Crossfaith has been hitting a massive amount of location for the European tour Synchronicity Tour 2020 and for the first time, they decided to make a stop in Sweden where we were honored to spend a lovely time with the band during the day and experienced a mad show at night.
We spoke with vocalist Ken and programmer Teru in order to find out all the little bits of details we’ve been craving to know, such as their current and future work, philosophy, the unique sound of Crossfaith, and even crazy stories from the past.
Can you tell us what you’re expecting from the Swedish fans as it’s your first time here?
Ken: I know Sweden is famous for metal music, such as black metal and death metal. For example, Soilwork and similar bands, industrial kind of bands. So yeah, I’m super excited to play for the black metalheads!
Has there been one country that you’ve been taken aback by the crazy response?
Ken: When we play in Germany, they always do this “rowing the boat” thing. There are so many people who would sit on the floor and— [Ken does a rowboat movement]. It’s super famous in Germany. It has happened so many times now, especially at festivals.
During which song did they do this?
Ken: I don’t know, it’s very random. The first time I saw that I was like “Hey guys, stop that”, telling them to circle pit instead. But they started rowing the boat and didn’t stop, so after that I just let it go. But you know, I think that’s the best way to express respect to the band so I love it. That was awesome.
How about you Teru, any crazy moments on stage?
Teru: I really like stage diving!
What’s your philosophy or approach when it comes to performing live?
Ken: My role on the stage is to connect to the audience, I need to be their commander to enable that. The person I look up to for that is Corey Taylor from Slipknot. He’s the best commander and I want to be like him. It’s not really a philosophy per se, but I would think that should be my role on stage.
Teru: The vision I have in my head whenever I compose a song. I want to bring that out into the wild, to the stage.
Tell us about a crazy experience that happened during your past tours!
Ken: At the Thailand show, some guy lit his hand on fire. He wrapped his hand in bandage before soaking it in lighter fluid and set it on fire. Later, he put it out by throwing it on the floor. This all happened in the middle of a show, in the middle of the crowd. That was crazy [laughs]!
At the beginning of the EU-tour, you released the incredibly heavy single Endorphin. Was this song specifically written to be performed live?
Ken: For the most part, that’s just the type of music we’ve been listening to while growing up, heavy music that is. And of course, we’ve listened to a big variety of genres too such as electronic, hip-hop, and pop. But at the end of the day, heavy music is in my blood, you know? That’s why we play heavy music. They make us feel alive.
Teru: That’s right, they make us feel high! I’ve tried to compose so many bright and upbeat songs, I really have, lots of times. However, before I knew it, they have all turned into heavy songs [laughs]. It’s like starting from major chords, but they end up turning into minor chords.
Would you consider Endorphin a new direction of Crossfaith?
Ken: Yeah it’s a new direction. We got inspiration from genres and sounds like acid bass, acid techno, those kinds of stuff. The tempo of the song is intentionally set to 143 BPM in order to fit the sound. With the influence of hard techno and acid techno, we decided to start the song at the very beginning with the acid bass.
We took inspiration from the 90’s rave culture too, which is the generation we were born into. I feel around that time, there was a lot more excitement compared to now, which is why we wanted to incorporate that into our new song.
We remember you saying Japan is dominated by about 80% pop music in a previous interview.
Ken: Yes, it’s true! Techno music and similar types have a small market in Japan. Regardless, we still have great techno musicians like Takkyu Ishino and this type of music is interesting for us, which is also why we decided to pick up this sound.
That’s the guy who composed the “Ghost In The Shell” song! But we guess a lot of Crossfaith’s electronic influences come from you Teru? How do you decide on what sound to incorporate?
Teru: Yes, that’s right. I always want to create something that is unique that no one has heard before.
Ken: Yeah, that’s our role! Always trying out new things, because we don’t want to be like the others. Playing the same old stuff. We like to explore new music and mix it in with ours.
It’s also interesting that you have a programmer on stage because not a lot of bands have that. On the top of our heads, Linkin Park comes to mind.
Ken: Yes indeed. There are also bands like Enter Shikari, or in the more electronic kind of field, The Prodigy. They mix rock and rave music.
How did you end up going for this setup with a programmer on stage?
Ken: Before we started Crossfaith we were in the same band, Teru did DJing and played samplers as well. That was the early beginnings—the very start of it—but after that, Crossfaith took shape and he joined our band.
Teru: There are so many bands with a DJ, but some of them simply stand on the stage without much interaction. I wanted to be a more iconic person that stands out among those DJs. And with Crossfaith, I can do that, so I wanted to become a part of it.
That’s cool, it’s very unique and makes it a lot more special.
Ken: Yes, it allows us to expand for a wider approach.
About the electronic sound, it’s usually themed around space and sci-fi. Why is that?
Ken: Because we love sci-fi and Teru especially loves cyberpunk and steampunk.
Teru, what inspires you?
Teru: I’m inspired by the movie “The Matrix”. So with a synthesizer, I’m able to create futuristic sounds with it. It’s as if the synthesizer is alive because every time you play it, something will be slightly different and in that sense, there are essentially infinite ways for me to play it and make music.
Tell us about the Linkin Park song you covered, Faint.
Ken: We brought in Masato from coldrain to do the clean vocals on this one. When we lost Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, we spoke with Masato and decided that we should do a tribute song.
Why did you specifically choose Faint?
Ken: It was a really natural choice for us. I would do the rap part and Masato could do the clean parts, so that’s how we decided on this song. There weren’t any other that fit us this perfectly.
About the scream vocals which is an essential part of Crossfaith. Over the years, we’ve noticed that you included a bigger variety of scream techniques, whereas before it was more monotone and flat. Is that also a way for Crossfaith to expand the way you express yourself?
Ken: Yeah, definitely! Screaming is very interesting because you have a high-note pitch, high-note scream, and low screaming as well. We can choose different styles of screams like Bert McCracken from the band The Used, who uses a more emotional type of scream. The lower screams are when I want to go for a more death metal style. However, I prefer the emotional style, but I can do both.
It reminds us of Ryo from Crystal Lake who said: “When I scream, I do it as if I’m singing”.
Ken: Yeah, I agree. Scream vocals can express a lot of things, express emotions and whatnot. But at some point, I needed to include clean vocals to expand that range of emotions which is why we decided to incorporate it. It was really tough and I’m still struggling with it to this day, however, we needed it to be able to fully express Crossfaith, you know?
With that said, would you consider the album XENO to be an experimental phase? Because that was essentially the first album that included clean vocals.
Ken: We always like to experiment. Some songs have only screaming vocals and some other songs have a lot more clean vocals. But in the end, everything we do is Crossfaith.
Before the interview, you guys mentioned your upcoming EP which hasn’t yet been announced. Is it okay if we talk about it?
Ken: Yeah, a little bit! It will have five songs and it will be released this spring. We have a guest vocalist for one of the songs in the EP, you might be surprised by who it is. Previously we’ve collaborated with many artists like Benji from Skindred, Caleb from Beartooth, and Rou Reynolds from Enter Shikari. These artists are from the rock music scene, but in our new release, we collaborated with someone from a different music scene which is going to surprise you. That’s all I can say [laughs].
When you create your albums and EPs, how do you usually approach it?
Ken: It depends. For example, when we wrote EX_MACHINA, our latest album, we decided on a concept for it. As for XENO, while we still had a concept it was still very experimental for us. We wanted to try to add clean vocals, different styles like industrial rock and a lot more genres. It really depends. With the new upcoming EP, it’s similar to how we approached XENO or Zion. We just wanted to create stronger songs so I cannot wait to share the new music from the upcoming EP with you all.
You also recorded the song Soul Seeker in 2018 for the anime “Souten no Ken”. It took us by surprise as we never expected such a heavy song to be included in an anime. How did you guys end up with this opportunity?
Ken: We got an offer from them to write a song. At the time we were in a studio in Los Angeles, we had written a couple of songs that were going to be included in the EP Wipe Out. But since we received the offer, we could no longer put Soul Seeker in the EP and had it in a separate release. I rewrote the lyrics, but the music itself was already 80% finished. I was actually also surprised when we got the offer from the anime team because that anime is a really famous one in Japan. It’s also about Asia, like Japan or China.
You also didn’t care about accommodating your music style for the anime?
Ken: They did request us to sing the song in Japanese… but fuck it! You know, that’s not our thing.
Speaking about your music style. We feel your past music had a lot more electronic influences, as in the electronic sound being a lot more prominent in the songs. The recent music, however, seems to be more balanced overall?
Teru: Yeah that might be the case because I always think of the balance when composing music. Whether it is the electronic sound or the band sound, we try to achieve a “double punch”, meaning both types of sound get their own equal presence while still being prominent. But it depends on which song it is, as each song has a different theme.
How do you generally decide on how much electronic sound to include in that case?
Ken: It really depends. We have two songwriters, one is Teru and one is Kazu. Kazu always brings guitar riffs and compose for example the beginning of the song until the chorus. Teru also works with him so it’s hard to say. Sometimes Teru would put the electronic parts on top of what Kazu has composed. In those cases, we don’t want the sound to clash. As with the song Monolith, Teru built up the song starting from the intro which is played on a synthesizer. But for other songs, he might approach it differently.
Teru: Hm… Well, I don’t want the electronic sound to stand out too much. I’ve started to become more attentive and tend to use it more as a way to articulate songs.
Lastly, please give your best advice on how we can learn to scream as you do!
Ken: Feel the emotions, yeah… just feel it. Because it’s hard to teach how to do it, it comes naturally for me. But you know, try not to think about your throat too much when you start out. Just feel the emotions. Your throat will get used to it but it’s important to make use of the power of the diaphragm.
Do you want to demonstrate it?
Ken: I only scream on stage [laughs]!
Please leave a message for your fans!
Ken: Thanks for reading this! If you missed our set tonight, we might come back to Sweden this summer, so see you guys in a bit.
It was really fun to hang out with the band and learn more about the thought process that goes on behind the scenes. If you like this content, make sure to stick around because we have more exclusive coverage of their other shows in Europe! Keep yourself updated on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Twitter (Kenta Koie)
Twitter (Terufumi Tamano)
Twitter (Kazuki Takemura)
Twitter (Hiroki Ikegawa)
Twitter (Amano Tatsuya)
Instagram (Kenta Koie)
Instagram (Terufumi Tamano)
Instagram (Kazuki Takemura)
Instagram (Hiroki Ikegawa)
Instagram (Amano Tatsuya)