EXCLUSIVE – FFAF Interview
Funeral For A Friend have emerged as one of the brightest and most ambitious bands on the British rock scene during the past decade and a fifth album is on the horizon.
The band is headlining a UK tour this month and former label Atlantic Records certainly seem to recognise the value in the Welsh dragons – releasing a career-spanning Best Of collection last month. rushonrock caught up with ‘new boy’ Gavin Burrough to get the lowdon on all things FFAF.
rushonrock: Does a Greatest Hits record make a band here to stay, old, too commercial or any of the above?
Gavin Burrough: I don’t know really. I don’t really see the record as cementing our status or anything like that and to be honest we probably wouldn’t have released it off our own backs. But Atlantic Records own the rights to all of the songs from the first part of the band’s career and they approached us and told us they were going to release a Greatest Hits package. When we sat down and thought about it we came to the decision that it was better to play a full role in the record rather than let someone else deal with it all. I’ve always been a big fan of the band and it’s a record which sums up everything good that Funeral For A Friend have ever done. And although seven years isn’t a huge amount of time for a band to have been around, within that period there will have been people who have latched on to what we do later than others. For that reason the Greatest Hits thing is a good idea. So I’d say the main purpose of the CD is to draw those new fans in and provide older fans with a record of our best moments.
rushonrock: But this is not like most Greatest Hits records – it features four new tracks. How come?
GB: If we were going to support this project that’s what we always wanted to do. When Atlantic Records did approach us we could have agreed to the tracklisting, made a few comments and left it at that. But we decided to throw ourselves into it, record four new songs and make something of the CD rather than simply allow the record label to release it as a token gesture. And the four new songs bring the band’s sound bang up to date. It’s the first chance I’ve had to make an impact on the band and so for me it’s particularly good to see those songs on the Greatest Hits album. It’s nice to put my penny’s worth into FFAF and I’d like to think I’ve added something different to the mix.
rushonrock: Will you be mixing up the set list on this month’s UK tour?
GB: We had quite a lengthy band debate about that very subject and discussed it at some length. In the end we put all of the albums on line and conducted a poll amongst fans. They were able to vote for the songs they wanted to hear the most and the 15 top tunes will be included on the setlist. The fans got to choose the set list but it just so happens they’re the 15 songs we wanted to play most! I thought there might be one or two strange picks and there are a couple we’ve never played before live, But all in all I think the whole process proved we’re pretty much in touch with the people who like our music. And as I count myself as someone who loves FFAF’s music it’s maybe not that suprising!
rushonrock: Do you still feel like the new boy?
GB: Playing in FFAF did take a lot of getting used to, I have to admit. Before I joined the guys I was working a full-time job and I still had a relatively normal lifestyle. When you pack all that in and get whisked off on tour for the first time it’s all a bit mental and it took me some time to get to grips with the certain demands associated with being a full-time musician. I wouldn’t say it was hard as such, just something very different to what I’m used to. I enjoyed the whole buzz of being in a band as big as FFAF but it was the little things – like never being able to make your own food on the road – which got to me. Touring is a bit of a regime but it’s not what you’d call a settled routine. It’s weird. But I’ve known the boys for 10 years and so I suppose I was never made to feel like I wasn’t a big part of what was going on.
rushonrock: As a fan of the band before you joined FFAF are you surprised at how far they’ve gone?
GB: I think what they’ve achieved since the early 90s is a testimony to their hard work and determination. There are not many bands from that era working on their fifth album and still going strong. I think the fact that they’re still doing such a great job is the mark of a really great band and a band that’s able to adapt to the changing times around them. We never let up or have a period where we take our foot off the pedal – we’re always doing something to make FFAF a better band. Even if, from an outsider’s point of view, it seems as if we’re having a bit of downtime that’s never the case. Everyone works hard or there’s no point.
rushonrock: What does the future hold for FFAF?
GB: We’re doing the UK tour and then we’re off to Australia and Japan and Bankok for another month. I suppose we’ll probably have a couple of weeks off at Christmas and then we’re due to go into the studio to start recording the new album in the new year. Now that we’re looking after all of our own affairs we’re still very much on a learning curve. We make our own mistakes now and we must learn from them.
rushonrock: Do you have any ambitions outside of music?
GB: No. I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to music. If I’m at home I’ll be playing or listening to music and looking at the new technology that’s out there. I suppose I’d just want to be in more and more bands if I had the time. Music is my life!