Electronic rock band The Birthday Massacre are readying for the release of their seventh album, Under Your Spell on June 9 on Metropolis Records. The band put together the album with the help of a very successful fan campaign at Pledge Music.
The Ontario natives kicked off their Under Your Spell Tour last night in Toronto and will be hitting Detroit tonight when they take the stage at The Magic Stick. The tour also features Army of the Universe and Ludovico Technique.
Earlier this week, AXS spoke with The Birthday Massacre vocalist Chibi, who shared her thoughts on the band's evolution, the fans and what the band has coming up.
AXS: The tour actually kicks off this week and you will be in Detroit on Friday. What can people expect from you this time out?
C: Well, in terms of our lineup, our drummer Rhim isn't coming with us. He has to stay home this time so we have Joe Letz from Combichrist stepping in to play drums for us on this tour. And yeah, we have the new album coming out so I think we're going to play four or five new songs from Under Your Spell, so that will be interesting!
AXS: And you are playing some smaller venues on this tour including the Magic Stick here. Do you like the idea of having that more intimate contact with the fans?
C: Yeah, I mean it's more fun I think. I really enjoy interacting with the crowd and it's kind of easier to do that when you're in a smaller place. I mean it's cool in the bigger places, but it creates a different vibe with the performances.
AXS: And the fans seem to enjoy having that intimate connection as well.
C: Oh absolutely! Yeah, definitely. When you play on a really, really small stage, and considering there is six of us, it can actually be kind of funny. We end up just laughing because we bump into each other and the audience can see us goofing around.
AXS: Of the new songs that you've been rehearsing, which one are you most excited to get out and play?
C: I'm actually looking forward to playing all of the ones that we picked. I think we picked five pretty strong ones. Actually, we had rehearsal this afternoon and we were going through the new stuff and it was just fun. It's always great to be able to play new stuff. Obviously, after as many albums as we've had and as much touring that we do, it's kind of like, ok, here we go with this little chestnut again. You gotta keep it interesting and it's just fun to be able to pull out some new stuff in your set.
AXS: Looking at the new album, you went the Pledge Music route. Are you happy with that process?
C: Yeah, I mean we've done it twice now and I think both times I was completely surprised by how successful it was. We've always been super appreciative of the support that we've gotten from people. Even back during the Myspace chat room days. [laughs] We've always had really cool people into our music and they've always been crazy supportive. I think we've been really lucky that the campaigns we've done have been so successful.
AXS: Seems like a lot of thought goes into the different packages they can purchase. Is it fun getting a chance to sit down and figure out what types of things you can offer them?
C: For sure, for sure. I mean, this time around we had learned a lot from the first time around. Like I promised paintings the first time around and figured it would be quick and easy to do these paintings for the fans, but I found out that wasn't the case. I wanted to do a really good job on them and it took a long time. It was cool, but I think it caused too much stress. It's all fun and games until it's time to get it done! This time out we've had to sign so much stuff. That can be a huge task that you just don't think about at the time. It's like, oh we sold so many autographed albums and now it's going to take two days to sign them. [laughing] It's kind of interesting in that way and always a surprise.
AXS: What do you feel makes this album stand out for you this time around?
C: I think that this album is different from the rest of them in that there is a very specific emotion in it that we all were feeling. Sort of a loss and a heartbreak feeling. I think that really shows on pretty much every song on this album. In the past, I think it's been a little bit more ambiguous with certain songs having different meanings and emotions behind them. This time the album has a very singular emotion. In that way, it was probably one of my favorite writing processes because we were all on the same page and the vibe carried over from song to song. We hadn't written that way before.
AXS: Did you go in with that idea or did that just evolve when you were in the studio?
C: It just kind of came out. We are where we are at in our lives and I think we all kind of went in feeling a certain way and it just kind of influenced the songs. It wasn't predicted.
AXS: What is the plan for the rest of the year?
C: We're about to start this tour so it's pretty much where my brain is focused mentally right now. We are going to go overseas in the Fall. Honestly, that's all we are really focused on right now.
AXS: You have a lot of interests outside the band as well including your writing. How do you juggle it all?
C: Well, I don't get a lot of sleep and even when I get home I don't really take too much time off. I'm the type of person who likes to keep busy. Just in this last year I've been working in a bar and taking care of two children and I'm writing another book while working on the album and doing the tour rehearsals. So yeah, I'd like to take a nap; that sounds good!
AXS: Obviously a lot of the band's fans went out and got your book, but have you seen the opposite with some of your readers going to check out the music?
C: That's actually really interesting! I don't think that I know. I've known some people who have read the book who don't know about the band, but I haven't really had anyone say to me, hey, I found your music after reading your book. That would be cool though.
AXS: This is your 7th album and you've been doing this since 1999. What do you think is the driving force that keeps the band going?
C: Honestly, I think it's because we all get along so well. We all have a very similar sense of humor. I mean, you'd kill each other if you didn't. We've somehow managed to stay the course and keep most of the same members too. I really think it's because we can all laugh at the same stuff. We just know each other so well and we really care about each other. It really is like a family. It's actually really difficult with Rhim not being able to come with us. We love and are excited to tour with Joe, but at the same time, there is a member of the family who won't be there.
AXS: What has been your favorite thing about being able to do this for a living?
C: We've been really lucky to travel a lot and get to see places that I would never have thought I'd gone. I think it's also extra cool to be able to do that with a group of people you are comfortable with. It's cool to share that and be able to look at each other and say, remember when we were here and everyone knows exactly what you are talking about.
AXS: What is your one go-to thing when you get off stage and need to unwind?
C: Putting on pajamas is always nice. I like when we are done with a show and I can just go lay down. A lot of people want to go out and have a drink and hang out on the town after the show, but I'm just over here reading a book in my bunk in my pajamas quietly. I really like my rest and my sleep. I really do!
AXS: Do you have anything you want to say to the fans?
C: It's been a really long time and I can't believe that we're still going. Those who have been around since the beginning, I just want to ask, can you believe it? Isn't this crazy and who would have thought? [laughs] It's been a really long haul and we have so much gratitude. We've gotten to know so many of the fans who have become friends. It's been a really good journey.
AXS: Finally, what do you feel it is that makes The Birthday Massacre connect with the fans the way that you do?
C: Oh gosh, I don't know! I think we write good music and I think it's a combination of that and hopefully the fact that we just try to be nice. We're nice people and we've always been really appreciative of the community of fans. And again, just having a sense of humor and being pretty down to earth. I think people pick up on that. We like meeting people and we've always been very grateful for that chance.