American rock drummer Carmine Appice was recently interviewed by the Examiner and when asked a question about Japan, he mentioned one very particular band...
Ray Shasho: There are so many legendary rock bands from the 70’s that are having more success overseas these days … especially in Japan.
Carmine Appice: “Japan has their own domestic artists that are huge. It used to be that Japan didn’t have any domestic artists until the mid 90’s. All of a sudden they started getting their own artists. So all the American and UK artists who used to go there and play the Budokan are now playing smaller venues. But their artists are playing stadiums. There’s a group over there called B’z and they can play three stadium nights in every major city in Japan. We’re talking 150,000 people. It’s a singer and a guitar player. I went to see them in Japan as a guest, they’re friends of mine, and I think it was the night before or night after I saw Kiss over there. Kiss was playing at the stadium too. The B’z production was bigger than the Kiss production. It was ridiculous…it was so big. Over there they don’t travel around in big semis, they travel around in these sixteen to twenty foot trucks … so they must have had about a hundred trucks going from city to city … it was crazy. But there just huge over there.”
In only twelve days, B'z will be embarking on their latest North American tour. Recently, we were given the opportunity to send a few questions the band's way in which we inquired about the upcoming tour, their debut English album, and even plans for their 25th anniversary next year. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to B'z and all others involved in making this possible.
Only a little over a year has passed since the last B’z performance on American soil, and now you’re scheduled to come back for your biggest and most anticipated international tour to date. What are your initial feelings coming into these shows?
- Tak: This tour is going to be the 4th tour in the US for B'z. I always love to play in the US, and I would like to release more English songs for the American audiences.
- Koshi: We had so much fun on the last North American tour, we wanted to do it again. We are looking forward to the US audience hearing our new English songs.
There are many passionate fans in North America that are looking forward to your return. With the seven shows beginning September 17th in San Francisco, you will be visiting cities you haven't performed in before. How do you feel about playing in new places?
- Tak: It’s really fun! I love it. I want to play everywhere I haven't been yet.
- Koshi: I always enjoy the feeling of excitement and meeting the local people.
American and international fans in general have been very enthusiastic about the new English songs and the upcoming tour. What is it like having fans so far outside of Japan?
- Tak: I'm just so grateful to North American audiences for giving us a reason to have a show.
- Koshi: It was a great pleasure to know there are people who enjoy our music even in places we have never been.
Recently, the English album featuring brand new English songs was released worldwide on iTunes. What can you tell us about the album?
- Koshi: This is our first album all in English. We picked 5 songs from our catalog, added English lyrics and new arrangements, and re-recorded them.
Millions of people were exposed to B’z for the first time this year with the release of the video game Dragon’s Dogma, for which you contributed "Into Free -Dangan-" as its theme song. What traits define the song for you?
- Tak: Heavy, catchy and Asian beauty.
- Koshi: I believe it is the sense of speed the song has.
B’z has been making hit music together for nearly a quarter-century now. What is it that music means to you at this point?
- Tak: Music is the best way to express myself. It’s my life.
- Koshi: It’s like a magic door that can take me to different places and seasons instantly.
It surely isn’t an easy task to stay successful in the music industry for so long. What is it that keeps you motivated?
- Tak: We’ve had a wonderful career for the past 24 years. Being a member of B'z motivates me to work hard and keep on going.
- Koshi: It’s pure pleasure for me to put on a show and have people come to see it.
Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the band. Do you have anything special planned?
- Tak: We don’t know specifically yet, but we'll definitely be touring and making new music.
- Koshi: We'd like to have a big 25th anniversary tour! Also, I would like to keep the stance of being able to perform anywhere in the world, not just North America.
Please share a message with your fans that will be seeing you on the upcoming tour.
- Tak: We’ll put on the best show we can in every city so please come and enjoy! Looking forward to seeing you there!
- Koshi: Thank you all for your support. I’ll make the best out of it on the stage! Hope to see you there!
B'z LIVE-GYM 2012 -Into Free-
B'z will be returning to tour the U.S. and Canada later this month, and for the first time ever, they are covering both coasts of the United States! For more information, please consult the dates and venues below:
09.17 San Francisco, California — The Warfield
09.19 Seattle, Washington — The Showbox SODO
09.20 Vancouver, British Columbia — Orpheum Theater
09.26 Toronto, Ontario — Sound Academy
09.28 Silver Spring, Maryland — The Fillmore
09.30 New York, New York — Best Buy Theater
10.07 Los Angeles, California — Gibson Amphitheatre
Debut English B'z Album Out Now!
Not only are B'z on their way back to North America as we speak, but their debut English album is available worldwide via the iTunes Store right now! Fan favorites "Love Bomb", "Splash", "Ultra Soul", and "Juice", as well as the Dragon's Dogma theme song "Into Free -Dangan-", are all included and all in English for the very first time! If you haven't checked it out yet, feel free to sample it with the explosive English version of "Juice" embedded below!
In addition, you can look out for Tak Matsumoto's newest solo album Strings of My Soul that recently received an international courtesy of 335 Records! You can purchase it on iTunes or from Amazon in both physical and digital editions.
Where to Follow B'z
As promised, here is the subtitled version of the interview. Enjoy!
Issue no. 393 of the Weekly LALALA, a Japanese free magazine from Los Angeles, features a short article on B'z North American tour including a short interview with Tak and Koshi. It reads like this:
After their North American tours in 2002 and 2003, for the first time in 8 years, B'z is doing a North American tour called "B'z LIVE-GYM 2011 -long time no see-", which will kick off on July 20th in Vancouver. "It's been a long time since we toured in North America, I'm really looking forward to it. At the same time, I want to set the stage so that more people get to know B'z in North America. This time we're going to focus on our Japanese songs that have been released as a single and play songs that will be rocking the house.", says vocalist Koshi Inaba.
In 2007, B'z was the first asian artist to be inducted into the Hollywood Rockwalk. Guitarist Takahiro Matsumoto won the Grammy for "Best Pop Instrumental Album" with his album "TAKE YOUR PICK" which he recorded together with Larry Carlton. Since both of them are regularly in LA to do recording and other things, for them, Los Angeles has become their second hometown. It also looks like they have a lot of friends there who interpret the keyword "music" the same way.
With releasing their 49th single "Don't Wanna Lie", they've immediately topped the Oricon chart, raising the bar once again. B'z, who updated their record of series of no.1 singles to 45 and is going to release their new album "C'mon" on July 27th, doesn't show a sign that their passion for music is fading. It has already been more than 20 years since their major debut. Where does that energy come from, that enables them to continue producing music?
"It's because I love music from the bottom of my heart and when it comes to producing music, because I can always improve myself. More importantly, though, because there are so many people that enjoy our music. Also, I can't imagine a life without music.", answers guitarist Tak Matsumoto.
"I'm happy to be back in North America as B'z. We're going to give it all on stage and I hope everyone will enjoy it." says Koshi Inaba. Tak Matsumoto adds "I'm looking forward to meeting everyone again. I hope you will enjoy our show!"
So... is B'z looking to push into the (North) American market? What do you think?
*UPDATE*: This is an extract from the interview in the Nichi Bei [ http://www.nichibei.org/2011/07/taking-the-world-by-storm-b%E2%80%99z-ready-to-rock/ ] :
NBW: Mr. Matsumoto, you were awarded a Grammy and the band became the first Asian musicians to be inducted into Hollywood’s Rockwalk of Fame. What’s next?
TM: It’s been 8 years since we last played in the U.S. We would like to keep on playing all over the world from now on.
KI: We would like to do more shows and introduce our music to the people in the U.S.
The Vancouver Shinpo, a Japanese newspaper located in Vancouver(Canada), features an interview with Shane Gaalaas in its issue dated June 23rd. It looks like B'z management are really focusing on Japanese fans in general, seeing how the interview was published in a Japanese newspaper... in Japanese. Odon of B'z no bise as well as myself have requested Shane Gaalaas for an interview, but he never got back to us with an answer from B'z management.
In the interview, he's talking about the upcoming North American tour as well as his connection to Canada and Japan. I apologize for any translation mistakes I might have made.
Please tell us about Tak Matsumoto and Koshi Inaba
I haven't met such humble people before. I think their CD sales, ingenuity and skills show pretty much how much work they're putting into their music. But still, they're keeping the balance between being humble and being proud. And it deeply impressed me that they're not egocentric at all, they're working as a team. Matsumoto-san and Inaba-san are like the Sedin brothers (Star players for the Vancouver Canucks). They're supporting each other to become better at what they do.
Please tell us something about the performance in Vancouver
The set list is a secret, but I think everybody who's coming to see the show will enjoy it. There are a lot of great songs, so it's difficult for me to choose my favorite one, but I'll enjoy performing every single song. As a drummer, I'm challenged with playing a lot of different styles. From funky to jazzy.
What's your current goal?
To create good B'z CDs. As a drummer, I want to continually improve my skills. If I have some free time, I'd like to compose some solo songs, too. And I'd like to get better at surfing and ice hockey as well.
What do you think are the charm points of Japan and Canada?
I love spending time in Japan. I especially like Japan's culture, food and people. There's a lot of wonderful places in Japan, and every time I'm there, there's always a new place for me to discover.
I also like Canada's culture. It's pure. The people are relaxed and I think they enjoy their life without being too materialistic. You can really feel it when you're there.
And it's especially a great place in summer.
You're originally from Innisfail, Alberta. What kind of place is it?
I was born in Edison, Alberta and raised in Innisfail. Innisfail is a small, traditional and idyllic community. It's about an hour drive from Calgary. The place has grown a lot. When I was a kid, about 2500 people were living there, but now, about 7000 people live in the city. It was a great place for me to grow up in. The winters have always been hard and long, but we made the best of it and had fun at playing ice hockey and skiing. And when I was 10 years old, making music became my dream. Since there aren't that many opportunities in such a small place compared to big cities, I had to jam with my band members in my personal time. Most of my family still lives in Innisfail, so I'm trying to see them about twice a year.
Are you looking forward to the North American tour?
Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. My friends and family plan to come to the performance in Vancouver.
Before I started living in Los Angeles, I used to live in Vancouver for two and a half years.
I remember I was very surprised how open Vancouver's society is. There are a lot of delicious restaurants and I got to meet a lot of wonderful people. I think Canadians are the most friendly people in the world. If I have some time during the tour, I'd love to show my friends the great places in Vancouver.
Do you watch NHL?
Of course!! I'm Canadian, after all!! I probably started playing ice hockey at the same time. Even now, I sometimes go to the skating rink near my house and play hockey.
I support the Calgary Flames as well as the Vancouver Canucks.
When you showed me your CV, I admired all the things you've achieved in your life. Your skills and passion are a given, but what makes you different from other people?
Thank you. I'm thankful that I can lead my life as a musician. I'm not exactly sure how that makes me different from other people, but I think I've always had the strength to set new goals and pursue them until I've achieved what I wanted. I wanted to do music. I think when people manage to put their energy and passion into something, they'll be able to achieve what they desire. This might be a common way of saying it, but whatever difficulties you might experience, you should always pursue the things you like doing. There might be a lot of difficulties, but you should turn these hurdles into good experiences. And you should have fun at doing that.
Here you can see the finished commercials - both the 15 second and 30 second versions. Afterwards, Tak and Koshi are interviewed about their thoughts on the commercial filming as well as their new song. Translation of the interview is below the video!
Also, you can preorder your copy now!
Q. What are your thoughts on your first TV commercial appearance?
Tak: Since it's our first time, I didn't know what to expect, so I was a little bit surprised by the speediness of the crew as well as their planning. I enjoyed it.
Koshi: The location of the filming was a place where there's nothing at all. We have been to such places before, but there have been a lot of staff members and because of that it turned out to be a very pleasant experience and I'm thankful for that. Thank you very much.
Q. What do you think about the fly-by shot?
Tak: I was really surprised by that one. I didn't think they would come so close. I bet I look so surprised there that perhaps you can't use that scene.
Q. About the song in the commercial "Sayonara Kizu Darake no Hibi yo"
Tak: First we talked about [the commercial] and had a look at the storyboard. When I composed the song, I felt it had to be speedy and fresh and the like. That's what I realized.
Koshi: Before we actually went into the studio, we bought Pepsi and while drinking it - this is real, by the way - we composed the song in the studio. Also this is our first try at doing something like this and a part of last year was dedicated to our solo projects, so I think the link between our solo and our band works is well done because we were able to go back to producing songs as a band right after that.
Q. A message to the fans
Tak: It's the first time we've done something like this and I think this song turned out great. Please look forward to checking it out! Thank you.
Koshi: A lot of people have put their work into this song, so I think it's a wonderful piece of work. Please look forward to checking it out!
Koshi Inaba has given an interview on his latest solo album "Hadou", which will be out on August 18th. We don't know if it's going to be the same interview in every magazine.
An interview with Koshi Inaba will be in these magazines:
smart - July 24
DIME - August 9
FRaU - August 12
WHAT's IN? - August 12
ori star(オリ☆スタ） - August 20
GQ JAPAN - August 24
If we get ahold of this interview, we'll translate it for you!
Yep, this is an interview, from the March 2009 issue of the official B'z fanclub magazine. You only get it if you're a member of B'z PARTY. This is just a rather small part of the interview, but I'll continue to translate parts of it until I have the whole interview translated. I'll keep you updated. For now, just enjoy.