Funeral for a Friend have just completed a brief UK tour, along with releasing new EP See You All In Hell.

We caught up with Ryan Richards (drums) and Kris Coombs-Roberts (guitar) to talk about the tour, Welsh Music Prize, Darran Smith's departure and more new material.

-The tour's nearly at an end, but how's it been?
Kris: Short, but it's been good. All the shows have been really good, the shows have been great, the fans have been good. Happy days!

-Compared to past tours, you've been playing bigger venues. Was that a conscious decision you made, or just how it worked out?
Kris: Yeah, I guess it was really. It feels like it's been a really good year for us, with the way the album's been received. It's been really positive. I think the live show is better than it's ever been. We bring out a good supporting cast of big names, and here we are in the bigger rooms, I guess.

-In this stage in your career, is it hard balancing your setlist, as you're still regularly putting out new material?
Kris: I think that, being in a band for the best part of 10 years and having five albums, we realise that there are certain songs that are integral for us to play. As well, it's really important as a band when you're writing the new material to actually perform and play it in your set. I think you have to get a good balance it.

-Well, last time I saw you a couple of years back, you didn't play anything from Memory & Humanity. Are you pulling some of those back into the set now?
Kris[laughing]: No.
Ryan: It's mostly about the new album, cos people have been getting into it.

-What's the reason behind avoiding stuff from that album?
Ryan: It's just not that much fun to play really, if I'm being honest. I can't be more honest than that, really.

-Fair enough! Moving on to your new EP See You All In Hell, where did the idea for that come from, as an add-on for the album?
Ryan: I think the idea from that came from us writing and doing demos for no particular reason, just that we had ideas and wanted to get them down. We wrote 'High Castles', and we enjoyed it. We decided to go in and record it, and it turned out great.

Strife were one of our favourite bands growing up, in an integral part of when we all got to together.

Just getting different interpretations of other songs from Welcome Home Armageddon on there - the vinyl actually comes free with the record. We wanted something as a bonus with the album, but you can buy it on its own as well.

-With the album itself, and the way your material's progressing with the four tracks including in Your History Is Mine a couple of years ago, is there a shift towards the sound of your earlier material?
Kris: The sound of Welcome Home Armageddon comes naturally for the band. When we've stayed away from it we've made a conscious effort to do something different. The more aggressive side of our music is what comes naturally, and what we do best.
Ryan: A lot of people said that Welcome Home Armageddon was going back to the Casually Dressed style. If you listen to those two albums next to each other, they're absolutely nothing alike.

I see where people are coming from with the energy and the vibe, I think that's definitely the same. You listen to those two albums back-to-back, and Welcome Home Armageddon's much, much heavier than any of our records.

-Do you think it's important to keep the ethos of the band, while still progressing then?
Ryan: Mm, yeah, totally. I guess that was maybe lost for a while, that ethos. Like I said, the reason we don't play much off Memory and Humanity is that they're not fun to play live. We needed to get that back really, having songs that are so enjoyable, it's hard to keep them out of the set.

-This was the first time you've worked without Darran (Smith) on an album. How was it?
Ryan: It was really interesting. We used to be a set format in the way we did things - Kris would have a riff, he'd bring that to me, and I'd shape it together and get most of the structure. Then, we'd put some bass on it and other things - a lot of the time, Darran would come in at the very end, sometimes after Matt did his vocals.

It was quite set, whereas now both Rich and Gav are bringing their ideas as we put our stamp on top of them. It's not all down to us to start the creative part of the song.

-Was it good getting to do the two farewell shows for him, playing Casually Dressed in full?
Kris: Yeah. It was a really poignant way to send Darran off. It was nice for him to be able to say goodbye to our fans, and in the same way for people to show how much they appreciated him and what he's done with us.

-When Rich came in, was it quite an easy change?
Ryan: Yeah, because this is the third band I've been in with him! So, it's been easy. The old band I was in was with Rich and Gav. When I left that band to join Funeral, we took them on tour with us. We're all from the same place, it was really easy.

-In the last couple of years, you've also broken away from Atlantic. What led to that split?
Kris: I dunno really. It was down to us - we got offered another deal with them, but we felt we'd got to a certain point where we wanted to try something different. We did our own label. It was good in some ways, difficult in some ways.

The same can be said of Pledge. We've got a good home for the EP in the UK now, which is Distiller. It's a pretty new label, there's great people working there. It's good to have that level of control.

-Do you still get to retain that absolute control?
Ryan: They didn't hear any of the album until we finished recording it! It's really different to the way it's worked in the past, to be honest.

-Well you did an EP release with Pledge.com. Is that a good model for bands to try, to have it funded by fans?
Kris: I think so, but I think it's obviously a very new idea. It had some teething problems, and some of the pledges turned out to be a logistical nightmare. It's a good and a bad thing really.

The longer it goes forward, it'll go better and bands will use it as a way to make their records. It's a great way to interact with your fans, and allow them to actually be part of the process, as oppose to only seeing it when it's on the shelf.

It's a different way to do it, but it definitely had it's teething problems - to anybody who still hasn't got stuff off us, the only thing we can say is "sorry". We're doing whatever we can to sort everything out.

-It's always a bit predictable to ask about the music scene in Wales, but I wanted to ask specifically about the Welsh Music Prize. What do you think about the idea of it, given that it does offer a wider range than, say, the Mercury Prize?
Kris: Great, I thought - really varied albums.
Ryan: It also shows how much music comes out of Wales, as well - how much great music. It was cool to be there, it was a cool event. I can hopefully see it going from strength to strength.

-The media has built up this portrayal of a unified scene and comradery in South Wales. Is that how it actually is?
Kris: Well, you look at the line-ups for our tours in the past - we do everything we can to help support Welsh bands who we feel are good. That's the most important part - if we didn't like a band, we wouldn't take them out. I definitely think that, for us anyway, we feel that the Welsh music scene is very strong.

There's definitely an element of, like you said, comradery. I don't think there's any competitiveness really between Welsh bands. I don't that really exists. Do you agree with that?
Ryan: Yeah! When one band gets bigger, they usually do all they can to bring the next band along with them. It's been like that for a long time in Wales. That's why you see so many bands coming through.

-You've just played your first South African show. How was that?
Ryan: Amazing. It was incredible. I guess it's hard to know what to expect really, going somewhere like that. We weren't sure what to expect as far as the welcome, and how much people would be into it, but they did - they definitely did. The show was awesome, we got to play with Alkaline Trio.
Kris: It was surprising, actually, how good the South African bands are, like Sabretooth and Zebra & Giraffe. They were both really good bands.

-Looking past the tour, are there any plans for new material?
Ryan: When this tour finishes, that's what we're planning on doing - making a new record.
Kris: We've started already, a bunch of demos floating around.
Ryan: Not on the internet, so don't look! Just in our own personal network of computers. Things are already on their way, we'll start recording in January or February.

Female First - Alistair McGeorge

Funeral for a Friend have just completed a brief UK tour, along with releasing new EP See You All In Hell.

We caught up with Ryan Richards (drums) and Kris Coombs-Roberts (guitar) to talk about the tour, Welsh Music Prize, Darran Smith's departure and more new material.

-The tour's nearly at an end, but how's it been?
Kris: Short, but it's been good. All the shows have been really good, the shows have been great, the fans have been good. Happy days!

-Compared to past tours, you've been playing bigger venues. Was that a conscious decision you made, or just how it worked out?
Kris: Yeah, I guess it was really. It feels like it's been a really good year for us, with the way the album's been received. It's been really positive. I think the live show is better than it's ever been. We bring out a good supporting cast of big names, and here we are in the bigger rooms, I guess.

-In this stage in your career, is it hard balancing your setlist, as you're still regularly putting out new material?
Kris: I think that, being in a band for the best part of 10 years and having five albums, we realise that there are certain songs that are integral for us to play. As well, it's really important as a band when you're writing the new material to actually perform and play it in your set. I think you have to get a good balance it.

-Well, last time I saw you a couple of years back, you didn't play anything from Memory & Humanity. Are you pulling some of those back into the set now?
Kris[laughing]: No.
Ryan: It's mostly about the new album, cos people have been getting into it.

-What's the reason behind avoiding stuff from that album?
Ryan: It's just not that much fun to play really, if I'm being honest. I can't be more honest than that, really.

-Fair enough! Moving on to your new EP See You All In Hell, where did the idea for that come from, as an add-on for the album?
Ryan: I think the idea from that came from us writing and doing demos for no particular reason, just that we had ideas and wanted to get them down. We wrote 'High Castles', and we enjoyed it. We decided to go in and record it, and it turned out great.

Strife were one of our favourite bands growing up, in an integral part of when we all got to together.

Just getting different interpretations of other songs from Welcome Home Armageddon on there - the vinyl actually comes free with the record. We wanted something as a bonus with the album, but you can buy it on its own as well.

-With the album itself, and the way your material's progressing with the four tracks including in Your History Is Mine a couple of years ago, is there a shift towards the sound of your earlier material?
Kris: The sound of Welcome Home Armageddon comes naturally for the band. When we've stayed away from it we've made a conscious effort to do something different. The more aggressive side of our music is what comes naturally, and what we do best.
Ryan: A lot of people said that Welcome Home Armageddon was going back to the Casually Dressed style. If you listen to those two albums next to each other, they're absolutely nothing alike.

I see where people are coming from with the energy and the vibe, I think that's definitely the same. You listen to those two albums back-to-back, and Welcome Home Armageddon's much, much heavier than any of our records.

-Do you think it's important to keep the ethos of the band, while still progressing then?
Ryan: Mm, yeah, totally. I guess that was maybe lost for a while, that ethos. Like I said, the reason we don't play much off Memory and Humanity is that they're not fun to play live. We needed to get that back really, having songs that are so enjoyable, it's hard to keep them out of the set.

-This was the first time you've worked without Darran (Smith) on an album. How was it?
Ryan: It was really interesting. We used to be a set format in the way we did things - Kris would have a riff, he'd bring that to me, and I'd shape it together and get most of the structure. Then, we'd put some bass on it and other things - a lot of the time, Darran would come in at the very end, sometimes after Matt did his vocals.

It was quite set, whereas now both Rich and Gav are bringing their ideas as we put our stamp on top of them. It's not all down to us to start the creative part of the song.