Interview: Five Questions With UK’s Fearless Vampire Killers

By Natalie Perez

I recently cornered Laurence Beveridge, Drew Woolnough and Kier Kemp of London’s Fearless Vampire Killers to discuss their debut album, Militia of the Lost, which was released in the U.S. in May (Buy it on iTunes). Here’s how it went.

01. What inspired the album title? Is it a concept album?

Laurence (vocals): It’s a concept album and an album about the struggle to find a place in society, and more personal things like love, loss and addiction. The album title comes from the song “Fetish For The Finite.” “Like militia of the lost, we war.”

It kind of works on two levels. If you’re looking at the story, it’s about five men who have little left in life. They’re wanted for crimes they haven’t committed or were forced into, trying to make a change in a world that seems bereft of empathy, a world where the ideas of love and creativity are shunned, even laughed at. In this place — Grandomina — it is addiction and lust that reign. Naturally, in a city such as this, these five men are lost, almost ghosts in the sprawling smut-stained metropolis. They are lost hearts, if you will. For them the only course of action is to fight back, become defenders of all things real and human, and take the fight to those rulers seeking to quash the aspirations of their people. These five young men and those that follow them become the Militia of the Lost — or Fearless Vampire Killers.

Concept aside, we’re still really talking about the same things, in this modern society where so many of us have everything — game consoles, prescription drugs that help us get up to go to school, mobile phones and social networks to make us a million new friends we’ve never met. Why do we still feel lost? Why do we wake up some days and wish we hadn’t woken at all? We get to school in the morning and our teacher points at a computer screen and makes us key in sums and fractions we’ll never have to use. We turn up for work and watch the clock mark the minutes as the office drone lolls us into a grey and dreamlike state. Doctors give us these little yellow pills to stop us asking them what’s wrong, and after all this, we’re told everything’s fine, we’re just growing up, or we’re just having a blip, or if we go and buy a sports car, we’ll feel much better.

Inspiration and creativity, that’s what makes life magical, and sometimes disappearing into a world of your own creation is the closest thing we have to reality. Militia of The Lost is about overcoming your failings, finding your courage and saying no, I’m not a number, I’m free and can prove it.

02. What was it like working with your producers? How did they aid the recording process?

Drew: We recorded Militia of the Lost at Outhouse Studios in Reading, England, with John Mitchell, Ben Humphreys and James Billinge. It was really great to be able to go back there and record a full album. Previously we’d just had our second EP mixed there, because those guys know their shit. Outhouse’s whole recording philosophy and work ethic really suited our own natural style of working. They just know how to get the best takes out of people and still keep it real. That was the most important thing; we didn’t want to sound like auto-tuned robots from the 64th and a half dimension, but we didn’t want to sound rubbish, either!

They also really helped us hone the songs, some songs we’d been playing for a couple of years, and when something wasn’t working they’d throw in an idea and it would suddenly click into place and would be very supportive if any of us had some off-the-cuff ideas. It was a super experience and by far the best we’ve ever sounded, so we were absolutely chuffed.

03. How would you describe the album’s overall sound?

Laurence: It’s hard to describe, because every song is intentionally different. We didn’t want people to listen to this album and be like, “This is great, oh this song’s similar but it’s still good,” and then, “OK, change something!” So many bands seem content with writing one good song and then repeating it over and over with slightly different chord patterns. We don’t want to do that! It’s boring, and we’re ready to get stern words from reviews about attempting to fit in too many genres, because to be honest, that’s what we do. It’s not metalcore, hardcore or crunkcore, we’re music core, so yeah.

04. How does it compare to your EPs?

Laurence: It’s a lot more aggressive but more melodic. It’s kind of like a rock musical without all those bits where they’re trying to fit way too many words in over a pretty dull melody. People have said in the past that our EPs made them feel as if they were on a journey. We really wanted to expand on that, so we begin the album with this thrashy punk song about fear of death, and we end it with a sadistic love song.

It’s also been recorded more professionally, even down to simple time issues. Before we’d sing a part, and Kier and I would get like, four, five times to sing it before timescales meant we had to get on with it. This time we had time to make sure everything was in tune. I actually can’t believe how happy I am with the record. I’ve never been completely happy with anything we’ve done before. I see Militia of the Lost as the front cover of a much, much bigger book. It gives a taste of what’s to come.

05. When did you start writing this album? How was the song writing process different to previous Fearless Vampire Killers records?

Laurence: It’s weird because there’s a massive gap between some of the songs; for instance, the penultimate song on the album was written in 2008, whereas the song after it was finished in the studio, though it had been floating around in various forms for about five years. I guess we never set out to write for an album. It’s a much more organic process. I hate the idea of setting aside two months and saying we’ll write then. To me that seems fake. I guess we’re lucky because we have a band of songwriters, and Drew and I, who wrote “Skeletons” on this record, always have about four songs floating around in our head at any given time.

The writing process was the same as it always was. Drew or I write a song on the piano — sometimes the guitar — and then the band turns it into a rock song. Until the last song we finished, which is actually in the middle of the album. I was sitting there with this song, I loved it, but I was like, how interesting will this be if I get Drew to write another chorus – have like a song with two different choruses {one at the start one in the middle} and then try and cram it into two minutes. It’s actually the only song we’ve never played live, but for the next album, we’re going to write most of the songs that way.

Anything else you want to plug?

KIER (vocals): Yeah! Hold onto your goggles because I’m taking our big red van and driving these bastards to a town near you! Make this thing real, ya’ll!

For more about Fearless Vampire Killers, check them out on Facebook.

Southern Californian Natalie Perez has a fiery passion for music, writing and photography. Dying to know more? Connect with her via her own reality she calls Natalie’s World.

 

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