2020 was a year in which, due to the influence of COVID-19, it was inevitable for all artists to reduce their activities. Among all this, the Raid. came up with a unique plan early on, showing their ambition to resume concerts with an audience in July. There’s no mistake that many people were able to smile and feel energized from their improved activities.
Last year Sena (vocalist) and bo_ya (guitarist) made a guest appearance on HAKUEI’s Live Nico Radio show “Izakaya Hakuei – Year-End Special”, which was broadcast on December 29. They spoke with us about looking back on their activities in 2020 and looking towards 2021 having achieved a major debut and more.
I want to look back on the Raid.’s activities in 2020. Due to the influence of COVID-19, artists weren’t able to continue their usual activities starting in Spring. In the midst of this, the Raid. held a no-audience livestream concert at Nakano Sunplaza in March, let’s talk about that.
Sena: I think it’s a good thing that we canceled the concert at Nakano Sunplaza and made it a no-audience livestream concert. Although, at the time I was pretty torn about the decision because personally I wanted to perform by any means possible. You see, the reason I’ve been able to continue my career as a musician up till this age is all due to the understanding of my family and relatives.
So, and this is especially the case with my parents, I’ve been increasingly wanting to have the fruits of my labors as a musician be recognized, even just a little. That is why I wanted the Nakano Sunplaza concert to become a reality. Previously, we’ve been able to play at places such as Toyosu Pit and so on, but if I mention Toyosu Pit to my parents they won’t understand what it means. They don’t even know Zepp TOKYO.
Nakano Sunplaza has quite the reputation, right? For my parents to think their son is doing a good job in music and that his work is bearing fruit they need to be able to see it on the Oricon Charts or by me playing at famous venues. Nakano Sunplaza being a venue that my parents know by name was one part of it, but it also would have been the Raid.’s first show at such a large venue, and I really wanted to share our music with our fans in that kind of atmosphere.
That’s why I wanted the concert to take place by whatever means necessary, but in the end I had to give that up. The concert was canceled and I’ve turned that energy into ‘let’s do whatever we can online’.
bo_ya: Up until about a month before the Nakano Sunplaza concert, I intended on going through with it. I thought maybe we could do it but Sena said that we should just give up. I couldn’t help wavering on what to do, but I decided to give up as there was nothing we could do about it. All the members agreed, so we chose to hold the concert without an audience and stream it on the web.
Sena: The fans who support us are all in their own circumstances and among them are fans living with their elderly family members, medical workers, and so on, and even if they want to come to our concert, they can’t. It would worry the parents of the younger fans. I think we made the right decision having this concert be without an audience, in order to protect the fans as well as their families.
The concert was honestly tough. It felt very lonely to appear on stage and be met with no reaction at all. But when the concert was over I felt glad and we received many messages saying thank you for the concert. And because of that, I’m able to feel happy I did the concert.
Moreover, at first I felt like it was very difficult to perform but in the end I feel like we put on a good show.
bo_ya: I wasn’t sure how I would reach the audience. At a normal concert, people are right before your eyes so you can communicate with them. I was thinking things like “will the message get across on camera?” or “how should I perform in order to reach them?”. But as Sena said, in terms of the results, I think it was a good show so it was the right decision to go audienceless.
Nonetheless, at that time I felt very uneasy. I didn’t know how the situation with COVID-19 would end up and on top of that, by canceling the Nakano Sunplaza concert, the band was burdened with a lot of debt. If we could continue our activities normally, we would be able to cover our losses, but this is a situation where we can’t do anything, isn’t it? So I was anxious about what would happen in the future. Under these circumstances we began to think about what we could do amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Before COVID-19 started, we wanted to be a breath of fresh air as a band. I don’t know how people around us felt, but we went through a lot of trial and error. So thinking about what we can do now and putting it into practice wasn’t very difficult for us. Since Nakano Sunplaza, we have continued our activities like that.
So acting on your words, you collaborated with Bitter Valley Grill in Shibuya to open “CAFÉ de RAID.” in May.
bo_ya: For the cafe, Sena said that if we can’t do musical activities, we should do food and drink. It was just something that came up casually in conversation, but the idea quickly grew into something bigger. There were several contenders for which shop to collaborate with and from those we chose Bitter Valley Grill in Shibuya. It’s a prime location in Shibuya so from a monetary standpoint, we can cover the cafe expenses with money made from shows.
Sena: To put it simply, we are really in the red. But I think it’s important for fans to have a place where they can be themselves. There have been people who said “I can’t go to concerts, but there is no restriction on going to cafes”, and I want to protect the places where those people can fit in. Because of that, until COVID-19 settles down, we want to continue the cafe.
I think your fans are really happy. While you’ve opened the cafe, held “Meeting release events” with fans, and more, the Raid. will also hold a concert with an audience in July.
Sena: Our anniversary is July 27, so we’ve planned a live concert around that time at Namba Hatch in Osaka, where we’re from. We had to cancel our Nakano Sunplaza concert but since then my mindset has changed. Of course we have to restrain ourselves, but on the other hand, because we live in a time where people’s spirits are down due to COVID-19, I’ve been thinking that the power of music has become a necessity, hasn’t it? Steadily performing concerts and continuing our activities, I feel we must protect the Raid. as the thing that people will come to see when the corona pandemic has ended where they can be themselves.
And so we’ve decided to do concerts with an audience, one on July 23 at Namba Hatch, and we also have one planned on July 27 at Nagoya Diamond Hall. I don’t think we made the wrong choice here. I do not believe there is a right or a wrong with COVID. More than worrying or fretting about the pandemic, nobody can go against what an individual decides to do themselves. We’ve decided to continue playing our music while fighting against Corona. Thinking about what we’re able to do right now, we’ve done a good deal of things, but as we are musicians the way we can properly express ourselves is through concerts. That’s the reason why we will hold concerts with an audience. Against a significant financial investment, we called for an event company that could help us to organize concerts with strict guidelines and flawless safety measures.
bo_ya: I think my feelings are normal. I thought we should see how other bands deal with the situation and how they go about performing shows, then decide based on that information. But Sena said that we should perform, so I became of the mindset that we should all try our best and make it happen. Although I was pulled in by Sena’s decisiveness to hold a concert with an audience, I am glad we did it.
Just as Sena said, we are taking thorough safety measures and we have received a lot of words of gratitude from fans.
Sena: After the Nagoya and Osaka concerts in July we also have a tour planned. I don’t think there are any bands out there doing something as stupid as having a tour in 2020 [laughs]. As expected, the opinions about it varied. However, because we ourselves are just humans too, we have to live our lives. And for us to do so as musicians, we also need to receive an income.
I think we’re causing our fans trouble by raising ticket prices because of this issue. Of course, releasing CDs and having those purchased is also important, but I think getting the chance to hear our music live is the most precious of all. Like I said before, we’re able to directly convey our thoughts during a live concert and we have received so many messages from all the fans whose spirits have been lifted and who have gained courage by seeing our concerts.
So for that reason, we will be continuing this way in 2021 as well.
To bring an end to 2020, a year in which a lot happened because of COVID-19, the Raid. performed a concert called Indies Last Oneman “Sayonara Indies” on December 26 at Yoyogi National 2nd Gymnasium.
Sena: As the end of the year drew closer, we worried over whether or not we should let the Yoyogi concert continue, or cancel it. As we entered the third corona wave and the number of infections rose, we received messages from fans saying “I purchased a ticket but I am no longer able to attend”. Those aren’t words you want to hear as a musician and I think there is a large group of people who think that even though they’d like to see us, they can’t.
So our feelings have been wavering as well but, as I said earlier, during the COVID pandemic everyone is having a hard time and everyone is growing more sensitive, and mixed in all that are fans who want to live and enjoy our concerts. If we cancel the concert then where will those people’s thoughts lead them? And all those seats will remain empty and there will be many people who can’t go and all their tickets will end up useless, so I think there is a meaning to keeping the show going.
And that’s why we decided to go through with it. We wanted to livestream it too, but that costs money, so we put cameras up wherever we could, recorded it, and made it available to view for our fans after the show. That was our own decision.
bo_ya: Just as Sena said, we didn’t know how many fans would be able to come. There were lots of people who bought tickets but could no longer come, and from the beginning we heard people say “Sorry, but this time…”. How can I put this…It’s difficult to tell just by looking at how hard a band is working, so the number of people who come to see your tour final is part of how you can judge your success.
Because the concert at Yoyogi was held in the middle of COVID-19, it was frustrating to think about whether or not people should come. However, I don’t regret doing the show and I would like to connect this to our spring activities.
Sena: In terms of mobilizing the events, it made me feel irritated inside. We’ll be paying attention to numbers a lot more in the future but on top of that, in particular for 2021, we will be tackling the strict larger stage of a major label, so we’ve been in the process of working hard towards that. It doesn’t have so much to do with us having matured as a band but because we feel like we have to show the results of our hard work, it’s precious to us.
For the Yoyogi concert we had to sell at least as many tickets as we would for an arena concert, still, about one-third of the seats were empty. That’s how many people were unable to make it. But in our hearts we felt like we owed it to our fans to perform the concert, no matter the number of people that were present, so it didn’t bother us if there were only a few people. I don’t know how the Raid. is going to be in 2021 but I believe that because we held that concert we’ve deepened yet another bond with the fans.
There’s no doubt about that. How about the concert itself, what kind of a show was it?
Sena: We felt very strongly that this was a culmination of the Raid.’s hard work, so we put together a setlist where we focused on the songs that we are personally really attached to, and for the encore we played songs from the beginning of our career. Because of that, the first 3 songs of our encore made for a setlist just like those from our first concerts.
Honestly, being able to perform a one-man concert at a place like Yoyogi Gymnasium and being able to go major is like something out of my wildest dreams, so even during the concert I felt like I was dreaming. Even though it wasn’t that long ago, I can’t really remember it all that well [laughs].
bo_ya: Exactly [laughs].
Sena: Yes [laughs]. But there’s a memory that came welling up inside me. I’ve always made music but for the most part there have been a lot of difficult times. Especially at the beginning, there really weren’t a lot of people who came to see the shows and I felt like my heart was going to break. I thought about how a band like that was able to make it to Tokyo and get this far. The fans tell me things like ”thank you for bringing me along with you to show me this view” but I feel like it was me who was brought along.
Because it’s all thanks to the support of our fans. I’m overflowing with new feelings of gratitude. I may not remember the concert itself very well but I remember having this feeling.
bo_ya: There were a lot of things that happened at the Yoyogi concert, but I’m glad we did it. Personally, there were some problems I had with the band up until the day before the show. But on the day of the show, I was able to put that aside, and I feel like I gave the performance my all. On that day, throughout the concert, I feel that the unity of our five members became stronger by one level. In that sense too, I think it ended up being a good concert.
Even at the Yoyogi concert there was something to gain. By the way, it came up earlier but from 2021 the Raid. will be playing on the major field. As the first step, it was announced that you will release a single called “Tokyo Sanketsu Heroine” in April.
Sena: Around the time we were going major, we had this distinct image in our minds of what kind of song we wanted to be our major debut song, and when giving shape to that image “Tokyo Sanketsu Heroine” (The Oxygen Depraved Tokyo Heroine) came out. bo-ya composed the music and I wrote the lyrics. As “heroine” is in the title, the protagonist is a woman but we ourselves are projected inside the image of this heroine. While we cannot reach our music out to people due to the corona pandemic, we are bravely fighting in the territory of a major label, where visual kei isn’t common.
The point is that we are living in a rush, aren’t we? Running with all our strength, we are lacking oxygen, “sanketsu”. I drew the image of this lifestyle we have and projected it onto the girl who moved to Tokyo.
bo_ya: The melody feels like straight visual rock. It’s catchy and gaudy, I wrote it without changing what makes us “the Raid.” in the minds of our supporting fans.
I’m looking forward to the release. Well then, how would you like to spend the year 2021?
Sena: Because COVID-19 is picking up again, I don’t know how much we will be able to tour but we have always been a band that tours in all 47 prefectures and performs over a hundred concerts a year. That’s why, to make our music reach as many people as possible, I would like to perform in many places in 2021. By holding concerts, we can meet fans in each region. I simply love our fans. If we didn’t have fans, we wouldn’t be able to make music, right
Because of that, I’m happy if we can meet and I’m glad that people can still remember us even if we haven’t been able to meet in a while during COVID-19. Only major artists are shown on TV so if people come to see us even in these times where it’s difficult to choose, I feel that it’s very important.
In 2021 I want the Raid. to continue in a way that doesn’t let down those people’s expectations.
bo_ya: Even during the COVID-19 crisis we have always been of the stance that we should do something, but the chances for the members to meet have decreased and some members think and act on their own, while other members don’t share their thoughts—I feel that until now the gears of the Raid. haven’t been turning smoothly. It’s not a huge drawback, but at this point in time I don’t think it has been resolved.
But no matter what happens, it won’t affect us. Even if the drummer left, even if naked pictures were exposed on social media, even if we were criticized; this is a band that changes negative sentiments into a plus. That’s why even if the gears don’t turn smoothly, we will overcome this thing called Corona and become an even better the Raid. than before. There are a lot of limitations because of COVID-19, but nonetheless, I want to present something unprecedented or interesting.
Other bands may think “huh?” about the Raid. as we continue to work hard, but we will try our best to propose a new form where “this is normal”.
Powered by: club Zy. and Vijuttoke.
Part one: https://www.club-zy.com/contents/402155
Part two: https://www.club-zy.com/contents/402158
Interviewer: Takayuki Murakami