Visual Kei band ACME formed in summer 2017 and consists of vocalist CHISA, guitarist SHOGO, bassist RIKITO and drummer HAL. They have released five singles, one mini-album and one full album so far. On October 30th their new single “Wonderful World” will drop but you can already download or stream it even from outside of Japan.
We took this as good opportunity to meet them in Tokyo this fall and ask about the band itself, their latest releases and a few more things you might be interested in such as their oversea performances!
JPA: We already a mail interview with you last year, so it’s not the first time for you to appear on Jpopasia but I think there are still people who don’t know ACME yet, so let’s start with a short introduction please!
HAL: I am HAL and I love Curry Rice. I’m the drummer. Nice to meet you.
RIKITO: I’m bassist RIKITO who likes Omurice.
SHOGO laughing: Wait, there isn’t anything that I like in particular! I’m guitarist SHOGO.
CHISA: I am vocalist CHISA. Nice to meet you!
JPA: And please tell us where your roots are music-wise.
HAL: Since I’m a kid I am playing the piano and making classical music. Back then I thought about becoming a pianist but… In Japan there is a band called X JAPAN. Its drummer YOSHIKI-san is playing the piano and the drums. I thought that I also want to do it like that. I wanted to play the drums and when I started I realized I want to be in a band. So I started a band and this kind of life. I was supposed to travel the world as pianist but it’s the fault of YOSHIKI-san that I have this kind of life now.
Everyone starts laughing.
CHISA: But you do travel the world!
HAL: I do!
RIKITO: To tell the truth, I didn’t really had any plans to be in a band. I wanted to become a professional bassist and before forming this band I already performed live many times. But then I thought about what else I want to do and was introduced to CHISA-kun and SHOGO-kun by an acquaintance. And that’s how I am here now.
SHOGO: Wait, that are your roots?
RIKITO: That’s why I am in a band now.
SHOGO: Ah, it’s the reason why you are!
JPA: And are there any bands or musicians that made you think: I want to start a band! Or that inspired you?
RIKITO: My musical roots are Linkin Park.
SHOGO: For me it’s Story of the Year. But I also like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park and bands like them.
CHISA: I liked L’Arc en Ciel a lot. But if we’re talking about my own musical roots: I listened to Slipknot in middle school and started to like that kind of music. When Slipknot became popular also the amount of Japanese Visual Kei bands who played heavy music started to grow. I realized I want to do something like that.
The other members nod: For many of us Slipknot was the reason we wanted to play heavy music.
JPA: Can you tell us a bit about how you formed the band?
CHISA: SHOGO and I were searching for members and first we met HAL-san. HAL was introduced to us by DEZERT’s drummer Sora-kun. After that an acquaintance introduced us to RIKITO-kun.
SHOGO to RIKITO: That’s what you told us before!
RIKITO: Yes, that acquaintance!
CHISA: Yes, so we went to the studio and practiced together and decided that we want to do it.
JPA: What concept did you decide for when you started?
CHISA: We started with the topic of “school”.
HAL: Rather “Anti-school”!
CHISA: Our sound is quite loud and heavy. But recently we got a bit away from that school-concept. Also in the beginning we were wearing similar outfits with the concept of school. But now we distanced ourselves a bit from it to try out different things.
JPA: That school-concept is also why you used this “PTA” (Parent Teacher Association) on your merchandise a lot, isn’t it? I’m not sure in how many countries abroad this is used but you use this expression in Japan a lot?
HAL: We do! Maybe it’s only used in Japan??
JPA: No, I heard they also use it for example in America but can you explain a bit for people who don’t know?
SHOGO: In Japan this group of parents is called PTA. They are coming together and organize stuff with the teachers. It’s not everyone’s parents but just some of them, like representatives.
HAL: They talk with the teachers about giving more or less homework and things like that.
CHISA: In the world of rock parents and teachers are no-good. We wanted to become a band like that. That’s why we picked that concept.
HAL: We wrote “Fuck PTA” a lot but actually my mother was in that PTA-group.
Everyone is laughing.
JPA: I have a few questions about the responsibilities in the band. Who designs your goods?
CHISA: We have designers who do that for us but the members give the ideas of what we want to have them made. But there were also some we designed ourselves.
JPA: Who writes the songs?
Everyone: We all do.
JPA: And what about the lyrics?
Everyone: That also do all of us.
JPA: That’s pretty unusual, isn’t it? How or why did you decide that all of you should do it?
CHISA: It is! But we thought, if we all can do it, why not use that? Of course I want to sing my own lyrics but the lyrics of the other members are words I usually wouldn’t use or things I wouldn’t say. I think singing that is interesting. I think it’s better to have many different kinds of lyrics.
HAL: When I write lyrics I also think that I want CHISA to tell the fans this or that. That’s what I include in my lyrics.
JPA: In July 2019 you released your single “mononoke requiem”. What is the meaning of this song?
HAL: While being alive people and things change and things we are proud of are piling up. We are piling these things up more and more and are mislead by them. That’s what I wanted to turn into music.
JPA: It was probably you who wrote that song, wasn’t it?
HAL: Yes, I did.
JPA: The title of your tour is “No. 13”. What does the 13 mean?
CHISA: Because we go to 13 places during this tour.
JPA laughing: That’s easy! I didn’t think the answer would be that easy.
SHOGO laughing: It’s not that deep like the 13 of “Friday the 13th” or something like that.
HAL: We thought about this a lot but in the end it is really that simple.
JPA: On October 30th you will release your single “Wonderful World”. You already performed it for the first time on September 18th. How was it?
CHISA: For performing this song live we need a lot of techniques but the song itself is quite simple so I think it’s easy for the fans to get into it. I think the performance was good! Since we played it for the first time that day I think everyone was happy about it.
JPA: Are you nervous when you perform a song live for the first time?
HAL: Rather than being nervous we have to think a lot about what comes next and what to do next. If we’re used to a song it’s easy.
SHOGO: If there is no guitar solo I am not nervous. If there is one it’s the worst for me!!
RIKITO: Of course we are also interested in how the fans receive it.
JPA: The fans also need to think of movements for the song quite quickly!
CHISA laughing: When we did our sound check right before the performance I heard the fans talking “What shall we do??” through the curtain and went closer. They talked a lot about it!
JPA: They probably were excited about it! But talking about your new songs, what is the background of “Wonderful World”?
CHISA: The title is “Wonderful World” but… Everyone is living in his or her own world. There are people who are really happy but also people who aren’t. Everyone is living in a different “Wonderful World”. The content of these lyrics is like a disappointing Disneyland. It’s very dark. It’s about how your own world shouldn’t be like that. Even if there are many sad things happening in your life and everything is cloudy and unclear, when you come to our lives and sing “Wonderful World” together I thought this might be very nice. I created that song having that in mind.
JPA: The expression “Wonderful World” has a lot of positivity but the cover of the CD is a broken world.
CHISA: I wanted to talk about dark topics. In this world there are many things people don’t want but they are told they want it, so they buy it and think that makes them happy. That’s what is repeated and repeated all over again. I think, for example, if your baby is born then probably you don’t think that moment “I want an iPhone!”. But why do we want things? It’s probably because so many things are shown to us. This song is about what we really really like and want from the bottom of our hearts. Not what other people make us believe that we want to have. It’s about escaping together from a world that is ruled by that.
JPA: Which part of the song is the most outstanding?
Everyone: The B-Melody!
CHISA: Do you even call things like that abroad?
SHOGO: We only do that in Japan. There is the chorus and bridge and things like that.
CHISA: But even though the song is actually simple, there are many different techniques in this song.
HAL: When we perform it we all have to do difficult things and when we perform it together we just understand how it all goes well together! That’s why we have to take care to properly perform it. That’s outstanding.
SHOGO: But of course also the part where everyone is singing “Wonderful World”.
RIKITO: Yes, the chorus!
JPA: The B-side of this single is called “Replay”. Is there any connection between these two songs?
CHISA: Speaking of Wonderful World, the sound is rock but the lyrics are a bit dark. Replay is rather pop-ish and bright. We thought it’s good to have a song like that to keep the balance. We wanted to choose a song that has a different atmosphere from Wonderful World.
JPA: Since you sing about a “Wonderful World” can you also tell us what a Wonderful World is for you?
RIKITO: Onsen [hot springs]! There is good food I want to eat and then take a bath in the hot springs, lie down on a futon and wake up in the morning thinking “Oh, I guess I’m going to take a bath in the hot springs one more time!”
SHOGO laughing: Yes, isn’t that great?? Eating wonderful food!
CHISA: I like the sea. I like going there and enjoying it.
JPA: Are there good places for that in Japan?
CHISA: Ah, there are many places! Okinawa for example. When you are in Tokyo, everywhere is city. Every station is the same. When you are at the sea, it’s completely different. Wherever you look at it’s different.
RIKITO: I like aquariums.
CHISA: He loves fish!
RIKITO: I am there forever.
JPA: Which one do you like?
RIKITO laughing: Wherever fish are! I can spend a whole day even at a tiny aquarium!
HAL: I don’t want to go together with him anymore.
RIKITO: We went together in America.
CHISA laughing: We went in Dallas and he was looking at the fish forever!! We left him there!
HAL: He was looking at one of the fish tanks forever but we also wanted to see the other fish…
CHISA: You didn’t even see all of the fish tanks, did you?
RIKITO: I did not. It closed.
CHISA: Also, I love concerts where a lot of people are.
JPA: Well, you have your oneman tour from October to December!
HAL: I hope many people come!
SHOGO: For me, I like theme parks. Like Fuji-Q [a theme park with rollercoasters near Fuji]
HAL: Or like Sanrio Puroland [a theme park with many cute characters like Hello Kitty]
Everyone bursts out laughing.
SHOGO upset: No no! No way! Nothing cute. I hate theme parks with cute mascots. I don’t like it when cat dolls or stuff like that are walking around. I like scary stuff, like roller coasters.
RIKITO: How about Merry-Go-Rounds?
SHOGO instantly: Impossible.
JPA: Did you go to any theme parks in America?
Everyone: We did not!
HAL: We planned to go to the Universal Studios but…
SHOGO: We wanted to but we were so exhausted that we fell asleep. We couldn’t go. Also there was Six Flags in Texas.
RIKITO: Ah, the tiny one? Or was it huge??
SHOGO: No, it’s huge! But we were so exhausted it was impossible.
JPA: Since we talked about all these good things, would they be the last thing you wanted to do if the world ended?
CHISA: I’ve eaten a lot of cheap but also expensive food but no matter how much expensive food there is, I always want to eat gyudon. That’s why if the world ends I want to eat gyudon in the end.
RIKITO: I want to eat my mother’s Curry. The curry from my hometown.
SHOGO: Or Ramen from Fukuoka.
JPA: So you are from Fukuoka?
SHOGO: I am.
HAL: Maybe I want to do something I usually wouldn’t do?
Everyone laughing: You are a bad guy!!
HAL: Nothing that would hurt people! For example, being completely naked at Shibuya crossing!
Everyone keeps on laughing.
HAL: …. That was a joke!! Usually you wouldn’t do that!
JPA: Changing the topic a bit, where in the world would you want to go to the most?
RIKITO: To the Amazonas in Brazil.
JPA: Please do! It’s wonderful there!
RIKITO: If I come to know when I will die I will go there first!
SHOGO: I want to go to Spain and see a soccer match and I want to see the pyramids in Egypt. And I
want to drink German beer!
HAL: I want to go to Area51.
CHISA: For me it’s Dubai!
SHOGO: Oh yes, this one too!!
HAL: And to lake Uyuni.
JPA: The one that is like a mirror?
Everyone: Yes, we want to see it!
The members speculate where it is and decide for Bolivia then.
HAL: I also want to go to India.
JPA: You held a couple of concerts in America this year. How is it there? How were the concerts?
RIKITO: It’s completely different.
CHISA: It is! In Japan the fans try out different things. On the contrary, in America it’s very simple. They do things in a way that is easy to join in.
RIKITO: They just seem to enjoy it.
HAL: In Japan fans are often shouting very quietly while in America they just went for it and were loud.
CHISA: In their hearts Japanese fans probably also shout but they are afraid to?
SHOGO: We want to tell them it’s okay to shout!
HAL: We want our fans to shout more. We need to try harder. I’m not sure if it was because of the instruments or the atmosphere but there I could hear the fans properly while playing the drums. Maybe it was also because I was so excited to perform in America.
SHOGO: I do think the instruments are different there.
CHISA: Another difference is that in America they hold concerts quite late in the evening.
JPA: In Japan it’s so early!
SHOGO: It is!
CHISA: In Japan everyone has to go home again and the trains don’t go until late in the night. In America nobody cared about that.
JPA: Yes right? Onemans usually start at 6 in Japan, don’t they?
CHISA: Yes, at 5 or 6.
SHOGO: It’s so early in Japan!
JPA: But in Tokyo it’s difficult to go home by car.
Everyone agrees: It’s expensive to have one.
SHOGO: It made me think that it would be so nice if we can play until 11pm.
RIKITO: In Japan it’s impossible to perform that late.
JPA: If you want to perform until 11pm you can do that in other countries! Do you have any actual plans to go?
CHISA: We haven’t any exact plans yet.
HAL: We want to perform in Europe. And also in Asia and South America!
SHOGO: I really want to drink beer, so I want to hold a concert in Germany.
CHISA: If we are asked to come we want to give a concert wherever we can.
SHOGO: Time for travelling doesn’t even matter. I mean, it takes as long to America as it takes to Europe! And I also want to go to the Netherlands to Coffee shops!
HAL: To drink coffee?
SHOGO: To drink coffee.
JPA: CHISA already went to America as model once. How did that happen?
CHISA: I think it was because we had that talk about ACME wanting to go to America. To create that opportunity we decided that first of all I will go alone. They told me it would be a model job for a Harajuku fashion brand. Everyone else was a model but I am not and never did this! So I was really nervous but I did it in the end! That was the first time in America and it was fun. Everyone was friendly and nice.
JPA: Could you communicate? Are you all speaking English?
CHISA: If we speak of real talking, no. Not really in detail. It would be impossible to give an interview. But I guess I could make it in day-to-day life.
SHOGO: It would be impossible for me.
HAL: I can say something like [in English:] “This please!”
RIKITO: Yes, [in English:] “This one!”
SHOGO: I think I could say a tiny bit but no conversations.
JPA: So, if you go to America you can read the signs and kind of understand it?
CHISA: But if you go to Russia…
Everyone: We wouldn’t understand anything!!
SHOGO: But also in the Netherlands we wouldn’t understand anything. It’s not written in English if you walk around in the city.
CHISA: We know a bit of English but other languages…
SHOGO: Japanese people probably know a bit of Chinese. We can probably understand a bit by reading the Kanji.
HAL: Arabia is also impossible…
JPA: Please tell us what your goals are for 2020.
CHISA: In 2020 there are the Olympics in Japan. And what are our goals?
CHISA: We are currently talking about performing abroad in 2020 again. We want to hold a concert abroad at least once a year. It would be great to go on a proper tour.
SHOGO: We went twice this year!
JPA: You held 3 or 4 lives abroad this year, didn’t you?
SHOGO: The first time we went it was 2 lives.
RIKITO: Yes, 4 all in all.
HAL: In 2020 I hope we all stay healthy.
JPA: That’s the most important part!
HAL: And also don’t fight, guys!
CHISA chuckling: We won’t.
SHOGO: In 2020 I want to go to a country I haven’t been yet.
RIKITO: Yes, me too!
SHOGO: If we can make it then I want us to hold a concert there. Not only going there as vacation.
HAL: On Instagram they tell us to come to various countries.
SHOGO: Best would be a safe place.
RIKITO: I want to go to a country from which I come back to Japan without any incidents.
JPA: In the end, it would be nice if you can send a message to your oversea fans.
HAL: We talked about this now but if we get invited to a country and have proper time to prepare we will go to any country. So please invite us! We also don’t really ask for much money…
HAL: We will sleep at any place that has a roof…
Everyone: We just ask for a hotel and the plane tickets.
RIKITO: The more I think about it the more I want to meet our fans. We will go to meet you! Please wait for us!
SHOGO: Well, if we are invited we will go. Please come and have fun, wherever we are!
CHISA: Everyone is active on Social Media these days and many fans abroad also check out our performances in Japan via Social Media. We can use these kinds of media nowadays because the internet helps to spread interesting stuff. I would be happy if you check out our accounts and website and also tell your friends. Please remember us until we meet one day!
JPA: Thank you for this interview and we wish you a fun and successful tour!
If you already do follow their accounts or news on Jpopasia you probably know that their plans to go abroad were confirmed just a few days ago! ACME will tour the west coast of the US in January. As soon as more details are available we will let you know.