Boom Boom Satellites Bring Audio Arsenal To U.S.A.
Interview Conducted in November 2008, Tokyo To Brooklyn
By Sam Frank
Over the last decade America has been binging on Japanese pop culture. Judging by the Pokemon craze of the late 90s to the more recent video game wars between the Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii, it appears that pop culture is evenly exchanged between both countries. Unfortunately that is not the case; you see, while America embraces Japanese baseball players (Hideki Matsui), food (sushi), anime (Dragon Ball Z), and horror films (The Ring) it has yet to properly acknowledge Japan's bustling music industry. On the flip side of the coin, Japan is obsessed American music; and if you don't believe me, watch how fast a Metallica show sells out in Tokyo at $150 per person. Japan is the second largest music market in the world, just under America, and up to this point no Japanese artists have enjoyed success in the U.S. like import bands from Australia (Wolfmother) and Europe (Radiohead).
There are a few reasons for America's lackluster response to Japanese artists. One significant detractor is the language barrier. American audiences place just as much importance on the lyrics as they do to the music, which is why Japan's most successful Hip Hop artist, Zeebra, is unable to make a crossover album despite collaborating with American superstars in Japan. If the artist can sing in English then he or she must find a unique concept that separates themselves from all the other up and coming artists. In 2003, J-pop star Utada Hikaru released Exodus, a crossover album she recorded entirely in English; but despite an all English effort, and a little help from renowned producer Timbaland, American sales were low because people couldn't tell her apart from all the other female singers vying for the spotlight.
Although language and concept have blocked most J-artists from conquering America's music market there are some recent additions who have slipped through the cracks. Thanks to movies, anime, and commercials groups like the Teriyaki Boys (Tokyo Drift), Puffy-AmiYumi (Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi), and The Yoshida Brothers (Nintendo Wii) have all found their way into American homes; but, how would American audiences react to a Japanese band that sang in English and possessed an unparalleled vision of rock music? They would resemble the thousands of screaming fans who filled Tokyo's Studio Coast earlier this year to watch Boom Boom Satellites ("BBS") perform live.
BBS has spent the past decade creating music that fuses the fast-paced rave sound with hardcore electro-rock. Fueled by a barrage of stunning visuals and lighting, the intensity of a BBS' concert can only be described as a combination of The Chemical Brothers and Nine Inch Nails, both of whom have had long and successful careers in America; which is why, for the first time in their illustrious 15 year career, Boom Boom Satellites decided to digitally release their most recent album, Exposed, in America. "What Goes Round Comes Around," off Exposed has already been featured in a commercial for Dodge, and two other songs, "Easy Action" and "Shut Up And Explode" have also appeared in separate Japanese anime productions.With Japanamania still rampant, America is ready for a J-music hero to emerge. A band with enough talent to show the international community that Japan not only imports music from around the world, but a country that cultivates and exports its own, unique sound; and no group is more ready to carry that torch than Boom Boom Satellites.
Sam Frank (SF): Good evening. Thank you for speaking with me tonight. Before we begin I wanted to congratulate you on winning Japanese Magazine's best album of 2006 award for ON. I bought that album before leaving Japan in 2006 and rocked out to it the entire 14 hour flight home. Coming off the success of ON was there any particular sound you were striving for while recording your most recent album, Exposed?
SF: Who were some of the artists that originally got you into electronic music?
SF: It's great that you were able to have such personal experiences with these pioneers of the game. Security is so tight now that it would probably be harder to have those kinds of moments. Although Exposed is being released "digitally" in America it actually hit stores in Japan exactly a year ago, do you think it's being embraced more by Japanese fans or international fans?
SF: Would you like to tour America sometime in the future?
SF: Is there anything you would like to say to the Americans who are read this article?
SF: At what age did you start getting serious about becoming a musician?
SF: What sparked your interest to work together?
SF: What did your parents think when you told them your dreams?
SF: The times without that support must have been difficult.
SF: The movie soundtracks your music is featured on appears to be mostly animations. Are you into Anime?
SF: Just watching the video for "Moment I Can" off 2005's Full Of Elevating Pleasures I can tell you guys take visuals very seriously.
SF: Are your live gigs just as intense as the videos?
SF: It appears that 2008 has been a pivotal year for the Boom Boom Satellites. So what's next for guys?
SF: Has the past success changed the way Boom Boom Satellites music is created?