YVONNE EPPS WRITES — Imagine standing in the pit of the House of Blues, staring up at a four-man group that begins to sing in Japanese. It’s an indie Japanese music fan’s dream, and when you wake up, you realize that the American mainstream is being invaded.
A trend is developing in which Japanese rock bands are invading America’s airwaves, either by touring in the US or collaborating with popular mainstream bands. This past month, J-Rock band One Ok Rock performed at the House of Blues as part of a small tour before Knot Fest. Their concert is just one example; you can see other Japanese bands like Man With a Mission and Maximum the Hormone play at famous venues like Warped Tour or Knot Fest. Certainly, this is a change in atmosphere for bands who, although some of their lyrics are in English, will sing Japanese to an appreciating American audience. It’s surreal seeing them perform on the same stage as American favorites like Slipknot and Five Finger Death Punch. It’ll be a long while until we see these faces at festivals like Cochella, but these bands are slowly rocking their way into American hearts.
For Punk Spring 2013, the lead vocalist for One Ok Rock, Taka, has collaborated with Simple Plan on the song “Summer Paradise.” Despite the great success of One Ok Rock, collaborations with mainstream American bands and international artists are very uncommon and are a great surprise to their followers. It is apparent that this is becoming a trend as we saw a collaboration between Psy and Snoop Dog earlier this summer and Owl City just recently collaborated with the Japanese band Sekai no Owari on a single. Let’s just assume that these collaborations are a meaningful integration rather than the need for ethnic sidekicks.
The emergence of Japanese artists slowly climbing the trail left by American rock stars leads one to believe that they won’t be stopping any time soon. Whether it’s sharing an international stage or singing with the hearts of two nations, we can definitely expect to see more of these artists in the near future.