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Creeping forward whilst changing form and focus since the turn of the century, THE FUNERAL CRASHERS have become a mainstay of New York City’s fledgling new dark rock scene. The band’s “art punk vibe,” as singer P.H. LOVECRAFT defines it, is ever apparent in person – for better or for worse – as one wonders how their entropic stage show could translate to record. Upon listening to The Funeral Crashers' late 2007 release, La Fin Absolue Du Monde, their depth and direction was quickly revealed, thus imbuing the band’s live show with more vigor than I’d found before. A new appreciation for The Crashers grew after immersing myself in their first full-length, so I decided to fill in the blanks through an interview with singer Lovecraft, guitarist EDWARD RAISON, bassist FRANKIE TEARDROP, and drummer OLIVER LYONS in an East Village den of iniquity over absinthe, Kraftwerk, and Sparks energy drink.
How do you view your recorded work versus your live show?
FRANKIE TEARDROP: They are both very separate. Live there’s always a sense of chaos. It’s the same kind of energy in old punk shows or classic Nine Inch Nails gigs – equipment broke all the time but they didn’t care, kept plowing through it, kept the energy up and put on a really great show.
P.H. LOVECRAFT: There’s a lot of good bands that play bad shows. I come from the punk scene, so that’s a big deal for me. It should be fun to watch. There should be energy and…
FRANKIE TEARDROP: a little bit of fear. No two shows are the same with us, and I definitely think that’s a good thing. This record, however, is a culmination of a year and a half of hard work.
P.H. LOVECRAFT: (laughs) Live anarchy does not translate to record.
What’s the significance of the album title?
P.H. LOVECRAFT: It’s a movie reference which I will not elaborate on. People are either going to get that or they won’t. With the lyrics and the mood, we were dealing with apocalyptic themes so I thought it reflected the material.
OLIVER LYONS: Every time I listen to it, I get the sense that it would be a horrible album to do acid to because of all the craziness. I think it really reflects upon the title too.
As far as acid goes, I immediately think of the guitar work, and there are definitely some psychedelic sounds in there. Who are your influences?
EDWARD RAISON: Hendrix was an early one. Psychedelic soundscapes, Bob Mould…
Would it be wrong to say “Blackout Days” is your power ballad?
EDWARD RAISON: That’s our “Freebird.”
FRANKIE TEARDROP: Yeah, that was kind of the idea. The guitar solo that Ed laid down on that track is epic.
What have been your biggest criticisms so far?
OLIVER LYONS: What we’ve gotten a lot is like, “Wow this is really goth. Goth, bats, goth….”
FRANKIE TEARDROP: Yeah, people are often excited about the music and they like what they hear, but then throw that label on it that I feel is such a dirty word now.
So we can’t say goth at all in regards to your work?
P.H. LOVECRAFT: Well I prefer the term “Gothic,” because that’s an adjective and not a noun. But it’s still a catch-all sieve term for a lot of things that don’t even necessarily go together. If it helps people to like us by associating us as being “goth music,” then great, but if it helps people to not even listen to our band and file us away as…
OLIVER LYONS: something pathetic and mentally unstable…
P.H. LOVECRAFT: or kids who wear too much eyeliner and so forth, then that’s really bad. I think we’re a rock band first and foremost. A dark rock band.
FRANKIE TEARDROP: There’s a lot more that goes into this than those stock influences.
OLIVER LYONS: I think the Psychedelic Furs is a touchstone for all of us.
FRANKIE TEARDROP: Richard Butler is a well-read man.
P.H. LOVECRAFT: Yeah, musically we’re a fierce band that has some intellectual substance behind it.
EDWARD RAISON: We’ve got depth and sincerity. I look for that in music, and I wouldn’t want to do anything that didn’t have that out front.
What are your literary influences?
P.H. LOVECRAFT: Oh god, there’s a lot. Sam Shepard, Bertolt Brecht, Harold Pinter, William Shakespeare of course.
OLIVER LYONS: The whole album’s like a Tennessee Williams play.
P.H. LOVECRAFT: Actually, the whole album’s more like a Eugene O’Neil play.
FRANKIE TEARDROP: Perhaps with a little bit of Waiting For Godot mixed in.
P.H. LOVECRAFT: One of the things that I read and really enjoyed directly in reference to the band is a Stephen King study from the late ’70s when he was teaching. It’s called “Danse Macabre,” and he basically broke down horror methodology and how it directly related to contemporary life, and different archetypes in horror and why people were afraid of things and why people were afraid of specific things at specific times. I really love that work and in some ways when we’re talking about gothic elements, the mood in our songwriting, I really appreciate stuff like that. It’s like, how do you make interesting entertainment out of this anxiety that is floating around in our lives or in American society? How do you take some of this stuff that’s formulaic and make it fresh?
La Fin Absolue Du Monde is now available through iTunes, CD Baby, Interpunk, Hungry Eye, Projekt, and the band’s website.
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