By Brooke Magalis
The Irish band, Funeral Suits (link), consists of the following: Brian James, Mik McKeogh, Greg McCarthy, and Dar Grant. The band released a smattering of EPs and singles between 2009 and 2012. All of this culminated in 2012 with the release of their first LP, Lily of the Valley. This isn’t just any record; this record is a freshman attempt produced by Stephen Street. Funeral Suits is now on Street’s list of bands worked with that consists of Blur, The Smiths, Morrissey, and so many more – an incredible nod to the Irish outfit.
Funeral Suits’ music can’t really decide whether it wants to be alt rock, pop, or electronica. The ambivalence in each song keeps the listener engaged, intrigued, and waiting for what’s next. No track is the same. In a shuffle, the music can move from a driving four-on-the-floor beat with distortion, to melodic synthesizers, to a solo acoustic guitar. At times, a single Funeral Suits song can contain every one of these elements. While creating complex genre-melding music, the Funeral Suits still manages to keep from making their music sound cluttered – each song has atmosphere and space to breathe.
Funeral Suits are fresh off of tour and brimming with new songs. They told me that they have just about finished the demo phase of their new record. The band will be in the studio recording their new record soon. Fans can look forward to a sophomore attempt that sounds like Funeral Suits, but with more knowledge and a better grasp on the writing process.
First of all, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it. Secondly: Hi, I’m Brooke Magalis. It’s very nice to meet you. I think your music is great, so I’m stoked to have the opportunity to talk a little bit with you. Let’s get started, yes?
Funeral Suits: Yes.
I’ve heard you all are working on a new record. Where are you all in the process? Are we to expect anything like Lily of the Valley, or a deviation?
Funeral Suits: We’re about a week or so away from finishing writing demos. We’re all excited at the moment. It’s taken us a lot of work to get here, but we needed to go through that to be happy. It’s a progression, but when people hear it, they will know it’s us. Our writing methods have expanded a lot, and that’s part of the reason we’ve taken our time… We’ve tried to learn more about processes so we can express ourselves better.
What process do you all go through to create a song? Is it the same every time?
Funeral Suits: No, it’s different with every song. On Lily, we wrote everything through jamming together. Since then, we’ve started to get more into sound manipulation. We all have basic studio setups at home, and we’ve done a lot more work there while spending time jamming as well. We’re really quite a democratic band, and we all have our own methods of writing that crash together in different ways every time.
That name. Funeral Suits – it really resounds. Where did it come from?
Funeral Suits: Well, we all really like Arcade Fire’s first album, Funeral. It’s amazing, and the suits part comes from having mind-numbing office jobs where you have to wear a suit. We don’t have anything against office jobs. It’s more a nod to some close-minded environments and escaping them.
You guys recorded with the producer, Stephen Street, who’s done some serious work in the industry (most notably with The Smiths and Blur). What was that collaboration like?
Funeral Suits: I was really great. He is a very down-to-earth guy, whose main focus is to get the best out of the people he works with. It gave us a lot of confidence that a guy like Stephen would like to work with us, and, to be honest, I think he helped us a lot. We had recorded some songs with him, and he suggested finishing a record.
I’m intrigued by what perspectives are held by different musicians on the piracy issue. Some artists just say, “fuck it,” and give away their music for free (i.e., Amanda Palmer) and some artists pull their music from streaming sites (we’re looking at you, T. Swift.). It appears as though Palmer is experiencing far more success. What do you guys think about this? Piracy can be absolutely crippling to an artist. How do you counteract it?
Funeral Suits: It’s hard to say. We weren’t a band before piracy existed. We bought records growing up and continue to do that. I think people in any job deserve to be paid a fair price for their work. So many things have changed in the music industry since piracy became prevalent, and I wonder if they all are due to piracy and the industry’s reaction to it. It’s complicated… piracy has means that more people can potentially hear your work, which has its benefits, but it also means that some people, who might have paid for a CD/download in the past, won’t. Many of my favourite bands probably would never have made it off the ground if piracy had existed when they were young.