EASTERN YOUTH – interview by pr!
It’s been said that music is a language. I really dig the latest album by Eastern Youth, “What Can you See From Your Place”. It’s got this indie rock sound that becomes complicated to describe once you hear the vocals… in Japanese. But because I’m digging it, and can honestly claim to know 0% of the Japanese language, I’d say I enjoy Eastern Youth because I can speak music. And while I may not get Bollywood soundtracks, Eastern Youth tears it up. Hisashi Yoshino, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter speaks only Japanese, even at shows, which I’ve heard is… awkward. Imagine a band at a club, between a guitar string change or something, speaking to the crowd in a completely different language. Tomokazu Ninomiya plays bass while Atsuya Tamori mans the drums; together, this three piece rides the line between Weezerish and Fugazisorta. Since Hisashi can’t actually speak English, we passed notes back and forth. Kinda weird.
Is there desire to sing, at least a single song, in English?
I cannot imagine me singing in English for now. I cannot even have daily conversations in English. I would like to have the daily conversation in English at least but it’s not that easy!
Are you planning any studio time in the near future?
We are writing new songs right now and going to release a new album in the summer in Japan.
Any future tours in America and Canada?
Of course. We would like to go back as soon as possible.
When you were on tour in America, did you have any biased or otherwise negative experiences because of your ethnicity?
We have never felt any biases from our ethnicity at shows. Although there are some people looked at us strange since they could not understand what we were saying. However, at some shops or restaurants, we saw unpleasant faces and experienced humiliating correspondence. I think there are petty people like that everywhere.
Speaking of, American’s are starting to recognize Asian movies in our major cinemas, unheard of a few years ago. Are you fans of Asian films?
Yes, I am. In recent movies I saw, “Osama”, [an] Afghan[istan] movie, was good. I also liked the Chinese movie called “Shonyan No Sakaya”. Korean movies area boom in Japan now, but I’ve never seen any. I am really interested in [them] though. Of course I love Japanese ones too, however, there are not many impressed me lately.
Cool. Just watched the uncut version of Ichi the Killer last week, pretty freaky. What are some of your favorite Japanese films?
I like “Yojinboh” “Kichiku” and [a] documentary movie called “Kyokushiteki Eros“. I also liked “Dodesukaden” and “Zatoichi“…the last “ Zatoichi “ movie was especially great. Not that one Takeshi Kitano did but the very last one with Katsu Shintaro.
I just gave one of our writers a copy of a Japanese film, Wild Zero, with the band Guitar Wolf. You familiar?
It’s not that I know them personally, but I have known about them for long time.
In America, radio is divided by genre’s but mostly controlled by a few corporate giants. How is the radio in Japan?
I think it’s pretty much the same, that radios are controlled by major corperations. I think Japanese stations don’t have their own format by the genre of music. Basically, every station is becoming a promotional medium for major labels. I don’t think there are any stations that are independent like college radio stations or local FM stations in the U.S.
It’s pretty sad, since the hardware and potential audience exist. Are there stations in Japan that would play rock by Eastern Youth?
Our songs are played by many Japanese stations around the album release dates but I don’t think we have rock stations in Japan.
Kind of on the same topic, will digital music save or kill the music industry?
Regardless arguing about illegal downloads, it’s very clear it is hurting the music business. However, I think more people can reach to all different kinds of music more easily through the Internet. In fact, I am here in Japan, and I can get the information of the music from all over the world.
Well, to be fair, the piracy industry is really different in other countries then compared to America. Do you ‘notice’ the affect music piracy has in Japan? We in America always hear about Japan and their bootleg markets. Have you ever purchased a copy of something, like, a movie, videogame or music CD?
No, I’ve never purchased copied products. Never been the victim either. I think people who are making money by copying should be punished.