On July 4th 2016, five-piece rock band Fearless Vampire Killers shocked everyone when they announced that they would no longer continue as an ensemble.
Consisting of five young men from a small town called Beccles, FVK formed in 2008. They moved to London early on in their career with the intent to build up a strong, if small, group of fans who then carried them onto far greater things. They broke through into the British music scene in 2012 and earned articles and reviews in nationwide publications such as Kerrang and Rock Sound. Their second album, Unbreakable Hearts, peaked at no. 17 in the UK rock chart.
However, it wasn’t the highest echelons of the music industry pushing FVK to greater glory, but their fans. Fans voted for them in a competition which gave them a chance to record their first music video, ‘Palace in Flames.’ It was fans travelling around London in their early days that gave them the incentive to keep on playing shows and recording music. So it’s not surprising, in this case, that they don’t want to disappoint their fans, and so they announced one final show at Camden Underworld.
Well, two final shows. They announced a matinee when it became apparent that so many younger fans were upset they wouldn’t be able get parental permission to do the journey to London and back on a Sunday evening.
This, if anything, summarises FVK’s last eight years as a band. Their fans have always been their priority; whether it’s been something as simple as meeting as many people as possible after shows, or going all out and creating their own social network for fans to interact with each other in a safe space. It’s just like them to try to please everyone, one last time.
It’s a reciprocal relationship, that’s for sure. I’m not sure how many unsigned bands could inspire their fans from across the UK and Europe to put in the effort to get to Camden on a chilly Sunday afternoon. My friend Tash spent 18+ hours coaching in from the farthest corner of the country, while I saw others proudly displaying the flags of their home countries to boast their journey.
So, after eight years, it’s time to say goodbye to “the biggest, unsigned, emo-rock band from East Anglia”, as vocalist Laurence Beveridge so eloquently worded it during their performance.
And what an eight years it has been. Two albums, four EPs, countless UK shows and a few escapades across the Channel and Atlantic have made FVK’s career memorable. FVK were, to me, a unique band. The majority of their music was based around a concept, set in a world called Grandomina, where vampires and ghouls are commonplace. These supernatural entities could be read metaphorically or literally, depending on how committed you were to the story behind the songs. It’s fitting, therefore, that their farewell takes place so close to Halloween.
Support came from long-time associates of FVK, Ashestoangels, and newer friends Zoax.
Ashestoangels were as eccentric as is to be expected, with singer Adam Crilly donning a blood-spattered wedding dress for the duration of the shows. If you ever wanted to see a gory bride get fake-married to Jack Skellington, then this was the set to see.
Zoax worked hard to get the crowd going, and it definitely worked. Stand-out songs included mournful ‘The Wave,’ which made the already-emotional crowd even more emotional, and ‘Devil Dance,’ which was successful in hyping up the audience with a chorus that made dancing compulsory. It’s clear to see why FVK asked Zoax back to support them in these final shows; if you’re looking for a new band to fill the space left by FVK, these guys might just fit.
As FVK’s stage time loomed, the crowd resorted to chatter and laughter. I was surprised how upbeat the audience seemed to be. Friends joked with each other, reminiscing about their past experiences at FVK shows.
“You were my first FVK friend,” my friend Adele told me. We met in the queue for the Newcastle date of William Control’s New Faith tour in 2012. Back then, I was a timid 16 year old excited to see my favourite band for a first time, and she was just beginning to like a certain five-piece support band on the same tour. Neither of us could have expected that I’d be sharing my first and last FVK shows with her.
FVK took to the stage. Old fan favourite, ‘At War with the Thirst’ kicked off the set. This is the song they used to close with earlier on in their career, so emotions were already running high as the set symbolically began with the end.
Each song seemed to be as well received as the last, older songs leading on smoothly to newer releases, but met with the same eager response. A personal highlight was ‘The Pilot: P Train,’ from the mini album Exposition: The Five before the Flames. The concept behind this record was always my favourite; each member wrote a song to explain their character in the fictional world created by Laurence Beveridge. ‘P Train,’ penned by drummer Luke Illingworth, is my favourite song of the five. I could be biased, but I’d argue it’s undoubtedly one of the most fun songs to hear live.
‘Palace in Flames’ was a huge crowd-pleaser. It’s one of their earliest songs, featured on their first EP In Grandomina… as well as being revamped for their debut album, Militia of the Lost. It’s the song that introduced so many to FVK, and belting out those words, “I will rise to rule, the kingdom sees a brighter day,” one last time appeared to be cathartic for the band and the fans alike.
As if the night wasn’t emotional enough, ‘Regret’ came with a dedication and toast to former tour manager and good friend, Steve Dillon, who tragically passed away earlier this year. “This was his favourite song,” co-vocalist Kier Kemp said, as he raised his cider in memory. The charged performance which followed surely would have made Steve proud.
As the set drew to a close, the tears began to flow. I managed to make it until the last song before the encore, ‘Could We Burn, Darling?’ before emotions got the better of me. The lyrics, “But there’s still time,” were changed by Laurence last minute, to “But there’s no time, it’s over.” I noticed a few people choke up at that alteration.
However, the encore brought the revival of ‘Don Teriesto’, another song from their very first EP and beloved by fans, followed by the unfeasibly popular ‘Bow Ties on Dead Guys,’ which gave the audience one last chance for a dance and a sing-along with dry eyes before the closing number.
‘City Falls to Dust’ was the obvious song to finish on. “You’ll be there in my blood ‘till the day I die,” is the resounding message from FVK to their fans, and their fans sang it back with the same intensity. I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the audience or on stage, as fans came together with hugs and packets of tissues in an effort to make it through the last song.
Throughout the night, the band constantly thanked everyone for their support over the past eight years. This support was what made FVK, and helped them grow from five guys crammed into a small London apartment playing any show they could get on the bill for, to one of the best known unsigned bands in the UK.
I’m so grateful to have had this band in my life. Throughout the highs and lows of the band’s career, FVK have always been committed and determined to making music, and it shows. A weaker group of people may never have made it out of Beccles, nevermind making it through the minefield of the music industry as a small band with limited support. But they made it as far as they did through hard work and dedication, and I’m confident any one of the members can do it again if they’re so inclined.
It’s been a great eight years for FVK, and I can only wish the guys the very best in whatever future endeavours they may have.
Listen to their final songs, “Priceless” and “Always Forgive.”