There’s something so tempting about leaning towards the dark side—of music, that is. Take The Birthday Massacre, for example. Since 1999, the Canadian rock band has managed to blend the perfect amount of headbanging riffs and haunting vocals to create quite an exciting pallet for their fans’ ears. And on March 27, they are blessing the music world with the gift of their eighth album: Diamonds.
The 9-track record is laced with themes of light and darkness, something many of us can relate to so far this year. The Birthday Massacre has mastered the art of maintaining a darker sound with their music through the use of synths, heavy periods of bass, and minor chords while Chibi’s angelic voice shines through with poetic lyrics, usually of hope and finding the light in the darkness.
I had the chance to catch up with Chibi and Falcore to discuss Diamonds and chat about spooky urban legends.
Your eighth album is coming out March 27! What are your thoughts going into this release?
Chibi: Wow. I mean, for me personally, it was—I don’t know. It feels like it’s been forever since we put out the last album and I have no concept of time, really anymore when it comes to this sort of thing. So, I just feel really happy about it. Really proud of it, and stoked that we have done eight albums. It feels like a pretty cool achievement. I’m proud of us.
Falcore: I mean, we have eight albums. I didn’t know we had that many songs.
Chibi: (Laughs) That’s what I was saying. I’m proud of us. I think we’re all pretty proud.
Falcore: Actually, one of the cool things about having eight albums now is that when we’re putting our set list together, we have so much material to choose from. I guess it’s kind of like a blessing and a curse since you can’t play everything obviously in one night. So, you really have a hard time picking the songs for the set.
I can’t even imagine. Do you guys have any songs that you wish you could play but never really made it to the set?
Chibi: I think it’s definitely a mixture of both. There are songs that are from older albums that we have never played live that I absolutely love. And I don’t think that we ever would [play them live]. Even with the new album—we play through songs to see what works.
Even just recently in rehearsals leading up to the tour, there are some songs where we’re like, “Oh, I don’t know how this is gonna feel.” And then you play it and we’re like, “Gosh, this is a great one.” Obviously, there are songs that we’re gonna play that people are gonna love and we would always, always play those songs that we know people really enjoy. But yeah—we’ve definitely honed in on some of those songs that just kind of jump out at us while going through them in rehearsal.
Falcore: Also, some songs don’t really lend themselves to our live show. Our live show is pretty energetic. It leans more towards kind of rock, metal, high energy. So, some of our songs are pretty down tempo and very beautiful, like slow, beautiful arrangement-type songs. But they don’t always work live, unfortunately.
Chibi: We like to dance! It’s so much fun to dance at a live show. You know, we love to jump around and have some fun.
Falcore: Yeah, we don’t want people falling asleep in the front row. We’re trying to prevent that at all costs.
Chibi: We just wanna dance, man! We just wanna dance.
Just dance. Just let it go.
Chibi: That’s what I’m sayin’ man! (laughs)
I mean, depending on the type of show, it’s not always fun to just kind of stare up at the band the entire show. It’s like—what do you do, then?
Chibi: Exactly. I mean, when I would go to shows when I was younger, I remember the type of shows I liked going to see and the most memorable moments that I have was when everybody was dancing and having fun.
Falcore: But there are bands where that kind of works. Like, I saw this band called Drab Majesty a few months ago and it was just two guys and they don’t really move around. But their music is very consistent and it’s very dreamy. And that works for me because the music is so beautiful, I don’t need to see an aerial show on stage—fire, pyrotechnics on stage. The music just puts you in the state of mind and that’s cool. But it’s not like they’re going from a shoegazer song to metal songs and then back to a shoegazer song. Then that would fee a little weird. But because they so consistently have their sound—whereas we have a bunch of different sounds, we’re all over the map sometimes. You know, sometimes we have like an 80s synthpop song and then the next will be almost a heavy metal track, so we just need to keep that going to keep the audience with us.
I get that 100 percent. You guys have a ton of different sounds and you’ve been together since, jeeze, 1999.
Chibi: Oh god, don’t remind us (laughs).
Obviously, you’ve grown as a band, but how do you maintain that voice—make it so that fans are like, “That’s totally a Birthday Massacre song”?
Falcore: I think that’s something that’s important to us, just making sure that we’re still kind of in our little universe. You know, we’re not going to go and make a country album (laughs). That’s pretty much guaranteed. So, we just have certain instruments that we always use. Certain synths that make our sound, Chibi has a very unique, very special voice.
Chibi: Oh, thanks buddy (laughs)
Falcore: You know, that keeps our sound consistent. Rainbow and I, we do most of the writing for the music and we just have a sensibility when we work together. It’s just the chemistry we have. It’s just always been that way. We don’t try to do the same thing over and over. We want the sound to grow in different directions, but we don’t want it to just come out of nowhere. We want it to be like a progression that you can hear. It’s not just coming out of left field.
I get that—listening to your albums, you can totally hear that. With this new album release, which of these songs resonates with you guys the most? And why?
Chibi: Which? Oh gosh. That’s interesting.
Falcore: The title track, “Diamond,” is pretty, uh, it’s kind of a departure for us… It’s kinda—very epic. That’s the word everybody I’ve shown “Diamonds” to, they use the word epic.
Falcore: Yeah. I don’t think we have that many epic songs, do we?
Chibi: All of our songs are epic. (Laughs) To me, the song “Crush” is one that I loved immediately. That one really jumped out at me. Yeah. The title track’s great and I love “Crush.” All the songs are different. All the songs are good.
Falcore: Well, that’s one of the things I’ve noticed about a lot of our albums. It seems like everybody has their own favorite song. You know how some bands have that one song that everybody loves and that’s kind of it? With our band, everybody kind of has their own favorite songs. It’s not just one or two songs off a record. Like, almost every single song off our records is special to somebody.
What can you tell me about the cover art for this album? How does it tie into the messages and themes of the album?
Falcore: Well, we contacted an artist. She’s from Canada, actually, her name is Sara Deck and I just saw her artwork on Instagram.
Chibi: She’s so crazy talented.
Falcore: Yeah. She’s really good. She does artwork for movie posters and other bands as well like Metallica. I reached out to her, she’d heard of our band, and she was totally into it. It was just—we had a lot of conversations back and forth through email just about the kinds of things we were into, the themes we were feeling on this record, the emotions, and I think she just sort of took all of that information and—we wanted her to do her own expression for this album.
We’ve always been super hands-on with the other album artwork and we just wanted to kind of hand it to someone else with as much input from the band as we could offer and just see what they could come up with. We were just blown away with her work. It was the perfect evolution. If you look at all of our album covers, this one really nicely fits with the collection. So, Sara Deck—awesome job!
It’s gorgeous! I wish I could do that. Now, for your final question—it’s a little weird. What is your favorite urban legend?
Chibi: Oh! Urban legends! I mean for me, I think urban legends—okay, that’s such a cool question. They can be so personal to where you grew up, I think. I remember when I was a little kid and going to school, like grade one through five, there was this apartment building and lot next to the school and there was this little triangle shape at the top and everybody said it was a witch with a BB gun. And we all believed this, even though it was absurd. Like, every time we would walk past this apartment building, all of the kids would just run because the witch with the BB gun was gonna just be firing round at you—even though it never happened.
There is no witch. Nobody even heard the BB gun. That used to scare the crap out of me and that was an urban legend that was very specific to my little town in my little school. And anybody that had to walk past that apartment building. I’ll never forget it. And that apartment building is gone now, so the little kids at that school won’t have the BB gun urban legend. But, I swear, man.
Falcore: That’s very specific to you.
Chibi: That’s what’s interesting about urban legends, though. I like the ones that are more regional that only certain people would have heard about. It’s such a fascinating subject.
Falcore: I don’t know if this qualifies as an urban legend, but I remember when I was a kid, I had this book of spooky tales called, uh, I think Tales for The Midnight Hour. And it had some urban legend myths in there but there was this story about a woman who wore, I think it was a black velvet collar?
Chibi: Oh gosh, is the lady with the green ribbon?
Falcore: I thought it was black, but maybe it was green. But she always wore it around her neck.
Chibi: Oh, yes!
Falcore: And I think someone took it off her or something?
Chibi: I know! She was dying! Her husband asked her what was up with the green ribbon around your neck and she was like, “I’ll tell you later, I’ll tell you later,” and then she was on her death bed and that’s when she was like, “Baby, when I die, you can untie the ribbon.” And then he does. And her head falls off!
Chibi: It’s so good! That’s a great one. I thought it was a green ribbon, but I don’t know.
Falcore: Black velvet is very goth, so I’m gonna go with that.
I mean, urban legends change so often, so…
Chibi: That’s what makes them fun! I heard green ribbon, he heard black velvet. That’s interesting.