Artbeat is a Japanese band local to Los Angeles consisting of three members: Masato on drums, Jet on bass, and Jack on guitar and vocals. They’ve been a foundation of Japanese rock here in So-Cal, originally founded as Thee Out Mods before splitting off into Artbeat.
Jrock Revolution was able to sit down with this English-speaking Japanese band and discuss their projects.
Since this interview, we learned that, unfortunately, Artbeat is going back to Japan. Their last live in America (at least for a while, they promise to come back!) will be this Saturday, Oct. 6, at the ROXY in Hollywood. Presale tickets are still available at their website! Come on out and say good bye~
JRR: Please tell us your names and your positions in the band.
Jack: I’m Jack, I’m lead singer and I play guitar.
Masato: I’m Masato, I play drums.
Jet: I’m Jet, I’m bass.
JRR: You lived in Japan before coming to America. Did you have any musical projects in Japan?
Jack: Hm, well, never in a band, before we came here. When I was in junior high, I just started playing guitar and bass, just by myself though, never in a band.
Masato: I was in a band in high school, we just played for fun.
JRR: Like in the school festivals?
Jet: I’m same as him.
JRR: Were you in the same high school together?
Arbeat: No, no.
JRR: What made you decide to pursue music as a serious career?
Jack: I don’t know… I was going to be a graphic designer, so that’s why I went to school for it, and I got hired in that field full time. I felt that it’s not about what I’m about. I was always singing and writing at home, when I formed a band, on stage it felt really special. It was the only way to express myself.
Masato: I grew up in a family, where everybody likes music; my parents are musicians. There was a lot of support to become a musician.
Artbeat: Just because we like it (laugh).
JRR: That’s a good reason! Now, moving on, Artbeat grew out of Thee Out Mods, as you also stated in your biography. Did that start in Japan, or did it start in America?
Jack: I started Thee Out Mods in America. There’s a studio down in L.A. that we were recording at, and we all met through there… I contacted one of the members through the studio’s website and we met up for a jam session. We met up with some other guys and made a band…(pauses) I forgot the name of it. From that, one of my members gathered more members, and we made a band from there.
JRR: Did you work on other music projects in America before Thee Out Mods?
JRR: It’s said that the Japanese industry differs from the music industry in America, not only in how the artists pursue a career, but even in how singles and albums are viewed and released. What is the biggest difference you’ve noticed?
Artbeat: Since we formed in L.A., we want to kind of get used to the American style. We thought it was kind of natural to release albums, tour all over the world; it would take a year or two years, then you go back to the studio and start something else. In Japan, when you sign to a record company, and go over the schedule…tour schedule, budget schedule, everything, you have to schedule how many singles you have to release in a certain time, how many albums, and then you sign it. And that’s your schedule. Usually, we put out four or five singles and have lives and go from there, but in Japan, you might have to release four of five singles and two albums in one year. It’s a very tough schedule. We don’t want to say it’s always that way, but there’s not a lot of freedom.
JRR: More [freedom] in America?
Jack: We want to add, with different media too, we would rather be doing concerts and being backstage. We are Artbeat, we are a live band. We can meet people and bands in United States.
JRR: What is your general goal for Artbeat?
Artbeat: As for now, we are going to be a L.A.-based band. We want to play, and make records. When they call us up and we go back to Japan, we’ll go do live shows out there too.
JRR: What music do you draw inspiration from, and what music do you like?
Jack: As a vocalist, I don’t really have a big hero…but as a guitarist, I love Frank from MCR [MyChemical Romance]. AFI, Ellegarden…Postal Service…
Masato: I like bands that Jack likes. Right now I’m really into Interpol.
Jet: My favorite band is The Strokes.
JRR: In America, fans that are learning Japanese often turn to their music to help expand their vocabulary and help with their pronunciation. Do you listen to English music to improve your English as well?
Jack: I’ve been listening to English language music forever…and I still have an accent. Listening to the music helps know where the accents on the [English] words go. In Japanese, there really isn’t an accent on the words; it’s pretty straightforward, like "da da da da da" [in a monotone voice]. You need to make it have a rock accent. It always sounds weird to sing rock music in Japanese, cause we always make it try to sound like English.
Masato: I usually don’t pay attention to the lyrics.
Jet: I don’t think so.
JRR: We would like to ask Artbeat, at your live shows you always wear black and white, and a style of shoe called creepers. Why did you choose to do this?
Artbeat: It’s really important to have a certain type of style, like if you see a band wearing a certain type of uniform, you can’t acknowledge that they’re something else [than what they are], you know? And of course, black sort of represents "rock music". We just love black and white, it’s very classy. It helps us state our image.
JRR: Last question, what is your favorite Artbeat song you’ve worked on, and why?
Jack: The next single we have coming out has a song on it called "The Way To Go". It’s about my life, the lyrics have no lies. It doesn’t say "I’m this, I’m this, I’m kind of big and a rock star". We’re just writing for honest people. It’s a serious song, saying how we "get up, stand up". It’s a very honest song; that’s why we love it.
Masato: "The Way To Go" as well. I really like it, it has great melody, it’s a great song.
Jet: My favorite song is "No soliciting"…Why hm? [laughing]. I like this song, like, I like the guitar melody. It feels good.
JRR: Do you have any messages to your fans?
Artbeat: Artbeat is a band of three Japanese dudes. The band doesn’t exist without support of our fans. We really appreciate it when people come to see us live. Please support our band. We’ll go anywhere you guys want us to play. Please keep checking us out.