Interviewed by Rob Benny
Date: August 5, 2007
I've had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Kirkham, the bassist of Vancouver based THE VINCENT BLACK SHADOW. During this interview, we talked about a lot of really cool things about the band, their second time on 'Vans Warped Tour', their debut album, and music videos as well. This interview took a while to transcribe due to some technical difficulties on my tape deck. But, all is certainly well and you, the viewer, are in for a real treat with this interview. Enjoy! - Rob Benny
Rob Benny: How's the 'Vans Warped Tour' going for you guys so far?
Chris Kirkham: 'Warped Tour's' going pretty good! It's actually going better than last year. Last time we were on, we had a much smaller stage, and we were playing for only 20 minutes. But now, we're playing on a much bigger stage, getting a longer set, bouncing around certain nights from the Hurley stage to the Main Stage as well. So yea, we're stoked about how things are going so far.
Rob Benny: Cool! So, you guys are definitely branching out.
Chris Kirkham: Yea. Lots of people like our set too. We had a few shows where rain and lightning hit in the past where there'd only be a handful of people watching us. But even then, we've gotten some great feedback on our sound, performance, and the music too.
Rob Benny: I've noticed on your MySpace that your hits and plays have increased immensely since last year's 'Warped Tour'...
Chris Kirkham: Oh yea, the response that we're getting this year is much greater than last year. And it's cool because we now have people coming up to us going "hey, you guys are great, can we get your autograph?' It's so much different from last year, where we had people coming up to us going "excuse me, do you know where the bathroom is?" (Laughter). Now, I've got people coming up to me going "hey Chris!' And I'd be like, "do I know you?" And they'd say, "no, I know you from the band, you're awesome! I totally dig your set!' So that's really made us happy that people are getting to know us now, and that fans are connecting with us.
Rob Benny: That's great to hear! So, what are your plans for a next album?
Chris Kirkham: Right now, we're actually writing material for a new album. We may even do a brand new song today. I will tell you that the new album is going to be a lot "busier.' The songwriting is going to be all over the map, and even more diverse than our debut "Fears In the Water.' At the same time, it's still going to have that THE VINCENT BLACK SHADOW sound, so when you put it on you automatically know it's us. It's going to have a more "band-driven" sound.
Rob Benny: Cool, so it'll be a lot more diverse, yet cohesive as a band.
Chris Kirkham: Yeah! The best thing I can say about it, is that it reminds me very much of when I first heard GUNS 'N' ROSES when they first came out. Every member in the band has a different sort of personality, a different look, and completely different ideas, and yet it all somehow comes together. It comes and forms this new "warped" sound that no one's ever heard before. It's evident that we've progressed a lot and have gotten extremely tighter as a band with all the shows we've been doing. By the end of 2007, we would have done over 160 shows this year. And you know, if you're in a band and do that many shows and we don't start getting better, then I'd say it's time to quit! (Laughter)
Rob Benny: Exactly, it's time to call it a day then.
Chris Kirkham: Totally!
Rob Benny: Yea, so what are your influences, personally and as a band?
Chris Kirkham: Influences? Well, my influences are a lot of punk bands. THE MISFITS, T.S.O.L. , TIGER ARMY, etc. Rob (Kirkham) , I can say Rob is the "90's guy" or the "movie guy"...he listens to a lot of FAITH NO MORE, PRIMUS, PEARL JAM, anything Alternative. Tony (Kirkham) is into more epic, experimental music like DREAM THEATER and AVENGED SEVENFOLD. And Cassie (Ford) is into stuff like MC Chris, Broadway Show tunes, or anything else that can be described bizarre or artsy. So it all combines and forms this new sound. They're all from completely different dimensions, but we put it all together and make it work.
Rob Benny: Absolutely. So, what's your opinion on the current state of music nowadays, especially with the rise of the Internet?
Chris Kirkham: Completely boring and void of any form of creativity imagined. (Laughter) Well, ok. I know it's so jaded, and so harsh to say but it's true! I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that nowadays, creativity is not encouraged as much as it was years ago. Kids don't seem to read books as much, and don't seem to explore new ways to put their ideas to use. It seems as if the media tells these kids "don't read a book, don't worry about using your imagination. Buy this iPod, buy this cool new video game, buy these clothes" and kids seem to do what they're told. There's no incentive to be original or to naturally come up with ideas anymore. As a result, it's hard for many kids to actually think on their own...
Rob Benny: Absolutely. It seems as if life is imitating art, as opposed to art imitating life.
Chris Kirkham: Yea. It's all about "watching this TV show or movie" or "buying into the latest trend" that seems to be encouraged. The problem arises when bands form nowadays too. They don't have any original ideas, so they wind up copying each other's style because they are told what type of music is good music. And when it comes to checking out new bands, these kids buy into all of the bands that sound the same because they're "cool". I think there's no real "style" or "substance" anymore in commercially oriented music.
Rob Benny: I agree. So, as musicians, where do you see yourselves within the next 5-10 years?
Chris Kirkham: Musically, I see us developing and expanding even further as musicians. Improve on what we can do as a group as well as individually. I've seen us take huge steps over the past year, and we've become so much tighter as a band already. For instance, we used to have to have cues on our songs to let us know when to start and stop, and when one part is going to change to another. Now, we're stopping and starting songs without even looking at each other, and the tempo is almost always dead on target. We've been looking at a lot of our live videos from an audience's perspective, which has allowed us to push the bar even further on our performances while keeping the music solid.
Rob Benny: Excellent! You always want to be the best you can be.
Chris Kirkham: Absolutely, that's what it's all about. We want to be the best possible musicians we can be as far as our performance goes, and our songwriting goes. For example, take a look at 50's music, like Elvis Presley. His music was very simple and the hook was very catchy, yet his arrangements were so complex. He took the best of the best musicians out there, and worked hard to write the best possible music he could have written. At the same time, he always put on a great live show, which is what people always want to see. That's the approach we're going for.
Rob Benny: Very cool. What are your plans after the 'Warped Tour'?
Chris Kirkham: Well, at first I'm going to sleep for about a week straight through. (Laughter) And then, we're probably going to go back on tour. Also, we recently shot a video for the title track of "Fears In the Water,' which will be shown on Fuse and be available on our MySpace. It was a really big budget video with all sorts of crazy stuff going on. I'm really stoked about it and hope all the fans like it. So, we're going to promote the hell out of it, and go back on another tour. When we're done, then we'll finish the follow-up album next year.
Rob Benny: Glad to hear. So, do you have anything else you'd like to add?
Chris Kirkham: No, that's pretty much it. Check us out on 'The Warped Tour', go to our MySpace and check out the new video for "Fears In The Water,' and if you get a chance, go to the Bodog Poker Party next year. I went last time, and I had a blast!
Rob Benny: Chris, thank you for the interview, it's been a total pleasure. Take care and good luck on the rest of 'Warped Tour'.
Chris Kirkham: Yea man, you're welcome! See ya!