This June, the Funeral Suits will release their debut album 'Lily of the Valley' produced by the legendary Stephen Street. The band chose the title because a lily symbolizes the return of happiness. For the UK music scene, it's going to be a return of greatness as their current singles preview an album that rival Street's finest work with artists such as Blur, the Cranberries, and Morrissey. Their unique and thrilling sound is one not to be missed.
Band member Michael McKeogh talks about how they formed as a group, what it's been like to work with Stephen Street, Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn and musicians they admire:
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How did you meet?
Michael McKeogh: I had met Greg through an ad and we had been playing together for a while before we met Brian through a friend who knew we were looking for someone else to get involved. Darragh joined just at the start of 2011. We had been writing songs for a four or five piece band when we only had three sets of hands. Brian knew Darragh from growing up and from previous bands and we all knew Darragh through Brian. We all get along pretty well so it made perfect sense.
How did you catch the attention of Stephen Street?
Michael McKeogh: Brian tracked him down, sent him some demos and asked him if he wanted to work with us.
What has it been like to work with him?
Michael McKeogh: Really good, he's easy to get along with and has a really good way of working in the studio.
Have the bands he's worked with before been an influence on you?
Michael McKeogh: We all really liked a lot of things he had worked on. We liked the stuff he had done with the Maccabees, Blur, and the Smiths a lot.
What musicians influence you most?
Michael McKeogh: Radiohead, The Knife, Grizzly bear, Animal Collective, Mogwai...... too many to mention.
Are there role models you have in the industry and things you're learning from them as you move forward?
Michael McKeogh: Yeah of course. The Knife inspire us a lot musically and in the way they seem to operate. You pick up on things overtly or covertly here and there. We're releasing our first album and we're doing a lot of things that we haven't done before so we're learning all the time.
What's special about the Irish music scene?
Michael McKeogh: Irish music is really good at the moment. There is a lot of really cool music being written by young people in Ireland right now. I guess we're a little bit more away from things here compared to the UK where the music industry is a more evolved thing. Its a different history and culture too but there's loads of things that influence it. I can't put my finger on why Irish music is as good as it is right now.... you can hear it though in the amount, diversity and quality of music being written in Ireland today.
Who's your favorite Irish musician or band?
Michael McKeogh: I'm really liking Villagers at the moment. Their debut album sounds amazing and I'm really looking forward to the album they're recording now. There are a lot of great Irish musicians though, we all really like Enya. 'Orinoco flow', 'Carribean blue' and 'Only time' are unbelievable songs.
There are Oasis lyric references in your latest single, were you fans of them?
Michael McKeogh: Is there? I can't even pick it out. There definitely is a Manic Street Preachers reference and a William Burroughs reference too though.
What do you think of how Noel and Liam Gallagher's career evolved versus Damon Albarn and the rest of Blur?
Michael McKeogh: Both bands wrote great songs in their day. I think Damon was probably the only one to really evolve as a musician though. I really liked Gorillaz 'Plastic Beach' album. 'White flag' and 'Empire ants' are great songs.
You studied at university, what did you major in, did you value that experience?
Michael McKeogh: I studied Economics in University. If I'm honest I wouldn't go back and study it again if I could go back in time. I was 16 when I went to University and I didn't really have a clue what I was doing. I do value the experience for what I learnt and being able to see the world through other eyes. The courses I took focused more on human behaviour and that's pretty relevant to everybody. If I could do it over again, I'd study music or sound engineering but life is long and you can study what you want when you want on your own time. The structure of learning in University is good but i don't think you need a piece of paper to validate what you learn.
What has it been like to be on the road, what are the coolest things about, what some of the challenges?
Michael McKeogh: Being on the road is fun. I imagine it's a bit like travelling around in a circus. Maybe not. The coolest thing is that you're working but its pretty much like a holiday cause we're doing what we love and get to travel about while doing it. The biggest challenge is staying out of fast food chains.
Who write the lyrics and music, do you all work on it together?
Michael McKeogh: We all write together in different formats. Most of the songs on the album that's coming out were written together in a room originally and then recorded as demos and worked on more before we recorded the album but there's no set process.