Shari Black Velvet: You're releasing 'Your History Is Mine: 2002-2009' at the end of September. It actually seems like you've been around a lot longer (I mean that in a good way!). What are some of the best early memories from the beginning of Funeral For A Friend?
Matt Davies: Some of the earliest memories of the band that stand out for me is when we first went into Mighty Atom to record what would later become ‘Between Order And Model’ and leaving with a record deal. It was a surreal experience and it was my first time in a proper recording studio and not someone’s bedroom studio. I felt quite accomplished even then, none of us had any notion of what was to come later on. Our first UK tour with Fony will always be looked back on with fond memories, it was hard and we hadn't a clue how to organise ourselves for a four week tour and we learnt a lot for Fony and their Tour Manager. We would never have even contemplated staying in a Travelodge if it wasn't for their advice. Mind you, sleeping in a tin shed in Aberdeen in the middle of winter definitely made us wake up quite quickly. We made our merch guy sleep by the door to keep the draft out! Haha.
SBV: As the years have gone by, do you think Funeral For A Friend has grown and developed as you would've expected or have you done things and have things happened that back in 2002 you would never have imagined doing?
MD: To tell you the truth we had no expectation. I don't think we had a 'career plan' of sorts we just wanted to play shows and make records. We never even dreamt that we would get the opportunity to play some of the most prestigious festivals across the world, tour with Iron Maiden, tour Mainland Europe, tour across America, play Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Mexico etc etc. Every year has brought constant surprises for us in where the band has gone and what we've been fortunate enough to experience.
SBV: What different emotions come to you when you sit and listen to 'Your History Is Mine: 2002-2009'?
MD: To be honest, I try not to listen to our stuff very often. Not to say that I'm not proud of our music but after we're done with one bunch of songs I try to think ahead rather than backwards. I think it is a good collection of what we do and what we're very good at. I'd be more interested to know what our audience think about the tracks we've chosen and what those songs mean to them.
SBV: In a discussion on the FFAF message board, one fan (Gavin) wrote that 'If you were trying to get into FFAF, listening to all four albums in a row could be quite disconcerting' - I guess due to the variety of material on each album. Do you therefore think that 'Your History Is Mine: 2002-2009' is the perfect album for a potential new fan to obtain a good connection with? What does it have, besides obviously the 'hits', that individual past releases may not have?
MD: I think it could well be our most accessible record to a certain degree. It's definitely broad in its sound and songwriting yet it still contains a thread of who we are as a band that’s a little more refined than the individual records. All of our records are quite dense in terms of themes etc so it's nice to be able to single songs out that have made such an impact on our audience and ourselves over the years that work
SBV: If you had to release a compilation album with 10 tracks from your back catalogue that WEREN'T hits/singles, which 10 tracks would you choose?
MD: Hmmm, tough one. Maybe ‘The Art Of American Football’, ‘Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings’, ‘Moments Forever Faded’, ‘Hospitality’, ‘All the Rage’, ‘Sonny’, ‘Sweetest Wave’, ‘Raise The Sail’, ‘Maybe I Am’ and ‘Ghosts’.
SBV: Last album 'Memory And Humanity' included social commentary such as 'Rules And Games' being about the Bridgend suicides'. Would you say as you've gotten older you've become more aware of the happenings in the world around you and by 'growing up' as a person, you've been able to include more varied and deep and intelligent lyrics in your songs?
Definitely, it's been something that's been growing in me since we did our first EP. I've definitely developed more of a social awareness due to our exposure to different cultures and ways of life, it's affected my writing for sure.
SBV: Can you tell me anything about the four new tracks that are on the release - 'No Honour Among Thieves', 'Built To Last', 'Wrench' and 'Captains Of Industry'? Any interesting song meanings in them that we should know about or may be inspiring?
MD: These are the first four songs that have been written with Gavin in the band, in fact ‘Built To Last’ is one of his contributions. They're very angry and uplifting songs that have a great deal of relevance to the problems that our society faces today. I don't want to come across as preachy but I've never shied away with being confrontational with my themes since the ‘Hours’ record. I've pretty much dried out all my personal issues on the first two records and I've become a lot more politically aware over the last few years so it's started to make an impact in my lyrics too.
SBV: Ryan has said that 'Your History Is Mine: 2002-2009' represents a new era for the band in many ways. Do you think the next album or future Funeral For A Friend music may surprise fans? Will the new era mean a new sound?
MD: Who knows, we're always looking forward so who knows what’s to come. Maybe an Opera? Who knows! The future is wide open.
SBV: In the last couple of years you've become vegetarian. Do you remember the exact date - or approximate date - and what was it that actually prompted you into doing so? You said in the past that it took a while to make the emotional connection to the way you feel about the treatment of animals in your own life. What helped give you that connection?
MD: Hmm, it was January 2008 that I decided to become a vegetarian. Not sure about the approximate date, but it wasn't long after the start of the new year. I've always been an animal lover ever since I was smaller, I used to help a family friend rescue wild farm cat kittens so that they could be rehomed and looked after properly. It's hard for me to pinpoint the exact thing that triggered that connection but I remember
it being quite a powerful feeling. I have four cats at home and watching them everyday makes me continuously realize that animals feel pain, they can suffer and it's wrong to decide their fate for them.
SBV: Is anyone else in Funeral For A Friend vegetarian? Do you have many other friends who are vegetarian (or vegan)? And do you know if you've inspired any of your fans to try vegetarianism?
MD: No one in the band is a full fledged vegetarian other than myself, both Kris and Ryan eat fish but no other meat products. Quite a few of my friends and family are vegetarian or vegan, it's a great way to love your life.
SBV: When you see others eating meat, what do you think now? Are you ever tempted to eat any?
MD: I'm not tempted to be directly preachy about animal rights, I believe in what I and I will happily talk about it to those who want to ask me about it. I am not tempted to eat meat at all, I'm quite turned off by it these days.
SBV: How do you feel as a person now you're vegetarian? For example, do you feel healthier? Do you feel warm inside knowing you've saved some animals lives? Does it make you feel a better person?
MD: Haha, I probably feel all three of thos. I definitely feel healthier for the change but the struggle to save the lives of animals that get slaughtered for our dietary decisions still needs to be fought. In a way, just because I've stopped eating meat doesn't really mean that any fewer animals get killed as somebody else will come along and eat what I used to if you know what I mean. Things need to change drastically and quickly in order to make a huge difference. I'm really glad that there are people out there that rescue and help animals that have been mistreated and abused by the food industry.
SBV: Has being vegetarian changed your music or lyrics in any way - or might it in the future? For example, John Feldmann of Goldfinger has written songs about animal rights since becoming vegan, Rise Against who are all vegetarians have used animal cruelty footage in a video ('Ready To Fall'). Do you think you might ever be inspired to incorporate an anti-animal cruelty message in a song or video at some point?
MD: To be honest, I think if we were to do something like that then all of the band would need to stand behind those ideals. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I'm the only vegetarian in the band.
SBV: In February you told the Independent that Café Kopfeck in Munich was 'the best punk rock vegan and veggie restaurant in the world ever!' Do you go to many vegan/veggie restaurants while you're on tour and have you discovered any other good ones that readers need to know about? Also, do you find it easy to find veggie restaurants on tour?
MD: Not many speciality restaurants but quite a few cater for vegetarians these days that it's becoming easier to eat more than just pizza when on tour. Cafe Kopfeck was recommended to me by my wife and some close friends and when I tried it out it blew me away. It has a great atmosphere and is a very indie and alternative choice for some great vegan and vegetarian food. I also found a great chinese place in New York when we were there last that made some great veggie dishes, can't remember the name but it was great.
SBV: What veggie/vegan food do you most eat while you're on tour?
Hmmm, it depends on the country to be honest. I love hummus and pretty much tuck into that with some nice bread, it's a must food item on our rider. I like traditionally made pizza, especially in Italy or in the South of Germany. But my all time favourite would be just simple sunday
lunch veg with onion gravy, delicious!
SBV: What are your fave animal rights organisations and charities and are there any local sanctuaries or shelters you'd like to give a little plug to?
MD: I really like what PETA are doing with bringing animal rights to the public consciousness. Their involvement with the punk rock and hardcore scenes is quite strong and they have a lot of supporters. I also want to throw a shout out to Cat's Protection and the Dog's Trust for their commitment to finding homes for abandoned and abused cats and dogs, I really encourage anyone reading this that has an interest in animal rights and the protection and care of domestic pets to support their local shelters, it really is worthwhile.
Visit www.ffaf.co.uk for more on Funeral For A Friend and check out the organisations Matt supports – www.peta2.com, www.cats.org.uk and www.dogstrust.org.uk.