In the summer of 2005, an indie Japanese band was born, put together by brainchild and bass player Miki Uchizono. After deciding to start her own band, she enlisted the help of Kei Sofue on drums and her sister Yumi Uchizono for vocals and guitar. Together they form the band The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass, or The Akabane Vulgars for short.
The band is known for their bluesy, soulful vocals combined with traditional rock sounds, creating a unique listening experience for all to enjoy. The band hopes to make their music known across America as their embark on a nationwide tour in the United States that will bring them from coast to coast. The tour, titled "Return of the King Zero", kicks off with a free performance at the J-pop Summit Festival on August 25th in San Francisco.
JpopAsia had some burning questions for this up and coming band. Check out our exclusive interview with them below:
JPA: Miki Uchizono, according to the band’s profile, you’re the one who brought the band’s members together. What was it about your band mates that made you think they would be perfect for your band?
Miki: Because I thought they have good physiques. I knew our drummer Kei was an excellent athlete in her high school days. Playing this kind of music takes stamina! I was very confident in my decision, and I'm so glad that it works well. Maybe you think this a little bit funny, but I think their physiques also generate an important dynamic of our sound.
JPA: What made you decide to form a band in the first place?
Miki: The very reason was because I was asked to perform for an event that was planned by my friend back in high school. My sister was playing guitar in bands, so I that’s when I thought it would be nice to form my own band. Then I contacted Kei immediately.
JPA: Miki and Yumi, you two are sisters. How does that dynamic affect the band and your music?
Yumi: We are living together and spend lots of time around each other, and often share a feeling that is sometimes difficult explain or share with others. It might be because we are sisters.
Miki: It's one of the very important factors that generate the power in our music. I think sharing many kinds of feelings, not only positive things but also especially negative ones, is not always easy. So I can say the fact that we are sisters is a big dynamic within the band.
JPA: The full name of your band is The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass. How did you come up with you band’s name? What is the significance behind it?
Miki: Well, we initially did want our name to be so long. But the name really stood out beyond others we discussed, and we knew some cool bands that had long names. So maybe we thought it would be exciting to do.
The meaning of those words Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass is not meant to be serious. But I can say we have special passion for the "Vulgars” part. When we were thinking of our band name, I was so eager to find a word that had strong power or a provocative image to show our attitude. So I thought it's the very word to represent our concept – We resist the world majority ignoring individual rights
JPA: The cover for your first 3 releases all featured hand drawn artwork. Who is the artist who draws them? Is this a pattern you’ll continue with future releases?
Yumi: All of them were drawn by Miki. Each artwork has its own story and they connect to our band’s concept. So our answer is yes, we would like to keep trying to take those patterns in our artwork for CD covers while continuing to search for and integrate new techniques.
JPA: Earlier this year, you released a compilation album which included 11 previously released tracks and 3 new ones. Are there any plans to release a full length album, or will you focus on releasing fewer high quality tracks?
Yumi: Yes. We want to record 3 new songs that were previously recorded live. We plan to record them during our U.S. tour and maybe we will record our newest song as well. We are looking at several options to release our music in the U.S. and we're very excited at being able to deliver our new song to everyone! The excitement we feel as we prepare for this tour gave me some inspirations to write this song! Thank you all for giving me the excitement!
JPA: You’re performing at the J-pop Summit Festival on August 25th and will continue touring throughout the US. What made you decide to hold promotions in the US?
Yumi: It's a difficult question to answer precisely. I think we have so many reasons and thoughts about coming back to the U.S. to play. What motivated us most was the great time we had playing at SXSW earlier this year. The show and the U.S. fans were brilliant. Great audience and they made a real connection with us. This was everything we hoped to do as a band and we just want to see more of America and play to as many people as we can!
It’s a hard feeling to express. The feeling we all had as we reached a first stage and played the U.S. was absolute. We believe that here is something in America! The fans are so genuine. Maybe I'm being too sensitive here. But we can’t wait to play here again.
JPA: After you finish touring the United States, what are your future plans?
Kei: Well we will return back to Japan but we hope to come back to the U.S. again! We do want to meet lots of people and want them to know our band. I often think we could have our base in the US because we feel there the music and fans there are kindred spirits to us.
Miki: We would like to play SXSW 2013, and then maybe a second US tour again.
Kei: Hi guys, you can join our band project! You can view our website at akabane-vulgars.com and learn more!
JPA: You guys have been together since 2005. How has your music evolved over the years?
Yumi: When we just started to play together, we often talked about things like our own staging. Maybe we were just overly anxious about how we’d look on stage from the audience point of view. But now, what we think important most is how we convey our thoughts and attitude to people through our music. I think we have kept improving over the last 5 years and that we are getting to be better and as musicians. This is probably our important accomplishment so far.
JPA: Your website lists all 3 of you on vocals. Is there a main vocalist, or do you guys try to evenly distribute who sings?
Kei: Our lead vocalist is Yumi. That never changes! Miki and I only sing chorus parts. That never changes too! Hahaha
JPA: To let our readers get to know you better, what are some interesting facts about you guys? About the band?
Kei: It used to be a secret but we actually all live together. Sharing time with everyone, we have meetings or we just talk about daily stuff and what each of us did that day. I have already got to know everyone in Yumi and Miki's family; especially their grandfather and grandmother. They are all big fans!
JPA: How would you describe your individual personalities?
Kei: Yumi is like mischievous and I’m like the innocent kid. Miki is woman of passion. I am good at handling them both!!
JPA: What bands or artists do you look up to?
Kei: Green Day, The Beatles, Don Williams, System of a Down
JPA: Besides music, what other things interest you?
Yumi: I like to read books. I think there are something very interesting relationships between science and human history, and religion and human history. So when I find such a book, I feel like reading it so badly. Miki and Kei graduated from Art school and they majored in print. So they continue making their artwork such as drawing and designing.
Miki: In addition, Kei likes to take pictures. She gives a direction to our band photos.
JPA: Please give your fans one last message.
Kei: When we shared the very first stage at SXSW we strongly realized how much our audience motivates us and gives us power as a band.
Miki: And now, we are getting closer to J-Pop Summit Festival. We are so excited and look forward to performing! Love ya.
You can preview The Akabane Vulgar's music through their official SoundCloud profile.
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