Visual kei band Alice Nine celebrates its 10th year in the industry by being established as one of the most sought after and widely-recognized Japanese acts worldwide. The boys however who walked in at the media briefing room at the Hard Rock Hotel in Sentosa looked very composed and well mannered, with only little to betray the fact that they can bring any live house down with their sheer intensity and powerful stage presence.
Vocalist Shou, guitarists Hiroto and Tora, bassist Saga and drummer Nao were in Singapore as part of their much touted Asia Tour 2014 Supernova Symphonia. Still reeling from their 10 stops across China and Taiwan, Alice Nine hit the Singaporean ground running with a fan meet just a few hours before the media briefing. Despite being visibly tired, the 5-man band gamely answered the questions thrown at them with earnestness peppered with some self-deprecation and loads of charm.
“Our music now is a summary of the past 10 years”
Shou shared that their music right now is a total summary of what they have been doing in the past decade since their debut. Having participated in events held in places such as Germany and Los Angeles, they had witnessed how popular Japanese animation have been overseas. They were, however, reluctant to ride the anime wave. They wanted to find out if they can make it big even without following the trend. Over the past 10 years, they’ve realized via Twitter (where the band members have very active presence) and the internet in general that they do have fans beyond Japan. This made them decide to go on an overseas tour.
The boys pride themselves for being able to tour places wherein Japanese artists seldom go, such as the cities in China they’ve visited. The interaction they had with fans from said areas is something they hold very dear and they are truly appreciative of the welcome they’ve received.
“We want to keep it elegant the Alice Nine way”
Shou also addressed the challenge of keeping the visual kei tradition alive. He noted that before, in order to be differentiated, the band experimented with the Japanese gothic look. Nowadays, they no longer concentrate too much on the costumes. Their recent looks are more elegant in the Alice Nine way but their focus, more than ever, is the music.
“Our lifestyle hasn’t changed…only we’re eating much better food now”
In terms of lifestyle, Hiroto admitted that theirs hasn’t changed much. They remain somebodies who happen to love music. They’ve put a lot of effort into making a name for themselves but they feel they are not quite there yet.
The guitarist coyly added though that there is a slight difference. Compared to when they were just teenagers, they’re eating much better food now.
“We know everything about each other”
When asked about how they managed to stay together all these years, Nao and Shou revealed that the band members have no secret from each other. When they were just starting out, they agreed not to hold anything from the other members. With this they can truly say that they really do know everything about each other.
“HYDE is like a god type of person. I want to be like him someday”
Shou had been very vocal about his admiration for L'Arc~en~Ciel vocalist HYDE in past interviews. He even admitted once that HYDE is the reason he became a vocalist. It didn’t come as a surprise then that when they were thrown a question about whether there was a time wherein the band members were the fan themselves meeting their idols for the first time, Shou recounted his encounter with HYDE. Shou disclosed that he had been a fan of the L'Arc~en~Ciel and VAMPS frontman since high school. When Shou first saw him, he exuded a god-like aura and that he had a “god-like way of speaking”. HYDE was also a gentleman. With such qualities, Shou emphatically said that HYDE is someone he wants to be like someday.
“We are musicians, not really actors”
If he didn’t end up as a musician, Saga shared that he would have been a football player. Tora, in contrast, was just randomly thinking of what he can do and he ended up becoming a musician. Had things turned out differently, he figured he would just be doing nothing. As for Shou, he wants to be still creating something so he’ll probably be a chef or a carpenter. Nao’s alternative path is noble but he revealed it in rather comical manner. The drummer shared that he wanted to save lives which is why he dreamed of becoming a doctor. After saying this, he stood up and goofily acted out an impression of a doctor checking up an invisible patient. Hiroto, on the other hand, disclosed that he had recently quit smoking and it led to him liking sweets. Given this, he considers becoming a patissier as an option.
Interestingly, when the topic of their short film “Number Six” was brought up, Tora acknowledged their limitations. They do intend to create another short film someday but they are first and foremost musicians and they know acting is not something they’re good at right now. More practice is what they need and then they can try making another short film.
“Singing B'z songs make me happy”
Asked about what they do to regain motivation, Saga unabashedly disclosed that karaoke is the key. Whenever he feels the need to lift his spirit up, he would go to Japanese karaoke and sing songs by best selling Japanese duo B'z. Singing B'z songs would make any Japanese person happy, he added.
“A memorable part of this tour involves…toilet paper”
Saga’s revelation about his liking for karaoke amused everyone present at the briefing. But his response on any interesting event that has happened during the recent tour had everyone laughing. He recounted that when he went to the toilet in China, he was surprised to find out that the tissue paper couldn’t be flushed away. Something about the water pressure not being strong enough. Shou assured him then that in Singapore, it’s just alright.
Seemingly intent on making the audience laugh even more, Saga also recalled that during the last time Alice Nine performed in Singapore, bras were thrown at him. This time, he expects more bras to be directed his way since it was just his birthday a few days ago (June 24).
“We want to go to more countries we’ve never been to”
Hiroto stressed, and Nao concured, that Alice Nine equally recognizes the importance of having a large fanbase and making music that they themselves enjoy. In line with this, they want to put more effort into establishing themselves more firmly in the domestic Japanese market. Then they want to go to other countries they haven’t visited yet. Shou concluded by saying that they want to try harder and hopefully last longer together as a band.