The post-hardcore, progressive-punk, math-rock or “whatever you want to call them” band, The Fall of Troy, came to Japan for a 7-show tour with a few dates in Tokyo. This band has been in my iTunes for a good 10 years now, and when I saw that they were playing in Tokyo I knew it was definitely something I would like to see. I dropped them a message to see if I could snag an interview with them and chat about them being in Japan.
Because you’re worth it
I got invited along to their second show in Tokyo at Garret, a reasonably-sized clean and cozy venue in the heart of Shibuya. Here they were to play 2 nights in a row playing a different album each night. This night was “Doppelgänger” in full – which sent a little shiver of excitement down my spine. Most TFOT fans would claim that as their favourite album, and for good reason as it’s pretty flawless.
After a sound check, we exchanged niceties and Thomas the singer and guitarist, Andrew the drummer, Drew their new bassist and I got comfortable backstage.
One happy, hairy family
Check out the full interview – as well as some great hairography moments – below!
Impressions of Japan
Luke: You got to Japan on Thursday, right? How’s the food been so far in Japan?
Thomas: For me, if I lived here I would get fat…and I’ve never been fat my entire life. Just me and rice, and ramen, and noodles, and meat on a stick…just delicious, cheap food everywhere you go.
Andrew: Yeah, that’s pretty accurate. The food [in the US] is shit compared to here.
Thomas: Well, Seattle’s got its asian food game right. But, even at home, I grew up with a lot of Japanese food.
Andrew: Your average food here seems like it’s way higher than you know the average food in America.
Thomas: Even affordable food. We had kebab today that was like 300yen and it was good. Like I did not feel like shit afterwards.
Luke: So the first time for Fall of Troy in Japan. Do you have any expectations for this tour?
Thomas: No, and I think that’s the best part because last night I had no expectations. Not even low expectations, just didn’t have any expectations and it was so awesome. It just felt really awesome. It felt wonderful.
Drew: It felt as good as it could have gone.
Thomas: It really lifted my day up.
Drew: I looked up some pictures of the venue before we got there, and I was just kinda thinking like “alright, if I’m looking out there and I’m seeing this many people, then it’s going to be a good night”. And it was like the whole place was just going.
Thomas: And the vibe was like people were happy and friendly.
Andrew: Yeah, it felt good. [Shibuya Cyclone] is a quality club. If someone told me “Oh, we are going to play at cyclone” I’d be like “Good. You’re playing at a good club”. So I was happy to play there.
Thomas: I like this room a lot [Shibuya Garret].
Andrew: The shows at rooms that the stage is a bit lower and the ceiling is a bit lower for some reason seem to be better for us as a band. There’s something about a really jam packed space that we do well in. We thrive.
Thomas: I think it makes us feel closer together in general.
Luke: So why did you want to come to Japan?
Thomas: Why wouldn’t you want to come to Japan?
Andrew: One of the most attractive parts about it is just that we haven’t been here. The coolest shows that I think we have played are when we have never played somewhere. The first time we went to Russia, that was insane. Like you know, the first time that we went to Europe, it was insane. You know like, the first time we played outside of Seattle, it felt insane. Every time you get to break new ground on a show that feeling is hard to replicate in anyway.
Thomas: And reach people that are so far away from where you came from.
Andrew: So there are a tonne of other places that we would like to go, like South America or China or like Indonesia, like South East Asia.
Thomas: Alaska, Hawaii.
Andrew: Anywhere that we haven’t played thats on our top list of places to play.
Thomas: We like to travel. In general, thats like the underlying thing of why we do what we do. It’s as much about playing music for people as it is about like us learning and getting culture to continue to fuel the fire that does this. You see a bunch of Japanese kids that don’t even speak English know every word of one of our songs…trips me out.
Luke: What makes your music translatable to the Japanese music scene?
Thomas: I think if we are talking about lyrically, I think that’s a slippery slope anyway. That’s what makes any art great. As it’s all about interpretation. I mean someone in Germany, or in the UK, or someone from the same city that I’m from and grew up in, or the same town that I grew up in might take a song that I wrote about my dog and equate it to their marriage, or whatever. I write it about my marriage and they think it’s about my dog. The art in interpretation is what makes art congruent in my mind. If anybody is getting anything out of it that emotionally evokes something out of them or provokes something out of them is amazing to watch. I just put it out there. I’m not telling anybody what to take out of it. I want them to take whatever they want to take out of it. If they think this song is about this, then it should be. You know, I am not gunna be like “no no no, that’s not what this is about.” It’s open to interpretation. I’ve always looked at it that way. But musically, people like fast stuff with a lot of notes here and that’s very loud. That excites me, because I like that too.
Andrew: At least there are people here that like that too.
Luke: I think definitely that Fall of Troy is known for its intricate guitar parts, and time signatures, and being loud, screaming, stuff like that. Which is great. In Japan there is a big following for a noise scene. People love loud music here.
Thomas: We touch on that.
Andrew: Mono, Boris, all that. Melt Banana. Like all that fast, loud music. Well Mono and Boris aren’t that fast but…
Thomas: Lite, Toe, Mouse on the Keys.
Andrew: It’s all that intricate stuff too.
Luke: What are your favourite Japanese bands?
Thomas: I really like Lite and Mouse on the Keys a lot.
Andrew: I mean Toe, it’s definitely like you can’t go wrong with that. Oh yeah, Dir En Grey. How could I forget!? We toured with them. We did a tour with Deftones that they were on. Probably not like my favourite style of music, but one of the greatest live shows I have ever seen.
Drew: There’s this band called “Fall of Hell”. You guys know that band? They did a record a couple of years ago with this Japanese noise artist named “Merzbow”. I don’t know if that’s how you say it…merzbow…or something. But that’s a great record. I don’t know that much Japanese music but…that’s some really cool shit.
Thomas: I really like “mono” as well.
Luke: What’s your opinion of Visual Kei?
Thomas: It’s cool. The expression is very artistic.
Andrew: We are not a band that stands still on stage. If we are playing live for people we want to put in as much effort as possible and that includes physical movement, you know, stuff like that. I don’t know if we would like identify ourselves with that movement or anything but like we definitely share some tenets of performance with [visual kei].
Luke: There’s kinda this thing about Japanese music that sometimes it’s not really about the music…
Thomas: It’s performance art.
Luke: A big thing about music in Japan is that the audience connects with the band or the artist in a way that it’s almost been decided before the show.
Thomas: What’s interesting about that is like we bring to the table…crowd participation and we really thrive off our audience, but at the same time I think the thing that maybe would be interesting to people here about us is how off the cuff it is. How spontaneous it is. You know? Because it’s a moment that you get right there and then. You know?
Andrew: Yeah…there’s no script. Like we’ve toured with bands where like this is the part where they are going to tell this joke…and like…oh ok this is where they say this speech about whatever and that’s fine but we are way more into it. We don’t write set lists typically. We like to play different sets every night. So if you come see us, you know, two nights in a row in the same city you’re going to get a completely unique show each time. So yeah, it’s a little at odds with maybe some of what is successful in Japan.
About The Band
Luke: So you were on hiatus?
Andrew: We can just call it like it was. We were broken up.
Thomas: We are like a really messed up marriage.
Luke: Well you guys have been together since you were 17. Is that right?
Andrew: We’ve known each other since we were 15.
Thomas: I was 16 when I met [Andrew]. It was right at that time when I was a little bit ahead of you. Just a little bit.
Andrew: We’ve known each other 15-16 years.
Thomas: Yeah, a long time.
Drew: I was 7 at the time.
Thomas: That’s crazy to think about.
Andrew: That’s funny.
Drew: I was in second grade.
Thomas: You’re going to make me feel old.
Drew: Miss Molan. Shout out the second grade teacher. Miss Molan.
Luke: So hiatus, broken up, whatever you want to call it. This is your first tour internationally after you got back together?
Andrew: No, we’ve been to like Europe, Russia a couple of times and Australia. So this is probably like our fourth.
Thomas: We did a bunch of US stuff. But it’s our first tour with Drew. Last night was his first show.
Andrew: So starting off on a high note.
Thomas: Which is awesome.
Andrew: It’s only going downhill from here.
Drew: Yeah, I am just going to blow it tonight.
Andrew: Like I mean experience-wise. Like you’ve already had probably the most fun show you going to have. It’s just going to get steadily worse from here. As someone with like hundreds of Fall of Troy shows behind me, like, it just gets worse.
Thomas: “With hundreds of Fall shows behind me” like referring to the band as just like…that’s like some Metallica shit. “You know Fall is just an entity in itself”.
Andrew: It’s a real ride being in Fall.
Thomas: (bursts out laughing)
Andrew: It’s a real downhill ride.
Thomas: It’s a downward spiral with no bottom. It’s a black hole.
Andrew: The bottom is when you stop digging, but baby I’m never gunna stop digging.
Thomas: That’s right.
Andrew: I’ve got the shovel in my hand.
Luke: What’s the craziest or most interesting thing you’ve seen in the crowd?
Andrew: People breaking legs and stuff. Fainting. Fights. Always fights.
Thomas: Oh god. People diving off balconies.
Andrew: We saw a dude crowd surf in his wheelchair. That was pretty sweet.
Thomas: Yeah in Boston. Yeah that was pretty sweet. Crowd surfed him up to the stage and parked him right next to me on the side of the stage for the rest of the show.
Andrew: Yeah again in Boston. This was like the following year. These two dudes crowd surfed up on the stage and then started break dancing and they were like real good.
Thomas: Like head spin.
Andrew: A lot of the times the stuff that happens in the crowd that’s most interesting is actually like us. We played a show in Arizona where our bass player tried to crowd surf and he just like…
Thomas: Went right over the first 5 rows of people into a circle pit that just broke out and went straight down.
Andrew: Like on his head…
Thomas: Our guitar tech and our tour manager just ran out and just pulled him back out. He had a bloody nose. Passed out. He was blacked out.
Andrew: He was pretty much dead.
Thomas: And me and Andrew were like…urrr…“what do we do?”. He woke up like 2 minutes later and was like “what happened?”
Andrew: Yeah. I mean it’s gunna happen.
Thomas: He was like “let’s go play another song!” and we were like…
Andrew: “You’re just gunna chill out”…yeah. So like sometimes it’s us. A lot of like failed crowd surf stuff.
The Band’s Sound
Luke: How would you describe your own music?
Andrew: I say we are like punk rock. Yes, so progressive punk is probably a pretty decent description. It depends on who I am talking to though. If I am talking to like a old…like my mums friends…
Thomas: There’s a lot of blues in our music that doesn’t get acknowledged very often, I think. There’s a lot of blues and there’s a lot of soul influence as well in some of the more down tempo stuff…I don’t know we are just a fucking mish mash of everything we like, you know? I think we have a lot of parallels to even like a lot of…I hesitate to use the word but electronic music. Andrew is very into Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. There’s a lot of jazz influence in what we do as well with chords and things like that. But we’re a rock band that plays in odd time signatures, plays very fast, there’s a lot of notes…it has a punk mentality, you know? It’s a like “fuck this shit. Is it on? Let’s play just as fast as we can”.
Luke: Kinda of like what you were saying linking it in with your performance. Your music is quite danceable, I would say. Like you can really get into it.
Thomas: For being a “math”…I’m doing quotations…“math band” or whatever the fuck that is.
Andrew: That’s the thing that we try to pay pretty good attention to, you know. You can do odd time stuff and still…have there be a groove. And that is a failing that, at least to me…I hear a lot of math rock bands who like are just doing it for the sake of doing it. Which is fine, but I think it’s not as interesting to me…I always like the interception of groove and weird time signatures and stuff. I think that’s what we strive for.
Drew: Time and place.
Thomas: Time and place.
Andrew: I think it’s just what tickles our fancy.
Thomas: If there ain’t no rhyme there ain’t no reason.
Andrew: The thing is like for us…we’ve got to be pretty stoked on a song for us to keep writing it. And so…our own internal interests are the best barometer like, you know, what we want to do with our band.
Luke: Do you have anything that you would like say to your fans in Japan?
Andrew: Thank you.
Thomas: Yeah, thank you.
Andrew: It’s unbelievable. It’s always unbelievable to play for different people on the other side of the world…like who give a shit. I mean, it’s crazy. Just thanks. I think that’s it. Yeah, we really appreciate it.
It was really natural speaking the guys of TFOT. It felt kind of of strange personifying those sounds that I used to listen to on repeat with guys as down to earth as these. The show later on was packed, epic and reflected everything they had expressed in the interview. It really showed the rawness of their music. It was all them up on the stage, killing it like I knew they would. Thinking I was already lucky, they invited me back for the next show the day after. A full run of “Manipulator”.
Thanks to The Fall of Troy for the interview and the awesome show!