interview by Damage
The Birthday Massacre have a special recipe: add talent, fairyland, add cuteness, tongue-in-cheek reactions and lots of glittering guitars and synths. what you get at the end is pure gothic professionalism. And it's also like falling in love every single time. We talked to Chibi, Falcore and Rainbow about the new album, London and Toronto and then some more...
THE DOSE: It has been relatively quiet around The Birthday Massacre lately. Could you let us in on some details, what's the band up to, what are you planning for 2007?
RAINBOW: Well, we've been holed up at the house here in Toronto writing the next album. We finished our European tour in early September and took a month to collect ourselves before starting work on the next record. For the past few months, we've really been focusing on the new creative work. We're almost finished with the song-writing and we'll likely be in the studio by April. We're also working with some great people on the album design as well as the new website. We're really happy with how it's all coming together.
THE DOSE: Any chances of gigs at European summer festivals, like M'era Luna or WGT?
RAINBOW: We probably won't start touring until August. I know we're going to be playing the 'Black Sun Festival' in the US but I can't honestly say where we'll be heading after that. I'm guessing we'll be touring Europe sometime in the late fall/winter.
THE DOSE: As far as I know, you plan to release your new album in August this year. Please give us some exclusive details about the release, what songs, covers, subtle changes can we expect? Do you plan to release some teasers just as you did with 'Kill the Lights'?
RAINBOW: The release is actually scheduled for early September. It's a bit different but it's a natural progression from Violet. I really want the rest to be a surprise so that's all I'm gonna say. We'll be keeping people updated through the website.
THE DOSE: Will the new album be released via Repo/Metropolis? Is there any chance for future collaborations with labelmates?
CHIBI: Yes, the new album is going to be released through Repo and Metropolis. And as for collaborations, we're always open to working with other bands. It's been a lot of fun to collaborate in the past, doing remixes and working together with others, that's something we've always enjoyed doing. I'm sure we'll do some more.
THE DOSE: Let's twist things a bit. As you know, this is a London issue and I know that you formed in London, Ontario. So could you just give a bit of a sightseeing - what was it like to spend your childhood there and what memories and experiences did you bring with yourself that might have manifested in the overall phenomenon of TBM? Any places that you'd recommend there?
CHIBI: Actually, London, Ontario is where most of us met and where the band was formed. We were all born and raised in different small towns around Ontario. I'm from Cambridge, so obviously I have a lot of memories from there. There's a park near my house, on a hill with many sets of stairs leading up to an area with benches; I have fond memories of sitting up there and looking at downtown Cambridge. Also exploring along the Grand River. There are caves and trails where you can walk for hours. It's sort of sad, because my hometown is becoming more and more developed, and each time I go home to visit my family things are different. It's not such a small town anymore, and a lot of the places I used to explore or hang out in are gone. I guess that's the way it is for everyone, watching your childhood sort of disappear in a literal sense as your hometown changes.
THE DOSE: You moved to Toronto from London.. why did your choice fall on that very city?
CHIBI: Toronto is sort of the "Emerald City" for people in Ontario. It's the biggest city, you view it as having a lot to do and a lot of opportunites. Certainly for a young band, you'd absolutely want to move there because there's a much bigger live music scene here than anywhere else in the province; more ways to get established. It's a very diverse city. I mean, staying in the smaller towns, if you're interested in the alternative scene, it's very small there. You want to go to a place where you can actually get a decent sized crowd out to see a rock show. Toronto was definitely logical for us, even though London treats us well also. You want to try to start your career in a bigger city.
THE DOSE: How is it to be a part of the Canadian scene now? What are its key points, what would you recommend to a tourist visiting the city?
MICHAEL: We're the black sheep of the Canadian scene. The free press barely acknowledges us, and the music industry has never helped us. We're not bitter though, it's helped us make our own achievements and we've always had a DIY philosophy. We're good friends with the bands we grew up with here like Lye and il Attire, and we do what we can to support each other. But outside of our circle of friends the scene is indifferent. If you're visiting Toronto I'd recommend going to China town, Little Italy, pretty much every country has a little neighbourhood here. A lot of movies play here that aren't shown anywhere else. At night I'd go to the Bovine Sex club. It's the CBGBs of Toronto. Or, check out the Birthday Massacre if they're playing, haha.
THE DOSE: You've previously stated the visuals are very important for the band and you're doing a masterful work at that - and that's really crying out for some storytelling and interactivity (and praises to Aslan) - so, do you find it possible to release a game, flash, PC or anything inbetween?
MICHAEL: We've never thought of making a video game. Interesting idea though. We try to be careful not to exploit our imagery too much. It becomes over exposed and no one likes that. Unless, of course, you're a Kiss fan. We have been thinking of ways to incorporate other forms of media into our website like video. But, that will have to wait until the music for the next album is written and recorded.
THE DOSE: Is there any chance to see any Imajica songs remastered and released (on an EP, album or via your websites)?
CHIBI: We have a very strong attachment to those older songs, and a lot of our fan base does as well. It would be really nice to sort of go back to the older stuff and revisit it. There's definitely that desire, but also the desire to work on new stuff and keep growing and moving forward. There have been times in the past when we've surprised people playing some older stuff in the live set.
RAINBOW: They're still all on 4-track tapes from back in the day. I'd love to archive them properly and share them with whoever wants to hear them but there really hasn't been time. Someday perhaps.
THE DOSE: You've made some slamming remixes for MSI, Funker Vogt and Dope Stars Inc. Do you play these on concerts as well? (Any plans for their alternative versions with Chibi's vocals?) Do you plan to remix (or be remixed) sometime soon?
RAINBOW: Yeah, we produced those while we were in between tours. I'd never done a remix before the Funker Vogt thing. It was something I wanted to try. I particularly enjoyed doing the mix for 'Straight To Video' (MSI). That's the only one we've played live. We performed it once in Washington DC and again the next day for a New Years Eve party in L.A. Before we rehearsed it I didn't know how Chibi was gonna handle the vocals but she laid it down and it ended up sounding really cool. We've had a couple people remix our stuff in the past but we haven't released anything. We'll see what happens.
THE DOSE: There isn't a single fan who wouldn't be familiar with The Rabbit. Did you find a name for it yet?
CHIBI: Not yet. It would be difficult to name the rabbit. I'm not even sure if it's a boy or a girl.
THE DOSE: With all your references to fairies and reinterpretations of the classic wonderland meme, what do you think about the movie Pan's Labyrinth? How about Lenore and Jhonen Vasquez's stuff?
CHIBI: I personally haven't seen Pan's Labyrinth - I think some of the others have - but I have seen another movie by Gillermo Del Toro, it's called "El Espinazo del Diablo" (the Devil's Backbone) and it was absolutely incredible. I find I've always been drawn to the comic/fantasy world, one of my favorite authors/illustrators is Edward Gorey. I think Rainbow used to have a Lenore T-shirt.
RAINBOW: Yes, I did have a Lenore T-shirt. I've also seen Pan's Labyrinth, which was very well done. It's funny you mention Jhonen Vasquez because I unknowingly ate dinner with him without recognizing him. It wasn't until after some of us left the resturant that someone started talking about his work and I clued in. It was a shame because I do like his work and would have liked to chat. I know it's not much of a story but at least it's on topic.
THE DOSE: Have you come across any works of art (from statues to books) that really harmonized with the music you make?
CHIBI: One of my favorite authors is Frances Gordon. Her whole thing is taking fairy tales, and modernizing them, with a really twisted and dark feel. For example, taking "Little Red Riding Hood" and translating that to a little girl who wears a red sweater and on her way to school, she crosses through a monastery's grounds. The "wolf" is a creepy, evil priest who lurks on the grounds. So I guess I've always appreciated her work and likened it to some of our imagery: fantasy, but dark, and the contrast of innocent and evil.
THE DOSE: And something similar, what are you reading, watching and listening to nowadays? (And cooking! That's important, even Juno Reactor's Ben Watkins confessed his cooking skills!)
CHIBI: I'm currently devouring every Richard Laymon book I can get my hands on (though I really can't recommend it in good conscience), as well as my usual lineup of true crime and the occasional historical romance. He-he-he. And I do love cooking. I love making cupcakes with marshmallow and jellybean flowers on top. They always look awesome, and I don't want to eat them.
RAINBOW: I'm reading 'Popcorn' by Ben Elton as well as 'The Damnation Game' by Clive Barker. I don't watch much TV but I'm always up for watching movies. Michael (Falcore) and I just saw Frank Miller's '300'. It was so macho. Everybody's roaring and smashing things throughout the entire movie. It was ridiculous and it made me want to start wrestling everyone leaving the theater. I also picked up that new live NIN DVD. Trent's still kick'n it and I can't deny it. He's so 'pumped-up' now, he could've been in Frank Miller's '300'. Seems like it's 'hip' to look 'Spartan' these days.
THE DOSE: Being very aware of the violetish and tragicomical overtones of TBM, how much have you been influenced by established tragicomical writers such as Fletcher, Dürrenmatt, Stoppard or Pinter?
RAINBOW: To be honest, I've probably been more influenced by the books my Father read to my sister and I as children than any particular 'tragicomical' author, poet, or playwright. Life is the tragic comedy and we're just reflecting that and having fun with it. We're socially conscious and we obviously do make an effort to go beyond passive entertainment, however, I don't see us trying to spark any Durenmattish theoretical debates at our shows. I can't imagine that would go over very well with the festival crowds.
THE DOSE: Can we expect any new videos or tour DVDs in the making? (If so, could you elaborate on those?)
CHIBI: I'm sure we'll end up doing some new videos, but yeah, the focus right now is on the songwriting. Doing a live DVD is something we've been thinking about for a while, so we'll have to see what happens with that. It's a busy time, and yeah, I think once we've finished the album and figured out the touring, we'll be able to focus on video stuff a bit more.
THE DOSE: Chibi, you said you're interested in the female (performing) perspective of the music industry. Could you please elaborate on that?
CHIBI: I think being a female in a band, especially a band on the road for months, is definitely a unique perspective. Touring can be hard on everyone, and fun for everyone, but it is interesting to me to get the chance to talk to other women in bands and learn about their perspectives. I find, especially in North America, that it is a very male-dominated world, and I've run into some circumstances here and there that have definitely made me aware of my female-ness and can leave me with a bit of an awkward, unpleasant feeling at times. I've had a chance to talk to a lot of other women in bands, or even working in the industry, and it's nice to know that they often share, and relate to, these feelings. Good to get a chance to just sort of swap advice and experiences in this way.
THE DOSE: Thanks for your time in answering all our questions - do you have any final message for The Dose readers?
This March Break, Have An Indoor Fun-For-All!