Please introduce yourself and tell us what’s the meanest thing that’s been done to you and the nicest thing you’ve ever done? Toki: I’m the guitarist, Toki. Ice: Vocalist, Ice. Sala: Drummer, Sala. Rame: Bassist, Rame. Sala: The meanest thing done to us… Ice: In our whole lives? Rame: Can I start from the meanest? It’s band related. Although I haven’t been to many lately, bands often have parties after lives and everyone drinks pretty heavily. Well, I got really drunk and when I realized it, I was sleeping on the floor and when I regained consciousness, I realized that I, on the floor, had become everyone’s footstool. It was a huge shock. Something nice… Nothing really comes to mind. [Laughs]
Well, while you’re thinking, why don’t we find out the meanest experiences? Toki: I think there’s probably all sorts of mean things I could talk about but what I thought of just now was when I went to McDonald’s and ordered coffee. I put milk and syrup in as always but when I drank it, it turned out there was tea inside! Barley tea or soukenbicha [a Coca Cola company tea blend]. It was a pretty horrible taste, so I thought that was pretty mean. Even though I had ordered coffee to go! And not just once, but about three times! It was a place nearby but because of that I stopped going there. Ice: The meanest, huh? The meanest… Something mean done to me… All I can think of is things I wonder if it’s ok to say… [laughs] Rame: Well since it’s something that was done to you, it should be ok. Ice: [Laughs] Well there were rumors that I had gotten a girl pregnant or attacked a girl–that kind of thing. Sala: Rumors someone spread about you? Rame: And that’s the worst thing ever done to you? Sala: I really can’t think what the worst for me is.
What do you remember most strongly? Sala: Well, if its band related, then… We sometimes receive food and things in the post from fans and once there was something handmade so I thought I’d try it but I ended up with a stomach ache the next day. Ice: Because it was sent to you? Sala: Maybe, but now I’ve learned to be afraid of handmade snacks. Ice: As for nice things… Well, I don’t know if this is really ‘nice’ or not, but in highschool I was going out with a girl and I made a cake for her birthday. Rame: That’s the greatest extent of your kindness? The nicest thing you’ve ever done in your life? Ice: I made it from the very sponge! From zero!
That’s pretty impressive, but was it tasty?Ice: No, it probably wasn’t that good but I didn’t have a mixer to whip the cream so I whipped it by hand. I really worked hard to make that cream.
I don’t know if this is the best, but I often get asked directions for some reason. “I’m looking for a ramen place called ‘something or other.’” Or “I want to go to the station.” I always stop to guide them and explain until they understand the way.
That sounds like something foreigners could appreciate. Toki: Korean people often say they came all the way to Japan just to eat ramen so I help them out. Rame: I have no idea if this is “kind” or not, but there’s a guy who’s acting as my roadie even now, helping out with the band and such. I leant him a pretty large sum of money. He said he was buried in debt and couldn’t get a hold on things. So we made a proper written pledge with a stamp and I leant him money in order to help him sort things out. He paid me back right away, too. It’s all paid off already. Sala: Sala’s in a band now, so I whip the members out of love. I believe that kindness is for the sake of the band and for the members.
Well, following on from that informative introduction… Rame: What a start!
Could you tell us how the band formed? Rame: Well, after the band I used to be in broke up, I wondered whether I should move onto a new band without holding back or not. I knew Ice for a long time and when we were talking about the chance to stand onstage together it felt like we were on the same wavelength and I asked if he would be interested in starting a band together and he conceded. I decided I did want to be in a band again so that was how it started. I also knew Sala for a long time and when I invited him, he jumped at the offer. Then we were introduced to Toki as a guitarist and he also agreed to join. Somehow, we four came together right away.
What was your first impression of the other members, however long ago it may have been? Rame: Well I knew Sala from long ago when he used to help out with Vidoll as a drummer. Even now I see him as someone with good manners, a model young man. He hasn’t really changed.
As for Ice, I’d actually heard a lot of terrible rumors about him. [Ice laughs] I’d heard so much about what an awful person he was I was really on guard. As fierce as the rumors were, he turned out to take music seriously and my image of him took a huge upswing. I got a really good impression of him.
I met Toki after being introduced and he was a like a person with infinite possibilities. I’d never met anyone like him before. He’s a bit out of sync with most people and I thought maybe that was the reason for his strangeness which was why I felt I wanted to work with him.
And what did you all think of Rame? Sala: I often saw him in magazines and I had this impression that he was someone famous. After we met in person, I realized he was a very straightforward person. He’s like a friendly dai senpai [more experienced/admired person.] Ice: He didn’t clear his plate. Rame: That was your first impression of me, was it? [laughs] Ice: We went to a family restaurant and ordered food but he left some so I finished it off. [Rame laughs] Toki: In the past we often–often?–we appeared in the same event but- Rame: Did we!? Toki: We did! Rame: Really? And you were there? Really? Toki: Really, and well, it wasn’t so much an impression of Rame but of the band. They had a very scary image. Of course, they’re not really like that though. When I talked with Rame later I learned he’s very kind. I wish I’d taken the initiative to talk to him back then. Rame: Why does everything think I’m scary? [Laughs] What did you think of the other members? Toki: The moment I saw Sala, I thought he was an ikemen [good looking man]. Sala: [Laughs] Wait, who did I meet first? Was it Ice? Rame: I think so. Sala: Where did we meet? Wait, was it onstage? Toki: I think we went to see Ice’s live and met there. In Ikebukuro, I think. Sala: The three of us–me, Rame and Toki–that was when Toki and I first met–greeted each other and then the three of us went on to watch Ice’s live. So Toki… I guess he was someone I knew nothing about so while timidly asking all sorts of questions… [Toki laughs] I’d heard from Rame that he was a natural airhead but I didn’t get any sense of his personality.
So your first impression came from what you heard from Rame before you met, then? Sala: That’s right. Ice… I first saw him at a live so that was a strong impact. When I met him for real, the day after having met Toki for the first time, I mixed the two of them up. “Huh? Was that Ice or Toki?” I felt they really looked alike.
Because of the difference between wearing make-up and not? Sala: Maybe, but I really thought they looked alike. Not at all anymore, though! [All laugh] Not anymore, but when we first met. They both have the same clothing style and are a similar physical type and that might have had something to do with it. Ice: When I first met Sala I went to see one of the lives he was playing support at. Sala: Oh yeah. You didn’t come and say hello, right? Ice: No, I did, but you looked busy so it was just a brief greeting. Sala: Oh, then! At Star Lounge. Sala: At Star Lounge.
It seems you’re all reliving the memories. Ice: My impression from that time was that he wore a nice expression while playing the drums. Even though he was playing support it felt like he was expressing himself, too, through his own staging etc. I was impressed.
So even as a support drummer he made a strong impression. Ice: He was a little nervous though.
How observant of you! And your impression of Toki? Ice: When did I first meet you, Toki? Was it at a live? Toki: I went to see your live but we didn’t talk. I was a little scared. [All laugh] Because I’d just seen such a good live, I was scared of you. [Ice laughs] I thought if I just approached you I’d be knocked down so at first… Ice: Did we go to eat curry next? Toki: I think… it was when we had a costume fitting an everyone got together. Ice: Oh, that was first. Toki: We talked a little, and unlike at the live you seemed very nice.
So you’re not scared anymore, then? Toki: We’re good friends. Ice: My first impression of Toki hasn’t changed. I thought for sure he was a good person, very straightforward. His speech is very straightforward.
How did you choose your name? Ice: Well unlike other bands we wanted to make it a long name. Rame: Well the words have their individual meanings “The DNA for the next generation” etc. but, well I don’t know if this nuance will translate for the people overseas but recently many Japanese bands have a one word name or something with an impact. Like “Vidoll.” One or two words. However, longer band names are more common overseas, right? Rather than saying we used those kinds of foreign bands as a model… To Japanese visual kei fans, those are very hard to remember.
We’ve been told that our name is too long and we should change it because it’s hard to remember but that’s actually what I was aiming for. Of course the meanings are important but the idea was to make it difficult to understand. Something hard to remember. For example, with a one word band like Vidoll, people remember the name before hearing the music or knowing anything about it simply because of the impact. That’s not what I want. I want people to naturally come to remember the band name even if it was originally difficult because they like our music and enjoy our lives. In other words, not coming to like us because the name made an impact but coming to remember the name no matter how long because they came to like us after experiencing our music and lives. That’s why we purposely made it a long, difficult name.
Do you have any trouble saying the name yourselves? Rame: I can say it! “Black Gene for the Next Scene!”
[Laughs] It seems very difficult for Japanese people to say, though. Rame: It is! Everyone tells us how hard it is. [Laughs] Which was exactly what I was aiming for. It’s very us, so it works but I also think it’s good for the fans to be able to say “I was able to remember the name because I like them!” I want them to feel a sense of superiority like, “Those fans who don’t like them as much can’t remember it, but I love them so I can remember!” No matter how strange it is, if they’re interested and if they like us, I think they’ll come to remember it naturally.
It’s come to be shortened as BFN. Is that so you can say it quickly onstage? Or for the sake of the fans? Rame: Japanese people really like abbreviations so I thought it would be good to have something like that. Like “McDonalds” becomes “Makku.” [Laughs] Is that right? Does it work for a band? Ice: Well it’s easily understandable. Kind of like Kentucky Fried Chiken = KFC. Rame: Yes, just like that! [Laughs]
Could you tell us about your musical concept? Rame: It’s on the official website but “Rowdy, modern, trance” is the concept we’re working with.
What does that mean to you? Ice: Using a loud band sound as a basis and taking modern and trance elements and working them in to produce original songs that only we can. That’s the kind of thought enmeshed into it.
You recently held a series of events. How did they go? Rame: We’re at the level where people don’t know our songs yet—we only just released a CD, after all—but above our expectations, it felt like people just latched right on to the band. I felt in my skin that the fans, too, were creating a platform to welcome BFN into the scene. Sala: We performed our events in three places: Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo and had just released a CD. In all three places, I think the fans were experiencing the music for the first time. We have a lot of the special characteristics of visual kei such as furitsuke [choreographed actions] and norikata [way of responding to the music] but the crowd really picked up the furitsuke and followed our instructions impeccably. I was able to really see how both fans and band came together superbly during this three month start-up period. These lives really made me look forward to our activities here-on-after. Ice: Last year we performed in many events and this month we had our three events. The bands we were playing with were great, but the fact that their fans were great, too, really saved us. That’s another thing that made us glad to do it. It was fun. Toki: Well we finished all three but I think there was uncertainty on our sid and for the fans yet in the end they turned out to be really fun events. They were events that made me feel I’d like to think of lots of ideas to create fun lives from now on. I’m extremely glad we did it.
How did you decide on the bands you invited to play at the events? Sala: The selection was mainly left up to the company we requested to plan the events so there were bands they had recommended and bands that would fit the atmosphere we wanted to create. Also, with bands like Moran there were members we had good relations with from long ago and we thought it would be great to perform with them. They gave us the OK. We got together bands that because we knew each other, we were able to really rile things up together.
When did you hold your first live? Rame: Our very first live? That was November 1 2011.
How has the fans response been so far? Rame: At first it was a bit awkward but as the lives piled up, it got better and better. I believe the fans are maturing along with the band. Sala: The band has only just come together so it feels like the fans sense our nervousness when we get up onstage. There was a time when the fans didn’t know how to deal with that sensation, and neither did we. I think the fans sensed that and grew more nervous. But as Rame said, as the number of lives increased it seems we mature together so I think it will continue to get better and better. Ice: The norikata is a bit different to that of other bands and that’s what we’re aiming for but that’s an area that—as the lives pile up—we work out together and our connection grows deeper. By the next live, the reaction is a little different. I think it inspires both the fans and I to feel the possibilities of the unknown.
Could you give as an example of that unusual nori [reaction]? Ice: In places where there would usually be nothing, the fans have started fist-pumping or shouting. If we think, “Oh, so that kind of thing works with this!” then next time we’ll lead with “How about this?” That’s how we get worked up together and the unraveling of the music grows deeper. Toki: I think the link between the band and the fans grows deeper with every live. I hope we can continue on making it stronger through that trial and error.
On that note, let’s hear about your short and long term goals. Rame: Well short term, we want to treasure every step and work towards our semi-final three-man on May 17 and our oneman on Jun 10. It would be great to pull in a big crowd and put on a great live which we can then tie up to the next [step/live]. Otherwise there’s the goal to write good songs that will have a bigger selling point that our first maxi single so that many more people listen to our second maxi single. That’s the kind of thing we’re aiming for short-term. I think the final goal would be something like Budokan or somewhere even bigger where all sorts of people could enjoy BFN’s concert. Sala: As for this year, BFN’s has only just broken out and started up so, like making acquaintances, it would be good to play in all sorts of places and suburbs and increase the number of lives so that people will learn about our music. We’ll perform more and more!
Well then, keep up the good work! So, let’s hear about the artists that inspired you musically. Toki: If we’re talking about bands, I’d have to say X and LUNA SEA. My friend’s brother used to listen to them and he let me listen. That’s what made me think bands were cool and that I wanted to join one and eventually I did.
About how old were you? Toki: I wonder? 13 or 14, I guess. Ice: For Japanese bands, I’d also say I was influenced by X JAPAN and LUNA SEA. Particularly LUNA SEA. As for overseas bands, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, and Soilwork. Sala: I liked a Japanese band called BOφWY. Also B’z. For foreign bands, Mr.BIF. Have youheard of them? They’re an American band. They broke up… Well, sometimes they still perform though. They’re American hard rock, Motley Crue style. There’s a lot of people in Japan who say they love Me.BIG but maybe there’s not so many overseas. [laughs] But I like them. Rame: Motley Crue for me. My friends in middle school listened to X JAPAN and LUNA SEA but I never felt I wanted to do music after listening to them. Then I saw Motley Crue and thought they were amazing. Above and beyond music, I thought their lifestyle was really cool. I thought that kind of lifestyle was very American, that America must be a very relaxed country. In a way, I joined a band longing for that style.
For a bit of fun, do any of you have names for your instruments? Sala: Toki looks like the type to name them. [Laughs] Toki: I often get told I seem most likely to name them, but surprisingly, I don’t. Sala: [Toki] owns the most instruments out of all of us.
Oh? How many? Toki: About twelve. Even so, this is fewer than before…
Wow! Why do you have so many? Toki: It’s kind of a hobby. It’s just fun. Each one is different. Changing models according to my mood is fun.
What’s the maximum you would use in one live? Toki: In just one show? Hmmm, I don’t really use more than two at once. Sala: I’ve never given my drums a name. Not sure if I will in future. [Laughs] Rame: My bass is quite simply “Rame Model.” It’s not like I gave it a name on purpose, that’s just how I consider it in my head.