Chain D.L.K. sits down with lead singer Chibi of The Birthday Massacre to hear about Hide and Seek, their most recent North American tour, and where they are headed from here.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you tell us a little about your upcoming album? What inspired the name Hide and Seek?
Chibi: Hide and Seek of course is a game that kids play, so there’s a light-heartedness to the title. But there are also darker implications – the idea of hiding. Whether you are hiding from something, or hiding something from people, everyone is hiding in their lives in some way. And we’re all looking for something too. I think everyone has encountered at least one person in their lives whom they care about very much, and then you find something out, and you realize you didn’t know that person at all. Maybe that sounds sort of nihilist but we really don’t know anything about anyone, truly, except ourselves.
Chain D.L.K.: Many of the themes in your music deal with childhood, isolation, and conformity – how do you see these themes affecting adults in today’s society?
Chibi: I think in today’s society, people don’t have to grow up as quickly as in past generations. People continue their education nowadays, travel, make different choices than past generations were able to. In our society anyway. People talk a lot about “first world problems” – we’re very spoiled in a lot of ways, which gives us the time allowance to sort of explore creative interests if we want to, or reflect on our lives, or focus on relatively superficial things. And with the internet – I feel like we don’t know how to communicate with people as intimately as we’re meant to. We’re all wired in and writing emails and text messages. People would prefer to text message instead of make phone calls. We’re all very cut off from one another despite the “global community” of electronic communication.
Chain D.L.K.: What was the most intense part of putting this album together?
Chibi: For me personally, my voice. I found out just as we went into the recording process that I had polyps on my vocal cords. There was no time for surgery and the necessary healing period, so I went in to record with a raspy and hoarse voice. Which isn’t ideal. We got some amazing takes, we got what we wanted, but it required a lot of patience, time, and stress. And through that there’s some great emotion on the record. Listening to certain parts of this record still stresses me out because I remember how upset I was trying to record them. So frustrating, because it’s stuff that I’d easily be able to do if I hadn’t had the polyps. I’ve had the surgery now and am recovering, so I’ll be fine for performing, but it was a very intense experience.
Chain D.L.K.: You’ve said that the tracks on Hide and Seek were very emotional for you in a lot of ways – can you explain what heightened this for you on this particular album?
Chibi: Well, for one, like I said above – the vocal cord situation. It’s very difficult to literally have your voice taken away from you. Even my speaking voice – I didn’t sound like me, which was very jarring. But it wasn’t just that. Thematically, we incorporated some ideas that I’m very interested in. I’ve always been fascinated by true crime, unsolved mysteries, disappearances. Some of the lyrics on this record are inspired by true cases from nearby. The stuff that’s sort of haunted me over the years. I like to visit places where horrible things have happened and just absorb the contrasts – a field where someone was found, for example, and it’s full of people playing ball or having picnics. Oblivious to this thing, this horrible thing that happened right there. Time passes and these things are forgotten. That’s so tragic to me.
Chain D.L.K.: You all have toured all around the world – how have different audiences reacted to your shows? Do you have a favorite location/venue that you enjoy?
Chibi: I’d say for the most part, people dance and sing along and have fun at our shows. I definitely can’t remember a show where everyone hated us and booed or threw tomatoes or something. So I guess that’s a good thing! And in terms of a favourite venue or location, I mean, I’m just happy to be wherever fun people are. It’s the people who come out who make the shows fun. Not the venues. Of course, if a venue has laundry and a shower and a place backstage to sit down that hasn’t been soaked in beer and/or urine, you know – you remember that forever. [laughs]
Chain D.L.K.: Starting with Napster, you all have used the internet to get your music out there – how do you think this has affected your ability to get your music distributed on a wider scale? Has your view of this type of distribution changed over time?
Chibi: Nobody pays for music anymore. And, sad to say, that limits what bands are going to be able to do. You hear about different ways to make the necessary money – touring, selling VIP packages, selling old drum sticks – I’ve even seen small bands saying they will never charge for their music, they give it away. That’s great, I hope that works out. But I mean, I don’t see how. If you want the band you like to come play in your city, to make merchandise you think is cool, and to keep putting out records without years-long gaps in between – well, that takes money. It’s the sad truth.
Chain D.L.K.: Should audiences expect any changes in the performance art of your shows on the coming tour?
Chibi: We’ll keep things going at the energy level we always have, it’s fun for us that way and everyone enjoys themselves. I’m not really sure how to mix it up. I might cut my hair – that always seems to cause a bit of a scandal.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s next for The Birthday Massacre?
Chibi: Mexico and United States/Canada tour.
Visit the artist on the web at thebirthdaymassacre.com.