Interview with Funeral Rites
Interview conducted by Barbara Williams (Crowley)
Date online: July 28, 2003
Hailz and dark greetings. How are you guys doing?
Hailz, and thanks for the interview. We're doing great, having a good time supporting the new album Heaven Falls Bleeding.
Texas death metal! The Best! Where in Texas are you from?
We're from Houston, TX. Our bass player is originally from San Antonio.
You have toured pretty much all over Texas, but I haven't seen El Paso on the list. Will we be seeing you come out this way any time soon? Any plans to go on tour?
Yeah, we're hoping to go out there sometime this year. Mainly the reason why we haven't been out that far is because of time and money. But we are hoping to come out there real soon.
Which songs do you like most playing Live?
Live? I would say that I enjoy playing all of our songs just equally, but the one that I believe we have the most fun with would be "Blackened Ruins." We usually get a good crowd response on that particular one.
Your music is death metal, but listening to your songs I sensed a slight black metal sound. Who has been your inspiration for your vocals?
I would say that Lazaro's influence range from Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, to Glen Benton, and Pete Helmkemp.
Your first release was a demo and then came Heaven Falls Bleeding. How many copies did you print and is this album still easily obtainable?
Yeah, this album is fairly new. We only printed 1000, so it is still pretty easily obtainable. You can get it off our website at www.FuneralRites.com, or at www.mbcs.tk, or you can write to us at our address here at 5300 Kiam St, Houston, TX, 77007. It's a full-length album for $10.
When can we expect the next Funeral Rites album? Do you have any material yet?
I am thinking that by next year the new album should be ready. We're going to also be on a split CD with Adumus, Crimson Massacre, and Demontuary that comes out in December. It will have some tracks taken off of "HFB" and one new exclusive track written just for that particular split. After that, we will release our new album that we are currently working on. We have some new music that's being compiled together.
How do you write your music? Is there a set guideline or do you write what you feel as you go along?
There is no set guideline that we follow. It's not the basic A B A C B riff like songs. No, we're a bit more chaotic in our music. It doesn't really have a set way. I would say that it is really more about how we feel that makes the song. Really what happens is I'll have a basic idea of how the song is going to sound like and I present it to the band. Then from there we go back and analyze it and improve on some parts that could be better. Then we go back and add some lyrics, or sometimes we already have the lyrics there, just waiting for the music. It really just depends. Describing our writing style is like trying to describe how something is created from chaos. It just kind of happens.
When you play live, do you try to stay close to the studio version or do you like to change things up?
Yes, we try to stay close to the way the song was recorded. There are parts of the songs that we like to extend live. Such as "Blackened Ruins." There are lots of parts that we hold and let ring out more. On "Lucifer's Triumphant March" we have a drum part before we get into the song. Sometimes we try to be a bit more creative with our songs, but, for the most part, it's fairly the same as the album. One thing is for sure: our live shows have a bit more aggression, so that might add a bit more to it. We feed off of the energy from the crowd.
How do you get the inspiration for writing your lyrics?
As for me, I would say that my inspiration comes from hatred towards our brainwashed society. I guess, I try to break down barriers by writing it all down. Or it comes from an overactive imagination.
Which bands are on your list of favorites? If I were to look through your CD collection, what would I find?
You would find a lot of Angel Corpse, Krisiun, Morbid Angel, Luciferian. And at times you will also find more mellow stuff such as Pink Floyd, movie soundtracks, or symphonic stuff.
When did you start playing and how old were you when you became interested in metal?
I started playing guitar at the age of 13. I was into metal right around that time as well. I guess I must have been about 11 or 12 when I got into Iron Maiden, and Ozzy and stuff. I think I was about 14 when I first saw Morbid Angel play here in Houston at the Axiom for the "Altars of Madness" tour. That was what did it for me. I was definitely going to play death metal forever.
Are you self-taught or have you had formal training?
No, I am actually self-taught. I think we all are here in this band. No formal training. I had a class in school, music theory, but everyone in there was acting up so that the teacher decided not to teach and let us run rampant. So there goes that idea. I read books every now and then to get some basic fundamentals here and there because I think it is important to know some of the theory behind music and not just random stuff. But as for a "teacher", no, that never happened.
Have your parents and friends always been supportive of your choice to play metal?
My parents are real supportive. My dad plays guitar as well, and he's been a real inspiration to me. My mother, when I was young, let me practice with my band in the house back before Funeral Rites. She's been supportive so far. My friends help out a lot as well. My wife really supports me and does whatever she has to make sure that things get done. She's a real trooper.
What had been your first metal concert you attended?
I saw Nuclear Assault like a few months before I saw that Morbid Angel show. I was 14 at the time.
Outside of playing Metal, what kinds of things do you enjoy doing?
I watch a lot of movies. I guess you could say I'm kind of a movie buff. I practice a lot on my off time. We go out to shows around town to see what everyone else is up to. We like to show our support to the other bands that are here in Houston. I also enjoy photography. I like to take a lot of pictures and kind of document things. That I guess would be my other hobby.
Do you consider yourself an Underground Death Metal band and how do you feel about mainstream bands, especially those who at one point started out as Underground?
Yes, I think that we're always going to be an underground band because we're always going to be trying to get our music heard by more people and I don't think that it's ever really going to be that accepted. I think that "death metal" and "black metal" is getting more popular and with lots of attention, but I don't know about it becoming mainstream, so to say. And about those bands that are mainstream and started off as underground, I think that just about every band out there started off as an underground band. Some bands just had the right connections, or knew the right people to get them to be where they wanted to be. But in the end, everyone gets what they want. If mainstream stuff is what they want, than that's good for them. If they're just musicians who want to play no matter what, than that's what they'll do.
Do you feel that death metal bands have it more difficult to gain recognition compared to those who play other types of metal?
Yeah, there are so many bands out there right now, and every one of them wants to be known right now, or 5 minutes ago. Unfortunately, there are a lot of crappy bands that don't want to make any kind of effort to make their music sound different or better. So with that, the audience will more than likely tune out and not want to be interested in what another "new" band will have to offer which in turn makes it more difficult to get recognition. But all I have to say is keep on going. That's how you build you name and get recognition.
Funeral Rites has some songs on mp3.com. Will you be offering any more to attract new fans?
Yeah, I'm sure that in time we will update the mp3 site and give it some more new music.
Do you think you're attracting new fans or are you pretty much catering for the ones who have been with you from the beginning?
I believe we are trying to do both. We want to stick to our own ways, yet attract new fans from it. I don't think we'll ever change to a different style just to attract fans. I think that would actually hurt us.
Have you gotten any gifts from fans? Which would you say would be the coolest or weirdest?
Yeah, this one time I got this old Indian Spearhead. It was made from a rock of some sort. I got it from this guy named Edward. Cool guy, a bit unusual sort of character. He explained to me that it was supposed to be used in sacrificial rituals and believed that it would bring me good luck. I've held on to it since then. I guess we'll see if it works.
I really like your website and the design on Heaven Falls Bleeding. Who designs your CD artwork and how important do you think is CD art work?
Thanks. The website was designed by ourselves and our webmaster, Joe King. The design, or artwork, for "HFB" came to us by a really good artist named Juan Castellano. He's from Spain. A friend of mine referred me to him and thought that I would appreciate his work. Sure enough I did. I saw this artwork, which he calls Demonic Supremacy, and said that's the one. This is what we need. I felt that the artwork really portrayed our music visually.
Anus.com features an article about boycotting Christian metal. What are your feelings about that? What does "Metal" actually mean to you?
Well, I like all sorts of metal. I guess that metal to me means rebellion and anarchy. I'm not a big fan of "Christian metal," so in my opinion I would find it being an oxymoron. But if Anus.com wants to boycott it then that's their thing. I don't think anyone should tell anyone else what to listen to or what not to listen to. I think it's really up to the audience to choose.
While at a show in El Paso, I have heard some heavy criticism from a metal fan who finds that Black metal is no longer acceptable because the satanic content most albums have. As an atheist he sees this as a form of religion. What's your take on this?
Acceptable by whom? I guess would be my first question. Second of all, black metal is usually an anti-Christian based genre. They mainly focus on dark themes, hence the name black metal. I would say to that person that as an atheist they might want to go out and find themselves a new style of music to listen to because a majority of these bands are pretty Satanic. And also I would say that as a fan, they might not want to offer any "heavy criticism" to others just because they find this music "no longer acceptable" to their pleasure. I think everyone has a mind of his or her own to make up.
How is the music and being Funeral Rites connected with the person you are? Is your band image a reflection of you or completely separate?
I would say that it is a complete reflection of who I am and who the rest of the guys in the band are. We are all different in some opinions, but we get along and make things work and happen. I have different opinions about a lot of things and I kind of figure things out on the way. But for the most part, it is who we are-- all the time. We're still normal guys who go out and do things like everyday people. We just happen to be in a band.
Some metal bands live about as "normal" as you may have it. Others decorate their homes metal. If I were to walk into your home or room, would I know that you are in a metal band?
I don't know. I have an amp here that I jam with on my guitar whenever I'm here. There's lot's of Funeral Rites propaganda everywhere: Pictures of friends, who are in metal bands; CD's, gargoyles, skulls from all over the world that were given to me, inverted crosses, and a piano. My wife likes to put things up, like the pictures of our friends and us.
How do you see yourself as a role model to many young people who listen to and who get into your music?
I don't know about that. I think that I shouldn't be a role model because I'm not a good person. I do have some young people that come up to me and say that they look up to me and that's very flattering, but I just do what I do. I tell them, "thanks" and "I really appreciate it," but for the most part, what I do isn't for everyone. I do talk to people about my Satanic beliefs and my interpretations of life, and I think it does open their eyes to what I'm saying. I fear for them because Satanism isn't for the weak-minded, and I warn them, too. Those who follow the music and get into it, I tell them," thanks." I get asked what do you think of this, or how should I go about doing this for my band, and I offer advice. I try to help out as many bands that are starting off as possible. I know how hard it is trying to get a band established and it's frustrations. When we were starting off, we didn't have any one to help us out; we just had a lot of really good competition. And that didn't help. Hell, actually, some bands tried to keep us down.
What kind of books do you read? Any good books or movies you would like to mention?
I mainly read books on the Devil, Demonology, and Witchcraft. Anything that has to do with the Satanic Mass or the Black Arts. I find it fascinating how these ideas have come to life. But they are what they are, and, right now, they are about as real as you and me.
You sound great, so what is in store for Funeral Rites within the next year or so?
Well, as for right now, we're going to be concentrating on the next album. We just finished playing throughout Texas and we're ready to continue with the writing process. We'll be looking for a good label to sign with so we can get out further and reach more people like that. Being that we're not signed, it's a bit hard for us to get the word out. But thanks to the Internet, we do ok. So, in the next year, we'll have a new album, and we'll hopefully be doing more shows around the world. We'll see.
And finally, is there anything you would like to say to fans, friends, enemies, all of the above?
To our fans, "thanks for the support over the years." Tto our friends, "we'll see you at the next show." To our enemies, "keep our fire burning; you are truly our inspiration to hate." And to all those above, "be prepared for our unholy crusade. We will crush!"
Keep checking the website at www.FuneralRites.com for updates on the band. Thanks for your time, Barbara.
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