Interview Exclusive

Interview with Mary's Blood

22/12/2019 2019-12-22 01:00:00 JaME Author: ChrisN

Interview with Mary's Blood

The Metal Matsuri headliners talk about their new album "CONFESSiONS" and plans for the future.


© Faith, Inc. All rights reserved.

Despite their ascent to the pinnacle of the ‘girls metal’ scene, Mary’s Blood have only seldom ventured overseas during their ten-year career. Back in October, they made their long-awaited European debut with a headlining set at the two-day festival Metal Matsuri in London. This coincided with the European release of their latest album CONFESSiONS. On that busy weekend, Mary's Blood took some time to speak with JaME, with guitarist SAKI kindly acting as translator.

Welcome to the UK, and SAKI, happy birthday to you today.

SAKI: Ah, thank you.

EYE, RIO, MARI and YASHIRO: (applause)

This is your first time in Europe. What’s it like to finally come and perform here?

MARI: We’re really so excited and so happy to be here.

Do you have any future plans to come back to Europe again?

SAKI: We’re making plans. We’d like to be back here in the near future.

Would that be at a festival?

SAKI: Maybe a tour, a headlining tour. We’re making plans.

As you’re here in the UK, where heavy metal was born, are there any British heavy metal bands that have influenced you?

MARI: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest.

RIO: Sex Pistols.

SAKI: Not metal, she likes punk.

RIO: I like punks!

You’ve released your new album CONFESSiONS today through JPU Records in Europe. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

SAKI: We already made a contract when our third album FATE was released by Victor in Japan, so when we released FATE it was also released by JPU. Then we changed label after that. Our fourth album, Revenant, we released through another company. There was a miscommunication that we couldn’t release it from JPU, but this time we got in touch with the staff at JPU and released our album with them again.

CONFESSiONS has a mix of styles: Leyla has a Middle Eastern sound, Hello is a pop song, and High 5 is rock ‘n’ roll. You’re normally associated with heavy metal. What inspired you to use these different styles?

EYE: We did our favourite things!

SAKI: For our fourth album, we collaborated with a belly dancer. We invited her to our tour final to dance, so we were using Middle Eastern music. Then I went to their dance lesson, so it was a hint for Leyla. Then, as we said before, RIO likes punk so much, High 5 was born from punk. We wanted to do punk music in a mixed style with Mary’s Blood-inspired heavy metal and so pop, punk, rock ‘n’ roll, like this, so everyone did their favourite things on this album.

So the album reflects all your personalities?

SAKI: Yes, every personality.

You mentioned changing record labels.

SAKI: Yes, at our fourth album.

You also changed to a new producer at the same time. Has that relationship with producer Okano Hajime changed the way you work?

RIO: He has a lot of knowledge and he is a very good mentor to all of us. Okano Hajime is fun!

So work is more fun now?

RIO: Yes!

MARI: Okano-san is more like another band member. He says things like a band member, not as a producer. He has a very strong will for writing songs and how we play everything, like another member.

Speaking of extra band members, YASHIRO is with you here in London. She’s been with Mary’s Blood for a long time but never officially in the band. How does that relationship work between you?

SAKI: It’s very efficient to use her supplying guitars. Including her makes a much better ensemble, because if we used many different supporting guitarists, we would need more rehearsals for each of them. It’s better to use only one guitarist. She has many other jobs and projects in Japan, so otherwise it’s Mary’s Blood. She’s very busy so she doesn’t join the band.

YASHIRO: I think it’s very important for Mary’s Blood, for the balance of the band, that I don’t join. Because of the balance between the four members, I don’t join.

You’re an all-female band, and the number of Japanese female bands seems to be growing in recent years but in the west, the same thing hasn’t really happened. Do you have any thoughts on why there are more all-female bands in Japan than in the west?

SAKI: We’re not sure. It’s just my opinion, but for western players, the way is to play like men: very strongly. We are not strong in Japan, so there is a genre for women bands. There are so many famous female bands in Japan, we are not sure why.

Are you seen as part of a female band scene, or are you seen first and foremost as a heavy metal band?

MARI: It depends on the audience.

SAKI: Japanese audiences like to make genres. Even in heavy metal, there isn’t much of a market for bands with a female vocalist, or where the players are only female. There are so many kinds of fan-bases in Japan, so that’s a big reason that female bands are increasing. Maybe… we are not sure. Ask the audiences!

Does being a female band give you the freedom to play different styles?

MARI: It’s an interesting thing.

If Bruce Dickinson sang soul music, people would shout, “No!”

SAKI: Yes, but if we play a pop song, it’s OK. It’s a very good point.

You’ve also played at the NAON no YAON festival, which features only female bands. Does it also have mainly female fans? It’s interesting, in the west, modern feminism can sometimes be divisive, separating male and female. How is an event with only female performers thought of in Japan?

SAKI: You know that Japan is a small island country and so far east. There are no waves like feminism; it’s not as strong as in the west. We’re not sure, but Japanese are accepting everything - even gay or lesbian - everything is OK for us. NAON no YAON has continued for thirty years or something. SHOW-YA is maybe the first heavy metal female band in Japan, they started it. Also the staff are female for the first time.

We have the same management, so our president says, at the time, in the middle of the '80s, there are so many heavy metal bands, but most are men, played by men. SHOW-YA didn’t play as the same. Everybody looked down on them because they are female. Then SHOW-YA wanted to start a festival for female bands and female musicians. Maybe this is the start of empowerment for female musicians in Japan. We are not sure, thirty years ago, at the time we weren’t thinking about it. Everyone, male musicians, don’t look down on us because we are female now.

It’s a very big question, but we are not sure about it at the time in the '80s. Recently, so many young female musicians wanted to play at NAON no YAON festival, it’s a very huge festival in Japan. We don’t think about it. The female audience is there, also the males. It’s not an issue. Everyone doesn’t care about it.

Recently you played a ten-year anniversary gig, A Decade of Queens. What was that like?

EYE: Wonderful, so happy.

When you look back on your ten-year career, are there any highlights?

EYE: Our tenth anniversary live was the most fun moment.

In ten years, lots of bands have come and gone and split up, but you’re still going strong.

RIO: We want to say thank you to our fans for following us. It’s very good to continue as a band for ten years. That’s a very happy thing and we want to say thank you to our fans.

What are your plans for the next ten years?

SAKI: SHOW-YA say that they will continue the band. They will have been doing the same band for 35 years next year. They continue for 35 years with the same members, this is a very amazing thing. We’d like to continue with these members. This is a very hard thing. To continue, with the same members and making music, that’s a very important thing

To finish, do you have a message for JaME readers?

SAKI: We have plans for the near future, so we want you guys to look forward to that and we’ll try to see you guys out there.

JaME would like to thank Mary’s Blood and Orion Live for this interview opportunity.

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