Black Country, New Road Interview 

Black Country, New Road Interview 

Catch up with their new songs on this upcoming tour


Black Country, New Road had only five months until their Fuji Rock Festival debut in 2022 when former frontman Isaac Wood made the tough decision to leave the band. It was a few days before releasing their sophomore album, Ants From Up There. In the months leading up to the performance, the British six-piece decided to forego performing songs from the album and instead perform a set made up of entirely new material. 

While the band’s Fuji Rock performance was the result of a cancellation by Irish post-punk band Fontaines D.C., they’ll be returning to Japan under their own volition this time with even more new material to perform for the first time. 

Metropolis chatted with drummer Charlie Wayne and keyboardist May Kershaw on their Fuji Rock performance last year, their interest in Japanese music, and their upcoming tour. 

Metropolis: First of all, how did you guys enjoy performing at Fuji Rock last year?

May Kershaw: Fuji rock was amazing. I felt so lucky, and the reception there was so warm. I imagine many people didn’t know who we were and were expecting Fontaines D.C. [Laughs]. It was the first show we’d been booked for to play our new material at the time, as opposed to we’d been booked for the shows for Ants From Up there, which we weren’t playing. 

Charlie Wayne: Even though we’ve been around as a band and released two full-length albums, we didn’t have much performance experience. Festivals were still new to us, especially performing outside of Europe, which we were already used to.

They were attentive, very polite, and listening to the music. They were quiet while we were performing but also receptive to what we were doing on stage. On top of it, there was a huge amount of applause when we finished performing the songs. As May said, we didn’t think anyone there knew us. It was a unique performing experience, and I don’t think we will forget it.

Metropolis: It seemed like an emotional one, particularly for Tyler at the end of the last song – can you tell us about this? 

CW: Tyler has been able to go to Fuji rock before when she was younger. So it felt a surreal full circle moment for her going to a festival she’d enjoyed and connected with as someone starting to get into music or flirting with the idea of making music as a full-time thing. But she never really expected as a young adult to be in that position performing on a stage. So it’s surreal, affirming and odd at the same time. 

I think it’s surreal and life-affirming after an odd year with many ups and downs. So to be doing something like that was emotional for all of us. But very specifically for Tyler in a cute way. 

Metropolis: You guys just finished the Asia leg a few weeks ago. How was it? 

MK: It seems awful that we had to come back. And then we’ll go out again, getting on airplanes and everything. This gap was the only time we could rehearse with Georgia as we were working on some new songs, but Asia was fantastic!

Metropolis: Last time we spoke, you’d only recently started putting together the new live set and were heading into a long run of shows. It’s been nine months now. How have things changed in this time?

CW: We’ve gotten better at playing them since Fuji Rock. We reached the peak of being able to play the songs the best at the end of our America tour in mid-September. I suppose we performed this set around 100 times last year, maybe? When you do that, it’s almost muscle memory. We were really good at playing those songs and had a couple of months off. Now we’re getting back into the flow of playing them again. 

Another big change would be we’re going to play new songs for the first time. We’ve been writing new material since January. And we just got them finished. So we will try to play that and mix up the set. 

Metropolis: So, can we expect new songs for this upcoming Japan tour? 

MK: Yeah, hope it all goes well [Laughs]. We are playing a few new songs! I think it’s going to be a bit scary, but I’m excited.

Metropolis: We spoke to Morgan from black midi recently. A Tokyo-based hip-hop trio, Dos Monos, supported them when they first came to Japan. black midi and Dos Monos ended up touring together in Europe afterwards. I’m hoping something similar will happen between BCNR and Japanese artists like Julis Shortreed, who will support BCNR for this tour. 

MK: That’d be cool! I will also see betcover!!’s show in Tokyo while staying there. I’ve been listening to them loads for the last few weeks since a friend recommended them. I haven’t really had a chance to listen to Japanese music that’s coming out recently, so I feel excited to explore what’s happening now. 

Metropolis: Three shows are announced in Rotterdam after the Japan tour. One of them is with Japanese artist Ichiko Aoba. 

CW: Both May and I really like her, and it’s cool because we’re playing at a residency in the Netherlands. We’re performing with Ichiko Aoba as we got in touch because she was also playing at the festival. So we will be doing her backing band, which is really exciting. 

Metropolis: The tour starts tomorrow. How are you guys feeling now? 

CW: Tokyo show is already sold out, but some tickets are still available for Nagoya and Osaka. We could do all of Fishmans’ Long Season in full instead to get people to come [Laughs]. 

MK: For encore [Laughs]. 

CW: It’s quite easy for me to say, as I’m in the band, but I think it’ll be good and fun. We’re playing three new songs literally for the first time. We haven’t played them even in the Asia tour. 

Also, this tour will be the first one we’ll play with Georgia this year. It’s exciting. It’ll be a good show!