The Funeral Portrait: Painting A Concept With Music

Pop-rock band, The Funeral Portrait, has taken a step from its local scene in Atlanta to beginning a new family with Revival Recordings. The five-piece band released its label debut EP, For The Dearly Departed on Sept. 23. The story begins with vocalist Lee Jennings talking about the two-week tour in September with Alesana, Megosh and The Things They Carried and how it was everything he could have ever wanted.

The third stop on tour was in South Carolina, The Funeral Portrait’s very first out of state show. Before starting the set, Jennings saw there were about five people in the very front of the stage. As he started singing, he immediately noticed those same people singing every word.

“It blew my mind,” says Jennings. “When they were singing along, I could see it in their eyes of their burning passion that I helped create. It blows me away more than anything. Coming back from this tour, the next day I was ready to play a show because I missed that fire and passion from the kids at the shows.”

A year prior to the band’s show in South Carolina, The Funeral Portrait was known as Cosmoscope. The idea of having a concept stems from Cosmoscope’s album Hero Or Menace, where half of the 11-song album consists of the idea of a hero and the other half about the idea of a menace. While there isn’t a specific kind of detailed story with the album, ultimately gaining interest from owner of Revival Recordings Shawn Milke, the band members wanted to take this idea and expand on it.

“We always loved the concept, but we never actually wrote more of a story line and we felt like this EP was supposed to be a story,” Jennings says. “We wanted each song to be a feeling such as anger, depression, acceptance. No matter what we work on, it will be kind of a concept.”

While the six-song EP takes the listener through the stages of grief, there is still another aspect to the EP that Jennings takes with him while performing live. He grew up with a passion in musical theater and was heavily involved with it throughout school. Guitarist Juergie Landstrom writes the lyrics for The Funeral Portrait, but Jennings doesn’t only sing them to their fans, he has the opportunity to act out a character, something he has done his entire life.

The Funeral Portrait 2014
Vocalist Lee Jennings sings to a crowd during The Funeral Portrait’s set

“It’s actually pretty awesome singing other people’s stuff,” says Jennings. “If you have ever sat down and read a book to a child or something you take on this persona. I get to take that I’m an actor and take on this persona of this character every night and it’s cool and different. It’s kind of continuing that kind of musical theater style and I get to spice it up with myself.”

As the conversation comes to an end, Jennings speaks of The Funeral Portrait in the very early stages of writing a full-length album, touring again in January and his admiration of Revival Recordings.

“Literally a few months ago we were still a local band and now we get to do this on a bigger scale,” says Jennings. “We just want to write music and play shows. If there were only five kids who bought the EP, we would be extremely happy.