With the impending re-release of Funeral For A Friend‘s 2002 EP, Between Order and Model we sent Tomas Doyle along to reminisce with the Welsh quintet’s singer, Matt Davies-Kreye about that seminal debut release as well as discuss the impact it’s had since.
A little over ten years ago a small Welsh band called Funeral For a Friend release their debut EP Between Order and Model. It was an exciting time for rock music, as we moved out of the nu-metal explosion there were a host of new sounds filling young ears up and down the country. Emo and hardcore were developing into the mainstream forces that we know them as today and the time was right for a UK band to step up and take on the baton.
Singer Matt Davies-Kreye recalls a rampaging sense of excitement within the band at the time of the records release: “Funeral were my my first proper band really and it was amazing to physically hear back what we were doing in the practice room. I remember listening back to those songs that we had spent weeks writing and thinking ‘fucking hell, these sound pretty good actually!’ We never really thought that it would turn around and become something that would set off what it set off though”.
Yet for me and a great many of my friends and peers, FFAF were the band that we pinned our hopes on. I remember a mate of mine picking up Between Order and Model and the first thing that struck me about it was the cover. A small car in a snowdrift. This was not the futuristic bombast of Linkin Park or the graffiti font of Limp Bizkit we were so used to; it looked like the cover a Sunny Day Real Estate record (not that any of us knew who they were yet). It was exciting.
“We were into a lot of those American hardcore bands and emo bands. They were a big deal for us.” recalls Davies-Kreye. “Bands like Boysetsfire for example, or Thursday or Poison the Well. But also we loved that European hardcore so we tried to bring that stuff in too – there was a bit of genre-bending going on!”
In truth they were like nothing I had ever heard before. Driving punk edge with metal tinged riffing and a gleefully naive but utterly sincere vocal performance from Davies (as he was then). In a way it was that innocence that appealed so much to me and my young friends at school – the plaintive opening refrain of ‘Red Is The New Black’ for example, affording the band a decidedly approachable quality. These were not big rockstars from Hollywood, they were lads only a few years older than us from smalltown Wales. They were still a touchstone by the time I went to university; when people asked what I wanted bands I was in to sound like, Funeral were never very far from the top of the list.
I caught the band live a couple of times around the period of BOAM. Once supporting German post-hardcore stalwarts Waterdown at a show where the majority of punters seemed to leave before the headliners and once at the nations favourite public toilet, The Tunbridge Wells Forum. What struck me about them on both occasions was a lack of bravado but a real sense of focus. They played hard and didn’t fuck about but still seemed deliriously wide eyed.
“We really only had four songs when we first went out touring!” admits Davies-Kreye. “What I remember most was there being no real sense of trying to win anyone over… we just went out there and played the tunes because it was all we knew how to do. It took us a lot of working out that the best way to engage an audience was to look at them rather than looking at the floor!”
The band re-releasing the BOAM is a good time to pause and reflect on what FFAF really meant to me personally but also what they meant in broader context. There is a much told (and fairly boring) story about a young Oli Sykes being dragged on stage to fill in for the voiceless Funeral frontman at a show during one of the bands first tours but the real legacy is that they were one of the key players in kickstarting the domestic ’emo-core’ revolution. Look a little farther down the line to modern day hopes like Mallory Knox, While She Sleeps, Palm Reader and We Are The Ocean: you can pretty much guarantee they all span FFAF records as they were growing up. Check the reaction amongst the over 23s next time ‘Juno’ gets played down your local rock club if you need any further proof.
It’s an influence that Davies-Kreye himself finds a little tricky to accept. “I can’t really fully comprehend it. It’s amazing to me that anyone who came or comes to see us play would be inspired to start a band. That’s the biggest compliment that anyone can really pay, really. We’ve played with some bands recently who have come up to me and said how important Funeral were to them and it’s just mind blowing.”
For his own part, the vocalists view of the record that started it all is grounded in a punk rock ethos that has pervaded both his life and the way Funeral conduct their business. It’s a simple but endearing philosophy. “Hardcore and punk is about the emotion, it isn’t about how perfectly you play everything and that’s what BOAM was to me. A total lack of an attempt to be perfect which in a weird way made it pretty perfect, and very special”
I, for one, couldn’t agree more.
Funeral For A Friend re-release Between Order and Model EP via End hits Records & Mighty Atom on 15 November 2013 and you can pre-order it from FuneralforaFriend.com. OR you can buy the original for £13 from HERE.