I left my dorm for a gig on June 18th to see a band I’ve loved for five years and I got home June 27th. I’m not even sure all of me has returned yet.
After I succumbed to boredom I checked the internet for gigs in Tokyo and to my surprise found that The Fall of Troy were on tour and playing the albums Doppleganger and Manipulator in their glorious entirety, before continuing on around the country.
I was present at Shibuya Garret for Manipulator night, an album I was less familiar with and I am quite glad I attended said night. Had I gone for Doppleganger I’d probably still be recovering now. For listening to such complicated music on record is one thing, but actually seeing the brutal technicalities executed with such sharp precision inches from your melting face is another.
Downing several drinks on the train ride, I wondered to what extent their popularity was here, since it was their first time to tour Japan, and my fears were shared amongst the band and promoters alike. David Isick of Deadfoxx promotions, without whom this tour would not have materialized,, stated “none of us were sure if this was ever going to work, we had a fear that nobody would show up, of the chance that this would be a total flop”
But this is The Fall of Troy. And what can happen must. And you must always expect the unexpected with this band.
I was introduced to TFOT by my ex who noted my extreme zeal for At The Drive-In, promptly placed Doppleganger in my hands and said“Here, you’ll like this”.He was fucking right.
Prior to the show, I was fortunate enough to snare a small interview with Andrew, who beats the drums senseless for Troy, and had always wanted to come here but never quite believed it possible until the moment the plane touched down. They had received a warm reception, albeit a few starry eyes too. “There’s always going to be a disconnect between who you really are and the person people perceive you to be through your art , but honestly we’re all just grateful for people who appreciate what we do.” Although an adventurous eater enjoying the local cuisine, he’s a now straight edge straight forward guy who told me he needs to relax when riding those double kicks into the ground, as he’s always striving to push himself to his edge. “We always wrote songs beyond what we could play but our technical ability has far surpassed our material in the ten years we’ve been playing together, so now I can sit back and enjoy the structure of them”. What hasn’t changed much is the dynamic between the trio; it’s still the same family values, and with that comes both annoyance and love.
Meanwhile, Thomas was smoking a cigarette nonchalantly, seemingly disinterested in his surroundings, but later on politely introduced himself. “Yeah I know who you are” I said. It didn’t take long for us to become friends, as we shared a common ground in literature, humour and the darkness of life. He’s known pain and so have I, and that’s the beauty of their highly energetic music, watching Thomas in particular shred his guitar with a ferocity that demands to be seen, it became apparent that we were witnessing a man exorcising some particularly gnarly demons. “Thats pain, that’s pure pain” he later explained.
There’s no denying that Thomas is a remarkable guitar player, of the calibre of Jimi Hendrix, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Roland S. Howard. But I would say this is a league entirely unto himself. “It’s all about the notes I choose to play, and the order in which I play them, and how I hold that guitar, that gives me my own sound”
And I agree. Rather than a whammy bar, Thomas bends his notes by controversially warping the neck of his guitar, forcing it to bend to his will, threatening it to break.
Troy recruited Drew Pelisek, formerly of Chon, for bass duties and holy shit did they strike gold with this one. Drew is the chilliest, friendliest dude you could ever meet, but when he gets on that stage he turns into an utter groove monster, with some of the wildest hair flips and hella powerful screams to accompany Thomas’s clean singing, shouting “DEAR GOD!!!” into the mic as if he were grabbing the attention of the heavens themselves.
Drew also plays for Pale Hush which you can find tracks on the accompanying playlist. I thoroughly recommend.
Shibuya after party ensued, and it became apparent that I might be useful in some way to this tour. Since none of them could speak much Japanese, I guess they thought it would be useful to bring me along for translation assistance. So. I did. You only live once right? And I’ve been on tour before, I’ve worked with musicians my whole life and I can also handle my drink, and I know I’m the only one with the ovaries to do it. So I decided to get my best life and, after class the following morning, took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to next stop of the tour Nara, and entered a world of hoodrats, endless Ace Ventura quotes and multiple in-jokes (the ey coach one still alludes me).
Of the tour, Nara was the quietest, which is an overstatement really, because those in attendance were really going for it and it was a nice change from relentless slam dancing to pure intimacy. Andrew beat the shit out of the drums and actually broke them, needing a brick to hold his snare down. “That’s how The Fall of Troy started man” explains Thomas “ We started out playing to nobody, handfuls of people, and we’d play our fucking hearts out so the people there would talk about what they just saw, go tell all their friends, and not forget about that show, so that the next time we came through to play, that same venue would be packed out for us”.
This is the leg where Hikes, also from the USA, joined the tour.
Hikes are a genuinely lovely bunch of lads from Austin, Texas, with a taste for R n’ B music but scoffing at the misogynistic lyrics within. I’d say they’re the definition of woke, with an androgynous and intriguing Nathan on vocals. Their melodies are so beautiful you could almost float away in a dreamless haze, drifting from moments of zen to exertions of power, with a particular favourite being “Tinker Creek”.
Friends Staghorn also joined parts of the tour, whose music can only be described as heavy, with an earthy, gritty realness to their spoken word samples layering the deafening blows and building flattening bass lines. In keeping with the vein of friendship the accompanying playlist not only contains a smashbox of the best TFOT choons, but also their musical influences, side projects, collaborations and friends. It’s a trip.
After playing a sold out show in Kyoto, it was onto Nagoya. The crowd were whipped into a circle pit frenzy, and Troy refused to end their set at curfew, playing a further three songs and an encore to the delight of the crowd.
This set included a fair amount of improvisation, with Drew and Andrew holding down the fort while Thomas went on a wild crescendo of notes screaming in slow motion; a melody impossible to keep up with, and I chuckled at the sight of people head banging to different time signatures, choosing to follow the bass for ease, because quite simply those drums don’t make sense. Troy live shouldn’t work, it’s just too complicated. And I was shocked when later informed that they had scarcely a handful of rehearsals prior to the tour, and I never saw them warming up. The music just resides within them. As Will of Hikes referred to Thomas as a “human jukebox” it’s difficult to understand how a mind can hold so much information.
His lexicon challenges my own. Sometimes when he talks I have to stop him and request a definition. With a penchant for alliteration and a love of pragmatics and the deliberate timing of the delivery of some of his lyrics, “leave your heart at the bedside” is a choice example of how vocal spacing can utterly alter the meaning and power behind such statements.
After a day off here and there, enjoying the movie Arrival (see it, see it now) or sightseeing, drinking in noise bars in Shinjuku and shopping in satanic stores, the final leg of the tour ended in Osaka.
If you are yet to visit Japan I strongly suggest Osaka over Tokyo. I’ve talked before about the monstrosities of being a Tokyo inhabitant (it will destroy you), while Osaka is the antithesis of Tokyo. Everyone is way more laid back, almost lackadaisical, with a lot less staring, and way less conservative dress, it was more common to see people covered in tattoos and men with long hair so, although Thomas and I stood out , it was in a good way, not in a “nail must be hammered down” judgmental way.
Though I had partaken in hoodratting* in several of the previous shows, Osaka went in deep and hard, all the way. The AC was broken but there was not a fuck in sight, and all the bands played hard and for their life, through the sweat and the spit, with the crowd moshing, venue owners crowd surfing, and my ass being thoroughly handed to me. According to Thomas this is a sign of “a real Fall of Troy gig when girls are getting knocked over”. Thanks to the Hikes lads for dragging me to my feet again. As is tradition, Troy ended their set with the almighty F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X, ripping into that infamous opening line the entire room exploded, exerting every last particle of energy left. Looking exhausted but smiling Andrew shouted “Fuck it, let’s do it!” And the going full ham ensued.
*A hoodrat or hoodratting, is getting crunk, rowdy and messy, be that throwing down edamame beans, jagerbombs and one too many screwdrivers at an after party, resulting in bruised backs, lipstick smears across cheeks a la Rufio from Hook, and cigarettes burns adorning thighs. Or it could be causing mayhem at 1pm in a Starbucks, or tricking bartenders into believing you’re having a fight when really you’re both just passionate, scaring newlyweds in Golden Gai, or 4am in a train station, waiting for the ticket barrier to open, sprawled on the floor with your guitar and your mini suitcase , wearing pyjama trousers or two day old makeup, looking like utter failures believing in their parents who said they could be anything…
The Osaka after party turned into a two hour improvised jam at the raddest little cafe in the American Quarter, with everyone singing different songs simultaneously from Oasis, Weezer, The Supremes and a little bit of Björk from yours truly, with Thomas on acoustic guitar, and Chris, Will and Nathen of Hikes providing perfect percussion. Even a few of the locals joined in! An unforgettable evening.
I’m honoured to call myself a friend of Thomas, as I got a real insight into the mind behind the music and the obscurities influencing him, from the occult to Outcast, on how he likes to manipulate female vocals on the right tracks at the right time, and the unpleasant things scattered throughout his childhood and teenage years, spilling over into adulthood, which resulted in some serious self sabotage. “I’ve taken myself to the limits of my career, both the high end and the very depths through my vices, and that’s been so difficult to digest”
For anyone whose familiar with this band it needs not be stated, and when you care about a person you choose to censor yourself in favour of a good bit of writing, but it’s worth noting that this man has seen and lived a thousand lives, living on the road since his mid teens, which is something I instantly connected with, having lived life at full throttle from the moment of conception also.
Truthfully, I’ve never seen someone go from being so broken, deflated and emotionally scarred, to becoming so whole and at peace, so utterly himself the moment that guitar is placed in his hands as he walks out on stage, how expertly he contorts his energy into that moment, from his motown roots clearly expressed in his jittery onstage antics, to his perverted punk attitude, catching his own spit in his mouth dangling from the roof of the venue, or licking other people’s spit gliding down his fingers.
Ultimately The Fall of Troy completed a successful debut tour in Japan, creating a family on the road, connections and unforgettable memories which will endure in the hearts of all those involved. I watched, jaw on the floor, as one fully grown ass man broke down in tears upon meeting Thomas. “You’re my fucking hero man, I’ve listened to manipulator every day for ten years” he said through his tears, before stepping outside for some air. “And I believe him” said Thomas.
The Fall of Troy transcends post hardcore, and becomes what it always started out as; three close friends making incredibly emotive and passionate music that brings joy, excitement and catharsis to their avid and devout listeners.
Ok is the latest album by The Fall of Troy out now.
Roles I can now add to my CV:
- Carrier of guitar
- Endless supplier of cigarettes, alcohol and obscure movie quotes
- Getter upper at stupid o’clock
- Airport negotiator: ”I don’t care if check in is closed! You WILL put this man on that plane!”
Thank you Andrew, Drew and Thomas , for trusting me inside your inner circle and allowing me to invade your sacred chill space. Your uncommon kindness will stay with me. And to all the Scotties you know who you are.
Tread lightly where broken things are,
Lauren Marie xxx