Hot off the release of The Birthday Massacre’s seventh album, Under Your Spell, we caught up with their guitarist Rainbow in Philadelphia where they headlined the 69th Dracula’s Ball at The Trocadero Theatre.
How’s the tour been so far?
Rainbow : The tour’s been awesome so far. We’ve been having a great time playing at every city and working with different bands. The fans have been great, and it’s been fun meeting everyone.
Any good memories so far?
R : Sumo Cyco, they’re not on this show tonight, but they’ve been amazing all tour! They actually brought a grill, so we’ve been able to have tailgate barbeques in the parking lots of some shows, and it’s been a great bonding experience.
You guys just released your seventh album, Under Your Spell, what went into its production? How do you figure out the theme and song selection of the album?
R : We generally just do what we do. We have a rehearsal space in Toronto that doubles as a rehearsal space and studio, and we’ll just play a bunch of songs, and then afterwards, Mike [Falcor] and myself will start the tracks, and then we gather everyone else and pick our favorites. From there we’ll start to build off of those and slowly flush out what works, what doesn’t. We try not to over think things too much as we’re starting, and over time, the songs will evolve and the theme of the album starts to become more cohesive. We may end up cutting some things, while bringing back other elements that might not have worked before, but now fit the theme we’re going for. We’ve done a number of albums now this way, and we just feel it’s very organic, very natural, instead of trying to pigeon-hole ourselves into trying to do a thematic album from the very start. In the end, we feel the final album is just a great representation of ourselves, and the selection just shows our camaraderie, since everyone has a say in its inclusion.
This album, along with a few previous releases are on vinyl? Any particular reason for choosing that medium?
R : I think a lot of our fans appreciate the nuances of releasing an album on vinyl, it’s an art medium that’s just under-appreciated today. I think some fans appreciate the artwork on the albums more, others for its limited availability versus CD and MP3 files. It’s also uncommon to have a player for many, so I think the fans who pick it up are definitely delighted to have a special treat for them to break out the turn-tables. Production-wise there is a different mastering technique, than with CDs and digital productions, and some tonality difference between a CD and vinyl album, but I’m okay with either. Not really one of those “CD vs. vinyl” guys myself.
How has social media and its rise affected the band and your promoting, albums, fan interactions, and so on?
R : We’re still heavily-focused on the message boards on our website. We took a lot of time and dedication to our website years ago, and we’re online all the time there. We do have other social media accounts, and we’ll interact here-and-there, but there’s also a mystique and an atmosphere for the band and our imagery that we want to keep. There’s such a thing as over-saturation, and I, myself, personally prefer to only update when its something important. I prefer to pick-and-choose what to post, like a battle. I don’t want to be posting a selfie every five seconds or what I had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Any new music videos or other works in the production pipeline now or after you guys are done touring?
R : We’re definitely planning on getting together to do a new video from a song out of the new album [Under Your Spell], but we haven’t really decided yet on which one to choose. We’ve spoken to a few other people on working with videos, maybe ours, maybe collaborations. It’s tricky between the parties, and we need to get together to figure out logistics and schedules, but definitely excited to see what may happen. We’re also working putting together a photo book, from the band’s inception to now, including candids and behind-the-scenes. It was part of our Pledge Music campaign, and it’ll definitely be a great treat for our fans who donated. We’re still finishing the fulfillments for that, but definitely thanks to those who donated.
What’s touring life like? You guys arrive, do you get a chance to do much tourist activities?
R : First thing I do, is find coffee. [laughs] Nah, seriously our days are pretty booked. We usually roll into town, and we’ll load in. Then we’ll have a little break before sound check. After that’s done, we usually do our meet-and-greet, then we’ll eat, then we have to prepare for our show, and maybe hang for a bit after the show. Rinse and repeat. It’s pretty full, I mean yeah we hit a lot of cities, but we don’t really get to stay too long to enjoy the cities. It’s rare to have enough time to go sight-seeing and hit the local museums. A lot of our off-days are spent traveling between the cities, if we’re lucky, we’ll at least spend some time with local friends, before we’re off again.
What about on the bus? Anything to feel more at-home?
R : We do a variety of things to unwind, but we do movie nights often. We just watched Aliens last night, but we’re all used to each other, so it’s like camping with your best friends.
So I do a lot of anime and pop culture conventions, and I found a lot of fans in that subculture who love your music, and even a few who cosplayed as characters from your music videos.
R : I did not know that! *laughs* That’s awesome! Our drummer, Rhim, who’s not on this particular tour, and our keyboardist, Owen, they’re both into anime and manga. I guess I can attribute that to our use of the bunny ears and visual style. I’ve seen similar imagery in many of the Visual Kei movement, and I don’t think it was a conscious decision on our part to move in that direction, but I’ll welcome it! Great to know!
What bands do you guys listen to, to help relax or draw inspiration from?
R : I personally like listening to metal, as well as soundtracks. Just actually finished listening to the Stranger Things soundtrack. Sara’s [Chibi] actually at the Deftones’ concert tonight, since we have a midnight show time, so she’s racing back here after she hits their merch table. [laughs]
You guys now have a pretty large discography? What’re still some of your personal favorite songs to perform?
R : I love performing “Red Stars”, but pretty much anything heavy. I love jumping around and having fun. I really enjoy “Good Night”, that’s a special one to me. I’m playing the guitar so anything where I can jump and I’m happy! [laughs] I could just jump around the stage all night if I could.
What’s the best thing about playing on stage?
R : I just love that I’m playing on stage with my friends. We’ve been together for so long, it’s the camaraderie, the cheers of the audience, the connection we [the band] have on stage. When we’re performing, we’re all in-sync, like one being. It’s what helps fulfill me.
So we’re in Philadelphia, home of the cheesesteak? Any preference? Pat’s vs. Geno’s?
R : I have not gotten one today! I’m hungry! [laughs] Nah, I’ve had them in the past, forget where, but today’s been crazy! The head of our label, Metropolis Records, he’s here today, so we’ve been hanging with him today. We actually went out to a great cheesesteak location, but when we got there, the building was gone, so it’s been torture. My dreams for today have been crushed. Haven’t done Pat’s and Geno’s, those are the two cross the street from each other, right? May have to look into that at the end of the night if I’m still hungry…
Thank your for taking a few minutes out to do this interview!
R : No problem! Definitely hope you enjoy the show!
For more on The Birthday Massacre pick up our October/November 2012 Issue with Chibi on the cover.