Austin’s Funeralbloom may be up-and-coming, but they look to the advanced scopes of post-metal and post-rock to make music. And the Texans don’t even fret about slapping detailed labels onto their sound just to pass it along. Here’s how they get it to you: While vocalist Austin Curtis conveys the content, the instrumentalists take advantage of the musical possibilities lying within atmospheric experimentation. Beneath the airy, fragrant guitar riffs of Jad Dandashi and Nick Ross, Bryan Walters’ thudding bass and Tyler Torres’ versatile drumming give support.
Metal Mellowdee welcomed the opportunity to interview Funeralbloom to find out how their forward-thinking techniques were used to create the new album, Petals. During last week’s exchange, Funeralbloom also touched on how their playing may be keeping your health tiptop and how you almost could have found yourself calling them, “Menk.”
Nick: Certainly, this release was definitely a milestone. “Petals” changed the way we view things as a band and was our first physical release. It was also a milestone in terms of our writing. We have never written material on this scale before.
2. Can you explain the concept of Petals?
Austin: “Petals” tells the story of a consuming, selfish relationship and its lasting effects. The lyrics and the imagery created examine the ideas of romantic notions and of sentimentally. Most times, sentimental and romantic actions are done for completely self-serving reasons under the masquerade of selflessness. In “Petals”, these sentimental actions are used to cover up and divert one’s own perceived insecurities or short comings about themselves. It’s about the battle of trying to break away from romanticizing the past, or from romanticizing a particular person, because you’re searching for an unquenchable thirst of validation and affection. In the end, this search for a phantom approval only leads to an insurmountable hopelessness.
3. Some spots in Petals seem to carry more of a poetic vibe, such as the beginning of “Lust.” When you incorporate these kinds of techniques, are they decided before or after you’ve gotten the instrumentation set in place? How do you approach the songwriting process, in general?
Austin: The lyrics are written after the music is in place. Usually one of the guitarists, Nick or Jad, will come in with a couple of parts or ideas. From there the drums and bass are figured out and the formation of the songs begins. Once the instrumentation is in place I’ll listen to them play the completed song together a couple times and get a feel for the spirit or energy of the song and start forming ideas of how I want the song to feel lyrically. I’ll go home with the song fresh in mind and begin writing without listening to the song at all, just with the remembrance of how it made me feel. I’ll then write the structure of what is pretty much a poem and bring it with me to the next practice. From there I start working on the vocal parts where the poem usually goes pretty much unchanged, besides some very minor differences. Thankfully the airy and vast nature in which we write lends itself to being very flexible for me when writing vocal parts, so I’m never worrying of certain parts are going to fit.
4. Your sound departs from familiar heavy metal/rock styles for the more progressive-minded zones surrounding post-metal and post-rock. What’s your unique label for the type of music you play?
Jad: I am personally not a fan of labels. I do not think any of us are. When it comes to how we write, we are all definitely influenced by atmospheric post-black metal and blackgaze. However, we also take a great deal of inspiration from instrumental post-rock, post-doom, post-metal, post-punk, and gothic music. I think we just attempt to ignore perceived “rules” when we write and incorporate whatever is inspiring us. If we like the way it sounds, then we continue to make it a part of our sound. Not to say that makes us avant-garde, but I think it frees up a lot of creative space for us to not really have a label for our music when we write.
5. What sets you apart from your contemporaries?
Nick: As far as we know, we play in a different tuning than our contemporaries. We tune our A to 444hz instead of the standard 440hz. While we were recording “Petals”, we researched some alternate tunings that we could experiment with, then eventually landed on the Love Frequency. Apparently, people on the internet believe that playing music in 444hz can literally heal your DNA and make you much healthier. It may, or may not be real, but we decided to run with it. No harm in accidentally healing people’s DNA.
Austin: Besides that, we incorporate an 80’s British gothic, post punk aesthetics into our music with some more bass driven parts and baritone vocals. We’re also very big fans of The Smiths and are particularly influenced by them in both our visual presentation and our imagery. These make us not a very typical black metal band and gives our music a personal and uncommonly human connection compared to most black metal.
Austin: It’s funny you ask this because, because we have been compared to Deafheaven almost everywhere our music has been posted. Although they are a great band and it is flattering, we still feel it is unjust. It could be that “Sunbather” is the only real exposure a lot of people have of our genre, and that they can be quick to blend bands when they’re unfamiliar with it’s nuisances, like how someone who is not familiar with hardcore thinks all hardcore bands sound the same, but the whole thing just puts new bands of the genre in a difficult situation. It’s like the minute someone listens to a blast beat with atmosphere behind it, it seems like their immediate thought is Deafheaven, which we believe is unfair, especially when you listen to a song like “Lust”.
6. I understand you recently underwent a name change from “The Measure Of.” What’s the story behind that move?
Bryan: Honestly, it all started a couple months ago when a friend was telling Jad and I about the Russian yeti, otherwise known as “menk”, and I was just thinking right then that menk absolutely needed to be our band name. It was just so cool. As you can tell, menk didn’t really work out for us but it did spark discussion and “funeralbloom” is what we ultimately decided on as our replacement for The Measure Of. In all seriousness, we have just changed so much over the years musically that we simply weren’t the same band from when we started. We figured what better time to make that change then right before our full-length release and that next big step.
7. You’ve played around the Austin area recently. Which shows have been the most memorable?
Nick: As The Measure Of, we played 7 or 8 shows over the span of three days during or first real SXSW experience. We have opened for The Millionaires and Ashland High, which was hilarious. However, the most intense show was probably the last show of our first tour. It took place in a crowded, and extremely hot, Chicago garage. Once we were done with our set, a giant storm blew in, knocked out the power, forced us to load our gear up immediately, and poured down on us during the first leg of our drive home to Texas. Also, we played with Circle Takes The Square in May and that was a great experience.
8. Are you planning to perform in any other regions in the future?
Jad: We are actually planning to embark on a two week tour of the East Coast and Mid-West United States in the winter. Beyond that, we are hoping to tour the West Coast and and/or do a full US tour at some point in the near future.
9. When you’re not working on music, what do you enjoy doing?
Bryan: Well a few of us are pretty big pro-wrestling fans. I’d have to say that it’s our most-discussed topic as a band aside from music, of course. We’ll watch it together when we can and sometimes, if we’re super drunk, we’ll practice our wrestling moves a bit.
Thank you for taking the time to interview with Metal Mellowdee. Do you have any other comments you’d like to make?
We’d just like to thank you for taking the time to review our album and interview us!