After years of silence from what was the most promising hardcore act to come out of Japan at the time, FACT are making their come back. Last year the now unmasked sextet went a few rounds with Your Demise for their first UK tour in four years, then rocked The Pipeline for an exclusive one off basement performance. This time, armed with an all new album, the guys took to the road with Memphis May Fire for their first UK tour of 2014. We caught up with guitarist Takahiro and the latest addition to the group (and translator for the day) Adam for a few words before their biggest show of the tour at KOKO, one of London’s most renowned venues!
You’ve been away from the UK for quite a while, one moment you were playing on the main stage at Sonisphere, your second album ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ got released, then you sort of disappeared. What have you been doing since then?
Adam: For us to come over from Japan and to get CDs released isn’t the easiest thing in the world. We were between management after ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ and it just didn’t work out- we were just focused on Japan. ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ was before I joined the band, but they were touring loads in Japan, and the tours were great! Then after that an EP and a side project EP came out in Japan only, then ‘Burundanga’ came out two years ago which only got digital releases on these shores and in America. So we have been very busy, maybe it’s just not been so visible in the UK, but we’re back now!
Last year you toured with Your Demise, how was it playing in smaller UK venues once again?
Adam: Personally I’ve been friends with a few of the Your Demise guys for years, so that was awesome. Also we played with them in Japan before we came over here and we played big venues over there, but we also played really small sweaty club shows which was really good fun! We got really close when we were in Japan so to come over and do the same thing all over again in the freezing cold in February was fantastic! (laughs)
How do the crowds compare in Japan/the UK?
Adam: I think that crowds in Japan tend to be a little more shy than the crowds in the UK- I mean they do go wild when bands that they like are playing, but if it’s a band they’re seeing for the first time they tend to be a little more reserved. We were actually asked this question just the other day, and our drummer, Eiji, said that the link between music and people in the UK seems to be stronger than it is in Japan, people seem to be closer to music, so they tend to get more involved over here. What I noticed is that in Japan people want to be entertained from the very second you step on stage til the moment you leave, and although it doesn’t sound unreasonable when I say it like that, what I mean is in the gaps between songs they want you to be funny- I’m not funny, I’m not a comedian, I don’t have anything interesting to say, we’re there to play songs, so that annoys me in a way (laughs) But yeah the crowds are different!
You played with Maximum the Hormone at the beginning of this year?
Adam: Yeah they had a tour for their new album and they chose different artists to support them across the tour. We did three dates with them. It was amazing, really really good. They’re such nice guys, and the shows were really good fun. There was one really small show, and two kinda medium sized ones. Wakayama was really small, but was one of my favourite shows we’ve played recently, it was really good fun. [the tour] was great, we loved it!
One of those surreal moments?
Adam: Yeah it was! I mean [MTH] they’re huge in Japan! They play massive venues, and this time they played smaller places, which was good for us to get to play in front of people that maybe had never seen us before.
We’ve been listening to your new album- there seems to have been quite a few changes to the general style of it all, what sort of direction are you guys heading in?
Adam: To be honest, the way the band has worked in the past, and the way we’ve worked since I’ve joined, we do just what we feel like doing at that particular time. We don’t sit down and plan out what kind of album we’re going to make and which influences we’re going to bring in; it’s just when we’re writing at that time, maybe what we’ve been listening to, what we’re all influenced by at that particular moment kind of finds its way into the music. Honestly I think each album has changed- I see a lot of people online, especially in Japan, saying that they like the “old” FACT, well, cool, listen to the old FACT! Each album, I think, has changed, we used to be faster, and more metal orientated, and its changed from album to album, and if we’ve changed again this album, we don’t think it’s a big deal.
Of course a big change in recent years was the addition of you, Adam! Do you feel like you’ve had much input into the new sounds?
Takahiro: A lot!
Adam: We’ve been friends for years and years so the fact that I’ve joined the band is just fun to have another friend on board and being with everybody! And secondly, the ideas that I have about music, and song ideas are different to what ideas the others might have, and that’s a natural thing because we’ve come from two completely different countries, and two completely different ways of thinking about music. Because we have different sets of ideas coming together, the things that we’ve been able to do have multiplied, more possibilities are available to us now. New ideas that they wouldn’t have been able to do before. It’s opened new doors I guess!
Are there any particular songs on the album you’ve had much of a say in? ‘Ape’ comes to my mind!
Adam: We actually wrote that song all together, we were in the studio, and we’d kind of finished one song, but we were at a point where we didn’t really know what to do next. Then Takahiro got out a bongo and he just started playing a beat. He said “Adam sing something on top of that!” so I did, and that was the start of it. There was another song Takahiro had written and thought it might fit, so we put it together and got everybody else involved and wrote that altogether, so there is me in it, but everybody else worked on it equally too!
So it was quite an improvised track then?
Adam: It was at first, definitely! It was the track that the producer liked the most too. It was one that we really worked on together with him as well, and I think it came out well! We like it.
Is there a particular concept behind ‘witness’?
Adam: There’s not a particular lyrical concept or an idea behind it as such, we always just want to do things we’ve not done before so the idea is just to do something new. Of course each song has its own lyrical concept, but there’s not an overarching one I don’t think.
So it was the 15th anniversary for FACT recently, how does it feel to be part of such a long running band?
Takahiro: I feel like I’ve gotten older! (laughs)
Adam: I’ve only been in the band for two and a half years now, so I’ve got nothing!
Any truly memorable events that stick out in your years in the band?
Adam: There’s too many! 15 years is a long time, and just the fact that we’ve been able to go to America to record, travel to the UK and Europe to tour is just amazing! Last year was a tough year for the band, it was really hard work, but at the end of it I think we came up with the goods! We made an album that we really like! So y’know… over 15 years there’s going to be ups and downs and lefts and rights, and all sorts!
Quite a lot of bands are coming over from Japan to the UK like Crossfaith, Coldrain etc. Are you trying to go in that same sort of direction and reach a larger audience outside of Japan?
Adam: Personally I don’t feel there’s any connection between what we do and what [other bands] do, but I think it’s just natural for bands to want to spread their music overseas, and to as many people as possible, so I guess in a way we are wanting to do the same thing as them. I don’t think there’s only a certain amount of room for Japanese bands! We’ve been doing this for a long time, so I think we’re just carrying on and having fun and that’s the main thing [for us], and just playing as many shows to as many people as we can!
Are there any smaller acts you’d recommend who’ve yet to gain international recognition?
Adam: ‘waterweed’! They’re on the same label as us, and they’re awesome! I really like a band called ‘palm’ and they sound a bit like a Japanese Converge. They’re my two favourites!
Any last words for our readers before you head on stage?
Adam: We’d love for people to listen to the record, we think there’s something for everyone on there, we hope you like it, and come check out our shows!
Interview by Charles Shepherd