Musician Dustin Wong returned to Japan five years ago and, despite having grown up here, he encountered a few cultural differences after coming back. Sipping on a strawberry milkshake at a cafe near Shibuya Station, the composer and guitarist speaks carefully, but candidly, about those differences, one of which is a general lack of critical […]

It’s no secret that the Japanese music industry has a hollowing-out problem; you are either a pop act on a major label with high levels of exposure or an obscure underground act for whom not losing money on a show is a major success. Guitarist Nobukata Kawai of hardcore band Envy knows the latter reality […]

The term “noise music” has come to define a variety of artists and sounds, from guitar feedback to drones to white noise. Japan is certainly no stranger to the concept, birthing formidable pioneers of the genre such as Merzbow, Hijokaidan and Incapacitants over the years. However, singer Taichi Nagura of self-described “noise band” Endon has […]

Yoshiki Hayashi hardly sleeps. The drummer, pianist, songwriter and leader of rock band X Japan has been in and out of the country constantly these past few months, promoting his band’s new documentary film, “We Are X.” At the same time he has been performing solo concerts, recording and squeezing in all the things the […]

When a band changes its name, it sometimes signifies a switch in artistic direction. For indie band Cairophenomenons — previously known as Cairo — the decision was far more practical, even if the new moniker is a bit of a mouthful. “Our band didn’t show up in any searches on the internet or Twitter,” shrugs […]

Despite being billed as a solo tour, X Japan’s Yoshiki Hayashi’s “Yoshiki Classical” tour is undoubtedly deeply rooted in the lore of one of the biggest rock acts of the country. The concert at Tokyo International Forum on Dec. 6 was packed with tear-jearkers, highlighting a career — and life — filled with both triumph […]

As we sit down for an interview, Tokyo Comic Convention Committee Chairman Mitsuaki Munegumi casually points to a glass case in the center of the room. “There’s actually a real ‘Star Wars’ lightsaber in there,” he says, and reaches over. He pulls out a hilt prop that the Count Dooku character, played by the late […]

The members of Ogre You Asshole are bracing for something. At least, that’s what the title of their seventh album, “Handoru o Hanasu Mae Ni” (“Before Letting Go of the Handle”) suggests. (The album’s official English title is the less tense “Everythingsomethingnothing.”) “It’s not really an emotional state, like dread or excitement, but just the […]

Not many musicians are able to say that they’ve taken the stage at both New York City’s Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall, two of the most prestigious venues in rock and classical music, respectively. Drummer, pianist and songwriter Yoshiki Hayashi, however, is stepping up to take claim of that title. “At this point, I […]

Despite what his mammoth bass guitar sound may suggest, rock band Crypt City bassist Kentaro Nakao is comically self-deprecating at times. “This sounds terrible, but I have no commercial ambitions for this band,” he says with a laugh. His band’s new album, “Chant,” will be self-released on vinyl and cassette only. And it will only […]