The Japanese band Pay Money to My Pain (commonly abbreviated to PTP) played music that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Western rock radio, a potent yet commercial cocktail of post-hardcore and nu-metal with anguished, emotional lyrical themes. They were also uncommon among Japanese bands in that all their lyrics were in English, a move made deliberately in order to appeal to a global audience. They were formed in Tokyo early in 2005 following the dissolution of vocalist K's prior band, the popular Gun Dog; he recruited guitarists Pablo and Jin, bassist Tsuyoshi, and drummer Zax, all of whom also had previous band experience.
While their songs sport thick, downtuned metal guitar textures and industrial-style keyboards, the core of their sound is the harmonically complex, interlocking guitar arpeggios and heavily syncopated drumming that characterized emo at the turn of the 21st century, when it was still a credible genre in its own right. The name might sound tongue in cheek to Western ears, but it appears to have stemmed simply from an unwillingness to dissemble. K (born Kei Goto) used his lyric writing as an outlet for dark and depressed feelings, and he felt that the fans, by buying the band's CDs, were literally buying into his pain. Pablo, the band's Hispanic-Japanese guitarist, was their principal composer, coming up with the ideas for most of the songs which the band would finish together in the studio. K was inspired by the music and would often whip out his notebook in the studio and start writing lyrics as soon as Pablo played him a tune he liked.
Gun Dog had been signed to Universal subsidiary Vap, home to many big-name bands including the hugely successful visual kei act Nightmare, and the label quickly came calling again after hearing PTP's self-produced demos. The band signed with Vap in 2006, releasing their debut single "Drop of Ink" in December of that year. This was followed in September 2007 by the album Another Day Comes, which they recorded in California. Second guitarist Jin left the band in 2008 to concentrate on production work, including work for the pop group GreeeeN, of which his brother Hide was a member. PTP decided not to replace him, instead adding more keyboards (played by session musicians) to fill the gap in their sound. In that year they released only one single, "Writing in the Diary."
Following further opportunities for the band to visit the States again and play live there, K decided to move to Los Angeles to further his study of English, communicating with the band via email and Skype and flying back to Japan four times a year in order to record and play live. This resulted in a comparatively sparse release schedule by Japanese music industry standards; in the next three years the band produced only two albums, 2009's After You Wake Up and 2011's Remember the Name. These releases, especially the latter, were characterized by the experimental addition of industrial influences and were occasionally interspersed with softer, gentler songs. A greatest hits album, Breakfast, followed in October 2012.
On December 30, 2012, after struggling with alcoholism for many years, K passed away due to heart failure at his home in Yokohama. He was just 31 years old. This tragedy appeared to spell the end for the band, but they announced they would release a final album in his honor in 2013, featuring new songs he had worked on before his death. ~ John D. Buchanan