’ and ‘Rooftops’, almost every song gets the crowd screaming the lyrics back at Ian Watkins and co.

Always a fan of the limelight, Watkins is clearly loving being back in front of a British crowd again and before the band’s almighty encore, can’t resist a little rendition of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ followed by a stint behind the drum kit to show off his talents with the sticks as well as the microphone.  

With the UK riots fresh in our minds, tonight’s set packed full of sing-a-longs and air punching could easily have led this well-mannered crowd to smash a few windows. But thankfully the fans put that energy to better use, with plenty of moshing, jumping and dancing, leaving Boscombe high-street intact.