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The Birthday Massacre (often identified using the abbreviation TBM) is a synthrock band, based in Toronto, Canada. The band formed in 1999, known then as Imagica. This name was borrowed from the novel Imajica by Clive Barker.
The group originated in London, Ontario, under the name Imagica with members using pseudonyms and nicknames instead of their birth names. The group's original lineup formed when Rainbow met Chibi at Fanshawe College, studying in the same Fine Arts program. After having dinner one night the two decided to start a band for fun as they were already hanging around writing music together. Rainbow recruited childhood friend Michael Falcore to join on guitar since they had already been recording music together in high school. Aslan, who was also attending the same college, became roommates with Rainbow and joined on bass. In mid 2000, Dank, a long time friend of Chibi's, joined to play live keyboards but left the group shortly before they relocated to Toronto. After months of rehearsals and writing songs, they played their first gig on October 28, 2000, at Diversity night club in London. The band released a seven song limited edition demo CD at the show which had been recorded on a 4-track cassette recorder during a time when the group was recording cover songs for fun. There were 40 hand numbered copies of the demo which included the first recorded version of the song "The Birthday Massacre" (later renamed "Happy Birthday"). The following month, in answering an ad posted at the college, O.E. was added to play live drums. During this time, the band also met Rhim, Owen and Brett Carruthers who all attended the same college. In addition to this, later in October 2006, Terry McManus, Professor of Music Business and Entertainment Law at Fanshawe College, would join as the band's personal manager. Since its inception, The Birthday Massacre have described the band as an Audio-visual project. In a 2009 interview, when asked about why they had started the band, Rainbow states: "I think more than just being a band, it's a way to sort of incorporate, not just music, but other things. So I think more so than just music, the idea of having a band, and being able to perform, and being able do artwork, to do music... all these different avenues." Neither Rainbow, Chibi nor Michael Falcore had been in any previous bands and have expressed in multiple interviews that the group formed naturally as a result of spending time together as friends.
In 2001, the band relocated to Toronto, Ontario, except for Michael Falcore who was already living in Toronto studying video production. They began recording a new album which they announced would be available through the official website beginning May 31, 2002, in another limited edition of 500-1000. Shortly before releasing the CD the band opted to change their name from Imagica to The Birthday Massacre in order to avoid confusion with a California Metal band with the same name. The band chose the name "The Birthday Massacre" since people were already familiar with the song of the same title. In July 2002, The Birthday Massacre independently released a limited edition CD entitled Nothing and Nowhere. In 2003, Adm joined the band on live keyboards and O.E left to focus on his own band Tepid Lust,later to become Isle of Dogs. The band began playing more live shows in London, Toronto, Oshawa and Montreal. Rhim was drumming for the band during these years, rotating between playing for fellow London band Aphasia. Later, On Feb 9, 2005, Rhim posted on his LiveJournal that he was now a permanent member of The Birthday Massacre and that the band has his "110%unwavering, full-throttle, metronomic fabulousness...now 24-7." 2003 also saw the creation of the band's Flash website NothingAndNowhere.com., designed by Aslan and the band which included unreleased music and hidden objects throughout the site. While studying fine arts, the group learned about color theory and chose the color Violet to represent the bands themes. Rainbow said in an early interview: "Violet is the color of the tragic comedy. We associate it with fantasy and melancholy. These themes make up much of the bands lyrical inspiration. The color also mirrors our sound dynamic. Our music mixes contrasting elements. In turn, violet is the sum of two contrasting colors: Red and Blue." The band established their signature sound and visuals during this time and later when they signed to their labels retained complete artistic freedom.
On July 20, 2004, The Birthday Massacre again independently released an EP, Violet, and at the end of the year, re-released Nothing and Nowhere with new sleeve artwork. In the fall of 2004, Kai Schmidt, former member of electronic group Funker Vogt, signed the band to his label in Germany. They released a remastered and expanded LP version of Violet in Europe, including updated album art in a Digipak case. Adm left the band shortly before signing to Repo Records and can be seen in the original group photo on the nine song EP but is absent in the Digipak and LP version. In 2004, Brett Carruthers briefly joined the band on live keyboards. 2004 saw the band touring outside of Canada for the first time, playing the states of NY, OH, IN, MI, IL, VA, PA and MD performing with American bands 51 Peg, Deadstar Assembly, Celldweller and Crossbreed.
In 2005 the band signed to Metropolis Records and re-released Violet. In August, the band began a series of international tours taking them to Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Hungary, Czech Republic, Belgium, Spain and UK. Also in August the band released a DVD with the video for Blue by Dan Ouellette. Owen joined on keyboards first assuming the name Waffles, then O-en, then finally using his given name. Owen previously met The Birthday Massacre when playing in another band called Electric Knife Fight and joined just after the Blue filming was completed and therefore missed making an appearance in the video. On New Years Eve the band performed in LA, at Bar Sinister.
In early 2006, the Birthday Massacre toured North America, playing across Canada, the United States and Mexico on their "Broken Minds" tour sharing the stage with KMFDM, Schoolyard Heroes, Suicide City and The Start. They toured Europe again with bands Das Ich, Jesus on Extasy and Dope Stars Inc; playing in France, Italy, and Poland's Castle Party 2006. Through its European debut, "Violet" was seen as the new hope in the alternative scene and ranked high in the alternative charts. In several countries, the band made it onto the front pages of magazines; performing at some of Germany's largest music festivals, including the annual Highfeild and M'era Luna summer festivals. Also in 2006 the band recorded a remix of the song Straight to Video by Mindless Self Indulgence. Later in 2008, the band would record a second remix, this time of the song Never Wanted To Dance with the addition of Chibi's vocals.
On January 1, 2007, a demo version of the song "Kill the Lights" was released for streaming on the band's Vampirefreaks profile, which remained for several years the number one ranked profile for the highest amount of listeners. In June, the band announced it was working on a new record with Canadian producer/engineer Dave "Rave" Ogilvie and that Aslan was leaving to start a new project and that O.E would be returning to the lineup on bass duties. Aslan posted on the band's popular Fans Forum that he would be writing under the name Aslan Osiris. In August the band began planning a new video to be directed again by Dan Ouellette.
On September 11, 2007, the band released Walking with Strangers in North America, entering at #10 on the Billboard "Top Heatseekers" chart for September 29. The album was released in Europe on September 21 and in the UK on 22 October. Artwork was created by JUNO Award winner, Vincent Marcone of Johnny Hollow. In October and November, the band toured Europe and the U.K with German band Psycho Luna, and during a performance in Hamburg, a film crew taped the performance, a recording which would later become the "Show and Tell" live recording after being remixed and edited.
Primary filming of the Looking Glass video took place February 10–11, 2008 directed by Dan Ouellette. Extras were culled from The Birthday Massacre’s fan base and all 35 masks were handcrafted. The Looking Glass video was released on the bands official YouTube channel on April 1, 2008 and distributed as a video data file on the Looking Glass EP which was released in May 2008. It contained several remixes by high-profile electronic artists such as Dean Garcia, Jamie Miller and Dave Ogilvie. Beginning in June, the band embarked on a large American tour, opening up for Mindless Self Indulgence, and sharing shows with Julien-K, Fake Shark - Real Zombie!, London After Midnight and Combichrist. They would further tour America with bands Tub Ring, Hollowboy and Creature Feature. November 2008 also saw the band touring Australia for the first time.
On May 5, 2009, the band released their Show And Tell CD, featuring 16 live tracks from their show in Hamburg, Germany, filmed at Knust, which occurred during their 'Walking With Strangers' European Tour in 2007. The DVD portion of the show was released on October 2, 2009, in Europe and in North America on February 9, 2010. Chibi can be heard in the opening seconds of the performance saying Hi Everyone!. During the summer of 2009, Chibi recorded vocals for former WWE Diva Katie Lea Burchill's entrance theme, "Hurt You".
During the spring and summer of 2009, the band went on tour with bands I Am Ghost and Dommin in both North America and Europe. In late July 2009, the band was featured on a contest called 'Book The Band', at Virgin Mobile Festival, which took place online and allowed fans to vote repeatedly. On August 17, The Birthday Massacre was declared winner of the contest and was given 100 tickets to hand out to the most devote fans who voted for the band. They performed at the festival on August 30, 2009, held at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. Chibi stated in an interview, that since the band is unable to write while touring, the band took a year off to write and record a new album.
In early July, the band shot a video for "In The Dark" which was directed by Michael Falcore and Rodrigo Gudino, founder and publisher of Rue Morgue Magazine. It premiered on August 28, 2010, as part of Rue Morgue's Festival of Fear and was released to the general public on YouTube on September 7, 2010. The video pays homage to A Nightmare on Elm Street and Legend among other Horror and Fantasy films.
On September 14, 2010, The Birthday Massacre released the album, Pins and Needles which was recorded in Toronto and in a basement studio in Dundas, Ontario, hometown of Rainbow and Michael Falcore. The album marked the first time the band released all new material on an album and was produced differently from previous albums by using the same guitar and drums tones on each track. Album artwork was created by Vincent Marcone, as well as artwork contributions from Natalie Shau, and Aslan. The album artwork also differed in that it broke from the traditional silhouette art found on other releases.
The band toured America opening up for Otep in July and August then in October toured the UK with fellow Canadian act Raggedy Angry. In November they continued touring America with Black Veil Brides, Aural Vampire and Dommin as co-headlining acts. The band also made a lineup change by adding Nate Manor, formally of Wednesday 13, to replace O.E on bass. The tour's setlist featured 5-6 tracks off of Pins and Needles, with "Always" and "Midnight" rotating during different shows. 2010 also saw the launch of the band's new website TheBirthdayMassacre.com created by Owen and the group. Later that year, Owen would also co-create a new online comic strip called Disappointing Monsters.
In early 2011, the band played the Opera House as part of JUNOFEST with fellow Toronto band Die Mannequin and Montreal band Ariel. On May 21, 2011, The Birthday Massacre announced that Imaginary Monsters would be released on August 9, 2011, through Metropolis Records. Later in the summer it was announced that the band would be the support act for an upcoming North American tour by artful Japanese metal band Dir En Grey beginning in December. On August 4, 2011 the band released the Imaginary Monsters EP to listen to in full on their Myspace profile. Imaginary Monsters includes remixes of tracks from their 2010 album Pins and Needles by Combichrist, SKOLD, Kevvy Mental & Dave Ogilvie, Tweaker, and Assemblage 23. The EP also features the video for In The Dark. On November 29, 2011, the band embarked on a small headlining tour across Southeastern United States and on December 4, 2011, joined as the supporting act for Dir En Grey.
The band made plans to go back to writing and recording a new album in the beginning of January 2012 with an estimated release around September/November of the same year.
The Birthday Massacre have utilized the Internet throughout their career and are an example of a musical group that's evolved alongside File sharing, and advancements in audio streaming capabilities. Initially the band distributed their music for free, using music sharing software Napster, in addition to sharing their music on MP3.com and their official websites. The band was active in updating their websites regularly, interacting with fans on their forum, and offering their site in multiple languages like French, German and Japanese. Early on the band encouraged fans to create their own content, and consequently the band saw a surge in fan-created content, which they organized on a webring called Violetprison.com, posting in 2003; "We want our fans to contribute and be involved so rather than telling new comers who we are, we would rather our fans tell you."
When asked about how the band uses the Internet, Rainbow said in a 2009 interview: "It's also a way to you know, not just present the music, but make an environment, a visual environment around the music, which was something we were really interested in." When asked about File sharing, Chibi said in a 2010 interview: "It's like the best friend of a band when you're starting up... But then, it's like the worst enemy...The Internet can take you so far." Michael Falcore says in a 2010 interview: "Once it's released people start downloading for free and not paying for it, you know, it hurts the artist." The band has remained popular for over a decade despite receiving very little mainstream press or radio play, referring to themselves as the "Black sheep" of the Canadian music scene.
When asked in a interview by Peta, what she thought about factory farming being the number one cause of global warming, Chibi said: "Our manager is really on the politicians about factory farming in Southwestern Ontario. Besides the cruelty to the animals, the runoff of the manure in the spring with the heavy rains is making the coastline of Lake Huron a disaster zone. He tells me that the beautiful stretch of sand dunes and beaches around Pinery Provincial Park and well north of Grand Bend (the big resort town), gets posted for no swimming half the summer. It should probably be posted all the time until they dismantle the factory farms in Huron County."
When asked in a video interview by TasteitTV, about having to conform to society, Rainbow says: "...A lot of the inspirations and themes in the lyrics, and even in the imagery is sort of childhood, and you know that perspective of when you're younger... you lose a bit of that sense of wonder and mystery, which is really inspiring and gives you a lot of energy when you're younger." Chibi follows by saying: "You have to be an adult, and you have to conform in certain ways because you have responsibilities now, whereas when you were a child, all you had to do is play games and lay in the grass, you know what I mean?"
On The Blairing Out With Eric Blair Show, when asked about what kind of advice Chibi would give to somebody who was thinking about committing suicide, Chibi responds: "Just ride it out because things can get better. When I think back to times in my life when I was having a horrible time, like I hated high school, I was unpopular, the whole thing. It became so irrelevant. It's like if you just give things time, you'll be like, what was I worried about five years ago? Nothing that's relevant."
Their best album, in my opinion, January 27, 2012
By David G. Martin - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME) Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pins & Needles (Jewl) (Audio CD)
This band has a very unique style that I have not found elsewhere. Ever since hearing one of their songs, I was hooked. It is a perfect blend of synth/rock/metal, and a female lead vocal with a very nice voice.
I have listened to all their music, and I would argue that this is their best album, though their other work isn't far behind.
The only complaint I have is the mastering quality is not quite perfect-- there is a little clipping present in most of the songs (though it thankfully doesn't affect the vocals). Then again, I am a snob about that kind of thing, and most people can't hear it even when I tell them to listen for it, so I didn't feel it was worth knocking a star off an otherwise perfect album.
This is easily one of my all time favorite CDs.
3.0 out of 5 stars (On my way to the Goth Metal party...), September 26, 2011
By Tankery "Tankery" (New Orleans) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE) This review is from: Pins & Needles (Jewl) (Audio CD)
I like this album, even better than their last one, but neither evokes the experimental unique genre merging sounds of their first couple of albums.
In fact, this one sounds remarkably like the rest of these bands, Leave's Eyes, Lacuna Coil, head dunking metal intros, innocent school girl vocal bridges, goth metal redundancies throughout.
Perhaps they need to massacre something else next time. They are starting to sound as redundant and repetitive as their album covers and with the deep heard before thuds of guitar peppering many of the tunes, they are sounding very 90s (And not 1890s steampunkish, but real 1990s...)
5.0 out of 5 stars GOLD!, September 1, 2011
By S. L. Tyszkiewicz ""When there's no more ... (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME) This review is from: Pins & Needles (Jewl) (Audio CD)
The Birthday Massacre is one of the coolest bands of our time. Buy this and all other TBM merch and music you can possibly afford please. TY
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, June 4, 2011
By R. Brown "Creative Guy" (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME) This review is from: Pins & Needles (Jewl) (Audio CD)
This is Canadian Medal Synth Pop/Rock. Great female vocals and band that can play all their instruments with drive and gold.
5.0 out of 5 stars Venator Loves His Music, January 14, 2011
By Venator - See all my reviewsAmazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pins & Needles (Jewl) (Audio CD)
When I first came across this album, I listened to the samples and thought is was kind of like modern day 80's music. You know, like contemporary heavy metal combined with synthesizers. The main difference is that the synthesizers aren't like the one's from the 80's. These synths are more modern and are used in a more sophisticated fashion to boost each song into an awesome listening experience, at least that's my opinion. Anyway, since buying this album I have become a vehement fan of the electronic rock/synthrock genre. I highly recommend this album to anyone who likes modern synthesizers and rock.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars just perfect, January 12, 2011
By Ralf Schirrmacher (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME) Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pins & Needles (Jewl) (Audio CD)
I never heard of this band before and listened to it on youtube. After 2h of total enjoyment I bought all their CDs.
If you like melodic synth-rock with a great female voice this is it. There is no bad song on this album. JUST PERFECT.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars The Panic Division Opened Me Up To The Birthday Massacre, January 8, 2011
By Jack "FlawedCoil82" (Troy, OH USA) - See all my reviewsThis review is from: Pins & Needles (Jewl) (Audio CD)
I have heard of The Birthday Massacre for some time. However, I typically enjoy the more "rock" influenced female fronted bands like Within Temptation, Lunatica, Lacuna Coil, Delain, Evanescence, etc. It took me being recently addicted to another 80's synth new wave-mixed-with-modern-rock band called The Panic Division, as well as hearing "In The Dark" to really get me to pay attention to this band, and once I did I learned that nearly every song they have (while somewhat poppy) are quite enjoyable to listen to, with a lot going on within the music. Now, I wouldn't say that this album is any heavier than their previous album Walking with Strangers, but "In The Dark" is certainly one of their heaviest (and catchiest) offerings. The rest of the songs on this album are great as well (though my particular favorites include "Sideways", "Secret", "Midnight", "Sleepwalking", "Pale" and "Always"). Really my only complaint is that I wish they would have included "Shiver" on this album, since I don't want to buy Looking Glass for just one song. But I'd love to have it on a full album.
I must also take this opportunity to recommend the band I mentioned above called The Panic Division (since they are tragically unknown) and I really think that fans of The Birthday Massacre would enjoy them as well. They also use the 80's new wave synth sound mixed with modern rock music (though not quite as dark). They currently have two physical albums available on here called Versus and Songs Form the Glasshouse (Dig) (neither of which have audio samples....geesh) as well as their digital-only release called SLEEPWALKER EP. Just search The Panic Division on Youtube for "Sweet Devotion", "Polysix", "Big Day", "Versus", "From The Top" or "Easier" if you want to hear the only other band I am aware of (besides The Birthday Massacre) who can successfully blend 80's sounding synths with modern rock music.