‘Everyone got drunk and had a big zombie party!’: An Interview with Fearless Vampire Killers

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I caught up with four-fifths of Fearless Vampire Killers at their recent show supporting Madina Lake at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth, after first speaking to them on the Kerrang tour in February this year. We discussed favourite things to do in America, struggling to support the fans and having a giant ‘drunken zombie party’ filming their latest video.

A lot has happened for you guys since I last spoke to you, including headlining the Red Bull Stage at Download festival.  How was that experience for you?

Luke: It was quite difficult, as we were up against Slipknot, but it felt really good when we saw there were actually people there who’d chosen us over them.

Drew: Yeah, that felt like a real victory for us! We managed to squeeze in a little nod to Slipknot though; we played a four-part harmony version of ‘Psychosocial’ just to tease everyone! We couldn’t see it either, so we decided to play a bit ourselves.

Was going over to record an album with William Control in America a very different experience to recording your last album?

Drew: So different! It’s the first time we’ve ever recorded with a real producer, as most of our recording is done up in Reading, where you sort everything out yourself. There’ll be a bit of guidance, but not very much. But with Will, there was much more back and forth and suggestions at the demo stage. It was a lot more collaborative. If Will thinks something’s shit, he’ll say so! We definitely need that, sometimes he’s right and sometimes we manage to win him over!

Did you have fun recording the zombie-themed video for your new single ‘All Hallows Evil’?

Luke: It was brilliant! We had two girls doing make up, and everybody just turned up at this army base, got hammered and did it! We had some guy filming it and everyone got drunk and had a big zombie party!

What was your favourite thing about America? Are there any cities you’re particularly looking forward to seeing on tour there?

Luke: The size of everything over there! Everything’s large! I like large [laughs].

Laurence: I liked the availability of frozen cocktails! You don’t really get them so much in the UK.

Shane: Just generally the food and drink was great.

Drew: HBO Go is amazing too, we got to watch all of the third season of Game of Thrones. Most of our time, if we weren’t recording, we were watching TV! As for cities, I think the tour is taking us everywhere we want to go, but we’re all pretty excited for New York and Chicago, we’re playing with [fellow support act]Super Happy Fun Club again there.

Luke: And there’s free wi-fi everywhere! I’m really looking forward to going to Vegas on the US tour, but I’m going to have to limit myself, otherwise I could end up spending all my money.

Drew: Yeah, we’re not going to let you have any money now! [laughs]

You guys are well known for how much you interact with your fans, especially through social media. Do you ever find it distressing or hard to talk to fans who come to you with serious problems?

Laurence: It can be really hard, and it only gets harder as we go along. Every night, between us, we read about four or five letters and often each one contains the words self-harm. We have to be counsellors as well as musicians and because none of us are trained, it can be very difficult to deal with. Most of us didn’t have great social skills when we were at school; we were essentially misfits and I still feel that way. When people ask me how to cope or what to do, I don’t know what to say, because I’m still struggling.

Drew: In terms of taking on a counsellor role, that’s difficult because we’re not ‘normal’. A lot of rock musicians are drawn to music for that exact reason or to exorcise something in you. That’s an ongoing process, and we hope that by giving our all to our music that helps, but at the end of the day we’re not trained and we don’t know how to really help people personally while we’re still helping ourselves. We know we’re flawed, and it feels really hypocritical to give advice when we’re all still socially awkward and self-deprecating. We just hope that by doing what we do and encouraging other people to be creative and channel those emotions into that, we help in some way. We try our best and hope that’s enough.

Laurence: I think the main issue for a lot of people, and what was an issue for me as a kid, is just having too much time. With too much time to think, you tend to feel lost. I was the same, I just thought about stuff too much. For me, the band is the only thing that keeps me from losing my mind, because it takes up all my time and doesn’t give me time to think. As a band we really want to inspire people to do something more with their lives – do something creative. When fans cover our songs and write fan fiction and stuff like that – we love to see that – it’s really exciting for us. I always try my best to help people, and sometimes I speak to people on repeat occasions, and they tell me they’ve tried doing creative stuff, and that hasn’t worked. I always find it incredibly disheartening, because I really do try to help.

Luke: I was never really bullied at school, so I don’t feel able to give advice on something that I personally never faced. I don’t really know what to do, and when people tell me these things I try to make them laugh and cheer them up that way, as it’s all I can do.

New single ‘All Hallows Evil’ is released on 28/10/2013.

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