INTERVIEW: Envy talk about Hong Kong ahead of Asia tour by David C. Bates


‘Overflowing with sound’ – Envy talk about Hong Kong ahead of Asia tour
By David C. Bates
Japanese hardcore/post-rock band Envy talk about their new album “Atheist’s Cornea” and their upcoming gig in Hong Kong.

It’s odd thinking that it’s been ten years since I first listened to Japanese hardcore/post-rock band Envy.

As a brooding teenager, sometime in 2005, I was browsing through records at The Wall on a random trip to Taipei, where I grabbed a copy of A Dead Sinking Story (2003) on a whim. With those creeping opening guitar lines, I was immediately drawn into the album. Its lyrics are cryptic poems, vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa belts out manic Japanese, each song is packed with shimmering guitar leads carefully layered over thick sheets of distortion and the entire thing is structured as an hour-long aural adventure that ebbs and flows through the darkness.

Even now, “A Dead Sinking Story” remains a definitive example of the moving power of heavy music, especially if wounded introspection is your thing. In fact, all of the band’s records are a milestones in an intense and unmistakable, emotion-inducing career. As their name says, Envy is a powerful emotive force.

Here we are now, more than ten years on, and the band has just released their sixth full-length album, Atheist’s Cornea (2015). To me, it presents a wiser, more refined version of Envy who have intentionally directed nods at their older musical selves.

“Some people have said our music is changing,” says Tetsuya in an email correspondence, “but we’re just able to do more on the technical side of things. Things haven’t really changed since the band was formed.” As for the songwriting, he says, “our guitarist creates the basics of all the songs, and we complete them together. With this album, we tried to create shorter songs. We even have songs written that we didn’t get to use.”

With a name like “Atheist’s Cornea” there’s some obvious connotations being drawn upon. The title seems to hint at a kind of jadedness, of viewing the world in a certain skeptical way, and noting some sort of spiritual absence. “If you see what’s happening in the world, you’ll probably be able to understand,” he wrote. “The artwork, lyrics and music show it, so a specific explanation isn’t necessary. I’d be happy if you could feel it.”

Tetsu’s interview, translated from Japanese, carries the same weightiness and mystery as his lyrics do. “Every song we write has a theme and meaning,” he says. “But the lyrics are my own personal view of the world.” He’s careful to avoid unwanted associations, and even adds that he’s personally not that interested in drawing inspiration from other musicians or writers.

Just last month, Envy wrapped up a tour to the United States. “The audience reaction was really warm – same as every country we go to,” he said. “Our tour mates, Deafheaven and La Dispute, are all great people.” As for now, the band is gearing up for its upcoming tour to China and Taiwan later this month.


Here in Hong Kong, Envy plays Hidden Agenda in Kwun Tong on December 15. Supporting bands are local rockers Life Was All Silence and Dandelion Mound.


For more details, check out Ticketflap’s page:

 When asked about Hong Kong and its music scene, Testu says, “My impression is that it’s a vibrant town overflowing with different sounds.”  After Hong Kong, the band is heading to Guangzhou and then to Taipei and Kaohsiung for shows with Japanese instrumentalists toe — both of which are sure to be life-changing shows.


Envy first performed in Hong Kong in 2000 with Hong Kong hardcore band King Ly Chee. 


Envy with King Ly Chee after Envy’s first show in Hong Kong in 2000. 

“After the tour, we’ll head back to Japan to spend time with our families.” He also hinted that the band is working on several projects at the moment ahead of their 25th anniversary.

 “We’ve done our best to prepare for a good live show in Hong Kong,” Testu adds. “Please look forward to it.”

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