Interview with Japanese all-girl rock band SCANDAL

Japanese girl rock band SCANDAL are HARUNA (Vo), MAMI (guitar&Vo), TOMOMI (Bass&Vo) and RINA (Drum). Formed in Osaka in 2006 when the members were still in high school, they started performing live on weekends in Osaka Castle Park. First signed to an indie label, they went on to make their major debut in 2008. They have performed theme songs for many anime which led to them building a considerable international fanbase. This year saw their first ever show in the UK and first exclusive album release outside Japan.

We spoke to them the day after their UK show (and first sold out show in Europe). Below follows a summary of the interview.
Yesterday was first ever UK show as part of first world tour. How was it?

We really enjoyed it! It was a dream to play in the UK so we were really happy. The audience included fans who had been supporting us for a long time, and many people who simply heard that a Japanese girl rock band was coming so wanted to check us out (maybe half-and-half?), but at the end of the show everyone was still there and looked like they were having a lot of fun so we were really happy about that.

The UK show was your first sold out show in Europe! What do you think it is about Scandal that appeals to British fans? Have you made any changes to your show for the British audience?

We heard that even though rock bands have long been popular in the UK, there don’t seem to be many girl bands around who play their own instruments. So that might be part of our appeal – that we are girls who play our own musical instruments live on stage. As for our show, the set list has been condensed for overseas gigs. We try to choose songs that we think particularly appeal to the overseas audiences. And of course try to add some English greetings and introductions. We’ve only played once before in Europe (at the expo in France) but we know in Asia, people tend to like the heavier songs, whereas in the USA people prefer the pop songs – so we can arrange ourselves accordingly. This time in Europe it was more about trying out our show in front of our fans and seeing what they liked. At the London gig it seemed as though the fans really enjoyed the stronger, heavier songs! The fans here really know how to make the most of being at a gig venue and in turn that really raised our spirits!

Are there any British bands or musicians that you admire?

The Beatles... Oasis. Recently Kasabian. We've seen the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney perform live in Japan. And One Direction! We are One Direction fans!

Have any of you been to the UK before? Did you have a chance to do any sightseeing? Is there anything in particular that you’d like to see?

This is our first time and we’ll be going sightseeing later today. Abbey Road is a definite stop, and Big Ben. We have only been to the supermarket so far!

Have you faced any difficulties as women in a rock band in the Japanese music industry?

There isn’t really anything really that we has been difficult because we are women. There are increasingly more girl rock bands in Japan nowadays, so we are not really all that unique. However, coming overseas it works to our advantage since there aren’t as many girl rock bands. Perhaps we are able to attract more people to see us because of that fact – so rather than causing us difficulties perhaps it has worked to our advantage.

How much freedom and creative control do you have over your music?

We are free! Absolutely free! We all write music and lyrics and sing main vocals so whenever one of us feels like we have something we want to write – we’ll create a song and all contribute. For example, one of us might write some lyrics, send to another for a melody, and so on. On our album we’ve all contributed different songs and this is definitely something we’d like to continue doing. It’s a lot of fun!

What are your plans/hopes for the future of the band and your link with the UK?

We played yesterday and really felt that we would like to keep coming back and play here in the UK. We were all saying that as long as there are people who want to come and see us, we’d like to play in all sorts of different places! We'd like to be a band that is always able to tour the world!