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Christopher Jack de The Routes nous ouvre ses archives ! Nous continuons notre voyage dans The Monsters Files avec THE FACIALS le groupe à l'origine de THE ROUTES ! Place à Christopher :

I came to Japan in 2000, after marrying my wife Yoko Ono. Until then I was living and working in London, living for clubs and going to watch bands play live. Upon moving to Japan, I was expecting bright lights, and a hustling and bustling nightlife. Turns out I moved to the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do. I couldn’t speak Japanese, and being in the countryside there were no English speakers immediately around me. My wife had an old Japanese Fender Stratocaster lying around in here room. I used to strum it and fantasize about making a band…

After about two years, my friend introduced me to his English student Masao Nakayama. Masao was from the main island (Gifu prefecture), but was residing in my city for his job (a magnetic tape engineer/researcher working for TDK). We were both outsiders, and with Masao’s great English skills we hit it off immediately as two mates making a racket in the studio. Under the heavy influence of The Buzzcocks and Thee Headcoats, we slowly ended up with a bunch of songs, and were joined by Mr Higuchi, the owner of our local live venue at the time Scar Face. We called ourselves The Facials, and started playing live at Scar Face, opening for whatever bands were passing through town (benefit of having a venue owner on bass).
At the time I was 25 years old. As a teenager I’d hear stories about bands like Shampoo and Jaguar who’d go to Japan and get residence gigs, making a fortune and becoming massive. I think a lot of western people have this “big in Japan” misconception… I certainly and very naively thought that my “Englishness” (or “Scottishness” in truth) would be something of an advantage. I thought Japanese people would rush to see us, and we’d be huge in my 25 year-old culturally confused brain.

We didn’t get the reaction I was expecting at all. A lot of the bands we played with would give us their advice (without us asking). “You should sing from your guts”, “You should sing some songs in Japanese”, “You should learn how to play guitar”… Fair point about the voice! As for the guitar, I don’t think people understood that we were restraining on purpose. They didn’t understand what we were trying to do at all.
We recorded our songs, and released some demos over the year or two that we were active: “The Facials - 4 Songs”, “The Facials - One” and “The Facials - Two”. They were all recorded by the drummer Masao Nakayama, oh his multitrack recorder. We would give them away on CD-R at gigs, and send them to labels and magazines etc… We didn’t generate much interest at all. Masao Nakagami (Target Earth Records), kindly reviewed them in the Japanese music magazine “Cookie Scene”, and sold them in his online shop. I was so happy to see our CD-R in a real magazine!

After a while we started to get gig offers from outside of our city. Because of his job as a venue owner, Mr Higuchi couldn’t really play outside of town. The Facials finished. Well not finished.. We got a new bass player, changed the name to The Routes and started to experiment with our sound.

Looking back now, these recordings are kind of cringeworthy for me to listen to. I was very naïve. The vocals are so weak. A friend once said that I sounded like “trapped boy”: a brilliant description! It was the first time I’d really tried to sing in a band, and I only sang because I really didn’t want a Japanese person singing in “English” on my songs (and I certainly didn’t want somebody singing in Japanese). I feel very grateful to Masao and Mr Higuchi, Masao especially for putting up with me from The Facials to The Routes. I didn’t speak Japanese at the time of The Facials, and I’m sure I was a massive pain in the arse. Masao being older and more mature, would often put me in my place.
As much as I find these recordings a little bit embarrassing, I’m also proud of them, because hopefully they show how much we improved, after obsessively tweaking and honing our style. You may even recognize a few of these songs from The Routes’ “Left My Mind” and “Alligator” albums!
Thanks for reading and listening!