What’s been the weirdest thing you’ve experienced whilst on tour? It’s a question designed to provoke something unique, but I wasn’t expecting the answer…
I’m sitting across from Matt and Kris from Funeral For a Friend, in a sterile little tent backstage at NASS Festival.
“The weirdest time was probably that time you tried to save those people from that car crash” Matt says to Kris, clapping his hands together and laughing.
Kris tries to contest, shaking his head. “It’s really not as dramatic as it sounds.”
Whilst on tour the band were driving along in a blizzard when the car in front of them skidded on the ice, rolling onto its roof in the snow. Shocked, they all scramble from their seats, and Kris is the one to wrestle himself out of his seatbelt, manoeuvre fruit bowels and climb through the snow drifts first. Valiantly, he charges towards the car.
“To be honest, I was probably more of a hindrance than help,” he admits, as he describes bustling around the vehicle to check that everyone was OK, losing his wedding ring in the snow for his efforts. “It’s OK,” he said. “My wife has lost three wedding rings, so she wasn’t too bothered.”
Matt and Kris are really easy to talk to, and there’s an air of professionalism about them. I can gauge their experience from the way that they politely ignore the fact that every one of my questions begins with ‘as you’ve been around for a long time…’. I notice it too, but I can’t stop. I can remember standing outside of a gig of theirs in Cambridge when they were touring their breakthrough album Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation. It seems very surreal, remembering one of my first gigs whilst interviewing the band I’d queued to see 13 years ago.
As it happens, It’s their early music that is Kris’ mum has a soft spot for. Whenever she hears Oblivion on the radio, she becomes nostalgic. “Maybe one day you could dedicate a song to your mum at a gig?” I suggest. No, he replies, their music has moved on so much from that first album, that it would stick out like a sore thumb amongst their current songs.
I can see what he means. Since their 2001 album the band have had time to evolve their sound, from something that would get lost in a line up of rock ballads, to an animal tearing at the glass. It’s amazing that they’ve been able to adapt so well to the years spent entrenched in thick, heavy rock.
I ask Matt what his mum’s favourite song is. “Well, the honest truth is that my parents like all of the songs we produce. All I ever wanted to do was make an album that my parents didn’t approve of, but they were always so supportive.”
He mimics his mum: ‘oh that’s nice dear’…
So, what about the time away from home? The guys retell their tour stories, which basically go: get on the van, drive to the gig, do the gig, get back in the van. I say it must be hard not being able to properly experience the countries that they tour through. It turns out that Kris’ wife spent a year in Japan for work, which gave him a rare opportunity to spend some quality time there.
“When you’re on tour you’re constantly babysat; there’s always someone telling you where to go and making arrangements. When I went over to visit my wife, I got the chance to get lost, and find my own way. It was really great.”
It’s Kris’ wife that brings confusion to the next question: who would you swap places with in the band and why? The consensus is they’d both rather stay as themselves, partly because it would be too weird to have to inherit each other’s families. I try to take families out of the equation, but it’s already too late. I get a feeling that these guys, after years touring, might know each other a bit too well to ever need to swap places.
If it hadn’t been Funeral For a Friend, the pair would have gone into the public sector, it seems. Kris might have liked to be a teacher, whilst Matt is confident that he’d make an excellent postman. He carries on for a good while, enthusiastically telling stories about how he would deliver post extremely well.
If the sun were about to explode and the apocalypse were about to happen, what would be the last song you’d play?
They wouldn’t play a song (both say immediately), they would go to spend their last time on earth with their families. “Ah,” I say, “but you only have three minutes, and you’re already on stage.”
Well in that case, they decide that Welcome Home Armageddon would be appropriate; perhaps Front Row Seats to the End of the World. The album was reviewed as a ‘pop punk masterpiece’ when it was released over a decade before.
I ask about their upcoming album. It seems as though they’re leaving their old material behind to start with a clear head. The band seem to be distancing themselves from previous incarnations, instead focusing on making something completely new.
The new album is very hush hush (their lips are sealed on the matter “it’s recorded, but that’s all I can tell you”). The only detail they can give is that it doesn’t sound like Casually Dressed, and they wouldn’t like to compare it to their previous albums. They’re keeping us on tenterhooks while they cross the t’s and dot the i’s, so we’ll all have to keep our eyes, ears and minds open until the release.
It’s been an amazing NASS festival; Funeral For a Friend and Sonic Boom Six have been my highlights. Second to these two amazing bands were the host of interesting party animals we came across along the way. Come back to the blog in a few days time, and check out our Faces of NASS photo documentary article.