Category Archives: J-Rock

Southern All Stars to return after 5 years

Widely popular Japanese rock band Southern All Stars marked its 35th anniversary on Tuesday with an announcement that it will reunite after a five-year break.

In August, the five-member band will release a new single, its 54th, and kick off an outdoor concert tour.
Southern All Stars is one of the best-selling music groups in Japan and known for such blockbuster hits as “Itoshi no Ellie” (Ellie My Love) and “TSUNAMI.”

The band indefinitely suspended touring after a 30th anniversary concert in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, in August 2008.

BIGPAPA aka BIGMAMA’s Tour Finale

BIGMAMA, a five piece rock-pop band based in Tokyo Japan, just recently finished their tour throughout Japan to celebrate the release of their latest album 君想う、故に我在り. They are made up of a unique composition for Japan, with a violinist being a major component of the band. They are considered to be an emo-rock band here in Japan, though in my personal opinion they play very pop-like tunes, with beautiful melodies and a voice that accompanies it wonderfully. BIGMAMA consists of; Kanai Masato (vo/gt), Kakinuma Hiroya (gt/vo), Yasui Hideto (ba), Higashide Mao (vi/cho), and Ibe Riado (dr).

Although their tour finale was dated to be June 15th, there was a separate secret tour finale on the 16th to celebrate father’s day. On this particular day, the band appeared not as BIGMAMA but as BIGPAPA, for…well, father’s day. On this special day in which we honor our father’s, I was invited to go see this band play for the first time.

 

To be honest, I have had no previous experience with this band. Aside from a couple of drinks and a long intoxicated conversation with one of the members on a cold December night and a copy of their latest album, my knowledge of this band was far from lavish. Yet, I found myself sitting on the 3rd floor balcony overlooking the arena and stage surrounded by friends and business partners of the band.

My first show. I was quite excited about this show, to be honest. After getting lost on my way to the Tokyo Dome Hall, when I finally arrived at my destination, I was welcomed by the sight of a myriad of youths sporting black tshirts with the bands name printed across the chest. I had listened to their songs before hand, and I quite like the album, but I was not expecting to see so many people wearing the typical attire one would don in Japan for punk band shows (ie Dickies shorts with the band tshirt and sneakers…clothes that show support for the band while still being comfortable enough to participate in moshpits and crowd surfing).

As I sat on the third floor balcony in my comfortable plush seat, I had a clear view down in the arena where people moved about, resembling the image of a beehive split open for viewing with the worker bees clustered in the small space provided. To be honest, it is quite disgusting looking. Humans are odd creatures.

As the arena lights began to dim, the crowd cheered and I sat up straight in my seat with anticipation rolling through my nerves. Each member walked onto stage, bowing towards the crowd before picking up their instruments in their designated spots. The lights went black and in the next instant, there was a blast of music and bright colorful lights painting the insides of the Tokyo Dome Hall.

The band introduced themselves at BIGPAPA, a different band from BIGMAMA, who came together today to play this show. The audience laughed and went along with their little charade of being BIGPAPA. I did not recognize most of their songs, though they played an exceptional show with an amazing light performance. What intrigued me more though, was seeing the crowd’s reactions to these songs. How people would sit on top of shoulders, singing on the top of their lungs until the climax of the song when they would thrust their bodies back as a sea of hands would reach up to support them, carrying them towards the stage before they rolled down into a black hole. While this seems to be a common act at punk show concerts, it was an alien spectacle for me to see so many crowd surfers during these catchy pop tunes. I quite enjoyed this gap of music and action.

In the middle of the show, the vocalist asked the crowd if it was anyone’s birthday. Hands shot up in the crowd and a path opened up like the red sea to lead the individuals up front.

“Staff, please detain these individuals!” Kanai said. Once everyone had been taken backstage, poppers were passed around. Soon, the birthday boys and girls were led up on stage where they lined up next to the band as the band began playing their birthday song. Higashide, closest to the group, made sure to smile and interact with them as she played the violin, sending girls into fits of tears and spreading grins across everyone’s face. At the peak of the song, an explosion went off as gold confetti streamers rained down into the arena. I quite liked this “tradition” that the band had, allowing their listeners to feel special on the day they were born. It was very different from many of the other bands I have seen.

The show ended before satisfaction broke surface, and the crowd attempted to start a slow clap in the dark. The slow clap would speed up quickly before dispersing into a million jumbled claps. Sitting above the crowd, it sounded like I was at the ocean, the waves crashing down onto shore. Soon the stage lit up as Kanai walked out onto stage. He spoke about his thanks for the fans and asked if he could play in the crowd. A cheer mixed with hysteric screams erupted and with that, he disappeared off the stage, reappearing in the midst of the crowd. He serenaded an acoustic ballad to all the fathers; thanking them for the support and unconditional love they provide their children. After the song, he returned to the stage through an arch the crowd created for him with their arms. A couple more songs were played before they waved their goodbyes, once again, disappearing off the stage.

Photo Jun 16, 8 18 59 PM[the view from the 3rd floor]

The crowd was still not satisfied as the ocean clapping began once again. Soon enough, they were rewarded for their long bouts of clapping as the band returned onto stage to make a couple of announcements. The re-release of their first three albums and a new single.

“And with the release of our new single,” Kanai teased the crowd. “We will also be playing at Akasaka BLITZ for three days in November to commemorate this release!” there was an outburst of cheers from the crowd. A few more words were exchanged before the band sprinted through the last 100 meters of their tour.

 

It was my first BIGMAMA show, and what can I say? I was not disappointed. They played songs I knew, some I recognized, and many songs I didn’t know, yet I was still able to enjoy the whole performance. The atmosphere within this large space, it was just so electrifying.

After the show, I had the chance to go to the after party in which I was able to talk to the rest of the members who were very welcoming and humble. Happy announcements were made and many smiles and laughers were exchanged.

Photo Jun 17, 3 01 33 AM[My guest pass with Takinuma’s pick and Kanai’s essay book. Thank you for the gifts!]

Thank you, BIGMAMA, for providing me the opportunity to attend your show. It was spectacular and I would definitely recommend people listen to their music, and if you like it, go to their show. You will not be disappointed.

 

BIGMAMA:

HP http://bigmama-web.com/index.html

Twitter https://twitter.com/BIGMAMAofficial

 

 

Until next time,
Yoshimaru

Find me here, you beautifuls…
Blog: http://yoshimaru12.wordpress.com/
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/yoshimaru12
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/yoshimaru12
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/junko.yoshimaru.12

 

One Ok Rock Asia Tour Dates

Rock band One Ok Rock, announced two weeks ago the band’s first European tour and after all of the shows were sold out they added more dates to their schedule. Now also Asian fans will get the chance to see the band live!

Shortly after yesterday’s announcement the band revealed their plans for an Asia Tour starting in November and going through December. Asian Tour Dates:

November 08: Hong Kong @AWE Hall 8

November 10: Seoul, Korea @UNIQLO AX

November 19: Bangkok, Thailand @Central World Live Arena

November 21: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia @KL LIVE

November 23: Singapore @Hard Rock Coliseum

November 24: Jakarta, Indonesia @Skeeno Hall, Gandaria

December 07: Taipei, Taiwan @Xinzhuang Gymnasium New Taipei City

PLASTICZOOMS Release “Fritillaria Camtschatcensis -Three”

PLASTICZOOMS have announced the release of a third installment of "Fritillaria Camtschatcensis" an experimental project of frontman Sho Asakawa, It’s titled "Three", and themed as "Sleepy in the Deep Sea". This release will hit stores on July 2nd, 2013. It contains a 30 page book by Nao Takeda and three songs on CD that have not been announced.

Fritillaria Camtschatcensis, "One" was released in late 2012 and sold out immediately. There were two songs on CD, "talk" and "Ga.Su" on DVD, "Botanical Garden" and "End".

Fritillaria Camtschatcensis, "Two" was released March 30th, 2013 which contained a CD with songs "Gloom" and "ONE EYE" on DVD, "Flow" and "Aquarium".

To describe PLASTICZOOMS style of music is difficult to put into one catagory. They are goth, experimental, noise, an alternative type of band.

The Members are:
Vocals: SHO ASAKAWA
Keyboards and Guitar: SHINPEI MORISHIGE
Guitar and Synthesizer: TAIYO IKEDA
Bass: JUN YOKOEDrums: YUTA KURATA

CM for Fritillaria Camtschatcensis “Three”…

Atsuo of Japanese Rock Band Atsuo Claims Japan is ‘Brainwashed’

Japanese rock band, Boris, has been making waves abroad but the three-piece rock band also has quite an immense fan base back in Japan. Still, this hasn’t stopped band drummer, Atsuo from stating that his homeland is “brainwashed.”

Despite the obvious fatigue from Boris’ US tour, Atsuo, the drummer shares his tale of music with an interview with Christopher James of Perth. Japan may have its’ share of Japanese performers be it rockers or pop artists but not all sections of Japan may be welcoming.

“It’s like they’ve all been brainwashed,” explains Atsuo, adding, “Don’t have ideologies,” or something like that. I think Japan is full of complications. It’s really twisted; beyond twisted. Like the music scene and the music business, the structure and atmosphere is completely different to any other country. I think it’s a distinctive country; very distinctive.”

Like Atsuo’s taste in music, the Boris’ drummer also highlights Japans’ distinctiveness with his decision to become a vegetarian.

“There are many vegans amongst musicians, and when we collaborate together, I just thought I’d make a gesture to get rid of any walls between us. It’s something I started for the music.  And now, you know, of course I like animals too. I can’t really go out to a restaurant in a group of just anyone in Japan. In both American and Australia, it’s very possible to have people of differing values or ideologies sitting around one table and eating together. But in Japan, the atmosphere is that unless you share the values, you can’t join the table,” explained Atsuo.

Even with the wide fan base in Japan, Boris flies to various countries abroad for their performances where almost no one speaks the native tongue.

And if the world still goes round… (それでも世界が続くなら)

The epitome of emo bands in Japan, それでも世界が続くなら (Soredemo Sekai ga Tuddukunara, aka SoreSeka: roughly translates to “if the world still continues on”) stood on a dark colorless stage singing out every teenagers darkest fears. The majority of their songs never go past a steady medium and the vocalists raspy voice sounds strained, as if holding back tears. Yet, every word rings through the air and echoes into the audience.

“We aren’t adults and we aren’t children” vocalist Shinoduka Masayuki shouts into the darkness where the crowd stood captivated by the bands sound. There isn’t laughter nor cheers of joy during the performance but an understanding silence about the harsh world of adolescences. It would be a difficult ordeal not to be drawn into this dark world the four artist paint so well with their instruments.

Lined up at the front of the stage stand young teenage girls who cry as they sway to the music these boys have created for them. Towards the back, an older generation stood solidly, as if nodding in agreement to the broken hearted love songs and hardships of being stuck in the middle of growing up.

This is my second time to hear this band play, but this is the first time to actually listen to their songs. And while a larger portion of their songs contain lyrics about death, there is still a sense of hope layered between the words.

During the emcee, Shinoduka asks the crowd what “death” is before continuing onto a story that he had heard earlier that day. His difficult to decipher mumbles fit the atmosphere the band had created perfectly. A dark muddled, very emotional, feel. Shinoduka apologizes and thanks the crowd before carrying onto their last song which, unlike their other songs, is upbeat.

Mesmerized, no one took their eyes off of the stage during their show. Who could possibly tear away from the band when the lyrics are begging for suicide? Or when they are about someone close to you wanting to die while you keep stopping them out of love, but having conflicting feelings about your decision to stop them. If this does not scream out emo, then what could possibly be emo?

There are many bands in Japan who consider themselves “emo” but in my book, they are too happy and upbeat to be “emo.” When they sing of happy endings and love stories, it is not…emo.

…or is it?

SoreSeka, however, is just…

Emo.

From their black shaggy hair and their black clothes to their songs, this band is the picture perfect example of a Japanese emo band. Their lyrics are very powerful and full of depressing and dark features, it only enhances their style.

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Make sure you are prepared to be touched by depression when listening to this band. For depressions cold hands will caress your cheek continuously and give you chills with their songs.

But of course, all in a good way.

If that is possible.

For a band to be able to cause silent tears to flow in a crowded venue, that is definitely something. Not very many bands in this country are able to do this.

Soredemo Sekai ga Tudukunara, I raise my white flag, you have wooed me into a dark world during your performance.

For true emo music, definitely keep an eye out for this band.

Until next time,
Yoshimaru

Find me here, you beautifuls…
Blog: http://yoshimaru12.wordpress.com/
YouTube: www.youtube.com/yoshimaru12
Twitter: www.twitter.com/yoshimaru12
Facebook: www.facebook.com/junko.yoshimaru.12

それでも世界が続くなら
HP: http://www.soredemosekaigatsudukunara.com/home5.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/soredemosekai
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/それでも世界が続くなら/329263983826043

Living for Music, SuiseiNoboAz Major Debut

The air is tense as the room darkens. The audience patiently awaits as three shadows make their way onto the stage, fidgeting with their instruments before one silhouette raises his hand. In the next instant the whole venue is transported into an alternate universe stained with unidentifiable colors. The crowd cheers, thrusting their hands up into the heated space above their heads as sound begins to pour out of the speakers, filling in every inch of space that is left in the dark venue.

The band SuiseiNoboAz (pronounced: sui-say-no-bo-az) are the three members who transformed this generic black venue into a room colored in psychedelic-rock with a hint of pop. This band is made of Ishihara Masaharu on vocals and guitar, Mizobuchi Narufumi on bass, and Sakurai Norio on drums and chorus. The combination of these three talented musicians construct a unique sound unusual to the music scene in Japan.

SuiseiNoboAz: Mizobuchi Narufumi, Ishihara Masaharu, Sakurai Norio
SuiseiNoboAz: Mizobuchi Narufumi, Ishihara Masaharu, Sakurai Norio

I recently had the opportunity to ask Mr. Ishihara some questions during their busy preparations for making their major debut from a sub label of Avex records, cutting edge with their new album ubik.

The band had just recently returned to Tokyo from playing in the widely recognized festival, South By South West (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. According to Mr. Ishihara, the experience was fantastic. It was the first time for the three members to leave Japan, and they were all very excited for the trip. They were welcomed by surprisingly wide roads and delicious food and beer. They were treated to cocktails, beer and, to their surprise, Japanese sake made in Texas, by individuals from the audience who had been exstatic with their performance.

The members were also amazed by the sound volume that poured out of their amps. With a higher voltage than Japan, the sound was “a lot louder and fuller” Mr. Ishihara said. “It felt great!” And with this new knowledge of what their instruments were capable of sounding, he said he is now “more conscious in our sound.”

SXSW 2013
SXSW 2013

Now, for a little background on the band, I asked Mr. Ishihara how the band formed. A generic question but something that, in my opinion, should be asked during any first interview, right?

He said that before SuiseiNoboAz, everyone had been in their own bands, but had all disbanded around the same time. “We were all free so we sort of just got together” and thus, SuiseiNoboAz was formed. I suppose this is nothing special and is also a quite generic reason amongst many bands, but I will say that I am glad that their former bands all disbanded at the time that they did so they could come together.

After being together for 6 years, the band will finally be making their long awaited major debut in June, 2013. I asked Mr. Ishihara to choose a color that describes SuiseiNoboAz best, and he chose turquoise. Although there isn’t a specific color that he believes represents the band fully, their first major debut album image color is aimed to be turquoise.

I have had numerous opportunities to hear their latest creations, and in my opinion, I will have to agree that turquoise is a fine fit with the albums image color. Their later songs are definitely not turquoise, but more orange. A faded orange or a faded red. But these newer songs that have a stronger tinge of pop and synths, turquoise and purple come to mind.

I then followed with a few personal questions for Mr. Ishihara. Fun questions always make an interview more interesting, don’t you think? But because this is still the fist interview…it is more of a band introduction, so I will stick with the simpler, more generic questions.

Ishihara Masaharu
Ishihara Masaharu

So I asked him what he thinks he would be doing if he wasn’t in the music industry.

“I’m not sure if I would have a job if it weren’t for music…” He responded. I do not believe this, as he is a very smart man with a unique sense of the world. But he continues to mention that as a child, he always admired fishermen and manage artists because, they are, of course, two of the same of occupation.

I can understand why he admires manga artists for he is an artist himself and enjoys reading them…but fishermen? Perhaps I will be able to ask in more detail the next time.

I wasn’t too sure what I was expecting when I asked him what his favorite animal was…but somewhere inside me I think I was hoping for an exotic animal or a strange animal. Instead, he respond with cats. He believes that they are “free and independent” and that they are very intelligent animals and he bets that “they probably have very complex thoughts.” If that is the case, then I feel like cats suit him very well. For he is very independent and having the knowledge that he would love to live on a rooftop with a rubber swimming pool and not have to work, it seems as if he is describing himself. Perhaps he is trying to become a cat? A musical cat.

All three members of the band are very interesting and unique individuals that are great to chat with and share a drink or two. And while I am very intrigued by how Mr. Ishihara comes up with his seemingly obscure song themes, I am glued to the bass lines. Being a bass player myself, I am in constant awe with Mr. Mizobuchi’s bass playing. I have asked him about his techniques and styles, but I am never satisfied with his unknowing answers. One day…one day I will get an actual answer from this man of very few words.

Their first album, a self named album called SuiseiNoboAz, has a very heavy influence of the late band Number Grl. A very alternative sound with complex guitar riffs and intricate rhythm. The steady and strong beats created by Mr. Sakurai and the distinct bass lines by Mr. Mizobuchi that connect the whole ensemble. Mr. Ishihara’s unique and husky voice spits out words that are abstruse and help draft out their world for everyone to visualize.

Their second album, THE (OVERUSED) END OF THE WORLD and I MISS YOU MUH-FUH was a self produced album that consisted of more popish tunes. Though I definitely would not consider this album pop. The lyrics are much more straightforward while also having the sense of encoded secrecy. I enjoy this album very much also, for it was a great representation of the bands color at the time. And while I am still very fond of this album, they have grown since the release of this album.

20130420_463295

I am very excited to hear their completed new album. Their major debut album. To see how their organized their songs, to hear the new additions and to enjoy the album as a whole.

SuiseiNoboAz is a band very unique to the Japanese music scene. Their use in complex Japanese words and the integration of English phrases work in harmony to create their own flavor.

With their upcoming major debut, they are definitely a band to keep tabs on.

 

Until next time,
Yoshimaru

Band info…
Homepage: http://suiseinoboaz.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuiseiNorecoRd/
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/suiseinoboaz
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SuiseiNoboAz/399820000108338

 

Find me here, beautifuls…
Blog: http://yoshimaru12.wordpress.com/
YouTube: www.youtube.com/yoshimaru12
Twitter: www.twitter.com/yoshimaru12
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REDRUM’s Mini Album “INITIUM” landing end of May

April 9th 2013 at SHIBUYA REX, REDRUM mentioned that their new mini album entitled "INITIUM" will be coming out May 29th 2013.

INITIUM was produced by Hizumi who was once the vocalist of D’espairs Ray. Hizumi will also design the cover art for the release.

The limited edition will include a CD containing 5 songs and a DVD featuring the "INITIUM" PV.

The regular edition will include the CD containing 6 songs and "INITIUM (Voiceless) only.

Additionally, their live-distributed DVD (including the making of the "INITIUM" PV) will be released at their 2nd anniversary one-man live "INITIUM~REMEMBER the REAL MADNESS~" at Ikebukuro BLACK HOLE on August 25th 2013.