While preparing a new album to be released later this year, Funeral Suits have gifted their fans with “Tree of Life,” a single exploring the seven deadly sins within the context of global financial issues.
ATYPICAL SOUNDS shared some nice email correspondence with singer and guitarist Brian James on the new video, Funeral Suits’ connections to Britpop, and Irish bands you should be checking out.
Have any of you ever worked in an office? Were your experiences as bad as the “Tree of Life” video would imply?
We have all worked jobs that we hated. Who hasn’t? You do what you must to get where you are going. Kurt Cobain was a janitor before Nirvana took off. Mik was working in an office when I met him, and I can neither confirm nor deny that he was definitely found asleep in different places at work many times. You should bring a pillow to work and curl up under your desk with a good book.
Funeral Suits have been a band for eight years. Do you have any advice for bands who are new to the music industry? Was there anything you were surprised by when first starting out?
When we started out we didn’t overthink things. We made music because it felt right. We played shows because it was an unbeatable rush. For musicians starting out I would say, persevere. Through everything. Being in the creative world can get rough but believe in yourself and the work will pay off in the end. And if it doesn’t work out you can always get a job in an office.
You’ve worked with Stephen Street, who is well known for producing four albums for Blur. Did you specifically choose him to work with? Do you feel a connection to Britpop?
After a couple of years of writing and touring we realized we had a lot of songs. Up to that point it never really occurred to us to make a record, we were just taking things day by day. We made a list of producers and Stephen was on top. We sent a few emails, he rang me for a chat, a few weeks later I picked him up from the airport and we drove straight to the studio and started work. I wouldn’t say we have a special connection to Britpop. We were massive fans of Blur and lots of bands that Stephen produced, but we have such a massive range of musical influence that saying we felt a connection to one specific genre feels wrong. If the question is “Blur or Oasis?” There’s only one winner.
You spent last summer working on music in Berlin. Why Berlin? What kind of fun things did you find there while not working?
After a few years touring our first record we took a break to write a second. Our label introduced us to an amazing producer by the name of Jochen Schmalbach. His studio is in Berlin so we packed our bags and drove over to Germany. It was an amazing experience. Recording an album can be tough. You get pushed to the limit. It’s a test of your resolve. If I’m honest, we didn’t do a whole lot of exploring. Sundays were our day off and we would usually just sit in the park with a few beers and soak up the vibes, talk about what was happening in the studio and how the record was coming together. Very chill.
You also spent a lot of time working in London. Is there a big difference in opportunities for Funeral Suits in London versus your hometown of Dublin?
We left Dublin in 2012 and moved to the UK. Mik lived by the seaside in Brighton and the rest of us lived in London. Obviously London is a massive city so naturally there is going to be a lot more music happening there. That doesn’t mean there’s more quality though. In fact I would say it’s the complete opposite. You can definitely get lost in the haze of a big city. Greg and Dara still live in London, Mik lives in Stockholm and I just moved to Ibiza.
What are your favorite places in Dublin to see live music?
We cut our teeth in Whelans. When we started out we used to play midnight shows there and they were some of the best nights we had on stage. Over the last five years the quality of venues in Dublin has really improved. The Workmans, The Grand Social, Button Factory, these are venues that I would definitely recommend.
Are there any bands local to Dublin you feel deserve more attention?
There’s a lot of really great music in Dublin right now. Bands like Overhead the Albatross, Beach, New Valley Wolves, Otherkin, Wounds, Le Galaxie, Mmoths. They are all so different but they are doing great things and definitely going places.
It seems like many Irish people feel a connection to the TV show Father Ted. Is that true? Do you have a favorite episode?
Yes I would definitely say people from Ireland have great love for that show. Ireland was/is a deeply religious country. For centuries the church was the law. If you weren’t seen at mass you were either dead or hiding. So for a sitcom to play on Irish culture and the church in one fell swoop was really amazing, and probably badly needed. I can’t say I dislike any of the episodes, one that sticks out in my memory is where Ted and Dougal go to war with Pat Mustard, the gigolo milkman. I’m laughing even thinking about it.
Why is it that you have a Spanish-language Wikipedia page but not an English one?
I really have no idea! We seem to have a lot of Spanish speaking fans, so I guess one of them decided to write something. I don’t speak Spanish, it could say anything.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2016?
We are releasing this record after the summer, so we are pretty busy with that right now. It’s getting all of our attention. We are putting together a new live show too which is really cool. I guess we are just looking forward to that more than anything. We are always writing new stuff and looking at our next move.