By Jennifer Lynn
Welsh rockers Funeral For a Friend aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, says their guitarist, Kris Coombs-Roberts. Here he reflects on his highlights of a decade-long career, and tells Scotcampus how he copes being part of a band that’s had more line-up changes than Destiny’s Child…
Your new album Conduit was released at the end of January. Should we expect a continuation of Welcome Home Armageddon, or is it totally different?
I think it’s a continuation, but as a band we do always change from record to record, drastically in some cases! This is a more mature version of Welcome Home Armageddon, and I think we’ve gotten back to our roots almost; it’s got a little more in common with Between Order and Model, and Four Ways To Scream Your Name.
You’ve got a new drummer, Pat, on this album. How have you adapted to the latest line-up change?
It hasn’t been that difficult, because if you look at our line-up from when we originally started with Between Order and Model, by the time we got to Four Ways we had a different bass player and a different drummer. It’s something that happens in bands; people get to certain points in their lives where they feel as if they’ve got to move on, or they can’t do it anymore. We always support these decisions and make sure to bring in people we’re comfortable with – we worked with Pat when we took Rise To Remain out on tour with us, and we also did a bus share with them when we toured in Europe, so we knew him really well. It’s been pretty seamless.
Do you think you’ll ever get to a point where you’ll consider leaving the band, or are you in it till the bitter end?
The only time I’d consider leaving the band would be if I didn’t think we could do anything of musical worth anymore and at the moment I believe we’ve got a lot more music in us. It’s not on the cards anytime soon!
Since you left Atlantic for independent labels your albums have still done well, but they’ve maybe not charted as high as before. Do you think it’s because they’re lacking that commercial push?
Possibly, but you’ve got to look at the way people buy music these days, especially people who are into rock music. People don’t buy records the way that used to, but obviously on a major label they have the means to really push a record. At the same time, when you look at bands who are on majors nowadays, I don’t think they get that same push that band like us had in years gone by. It’s definitely a bit of both; people not buying music anymore and lacking that push. When we done the label ourselves I don’t think we realised how hard it would be, but we’re glad to say we done that, and it was a learning experience.
You’re out on tour now and don’t finish up until April. How do you find the touring lifestyle?
Well on the last couple of tour cycles we felt that we weren’t doing enough shows, it was quite stop/start, but as a band we love touring in big block periods. It’s when you really start perfecting your live set. We’re really looking forward to getting back to that point where playing becomes instinctive, you don’t really have to think about it, and we were home for most of 2012 so we’re chomping at the bit to get back out there.
Do you notice a big difference between the UK crowds and your international audiences?
There’s the language barrier, so talking to the crowd between songs can be difficult, but I think music is a universal language. The only time you realise you’re playing in a different country is when you start chatting away and people are giving you quizzical looks!
One of your support acts on this tour is the band I Divide, who won the Red Bull Bedroom Jam last year. Is it important to you to support up and coming musical talent?
￼￼￼￼From the minute we started headlining we always tried to help out bands who where coming through; with the exception of The Automatic I don’t think there’s a Welsh band out there, who were around then, who haven’t supported us on tour at some point. We try to do it with international acts too, and bands from around the UK, because it’s hard to get your foot in the door. Sometimes the only way to get there is to go out, and play with your peers, and almost force yourself upon people.
Funeral For A Friend have been around for well over ten years now – do you think there’s an expiration date on how much success you can achieve as a band?
I think it depends on what you set your goals as when you start, and all we wanted to do was play shows – there was nothing about gold-selling records. We got a hell of a lot more than any of us bargained for.
What’s been your career highlight so far?
I’ve been in this band for four different line-ups, so it’s really hard to choose, because there are highlights from every stage of the band. One thing that sticks out is from way back in the early days, when you have no idea what people actually think of your band, and no idea how good your music is. We were opening the Concrete Jungle stage at Reading, and during our light check they opened the doors, and thousands of people just ran into the tent. We only played for twenty-five minutes, but it was five deep outside the tent, with people crowd surfing to get in! I just remember that feeling incredible.
Taken from the February issue of Scotcampus. Funeral For A Friend’s new album Conduit is out now.