Interview: Fearless Vampire Killers

Dressed head to toe in Victorian attire, wooden stakes in one hand, instruments in the other, you could mistake Fearless Vampire Killers with an amateur dramatic rock opera staged at the village hall. With this statement look and gothicly buzzing music the band has basically created its own genre, death-pop. Playing alongside Black Veil Brides, Chiodos and Tonight Alive, Fearless Vampire Killers graced the stages of this years Kerrang Tour. Rebecca Rayner caught up with Drummer Luke Illingworth, bassist Drew Woolnough , guitarist and co-vocalist Laurence Beveridge and band mascot Wet Panda to get a glimpse into the life of a vampire killer.

FVK

Rebecca: So you’re here on the kerrang Tour. How did you feel about being asked to play this years tour?

Luke Illingworth: It was insane. It was completely out of the blue, yeah completely out of the blue.

Laurence Beveridge: Ha-Ha, Sorry he’s doing it in a Beatles voice.

Drew Woolnough: It was amazing; it was completely amazing and yeah ruddy love it.

Rebecca: How’s it going so far?

Luke: Amazing, it’s going good. We haven’t gigged in a while, since Halloween.

Laurence: We did a three week tour of like every toilet venue you could possibly go to in England.

Drew: We dropped some serious stinking rock in every one.

Laurence: Yeah we did!

Drew: And we didn’t flush it.

Laurence: It’s been so cool to get back on stage because after three months off, which none of us has really had for seven years. We just haven’t had that long not playing gigs really, and so it kind of felt like we’d come home.

Drew: Awwww. First night it felt like we were gonna die because we were all really unfit, it was only half an hour but when you want to rock out and it’s a bigger stage, me and Kier especially came off and we were just like bleaugh, I feel like were gonna die!

Rebecca: Do you still get really nervous before you go on stage?

Laurance: Yeah we didn’t get nervous before this tour I think.

Luke: I never really got nervous. I wasn’t so nervous on the night, I was nervous a few days before. But it just kind of like dawned on me that its gonna happen.

Laurence: Yeah, I just get nervous when we run out of time. Because we sound check then we’ve got half an hour to get ready to go onstage.

Drew: Like any nerves you might have are heighted because you’ve gotta sound check just before hand, and inevitably everything breaks as soon as you go onstage that was working fine like 2 hours ago and then you just run off. Like the second night I had to run off and go out and buy new batteries for my wireless systems, and we had like 20 minuets or something to play. So that was like not very good for the stress levels.

Rebecca: Do you have any crazy stories from the tour so far?

Laurence: Crazy stories…

Luke: So far…

Drew: Have we done anything? I don’t think we’ve done anything.

Laurence: We haven’t really done anything.

Luke: I’ve got drunk, slightly.

Laurence: I’ve been drunk every night.

Drew: We had a little boogie last night

Luke: We had a little boogie; we went to Metros in Cardiff last night which was an interesting place. It was good but nothing much happened. Someone thought Kier was Pete Wentz, which was good.

Laurence: Yeah its hard to have time to do anything rock and roll really.

(Lead vocalist Kier Kemp intervenes)

Kier: It’s not the same nowadays really isn’t it? You chuck a T.V out the window and you get kicked off the tour.

Laurence: Yeah, yeah. It’s quite hard to be rock and roll so… the most rock and roll we are is we buy stupid hats and stuff.

Drew: Yeah that’s about as much rock and roll as we get.

Laurence: We’ve got Wet Panda over there. This is Wet Panda; he’s the tours mascot.

Drew: He goes on stage every night; he got the biggest cheer of the night on Thursday.

Laurence: Yeah he got a massive cheer.

Drew: He’s got a lovely singing voice.

Rebecca: How did you come up with your band name because it’s quite an unusual band name? So what’s the thought behind that?

Laurence: well it’s actually a film. I grew up watching it; it was one of my favourite films when I was a kid. It’s actually by Roman Polanski which is quite controversial because he’s been arrested for various things.

Luke: He’s a naughty boy.

Laurence: He is a Naughty boy, but yeah. I guess we wanted to… Because we were a band before this called ‘Remember When’ kind of everything went wrong and stuff like that. We’d had enough of like not being you know taken seriously or being ignored by people and we thought, well what’s better than calling ourselves Fearless Vampire Killers because then were going to be taken really seriously. But no it was just like we wanted a name that kind of divided people and made people go ‘oh I really like that name’ or ‘they sound like idiots’. but even the people that say ‘they sound like idiots’ their intrigued because they want to know why someone would call their band Fearless Vampire Killers, so they always look us up and that’s the thing you know. With a divided opinion everyone’s interested, even if they hate us.

Rebecca: You guys are quite a concept heavy band, its unusual to see you out of costume. I read Kerrang a lot and I always see you guys completely Victorianed up. So what’s the idea behind the fancy dress and the whole concept?

Laurence: Well like, I’ve kind of got this whole world that I’ve come up with called Grandomina which all the songs are set in and a lot of it is also inspired by Shanes artwork, he’s our guitarist he does all the album artwork and stuff like that, so its kind of collaborative in that way. Shane (Sumner. Guitarist) just started dressing like that; in our old band I remember when we used to wear waistcoats and shirts and we always had that kind of feel, and it was just a way of standing out from all those, you know indie bands that we had to play with in London. We just wanted to stand out from them, that’s why we just started covering ourselves in talcum powder and stuff, just so that when we rocked out this whole sort of cloud would just come up and everyone would go “who the hell is that… because I can smell babies”.

Drew: Little gothic babies.

Laurence: Yeah little gothic babies. Its just what we’ve always done, we’ve sort of always wanted to be theatrical.
Drew: I don’t think we’ve ever been in a band who have just gone on stage normally. I don’t know what it is; maybe it’s just the bands that we like. We’ve just kind of always, what ever the style its been, always tried to look a little bit different, A little bit odd. I went through my Zeppelin Phase, dressing ridiculously.

Laurence: You looked a bit like a paedophile at one point.

Drew: Ha-ha like a paedophile?

Laurence: Long, blonde greasy hair, sunglasses a cap…

Drew: I played one gig when I was 15 and I looked like a 40 year old housewife who had popped out a couple of sprogs. Yeah so it wasn’t a good time.

Laurence: But he was still committed to the look.

Drew: I’m always committed to my look… but I don’t know what my look is at the moment.

Laurence: (laughs) Put your Zelda hat on!

Drew: Its geek, geek. Not even geek chic, its geek shit

Rebecca: Geeks cool. I noticed you’ve got an Iron Man T-shirt (Drew) and a Batman hat (Luke). Are all of you kind of into comic books?

Drew: Yeah I’m massively into comics.

Laurence: We’re actually writing comics at the moment. We’ve got five comics that are going to come out at some point, Six actually. Its cool, we’re writing one for the guy, have you heard of V For Vendetta?

Rebecca: Oh my god, don’t even mention Allan Moore, just don’t.

Laurence: well its not Allan Moore it’s the artist for that which still is really cool, David Lloyd. He’s got a website, like an online comic book thing where they get like real comic book artists and writers, like really good ones, to write stories and he wanted us to do one so we’re doing like a prequel to our album. We’ve got a new CD coming out called ‘Exposition’ which is like each song is written by and about each member of the band in this story, and were going to do comics to go with that, were just making things really difficult for ourselves.

Drew: Be as convoluted and pretentious as we can.

(All laugh)

Laurence: Yeah, yeah.

Rebecca: For somebody who isn’t familiar with the concept and the story behind the album, could you explain it?

Laurence: Really simply its about, its like set in this place called Grandomina which is like a city state which is cut off from the rest of the world. And in this kind of city, it used to be the capital of this massive empire and now its just like a kind of lawless dive that’s like controlled by this guy called The Cardinal. It’s all about these five guys rising up and taking on The Cardinal and taking power back to the people. Its kind of about the vampires in it…It’s all metaphorical because its about really how we felt when we first moved to London. In a way and us trying to deal with that and building something out of nothing. Because the vampires in the end are kind of the council, our managers at work, the people that constantly bring you down and suck the life out of you until there’s nothing left. Because if your poor in London its really not really much fun at all.

Rebecca: Where are you guys originally from then?

Laurence: We’re originally from a place called Beccles in Suffolk, but there’s nothing there for us. Our drummers from a place called Hemel Hempstead and there’s probably nothing there for him either. There’s a massive roundabout.

Luke: A huge roundabout

Drew: There’s a massive roundabout, its ridiculous!

Luke: Big roundabout surrounded by five other roundabouts.

Drew: It’s a nightmare.

Laurence: So were originally from there and we moved to London to do the band, because we imagined that the streets were going to be paved with gold and all this sort of stuff. Then we got there and it was you know…

Drew: They were bronze at best really. False gold.

Laurence: Ha-ha and so yeah, it was really hard for us. We moved to London in about 2008 no 2007, so yeah we’ve been going at it for six years.

Drew: Six years man, Jesus!

Laurence: Ha-ha, bloody hell six years!

Drew: Jesus!

Rebecca: Did you find it really hard to break threw then?

Laurence: Yeah, near impossible. We literally had to force ourselves down people’s throats.

Drew: We played relentlessly for a year in London. Before I was in the band, you’d been in there for about a year hadn’t you just slogging away?

Laurence: Yeah

Drew: And then it was another year of just early, naive slogging away in London. Playing every week a few times. Shitty venues to bad promoters and with the wrong bands and just thinking, you have to do it because you want to do it.

Laurence: And then I guess the way we did it we suddenly… someone contacted us and said ‘do you want to play this gig in a youth centre. Or maybe Kier had read about youth centres being good for shows? Anyways, So we ended up getting on a train to this place called The Hermit, which is in Brentwood in Essex, and when we played there all these kids were there. And they were jumping around and going crazy. So we were like ‘hang on, we’ve been doing the wrong thing’ London’s pointless.

Drew: Yeah this is better than people in their mid 20’s to 30’s kind of standing at the bar kind of just so they can go ‘well there not as good as the bands I saw’.

Laurence: So then we were like, we bought like a not sort of horrible LDV Convoy Van.

Drew: Which we called SuBo.

Laurence: Which was like leaking and couldn’t go more than 50mph, and we just went all the way around London. Like all the little satellite towns and played youth halls, churches, bloody everywhere.

Drew: We played a laser quest, that’s how desperate we were. The best bit obviously was playing laser quest, not even for free.

Laurence: There was only about two people there.

Drew: It wasn’t even that many.

Laurence: There was one person there to see us.

All in unison: Yeah.

Drew: Yeah that was a bad year.

Luke: But we got to play laser quest so… swings and roundabouts.

Drew: The only thing that could make this tour better is if there was Laser Quest, there has been none so far.

Laurence: Exactly. But anyway so we played anywhere and people started going, we started getting fans and no one knew about us in the industry at all, and so when Kerrang finally got to us and started looking into us they couldn’t believe how much of a fan base we’d built without being on anyone’s Radar. And it was all just by, we made our own merch, We did everything ourselves and we went out there and we would try and sell hoodies to someone and it was slowly, slowly building, and urmm yeah suddenly things just started taking of and Kerrang started wanting to do stuff. Basically we owe most of it to Will Francis from Aiden or William In Control because he got us on our first touring dates, proper tour with Aiden when Francesqa pulled out of the Aiden tour we filled in the last three dates that was our first ever thing. And last year he took us on tour you know, he’s the only person that really ever went forward and helped us up but yeah. We’re still like bottom of the pile, I think its all just smoke and mirrors that makes us look like we’ve made it. We’ve got a long way to go. Yeah it’s all good.

Rebecca: On tour is all the waiting around you do really boring?

Drew: Not really, it’s a lot better than working a normal job.

Rebecca: What do you guys do for your normal jobs then?

Luke: I work for John Lewis in the warehouse where they shoot the catalogue.

Drew: I’m a financial processor at a housing association…. aghhhh

Laurence: And I’m boring myself talking about it

(Everyone laughs)

Drew: And I’m boring myself talking about it.

Laurence: I work on a council switchboard but I can’t say which one because people will find the number and call me, ha-ha but yeah.

Rebecca: So it must be a refreshing change then to come out on tour and do stuff like this.

All three: Yeah

Drew: Yeah I mean even the slow days; you can fill it with something. You can play some computer games or play guitar or whatever. Always something to do.

Rebecca: What music are you guys influenced by?

Drew: All sorts of stuff.

Laurence: Yeah, at the moment I’m really into Coheed And Cambria. Well I always have been, I have been for like 10 years.

Luke: I’m loving Devin Townsend at the moment. I’ve only just kind of found him, he’s brilliant.

Laurence: And Metallica?

Luke: I like all that kind of classic rock. Aerosmith are my dogs ha-ha and urmm yeah and Metallica and all that.

Drew: I listen to a lot of Rufus Wainwright at the moment, that sort of stuff. And urr Muse, massive influence!

Wet panda at Southampton Guildhall (taken from Laurence’s Twitter)

Rebecca: The venue today, Southampton Guildhall it’s massive.

Drew: Yeah it’s a really big venue.

Luke: This place reminds me of The Shining.

Drew: I knew you were going to say that.

Luke: like the long corridors.

Laurence: Its cool, like when me and Shane went up on the balcony, we took a photo of Wet Panda.

Drew: Ha-ha ,obviously.

Rebecca: It’s like panda memeing. Like everywhere you go just get a photo off wet panda.

Laurence: Yeah, cuz everyone says I look like a panda and we had a signing yesterday in Cardiff and I got two pandas, Drew got a sheep and Luke gets a lion because he looks like a Lion.

Rebecca: If people haven’t heard of you before how would you describe what you do and the music that you create?

Laurence: Cannibal Corpse anal raping Elton John.

Drew: Danny Elfman from Diarrhoea. They’re our sound bites.

Laurence: I came up with another really good one the other day. It was something like Iron Maiden…

Drew: How about Harmonious Panda-monium?

Laurence: (laughs) yeah that’s cool. Harmonious Panda-monium.

Drew: That sounds really sweet.

Laurence: I don’t know, I just say like people always use the word theatrical but I never really think were that theatrical. Like because theatre kind of gives the idea you’ve practiced what your doing. (Everybody laughs)

Drew: We’re punk theatrical.

Laurence: Yeah Punk theatrical.

Drew P-heatrical.

Laurence: We’re like The Damned crossed with urr the Bee Gees

Drew: That’s quite good, yeah.

Fearless Vampire Killers

Rebecca: Do you have any plans for 2013? Like an album, a tour?

Laurence: Album, plans that have already been given away but we’re still not aloud do give them away.

Luke: Yeah, not aloud to say.

Laurence: We’re not aloud to say but if you watch the last Kerrang Podcast then they’re given away by both Andy and William In Control, we cant say but yeah, were gonna record an album.

Luke: we’ve got lots of plans but were not aloud to say any of them.

Laurence: We’re hopefully go on tour at some point, maybe in the next two months ha-ha.

Drew: We might be touring, we might me doing an album we might be…

Laurence: The books getting re-released, because we released a book called ‘Ruple & Evelyn’ and the sequel will hopefully be finished by the end of the year. We’re doing the comics, we’re doing a comic signing, we’re doing comic con and signing a front cover of a comic that doesn’t exist yet.

Drew: That’s a good way to get in.

Rebecca: Is that UK Comic Con, MCM Expo?

Drew: Yeah, yeah MCM I think, yeah in London. Yeah I’m gonna be there, get my dad a Neil Adams Signature, that’ll be good.

Laurence: Yeah and we really want to go to Europe and America.

Drew: Yeah I mean that’s the aim.

Laurence: Our Aim is just to quit our day jobs.

Drew: Yeah and go out and do this full time.

Laurence: That’s the plan, Yeah. And Kier might get a new haircut.

Drew: He might do but then we might see our numbers slip a little bit. I don’t know if that’s what’s holding us together. There is a Kier Kemp hair account so obviously it’s quite big in our appeal. But now we’ve got Wet Panda we wont need him.
Laurence: Yeah Wet Panda! From the start of tour Wet Pandas already got two twitter accounts made for him.

Drew: He’s already more famous than me.

Laurence: Yeah.

Rebecca: Do you have a best moment of being in the band so far?

Laurence: probably the moment we found out we’re doing the Kerrang Tour for me. I reckon Kerrang Brixton’s going to be like the best one.

Luke: Yeah that’s going to be insane. Yeah finding out that the Kerrang tours going to Brixton was a pretty good day.

Drew: I still really like, it’s a tie between walking out onto both Downloads and doing the Koko because of it being a first of those kind of gigs. First big festival, Download and the Koko was the first, I think the Koko maybe for me just because obviously like these stages are massive but the Koko was just like oowff.

Laurence: The Kerrang awards were good.

Rebecca: Did you go last year?

Drew: Yeah, yeah.

Rebecca: That must have been really surreal for you with all the people that were there. like I know Ozzy Osbourne was there.

Drew: yeah, Black Sabbath was there.

Luke: Slash was there. I was eating my food and someone nudged me I looked up and he’s like “sorry man”.

Laurence” I got a photo with Dizzee Rascal, it got deleted yeah, but Dizzee Rascal and the guy from Good Charlotte came up to us and was like “ahh I really liked your video man”

Drew: Ha-ha yeah that was awesome. I remember just after show bumping into Rou Reynolds from Enter Shikari drunk just going “I love your band”.

Luke: Tenacious D were there as well .

Drew: That was pretty cool.

Luke: I got a picture with them. Yeah Kerrang awards, that was my favourite.

Rebecca: Did you guys grow up reading Kerrang?

Laurence: Yeah.

Drew: ohhhh Yeah

Laurence: An early review, Kier and Shane were in a band called Cause for Concern, which was like this rubbish Pop-Punk band. They were quite good but I always say their rubbish for a joke because me and Drew were in a rival band called Self Titled…

Drew: That were much better.
Laurence: That were much better. Anyway they were in this band and they got this really bad review for one of their demos and it was like ‘oh you know this emo band moaning about there life, the worst thing that’s probably ever happened to them is that the local tractor broke down and they couldn’t get their weekly supply of strawberry milk’ in kerrang magazine

Luke: (bursts out laughing) I didn’t know this!
(Everyone laughs)

Laurence: It was so difficult because you’d always go down Tesco’s and like hope you got there before everyone else bought Kerrang .

Drew: Yeah because it would sell out.

Laurence: It would sell out straight away. Like whenever Kerrang gets released with us in it, our parents always like buy all the kerrang’s. So yeah we grew up reading it, I’ve got like probably got about 300 copies at my house. Like my mate gave me all his back issues as well.

Rebecca: So it must be really unreal that not only are you in the magazine but you’re on the actual Kerrang Tour?

Drew: Yeah it’s mental.

Laurence: Yeah its like the biggest thing. I remember our mates going to watch the first Kerrang tour, I couldn’t go because I didn’t have enough money. They went to the first one at UEA, which we’re gonna play, with Aiden, Still Remains, Bullet For My Valentine and Story Of The Year. It was a massive deal, The Kerrang Tour, every year it’s a big deal except last years wasn’t as good.

Rebecca: Is that just because Sum 41 pulled out?

Laurence: Nah, yeah, I’m not into like trendy music really so I don’t really get Let Live. You love Let Live don’t you?

Drew: I love Let Live. Yeah they’re great.

Laurence: Yeah I don’t get that.

Luke: While she sleeps.

Drew: Was it While She Sleeps last year?

Laurence: Yeah, they were in our position. While She Sleeps are actually really good.
(Everyone agrees)

Drew: They are really good.

Laurence: Maybe it’s just Let Live.

Rebecca: The Blackout played as well, are you not fans?

Luke: And New Found Glory as well.

Drew: Yeah New Found Glory and The Blackout. Wasn’t that quite good, yeah that’s quite a good year. I think he’s just trying to sound cool , trying to make this years tour sound better.

Laurence: I don’t know if I like New Found Glory.

Rebecca: They’re a bit Nasally kind of like.

Laurence: Yeah.

Drew: I haven’t really listened to them

Laurence: I think your supposed to like them, your supposed to go ‘oh I really like New Found Glory’.

Drew: But they might be really good, I don’t know.

Laurence: I’ve got one of their albums, I never liked it.

Drew: Oh Really?

Laurence: I don’t know, they’re more like the kind of Blink 182 branch aren’t they whereas we’re more of the Green Day branch I think of Punk-Pop. So enough slagging off bands.

Rebecca: What is your most influential album of all time and why?

Luke: Probably Master of Puppets or maybe The Black Album because that was the album that taught me how to play the drums.

Drew: I think mine is probably The Holy Bible by Manic Street Preachers. Just cuz like I got into that and just kind of I don’t know. Maybe the only other album is Pinkerton by Weezer, but that album completely altered how I saw music and everything really. It was just that right moment in time to listen to something and that just really spoke to me.

Laurence: I think I’m going to choose two as well. Mine would be Arthur Or The Rise And Fall Of The British Empire by the Kinks, because that kind of made me obsessed with concept albums and stuff like that. And then the other one would be American Idiot by Green Day because that came along literally just as I decided I wanted to be in a band. I remember Shane played me ‘Jesus Of Suburbia’ and I was like, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life so yeah. Definitely American Idiot. I don’t care if people say it should be Dookie, American Idiot all the way!

Drew: I think as a band thing American Idiot is probably the album that made it all because that was our collective kind of album. We just got massively into it, it changed everything.

Interview By Rebecca Rayner

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