It’s been a hell of a year for The Japanese House. From huge, globe-spanning arena dates with The 1975 to a festival season that proved the road miles were turning into a real-life fanbase right before her eyes, she’s staking her claim to the top of the pile. From her first, camera-shy steps, through starring in our Class Of 2016, to conquering America, the last twelve months have been taken at warp speed.
With her biggest UK dates to, er, date fast approaching, we had a quick catch up with Amber Bain to talk shifting the early days jitters, and sharing stages with everyone from Dirty Hit Records family to best mates The Big Moon.
The Japanese House’s UK tour kicks off this week - full dates are right here.
Welcome home (for now)! How was festival season?
It was really fun – Reading & Leeds was so good. I was so shocked by it. There was no-one in the tent, obviously, before, and just after it completely cleared out. I think it was quite cool that I was there, because I could see that they were actually just coming for me. It was good, because it was on the Dance Tent – I mean... the people that like my music probably won’t go to the Dance Tent.
I nearly cried after I came off, it was really weird. I guess I’ve played big shows before, supporting, but that’s the most people I’ve played in front of for myself, ever. It was crazy. Got a bit emotional.
How were The 1975 shows? Obviously that’s a whole new level of big.
It was insane. I remember the first one was in Australia, and that wasn’t even a big one for them, it was just like, y’know, ‘A couple of thousand, something tiny like that!’. I got such bad nerves that my throat just closed up and I couldn’t sing. I was freaking out [laughs] and I was swirling really hot water and squeezing lemons into my mouth and just downing honey. Their production manager Dermot was just like, ‘Babe, it’s nerves.’ I was like, ‘It’s not nerves Dermot, it’s not fucking nerves!’ Then I calmed down for a bit, had a few vodkas and on-stage it kinda just went, along with my stage fright, which I struggled with before. And now I’m just not nervous at all, which is really weird!
"Reading & Leeds was so good. I was so shocked by it."
— Amber Bain, The Japanese House
That’s kinda like jumping in at the deep end if you get stage fright…
Maybe it was because they have such big crowds that it’s kinda easy to detach yourself. Maybe I’ll get it back again on this tour! But I don’t think I will – I think enough embarrassing things have happened to me on stage now…
I say really embarrassing things and no-one laughs – once, as a joke, I was going to be like, ‘Who’s ready to rock?’ but I said ‘Who’s ready to rrrumbllleeee?!’ and then no-one laughed… It didn’t go down very well. But my bandmates laughed, so that’s alright. My shoelaces have come undone, twice, on stage. I’ve had to stop and be like, ‘I’m really sorry, just gotta sort this!’ Tying your shoelaces, with a guitar on, on stage, is just really awkward. You have to crouch down and get on with it… I’ve forgotten the words quite a few times – I did that really recently as well, after playing like over a hundred shows, I forgot the words to ‘Teeth’ [laughs]. I had to stop the song and be like, ‘I’m really sorry, but I’ve forgotten all the words’, and then someone shouted them out to me [laughs]. It’s fucking embarrassing. But people like that – people like it when you fuck up, I think.
And now you’ve got a headline tour – you looking forward to getting back to playing your own shows?
Yeah – The 1975 tour was over the duration of six months, January to June. Yeah, it was just crazy. I got back and just didn’t really know what to do with myself. Buying food was weird, washing up was weird, talking to people not about touring was weird, or not getting drunk every day… actually, I do…
When you’re supporting someone, it’s really fun because obviously you get much bigger crowds than you would, and I had the advantage of quite a lot of fans had heard of me before because of George [Daniel, 1975 drummer and Amber's co-producer], and also their fans are crazy so they’d always get there hours before. It’d be full when I was playing which was quite nice. But it’s nice to see a specific number of people that have just come to see you – it’s quite exciting. Unless there’s no one there! [laughs]
And you’ve got The Big Moon going out with you to America too, that must be great, to be able to take your friends out?
Yeah, I love them so much. And Soph who’s in The Big Moon, she’s also in Our Girl who are coming to a few of the shows in the UK. And Fake Laugh, and this band called Colouring – I’ve only heard a few songs but he’s such a nice guy, I’m friends with him, the singer. So that’ll be really fun!
It’s gonna be weird, because in America there’s gonna be three guys on the tour, and the rest is gonna be all girls. My tour manager’s a girl, their tour manager’s a girl, and obviously they’re all girls. A photographer’s coming around and they’re a girl. It’s gonna be quite weird because last time I was in America it was like, probably about fifty people, and I was one of two girls.When Wolf Alice came it was one of three, but the whole thing I was like, ‘Uhhhh…’ I didn’t really notice it at all, but I think I will notice the different. Especially if you’re a young girl with loads of older guys, you get treated differently – not necessarily in a good way or a bad way, but you just different to if you’re just with loads of your friends. It’ll be interesting – we’ll probably just go mental! [laughs]
It’ll be nice. I’m really excited – they’re just such nice girls, I really love them! I wanna go on tour with them forever!
‘Face Like Thunder’
Like you say, Wolf Alice did some of the 75 dates as well, was it like a little Dirty Hit love-in?
I love them as well – we shared a tour bus with them and we got quite close to them, ‘cause obviously we were around them constantly. They’re just so lovely – I knew them before, but not that well.
They’re just the funniest group of people. I think it’s really easy to forget what real humour is when you’re on tour, because you’re around the same people all the time, so you just get in your own world of laughing at… a crisp packet or something, just hysterical. But Theo, especially, is just the funniest guy. And Ellie and Joel and Joff are just really lovely – love them all!
So are you having to figure out how to play all the new stuff live, then?
Mmm, it’s really hard [laughs]. We’ve had to up our game a bit – especially ‘Good Side In’. That one is just so hard, for me. Everything was quite hard to start off with, mainly because of singing, ‘cause I never really sing apart from when I’m recording, I’d just do it once and that’s it. I had to like, remember to sing [laughs]. And breathe, and stuff like that. Now that’s kind of alright. But there’s one song where I have to do a bit of tapping [groans]. I didn’t think about doing it live… and now I have to be an arsehole… who taps. Ugh.
If I thought about how I’d do it live, then I wouldn’t do it – especially the drums, my drummer’s really angry with me… The drum parts, I don’t know how he’s doing them. I don’t really think about how I’d play it, but he’s such a good drummer. So it’s good for him! Character building!
Main photo: Mike Massaro / DIY.
The Japanese House's new EP 'Swim Against The Tide' is released 11th November via Dirty Hit.