The highly praised and hugely popular Japanese band Radwimps played their first UK gig at the O2 Academy Islington last month — October 2015.
Radwimps are: Yojiro Noda (vocals & guitar), Asia Kuwahara (guitar), Yusuke Takeda (Bass) and Satoshi Yamaguchi (Drums): all accomplished and acclaimed musicians.
The band members met in 2001 as teenagers in Yokohama. Since then, they have become the number one post-punk rock group in Japan and regularly sell-out huge stadiums at home.
Their 15 track album ‘Batsu to Maru to Tsumi To’ was released on 16 October 2015.
Originally issued in 2013, the hit album is now being presented — internationally — to accompany the band’s first live shows in Europe.
London was the last appearance in a whistle-stop mini-tour that took in Germany (Cologne and Berlin) and France (Paris.)
When we listened to the 2015 single JikkyoChuuke recently we said it was “Filled with surprising textures and amazing colours…”
We met up with the band, after the London O2 Academy gig to chat about emotions, sounds, aspirations and ‘starting over‘ :
So, how was the Berlin show?
“The show was amazing… the people were amazing. And the way the people received Japanese culture and music was awesome.”
What do Japanese teenagers want from their music?
Yojiro explained: “We are not really sure about that. Because I never really think of the listeners when I am writing music and making songs. So it’s like, afterwards, you know, when you start to think about whether someone is appreciating your music. And we don’t think about age ranges or borderlines when we are creating.”
“ But [we understand that the teenagers] enjoy the extremes of our music — the dynamics of our music. The variety. Because teenagers are bored of everything, right? Everywhere! And they get stressful all the time. And they’re interested in everything. But only for five seconds, you know. Then they want to get into another thing. And, we think, our music fits that way. All of our ideas and all of our dynamics fit into that world. ”
The Radwimps lyrics have enormous depth, expressing an incredible range of emotions. If the 18th-century English poet Alexander Pope was writing words for pop songs right now, we would expect they would sound something like this! We wanted to know if such depth and poetry is normal for a Japanese rock band
The main lyricist Yojiro clarified: “I don’t think so… Japanese people hate talking about political, regional or religious issues even when you are, like, talking with friends. They don’t speak out. They don’t speak out against anything at all! Maybe that’s why I wanna speak out. It’s lie, what’s the matter with you guys? That’s what I wanted to do! Everyone has to get their head around political or religious issues so I feel so weird about not speaking out. It’s such a natural thing to put it into music. ”
Rock is for revolution…
“We hope so ”
But revolutions are different. You could start a protest, I suppose, but maybe you could start a revolution inside the person. Maybe by talking to someone directly through the headphones, you can still achieve revolution?
“Exactly. It doesn’t have to be an outward demonstration of protest. There’s revolution inside people everywhere. ”
So could some of the wonderful language be translated into English for audiences outside Japan?
“Yes, one song “Tummy” (from ‘Batsu to Maru to Tsumi to’) — I tried to re-write it in English and so I tested it out in Cologne, Germany. It kinda worked out. Half the audience expected it in the regional language. But the other half enjoyed it. What I’m thinking — for the next album — is maybe to try to write the lyrics in English — maybe half the tracks on the album anyway…”
Yusuke Takeda explained: “Yes, it was refreshing to hear that song in English — ”
How would the band describe their music to an English music-lover who has not yet experienced the Radwimps sound?
“We love Radiohead. But we are not really sure if our sounds are similar or not…”
Asia Kuwahara: “I love George Harrison — ”
We were keen to know if the band would be returning (soon) to Europe and playing Blighty again?
“Definitely, yes. It’s like another launch for us. We feel so happy about that because, when we first started out the band, every show and every piece we recorded had to be the best – the blast – each one was a new fight and a new challenge. ”
“But over ten years things have changed, all the audience knows us. They know our songs. But we still want the feeling of challenge. We still want the feeling of starting a show… just starting out again. ”
“Like last night (at the O2 Academy in London) when we got up on stage… And we started our first song… The audience was still kinda a little bit weird! They’re looking to us. Seeing how we respond. What we would do. But, after we played three or four songs, they got so energetic. And they changed! That made us so hot — ”
“Yes, it was amazing. We think audiences (especially here in Europe) are honest. They’re honest with their feelings. And they know how to express them! Perhaps Japanese people need some kind of format to express but there is no kind of ‘format’ in Europe. ”
“That’s what we loved about playing these shows. We felt the honesty and the truth coming through. We liked that so much. ”
So had the band’s tenth anniversary inspired them to visit Europe and start over?
“Kinda yes. But we have been planning a European tour for 2 or 3 years. We have been wishing to come here but it worked out — it just happened to be in that 10th anniversary year. ”
When will they be coming back to London?
“Very soon. We want to come back very soon.”
Thank you Radwimps.
The Radwimps were talking to: @neilmach 2015 ©
ALBUM: Batsu To Maru To Tsumi To
RELEASE DATE: 16th October 2015
RELEASED 25th September 2015