Interview: The Download Tapes – Funeral For A Friend (Kris Roberts) “We played the very first Download back in 2003 so it’s pretty amazing to come back here 21 years later.”

What do you do when you have a second stage headliner pull out? Call Funeral For A Friend it turns out. And what a master stroke that turned out to be.  The Welshmen dropped everything to play, much kudos to them for doing so.  Guitarist Kris Roberts chatted to Gary Trueman about getting the call, their stand in singer and future plans.

So, who called who?

“I believe Andy (Copping) called Ryan our drummer and then Ryan called the rest of us. And then miraculously here we are.”

Obviously a no brainer, Opus stage headliner. Nice slot isn’t it?

“Well we did ask for main stage you know, haha!  But no, it’s an honour to be asked. We played the very first Download back in 2003 so it’s pretty amazing to come back here 21 years later and headline one of the bigger stages.”

The band has progressed a hell of a lot over those years. What do you think is the most noticeable difference?

“We took a little break. In 2016 we finished the band and our intention was that we would never do anything again and then as it does in life a couple of things came up and we miraculously started playing again. I think it’s the merger of the two different eras of the band. So having Ryan and Darran who are original members playing with Rich and Gav.”

You have a different vocalist at the moment too, Lucas from Holding Absence.  Do you know him from a way back and so knew him well enough to reach out?

“We’re all really big fans of Holding Absence. They were main support on our first headline tour back. He’s an incredibly nice guy and such a gifted singer. To be honest he’s the only person we would have considered doing this. I don’t think it would work with anyone else.”

His vocal style is definitely a good fit isn’t it?

“Yes it is. And going into rehearsals for Slam Dunk it felt very much like the first time we got into a rehearsal room with Matthew. It had the same kind of exciting quality.”

You did say last year you’re going to be recording some new music. How is that progressing?

“It’s one of the main reasons why Matt decided to step away from the band. We’ve all really enjoyed the time we’re having together and being back doing live shows. We see it as a challenge to try to write something that is better. Matt feels like he’s run his race and kind of doesn’t really have anything left to say. So we’ve been demoing stuff. We know Lucas is extremely busy with Holding Absence who are very popular and very successful and on an upward trajectory. So we’ve given him the ideas and the ball is in his court, no pressure from us. So yes we are actively writing.”

You’ve always been a band that has explored new avenues as you’ve grown older. You’ve always taken your fans with you too. Why do you think that is when other artists try something fresh and often lose people?

“We were still young when the band started to really take off. We’re quite unique in that everything we’ve ever written has been released. Our first EP was our first four songs, our second EP was our next four songs. When we did the first album we included two tracks off of each of the Eps because we hadn’t been together long enough to have built the back catalogue. A lot of the journey has been us finding ourselves and adapting to working in a professional capacity. When you do something as a hobby it’s your passion and enjoyment then suddenly a lot more people are depending on you releasing records. We grew up a lot and in a kind of way our audience grew up with us. They were probably going through very similar changes in their lives to what we were going through. I think in that sense we’ve been very lucky. We have done a lot of things to alienate our fans too. We’ve not stayed consistently within one genre or style of music. I think bringing a 28 piece orchestra in was a step too far for some. It was one of those things where the opportunity was there and the songs needed it.”

How do you write.  Do you set out in sessions to write or do you just come up with stuff as and when and contact each other when you do?

“I play guitar a lot. I’ve played since I was 11 and I’m 43 now and I play every day. What I do if I’m writing I have a guitar in my hands, I don’t really pay attention to it, and something seems to fall out of it that gets my attention, and then I focus in on that. That’s the basis of how I form the songs. As a band I guess we all do similar things and the great thing with technology now is it allows you to record things so easily. We’re able to just track ideas into a dropbox,  pass them around and have conversations around them. We’ve never sat down with the intention to write something.”

Music is changing so much. Not just how it’s being put out but how the genres are becoming more mixed. Do you think that makes this an exciting time for music?

“Definitely. When I was younger I’d read magazines, go and buy an album and go through the thank you list and see what bands the band I was listening to were thanking. Then I’d look out for those records to listen to. Streaming has changed that where now you listen to a band and you get like a million suggestions of other bands to listen to. I think because music in a sad way has no value to it anymore people are able to digest as much of it as they want. Where before you’d stay listening to just metal or just into indie, punk, funk, jazz and EDM or whatever now everyone listens to everything. We’re living in a period of time where it’s all becoming amalgamated; music is just becoming one thing.”

Have you got a festival survival tip for our readers?

“Buy wellies. I have wellingtons with me and they’re in my dressing room. And don’t forget to change your pants. You can have wet trousers and a wet shirt but you can’t have wet pants, that sucks!”

Funeral For A Friend – Facebook

Interview and photos by Gary Trueman