• Zoo_Grup

    ZOO Interview: Get Ready for a Catalonian Block Party!


    Zoo_Grup

    The Latin-ska-hip-hop band Zoo comes from Valencia, Spain, and though it’s their first time at Fuji Rock, several Zoo band members have played the festival before. The bands Obrint Pas and La Grossa Sorda are well remembered for rocking the damn house with wild Spanish horn-fueled punk at both the White Stage and super fun late-night parties at the Crystal Palace Tent. Zoo is a contemporary evolution of these sounds. Imagine a merging a ska band with, hip hop MCs, and a raging Barcelona dance club, and that’s pretty much what you get with Zoo. When they play in Europe, it’s a giant Latin house party and audiences are in the thousands. Now they’re coming to Fuji Rock 2019 for sets at the White Stage and Crystal Palace, and also to the Tokyo Wednesday night pre-event on July 24, Radical Music Network. We caught up with band leader and MC Panxo for an email interview to learn a bit more about the band. From the sounds of it, the message is: Fujirockers! Put your hands up! And get ready to dance!

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  • gold2

    Banda Bassotti’s Japanese Romance: An interview with Luca Fornasier, aka DJ Goldfinger Selecta


    gold2

    Italian group Banda Bassotti have been likened to the Clash for mixing ska, punk and a fight for social equality, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. They also rock the house in a very major way, so expect them to whip the crowd into a frenzy when they play on Fuji Rock’s White Stage on Sunday, July 28. This is Banda Bassotti’s third visit to Fuji Rock, though the last time they were were here was 14 years ago in 2005. A lot has happened since then: In 2006 the group released a song called “Fuji Rock” on their album Vecchi Cani Bastardi. Last year, founding member and vocalist Angelo Conti passed away, with tributes stretching from Rome to Japan. We caught up with the band’s manager Luca Fornasier to talk about Banda Bassotti, two decades of coming to Japan, and his own upcoming DJ sets as Goldfinger Selecta at both Fuji Rock and at the Tokyo pre-fest party, Radical Music Network.

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  • The Cure Promo Pic - Fuji Rock 2019

    The Cure is Needed Now!


    The Cure Promo Pic - Fuji Rock 2019
    On March 29th, 2019, as The Cure stood on the red carpet before their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, their lead singer – the eternally-lipsticked Robert Smith – was accosted by a brash reporter who, in classic American fashion, belted, “Are you as EXCITED as I am?!?!”. Equally true to form, and visibly wincing from her sensory assault, Mr.Smith quietly replied,”…apparently not”.

    Despite their relatively upbeat post-punk debut in 1979, The Cure quickly ascended to the ranks of royalty as  “kings of gloom”; people who made it not only acceptable to openly live through one’s depressive states; in the right circles, they even made it look “cool”. 

    As recent studies reveal that depression is on the rise worldwide, The Cure’s receipt of Rock’s highest honour not only seems fittingly timely; it also validates those who were bullied for being their fans in decades past. And, as Robert Smith and Co. prepare thirtieth anniversary concerts of their album Disintegration (arguably their darkest record) we can almost hear their throngs of fans silently chime, “We told you so”.

    Even further cementing their importance, beyond becoming an incidental champion for those who struggle with mental health issues, from The Cure’s earliest performances, Robert Smith also pioneered another modern topic; gender and sexuality. Openly displaying more femininity than the average man since The Cure’s first shows, by 1982 Mr. Smith donned lipstick for all concerts and photo shoots. Even throngs of loyal fans assumed he was bisexual. However, ever-defiant of preconceptions, and consistently breaking new ground by default, Robert Smith would clearly state in interviews that he was monogamously married to a woman he loved; his high school sweetheart, Mary Poole. Once again, decades ahead of popular discourse, he indirectly gave millions permission to be themselves in both gender and sex. 

    As the band prepares to release a brand new album this autumn – reportedly steeped in “doom and gloom” – to celebrate its fortieth anniversary, its performance at Fuji Rock flows into a twenty-three date marathon of concerts, consisting mostly of appearances at legendary festivals like Glastonbury and Austin City Limits. Some may question the relevance of these ageing pioneers, in a country where visual kei and makeup on men is already seen as passé. However, for a land still struggling with gender equality, LGBTQ rights and epidemic depression, The Cure is a prescription we all need. 

  • charan

    Charan Po Rantan – Spectacle for your Festival


    charan

    A festival is supposed to feel grand, it is supposed to be all spectacle and grandeur. It should come across the way a circus coming to town must have felt in bygone eras- a separate time and ethereal place that only comes around about once a year. No act at this year’s Fuji Rock scratches that itch quite the way Tokyo’s Charan Po Rantan does.

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  • Death Cab for Cutie Maybe More Alive than Ever


    Death Cab for Cutie Promo for Fuji Rock

    Legend has it that as Death Cab for Cutie sat on a porch with their indie label rep circa 1998 – trying to decide how big a run of their first album they should press – they thought perhaps 500 copies might be enough. Their label then convinced them that they could sell 1000. Eight albums and a few member changes later, the band that grew around vocalist Ben Gibbard’s solo project is still evolving. From arguably depressing, navel-gazing ambient indie rock hymns drenched in reverb that perhaps only critics, hipsters and this writer could love, they completely changed their tune(s) by their fourth album; 2003’s Transatlanticism. Despite the darkly ironic nature of some its lyrics, the music for the single “The Sound of Settling” rang out with summery jubilance meant for stadiums. Atlantic Records were quick to snap them up, with the band striking a deal to their liking; on the strength of their last indie album selling 500,000 copies; the benchmark certified as “gold” in America. The following ten years saw their ambitions rewarded, with four albums multiplying into eight Grammy nominations. Their melding with the mainstream then reached its completion with a commission to write a song for the soundtrack of The Twilight Saga; “Meet Me on the Equinox”. 

    2018 saw the band born anew once again and reaching for new sounds, as it released its ninth studio album, Thank You for Today. Being DCFC’s first recording without their producer/guitarist Chris Walla, it also marked their debut as a five piece; with the addition of Dave Deeper and Zac Rae, both on guitars, vox and keyboards. Keys play a heavier role here than perhaps on any previous work, which is apropos, given the heavy nod to the eighties on a lot of songs; even borrowing the lead guitar sound of fellow Fuji Rockers The Cure, on the album’s opening track;  “I Dreamt We Spoke Again”. By song three, a casual listener could be forgiven for believing that “Gold Rush” was a new Pet Shop Boys single; as lead singer Ben Gibbard’s always whimsical voice leans even more towards the gentle nasal tones of PSB’s leader Neil Tennant, and the drums resemble a modern-day version of the raucous dance beats the Brits employed to chart success in the nineties. One might question how this will all translate to the stage at Fuji Rock, but given the success of 80’s flirtations for artist such as Taylor Swift and Katie Perry, and the general desire to party of the average festival attendee, Death Cab for Cutie will probably reign supreme this summer at Japan’s largest festival, with one more arrow to add to their quiver. 

  • Red Hot

    Red Hot Chili Pipers Bring the Bagrock


    Red Hot

    Not familiar with bagrock? Let Red Hot Chili Pipers give you a lesson.  Life is short, listen to bagpipes.

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  • 0002-1

    Acts from Across the (Other) Pond


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    Fujirock has always welcomed more than just your standard American, British and Australian acts from overseas. However, especially in recent years we have noticed a steady increase in performers from neighboring Asian countries. Its not news to anyone that the largest non-Japanese attendants to Naeba are from Taiwan, reflected in the recent appearance of artists from there to draw in even more fans from that corner of the world.

    This year once again brings a handful of acts from Asian countries outside Japan, but what we are noticing particularly this outing is a stronger showing by artists from another country; Korea.

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  • Sia Fuji Rock 2019 Official Promo - 5265_prof

    The Enduring Allure of this Artist from Down Under


    Sia Fuji Rock 2019 Official Promo - 5265_prof

    “Despite” is a fitting adjective with which to start a sentence about many artists performing at Fuji Rock 2019. Many musicians on this year’s roster have so surely secured their place in the hearts of the masses, that they’ve graduated from the Hero’s Journey and onto a special place akin to artistic immortality. Death Cab for Cutie have secured a slot at this year’s festival despite having parted ways with their signature producer and lead guitarist Chris Walla, and Ging Nang Boyz accomplished the same feat despite only retaining the lead singer of their original lineup.

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  • Mike Scott

    Interview: The Waterboys’ Mike Scott


    The Waterboys appeared at Fuji Rock in 2014 for the first time, and will be returning to Naeba this year. The UK band was formed in 1983, centered on Mike Scott. Mike has been known as one of the UK’s greatest songwriters for over 40 years, with many other artists covering his songs; for example “The Whole Of The Moon” covered by Prince. We got an opportunity to interview Mike during his recent stay in Japan. He talks about his previous appearance at Fuji Rock and looks ahead to this year’s festival appearance.

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  • nature airliner Live at International Pop Overthrow Vancouver 2019

    It’s Going to be a Brilliant Time


    Having been both a music journalist and a musician myself since my high school days in the 90’s, my journey through this industry has been epic and winding. My first festival, as a musician, was the Boom ’n’ Blast in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A now-defunct teen band competition in my hometown’s central park, with a stage and a sound system worthy of household names, it made me feel like I had already reached the big leagues. However, they were still decades away. My first international festivals included Zandari Festa in Seoul, which I attended as an artist, and Music Matters in Singapore which I covered as a music journalist; the former operating on a mission statement similar to that of the original SXSW festivals (with an eye on showcasing the best in independent talent) and the latter hosting headliners like Pentatonix; the hot topics of the moment. 

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