envy played only one show after the worldwide release of their critically acclaimed album The Fallen Crimson in February 2020, and before COVID-19 made the world of live music come to an indefinite halt: a crazy, sweaty, sold-out hometown show at Liquidroom, a venue that has become sort of an extended living room for the Tokyo band. It’s hard not to become melancholic listening to this audio snapshot of a glorious evening, and remembering the sheer raw energy oozing from this band on stage the sight to behold that is envy live.
„We were lucky that we were able to play this one gig before all live shows were canceled due to the COVID-19 situation“, says vocalist Testu Fukagawa. „The performance itself is a bit rough and we could probably have performed better, but we wanted to send our fresh feelings to our fans by means of this performance, while they can’t see envy live.“
envy is an institution that is looking back at 25 years of band history. It’s hard to fathom what 25 years of being a band really means: if musicians keep playing together under the umbrella of the same band for that long, then their belief in their craft and the importance of their artistic expression must be stronger than individual egos, personal developments, members coming and going, and the odds of living off of music vs. carreer job and family reality. If a band can look back at 25 years of existence, it means that they are invincible.
When envy started out in 1995, the hardcore scene that they were born from was different from what it is today; people were buying 7“ records at shows and retrieving their information from fanzines; social media was not even in its infancy yet. Touring outside of Japan was a challenge for Japanese bands. „At that time, we were exhausted physically and mentally, but now I think it was a good experience that I couldn’t buy with money, and it has become a laughing story. At that time, we went on a journey believing in letters and faxes from people who we have never met before“, says Tetsu, envy‘s charismatic vocalist.
Throughout their storied carreer, envy have played iconic festivals like All Tomorrow’s Party and Fuji Rock Festival, have toured or shared the stage with bands like MOGWAI, EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, ISIS, CONVERGE or DEAFHEAVEN and released split albums with bands like THURSDAY, JESU or THIS MACHINE KILLS. Envy have forged an idiosyncratic sound of driven intensity, where brutality and beauty seemlessly coexist and compliment rather than contradict one another. A sound that is built equally on the pillars of hardcore on one hand and post-rock on the other, so the term post-hardcore makes sense to some degree… but it wasn’t until years later that the term first popped up.
After a stagnation period, original members left the band at the end of 2015. But once vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa came back 2 years later, the band was revived and invigorated with 3 new members, inaugurating the „Envy 2.0“ era. „A new wind is blowing within us“, says Tetsu, „the band is in good condition. We really wanted to get the initial impulse out of the 6 of us. We dodn’t care about what genre of music we were writing or if it was going to sell well, we just did what we felt was right“. The lucky crowd at HELLFEST 2019 could witness how right this is: Envy annihilated the crowd and every other band who played that festival, and left nothing but smoke and debris.
envy are currently working on a new release, and a European tour has been booked for 2021 but won’t be announced until the live situation clears up.