Canadian electro rockers The Birthday Massacre are back with a stunning new album titled Superstition which was released this November by Metropolis Records. We chatted it up with Chibi, the inked, dark-haired front woman of the group to talk about their latest effort, touring, and of course, her tattoos.
INKED: You’re new album is fantastic. Out of the 10 new tracks, which one is your favorite?
CHIBI: It's never possible for me to pick just one song out of all of them. This past weekend we did a shoot for the song "Beyond," so I'm really focusing on that one right now. I'm looking forward to touring and playing some of these new songs live. I always end up with different feelings about them once we've played them. It would probably be easier for me to answer this question in about a year from now. I've been so immersed in writing and recording these new songs, it takes a bit of time and space to figure out which ones will really stick with me.
INKED: This is also your first crowd funded album via Pledge Music. How was that experience for you and do you think this will be the way to go for your band in the future?
CHIBI: We were apprehensive about doing the crowd-sourcing campaign but it has ended up being really positive. About a month or so ago, we had a listening party with some of the fans. They came out to Toronto and we hung out in a studio and they got to be the first people besides us to hear the new record. It was so cool to have their feedback and experience their reactions, as well as get to just spend some time hanging out and getting to know them. So in this way, it's been interesting to get a bit closer to our audience. We have a lot more fulfillment to go with the campaign, it's kind of intimidating. There's also more of a feeling of being "watched" when you're doing one of these campaigns. You can't really retreat and withdraw, because you're showing the work as it's coming along and talking about it. I'm sure we'll consider doing this again in the future. It's been really great to see how passionate and enthusiastic our fans can be.
INKED: You guys have a dark appearance, and sadly, some people judge books by their covers. What would you say is the biggest misconception about your band?
CHIBI: Well, yeah, we dye our hair black and with the band's name, I mean, people think it's going to be some heavy, scary, nightmare-band. And yeah, there are elements of that stuff, but fundamentally we're happy people and we write a lot of pop songs, a lot of melodic and pretty stuff. It's strange when someone asks what the band is called, and I tell them, and I always say, "We're called The Birthday Massacre. But it isn't as horrible as it sounds. I swear."
INKED: With each album, your catalog of songs grows, which makes it a bit tougher to select set lists for shows. How do you guys handle that challenge?
CHIBI: We've chosen songs that have become popular through the years, stuff that people want us to play. We choose songs that are fun for us to perform and fun for the crowd. Sometimes after a tour we'll know if a certain song didn't work as well as we'd wanted it to. We do have a bunch of albums now, so yeah, it gets difficult to decide what to include and what to set aside. Paying attention to the crowds is what really does it. When people are singing along, having fun, really enjoying a song, we'll know it's probably a good idea to keep it around.
INKED: There are 6 members in your band. How do you all know when a song is finished? There must be cases where some of you disagree with each other.
CHIBI: Myself, Rainbow and Mike Falcore are the songwriters, and it can be difficult just among us three. I can't imagine what it would be like with six people all trying to write. The three of us have been working together for years now, and we've sort of figured out a system that works most of the time, but we still butt heads and get frustrated with each other. It can be difficult when we all feel something differently in a song, or end up having to sacrifice an element that we've spent a lot of time on and put a lot of care into, because it isn't working. I think the thing that helps us the most is having deadlines. We're the type of people who will keep tinkering with something and changing it indefinitely until someone says "Okay—you’re done."
INKED: How many tattoos do you have and which is your favorite?
CHIBI: I guess I have about nine or ten, even though the ones on my arms are sort of coming together. I can't really pick a favourite. I have two characters from Beverly Cleary books, Ramona Quimby and Ellen Tebbits. I love the illustrations done by Louis Darling. I also love my Sailor Saturn and Battle Angel Alita. And I have the Edward Gorey bat-head girl from the "Mystery!" intro on my leg. I can't choose a favourite, but I can tell you my least favourite. On my back and on my arm I have some Chinese lettering that I would love to cover up. I got it when I was very young, everyone always asks me what it means, and I always lie and say it means "I love hamburgers.” Honestly, it very well might.
INKED: What other ink do you have planned?
CHIBI: I've been planning a tattoo of Mileena from Mortal Kombat for a while. And I would also love to get another Edward Gorey character—“Madame O.” I really focused on this black mare, Eight Belles, who placed second in the Kentucky Derby one year, then promptly broke both her ankles and had to be euthanized right on the track, just moments after the race. That story destroyed me when I heard about it, it just broke my heart. So I'd look into something to do with that. And a tribute to my cat, Kisou, who died a year ago. She was my first pet. Most of my tattoos are of female characters who have inspired me or who I can relate to in some way.
INKED: You guys are still young and some bands stick together well into their fifties and sixties. Is it easy for you to envision The Birthday Massacre making music 20 years from now?
CHIBI: It's a possibility. Lately I've been looking into different means of creative expression. I'm having my first novel published in April 2015 with ECW Press—it’s called "Boring Girls.” That's a huge achievement for me and I really want to put more into my own writing. I have a second book I'm working on as well—an illustrated poem collection. A friend of mine and I are working on a really disgusting zine. And of course the band is still in full-swing. I'm sure we'll always be focusing on staying creative.
INKED: What guilty pleasures do you have in your music collection?
CHIBI: I don't believe in guilty pleasures! There is nothing I am ashamed to say I have in my collection. I listen to everything from Pungent Stench to Fleet Foxes. My favourite bands are Concrete Blonde, Faith No More, Type O Negative and the Mamas and the Papas. I guess in terms of what would be considered “guilty pleasures"—I like a lot of one-hit stuff, like Boy Meets Girl, Paul Carrack, Jack Wagner. Songs with sax solos.
Photos by Cayden Mowbray