After electrifying the Fanime's 2017 Music Fest, we at JpopRocks.com had a chance to catch up with America's very own Japanese rock band... Phoenix Ash!
JPR.com: What was it like performing at Fanime 2017?
Sean: It was wild, and so much fun. Since we’re from the area, it was really meaningful for us to be able to play for our hometown, rather than halfway across the country, or the world. Everyone at Fanime were super friendly and helpful. They’re just awesome people to work with, and the con is definitely one of our favorites.
JPR.com: Do you have any personal messages to JpopRocks fans?
Aaron: We really want to thank the fans. We love when you guys are having a good time and enjoying the music or our show! It truly is why we do what we do. If you see us walking around, come over and say hi! If our music has touched you in any way, let us know! We always love hearing from you guys; it really makes what we do all the more special.
JPR.com: What’s it like being an American based band playing in Japan?
Law: There is definitely a cultural barrier, and there was a steep learning curve for us. The whole industry is very different there, so we had a lot to figure out and also a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn directly from some of the bands that we grew up listening to. It was tough at first, but we grew so much over those first few tours and it really is what made us who we are today. Oh, and it is so much fun! Japan is such an awesome place to perform.
JPR.com: What are some of your biggest influences?
Law: So funny enough, all of us in the band are huge fans of a Japanese rock band called Siam Shade. It’s actually what brought us together as a band. But beyond that, we’re big fans of Japanese music in general, as well as European and American metal.
JPR.com: We are looking forward to hearing your new album Versus. Is there anything you would like to tell fans about what we can expect from the album?
Sean: VERSUS is going to be our second Japanese release. We can’t say a whole lot about it just yet, except to say that we are just so proud of this album. It’s upbeat, energetic, aggressive, and melodic. We think it really embodies the essence of everything fans have come to expect from Phoenix Ash. The release hasn’t been announced yet.
JPR.com: Can you describe your songwriting/recording process?
Cameron: We all write the songs together! It’s pretty crazy sounding compared to a lot of other bands, but we each believe that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and all that. It usually starts with someone writing out a riff or basic idea, and then we all review, chime in, and refine it until we’re all happy with it. Phoenix Ash music really is the expression of each member.
JPR.com: Has anything crazy ever happened on tour? How do you handle mistakes during a show?
Sean: Oh wow, where do I begin! So many crazy things happen on tour. One of our favorite stories is from one of our shows with our label mates Daizy Stripper and Fest Vainqueur at Shinjuku BLAZE. It’s a totally packed house, and even streaming on nico nico (the Japanese YouTube) with like 20,000 viewers. As we hit the first chorus in our first song, Law jumps and lands weird, such that he falls on his back. So he’s laying there, trying not to show that he’s in pain, playing the song and really trying to play it off like he did it on purpose. The best part is it worked! Everyone we talked to about it thought it was some cool new stage move.
JPR.com: What’s the most challenging part of being a musician?
Cameron: It’s hard to put your finger on just one. It’s really different from other jobs. We have to spend tons and tons of hours, both practicing our instruments on our own, and writing songs, and then working on performing those songs together, all culminating in 30 to 60 minute performances. There’s a whole lot of preparation and time investment that’s usually fairly invisible to the fans. Oh, and there’s a ton of waiting around. On show days it’s not uncommon for us and the other bands to just sit around for a good chunk of the day, waiting for the performance.
JPR.com: If you could have any band cover one of your songs what band would you choose?
Aaron: We could probably be here all day with that one! For me, it’s pretty easy. I would love to hear Siam Shade cover VOICES. That’s my personal favorite song of ours, and to hear my favorite band cover it would be beyond a dream come true.
JPR.com: I've read that some of you enjoy watching anime and playing video games. What are you playing and watching right now?
Aaron: That’s true! We all watch anime, though Sean is the biggest otaku in the group. Right now I’m actually catching up on some stuff I missed a couple years back, so I’m finishing up Death Parade and Overlord. And yeah, we game. From time to time we play MMOs together. I just finished playing Breath of the Wild and wish I could play it again, it was so amazing.