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Funeral For A Friend: A New Chapter

Funeral For A Friend frontman Matthew Davies-Kreye tells BLUNT about his Jade Tree years, and the band’s complex history with the ‘emo’ tag.

Welsh rock quintet Funeral For A Friend just released Chapter And Verse, their seventh studio album, and to judge by the title of closing track alone, “The Jade Tree Years Were My Best”, you could argue it’s the most explicitly emo the band have ever been. Diehard defenses of Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation, the band’s 2003 debut – the one tellingly featuring album art referencing Magritte’s The Lovers – may argue otherwise.

The band wrote Chapter And Verse in a month, recorded it in two weeks during February 2014 with producer Lewis Johns, and hit the studio with no preconceived notions of what the album could be. Davies-Kreye likens the experience of hearing them bloom and blossom from such a process as being akin to recording your first demo with a band.

“You’re not sure how these songs you play to each other in the rehearsal space are going to sound or work, you just give it up to your gut instinct. For me it feels like the band I wanted to be in when I was 17 years old discovering bands like BoySetsFire, and Endpoint, and all the Revelation and the Jade Tree bands that I really fell in love and really made a connection with in my teens, the stuff that made we want to be in a band, to play guitar and write songs.

“The hardcore scene we grew from is the best fit for us, and we’ve always struggled with mainstream ideas of where our band should be; we’ve always just stuck out a bit like a sore thumb – for better or for worse we’re at a place now where we just feel genuinely content. Chapter And Verse, for all its aggression and all its earnestness and in-your-face qualities, it’s a very happy, content record. I listen to these songs and it just gives me this huge sense of positivity and contentment.”

The title of the closing track – itself about a Christmas night spent alone – hints strongly at the source of that contentment; the band successfully paying homage to those that first set them on this path.

“I don’t want to say it, because it’s incredibly selfish, but it feels like my record,” Davies-Kreye admits. “This is one of the few albums we’ve done where I’ve listened to it a lot once we’ve recorded it, just because I’m loving the references we’re kind of making in the sounds of the songs to Jimmy Eat World or The Jazz June – all these bands I just admired and wanted to emulate. Like fuck, that’s so emo, that’s more emo than what we got credited as being emo. This is the real shit! All you fucking crazy hair, weird goth studded-belt people who think you’re emo, this is real emo! I feel like finally people can call our band emo now and I won’t get pissed off.

“We’ve been very good at wandering around, scratching our heads, and whether or not it was on purpose, we’ve always decided to subvert people’s expectations of our band. If people like one of our records, the next record they hate for some strange reason that I can’t quite figure out yet. We’re done wandering, we’ve figured out that the band we started out being back in 2001/2002 – the band we formed inspired by those bands – is actually the band we really liked being. It feels like Chapter And Verse is a finishing point in the 14 years of Funeral For A Friend up until now, the culmination of everything we’ve been trying to figure out about our band.”

 Chapter And Verse is out now on Roadrunner.

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