Famous Firsts: Crossfaith's Ken on loving Aerosmith and playing with crap bands

(Image credit: Getty)

Koie Kenta – known to his mates as Ken – is the frontman for Japanese electronicore madmen Crossfaith. After bonding over a mutual love of nu-metal with his fellow classmates Kazuki Takemura (guitar) and Terufumi Tamano (programming), the trio first formed in their hometown of Osaka in 2006. Since then, the line-up has evolved to include bassist Hiroki Ikegawa and drummer Tatsuya Amano, and the quintet have gone on to conquer club, arena and festival stages all over the world. Here’s how it all started for Ken…

What was the first album you ever bought?

“Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits was the first record I bought. I’d heard one of their songs in a movie and I thought they were good right away. From Aerosmith I got into Limp Bizkit and Slipknot and stuff like that, and I got more of an impact from those bands because Aerosmith was more like country music to me, but whenever I listen to the band today I feel like I’m home. They’re a very nostalgic band for me. I saw them live about three years ago in Japan and I woke up the next day with a giant hangover. They were amazing.”

What was the first single you ever bought?

“The first single I bought would’ve been N.E.R.D.’s Rockstar. I love that band. Before I bought the single I watched them play at Summer Sonic, which is a big Japanese festival, and they played a great gig. So after the festival I went to the record store and found Rockstar, which also had a bunch of remixes on it – I think one of them was a commercially successful song for the iPod campaign. Pharrell Williams is a genius. He’s also really famous in Japan because of his fashion brand.”

What was the first gig you ever went to?

“My first gig was Summer Sonic Festival in 2004. It was a two-day festival, and it was the first time I saw Green Day live. I didn’t really know much about the band before seeing them, but their show was so amazing that it made me cry. That was when I decided that one day my dream was to play on the main stage at Summer Sonic and two years ago that dream came true.”

What was the first gig you ever played?

“The first Crossfaith gig is kind of complex because before we became Crossfaith we were called Death Of A Dragon, and that band played a tiny club show in our hometown of Osaka. Our drummer Tatsuya [Amano] had a different band back then and their sound sucked; they sounded like the metal band from School Of Rock. They hung toilet paper from the ceiling as their backdrop, too. They sucked so bad. There were so many bad bands on the bill that day, though. After the show we all went to an after-party together and sung heavy metal karaoke. And from that night Crossfaith was formed.”

How was the first Crossfaith tour?

“We only had one driver for our first tour; DJ Teru [Tamano Terufumi]. He was the only one who was able to drive. So while the rest of us were happy travelling around drinking and having fun he was having a nightmare of a time. We all slept in the van, too. But it was such an amazing experience to tour for the first time outside of our hometown. We met so many great people. At the first show we played alongside a brutal death metal band and it was so funny; they had two singers who inhaled whilst they screamed. As soon as the tour finished I remember wanting to go straight back out on another one. I loved touring from the start.”

Crossfaith’s new EP New Age Warriors is out now.

The 10 best Limp Bizkit songs, by Crossfaith's Kenta Koie

Crossfaith: The story behind their new album

Skindred Vs. Crossfaith: Road Ragers

Matt Stocks

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.