Funeral Hag Interview

On the south coast of Blighty there is a stink brewing, a wretched slow-motion decay ready to rot your innards with it’s putrid down-tuned stoner riffage, it goes by the name of Funeral Hag. I hooked up with the throat of the band Monty, to discuss all things Hag, metal and Y-fronts.

Hey there Funeral Hag, how goes life in the sunny coastal lands of Brighton these days? Whats going on in the Hag camp at the moment?

We’ve got a fair bit on our plates at the moment, at least by our standards. We just opened Mammothfest at the Hove Centre last weekend so now we can say we’ve opened for Entombed and Orange Goblin. We’ve been working on a new song, Panzerchimp, which required a complete re-write after we decided it was too fast. We also have plans afoot to record our album, but will probably have to re-record the guitar guide tracks as they were too fast as well. This is a constant theme with us. We’re also looking forward to playing with Ishmael and Gurt at Mammothfest at The Windmill in Brixton in October! It’s not often we get to play on a proper doomy bill, despite the profusion of doom and sludge bands in Brighton.

I dare say not too many of the Shaman readership will be overly familiar with the tones of Funeral Hag, give us a run through of what you guys are all about and where you’re coming from as far as ideology musically and lyrically goes, and how did it all start?

Hag started with one song: Nellie Longarms. Jon recorded it by himself in his home studio, and wouldn’t even let his girlfriend hear it until it was finished. He put it up on Myspace and it got a good reaction, including being used for an online compilation. This was back in 2008. Around the start of 2009 he decided he wanted a full band and that’s where we came in.

Ideologically and musically we’re about making music that’s heavy as fuck but still has an almost danceable groove to it. I say almost danceable because usually it’s too slow for actual dancing, unless you’re our mate Andy, but people do often nod their heads in time with the music. We’re all into doom, stoner, sludge and death metal so the sound’s kind of a fusion of all those things. Lyrically, well, whatever pops into my head when I’m trying to write some lyrics. Some songs are kinda political, some are moral but mostly they’re just stories.

So far you’ve released one demo in 2009, how representative is it of the Funeral Hag experience? Did you guys get much feedback from it? And can we still get a hold of it easy enough?

The demo was a first attempt at capturing the Funeral Hag sound. We’re reasonably happy with it and it always seems to get a good reaction, but it doesn’t sound as Hag like as it could. I think my vocal sound has improved a lot since then and the guitars definitely sound fatter these days, plus Steve’s started using overdrive on his bass with makes that cut through the mix a lot more. The demo’s always been up for free download on our Myspace, so you can still grab it from there. Think there are 4 or 5 different download links now! If anyone wants an actual CD-R then they can email us their address or grab one at a show. They’re free.

I hear you guys are recording an album, is it for a label or self-released? How does the material differ from the demo, any stand out tracks that you’re particularly chuffed with? How will it be available to the public?

We haven’t really had any offers from labels, which is fine as we prefer to go down the self-release route anyways. We’ll be recording it ourselves as Nev is a bit of a wizard when it comes to Cubase and music production. There will only be one track from the demo that’ll be on the album and that’s Nellie because it’s the song that started Hag and deserves better production than we managed on the demo. The rest is all newer material which we like to think is better. There are a few more traditionally paced doom tracks, a few mid-tempo.

Funeral Hag

You’re on the bill to play the Mammothfest in Hove on 18th September with the might of Entombed, psyched? That should be a pretty cool show, what’s it like in Brighton for shows? There used to be quite a few venues up and running but thats a-changing, I’m still disgruntled about the Engine Rooms closing down, most of my shows I went to outside London were there, how has that affected the Brighton scene?

The Brighton scene is all a bit up in the air at the moment. The death of the Engine Rooms was certainly a big blow, combined with losing the Pressure Point a few years ago and continuing problems with the Freebutt, not to mention the Hobgoblin’s refurbishment and the new management’s attempts to distance themselves from the rock/metal side of things. Without any dedicated heavy-music venues it’s getting a lot harder for promoters to put on shows in decent venues. Most venues in Brighton now cater to various different scenes depending on the night, so it’s quite hard to get a decent night and often requires planning several months in advance.

That said, there are a few new venues, most notably Hydrant on London Road. It’s a bit out of the way, though pretty good for me as it’s very near my house. There were a few sound issues to start out with, but that’s mostly sorted now. We’ve played a few shows there and they’ve gone pretty well. The venue itself is above a pub and is quite large. The only real problem with it now is the heat, the two commercial air-conditioners in the corner can’t really cope with that many people in one room!

Mammothfest was awesome. We went on at 11:30 on the 2nd stage, but there were more people there than I expected. Of course, a few friends were too hungover to get there in time. They will pay! It was great to be playing with a well-established band like Entombed, and of course we all love Orange Goblin so it was great to see them.

Who in the band writes most of the music and from what inspiration/inner turmoil does it spring?

Songwriting is almost a collective thing for us. Usually one of us will come up with some riffs, often Nev or Jon as they’re the guitarists but sometimes me or Steve or George. Then we’ll play around with them at rehearsal until we get something we all like and assign a rough structure, though this can change depending what I do with the lyrics. As for inspiration, we just all love heavy music so that’s the kind of music we want to make!

It’s a strange band name to go for, any stories behind it’s choosing? I take it you’re not referencing any real people, or anyone’s mother, time to finger point!

Jon came up with the name from an internet band name generator. He tried a few times and got two names: Spunk Hag and Cosmic Funeral. Spunk Hag didn’t seem appropriate somehow, so he didn’t use that, and Cosmic Funeral is a black metal project by a guy from Turkey (and of course a Cathedral song). So he combined the two names.

What’s the music scene like in Brighton and the south coast? Brighton has always had a rep as being a bit close knit, is this the reality? Is there much more in the way of Doom in the south?

The Brighton scene can be a bit incestuous at times. You see a lot of bands with overlapping members. Many of our band members are also involved in other projects; Nev and Steve have a doom band called Sabazius which is well worth checking out, I play bass for a thrash metal band called Headface and Steve and I are also working on another doom related project at the moment. Brighton’s quite a small city so a lot of the people in bands end up knowing each other simply from being at the same gigs, pubs, venues etc. This can be quite daunting to outsiders I suppose. Of course there’s a certain amount of self-promotion and scene infighting which happens in any scene but can be exacerbated by the size of Brighton. We generally do our best to avoid all of that (not giving a fuck what everyone else thinks of us helps) and get on with playing some metal.

As for doom in Brighton, there’s actually quite a big scene developing in and around the city! Brighton and south coast doom/sludge/stoner bands worth listening to include Enos, Dopefight, Gorse, Jovian, DKH, Arteriosus, Sloath, Blackstorm, Uncle Debauchery Roman Showers, Old Mayor, Trippin’ Violet, Damaged, From Beneath It Devours, and of course Nev and Steve’s other band Sabazius! You can find ’em all on Funeral Hag’s Myspace friends list, along with loads of other awesome metal bands from Brighton and elsewhere.

Funeral Hag

What the fuck is the song title ‘Nellie Longarms’ all about?

The original title came from a kids book called “Nellie Longarms will get you… if you don’t watch out!” by John Bailey and Rose Quigley. Basically it’s about a hag who lives in a swamp and eats unwary villagers who stray too near to the water. The story was originally a folk-tale to scare children away from swamps, bogs and lakes which appears in several English counties. Nellie has several other names including Jenny Greenteeth and Peg Powler, which are regional variations of the same story.

How do you see the band evolving musically? Do you guys have a long-term plan?

So far our sound has evolved to be slower and heavier, so hopefully we’ll continue down that road as we all seem to like it. We don’t have long term plans for world domination or anything like that. It’s unlikely we can make any money out of the music we play, we just do it because we enjoy it. So the plan is to keep on doing it whilst we enjoy it, and if we don’t anymore then we’ll stop!

How important is equipment to you, do you veer towards the old school analogue or digital? And what kind of pro’s and con’s do you attach to both camps, doom metal tends to steer the trusty analogue ship.

All the tracks we’ve recorded so far have been done on Digital Audio Workstation software, so I think it’s fair to say we’re in the digital camp. Nev and I both use Cubase at home and find that the DAW format makes it a lot easier to work with tracks, particularly for demoing and rearranging things. I think cost is a key factor here too, most people already have a computer and you can pick up a usable DAW with a basic interface for >£200, but to get a decent analogue setup you’re looking at a lot more money.

What set up do you all play through, and what equipment do you use?

We keep things a basic as possible. Personally I just use an SM58 and whatever PA is available, no effects or anything like that. Jon has an Epiphone Custom Les Paul and an Epiphone Flying V which he plays through an Orange Dual Terror and a nice, small Orange 1×12 cab. Nev has a Legend Les Paul copy and a BC Rich Flying V which he plays through a Mesa Boogie F30 combo. Steve uses an Aria bass and whatever bass rig he can get his hands on, which looks like being my Trace Elliot 715 SMC for the near future at least. George has lots of drums, which I know very little about! He tells me he uses Tama drums, Sabian cymbals, Vater sticks, Iron Cobra kick pedals and a brass Premier Modern Classic snare. Basically, we keep things to a minimum so as to reduce the likelihood of gear-related problems. Also because we’re lazy and don’t like spending ages setting things up or carrying massive amps.

Funeral Hag

I personally do not download music as I have an old school (call it luddite) attitude towards metal and like to own the CD/vinyl, how do you guys relate to the digital age and the material product?

I feel much the same as you! I download/stream stuff to see what it’s like. If I like it I’ll buy the CD, if not I close the stream or delete the MP3s. I definitely prefer having a material product, but I do end up listening to most of my music from MP3 anyways. We’ve put out our demo as a free download and it means we can reach way more people than we would otherwise, though of course there are CDs available for those who want them.

Imagine for one moment you’re a freelance psychic, and you peer into the empty teacup, what future do see in the cup for the world of metal?

I expect there’ll be a lot more manufactured, mainstream crap being shoved down our throats by the death throes of the record company dinosaurs. Also a lot more cool, innovative, underground metal made by people who love what they’re doing and don’t care if anyone else likes it or not. It’s getting cheaper and easier to write and record your own music at home, so that means there will be more music in total and some of it has to be good! Just wading through the swamp of rubbish to find the good stuff could be challenging…

Isn’t it about time for the Y-front to make a come back??

Hell no! I used to wear those things as a kid and hated them. Then I discovered boxer shorts, which are vastly superior. Or you could follow Steve’s example and not wear any underwear…

Well chaps, thank you very much for putting answers to these ridiculous questions, any final shouts, rants or thoughts, run free with the words, but no swearing, sexual innuendo, political talk, plugs, negativity, positivity or words…..freedom of speech brothers and sisters!!!! Seriously, speak up about whatever you wish and thanks again.

Thanks to all the Hag fans out there, keep supporting your local doom, sludge and stoner scene.

More info on Funeral Hag at:

Interviewed by: Andrew Sloan