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Funeral For A Friend FULL Interview

Drummer and backing vocalist Ryan Richards talks about FFAF’s love of their new record….

Funeral For A Friend (FFAF) returned last this week with the release of their acclaimed fifth album ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ – a record that sees the UK emo/metalcore quintet back to their aggressive best. When the band stormed the charts eight years ago with their debut ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’ they spawned a sea of imitators – which resulted in the blossoming ‘screamo’ movement (aided by US bands Glassjaw, The Used, Finch, Thrice etc.) becoming instantly over-saturated, and subsequently winding up as the next ‘nu-metal’. Since Funeral For A Friend’s initial domination of that scene, they spent a few years trying to remove themselves for their ‘screamo/emo’ tag – or at least trying to elevate themselves above those hordes of copycat bands. However, that resulting experimentation saw their albums sales drop and (many) fans began missing that trademark FFAF sound. With their new album charting at a respectable 33 on Sunday’s official album chart, and a new mammoth UK tour about to begin, it’s time for FFAF fans to remember why they became infatuated with these lovely Welsh lads in the first place…

Gigwise: How happy are you with your new album ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’, and what was the recording process like in relation to your past albums?

Ryan Richards: Happy as pigs in slop! We’ve really pushed ourselves on this album and we’re incredibly proud of the results. With Gav (Borough – guitar) and Rich (Boucher – bass) in the band (both formerly of Hondo Maclean), it’s been a much more of a collaborative experience writing this record, and they both brought great ideas to the table.

Gigwise: This new album contains some of the heaviest material you’ve ever you recorded. What made the band decide to introduce some of the heavier, metalcore elements from your earlier work back into your new music?

Ryan Richards: We just realised what it is that we do best, and that’s making heavy, technical, interesting, melodic music. When you take away some of those elements – as we did in the past – then I think you lose a lot of what makes us special.

Gigwise: Ryan, your screaming vocals are much more prominent on this album than the last two. Have you missed being able to take the lead on FFAF songs, and whose idea was it to have you contribute more substantially to the vocals again?

Ryan Richards: When we did ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’ it was impossible to listen to that record and be able to imagine putting any aggressive vocals in there – which is why we didn’t. There were a few on ‘Memory and Humanity’, but I guess that was more a reaction to ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’, and giving that last album something its predecessor was missing. Before we wrote this record, we discussed how we wanted to work and we agreed that everyone should just play like themselves, and how they feel comfortable. I think you can hear that in not only my drumming and vocals, but with Kris Coombs-Roberts’ guitar work, which sounds more like him than it has for years.

Gigwise: Did Gavin Burrough’s recent move from bass to guitar (after the departure of guitarist Darran Smith) change the dynamic of the band’s writing and recording process at all?

Ryan Richards: Definitely. Darran was a very different player to Kris, and while it gave us a certain sound, it also limited us to where we could go with ideas. With Gav being so similar in style to Kris it allowed us to work more with harmonies etc. and also gave the chance for them to play more lead lines for a change.

Gigwise: What inspired the title of the album – ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ – and is there is an underlying theme that connects all the individual songs?

Ryan Richards: The song [‘Welcome Home Armageddon’] came first, and then the title. We just liked how it sounded, and it has a few different meanings. There’s definitely a theme though. Check out the full album artwork and you’ll get a good grip of what the album is about.

Gigwise: ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ has been receiving fantastic reviews – is critical reception something the band takes notice of?

Ryan Richards: I’d be lying if we said we didn’t, and of course it’s nice to be appreciated. But the most pleasing thing has been the fans’ reaction to the record. After all, they’re the people that we’re going to be playing these songs to every night.

Gigwise: Your last album ‘Memory and Humanity’ didn’t fare quite as well in the UK charts as your previous albums – are chart positions something the band have concerns about?

Ryan Richards: Again, it’s nice when you get good chart positions and all that, but it’s far more important what the fans and we think about the record. No matter how many copies this record sells, we know we’ve made a great album.

Gigwise: The band are about to embark on a UK tour, playing smaller venues than you’ve perhaps grown accustomed to – what made you choose these more intimate venues for the tour, and are there plans for another, larger-scale tour this year?

Ryan Richards: When we wrote the new record, we really wanted to make it a collection of songs that’d work really well in a live environment – and I believe we’ve done that. Playing these small shows will be the perfect way to introduce this record. But yes, we do have something bigger planned for the end of the year. Watch this space!

Gigwise: Is there a particular UK venue that FFAF have yet to play, but would love to?

Ryan Richards: I hear Camden Roundhouse is nice. Also, the O2 Arena. Those are pretty much the only two venues in the UK we’ve not yet hit.

Gigwise: Are there any plans to play any of the UK festivals this summer?

Ryan Richards: Yes. I can’t really say anymore than that though at the moment, but you’ll hear about it soon. [FFAF were announced as part of the Download Festival bill shortly after this interview was conducted]

Gigwise: What are your thoughts on the term ‘screamo’ and FFAF’s association with it?

Ryan Richards: It doesn’t bother us really. Just check us out, and then decide what to call us.

Gigwise: It sounds as if there is a renewed energy in the FFAF camp – would you guys agree?

Ryan Richards: Absolutely! This new record has breathed new life into us, and you’ll see that in evidence on our UK tour.

Gigwise: Do you see yourselves doing this into old age (like Iron Maiden etc.), or do you think you’ll call it a day sooner rather than later?

Ryan Richards: You never know! Making music is what we were born to do, so if our fans stick with us for as long as they’ve stuck with Maiden then we’ll consider ourselves very fortunate.

Check out Musical CPR’s review of ‘Welcome Home Armageddon here

Edited version originally published by Gigwise here

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~ by cliveparisrozario on April 1, 2011.

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