I was first acquainted with The Fearless Vampire Killers last October when they supported Lanie Lane on her national tour. It was my first taste of surfabilly (i.e. surf rock melodies married with rockabilly), and I loved it. The young Melbourne quartet and Triple J Unearthed nominees have hit the touring trail hard over the last few months; making crowds swoon to their psychedelic 60s throwbacks, and scoring touring slots with the likes of Kasabian and The Hives in the process. No hipster posturing to be found; only wild, raucous and energetic live shows, and a genuine love for music (did I mention they drove for 8 hours to support Ms Lane in Adelaide?)
The group, starting from humble beginings in Melbourne as high-school friends, took their stage moniker from Roman Polanski’s film of the same name. Bassist Jacob McGuffie says ‘It works for us. It’s a striking name. It takes up a lot of space of our posters too which is good’
‘Back when we started, the only vampire-related thing we had was Buffy, and she was a total babe’ he laughs.
Their debut album Batmania may sound like a wink to their stage, but Jacob insists it’s a homage to their hometown.
‘It does have the vampire connotations but the word ‘Batmania’ was actually one of the original names for Melbourne. It was founded by John Batman and initially, Melbourne was going to be named Batmania but they ditched that idea’
‘I think it’s a cool name… Imagine telling someone you come from ‘Batmania’?!’ laughs Jacobs.
‘We wanted the album to be totally Melbourne,’ he continues. ‘We think it sounds like it, so we wanted to find a name that had strong connections to Melbourne but wasn’t necessarily obvious. We wanted people to do a bit of research to see what it’s actually all about. And it connects with the vampire theme which was cool’
I floated the idea of any future albums being named after Federation Square or Bourke Street Mall perhaps a bit passé after the quietly intellectual Batmania, to which (thankfully) Jacob and the rest of his bandmates agreed.
The songs on Batmania stay firmly footed in TFVK’s surf rock beginnings, ‘a combination of everyone’s musical upbringings’, says Jacob. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, soul, jazz and Spaghetti Western-soundtracks are all touchstones for their songs, which in its live form, is nothing short of exhilarating. My personal favourite, ‘I Won’t Stay Too Long’, is (in the band’s own words) about ‘one night stands… being young and having flings with people just for the sake of it’
‘A lot of bands spend hours and hours trying to recrate their album, but we spend more time trying to make our albums sound like the live shows. They are the product that we want to present’, says Jacob.
Excited for their headlining national tour, which comes to Adelaide on March 10 at the Ed Castle, Jacob reveals TFVK have played in Adelaide ‘8 or 9 times now’ (he loses count).
‘We like Adelaide! It’s a big country town. With a lot of hipsters’