We talk Tour, Curses and Street Fighter 2 with Ben Cooper aka Radical Face
We recently caught up with Ben Cooper aka Radical Face to have a quick chat ahead of his Japan tour this weekend, taking in Nagoya, Kyoto, Gunma and NiigataÂ supported by a host of artists along the way includingÂ miaou and tomharuÂ before playing the final show of the tour in Shibuya at the O-Nest on March 24th.
1. This isn’t your first time in Japan - how do you think shows here areÂ different compared to in the USA?
They’re very different. For one, the crowds are a lot more polite in Japan. InÂ America it can be difficult to get anyone’s attention, especially if you haveÂ material that’s slow or quiet. There are exceptions, but that’s often been the case in the past. I didn’t have that issue at all in Japan. It seemed like peopleÂ really came to listen. It was surprising. I also have to commend you on the quality of sound in your clubs. I didn’t have one night where it was difficult to hear onÂ stage last time I toured there, which was really cool.
2. Before arriving in Japan you had been playing shows all over Europe - canÂ you share some of your highlights of the trip with us?
It went well. The tour almost completely sold out, which I really wasn’t expecting,Â and it seemed like people had fun. But my âcurseâ was in full effect, my curseÂ being: whenever I tour, bad things happen. Not so much with the shows, but with everything else.Â This time, I injured my lower back during my weight lifting just before leaving,Â and had a limp the entire time and played all the shows seated. It was also theÂ coldest Winter Europe had seen in a while, which made driving tough, and everyone got sick halfway through. And then our tour manager woke up one night unable to breathe and had to be rushed to the hospital where he received throat surgery. WeÂ had to finish the tour without him, just managing everything as best we could. He’sÂ still recovering. Two people from the band we were touring with got arrested one night. The list goes on. Hahaha.
So it was very eventful! But I still had fun. It was just a lot of stress. My curse was in rare form for that trip.
3.Â What are you looking forward to the most during your stay here?
I really love Japan. It’s my favorite place I’ve ever toured. So I’m lookingÂ forward to the entire trip. But two things I really enjoy are 1) eating, as there’s lot of new and interesting foods to try, and a lot of great restaurants 2) the arcades. I’ve played fighting games like Street Fighter for about 22 years now, and I still play them regularly and go to tournaments here in the US. It’s an old hobby I never dropped. You guysÂ still have functioning arcades, where most of ours are gone. So I plan to spend aÂ lot of time in them playing fighting games.
4. Do you have any favourite Japanese bands?
Sure. Off the top of my head I really like: Bordeoms, Mono, Shugo Tokumaru, Boris,Â Radical Fashion, Melt Banana. And I like a lot of the modern composers like NobuoÂ Uematsu and I’m also a big fan of random things like the soundtrack to the animated show Escaflowne by Yoko Kanno.
5. The new album is the first of a three part series.Â What do you haveÂ planned for the next releases?
The records all follow a family through multiple generations. The first albumÂ was the furthest back in time, and therefore the simplest and used the least instruments. I will be getting more modern with the production on each album. On record two, which I’m currently recording, I will be using full drum sets andÂ electric guitars again, and the third album will sound the most modern of the bunch. I also have a series of free EPs that I’m weaving between the albums, called âThe Bastardsâ. So there’s a lot of material for this. I’ve been working on it since the start of 2007.
6. You collaborated with Miaou on a song on their new album - how did you goÂ about working on that?
They contacted me and asked if I was interested in singing on a piece they wereÂ working on. They sent me the music and I liked the track, so I said âSure.â I recorded my vocals in my shed here in Florida, and they liked what I did, so it made it on the final record. It all went really smoothly.
7. When you start writing on a song does it always begin as a song for aÂ specific project? For example, would you start on a song with it beingÂ targeted for Iron Orchestra from the outset?
Usually I write for the specific project, especially when it’s a collaboration. ButÂ sometimes songs just kind of show up our of nowhere and I have to watch and see howÂ they’re evolving before I can decide what their home will be.
8. What will you be working on when you get back to the states?
I will be finishing the next album in the Family Tree set, working on two musicÂ videos, finishing up a movie I have been filming with friends for a year and a half now, and releasing Clone. So it will be a very busy year, but it’s all work I enjoy a lot. I’m looking forward to really diving in after this last little tour.
9. Can you recommend and new artists for us?
Some I have come across recently and enjoyed are: Son Lux, Rachel Grimes, Baths,Â and Jonsi.
10. Finally, do you have any words for your fans in Japan?
If you’re still reading, thanks for making it this far. Hahaha. And hopefully I’llÂ see some of you when Iâm visiting. Feel free to come say hello. I like to meet newÂ people.
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Radical Face kicks off his Japanese tour in Nigata tomorrow night, for ticketing and tour infoÂ click here!!
Check out Radical Face online here.
Thanks to Tim!