With the release of their first album in four years, Envy recently did a two leg run in the United States. The band has been around for almost twenty years now - comparative to that of Converge - and are constantly reforming their hardcore roots into post territory and aura. During their last night in Austin, I sat down with frontman Tetsuya Fukagawa to discuss the tour and release of Recitation and how the industry runs a bit different in Japan.
How do you guys feel being the last night of the tour? How does it feel being back in the States, especially being back in the States doing the headlining tour. Being in a band for so long, comparative to a band in America like Converge? How has the response been so far?
The reason it took us four years to come back here is because we had released two splits and were touring Japan a bunch of times. We were working on [coming to the States]. Because we released this new album, it was the timing of coming to the States. We're constantly working. We haven't been doing nothing for the four years. We've just been busy. It was the perfect timing for us to come back here after we finished this album. Speaking of Converge, they're good friends. We've toured a lot with them in Japan and we also had talked about doing a tour together in the States as well, but we're very busy in Japan and they're very busy here as well. It might happen. We'll get in touch over time, but nothing yet. The tour's been pretty amazing, even the small cities. "Do they know anything about us?" Then it ends up a lot of people came out to the show, and it's been pretty amazing.
The new album really combines everything that Envy has ever done. Whether it's the hardcore on Footprints and then the post-rock area you guys went with on Insomniac Doze and even with Abyssal and the splits with Thursday and Jesu. There is a bright tinge as well. First off, what kind of influences were you taking in this time with this album? Then, do you feel this album is a real culmination of everything Envy has done at this point?
The earlier days with Footprints, we made that distinctively. We just wanted to do what we wanted to do. Since Insomniac Doze and Abyssal, we started to think not about necessarily a concept, but a theme to it or the tone. Insomniac Doze was sort of a dark album, but you could see the hope through the darkness. That was the concept with that album. Abyssal was kind of a long song. It was clean and kind of beautiful with post-rock influences as well. That was one of the things we would do before going into an album. This time we wanted to combine all of those too. This time we wanted make an album that was a combination of those albums. Also, it's going to be boring for us to make the same album. We always want to have a different tone to it or a different face to it. The actual recording process is basically the same though.
How is it looking back at the footage on the DVD that came out, and did that have any influence?
The reason we had that old footage [on the DVD] is that we wanted to introduce who we were in the beginning. We wanted to show we came from this background. For us, we wanted to reminisce to the "back in the day" stuff. The director of the DVD was an old friend of ours and kept taking footage and then had all of this old footage of us. If we were going to release it, we wanted to make it right. As a friend, he made a great piece.
I'm not sure if you're aware of the state of the whole hardcore and post-hardcore scene in America. Over the years, some bands have taken influence in European screamo and even Japanese influences such as Envy. Over the past few years, there definitely has been some crap flooding the scene, but there are bands like the ones you are on tour with right now, and Trash Talk who you were on tour with earlier that are bringing that style back, because they're influenced a bit by the Eastern front. What I'm curious to know is what influences Envy from the West since the beginning and now?
Now we don't have influence from certain bands. We've established certain ways to write music. Definitely, when we started as a band, we were influenced by a lot of bands in the West and in Europe. We had a favorite band in New York and even somewhere in Europe. Even then, we didn't have influences like "We wanted to write songs like this band," or "We wanted to write songs like that band." We're happy to play with these young bands that have influence from [us]. That makes us really happy and makes it worth doing for a long time. Obviously there's a lot of bands that come and go - a lot of bands we liked that have broken up - but we're still going on and it makes us real happy.
A lot of bands I talk to that go over to Japan, not only see their bands have a higher appreciation for their band, but the way they perceive music in general. What's kind of the different perception here in America that you see and the differences overseas and in Japan?
Overall, we've been touring all over the world. Most places we go, people go crazy. We're very welcomed. Even touring in Japan now, we have a great crowd and act very well. In Japan, we take care of guest and anyone who comes in [to play]. It's a Japanese thing. The promoters do a real hard job and take a long time to make sure things are perfect. We're surprised at how well it's organized. We're used to that. So when we come to not only America, but even other countries, some of the things are disorganized. Not completely disorganized, but that's their system. Because things in Japan are so systematized, for example, a young band in Japan have to pay to play in a venue. They have to sell their own tickets to pay the venue to play their own show. To start a band in Japan is much harder here. You don't have a basement. You don't have a house. You just have a gig. Over here you can do a basement show, and in Japan you have to pay to play. Overall, crowd reaction is great everywhere. A lot of Asian countries like Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc., the crowds go crazy, obviously because they don't have a lot of people play for them. I hope American bands can go play there as well. The kids would dig it a lot. Those Asian countries definitely want to see those American bands.
What are your final thoughts on this first big run out in America and having so much influence on the American hardcore scene? Taking everything in, what are your last words to your fans before you leave?
This is the final show, but when we showed up to America, we didn't know what the turnout would be. The tour has been amazing. We feel very welcomed. We hope we can come back soon. As soon as we fly back tomorrow, then we have a whole Asian tour and then the whole European tour until next summer. We're happy that this whole tour started in the U.S. We were worried about a lot of things, but everything turned out great and we hope to come back very soon. Our last word would be "America is huge!" Driving is just so long.
i'm so glad i got off my old, lazy ass to see them while they were here. words cannot describe how great this band is. i have no clue what they are saying, but the music hits me so hard. i think i came in my pants at least 20 times. just close your eyes & let the music take you away.
ps- fuck all the 15 year olds that left after la dispute.
I am so glad I saw them since I know I can't see them often. I only wish I could have seen them together with La Dispute (but I'm 23, not 15). The younger kids who left after La Dispute are probably just too new to the scene to know the older bands that have influenced their current bands. I enjoy and respect both generations though.
I didn't feel like Trash Talk really fit on the tour but I just remembered how good And So I Watch From Afar was when they opened up so I downloaded their stuff today and was gonna give it a listen.