With the Kerrang tour currently filling venues up and down the country, the fourth night at the Southampton Guildhall was a big one for a couple of support bands having their first taste of a large venue and hordes of screaming fans. One of these bands was the Fearless Vampire Killers, and I was lucky enough to speak to rhythm guitarist and vocalist Kier Kemp and lead guitarist Shane Summer before the show.
How are you enjoying being on the Kerrang tour so far?
Kier: It’s been really great, it’s a really friendly tour, and we’re getting on pretty well with the other bands on the tour, we hang out together after the shows and things like that. We haven’t ever played a whole tour of venues this size before, so it’s been good for us to see the reaction from a big crowd every night. And we get treated really well and get nice food, so that’s always good as well!
So you’ve never played a tour this size before, even as a support act?
Shane: No, we haven’t done many tours as supports, we’ve mostly headlined, even from the early days of the band. This is a real first for us.
Kier: That’s because nobody wants to take us on tour! [laughs]Seriously though, most bands don’t want to tour with us, so we’re used to headlining out of necessity. I think the image we have, with the stage make up and suits, doesn’t really help with that. We’ve done a couple of individual shows in larger venues as supports, and we played Download last year but most we just play headline shows in smaller venues.
Who would be your ideal touring partners, if you could go on tour with any band?
Kier: I’d probably say Queen, as we listened to them growing up and they’re quite a big inspiration for us.
Shane: Yeah, Queen would be good. I also really like My Chemical Romance, and Iron Maiden are one of my favourite bands, so it would be good to tour with them. We know Bruce Dickinson’s son, Austin Dickinson, and he’s a great guy, so you never know!
How long have you guys been playing together?
Kier: We’ve all known each other for donkeys years! Shane and I have known each other since we were three haven’t we?
Shane: Yeah, pretty much! We’ve always been together in one form or another. [laughs]
Kier: Shane and I started to play our first proper shows in pubs when we were about 15, just doing covers and stuff like that. We’ve had this band, with this line-up together for about a year and half now, but between about 16 and 23 we were just playing in different bands together.
Shane: The two of us have basically stuck together for all our exploits though!
Kier: I think you might have had a little side project thing going on at one point, but that’s about it!
What would you say your main influences were as a band?
Kier: We’re big fans of Queen, and listened to them a lot growing up, but our influences are pretty varied. We try and stick to one thing when we write songs initially, and then bring other stuff in later on.
Shane: We all have totally different influences that end up coming in though.
Kier: That’s true! If we literally, directly represented what we listened to, we’d have some kind of mad Primus-style mash-up thing going on!
Shane: I think our drummer’s gotten into Primus now though hasn’t he? I quite like Elton John, we’ve actually got an Elton John cover in our set at the moment.
Have you ever had any weird fan experiences?
Kier: No, our fans are lovely, they bring us cupcakes and drawings they’ve done and things like that, it’s really nice, we love our fans. I think we did get one bra thrown at us once, but it was a Pokemon one, which kind of sums our fans up!
Your debut album ‘Militia of the Lost’ came out last year, and you got a 4-K rating from Kerrang. Were you pleased with that?
Kier: We were really pleased with 4Ks! Especially, I think, for the first album, you don’t really want to get a 5K review, because there’s not really anywhere to go from there! We’ll see how we can top that for the next album.
Shane: Getting 4Ks was great though, it was really encouraging.
Kier: There’s little story around one of the tracks on that album: ‘Bite Down on my Winchester’, actually. We were scheduled to do a live TV broadcast on Blue Peter for Halloween, but we didn’t end up doing it, they pulled the plug on it about a week before we were supposed to go on and film it, partly because of that song! The executive producers had got hold of our album cover, which has got boobs and penises on it, and is generally a bit risqué, and they sent an email to our PR referencing that album cover and the song, as not really being suitable for Blue Peter! It’s Shane’s fault anyway, because he drew the album cover! [laughs]
Are you planning on releasing any new music anytime soon, or planning on any tours after the Kerrang tour is finished?
Kier: Yeah, we’ve got some new music coming out in March, and Shane’s done the cover for that as well. Then we’re going to be touring quite heavily during the summer, but we’re not allowed to be much more specific than that at the moment. But hopefully we should be back here in the South soon!
Finally one for the University fans- if you were coming to Southampton what would you study?
Keir: I’d do English literature, I didn’t enjoy being taught music and I love reading.
Shane: Physics, but I don’t like the maths bit – just physics!