Bringing about a Mars Volta-like representation, with a dash of strong dance-heavy songs, Funeral Party has been compared to the likes of The Rapture. Their “electro-rock” sound has found a strong audience in California and is quickly spreading around the United States.
Expanding their North American tour to promote their EP “Bootleg EP” and working on their first full-length album after signing with Fearless Records, Funeral Party is excited about being in the South. They will be opening up for Austin-based …And You Will Know Us By Trail of Dead on February 20th at Walter’s On Washington. I was lucky enough to get in touch with guitarist James Torres to get his take on the South, describing their “true” sound and finding out what kind of shenanigans they have gotten themselves into.
Alma Verdejo: How excited are you guys about coming to Texas?
It’s a long state to go through. I mean, last time we played Dallas and Austin and this time we’re playing Dallas and Houston. I mean, I’m excited to be in Houston and Dallas is cool, those people there are and the Southern hospitality and stuff and I’m excited to see Houston and all those southern states and Atlanta, things like that.
We’ll definitely try to make a memorable night for you guys. How surprised were you guys that you were going to open up for Trail of Dead?
After a while of playing with bands that are big, like Crystal Castles and Yelle was pretty big, it just comes naturally now. I guess we’re excited to be on the road again. I really don’t listen to Trail of Dead. (laughs) I’m so poor I don’t even have a computer in my house. I don’t even listen to music on a regular basis and it’s not because I purposefully do that, it’s just that I don’t have the resources.
I was looking at one of your interviews as a band, and I don’t know where it took place, but I remember you describing Whittier as a ghost town. Did you guys kind of make a band just to get out of the perpetual boredom of Whittier or was that an incentive to actually go out and make a band?
It’s like this town is very very very… like nothing ever changes. It’s always the same, there’s never going to be anything new or interesting. I mean, yeah, a couple of years ago they put a skate park here but there’s nothing really interesting in Whittier besides the scenery. I’m kind of one of those people who like needs to be in a new place. I’ve lived here my whole life and almost all the band members have too and it’s just so hard.
There’s a saying, it’s called the Whittier Curse. It’s so hard to get out of Whittier, once you’re born there or lived there, it just sucks you in. It’s like a vacuum and a black hole and anything you try to do, the Whittier curse will throw problems at you, left and right. And we’ve had our fair share of problems, it’s because the people we worked with before, in the past, they had the curse on them and they were like cursed.
It’s very very tough to get out of the city.
I could tell you how bands and friends that are in bands do something that always fell apart. It’s always because this city, something about it, it has a tendency to fuck shit up.
Is that why you’re called “Funeral Party?” Is it because that’s the only way out of Whittier?
(laughs) I mean our singers has a reason to naming it; I mean, he didn’t name the band personally, it was all of us collectively but we all had different meanings. My interpretation of it was the dying party scene, the shows just faded out. It’s the end of the party.
Who else are influences for you guys and your sound, besides the ones listed on your MySpace?
Actually, those are the singer’s influences and not mine. I don’t really listen to any of that stuff, but yeah, it’s all underground and whatever. I like to listen to Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, the new stuff of The Strokes, Mars Volta, At The Drive-In and Ratatat. Vampire Weekend, I’ve been really impressed by those guys too.
I know you guys have been compared to The Rapture and been tagged with the term, electro-punk. Was that always a sound you guys strived for or where there other ones?
I could definitely tell you we weren’t shooting to be compared to The Rapture. It’s just a common misconception. I mean, it’s cool that we are compared to them but it wasn’t like we were trying to replicate the music; we wanted our own individuality. In order to do that we had to mix a bunch of different styles and The Rapture was one of them. The only reason that that song sounds Rapture-esque is because in that song, that we recorded, their guitarist uses treble and we use that too and the riff that I played sounded similar.
It’s my own style; I never tried to be like them.
It’s very very challenging to try to make as something good as that. That’s what we’re really out to do, to make another Rolling Stone album or another White Album from The Beatles. We are really trying to make every person to know us.
Anyone ever wanted anything from you James, physically? Like they’ve wanted to take your shirt?
(Pause) Yeah (sheepishly)
That definitely happens on the tour.
What’s the craziest thing that anyone has ever wanted from you?
Well, I was ending a show in Austin and it was at the end of our set and people floated me out into the crowd, like 20 feet and I felt a couple of grabs in my crotch area but I wasn’t really pay attention. When I got back up, I noticed there was this other guy trying to grab me; he was reaching up my leg so I hit him with my guitar.
That’s quite a story. I’ve never heard anything like that, like I’ve heard of people getting into fights and girls getting into fights with other girls and things like that.
Our singer has gotten fucked up so many times by people that just don’t like him because of the girl he used to be with.
I mean, mostly all the problems were about people getting too drunk at the show. People in the band, I mean, myself I know how to control myself but back then, a lot of people didn’t know how to control themselves.
Like we take it easy and there was definitely once when it got out of control, there were fights at every show. People were getting knocked out and I’m kind of standoffish and I don’t really associate with people outside the band and with my friendships.
Fights, stabbings, shootings, you name it, it has happened at a Funeral Party show.
Wow, never heard of a shooting one.
The best one was when there were 1300, 1400 people in this lot showed up there and it was called “Bumchella.” The cops showed up and they couldn’t get inside the place because it was gated off and no one opened up the gate. We were playing and all of a sudden one of our friends starting throwing bottles at the cops and then, every single person was doing that, throwing it at the cops.
You just see hundreds of beer bottles being thrown and the cops came in and had a raid — like in the movies, you see cops come into a party and you see people running like crazy — it was just like that.
What would a musical video look like for “Carwars,” a song, which I understand, is your single?
I think it would actually be a huge fat ugly dude in the front of the car and a small guy having sex with some girl in the back. And then the guy waking up and being like ‘Hey, what’s going on? That’s my girlfriend!’
Kind of like Taxi Cab Confessions.
Ben: Miniature low riders and little kids riding them and acting like they’re the band. Maybe we can get Spike Jonze do it and being at a backyard party and having Funeral Party play at it. Or we could do stop-animation with yarn coming out of the singer’s mouth.
Last question, house parties versus venue parties?
Backyard shows are fun; venue shows aren’t. They kind of are, venue shows there are lot of rules and something that we’re not used to. Give us some alcohol that would be cool. Backyard shows are my favorite, it’s so cool because on one level you are with the people and you talk to them and hang out with them afterwards and see what they got to say. And venue shows, you can do it that, but it’s not really. People that go to the venue… it’s just a different thing.
Two separate things; one has rules and the other has no rules. I like no rules.
Check out the guys here
They are playing with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead on February 20th at Walter’s On Washington. Buy tickets here.