The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass are Yumi Uchizono on Guitar and Lead Vocals, Miki Uchizono on Bass and Vocals and Kei Sofue on Drums and Vocals. They started playing together in 2005 and began developing both their bluesy punk sound and a loyal following in the U.S. and their native Japan.
They were kind enough to answers some questions.
RiceburnerFM: Describe the Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass’ creative process. Who does what and how is a song created? Your lead singer Yumi’s voice is noticeably deeper than most female singers today, how does her vocals effect the Akabane Vulgars’ choices when creating their music?
Akabane Vulgars: Yumi: I will make up phrases and chord progressions. I then give these to Kei and Miki. We then play them together until we find a good balance. And during this, we talk thoroughly about the concept of the song, what kind of theme we are taking in. It’s the most exciting part, I think. And thank you for noticing my voice!
Akabane Vulgars: All: It really doesn’t matter that Yumi’s vocals are deeper, when creating music. We just make our songs.
RiceburnerFM: What was the first band that you saw live? Do they have any affect on what you are doing with your music today?
Akabane Vulgars: Yumi and Miki: First band we saw live was Green Day, 11 years ago in high school.
Akabane Vulgars: Yumi: I loved them because they look like they were having so much fun! When I look at them, I also wanted to do like them.
Akabane Vulgars: Kei: I first saw Destiny’s Child with Beyonce. 10 years ago, also in high school. I thought she was very professional performer. Next year I saw Green Day with Miki and Yumi.
RiceburnerFM:The Akabane Vulgars have toured in the States. Do you have any advice for Japanese bands touring the U.S. for the first time? How important is it for a Japanese band today to establish an overseas fan base?
Akabane Vulgars: All: Two things should be taken seriously. First the music must be important. Where you are from, does not matter. Second, you must keep focusing on what you are doing, because it (the music) is the most important thing.
Akabane Vulgars: Yumi: Fans in Japan and fans overseas are not quite so different. In our case, we can’t make money in Japan. Being an artist is very difficult in Japan. In Japan, I am never asked “what is the concept in our songs?” It is very important as artists to share thoughts, what you are saying. I wanted to be more conceptual. I think I am allowed to be more like that outside of Japan. So, I wanted to go overseas.
“First the music must be important. Where you are from, does not matter.”
RiceburnerFM: Are any of you superstitious? Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
Akabane Vulgars: All: No, we are not. We have a funny thing we do before playing, we squeeze our hands together before the shows.
RiceburnerFM: Yumi and Miki have you named your guitars? If so what are their names?
Akabane Vulgars: All: No.
Akabane Vulgars: “Bass” and “Guitar” (everyone laughs).
RiceburnerFM: As music fans yourselves which do you prefer … vinyl or digital?
Akabane Vulgars: All: We never think about this.
Akabane Vulgars: Kei: Most music now is recorded first digital.
Akabane Vulgars: All: But we like vinyl. We think vinyl sounds better.
Akabane Vulgars: Kei: Larger cover for Miki’s artwork!
RiceburnerFM: According to another AV interview*, the members of the Akabane Vulgars are not just band mates they are also room mates with that fact in mind, please describe each of your band mates in one word.
Akabane Vulgars: Miki & Kei: “Yumi = Psycho!
Akabane Vulgars: Kei & Yumi: “Miki = Crazy!”
Akabane Vulgars: Yumi: “Kei=Stable”
Akabane Vulgars: Miki: “Kei = Sugoi!”
(Yumi looks up definition of “psycho” )
RiceburnerFM: The Akabane Vulgars created their own brand of bluesy punk and developed a powerful stage presence. Given that what are your thoughts on all girl pop acts that are literally groomed for success by large entertainment corporations?
Akabane Vulgars: All: Honestly, we think it sucks … can we say that?
Akabane Vulgars: Yumi: Sorry, if that is rude. Actually, I think it’s ridiculous that large entertainment corporations believe they can make up musical concepts or souls for music. I believe these always come from thinking very seriously about what we are doing as musicians.
RiceburnerFM: The Akabane Vulgars have two new CDs out, what can AV fans expect on [PROCLAMATION] and Live in Brooklyn?
Akabane Vulgars: Yumi: The title “Proclamation” – I took this concept from the songs on this album. I feel we made our “Proclamation.” We feel we got more powerful after recording this CD in Portland. So, we hope fans will get our passion from it. With “Live in Brooklyn” we think fans will become interested in coming to our live shows.
RiceburnerFM: It is 2033! What have the Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass been up to since 2013?
Akabane Vulgars: All: Touring in the United States. Touring in Europe. Touring in the world! Bigger shows!
RiceburnerFM thanks Yumi, Miki and Kei for taking the time to answer these questions. The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass have two new albums Proclamation and Live in Brooklyn, both are available now. Thanks to Kizuna Media for setting up this interview.