Planning the line-up for NMFT5

NMFT5 will happen in May 2013 and I'd like to determine the line-up by the end of the year. I'll be going to Japan next week and again in December checking out bands to help me decide. NMFT4's line-up was pure magic. Zazen, _inou, Charan-Po and Praha were the perfect combination of jawdropping skill, energy, and fun with completely different musical styles. HOWEVER, the tour itself wasn't as enjoyable for me as in the past because the bands didn't fraternize with each other at all. Comparatively, the bands from NMFT3 (Akai Koen, NATSUMEN, chiina, hyacca) continue to be best friends and gig with each other whenever they can in Japan. For the next tour I'd like to choose bands that are more sociable and can mesh well together offstage.

None of the following bands are on the roster yet but these are the ones I'm strongly considering: (note: click on the band name for homepage, soundcloud etc )

haisuinonasa The first time I watched them perform I thought they were outstanding musicians but boring to watch. I've seen them four times now and they got better each time with their one-man show at o-nest completely blowing my mind. Incredibly intricate, intensely beautiful music that can be aggressive and powerful as well. Every member except the guitarist is shy and introverted but they're so amazingly badass at their respective instruments that you will be awestruck with their performance.

Kinoko Teikoku Kinoko take the best elements of RIDE and MBV and combine them with punk spirit, chaotic fury, maturity that belies their young age and hauntingly beautiful female vocals. They can be majestic, serious and sophisticated and then switch things up by rocking the f*ck out like their hair's on fire. Some of their songs are admittedly filler but a set of 7-8 of their best songs will have you addicted to Kinoko for life!

Harafromhell According to them they wanted to start a punk band but realized they have no idea what it takes to be punk. :) In other words they decided not to pretend to be anyone but themselves and to make the best music possible from the heart. Harafromhell's music is honest, soulful, melodic and overflowing with energy. A lot of emo bands feign emotion on stage like a bad soap opera but harafromhell take a more natural approach albeit with 10x the intensity of the average indie pop band. If you don't believe me just check out the drummer in the following clip starting at the 21 sec mark. Have you ever seen Death Cab for Cutie or The Pains of Being Pure at Heart pound the snot out of their drums like that? I think not.

otori After God created hyacca, Melt Banana, Praha Depart, Artless Note, The Mornings and Yolz in the Sky He broke the mold and lately there haven't been any new post-punk/noise bands with as much freshness and originality.... until along came otori. These cats aren't as manic on stage as their senpai's but they make up for it by focussing their energy on writing cutting edge, frenetic, chaotic and aggressive music with a unique style of their own. Oh and lead singer/screamer Kobara Sae is badass!

The four bands above make a fantastic line-up. Sato Chiaki of Kinoko Teikoku and Tatejima Yoko of harafromhell both perform solo as singer-songwriters and are already good friends with each other. The leader/guitarist and drummer of harafromhell are both in another band called NEKOZE and they're playing a gig with otori tonight. The four bands are in different music circles but they're all relatively the same age (young!) and would get along with each other well. Unfortunately, all four bands are so new/young they have very few material that I could use for promotional purposes. Even in Japan almost noone has heard of these bands so this group of four is definitely lacking star power. However during NMFT4 I found that ZAZEN helped draw people to the show but if anything, group_inou, Charan Po and even Praha were more popular and made more lasting impressions. Still, it wouldn't hurt to invite 1-2 bands that are more recognizable:

Chatmonchy I've already talked to the band and manager and they would like to take part but we haven't discussed #staff/guarantee etc. Four years ago it would have been a no-brainer since they were my favorite band back then but their music has changed drastically. Chatmonchy would make promoting the tour so much easier and would ensure large/sell-out crowds... of mostly Japanese people... which is not what I'm looking for. The music that Chatmonchy makes right now definitely clashes with the progressive/innovative/soulful aesthetic I want associated with NMFT. However, they are arguably Japan's most influential female rock band of all time and it would be a milestone for NMFT to bring them to Canada.

Rin Toshite Shigure Note: I would love to bring shigure but realistically it would be too expensive (too many extra staff and a large guarantee). Also, they would definitely not hang out with the other bands. But I'll contact them and see what happens.

mowmow lulu gyaban

I won't go into the details but if I bring chiina to Canada again, Mow Mow will also participate. In fact, a very likely and 'do-able' line-up is: Mow Mow Lulu Gyaban / チーナ / Kinoko Teikoku / Akai Koen

Other bands under consideration:

Mouse on the Keys It may be impossible for Haisuinonasa's drummer to get time off work to come to Canada. MOTK would be a great alternate in place of Haisuinonasa.... in fact a lot of you are probably thinking... you DOLT! Mouse on the Keys should be at the top of your list of bands to bring to Canada! Well, MOTK has been touring Europe and other parts of Asia all on their own. Same goes for toe and nisennenmondai. These bands don't really need my financial assistance. If they wanted to come to Canada/US they could do so on their own strength. (nisennenmondai has already been to the US numerous times though it seems like Canada is nowhere on their radar)

toe Arguably one of the greatest bands Japanese music has to offer. I like toe... but I'm not sure I love toe. I definitely love Kashikura's drumming though. It would be a HUGE deal for them to come to N America. But I'm not doing this tour to score street cred or scene points and as mentioned toe could easily come to Canada on their own if they wanted to. Still they are a deservingly revered band that would make a great headliner for NMFT5.

macmanaman I'm planning on maybe doing a Next Music from Fukuoka with hyacca, macmanaman, masadayomasa and another Kyushu band some day. I've only seen them play once and it was at Ian's Kyushu Pop Fes. The crowd went bananas. But when I see clips from other shows on-line the crowd always seems subdued which is a bit disconcerting. These guys play super-fast. INHUMANLY fast. And when the songs crescendo the noise is deafeningly LOUD. Just a really powerful band with some great melodies and audio textures if you have the patience to endure their marathon 10 min songs.

HINTO Emo-pop with stellar musicianship. This band is heavily adored by NMFT filmographer Rob Perry and Montreal fan/helper Kenny. I talked to the band and manager last month and they're interested.

Other potential bands to round out a roster:

tricot They were actually the first band selected to NMFT4's roster. But when Zazen took long responding I ended up cancelling NMFT4. I had always been on the fence with tricot and when I asked you guys for your opinion you gave them absolutely no love. So when Zazen finally agreed to participate and convinced me to uncancel the tour I redid the roster from scratch and didn't include tricot the 2nd time around. The NMFT4 bands put on arguably the best tour thusfar but as I mentioned earlier it was dissapointing to see the lack of camaraderie between them. If I had to choose one Japanese band to hang out with it would be tricot. They're the most fun, genuinely friendly, down to earth and hilarious band I've met so far. They're fantastic musicians with excellent stage presence and I'm sure they'd do well in Canada. The only thing is I feel their songwriting despite the tricky guitar parts is too generic and unwilling to take risks. However, it's because they play it safe that I knew tricot would become more popular than Akai Koen whose music is too creative, weird and brilliant for the average Japanese consumer with average tastes and average IQ. Every major label heavily courted tricot this year but they decided to stay independent and I find that pretty awesome. In my heart I know I chose the best roster for NMFT4 in terms of variety, balance, entertainment, soulfulness and skill but in the back of my mind I think I would have had alot more fun if tricot were with us on tour. I'm sure the manager and Komaki (drummer) hate me but if there's enough interest from you guys I'd be willing to invite them again.

Gekitetsu Their CD cover alone would make it so easy to promote the tour. They're also guaranteed to put on an absurdly high energy entertaining show. Not sure if they'd get along with the other bands though.

THE米騒動 It's mindboggling how two girls and one guy so young could be this tight and skilled as a rock band. It's a battle between otori and THE米騒動 (The Rice Panic) to provide the role of 'aggressive/noisy' band for NMFT5. Rice Panic have better chops and are definitely a "safer" pick in that fewer people will find them annoying. otori are a love/hate band. They are definitely the more interesting band but there will definitely be Canadians who would find their music too extreme. Open-minded music fans who prefer music with an edge will absolutely love otori. They'd probably enjoy Rice Panic as well but otori would leave a much more empahtic impression of awe. What do you guys think?

Other underground bands whose performances I've really enjoyed: johann wozniak SOLID AFRO.


Please give me some feedback on the bands I'm considering for NMFT5.

In particular, would you be happy with a super-underground line-up like: Haisuinonasa / harafromhell / Kinoko Teikoku / otori? I'll have difficulty convincing media about the awesomeness of such a line-up since none of these bands have much promotional material. But I fucking guarantee you that this line-up would be just as good as any of the past NMFT tours. Haisuinonasa are just as awesome as sgt and Natsumen. Harafromhell compares with グーミ and チーナ. Kinoku Teikoku alone is worth quadruple the price of admission. And if you liked hyacca or Praha depart, I'm sure you'll jizz your pants after watching otori. Haisuinonasa's drummer can't get extended time off work so it might be impossible for them to make it to Canada. If that's the case I could switch Haisuinonasa with a big name band like Rin Toshite Shigure (longshot), Mouse on the Keys (assuming they want to participate) or toe or Nisennenmondai etc. Or I could go with a lesser name but still easily promotable band such as tricot or Gekitetsu in place of haisuinonasa.

Another completely different direction is a line-up of: Mow Mow Lulu Gyaban / チーナ / kinoko teikoku / + 1 more band (?tricot ?Chatmonchy ?Akai Koen ?MOTK ?toe ?otpri etc). Mow Mow and chiina have to be together as part of a deal between managers though.

Let me know what you think in the comments section. Thanks!