Photo: Noah Lenker

Big Thief battle toxicity on the spiky “Vampire Empire”

Having played it extensively on tour and on their late night performance on Colbert, Big Thief have released the studio version of nascent fan favourite “Vampire Empire”. It is the A-side of a new 7″ that lands on October 20 via 4AD, which will has a B-side called “Born For Loving You” (which fans might also recognise from recent live shows).

On “Vampire Empire”, vocalist Adrianne Lenker reveals: “For me, it’s about getting out of toxic internal patterns – leaving the empire of energy drains that obscure pure essence, learning about what healthy boundaries are, and finding the power to implement them for the possibility of giving and receiving (both inwardly and outwardly) unbroken and infinite Love.”

Entering “Vampire Empire”, James Krivchenia lays down a simple, clanging beat as the rest of the band weave around it, instrumentally and vocally. Lenker starts with literal examples of things going wrong – expired milk, dead leaves – but soon brings it into an intimate confrontation between two people – or perhaps two sides of herself; “I see you as you see yourself through all the books you read / Overwhelmed with guilt and realizing the disease / You give me chills / I’ve had it with the drills.” As Lenker gets more wrapped up in knots about her purpose and identity in the eyes of this other, “Vampire Empire” grows fangs; the guitars get spikier, the drums more exacting and her voice turns to a growl; “I wanted to be your woman, I wanted to be your man / I wanted to be the one that you could understand”. The emotions continue to pour out as she castigates herself for not being everything that she thinks is desired; “You turn me inside out and then you want the outside in / You spin me all around and then you ask me not to spin”. As the song winds to its exhausted ending, there’s no escape for Lenker, she’s stuck in the “Vampire Empire”, tortured but fired up and ready to fight.

Listen to “Vampire Empire” below or find it on streamers.

“Vampire Empire” b/w “Born For Loving You” 7″ arrives on October 20 through 4AD (pre-order). Follow Big Thief on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Revisit BPM’s Top 30 Big Thief songs.

And check them out on tour:

19 July – KINGSTON, NY, USA, Ulster Performing Arts Center SOLD OUT ^
22 July – CHICAGO, IL, USA, Pitchfork Music Festival 2023
23 July – NELSONVILLE, OH, USA, Nelsonville Music Festival 2023
26 July – INDIANAPOLIS, IN, USA, Egyptian Room ^
27 July – MADISON, IN, USA, The Stylee SOLD OUT ^
29 July – OMAHA, NE, USA, Maha Music Festival
31 July – MORRISON, CO, USA, Red Rocks Amphitheatre *
3 August – VANCOUVER, CANADA, Orpheum Theatre SOLD OUT *
4 August – PORTLAND, OR, USA, McMenamins Edgefield Amphitheater SOLD OUT *
5 August – SEATTLE, WA, USA, Marymoor Amphitheater SOLD OUT *
8 August – BERKELEY, CA, USA, Greek Theatre Berkeley *
9 August – LOS ANGELES, CA, Hollywood Forever Cemetary SOLD OUT $

^ = w/ Nick Hakim
* = w/ Lucinda Williams
$ = w/ Bill Callahan