The Funeral Portrait
Their set was absolutely outstanding, playing through their masterpiece EP For the Dearly Departed (click here to read review) song-by-song, detailing the intricate storyline weaved by the musicians.
The protagonist in the story, explains Landstrom, “has killed his significant other… The first song is that event, and then the following five songs represent…the five stages of grief, and each song is trying to embody that stage and you’re experiencing the emotions associated with this character through these songs.”
For reference, the five stages of grief are:
1. Denial and Isolation- “A River in Egypt”
2. Anger- “All My Circuits”
3. Bargaining- “Marrow”
4. Depression- “The Optimist”
5. Acceptance- “Wax Romantic”
“That’s why we like to play the songs front to back on stage,” says Landstrom, because it wouldn’t make sense in a different order.
“I’ve been told I’m an intense person, but I promise you I’m not,” claims Landstrom. “I don’t think I’m dark and moody and evil like the music might suggest. I’m pretty boring.”
In fact, Landstrom claimed he is so not intense that his favorite Instagram is “Percy Pig,” an account dedicated to “a movement that pigs in a blanket should be actual living pigs wrapped up in blankets,” says Landstrom.
However, Jennings has a different story: “This guy, he makes me terrified. That’s why when he entered the room I kind of silenced, because I’m like, ‘oh my god, Juergie’s here, I can’t talk.’”
Personally, I side more with Jennings because of Landstrom’s fiercely energetic stage presence. His raging screams and creative guitar-work is a recipe for a daunting aura, although he is laid-back in person.
No surprise here, but it turns out Jennings is trained in musical theater.
“Elementary school came around, I was always [the] freaking tall kid, chubby kid,” begins Jennings. “I always got picked on and everything. I needed something that I really loved, so I tried football, baseball, basketball, everything…[and] I hated it. It just wasn’t my thing. Music started becoming my thing because I found out that my elementary school music teacher, his name is Mr. Thai, he’s phenomenal. He was just super freaking rad… He made elementary school kids sing in Latin! … So that’s what turned me on to music and into the whole music theater realm.”
Jennings’ background in musical theater has deeply influenced his performance style and stage presence. He moves about the stage like a true actor.
Jennings describes his experience on stage, “I’ve never buried someone alive, I’ve never killed anybody, as you guys know of, but everybody, and I’m sure you eventually will find somebody that you want to bury alive, and you’ll kind of go through that every night. That’s what I get to do every night up on stage. I get to kill someone every night.”
“Without the consequences,” adds Landstrom.
Their first release of the year will be a single, which will hopefully be released in late summer, explains Landstrom. “[It] is going to be the entire plot of Twin Peaks... Recently we’ve been watching a whole lot of Twin Peaks, so the entire plot of that TV show—which is a lot to digest—exists within this one song.”
Later in 2015, around the fall or winter, The Funeral Portrait is preparing to release their first full-length, which is, according the Jennings, “on the shush-shush.”
“It wouldn’t be fair to anyone or myself to talk about the…concept, because we are a concept-driven band,” explains Landstrom. They expect the concept to evolve and change as they write the music, and don’t want anything set in stone until the music is completely recorded and on the computer in final form.
Jennings explains that they are “writing machines,” and would release music all the time if they could. Of course, they can’t because of record label contracts and the necessity to keep fans waiting.
Zoe Adler is a music journalist from Long Beach, California. Besides her website, which is her pride and joy, she works with the GRAMMY Foundation and the Long Beach Independent. Additionally, Ms. Adler is a musician, spending half of her time playing the flute, piccolo, trombone, and marching baritone. She has been with TeenView Music since the very start and hopes to make something of it in the future.