LiN CLOVER dedicated multiple lives in 2007 to reaching to U.S. audiences with their imaginative and experimental alternative rock sound and dynamic, energetic stage presence.
Nominated this year for Best Japanese Rock Band in Shojo Beat Magazine, LiN CLOVER performed at Sakura-Con in Seattle, toured to San Jose and San Francisco, and returned for Pacific Media Expo in Los Angeles.
In the first of our interviews from Pacific Media Expo, we sat down with YuRI (Vo.), Nao (G.), and Ren (B.) for an in-depth conversation about LiN CLOVER‘s music, creative process, work as indies artists, overseas outreach, personal interests, and more.
Photos from LiN CLOVER‘s performance and appearances are at our Pacific Media Expo Gallery… and check them out with our Jrock Revolution Street Team! More photos will come to our gallery as we bring you more from the inspiring and diverse bands of PMX ’07.
And check out our front page playlist for a special message to JRR readers from LiN CLOVER!
Read on for our interview.
JRR: Welcome back to America. We’re really happy to have you back here. I’d like to start off, if each one of you could individually introduce yourselves.
YuRi: I’m the vocalist of LiN CLOVER, YuRi.
Nao: I’m Nao on guitar.
Ren: I’m Ren on bass.
JRR: I’d like to start off by just talking about your music in general. You all have drawn on many different musical influences, and you’ve described yourself in past interviews as kind of having your own genre of "inner wave." I was wondering if you could talk to us, imagining you were talking to an audience that has never heard your music before. How would you describe it to them?
YuRi: The base for everything is rock. On top of that, we dub other things into it like for example, elements of dance music, and anything else we’d like to have in there, and it kind of becomes this more pop-like thing.
JRR: Very cool.
Nao: And that’s where we come up with the whole inner wave concept. We’ve thrown it all together into our own concept, inner wave.
JRR: That’s really great. Well, one of the greatest things about LiN CLOVER for overseas fans is that you’re one of the most accessible bands out there. You have a MySpace that has fanart from your fans, you have a link to a fan-created LJ community, you have digital downloads through JapanFiles, and you also debuted in the United States recently here at Sakura-Con, and came back to the West Coast, and now you’ve come back here again. We’d like to hear about what influenced you to be so accessible to your fans, particular to your overseas fans to have so many options to reach out to you.
YuRi: There are people that cooperate with us, and help us and work with us; one of those is JapanFiles and we’re really happy to have that kind of support.
JRR: Well, fans really appreciate that, because often bands can be very distant and hard to reach for the fans and the fans really want to be able express to those bands how much they mean and how much their music means to them. For example, you had very long signing [autograph] sessions at Sakura-Con and those kinds of opportunities are really meaningful to the fans. So we want to let you know how much everyone appreciates what you do and how close you are to the fans doing these things.
Interpreter: Long? You mean some bands will say that, "We’re done?"
JRR: Yes. Some bands will just say, well, we’ll do an hour only.
Nao: On the reverse side, we are all very appreciative of the fans and the only way we can really return to them their energy that they give us at the live show is by doing signing sessions and meeting with them. That’s how we show our affection back to them.
JRR: Thank you. We’d like to go back to when you met. Ren and Nao had started a band together, and YuRi applied after having successfully won this prize from Axia. We’re just wondering what were your impressions of each other when you decided to team up as a trio and do this band, and how you feel about each other today.
Nao: When I first saw YuRi, I thought, "What’s going to happen with such a small girl?" Then when she got up on the stage, she was so powerful and I was moved. And I thought that was amazing.
Ren: Same for me. The gap was big, between what she looks like and what she is. There’s a huge gap.
YuRi: My first impression was, when I went to the studio, they were so nice to me that I thought, "What scary things are they hiding, if they’re so nice to me?" Eventually, I realized that it was real kindness on their part. At the studio I gave them my demo tape, and I let them hear some of my ideas, and they were both very receptive – "That’s what we were trying to go with also."
JRR: Great. Well, you decided after being majors, to go with being indies artists, and we’d like to hear about what your favorite things are about being indies artists and having a lot of control over what you do.
Nao: On the good side, everything is free. It’s all freedom for us, everything we do. The bad part is that with the freedom comes a lot of responsibility. Everything is within your own responsibility; you can do whatever you want, you’re free to do what you want.
JRR: Any other thoughts on it?
Ren: We moved from being on the side of being used, to the side of using ourselves.
JRR: In your compositions, you all use ProTools and work together to compose. What are your thoughts about using computer software versus traditional methods of composing to work together?
Nao: It’s really convenient when you’re using computers, because you can just take out all the good parts and use that. There’s a lot of convenience there. But we all know what’s great about analog, and if we can combine the goodness of analog and the goodness of computers and don’t forget what analog is all about… I mean, we still record things with analog and then put them together in ProTools. So as long as we don’t forget that, you know, it’s a good combination.
JRR: You’re all very energetic performers; when you’re all up on stage, do you find that you keep your focus on the audience or do you tend to lose yourself in the music?
YuRi: I focus on the people watching us.
Nao: It depends on the location where we are, but when I feel like I want to enjoy it myself, I do that, and when I want to push it outward, I do that. I have a lot of foot pedals at my feet, so I have to focus on that a lot [laughing], depending on the time.
Ren: I watch everybody, but when it comes to my part, a solo part, I get really into it and lose track of everything.
JRR: We heard that you have two new songs coming up tomorrow and we’d like to hear about those.
YuRi: Both of the songs haven’t been recorded yet, so in that aspect they’re new, but we did play one of the songs at Sakura-Con last year. But there is one song we’ve never played in the States, only in Japan, and I think it’s a song you can definitely dance to.
JRR: Well that’s great, and we look forward to hearing it.
[The band jokes that that’s a lot of pressure.]
Interpreter: "It better be good!"
JRR: YuRi-san, as the lyricist, we know that you like to convey really complex emotions in your music and avoid cheery, kind of simple things and explore things that are deeper and darker. We were wondering if there was a certain lyric you’ve written before in a song that really encompasses a chance when you express something in your lyric that was very complex; an example of a lyric with particularly complicated emotions.
YuRi: I don’t want to say one line, because the entire song is the complete idea that I’m trying to relay. I think, though, that the more recent stuff that I’ve made is much more in line with the complication you’re thinking of. I’m getting the message out even better in my newer music. But one song I think that I’ve done the best job of getting it out is "Kaijuu to Magician no machi".
JRR: You often say that "Risou Decibel" is a particular favourite of yours. Is there any reason why?
YuRi: There’s a lot of hope for the future in that song.
JRR: That’s something that we need, in this world.
JRR: I have some questions for Ren and Nao, now. Ren-san, we’d like to ask you about your bass work. We know you really like technical work, to follow technical work, and we’re wondering if there’s any particular bassists who are influencing you or anything that you’re doing musically right now with your bass that you would like to talk about. Anything you want, and you can get really technical if you want to.
Ren: Bassists who have influenced me for a long time now… Jaco Pastorius and Marcus Miller. I love them and how very technical they are. Personally, I’ve been doing a technique recently called the walking spider. Where you move up and down and you walk your hand like a spider. Normally you go like this [demonstration]… with this, you go up-down-up-down like a spider.
[Everyone laughs watching Ren demonstrate on air bass, showing how he would normally walk his fingers across the strings in orderly succession, but in a spider walk, his fingers alternate between strings in a way that makes his hand look like a roaming spider.]
JRR: And Nao-san, are you doing anything technical lately?
Nao: More than using my right and left hand to get technical, I like hitting the guitar and doing expressions with that… I love doing stuff like that.
[Laughing as he demonstrates]
JRR: We think it’s cool. Nao-san, you’ve said that you like Radiohead, and we were wondering if you’ve heard about their recent album that they’ve released, "In Rainbows." They’ve put this out and they’ve given the fans the option to decide how much they want to pay for it. It’s a digital download online. We’re wondering what you thought about that, if you’ve heard of it.
Nao: I just got it today and I haven’t heard it yet. This has obviously come about because you can’t sell CDs anymore, and we have to expand this mp3 system. And I think giving the fans that chance to hear it, to come in contact with the music, is really what needs to happen, and that’s one of those additional chances.
JRR: A lot of the world of Jrock fans overseas… it’s only recently has it become easy for them to buy music legally and there’s a lot of people in the fandom who are used to downloading things illegally and hearing things illegally. We were wondering what you could tell us about the music industry and how things work to kind of inspire people who are so used to getting things for free about why it’s so important to purchase the music of the artist you love.
Nao: If you have pirated music out there, you know, what it does is… For the time it takes and the money that it takes to create music, and the ideas behind the music…you need a certain environment for the musician to have it come out. And that environment is supported by the sales of data and the sales of CDs, and if people aren’t buying music, you’re really cutting off that environment and it makes it harder for good music to come out. You’re cutting off the musician’s environment, basically, if you’re not willing to pay for the music.
JRR: Thank you. We appreciate that statement, because at Jrock Revolution, one of the things we’re trying to do is to really connect the fans and the artists in a way that they feel like, "Okay, we need to support these people through our monetary support." Not just saying we love them, but to get out there and actually support artists so you can keep on doing your music and aren’t hurt by pirated music.
So going back to the band’s music. You work with different drummers. What is it like to change your drummer as you go along?
[Laughing, as Tatsu, providing drums for this live, has been sitting near us quietly, and we joke that he should leave the room so they can give their honest opinion.]
YuRi: Up until now, we’ve used Yuki. He was at Sakura-Con and all, for almost the whole time, and we kind of had the feeling of, "Well, we can’t do it without him. He’s the one that needs to be there." But in the end he couldn’t be here, so we used Tatsu. And as we were doing rehearsals in the studio, we realized, "Wow, this song changes this much." It’s been really interesting to us to see that kind of a change, and it’s really enjoyable.
JRR: That’s great. We also know that you do this annual event called Inner Crack, and we were wondering if you could tell us what that is and how you do it.
YuRi: There’s not really a lot of ways for an indies band to get out in Japan. We thought if we worked together, you know, instead of being the "We are we, we’re only going to push ourselves," instead of that we could join together and let the world know, "Look, we exist. There is this group of indies bands that exist!" And that’s how the idea sort of came about, that we could all come together to promote indies bands.
JRR: And of the people that you’ve worked with in this event, are there any other bands that you’ve worked with that have an interest in getting out there overseas like your band has?
YuRi: There are a lot of bands that definitely want to be involved overseas, and one of them has actually been involved, mothercoat. They’ve actually come to the states.
JRR: We’ve heard that you have a friendly rivalry with them.
JRR: Is that just for fun, to encourage each other?
YuRi: Privately, we’re very good friends. When we watch mothercoat live, we realize, "Man, we could do different things too."
JRR: Jrock Revolution… we actually launched the organization with a multi-artist festival here that brought a lot of different artists from Japan such as Kagrra,, MUCC, Miyavi, and various other kinds of artists. We were wondering if you guys had the opportunity to be involved in a multi-artist festival here in the United States, would you want to do that and maybe bring some bands that you knew, like mothercoat? Would you be interested in something like that?
Nao: Right now, we’re not saying yes or no to any events. We’re not being picky. If we’re invited, we think we’re going to go. For us though, I think if we’re invited more and more, we would start thinking about which direction we’d want to take, and then we’d start thinking about which events we want to actually get into. Right now, we want people to know who we are.
JRR: And you’ve never actually pursued the typical kind of standard promotional video ( PV). Is there a particular reason for that, and what do you think you’d do in the future with videos?|
Nao: We did make two, actually. In one of them, there is video in the middle of the PV that was used without permission, and that prevented us from putting it out. It was news footage.
JRR: Oh, news footage…
Nao: We really had to have that footage cause it matched the message of the music. We had to use it no matter what. But, it would be a problem if we put it out. So we stopped it. We do have one more video, but none of us are in the video. It’s an older song, "We’re Sleeping Short."
Interpreter: Where is it?
YuRi: Somewhere deep inside my computer.
JRR: So you’ve come back to the States, and you’ve now been to the States a few times this year. You’ve been to Seattle, you’ve been to San Francisco… having been back and forth this year now, do you have any thoughts reflecting back on your experiences before, and what would you like to experience while you’re here in Los Angeles?
YuRi: Even now, I cannot forget everyone’s face in the audience. I can still very vividly bring it up in my mind, and I want to see that again, and that’s the number one reason I wanted to come back, to see that again.
[Ren and Nao agree.]
YuRi: As a music player, that’s generally what I want to see. We’re so happy to have the chance again to come back. We want more and more people to know what we are.
JRR: You’ve said it before, and so have many other bands, when they’re asked in interviews, "What’s the differences between Japanese and American audiences?" It seems that everyone says that the Japanese audiences are more unified and a little bit quieter with their reaction. But in America, bands get a very big and energetic reaction; that really surprises them. What do you think about the cultural differences that are going on there, at least in those different kinds of reactions?
YuRi: I think that when Japanese people come, they’re coming to listen, they’re coming to get something out of the event. But I think that when the Americans come, they’re coming to have fun for themselves and to express their enjoyment.
JRR: That’s really insightful. YuRi-san, you like to do English MCs at your lives. What is it like preparing those, and how do you feel about getting to speak English in front of a big audience?
Yuri: I get more nervous doing that than actual songs.
JRR: I just wanted to ask each of you a little bit more of a personal question. YuRi-san, I hear that you’re a fan of Lost, the American TV show.
YuRi: Am I? [laughs] Yes I am. I’ve only seen the first season.
JRR: Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you. Who is your favorite character?
JRR: Me too! That’s great. And Ren-san, you have reptiles. What do you actually have?
Ren: A snake, a lizard, a gecko, frogs—water frogs and land frogs, a skink (another type of lizard)…
JRR: It sounds like a little zoo.
Ren: One wall of my room is all stuff for them. I have thirty or so animals… I have a lot of non-flowering plants on the other side. It looks like a jungle in my house. None of the animals are crying animals… they don’t make any sound. The only ones that make any noises are the crickets that are food.
JRR: I was going to ask you about how you find nature in the big city, and obviously, you have it in your own home.
[Laughing, in agreement.]
JRR: Well, Ren-san has nature, and Nao-san likes art. Could you tell us what you like to draw?
Nao: Mountains, rivers, things of nature… I really like to draw that.
JRR: To conclude the interview, if you could give us a final message to your overseas fans.
YuRi: Thank you for always listening to LiN CLOVER. We want to continue to do a variety of different things, and we appreciate all of your support on that.
Nao: We think we can do something totally different than what we did at Sakura-Con, and we’re really looking forward to it, so we want you guys to all to look forward to it too.
Ren: Let’s have a good experience together, from the heart.
JRR: Thank you very much.
We’re sad to announce that their wonderful PMX performance may have been the last abroad for LiN CLOVER. The band recently announced an indefinite suspension of activities, finishing a five-year run together with two live shows in January 2008 back in Japan.
YuRi, Ren, and Nao offered a collective statement to thank their fans on their official website, translated as follows courtesy of Japan Files:
This is all of a sudden, but it has been decided that LiN CLOVER will suspend all activities on January 14, 2008.
All of us have thought about this time after time and discussed it. At this point, in order to put closure on LiN CLOVER, each of the members will move on to new paths.
We dare to fit hope and development into the word "suspend," and – until a miracle occurs – in order to create a miracle we intend to keep moving forward.
For everyone who supported us we truly say Thank You. We are filled with feelings of appreciation. As with every live show up until now, we will put all of our power into the last two remaining shows live shows.
Please continue to support us.
Jrock Revolution wishes the members of LiN CLOVER success wherever their new paths may take them. We encourage everyone to keep watch on the future of these three amazing musicians.
Interview by Misha
Interpreting by George Trombley, JapanFiles
LiN CLOVER appears courtesy of JapanFiles.
LiN CLOVER‘s discography is available in full as digital downloads for legal purchase through www.japanfiles.com.