Last week, Fearless Vampire Killers announced their breakup after vocalist / guitarist Kier Kemp left the band.
In this exclusive interview, we speak to Kier about his decision to leave, the fallout from the breakup and the future.
WHEN DID YOU START TO FEEL LIKE YOU DIDN’T WANT TO DO FVK ANY MORE?
“The only analogy I can make that fits how I felt is it was like a romantic relationship coming to an end. It was fucking horrible. Quite often you’ll be unhappy for a while but you don’t really know why in the first stage, then you’ll start to realise something is wrong. Next there will be this sort of denial when you think, ‘No I can make this work’ because you care.
"After that you move on to the point where you think ‘Actually, I don’t think this is going to work’ and the last stage is it ending. I’d say for the last year I’ve been unhappy, but I didn’t come to a final conclusion until quite soon before I actually did it. That’s how I operate, when I realised what I was going to do I made that last bit go pretty quick because dragging it on isn’t good for anyone.”
DID YOU EVER FEEL LIKE PUSHING FORWARD DESPITE FEELING LIKE THAT?
“Another big part in it was my role in the band, with the sort of band FVK was it was from the heart, we were always very honest. There was a lot of passion required because that’s what people expected. On the other side of it, my role in the band was very much the driving force. I did a lot of the day-to-day managerial work and making sure everything was happening. I worked very hard, almost non-stop for 10 years. When you start having those doubts, it’s very, very difficult to continue because you start to feel like you’re working for the band rather than with the band.
"Obviously being the lead singer as well there’s a lot that’s expected of you. My original plan that I thought about a lot was to ride it out and see how things turned out, maybe I’d have a change of heart, I was kind of hoping I would. After a couple of weeks it just became apparent that I couldn’t, I’m not deceitful at all and I know the other guys know that as well. I couldn’t keep living a lie.”
WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT HOW THEY’D TAKE IT?
“I was playing a bigger creative part in the band as well. I hate using that cliché of creative differences, but it felt like within the band there was different ways that members wanted it to go. Initially that’s fine, but you can only operate on that level for so long and I felt like I was doing things I didn’t want to and that became apparent as well. It’s more like a divorce. I remember ending my last romantic relationship and that was the second hardest thing I’ve ever had to do behind the band. That break-up was easier, not the act of doing it, but the aftermath was easier because we didn’t have any shared assets, it was all very clean. With the band there’s a lot of other stuff there. We live together, it’s more complicated. That makes it more difficult. Just like relationships, I feel like everyone will look back and understand. It’s how close I am with the rest of the band. I’m not saying that arrogantly, they know me, they know I’m not an evil person. They also knew everything that was going on within the band, they knew the difficulties we faced and various other things as well. I’m sure once the initial shock has gone away, I think everyone will understand."
DID YOU EVER FEEL PRESSURE FROM YOUR ROLE IN THE BAND?
“Yeah, I did but I’m not feeling sorry for myself. That was the position I like to be in and that I put myself in. Nobody forced it on me, but I was very much the figurehead. Everybody brought something to the band, but in terms of a vision or a plan that was me. I just realised that I didn’t have one and that’s when my path in FVK changed. If I don’t have that plan or vision it’s not fair on me, it’s not fair on them.”
WAS IT EVER FRUSTRATING NOT REACHING THE HEIGHTS YOU WANTED TO?
“We had our own label and it was all our own money. With other bands they can go to their label if they want to do something and if the label says no it becomes someone else’s fault. For us it often felt like we weren’t living up to what we should be. In a lot of ways – through the music, the artwork, etc – I feel like we did.
"In some ways we probably spent too much money and too much time making sure we achieved that, which I don’t regret at all, we had to do it. It was definitely frustrating because money makes the world go round and when you don’t have enough you want to do all these things but you can’t. That was frustrating.”
HOW DID YOU BREAK THE NEWS TO THE REST OF THE GUYS?
“I’m not the sort of person who will hint at things and hope other people catch on and do the work for me. If I’ve got a problem I want to be open about it, whether that’s good or bad. It means they didn’t see it coming as much as they could have done if I had been an arsehole for a couple of months. It’s like those girlfriends you get who are really horrible to you in the hope that you’ll dump them. That’s not how I wanted it to go down. We had a meeting with our manager booked anyway that was meant to be about the next step. I figured that was the best way to do it.
"Again, like a relationship you can’t do it over the phone or message, you have to be there and explain things properly. I knew we’d all be there and it would be a mutual environment so people could go their own way. I wouldn’t say it worked out well, they were very shocked, very upset. Not outwardly, they were all cool, nobody was throwing punches or anything. Believe me, I had thought of every possible worst-case scenario, I have never been so terrified in my whole life. It was horrible, but they’re all nice people so it all went down as well as it could have done.”
HAS IT AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM?
“It’s exactly as I thought it would be, I have no doubts that we’ll all remain friends in the long term because there’s bigger things than this. I know I shocked everyone, but I think friendship is more important than that and when everyone has moved on I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’m not going to name names, but there was some members that I thought would take it better than others. On the whole nobody’s fallen out, there’s been no arguments, no exchanging blows, no nastiness.
"A couple of people have been more quiet than others, but I know within the band there were members who I think were thinking a similar thing. I can’t confirm that, but I get the feeling that other members were feeling the same but would never act on it. There were some people who were more upset than others. Some people are in a good place and ready to move on to the next thing. There’s a variation in how everyone took it, but on the whole everyone’s been cool, which is good because you can’t drop a bombshell and expect it to be fine.”
ARE YOU PROUD OF WHAT YOU DID WITH FVK?
“There’s not a single thing that we did that I’m not proud of at all. That was kind of why I left, I didn’t want to stop being proud of anything we’d done. I didn’t want to get myself to that point. For everything we did do, all of the catalogue I have utter pride and look back at it fondly. I didn’t want to spend years putting out records I didn’t like.”
HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE FANS’ REACTIONS?
“Actually, it’s been incredible. I’ve been a bit blown away by it. I think in the statement we were quite honest rather than giving them that bullshit spiel. We tried to be honest and I think they responded well to that. It’s mainly because they’re all nice people, but there’s also a degree of etiquette, fans have seen a lot of bands split up and know how to respond, they’re mature enough to not slag people off.
"That’s not to say there haven’t been a few people who have been upset, that will always be the case. The vast majority have been nothing but supportive, brilliant and looking back at it as an experience and being thankful, which was really moving.”
WILL YOU BE MAKING MUSIC IN THE FUTURE?
“Yeah, I’m starting to work on stuff, I don’t want to say too much now because it’s a bit too soon. I feel there is still respect due to my former bandmates. It’s still very early days, it hasn’t got a name yet or anything. Part of the process I went through towards the end, I started writing a lot of music before I knew I was going to leave FVK. I started to get really excited about it. I was never the principle songwriter in FVK, it was mainly Drew and Laurence. I started writing a lot and I think how excited I got by that put certain other things into perspective for me. It really spurred me on, I’ve churned out a load of music, I’ve got demos and I imagine there will music out by the end of the year.”
You can read FVK co-frontman Laurence Beveridge’s side of the story in this interview.