A short while ago our journey around the world’s local music scenes landed us in Fukuyama, Japan. Now, our man in the city, Paul Spicer takes the time out to introduce us more fully to one of the local bands, Minor Aura.
The band has recorded an exclusive track during a Louder Than War session and made it available to download for free.
Of all the bands that are playing in and around Fukuyama at the moment, one of the most promising are the three-piece outfit, Minor Aura.
Constantly gigging and gaining a reputation as one of the most hard-working bands in the city, they create a sound which is reliant on the energy and honesty of ’60’s garage and ’70’s punk. It is difficult to pinpoint solid influences, but what they produce is enjoyably familiar.
Although yet to release any material (although there are some demos changing hands), they have been the focus of interest from labels, but thus far have been reluctant to commit to anything official, preferring to continue to do their own thing, in their own way and without the hassles and interference of third parties. Some might say that they should grab this chance while it exists, however it is not something that overly concerns the band. They are continually growing in stature and the odds are that such interest is just a taste of what is to come.
With little recording undertaken, the band has concentrated on their live performances. This is evident when watching them, as it is here where they shine. It seems as if the stage is a place for emotional release, where they can perform without concern or compromise.
The musical chemistry between the three members – Yu guitar/vocals, Miiton bass/vocals and drummer Graeme – is clearly evident. Dirty, overdriven fuzz guitars bleed over a formidable engine room as Yu and Miiton share singing duties; both are equally competent and fill the role extremely well.
Louder than War caught up with the band in central Fukuyama City and first asked them how they got together?
Yu: Well, Miiton and I started in playing together in 2011, we were a three-piece but with a different drummer. We played at a party and decided that it was something we would like to do more seriously, but the drummer was not keen, and left.
Miiton: We carried on though, right? We got hold of a drum machine and played on as a two-piece. I was on bass and Yu was on guitar … I remember we did a gig and after we had finished, Graeme came over and told us that we should get a ‘proper’ drummer, and put himself forward. That was the beginning of the band really.
You obviously had experience of drumming, Graeme?
Graeme: Yeah of course, I was in a few bands back in the UK … I played in a band called Broccoli for a while, we were originally based in Dundee but relocated to London. We did OK, played a few shows supporting bands like Snuff, Mega City Four, the Senseless Things … and did gigs across Europe, Japan, loads of places. We came here (to Japan) mainly to promote albums, we released a self-titled lp in 1996 and then Home which came out in 1998, so we were in and around Japan about then. We always did pretty well here.
And had you played in a band in Japan before joining?
Graeme: Yeah, I came here around 2000 and ended up joining a band called Long Ball to No-one, this lasted a while, about five-years or so whilst I was in Tokyo, it was pretty good.
So in terms of song-writing for Minor Aura, who composes the songs?
Yu: Well, either me or Miiton comes up with a tune and then we work on it together…
Miiton: It really depends on the song though, some of them are more individual but generally we work things out together.
Yu: There is no formula really, we just see how things develop … it is pretty much on a song-by-song basis.
Miiton: We have actually been pretty busy with writing recently, and we have a good amount of new material…
Graeme: Yeah, we have been working hard on our new stuff.
What kind of music influences your song-writing?
Miiton: Mmmm, well in terms of our song-writing, we never really set out to copy a band or to write in a certain way. I mean when I was growing up, I was surrounded by local bands as opposed to the big famous foreign ones… to be honest I still listen to a lot of that, which is quite influential. Bands from Fukuyama, Onomichi and up to Kansai are important. Also, I don’t tend to think about just one band but more genres, you know? Like punk, indie, hardcore stuff like that… I think we just go where the feeling takes us.
What about playing though, are there any artists that inspire you?
Yu: Yeah for sure, I mean as far as I‘m concerned there is a band from Kansai called Bacho, they are not so famous, still a local band really but they have been going for a few years now. I was absolutely blown away by them. The singer/guitarist Kinya and the other guitarist Miugo are amazing.
Graeme: Yeah they are good, it’s kind of emo/rock but it is a bit more intense, there is noisy stuff in there too.
Yu: I think they are a really great band, I love the way that they express their emotions through their songs, definitely an inspiration for me.
Graeme: For me, drummers like Topper Headon, Clem Burke, Steve Shelley, Dave Grohl… I don’t try to emulate them at all, they are pretty technical, but they certainly played a part in me wanting to play. Also, there are bands that are pretty important, such as The Replacements, Husker Du, and Sonic Youth stuff like that.
There have recently been quite a few established bands from larger cities visiting Fukuyama to play alongside local artists. How do you think these bands are viewed?
Miiton: It is quite exciting I think, I mean until recently people in Fukuyama did not really get the chance to see bands from anywhere else, so these bands offer us a chance to experience a different kind of music, something new. I think that people want to see bands like this, and I also think that this goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of the scene here. I mean nowadays, local bands are producing their own CDs, they are organising and promoting concerts but this is a pretty new thing… it is only over the past few months where we have been mixing with the big city bands where this has happened, it encourages us.
Graeme: Like Miiton said, the scene here is new but expanding quickly and visiting bands have certainly played a part in that, but I also think having a focal point (the Meijikan), is an important factor in the scene becoming more popular.
Miiton: Plus if we are organising a gig for a band that has travelled a long way to play, I think it is important that we do our best to be good hosts, to make sure that it is an exciting show for the audience and the visiting band.
So, what does the future hold for Minor Aura?
Miiton: Well, at the moment we are going to continue playing and putting on concerts as we have been. We are also collaborating with another local band called Shitamachi Mandrill to organise and promote gigs. We want to get more bands from other local scenes here to play.
Graeme: We also want to play further afield, to get the name of the band seriously recognised. We have played Fukuoka, Okayama and Kochi, places like that and we have a few gigs lined up which are quite exciting, it will keep us busy. Also, although there are no concrete plans for an album, it will come eventually, either self-released or on a label.
You have recorded a track exclusively for Louder than War readers to download, do you have anything to say about it?
Yu: Well, the track is called Hello My Rock n Roll and it was recorded during a special session for Louder than War
Miiton: It coincides well with the Fukuyama Scene article and this interview, I think …
Yu: We hope that people will download it, and enjoy it of course!
Download Minor Aura’s exclusive track for Louder Than War, Hello My Rock N Roll from Paul’s Soundcloud page. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment here or on Facebook, or by tweeting us.
All words by Paul Spicer. You can read more from Paul on Louder Than War by visiting his author profile.