Interview with ‘Funeral in Heaven’
Sunday Observer caught up with
‘Funeral in Heaven’ to give us the low-down about their music.
Q: Please give us a brief introduction about ‘Funeral in Heaven’ and
how the band started.
A: Funeral In Heaven was initiated by me (Chaturange Fonseka) and a
couple of close friends who shared an avid interest in morbid and
obscure music and material. We’ve been around since early 2003, and
we’ve no intention of stopping, whatsoever.
Q: What are your influences and what sort of genre is the band into?
A: We are a set of five individuals of five very dissimilar likes and
dislikes, or influences if you may say, from one another. Our influences
vary from philosophers, abstract romanticism, bands, nature and life in
Sri Lanka. Genre-wise, we believe in being experimental with our music
which is based in the roots of traditional Black Metal, so to facilitate
people who are curious about what sort of music we perform, we coined a
term called ‘Hela Metal’ or ‘Heavy Metal’ as some would.
The genre incorporates everything that is Sri Lankan; this includes
traditional art and cultural values, musically, lyrically and
theatrically. The attraction towards the other side of it goes without
saying. The genre is being adopted by more and more bands now, namely
great projects such as ‘Raaksha’, ‘Shokaagni’ and ‘Blood Orchestra’.
Q: What do you think about the current metal scene in Sri Lanka?
A: It is growing, definitely, amidst a few rotten apples, like in any
scene of any part of the world. There are some amazing new talent
flowing around, some very confused, talented nonetheless and on a
journey to find their ‘sound’. Names include, Five Minutes Apart, Falcon
Cry, Infernal, Triton, Sinister Asylum.
It’s also filled with ‘rock stars’ who claim to have opened up
amazing opportunities for Metal in Sri Lanka, although they don’t know
the first thing about the scene in our country.
These people are of course, best if ignored. Another element of proof
being the ‘As I Lay Dying/Nervecell’ gig that is going to happen next
month. It’s a great opportunity for our bands and the scene because the
gates are starting to open up for Sri Lanka. The gig has been confirmed
with some of our best talent like ‘Fallen Grace’, ‘Whirlwind’ and
‘Paranoid Earthling’ as supporting acts for the two international bands.
Q: How people can better understand metal music by not just thinking
it is just loud music with elements of bad influence in it?
A: Anyone with the simple gift of intelligence would instantly
identify a connection between Heavy Metal and Blues music and classical
greats like Beethoven and Richard Wagner. So ignorant is the one who
blatantly claims it to be ‘noise’. Heavy Metal is acquired taste, and it
indeed isn’t for our ‘kalu suddas’ whose lives revolve around clubbing
and other false entertainment. I really don’t want to waste my time
trying to convince everyone to listen and understand Heavy Metal, so,
the lesser the people who listen to Metal, the better. Metal was never
meant for commercial purposes and it should stay that way.
Q: What do you think about women/girls getting into the local rock
scene and the feminine fan following in Sri Lanka? Are there more
getting into it now?
A: It seems like it, doesn’t it? We’ve been noticing an increasing
interest and participation by the female sect of Heavy Metal fans at
shows. There was even an all girl punk rock band around if I’m not
mistaken, wonder what happen to those dames.
Q: Besides Chity, why do you think there is a dearth of Sri Lankan
talent aspiring internationally?
A: Chithral, is not the only person who has aspired talent
internationally. No offence to the man, of course. But our bands have
been doing a great deal and have successfully gained International
recognition, no matter what others may say. Events such as Stigmata’s
touring in countries such as Malaysia and India, Paranoid Earthling’s
tour of India, Plecto’s split releases with Pogrom from the United
States, Germany’s Hippiekacke Radio’s 90 min show of Sri Lankan Metal
and FIH material being available via labels in countries such as
Slovenia, Sweden and France are some examples.
Q: What advice would you give young and upcoming musicians?
A: If you’re a person who actually has an ounce of respect for the
music you play, refrain from taking part in so called ‘competitions’
such as TNL Onstage. There are more than enough people in the scene that
would lend a helping hand to our fellow brethren to expose their music
Being lazy and pathetic enough to look for a quick way up the ladder
for 15 minutes of fame to impress your girlfriend will do no one any
good, this is METAL, not pop or hip-hop or any of that false
entertainment, this is music built on your inner emotions and your
foundations which stand to define who you are. Work for it, and by all
means, put all of your blood, sweat and tears into it, all of it will be
worth it one day.
Q: Any acknowledgements?
A: Yes, first of all, you, for all the relentless support extended.
Our acquaintances, Shaxul and LOD Records, Zana of NSP Slovenia, Tony of
Salute Records, our family at Rock.lk, Hela Hawula, our legions from
Kandy, all members of the Launch Pad, friends and supporters of Funeral
In Heaven in SL and overseas, you all know who you are. And most of all,
our foemen, we thrive on your negativity.
Pianist and bassist of a rare quality
And so another year will roll
around, and there we were discussing and contemplating the Yuletide and
New Year’s Eve festivities in Sri Lanka, the likes of which are never
experienced in countries outside our little ‘ole isle.’ To Kathy and
Peter Menezes the sister and brother team of Sri Lankan musicians, and
to many music fans that is something they long for when they are
domiciled in another country. Pianist/vocalist Kathy Menezes and her
brother bassist Peter were in town recently to pay a visit to their
ailing mother and we were fortunate to catch up with them to get a low
down of their music careers in Melbourne, Australia.
“The pop world was a change for me. I was doing classical having
obtained a Diploma in Music from Trinity College and a Master’s Degree.
Over here in Sri Lanka I started off on a professional level with the
Jetliners then moved over to the popular group Amazing Grace and
rejoined the Jetliners when the band was signed on to perform at the
Regent, Hong Kong. Now in Melbourne Peter and I, we are with the Latin
band at Rios a Brazilian restaurant. It’s a five piece band with two
keyboards, Peter plays bass and I also handle the vocals.
I arrange the music for the band especially the ‘covers’ they perform
to give a new slant to the hits. That’s where my classical music
knowledge comes into play and I enjoy the arranging of the music it
keeps me on my toes,” voices Kathy a creative pianist who unfortunately
is lost to us.
Daughter of the famous musician Tom Menezes - trumpeter, pianist,
vocalist, drummer, bassist, guitarist, saxophonist - you name it, his
versatility was amazing, Kathy has inherited his creativity and his
versality but has concentrated more on piano and vocals. Word has
filtered over here that besides your regular stint with the band you are
involved in a commendable job of teaching music to the youth and
specially to the youth who are afflicted with disabilities. Could you
“Yes, that’s correct. I find it very rewarding. Such students are
very sensitive and when you hear them rehearsing the music and then
suddenly they have conquered the phrasing it gives you a genuine happy
feeling”. And they too are ecstatic.
And today’s music?
“Music has changed a lot for the better. I’m no ardent fan of rap
which is talk to a beat, I like music that has a melody. Soul is full of
life, it will never die. Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles have seen to it,
given it eternal life and now Michael Buble he has come around, reached
out to the youth with his re-arrangements of melodies which have
There’s a dearth of experienced pianists in our country would you
consider coming back to play a gig?
“I’m hoping I could come back to play a gig in Sri Lanka!”
Bassist Peter Menezes when he went off to Melbourne joined Conrad de
Silva and his all Sri Lankan band Main Street, then shifted to David
Senn’s funk band, and later joined a Mauritius band toured Mauritius
before joining Rios. Sri Lankan musicians in Melbourne are doing well
You are involved in production we understand?
“Yes that’s right. I do production for others and I’m also
concentrating on my CDs. This new CD is going to be my 4th album and I
intend selling my songs to someone who needs a song. I started
production as a hobby but now it is a rewarding career.”