Fireworks Magazine Online 67 - Interview with The Birthday Massacre

THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE: An interview with CHIBI


The Birthday Massacre is a Female-Fronted six-piece from Ontario, Canada who formed back in 1999. They have a unique sound that includes many varied styles from Synth Pop to Gothic to Rock. They have so far released five albums and have now released their sixth entitled ‘Superstition’. Dave Scott fired some question to their vocalist Chibi to delve deeper into the band and the new album.


Birthday-Massacre-Interview


The obvious first question would be to ask how you came up with and settled on such a memorable name?

Well, they’re two opposites – Birthday and Massacre are obviously very different things and contrast one another. We have a lot of these sort of opposite pairings in our music and our imagery – creepy and cute, heavy and melodic. We enjoy putting opposites beside each other and finding ways to blend them together cohesively.

You have described TBM as an audio visual project; I have also read that you learned about “color theory” and that was responsible for your use of violet, what was your thought process and reason for that decision? Also, where does the rabbit connection come from?

Using purple and violet as the band’s colours goes back to that contrast pairing – to get purple, you mix together red and blue – hot and cold. We’ve used consistent imagery throughout our artwork; fantasy silhouettes and landscapes all blending colours and pictures to create something that I think is very recognisable as being “us”. And the rabbit was originally a transitional element on our website that led from page to page – sort of a “follow the rabbit” idea. It has taken on a life of its own and is again, very much a part of us.

I don’t think I have ever described your music the same way to two people. How would you describe the TBM sound to someone new to the band?

Ha-ha, I don’t really know how I’d categorise the music either! It’s better for others to determine that for themselves, I think. We grew up in the 1980s, so there are definitely influences from the stuff we loved growing up; Synth Pop, Metal and Industrial. We listen to everything from Roxette to Pantera to Nine Inch Nails. Combining those sounds that appeal to us is what we do; make the sort of music we’d ideally like to listen to.

You have embraced the internet since you first started, making it a vehicle to help rather than viewing it as a negative. How you have often made it work for you and with you?

We really have tried to use the internet as a means of growing the community around the band since we were able to. Obviously the internet has affected music sales and the industry is very different now, everyone knows that. So I’d say it is a wonderful tool for community and for interaction, for really putting yourself out there and finding what’s going on with your audience.

Your new album ‘Superstition’ has just been released and you partly funded it through Pledgemusic. Why did you decide to go this route and how did you feel meeting the target so quickly?

We were hesitant to do it. We really wanted it to be worthwhile for the fans if we were going to try it out. We spent a lot of time thinking up things that we would want to see from bands we like. It was incredible to reach our goal so quickly; the campaign definitely brought to us an awareness of how supportive our fans can be. We’re so grateful for everything they’ve done for us. Our fans really are wonderful, creative, supportive people and the campaign illustrated that for us so well.

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How does the new album compare to your previous release ‘Hide And Seek’ and to your earlier work prior to that?

I won’t really be able to tell you that until some time has passed and I can listen to it with a more objective, critical mind. I have heard feedback that it has a more 1980s sound than the last few recordings. Again, I’m really not sure. We don’t go into a writing process with a goal of doing anything deliberately different to the sound. It just reflects where we are while we’re recording.

When it comes to lyrics, where do you get your inspiration from?

It’s all about where we are and what we are feeling at that point. For the last record, I was very interested in the concept of a city being alive, about true crime, mysteries, things that happen within a city that you don’t know about; the current running beneath things. This time around, I was in a much darker place and sort of looking for spiritual comfort, which naturally just brings up confusion and even more questions, so there are more of those lyrical themes on this record. I suffered a few losses in the last year which sent me looking for comfort; a sort of “what is beyond all of this” kind of thing. We started looking at legends, religions, ideas, what other cultures look to, what images and ideas from those explorations appealed to us and working those themes in. Ultimately, spiritual and religious beliefs are basically just “superstitions”, and thus, that became the theme of the album.

If you had to highlight one particular track, what would it be and why?

I can’t! I can’t pick one song, in another year or two I will be able to tell you which ones have stuck with me. We’re on tour right now and we’ve been able to explore performing a bunch of the new songs live, which gives me a new perspective on them. ‘Divide’ is fun to play live, ‘Superstition’ has a really intense, creepy vibe and ‘Beyond’ is really pretty, Poppy and sad. Those are the ones I guess I’m most focused on right now.

You turned to Dave Ogilvie for production, what made you decide to work with him and what did he bring to the new album?

We have worked with Ogilvie for the last few albums we have done. He’s a great producer and a good friend at this point. We trust him, he’s definitely able to step in and tell us when something is done. We’re perfectionists and would still likely be working on the album without him to give a listen and tell us what’s needed and when to step away. It’s essential to work with people you trust.

You are known for having a great relationship with your fans, obviously helped through the net which we discussed earlier. How has this contact helped you develop and what input has it allowed the fans to have with you as a band?

We are personally connected to many of our fans that we’ve known through the years, and we are always reading online to see what people are thinking and feeling about what we release and what we’re up to. There is also a great relationship between our fans – they become like family to one another in a lot of ways. The internet facilitates this, obviously.

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