Interview: Darren Smith of Funeral For A Friend
by Tony Pascarella
Published: April 26, 2005
Editor's note: This was a phone interview conducted with Darren Smith of Funeral For A Friend on April 25th.
Special thanks to Mike Cubillos, Atlantic Records, and Darren.
Tony: Please state your name, age, and what you do in the band.
Darren: Hi, my name's Darren Smith. I play guitar, and I'm 29.
Tony: How did you meet?
Darren: It started off with most of us in the band knowing each other from the local music scene, and local bands. But the only one most of us didn't know was Matt [Davies], the lead singer. But the rest of us had met each other being in different bands; the same bands even, to a certain degree.
Tony: How did you come up with your name?
Darren: It was Matt's idea. He's a big fan of a band called Planes Mistaken For Stars, and there's a track on one of their albums called "Fuck With Fire" and one called "Funeral For A Friend." He really liked that song, and put it forward as using it as our name. We were all not quite sure about it really, because it had a kind of morbid, gothic vibe to it, I suppose. But after a while, hearing it mentioned a bunch of times, we felt it was an original name, and it's not a name people tend to get mixed up with other bands' names, you know?
Tony: So what's your favorite song, new or old, that you've done?
Darren: Favorite song...old would have to be a track called "Escape Artists Never Die" on our second EP, but it's also on our full-length album as well. I think that song kind of encompasses our whole sound and the various influences within the band. New songs, probably a song called "Hospitality" on the new album. Again, it's got a slightly epic vibe to it. It starts off in one place musically and it ends up in a totally different place. So I think it has a lot of different influences within the song, and people can hear a big take on our sound with just one song, really.
Tony: Speaking of the new album, Hours, what should your fans be expecting?
Darren: Quite a diverse album, really. The first album had a little bit of diversity, maybe, but nowhere near as much as this album's going to have. It shows off all of our influences through growing up and what a lot of us listen to on to what we listen to now. It's very varied. There's acoustic vibe tracks on there, there's electro-synthy vibe dark, synth kind of stuff on there. It's quite a mixture of influences and styles of music on there. So that's one thing that you can definitely expect is a variation.
Tony: While we're on the topic of your influences, who would you cite as yours?
Darren: Like I said, there's a bunch of bands that collectively, we kind of like. Bands like Boysetsfire, Far; there's a bunch of bands we like. Then there's also so many bands and musical styles that individually we like that other members of the band don't like. That goes for such things like Depeche Mode and Duran Duran as far as older stuff goes. Some of us in the band love Iron Maiden and that kind of stuff. Some of us are really into death metal. Singer/songwriter acoustic stuff. There's a huge variation between all of us that we like individually, but then collectively there's a bunch of bands we like.
Tony: So how has your style changed since you got started?
Darren: We've progressed songwriting-wise. The chemistry between us musically has grown, I think. We've brought a lot more variation of influences into the fold. Whereas we started out, a lot of us liked a lot of hardcore, punk, and metal music. Mainly those influences gave us our sound to start with. As we've progressed and now we've gone to our second full-length album, there's a lot of dark, moodier stuff that's coming through in our music. Things you could kind of say was Depeche Mode-influenced. We've still got a lot of those elements we started out with, but we constantly add in different feels and styles and hopefully make our music interesting as we progress.
Tony: In the music industry, there's always problems with albums leaking ahead of their scheduled release date. Does that help or hurt bands like Funeral For A Friend?
Darren: I think, to a certain degree, it kind of helps. When you're a fairly new band, and you want as many people as possible to hear your music, it helps in that way. It's a shame that it does harm it in as far as sales and that angle of things. There could be ways of controlling it, as far as purposely putting a track or two available for people to check out. That would entice them then to actually go and buy the full-length. As far as your music getting out to as many people as possible, it's definitely an avenue that does work.
Tony: So what's the scene like in the UK in your genre?
Darren: It's really strong. There's a lot of great bands coming through constantly. There's a small amount that have broken through, and as far as internationally started playing over in the US. LIke ourselves, Lostprophets, and there's a bunch of bands that have managed to do that. There's a lot of bands that are playing strictly the UK. It's gaining constantly in how good it's becoming, and how many quality bands there are in the UK. Hopefully, you'll be seeing over in the US, about a lot more UK bands coming through.
Tony: Are there any up and coming bands we should know about?
Darren: Yeah, definitely. There's been a few bands that are working in the UK and even put out a couple of albums, but haven't quite broken through to play in the states. Like Hell Is For Heroes and a band called Hundred Reasons. There's definitely a lot of other bands coming through. There's a band called Hondo McLean, which are pretty close to where we live. They're trying to break through. Like I say, there's a lot of good bands that will have the opportunity to come over. There's a band called Sixth from over there, as well.
Tony: As of now, what's your favorite record of 2005?
Darren: My favorite record of 2005? Hours. Our record is the best. [laughs] 2005, I really like the new Dark Tranquility album, actually. Called Character. I'm a big fan of Swedish, melodic death metal. Dark Tranquility have been around a long time. Their new album Character is real, real good.
Tony: You're going to be on the Maurice Stage at Warped Tour. What else do you have planned for this year?
Darren: We've got a bunch of things. We're playing the Bamboozle Festival this coming Friday. We've got a couple of shows before that in Poughkeepsie and Farmingdale. After that, we're doing a bunch of press ready for the album release. And then we've got a UK tour that starts in June and finishes up in July. Basically, it's full steam ahead. We're going to be doing 3 weeks on the Warped Tour. There's a couple other things mentioned--possibly hooking up with a couple of tours in the States. Apart from that, we're hooking up with the Taste of Chaos Tour, which is Europe. UK, Europe, Japan and Australia, so we're going to be doing that. I think we're coming back to the States again, and toward the end of the year, something else, another tour maybe. We're looking at playing quite a lot in the US in 2005, and hoping that people get to see us, check us out, and maybe pick up our music--and enjoying what we do.
Tony: On the subject of tours, if you could tour with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Darren: Maybe the Beatles. I know our drummer Ryan would probably choose Queen. He's a huge Queen fan. But I'm also a big Beatles fan. Obviously not possible now, but I think it would be really interesting to play with those guys.
Tony: Got an interesting question here for you. If you could be a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?
Darren: Flavor of ice cream? I'd probably be...that is quite a tricky question actually...maybe Raspberry Ripple. Because I'm both sort of sweet and sour I'd say. [laughs]
Tony: So do you have any last words?
Darren: Thanks for anybody who's checked us out. When the album comes out, we'd really appreciate if you'd give it a chance and check it out. And hopefully you'll enjoy it. I think the variation on the album is a different sort of style of the tracks. I'd say there's something on there for everyone.
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