"Nomen" is not always "Omen", at least not, if you look at THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE. The aspiring young band from Canada presented some really interesting and nice music on their album "Violet". No sign of birthdays or massacres, but luckily some answers to my questions from Chibi and Rainbow. |
Was the band's name chosen spontaneously or rather intentionally? If so, what does it mean?
Chibi: The Birthday Massacre” is a combination of two very different concepts: the concept of a ‘birthday’, meaning presents, cake, fun, balloons, all that good stuff. ‘Massacre” obviously means something completely different. Putting those two words together creates a vibe, the feel that we’re going for, of contrasting light and dark fantasy, in our music and imagery. We used another name at the beginning, and we had to change it. Our song “Happy Birthday” was originally called “The Birthday Massacre”, and so we took that song’s name for the band because it did fit the band perfectly, we felt.
Could you provide a short history of the band for those of our readers who are not yet familiar with the band?
Rainbow: Mike and I have been friends since elementry school. I met Chibi, Aslan and Rhim in collage. Chibi and myself were in fine art together, Aslan was taking computer programming and wound up moving into the student house I was living in. Rhim wasn't in the original lineup, but we hooked up with him a couple years later here in Toronto. Back in those days Rhim was taking music industry arts and druming for another band called Aphasia. Chibi, Aslan and myself started hanging out alot. We'd sit around and record songs on my old 4-track. The four of us just hit it off. The band was something that just grew out of our friendship. Soon after that we started performing under the name Imagica and began working on the first incarnation of our website.
Are you already able to pay your bills just from the music or what do you do for a living?
Rainbow: Any money we make usually goes back into the band. Were just reaching the point where the band is more or less paying for itself but we all pull our own weight when it comes to rent and bills. I bartend at a club here in Toronto. It's one of the few jobs that's flexable enough to accomodate the bands schedule. Our day-jobs cover a pretty wide range of work.
A few words about "Violet", your most recent album. How would you describe the music to someone who did not yet listen to it?
Chibi: I think it can be described as something new, with a feeling of something familiar. We use a lot of heavy guitars, and also a lot of melodic syntheziser as well. There’s a lot of combination of music styles; metal and industrial and synthpop. I think our music can be very dark, but also can be very fun and “up”. It’s more of the contrast… I don’t think there’s a running theme or vibe on the album. It’s music you can be sad or thoughtful and listen to, as well as dance and have fun and listen to.
Is there any concept or something alike behind the album?
Rainbow: Our concept revolves around contrast. It's a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dynamic. Fantasy vs. reality, childhood vs. adulthood, positive vs. negative. We liked the idea of composing a soundtrack for the stories and dreams we had growing up. We wanted to combine child-like innocence and imagination with adult fantasy and insight. A childs heart paired with an adult mind.
Could you please describe the creative process? Who writes the music and the lyrics and what are they inspired by?
Rainbow: There's no set method to the creative process. Sometimes it starts with a melody, sometimes a word or phrase. Other times it grows out of a memory or an experience. Some songs are conceptualized ahead of time and others are just the result of siting down with a sequencer and finding the right combination of notes. We all seem to be in creative mode right now so it's a pretty exciting time for us.
Do you think there's anything about the sound of TBM that could be called "typically canadian"?
Chibi: Well, we don’t have any songs about igloos or snow or moose on the album, hahaha. I guess it depends on your ideas of what “Canadian” is. There’s no maple syrup or skiing references. Musically, when people think about Canada, I’m sure people think of the Barenaked Ladies or Shania Twain, who we certainly don’t sound like. Skinny Puppy is Canadian, and we like them. But in terms of our songwriting, I think we just write based on what’s going on around us, and how we feel, which is pretty similar to what surrounds everyone and how they feel as well. Based on my experiences travelling to the USA with the band, that’s where the differences come in, mainly. For example, we call it ‘pop’, and they call it ‘soda’. And I do say ‘eh?’ a lot, unfortunately. But not on the album.
Which bands would you name as your biggest inspirations?
Chibi: I would say we are influenced by bands like the Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Curve, Metallica, Cyndi Lauper… a lot of stuff we listened to growing up, obviously. My two favorite bands of all time are Faith No More and Concrete Blonde. We all listen to a wide range of music, and I’m sure it all shows up in the music somewhere.
Rainbow: Growing up, I was into a pretty wide rage of music. I grew up listening to everything from Mini Pops to Ministry. I like alot of different things about alot of different bands. There's no one particular band that does it for me. Music is just one of many creative mediums. We're just as inspired by film, literature, art and fasion. I'm just a fan of pop-culture in general. If you put a gun to my head and asked me what discs are currently in my CD player, I'd probably say: I Am X, The Faint, Felix Da Housecat, David Bowie, Mindless Self Indulgence, Lamb, Massive Attack, Roxette, Ladytron, Goldfrapp and... Def Leppard.
Your website is praised by a lot of people because it is obviously created with a lot of love and heart blood involved. How far were you involved in the creation?
Chibi: We all created the website. Aslan, our bass player, built it… he is amazing with web design. Its concept was meant to be a place to explore, like an atmospheric little world. It’s interactive, each page has hidden things on it that the visitor can find, like photos of us as kids and some of my drawings and things like that. I really like the site, I feel it represents us very well, and is a good representation of the images and feelings we want to communicate as a band.
As far as I know there are no tour dates announced yet. Do you already have any plans for touring?
Rainbow: We just finished a short U.S. tour with Deadstar Assembly and Celldweller. We'll likely play another round of shows here in Canada and the U.S. over the next few months. We're planning to visit Germany sometime this summer for some festivals and club dates. We can't wait.
How much live experience do you have after all? Are you still nervous before getting on stage?
Chibi: We just came off our first few small tours in the US, and we’ve garnered more experience as we go along. We’ve been performing pretty regularly for the past four years or so, and so definitely we’ve come a long way. At first I was incredibly nervous, and that didn’t go away for the first couple of years. I remember my face used to tremble when I was singing, I was so afraid. I’ve always been the type of person who hated giving presentations in front of the class and things like that. But now I have grown very comfortable on stage. I still get butterflies, and I worry before each show, hoping it goes well, but I’ve also learned to have more fun while performing and enjoy it a lot more than I used to. There have been a few silly snags along the way at times, for example, I wear platform boots and I’ve almost fallen down a bunch of times; we’ve played with a broken ceiling pipe pouring water onto the stage; I’ve had a strand of my hair go down my throat that almost made me vomit; I’ve been smashed in the head with Aslan’s bass and Rainbow’s guitar many, many times while we’re all performing… it’s little things like that I worry about. Little things that might be funny if they actually happened, but it’s not funny to think about them. Makes me nervous. You never know what’s going to happen.
Were there are any remarkable happenings at gigs you'd like to share?
Rainbow: At our last show in New York, someone from one of the opening bands decided to swing from the lighting rig during their set. He wound up breaking the support beam which brought the stage lights crashing down around him. The break cracked a water pipe over the stage and water started spraying everywhere. The club put a big garbage bin under the shower and told us not to play in it when while we performed so as to avoid electrocution. I got up on stage to check things over before we went on and noticed that our sequencer was all messed up. I can still remember frantically trying to get our programming up and running while this jet of water was spraying over my head. During my panic attack, I overheard people in the audience talking about how far they had traveled to see the show which only served to highten my panic level. One of them had taken an airplane down from Calafornia to see the show. I remember thinking, "This is it. There's no way out of this one. We're screwed". It was a classic moment that will be forever burned into my memory. Luckily, we managed to find a backup and play our set without electrocuting ourselves but I was pretty frazzled by the whole ordeal.
A quite personal question: would you consider yourselfs as rather positive or negative persons?
Chibi: I am the sort of person for whom the glass is always “half empty”… I am a worrier and I try to plan ahead because I always seem to anticipate bad things happening. I guess that makes me a negative person in many ways. But I try to keep a pretty positive and happy demeanor most of the time, even if I’m worrying on the inside. I can get very depressed, but it usually doesn’t take much to snap me out of it. I think having a good sense of humor about things and realizing that sometimes, you’ve done all you can do, helps a lot.
Rainbow: I am a positive ray of sunshine.
Thank you very much for your time and answering my questions. I wish you much success for "Violet". The last words of this interview belong to you. Feel free to tell our readers what ever you want to!
Thank you very much, and I really hope everyone enjoys the album! Come by our website and say hello to us!