The popular group has played sold-out shows overseas and now they’re ready to release their third album!
We’ve talked about them a lot in the past, but in case you’re unfamiliar, Wagakki Band (和楽器バンド) is a musical group hailing from Japan who create their unique sound by infusing Western rock music with traditional Japanese instruments. The band has only been active since 2013, but has already gained a lot of attention, even overseas. There are seven members, beginning with female lead vocalist Yuko Suzuhana. There is also:
- Machiya – guitar, backup vocals
- Beni Ninagawa – shamisen
- Kiyoshi Ibukuro – koto
- Asa – bass
- Daisuke Kaminaga – shakuhachi
- Wasabi – drums
- Kurona – wadaiko
In addition to the usual guitar, bass, and drums, Wagakki Band also implements four traditional Japanese instruments into their sound. Wadaiko, in English often just called taiko, are heavy barrel-shaped drums which are beaten on with wooden drumsticks called bachi. Koto and shamisen are both stringed instruments, likely originating in China. The koto generally has 13 strings, which are plucked using finger picks on the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Shamisen (三味線), as the name in kanji implies, has only three strings and is played with a large pick called a bachi. Finally, there’s the shakuhachi, which is an end-blown flute traditionally made from bamboo.
These elements add a certain depth to their music when combined with the more western sounds of rock. Their visual style also uses a lot of kimono-inspired costuming, giving them an edgy yet fun and colorful look. In 2014, the band was invited to play at Japan Expo in France, and the following year they held their first independent overseas concert in Taipei. That same year they also headlined a sold-out show for Anime Expo in Los Angeles.
Last week, they released a teaser video for their song “Yuki yo Maichire sochira ni mukete”, which will appear on their third album titled Shikisai, set to release on March 22. The CD will be sold along with a DVD or Blu-ray of music videos of songs from the album and in-the-making footage as well. The album can be purchased through various venues online, starting at 4,320 yen (US$38.20).
If you are into visual kei music or are looking for a good gateway to start, give Wagakki Band a listen. Some of their more popular songs have upwards of two million views on YouTube. Their most popular – “Senbonzakura” – has more than 55 million, so they must be doing something right!