Interview by Todd Nelson
Translation by Tomoko Fukushima and Victor Boggio
July 26, 2017
The current tour has been your largest yet, 53 shows covering all 47 prefectures in Japan. It has been fun following your tour experiences that you have shared on social media. For each of you, what has been your favorite activity out of all the places you have been to so far on the tour, whether it be a type of food or something you have done or attended?
Rina: I enjoy people coming to our shows in the local areas. In our free time in between shows, we like to enjoy whatever is happening in the area. In Kyoto, we tried Nagashi Somen (flowing noodles), and I dressed up as a maiko. We’re Japanese and we like to enjoy Japanese things in the local cultures.
Haruna: In Iwate prefecture, I had wanko soba (small cup of buckwheat noodles). You order them one cup at a time, and I ate 100 of them!
Tomomi: From all of our tours before, there were 4 prefectures we had never performed in. When we finally played at these prefectures on this tour and I saw our fans there, it made me very happy. I especially liked Kochi prefecture, the scenery is very nice. I had Yasube gyoza there which is very good. We also played golf in Kyoto.
Mami: I’ve done a lot of sight seeing. In Kyoto there are many power spots with a lot of energy. I visited them, the power there resets your heart. The feeling at the power spot is like seeing very beautiful scenery, refreshing and resetting your heart.
One other activity I wanted to ask about, Rina-san in particular — it seemed like you really enjoyed the dinosaur museum. Do you have a favorite dinosaur?
Rina: Mmmm! When I was little, I watched Jurassic Park and thought the dinosaurs were really cool. My favorite is the T-Rex. The dinosaur museum is in Fukui prefecture, it’s the kind of place that would appear in Jurassic Park, it’s really big, a historic place, and something to be proud of. Even foreigners would really enjoy it, it’s so big and nice. There are many fossils in Fukui and foreigners would enjoy seeing those as well.
On this tour you’re playing on average 3 lives a week over the course of a few months. This must require a lot of stamina and energy. How do you accomplish this?
Rina: We do a lot of training at the gym, and jogging to stay in good shape.
Ah yes, I know you have participated in some ekiden events in Hawaii in the past.
SCANDAL: Ekiden! Hawaii, yes!
Rina: Every set list we change, so we feel that every show is different and very fresh to give us energy, so that we’re not repeating the same thing again and again.
Your most recent release, BEST ALBUM [SCANDAL], is comprised primarily of songs that were voted by your fans as their favorites. Were there any songs among the favorites that surprised you?
Rina: The fans picked many, many songs from the past 11 years, from the very beginning, even when we were indies playing in the streets of Osaka until now. I can tell from the energy coming back from the songs when we play them live which ones are the favorites, so we weren’t surprised by any choices. We were very happy with all of them. This is a CD that many people who have never heard SCANDAL before will buy, and it will have songs from our early days, so that’s very cool. The selections for the CD really represent our music.
Did your fan’s selections line up with your own favorites? Were any of the band’s
personal favorites left out?
Mami: No, no songs that we hoped would make it to the final album were left out.
Haruna: We realized that the songs that we really like are also the songs that the fans really like, so everything was good.
One of the new songs on the BEST ALBUM [SCANDAL], “Freedom Fighters”, really rocks! The lyrics speak of taking a stand for what one believes in. Was there anything that inspired this song and its message?
Rina: Of course rock-n-roll is protest, and we wanted to make a rock-n-roll type of song. That was one reason. This year Trump was elected. We played at the same concert hall in Paris where the terrorist attack happened, just a few months before, we were very surprised by that. The one year anniversary just came up. So a lot of things happened this year and many things are going to happen in the future. I wanted to tell the fans “Do what you want to do, follow your future, follow your dreams, make your own future, pick what you want to do and go that way.” That’s the message.
On your most recent studio album, Yellow, the collection of songs is diverse in musical styles – pop, reggae, grunge, eastern influences – yet the songs flow together quite well. Was it a conscious decision when you were making this album to explore different styles?
Mami: We went on a world tour before we made this album and touched many cultures, places like Mexico where we had never been to before. So when we returned to Japan, we were influenced by all those experiences of touring around the world and that influenced the album.
Are there any styles of music that you would like to experiment with in the future that you haven’t yet?
Rina: We’re pretty satisfied with the number of different musical styles that we touched upon in Yellow. For the next album we want to make a super rocking album, the kind of album that makes people want to come to the show!
Every album is like that.
SCANDAL: (Laughing) Thank you.
In August you have your 11th anniversary special coming up and it looks like this special event is going to be quite different than last year’s outdoor event. There is even a dress code for attendees. Are you able to share more details about this event yet?
Rina: The event will be comprised of two live shows back to back the same day, limited to 200 hundred attendees each. Alcohol and food will be served as well.
Haruna: We are collaborating with MTV for this event, which will be part of their Storytellers series. We will be the first Japanese band featured in the series.
Tomomi: This will be our most adult show. We wanted to try something new.
I live in Austin, TX and attend Japan Nite at SXSW regularly so I wanted to ask you this question. SXSW 2018 will mark the 10 year anniversary of when you first played in America. In recent years artists such as Yoshiki and Perfume have played at large venues at SXSW. Is there any chance that SCANDAL may return to SXSW?
Mami: Ten years ago we were still minors and had not even toured Japan yet, and we were allowed to play as an indie band at SXSW. We don’t know if we will come back to SXSW, but we do want to come back to America and tour.
Maybe you could go on a 50 states tour. (joking)
SCANDAL: (Laughing) 50 states!
Rina: It’s become more difficult economically doing one man shows in America now. We’re thinking maybe with local bands we can tour together in the future. We certainly want to come back.
I know over the years SCANDAL has participated in a variety of collaborations with artists like Keiko Terada of SHOW-YA. Are there any artists that you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Rina: We aren’t really thinking of any collaborations, the most important thing for us since the four of us are on stage at the same time is to continue to develop this group as a group that works together well, to cherish the relationship between the four of us, and to develop our songwriting together. That is more important than any song collaboration in the future. We’ve had collaboration experiences in the past on TV, but now our main focus is working together and making good songs together.
What musicians or artists are you currently listening to?
Mami: I like the Foo Fighters. We saw them at Fuji Rock in 2015 when Dave Grohl was recovering from a broken leg and he performed from a throne made of guitars.
Haruna: Katy Perry. We also enjoy Coldplay.
Tomomi: We saw Coldplay at the Tokyo Dome. We also like Sting.
Since Rina released a photo book within the past year, is that something that any of the other members would be interested in doing?
Haruna, Mami, Tomomi: No. We have no plans to make such a book.
Rina: We have been approached by a Japanese fashion magazine – S Kawaii. We have a corner in the magazine where we introduce our own tips on makeup and hairstyles, and things like that. It’s something I never thought about doing until we were invited, but we want to make a band that is not just musical, but really cool with the hair and the fashion as well.
What are SCANDAL’s plans after the 47 prefecture tour and anniversary event?
Mami: We’ve done a lot of one man live shows, but in the future we’re thinking of doing shows with other bands as well. Doing small tours with other bands.
Rina: We’ve been writing songs during our 47 prefecture tour and we’ll continue to write material for our new album as we tour.
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