By Jana Angeles
Residing from the city of Osaka introduces metalcore outfit, Crossfaith; a band destined for greater things one step at a time. As I spoke to Kenta “Ken” Koie during his run at Vans Warped Tour this year, it was clear that the frontman was taken aback from the overall feel of the festival. In comparison to their last Warped Tour visit to the States in 2012, they had the opportunity to be part of a bigger stage and play to a larger crowd of people, immersing themselves in wall of deaths and circle pits. “It’s been amazing,” Koie mentions as he talks about Warped Tour this year. “This is the second time we’re doing Warped Tour. In the first one, we were on a smaller stage but this year, we are playing on the Monster stage and the heaviest bands play on that stage: While She Sleeps, The Amity Affliction etc. It’s like a school summer trip.”
Feeling nostalgic about his achievements, Koie was impressed by how far Crossfaith have garnered international success. Since the band’s formation in 2006, Crossfaith have toured with big names in the metalcore scene with bands such as Bring Me The Horizon, Architects and Enter Shikari. From playing as a support act and rapidly moving their way up to headlining their own shows, Koie couldn’t believe how much the band had accomplished in almost a decade. With a small country like Japan, it’s hard to expand your horizons especially with the struggling scene of Rock music in Asia. Here, Koie expresses himself in a deeper way by reflecting on his younger self. “I think we are the only Japanese band who has toured all around the world,” Koie enthusiastically says when asked about Crossfaith’s international success. “We’ve done so many tours outside of Japan and we did a couple of festivals in Europe and then Soundwave in Australia.”
Living his dream, Koie was able to appreciate the foundation of success Crossfaith had stumbled upon worldwide and this gave him high hopes for their future endeavours as a band. “It’s a great feeling,” Koie openly says. “It was my dream to tour and play music outside of Japan. Playing songs from our records to a live audience was always a dream of mine. Looking back at my younger self, almost all my dreams came true. I’ve got so many more for the future.”
Next month, the band will be releasing Xeno, which will be the band’s fourth studio album. A concept album that has brought the band to life in respects to events that has happened during their journey as a band with guitarist, Kazuki Takemura’s struggles in dealing with his cerebral haemorrhage in his hand. Sharing a strong bond with his fellow band mates, Koie claims that Xeno is a record that maintains the vision of Crossfaith throughout its heavy experimentation. He further explains that it’s an eye-opening record, with strong focus on its lyrical content and music. Part of the process was met with producer Josh Wilbur, the man working behind-the-scenes in Xeno. Working with large bands in the metal scene through the likes of Lamb of God and Avenged Sevenfold, Koie spoke highly of Wilbur and his expertise of being a producer. “He’s worked with artists in pop music and rock music and knew a lot about music considering his young age,” Koie explains. “One of the biggest difference when it came to working with him was that the writing process turned out to be the complete opposite of what we did before in our last record [Apocalyze]. In Xeno, we could focus on the writing from beginning to end. It was a great experience working with him.”
Compared to their last producer, David Bendeth, Koie mentions that Wilbur had a unique way of mastering the art in making music; a journey that took time and patience for both bands and artists trying to make it big in the music world. He explains that Bendeth brought a platform of confidence in the band’s lyrical content, which took on inspiration when it came to working with him on their single, Madness. Bendeth became the forefront of both main songwriters of the band, Kazuki Takemura (lead guitar) and Terufumi Tamano (keyboards, backing unclean vocals). From here, the Japanese metalcore band realised the natural progression in their music and ensured that everything came naturally to them. As the lead vocalist, Koie further emphasised the strong focus on clean vocals in ‘Xeno’, explaining how important it was for him to showcase his singing talent too. Having toured in the UK, US, Australia and Canada, it wasn’t long until he caved in and found a newfound appreciation for this unrecognised ability to sing. “I loved screaming but I wanted to sing as well. If I can sing clean vocals, the expression in our music is more carefree.”
There’s a form of perfectionism in the music industry and like most bands in the scene, Crossfaith were humble about their art. In reference to their older albums such as 2011’s The Dream, The Space and 2013’s Apocalyze, Xeno held a special place in the hearts of all the band members. Koie truthfully expressed the strong connection he felt towards the record – the fact that he never once second-guessed the outcome of the record at all. It gave him the liberation of knowing that his entire band were unbelievably happy that Xeno was something that they could be proud of releasing. “Of course our older records are like our babies. When we listened to Xeno in Josh’s [Wilbur] studio, we were all screaming and crying and from there, that was when we all celebrated the birth of Xeno. We put our everything into this album and right now, it is what makes Crossfaith a band.”
Xeno is set for release via UNFD on 18 September 2015.