May

RIDE: Shoegaze and it’s uncomfortable return

by Dave


If Ride’s FRF2015 set is anything like this, we’ll all be happy campers.

There is something weird about the shoegaze reunions that are steadily popping up. The amazing and highly anticipated reunion of Ride at Fuji Rock 2015 is a little bit different — the anticipation is well merited, in my opinion, for Ride, but as a whole, the trend feels a bit like a false religion, a hope in something that doesn’t exist.

I think this odd feeling about the return of shoegaze is not so much about the musical style per se as about the fact that shoegaze came out of the 90s, just at the time when the music industry was starting to come unglued as a result of the Internet and rock bands were so actively anti-pop that the goal seemed to be about anything but getting famous, or even for lasting very long.

Ride was the biggest and most accomplished of the British shoegaze acts. They formed at the beginning of the 90s and blazed to success with four albums, most of them pretty good. Well actually, really good. They were a veritable powerhouse at the moment they suddenly broke up in 1996, because singer Mark Gardner suddenly went with an offer to chase a bigger and better drea in New York, but that never turned out to be much. Bassist Andy Bell meanwhile went on to play bass for Oasis, then guitar for Beady Eye. For a really good description of how that all went down, and a general band history, read this article in the Guardian. Then Ride announced it was getting back together last year. Now they’re coming to Fuji Rock.

More…

May

Joey Bada$$

by Park
JOEY BADA$$

JOEY BADA$$

While I’ve been a Naeba regular with the mid-winter powder fresh and waist-deep, the upcoming 2015 festival will be my first Fuji Rock experience. I’m hoping that my treks through the snow, board in hand, navigating between lifts will help me get my bearings early on in the festival, although I’m sure the Naeba area looks vastly different without three meters of snow on the ground. 

Though I’m not familiar with the festival layout, I am familiar with and excited to catch many of the acts scheduled to hit the stage in 2015. Among them, I’m especially anticipating a strong weekend kickoff set from ProEra hip-hop collective co-founder Joey Bada$$. The 20-year-old Brooklyn NY rapper, sure to be a huge draw to this years festival for many hip-hop heads, keeps the vibe of both his production and lyrical content close to home with heavy influence from fellow Brooklynites Notorious B.I.G and early Nas. 

More…

May

Popping The Fuji Rock Cherry

by Laura
Kemuri

KEMURI

Back during the days when I was living in a climate that required much less stoicism and bug spray, I used to spend much of my summer vacations looking forward to hitting the Reading Festival, or whatever else I could afford to go to on a student bookseller’s wage. Those days are gone, and although this is not my first festival experience in Japan – I once spent a weekend at a campsite halfway up a mountain in Wakayama getting bombarded by Gabba and Chip music til 3am every night– it will be my first Fuji Rock. Nor will it be my first festival as a reporter. I had great fun last year covering the Boomtown Fair festival in the UK. Based on much of my early festival-going experiences, Boomtown was much more pleasant than I had been expecting, and has hopefully set me up nicely for the Fuji Rock preparation.

More…

May

The beer connoisseur’s guide to Fuji Rock

Tokyo Ale booth - The go-to spot for beer lovers

Tokyo Ale booth - The go-to spot for beer lovers

Craft beer is exploding the world over and Japan is no exception. Tokyo seems to have a new craft beer bar opening every other week. There are craft beer festivals running just as frequently throughout the summer in Japan. Craft beer importers supplying the world’s finest brews to thirsty drinkers are
similarly thriving all over the country. Japanese brewers for their part, are upping their game too, Hitachino Nest is being exported around the world,
Shiga Kogen is brewing barrel aged porters and collaboration beers with famed Cali-brewers like Pizza Port and craft brews like Aooni IPA and Yona Yona Ale can be found at your local convenience store.
With so many options and quality brews now available in the country, many (myself included) have developed a disdain for the standard clear, yellow, fizzy
lager beer that has been prevalent for so long since before the recent craft beer enlightenment. Fuji Rock is so progressive in many ways but can it
answer the call for us craft heads?
What I can offer you fine readers is what I have seen in the past, some options you can use to take matters into your own hands and some hopes for the
future. Now, as a preface for those who don’t know, Heineken has been a long time sponsor of Fuji Rock. I understand music festivals need sponsors in
order to pay the millions of dollars required to book major artists and fly them in from around the world. I’m not here to badmouth Heineken, it’s fine as
a sponsor and thirst quencher, but an interesting, tasteful, hand crafted beer it is not.
So, what else can we find for sale at the festival and where can we find it? Well for starters my go-to brew has usually been Tokyo ale (pictured above). The self proclaimed “dude brewed, extra tasty micro brewed amber ale” has had a booth in the Field of Heaven area for at least a few years now and has been a mainstay at indie music fests around the country. In the NGO Village in Avalon Field I’ve always had luck finding a few popular Japanese crafts like Aooni, SunSun and Yona Yona, usually with one on draught which is always a bonus. Moving back towards the festival entrance takes us to the Oasis food court area, which is always a bit of a mixed bag, but where I’ve always found quality food and more recently have succeeded in finding a craft brew or two also.  There’s usually a british stall offering semi-craft brews such as Old Speckeled Hen and Spitfire. I’ve also found a few varieties of Echigo beer around this area which usually provide an above average Japanese brew. One can only hope that with the further expansion and popularity of craft beer in Japan this past year that Fuji Rock 2015 will see more craft goodness popping up throughout the fest.
One comforting aspect of Fuji Rock is that you can indeed bring your own beer. While you can’t technically bring cans or bottles into the festival site,
people can and certainly do bring coolers full of cans and bottles to their hotels and camping areas. So for the true craftheads who can’t go without their
Greenflash, Stone, Lagunitas or Dogfish Head, feel free to bring a case, hell bring a keg, just don’t forget to share it with us beer-loving rock reporters.

Craft beer is exploding the world over and Japan is no exception. Tokyo seems to have a new craft beer bar opening every other week. There are craft beer festivals running just as frequently throughout the summer in Japan. Craft beer importers supplying the world’s finest brews to thirsty drinkers are similarly thriving all over the country. Japanese brewers for their part, are upping their game too, Hitachino Nest is being exported around the world, Shiga Kogen is brewing barrel aged porters and collaboration beers with famed Cali-brewers like Pizza Port and craft brews like Aooni IPA and Yona Yona Ale can be found at your local convenience store.

With so many options and quality brews now available in the country, many (myself included) have developed a disdain for the standard clear, yellow, fizzy lager beer that has been prevalent for so long since before the recent craft beer enlightenment. Fuji Rock is so progressive in many ways but can it answer the call for us craft heads?

What I can offer you fine readers is what I have seen in the past, some options you can use to take matters into your own hands and some hopes for the future. Now, as a preface for those who don’t know, Heineken has been a long time sponsor of Fuji Rock. I understand music festivals need sponsors in order to pay the millions of dollars required to book major artists and fly them in from around the world. I’m not here to badmouth Heineken, it’s fine as a sponsor and thirst quencher, but an interesting, tasteful, hand crafted beer it is not.

So, what else can we find for sale at the festival and where can we find it? Well for starters my go-to brew has usually been Tokyo ale (pictured above). The self proclaimed “dude brewed, extra tasty micro brewed amber ale” has had a booth in the Field of Heaven area for at least a few years now and has been a mainstay at indie music fests around the country. In the NGO Village in Avalon Field I’ve always had luck finding a few popular Japanese crafts like Aooni, SunSun and Yona Yona, usually with one on draught which is always a bonus. Moving back towards the festival entrance takes us to the Oasis food court area, which is always a bit of a mixed bag, but where I’ve always found quality food and more recently have succeeded in finding a craft brew or two also.  There’s usually a british stall offering semi-craft brews such as Old Speckeled Hen and Spitfire. I’ve also found a few varieties of Echigo beer around this area which usually provide an above average Japanese brew. One can only hope that with the further expansion and popularity of craft beer in Japan this past year that Fuji Rock 2015 will see more craft goodness popping up throughout the fest.

One comforting aspect of Fuji Rock is that you can indeed bring your own beer. While you can’t technically bring cans or bottles into the festival site, people can and certainly do bring coolers full of cans and bottles to their hotels and camping areas. So for the true craftheads who can’t go without their Greenflash, Stone, Lagunitas or Dogfish Head, feel free to bring a case, hell bring a keg, just don’t forget to share it with us beer-loving rock reporters.

May

Small Stages, Big Surprises

by Matt
Mokudo Tei in the forest, Photo by Suguta

Mokudo Tei in the forest, Photo by Suguta

Everybody may already know the big stages and the famous musicians at Fuji Rock, but for me the real joy of the festival is exploring the smaller stages and artists I’ve never heard of. Here’s my quick guide to the smaller stages, hidden away in the vast grounds of the festival and what you can expect from each of them.

More…

May

Whoop, there it is! Yet another FRF ‘15 Lineup

by Lisa
ASH IS BACK!

ASH IS BACK!

With only 10 weeks to go, this year’s Fuji Rock is creeping closer and closer by the minute! Have you got your tickets? Already weatherproofed your gear? Or are you even already completely packed for the full-filled fes?

Whether you’re set to go or it’s not really on your radar yet, here’s another awesome announcement with some amazing artists coming your way at this year’s fes!

More…

Apr

Latest Lineup Update For FRF ‘15: Sheena & The Rokkets, Chthonic And More

by Patrick
Chthonic At Fuji Rock Festival 2012

Chthonic At Fuji Rock Festival 2012

Nine more artists have been announced for this July’s Fuji Rock Festival, featuring some notable returnees and exciting rookies. Check out the full list belw.

Chabo Band
Chtonic (acoustic)
Tokyo Shock Boys
Humbert Humbert
Jim O’Rourke & Gaman Gilberto
Lone
Seiho
Sheena & The Rokkets
Stone Foundation

For more info on the full FRF ‘15 lineup, check out the official website!

*Photo by Takumi Nakajima and used with permission from Fujirock Express ‘12.

Apr

Latest Lineup Update for FRF ‘15!

by Lisa
Kemuri on the Green Stage at FRF '13

Kemuri on the Green Stage at FRF '13

12 more acts released for Fuji Rock ‘15!

The new additions are:

[Alexandros]
Clammbon
Deadmau5
Hanaregumi
Gen Hoshino
Kemuri
Nate Ruess
Trio Ohashi
Royal Blood
Sunny Day Service
10-Feet
Txarango

For more info on the full FRF ‘15 lineup, check out the official website!

*Photo by Hiroshi Maeda and used with the permission of Fujirock Express ‘13.

Mar

More Names Confirmed For FRF ‘15

by Shawn
Räfven in the Palace of Wonder at FRF 09

Räfven in the Palace of Wonder at FRF '09

Yesterday, nine more acts were added to the lineup for this summer’s Fuji Rock Festival!  Here’s all the new additions:

Aqualung
Benjamin Booker
Glim Spanky
Ziyoou Vachi
Tamio Okuda
One Ok Rock
Perrosky
Räfven
The Vaccines

*Photo by Tsuyoshi Ikegami and used with the permission of Fujirock Express ‘09.

Feb

Artist Announcement No. 3 for FRF ‘15

by Shawn

MotorheadThe third wave of acts for Fuji Rock ’15 has been revealed.  Included in the list are rock ‘n’ roll legends Motorhead and the recently reunited Ride! Check out all the new additions below:

Catfish and the Bottlemen
The Districts
Galantis
Gesu no Kiwami Otome
Hudson Mohawke
Motorhead
Yasuyuki Okamura
Ride

Feb

Lineup Announcement No. 2 for FRF ‘15

by Shawn
Jenny Lewis in the Red Marquee at FRF '06

Jenny Lewis in the Red Marquee at FRF '06

It looks like Smash is wasting little time getting things moving for FRF ’15.  Usually the initial acts for each summer’s fest are announced in late February or early March and then more performers are added every two weeks or so.  But last week the first batch of performers were revealed for FRF ’15, and now five more names were just announced.

Here are the latest additions to FRF ’15:

Galactic featuring Macy Gray
Jenny Lewis
Johnny Marr
Ryan Adams
Twenty One Pilots

Check out our review of Galactic’s set at FRF ‘12 here.

Check out our review of Jenny Lewis’ set at FRF ’06 here.

Check out live photos of Ryan Adams at FRF ’05 here.

Check out our review of Twenty One Pilots’ set at FRF ’12 here.

*Photo by ikesan and used with the permission of Fujirock Express’ 06.

Jan

FRF ‘15 Getting Things Started Early!

by Shawn
Foo Fighters Live at FRF '05

Foo Fighters Live at FRF '05

Fuji Rock’s first lineup announcement usually comes out in late February or early March.  But for 2015, the fest is kicking things off early!  Smash just released the names of nine acts that will be playing in Naeba this July, and it’s probably fairly safe to assume that two of them will be Green Stage headliners.  We bet you can guess pretty easily who they are!

Here’s the first list of performers that will be joining us for FRF’ 15:

Foo Fighters
Muse
The Bohicas
Cero
FKA Twigs
Happy Mondays
Of Monsters and Men
Sheena Ringo
Todd Rundgren

Seeing as how 200+ acts perform at the fest each year, there are obviously still lots of great artists to be announced over the next several months!

* Photo by Keco and used with the permission of Fujirock Express ‘05.

Jul

We’re off to Naeba!

fuji_14_b3That’s all for the preview folks. We’re off to Naeba tomorrow for the pre-fest knees-up, and we’ll be posting live reports throughout the weekend.

Point your browsers to fujirockexpress.net/14e, or click the pic above, to find out if the Flaming Lips do something brilliant, if Yoko Ono does something weird, or if Jack Johnson songs make any sense in the rain.

Let’s Rock!

Jul

Meet Jungle by Night

jbn

Jungle by Night

You may have been browsing the Fuji Rock schedule and noticed Jungle by Night. No, this isn’t up-and-coming funk/soul band Jungle playing at night. Although, Jungle is playing at night on Friday at the Red Marquee, but I digress. This is Jungle ‘by’ Night.  JBN is made up of 9 guys from Amsterdam all with diverse musical tastes and playing styles creating something new and exciting. Expect to hear a range of instruments like guitar, trumpet, congas, bass, sax, djembe and more. ‘Their music is a mixture of Afrobeat from Nigeria and Jazz from Ethiopia, played with a Western rock attitude.’ They are playing two sets on Saturday and one on Sunday, so you’ll have plenty of chances to check them out.

I got the opportunity to do a virtual sit down with Jungle by Night’s sax player, Pieter van Exter to find out more about the band, their future plans, what he thinks about Japan and more, let’s get to it.

You guys are relatively new on the scene and maybe new to many readers, tell us how you got started and how long you have been playing together as Jungle by Night.

We started 4 years ago in 2010 with a group of friends and family who liked to play the music they liked best: A mixture of instrumental funk, jazz, afrobeat, psychedelics and we never thought it would be picked up that well. Within a year we played several big festivals and we can spread our music to other countries as well which is great!

You guys have a wide range of interests in terms of music and playing styles. Could you do a short introduction of yourself, what instruments
you play. How long have you been playing, how were you taught etc..?
I am 23 years (old), (I’ve) play(ed) saxophone for 11 years now. First alto, but soon switched to tenor saxophone because I liked the sound much better. I really like saxophone players who play raw and scream, such as Pharaoh Sanders, Wayne Shorter, or saxophone players on records of Mulatu Astatke. It can be just like a human voice, (and) give you goosebumps.

You guys have a wide range of interests in terms of musical tastes and playing styles. Could you do a short introduction of yourself, tell us what instruments you play and how long you’ve been playing.

I am 23 years (old), (I’ve) play(ed) saxophone for 11 years now. First alto, but soon switched to tenor saxophone because I liked the sound much better. I really like saxophone players who play raw and scream, such as Pharaoh Sanders, Wayne Shorter, or saxophone players on records of Mulatu Astatke. It can be just like a human voice, (and) give you goosebumps.

You’ve been touring and playing with some real legends as of late, such as Mayer Hawthorne, The Roots, John Legend and Mulatu Astatke (who appeared at Fuji Rock last year). How has it all been? What are some memorable moments from the past year?

The support act for Mayer Hawthorne was our second actual performance and was a very important moment for us. It was not a big venue, but the programmer was so enthusiastic that he emailed all his colleagues right after the concert. And since then we have been playing a lot. It was also very special to meet Mulatu Astatke who is one of our heroes. He is a really nice and intelligent man. We really worked hard on the new album which we released in April, which was a big highlight for us this year. And since then we have been playing in Europe. We just played at Jazz à Vienne (in France) in an ancient roman theatre in front of 8000 people. With a line-up of all jazz legends: Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Ibrahim Maalouf, Sharon Jones, The Roots, etc. That was the highlight so far, but this summer will probably be full of special moments and we are really looking forward to our trip to Japan.

You’ve just released your new album, The Hunt. Can you comment on the album. What were some influences in making it, and are you happy with how it turned out?

For this album we wanted to have tracks with raw and clear arrangements and exciting sounds. For this album we were also inspired by Turkish psychedelic funk for instance or certain dance music. It is less afrobeat I would say and more our own sound. We also produced the album ourselves with help from others, which was a really nice experience.

More…

Jul

Rookie Roundup

by Matt
Rookie A Go-Go

Rookie A Go-Go

The Rookie A Go-Go stage at Fuji Rock showcases up-and-coming underground bands from Japan, giving them a chance to win a spot on the stage at the next year’s Fuji Rock Festival. It’s a brilliant chance to get a glimpse into the Japanese underground and see the next generation of musicians coming through. There’s a wide variety of genres, from soul through to punk and from blues through to indie pop. Whatever your tastes, you should be able to find something you like. It kicks off every night at 11pm, just outside of the main festival grounds near the Palace of Wonder. We thought we’d give you a quick preview of this years acts.

Friday

ARTIFACT OF INSTANT are set to lead the charge of the Rookie bands this year, their alternative rock a kicking ride with superb guitarwork and emotive vocals the highlight amongst plenty of dancing groove from the rhythm section. Check out the dizzy view of their live from their drummer’s point of view below (the action kicks off around the two minute mark).

odol only started this February but their sound is already polished, sliding comfortably between alternative rock, pop and occasionally an outburst of anger-filled distortion. The lyrics deal with anguish and relationships, but the songwriting and variety of sounds within each song really make this band stand out. You can get a free download of their first EP here.

Dizzy Sunfist is a joyous, noisy, messy three-piece whose girl-rock is set to rock the stage this year. It’s punk-pop but without the angst, the clean female lyrics duo harmonising above the crash of the three or four chord songs. All the lyrics are in English, for those visitors from overseas looking to catch a slice of the Japanese underground music scene that they can understand.

Pulling together rapper R-指定 (translated as ‘Designation R’) and DJ 松永 (Matsunaga), Creepy Nuts is bringing the beat and the rhymes to the Rookie stage this year. With R- 指定’s second consecutive Japan’s Ultimate MC title to his name, this should be worth checking out for anyone with a passing interest in the genre and anybody who wants to see how rapping in Japanese works.

SPARK!!SOUND!!SHOW!!’s genre is simply best described as party. The music is raucous, noisy and raises hell just for the fun of it. It’s funk, hardcore and metal hanging off a punk skeleton and fused together with probably more than a few Jagermeister shots. If you’re looking for a good time, find yourself at the Rookie A Go-Go stage as these boys close out Friday night.

More…

Jul

You Will Get Wet: How To Deal With Rain At Fuji Rock

by Patrick
Fuji Rock Rain Look (Photo By Kevin Uttin On Flickr, Licensed Under Creative Commons)

Fuji Rock Rain Look (Photo By Kevin Uttin On Flickr, Licensed Under Creative Commons)

The very first year I went to Fuji Rock, it didn’t rain at all during the weekend. Ominous clouds packed the sky…and maybe, maybe, a minute or two of drizzle trickled downwards…yet they never opened up. I had spent the last three months bracing for the worst – I bought new water-proof boots and various other anti-rain measures – and carried them around with me at all times over the next three days. Yet I didn’t need them at all – my initial Fuji Rock was like the front page of a brochure, perfect weather every day. Which was perfect for someone like me – a Californian who loathed any liquid falling from the heavens.

“I’ve never seen a Fuji Rock like that before,” others said, stunned at the good conditions that had just passed. “There’s always at least a partial downpour.” I zoned it out – I’d just experienced flawless weather for and felt that all the precipitation-heavy caution was overblown.

A year later, as I stood in the middle of a mid-afternoon deluge, attempting to watch the band Foals play a set while standing in a puddle of mud, I thought…”geez, I was overconfident.”

Rain is an (almost) inevitable feature of the Fuji Rock Festival. Punters can expect on-again-off-again showers…along with some heavy periods…all weekend long. Yet the elements shouldn’t be too off-putting – I hate rain, yet despite being pounded by it and having to say farewell to several pairs of socks, I still enjoyed last year’s festival a lot. One doesn’t have to accept the rain – they just have to prepare in advance to make it less of a nuisance.

More…

Jul

Buffalo Daughter Interview: 20 years since Shibuya-kei

by Dave
Buffalo Daughter at Fuji Rock in 2010.

Buffalo Daughter at Fuji Rock in 2010.

Buffalo Daughter will perform at Fuji Rock for the fourth time on Sunday night. The trio (plus a drummer) known for its looping electro grooves has had a storied career, rising from Shibuya’s underground scene of the 90s, getting “discovered” by Luscious Jackson in Tokyo, moving to the US to work with the Beastie Boys and release a half-dozen albums on their label Grand Royale. And much of that happened in just the first few years of the band. But despite the successes, unstinting recognition from their peers, and a couple of songs licensed for television commercials, Buffalo Daughter has never had the huge breakthrough of many of the stars they’ve worked with, instead always remaining as a band’s band and musicians’ musicians. Maybe it was their avant-garde affectations, or their tendency to embrace the edgier aspects of punk or techno or shoegaze, so even the stabs at pop need to be prefixed as alt-pop or something similar. They have fans to be sure, but they have never been have never been the type of band to play to grab-all crowd of the Green Stage. Seeing them once again play a night-club style set in the Red Marquee on Sunday night, the last call for party time, will be an amazing treat. This band somehow continues to demand some discernment from its audience, and their Fuji Rock audiences have always managed to give it back to them.

Last year Buffalo Daughter celebrated its 20th anniversary with a compilation of remixes, “ReDiscoVer.Best,Re-recordings and Remixes of Buffalo Daughter”, and on July 23 they will release their 8th album, “Konjac-tion”, which includes new songs, new collaborations and a second CD of remixes by other musicians. I was fortunate enough to contact guitarist SuGar Yoshinaga by email and ask her why Buffalo Daughter got lumped in with Shibuya-kei, the unique path the band has taken, and after two decades, where they are going from here?
More…

Jul

Beer, Spirits, and Stuff

by Sean
SOME USEFUL THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN FESTIVAL DRINKING

SOME USEFUL THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN FESTIVAL DRINKING

Basically, the big  question about going to a festival is how to drink like a mofo all day and avoid going broke or doing the pee-pee dance while standing in super long lines for the toilet.  Or for the complete rager, how to party super hard without  becoming a pain in the ass who needs babysitting all night.

First of all, let’s talk about the reason to drink alcohol at a festival.  Four days of no work and nothing to do but chill and listen to good music, why not drink every goshdarn minute you are awake? This overwhelming positive is offset by the horrible reality that you are in a huge crowd of people who are pretty much thinking the same thing. This is why you need to a “drinking plan” or at least some things to think about before you order another mango daiquiri.

- Wake up a little before you start drinking. There’s probably a good chance you are hungover from the night before and it’s gonna be a long day so why not give the body some time to recover? On the other hand, you could just keep it rolling and toast the new day with a slug of vodka.

-Put some ice cubes into your wine, your beer, whatever. My friend, Brad, a horrible drinker who falls down a lot and has lots of UDI’s (unidentified drinking injuries) thought this silly trick would keep him hydrated. It actually doesn’t help at all, it  just makes the wine bottle last a little longer.

-Keep it slow and steady, i.e. just one drink at a time. Unless it’s the Pogues or the Waterboys or some holy-shit type band that you want to enjoy the hell out of. In that case, grab a “tray of beers” from the beer tent and kick it. But of course, not every band deserves this treatment.

-Drink some water. I know it can kill the buzz sometimes, but take a little sip.

Remember that you gotta be sober enough to stumble back to your hotel or tent, and that’s like a 30 minute or 1 hour trip. If you can’t make it, you will probably be sleeping in a ditch all night, and you better be prepared for the consequences.

-If you feel like you’re too drunk, try to eat some fruit. I saw an animal show on Discovery once and that’s what the monkeys did. Or was this how they got drunk in the first place? Anyways, I tried it once and it worked. The added benefit is that the regurgitation doesn’t taste so bad if its mainly mango and banana.

Keep reading for more tips, like saving money on booze, hangover remedies, etc.

More…

Jul

Into The Wild…Sorta.

A view from our campsite in 2012

A view from our campsite in 2012

Okay, so it might not be the wild, but camping at FujiRock is just as hairy a venture, albeit in different ways. Make no mistake – camping is fun, cost effective, and an incredibly and unique experience. Sleeping beneath the stars – or beneath a thin layer of nylon beneath the stars – in the thick of a the friendly Fuji community, surrounded by mountains, is absolutely worth it.

Still, it can be a bit of a shock for those who are used to the conveniences of home. Or showers. Or sleeping horizontally. Here are a few tips I can suggest, based on my experiences camping in 2012. I figure they’re good ones, because four out of five we learned the hard way. More…

Jul

Ogre You Asshole: 21st Century Vinyl Boys

by Lisa

less violent than the name implies

less violent than the name implies

Ogre You Asshole (OYA) is not your average rock’n’roll band. Apart from the obvious PG13-rated name (taken from a line in the film “Revenge of the Nerds”; a suggestion by Modest Mouse’s Eric Judy as a joke), there’s more to this 4 piece band than meets the eye. While most Japanese bands strive to move to and succeed in Tokyo, all the OYA members are happy to stay where they feel at home, in Nagano.
Inspired primarily by groovy and psychedelic bands from the 60s and 70s, they use elements of those styles but the results is something completely their own, and far more catchy.

Vocal/Guitarist Manabu Deto took some time out from the band’s recording of their next album (yet to be named, out later this year) to have a chat with us.

This will be your second time performing at Fuji Rock Festival. What was the first time like, and what are your expectations this time?

That’s right, we performed at the Red Marquee four years ago (2010), and to be honest I don’t remember so much, apart from the fact that it was fun (laughs). We were there for all three days, and saw bands like LCD Soundsystem and !!! (Chk Chk Chk) were really great. We’ll be on the White Stage this time. As long as we can blow the minds of the audience with our performance, I’m happy. But yeah, Fuji Rock is definitely special. This year we’ll be playing on the Sunday. If I could, I’d love to see The Flaming Lips (who play on the same day), but if I could see anyone on the other days… Arcade Fire would be cool, and Steve Hillage, too.

More…

Jul

Sexo Y Violencia From Lucha VaVOOM

by Alisa

Witness some serious butt-kicking

Witness some serious butt-kicking


If you’ve been to Fuji Rock before, or have been following the Fujirockers blog posts, you know that the festival fun doesn’t just come from the music. On top of the world class live music, you get a stomachful of good food, a great view of the mountains, and this year, even a seat at the Mexican masked wrestling/comedy/burlesque show Lucha VaVOOM.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Lucha VaVOOM will perform three shows a night at the Palace Arena from Friday through Sunday. But what exactly can we expect from the wrestling, strip tease, comedy troupe?

Inspired by Mexican action movies from the sixties, Lucha VaVOOM puts on a classic Good VS Evil battle with Mexican masked wrestlers, or luchadores, slamming bodies and fly kicking until their moment of victory. Hilarious commentators smooth out the violence throughout the show with comedy, and burlesque dancers amp up the heat with strip teases in between matches.

If you don’t think that sounds like fun, just take these guys‘ word for it. Rolling Stone says, “it’s enough to make even the most jaded Hollywood insider jump up and yell ‘SMACK DOWN!’”, with actor/comedian Jack Black agreeing, saying that “Lucha VaVOOM is the sh*t!”.

As you may already tell by looking at their schedule – their first show of the night starting at half-past midnight – Lucha VaVOOM isn’t the best show to take your kids to. But if you’ve had a PG day and need to spice up your night with some R-rated madness, you know where to go.

Sneak peek the performance and get a taste of what you’re in for.

Jul

White Lung: Fuji Rock “Will Be The Best Show We’ve Ever Played Outdoors”!

by Shawn
Things will be loud and wild when White Lung Play on the white stage

Things will be loud and wild when White Lung Play on the white stage

The Japanese version of White Lung’s blistering third album, “Deep Fantasy,” comes out this week through Hostess Entertainment.  The offering sees the Canadian punk act tearing through 10 loud and aggressive cuts at breakneck speed.  Clocking in at 23 minutes in length, “Deep Fantasy” is a fantastic listen and is rightfully receiving glowing accolades from the likes of Pitchfork and Spin, while NME recently called vocalist Mish Way “the most electrifying frontwoman of 2014.”

As part of their world tour in support of “Deep Fantasy” we’re going to see White Lung at Fuji Rock on July 26 for what will no doubt be a raucous performance for lots of eagerly bouncing bodies at the White Stage.  If the band’s set list from their June 25 Brooklyn concert is any indication, Fujirockers can expect to hear nearly all of the tracks from “Deep Fantasy” with a few songs from White Lung’s equally good “Sorry” record (which Rolling Stone called one of “The 10 Best Albums of 2012”).

Guitarist Kenneth William took a few minutes from the band’s busy touring schedule to answer some of our questions.  Fujirockers should like William’s answer to the question about White Lung’s Fuji Rock set!

You’re performing at Fuji Rock in a few weeks.  Will this be everyone’s first time visiting Japan?

Yeah, and we’re very excited about coming to Japan.  Some of us are staying afterwards to hang out and explore.  Japan has always been one of the top places we’ve wanted to play in.

Why are you excited about playing at Fuji Rock?

I’m excited to see the other bands at the fest and the mountains look very nice.

What can people expect from White Lung’s Fuji Rock set?

It’ll be very good and fast.  I think it will be the best show we’ve ever played outdoors.

Aside from performing, is there anything else you would like to see or do at Fuji Rock?

We’ll be exploring the site and checkout out some of the other bands. More…

Jul

Barbarella’s Bang Bang

Barbarellas_Bang_Bang(new)

Explosive

Every year there’s one act that plays a half a dozen times over the weekend, and most of the time it seems to be an act signed to Uncle Owen records (named after Luke Skywalker’s uncle, nerds), which suggests that you should be really careful before you sign with those guys.

This year, they’ll be working Barbarella’s Bang Bang to death. And the band looks tailor-made for Fuji Rock.

They’ll be playing at the Palace of Wonder, the Naeba Shokudo, the Mokudotei, the Cafe de Paris… and you get the idea.

So we spoke with frontwoman Barbara Pugliese, and here’s what she said:

Can you give us a brief history of the band?

The band formed in London 3 years ago with musicians coming from different countries and went through a few changes. It then gradually reached a more defined shape, which is the result of what you’re going to bump into veeery soon: a bunch of 5 different international, crazy, happy, creepy, dramatic, loving and silly characters who cannot wait to perform and share their music and love with Fuji Rock!

What’s the best description of Barbarella’s Bang Bang you’ve read?

Our biography written by James Ingham describes nicely our band:

‘Accordion-toting five piece ‘Barbarella’s Bang Bang’ is a cacophony of carnivalistic delights; a combination of European gypsy folk and theatrical pop musicality. With roots in Eastern and Roman Europe, Barbarella’s Bang Bang provide a soundtrack of ecstasy to all occasions. Fronted by the stunning Barbarella, the Bang Bang will take you on a ride from the eyes of a puppet in a world of lost lovers, to Bohemian dancehalls shadowed by broken Suns’.

Also, we had a pleasant review on thoughtcatalog.com :

‘…This band is brave in a whole different way. They are defiant. The way all good gypsies are. If there’s one thing you can say for a gypsy band, they have a survival spirit, they struggle, they hustle. And a gypsy band has a bull-rider’s grip on that aching throb of life. They hang on and if you can hang with a gypsy band you can hang with anything. The lead singer Barbarella has the sort of voice that wraps around your imagination and pulls tight. She has the girlish toughness of Gwen Stefani and the ache of a Billie Holliday with the playful vocal acrobatics of a Cyndi Lauper or Karen O’.


What is the bang bang in your group’s name?

It symbolises the explosion of musicality, expression, creativity and amusement of the band!

Your first album is coming out in Japan next month on Uncle Owen records. How did you hook up with them?

Last summer we played at the Salon Carousel stage at Glastonbury and after our set, Chris from Smash Productions approached us and invited us to play at Fuji Rock. It’s Chris that introduced our music to Uncleowen Records.

You used crowdfunding to make the album, and your blurb specified that you wanted to come to Japan and the Fuji Rock Festival. Is it safe to assume you’re pretty excited to perform here?

Yes we did use crowdfunding to record our album and be able to play at Fuji Rock! We can’t believe yet we are actually going to perform there. We feel so blessed to embrace such an amazing and magical experience in our lives!

Outside of the festival, what are you most looking forward to doing in Japan?

Visiting Tokyo and other cities of course… play as much as we can…meet a lot of people…drink sake… get inspired from the Japanese fashion…buy souvenirs…learn a bit of Japanese…have the most fun possible…feed our brains with all the visual madness of Japan!

Have you had a favourite gig so far?

Our Glastonbury gig of last year was fabulous! The Salon Carousel stage was the perfect scenario for us and the sound and crowd were wonderful!

Also…we just got back from Fusion Festival in Germany and had a superb time over there too: we got to play 2 gigs there…very different from each other but both fun and joyful in their own ways!
We also keep on having a wicked time when playing in London venues such as Cafe Cairo, The Bird’s Nest, Jambouree, Hootananny and many more. Every gig has its own magic… even when it goes wrong!

What’s the last song or album you bought?

Tune Yards album
Led Zeppelin remastered albums 1,2,3
The Pursuit by Jamie Callum
Dring by Nose

Jul

A Q&A with Ninja Tune’s Mr. Scruff

Scruff looking not so scruffy

Scruff looking not so scruffy

For a festival as diverse musically as Fuji Rock, a DJ like Mr. Scruff fits the bill perfectly. “As a DJ, Andy Carthy aka
Mr. Scruff plays across the board, flitting between soul, funk, hip hop, jazz, reggae, latin, african, ska, disco, house,
funk, breaks, soundtracks and loads more. As a producer he makes music that draws on these influences, with a large dose
of cheek and good humour. His cartoon drawings illustrate gig flyers, record sleeves and CD covers, and usually accompany
him at gigs as live animated visuals.” His record collection is notoriously massive; he always travels with his records to
gigs. Scruff was recently featured in an episode of Crate diggers, check it out to get a taste of the man.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to do a short Q&A with Scruff in anticipation of his Fuji Rock debut, peruse it below
and make sure to catch Mr. Scruff playing the Red Marquee at Fuji Rock July 27th.
You’re known for playing playing long sets filled with all different styles and genres of music.
Do you have a preference to a set length or genre to play out?
I prefer to play around 5 or 6 hours. Genre-wise, whatever feels right at the time!
You’ve played all over the world in numerous venues and festivals, what are some of your favourite, some stands outs over the years?
Band on the Wall in Manchester (home of my residency) Plastic People (London), Smart Bar (Chicago), Loop, Module (Tokyo), Womad Festival (UK/Australia/New Zealand). Beatherder Festival (UK).
How do you feel about your new album, Friendly Bacteria? It’s pretty different than your past work, what were some of your influences in making it? Do you enjoy the process of producing and making an album or would you rather be out digging for tunes and DJing?
I really enjoy making an album. This album was different due to the large number of collaborations, which really helped to push me as a producer, regarding how my productions sound.
What keeps you going this many years into the music game? Who are some of your influences and what are some of your goals in regards to the music?
I work very hard, and don’t do anything that I don’t feel comfortable with in order to make money. That way, I enjoy everything I do, and continue to grow & develop. Regarding influences, I would say that John Peel, Afrika Bambaataa, Stu Allan, Scientist, Sun Ra, Theo Parrish, Pete Rock, Tom Ze, Paddy Steer & Kaidi Tatham are those who come to mind today. tomorrow it will be a different set of names!
You’re also known to have a massive record collection, do you always travel with vinyl or do you have to resort to digital when overseas? Have you ever had any mishaps with lost records or baggage not showing up in time for the gig?
I Play vinyl overseas too. It is expensive to transport, and a lot more work to set up the equipment for vinyl, but I love playing it. I only had one mishap with missing records at Sonar festival in Barcelona, when one of my two boxes turned up a few days late. The gig still went really well though.
Similarly, speaking to your record collection, do you have an extensive collection of Japanese music?
Not massive, but I do buy a lot whenever I come to Japan, especially Japanese-only vinyl releases.
Who are some of your favourite Japanese artists or favourite tunes?
Sleepwalker, Soil & Pimp Sessions, Teruo Nakamura, Muro, Gagle, Kimiko Kasai, Rondenion, Riow Arai, Sadao Watanabe.
How many times have you been to Japan and where are some of your favourite places in Japan?
I have only been to Japan 3 times, to Osaka, Kyoto & Tokyo. I love the venues. We had some time in the hills in Kyoto, which is a beautiful place, and record shopping in Shibuya was amazing. I saw Prince Buster & Gaz Mayall at Yellow about 10 years ago on my birthday, that was a brilliant night.
Favourite things about Japan and Japanese culture?
The food, the attention to detail, and the obsessiveness, passion and knowledge of all kinds of music. Japanese people love to party, so the gigs are always really enjoyable.
If you were a piece of sushi what sushi roll would you be?
I prefer Sashimi to Sushi, so i would say Tuna Sashimi.
What can we expect from your set at Fuji Rock and is 90 min. going to be enough?
Not sure yet. 90 minutes isn’t really enough, but I may play a lot of 45s, so I can fit a lot of music in. Expect a party!
Do you go to many live shows? Will you have some time at Fuji Rock? Any acts you are particularly interested in checking out?
I try & see as many live shows as I can, really looking forward to seeing Theo Parrish live in July. I will have some time at Fuji Rock, and plan to see Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Syl Johnson & Chet Faker.
Finally, any message for the readers?
See you at Fuji Rock!

For a festival as musically diverse as Fuji Rock, a DJ like Mr. Scruff fits the bill perfectly. “As a DJ, Andy Carthy aka Mr. Scruff plays across the board, flitting between soul, funk, hip hop, jazz, reggae, latin, african, ska, disco, house, funk, breaks, soundtracks and loads more. As a producer he makes music that draws on these influences, with a large dose of cheek and good humour. His cartoon drawings illustrate gig flyers, record sleeves and CD covers, and usually accompany him at gigs as live animated visuals.” His record collection is notoriously massive and he always travels with his records to gigs. Scruff was recently featured in an episode of Crate diggers, check it out to get a taste of the man.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to do a short Q&A with Scruff in anticipation of his Fuji Rock debut, peruse it below and make sure to catch Mr. Scruff playing the Red Marquee on July 27th.

You’re known for playing long sets filled with all different styles and genres of music. Do you have a preference to a set length or genre to play out?

I prefer to play around 5 or 6 hours. Genre-wise, whatever feels right at the time!

You’ve played all over the world in numerous venues and festivals, what are some of your favourite, or some stands-outs over the years?

Band on the Wall in Manchester (home of my residency) Plastic People (London), Smart Bar (Chicago), Loop, Module (Tokyo), Womad Festival (UK/Australia/New Zealand). Beatherder Festival (UK).

How do you feel about your new album, Friendly Bacteria? It’s pretty different than your past work, what were some of your influences in making it? Do you enjoy the process of producing and making an album?

I really enjoy making an album. This album was different due to the large number of collaborations, which really helped to push me as a producer, regarding how my productions sound. More…

Jul

The Last Lineup Announcement for 2014 is Live!

by Lisa
MATE POWAHHHH

MATE POWAHHHH

With only three weeks to go to Fuji Rock, it’s time to get excited! Is there a better way to get pumped than checking out the very latest and very last lineup announcement with complete timetable for 2014?

The short answer is no. The long answer… is also no.

Get out your pens, papers, smartphones and excel spreadsheets. It’s time to plan your Fuji Rock experience down to the very last millisecond.

Mate Power will be playing at Cafe de Paris, on top of their originally scheduled Naeba Shokudo show. Both shows are on Friday, so you better be out there early! Tokyo’s DJ Emma has been turning tables since the mid 1980s and will be making Planet Groove…groovy.

Most important of all though, is the full Rookie A-Go-Go lineup! These are the bands that most people have never heard of before seeing them, but are most likely to be talking about after they’ve come home. Last year’s not-for-the-squeamish Oboreta Ebi no Kenshi Houkokusho. The name is impossible to remember, but their costumes, music and performance makes up for that, which is why they’ll be returning this year on Sunday at the Red Marquee. As for the newbies for 2014… check them all out here ahead of the fest.

(At the time of posting, detailed timetable information was only available on the Japanese Fuji Rock Festival website. More information will be available on the English website shortly.)

*Photo by Julen Esteban-Pretel used with the permission of Smashing Mag.