Photo Credit: Andrea Hunter

Interview: The Birthday Massacre

With a new album and tour on the cards Chibi from The Birthday Massacre had a chat with Mark Bestford about the difficulties of writing the new album, the challenges of funding in a post-Pledge world and their love of 1980s electronic music. 

Photo Credit: Andrea Hunter
Photo Credit: Andrea Hunter

The last album came out just as the pandemic hit and the latest one is coming out as we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Has the last couple of years actually enabled you to be more creative in any way?

“I mean, that’s a really interesting question. Like you said, we put Diamonds out just before the first lockdown. And anytime you go through an album writing cycle, it’s real. Oh my gosh, I hope this doesn’t disconnect. It’s a real sort of outpouring of creativity. So I feel like just as the first lockdown hit, we had just put up Diamonds. So I felt at that moment very musically, anyways, creatively drained. And was really looking forward to getting out on the road. And then lockdown hit, and I spent the next year basically, feeling really not creative at all, and really isolated and really depressed. I mean, you know, it was not a good time. But then as we were moving into writing the new album, Fascination, which we started about, you know, 10 months ago, I guess. I think that I at that point, I didn’t even realize how creatively starved that I had been. So being around the guys again, who were starting to write the music and just kind of getting able to get back together again. I almost felt like a frenzy of creativity. Like I felt nothing for a year. And then I’m like, oh, gosh, we’re doing another album. Okay, I don’t really know what I have to give right now. But just being around the guys. Yeah, you know, I think we all really helped each other get back into that boat. So it was basically nothing. And then frenzied, oh my gosh, we’re doing something again, you know.”

Once you all got back together again and started writing, were there any obstacles that you had to overcome when doing the recording?

“Honestly, not really, I think that all of us were just so relieved to be back together that there was like a big outpouring. We all had a lot of ideas. They weren’t necessarily all good ideas. But that’s like, why it’s important for me, for us to work together because we’re pretty good at juggling ideas back and forth with each other and not being afraid to say no, that’s, that’s terrible, or yes, that’s amazing. So, if anything, I’d say yeah, we were really, really raring to go and didn’t really have any problems when it came to, to writing which was very surprising.”

Some of your previous albums, you funded them using PledgeMusic. That’s no longer here, so how have you adapted to that with the latest album?

“This time around doing like a crowdfunding thing in tandem with a pandemic going on, and people you know, having done so much for diamonds, it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do again to go, you know, hey, we did this album that kind of disappeared, and we didn’t tour on it. And now everybody’s kind of in this weird situation around the world, we just didn’t want to do it. So what we decided to do was we started a Patreon account, where we try and release stuff there. If people want to do that instead, we just wanted to give, you know, instead of doing the crowdfunding, still do something that’s kind of similar, but it’s in a different way. Because the whole situation was so different this time around. And with the last album, it just felt weird. Here, we’re doing it again. So do this again, it was like, no, we’re gonna try and do something different. And that’s gone really, really well. With the Patreon. it’s been a lot of fun. And we’ve never done anything like that before. So, you know, we do live streams with the whole band, and we do retrospectives about the songs. And if people want to participate, they can, and it’s just sort of a different way to sort of balance that.”

Musically on the album, compared to some of the earlier albums that you’ve done, there’s a lot more keyboard. How has the music evolved to be what it is now?

“Oh, gosh, I don’t I don’t know. I mean, I think that obviously, the synth elements have always been part of our music, obviously. We love that type of music and, you know, doing albums and incorporating the different elements that we do. I think some people would call certain albums of ours, a little more guitar driven, a little bit heavier. I definitely think that this album, like you’re saying, it goes really kind of back to that 80s sort of synthy vibe. I really don’t know, somehow, we always seem to manage to make it work, and to us at least feel, you know, fresh and different. But evolving. I don’t know, I mean, I’m sure if we write more albums, there will be synth on those ones as well. So it’s sort of, you know, what I mean? I think it’s just sort of the type of music that we like, and we’re just trying to, like, obviously evolve, but stay true to the type of music that we make, because that’s the music that we like, you know.”

When we were waiting for the album you also put out probably one of the most synth tracks going, you did a cover of Neverending Story.

“Yes. I mean, yeah, that was one we did a long, long time ago. And then we decided to redo it and rerelease it because it’s a really popular one, you know, people who’ve known us for a long time and sort of known that that song has existed. And we kind of just wanted to have some fun and do it justice and go back and give it another go. You know? And yeah, that’s a super synthy song.”

Were there any major themes going through the album when you were writing it?

“I can only really speak for myself personally on this, I know that when I started going into the studio with the guys and they were working on the music, and like you’re saying, it sort of had these different, like, very synthy vibes and various synthy sort of melodies that were starting at the beginning of the songwriting. And when it came to writing lyrics, which is more what I do on the album. I think, because I’d spent so much time by myself, like, I know, I keep saying that, sort of going back to this lockdown thing, but I think anybody that’s done anything in the last two years is definitely gonna be like ‘so during the lockdown’. I spent so much time with myself, sort of being introspective and not feeling great all the time. And then coming into the studio and sort of hearing these, you know, I grew up in the 80s and really loved the synthesiser music like I was saying, and so it became this really very, very introspective thing, the sentimentality of these beautiful synth melodies, the sentimentality and introspection of having spent so much time alone and sort of examining myself and my relationship with myself. And I think the others were kind of feeling the same way. Those were sort of the things that I was going into when it came to this album. I think for me again, like a lot of the themes on the album are about the relationship with the self, you know, and almost treating the self. Like they’re a different person and looking at that person, having spent so much time alone with myself, you know? So yeah, that was kind of my mentality going into the process.”