YouTube channel “anthology.space” shared an insightful discussion between guitarist Ivan Kwong from the Japanese rock band Survive Said The Prophet, and drummer Anton Fung from the Hong Kong math-rock band tfvsjs. The two went back in time to talk about their past and also the current differences between band life in Japan and Hong Kong.
We’ve summarized their talk, but before going to the main topic, let us first delve into the background of Ivan Kwong and Anton Fung to understand where their experiences stem from.
Guitarist Ivan Kwong from Survive Said The Prophet is originally from Hong Kong. After graduating high school he wanted a change of pace and moved to Tokyo to continue his studies. While working in a fashion store, he happened to meet vocalist Yosh who worked at another shop nearby. Coincidentally, the two met again at a live house and started bonding, from there, Survive Said The Prophet started taking shape. The band has been around for about 10 years now, formed in 2011.
Originally from Hong Kong, tfvsjs’ drummer Anton Fung moved to London to study by the time he entered high school. He later graduated from a three-year program as a drummer. During a visit to Hong Kong, while cutting his hair, he found out the hairdresser was also a drummer. The hairdresser then introduced Anton to other musicians in Hong Kong which led him to start a band and settle down. tfvsjs began activity in 2003 and has been active for almost two decades.
“It’s not as convenient in Japan”
Ivan suggested it’s less convenient to be in a band in Japan because the room you book for rehearsals is limited to a certain amount of hours. In Hong Kong, it’s very common to see even non-established bands rent spaces in rundown industrial complexes that have been converted into cheap studios. This means you can have access to the studio and practice whenever you want.
Ironically, as Anton pointed out, you might actually end up practicing less when there’s no pressure to make use of the time efficiently. The time restriction in Japan helps serve as a way to cut down nonsense and chit-chat.
“The conditions to start a band in Hong Kong are so much better”
Both Ivan and Anton agreed that the conditions to start a band in Hong Kong are so much better, or easier. One of the reasons is the aforementioned space to rehearse, but before Ivan was able to continue his thoughts, Anton filled in and talked about how the sense of band community in Hong Kong is really strong as there are usually 10-20 bands renting studios in the same building. When there’s a local show scheduled, everyone helps out to set up the stage while getting to know each other.
“Japanese bands are more disciplined and organized”
When Anton played shows in Japan, he noticed how the Japanese bands were more “disciplined and organized” in terms of how fast they were able to set up the stage compared to Hong Kong bands, especially his own band. The standard in Japan is way higher and there’s a higher expectation because of that.
Ivan suggested that Japan is probably one of the countries that have the most festivals and multi-band shows, allowing for more opportunities to perform. As such, they’re always on tour and gain experience through that.
“In Japan, you jam with your own band, in Hong Kong, you jam with everyone”
Anton noticed how a lot of Hong Kong bands didn’t use click tracks (metronome) at live shows to keep the tempo, despite that, they were still really tight! As for Ivan’s band, Survive Said The Prophet, they always use click tracks.
The two discussed if this was a cultural difference where Ivan then reminisced to the days when he was still living in Hong Kong, how he and other people would occasionally visit their friends’ studio to hang out and jam for fun. Implying how it could be one of the keys as to why musicians in Hong Kong can adapt so easily while being in sync. In comparison, he felt that Japanese musicians tend to stick with their own band more firmly and not jam with people outside as much.
This partially goes back to the conversation about how bands in Hong Kong stick together in the same building and have constant access to their own studio, which in turn opens up for more spontaneous collaborative opportunities.
You can watch the entire talk in the video below where more details and aspects are brought up, unfortunately, there are no English subtitles.