On May 23, 2008, I had the chance to sit down and have a chat with Chibi, the front woman of the band The Birthday Massacre. This interview was conducted backstage at the Regency Grand Ballroom in San Francisco before their show with Mindless Self Indulgence and London After Midnight. I’d like to thank Chibi from The Birthday Massacre, Jack Suarez, and Gary Strack at Reybee for helping make this interview possible. Driven Far Off and I really appreciate all your help.
State your name and position in the band.
My name is Chibi and I am the singer for The Birthday Massacre.
How has your tour been with MSI?
It’s been really good. We haven’t gone out with a larger band in awhile; we’ve always done sort of our own headling thing. So it’s kind of interesting going on earlier in the night and having a short set, which is really nice, because usually we play for an hour every night and with this it’s nice and shorter and they’re really good people.
Have there been any personal highlights for the band during the tour?
Honestly, we were really surprised when we went to El Paso because we’ve never played there before and it’s really kind of far out and I guess a lot of bands don’t go out there and we were thinking it would probably be a smaller show but, it was nice surprise to see a ton of fans. It’s been really good and I guess there’s also the word on the street that sometimes Mindless Self Indulgence fans are so passionate about them that a lot of times their opening bands get a bad response, because everybody just wants Mindless Self Indulgence, but we’ve been really happy that some of our fans have come out too and the crowd has been really good.
So what are the bands’ personal influences?
All of us are all inspired by very different things, we all like horror movies, video games, and we all listened to different types of music growing up. Everything like Pantera to Nine Inch Nails to like Madonna. I’m really into Edward Gory, who is this kind of dark artist, so I really like that stuff and I really like the singer from Concrete Blond, Johnette Napolitano. I think she’s a really good vocalist; I try to be like her.
So what’s the best part of being on tour?
Oh gosh. Probably just getting to see different cities. We don’t really get to experience very much of the different cities, but it is nice. If we have an off day somewhere we can get out and do things, so that’s kind of nice, but I mean it is work and there’s a lot of sitting around, waiting around, and then getting ready for the show and waiting for the show and getting on the bus. It can get in kind of a routine, where you don’t know what city you’re in, but when we have a day off, we can walk around. That kind of thing is exciting and fun.
As far as the music business goes, what do you think about it?
I think everybody is a little bit worried about the state of music. You know you want people to come to shows and want people to buy the merchandise and buy the albums, and there’s just so much on the internet now as well. But when you’re kind of starting out that kind of thing is great, because you just want to get your music out there, but then it gets to the point where we have to tour. So how do we generate income for tour and then people say gas prices are so high that less people are going to shows, so it’s kind of everything that is wearing out the business side of it right now, but you try to forget about that and just play shows.
What inspired you to play music in the first place?
Honestly, being in a band never even occurred to me when we were younger. When I entered college and I met Rainbow (we were in the same art program together) we just started recording cover songs for fun. It was less expensive than going out to the bar all the time and a way to kind of have fun. So we we’re like let’s put a band together and none of us had really been in bands before either. It was just kind of a fun idea, something to do to hang out with your friends.
So where did you get your band name in the first place?
The thing with the music was that we wanted to put contrasts together like heavy guitars and keyboard melodies. So it was kind of contrasting, so we thought the name reflected the sound like birthday: fun, happy with massacre which is kind of opposite.
What is the message you’re trying to present to your fans?
What we always wanted to do is sort of harkening back to memories and childhood and sort of writing songs that come together into sort of a diary, so people could read them and could relate to their own lives. Also by using old sounds from the 80s and stuff, so people could be like it kind of sounds familiar, but it’s new. Sort of like bringing the past into things and trying to come up with something new. I don’t know if that’s a message, but that’s what we are trying to do.
So how do you describe your sound?
I don’t know again just mixing the different sounds like how could you take a cute female vocal and put it with a guitar and not have it sound clichÃ©, because there’s bands that do that and it’s a girl singer and it’s really heavy. Trying to be unique, but trying to mix together metal and girl vocals and keyboard melodies and stuff like that.
What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
I’m a huge nerd. Actually I’m sure people totally probably know that. I also like to knit a lot like on the tour bus everyone’s like it must be like a big party on the tour bus.
So has knitting helped you get your mind off things?
Yes, it’s very relaxing because it can be very stressful on the road, because you’re tired and hungry and you haven’t had a shower in a week. So I can either freak out and get really stressed out and want to go home or I can sit here and work on this cute little blanket I’m making.
So how’s the tour experience being a woman, is it different?
Yeah, you know I think it really is I mean sometimes people can still have this old world mentality like guys “herr herr are in bands it’s boys time and chick are chicks and all this crap” and its like “get out of here” like were in a band, their band (Mindless Self Indulgence) has two girls in it, you know what I mean there’s so many bands now with girls in it. Also even things like privacy issues like the guys will just kind of quickly jump into their boxers and get dressed and I’m getting changed in the back lounge. I have learned to do everything really fast and everyone thinks that like because I’m the girl in the band that I would take forever to do my make-up and I’m going to tell you they are so much worse than me, well not all of them but a couple of the guys are.
How did you get the band together?
Well a bunch of us met when we were in college in art school, Rainbow and me met there and he grew up with Mike our guitar player, so they already knew each other, when they were kids and that’s kind of how the original line-up got together. Basically just all going to the same school and over the years we’ve switched out members here and there, it’s always been friends though. We’ve always just gotten somebody we know to kind of jump in. Our bass player now was our original drummer, so he used to play drums and seven years later he comes back on bass, but it’s nice though. We at least know who we’re dealing with and it’s not like it’s this new guy, he’s weird, and it’s always people that we know.
So what about those mustaches?
Oh god. We were in Austin and we had the day off, so we just went shopping and none of us have a lot of money, so obviously the thing to do is to buy fake mustaches. I think I bought a slushee that was my big expenditure, but yeah next thing you know everybody’s walking around with a mustache. Jimmy from Mindless Self Indulgence drew on a mustache and Kitty their drummer was walking around with a mustache and I was like “oh my god,” it’s the kind of thing though that is funny for a few hours, then finally Rainbow would walk in with his mustache and it’s not funny anymore. Because I just saw that earlier so it’s like “aww,” but I’m sure they will have resurgence in a few days. That’s another thing tour is good for recycling gags, give it six weeks and they’ll be wearing the mustaches again.
Do you play any practical tricks on each other?
Sometimes yeah actually yesterday I got our tour manager Jack and we got him to go into this scientology church that we accidentally went into. It was this museum and it was all a scientology thing, but we didn’t know that when we went in. So we came back to the bus and we said “you guys got to check this out, it’s amazing you got to go there.” So they came back and were like “you sent us to a scientology church, that’s great.” So that kind of thing, but you got to not step on each others toes on tour too, because a lot people are tired or grumpy and if you’re like “herr herr” with silly string sometimes somebody’s not into it, so you have to be careful.
So is there any last words you may have?
Just thank you so much for the interview, we really appreciate it. And we’ll see you at the show.
To see photos from The Birthday Massacre show, please click here to go to Driven Far Off’s photos section.