FUNERAL – To Mourn…
Anders Eek is the founder, composer and drummer in the Norwegian doom metal band FUNERAL, and on the occasion of that the Russian label Solitude Productions these days is releasing "Two Mourne is a Virtue", our writer on the other side of the Earth, Ole-Kristian Solberg, sent over some questions to Anders. Here you get both information about the re-release of this demo, the upcoming fullength from Funeral and the promise of more music from Anders other band FALLEN.
Most metal fans has one band, one song even, they attribute for drawing them into metal, would you say that’s the case for you and if yes, would you care to elaborate on what band/song?
Well, I really can’t mention one particular song, more particular bands. And that are bands I grew up with, like KISS, Accept, The Beatles, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Ozzy etc. I was a huge Kiss- fan already as a 5-year old. Then I got into more and more heavy bands, really, and eventually was drawn into reeeally heavy bands like Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Cathedral , Bathory and so on. but I definitely can say I had a goal at the age of 5 or 6 to start playing guitars, later I was dead-certain I would do this until I could sign a record deal.
"To Mourn Is a Virtue" contains some tracks from the 1997 demo by the same name as well as some previously unreleased tracks. Why did it take so long for this album to get released as a full length effort?
Well, to put things straight, "To mourn is a virtue" was a DEMO. Originally recorded (instrumentally) in 1996 and released in 1997 with vocals, only for record labels. We thought it would be cool to release the tracks on that demo with other vocalists and orchestration, and that a lot of our fans would enjoy the new release. That is the purpose of this album.
To follow up on the previous question, do you have any more releases planned in the future?
YES! The American label The Crypt are releasing all our earlier albums and demos (1993-1999, plus a live concert from 1995) as 4 different gatefold 2LPs, strictly limited to 500 copies each, all remastered with liner-notes from Terrorizer journalist Olivier Badin. The LPs will also be pressed in different colours. It also contains unreleased pictures etc..
This autumn also sees the release of a brand new album through a new label. We have about 90 minutes of music recorded. It will also be released as a limited edition digipack with both bonus-tracks and live recordings with the latest line-up.
Listening to "To Mourn is a Virtue" it’s quite heavy, with classical drawn out doom metal sections mixed together with lyrics dwelling on matters relating to death and despair. How would you describe this album and how does it compare to the other works in the Funeral discography?
It’s definitely a natural progression from our earlier days and we consider the songs to be "the missing link" between "Tragedies" and "In Fields of Pestilent Grief".
The fun part for us was to somehow "rework" the songs with new vocals, lyrics and new orchestration recorded between 2004 and 2010. It’s also cool to release especially 4 of the tracks with our sound-guy (Øystein R) from IFOPG singing as this was just done for fun in the studio back then. I really think he did a wonderful job and it’s nice to have the opportunity to share this with our fans.
I have received tons of mails from fans requesting these songs, so this is really a treat for them.
Whenever you listen to a band their inspirations always reflect their music to a certain extent, what bands/artists would you say were your major inspirations?
Again I definitely want to mention Metallica, Dead can Dance, Candlemass , Autopsy, Tony Iommi and various classical composers to name but a few as well as still being a huge fan of old thrash and death metal bands from the 80`s and early 90`s.
For anyone looking up Funeral online they will discover that you are referred to as a pioneer (and by some the creators) in the funeral doom genre, how have you dealt with this label and would you say it has put pressure on the musical efforts of the band?
Well, people tend to call us anything from gothic metal to death metal. I really don’t care. For me it’s just doom-metal, plain and simple.
I must say though, that it’s an honour to be called pioneers. Don’t know if I agree, though. Personally I really don’t give a rats ass about genres, I just want the music and band to give me something and channel out different emotions.
We have always written what we think is good music and music that’s hard to find, so I must say we always write music for ourselves. It’s of course a bonus if other people like it AND buy our albums as well..
Whenever you listen to certain musical genres there are emotional states which usually follow, what emotional state did you set out to implement on the listener, and what messages are you trying to convey with your music/lyrics?
On our upcoming new album all lyrics are from the heritage of my deceased friend and ex-band member Einar Fredriksen. This album is really his album in a way. We tried to make music to express his poetry and it is sometimes very bleak, but still has hope in it I believe. I definitely wanted the music to be beautiful, angry and powerful; reflecting the emotions of a real funeral.
Some cities almost work as synonyms for certain musical genres (Florida – Death Metal, San Francisco Bay Area – Thrash metal, etc), how was the metal environment in Drammen (and the surrounding area) when Funeral first started out?
Shit! It had some bands, but it was only non-metal bands. But I think that inspired us even more, actually. We were really outsiders and have stayed that way ever since I think. Never compromising, never listening to shit people say. The fact that we were not a part of any scene, also gave us the feeling of doing something innovative, and it inspired us even more, I believe.
Continuing on the previous question, would you say Drammen, the surrounding area and the Norwegian metal scene in general is a better, more evolved breeding ground for bands then when you started out?
Nowadays it’s a lot easier starting a band. In reality you only need a computer, really..but the little I have heard of new acts is not very original nor do they offer music that’s original or standing out. So I always tend to listen to older bands and albums.
In these times of TV shows like "Talents" or whatever, it seems like everyone wants to play in a band, sign a deal and become rock stars. It’s so stupid!
It seems like there is a genuine lack of talent around in my view.
There have been a lot of line-up changes (occurring for various reasons) since the first Funeral release, how have you dealt with all the changes and how would you compare your current line-up to those in the past?
Well, it’s a matter of not quitting and the urge to play the music you want, regardless of who is in the band, really. Our current line-up is by far the most professional line-up in funeral history, but I definitely miss the comradeship of the early days, when we as a band hung out all the time and living close to each other. Now the band is more like a professional band, instead of a band of brothers, not saying that we all go very well together..I guess age also plays its role here. I am actually called father by the other guys! hahaha
Funeral has been a band since the 1990’s, in that time a lot of events has shaped the history of mankind (for example September 11th 2001). The musical world seems to have embraced an even more mainstream approach then before, how have you and the rest of Funeral dealt with all the influential events and musical changes? Would you say your music has been impacted by any events in particular?
No, I can’t say it has. A part from us evolving as human beings and musicians, one can also hear on the last albums that the music is more inspired by classical music I think, as we tend to utilize more and more orchestration. The upcoming album is absolutely the most pompous and bombastic recording to date, but it really fits the music and gives the songs even more details and melodrama in my view.
Are there plans for Funeral to go on a major national/international tour in the future, and in a strictly hypothetical scenario if you were to choose any three bands to play alongside Funeral for a one-off concert, which three would it be and why?
I hope we are in a position to tour some more after the next album, but it’s as always a budget-issue. It seems like we never have had many fans in Norway, so I don’t think you will see us tour the motherland, but touring Europe (we have done some mini-tours, though) and the US would be a blast. I get constant requests from abroad.
Hypothetical bands to share a scene with must be Dead Can Dance, Black Sabbath and Candlemass, as these are huge influences for me and has been for years, as well as it would be a perfect opportunity to hook up with my all time idol and real creator of heavy, doomy metal, Tony Iommi!
In the mainstream musical wasteland, touring has become more and more a contest of who can spend the most money on stage shows, what can a spectator expect from a Funeral concert?
I am not into hiding bad music behind silly costumes and shit. We present our music and backed up with a good PA and some good lighting we do what we do best, playing our brand of doom-metal and hopefully gaining some new fans that are stupid enough to spend money on the ticket. Of course IF we are able to invocate the feeling of being at a funeral, I am very satisfied indeed.
One thing which seems to fascinated a lot of people is cover songs and the elaborate discussion on which version is better, would you ever considered doing a cover song, if yes, which song and why?
Oh, we have already done several cover songs. They probably will be released together with our upcoming album, or a 7" or something. I don’t wanna give out too much information as of yet, but let’s say they are songs both from favourite bands and cover songs that would make your jaw drop…one song in particular is originally written by a Norwegian musician who still makes a living out of his music and has nothing to do with metal at all…..
Another thing which seems to get people quite worked up is the true meaning of lyrics for a song, if you had to pick one of your songs with the most room for discussion on the true meaning of the lyrics, which song would it be?
I am sorry for not being able to answer this one, as there are so many songs. I am unable to pick just one song, I`m afraid.
As a closing segment, is there anything you want to add or think the reader should know about you or Funeral?
Again I want to take the opportunity to thank both our loyal fans and the underground press for supporting us over the years.
I also want to add that we have been very busy writing new material the last years, so watch out for another new album, fortunately next year (the songs are already demo-recorded), and not keep the fans waiting for still another 3 years. Let’s also hope this line-up works out (as it does I have to underline!), so the band are less bothered with line-up changes and delays in album-releases etc etc. I must say I am extremely both proud and satisfied of the current line-up.
As for those of you who are craving for more FALLEN material, do not fear. I am working on both a new album and a new record deal…more news to come on www.funeralband.no
We also have some Funeral merch left for sale, for those of you who don’t know how to use your money properly.