Our comrade SEAN COLÓN repped SNT (and QRO Mag!) when he sat down with Chibi (lead vocals) and Rainbow (guitars/programming/vocals) of Toronto-based synth-rock band The Birthday Massacre to discuss their new album, Pins and Needles, before they took the stage at NYC’s Highline Ballroom on September 10th. You can check out Sean’s interview below, but be sure to check out his kicka$$ set of photos by clicking HERE as well!
Take it away, Sean!
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From the start, the second I walk into the room I’m complimented by Chibi and Rainbow on my purple button-up shirt and purple watch. I already knew from that point on what an awesome interview I was going to get. The Birthday Massacre is a perfect example of what happens when you follow your dreams and do what you love. I definitely learned a lot from them and I think you will too…
SC: Welcome back to New York! How does it feel being back at the Highline Ballroom doing another show and during Fashion Week?
Chibi: Well honestly we love playing here. This is a really great club, everybody who’s here is really nice and it’s very well organized. We always look forward to playing here and in New York as well. We have a lot of good fans here and it’s going to be a good show. But yeah, Fashion Week, I don’t know, it seems like everything is a little crazy.
Rainbow: Yeah I haven’t really had a chance to experience enough of it to really know, but we like New York.
SC: So your fourth studio album Pins and Needles comes out in four days. What makes this album new and what makes you excited about it?
Rainbow: I think just the way we went about recording it was really fun, because usually as with the last couple of albums we’ve done we’ve recorded them – I wouldn’t say separately, but just the way the workspace is setup we usually have different little areas where we work. This time we did a bit of writing the way we did before. Then Mike [Michael Falcore, TBM’s other guitarist] and I went back to our hometown, cleared out a space in a basement and just worked together for about five or six months – it was a really cool process. Mike and I have known each other for a really long time so it was really cool to be able to work so closely with him over that period of time and really focus on the songs, especially in that environment in our hometown. It was like coming full circle. Before we sort of came back and worked on the vocal melodies and lyrics with that too.
One thing that we really wanted to do with this album – we had a pretty specific idea about how we wanted the album to sound and whatnot, so we wanted to have certain elements within the album that were consistent. The way we’ve recorded before was a little bit more haphazard and every drum sound was different, the guitars would sort of vary and [for this album] we just wanted to have certain threads that were sort of consistent throughout the whole thing. Like the rhythm guitar sound, we really wanted to find one main sound that we would accent and we could layer with other things, but really one sound that we were happy with, a consistent kit sound that we would add loops to, stuff like that. So the album has a consistent feel – we wanted to have a really dense, heavy, textural, larger than life feel. So that was really fun and we got to accomplish that.
Chibi: Was it really fun?
Rainbow: It was fun! I thought it was fun, in retrospect it was. I was stressing out a lot during the process though.
Chibi: There was some stress – we had a deadline that we had to meet. We got really stressed out and a friend of mine said that a lot of times out of the worst stress the most awesome creativity can come, and I think that was the case. But you know how it is, you get like “How am I going to do this? What are we going to do?” But it came together really, really well.
Rainbow: I think that’s the way we were. If you gave us ten years to do an album, we would still be rushing at the end. It’s like we need the due dates in order to set the fire under ourselves, otherwise we’ll take forever, you know.
SC: Yeah, I definitely know what you mean. How would you guys describe your music?
Chibi and Rainbow: Umm, I don’t know.
Chibi: Really good?
Rainbow: Really great? It’s the kind of stuff that we want to hear. We just write what we like.
Chibi: We all grew up all listening to a lot of different kinds of music, and we tried to put those different sounds in contrast, sometimes together into something that sounds really good to us and hopefully to other people.
Rainbow: We have pretty eclectic tastes; we have a wide range of stuff like on a mix CD or tape or whatever. The band was just a cool way to put those things together. It seemed sort of a natural, cool thing to do for us. It’s just a combination of all our influences. Hopefully it works – we don’t really over analyze it.
SC: My next question for you has to do with your new video for “In The Dark.” I noticed a lot of horror references and references to past album artwork. Was that something that was consciously included or was it something that just happened as you put ideas together?
Chibi: Yeah, I mean Mike – he’s our other guitar player – directed the video and so he had a lot of ideas for it, and this was the first time that the band has been in full control of the creative process of the video. We’ve always collaborated with an artist named Dan Ouellette. He’s got great ideas so we would always collaborate with him and mix ideas. But this time it was exactly what you were saying – we used a lot of the old imagery, and we like a lot of horror movies. There’s the bed at the end [note: the scene is reminiscent to Johnny Depp’s death scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street], there’s a lot of references like that.
Rainbow: Yeah, it’s very much a Birthday Massacre video.
Chibi: It was nice as well to have the opportunity to do that.
SC: I’ve noticed a lot of rabbits in both your album artwork and videos. Is this something that was originally just supposed to have been for the website?
Chibi: Sort of, it was like a transitional follow the rabbit through the areas of the website.
Rainbow: And then it just took on a life of its own, so we just brought it through.
Chibi: It’s become our trademark, it wasn’t planned at all.
Rainbow: It wasn’t something that we overanalyzed and calculated. A lot of times when you do something creatively you just do it. I wouldn’t want to lie and say it was contrived beforehand.
SC: Are there any rabbits in the new album artwork or merchandise?
Rainbow: Yeah, we sneak them in.
Chibi: We have some new merchandise that we’ve conceptualized while we’re starting this tour and yeah, the rabbit’s there. We’re mixing it up a little, doing some different things with it but, oh yeah, it’s going to stick around for a while. But at the same time you don’t want to put a rabbit on everything, so some stuff doesn’t have a rabbit on it.
Rainbow: The rabbit ratio is always in flux (laughs).