Indie rockers Radwimps stand out in Japan's sugary music scene

(Yokohama, Japan) - In a Japanese music scene flooded with helium-voiced teen bands chirping about candy, fluffy bunnies and all things "kawaii" or cute, indie rockers Radwimps offer a potent vaccine for sugar-poisoning.

See Full Article

The platinum-selling Yokohama foursome have released seven albums to date since forming at school in 2001 after vocalist Yojiro Noda first picked up a guitar and began strumming along to songs by Britpop giants Oasis.

"I learned to play guitar listening to Oasis when I was 13 or 14, just remembering the chords," Noda told AFP after the band's return from their first European tour.

A recent homecoming gig triggered crowd mania at Yokohama Arena as Radwimps belted out smash hits such as the number one "Dada" with its savage guitar riff, the reggae-inspired "Iindesuka" and the English-language "05410" -- which sounds rather like Taylor Swift bumping heads with Green Day, but still poptastic.

Asked to define their post-punk style, Noda let out a sigh.

"Basically it's a rock band," said the 30-year-old songwriter, switching seamlessly from Japanese into a fluent American West-Coast drawl. "It's not 'pop' pop and people who listen to rock, half of them think our music is a little complicated -- the arrangement and stuff. But we don't want to be categorised by a genre."

The floppy-fringed Noda, who went to elementary school in Tennessee and Los Angeles from the age of six to 10, exudes a slightly androgynous sex appeal on stage in floppy hat, off-the-shoulder white top and black sarong.

With a sound not dissimilar to British rockers Bloc Party, punctuated by spiky guitars and an electronic edge but without the uber-serious lyrics, Radwimps recently played in London, Berlin and Paris.

"Yojiro really has a wide range of expertise and lays down lots of different melodies and rhythms so it's easy to listen to," said guitarist Akira Kuwahara of the band's heavily layered sound. "But the songs are really quite difficult to play."

Lip-synching idols

Which puts Radwimps on the opposite end of the scale to the lip-synching idols of the ubiquitous J-pop scene, dominated by the bubblegum fashions and powder-puff tunes of AKB48 and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, princesses of kawaii (cute) with an apparent fetish for singing about confectionary treats.

Noda and his band-mates, often pigeon-holed alongside alternative rock rivals 9mm Parabellum Bullet, Bump of Chicken and Asian Kung-Fu Generation, take their cue from 1990s Japanese acts such as Mr. Children and Spitz, who have supported Radwimps on their current nationwide tour.

Finding a balance between commercial success and staying true to their indie roots remains the challenge.

"If you run away from what is mainstream, it's easy to make music, to make excuses," said Noda, unafraid of turning into a Japanese Coldplay. "The fun part is having both sides. We wanted to have a deal with a major label, but we didn't want to be defined by that."

Noda is the glue that holds the band together, writing the tunes which the four jam together before making a demo -- "if we're in the studio too long we start getting on each other's nerves," he deadpans.

After playing to huge crowds in Japan, where they are regulars at Summer Sonic -- Asia's biggest festival -- Radwimps felt their shows had gone down well at intimate venues in Europe, even if their nostalgia-tinged lyrics were lost on audiences.

"They screamed the loudest in London," grinned Noda. "You really felt that connection. But you do have to put more into the shows to make up for the language gap. They don't understand the words, so you have to reach people with emotion."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Mahershala Ali to star in 'True Detective 3'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Oscar winner Mahershala Ali will front the third season of TV police drama True Detective. The Moonlight star recently signed on for the anthology series, which previously starred Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in season one and Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams last year. Source
  • Michael Jackson estate owes Quincy Jones $9.4 million, jury finds

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — A jury on Wednesday found that Michael Jackson’s estate owes Quincy Jones $9.4 million in royalties and production fees from “Billie Jean,” ”Thriller“ and more of the superstar’s biggest hits. The award from a Los Angeles Superior Court jury fell short of the $30 million the legendary producer sought in the lawsuit filed nearly four years ago, but well above the approximately $392,000 the Jackson estate contended Jones was owed. Source
  • Michael Jackson estate owes Quincy Jones US$9.4 million: jury

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A jury on Wednesday found that Michael Jackson's estate owes Quincy Jones US$9.4 million in royalties and production fees from "Billie Jean," "Thriller" and more of the superstar's biggest hits. The award from a Los Angeles Superior Court jury fell short of the $30 million the legendary producer sought in the lawsuit filed nearly four years ago, but well above the approximately $392,000 the Jackson estate contended Jones was owed. Source
  • Michael Caine has secret cameo in 'Dunkirk'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Movie veteran Michael Caine has a small cameo in pal Christopher Nolan’s war movie Dunkirk - but he doesn’t actually appear in the film. The actor, who has appeared in a handful of Nolan’s projects, including the Dark Knight trilogy, was recorded giving orders to Tom Hardy and Jack Lowden’s fighter pilot characters. Source
  • Jennifer Aniston teases Jason Bateman with throwback photos at his Walk of Fame star unveiling [Photos]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Jennifer Aniston poked fun at her pal Jason Bateman as he unveiled a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Wednesday. The actor’s frequent co-star donned a floral patterned dress to salute Jason at the ceremony and she used the event to joke about her first meeting with Bateman. Source
  • Jon Stewart returning to HBO with standup special

    Entertainment CTV News
    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Jon Stewart is bringing his comedy to HBO. The network announced Wednesday that Stewart will return to the network for his first stand-up special since 1996. Stewart is also set to host the "Night of Too Many Stars" tribute in November benefiting Next for Autism, which will feature sketches, short film and standup comedy. Source
  • Angelina Jolie reveals health, marriage problems in new interview

    Entertainment CBC News
    Angelina Jolie revealed she developed high blood pressure and Bell's palsy last year. The actress-director told Vanity Fair she credits acupuncture for her full recovery from the paralysis, which was caused by nerve damage and led one side of her face to droop. Source
  • Justin Bieber the 'Tom Cruise' of Hillsong Church

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Justin Bieber is being called the “Tom Cruise” of the Hillsong Church. The Sydney-based church – with branches in 19 countries – has found itself in the spotlight after the troubled troubadour cancelled the remaining 14 dates of his Purpose tour. Source
  • Angelina Jolie reveals Bell's palsy diagnosis in Vanity Fair

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Angelina Jolie says she developed high blood pressure and Bell's palsy last year. The actress-director tells Vanity Fair that she credits acupuncture for her full recovery from the paralysis, which was caused by nerve damage and led one side of her face to droop. Source
  • $20M Annie Leibovitz collection rejected for 4th time by Canadian tribunal

    Entertainment CBC News
    A federal tribunal has — for the fourth time — rejected the bulk of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia's enormous Annie Leibovitz collection, raising questions about whether the prints by the famous American photographer will ever be displayed in Halifax. Source