J-Rock band [Alexandros] spoke to The Natural Aristocrat® about their live performance at Anime NYC 2022.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): What were your impressions on your first time performing live at Anime NYC in front of Gundam fans?
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: We were all excited. I mean, I think they like Gundam more than us! (laughs) We love the Gundam series of course. But I felt the energy from the audience. It was like they were even more into it than us.
So it was like “We can’t f*** this up!” (laughs)
HIROYUKI ISOBE: I mean, they knew how to have fun!
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: Yeah, exactly.
HIROYUKI ISOBE: So actually there was no difference (from a non convention concert). You know, all around the world it’s the same thing. We love the crowds’ energy.
But like I said, during the gig, this was our first time in three years after COVID happened to actually hear the crowd. Because in Japan, all the audience still has to wear masks and they’re not allowed to like shout or sing along.
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: They can’t even speak.
HIROYUKI ISOBE: Unbelievable, right? I mean the audience in Japan, they’re so f***ing ready.
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: That was the first time we heard the audience sing along for the chorus part for “Senko”.
I was really, really happy to do it in New York. And I’m sure that Japanese fans are really kind of jealous. We wanted to do it with them first, but you know New York came first.
HIROYUKI ISOBE: Since the song was released after COVID happened. Yeah, it was great.
It was so surprising to know how big of a thing anime is here in New York. I was totally surprised. So yeah, we’d love to be here again.
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: I feel like I’m in Tokyo! (laughs)
On New York City being an inspiration
HIROYUKI ISOBE: I used to live in LA when I was young, really a little kid. We talked about where to create new tracks and to record our new album before Sleepless In Brooklyn came out.
And honestly, I was like LA of course! You know, West Coast is the best. I came to New York City for the first time about three to four years ago.
Man, I totally fell in love with the city! So ever since then, it’s so exciting for me to come back to New York City. I love it here.
There is this bar in Brooklyn, that I love so much. I used to be a regular there when we came to New York very often and the bartender knows about the band.
He came over to Japan actually to see our show… I was drinking with him last night. Reunion! (laughs)
On main differences between performing in the US and Japan
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: First of all, I love New York. It’s one of the best places to not only play a gig but just to visit.
It’s really my favorite place! I don’t know why. Cuz in Japan I like Osaka better than Tokyo. I say that to the fans.
I just love the atmosphere, the mood, and people. I also went to LA, Washington, DC and Texas. But I love New York the most, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because of the New York pizza!
HIROYUKI ISOBE: We have pizza in LA! (laughs)
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: Yeah, I know. (laughs) That’s not the only reason. I like playing in New York because I think New York has some kind of similarity to Tokyo a little bit.
If you look at America from Japan, I think most of the Japanese people think that Americans are like, “Yeahhhh, what’s up mannn?” But if you go to New York, they’re like “Hey man,” casually.
HIROYUKI ISOBE: (does LA impression) “What’s up mannnn?!” (laughs)
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: Compared to Japanese fans… Japanese fans are kind of shy.
HIROYUKI ISOBE: They’re really shy.
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: But once you get to know each other, I think they’re really excited. In New York, they’re really excited more than us.(laughs)
But if they don’t like us, maybe after two or three songs, they might leave. So I think it’s kind of a strict place to play from that perspective but a great place to improve. I love it!
On musician & band inspirations
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: I’d say Oasis. Yeah, cause I mean there are lots of musicians and hard rock bands that are cool. But the first band, that came into my life was Oasis.
It’s not only their music but their attitude and the way they dress and the way they talk. It really was shocking for fifth grade kids, how they put the F word in every sentence.
The funny thing is that my brother, my older brother, taught me Guns N’ Roses and all these rock bands from the US. But it was really hard for me to imitate them because they had long hair and wore those kind of tight hot pants.
It was really hard for a kid like me to be like them. But Liam Gallagher had this mushroom haircut and it was really easy to imitate them.
So yeah, I’d say Oasis taught me how to sing and how to make music, how to play guitar. And of course, I listened to a lot of musicians after that first band.
HIROYUKI ISOBE: I was influenced by…
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: I taught him everything about rock music. (laughs)
HIROYUKI ISOBE: Right, right. (laughs) Cause when I was back in the States, I used to be in a marching band, you know, playing all those trumpets and stuff like that.
I was also on the swimming team and on a basketball team. I was more of a sports type guy and I knew nothing about rock music and he (Yoohei) was like, “Just shut up and watch this!” (laughs) Yeah, so that’s why I’m here.
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: I brainwashed him.
HIROYUKI ISOBE: Yeah, I got brainwashed even now. (laughs)
On Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway song “Senko”
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: I was reading the novel first because the film wasn’t ready yet. I mean I saw the picture but it wasn’t even moving yet! (laughs)
So, I’d say reading the novel the first time really inspired me. But if you really go deep into the story and make music, it’s gonna be like music that’s not us, right? Clichéd.
I thought it was really important to just pick a moment there and let us just absorb it. We have to make our own song, a song that we can be playing for like a decade.
And in that moment we had a new drummer. So that song was really important for us because the fans were kind of anxious about new drummer.
We felt we should make them all excited about the new song. “Senko” was really the first song of our current four members.
It was really important for us. I think it worked out. (smiles)
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What are [Alexandros]’ future plans, release wise?
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: Well, I’d like to ask that to Mr. Ogata from Bandai Namco Film Works! (laughs) Hopefully, we might do the sequel to Gundam and maybe some other animations. But we’re not allowed to say!
Message to Anime NYC fans and abroad
YOOHEI KAWAKAMI: Please share us on Instagram, Twitter. because we’d love to come back to New York City. And not just New York but LA, Texas, everywhere. And not only America, we love to go to Europe and everywhere around the world.
We are the kind of band that don’t only stay in one place. I don’t like airplanes, but you know, I love to go around the world. So please spread our music! Thank you!
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