LA's Funeral Party are the offspring of a long line of post-hardcore upstarts with hell-bent party chaos at their core. We sent Chris Swindells to grab some face-time with them.
The offices of Sony headquarters are a brightly lit, whitewash magnolia representation of past record-label glories and industry excesses. Sure, there are guitars in the corner and some comfy Ikea sofas, but it’s not the type of environment you’d expect to find self-proclaimed ‘street-kids’ Funeral Party. It’s too straight-edged. The punk-party four-piece would look more at home in a bar pumping bourbon and obscure New York hardcore from a jukebox of vinyl leftovers. No wonder the group seem so indifferent when VF meets them.
It could be that or the fact that they’ve waited so long and endured a lifetime of false starts to get to this point. Their debut album has been some time in the making. Recorded in the December of 2008, the band are still left frustrated by the period of bureaucracy and backroom “bullshit” that left them at this point. “At the time when we started we were on Fearless and then some shit happened and we shifted and signed to Sony,” says lead-singer Chad Elliot. For a man of few words, he explains his relief when asked how much it means to get their first full length released. It seems enough to choke up one word: “Finally!”
Funeral Party are four-piece with a penchant for tipping the audacity scales of rock in the favour of the inharmonious tune and a feral image. Sound familiar? Their sound worships at the shrine of At The Drive-In and tips its hat in tribute to the New York disco punksters The Rapture.
A burning bunch of flowers cover the front of their debut LP ‘Age of Nowhere’. Seemingly a post-modern statement on the distrust and ambivalence that society has replaced for good-old fashioned love. Not that they’d ever explain the motive, Funeral Party work on a ‘don’t say, won’t say’ policy that fits just fine with their too-cool-for-school attitude strewn across their denim-jacket adorned backs.
Five years since they began to “jam”, since first meeting at school, it’s only been three years of hard slog under the moniker Funeral Party to reach the peak from where they can finally see their debut album hit record shops.
Taking their name from a song by The Cure, it’s a tune that doesn’t at first listen feel any link with the sort of fun Funeral Party make in their poppier moments. “We were trying to come up with a name and when I heard that title for it a light bulb just came on in my head,” Chad explains. “It just kind of stuck. I mean it holds it’s purpose, people remember it.”
It’s the intensity and directness of Funeral Party’s live performances that has translated and connected with so many people and now become their calling card. Bassist Kimo Kauhola may break his silence to jest “this year’s our world tour” but all four full time band members seem genuinely pleased to be back in their favoured club venues on a nationwide merry through February.
The end of last year they left creature comforts at home to tour arenas with 30 Seconds To Mars and it was a harder shift than some had expected. “Why they put us on that bill I have no idea,” says Chad. Guitarist James Torres willingly adds: “It was a first for us. Something to get used to, it definitely takes a little while. You don’t get the connection with the crowd like you do in a club; you feel that energy in a club. I suppose because they didn’t know our music really that’s why it wasn’t as much fun as I would have liked it to be.”
While adjusting to the five thousand seaters might be some stretch, the band are more excited to get the summer season of festivals underway. They self-confirm appearances at Reading and Leeds festivals and really hanker for a Glastonbury slot. As James simply says: “Festivals are fucking awesome.” The others can only nod in agreement.
Stopping over in Fuji is one show that Funeral Party have circled in the diary since an ‘incredible’ showing back in 2009. “The Japanese are just an amazing people,” Chad says to James’ agreement, “So efficient.”
A slot on the Festival Republic stage at Reading and Leeds in 2010 was another dream come true for the Californian band. As James quips: "They were a crazy, good experiences for us. Only hearing about those in the States and actually playing them was just like 'woo we're actually here now.'”
The band’s anxieties were pushed months earlier before playing Donington metal-fest Download. “Why we were there, god only knows,” Chad recounts. “When we realised what we were getting into we were, or at least I was like, ‘Fuck, am I going to get a bottle thrown at me?’ Because you have a bunch of metal fans and we’re not metal but they liked it, they really liked it and I crowd surfed so it was pretty awesome.” James pulls from his head one more fond memory of the weekend: “We got to see AC/DC come out of their coffins which was pretty ridiculous.”
If being busy right now isn’t taking all their constrained effort then when asked about where they’d like to be in a year’s time James is more forthcoming: “Releasing a second album, still touring around and doing this thing. Not being home for a long time, smelling like grime dogs, just looking like shit.”
Funeral Party are part of Virtual Festivals’ Ones To Watch in 2011.
The band play The Cluny in Newcastle tonight (3 February) before touring around the UK.
Click here to buy Funeral Party tickets.