‘Click Interview’ with The Birthday Massacre: ‘We Have Always Written Music That We Would Want To Hear’
Canadian Goth/Rock/Pop formation The Birthday Massacre is now active for twenty years. I think we might speak about a true phenomenon; a band with an own sound DNA which is also reflected in the artwork. There’s only one band like The Birthday Massacre and every new album confirms their leading status. They this year unleashed the new opus “Fascination” which has been introduced as their most intimate work. The songs are driven by powerful and merciless guitar play while the electronics inject a melodic and elevating touch to the work. On top of this sonic fusion the charismatic vocals of Chibi bring passion, fragility, and grace. I talked about “Fascination” with front woman Sara Elaine Taylor aka ‘Chibi’. The interview took place before the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
(Picture credits by Andrea Hunter / Interview courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: 2022 must be a special year to you as The Birthday Massacre was set up twenty years ago. I think we might speak about a true accomplishment so how do you look back at this success? What have been the main facts in the band’s history? And how did you see the band evolving from the early work towards “Fascination”?
Chibi: It really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I think we’re really lucky to have the relationships with each other that we do. We’ve had such incredible experiences and gone through so much good stuff and bad stuff together, written a lot of music together, travelled… we’re a family.
When myself, Rainbow and Mike started this band there’s no way we could have known we would still be at it 20 years later –let alone still write music that excites us and people are interested in. It’s been such a journey. And with the music, I mean, we have always written music that we would want to hear. I’m happy that it seems other people want to hear it as well.
Q: I noticed a few months ago now your manager Terry McManus passed away. How important was he to The Birthday Massacre?
Chibi: We adored Terry. Losing him is one of the worst things that has happened to us. I said before that we are a family, and Terry was part of our family. I really can’t even put into words how important he was to us, and how much we loved him. And he really loved our music and believed in us. Honestly I still have trouble believing he is gone. He played such a massive role in our day-to-day lives. He was our friend. It’s a little difficult for me to talk about this in any practical sense. I’m so sorry.
Q: Over now to your new album “Fascination”, which has been introduced as your most intimate work to date. What is “Fascination” all about and how did the songs take shape?
Chibi: Well, immediately as we released our last album, “Diamonds”, we all went into lockdown. We didn’t see each other, or anyone else, for a long time, just like everyone around the world. So Rainbow and Mike started writing music as they were isolating, sending things along to me here and there, and after a year or whatever it was, we were all really excited to get back together in the studio and get to writing and recording. I almost had a frantic energy, I was just so happy to be getting back to ‘normal’.
Q: Was there any particular focus in the song writing and production of “Fascination”? Do you handle specific references and/or criteria to know a song/album is finished? And what’s the input of each member in this specific process?
Chibi: We work extremely collaboratively as the songs come together. And I’m pretty sure we don’t really ever think a song is truly complete. If it weren’t for deadlines and due dates we would keep working on all of them endlessly, I’m sure. We always record the vocals last, that’s the final step, once the music ‘feels’ right. It’s hard to really explain that. Mike and Rainbow work on music independently, then bring the songs to each other, and I listen to them as they’re in progress and start thinking about lyrics.
This time, the three of us went into the studio with Brett, who is our new bass player, and he worked with us. We’ve known Brett since college, and we’re happy he has joined us. He’s a great musician.
Q: You’re actually preparing a big live tour. What does it mean in times of the ongoing pandemic to be on stage again? How do you prepare such a big tour and what might we expect?
Chibi: To be perfectly honest with you, I’m really nervous. We haven’t toured in a long time, and despite having done it for so long, the entire concept feels really alien to me, haha. Like…. ‘I’m going to live on a bus? I don’t remember how to do that!’
We also now have two albums that we haven’t toured behind, so choosing songs for the set list has been a bit of a process. Obviously we want to be safe and take care of ourselves and the audiences, but that’s always something we consider. I guess we’ll see how it goes.
Q: I think you guys are also quite successful in Russia. Considering the political situation between Russia and Ukraine, would you still take the risk playing in this country? Did you ever refuse to play somewhere because of specific reasons?
Chibi: I don’t think we have ever refused to play anywhere. We have really enjoyed the times we’ve been to Russia, and if travelling there isn’t a possibility, we’d be really disappointed. But we’ll see how things progress.
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