ACME’s first album is just around the corner! With a catchy music video Zesshou Ouka just released, we couldn’t just sit still and got in contact with the four-piece unit to explore what exactly the album has to offer.
We’re happy you could take your time to speak with us today. Please go ahead and introduce yourself as well as the concept of “ACME”.
SHOGO: I’m SHOGO on guitar. I’m good at creating a heavy guitar sound. Our band’s concept is “juvenile delinquents from a fictional universe”.
CHISA: I’m ACME’s vocalist CHISA. I am also a songwriter.
RIKITO: I’m bassist RIKITO; the absolute Kansai native who loves Yoshimoto Shinkigeki (a Kansai comedy show) and the Kansai dialect.
HAL: I’m HAL on drums. I also help with lyrics, composition, and sometimes I even play the piano.
It’s cool that you all have a firm individual part to play in the band, which reminds us of the distinctive color each member has settled for. What was the decision behind the strong color theme for each member?
RIKITO: If you have a personal color, it is easy to understand the character it reflects.
CHISA: Exactly, so even a new band with new members can appeal to people, and it is easy to understand this way. For example, even if you don’t remember their names, the colors still leave an impression as “the green guy”, “the blue guy” and so on. It’s also easy to pick merchandise colors; even if the graphics are simple, you understand who it is by the color. Then also… Japan has this Power Rangers culture, so it’s very Japanese.
SHOGO: And I turned out to be the red guy this time.
HAL: As RIKITO and CHISA mentioned, even if you don’t know the members’ names, you can recognize them by their color. And also because I like idol music!
Bassist RIKITO has also returned from his hiatus! How does it feel to be back?
RIKITO: Honestly, it still feels like a dream! More than anything, I’m immensely grateful to the other members and our fans for waiting for my return. I feel like I fell behind a little during my break, so I want to quickly catch up with where the other members are at now!
SHOGO: I’m really happy! I want to work even harder as a four-man unit again!
CHISA: I realized how much I took for granted the way the four of us could perform together.
HAL: I’ve come to appreciate the way the four of us can perform together, which I also took for granted before. From now on I want to make the most of the time we spend together!
It’s really great to see you back in your full line-up, because you guys will release your very first album “Zesshou Ouka” soon, on August 8! Can you tell us about the album’s concept and what we can expect from it?
CHISA: A fusion of loud sound, Japanese style, and summer.
SHOGO: This album has a lot of variety. I want people to listen carefully to the album as a whole. The first track [Paradox] is my favorite.
RIKITO: Each member’s individuality is evident in the lyrics and composition. Because of the wide variation, this is an album you can really enjoy from start to finish.
HAL: It’s a collection of varied songs where you can discover something new each time you give it a listen.
Unlike your previous getup’s which consisted of delinquent-like costumes, this time you’ve gone for a more traditional Japanese look. Why did you decide on this approach?
CHISA: The main reason is that we wanted to surprise the fans with our new look when we announced it at our concert. It might be a little hard to make out in the photo, but underneath the haori (traditional formal jacket) we’re wearing a patterned Japanese school uniform.
SHOGO: Basically, the costume is still based on a school uniform but paired with traditional Japanese clothing. Kind of like a delinquent schoolboy from an imaginary past.
HAL: We went back in time and imagined the origin of ACME.
RIKITO: I think the new look strikes a balance between “Japan” and “schoolboy”.
We can definitely see it now that we’ve taken a closer look! Regarding the album “Zesshou Ouka”, what would you say was the most challenging aspect when creating it?
HAL: I think the fact that the album is all new songs was the biggest challenge. An album usually has a few singles included, but this album had none.
SHOGO: Indeed, we chose challenging songs, because of this, I think each song really stands out.
RIKITO: I stretched my imagination to take a new approach when performing each song in my own way. That was my personal challenge.
CHISA: I had a strong image in my head, and translating that to music wasn’t too difficult. The real challenge is always fitting in recording around our busy live schedule to meet the deadline.
And out of the challenging new songs, which one would you recommend to someone who has never listened to ACME before?
CHISA: Zesshou Ouka of course! Please listen to it on high volume!
SHOGO: The first song, Paradox.
RIKITO: The leading song of the album, Zesshou Ouka.
HAL: While I recommend all of them, personally I’d like you to listen to ADVENTURE TIME. The names of the four of us are actually hidden in it, so please try looking for them.
We’ll be sure to look out for these recommendations! Once your first full album is out, what would be the next step for ACME?
RIKITO: I want as many people as possible to listen to this album, and to know about ACME and our music. I also want to do more live activities, not just in Japan, but overseas as well.
CHISA: To make the one-man live at Shibuya Club Quattro on November 24 a success.
SHOGO: Our first overseas concert.
HAL: I want the band to keep growing steadily step by step without losing any of its four members. To put it bluntly, world domination, you know?
We heavily anticipate the day that happens! But in more recent events, earlier this year, you celebrated your first anniversary one-man live at TSUTAYA O-WEST. Tell us how it was!
HAL: It was our first one-man, and we were able to include a lot of things we wanted to try. Going forward I want to continue to brush-up our performance to present an even better live experience in the future.
CHISA: This was our chance to try out a lot of things, so I was happy to see the fans’ reactions.
SHOGO: We were able to show the fans something different from usual, and I was just happy to be able to do it together with the four of us.
RIKITO: During my break, more than anything, I wanted to perform at a one-man show, so my view from the stage was like a dream come true.
Your first anniversary live was also titled “PKPK no Ichinensei” but what does “PKPK” actually stand for?
CHISA: It expresses the state of something sparkling. An abbreviation of “pikapika” (Japanese onomatopoeic word).
What has each member learned about themselves during this year?
CHISA: Because I’ve been working harder than ever, I’ve learned that I’m able to tolerate more.
SHOGO: Health first.
RIKITO: I could feel the joy of being able to play music again, and I realized that for me, music is the only way.
HAL: I learned that while there might be pandas on my drum kit and costume, I don’t actually really like them all that much!
On the contrary, are there any quirky things you found out about each other? Perhaps a silly habit or preference?
CHISA: RIKITO absolutely can’t withstand spicy food.
SHOGO: I like HAL’s sense of humor.
RIKITO: HAL walks really fast! [Laughs]
HAL: Since the band started just last year, there’s a ton of things I didn’t know. CHISA’s drinking habits are kinda, well… [Laughs] SHOGO sleeps about as much as a baby, and RIKITO’s taste buds are like a baby; he can’t eat anything that’s even the littlest bit spicy!
Your music videos are always so lively and fun! How do you come up with these ideas? Where do you get your inspiration from?
CHISA: I like films and dramas, that’s where my inspiration comes from.
SHOGO: After we make the music and decide on the costumes, it just appears in my head. So I recreate that.
RIKITO: Once the song starts, I think we just get immersed into the world it creates and go wild.
HAL: I’m inspired by everything, from films, and the news—to experiences and observations of the world around me.
On the note of inspiration; when designing your logo, T-shirts, and merchandise, you worked with a very inspiring artist, OYAKATA of apparel brand “PUNK DRUNKERS”. What was the reason you chose to collaborate with him?
CHISA: It came from HAL’s introduction.
HAL: OYAKATA has been my good friend since before I started ACME, so it was good to finally be able to work on something together.
You also collaborated with ex-girugamesh bassist ShuU’s “THEE MAD COUNTRY’S STORE” apparel store to release “ROTTEN ORANGE” parka. Why and how did this collaboration come to be?
CHISA: ShuU has helped us out a lot by introducing us to various people. We’ve wanted to do a collaboration for a while now, so it’s great that we could finally do it.
HAL: As CHISA and SHOGO mentioned, they are good friends with ShuU as they were on the same record label, so this collaboration shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Let’s jump back to some tour talk! We know ACME is a band that wants to perform abroad, are there any specific countries you’ve always wanted to perform in, or maybe just visit?
CHISA: There are many places, but I want to go where they have delicious food and beautiful sea.
SHOGO: I can’t decide.
RIKITO: Personally, Singapore.
HAL: I want to go anywhere in the world. After all, our goal is world domination!
Certainly! To those overseas who haven’t been able to see you live yet, what can they expect from your live shows?
CHISA: I think you can understand it from hearing our recordings, but the sound is quite different from other visual kei artists. Our live performance is also quite talked about so I think you’ll like it for sure.
SHOGO: You should definitely come see one of our one-man lives. There’s something that only people who have experienced it will understand.
RIKITO: ACME’s concerts are the kind you can enjoy however you choose—by listening to the songs, enjoying the musical performance, watching the show, or just headbanging with all your might and feeling like one with everyone else there.
As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics draws closer, if you had to choose a song from the album to be featured as its theme song, what would it be and why?
CHISA: Since Zesshou Ouka’s theme is Japanese style, if such an intense song became the theme of the Olympics I think Japan would become even more “Cool Japan”!
SHOGO: Zesshou Ouka has the feel of a Japanese summer, so I want to spread that image to the world.
RIKITO: The lyrics and melodies of Zesshou Ouka have a distinctly Japanese taste, so I think it would be easy for foreigners to understand. It would represent Japan perfectly.
HAL: I want to create music in the hopes that one day the world will become one, beyond such barriers as nationality and religion. Nothing good comes from hatred. Let’s swap weapons for musical instruments!
For those who are interested in coming over to Japan for the Olympics and beyond, could you recommend your favorite Japanese food for the summer, and your best dish for winter?
CHISA: My summer recommendation is soba! For cold weather, I recommend hot pot dishes.
SHOGO: For summer I recommend shaved ice. For winter, hot pot.
RIKITO: My pick for summer would be soumen noodles, for winter ramen.
HAL: My summer recommendation is hiyashi chuka (cold ramen), a dish that is based on Chinese food, but only exists in Japan. My winter recommendation is hot pot, like kimchi nabe, chanko nabe, mizutaki… There are many variations, so you won’t get tired of it even if you eat it every day.
Lastly, please give a final word to our readers, your overseas fans!
CHISA: As a band, we’ve only just started, but we’d love to go overseas one day, so please keep supporting us.
SHOGO: We’re aiming to become a band that represents Japan. Thanks for your support!
RIKITO: I hope that our new album will allow much more people to learn about ACME’s existence, and that we’ll be able to come and have a great time with everyone overseas soon. When we do a live overseas, definitely come hang out!
HAL: One day we’ll be able to perform in your country! Please come and join us when that happens.
We like to thank the members of ACME for taking time off their busy schedule to answers our questions, and hope to see them perform overseas in the near future!
If you’re interested in ACME’s first album Zesshou Ouka, snag your copy of it via the purchase links below.
Zesshou Ouka (絶唱謳歌)
Twitter (SHOGO) (将吾)
Instagram (SHOGO) (将吾)