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Interview: Funeral for a Friend

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Over the course of the last decade Funeral For A Friend changed British rock music forever; a bold, brave, yet undeniably true statement. The band’s journey from hardcore roots and DIY shows in Bridgend to major label records and worldwide tours has built a long and prosperous road that many home grown bands from across the alternative spectrum have been travelling along ever since. Paul Blakeman caught up with their drummer, Ryan Richards, for a chat.

Funeral For A FriendFirst things first, how is everything going? How are preparations for the tour?

Good cheers, We are off to Japan, Australia and Malayasia. Japan and Australia are two of my favourite places in the world, to do gigs at and just in general, and we're also are going to Indonesia for the first time, so can't wait for that. 

Where has your favourite gig been?

Some of our best gigs. We played at the Big Top Luna Park in Sydney. Usually, we are used to turning up to a gig out of town, middle of high street next to greggs bakery so turning up and seeing the Sydney opera house out of the window was pretty amazing.

Can you give me a brief history of the band? How did you guys meet?

I think it's apparent to everyone what a strong scene there is Wales, particularly South Wales. Bullet For My Valentine are also from Bridgend, we've grown up with those guys, and there was a large community of musicians who always went to the gigs. You get together, meet friends, find out what instrument they play and before you know it you are in a band. That's how BFMV did it, and that's how we did it. Its a good scene here [in South Wales] and there are a lot of talented people.

How would you say your new music differs from your old records?

Having Gav in on guitar and Rich in on Bass, this is the third time we've been together in a band and one of the bands was a really heavy metal band, and I think that comes through.

Who writes the lyrics?

 Matt writes the lyrics but we all like writing our own parts to a song. I think a band is all about the chemistry and everyone does their own thing. With everyones personality going into the songs, that's what makes it us.

Where do the band get their influence from for the lyrics ?

Just from daily observations and feelings I guess. Certainly for the last record, just looking around and being influenced. Whereas in the past, for example on the "Tales don't tell themselves" record it was a concept based on a lot of metaphors, whereas this one is as simple as looking round, taking it in and writing it down. 

You say that you've read the reviews for the last album?

 Yeah, it's up to you whether you read them or not. I buy the magazines to read about the bands I like, so I get to read about us too.

Are you influenced by other bands from the area?

 I am not sure that we are really. We have always been influenced by a lot of different things, so I don't know that we are. It is hard to pinpoint where influences are really. Different people in the band do their own thing with their own instruments, and then it all comes together, I hope!

Where are you hoping to go from now?

 We've got the tour and we are already writing our new record, and we have even recorded some stuff as well. We are on our way to writing the next record.

You have toured with London band "Rise to Remain", can you see big things for them?

 Yeah we've toured with them. We've taken them round Europe, they are very young, but even for a young, or any band, they are amazingly talented musicians and they are doing something really creative and interesting with metal and yeah I can see nothing but success for them. I just picked up their record and am really enjoying it, nothing but praise for it really.

Now for the more important questions. You're a Cardiff City Fan. How did you feel in May when you crashed out of the playoffs?

 Pretty terrible. I go to every game, I'll be going to game tomorrow against Doncaster.  We got so close, and we were dreading that dip in the form would be round the corner, and unfortunately it was 

Was it the right decision to change the manager?

Yeah I think so. We do the same every year by playing well, but letting it go at the end of the season. We got so close, and we weere dreading that weYou weren't tempted over to the Liberty stadium with Swanseas success?(Laughing) No no not at all. Let them have their season.

What did you think of Wales' performance [in the football] on Tuesday?

Yeah I enjoyed it, and I was in the stadium for the Montenegro game. Being a Welsh football fan,we have a lot of false dons. On Tuesday, we were good enough to at least get a draw. Earnshaw missed, and I fancied Bale to put a goal away as he wasn't offside. To be honest, a lot of Welsh football fans, its almost irrelevant that we lost, and apparantley we can still finish 3rd. Things are starting to go well for Welsh football, and it makes me excited for the next campaign

Will you be watching the rugby?

Yeah I watched the game this morning, and NZ are looking good. I always like to think Wales will have a chance, but to be realistic, it's the same as football, if we give a good account of ourselves and go out fighting, it'll be good for us. I think Welsh sports fans, as long as they see the effort and see the team are playing for the shirt, I think that is enough for most people. If we go any further.

Why do you tweet?

I think first reason is to share information and to let people know what's going on. It's also good to answer questions and speak to fans. It's great to interact with fans, you get a lot of dedicated fans, and it's down to them that we have done anything. It sounds like a cliche, but if fans don't buy your records and come to shows, there is no band. 

I guess when bands like yourselves become famous, it could be too easy to lose sight of reality to a certain extent but you haven't done that at all?

No we haven't. Interacting with the fans isn't a chore for us, it is something we all enjoy doing.

Any funny stories from tours?

There has been quite a few. I can't think of anything in particular, there are always a million and when you try and think of one you can't! I've been doing a lot of Australian magazines this week, and they like the story about us going to the set of Neighbours, meeting all the cast and eating in the cafe, as we were all big fans of Neighbours and Home and Away growing up. Embarrassing stories however happen on a nightly basis.

Are you proud to be Welsh?

Yeah, yeah totally. I am really proud of the scene in Wales, all the talented musicians, the support network. I am really proud that we are not like some other places and scenes, where there is backstabbing and oneupmanship, but the reasons bands are flourishing here is because people help each other on the way up. I am proud of the country of Wales for the same reasons, the sense of community and national identity is really strong, people just generally want to help each other.

You can visit their website at http://www.ffaf.co.uk/ and check out their myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/funeralforafriend




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