While the music of Funeral Advantage might seem to sparkle with hope and promise, their lyrics betray the melancholy underneath.
On their newest EP, the excellent Please Help Me, dejection bursts from the haze of emotional uncertainty following their debut (2015’s Body Is Dead) and into clear view. Allston Pudding caught up with the band’s sole member, Tyler Kershaw, before the band’s tour kickoff/release show at Great Scott.
Allston Pudding: It’s been nearly two years since the release of Body Is Dead and, while the new EP is unmistakably Funeral Advantage, there’s a sense of bitterness and melancholy. What influenced your writing in that time?
Tyler Kershaw: I went through a hard time in between records. There was a mutual decision made for me to move out of the house I shared with my partner for reasons I can’t get into. I had to stay in my car and on friends’ couches and floors for a long stretch of time. I felt like a burden for several months. It’s really hard for me to ask anyone for anything, let alone to open their home to me and let me freeload. I spent months with the knowledge that I was an actual piece of shit with constant reminders of the fact.
It was during this time that I was able to write a brunt of the lyrics, so a lot of it came out of the situation I was in. I’ve always only written when I’m in a dark place. It’s not even an escape or used as a catharsis; it’s just that, in addition to feeling terrible, my mind decides to go back to traumatic experiences I’ve had and I circle around those to help me in creating something. These songs were killing me because I wrote them while going through a very hard time, so the influence to release the songs in this concise format came from that. I’m unable to separate the songs from the events that inspired them so I needed it to be done and gone.
AP: Musically, what influences do you continue to find inspiring? Is there anything as of late that you’re especially into?
TK: I’ve been listening to a lot of trance lately. MaRLo, The Thrillseekers, old Andy Blueman. I’ve also been obsessed with listening to metal records but slowed down. There’s this whole channel on Youtube that just does metal records slowed down and it makes them sound so much heavier and drawn out. I’ve been trying that with the stuff I’ve been demoing lately, I’ll demo a whole song then just slow it down after I’ve bounced it. It makes everything sound a lot fuller and in place. Less rushed, less hectic. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Van Halen. I obviously never listen to anything to get inspired because I generally don’t like music that much. I’ve found a group of like 5 records that I love and that I listen to over and over.
AP: As the band’s sole member, does the idea of playing these songs live affect the songwriting process?
TK: Only lately has it affected how I write. With the last record, I didn’t really care about how the rest of the band were going to do it live so I would just endlessly layer stuff without stopping to think about if it’d sound good without having 18 guitarists. One producer I tried working with when I was starting recording Please Help Me told me not to worry about it so much but just keep it in the back of my mind, so I’ve been trying to live by that while recording in the past year. Keep indulging, but pare back if it isn’t needed. The over indulgence is what made my last record good and I wanted that on this album too…. but everything in moderation. Literally everything, not just music stuff.
AP: What can we expect of the upcoming tour?
TK: We’re playing new songs on the tour from this album and a few from the last album that we’ve never played live. We always get into this groove on tour where we’ll start out with a list of about 10 songs and by the last few dates we’re strictly only playing 6 or 7 of them in a specific order because it went well the previous night. I’m not saying that’s not what’s going to happen this time but we’re going to try not to feel as comfortable with the set as we normally would.
AP: Is “Please Help Me” a sign of the band’s musical trajectory? Are there any plans beyond the EP’s release and supporting tour?
TK: The songs I’ve been writing since I finished [Please Help Me] have been a lot more sparse sounding. Empty and lonely. I’m not even entirely sure that it is a Funeral Advantage record yet. I don’t want to limit it to that because that’s how you might get trapped into feeling your corners. I’ve toyed with making the next Funeral Advantage record a black metal record. I have songs that would fit. I find them all to have a similar feel to what I’ve always tried to do. But as for solid plans for anything else, we don’t make any. We try not to get our hopes up anymore.