Sunday, 24 August 2014

Hearty Music: Alice Nine

I did not intend for this section to be me dedicating a blogpost to every single band I like but I seem to be starting a pattern here.
I just can't not talk about these guys because it's their 10th anniversary today. Just like in October I'll post about my fave book series' 10th anniversary as well. I can't just not do it.
I am framing this post in two videos. The one at the top, Velvet, is from their beginnings (2006 if I'm not wrong even though they really began on 2004 or it wouldn't be their 10th anniversary just yet, but I find this song particularly important for a lot of people in the fandom) and seeing it now, they look so young it's funny. The one at the bottom, Seven, is their latest video, and you can see how much they've grown and changed. I have chosen to do it like this because every time I see or listen to something old from them I'm reminded of how far they've come and how much they've grown and I have a proud fan moment, so it seemed like the appropriate feeling.

This band, I've said it in the past, has the ability to lure me right back every single time I wander away from them. Personality-wise, they haven't changed at all, they're the same dorky idiots we all love. Dorky idiot definitely seems to be the general description of every jrocker I like. Saga here tops the list though. The man could be considered a genius, but he also could be considered the biggest idiotic dork you've ever seen. What can I say, it's part of his charm. He's also the bassist, and if you know me at all you'll know I have a natural bias for bassists (automatic bassist bias I call it, and I know for a fact I'm not the only one who has it, it's a real Thing).

Shou, singer, we of the fandom call him the Demon King. For reasons that are pretty hard to explain for people who know nothing of them. It's got to do with how he behaves I guess. He's the one, I think, who has improved the most in these years. I actually have a demo thingie from a previous band and that demo sounds so bad it's cute. Totally horrid. And now he sounds awesome. It's great to see the improvement. Point of pride.

Hiroto, guitar, called Pon. Pon is a childhood nickname, but I'm fairly sure he has a variety of fandom nicknames. Pon remains my fave though, because it makes him sound cute. He's the official cutie, I'd say.
Mostly because he's the youngest in the band. He's SO passionate about what he does. When he's onstage (or rehearsing even) every single movement he does is so obviously full of passion you just don't want to stop watching. There's very few things more beautiful that a passionate person showing it.

On the other side of the stage, also on guitar, is Tora. Funny enough, at the beginning I wasn't very fond of him. He just seemed like the bad-tempered member. I guess I was intimidated by him? And then he was chosen to be MC on the online monthly program they did on Niconico and I started liking him more because I got to know him better.

Lastly, Nao on drums. Don't let his general appearance of silly deceive you. His fashion sense is lost somewhere unreachable, I've heard him scream like a little girl when putting his hand in a box and everyone makes jokes about him, but don't let that deceive you. Onstage, he means business. Srs biz, really.

The Alice Nine fandom, together, has gone through so much. We have been fortunate enough to never have experienced a member leaving (and in the scene, a band 10 years old with no member changes is a rare thing). There was a hiccup once with Tora having a hernia but he was ok and came back safely. We've had the death of pets, the welcome of new pets. We've had the Tokyo Galaxy tour final at Nippon Budokan, that was a huge milestone for them, it's an important stadium. The accidental murder of iPhones (Hiroto accidentally run his phone over with the car. I don't know how?? He cried about it on Twitter, it was hilarious). The epic awesomeness that is the 13 minute long Gemini (still sad only the first part of the song ever got a video). The gradual growing up with the band. There wasn't a specific moment that I can think of that was like a big break from the past and the future (until now, that is), it has been more of a natural evolution of things.
The Alice Nine fandom is generally a very nice place to be in. We don't really have drama or fights, we're nice to each other. I have seen fans of other bands being horrible to one another, and I am incredibly glad the Alice Nine fans aren't like that. The Number Six(es), we are, because the band has 5 members so the fans are the 6th. They once made a short movie all for the song Number Six. It wasn't even planned, it seems they were only planning to shoot the music video for it but then things got a bit out of hand and they got a movie. That's how they roll.

Five years ago you could say was a milestone. I've mentioned earlier a monthly program they did on Niconico. That's when it started, five years ago. It was really good, at the beginning. They showed us just how funny they could be when they wanted to. We got to know their personalities a lot better. It gave us a lot of legendary fandom moments (like that time they went to Saga's parents' home and then Saga took revenge on Tora's parents' home). They used games to make the release of new music videos a bigger thing.
But then the program format got stale and they run out of good ideas to do there. Also the band got tired of being paid more attention when they were being silly than when they did band events. So it's been decided that next month's program will be the last. It's sad that we won't be seeing them monthly from now on, but then again doing a monthly live program tied them to the city too much (can't tour comfortably too far like that). No doubt they'd be tired of it. It's really a lot of freedom the win just with this. It's just the right time to end it I think.

But that's not the only change that's coming now. They have also announced that after the 25th of this month they'll leave the company they've been with since basically the beginning. This is big, really big. And exciting too. Because all of us who know it, we know that company can be somewhat constricting. And it was obvious they weren't being comfortable there anymore. They changed record label twice in 5 years. Their latest releases sounded really constricted and held back. I think getting out of their management label will be a move for the greater good. I know I'm not the only one who believes this. The amount of freedom they're gaining with this move is just...all the possibilities they have now. Of course it's a bit scary at first because they need to sort themselves out, but when they do, and I have no doubt they will, because they are stronger than ever, what comes next will be amazing. That is what I think. That if they are given freedom to create what they want, it will be amazing.

Us fans will of course be there to see it. I've seen so many words of encouragement for them already, all I can do is add my little grain of sand.
I'm proud of these boys. Happy birthday, Alice Nine.
Like Subaru says, and it has now become the fandom motto:
"Be as one~"


P.S.: Today is also the birthday of Takehito, who played guitar in Ayabie, a band that was very big for me for a very long time (and still is even now). Happy birthday to you too Takepi!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Hearty Music: UNiTE.

 Once upon a time, my top 3 favourite bands were Ayabie, A (エース), and UNiTE.
Then AYABIE (capslock, not the same) basically finished its self-destruction process, and A (エース) announced they were disbanding last April.
Disbandments are sadly a very common occurrence in the scene, one can only hope it doesn't happen to one's favourite bands. Eventually though, it tends to happen anyway.
So yeah, my top 3 was stripped of 2 bands and I was clinging on to the third for dear life. But then, the catastrophe happened.
Yukimi (drummer) revealed that the state of his back was not good at all, the band's current schedule was making it worse, and for health reasons he had to leave the band. His immediate future plans mainly consisted of treatment and healing.
Now, of course, one member leaving isn't the same as the whole band going, but it still hurts, especially if it's for health reasons (as opposed to the usual "musical differences").

Last week they announced that a new drummer would be joining the band, after they'd been drummerless (officially, I mean of course on concerts they'd have a support drummer) for a few months. They decided they simply couldn't be drumerless and chose a new guy to join them. This new guy, we have been assured, loves the band as much as the older members do, and he is also Yukimi-approved.
Today we finally saw his face for the first time. He's quite cute I have to say. I hope the general fandom likes him, because new members sometimes get shit from people and I wouldn't want that to happen.

As a welcoming celebration of the new guy (Sana he's called. I don't think I said it) I'm gonna tell you all the reasons why I love this band.

I first found out about then through Ameba's peta system (Ameba being a japanese blogging platform). Sometimes indie band members will go and give peta to people as some promotional help to make people notice them. I suppose that is the reason why LiN (left-side guitar) came out of I-never-knew-where and gave me peta. For some reason I got curious (doesn't always happen with promotional peta) and wanted to check his band out, but it so happened that they hadn't released anything at all yet. A few days later they released their first single and I quite liked it, though I didn't absolutely love it at first. But I still wanted to find out some more about these guys, so I went and stalked their twitters and blogs. To this day LiN remains my favourite member. I often wonder why, but I just seem to like the weird ones.
They grew fairly popular pretty quickly (that is to say, within the scene) and sold out quite a few things.
I once did a masterclass about them on LiveJournal just to try and get my Aussie friend into them. I succeeded.
They're on YouTube repeatedly. I think they had 2 different official band channels, both of them forgotten, they're on the channel of their label, Danger Crue Records, and both guitarists have their own (also forgotten) podcasts (though Mio's is on ustream rather than YouTube).
Their fans are called U's. The band's motto would be "-s m e h-", which stands for "smile makes everyone happy".
Speaking of smiles, Yui's gets the prettiest smile award. Guess that's part of why people call him "Charisma-san".
Still on Yui, he likes Glad News (clothing brand) so much that once he was trying new clothes on and his own clothes disappeared because the shop staff thought they were the shop's stock.
I didn't remember this before I checked the aforementioned LJ post but apparently once they were being trolled on twitter and both guitarists went and trolled the troll right back.
LiN gets the dorkiest idiot award. And I mean he's a right dork but sometimes he does such stupid things, like put makeup brushes up his nose, photoshop his face on a kangaroo or plank on the sinks of a public toilet (and I have photographic proof of all 3 examples) that I can't help but think "why is he such an idiot?".
Pretty much all of their outfits look like they raided a fabric store and played collage on themseves.

Oh rereading the LJ post and typing this up has made me kinda nostalgic (and just so you realise the ridiculousness of that sentence, this band is only 3 years old). I am now looking forward to getting to know Sana and his antics and his anecdotes and stuff. Hope they're good.

I'll just go now and leave you with the new video, REV: