Interview with THE EMERALDS during Japan Nite

interview - 04.06.2008 08:00

JaME was given the opportunity to sit down and talk with the Japanese Samurai Rock & Roll Trio before their show in New York City on March 16, 2008.

The exciting trio comprised of Kazuya (vocal & guitar), Osuke (bass) and Akio (drums) has been around since 2002 and performing at Austin's famous SXSW since 2004. Their sound, which can only be described as "Samurai Rock & Roll," has gained them a reputation for their interactive, high-energy shows. Known for their flower print shirts and Kazuya's love of cranberry juice, the trio gave JaME the chance to sit down with them as their US tour Japan Nite 2008 took off.


How are you guys doing? How has the tour been?

THE EMERALDS: (laughing)
Kazuya: We’re sleepy. Not tired, just sleepy.
Osuke: Yesterday we had the show at midnight, got back to the hotel at 4 AM, had to leave for the airport at 5 because our flight was at 6 and so we’re pretty sleepy right now (laughs).
Kazuya: But that’s pretty normal for us (laughs). It’s normal for us to be on very little sleep.
Osuke: And then I damaged my fingernail yesterday, but that’s normal for me (laugh). Actually, I last slept three days ago, that’s usual too (laughs).
Kazuya: At the airport we had our first meal, it was called "the classic breakfast," so we haven’t eaten much either but that’s normal too (laughs).
THE EMERALDS: We got to Austin on Friday night, went out and did promotions, and then Saturday in Austin we did two shows and then went to the airport to come here.
Translator: They did eat yesterday though, I saw them (laughs).
Osuke: Just one sausage! (laughs) That’s all, and the day before yesterday, we also ate one sausage (laughs).
Kazuya: This is the longest question!
Everyone: (laughs)

You’ve toured the US many times now; is there something you still find strange or something you just can’t get used to?

THE EMERALDS: Strange... strange... (thinking)
Kazuya: During a live two years ago someone threw their bra at me when the show was done. Even now, I still think that’s one of the weirdest things that’s happened. (motions with hands) It fell on the micstand but I didn’t put it on my head (laughs).
Osuke: One time when Kazuya sang "Kiss Me Baby," a fifty year old woman went up to him after and wanted a kiss (laughs), she was like his mother! (laughs)

THE EMERALDS have been active for a while now. How did you all meet to form this band?

Kazuya: Actually, I’m a time traveling explorer from the future, 100 years in the future.

Why pick this time to come back to?

Kazuya: I accidentally landed in this era and since I was here, I decided I wanted to sing love songs to this world. I looked for comrades and in a host club in Shinjuku I found Sho (motions to Akio) and Tsubasa (motions to Osuke) working as hosts.
Akio and Osuke: (laughing)
Kazuya: Since they had hospitality skills and understood emotions from the heart, I thought I wanted to do a band with them, that’s why.

How did you come up with the name THE EMERALDS?

Kazuya: Because a diamond is something everybody always wants but an emerald has its own beauty and charm, that’s why we decided to name ourselves THE EMERALDS, because it’s something very beautiful.

When you first started, what were your expectations and goals?

Osuke: When we first started, we did only what we wanted to do, but now our goal is to give satisfaction at the show tonight.
THE EMERALDS: That’s always our goal: to put on the best show for the audience.
Osuke: The audience is our future, right then and there.
Kazuya: Maybe we’ll keep on going for 100 years! (laughs)

As your fifth year playing at SXSW and fourth as part of the Japan Nite lineup, how do you feel you have grown since the first time you played at these events?

Kazuya: We are still growing because we get very stimulated by being over here and every time we come back, we play with people we wouldn’t in Japan and we get an audience reaction that’s different than in Japan. Here people mosh and hug us, so from that we keep growing and growing.
Osuke: The tour lineup has the top class of Japanese bands so...
Kazuya: In Japan we have no chance to play with them, but in the US we can play with them, so it’s a very great opportunity for us.
Osuke: Last year, GO!GO!7188, Japan’s most famous girl band played with us. Usually we cannot play with them so...it’s our inspiration.
Kazuya: We’ve also been influenced by the performances of such artists as PEELANDER-Z and Electric Eel Shock because they do so much with audience interaction and the performance of it, it’s not JUST music. So we’ve incorporated more of those elements into performances since we first appeared at SXSW. We want everybody to enjoy our show. We don’t want anyone left out.

What does being onstage mean to you?

THE EMERALDS: (in unison) Aahhh...
Kazuya: Hmm... living.
Osuke and Akio: (thinking)
(a moment passes)
Osuke: It’s the only life for me.
Kazuya: It’s the best way to contribute to the world.
Akio: It’s okay if I die tomorrow because I’ve been able to have that experience.

You all have so much energy live, is it because of the cranberry juice?

THE EMERALDS: (laughing)
Akio and Osuke: Only Kazuya!
Kazuya: It’s very hard to find cranberry juice in Japan, but in the US I can drink it all the time.
Osuke: (motions to himself and Akio) For us, draft beer! (laughs)

Only beer?

Osuke and Akio: Draft beer! (laughs)
Kazuya: (points at himself) Cranberry juice, (points at Osuke) beer, (points at Akio) beer! (laughs)

For your live shows, what kind of thought do you put into what you wear onstage?

Akio: Flowered shirt, leather jacket...
Kazuya: We always wear flower print shirts and our audience always thinks, "beautiful, nice shirts," it’s very important - the key point!
Akio and Osuke: (laughing)
Kazuya: The heart of the audience is so beautiful we have to wear beautiful shirts!

Why flower print?

Kazuya: Why flower print...
Akio: Flower means love, no?
THE EMERALDS: (in unison) Flower is beautiful! (laughs)

Your first full album has been made available to US fans at the start of the tour. How long had you been working on songs for it?

Osuke: Ahh... (laughs) Maybe two years? We started recording two years ago. We started engineering and mixing a few months ago. It took a long time for recording. We like to do the best job so we did it again and again (laughs) and it took a long time.

How did you choose the album title?

Osuke: Ah! Hajimoto (note: their manager) chose it!
Kazuya: The title is "Love Is Rolling."
Osuke: "Love Is Rolling" is our song for our concept.

Who composes most of the lyrics and music?

Osuke: Kazuya. (points at Kazuya) 80 percent of the songs, he does, (points at himself) 20 percent, the entertainment songs, I do (laughs). (motions to Kazuya) Good song part, (motions to himself) entertainment song part (laughs).

They’re all good songs! THE EMERALDS theme is all about love. During the writing and recording process, how do you try to reflect that imagery in your music?

Kazuya: In the lyrics, there are various aspects about love.

What do you think the most important aspect about love is?

Kazuya: Being close to each other.
Osuke: Understanding.
Akio: Forgiving.

As your first full album, was the recording process different from previous releases?

Osuke: It took such a long time (laughs). Recording...the mixing and mastering was done in New York. It was our first time; it was so hard to communicate back and forth.

It was sent back and forth between Japan and New York?

Osuke: Yeah...
Kazuya: Many...
Akio: Many...
Kazuya: Many times (laughs).
Osuke: We always needed a dictionary, like, "How do you say...?" (laughs) It was very hard for us, but it was a good experience for us.
Kazuya: It was different (laughs).

As a self-maintained band, what is the challenge you are most proud of overcoming together?

Osuke: We are here, now!
Kazuya: We’re most proud of being able to come to America by ourselves, doing it without any extra support.

THE EMERALDS made a brief cameo in the movie "Aozora no Roulette."

THE EMERALDS: (burst out laughing). Why?! Why do you know?! (still laughing)

It’s our job to know! (laughs) Is being in a movie something you’d like to do again?

THE EMERALDS: Ah... (still laughing)
Osuke: We would like to do it again because we didn’t know anything about that kind of cinema so...
Kazuya: Usually, actors in movies who play guitar are so bad and wrong, I want to be in a movie to show how playing guitar is really done! (laughs)
Akio and Osuke: (laughing)
Kazuya: We just did a performance, we didn’t actually act, but we are proud of our performance so maybe we could do more performances in cinema.

Now that you’ve released your first full album, what are future plans for THE EMERALDS?

Osuke: Tonight! (laughs) Tonight’s show! We’ll do our best in tonight’s show, that’s our future, our only future! (laughs) Actually, we’d like to go... ah, JaME is UK right?

World wide.

THE EMERALDS: Ah, world wide.
Osuke: We’d like to go to Europe someday.

Anywhere specific?

Osuke: England, because I was born in England. I came back when I was one year old, so I remember nothing, but I want to go. Kazuya likes London’s Hyde Park, so he wants to go to London. Akio, you want to go someplace?
Akio: I want to go where there’s good beer! (laughs)

Germany, then?

Akio: Ah, Germany!
THE EMERALDS: (laugh)
Kazuya: He likes German metal!
Osuke: German metal and German beer! (laughs)
Akio: I love it!
Osuke: Which do you want to go to? England or Germany?
Akio: Eh? Hmm...the best beer is Belgium!
THE EMERALDS: (laugh)
Osuke: So you want to go to Belgium?
Akio: Yes!
Osuke: We’d really like to go world wide. Especially Europe.

Lastly, please give a message for your fans.

Kazuya: Please listen to our music and come to our show so we can have fun!
Akio: Let’s have fun together!
Osuke: Listen to us so you can enjoy our performances more and more, so before you come to our show, please buy and listen to our CD (laughs), but of course, even if you don’t listen to our songs, we’ll still have fun! (laughs)
Akio: We love you!


JaME would like to thank b-chan and Jane R. for their help and THE EMERALDS for this opportunity.
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