Exactly one week from now, the second European tour of Japanese Pop/Rock queens Scandal will take off in Amsterdam. The band is already quite a phenomenon in their home country with sales numbers many western bands could envy, high-profile sponsorship deals and theme songs for several popular anime series. Their 2014 album ‘Hello World’ seems to have more than a randomly chosen title; the rest of the world is slowly catching up to Scandal. B7Klan offered me the opportunity to talk to guitarists Haruna Ono and Mami Sasazaki, bassist Tomomi Ogawa and drummer Rina Suzuki, all of whom sing for the band as well. One thing is for sure: the band seems to be looking forward to this second European journey.
Rina Suzuki: “European audiences are really enjoying the show itself. Japanese audiences can’t enjoy the show unless they actually know the songs, but I really appreciate that European audiences have fun even when they hear the songs for the first time.”
This isn’t your first time in Europe. Why do you think only a few Japanese bands consistently tour Europe and America?
Haruna Ono: “It takes manpower and money to organize concerts. Much more than you’d think. So in order to organize our concerts, we need to keep making good music and we need the fans’ support more and more.”
You quite famously started doing open air shows at the Osaka Castle Park. How different were those shows from what you’re doing these days?
Rina Suzuki: “When we played open air shows, we didn’t know anything and we didn’t fear anything. That was a great time, but these days when we play concerts, we feel much more confident and responsible. We want to meet the expectations of the audience.”
Many Japanese bands make a clear division between their indie days and their major days. You have dealt with both. Are the differences really that big?
Tomomi Ogawa: “We don’t feel there’s much of a difference. Of course there are differences, like the size of the audiences, but we still play the songs from our indie days live. The most important day in the history of Scandal is the day we formed the band, not the day of our debut. Forming the band was really the big thing for us.”
There are clear influences from J-Rock bands, but also from western Rock bands in your music. What influenced you when you formed?
Haruna Ono: “We all have different influences, but we didn’t start playing music being influenced by bands. When we started, we loved idols and pop singers and we went to the same dance school. One of our teachers advised us to play instruments at the time and then we formed Scandal. At that time, we were strongly influenced by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Foo Fighters, but also Japanese bands like Judy And Mary.”
What musicians influence you these days?
Mami Sasazaki: “I still often listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Foo Fighters and Two Door Cinema Club.”
Unlike many other Japanese bands, your instruments are mainly from American manufacturers. There’s a lot of Fender among your equipment, for instance. Why did you go for these instruments?
Haruna Ono: “Because they are so cool! We didn’t choose these instruments because they are made in the USA, but the instruments we like are coincidentally American.”
As a band that is not strictly a part of the visual scene, how important is the visual aspect of your shows?
Rina Suzuki: “Formerly wearing costumes on stage was very important to us. But the way our career is now, we can freely wear what we want.”
Like many Japanese Rock musicians, you are big anime fans. Your songs are even included in a few series. How would you describe this combination?
Mami Sasazaki: “Since a couple of years, anime and Rock music are a very good combination to connect us with foreign audiences. This relationship has really opened the entrance to Rock and other Japanese music.”
Scandal will be touring Europe until the end of September at the following venues:
10/09/2016 Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Melkweg
13/09/2016 Cologne, Germany @ Luxor
14/09/2016 Hamburg, Germany @ Kaiserkeller
16/09/2016 Wroclaw, Poland @ Firlej
17/09/2016 Wien, Austria @ Szene
18/09/2016 Milano, Italy @ Elyon
20/09/2016 Marseille, France @ Poste a galene
21/09/2016 Barcelona, Spain @ Apolo2
24/09/2016 London, UK @ Islington Academy
25/09/2016 Paris, France @ La Machine