FACT has been busy over the last 6 months writing and recording their newest album. Back in June, we spoke with UK native, Adam who was nice enough to get up early for this interview via Skype. Though he’s technically the newest member, Adam has known and been working with the band for almost 10 years. A fluent speaker of Japanese, he has lived in Japan for 7 years, and was the tour manager for FACT’s overseas stops. He spent so much time with them in the studio, writing lyrics and recording, he was eventually asked to just join the band 2 years ago.
HV: Where did the band name come from?
Adam: I wasn’t in Japan then. But basically they wanted a band name that was straight up and open and honest. In Japan, especially for visual bands, they have these band names that are in French or really fancy sounding. That is something the guys in FACT were not into at all, and wanted to distance themselves from that. They wanted a straight, easy to remember. In Japan, if your name is not easy to remember, it gets shortened down anyway but there’s no shortening FACT. They wanted the meaning behind it as well, to be like truth or that kind of sense behind it.
HV: At some point, the band used to wear masks. What’s the reason behind that?
Adam: The mask thing was originally for the first record and was part of the campaign for that, the idea being to focus people on the music rather than what the band look like. They were taken off and “destroyed” at the start of the “Slip of the Lip” video (the first single off the 2nd Avex album, In The Blink Of An Eye), and we don’t wear them at all any more, we just don’t show our faces in our videos or press photos.
HV: What is your songwriting process like?
Adam: Until now Takahiro and Kazuki have mainly written the music and everyone else has kind of pitched in with their own parts, with the vocal melodies, and the harmonies. In my old band, I used to write all the songs. This time it’s a little different. We’re working on a new album now and they’ve asked me to write the music with them so now there’s three of us writing the music. Then Eiji and Tomohiro said, “Well if you guys are writing them, we’ve got ideas that we’d like to put in.” So everybody’s writing this time. Everybody’s pitching in- which is cool. It’s really interesting.
HV: So for the last album, Burundanga, it was still mainly Takahiro and Kazuki writing. Is this new one where everyone’s starting to pitch in?
Adam: We did two songs earlier this year. One was for a compilation in Japan and one was- we just put out a digital best-of kind of thing that was Japan only. From then, it’s (the songwriting process) kind of changed with this record we’re working on now. Burundanga just came out in the States… last [June]. But it’s been out [in Japan since 2012] so we’re ready to go on to the next one.
HV: When do the lyrics come in?
Adam: The lyrics just come whenever. Until now, it’s been (Taka)Hiro and Tomohiro who’ve written the lyrics, and they wrote them in Japanese. Then I would translate them directly to English. But then they’d really not sound like lyrics anymore so then we’d have to work them into lyric-sounding lyrics. And then translate them back to Japanese because sometimes the meaning changes a little bit. The lyrics have been a long process whenever we’ve done it. This time, I’m writing as well and I write directly into English. It’s a little bit easier.
HV: Why do you have to translate the translated English lyrics back into Japanese?
Adam: If you translate the Japanese lyrics directly into English- because of the turns of phrase in Japanese and the way Japanese people say things, it sounds really odd if you translate directly into English. It doesn’t sound like song lyrics at all. It just sounds like somebody speaking in broken English. They actually had a different translator for the first record that they did with Elvis (Baskette) when they went over to America. At that point, Elvis- I think he thought that everyone was going to speak English perfectly and the lyrics were all going to be in English, and that it would be really easy. And he realized it’s not that way. Elvis had to say, “Look, we have to get the English lyrics sounding more like English.” So it started from there. It wouldn’t sound right if it was just a direct translation into English. It would sound really weird.
HV: Are the songs released in Japanese or in English?
English. But because when you translate into English, you might have to change certain aspects of it to make it sound better in English. It then could change the Japanese meaning slightly. So we have to translate them back. And because Japan is our home market, we have to have the lyrics in Japanese in the cd tray as well. That’s why we have to translate them back into Japanese.
HV: That makes sense now.
Adam: It’s the most laborious process ever. One of our things is that we’ve always wanted the lyrics to be in good English. Maybe fans of Japanese music overseas kind of see broken English lyrics as being kind of cute or endearing in some way, but we don’t.
It’s not that we don’t want people to think we’re a Japanese band because we obviously are. Well, I’m not but the rest of them are. We don’t want to be seen like a jrock band. When we go overseas, we don’t play with Japanese bands at all. Even when we’re here, we usually get bands we like overseas to come play with us here. If you’re marketing a band as from a particular country, there’s a novelty aspect to it- like this is that Japanese band or that Brazilian band. We want to overcome that. A band like Sepultura from Brazil. They’re not seen as a Brazilian band. That’s what we’re aiming for.
HV: There are some distinctly Japanese elements in your sound, but those may be obvious only to those who listen to a lot of Japanese music. Your music as a whole doesn’t necessarily sound like any other Japanese band.
Adam: The Japanese sense of melody is what you can pick up on. If you know Japanese music, you can definitely hear it in there. But that’s because they’re Japanese and that’s the way they do things. It’s not a conscious thing, it’s a sense of music, of melody that they’ve had since they were kids.
HV: Do you have trouble fitting in your style with theirs?
Adam: Not at all really. Mainly everyone in the band is influenced by overseas artists and bands. We like a wide spectrum of things and everyone has their own specialty but we’re all on the same page when it comes to the sound that we like and the sounds that we want to play- what we want FACT to sound like.
HV: Do you have any influences or inspirations when writing your music?
Adam: Definitely. Everyone in the band has different influences. When Takahiro writes he likes old thrash stuff like Anthrax and Testament. Kazuki likes more pop punk kind of stuff. Recently, the only two bands he listens is The Wonder Years and The Story So Far. I listen to all sorts. My favorite bands are like Converge and Nirvana. But I don’t think we sound like any of those bands, there’s a mix, bits and pieces of all of them. Everyone has their own influences really.
HV: Do you have any favorite tracks on Burundanga or any songs you like playing live, or that the audience responds to?
Adam: I really like playing “Tonight” live. It’s short and it’s fast and there’s a lot of energy. People go wild for that. The first track on the record as well, “Foss” seems to go down really well. We toured in America last year, in the summer. One of the bands we played was called Our Last Night. Their tour manager really loved that song. He said, “Why don’t you take a break in the middle of that song and get kids to sing along with you.” So we started doing it on that tour. Since then we’ve just done it all the time because it works really well and everyone gets involved. So they’re the two I like to play the most.
HV: I do hear that break in “Foss.” It’s probably my favorite song out of the three videos out right now.
Adam: The other two- we don’t play those live so often, even though there are videos for them. We played “Pink Rolex” on the Japan tour last year. But when we play that, there’s no guitar part for me. It’s kind of me and Hiro singing together on twin vocals. We don’t do that so often whenever we feel like it.
HV: Are you planning to tour the US again? The band has played in LA before.
Adam: Not while I was in the band but ages and ages ago, they were in LA. Yes, we will tour the US again but not this year. Hopefully next year? But don’t hold me to that.
HV: Any upcoming projects you’re most excited about?
Adam: We’ve got plans around the next album that we’re really looking forward to but we can’t say anything about yet.
HV: Do you see any difference between the Japanese audiences and when you play worldwide markets?
Adam: More people come to the shows in Japan, haha. Yes and no. I think Japanese people expect different kinds of things from us. People overseas wanna go and see the band. If the band’s cool, then that’s good and it’s all over. Like “That band was awesome, I might buy a t-shirt.” In Japan, there’s an expectation of more. Like when we’re talking onstage, we have to say funny and interesting things. We have to keep everyone entertained at all times. We’re not very good at that. We’re a band, we’re not stand-up comedians. So that’s different. But the Japanese fans go crazy and that’s really awesome to watch. If you’ve watched footage of Japanese shows online-
HV: I know. I’ve been.
Adam: Oh, you’ve been. Well there you go.
HV: That’s why I asked. I’ve seen the difference from the audience perspective and I wanted to know what it was like from the band’s point of view.
Adam: It’s definitely different. When bands come over here as well, one of the things they comment on the most is that between songs in Japan, everybody goes really silent, and stops, and is kind of waiting. I think that’s kind of to do with what I just said. They’re waiting for you to do something, like they want to be entertained in that gap between the songs. If you’re a band coming from America or from England or wherever and you don’t speak Japanese, then it’s gonna be really hard to entertain them between the songs. So it’s nice, it’s very different.
HV: Anything else you’d like to tell our readers and potential new fans?
Adam: Sorry that the last album took so long to come out. We would just like people to pick up the album. You should be able to stream it on Spotify in America. We just want people to listen to it and hopefully have some sort of interest in what we’re doing and maybe come out to a show when we’re over there. That’s the best you can hope for as a band, isn’t it?
HV: That is absolutely true. Thank you so much for getting up early and taking the time!
Adam: Thank you!