Interview: Funeral Leech

I think it’s a more realized sound for Funeral Leech, like this is what we’ve been trying to do. We definitely leaned into the doom way more on this one.

New York’s Funeral Leech specialise in death and doom laden metal to create music that is mournful and mesmerising in equal measure. This mix of atmospheric heaviness  is the epicentre of the bands outstanding new album The Illusion Of Time, an album that captures the band’s epic and sorrowful nature perfectly. Ahead of its release, Gavin Brown caught up with Funeral Leech drummer / vocalist Lucas Anderson to hear all about The Illusion Of Time in depth as well as discussing his favourite mournful songs, New York albums and powerful live shows.

E&D: Your new album The Illusion Of Time is out very soon. Can you tell us a bit about the sound and the feeling of the new record? 

Lucas: We definitely wanted to branch out a little bit and add some new elements to it. I feel like right off the bat with the opening track you’ll know what I mean. I think it’s a more realised sound for Funeral Leech, like this is what we’ve been trying to do. We definitely leaned into the doom way more on this one. The addition of synths puts a whole new layer on our sound. It feels darker and more melancholic to me. 

E&D: How did the making of the album go and was it quite a smooth process? 

Lucas: This go around felt much smoother and more focused.  We had plenty of time to hash out the songs and then even more time to practice them. The time we spent in the studio (artifact audio) was the best time I’ve ever had recording anything. Sasha Stroud was super fun to work with, and was very supportive with any ideas we brought to the table. 

E&D: Did you feel that the album track ‘Ceaseless Wheel Of Becoming’ was the perfect way to introduce the new album? 

Lucas: Yes. Absolutely.  While it’s not my favourite track nor do I think it’s the most powerful, it definitely is the perfect example of what we have to offer with this new album. Including the fastest parts we have written as a band thus far. 

E&D: The epic ‘The Tower’ concludes the album perfectly, did you always want your end the album with such a vast song?  

Lucas: The Tower is my favourite song we’ve ever created as a band. It was definitely written as the closeout of the record and ultimately follows that narrative. I had the lyrics written for a very long time, so it was incredible to see it come to life, and I tossed around the idea of trying to get the guest vocalist on it, which when that fell into place felt surreal to hear the final product. 

E&D: Is this album the ultimate melding so far in terms of bringing death metal, funeral doom and more traditional doom together in your music? 

Lucas: For our music? Most definitely, it for sure is how we want to move forward from now on. 

E&D: The album has heavy and effective use of synths as well, is that something you have wanted to incorporate into your sound for a while? 

Lucas: Absolutely, I’ve wanted to since our first record. It didn’t work out that way back then, but it’s something I’ve tinkered with in our sound for a while. When we play live, our intros, and our samples in between songs are all stuff I’ve written with various synths. 

 

E&D: Do you feel that The Illusion Of Time is even larger in vision and execution than your debut album Death Meditation and did you always want it to be? 

Lucas: I knew I wanted to expand and grow on the follow up to Death Meditation, but to be honest this album is more expansive than I could have even imagined. I have the rest of my band to thank for that. 

E&D: Were you happy with how Death Meditation was received? 

Lucas: I was, yes. I didn’t expect it to do as well as it did. The first press sold out in two weeks, while the entire world was shutting down. We didn’t get to play a proper show for until about two years later!

E&D: Did you feel any pressure at all following up Death Meditation

Lucas: I definitely did, it’s been 4 years since Death Meditation, I would have people asking us about a follow up. Ideally we wouldn’t have taken 4 years in between, BUT, I’m very happy we didn’t rush it and this is what we have to offer. I feel it’s a good example that no time was wasted. 

E&D: How have Funeral Leech evolved musically between making your debut and the new album? 

Lucas: I think as a band we finally found our footing and formula, it still is very much sounds like us, but it is a more solid structure and each song has something new to add to our sound. 

E&D: What have been the biggest musical influences on The Illusion Of Time?

Lucas: For me? Asunder. That’s one of my favourite bands of all time, that influence comes out heavy on this record. Evoken and Mournful Congregation were huge ones too, especially when it came to atmosphere.  

E&D: What are your favourite sorrowful and depressive songs of all time? 

Lucas: Oh man, I could do a list like this all day. Haha, without going on too much I’ll list a few here:

‘Katy Song’ – The Red House Painters
‘Well I Wonder’ – The Smiths
‘My Meds Aren’t Working’ – Dystopia
‘No River To Take Me Home’ – Neurosis
‘Used to Be a Sweet Boy’ – Morrissey
‘Today’ – Ride
‘Nutshell’ – Alice In Chains
‘As I Drown In Loveless Rain’ – Mournful Congregation
‘Watching From A Distance’ – Warning (the whole album really)
‘Days Of Candy’ – Beach House
‘Coming Home’ – Amebix
‘Rainy Day’ – No Hope For The Kids

(This list was originally three songs, but obviously I couldn’t stop there. Haha.)

E&D: What is it about the mournful nature of music that you find so powerful? 

Lucas: Music, among many things is an outlet of emotion. I find it hard to relate to a lot of things, but when a band is talking about depression, mental illness and grief… I feel seen, and I feel connected to it. That’s what I hope to achieve with my lyrics in Funeral Leech. 

E&D: Are you looking forward to your album release show with where you are playing the new album in full? 

Lucas: Absolutely. We’ve never done a specific themed set like that, so we’ve been practicing meticulously for it. 

E&D: Will The Illusion Of Time form the basis of your forthcoming live shows? 

Lucas: We had been playing 2/3 songs from it in our set already, so I do see it being the greater part of our set. 

E&D: What other live shows have you got coming up that you can tell us about and have you got any plans to come over to the UK and Europe? 

Lucas: At the moment, just our record release show and a fest in California in the summer.  We don’t have any set plans for UK and Europe but we’d love to make it happen if all the stars align. 

E&D: What has been the most powerful live show that you have ever witnessed? 

Lucas: Of all time? Neurosis the most recent time they played Warsaw.  They’ve been one of my favourites for a long time and that was truly the best time I’ve ever seen them. And first time I’ve seen them play songs from Souls At Zero, my favourite album of theirs.

Most recently? Last time Immolation played. Dudes are masters of their craft. Also the local band here, Savage Pleasure always put on a great and powerful live show, the perfect blend of Amebix and Axegrinder influenced metal punk.

E&D: How did your shows with All Out War and Tombs go at the end of last year? 

Lucas: We were definitely playing to a different crowd, but it was still really fun. Me and Kevin, who plays bass in Funeral Leech both love All Out War, and I was stoked when Mike reached out and wanted us to do some shows with them.  

E&D: What have been the most memorable shows that Funeral Leech have played so far? 

Lucas: Probably the show we did at Irving Plaza with Black Anvil, Demolition Hammer, Mortician and Immolation, it was a highlight of playing in bands for me. It was great to be the representation of newer bands from NYC that night, and as a born and raised New Yorker, I couldn’t be more proud. We played our first show ever with our brothers in Black Anvil, so it was fun to be back at a legendary venue with them.

E&D: You played a great show at St Vitus in NY. The footage is brilliant! What are your thoughts on the closure of the venue? 

Lucas: Thanks! It’s always a fun time playing at Vitus. I’m bummed they’re closed for now, it’s nice other local venues are picking up their shows and hopefully Vitus will be back up and running soon. 

E&D: What are your other favourite places in New York to play? 

Lucas: As a band, Funeral Leech has only played a few other venues besides Vitus, they tend to have most of the shows we end up doing. Our record release is at TV Eye, it’ll be my first time playing there, looking forward to it. Playing Irving Plaza was incredible, and the Knitting Factory was fun too. I do miss the Acheron, that was always a fun place to play.  

E&D: What record shops in New York would you recommend for any fan of heavy music? 

Lucas: Generation Records is the best record store in the city, don’t let anyone tell you any different. They’ve been doing it the longest, and always bring out incredible collections of punk, metal, hardcore and everything inbetween. I’m a huge record collector, and most of the rarest stuff in my collection, I got at Generation. Other than that, Academy Records is good, Material World caters to mostly punk/metal and noise, and you can always find something heavy at Honeymoon coffee shops record selection. It’s mostly curated by Sacred Bones, so there’s some dark stuff in there.

E&D: What are your favourite ever New York albums? 

Lucas: Another list I could go on and on with.

First and foremost. The entire Ramones discography.

Warzone – Don’t Forget The Struggle, Don’t Forget The Streets (I’m from the Lower East Side, so this album HAS to be on the list)
Madball – Set it Off
Agnostic Front – Live At CBGB (was gonna say Victim In Pain or Cause For Alarm, but this one feels the most New York.)
Nausea – Extinction
Winter – Into Darkness
Immolation – Close To A World Below
Incendiary – Cost Of Living (already a modern day New York classic)
King Nine – Scared To Death
Television – Marquee Moon
Type O Negative – World Coming Down
Irate – 11:34
Merauder – Master Killer
Mobb Deep – The Infamous…
Cam’ron – SDE
MOP – Warriorz
Big Pun – Yeeeah Baby
Black Anvil – Regenesis
Crown Of Thornz – Mentally Vexed
New York Dolls – S/T

I could keep going but I’ve already listed so many. Haha! That’s essential NY music.

E&D: What songs would you want played at your own funeral?

Lucas: Personally I never want a funeral, but if I had to pick, the serious answer would be The Smiths – ‘Death of A Disco Dancer’. The “I get the last laugh” answer would be Rick Astley – ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’!

Photo by Evan Hunter McKnight

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