Thursday, May 10, 2012

[Interview] The Black Line Fever [2012]

If you're unfamiliar with The Black Line Fever, check out my other posts (demo & self-titled) where I've talked extensively about how amazing this band was. I caught up with Jordan and we did a quite long chat interview, talking about the band and other things. It was super fun to do this, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!

Ryan: Go ahead and give me a history of the band, as detailed as you like.
Jordan: OK well soon after moving to Tokyo in around 2002 I think I bought a guitar with the plan of starting a band, wrote a bunch of songs in a week. 
Met up with Paul Ford the bass player through an ad in a foreign magazine in Japan. Advertisement quoted bands like Uranus and One-Eyed God Prophecy, so my eyes lit up...
So from there we met up, got on like a house on fire, started hitting studios writing and structuring songs etc, and started looking for drummers...
I kid you not, we tried out about 8 guys, foreign and Japanese, met some pretty funny characters along the way. But when we met Tim we knew straight away he was the dude. He was kind of cocky, he said something along the lines of being able to blow all the guys out of the water...And he did, first practice he nailed everything 20x times better and harder than we had ever imagined.
OK so at that point we had a band, but no vocalist. So we started looking around, and we tried a bunch of dudes. But we met this crazy kid Yasu (RIP) at a Converge concert. He was running around acting all crazy and genuinely had an amazing spark about him. So we got him in, and he started, first jam he was soooo loud his screams were amazing. We all knew we had found the guy.
At around that point the songs were taking form and we were getting ready to play live I guess. Along the way a guy called Ben from Australia who I met at a show joined as the second guitarist to carry the riffs through. As well as that he was also doing vox as a shouty singy type thing which balanced out the crazy screams from Yasu. 
So we were ready to play, but had no idea on how to get a show. At one practice in meguro mod studio where we used to jam, by pure chance in the studio next to us was a bunch of bands playing a small shows, Yuichi's band gauge means nothing, and a band called Nervous Light of Sunday. They heard what we were doing from outside the room , and stepped in for a listen. We hit it off then and started talking about live shows. Paul managed to drum up our first show on a very random show in Roppongi, with a bunch of J-pop bands, which was really weird. We got Nervous Light of Sunday to join the bill and we played. Most of the audience was our friends and stuff. It was a great show.
From that show we started playing more with the Japanese hardcore scene. We recorded the first demo. Things were going swell. Then Ben had to leave the band as he was heading back to Australia. Around the same time we played a show with a metal band called cohol, who blew us away. We spoke with Itaru the guitarist after the show and he quickly joined the band. And that lifted the sound immensely.
Things were rolling along pretty swell, but we were having some difficulties with Yasu the vocalist at the time. He was skipping jams, taking heaps of drugs and partying a lot. Which of course I didn't really care about but we found his form slipping a lot.
Paul and I were getting a bit frustrated. We spoke with him a few times about it but nothing really changed, so we started talking to other guys. Around that time we played a show with a band called cleaner, and that was the first time I met Yoshi (killie) who was singing in cleaner at the time. He put on this amazing performance, very emotive, quite powerful and driven. And we hit it off straight away. And he became the vocalist of choice, so that's what happened.
As soon as Yoshi joined the band, he started taking control of booking the shows, networking with other bands etc. He brought a lot to the band, besides the vocals but the networks and connections helped us play bigger shows and get a stronger following.
Soon it was time record again, and we did a tour with cohol to Kansai, which to this day was the funniest trip I have ever been on with a bunch of guys, drunken haze of hardcore of metal. Hilarious the whole time
After the tour we played out in Tokyo, then I moved to Shanghai for a year or so, the band split. I returned then we played a few shows but it was never the same...Yoshi went on to Killie, Itaru was following through with cohol. the band was done.. end hahaha...

Ryan: There's a video on YouTube, not sure the year, that says it was your last show. Was that before or after your trip to Shanghai?
Jordan: Yeah, we split when I went to Shanghai, but we only played two shows when I returned. I think video wasn't the last show. There is some footage I have been meaning to upload.
Ryan: Whoa, I would really love to see that!
Jordan: Yeah I will get on it.
Ryan: It's kind of funny, because the vid on YouTube is completely absent of you. I think you were in the right corner, and the dude never pans over.
Jordan: Yeah, I am like a shadow, haha. That was filmed by the dude from raein, I think...when we toured with them in Tokyo.

Ryan: What happened to Yasu?
Jordan: Yasu passed away in a brutal accident in his house in Ibaraki.
We stayed friends after he wasn't in the band. He was a wild guy, he was kind of dark and played with drugs a fair bit. When I got to Tokyo after Shanghai, and BLF was dead, Paul, Tim, Yasu and I started playing together again. But he was always late and stuff, and it wasn't really working. He got caught by the cops for possession of something and was put in jail for about 3-4 months.
When he got out, he was messing around in Ibaraki one night, found some huge PA speaker on the street, took it back to his parents house. Started playing all this keyboard stuff through them, fell asleep with them still connected to the power. Something short circuited and a fire started, and his room on the second floor caught a light and he was burned to death...
I remember the day it happened. My girlfriend at the time called me at work and told me what she had seen on the news...
Ryan: Man, that's really sad. I'm sorry to hear that.
Jordan: Yeah it was really sad stuff. We were all shook up for a long time. I really loved that guy, he was I guess the first Japanese guy I became friends with. He was a wild guy, and if you talk to anyone about him they will say the same thing. It was like he didn't belong in the skin he held. He was a bit like an alien on earth. I don't mean that in a weird away, he was wired in a different way, though.
We all went to the funeral, and met his family and were shown where he died. 
My girlfriend at the time was a little bit superstitious, I guess, kind of like a gift she had. Not sure if I believe in that kind of stuff. but I remember when we left the house after seeing where he passed away. She said something to me, like he didn't die but the house took him??? Kind of weird, right? But then about a year ago, his father passed away in the house as well. I don't know if that means anything, just strange if you think deep into those type of things. 
So the band had some scars and still does.

Ryan: Were you playing in any bands in Australia before you came over to Japan?
Jordan: Yeah, I had been playing in bands really hard out for about 3 years before I moved to Japan. 1984, Homini Rei, St. Albans Kids, and very short member of Love Like... Electrocution before moving to Japan.
Ryan: Whoa, didn't know you were in St. Albans Kids, too!
Jordan: Yeah, I was the drummer. Pretty shit at it though, haha. Eventually they got a decent guy.
Ryan: Hahaha... You're a jack of all trades, I guess.
Jordan: I dabble, haha.

Ryan: How did you guys decide on the band name?
Jordan: Paul and I were drunk, listening to Motorhead. Know that song "White Line Fever"? Yeah, we were "Black Line Fever." Something like that.
Ryan: Haha... That's it?
Jordan: Yeah, haha.
Ryan: Nice.

Ryan: When you started the band, was there sort of a culture shock since you were used to doing bands in Australia?
Jordan: Yeah for sure. The way shows were put on, the way the crowd reacted to the bands. Even rehearsing, it was all different. Having to book a studio and not rehearse in the garage like back home.
I think the crowd reaction to bands was kind of the biggest culture shock. In Australia, like the States as well, there is a lot of heckling, crowd involvement, that kind of thing. But in Japan the crowd is a lot less loose and more reserved. I guess when we started we thought nobody liked us, because everyone just stood there chin stroking.
Ryan: Were there ever any problems with the language barrier in the band or during shows?
Jordan: Not really, Paul always spoke Japanese. I didn't speak much when I started, so Paul carried the torch there. 

Ryan: What kind of a reception did you get with the band? Do people ever mention it to you these days?
Jordan: At the time I think, people were into. It never really showed that much at the shows initially. As we got momentum, dudes were singing along and stuff. And last shows were amazing. Even now, people still refer to me as Jordan (ex black line fever) which is a bit random. But I have heard from Yoshi and Itaru, that people are kind of more into us now than when we were playing??
There is talk about a reunion show maybe later this year.
Ryan: Whoa, that sounds pretty awesome. I guess you guys were just ahead of your time.
Jordan: Maybe. I never really thought about what we were doing as like that, but I think a lot Japanese kids had never really seen any band like us before.
Ryan: I would say that there weren't any other bands like you guys. Your sound was pretty unique. Not Japanese, but not Australian or American either.
Jordan: Yeah I guess. At the time I was pretty inspired by a lot of bands like JR Ewing etc. Paul and Itaru were the metal dudes and they were pushing that kind of sound. So it kind of all meshed together.

Ryan: Do you remember how many copies of the demo and album you made?
Jordan: The 1st as in the one on your blog. Maybe about 50 copies. I screen printed all of those puppies. Took me for-fucking-ever, stunk out my apartment with paint fumes and glue Pretty pissed off housemates, haha.
The 2nd one. A few hundred, I forget. Yoshi was taking care of that one.
Ryan: Did you do the art for the second one too?
Jordan: Yeah, I put all that stuff together.
Ryan: Cool. For the second release, did you guys want to do a CD-R as opposed to another format like a pressed CD? Or was it just because it was cheaper/easier?
Jordan: Fully cheaper and easier. In retrospect we should have got real CD's, but in the end that record was a bit of a shambles. We spent a fair bit on the recording in studio with this guy, who kind of fucked it up. We got everything down, but ran out of time for mixing. So we took the data and got a friend to mix it. Not too happy with how it turned out, the first album was way better. We had complete control over the mixing. 

Ryan: What was the purpose or message of the band?
Jordan: Sheesh... Not sure really. I guess for me it was kind of an experiment. I wanted to play and write  music in another country. I think for other people, perhaps the singers, it was about more individual stuff. The feeling we had as a group tho was always kind of like a team of friends, us vs the world, that kind of thing.

Ryan: Where is everybody now? I would assume still in Japan because of the reunion, but what are they doing?
Jordan: Paul recently moved back to Japan, and we have started playing together with the original drummer of cohol in a band called funeral sutra..Tim the drummer moved back to Canada a few years ago, he is working as a video sound guy. Yoshi and Itaru are both in Tokyo, see them every few weeks, have a laugh and a beer, that kind of thing.
Ryan: So, was Tim going to come back for the reunion? Or would you use a different drummer?
Jordan: Probably a different guy.
Ryan: Ah, that's too bad. His drumming was so great.
Jordan: The best guy I have ever played with. So dynamic..

Ryan: So, that's all the questions I had. Do you want to talk a bit about Redskins or Funeral Sutra?
Jordan: Yeah I can give you a brief run down.
Redskins as I mentioned before has a singer now, we are putting together new material for shows and recording. Pretty special band for me; friends who formed the band after the earthquake, I guess, as we were all scared all the music began. Funeral Sutra is a way more black metal thing. I love it, writing a lot of music like that at the moment. Really clicks, we write so fast as we all have pretty heavy schedules. But I am loving both bands. I am playing another band as well, on drums, a band called Glue Bag, which is kind of sludgy angry Australian-style rock stuff..

Ryan: Any last words for all those black line fever fans?!
Jordan: Thanks for enjoying the music I guess. We will keep you all posted if we reunite for shows later in the year. Thanks Ryan


  1. man this is a pretty awesome interview. It's pretty cool that Jordan played in St. Alban's Kids too, that band was fucking furious.

    I'm also into that Redskins EP, is there anything for Funeral Sutra yet?

  2. This band means is so much to me, like gauge means nothing. Long time. This is real example of unity! Example that died, and cannot be repeated again. Weak scene is today, and gorgeous diy unity in the past!