The Birthday Massacre interview

The Birthday Massacre is definitely one of those bands that doesn’t need special introductions. A perfect mix of synth pop, alternative rock/indie rock and gothic rock is a musical expression which perfectly describes the way The Birthday Massacre works, and the synth rock syntagm undoubtedly represents the future of modern music scene. Incredible talent, a perfect feeling for dynamic and connecting seemingly unconnectable wholes launched this band in a place of high musical creation and sofisticated art. The Birthday Massacre is undoubtedly one of those bands which will play a strong part in creating new musical history, and a band that in the future will be followed only by exceptionally creative and completely integrated bands.


1. For starters tell me Michael, how did things look in the beginning, when you formed as a band? Did you have concrete plans and hoped for a commercial success or did you really form just for fun?

The band came from a desire to bring something new and interesting into the world. There was never a board meeting with status reports, nothing calculated like that. And our success has come very slowly with many opportunities to give up and do something else, but we’ve managed to stay the course and persevere. If success was our only motivation then we would’ve quit a long time ago. It comes from a desire to create and bring new things into the world.

2. What is your take on the band’s evolution through the albums? Do you think that you changed and matured a lot from the beginning?

We’ve tried to maintain consistency throughout our albums so that someone can identify one of our songs even if they’ve never heard it before. At the same time we strive to evolve the soundscape. It’s important to grow and change, but it’s also important for us to respect what came before and build off of it, rather than discard it. And it’s a challenge that we enjoy.

3. “Nothing and Nowhere” and “Violet” records have a lot elements of the American indie/industrial sound (I even noticed some shoegaze elements). “Walking with Strangers” already has some EBM, synth pop and gothic rock, “Pins and Needles” (for me the best 2010 album) combines gothic rock and synth pop, while the last one “Hide and Seek” pulls more towards pure synth pop of the 80’s. Have those changes have from various experiences in life or simply through musical variations in taste of every individual member of the band? Or was it a wish for making experiments? Or perhaps all of the above?

Our tastes are always fluctuating, but no matter what we’re listening to at any given time it has to pass through our mental filters, and that is what makes our songs sound like The Birthday Massacre. Ever since the late 80’s we’ve grown up listening to Industrial, Metal, Grunge, Pop, and Shoegazer music, and it’s been collecting in our minds as we move through life. These influences are like words that we use to construct our own sentences expressing our unique thoughts and emotions. Everything is always in a state of change, and there are so many things that change the way we feel about a song, or the direction we’d like to go in. But, we try not to over analyze things. It’s better to feel things out and go with your intuition.


4. What bands do you prefer on the Canadian musical scene? Many big names are coming from Canada, like the legendary Rush, Saga, Annihilator, Protest The Hero. Do you keep track of the Canadian rock and metal scene or do you prefer some other genres?

I don’t really keep tabs on the Canadian music scene. I haven’t been listening to much contemporary music these days, either. Pink Floyd, old Metallica, and 80’s horror movie soundtracks mostly. I think I just need a break from the current state of music.

5. When I think about you as a band, for me you represent someone who is on its way of becoming a really big name. I am interested, can you currently make a living only from your music? How hard is it today to make a living only of music?

Yes, we can make a living from making music which is great. It’s a not a great living, but I wouldn’t trade it either. It’s a very hard thing to do, and it took a lot of work and time to get there. I don’t have much advice for anyone aspiring to do this, because I don’t know exactly why it happened. And I’m sure every band has a different story. You have to find your own path somehow.

6. There are a lot of 80’s synth pop influences present in your music. Do you think that synth pop as a musical form is making a big return on the global music scene?

I don’t really have an opinion on that. The global music scene is so fractured, I hear everything out there. If you like synth pop there’s a scene for that, if you like Rockabilly there’s a scene for that too. Maybe not in your city or town, but globally, through the internet, I think everything is happening all at once.


7. As one of a more unique bands on today’s scene do you perhaps think of yourselves as starters of a new trend in music, the one that perfectly balances between music’s history and its future?

I think only time will tell. Maybe 10 years from now we can look back with the benefit of hindsight and be able to tell what kind of effect we had on music. We’re working on our sixth record, so we’ve put a lot of music out there, and I know it’s made an impression. But the scale of that impression is a mystery to me for now.

8. Which one of your albums, in your opinion, would you single out as the best one?

It’s really hard to say, they all have different meanings to me. I’m proud of our last record, Hide & Seek. I’m satisfied with the degree of production quality and the uniqueness of the songs. In contrast, we were always dissatisfied with the sound quality of our first record, Nothing and Nowhere, but looking back now it has a certain charm to it that sets it apart from everything else we’ve done.

9. In the last few years a lot of bands appear with women as their frontman, form pop, rock, gothic, symphonic metal to industrial bands. The quality of vocals varies from band to band. In my opinion Chibi is one of the more influential vocals today. Do you think that today a band has to have a distinct vocal? What is more important today, tone color, feeling and “putting oneself into it” and the ability to transfer one’s emotions onto others or the technique? Or perhaps all of the above?

There’s no one thing that makes it work. It’s an accumulation of many aspects of Chibi’s personality, charisma, tone and vocal ability coupled with the way the songs are written. We have to write songs that work within her vocal range, for instance. And what does the song mean? What emotions are here? Vocals are a unique instrument and gets 50% of our attention when writing.


10. Can you picture TBM as a big commercial band in a year’s time, a band whose videos can be seen on MTV all the time, or is that completely irrelevant to you?

Success is not irrelevant to me, but I look at the music getting massive airplay and I don’t hear success. Most of it will be forgotten in 20 years, whereas I hope TBM will be remembered for some time. I don’t think we’ll ever be a big commercial band. We’re not safe enough.

11. What is your message to the readers of Vision Rock Metal?

Thanks for listening to me ramble.

12. What are your plans for the future (concerts, albums)? Will you change something in the concept of the band in the future or do you simply let things unfold as they want? Will we be able to catch you somewhere near Croatia (or perhaps in Croatia) in the near future?

We’re working on a new record right now which will be released next summer. We’re also putting together a Euro tour for the spring. We’ve never been to Croatia, unfortunately, but there’s a first time for everything.


The Birthday Massacre official site

Dalibor Mladenović