There really isn’t anyone quite like Fearless Vampire Killers around at the moment. Unapologetically committed to their art, it’s refreshing to see a band who will stick to their guns despite the odds. Following the release of their new six song EP Bruises, we caught up with Kier and Luke from the band to catch up with what’s going on in the world of Fearless Vampire Killers as they head out on Escape The Fate’s three week Hate Me tour.
BM: It’s the first night of the tour with Escape The Fate today! Are you excited?
Kier: Yeah! We’re very excited. We like playing.
Luke: We were saying the other day, it felt like we hadn’t played in ages. But it hasn’t actually been that long…
Kier: It was just before Christmas.
BM: Did you enjoy the festival season last year? Especially Download and Warped Tour UK?
Luke: Yeah they were great!
Kier: Warped Tour was one of my favourite shows of the year!
BM: Last time we spoke to you guys, Laurence and Drew, they said you were writing some songs, which have now obviously come out as Bruises. They sound a lot more mature, while you can still tell that it’s you. So what went into the process that was different to writing a concept album?
Kier: I think it was just a culmination of all the things we’ve learnt up until now really. We’ve worked with a few producers like Dan Weller and even Will (William Controll) when we did the second album, and it taught us things, and then we were like ‘right, time to put everything into practice!’
Luke: Yeah… Basically we were just trying to calm down. Not too much, not for the sake of the song. But because we were all having input into how the songs should go, we usually end up with trying to fit everyone’s idea in.
Kier: There’s a lot of cooks in Fearless Vampire Killers. So we allowed each cook to do their own bit.
BM: Surely it’s good though to have loads of ideas, rather than just one person who does all the writing?
Kier: No, it’s definitely better to have too many ideas.
Luke: It’s not like three of us shut up so one person can have all their ideas.
BM: What goes into condensing it all down once everyone has had their input?
Kier: I think it’s really just trying to get to the essence of what you’re trying to do, just trying to learn… Because sometimes a song comes across better if it’s got a solid foundation and you’ve got a base that sounds good and then you can enjoy all the stuff that goes on top of it like the harmonies and the lyrics or whatever. So that’s what we tried to do; rather than put all the ideas we had in there- and we did have a lot- we decided just to distil it down.
Luke: So if we have an idea for one song, and it doesn’t end up in that song, we’ll just use it for another one.
Kier: So nothings wasted!
BM: So you’ll just end up with a load of songs- I remember Laurence saying last time that you had about thirty written.
Kier: Yeah, I think we have about fifty now! We’ve just been writing whenever we can, just to sort of keep a bank. Then when we come round to doing the next record we can go ‘whaaay which ones do we want?!’BM: So you just really do all the work at once. In terms of your next album, the concept albums you wanted there to be three- is that right?
Kier: Well I don’t think we ever expressly said a number that we’d do, but I think Laurence has always said that he does want to do another concept, another Grandomina-based album. Bruises wasn’t a full length so the next album that we do won’t be Grandomina based, it will be more of what we’ve started to explore with Bruises. But maybe a bit more of a theme rather than a strong concept, because the songs on Bruises are all based around a similar theme. They’re all stuff you have to deal with as an adult going through life. So I think it will be similar to that; it’ll have a theme but it won’t be high concept.
BM: How did you come up with the idea for the video that you released last week for the song Regret?
Kier: I think it was just one of those things that just evolved actually. The first video we did Like Bruises, was about what the song is about, which is like unseen damage that certain things can do. So we just thought of a video idea for that, and we’d watched Birdman quite recently so we were into that, and we took inspiration from that and things like True Detective- all the sort of de-saturated nature of it. Then the next video we thought it would be cool to do something that almost followed on from that, so I started having eyes for Laurence’s girlfriend after they’d been having trouble and then she eventually gets killed in the second video… And then, just kind of accidentally we thought wouldn’t it be cool for the last video if we just did a little trio- like a trilogy- and you don’t need to know that they’re a trilogy, but if anyone’s interested then they kind of are. So the last one is just the idea that we’re haunted by what’s happened, with all the guilt, we’re guilt-ridden and we’re seeing her ghost and we’re losing our shit in the forest. The forest just looks cool so that’s why we’re there, it’s in Tunbridge Wells so we just went for a walk and that’s it. So yeah, again it’s not super high concept but we thought it would be cool to play with something that pans its self out over the three videos.
Luke: But I think it’s turned out pretty well actually.
BM: How do you decide which bits you sing and which bits Laurence sings?
Kier: Generally Laurence will sing the stuff that he writes. That’s about as far as it goes. I’ll sing stuff that either Drew or I write- I just sing everything else! Although Luke wrote a song on Exposition that Laurence sung… So that’s one of the only songs that he’s sung that he didn’t write. But he did write the lyrics for it. I think he feels more comfortable expressing stuff that he’s written himself, which sometimes as a singer it works- you can deliver it more honestly if you know what the meaning behind the lyrics is. So I think that’s where he feels more comfortable. And also Drew has a very high range, and I’m more suited to doing the really girly stuff so that’s why I get that.BM: You did your own festival last year, Havoc Fest. What made you want to do that?
Luke: To be fair it was like it is with a lot of our stuff we just thought ‘why not?’
Kier: That’s pretty much it. We just go, ‘we could do it, so let’s do it’. It is that and also we were trying to think of something cool to do over the summer.
Luke: We curated a stage at Takedown Festival, so it was our own stage and it was all band that we picked and stuff so that was quite cool. So we wanted to do that again, but in a bigger place.
BM: Nice! Did you have fun?
Kier: We did, it was a really lovely day actually. Lots of good bands, lots of friends there as well so…
BM: How did you pick the bands, is it literally just bands you like?
Kier: Pretty much just bands we like yeah… Bands we’ve toured with or bands that came recommended. We did a little competition online as well between four bands to get the opening slot. Which worked quite nicely.
BM: Do you have any more plans to do it again or is that it?
Kier: I’d like to! But it’s a really, really tough market. Without sounding too nerdy, all festivals are struggling at the moment because there’s so many and they’re often expensive. So even though it was good, it was better than a lot of small festivals, it still wasn’t quite the raging success that I wanted it to be. So I’m toying with it, but I can’t make any guarantees to be honest.BM: You’ve got a headline tour coming up though! What can people expect from that, and how do you go about putting together a setlist with the new songs you’re really proud of, yet fitting in the older stuff everyone wants to hear?
Kier: A lot of discussion basically, that’s about it. We try and between us think of reasons- we always think about the audience, we were actually talking about this yesterday. It’s never really to satisfy ourselves. Obviously there is certain stipulations, this tour we’ll be playing all of Bruises because it’s the Bruises tour, but it’s only six songs. But yeah we just sit there and discuss what we think people want to hear, obviously we may not be right but… It’s that linked with what works as a set as well. You’re thinking that with the live show it’s almost like a theatrical piece, so you don’t want to play all slow songs, and not all songs that are going to melt your face. You want a sort of peak and trough; a bit of dynamics! A lot of thought goes into it basically.
BM: I suppose you’re always going to get people saying ‘why didn’t you play this, why didn’t you play that’.
Luke: You’ve just got to be prepared for that, and do the songs that you think are the best songs to do. You do always get people asking why we didn’t play a certain song but then you can always say ‘well maybe we’ll play it at the next show!’
BM: We’ve lost a couple of icons recently; Lemmy and David Bowie in particular. Did they have any influence on you?
Kier: Yeah I guess so, I mean especially David Bowie. I know me and a few of us in FVK felt the same, he was just a massive individual and he touched a lot of people, it wasn’t just people in rock, it was like across the world. Yeah it’s pretty shocking when you lose someone like that, especially so suddenly. It makes you really reflect on what music is like today, and why don’t we have someone like that now. So it was more of a shame more than anything else, so we did feel it in our own way. Lemmy was mad, he had a good innings, but they don’t make them like that anymore. He was a complete nutter.
BM: There’s not really anyone around at the moment that could fill those voids.
Kier: Yeah, I mean who would? No offence to a lot of bands but nobody is quite like Lemmy or David Bowie are they… It’s just one of those things that’s a shame and it makes you reflect. But I guess hopefully it’ll inspire a new generation to reach those heights, you never know!
Photos by Erin Moore at Forte Photography UK