By Carson Risser
Banner photo by Yosuke Toril
The versatile Japanese math-rock quartet Yubisaki Nohaku recently took part in a Canadian showcase of up-and-coming Japanese rock bands, the 11th annual Next Music from Tokyo tour. Yubisaki Nohaku—the name refers to playing rhythms with one’s fingers— released its second mini-album last December, Full-Range, which features the single “Sou” (“Layer”) and five other tracks. The groove of bassist Yuko Miyakoshi and guitarist Junko Kimura is accented by Yumiko Takeuchi’s splashy cymbals and vocalist-guitarist Kana Shimizu’s imploring cries.
Tom Tom spoke with the band members about their experience touring abroad, Takeuchi’s knee surgery in December 2013, which prevented her from drumming for a year, and the band’s growth since college; when they originally formed under the title of a Dragon Ball Z character, Raditz.
Tom Tom: How was the Next Music from Tokyo tour in Canada this summer?
Yuko Miyakoshi (bass): We were really nervous about playing our first shows overseas but the audience was so charged up, we were able to play with more energy than ever before. I thought this tour would be an opportunity to really test our strength as a band through the good and bad of playing shows; but I think we learned something even more important than that. In those moments, I sensed in my skin that “music crosses borders;” I’m so glad I was able to experience that. We did run into a lot of trouble, but thanks to Steven (Tanaka, creator of the Next Music from Tokyo tour) and the NMFT team, we were able to get home safely. It was an irreplaceable tour for us. I definitely want to play in Canada again!
Yubisaki Nohaku formed as Raditz in college. What was it like continuing as a band after college?
Yuko Miyakoshi: At first, we didn’t think we’d continue as long as we have. After graduating from college, we continued as a band with each of us working. However, we were featured on the national TV show The Street Fighters. There was a corner where three audience members could win CDs and we received many entries (for CDs) along with comments. We were really surprised because we didn’t think we would get this kind of reaction. Thinking about how we wanted more people to know us and hear our music: we ended up continuing to play from there.
What is different about ‘Full-Range’ from your previous mini-albums?
Yuko Miyakoshi: Our work before this was done with just the four of us, but for this one, we included producer Natsuki Sakamoto (formerly of Chirinuruwowaka, current guitarist for Over the Top) and were able to complete the album with a lot of people’s help. The album ended up being like a ball of all our souls lumped together as composers and lyricists poured their energies and took utmost care in each and every note and word, even as they ran into obstacles.. By making the best use of who we are as individuals, I feel like we were able to open up new possibilities for sound.
What was Yumiko Takeuchi’s experience after surgery; being unable to play drums with the band for one year?
Yumiko Takeuchi (drums): There was something the three other members told me before my knee surgery—that without me as a drummer, they weren’t Yubisaki Nohaku. I think that because of those words, I was able to persevere through rehabilitation; and even though there was a yearlong break, I was still able to continue as Yubisaki Nohaku’s drummer. During the break, I was able to see the band from an objective point of view and grew to love my band more than ever.
How do the bands you like influence Yubisaki Nohaku’s songs?
Yuko Miyakoshi: The music we listen to and love is very different between the four of us but each of our strong personalities have been mixed; and combined we make Yubisaki Nohaku.
Please tell us what Yubisaki Nohaku’s next events and releases are.
Yuko Miyakoshi: We have an official PR song for Nakano City in Nagano Prefecture, the hometown of our drummer, Yumiko Takeuchi; it’s called “Kaze Wa Kiyoki” (“The Wind Is Clear”). We have also covered “Gondola No Uta” (“The Gondola Song”) by the great Nakano composer Shinpei Nakayama. On August 12, we had a Kaze Wa Kiyoki / Gondola No Uta release event at Nagano Live House J.
Are there any other things you would like Tom Tom readers to know?
Yuko Miyakoshi: Please check out our music videos and live footage from Canada on YouTube!
This article was featured in the Outlaw issue of Tom Tom. Purchase it online.