Darran Smith guitarist of Funeral For A Friend

chats about the new album, guitar influences, setting up their own label, and more on Tue 30th Sep 2008

Funeral for a Friend the Welsh post-hardcore band are set to release their fourth studio album, entitled 'Memory and Humanity', in October 2008, through its own record label, Join Us. eGigs spoke to guiarist Darran Smith about the new material, the new label, and more.

So what are you up to?
We're promoting the new single 'Kicking and Screaming' out on the 29th September and then the album 'Memory And Humanity' drops on 13th October.

And you've got a new member...
Yeah, we have Gavin Burroughs an old friend of ours. He came in when Gareth (Davies) decided to leave the band, because of his situation really with the fact he lives in Vegas in the States, and him flying back and forth constantly, became a bit tough. Gavin, played in a couple of bands with Ryan in the past and we knew him from all playing gigs together in our separate bands. We've known him a long time, very similar sense of humour,and attitude, he slotted right in a great musician and a great singer.

Darran Smith

So you weren't tempted to move to Las Vegas?
No, it would be nice, but we aren't all that lucky I guess. It wasn't a temptation for us, Wales may not be the sunniest place in the world, but it is somewhere we call home, and pretty much always will do.

You've been labelled Emo and Screamo. How would you describe your music?
A hard rock band, we encompass and throw in so many influences, I don't think we can be considered a blue print of a certain genre of music, rock or hard rock is good enough for us.

You've set up your own record label, was that easy to do?
We have. I wouldn't say it was easy, it was fairly complex, especially the way we did it, in as far as some of the people we're involved with, and the financial backers we have connected with the label. It was mainly our management, and our manager Craig Jennings did an absolutely sterling job of making it all work and making it all happen. Him and our lawyer Sarah Waddington, put the whole process together and finalised it and it worked out brilliantly. I must also mention Andy Taylor, who is one of Iron Maiden's management team, he had a huge part in putting the deal together. It's exciting and interesting for us to be doing it on our own label. We're not quite sure how it's going to pan out, but we're up for giving it a try and seeing how it works.

You mentioned Iron Maiden do you have links with the band?
Yeah, we did a tour with them about four years ago and their management team is kind of connected to our management team. We have links with Ron Smallwood he always has a little bit of a helping hand in our career and he has done since the beginning. Obviously, we ever bump into the guys in Maiden, by chance. They all seem to remember us, they're top guys and really friendly, and genuinely nice guys and very down to earth and very supportive. Steve Harris and Bruce Dickinson have both been very supportive of our music in the past.

What makes you kick and scream?
What winds me up? I guess politics maybe, that's frustrating, I don't take a massive interest, but I do find that all politicians, no matter what party they are representing are the same. They all promise you the world, until they get in and have some sort of power and control and then they very rarely deliver on the promises. So, that frustrates me and makes me scream, "Don't trust that guy he's the same as all the rest."

The album's title is 'Memory and Humanity' is that correct, why the title?
Matt came up with the name actually, it's representative of his lyrical approach to the album. The subject matter, some of it is him reflecting some childhood angles of him growing up, plus there's elements of emotional and humanitarian angles, and he saw that subject matter and made the link to coming up with the title.

Does he write most of the songs, or do you all get involved in the songwriting?
We all write the music basically, always have done. Matt writes the lyrics, and I'm a strong supporter of the singer if he can should write the lyrics. For the singer to genuinely deliver those kind of lines and those kind of lyrics honestly and it actually mean to something to them, it needs to be written by themselves especially when it's touching the emotional angles of things.

So you're not tempted to write a song and sing it yourself?
No I wouldn't inflict that pain on anybody, with my singing voice. I tend to save the for the shower. I don't consider myself a singer in any way I'M happy to be involved in creating the music and leave the lyrics to Matt.

How long did it take to put the album together?
The whole process was stretched over nine or ten months, the whole thing wasn't all recording and writing. It was split up, and we did a little tour for a couple of weeks in the middle of that process. In total writing and recording time took about four, five months which for us probably an average period for us to put an album together.

So who are your guitar influences?
My guitar influences are so many, from Dave Murray and Adrian Smith from Maiden right through to like singer/songwriters, acoustic players, and ('m a big fan of the shred era, Yngwie Malmsteen and those guys. Over the top shredding, their expertise and total command of the instrument I admire. There's a guy called James Murphy, who back in the nineties was a bit of a hired hand, and played in quite a lot of death metal bands and thrash metal bands like Testament, guested on a few of their records I'm a big fan of his. But all sorts of people really.

Who is the best guitar player you've watched live?
Yngwie Malmsteen would definitely be in that bunch, and Alex Skolnick from Testament, I'm a big fan of his, Neil Sharum from Journey I think he's a brilliant guitar player and great song writer. Off the top of my head and the guys from Haunted. As a kid we were on the map for shows. As a kid got to see a lot of shows, a lot of shows would come through Cardiff and Newport. I got to see a lot of shows and never completely missed out. Obviously, and still now, there's a band that will come over and only play a show in London, but mostly bands come to the UK and stop off and play a show in Wales, so I got to see them.

Do you still go to gigs?
I still go to shows, I still enjoy going to gigs, and I probably don't go to as much. It sometimes bugs me that there's a certain band that I've wanted to see for a long time and then it just happens that we're on tour at the same time as they are over here, so I miss them and that's a bit frustrating. But there's still bands I'll go and watch and I still enjoy going to gigs.

What's the favourite country you've been on tour to?
Australia, I think. When I was growing up and got into music, I always loved the idea of touring there, and thought that I'd fall in love with that country and what to emigrate there and live there, and America is great but for me it's Australia. We've had the opportunity to go to Australia three times so far, and we're heading over there again in February I think. It's an amazing country, the people attitude over there are excellent, and the fans over there are brilliant, and every time we've been there we've had an amazing time. But to be honest, we've been really lucky to be in the situation we're in to see so many countries and places, we wouldn't if it wasn't for the band. I enjoy the whole aspect of travelling and seeing all these places.

You've done a few festivals over the years. What's been the best festival you've been to?
Probably Reading. Reading stands out because it's the real deal, Leeds has only been going about five or six years, So, Reading stands out, we've had some amazing shows and sets at Reading, and we've gone from being the opening band on the small stage, to being third or fourth from the top on the main stage. The way we've moved up in billing, we've played it four times and it's definitely the one that sticks out in my mind. We've been fortunate enough to do some festivals like The Warped tour in the States a couple of times, and that's a great experience too. It's difficult to choose a best one, but if I had to Reading I think.

Do you enjoy being on the road?
I do. It's always good to come home after you've been on the road, but after a few weeks you want to get back on the road again. I do enjoy touring, it takes a couple of weeks to adjust, but as I said I like the travelling aspect of it and the experience of playing shows really, and getting to see those people who have bought tickets to the show or have bought the albums. It's great to feel that energy live.

What do you think of the album?
Everybody go out and buy it, it's a bit different to our previous ones and a good example of a blend of our previous three albums and a step up from them.

Do you think you have your own sound now?
I think we have. To a certain degree we always have, every band have influences and one influence will stand out more than others. We've never relied on one influence heavily, we've always mixed it up and had a fair bit of pride in people not being able to pin us down as sounding exactly like anybody. There's been different flavours of things, and different influences and bands, But never anything that makes us blatantly sound like somebody else.

As the album is out in October my last question is if you had to go to a Halloween party who would you go as?
Hmmmm. I think I'd do rock a pretty good Dracula actually, the black hair, just slick that back, get some fangs in there, and dribble a little bit of that fake blood down my chin, throw in a cape and I think I'd get away with that really.

What about the other band members?
Kris would definitely have to be the Wolfman, I don't think he'd have to do anything at all, he's perfect as that character already. Ryan would make a pretty good Hulk, Matt would be a mummy, just cover him up.

Thanks for your time, I bet you're fed up of interviews you've been doing them all day I suppose.
All today and all yesterday too, it's fine it's all good. No worries.

Funeral For A Friend

article by: Scott Williams

photos by: Kirsty Umback

published: 30/09/2008 09:13


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