INTERVIEW: Survive Said The Prophet at Fanime 2024

(From Left to Right) Tatsuya Kato, Show, Yosh Morita, and Ivan Kwong. Image Courtesy of Survive Said The Prophet

Survive Said The Prophet is a Japanese rock band best known by fans for the opening songs performances in the first two seasons for Vinland SagaMukanjyo, and Paradox — a title that took home Anime of the Year at the 2020 Anime Trending Awards.

During Fanimecon, Anime Trending had the opportunity to speak with vocalist Yosh Morita, guitarists Ivan Kwong and Tatsuya Kato, and drummer Show, where we discussed the band’s origin, how the themes behind Vinland Saga aligned with the the name “Survive Said The Prophet,” and their plans going into the future.

Survive Said The Prophet has an upcoming American tour starting July 3rd, 2024.


Welcome back to the United States! You were here last November for Anime NYC and you’re going to be on your U.S. tour this summer. What has your impression been of the U.S. so far?

Yosh: I’ve grown up coming to the States, so it’s been an update here and there, but one of the coolest things I’ve seen is America’s become so accepting of anime and Japan’s cultural experience you wouldn’t have ever dreamed of 10, 20 years ago, seeing as popular as it is now, and I know Corona had a lot to do with it. That was around the time when a lot of our content was coming out, so it was a weird transition, but to answer your question, being in America has always been great for me.

Ivan: Yeah, it’s been great! People speak freely to each other, it’s like a more friendly environment compared to Japan, and I think it kind of makes me want to speak more and it’s great, it’s inspiring!

Show: In Japan, you get more stiff, you know, polite, and you gotta be respectful. There are a lot of concerns, but here you can be a little more open and flexible so I feel like you can loosen up here.

Tatsuya: How you express love is more direct, more straight out here!

Can you please tell us a little bit how the band was formed, and how you got the band name Survive Said The Prophet? 

Yosh: Yeah, it’s been a while. It’s always cool to reflect. I feel like if we were to meet the all-knowing prophet, the wisdom that he would give us, especially for the ones who are trying to look for the answer instead of giving us a straight answer, they would tell us to “survive.” And I wanted that to be the concept of the band where whatever life throws at us, don’t forget to survive and live on to tomorrow and make tomorrow a little better than yesterday, and I think that policy has been good for us. 

When I first started the band, I was transitioning from a previous band that I had formed, but the goals were a little too different. My musical intentions when writing have always not only been for Japan but also for America. So once I made that transition, I started looking for people who were thinking globally, and I think that’s where I met all these guys. Some of them joined later on, some of them joined from the beginning, but we met each other. 

[Ivan and I] used to work with each other at American Apparel. We didn’t know we were both musicians until we randomly bumped into each other at a gig and we were like, “What are you doing here?” And the next day I’m like, “Hey yo, join my band.” And then he joined the band actually.

But for the rest of them, I think they came in afterwards while we were touring and stuff. We didn’t have a set drummer then, so we had a few drummers that toured with us, and then we felt the most comfortable with Show. But he had a different band that he was going to put his priorities on, and then the more tours he came with us, the more he felt like he was one of us. I forget which tour, but we got together in the van, and he just randomly said, “I’m joining.”

It was a very natural course of action when it came to all of us coming together, and we used to tour with Tatsuya’s previous band, Fake Face. He’s originally from Sendai. That’s where the tsunami happened and it’s a few hours away from Tokyo. Right when we heard a glimpse of his band dispersing, we informed Tatsuya right away that our guitarist was leaving and it took a little bit of back and forth – he was wondering whether to not to commit his life to music again – and then he saw us and he was like, “You know what? I’m going to try this one more time.” And then we all came together. 

So we all formed through a mutual understanding that it’s not easy to be in a band, but we do want to do this as a living, thus “Survive Said The Prophet.”

When watching Vinland Saga, the band’s themes vs. the character journey for Thorfinn almost blended so perfectly. It is hard to believe the band wasn’t formed for Vinland Saga itself!

Yosh: I agree! (laughs) It was really cool, especially with Vinland Saga because we were getting comfortable with doing anime. So instead of focusing too much on the anime itself, we wanted to incorporate ourselves in there. So instead of being like, “All right, this is what Thorfinn thinks, and this is what he’s going through,” it’s more like “This is what I’m going through.” And there’s this line like if you make the words a little vague, the reality that we face today versus what Thorfinn’s facing in the series is, I think relatable, and that’s why I think it’s doing well in America. But yeah, it was very much my perspective to put it in there. They were like, “Ooh, it fits him perfectly. How did that happen?!” So yeah, it was really cool!

What were your biggest influences for your music? 

Ivan: For me, it’s like Slipknot, or Limp Bizkit, more like early 2000’s kind of new metal kind of scene that I kind of started off and then going into like emo stuff – Muse and My Chemical Romance.

Yosh: We [picked out the obvious ones] that influenced a lot of people, but we were focused on the scene or the movement. We would study the bands that were at the forefront of it all, what defined the genre and the movement, but besides all the mainstream stuff that everyone listened to, I liked listening to bands like Say Anything as well – they’re doing like a 20th reunion right now as we speak, like very poetic – and uh, the band’s a little unstable, the singer is bipolar and he’s very honest with his opinion, so things like that.

Show: Yeah, as a drummer in high school I used to listen to a lot of Western music – Blink-182, Green Day, Muse, Nine Inch Nails, Gorillaz, Blur, mostly, some instrument-lite bands like Blink-182, where I would think, “How are they performing these sounds that aren’t instruments?” and I had interests in those kinds of portions, and I’m doing something close to that right now, so I feel like I’ve been influenced by those kinds of bands.

Tatsuya: Yeah, just whatever I like – it’s not specific to a genre. The emo parts (My Chemical Romance), fit with other people’s tastes. Everyone has their own roots, so when it mixes and blends, I think that’s what makes it fun!

Yosh: When we first started though, I think we were very specific about our sound, like Paramore’s first record was definitely what we wanted to do in our very first record – which is way past 10 years ago – but we developed and then started incorporating modern, electronic sounds which have worked for us.

For Show-san, you said you fell in love with music while playing on DrumMania. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Show: My roots from how I started off playing drums is probably from there, but I didn’t expect to become a professional drummer from that. I just wanted to be better at the game!

Then I started playing real drums and stopped playing DrumMania. I got influenced by my friends, played with older experienced kids and adults in high school, played with other bands, you know, play, quit, and then that led to now.

What goes into selecting your instruments of choice? What draws you into knowing what you want to play?

Ivan: I feel like the guitar is like a starting point for every band’s music. So, yeah, it just came naturally. If you’re by yourself, then I think guitar and voice are the basics. I started with acoustic guitar and then went into electric guitar and everything.

Yosh: I never wanted to be a vocalist if I was going to be honest, I wanted to be a drummer, but I used to play every piece of equipment that was lying around at church, and I would be playing guitar for church for worship for drums and stuff like that. So I was always kind of helping out, and I wanted to be a recording engineer, so that was my life. I went to a school in Florida called Full Sail, and graduated out of there with a recording degree. That’s what I came back to do, but then I saw an opportunity to sing and then it kind of became my thing.

Show: I like singing more, and I thought that I wanted to sing, but standing out is not something for me, but I don’t feel that I don’t want to stand out as well. For me, as a drummer, I’m putting this step back a little bit. A drummer is a good position for me in terms of standing out. 

Yosh: Yeah, he’s not comfortable with getting too much attention, but he also wants attention, so he feels like being the drummer is a perfect balance and also being the screamer of the band.

Show: Yeah, and it became the best balance where I became the screamer and played the drums.

Tatsuya: At the beginning – obviously I’m not really good at singing  – so there was like a selection for me to choose what I wanted to sing as a vocalist, and then we threw it out in front of our friends. But before that, I used to play piano first, and then rock music always gets guitar, and then I was like, “Hey, I suck at guitar!” I chose something opposite going from classic to rock. I didn’t choose piano, I chose guitar.

 

So, out of the entire discography, which song is your favorite to perform? And which song do you think is the most difficult to perform? 

Yosh: The most difficult song to perform… we don’t play (laughs). We don’t play as often these days because of the amount of records we put out. We can’t please everybody, but I think more than choosing the songs that we like to play, I think it’s the place that makes the song special – like we’re just bringing our catalog everywhere and they usually let us know what they want.

Conventions are one of them where we know that the audience definitely wants to hear our anime songs, so we put that in there, but we love seeing the reaction too, because it’s a different style of reaction that we would get anywhere else because their first priority in their life isn’t the music. It’s like the music came afterwards, but inspired them enough to come to the show, so we love to play all the anime songs. 

Besides that, I love playing ballad songs actually. When it quiets down, we have a song called Follow that we still put on our roster that I still get emotional to this day. When the lights come up and you have thousands of people singing along with you, and then just kind of reflecting back on what it used to be on the road with a van sleeping together.

Ivan: I think the least played album is Inside Your Head because it was right when Corona hit, so we were actually talking about doing a re-tour for it as we go sometime soon maybe. 

You’ve collaborated with other bands, like Supper Moment, Crystal Lake, and also individual collabs with composers such as Hiroyuki Sawano. What artist, composer, or producer would you do a dream collaboration with?

Yosh: For me, I mean they’re getting really old now, but Quincy Jones and David Foster would have been very good choices for me. I think crossing over those two fields, I mean two legends, right? Yeah, I would love to see what kind of chemistry would come through. If not, I would love to have a session with Benny Blanco and Rick Rubin, what about you guys? (The band discusses). TK, Radwimps, and we’d also want a pianist also.

 For Ivan-san and Tatsuya-san, About 8 months ago, you released a guitar playthrough of Paradox on your official YouTube channel. How did you guys manage to record it on the beach? What was that process like?

Ivan: We wanted to link it to the music video that we shot at the time, so we were discussing where to shoot it. We had several ideas. We were like, “Maybe we should shoot it in a small tiny bathroom like a fisheye lens, so let’s make everything look huge!” or like we could do it on Tatsuya’s boat, but we ended up with the beach idea with the sunrise. 

So we were out there at like 3 AM in the morning to wait for the sunrise because it fits with the lyrics as well.

Tatsuya: But we did think about how to connect it with the music video a lot, so that beach felt the most fitting.

And a follow-up for Tatsuya-san. The internet mentions that some of your favorite hobbies include muscle training. What’s your routine like?

Tatsuya: I was doing it today, too! The routine is running 5 to10 km twice a week, push-ups, pull-ups, and weight training. I’m constantly doing those.

Yosh: Yeah, I don’t have the image of them using anything crazy, but you do see him doing crazy things because he used to be like a gymnast. He used to do backflips!

In Japan, you have the “SABACULT,” the official member fan club that’s managed by the band itself. Are there any plans to expand it to the West as well?

Yosh: We’ve been asking for that for a minute. Actually, we’ve talked about making an English-translated site; there are just not enough people who can translate things in there.

Ivan: Are fan clubs actually a thing in the West? Because we were kind of wondering about that as well. Which direction to go in, what is the better move to do, but we do want to expand.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve eaten during your visits to the U.S.? 

Yosh: Grasshopper. We went to a Mexican restaurant and I thought it was like a word for something else besides a grasshopper.

Oh, grasshopper is also the name for a cocktail!

Yosh: Oh, it is? We ate like a taco thing that you put like grasshopper in.

Tatsuya: Do… they put grasshoppers in the cocktail?

Oh no no, it’s called that because it’s green. It has a mint liqueur.

Ivan: But yeah, we had small grasshoppers.

Yosh: Yeah, they uploaded it. It didn’t taste bad or anything – it was just a grasshopper in your mouth.

And if you could bring food back with you, what would it be?

Ivan: Street hot dogs!

Yosh: Tacos. There are no real tacos or burritos in Japan. You just can’t do justice with that and I’m gonna buy some spice packets to bring home. Cheetos, Hot Cheetos, and Takis.

Tatsuya: Compared to Japan, the pizza here is huge. One large pizza here is like more than two large pizzas in Japan.

Do you have any other last closing thoughts for Fanime attendees and fans?

(Left to Right) Survive Said The Prophet members Ivan, Yosh, Show, Tatsuya at Fanime 2024

Yosh: Thank you for being here, open-minded and openhearted. This is another experience that lets us know that we do belong as much as everyone does. And, we’re coming back in July, so we hope to see you all there! That’s the real PR!


Survive Said The Prophet’s upcoming American tour starts July 3rd with shows planned in New York, Toronto, Chicago, Seattle, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

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