The contrasting nature of Funeral Party doesn’t end with the band’s name. This is a group that can have you defiantly pumping your fist in the air one minute and dancing your little booty off the next, which is why they’re able to act as lead-ins to both the legendary metal of Deftones and the pop rock of Panic at the Disco on two upcoming 2011 tours. The trio’s unclassifiable sound will finally have a proper showcase when their debut album, The Golden Age of Knowhere, drops tomorrow, but what I’m really looking forward to is experiencing the live show that has been winning fans over for the past few years when the group plays the Echo on April 8th. Wonder if I should wear my ass-kicking boots or my dancing shoes? Thank goodness I have a couple of weeks of listening to the album to help me decide.
LA Music Blog recently had a chance to talk with Funeral Party frontman Chad Elliott about recording the new album, experiencing SXSW for the second time, and making his parents proud.
Your debut album, The Golden Age of Knowhere, comes out on Tuesday. Do you guys have anything special planned for the release date?
We’re actually going to be going to New York, so I think I’ll be in the airport when it comes out. We’ll probably save the partying for when we get back. We’re going to do an LA show at the Echo on April 8th, which should be pretty fun, and we’ve already invited every one of our friends to come.
The album was produced by Lars Stalfors, who’s worked with Mars Volta and Matt and Kim. How did you become involved with him and can you describe what it was like to work with him in the studio?
It kind of deflates the whole glamorized part of it, but Lars is a guy we met in the backyard. He used to be in a band—I’m telling all his secrets now—and we played a show with him. After the show, he came up to me and said, “Hey, I’d never heard of you guys before. Where are you from?” He asked us all these questions, and then he told us he was interning at a studio. He said, “If you would be down, I could record a demo for you. Total low-budget kind of thing.” So we did a demo with him, and that is where the relationship started.
After the demo, we didn’t really talk to him for about three years, and then he sent us a message on MySpace saying, “Hey, what’s up? Long time, no see.” By that time he was working with Mars Volta, so it was really great to see he had found success at what he was doing. When it came time to record our album, we thought, “Why not do it with somebody who’s familiar to us?” It made the process really comfortable.
What do you feel he brought to the album?
Even when we recorded the demos a long time ago, what Lars gave to us after we recorded was completely different than what any of us thought the songs could sound like. It was like he had a Funeral Party manual in his head already. He’s a good listener. Sometimes I can go on tangents about, “Oh I want to capture on this guitar that second when you wake up in the morning and your eyes are still blurry.” [LAUGHS] He would just look at me like, “Okay.” It was a cool experience, and I think he brought his own style and ideas to the album.
What was the band’s process for writing this album? How long did it take to complete the songs and what is your songwriting process?
When we wrote the album, we were between management and labels. Our management came to us and let us know, “Hey, this is happening, but it’s not negative. There’s some positivity at the end, but we need to cram for two months and have an album ready in case someone wants to take you into the studio. We need to already have the songs done.” We had two months to write them, so it was like Funeral Party class. [LAUGHS] We would go from 12 in the afternoon until 11, 12 at night. We were practicing at the former drummer’s garage, and we pretty much lived there. All day, all night in there, just bouncing ideas off each other and putting together the songs.
It was a really cool, fun experience, and it brought us closer as a band because at that time, which was about three years ago, the band was kind of going off, but we weren’t sure if it was gonna make it or not yet. I don’t know if you’ve ever done anything like a school project where you’re all trying to work for some goal and everyone’s putting out their ideas and getting excited, feeding off of each others’ ideas and energy, but it was like that. We were all just there being dreamers and had nobody telling us, “Oh, you can’t do that,” or whatever. We were just doing it for ourselves. It was really cool, and it’s an environment I love to be in.
What led to your team choosing “Finale” as your first single in the US?
It was a tie between “New York Moves to the Sound of LA” and “Finale,” and I’m really glad that they went with “Finale” because I personally feel more strongly about that song. “Finale” conjures up more feelings and memories for me. “New York…” has that too, but it’s more of a brattier song, so I was really happy that they picked “Finale.” As to why they picked it, I don’t know. [LAUGHS]
You guys also shot a video for “Finale.” What was that experience like?
It was completely fun. I grew up in the MTV generation, watching groundbreaking videos all the time, and that’s a part of why I really wanted to get into the music business. It sucks now that videos are really not as important as they were in the ‘90s. I co-wrote the video with the director, and I actually wanted to get a little more crazy, but we only had a day to do it, so we couldn’t do everything I wanted to do. [LAUGHS] It was amazing. We got to tear up this abandoned house, and while we were doing the performance shots, they were in the living room doing crowd party shots. It was chaotic, but also very fun and just really cool.
I know you guys are going to be busy with several tours coming up, the first of which being the Deftones with the Dillinger Escape Plan. After that, you’re hitting the road with Panic at the Disco. What does it say about Funeral Party’s music that you can share the bill with two completely different types of bands?
[LAUGHS] I think what we’re trying to achieve by going on tours with bands such as Panic and Deftones is to showcase the diversity of our music. Sometimes it’s a little hard for people to categorize us, so we’ve taken that as a positive instead of a negative. We had a good response when we went on tour with 30 Seconds to Mars. That tour really helped us in the UK, so we’re going to see if we can achieve that same kind of success on these tours.
For me, there’s always a drawback when you listen to a band and you’re expected to be a certain style or hang out with certain people. It’s like this whole package comes with listening to that band, and for me, I just want to listen to the song. I don’t want to have to cut my hair a certain way and wear certain shoes. I think the whole labeling of acts has setbacks. The music should speak for itself.
Deftones are a huge act, and Dillinger and Panic are really well known. Are there any other bands that you would like to go out on tour with that you haven’t had a chance to play with yet?
There’s always the dream of going on tour with Radiohead and bands like that. I personally just want to go on a tour with a band that’s fun to go on tour with because you’re pretty much on a mini-vacation with them. Maybe a band that’s kind of crazy, like a younger band. [LAUGHS] Either that or somebody we could learn something from, somebody very professional.
You guys just went to South by Southwest. How was the response different this year as opposed to previous years?
This was our second time going, and I think that the festival itself is kind of different now as opposed to last year. We played in front of a different audience this year. Whereas when we first came we were playing in front of more of a general kind of audience in Texas, fans and whatnot, this year was more press, which is a different kind of audience. Some just stand there, and they’re more observing the show than getting into it. [LAUGHS]
Were there any bands that you got to check out at SXSW that you were really excited to see or any bands that you might have missed that you really wanted to check out?
Yeah, I wanted to check out Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and I also wanted to check out Ariel Pink, even though he’s an LA native. I got to see Yuck for like a second, which was cool. I got to see Bright Eyes. I’ve always been a big fan of them but had never actually seen them live, so that was the one I was really determined to go to. I was really happy that I went. It was just amazing to watch the show, and yeah, there was this girl behind me who was crying the whole time, which made the experience a bit stranger. [LAUGHS] She was just so into it.
Funeral Party is going to be appearing on Late Night with David Letterman and then Jimmy Kimmel Live in the next few weeks. How did you feel when you found out that you were booked on these shows?
Excited. Fuckin’ nervous. [LAUGHS] People always ask us, “Oh, is this your first TV thing?” and it’s not. We’ve played shows overseas, but we never knew the importance of them until way later. We played Le Grand Journal in Paris, which is one of the biggest TV shows for live bands over there, but we had no idea. We were like, “Oh cool, we’re going to do a TV show.” Then afterwards we had people coming to our shows like, “Oh my God, you were on TV.” Over here, since we know what David Letterman is and understand the impact of it and so do our families, it’s just nuts. My parents are having a viewing party, so that’s even weirder. [LAUGHS]
[LAUGHS] I can imagine. Knowing your family is going to be telling everyone…
Yeah. They pretty much already are. Every time I’m meeting one of my parents’ friends, that’s the first thing that comes out of their mouths: “He’s going to be on TV.” I’m like, “Oh, hi. Nice to meet you.” [LAUGHS] Even before they say, “This is my son,” or “This is Chad,” they’re like, “He’s gonna be on TV.” [LAUGHS]
Funeral Party Tour Dates:
03/30 – New York, NY Mercury Lounge
03/31 – New York, NY Late Show with David Letterman
04/06 – Los Angeles, CA Jimmy Kimmel Live!
04/07 – San Diego, CA Soda Bar
04/08 – Los Angeles, CA Echo
04/14 – Seattle, WA Paramount Theatre
04/15 – Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
04/16 – Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
04/21 – Salt Lake City, UT In The Venue
04/22 – Denver, CO Ogden Theatre
04/23 – Denver, CO Ogden Theatre
04/26 – St. Louis, MO The Pageant
04/28 – Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
04/29 – Milwaukee, WI The Rave
04/30 – Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre
05/01 – Detroit, MI Fillmore Theatre
05/03 – Toronto, ON The Sound Academy
05/05 – Hampton Beach, NH Hampton Beach Casino
05/06 – Providence, RI Lupo’s
05/07 – Hartford, CT Webster Theatre
05/09 – Boston, MA House Of Blues
05/10 – Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory
05/11 – Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
05/13 – New York, NY Best Buy Theatre
05/14 – New York, NY Best Buy Theatre
…with Panic! At The Disco:
06/08 – Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre
06/09 – Columbus, OH LC Pavilion
06/10 – Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room at Murat Center
06/11 – Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
06/12 – Kansas City, MO Beaumont Club
06/15 – Houston, TX House Of Blues
06/17 – Tempe, AZ Marquee Theatre
06/18 – Las Vegas, NV House Of Blues
06/19 – San Diego, CA House Of Blues
06/21 – Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern
06/22 – San Francisco, CA Warfield Theatre
06/24 – Seattle, WA Showbox SoDo
06/25 – Portland, OR Roseland Theatre
06/26 – Boise, ID Knitting Factory
06/28 – Denver, CO Odgen Theatre
06/29 – Omaha, NE Sokol Auditorium
For more info on Funeral Party: