Between a wildfire US tour, and prepping for their first big concert of 2023, BAND-MAID sat down for an interview with JROCK NEWS. The metal maidens from Tokyo had a lot to say about their US tour experience that sold out all 13 appearances across America.
Join us as we catch up with BAND-MAID regarding their first overseas appearance in three years, and how they wrote their latest EP Unleash during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read to the end for details on their upcoming livestream from Tokyo, and their next US appearance in Daytona, Florida!
It has been a while since you last traveled overseas. How do you feel now coming back and visiting more cities this time?
MIKU: It was the first time for us to go on a month-long overseas tour, and it was also the first time in three years, so I felt very fresh and new. I also had the opportunity to spend precious time with many people in each place, which I think was very fulfilling and helped me grow.
In your live performances, which you call a service or “OKYUJI”, you have a special connection with the audience, even overseas. What is it like to get responses from crowds that speak a different language?
MIKU: Although the different languages can be a bit disconcerting, we are very happy to hear how hard they try to communicate with us in their language and how they respond in a very positive way. I was very moved by the fact that many people sang along with us in Japanese at the OKYUJI. Even though we speak different languages, we were able to do the OKYUJI with a sense of unity, and I was very impressed by the wonderful nature of music.
Did you do any sightseeing on the BAND-MAID US TOUR 2022?
MIKU: The day before the OKYUJI in New York, I took a walk in Central Park with all the members and had tea at a café. It was the season of autumn leaves, so we could enjoy the beautiful scenery and have a refreshing day off.
What was your favorite memory from this tour?
MIKU: I have memories of many places, but most of all, unlike Japan, where there are still restrictions, people were able to call out with their voices during the OKYUJI. I was very happy to hear the call and response with everyone singing together.
Any differences when planning setlists for a Japanese vs. international OKYUJI?
MIKU: The setlist was based on the one we originally came up with for the pre-US OKYUJI in Japan. But we decided to include more songs that people can call out and respond to, and more songs that people can get excited about together. I selected songs I thought people would want to hear here. Since it has been three years since we’ve been overseas, we also changed the setlist to include some older songs.
Does BAND-MAID plan to host more OKYUJI overseas? Is there another Europe tour in the future?
MIKU: Of course, we would like to tour overseas. I would love to tour Europe again. I would like to do an OKYUJI in foreign countries that I have not been to yet because our goal is to conquer the world.
Switching gears, but congratulations on releasing your latest EP, Unleash. The new EP was a blistering run of eight seriously aggressive tracks! Why the decision to go with an EP rather than a full-length album this time?
MIKU: Whenever we decide on titling a full album, we always think of it as a story. It is important to me to create a flow of images as if you are listening to a story or watching a movie. This time, we did not start with the idea of making an album, rather, we created and packed in what we had written during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it became an EP! So, it is a parade of aggressive songs that can only be done on an EP, songs that clear out pent-up emotions experienced during the lockdown.
Question for each member: What is your favorite song from Unleash and why?
MIKU: Sense was the first song on the set list for the US tour, and when the orchestral intro of this song started—I could feel the tension rising, so I was more enthusiastic. I think it is a very important song for the OKYUJI.
KANAMI: I like the song from now on, because of how I played the melody on guitar, and I was able to express it in a different way than usual! Also, not only the guitar, but each part of the song is cool. So, I hope you will enjoy listening to each part of the song separately.
SAIKI: I like the song Corallium very much because it has made an impression on me since I first heard it. It was the first song for which I wrote the lyrics, so that may be part of it.
MISA: My favorite song is influencer. I made the bass line for this song entirely on the keyboard! I used accents that I don’t usually use, so it’s fun to play. I intentionally bounced around in places. I think the bass solo is the easiest listening on Unleash for everyone to catch, so I hope you listen to it a lot and have a drink or a cup of coffee.
AKANE: HATE?, during the period when I was working hard on basic practice, I was able to move my fingers faster. So I told the members that I wanted to try blast beats someday and was surprised when KANAMI immediately sent me a song with a blast beat phrase [laughs]! I was happy to try something new, and HATE? was the song that gave me confidence because it was the one that I got an OK take on in the recording process the most smoothly.
Musically, what are new techniques or approaches each member experimented with while recording Unleash?
SAIKI: In the first part of the song Unleash!!!!!, the lyric “How many times?” are sung differently than usual, like a falsetto. I wanted the listener to be a little surprised, so I did it uniquely that way. As for the vocals, many of the songs on Unleash are in a higher key than usual.
KANAMI: There are some parts where I tried to use a DIEZEL VH4, which is a new approach to sound, though partial.
On Unleash, the song influencer has a message with phrases regarding social media. Yet, each member has a Twitter and Instagram, do you consider yourself an “influencer”?
MIKU: I hadn’t thought about that. The lyrics of influencer are about the self-approving influencers that are so common among young Japanese today. It’s not us. I think it is very different from our sensibilities and personalities of us.
Looking ahead, what does the future look like for BAND-MAID?
MIKU: We would like to continue to do OKYUJI around the world, aiming for world domination. We hope to continue to bring our music to you in various forms without stopping.
Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. Do you have any last words or a message for our readers?
MIKU: Next year will be our 10th anniversary and we are looking forward to making it the best year yet. We hope you will join us in enjoying the music of BAND-MAID and watching us work hard to conquer the world.
KANAMI: Thank you for all your support! We will continue to do our best to deliver songs that will energize you in the future!
SAIKI: Thank you for everything and please keep supporting us! Next year is our 10th anniversary! We’ll push forward with all our might!
MISA: I always get power from everyone. I’ll keep on running forward, so please stick with us! See you at the live concerts.
AKANE: I hope to continue making the best of the OKYUJI with everyone in the whole world as we strive for our goal, world domination! Looking forward to seeing you all at the OKYUJI!
Now, BAND-MAID prepares for its first big concert of 2023 back in Japan at the Tokyo Garden Theater. Check below for tickets to the livestream of it on January 9. Also, we now know they are already coming back to the US for the festival “Welcome to Rockville”, held on May 18 in Daytona, Florida.
BAND-MAID TOKYO GARDEN THEATER OKYUJI Livestream
Welcome to Rockville 2023
|Daytona International Speedway