“Drummer Ryan Richards and bassist turned guitarist, Gavin Burrough, talk about their plans for Sonisphere, the new album and why guitarist Darran Smith is living the band.
What kind of set have you got in store for Knebworth?
Ryan Richards: Sonisphere will be the very last show with Darran our guitarist so it will be celebrating the best of his time in the band. I guess mostly the first couple of albums and the favourites from the other albums thus far.
No new material then?
Gavin Burrough: There won’t be and the reason being is Darran hasn’t been a part of the new material, so we can’t really play it because he doesn’t know it. Probably hasn’t heard most of it [laughs]. At the moment we are doing an EP [The Young And Defenceless] which is linked to a pledge campaign. It’s four tracks which are going onto Pledge . Two tracks which are going to be on the forthcoming album out next year, then two exclusive tracks.
RR: We have steamed on pretty far ahead and got enough for about three or four EPs at the moment. We are going to start recording the new album properly in September, ready for February or March next year.
How different is the new album sound-wise?
GB: Pretty different. It’s heavier than probably anything we have ever done before a lot of it.
RR: People have been asking is it going to be as heavy as your early stuff. It’s far heavier. We haven’t changed into a different band. We haven’t lost our identity. We are still doing the things that make us Funeral for a Friend. We are just trying to take them a little bit further. When we did ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’ we pushed the melodic side of the band as far as they could go. With this record we’re taking it to the other extreme and exploring the more technical heavy metal elements of the band, whilst retaining the melody of what we do and the memorable parts of our songs.
Why exactly is Darran leaving the band?
RR: The best way to put it is he probably felt that natural time when something has run its course. A lot of bands when someone leaves they spin it in such a way as ‘oh yeah musical differences’ when people have actually fallen out. When quite obviously we are all on great terms, we are all still mates and totally amicable. The genuine answer to that – not sugar coated or any sort of bullshit to it – is he just wants to do something else with his life at the moment. He has joined another band now and he’s going to be doing some music.
GB: It’s Accident Music. He wants to get into managing and promoting shows and things like that. There’s always been a bit of an age gap between Darran and the rest of the band. It really isn’t an issue to us, but I suppose to him you know he’s getting older. We love him.
RR: Yeah, we are giving him a good send-off with Sonisphere. What can be better than that? Speaking for Darran I think he would honestly say there would be no other band he would want to finish his career with Funeral off with than Iron Maiden. He’s the biggest Iron Maiden fan. I know it particularly touched him when we toured with Iron Maiden back in 2003 after our first album. The generosity they extended and the way they welcomed us on their tour and made us feel a part of it that was something that he always talks about and will never forget. I think it will mean a lot to him to do his last show with a band that he respects so highly.
Any surprises in store for the last-ever show?
GB: We’re going to try and make it special because it’s his last show, but we haven’t really planned anything as such, like what set we were going to play. We’re umming and aahhing about what we want to do. I think we are just going to ask Darran what he wants and if he wants particular people to come up and play. Charlie from Fightstar could come up and do a song with us, and make it not just about Funeral For A Friend, but more about his whole experience with the band and all the people he’s met as well. Gallows are there and there’re a lot of bands we know really well.
Are you going to ask for an especially big rider with it being a special show?
RR: You know, we probably will. Our management are going to be there all weekend and I think they’ll probably be taking care of the refreshments.
Maiden aside, who else are you looking forward to seeing play Sonisphere?
RR: On the subject of Maiden I have been enjoying the Rise to Remain EP. It’s really cool what they are doing. Taking the Americans on at there own game and in my opinion doing it better. It’s good to see Bruce’s son doing something very different to Maiden and very modern. Not just trying to be Bruce number two. He has his own vocal style.
There are some cool bands on our stage over the weekend. It would be good to see Gallows and Fightstar before they go on hiatus. Converge is playing on there too. We are following Henry Rollins. He’s doing spoken word, which will be really cool to watch. I find him a really entertaining speaker, so I’ll go along to watch that. That will be something different. But there are so many good bands at Sonisphere, as a fan I’m looking forward to going and checking out bands on that day.
GB: It’s great the way they stagger it the bill so you have got that chance if you want to watch every single band.
What’s your favourite festival moment as a punter?
GB: As a punter probably singing ‘Boy Sets Fire’ drunk in a field with him when we were about 18,19 around the tent.
RR: Yeah. Me and Gav used to go up to Reading. We had one year where it was myself, Gaz and Moose and Pag from Bullet For My Valentine all sleeping around the floor outside their car and we were saying, ‘One day we are going to play the main stage at Reading’. I remember going around being hammered the whole weekend and telling people this and people just absolutely ripping the piss out of us and calling us wankers. Well, yes, we were those wankers with the ridiculous notions of playing the main stage at Reading. But luckily we can say it did materialise.”