As well as the progressive music and contentious image there are books, comics and a fantasy world that could one day spawn Hollywood blockbusters – honestly.
RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth caught up with uber-creative FVK frontman Laurence Beveridge to find out more.
rushonrock: When did you first realise that were a creative glutton and required multiple platforms to feed your habit?
Laurence Beveridge: Ever since I was a kid I always wrote stories. It wasn’t a conscious thing – it was more just for my own enjoyment. I used to write stories at school and get my friends to read them and edit them.
rushonrock: And how did this creativity manifest itself in Fearless Vampire Killers?
LB: One day I was just sitting at work and I thought there’s all this noise going on in my head and I need to get it out. I had this whole alternative universe that I was obsessed with and I thought it might be best if I write it down so that the band understand what’s going on.
rushonrock: But it’s not all about the music…
LB: I didn’t intend to write books because I thought people would just think it was some kind of vanity project. But I got 200 years into it and said to the rest of the guys that I’d send them a document with the first few years in there. At the same time our manager wanted us to get out there a bit more and reckoned we needed something as a selling point – and how many bands simply release music? He suggested I write a novella to complement what we were doing with the band. I agreed but just went on a little bit longer than we intended! I was trying to squeeze a whole lifetime into one book but it gave us something to use alongside the EP.
rushonrock: Now FVK have become synonymous with music, art and literature it seems like a natural combination…
LB: It is. We always write songs based around stories anyway. We never write songs about going out and getting your heart broken. We’re just not that type of band. I started working on the world of Grandomina some years ago now and it’s amazing how it’s developed. I used to write about York but when I visited the city again I realised what I was writing about wasn’t York at all. It was some kind of fantasy world that demanded its own story. This was a fictional place – a place in my head. I didn’t ever think about what I was writing. It just poured out. All this history came out – almost too quickly – and people would often say ‘why does he do that with this character or tell that story instead of another one’. But I’m honestly not in control of what the characters do or how the story develops. If I change what appears to suit the notion of other people then I feel like I’m changing history. I’d hate that to happen. I want to stay true to the world of Grandomina and one day I want these stories to be films. I always wanted to be a film director and that’s my dream.
rushonrock: There’s a gap of around 600 years between your novel Ruple & Evelyn and the period you cover on your debut album – are you committed to filling in the blanks?
LB: I’ve already planned the trilogy that comes after the book and the quadrilogy that comes after that and so on. I’ve produced a top secret timeline and it all pans out on there. Like I said the idea is to make the books into films so it has to be done properly. My guardian is a writer and he’s just retired so he’s now playing a key role in editing my work and explaining to me where I need to fill in the blanks. There are things in Ruple & Evelyn that I just completely ignored. I have to go back and fill all the gaps in so that people understand what’s actually obvious to me. Amazon are already on board with the physical re-release!
rushonrock: Back to the music and is the biggest challenge facing FVK getting fans and critics alike to take you seriously as a band due to your image?
LB: I think it’s fair to say that is key to us moving forward. We need to get people to look beyond the image and actually listen to what we’re saying. They might be pleasantly surprised! The reason we dress like we do is that it’s just how we feel comfortable on stage. We’d feel out of place without all of our stuff on stage. I have to become another person before an FVK show and what I wear helps with that. And in the early days of course it helped to make us stand out from the crowd. We were playing to 10 people every night in various pubs and clubs across London – we’d play three times aweek and the crowds weren’t getting any bigger. We started covering ourselves in talcum powder to stand out because the lighting was so poor and then we started thrashing about a bit and people began to take notice. Then more and more people started to take notice. We played a show in a tiny, terrible place in Windsor and that’s how we found our booking agent. He books Michael Buble and Bryan Adams and he just happened to be in the right place at the right time from our point of view – he said we were the most exciting live act he’d seen since David Bowie. That wasn’t a bad compliment. We did these things to get attention because we had to and also because we believed our music deserved to be heard.
rushonrock: But didn’t things get worse before they get better?
LB: Well a year ago the music scene already had us down as has-beens – as a band desperately clinging to the emo scene (or whatever that was) and trying to be My Chemical Romance. Of course that wasn’t us at all. But for a time we were worried people wouldn’t take the band seriously. Suddenly James McMahon at Kerrang! saw something that other people didn’t and felt we deserved to get some attention. He was right. We do play music that’s better than other people play!
rushonrock: Do you think it will take time before the wider world latches on to the fact that you’re accomplished songwriters – and not just a glammed up novelty act?
LB: Look at the Beatles. People wrote them off as teeny boppers causing a fuss without any substance at all. Mainly it was girls who liked them at first and that didn’t help their credibility. Now people talk about the Beatles as the greatest band the world has ever seen. People might want us to have nice hair cuts and talk about football but that’s not FVK. It was a big struggle to justify our image for years. Now we know what we’re doing is right. People tell us every night that the approach we’re taking is the right one. They might be teenagers but they still have a valid opinion. In Cardiff the queue was out of the door when we did our signing session. It was crazy. But it made me realise we are who we are and certain people appreciate that. If people judge us on how we look alone then I don’t really want them listening to the music anyway!
rushonrock: How is the Kerrang! tour panning out?
LB: we’re all enjoying it massively! At the end of the day we’re a band and we want to play gigs. All of the other stuff is just a sideline. We want to be the best band we can. We’re not at that level at the moment but we’re going to try to become that band in time. We’ve all got day jobs so it will take time. In that respect it’s hard to keep up with our contemporaries because many of them are focused 100% on the band. But for now we’re juggling the band and the jobs and getting up in front of a guaranteed 1,000-plus fans every night on the Kerrang! tour is a dream. It’s so bizarre not having to worry about advance ticket sales and wondering if there will be anyone there when you walk on stage. We get to the venues and our manager has to hide us in the back of the van to make sure we can get into the venue without being mobbed. It’s insane.
rushonrock: Do you share fans with the other bands on the bill or are FVK fans a unique breed?
LB: We definitely share fans. Our fans do dress like us and wear goggles and all that stuff but they like the other bands on the bill too. I suppose FVK fans are the most eccentric. But that makes me proud! I’ve got to say the Black Veil Brides fans have been brilliant to us every night and they really seem to like listening to new stuff. Tonight Live don’t dress like us but they still draw the same kind of fans – what fans of all four bands have in common is that they’re not at all bothered about being fashionable. It’s the music that matters. What the bill does offer is escapism. And in the current climate that’s the best thing about the Kerrang! tour. It’s a bit sad that we’re the only British band on the bill but at least we are there!