Kenta Koie is the lead vocalist for Japanese band Crossfaith, known worldwide for their intense performances and unconventional mixing of metal with other genres. I had a sit down with Kenta at Slam Dunk North in Leeds and we talked about the very early days of Crossfaith, the Japanese metal scene and I also got the chance to field him some questions from fans. If you see a name in brackets after a question, that’s the person who suggested it!
We started Crossfaith in 2006. Before that Me, Kaz (guitars) and DJ Teru were in another band. He (Teru) had already started to make music on his laptop and do scratch stuff on his turntables. When the band we were all in broke up we all wanted to continue pursuing music. Initially, in the early days of Crossfaith, Teru struggled to merge his samples with metalcore. We then released our first EP Blueprint Of Reconstruction which was limited edition, only a thousand copies which we gave out for free. On there was a song called “Blue” and one day a very excited Teru came to my house and told me he added some really cool stuff to that song.
When I listened to it I was like “That’s awesome. That really works.” It also felt very natural as all of us in the band like so many different genres of music like rock, punk, metal, hardcore plus more electronic stuff like Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Pendulum and Fatboy Slim. Teru also loves trance music so it’s become more and more natural for us to blend genres.
Where did the name for the band come from?
Each member of the band has their own faiths in terms of music and lifestyle. The name of the band has nothing to do with religion as a few people have thought. We’re definitely not a Christian band, both of my parents are actually Buddhist. The name comes from the cross over of faiths that each member of the band has.
I’ve heard that at metal gigs in Japan there isn’t a great deal of moshpits or crowd surfing. Is this true?
No way! Our crowds in Japan are crazy. The love to do walls of death and circle pits. They crowd surf too. The only difference between Japanese and UK crowd is they don’t do heavy drinking in Japan.
What’s the best venue/festival to play in Japan?
For venues it’s really tough to choose as we have a few favourite. Budokan is probably Japan’s most famous one. It’s not just used for live music, it’s used for Judo and Karate tournaments too. The first band to ever play there was The Beatles. As for festivals, we have many in Japan that cover all different genres of music. The two biggest are probably Summer Sonic, which Crossfaith have played a bunch of times and Fuji Rocks. They’re both very different, Summer Sonic is in more of a city setting much like Slam Dunk, whereas Fuji Rocks is literally in like a jungle with no buildings around. I’ve never been there before but I’m aiming to go this year.
Can you give us some heads up about what Japanese bands we should be looking out for?
Coldrain of course and definitely Crystal Lake. Crystal Lake’s live performances are so f**king good.
Would you consider bringing Crystal Lake over on a tour with you?
They have never played Europe before so yeah, we would love them to come over with us sometime if they wanted to.
Are Crossfaith fans of saké?
Oh yes! Not just saké, every alcoholic drink.
I’ll starting feeding you a few questions from fans now if that’s cool?
Sure, no problem.
Are you friends with any members of Mad Capsule Markets? (Ronnie Anderson)
We look to them more as mentors than friends. We have so much respect for them. They were the first Japanese band to play the main stage at Download Festival. I have worked with the MCM frontman, Takeshi, on his project AA. Me and Masato from Coldrain both did guest vocals with them.
Do you think Crossfaith could ever persuade MCM to reform so you could tour together? (Ronnie Anderson)
As legendary as that would be it’s highly unlikely as each member of MCM now have their own projects.
Do you practice Tai Chi? (Ray Anthony)
Me personally, no. I’m not sure about the other guys. Pre-show I focus more on vocal warm ups, light stretching and maybe drinking a beer. You have to be careful not to over do the stretching though as it might spoil your performance.
Who has been your favourite band to tour with? (Liam Walls)
That’s a tough one. Touring with Enter Shikari has been amazing but we’d love to do a tour with Prodigy someday.
If he isn’t already, are there any plans to make Tama a permanent member of the band? (Jenni Smith)
Again, that’s tricky to answer as he has his own interests outside of Crossfaith but I will say he is very important to us.
Who came up with the phrase “Life is Swedish”? (Kit Lister)
It came from our first tour manager, Adam Bantz. He worked with a band called The King Blues and one of their members said it to him. He then said it to us one time and we’ve loved it ever since!
Finally, a fan question from me. Literally your hugest fan. What is your favourite country to play?
I actually love playing the UK. The people are great, the music is good and it has a fantastic street culture. I love America too but I prefer playing the UK.
Awesome. Thank you very much. I’ll let you go party now and I’m gonna go mosh to Bury Tomorrow.
Yes! You need to go be the Pit Troll!