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Funeral Party are a young band from LA that make indie rock music worth dancing to. Having played and struggled through the LA scene of hardcore orientated bands, this group of young men burst on the scene after collecting enough momentum via gigs in numerous gritty backyards in their hometown of Whittier, California. Having their album produced by The Mars Volta’s Lars Stalfors, they were certainly destined to be a lot more than just a small band from a small town. Their debut album, ‘The Golden Age of Knowhere’ was released in January, despite it being 3 years old. They’re finding themselves working incredibly hard using their live shows to push their publicity that little bit further. Now hitting the press over in the USA, they’ve played both Letterman and Jimmy Fallon. The only way is up for this young and not so new band.

Mudkiss ventured to Manchester Club Academy on an overcast Wednesday afternoon (1st June 2011) to check out the band on the last night of their latest UK tour. We stopped to chat with lead singer, Chad Elliot, who invited us backstage to talk to the group prior to the gig.

JOSH: Hi Chad, how is the tour going so far? Are you enjoying it?

CHAD: It’s over! It’s been kind of crazy. It’s been a pretty wild one. We had a pretty wild one yesterday (Wolverhampton). We had a pedal stolen and a necklace stolen and crowd surfing.

JOSH: You’re certainly getting a bit bigger now. You’re broadening it out a little in the USA and playing shows like Letterman and Jimmy Fallon. How are you finding that over there? Is it hitting off?

CHAD: The TV performances really boosted up our popularity for people or knowledge for people. But, as far as getting bigger… like… LA’s a really strange market. So, you just have to be really shoved down people’s throats for them to really care. It’s just about more exposure really. We’re trying to get exposed to different kinds of audiences. Like, we were on tour with the Deftones and that was a certain fan base and now we’re going on tour with Panic At The Disco which is a completely different fan base.

JOSH: You do tend to do that. As you say, Deftones are totally different to one of the bands you toured with over here, 30 Seconds To Mars. That must broaden it to a huge market, but over a wider scale?

CHAD: Well I guess we’re just trying to appeal to everybody. I mean, being like a weirdo outsider in High School – I always connected with the outsiders of any kind of group so I don’t really see any difference in playing a show with Deftones as opposed to playing a show with 30 Seconds To Mars.

JOSH: Have you managed to play any shows over in the USA recently or at home?

CHAD: In LA, actually, we haven’t. I don’t know. We always avoid going home.

JOSH: So when you’re at home is it like going back to normal?

CHAD: Well, around town they actually acknowledge us. They put us in the paper which is kind of funny. But yeah, it’s pretty much the same. Just normal.

JOSH: That must be quite different when you come over here and now you’re getting thousands of people coming to see you?

CHAD: Yeah! It’s strange to walk the street and… like… yesterday I was walking the street and I had my headphones on. We were just walking and somebody came up to me and I didn’t even notice them because I was listening to my music so loud and they were asking for a picture. I just kept walking and they ran up and like tapped me and they were like “Oh, can we get a picture?” I was just like “Oh, shit, I’m so sorry.” But yeah, that’s really strange.

JOSH: Does that bother you?

CHAD: Oh no, not at all. I mean, I’m not being mobbed or anything. I wouldn’t like being mobbed. The attention is nice when we come over here. Sometimes it can get a little crazy and aggressive. Yesterday, people were pulling my hair. That’s something I just don’t understand. I don’t get why you would want to hurt someone that you came to see.

JOSH: So, how important are the live shows to you? Do you think that’s a big part of your music?

CHAD: They’re completely different. The record is very polished and nice and then you come and see the live show it’s completely different. It’s very raw and loud and energetic. I think it just depends on the type of person that you are whether you like the energy side of this band then I think the live shows are the way to go, but if you want to enjoy the music and not see us then, yeah.

JOSH: What are your main influences for the album?

CHAD: Well, the album’s a few years old. Our influences have changed since we’ve written it. There are a lot of bands that we were listening to at the time that we all don’t anymore. Off the top of my head, I was listening to like Portishead and Bauhaus and just stuff like that. And now I’m listening to Radio Dept. and Bibio and some other stuff.

JOSH: How often do you get time to sit down and write more material?

CHAD: You know, to be honest we get very little time to write. We’ve been touring for this album for what seems like forever. We released it in January but it was 3 years old. So, as a band we’re really itching to get back in the studio and record and write new music. The only problem is that since we’ve just released it we still have to promote it a lot. We’re pretty much, every little break that we get when we go back home, going to take advantage of it and get in the studio. We have a three week break in July. We are just planning to get with it and just get home and go into a studio.

JOSH: So you’re fully committed to the progression of the band I gather. Where do you see yourself progressing? The stuff you write now, is that a lot different to what was going on in your head three years ago?

CHAD: We’ve all grown up as a band entirely. I think for the next album we want to explore the true honesty of who we are as people as individuals and really bring that out and I think that would really help the album come across. We’ve become more comfortable with who we are as a band since when we started. I think we have more of a message to say now. That’s really cool and I hope that comes across with the next album. Me being me, in like 10 years I would like to be something completely different just because good art always changes. It would be boring if we just stayed the same. I always admire people like David Bowie who is completely different with each album.

JOSH: Lars Stalfors from The Mars Volta actually worked on the album with you. But not only that, Omar Rodriguez Lopez performs a guitar solo on the track Car Wars. What was that like to work with such established musicians?

CHAD: Yeah, it’s sort of like a glamorised bubble, but we knew the guy, his name is Lars Stalfors first. We knew him from when he used to play in a band in the back yard as we did so we were playing a show with a bunch of other bands and he approached us afterwards said “I’m interning at this studio. I really want to record you guys. Would you guys be down, I can do it for really cheap?” So we recorded some demos with him and then when we decided to do the album we just thought, why not get Lars again. So by that time he was working with The Mars Volta, and then he suggested getting Omar to play on the album.

JOSH: I find that amazing because that’s totally different from his style of music. Your music is quite a poppy sound and it’s so different from The Mars Volta.

CHAD: I don’t think Omar… Well, I’ve only met him really once… but I don’t think he would be that prejudiced against doing different styles of music. He’s just a really pure guitarist.

JOSH: Who writes the lyrics for the album then? What sort of themes do you write about?

CHAD: It’s changed a lot lately. Some things would just come to me, but when you’re in the van travelling a lot, you have a lot of time to think. I’ll be sitting there thinking about issues that I’ve had and then suddenly a solution will come up and I’ll write a story about it or whatever. Sometimes the music will just fit whatever idea comes to mind. So they’ll play the instrumental part of something for a while and I’ll just keep listening to it over and over again and see what just flows in. Melodies always come first to me before lyrics.

Interview by Josh Nicol 01/06/11
Photo by Charlie Raven -