Mr.Children, or Misuchiru as they are known to their fans, is a famous Japanese rock band group formed in 1987 by Kazutoshi Sakurai, Kenichi Tahara, Keisuke Nakagawa, and Hideya Suzuki.
1987 - 1997
Mr.Children is one of the most popular bands in Japan. They made their major debut in 1992 with the release of their first album, "EVERYTHING", but it was not until one of their singles was used as a drama theme song, like their fourth single "Cross Road", that they started getting noticed. They got their big break in 1994 with the release of their fifth single, "innocent world", which made record sales and earned the Japan Record Award in 1994. Their fourth album, "Atomic Heart", which was released in the same year, is still their top selling album. Since then, all their singles have been number one hits in the Oricon charts, like "Tomorrow never knows" and "Namonaki-uta", and many of them became million sellers.
They first formed in 1987. Originally called THE WALLS, they changed their name while talking at a diner. Around that time, they were influenced by the band, Echoes. The leader of that band, Tsugi Jinsei, was political and thus THE WALLS music became political and "dry". By changing their name to Mr. Children, they also changed their attitude towards the band, which they thank as helping them broaden their horizons. They felt that by being called THE WALLS they were pretending to be and act like something they were not. The group then auditioned at a music club called, "La Mama", passed the audition and played at the club a couple of times.
It was because of them playing at the club La Mama, that they begin to gain popularity with people, and were eventually asked to try and debut as professionals. After a couple of failed demo tapes sent to labels, they decided to take 3 months off in 1991 to recharge. When they went back to La Mama this time around they played and sounded more mature. Many fans of them did not like the new arrangement they came up with however and preferred their old material. Whether or not it was a good choice was decided in their Chokuzen demo tape in 1992 that caught the attention of Inaba from Toy's Factory. He felt their music had potential and got them a contract with Bad Music. They played as the opening act for the artist Jun Sky Walkers and got their first dose of what it felt like to be a professional artist. It was also around this time that they were introduced to their current producer and now long time friend Takeshi Kobayashi. Kobayashi was already known as the music composer for Keisuke Kuwata and Kyoko Koizumi.
They started their collaboration work with Kobayashi at his home. Kobayashi was truthful with Sakurai's compositions and lyrics, letting him know when they were and weren't good. In 1992, Mr.Children's debut album, "EVERYTHING", represented the long hard work they put into the album. By the time their third album rolled around, they wanted to create a new vibe so they moved to Waterfront Studio's in New York. After the release of versus, Mr.Children was chosen as the next big thing in various music magazines. It was also around this time that Sakurai made a goal to have a one million seller single. That single was "CROSS ROAD" and was used as a the Japanese TV drama "Dousoukai" theme song. It was during the 22nd week after the release of CROSS ROAD that it finally hit a million copies sold.
When "innocent world", was finally released, Sakurai decided to finally get personal and really sing about what he was feeling. Soon after "Atomic Heart" was released. It was an album that was mixed with both instruments and digital sounds, becoming known as "DigiRock" (Digital Rock). Mr. Children also became involved in charity work, doing a collaboration song with Keisuke Kuwata of Southern All Stars. The song "Kiseki no Hoshi" was used as the campaign song for the Act Against AIDS concerts. [es] Mr.Children in FILM, a documentary, was next and the group went overseas to film it. After the main song "[es] Theme Of Es" was written, the movie opened in theatres. During the release "Namonaki Uta" another change was arriving. The band felt that they had become a machine. According to Suzuki, "I felt like I was carrying a burden somewhere." Interest from the media also grew and a greater interest in Sakurai's private life started because he had succeeded at such a young age (in his 20s at the time) When work began on the next album, the intial idea was to recording in United States, Europe, and Jamaica. The plans were later changed to Tokyo, New York, and London due to unknown reasons. Thus "Shinkai" was recorded and went on to sale over 2.5 million copies. Soon after the "regress or progress" tour began were for the first time they played all the songs on Shinkai. They held 55 conerts and broke records.
In 1997 "Bolero" was released and it was soon after that rumors started of the group disbanding. Sakurai's reply to the rumors; "The band will dissolve only when we have no more talent and have relationship problems with each other." On March 31, 1997, at Ebisu Garden Hall, a secret live for 1,000 fans was held. The band played 10 songs while drinking. The last song they performed was "Mata Aeru Kana" (See you again someday). After the live and 3 years after their last vacation, a new vacation time began. Sakurai felt rock bands needed a vacation. Tahara and Nakagawa went to driving school. A friend of Suzuki's left a message on his answering machine stating: "Why don't you go for a drink, or hang out?" Sakurai bought a computer which he started to use to compose music. Nakagawa and Suzuki started a side project band called "Hayashi Hideo", and they went on a livehouse tour. Kenji Fujii from My Little Lover and Sawao Yamanaka from the pillows joined them. Tahara spent his vacation time listening to music at home, spending time with his family and attending Hayashi Hideo lives.