Here’s one side of the story.
Last week, Fearless Vampire Killers announced their breakup after vocalist / guitarist Kier Kemp left the band.
Just a few days later, we spoke exclusively to both Kier and the band’s co-frontman Laurence Beveridge about the fall of FVK, regrets and the future.
Here’s Laurence’s view on the end of FVK.
HOW DID KIER BREAK THE NEWS TO YOU THAT HE WANTED TO LEAVE?
“We had a meeting scheduled with our manager. We were going to talk about where we were going to go with the next album, we were struggling to work out how we were going to record another album. We’d recorded some demos but people weren’t picking it up. Kier told us he was leaving just before our manager got there and that’s about it.”
DID YOU HAD ANY IDEA HE WANTED TO LEAVE?
“We had no idea, in fact we thought it was a joke at first. We didn’t realise he meant it, it was a complete shock.”
DID YOU EVER THINK OF CARRYING ON WITHOUT KIER?
“Yeah, there was a lot of thought about that, because obviously the band is incredibly important to us, but we just felt that it would be very difficult for us to continue without Kier for a lot of reasons. I don’t think it would’ve worked any way and it felt like it would no longer be that band without him, because he was an important part of it. We all built that band together from the ground up. It was very much a partnership. We couldn’t continue the band without such a big part of it, so we had no choice but to disband.”
CAN YOU RELATE TO HOW HE WAS FEELING?
“Kier left because he wanted to do something else, he’s mentioned a new band to fans online. I’ve definitely felt the struggle of being in a band, we all have and in a way that’s what felt so brilliant, that we all banded together and helped each other out with whatever holes we were in. Whenever one of us felt down, the others wouldn’t let them fall. We kept each other together that way, Shane once described it as a ‘warm, protective blanket’. That’s what we did. I can’t relate to Kier at all because no matter what was happening I could never imagine leaving these guys.”
HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT IT NOW?
“I’m still struggling with a lot of things that we have to sort out. The shock is just continuing and probably will continue to until we’ve arranged everything, because we’re trying to sort out a farewell show but it’s difficult. There’s a lot of pressure involved, because of reasons I can’t go into at the moment. We’ve been rehearsing for a show that a lot of people think is our last show, even though we’ve said we’re probably doing a farewell show.
"We’re doing a festival on Sunday called Shield Fest. The only reason we’re still doing it – because we’ve cancelled all of our other dates – is because the guy who set up the festival is a really good guy. People are saying, ‘Why are you doing this and not Reading?’ Because we were meant to be playing Reading this year. But that’s the way we’ve always done things. We do things because it’s the right thing to do, and the reason we’re doing this show is because it would be messed up if we didn’t play it, we’re the headline act. We’re rehearsing and trying to deal with everything else. It’s a complete nightmare.”
ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED THAT YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET TO PLAY READING & LEEDS?
“It’s one of the biggest disappointments because all of us saw Reading & Leeds as the holy grail, and it always felt like we were getting passed up on it. We’ve done Download three times, we’ve done various other festivals but Reading & Leeds was always the one that we dreamed of playing.
"It was the biggest one when we were kids, all of our favourite bands were at Reading & Leeds. It was a dream and when we realised we wouldn’t be able to do that, it was a very hard moment. After all these years we’d finally done it and it was thanks to Daniel P Carter giving us the opportunity and it’s such a shame we can’t take it. It was heart-breaking.”
HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH KIER NOW?
“Me and Kier have been best friends since we were nine. We moved to London together when we were 18 to start the band. We got dead-end jobs so we could do the band. Over the years it went from being best friends to being more like brothers. When we were living together it was more like we were in a marriage. After that it kind of developed beyond even that. He was the person I went to for advice. He was the first person I spoke to when my parents split up and when my girlfriend left me. When I was suicidal, he was the person who would talk me down.
"Over the years you do get to a point where things are strained but the band was the thing that held us together. Now that it’s gone I’m very uncertain. I haven’t spoken to him since he left. I haven’t seen him since. In terms of being friends I don’t know how it is, he’d probably give you a better answer.”
HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE FAN REACTION?
“The fans have always been brilliant and they support us no matter what. We’ve always had that dedication from them. The reaction was a lot of heartbreak, but it became quite positive. There was an FVK memories hashtag where everyone was sharing their memories and it got trending. None of them jumped on us or blamed us for what’s happened. They were very kind, very supportive. I felt guilt for letting them down. The fact that I couldn’t keep the band together, I felt responsible for letting a lot of the fans down. We were an important part in their lives. They planned summers around us, they planned holidays around us, they’d followed us around Europe, we were a big part of their lives.
"The idea that their favourite band, their escape was going to split up, and that I felt partly responsible for that was pretty horrifying. I felt guilty but I was surprised with how positive they were. They have been brilliant about it, that’s why we’re trying to sort a farewell show, it’s just the specifics are difficult. I feel we owe our fans that at least.”
ARE THERE ANY POSITIVES FROM THE SITUATION?
“One thing that I’ve got to say is that this week we have been rehearsing and while outside the practice studio it has been a nightmare, within it it’s the best it’s ever been. We’re really clicking together, the four of us as musicians. It feels like we’re finding some solace in playing music together. It’s made me realise that I can’t see myself playing music with anyone else. These three guys, if I continue to make music it will be with them and I definitely think we will.
"We just work together. We will make music together, it just won’t be FVK, it’ll be something else. We’re just too busy still trying to figure out how we end Fearless Vampire Killers before moving onto the next chapter of our lives. It feels almost insulting to do that. We have to make sure that FVK is finished the right way, so we’re trying our best to do that but we’re all pretty bruised.”
DO YOU FEEL PROUD OF WHAT YOU ACHIEVED WITH FVK?
“I do, I look back and I do feel proud but there’s a taint of disappointment because we never wanted it to end this way. I’m not going to lie, our career has never been a walk in the park. We’ve never been given any hand-outs, everything we got we had to fight for. We literally had to scrape through the mud. We didn’t have a label, everything we did we did off our own backs. We’re not from rich backgrounds. I just think, ‘It was all for what?’ in the end. I know we impacted a lot of people’s lives and that’s what I can take from it.
"The fact that we brought people together, the amount of people who met their partners through us, the bands that have started because of us, people that have come out as gay or transgender and feel comfortable because we encouraged them, there’s all these aspects to the band that we have made people feel at home. That is the most important thing. It was never the intent, that’s just what we do, we’re just nice to people. We never thought it would happen, but the fact that people did find so much in us is something to be proud of. The fact that we didn’t get to where we wanted to be, that we didn’t prove everyone wrong – because we were doubted every step of the way – looking back on all that slogging and it was for nothing. But I guess sometimes things just don’t work out.”
You can read Kier Kemp’s interview right here.