Interview with ORESKABAND

interview - 07.28.2007 08:00

After their performance at Anime Expo, JaME was given the chance to sit down with the young ska band, ORESKABAND.

Just a few hours after their high-energy performance as part of the Anime Expo convention in Long Beach, California, JaME sat down with the six young women of ORESKABAND; vocalist and guitarist IKASU, vocalist and bassist TOMI, drummer TAE-SAN, trumpet player SAKI, saxophone player MORIKO, and trombonist LEADER.

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How was your trip and how are you enjoying Long Beach?

ORESKABAND: (laughs) Great! We've been having so much fun!
LEADER: We like Long Beach, but we haven't had a chance to go to the actual beach yet. So far, we've just been enjoying Anime Expo.

How did your tour in Japan go?

SAKI: It was great! We actually started our tour here in America and we got a really good reaction.

What's your favourite memory from that tour?

IKASU: Probably.... It's hard to pick just one, but probably San Francisco, where we started before continuing in Japan. At that show, at first, the audience didn't seem that excited to see us but as we escalated our energy, they did too. So both we and the audience ended up having a lot of fun.

Do you think you'll ever tour in other countries outside of Japan, such as in Canada or those in Europe?

SAKI: Not right away, but we'd all like to go!

What did you think of the fan reaction during your show today?

TAE-SAN: (firmly) Amazing.
TOMI: It was overwhelming. We would've never imagined that so many people would come to our show.

What did you think of those moments where the fans were holding up their cell phones and lighters, swaying back and forth?

TAE-SAN: It was beautiful!
IKASU: We've never had that happen before. It was really, really amazing.
TAE-SAN: It was the sort of response that we'd always hoped for.

Did you expect such an energetic encore chant?

IKASU: (laughs) Juuuuuust a little bit. Liiiiiiittle bit.

How was it meeting your fans earlier today?

LEADER: We met our fans yesterday too, so today's signing was our second time. There was a difference though, because yesterday, some people hadn't seen us before while today, everybody had seen us. We really and truly felt a good connection; we just loved it.
IKASU: We felt like after the show, they started to really know and understand us.

Do you have any interesting stories from meeting them?

IKASU: When we were writing names, people kept asking us, "Can you put it in katakana?" It was really cool.
TAE-SAN: Some people had tattoos of Japanese characters on them. A few of them said things like 'friend'; it was odd (laughs).
TOMI: Everyone seemed to really love Japan though and they kept trying to communicate with us, which was awesome. They'd say things like "please" or ask "How are you?" in Japanese.

You mentioned in a previous JaME interview that you were all in school when ORESKABAND began; how did you all first to get to know one another? Were you in the same class or friends?

TAE-SAN: We all met each other in middle school.
SAKI: We weren't really 'best friends' type friends at the time, but all of us aside TOMI were in a brass band together. But we knew of each other and saw each other in the school club.
TOMI: Before ORESKABAND, I wasn't in that brass band but I had a different band with both TAE-SAN and SAKI.

How did each of you get started in music?

IKASU: I started playing the piano when I was six.
TAE-SAN: When I was four, I started playing the electronic piano.
SAKI: I played the piano too, when I was around three or four. When I was in the fourth grade, I started playing the trumpet.
LEADER: I started playing the piano when I was six years old... Then I quit playing the piano when I was six years old (laughs).
MORIKO: (laughs) I played the piano too.
TOMI: When I was nine years old, I started playing the alto horn. Then when I was in the band with SAKI, where she played the trumpet, I switched to playing the bass guitar instead (laughs).

Since a lot of you started off playing the piano.... How did you end up playing your respective instrument in ORESKABAND?

IKASU: Well, it wasn't like we all wanted to learn the piano; they were lessons, so we had to go (laughs). I hated it (laughs). Then once I got interested in music.... I saw SAKI and TOMI's band, and I really liked it and admired the both of them. After that, I really wanted to be in a band like they were, so I learned how to play guitar.

Why did you chose the guitar? Spur of the moment type thing or...?

IKASU: Actually, I wanted to play drums but TAE-SAN was already their drummer... and she was so much better than me! (laughs) Then I thought I wanted to play bass, but my hands are too small to properly play bass. Then I thought I wanted to play guitar (laughs). I'm so happy though that I learned how to; I've come to really love the guitar.

How about everyone else?

TAE-SAN: I joined the brass band, a brass band club, in middle school and I played percussion.
SAKI: Everyone told me that the shape of my mouth and my teeth were good for playing the trumpet. In middle school, I was actually in the basketball club, but I started to have some trouble so I quit. I joined the brass band club instead and met TOMI through TAE-SAN. Then when everyone else joined, they said "Hey, let's form ORESKABAND."
LEADER: I was in the brass band club and ended up on trombone, though it wasn't my first choice. I wanted to play the tenor saxophone, but someone else had already picked it. Trombone was actually my third choice (laughs). I practiced really hard though and as I learned, I decided that I wanted to become a professional trombone player. I like it a lot now.
MORIKO: I was in the same club as the others. When I was in elementary school, I was watching TV one day and I saw a professional saxophone player on a show and thought he was so cool. After that moment, I decided I really wanted to play the sax too.
TOMI: Like I mentioned earlier, I actually started off playing the alto horn. But I didn't like the older students, so I quit and started going home immediately after school. A little while after that, I talked to TAE-SAN and she said, "Oh, I have a band but we don't have a bass player." So... yes (laughs).

Can you remember your first performance as ORESKABAND?

SAKI: (nods) October fifth. We didn't know how to do our make-up properly, so our make-up was kind of... awful (laughs).
LEADER: Very visual-kei (laughs).
IKASU: We wore collared shirts with long sleeves, like you'd wear with a suit. We had the band named printed on the sleeves. And it was... extremely hot (laughs). Now we only wear short sleeves to stay cool.
LEADER: At that time, we thought 'ska = The Specials' so we mimicked everything they did.
IKASU: That was my first real live show, so all of my relative and friends and their mothers and fathers all came. It made me very nervous, but I was also really happy.
TAE-SAN: We felt that we had a good response, and that initial push is what lets us still continue today. That's why we're here now.

You mentioned The Specials just now; what other ska bands do you like?

LEADER: Madness.
MORIKO: Reel Big Fish.
IKASU: A Japanese ska band, Gelu Gugu. Actually, they're the reason I'm into ska music; TAE-SAN, TOMI and I saw them perform and we loved them so much. In the MC, they spoke in all Osaka-ben. We went to a band festival---
TAE-SAN: We saw like twenty-eight bands there (laughs). But we remembered Gelu Gugu.
TOMI: We didn't really know what a ska band was at the time; "What's a ska band???" (laughs)

For your first album, PENPAL, you raised the funds to create it yourself. How did you come up with the money?

IKASU: I worked part-time.
LEADER: Me too.
TAE-SAN: I borrowed money from IKASU (laughs). But it's all been returned!
IKASU: Yep, I got it back (laughs).

Have you had a chance to meet or see any of the other artists performing here at Anime Expo?

IKASU: Except for TAE-SAN, we all went to watch S.K.I.N.. She was feeling a little sick, so she had to miss it.

How does it feel to the part of the upcoming Warped Tour?

LEADER: We're really looking forward to it; we can't even imagine how it'll be.
TAE-SAN: I'm a little anxious but trying not to worry about it yet.
IKASU: I want to see and experience a lot during the tour. We had the concept of it explained to us and we're really excited and honored to be a part of it. But before all of that, we're very happy to be here at Anime Expo. It's a different scene, a different vibe, but the fans are so giving and encouraging. They're our treasure.

To wrap things up and just for fun, could you each tell us something about the member sitting to the left of you?

IKASU: (about TAE-SAN) She writes really good lyrics. Her personality is really direct and to the point (laughs).
TAE-SAN: (about SAKI) SAKI is.... what (laughs). She's hard to understand (laughs), but she's also interesting and very funny.
IKASU: (adding on) I see SAKI the most in our live shows (laughs). She has so much energy.
SAKI: (about LEADER) She gets bored easily, so she just moves on (LEADER laughs). I think she has a screw loose lately. (pauses) LEADER is LEADER but she's not a leader as LEADER.

(laughter)

LEADER: (about MORIKO) MORIKO is the most responsible. She knows all of her own weaknesses and she's also very straight forward and honest.
MORIKO: (about TOMI) Hmm.... TOMI is a great listener and very easy to talk to.
TOMI: (about IKASU) She composes our songs and she's the one in charge of the member shoukai [member call]. She's always watching people and trying to understand them. She's very interesting and also very (in English) my pace (laughs).

Do you have a final message for your fans?

TAE-SAN & SAKI: You must come to the Warped Tour!
LEADER: (in English) Yes!
IKASU: We're releasing our CD in the United States, so please listen to it!

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Many thanks to Sony Music, Yaz Noya, Anime Expo, and ORESKABAND. Photo courtsey of Mayumi Nashida. For more information on their participation in the upcoming Warped Tour and their new CD, please check both their official website and back at JaME!
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