Ikasu - Guitar & Vocals
Birthday: February 13
Tae-san - Drums
Birthday: September 26
Leader - Trombone
Birthday: November 12
Moriko - Tenor Sax
Birthday: September 12
Saki - Trumpet
Birthday: January 12
Tomi - Bass & Vocals
Birthday: July 29
Chuck song sample
Knife & Fork
What a Wonderful World! vol.2
6. What a Wonderful World
What a Wonderful World! vol.1 (2008)
1. 24 Karat
2. Going Away
3. Kimi Stripe
4. Oh! My Honey
5. MUSIC DRiVER
6. Super ☆ Duper
WAO!! (We Are Oreskaband! - 2007)
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So heads up Tokyo Ska Orchestra, the competition is in the house and Ikasu, Tae-san, Leader, Moriko, Saki and Tomi are aiming high, so high you might be tempted to say... the Ska's the limit!
On March 3, 2009 Ikasu and Tae from Oreskaband were kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of Oreskaband with additional credits to Mayumi Nashida.
The band formed in 2003 while you were all still in middle school. Can you tell us the story of how you got together?
Ikasu: Well, it all started when I saw Tae's band playing at a local venue. They looked like they were having a lot of fun, so I decided to start a band. But I didn't know how... so I asked Tae to start a band with me!
Tae: Yeah, you headhunted me! I was with another band back then.
Ikasu: Then, Tae-san picked people among our friends, and "ta-dah!" We've got Oreskaband!
Can you share a few memories of some of the first performances the group did?
Ikasu: First time we did our show, I remember that I couldn't stop my hands from shaking!!
Tae: And we didn't have a vocalist! At our first show, we couldn't decide who was going to sing the vocals. So we were like, "let's just go with the flow and whoever could sing would sing." And it turned out NO ONE was singing!
People were like "What are they??"
"Are they an instrumental band?"
"But I think I've heard some vocals????"
Ikasu: I just remember that I was soooo nervous!!
Tae: Lots of our parents came to see us play.
Ikasu: I remember that we were badly prepared. We weren't ready at all! I think we came up with our set list less than a month before the show...
Tae: And then we started to practice without a score...
Ikasu: Well, deciding on our set list less than a month before a show is something that hasn't changed much... Hahaha!
Tae: Yeah, since junior high school we haven't changed much...
Ikasu: Oh, and it was right before the high school entrance exam, and we were SO NOT READY for the show, but we did it!!
How did everyone first get into music? Did you all think music would be such a big part of your lives?
Tae: It's hard to decide when...
Ikasu: But we both somehow had a connection to the music since we were young. I was taking piano lessons. Tae was taking Electone (electronic organ) lessons...
Tae: But we weren't really into it like we are now, back then...
Ikasu: I mean, we liked it, and thought that it was kinda fun to play music...
Tae: I think it was when we started Oreskaband that we really started to get into music!
Ikasu: Yeah, I think so, too! As I started playing in Oreskaband, and as I started to meet more people through our music, I became addicted to it!
Tae: Our US tour last year; that made my love toward music become even stronger.
Ikasu: Mine too. It was amazing to see MUSIC overcome the language barriers so easily.
Tae: I felt almost like we didn't need language to communicate!
Ikasu: Yeah, we were communicating through music, and that felt GREAT.
Tae: And these amazing experiences made music become a big part of our lives.
Ikasu: And it might get bigger and bigger as we go on.
You both recently turned 20 years old?
Ikasu: Yes, we all turned 20 years old! We had our Coming of Age Day Ceremony like just last month.
Tae: I think you started to go out a lot since then.
Ikasu: Yeah, cuz I've met a lot of good friends who I've lost contact with since we went to different high schools. And it's so interesting to learn what they were doing in those "LOST FIVE YEARS".
Let's take a trip back in time and learn about the origin of the band. First off, can you tell us a little about your hometown of Osaka?
Ikasu: Yes, we are from Sakai, Osaka. People there are friendly and warm.
Tae: People from Osaka have a lot of unique personality and there are lots of entertainers. Like your Mom.
Ikasu: Hahahaha. Everyone loves to make people laugh.
Tae: They really do!
Ikasu: So, living in Osaka is like living in a comedy.
Tae: It's fun living in Osaka.
Does anyone come from a family with a professional musical background?
Tae: Not at all!
What artist or idol do you most admire?
Ikasu: It's so hard to pick "THE MOST"... Tae, I think, you're listening to Janis Joplin a lot these days.
Tae: 'Cuz she's just absolutely GREAT.
Ikasu: It was interesting to hear your analysis on Janis Joplin's sound.
Tae: That's how much I love her. Janis Joplin and Patti Austin are two of my favorite artists.
Ikasu: For 2009!
Tae: Yeah, for 2009.
Who came up with the band's name and what does it mean?
Ikasu: A lot of people ask me this thinking that some amazing story hides behind it... but actually, ours is pretty boring...
Tae: It was really not thought through well... We were like "We need to come up with the name of the band," and we looked around and put together a bunch of names that we'd seen on the street.
Ikasu: Then the name became so long that no one could remember it. So we shortened it. And that's how we came up with our name "Oreskaband."
Tae: So there isn't any deep meaning to it.
Can you tell us how the band member "Leader" got her name?
Ikasu: Well, the question that we all have to ponder is that her name is "Leader" but is she really the leader of Oreskaband? Does she lead Oreskaband?
Tae: We named her Leader because she asked me to be the leader of the band... and I said "No! I don't wanna be a leader. Why don't you be a leader instead of me?" And that's how she got the title, when we were picking our stage names.
Ikasu: But first I came up with the name "Ikasu" and we all liked it. Then, it became Leader's turn. And we were like "what's the cool stage name for her?" We couldn't come up with an interesting name, and we all were like "Then... why don't we call her Leader?" And that's how she got her name.
Tae: So there isn't really a clear reason why we decided to call her Leader.
Ikasu: That's another Oreska mystery... no one knows why...
Who decided on the band's look and style of music?
Tae: Well, it's not the idea of one particular person in the band... We all were talking about it and we all liked the idea of playing Ska music. And we all thought that when we play Ska music, we gotta have 2-tones in our look.
Ikasu: Yeah, I mean, when I started playing in Oreskaband, I had no idea what Ska music sounded like. Tae, you were listening to Ska records.
Tae: Right, so when Leader said she wanted to join the band, I said, "Then we gotta be a SKA BAND!" And that's probably how we picked our style of music.
Ikasu: And to play Ska music we gotta have 2-tones in our look, so we would either wear white shirts or white polo shirts...
Tae: We wanted to have a simple and solid look.
Can you tell us the story of how you got signed with Sony Music Japan?
Ikasu: When we were all freshmen at our high school we started to play at some local venues about 2 times per month. During our junior year we were playing at some club in Wakayama, and we met this person who worked for Sony Music.
Tae: Then he introduced us to people at Sony Music Associated Records.
Ikasu: And they all looked really passionate about their work, like they were having a lot of fun.
Tae: And they told us that WE ARE UNIQUE!
Ikasu: We loved that they thought we are UNIQUE! So we decided.
Tae: Just like that!
Ikasu: It sounds so much easier than it really was, when we say it. But it pretty much says it all.
If there is one Japanese candy most people in North America are familiar with it is Pocky. Can you tell us about the commercial you did for them?
Tae: Well, our first shoot took place on the local train that we used to ride to get to our high school.
Ikasu: We were playing music on the train and it looked like we were having a party on a train!
Tae: It was our first video shoot. And it was so hard to play since the train was really moving!
Ikasu: It was hard to dance, too!
Tae: The train car was really small and it was really hard to fit us all in.
Ikasu: I remember a lot of my friends showed up for the shoot. They were happy that they got to bring some free Pocky home.
Tae: And we had a lot of fun!
Tell us about working on the music for your first mini-album, Ore. Who wrote the songs?
Tae: This is something we've done the same from the very beginning. Ikasu writes almost all the music.
Ikasu: And Tae-san writes almost all the lyrics. On Ore, Moriko wrote lyrics for "Chuck".
How difficult was it to be so active in music while still attending high school?
Tae: Was it so difficult?
Ikasu: Well it wasn't easy... I mean, we were only able to play shows during the weekends because we were in school. And we all had part time jobs during the week to support our musical activities.
Tae: But after we signed with Sony Music, we all quit our part time jobs. We had to make records in the studio after school, and then do some shows on the weekends.
Ikasu: I was writing songs during class... and taking naps during class when I needed to.
Tae: It was really easy 'cuz everyone from the label came all the way from Tokyo to our neighborhood to support us. We didn't have to change anything. We didn't have to travel back and forth between Tokyo and Osaka like we do now.
Ikasu: We were able to keep our normal high school life in Osaka. So it wasn't so hard.
Can you tell us about performing at Fuji Rock Festival?
Tae: I remember being really surprised when we first heard that we would be playing at Fuji Rock Festival!
Ikasu: Yeah, I remember asking one of our staff like "Do you REALLY mean, the famous FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL?"
Tae: I mean, we knew the name "Fuji Rock" since it is so famous, but we had no idea what the Fuji Rock Festival was really like until we got there.
Ikasu: It was a small stage outside the entrance gate called "ROOKIE A GO GO! Stage."
Tae: We'd never played for a big festival like that before, so we didn't know what to expect. We worried about stupid things like "Are we good enough for the stage?"
Ikasu: We were really nervous, but when we got there, the festival was so much fun that we forgot all about our worries. We were wearing the T-shirts that our label made for us. They had a big sign of the date and time of the show and the name of the stage and our logo to promote our show. Those T-shirts made us really happy. And then, the happiest moment was when we went up on the stage and saw the floor jam-packed with the audience waiting for us!!
Tae: That was a lot of FUN. Oh, and there I met Rico Rodrigues for the second time!
Ikasu: Yeah, Rico-san!
Tae: Oh, and Saki went to see Madness playing and did crowd surfing!
Ikasu: The Madness show was amazing.
Tae: Don't forget Red Hot Chile Peppers!
Ikasu: They were one of the headliners of the festival, and they were great.
Tae: We were just proud and honored to be on the Fuji Rock Festival.
Like so many Japanese groups before you, your first exposure to the US was at the SXSW music festival in Austin, TX. What are your memories of the event?
Tae: It was my first trip to the US.
Ikasu: Me, too. Moriko was the only person who'd been to the States before SXSW.
Tae: And like we did for Fuji Rock, we also worried about stupid things like "Are we good enough to play in the States?"
Ikasu: Then, like we did at Fuji Rock, we forgot all about it when we got there.
Tae: I mean, Texas was pretty unique enough to take our worries away, but it was SXSW!! The idea and the concept of SXSW was just so huge that it was above my understanding back then. It was super exciting to see something so amazing happening right in front of our eyes! Everywhere you went, you heard music at SXSW -- the cafe on the corner, restaurants, parking lot -- everywhere was filled music! It was absolutely amazing! I loved it.
Ikasu: And we were able to play pretty good at the show, I think.
Tae: Wasn't it at our first SXSW, where Tomi's bass had trouble and didn't work for the very first song?
Ikasu: That's right. We felt like we were surrounded by this tall American audience and we were really scared and nervous. Saki was screaming "ARE YOU READY?" But mentally, we weren't ready at all. And then Tomi's bass had trouble...
Tae: But because of that trouble we were able to calm ourselves during the first song and were able to play pretty great after that! We got a chance to be heard by many people. I mean, after SXSW, like when we were on the Warped Tour last summer, a lot of people came up to me and said that they saw us for the first time at SXSW. And because they liked our show they decided to see us again!
Ikasu: So it was really important and a never-to-forget show as the first step of Oreskaband in the States.
What about the US surprised you the most?
Tae: Everything!! They're so many things that we'd never seen or heard in Japan that you guys do!
Ikasu: For instance, the Warped Tour! First I thought it's crazy that more than 100 bands tour together on a bus for two months!! Can't be happening in Japan!! But it does in the States!
Tae: Everything is so BIG!
Ikasu: But the thing that surprised me most was that American audiences looked like they were having a lot of fun listening to our music! Our music was almost all in Japanese, which probably didn't make any sense to them.
Tae: Yeah, it was surprising to see a lot of friendly kids come up to us after the show expressing how much they liked our music.
You've now toured several times in the US. What are some of your fondest memories?
Tae: Well, traveling to a lot of places and being able to see different aspects of the States was fun. Meeting a lot of new people and becoming close to them are probably our fondest memories of all. We made a lot of friends on the tour.
Ikasu: I think it's amazing that we don't speak their language and they don't speak our language. Our words are very limited, but somehow we made our connection and become really good friends!
Tae: It almost felt like, if music is the only connection that we have with American audiences, it feels a lot tighter and stronger than it is in Japan.
Has your English progressed much over the last few years?
Ikasu: Well our English is pretty much the same level as it was a year ago.
Tae: Our listening ability has gotten better, maybe? When I hear some English songs, I think I can catch more words than I used to.
Ikasu: I think so too. But that's about it.
Tae: But since we are musicians, the language barrier is not a big challenge. We have our music to overcome that.
Ikasu: If you married somebody who doesn't speak the same language, then that might be an issue. But...
Tae: As long as we're playing the music, the language barrier is not a big challenge.
Ikasu: That's what we learned from playing in the U.S.
Sometimes things don't go according to plan on tour. Have you had any spectacular mishaps in the US or Japan?
Tae: That's exactly what happened at the Warped Tour last summer! We didn't know what time we'd be playing, where we'd be playing at, what the weather's gonna be... On the Warped Tour, we didn't know a lot of things until we got to the venue...
Ikasu: There are so many things that didn't go as we planned. No matter what, there's always something happening with the show during the tour.
Tae: And the lesson we've learned is that the important thing is to have the strength to overcome any trouble, to bring our music to the audience. The rest of the things weren't so important.
Ikasu: I think every time we're faced with trouble, we've gained strength.
Tae: We became a lot tougher and tighter than we were before.
What are your other plans for 2009?
Ikasu: We would love to go back to the States!
Tae: Yeah! Right now, we don't have any specific plans of going to the States. But we will go back!
Ikasu: We would love to have our CDs released in the States.
Tae: We'll put the information up on our website and let you know as soon as we've got the specific information on our tour and release! So don't forget to check our website!!
Do you have a final message to all your fans?
Ikasu: Thank you very much for listening to our music and loving our music! We'll keep on playing. And there are more new songs to come! I hope you'll enjoy them, too.
Tae: And hope to see you all when we go back to the States, which WE DEFINITELY WILL in the near future!! THANK YOU!!
For more info checkout Oreskaband's official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments