Tokyo Damage Report

Interview with an ex-Visual Kei record executive

INTRO
 
 
Back in 2008, I interviewed Mr. SATOH-SAN (not his real name), who worked for a fairly well-known Visual Kei record label in the ‘90s.
 
Visual Kei is a sort of glam-gothic-rock thing where the band might look like a space vampire who is also a gay Kabuki French countess. 
 
That makes it sound better than it is.
 
Personally, the main thing I like about this genre is  the same thing I like about punk: the FANS: 15 year old girls from good families, with designer handbags, who beat the shit out of each other during the show, to prove to their dreamboat that they’re the ‘best’ fan.
 
But as rad as those girls are, they are victims of the fantasy, the image that these bands project. Luckily, we have Mr. SATOH, who is going to tell us about the  grim reality. That's right: I am trying to bum out visual fans. If you've come here from a link on a message-board, assume your crying posture now.
 
During this interview, you’ll hear a lot about the Yakuza. But don’t get it twisted: the Visual Kei industry is NOT more mobbed-up than any other part of the entertainment industry in Japan. That's fine. Precisely BECAUSE  the Visual Kei mobsters are so typical, visual is a good way to learn about the dark side of Japanese entertainment IN GENERAL.
 
Before we start the interview, I will let Mr. SATOH explain the background information that you need to know:

 
 
BRIEF HISTORY OF VISUAL
 
 
Around 1983 (says Satoh), Japanese hard-rock bands from big cities began to incorporate the then-new forms of new-wave, gothic, L.A. hair metal, and punk. They combined these foreign influences with SHOJO MANGA which was big in Japan at that time.
 
(this article is long enough without getting into a detailed explanation of shojo manga – for now, let’s just say that “shojo” means “comics for tween girls” and features a bunch of androgynous, long-haired pretty-boys in frock coats, who stare deeply into each others’ eyes while roses bloom in the background)
 
The manga influence was mainly in the stage fashion and homoerotic stage antics(kissing, groping), and was done, of course, to appeal to girls and their pocketbooks. It was a classic case of “combining different old things in a new way”.
 
It was a small scene in the beginning: only in certain cities in Japan. The artists were all highly motivated and had a DIY attitude – some even started their own labels (X Japan’s Yoshiki started DADA records, which later became Extasy). Eventually, the scene grew big enough to catch the attention of  record labels, who made it a nationwide phenomenon – but the trade-off was that the bands had to play by the rules of the labels.
 
The eras of “popularity” and “good music” barely overlapped.
 
The best bands were in ’93-'99. The boom (meaning, bands on daytime chat shows and mainstream magazines) was in '97-'99. Visual didn’t catch on overseas until 2000’s, after it was already pretty much over in Japan.
 
Themes of the lyrics: sweet romance / dark suicidal (everything teenagers might like…).
 
"Fan-service" is common (band members kissing each other or touching each other) = this comes from shojo manga. The feeling of not being physically threatened by these 'sexual-but-not-for-me'  characters (men dressing in a feminine way) attracts young teenage girls.
 
 
 
MOB ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY 101
 
TIP ONE:        CONNECTIONS
Connections are even more important than money! (or, perhaps, they ARE money?)
Jhonny’s Jimusho (the biggest boy-band factory in Japan) is the most famous example of the importance of connections: if you have Johnny’s boy-bands on your TV show, you can’t have any other boy bands. If you have a non-Johnny’s band on your show, Johnny’s boycotts your show forever (and not just your show, but whatever other media organs your parent company has).
 
He’s the king of that, but these sorts of mafia-ish arrangements are the norm for the whole entertainment industry. The connections between powerful mobsters and powerful entertainment moguls is why band A will only appear on channel 1, but never on channel 2. And it’s the connections that make it a ‘mob.’ operation. That is to say, to a high-level Yak, long-term connections are even more important than short term financial gain.
 
So who cares if the bands in TV or radio are even remotely what the fans want to hear?
 
TIP TWO:        CONTROL OF EVERY STEP OF THE PROCESS
 
This idea of "total control"  is presented to bands in the more friendly tone of, “We are your one-stop fame shop, you don’t have to go anywhere else.”
 
Your band needs clothes, so so our clothing brand will supply them for you. They need press, and we own a cable TV show or radio program. Better yet, we've developed a monopoly relationship with a large publishing company (see Tip #1!) so that all our various bands appear exclusively in their various magazines.
 
For example, “CURE” magazine  is the organ of “free will” records – the only surviving relic from the era when every record company could afford to have their own magazine. How it stays in business in these lean times is a mystery.
 
Instruments – all big bands are sponsored by ESP guitars (or Fernandes) , which makes the bands unique, custom instruments. This web of connections between various showbiz companies, secretly owned by  the same record label, allows them to hire musicians that know nothing about the industry OR about music. And this makes the musicians easier to control – the Japanese musicians come so cheaply that all record industries (Visual, pop, rock, rap, whatever) can get away with making the most crappy records possible – sort of a “throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see what sticks” approach.
 
TIP THREE-          you can never have enough SHELL COMPANIES
 
To avoid appearing like a monopoly, you got to split your big label into 10 tiny labels – each small label will have its own “world” – its own design, musical sound, attitude, etc, which will pander to fans much better than a big, general label. The fans will be more immersed and dedicated to a label that they think is “just for them”. Also, by having all the small labels in different cities (usually run by a member of a prominent band from that city), you can ensure logistical support all over the country – For example, in each city there is a small label which will help ALL bands from the parent label with publicity, tours, and getting CDs in stores,  when those bands come through that city.

 
 OK, so much for the "lecture" portion. Now, on with the interview!
 

 
 
STRUCTURE OF THE INDUSTRY
 
TDR:  Can you explain the business structure of the Visual industry?
 
SATOH-SAN: So we said Yoshiki is the executive producer, he is in X Japan, and now lives in Los Angeles. He is the top visual music producer in Japan, but he mainly makes decisions on how things will go. Dynamite Tommy handles the actual nuts-and-bolts of the visual business.
 
TDR: Even though Tommy is on a different “parent label?”
 
SATOH-SAN: Yes, of course! Fully. They always work together, since day one. ’85, ‘86. Yoshiki’s companies include major labels, not just visual labels, and he also has the Japanese license for bands like, say, Queen or other international rock acts. But since Yoshiki started as the drummer for X Japan, the inventors of ‘visual rock’, he’s always going to keep that as part of his empire. Since X Japan started that genre, they had all the best contacts, they knew how to do everything. And they taught the other people, other musicians that they hired, and some of the other bands started their own smaller labels (under the table with Extasy Records). And now we’re on the , what? Fourth or fifth generation of visual bands, in this system.
 

Yoshiki is from Chiba, (Tokyo area), and Dynamite Tommy is from Osaka. So Yoshiki handles Tommy’s business on the East coast, and Tommy handled Yoshiki’s business on the West coast. (of course, Tommy is in Tokyo now as well, but that sort of system is still going on)

 
In the beginning there was some – how do you say? – rivalry? between them, but they soon became friends, when they realized they could make more by working together. And of course that’s the exact system used by the Yakuza: controlling different parts of the country, but working together for maximum profit: “I’ll handle your businesses in my territory if you look after my businesses in yours!”  And at first they were in bands, as I said,(X Japan and Color) but soon they started thinking that that wasn’t enough, so they started forming record companies. Extasy and Free Will, respectively. And together (mid-‘80s) they started this enterprise- visual kei - which was effectively one big company. And soon, they met another guy – Yasuhiro. He wasn’t in a band, he was – a lot of things! He had  live houses, record labels, and a management company, etc (He now has record shops and a live house chain company called Club Holiday). So pretty soon, Yoshiki and Tommy also had their own management and video companies (Visual Trap, in the case of Free Will records), plus their own fashion studios and magazines as well!
 
TDR: Did Yoshiki and Tommy do this to try to force Yasuhiro out of the market? Or was he under their umbrella somehow?
 
SATOH-SAN: No, they are friends and work together. I don’t understand your question.
 
TDR: Well, Coke hates Pepsi. Macdonalds hates Burger King. So. . .
 
 
SATOH-SAN: Oh. . (pause) Yes, I suppose a foreigner would ask a question like this. But to us, the idea of the ‘big guys’ or, I should say, the ‘inside people’ competing is strange! In the late ‘80s, Visual was not yet nationwide. So all the major players had plenty of room to expand – there was no need to fight. Anyone who brought something to the table – production companies, live houses, labels, management – anyone who had enough clout to help the ‘inside people’ in his part of Japan, could HIMSELF become an ‘inside person.’ And that turned out to be, mostly, those three guys.
 
TDR: And visual bands at that time, who didn’t have connections? Those were . . .
 
SATOH-SAN: The ‘outside guys’ – those were the guys who became employees.
 
 

 
 
SMALLER LABELS AND HIDDEN CONNECTIONS
 
SATOH-SAN: They (the top 3 guys)  have the right to start as many record labels as they want, as long as everyone in ‘the family’ knows who owns what. And if you want to avoid taxes, you just go bankrupt! The label suddenly vanishes . . .and soon you start another one!Together, they got the whole country! By giving, I suppose ‘licences’ (if I can call it like that) to other musicians to start their own small labels (which are secretly tied to the  main guys), they can do much more business than with 3 big, slow-moving labels.
Every band has one smart guy who, after a few years, wants to actually make some money. And because of his band, he has contacts with all the major musicians, businesspeople, roadies, managers. . . so he decides to leave his band and start his own label.
 
TDR: What do you mean by licenses?
 
SATOH-SAN: Well, the band guy comes to one of the ‘parent label’ guys (Extasy / Free Will or whoever) and asks permission. Permission means that the big Visual labels won’t shut down his small label – they WON'T go to a retailer or live house and say, ‘If you do business with this guy, you can’t do business with any of our acts.'
 
But to get permission, the little label has to promote and host all the parent label’s acts in its little region. Also it has to send a portion of its revenue directly to the parent label, in the form of interest on start-up loans.
 
TDR: Does the band guy put up his own money to start the little label, or get money from the big label?
 
SATOH-SAN: Both! You put up some of your own money, and borrow the rest. But there is never –never! A point where you have paid off the debt to the major guy. You will always be his employee, even if it looks like you run your on label. Also, all the publishing rights for the music go directly to the parent label!
 
TDR: Word?
 
SATOH-SAN: Well, some of the royalties are paid to the producer ,as well.
 
TDR: What is a producer?
 
SATOH-SAN: In this case, the producer is the person who writes all the songs and lyrics for the band. Although, it’s quite normal for a producer to put the band together, decide their look and concept, AND write the songs! At every label there is always one smart guy who actually creates everything, and is basically responsible for getting all the creative work done for the whole label. And that’s why most of  those guys take drugs.
 
TDR: To be creative?
 
SATOH-SAN: No – because they don’t have time to sleep.
 
TDR: So, at your label, the guy was responsible for. . .?
 
SATOH-SAN: ten bands, let’s say.
 
TDR: And they’d all put out an album a year?
 
SATOH-SAN: More than that.
 
TDR: So what kind of toll did this take on the poor guy? Could you understand when he talked? Or was he like AAAAAH MARMOTS AAAH!
 
SATOH-SAN: You’d feel like he was always under the influence of something – drugs, coffee, anything to get energy. He would even take LSD – I don’t understand how that could help him focus, but some people have a talent to focus, I guess! As for understanding his commentary, it would depend on the day!
 
TDR: Would he write songs with sheet music? a computer?
 
SATOH-SAN: No, they had a recording studio in the office! He’d pick up a guitar, record the part, and then the band would come in and listen to it and learn it that way.
 
Of course, there are other bands that have been around for a long time, so they can write their own songs, and the producer just tweaks it! Or he’ll just write the lyrics.
 
But most of the bands can’t write songs. They’re 17, 18 years old, usually ex-bosozoku or at least dropouts. On their own, they’re pretty helpless. If you’re good, or smart, you wouldn’t sign that kind of contract to begin with! But Visual bands. . they don’t know how to book a tour or give interviews. And even if they did, they wouldn’t have the connections to play at a professional level.
 
Let me give you an example – live houses. If you’re not on a label, you have to audition. That means you have to play on a Tuesday night to basically nobody, and the live-house guy sits and watches you. Maybe if you do this 3 or 4 times, at EACH of the main live houses in town, one of them will take pity on you and give you a weekend gig. But you are now in debt to that live-house, and can’t play anywhere else. It’s a ‘virtual contract’ – another item from the Yakuza world. An un-written ‘understanding.’ But if you’re on a label (even a small one which is connected to a big one), you don’t have that hassle. The label sets up the shows. The label gets you in magazines. They script your between-song banter so you don’t sound like an idiot. They take care of everything for you. It’s like you are part of their family. So why would you ask for money? Why would you want to rip off your family, after all they did for you?
 
And by the way, that’s the same for all Japanese labels! And most foreign pop music, of course.
 
TDR: Well, in America we have T-Pain, the guy who is famous for letting a machine sing all his parts.   It used to be you’d get in trouble if you didn’t lip-synch properly! This guy doesn’t even sing, but the way he plays the pitch-corrector machine is supposedly really great, so he gets that million dollars.
 
SATOH-SAN: Oh, one other thing: On the CD jackets, there is always credits, saying “the guitarist wrote this, the vocalist wrote that.” That is all bogus – just a fantasy for the fans. The copyright and JASRAC (like NASCAP) licences all go to the producer or the parent company. I have no idea what the split is, but at any rate, some producers can get paid quite well – if they write for a famous band!
 
SATOH-SAN: Anarchy Records is a label that never made any money – they had a lot of bands and always would play shows, but no one got famous. And all the musicians were kind of bad boys – they had some sort of hustle on the side, so they could live – being major was not as important to them as to the average Visual band. The label head “Crazy Danger Nancy Ken-chan” was in bands connected to Dynamite Tommy, such as KAMAITACHI as well as their mysterious duo named SISTERS NO FUTURE. So he’s kind of a heavy guy. I think Tommy helps Ken with distribution. Plus Ken has his own bar, in Kabuchi-cho (where else?) and various business ventures of which little is known.
 
 

 
THE JIMUSHO (OFFICE)
 
TDR:So, can you describe the first time you went to the office (of your company)? Was that a bit of a surprise?
 
SATOH-SAN:There’s four or five offices – converted apartments – in a big building. Each office space has its own task - the recording studio, the clothes-making studio, the label, graphic design studio, and so on. The producers run around between one office and another, since they are responsible for everything!
 
TDR: The label owner is not?
 
SATOH-SAN: Well on the smaller labels- the ones in small cities – the owner is also the producer. But usually the owner will come up with all the ideas (for new bands, promotional campaigns, etc.) and the producer is responsible for making sure that everything is done well, which is a problem because the people under them are usually not that bright. Usually it’s all kinds of ex-mafia types: ex-bosozoku, ex-boxers, ex-chinpira. Not “made men” by any stretch, but guys with jail records, where this might be their first desk job. All kinds of bad boys!
 
TDR: How about ex-jockeys?
 
SATOH-SAN: What?!?
 
TDR: You know, ex-horse-racers? Or ex-motorboat racers?
 
SATOH-SAN: I don’t know about that!
 
TDR: So what do these guys do?
 
SATOH-SAN: They might do office work, but if there’s not enough roadies, they might do that, too! Basically it’s a big family, and the family takes care of them, and then they do whatever is needed. And when I say 'whatever', I’m not talking about office work. That’s why I’m using a pseudonym for this interview!
 
TDR: In America, a lot of mafia guys will get their family or their friends a “no-show” job down at the union office or the construction firm (or whatever) – that way the friend gets free money AND if the IRS comes around, they can say, ‘I bought this car with my legitimate job!’ Is that a thing with these mobbed-up record companies?
 
SATOH-SAN: No, no. They all work. It’s a real company, after all. But they usually have their respective side-businesses, which are run out of the label’s office. Like a guy who is officially a record distributor might use the same desk to run his private-eye business. Or other cash-only ventures: pachinko, karakoke, real-estate, and so on. And of course there’s the one office in back, where who-knows-what goes on.
 

 
 
FINANCIAL SHENNANEGANS
 
TDR: OK, let’s talk about financial shennannegans. We’ve covered fake bankruptcies and the ole’ publishing rights scam. What other mischief can label guys get into?
 
SATOH-SAN: Money laundering is a big one, of course.
 
TDR: What does that mean? I’m not a financial panther (Simpsons joke).
 
SATOH-SAN: Money laundering means – say you’re a Yakuza and you have a million dollars – you can’t spend that money because it’s dirty. You could get arrested. You keep it in your mattress. But if you take some of that money and invest it in a legitimate business – ideally one which does a lot of business with cash, then not only do your make legitimate profits, but you can “wash” your dirty money by hiding it in the profits of your legitimate business.
 
TDR: Like I sell 1000 records, at $10 a pop, but I claim I sold 4,000? And $30,000 comes out of my mattress into my bank account? Kind of thing?
 
SATOH-SAN: Sure, that is the kindergarten version. Also, since a Japanese record label owns all the related businesses (music video company, clothing company, production company, studio, magazine, etc.) then you can basically pay yourself free money by padding contracts.
 
TDR: Huh?
 
SATOH-SAN: Say you need to record an album. You are the ‘shadow owner’ of both the studio and the record label. So it costs $10,000 to record the album. But the studio charges the label $20,000, and you walk home with the other $10,000 in your pocket. Now multiply this by every business in the entertainment industry. In fact, Dynamite Tommy is currently fighting a court case – he got popped for padding a video contract.
 
TDR: Yeah, but even if these guys are corrupt, isn’t that scam just basically stealing money from themselves? If they own both companies? It’s not like they have stockholders to swindle!
 
SATOH-SAN: Well, it (that scam) makes the label look like it’s losing money, so they never have to pay tax! Also, instead of spending the money on a music video, they can now spend it on whatever they like, so that’s a benefit, isn’t it?
 

 
 
 
FANS
 
TDR: How do the bands talk about the fans, in private?
 
SATOH-SAN: I would say, we had good laughs (about them). It’s always, a game of "who has the weirdest fan?"
 
TDR: Are the fans thought of as being sexy, suckers, or just plain weird?
 
SATOH-SAN: Both! All! Depends on the fan, right? But sometimes musicians fall in love with a fan. One thing is for certain: the ongoing frustration! In the beginning bands want fans, and will do anything to get them. Yet once the band gets bigger, they realize that the fans aren’t really smart or interesting – they don’t want to talk about anything but the band, they don’t have a life of their own, they can be scary and aggressive. So it’s kind of a catch-22 for the band. It’s a lifelong struggle to find the perfect fans! The non-existent middle group.
 
TDR: Between ignoring the band and obsessing?
 
SATOH-SAN: Yes!
 
 
SATOH-SAN: There are sort of gangs of fans, girls who hang out before the show, who create their own para-para choreographies, who try to uncover secrets about the band and swap them. These fans also get aggressive with other fans – both fans of the other bands at a show, or girls that they consider ‘fake fans’ of their favorite band.
 
TDR: What band was known for having the most maniac, violent fans?
 
SATOH-SAN: Most bands had some kind of hard-core followers. But the ‘bad fan’ band – that was a title that changed every year. Mirage, Malice Mizer, Kuroyume are some of the bands that come to mind.
 
 
TDR: Would fans ever attack a band?
 
SATOH-SAN: No. Well, just a few times.  But mostly there were clubs of girls, dedicated to hating a certain band – usually because they felt that band A was a ‘rival’ or ‘usurper’ of band B, who they supported. In the industry, we called these clubs, アンティファン (ANTI-FANS).
 
TDR: WTF? That must be an only-in-Japan thing.
 
SATOH-SAN: This is something unique to Visual Kei – other types of indies labels don’t have anti-fans.
 
TDR: So what would they do???
 
SATOH-SAN: Just what you’d expect!!! They’d start their own BBS and talk about how much they hated the band, and then they’d flame the BBSs of the band’s fans. “You must die!!”
 
TDR: Wow, all jihad-style! Nowadays we have that with hackers and griefers working in organized packs, but to do it about music? That is wild.
 
TDR:But was there ever physical violence? I mean besides the ritualized slamming and ‘gyaku-daibu’? of the visual live-shows?
 
SATOH-SAN: Yes, there was some pugilism. But it wasn’t the ‘ANTI FAN’ groups physically fighting – they wouldn’t pay to enter the live show of a band they hated!  Some of the most serious fights were between fans of the same band, who would go at it after the show – trying to decide who was the ‘best fan’ or the ‘one who really understood what the band was about’.
 
TDR: Sounds a little Cultural Revolution-y.

 
 
FANS AND FANTASY
 
TDR: Can you talk about the way the label makes itself a wall between the band and the fans?
 
SATOH-SAN: No photos (if you take your own photos, we can’t sell you photos) , no sound recording (ditto), no talking to the band (except at in-stores where you have to buy something)!
 
TDR: What is that about? I mean, some of these bands are kind of small-time, couldn’t they use the publicity of fan photos/recordings in the beginning?
 
SATOH-SAN: Keeping the fantasy intact is the biggest priority. If there is no image, no fantasy, the band will never get big.
 
TDR: You mean, if the guys talk to fans, and let slip that they’re working the midnight shift at 7/11, or living on ramen and pachinko, it’ll be hard for the fans to picture him as a bisexual 17th century British vampire space-man after that?
 
SATOH-SAN: You understand this phenomenon very well!
 
TDR: So basically the deal is, the more sexually frustrated that teen girls get, the more money they’ll spend. So how else do these businesses increase the frustration?
 
SATOH-SAN: Well, a main thing is limited-edition, one-time-only items. And this is not just visual kei – this is all pop music in Japan. Like “Here is a photo set, it’s limited to 300 copies, and we’ll never sell these photos ever again. Today only!” Sometimes they give little presents - like a CD of the band talking to fans.
 
TDR: Oh shit! Like the 1-900 phone lines where Justin Timberlake talks about his rash for $2 a minute – but limited-edition stylezzz.
 
SATOH-SAN: Um.
 
TDR: Remember VELVET EDEN? The drag-queen with the 6 foot fiberglass batwings and foot-long “vampire” fingernails?
 
SATOH-SAN: That guy is a graphic designer now, at FREEWILL records. But yeah, I remember being shocked by them because his pants were so low, there were pubes sort of sprouting out.
 
TDR: I think I would have remembered that. Maybe I went on a bad day.
 
SATOH-SAN: Well, pubes are strange because it’s too much! Traditionally, Visual bands are very sensual but they are not supposed to have a gender – they are not ‘men’ or ‘women.’ The idea is to give the fans a band of androgynous, ethereal, magical creatures.
 
TDR: Ix-nay on the ubes-pay. So they’re not supposed to be sexy?
 
SATOH-SAN: No, they’re sexy, but they don’t exist in the same universe as the fans. They don’t have chlamidya, they don’t worry about child support payments, they don’t have girlfriends or baby-mamas. They don’t have a stinky van. The fans don’t want to think about that! They want a dream, (not a man or a woman), they want a higher being, a look out of a fairy-tale. That’s why we do all the makeup and hair. It’s not about the guitars or playing A-flat in a Lydian mode.
 

 
 
 
PARTIES
 
TDR:Can you talk about the after-parties?
 
SATOH-SAN: Sure. There’s actually two distinct kinds of after-party: public parties and industry parties. I’ll talk about the public ones first. So, you have a band, who’s usually on tour, who has been playing gigs for the last month – tired. Not every night – after a big show, where there’s lots of fans. They’ll rent an izakaya for the night, (or usually there is one that is part of the ‘family’ – someone knows someone – so they can get it cheap) and invite fans by name. They’ll invite the ‘non-dangerous’ ones.
 
TDR: BWA HA HA! How do they know?
 
SATOH-SAN: Believe me, they know.
 
TDR: Dangerous like how?
 
SATOH-SAN: They base it on the band members’ stories of the fans. That’s a major thing bands talk about when they have some time to kill: who has the craziest, most socially-awkward fans. Also they base it on the enquete (written questionnaires passed out at shows). Also, they just know! Especially at the beginning, when the band has very few fans, you can count them, you know them by name.
 
TDR: And even after the band gets big, the ‘original fans’ always get invited to the parties, right? To thank them for helping the band get where it is?
 
SATOH-SAN: The opposite!!! Actually the ‘original fans’ are the most dangerous. They want to ‘protect’ the band from the new mainstream fans, who are in fact the ones making all the money for the label! And that’s when the original fans get very aggressive – either gossip, email flaming, or smacking faces. That’s not the kind of thing you want at your after-party, especially considering the amount that the fans are paying.
 
TDR: You mean paying for food and drink?
 
SATOH-SAN: Oh, no! They pay to the company to be in the same room as the band. That’s why we do the parties ! To make money off the fans. It costs as much as the concert, at least – $40 or $50. To start, they will sell tickets (around 50 is normal). Also, there is a lot of attention paid to the seating arrangements. Band members don’t sit together, for one thing. They have to sit in the corners, to make room for the fans who cluster around them. Also rival groups of fans have to be seated at different tables. Usually the band is in a smaller room off to the side of the main room– sometimes even with a glass window - so the fans can see their idols actually eating! And drinking! And every five or ten minutes, some label guy will tap a fan (who has been deemed ‘safe’ or at least ‘not dangerous’). and say, ‘OK, it’s your turn, come into the ‘band room’ and eat for a second.’
 
TDR: Dangerous like how?
 
SATOH-SAN: Tearing the clothes! Or losing the consciousness – Fainting!
 
TDR: Avoid the fainters, OK.
 
SATOH-SAN: Right. So if you behave, you can chat with the band for five or ten minutes. It’s like a – what do you call it in America?
 
TDR: A ‘meet-and-greet.’
 
SATOH-SAN: Right. Like a meet-and-greet except everyone’s drunk and it’s 5 in the morning. An all night event.
 
TDR: Whoa! So this is not the junior high age fans, then.
 
SATOH-SAN: Sometimes they look like it! But usually it’s the 18 or 19 or even 20 year olds.
 
TDR: The old ladies.
 
SATOH-SAN: And this goes on until maybe 6AM. Then, outside the pub, when everyone is going home, the band members will approach certain fans and ask for their phone numbers.
 
TDR: For crazy hairspray sex?
 
SATOH-SAN: No. If you get a girl’s phone number, then she will have to come to every gig and buy every album, since she thinks you like her. Provided that you don’t publicly have a girlfriend – hence the rule.
 
TDR: Jesus. That is so scientific, the way they do it. . . . Rad!
 
SATOH-SAN: Nowadays, they exchange emails. But still it’s all business – the band has to mail the fans to get them to come to shows. Just like a host! Anyway, that’s the public party.
 
TDR: And the private party?
 
SATOH-SAN: No fans, of course! You’ll have the band, maybe some members of other bands on the label, but mostly businessmen, industry people. And then the sexy ladies.
 
TDR: I thought you said no fans?
 
SATOH-SAN: I’m getting to that. If you – an outsider – were to go to one of these parties, you’d think, ‘Wow, these band guys have it all! Hot ladies and rock lifestyles and such!’ but you would be mistaken! The women are prostitutes. They’re brought in to keep the guys entertained. Like how a factory has to maintain its machines. It’s not just sex – they try to liven up the party with witty comments. This is important because I have never ever seen band guys more bored than at these industry parties. And they can’t leave until 6AM when it is over- ducking out would be an act of total disloyalty to the label. So the prostitutes make it more bearable for the band guys, and after the party, if he wants to have sex, he can. But honestly, judging how dog-tired and bored the guys look, I doubt that even happens often! Basically the private parties are for the benefit of businessmen, to network and make deals. The band is a necessary prop.
 
TDR: Weeest siiiiide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
SATOH-SAN:???
 

 
 
BAND GUYS – WHO ARE THEY REALLY?
 
TDR: Sorry. Can you tell me about the band guys – before they were in bands, what did they do in life? What kinds of guys are drawn to this lifestyle? Can you generalize?
 
SATOH-SAN: These guys are really young when they join – 17, 18 years old. Because nobody with industry experience will sign a Visual Label contract! A typical dude is an ex-bosozoku or ex-chinpira, a high-school drop-out. Not everyone is a crook or delinquent, but everyone is from poor or working-class families. They don’t necessarily love visual glam, but they really do like rock and roll, and think it would be exciting to be a rock star. They want to learn to play guitar, basically! Also, since this is the ‘90s we’re talking about – visual is popular. So compared to a punk or rockabilly band, visual looks like the way to succeed, to be famous, in a short period of time. They think this because visual is popular in magazines and radio charts. (but the magazines are printed and the radio charts are bought by the companies that are making this myth)
 
TDR: Well, if the label’s business is selling images and perceptions, they’d be a piss-poor label if they couldn’t whip up a fake image of their company as a rockin’ place to work.
 
SATOH-SAN: In the beginning, one of the things I found the most ironic, was these band members: these very tough-talking street guys, playing these very femme-y, androgynous roles which were straight out of a shojo manga.
 
TDR: Were there any guys who were freaked out by all the requirements re: lipstick, camping it up, and ‘fan service’ ?? Were some guys all ‘Wait a minute, boss! My biker friends will make fun of me!’
 
SATOH-SAN:No. Before they sign the contract, they’ve seen a bunch of visual bands. They know what is expected. They also have training in ‘stage presence’ from older band guys. Nothing is forced on them. Also, some guys don’t get to be in a band right away. They start as a roadie, or a sound-tech. And once he’s watched enough other bands, and gotten enough experience, they’ll promote him to the level of ‘band member in a new band.’ And if his band doesn’t work out (i.e. break even), he might have to quit the band and go work for the company at another job.
 
TDR: It’s almost easier to think of the band guys as regular company employees, doing whatever they can to help the company. Except instead of wearing business suits, they have bat wings and prosthetic breasts.
 
SATOH-SAN: I have nothing to add to that.
 
 

 
 
MAKING THE BAND
 
TDR: Can we talk about making the band? Is it some Puff Daddy thing where the label head puts an ad in the paper: WANTED: GUITARIST, SINGER, AND BASS PLAYER WITH PRO HAIR AND ATTITUDE? And then auditions people?
 
SATOH-SAN: It’s like that but different. They do head-hunting! The label owner sets his sights on the best members from 3 or 4 small, go-nowhere bands, and tries to persuade them to leave their bands and form a super-band. (‘This band is never gonna go anywhere. You’re the only one with talent. Come to my label and I’ll make you a real band!’) And this doesn’t always work. Sometimes the band guy refuses to leave his band. He’s allowed to– it’s not like some Godfather thing. Although it’s not uncommon for the guy DOING the headhunting to get jumped in an alley by the other band members: “Don’t head-hunt our vocalist!” POW. Honestly, head-hunting is one of the leading causes of fistfights between bands.
 
TDR: Deeeyamn. Is this headhunting – do they hunt bands on rival labels? Or within their own label?
 
SATOH-SAN: Usually they’ll head-hunt a band which is on a rival label, or not on any label. But if a band on their own label isn’t making any money, it’s not unusual for them to tap one member (with potential) to join a new band, and give him another shot.
 
SATOH-SAN: Also, this practice of head-hunting is the reason why so many tiny bands have frequent line-up changes or break up suddenly. It’s really unstable at that level. I can give you an example: DIR EN GREY is made up of members from a few bands. You have Kizaki,  from Osaka. (he later formed various bands and labels such as Matina and Undercode). Anyway, in the beginning, he was in LA’SADIES with other future DIR EN  GREY members, and he got a call from the label, saying “We want you for a bigger band.,” and I guess he must have believed that head-hunter! At any rate, it wasn’t DIR EN GREY sitting around their cave, saying ‘Hey let’s form a supergroup.’ That was the label deliberately trying to form one, and the band guys saying OK.
 
TDR: So does the label guy come up with a concept, and try to find the right guys for that concept?
 
SATOH-SAN: No, usually, he tries to get the best possible musicians (based on popularity with fans, not neccesairly shred-ability), and then he decides the concept later. Sometimes if the band members are more big, more experienced, they’ll work on the concept together.
 
TDR: What counts as a concept? Who would you say is a ‘concept band?’
 
SATOH-SAN: Every band has its own concept, its own story. Which doesn’t have anything to do with the music, of course, but it is expressed in the costumes, graphic design and most importantly the lyrics. So you’ll have the vampire band, the zombie band, the Decadent French Nobility band, and so on.
 
TDR: What was the concept of (picks a random page of FOOL’S MATE) nu:vogue?
 
SATOH-SAN: The Pete Burns of Japan?
 
TDR: Why would anybody want to – why does each country need their own Pete Burns? Was it like some Dr. Strangelove thing : ‘We’ve got a Burns Gap!’??? (sighs) Anyway, what was the concept of. . . French-name-band? 
 
SATOH-SAN: ???
 
TDR: L’ARC-EN-CIEL?
 
SATOH-SAN: “music from the sky”, I would say. Light, ethereal, cloudy kind of music. Not now, of course, but in the beginning – they were all dressed in white, diaphanous garb. . . and of course some bands don’t need their own concept at all!
 
TDR: huh?
 
SATOH-SAN: They don’t need an original concept if they’re in the ‘roadie chain.’
 
TDR: I have no idea what that is.
 
SATOH-SAN: ‘Roadie chains’ are another interesting phenomenon of Visual Kei! Here’s one example: KUROYUME was a band, their roadies went on to form dir en grey, which had the same image! And Dir en Grey’s roadies formed a band called  THE GAZETTE. Another example. . .MALICE MIZER’s roadie was named Kamijo – a year later, he was in his own band called LAREIME, which looked and sounded like MALICE MIZER. In fact, he started a label called ARTIST’S SOCIETY, and all the bands on that label sound like MALICE MIZER (because he’s the producer – he wrote all the music!)
 
It’s like making a Xerox copy – at each stage some of the color gets leeched out and replaced with shades of gray – a calculated and formulaic performance.
 
TDR: OK, so we’ve found the street kids, we’ve head-hunted, we’ve given them guitars, and made their concept. . now we come to the best part: the contract!!!
 

 
 
THE CONTRACT
 
SATOH-SAN: First of all – sometimes the contract is that THERE IS NO CONTRACT. Nothing is written. Like in the under-world. You don’t sign something that says, “I will pay you Tuesday for 4 kilos of heroin today.” You don’t put things on paper. There’s no need. If someone violates, everyone in that world knows about it, and that person is blacklisted from the industry.
 
TDR: What constitutes a violation? Having a girlfriend?
 
SATOH-SAN: Talking bad in public about the label! Or your boss! Those are the main ones. Or. . . steal the boss’ girlfriend. Not being on time, missing publicity stunts. Asking for royalties. If you keep aggressively nagging at them for money, or where does the money go? You need to be flexible, one, and don’t ask questions, two.
 
TDR: So they don’t get any publishing. But do they get revenue from live shows or merchandise?
 
SATOH-SAN:

Band members are treated to food, travel expenses, stage clothes, sometimes there's a big flat rented for them and there are like 12 people living in a 2 bedroom apt. As far as money, indies bands don't get any. They are promised they'll get money if they sign major. And even then, a major doesn't make much money unless it's a "really big band". Usual salary of a low-rank major band: 100'000yen a month. You get more money if you work at your local 7/11.
 
  Also, the profits from live shows are split between the label and the live house. Profits form t-shirts are split between the t-shirt company and the label. The label would no more think to include the band in the t-shirt contract than they would include the secretary, the janitor, or the tour-bus driver. That’s not their place.
 
TDR: That’s got to be tough for an undead extraterrestrial marquis to deal with!
 
SATOH-SAN: Because the label plans your life. They are your family. It takes them years of time and money for them to build your fan base. It’s a big investment – radio spots, photo shoots, magazine articles, wardrobe, studio time, and so on. So the very least you can do for them is to be quiet and not rock the boat!
 
TDR: That’s a question I was wanting to ask – after investing all this money in the band, how long does a label wait to see a profit? Put another way, if a band DOESN'T make money, how long before the label  decides to pull the plug?
 
SATOH-SAN: It depends on the amount that they spent on the band. Well, you’ll always need small bands – to be roadies for the bigger bands! So certain bands are set up from the beginning to be small-time. That’s their spot in the family. So they'll be kept on even if they make minimal money. Other bands are from the beginning supposed to be huge, the goal is to build them up and sell them to a major label at a profit. The label will continue to promote such a band for a long time (without necessairly making a profit), because everyone knows it’s a major undertaking. 
 
TDR: So, are you saying – waitaminute – that selling a band to a major label is a GOAL of an indie  visual record label? Did you mean to say that? What exactly gets sold when a band leaves the visual label and moves to a major?
 
SATOH-SAN: Yes, that ‘s the goal. That’s the labels'  biggest source of profit and success!
 
TDR: And how does that work?
 
SATOH-SAN: It’s not like in the West, where the band leaves the indie label and signs to Warner Brothers, or whatever. The indie sells a LICENCE to the major. They sell the major the right to release one or two records by the band . So the indie still owns the band  – they still manage the band, but they get major advertising and major distribution. They get money up front, so the major takes all the financial risk. Of course they have to split the cost of advertising with the major, but since they’ll sell many more records, it’s worth it!
 
TDR: Dood, I never even thought about that!
 
SATOH-SAN: That’s why you are still driving a bicycle, maybe.
 
TDR: And what if the band IS successful it IS making money and you, the musician, want to quit, because you are not getting paid?
 
SATOH-SAN: You can get in a lot of trouble for that!
 
TDR: For quitting?
 
SATOH-SAN: Yes. You can get in trouble two ways. You can get blacklisted from the industry, or you can get seriously assaulted by the label’s muscle. And the blacklisting can last for several years. They can’t tour even under another name. Of course if the band isn’t making money , who cares? But if the band is making money, and they want to leave the label, that’s not allowed.
 
 
TDR: But in the cases where guys got their legs broke and such – was it just a pay dispute? Or were they also bad-mouthing the label boss, disrespecting him to all and sundry?
 
SATOH-SAN: Well, yeah, they were doing that too. But you can get attacked just for quitting. I’m speaking of the indies scene here – major stars don’t get assaulted like that.
 
TDR: Speaking of major labels . . .Wasn’t there a case where a – a certain musician left his Visual band and became a  famous pop star, whose songs sold millions of records? And the musicians in his old band had written some of the songs which turned out to be these hits? And when the musicians complained about not getting paid for these very lucrative songs, they wound up missing or damaged in some way?
 
SATOH-SAN: I have no idea what you are talking about.  (draws finger across throat) Next!
 
TDR: OK, so say you’re running one of these small labels that is under the umbrella of Free Will or Extasy. And it’s the ‘90s. How many of your new bands will make money? I’m not talking about become major label bands, I just mean – to break even; to be allowed to make another album?
 
SATOH-SAN: Maybe one in ten. These days? One in 30!
 
TDR: Like America!
 
TDR: Allright, that is fascinating – but even a small band, a ‘roadie band’ or whatever – they can’t always be losing money. At what point does the label tell them, ‘it’s over!’
 
SATOH-SAN: They get a year or two. Then the band breaks up, if it’s not going anywhere. The band members usually decide this on their own, though. After all, if they’re not getting money OR fame, there is no reason to do it!  Most guys will get to try again with another band, so it’s not such a bad deal. The members keep getting juggled.
 
TDR: But in the West, if a band is dropped from a label but they don’t want to quit, they can still keep gigging under their own name, without a label. However, in Japan . . .?
 
SATOH-SAN: Well, their only connection to the music business (live houses, radio, studios, you name it!) is through that label. It’s safe to say that without that label it would never have occurred to them to form a band in the first place. Also, the label made up their name, their image. That belongs to the label. Usually! But even if you made your own  band, your own name, and THEN got signed. . . you don’t have the MONEY to tour or make your own records. You can’t get in a magazine or TV without buying ads – those cost money, too!
 
 

 
 
BAND RULES
 
TDR: Is it true that bands aren’t allowed to have groupies? Because it’s bad for their image?
 
SATOH-SAN:Well, they’re not allowed to have girlfriends.
 
TDR: Just visual kei? Or Major-label bands too? All on some SMAP shit?
 
SATOH-SAN: Well, I can’t talk about SMAP, but that (no girlfriends) is  the rule in any industry where they’re selling image rather than music. It’s paramount to keep control over the image and life of the band members. Of course, times change. Now, with the recession, there’s not much money for promotion, radio ads, cable tv shows, and stuff. So the way the visual industry copes is letting the band interact with the fans a bit more – but only in the sense that the band is now responsible for doing their own promotions for free. They have to build their own fan base, the label doesn’t do it for them anymore. They email the fans and ask them to come to shows. Not unlike the host or hostess club system! It’s really prostitution.
 
TDR: But back then , no girlfriends?
 
SATOH-SAN: Oh no, that rule is not changed. Still no girlfriends! If band members have girlfriends, they will give less time to the company. But also, the girlfriend will gossip secret stuff to the other fans – people outside the company. Also, a fan that you have never had sex with is a fan who will keep on coming to your shows. But usually once you have sex, she stops coming. That’s the end of the relationship. By the way, it’s the exact same system at the host clubs.
 
TDR: I was gonna say that!
 

 
 
 
BAND LIFESTYLES
 
TDR: So let’s talk about the lifestyle of these band guys.
 
SATOH-SAN: The band members live in a closed environment of the record company. Since they don’t have money, they usually don’t have their own apartment. They might have to live together in one big apartment; sometimes you’ll have several bands all living in the same space. Some small labels – the main guy will have several bands sleeping on his floor at once! But it’s never for a long period of time. People move in and out, go on tour, and so on. But let’s not exaggerate – most of the time, it’s just two guys from the same band sharing one shitty apartment.
 
 
TDR: OK, They live in crowded apartments, they don’t have money. Are they allowed to work on the side?
 
SATOH-SAN: They’re allowed, but usually they don’t have time. The labels have the bands gig constantly. Plus all the promotional stuff they have to do – TV interview, radio, magazines.
 
TDR: In America, bands typically would tour to promote an album, but then work day-jobs the rest of the year, until they record another album. How about in . . .?
 
SATOH-SAN: No! They keep them busy all the time – because unlike America, 90% of the bands were just formed this year! They need exposure. They keep forming new bands out of old ones – the fans need novelty, I think. Also- why would a label release one album a year??? That is senseless.
 
TDR: So what is the alternative?  3 albums a year? Isn’t that hard for the one guy who has to write all the songs for 10 bands?
 
SATOH-SAN: No, no, no. Why sell one album when you can sell 6 ‘maxi-singles’ with two songs each? You can sell them throughout the year – at 1,500 yen each (almost the cost of a full album!). And then at the end of the year, you re-release all the singles with a couple of filler tracks, and call THAT the album. You just sold every song twice, and made about four times the money!
 
TDR: what is a maxi-single?
 
SATOH-SAN: A regular single has two songs. A maxi-single has two songs PLUS an ‘SE.’
“SE” stands for ‘Sound Effect’ – something you don’t get on the album version.
 
TDR: what is this sound effect?
 
SATOH-SAN: an intro! And when I say intro, I mean. . .4 bars of a General MIDI string sound on a keyboard! And there you go! That makes it ‘maxi’! And of course each 1,500 yen maxi-single can be sold several times – one time with a special limited-edition band photo, another time with a separate CD of the band doing a spoken-word message to fans, another time with a commemorative sweatband. . .
 
TDR: Jesus.
 
SATOH-SAN: Yes, this is a phenomenon that is very particular to the Visual Kei business. In the industry we call it the “1,500 syndrome”!! If you price it at 1,500 yen, you can re-sell it as many times as you like!
 
TDR: You’re playing with girls’ emotions! They know they’ll be able to get all the songs when the full album comes out, but they buy all the overpriced collectors’ crap anyway, to compete with the other girls, and win the hearts of the band guys. ‘I’m his biggest fan!’ ‘No, it is me! I have more shit than you!’ It’s just like the women who go to host clubs and buy presents for the gigolos, hoping that they’ll be able to show up the other customers. “This three-wheeled motorcycle with built-in power-ballad-playing stereo speakers will prove that I am his real lover, not those other women!”
 
SATOH-SAN: There certainly is no shortage of parallels between the two industries.
 
TDR: But to return to the topic of band guys being too busy to have a side job –
 
SATOH-SAN: Yes! Now you can see why!
 
TDR: So to make the maxi money, they release a maxi-single once every 2 months or so – and a side-effect of this is, the band becomes a daily, 9 to 5 gig for the bands.
 
SATOH-SAN: 9 pm to 5 am!
 
TDR: They’re so over-worked, they’re practically salarimen! But seriously, they never have side jobs?
 
SATOH-SAN: There’s a lot of stories about musicians prostituting themselves. It’s no problem for the company if that happens – since it doesn’t cost the company money. Unless it interferes with showing up on time!
 
TDR: You mean prostitute as in host club? Or as in, they got an ad in the back of gay pornos in the “OUTCALL MASSAGE” section?
 
SATOH-SAN: Well, six of one, half a dozen of the other. . .
 
TDR: But they’re not using their ‘rock name’??
 
SATOH-SAN: Surely not! They change their appearance up, too.
 
TDR: What’s another hustle for a starving band guy?
 
SATOH-SAN: Gambling! Playing pachinko. Well, tricking the machines. What’s the word?
 
TDR: Maybe we can say ‘cheating?’
 
SATOH-SAN: With no high-school or college diploma and long hair, they really don’t have a lot of options. Some work the night shift at a convenience store. But guys who are selling themselves, they don’t do it every day. Just here and there to make ends meet. Not full-time in the night-life.
 
TDR: Well, if they could make good hooker money, they’d be able to quit the band!
 
SATOH-SAN: No, no. The allure of fame is stronger than money. The showbiz feeling of being on stage.
 
 
TDR: You ever hang out with band dudes offstage?
 
SATOH-SAN: Yes!
 
TDR: SO what are they like, besides tired?
 
SATOH-SAN: (laughs)
 
TDR: Are they all wearing satin jackets and bedroom slippers?
 
SATOH-SAN: I would say that there’s always one guy in the band that is really into that music, and always dresses in some glammy/gothy way. But the other guys will wear sneakers and sweatpants. It depends on the label, actually. . .
 
TDR:  Do the owners or producers have any lavish shit – cars, bling?
 
SATOH-SAN: Definitely nice cars and houses!! But that's only for the big company guys.

Even the producers live in shit apartments. They are usually abused by the companies.
 

 
 
 
FIGHTS
 
TDR: What about bands getting in fisticuffs with other bands? Is that a thing?
 
SATOH-SAN: Of course! There’s a lot of fighting! You can’t fight bands on your own label, because that’s your ‘family,’ but un-signed bands, other label bands. . .  They fight over head-hunting, like I said. If guy A asks vocalist B to leave band C, and B is going to do it, sometimes B gets his ass kicked. Other times, guy A (the head-hunter) can get HIS ass kicked, too.
 
TDR: What else could cause a fight?
 
SATOH-SAN: Stealing fans. If two bands have the same sound, same image, then they are strongly competing for the same fans. Sometimes one band will be outside the concert, aggressively recruiting the other band’s fans. Mailing lists also get stolen. Both things can lead to fights.
 


 
 
THE MEDUSA
 
TDR: Can you explain about the “medusa?”
 
SATOH-SAN: It’s a Japanese punk haircut from the ‘80s. The big hair from the English ‘batcave scene’, mixed with Kabuki wigs, and then enlarged exponentially. The engineering is very specific: the first 6 or so inches of hair is spiked, to garuntee a huge size and general scariness, but the rest of the hair is loose, to facilitate headbanging.
 
TDR: It’s like a dual-function haircut. A Kabuki mullet, if you will.
 
SATOH-SAN: But let me tell you something really important. Visual bands – when they start – they have the big hair and costumes, but that is usually not what hey WANTED to do. They want to get famous and play rock music, yes, but the costumes and makeup is a burden to them.  Just something to do to get fans, out of desperation. As soon as they get big, they lose all that stuff.
 
TDR: So it’s not like “Evil corporate label makes band water down their style to cater to mainstream?”
 
SATOH-SAN: No, quite the opposite. The band guys can’t wait to ditch the hair and costumes. That stuff is heavy to wear. Besides, they want people to appreciate the music, not just the looks.
 
 

 Holy shit, give yourself a pat on the back. You finished.

Thanks to Mr. Satoh for his super mega inside knowledge and patience.

 

OK. as a reward for reading that insane interview, here is a chart which depicts the visual industry:

click to see full size.

156 comments Tags: ,

156 Comments so far

  1. Tzench March 1st, 2010 3:45 am

    Finished! The chart is unreadable, though.

  2. Marie March 1st, 2010 6:04 am

    I laughed alot!
    Thanks for this interview! It made my day XD

    & VK sucks bb

    marie

  3. [...] stop what you’re doing and read Tokyo Damage Report’s epic piece on the visual kei music scene. The way it’s written makes it hard to quote, but here are some relevant facts. The interview [...]

  4. Adamu March 1st, 2010 7:35 am

    Fucking awesome. I like how the only people who seem happy in this equation are fans, but only because they’re so stupid and gullible they don’t realize they’re being robbed. The bands get to bask in the glory of fame, but that’s when they aren’t pimping themselves out or getting bedbugs from their shitty shared apartments. Oh, I guess the shadow-owner dudes must make out pretty handsomely from this arrangement, but I think we can safely assume they lead tragic Tony Soprano-style lives anyway.

  5. tomd March 1st, 2010 3:30 pm

    How is vk “pretty much over” in Japan? New bands seem to spawn daily, there are shows all the time, some of the more successful ones play in huge venues… I get it’s not as big as it once was, but doesn’t that apply to pretty much every style of music you cover here?

  6. Joseph March 1st, 2010 3:30 pm

    Just simply amazing and utterly depressing.

  7. AnokPanda March 1st, 2010 3:38 pm

    First off, I will post a link to this on the JRockRevolution.com forum, which is some how partly or wholly owned by Yoshiki (I already have an account, I use it to post fan art their). I can’t wait for the responses and for my banishment; I think I’ll try a less monitored section to increase the number of readers.

    I got into Visual Kei, to my great surprise, a couple years ago, after 5 plus years of nothing but Drum and Bass, and an occasional Punk album, I was wanting some non-political rock music, and VK sucked me in. I avoided the hell out of VK at first because I thought they were all 1980′s cock rock devotees. One of my favorite phrases was something like “fucking rock star” or “fuck you rock star” because I lost all interest in any guitar based music and especially the people that make it; but I now honestly really like alot of VK. This article cleared up a lot of things I knew already or suspected was going on, and lots of other stuff that was nothing less than shocking (hehe that’s funny because they’re shock rockers). I despise the business part of music, but it looks like there isn’t much more to this genre than business. Despite the overwhelming negatives, I’ll still consider myself a fan, a more informed fan and hopefully, some how, a more responsible consumer of it as a result; because I feel pretty guilty for supporting such a parasitic and depressing industry. I use to think the indie bands were free from this bullshit, but I guess not; I figured no money = no plantation overseer. I should know better than to be an accomplice to it.

    The only aspect you didn’t cover was the male fans, but judging from live show footage, I thought that there might not be a strong male following in Japan; while there differently is internationally.

    Readers of this page should read an interview with a VK band, they are the worst brain rotting coma inducing pieces of garbage ever, to remain a fan I can no longer read them. For the PS Company’s last big anniversary, all their big bands had video messages on the site, and it seemed that a lot of them made a deliberate effort to show that they were reading from scripts, all the while looking completely unamused and pretty irritated; it seemed to me like a peek at some inter-org tension.

    I’ve been waiting for this post, you first mentioned doing it when you moved the sight.

  8. Alex March 1st, 2010 4:38 pm

    awesome interview. The band-management stuff in here reminded me a lot of the description of Death Row in “Have Gun, Will Travel” by (I think?) Ronin Ro. Terrible book (don’t read it) that I think was pieced together from various magazine articles that the guy had written, but behind-the-scenes music industry stuff like this always interests me.

  9. admin March 1st, 2010 6:20 pm

    @tzench: you have to click on the chart to see it full-size
    @marie: thanks! what does “bb” mean? Is it supposed to be a raspberry noise?
    @Adamu: thanks for the link home boy! That’s what I am talking about.
    @tomd: Well, it’s a classic dillema, isn’t it? Old people say everything is ‘over’, but young people don’t have the experience to compare back then with now, because they weren’t around. One thing I can say for sure though: you know how washed-up WESTERN hair-metal bands like winger or loverboy or megadeth come to japan to try to get “big in japan” after they failed in america? That street is now two-way.
    @joseph: that is exactly what we were going for.
    @alex: yeah – is that the Ronin Ro book where he talks about seeing 2live crew in japan and being bummed about it? That book was way way way too much about the author, and who the fuck cares? It should have been about the music. But good call dropping the Suge bomb this early in the game.
    @anokpanda: Thanks for linking to vk forums! I want to bum out as many vk fans as possible but don’t know where they hang out online. Any hints – from anyone – would be greatly appreciated.

  10. mayo March 1st, 2010 7:04 pm

    O.o SUPAAMEGA EPIC! Thank you for this!

  11. tom m March 1st, 2010 11:26 pm

    mega thanks for this amazing interview!!
    i thought this was extremely interesting. i am a westerner, and i had written an article for myself on old visual bands and labels (primarily extasy and free will) a few weeks ago, and it’s interesting to read this now. i love a lot of the old bands, and this was cool insight, and it sort of fits in with stuff i had written. i do see some inconsistencies in “satoh-san”‘s comments though. visual i think can really be dated back to the late 70′s when people who worked in a glam clothing shop started a band called “visual scandal” in ’79. other early bands like murbas used the word “visual” in their slogans like “visual violence” when yoshiki and toshi (X vocalist) were still in school before they had started X, or recorded any demos. note the similarities in the slogans of these bands to the ones X used in the 80′s and early 90′s like “Sexy Scandal” “love violence” “psychedelic violence”

    i’ve also never really heard of “visual kei” being referred to as a genre except by ignorant westerners, and especially never by any japanese person, nor have i ever seen this written in any record shops, but i’m not from japan so i don’t know. as far as i know kei can mean “group or lineage” and wouldnt it be sort of bad grammar to say “what genre will i find the X japan CDs?” “oh youll find them in the “visual group” genre”. in fact i’ve never heard anyone refer to visual as a genre (again except for ignorant western fankids) since the bands on free will and especially Extasy are about as diverse as they come. some of the bands are metal, some are punk, some are goth, some are crap proto-nu-metal sounding bands.. i mean youthquake…come on, this band SUCKS. what i’m saying it a band like Kamaitachi, and a band like Ex-ans or gilles de rais are obviously completely different genre’s, but both fall under the visual aesthetic.

    also, whats up with 1993! in my article i mainly covered bands i like, 99% of which are pre-1993 (with the exception of anarchist records bands, since kenzi started that label then), or the albums released after 1993 sound completely different than on their first albums most notably bands like bands like billy and the sluts, genkaku allergy or decameron. i find it interesting “mr-satoh” says visual exploded from 1993-1999 with the exception of anarchist records who never made any money haha! i sat down and compiled lists of every release i own, or know exists on extasy and free will. up until like 2000. it seems like in 1993 the labels started signing completely different bands, or all the bands i thought had a good or acceptable sound had broken up. X changed their name to X japan in ’93, it just seems like some massive conspiracy! was there some sort of huge yakuza infiltration, maybe this is when yoshiki finally and completely sold the last tiny bit of his soul?! haha. it just seems a bit too odd that drastic change would happen in less than a year.

  12. Al March 2nd, 2010 12:03 am

    Thanks for this. I saw Dir En Grey at Budokan a couple months back, and this article now makes everything that happened that evening and in the following days make perfect sense.

    I uploaded some videos from the show to youtube.com and the record company had them removed a few days later. Fans were pissed that my comments weren’t all positive. Both items (the youtube removal and the rabid, mindless fans) are things I haven’t experienced with other “normal” bands.

    http://traveljapanblog.com/wordpress/tag/dir-en-grey/

  13. Yasuka March 2nd, 2010 12:07 am

    @tomd: Because at least old VK bands made REAL music. VK bands of today create pretentious washed-out pop-crap that no one listens to any more except Western fans and older ladies who couldn’t get past the fact that the scene they engaged in when they were 15 is long over.

  14. karla March 2nd, 2010 3:46 am

    Tom m>
    No Visual kei is refered to as a genre in Japan. There are ‘visual’ sections of some record stores, and is it Shoxx that refers to it’s self as a ‘visual kei and rock’ magazine? It may not be well known now as a genre, but the people in the scene or old enough to remember the 90s will know what it is.

  15. Annie March 2nd, 2010 5:09 am

    An interesting yet slightly outdated & unfortunately simplified view of the situation with minor mistakes here and there (though I understand it’s nearly impossible to discuss everything related). For the record, I’m a long-time VK fan myself and I do like some of the bands today, too. Anyone who doesn’t know or understand this stuff has either not been in the scene for too long or is a simple fangirl (or boy). Even if it’s a suspicious situation, to say the least, I understand why nobody really wants to rock the boat.

    @tom m Are you trying to say Yoshiki actually had a soul at some point? :D

    @Yasuka Isn’t it a bit harsh to say the scene is long over? It has changed a lot and is nowadays probably more popular in the West than Japan, sure, but the times are hard for the music business in general and as far as I know VK bands are doing relatively well considering the situation.

  16. admin March 2nd, 2010 6:45 am

    @annie: “Anyone who doesn’t know or understand this stuff has either not been in the scene for too long or is a simple fangirl (or boy).”

    What else can visual fans be besides simple fangirls? Start their own bands? no. Be on an equal level with bands? no. Get the deep political messages of the music? no.

    ” Even if it’s a suspicious situation, to say the least, I understand why nobody really wants to rock the boat.”
    Please explain more? You mean they don’t want to rock the boat for reasons discussed in the interview, or some other reasons?

    @al: your experience sounds typical. Sorry about that. It’s interesting that – despite the very different cultures, and different ways of rocking – vk managed to translate the “deranged fan who is the ONLY ONE IN THE WORLD who really GETS THE BAND” experience from japanese to english with 100% fluency.

  17. Dave March 2nd, 2010 9:21 am

    Love this stuff man.
    Always knew Japanese music industry was very controlling.

    Now all we need now is a expose on Johnny’s Entertainment Boys if anybody has the balls.

  18. tomd March 2nd, 2010 9:29 am

    lol@Yasuka: “Because at least old punk bands made REAL music. Punk bands of today create pretentious washed-out pop-crap that no one listens to any more except Western fans and older ladies who couldn’t get past the fact that the scene they engaged in when they were 15 is long over.”

    Fixed that for you. Generic trolling is generic.

    @admin
    re: washed up hair metal bands
    Point taken, but I think even Dir en grey still has more draw in Japan than in the west; I mean, I don’t think they could do “fan club members only” or “male fans only” shows outside Japan. I think this still applies to all established vk bands. The fact that some no-name bands have managed to draw huge crowds in the west is more due to scarcity of supply than genuine interest in that specific band, or so my theory goes.

    Also, fuck you for putting Megadeth in the same category as Winger :p At least they still have a career…

  19. NoisyPanther March 2nd, 2010 9:45 am

    This explains so many things, like why, when I download a Japanese band’s discography, especially Malice Mizer and Miyavi come to mind, why there’s sooo many goddamn singles. I mean, Malice Mizer had, like, 2 albums and 15 singles for crying out loud! But now I get it.

    I was also pretty suspicious of the band’s “images” and it comes as no real surprise to me that it’s all a marketing schtick.

    And I facedesked after reading yours and Satoh-san’s description of the fangirls. They’re like our fangirls, only way worse.

  20. Annie March 2nd, 2010 10:53 am

    @admin “What else can visual fans be besides simple fangirls? Start their own bands? no. Be on an equal level with bands? no. Get the deep political messages of the music? no.”

    Fans have started bands – not all current band members are high school drop-outs that had no other possibility. Even girls have the same possibility these days, albeit I’m sure it’s much tougher for them.
    Equal level is impossible, as that counters the whole idea of being a fan, but fans can be smart and enjoy the music as it is knowing full well what goes on behind the scenes, without being completely rabid. You know, like normal people that appreciate certain types of music. It is possible, believe it or not. You can say “but the music VK bands play is shit”, but that doesn’t make it so for all people, that’s why it’s called a matter of taste.
    Also, another thing that has lately become possible is to become a part of the machinery, to work in the business (and I do not mean becoming a groupie ;) ). Of course that borderlines on selling your soul, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

    “Please explain more? You mean they don’t want to rock the boat for reasons discussed in the interview, or some other reasons?”
    Both. It’s a hard system to break since it works very well, in it’s own twisted way. And as you well know, in Japan, if there’s a traditional way of doing it and a good way of doing it, the traditional one wins by default. This is the traditional way. There are good people in there trying to do good things & working hard. Rocking the boat would be difficult and generally very bad for them.

    @tomd Actually, that was the situation 3 or 4 years ago, there’s really no scarcity of supply anymore. Today only the big-name bands can draw huge crowds. With the no-name bands there may be more fans than in Japan, but still not enough to make a successful concert, not to mention a successful tour in the West. “Fan club members only” & such events aren’t possible due to not enough fans but also the fact that it’s not something the crowds in the West are used to.

  21. tomd March 2nd, 2010 11:25 am

    @Annie Yeah that’s pretty much the point I was trying to make. I only hope the western promoters realize this too before the cannibalize the market completely.

  22. gamk March 2nd, 2010 11:29 am

    It’s quite an intriguing thought that maybe these same sort of shenanigans are happening in japanese ballet and opera too!

  23. Relatively Mature Adult Fan March 2nd, 2010 11:33 am

    I’m completely baffled at the anti-fangirl sentiment. Although I’ve only ever been involved in the Western fandom, of course there’s a handful of delusional fangirls, they are a small minority. I can’t imagine that Japanese fans are all that different — that the bulk of them were/are delusional crazies.

    Regarding the rest of the article, some of it I knew, some of it is believable, but a lot of it just sounds like outlandish exaggeration, especially since I either know for a fact or am almost certain that a couple tidbits are wrong (for example, a couple members of ex-visual bands from the beginning of the boom that wore visual because it was cool at the time, before they had any sort of record contract).

    I call butthurt or bullshit on a lot of this.

    I am disappoint in your shitty cooler-than-thou-art attitude, TDR.

  24. tenko March 2nd, 2010 11:35 am

    whoa, nice read, plenty better than the vk genre essays not to mention the everlasting dull convos is or aint vk dead. plus finally something informative… bunch of thanks for this one!
    how come you met this guy and convinced him to give you an interview? cheers to you, and good luck for him, hope he wouldnt get some angry mob on his back :)

  25. [...] So what you are left with is aggressively-marketed pop that no one asked for, that may not even be all that good, but is devoured by throngs of obsessive fans nonetheless. It’s insane and well worth the read. Check Tokyo Damage Report’s interview here. [...]

  26. iori March 2nd, 2010 5:18 pm

    Too bad you didn’t ask about hide’s death.

  27. DaRC March 2nd, 2010 5:27 pm

    Beautiful work… Your lecture sounds like something out of my live reports, albeit a little toned down:p

    The interview was fucking amazing and I will be blogging some choice quotes and linking back here and posting this far and wide… We need to rip holes in the Hyena(what i call VK Fangirls ~ ala The GazettE’s ‘HYENA’)dream bubbles.

    I love alot of the VK bands, I enjoy the image but I am from the school of mosh and metal and I love the music more than anything else… Hyenas and their kyawaaaiii whining piss me the fuck off!

    great job
    amazing
    stellar
    FUCKING AAA

  28. ~shinsou March 2nd, 2010 7:14 pm

    This is some crazy stuff, it explains a lot.

  29. François March 2nd, 2010 8:11 pm

    Visual Kei musician “special message” video = LOL

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyk7GZSDaE0

    This pretty much encompasses all what’s described above about their intellectual level.

  30. Frank March 2nd, 2010 9:16 pm

    I’m just commenting to say that visual kei is the worst thing ever.

  31. j March 2nd, 2010 11:23 pm

    ^^^ I fucking love those comment videos the bands release a dozen of before every single and kinda wish this interview had mentioned them even though it’s stupidly small-scale relative to things that were discussed. I really love them. Obviously scripted and at least in Alice Nine’s case, no fewer than two members will be visibly baked out of their gourds. I will never tire of band comments.

    A rumor I’ve heard, probably bullshit but worth putting out there: if a comment video is indoors and members are wearing sunglasses, but not ALL the members (they’re supposed to all match or some shit), they’re hungover or stoned.

    Awesome interview, a lot of it wasn’t surprising but still a goddamn entertaining read. Never did understand the appeal of paid-meet-and-greets.

  32. freaky March 3rd, 2010 1:40 am

    @francois:
    haha, awesome video. the guy is either drugged or just fucking around in the studio after pure boredom, and getting away with it.

    see how he’s skinny. Too bad the interview didn’t mention the “diet” syndrome of these record companies. they put all musicians, especiall front men on a strict diet of pills …

  33. admin March 3rd, 2010 2:53 am

    @everyone who liked it: all thanks should go to “mr. Satoh,” because he had the knowledge and took the time.
    @everyone who didn’t like it: if you think THIS is bad, wait till you see what Satoh says in part two of the interview.
    @mature girl fan: props for being the first person to ever “call butthurt” on this website.
    @everyone who is debating which vk bands are “real” and which are “fake” – please take this discussion to some other forum, or get outside and play frisbee. Honestly it’s bad enough watching punks and rappers have this kind of time-wasting debate. I would have thought that the one good thing about listening to bubblegum pop is that people DIDN’T HAVE TO have that debate, but you guys proved me wrong. Doh.
    @annie: sorry, didn’t read your comment. Was out playing frisbee.
    @iori: the Hide suicide? Lucky you – Pretty much all of Part 5 will deal with that.

  34. Annie March 3rd, 2010 4:59 am

    @tomd Some of us do, some of us don’t, some couldn’t care less.

    @admin Hope you had fun!

  35. Bradfs March 3rd, 2010 7:02 am

    Just saying that that was a pretty awesome post. Thanks TDR! Fascinating and depressing at the same time. Capitalism lol.

  36. cory March 3rd, 2010 7:43 am

    thank you for posting the interview, it was interesting
    what can i say? tough world this Japanese entertainment industry
    i’ve been looking through the comments above and you mentioned other parts of this interview
    is this part1?
    how many parts does this interview have?
    also i have a question about this:
    “TDR: Speaking of major labels . . .Wasn’t there a case where a – a certain musician left his Visual band and became a famous pop star, whose songs sold millions of records? And the musicians in his old band had written some of the songs which turned out to be these hits? And when the musicians complained about not getting paid for these very lucrative songs, they wound up missing or damaged in some way?

    SATOH-SAN: I have no idea what you are talking about. (draws finger across throat) Next!”

    can you tell us who is the artist you were referring to?

  37. Becki March 3rd, 2010 9:12 am

    “What else can visual fans be besides simple fangirls? Start their own bands? no. Be on an equal level with bands? no. Get the deep political messages of the music? no.”

    There’s a lot I can say about that incredibly offensive comment, but for now let’s just say that the fact that there are -male- fans alone makes your argument invalid. That, and you really shouldn’t make sweeping derogatory generalizations about a group of people. There are intelligent, sane visual fans out there you know.

    Also, about your comments about parts 2 and 5 of the interview, is there really more? It almost sounded like you were being sarcastic (sometimes it’s hard to tell, especially over the internet).

  38. Lydia March 3rd, 2010 9:20 am

    I hope you’re not teasing about the more parts thing cause this was an awesome read.

  39. Mash_poet March 3rd, 2010 11:19 am

    This is a real eye-opener, but it really explains a lot. It’s chilling how well-orchestrated the labels are at manipulating both bands and fans alike. Especially with the mafia-mentality labels have. I wonder how many people have been “offed” by these labels.
    I was really hoping that the “secrets” of the industry were just regular rock-star debauchery meant to ruin fangirl dreams, like snorting coke of strippers’ asses.

    I saw a comment about someone wishing that Johnny’s was exposed. The Guardian actually wrote an article last year on the Japanese pop industry and focused on Johnny’s Entertainment. I’m not sure how much of the surface is scratched in it, but it shows the twisted underbelly.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/feb/11/turning-japanese-music-moguls

  40. admin March 3rd, 2010 5:05 pm

    @mash_poet: I THINK there was an expose on Johnny’s written in the book 平成日本タブー2006年 . I lent that book to my friend but I’ll try to translate it into English when I get it back.
    @Becki: Sorry about my offensive comment. If you re-read the comments, you can see it was a commentor called Annie who was busting on fangirls: “Only simple fanboys/fangirls don’t know that the industry is corrupt”.And my offensive comment was my way of saying “In a scene where fans can’t be pals with bands or make their own bands which play on the same bill as the big bands (i.e. the punk and metal scenes) , how the hell do you tell real fans apart from simple fanboys/fangirls?” You are also cordially invited to answer. I don’t mean to say that being a fangirl is always a bad thing – i meant to say that MAKING DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN FANS like “some fans are cooler than others” – strikes me as kind of weird.

  41. Relatively Mature Adult Fangirl March 3rd, 2010 8:23 pm

    My accusation of asspain is neither here nor there. Although your attitude makes me wonder what VK fangirls did to you to earn so much contempt, my less-than-mature accusation was aimed more towards Mr. Satoh.

    You didn’t address any of my criticism — that although I was already aware of some this, that some of it is totally feasible, but that a lot of it sounds like exaggerations or outright fabrication, especially stuff like Gackt an ex-visual kei person became a FAMOUS POP STAR and some of his lucrative songs were written by ex-bandmates.

    Gackt may be a terribly uninspired lyricist and a drama queen but Mana, and to a lesser degree Közi (the more eclectic and creative of Malice Mizer’s composers) have a pretty distinctive sound and none of his hits fit the bill except for his debut single, and I sincerely doubt he had enough clout at the time to threaten any other people in the biz. There are a couple other possible songs that I might believe were written by Mana and Közi but they’re unremarkable and not popular — one has only been performed live once and didn’t appear on the DVD and one has never been performed at all.

    Another example is the mention of L’Arc~en~Ciel. They dressed silly before they were even signed onto an “indies” label (I totally find it believable that Danger Crue is actually part of Sony, at least) and that’s because it was cool at the time. X Japan, Boowy, BUCK-TICK, Bysexual are prime examples of their inspiration. Or is the reason for that because they were already secretly controlled by a Sony a record label who was dictating every part of their lives and deciding which live houses they would play at? It just seems far-fetched compared to “indies band trying to become famous.”

    Although being forbidden to discuss personal details or even have a girlfriend for many years matches up with L’Arc, as the vocalist’s date of birth, blood type, etc. are still listed as ??? even though everyone knows the answers by now.

    If this were about Johnny’s and Johnny’s fans, I would find all of this a lot more believable, especially given the accusations that no one in visual kei/J Rock writes or wrote their own music (which is occasionally contradicted).

  42. Humberto Saabedra March 3rd, 2010 8:46 pm

    Awesome post, man. This is the kind of stuff I kind of knew but the interview really laid it bare. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like VK very much.

  43. A March 3rd, 2010 10:47 pm

    Here I was thinking you were off your game, when all this time you were sitting on this radness. TDR, you continue to inspire.

  44. Cam March 3rd, 2010 11:20 pm

    Well done! Fascinating reading, especially since I’m familiar with L.A.’s workings. It’s interesting to see how things differ, and how VK has so much in common with what was happening out here during the hair band era.

    The music industry is a big con and I’m not sure what the bands go through is worth all the pain and struggle, but there are still moments when I get chills listening to a new band. There has to be something redemptive in this process.

    I do wish there were easier ways for bands to grow their own distribution and production, but the system is so pervasive, from the clubs onward.

  45. anemone March 3rd, 2010 11:47 pm

    Satoh-san just proved what I’ve thought and told people for the past 10 years!

    haha love the interview and the article.. although you have some misspellings but that’s besides the point.

  46. anemone March 4th, 2010 12:19 am

    the only thing I have to correct you on is about the anti-fans.. anti’s have been around FOREVER in every genre.. not just VK… so to say that it’s not heard of is a far stretch.

  47. namman March 4th, 2010 1:21 am

    I always wondered about the single orgies that everyone had. I explained the terms “maxi-single” and “mini-album”, the fancy clothes for really tiny bands, the genericness of many indie guys away in my isolated, uneducated mind with fanciful (and probably very wrong) explanations. It’s profitable (why are there ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’-types of singles?!, why are singles before the album, unlike the West?), it’s shiny, it’s Japan.

    But this interview is very illuminating. I appreciate Mr Satoh’s willingness to speak on this topic in such a way… it’s very interesting, but to me, a blind fangirl, very soul-crushing.

    Everything I thought of VK was that it was a sugar-coated happy band-land, but now this interview is reality telling me that Santa doesn’t exist.

    On Christmas Eve.

    But I suppose it’s just the way things are. The system is established, it works, and the fanbase will always exist to be exploited. But I will wonder, now that the illusion is gone, Who made this track? To whom is my money going? How much influence did [credited musician] have on this track?
    But I suppose, as was already mentioned, it’s not very different from pre-fabricated pop. I always had a fantasy of rock as being a venue by which musicians could actually express themselves and make good music, but it seems the man behind the curtain is the same as the pop. It feels worse, though, to have the drop-outs be given guitars and lace when they have little other option for life, to see the decay at the lower levels of the system. But it’s no different than anything else. The image is selling well.

    And to wonder, who is actually not in this horrible machine? Is it possible for labels to be made, not necessarily in VK, that do not follow this structure, and for them and their artists to prosper? Or will that, too, be illusory?

    Also, I always questioned how the hell Dada got to doing the art in Kyo’s poem books.
    Now I know. Damn Free-Will employees.

    I eagerly await upcoming interviews, and I apologise for scrawling my mind all up there D:

  48. Becki March 4th, 2010 2:08 am

    @admin- I accept your invitation. =)

    To be honest, I don’t think Annie’s comment was meant to bash fangirls; I think in her case by “simple fangirls” she just meant girls who hadn’t been in the scene very long, or only listened to the music and didn’t look up information on the artists.

    As for the Jrock/Visual Kei fans, there’s a wide variety of types of fans, and it’s not really possible to categorize them in neatly labeled boxes or assume all of them are exactly the same. There’s no specific set of rules that would determine whether or not someone is a “real” fan, and honestly I think that applies to fans in any fan base, not just Jrock/Visual Kei.

    And I think you missed my question from before so I’ll ask it again; are there more parts to this interview, or were you joking when you talked about “part 2″ and “part 5″? Also, if they are happening, when can we expect them?

  49. seth0et0holth from LiveJournal March 4th, 2010 2:14 am

    I was one of the first people to link to your article. I’m admittedly burned out on the VK scene myself to some extent despite being a visual-inspired artist myself, and X Japan is pretty much the only “vk” band I still follow (I prefer metal – GALNERYUS fuckin’ rocks) I was like… “yay, someone else has finally blown the lid off of the bullshit in the scene.”

    Unfortunately, you’ve not blown the lid off bullshit: you’ve just sprayed a ton out and threw out a lid to make it look like you did. Reading your comments today…. I saw that mealymouthed apology you made to my friend…. read your story over again and saw some major inconsistencies that I checked out with a friend….and then saw your comment where you accused someone of involvement in the death of someone he loved with NO evidence by making an oblique reference to your article.

    I’m angry that I ever linked to you now. You and your fucking flowchart are the Glenn Beck of journalism related to Visual Kei, and you’re spreading dangerous lies.

    I’ll be honest with you: if what you said is not bullshit, you might as well be planning to leave Japan right now, because you just ratted out the Yakuza and they don’t take kindly to such things….and I’d respect you if that was indeed the case because you’d be a journalist standing up to organized crime.

    Instead, you’re not going to, because at least two of the men you accused of being Yakuza aren’t. And by calling them Yakuza (including naming Yoshiki, Kamijo, and Kisaki as Yakuza members) and by intimating that Yoshiki had a hand in hide’s death….congratulations, you’ve just passed the fine line between bullshit rumors and outright defamation.

    And that you’d call out someone who actually tried to get around the “system” you mention in the entertainment industry as Yakuza and as one of the worst parts of it? That’s not only laughable but pathetic. Fuck you.

    Next time, do the research and check out the claims of your sources. If you can’t do that kind of work, then you deserve to face the consequences of your stupidity. Which, thankfully, since you didn’t attack or out *real* Yakuza in your chase after conspiratorial shadows, will likely *only* be a defamation lawsuit should anyone so falsely accused actually see what you’ve written about him.

    Needless to say I’ve removed my link to you, and I’ll be crossposting this comment as to why I have. As well as sending links to, among others, my friend who knows Yoshiki and to the Sherow Artist Society. Don’t go deleting it…. if it’s true you have nothing to worry about from any of them. Truth is, after all, an absolute defense to a slander suit. :)

  50. vkeibandman March 4th, 2010 2:36 am

    As a indies vkei bandman in Tokyo I think your article is really offensive, and full of a lot of bullshit.

    Guys, don’t believe it, really. This guy’s full of shit. He took some truth, got someone else full of shit to claim as his source, and together they made a lot of exaggerations and call it the truth.

    Also, saying that people are yakuza is a good way to get hurt and to get a lawsuit.

  51. Annie March 4th, 2010 3:50 am

    @Becki That’s exactly what I meant. Thanks for getting my point.

    @admin To me branding all fans of VK as unaware brainwashed victims of the greedy VK yakuza conspiracy seems equally weird. If you re-read my comments, it should be clear I wasn’t “bashing fangirls”. It’s not a matter of coolness. I’m not saying some fans are better than others, I’m saying some fans have a better view on how the business really works than others. I apologize if I wasn’t making my point clear enough.

  52. Mary March 4th, 2010 7:58 am

    I found your article shocking but absolutely interesting. Is Mr. Satoh saying that someone like Kyo does not write his own lyrics for a band such as Direngrey? That these lyrics are written by ghost writers? I find this very hard to believe since kyo has published poetry books and that he very much takes pride in being completely truthful. Your feedback would be appreciated.

  53. PinkSpider March 4th, 2010 9:01 am

    This article does reflect an accurate picture on the VK scene. Thanks for your effort in putting this article up!

  54. NoisyPanther March 4th, 2010 9:25 am

    I don’t think that TDR or “Satoh” ever meant to say that the label executives were, in fact, yakuza members, but more like the way the VK labels work is similar to the way a yakuza works, only not as violent, I guess. I dunno, we’ll have to wait for his explanation.

    While most of this stuff seems to explain alot of things and some of it makes sense, anyone reading this should take it with a grain of salt.

  55. admin March 4th, 2010 9:29 am

    @all: Jesus, you’re still talking about this?
    @ Mary: I think Satoh is pretty careful throughout the interview to mention that more experienced, bigger bands have more freedom to write their own stuff (whether or not they actually get paid for writing it is another story). And that the ‘rules’ are general rules that don’t apply in every case.
    @Annie: sorry I misunderstood you! Thanks for not flying off the handle. I don’t think all fans are terrible brainwashed people, BTW. I have much respect for the kids that rope-a-dope the girls in the front row, and climb on people’s heads and kick faces to get closer to the stage. !Que viva las Locas!

  56. Mary March 4th, 2010 10:22 am

    Thanks for your reply. I own all the CDs, singles and DVDs ever put out by a certain big Japanese metal band. I looked at each one and I could not find anywhere on any product who actually owned the music or and the lyrics which leads me to believe that the producer or company owns it and not the artists. I find this incredibly sad. Also, I have purchased thousands of dollars worth of merch and belong to this particular band’s fan club. Do you think the artists actually get a cut of this or the producer grabs it all? I buy this stuff to support the artists and not the producer. Do you think they are salaried and this is why such a huge band actually work like dogs and have impossibly long tours?

  57. admin March 4th, 2010 11:19 am

    @beki: OK, there IS no part 2. You got me. The “part 2″ gag was me making fun of MYSELF for posting such an absurdly long post in the first place. (especially in the Twitter days when less content=more posts= more hits). Oops, content!
    @Mary: “I own all the CDs, singles and DVDs ever put out by a certain big Japanese metal band.” I assume you’re talking about ZENI GEVA? If it’s not ZENI GEVA, I have two words of advice for you: “ebay” and “soulseek.” Take the money and start your own band. You seem to be a French woman, so I’ll teach you another band which proves IT IS POSSIBLE to do it yourself: MONARCH – Monarch is all French girls who combine their love of Japanese metal band Corrupted with a love of Hello Kitty.
    @umberto saabedra: Thanks for messing with my site! And for bookmarking the fuck! Please come back for more madness. Also your name is – no joke – completely bad-ass and I wish my own name were half the ass of yours. Jealousy is a mother!

  58. freaky March 4th, 2010 11:50 am

    @Mary
    I think Kyo writes his own lyrics. I read the interview twice.
    I think it’s the indies bands that doesn’t write their lyrics and stuff.
    And I’m sure it’s not a rule for every band, there’s also musicians who are indies and who can write good tunes. Probably a small percentage.

    I remember the band Kagrra. The vocalist, who’s supposed to write his own lyrics, well, there’s no way this kind of guy could write such lyrics, it’s probably stuff taken from traditional/ancient Japan or something. You know what I mean?

  59. Mary March 4th, 2010 12:10 pm

    Lols, it isn’t Zeni who? But my daughter loves Kagrra though and she just started bawling her eyes out. As for me, I am hugely appreciative of Kyo’s vocal abilities, his message and his poetry. I think he is a brilliant performer and artist who posesses an uncanny ability to actually touch deeply a certain segment of his listening audience. I also really enjoy the Dir en Grey sound.I feel cheated not because of the musicians but because the producer takes what I believe belongs to the artists who create. The producers are nothing but parasites (I think). My daughters are musicians but classically trained and I am not endowed that way!

  60. Xule March 4th, 2010 3:41 pm

    Does anyone know where Danger Crue Records stands in all of this? So many bands I like are with them and I’d hate to think they live this way…

  61. iori March 4th, 2010 3:56 pm

    @admin: Dude, which part five??

  62. Relatively Mature Adult Fangirl March 4th, 2010 6:00 pm

    Danger Crue is totally owned by Sony. You don’t need this article to tell you that.

    I’m relieved to finally see a couple people calling bullshit and exaggerations on a lot of the stuff in this, especially given there are contradictions between statements regarding musical composition and lyrics.

    I’m willing to believe there have been and are pre-fabricated visual kei bands but it seems like a giant stretch to say it’s a huge conspiracy and no one writes their own stuff or works side jobs to make ends meet.

  63. AnokPanda March 4th, 2010 7:46 pm

    @Steve: 95% of these commenters, clearly, did not read the entire article; or, are functionally illiterate.

  64. Anon Y. Mouse March 4th, 2010 7:55 pm

    Don’t take anything that seth0et0holth says seriously. She is convinced that they gave a blow job to Pata behind an LJ bar, and think that Yoshiki/hide were a couple. Don’t waste your time.

  65. rk March 5th, 2010 11:05 am

    Speaking of “Twitter Days” are you going to jump on that bandwagon? I’d follow you.

  66. Matiasu March 5th, 2010 12:11 pm

    I’m confused as to why this Satoh-san would bother bringing up all of this to some pointless blogger.
    All in English nonetheless!

  67. Mr. Fister March 5th, 2010 3:23 pm

    @seth0et0holth TDR hasn’t directly accused these guys of being in the “yakuza,” it is fascinating that they are committing crimes in an organized manner though. Hmm… Crime committed in an organized fashion…. Organized crime! What a notion.

  68. rindbrow March 6th, 2010 2:39 am

    Here’s a great article from the 90s by Steve Abini about bands being owned by labels:

    The Problem With Music

    Albini, a musician and producer, has worked with many bands including Zeni Geva and Nirvana.

  69. the soc March 6th, 2010 11:02 am

    ha.  at least in japan indie musicians get a chance to succeed.  the music industry in america is dead because of the things he talks about with T-Pain.

  70. twinklecup slithersby March 6th, 2010 11:08 am

    @Matiasu: Um, do you realize that the dude who writes this blog speaks Japanese and has, iirc, lived in Japan off and on for years? He could easily have translated it for us from Japanese to English. I know, it's crazy, but we now have the technology to convert words from one language to another. The future is here.
    As for this interview, it's awesome. Highly entertaining. As someone who's talked to a number of people who work/worked with VK bands or were familiar with the Japanese music industry, I am not OVERLY surprised by any of this, but it's still interesting (in a trainwrecky kind of way) to read about. All the defensive reactions in the comments are hilarious, btw. Be angry at the rich for exploiting the poor, don't piss and moan at TDR for talking about it and shattering your fantasy.

  71. Don't want to get kneecapped March 6th, 2010 4:59 pm

    Looking forward to the rest of this…
     
    I'm a journalist who's covered several VK bands (hey, I get paid for, and it is an interesting phenomenon to watch the scene replicate itself almost exactly in another country, complete with the exact same wierd fan dynamics), and this all sounds spot on to me. Seriously, at no other point in my career have I EVER encountered any part of the music industry as rigidly controlled as VK. American boy bands and teeny-pop singers like Britney have more freedom and control over their careers. It's fucking ridiculous, and a huge pain in the ass to deal with.
     
    I interviewed a person who shall remain anonymous from a very big VK band who shall also remain anonymous, mainly because I don't want the poor guy to get kneecapped either, and they actually had a minder watch him the whole interview and monitor everything he said. I'm not kidding – Mr Creepy Yakuza-looking guy actually interrupted Mr Rock Star to instruct him in Japanese not to say certain things (which wouldn't even be considered particularly controversial in any part of the music industry less batshit insane). Mr Creepy Minder also looked shocked – shocked, I tell you! – when he tried telling me what to do too and it didn't work. I think they're so used to the sytem being a closed loop that it's unfathomable to them that not everyone will go along with their attemps to control everything.
     
    If any VK fans are wondering why their bands get so little coverage and can't seem to make any impact overseas outside of their fan ghetto – this is why. They're a huge pain in the ass to deal with, and the system is so rigid that it only works when it's a closed loop.
     
    Well, also most of the bands suck. That doesn't help either.

  72. Don't want to get kneecapped March 6th, 2010 5:11 pm

     
    Oh, there is no more. Shame – like someone said above, the whole thing has a sort of rubbernecking appeal, until you remember that the Yakuza sometimes kill people.

  73. [...] You can read the lengthy interview over at Tokyo Damage Report. [...]

  74. randomperson March 6th, 2010 7:18 pm

    I always said VK was like the wrestling of music. As with wrestling, there are people who think it’s real. But there are also people who know it’s fake, and just enjoy the show.

    There hasn’t been a good sounding VK band in a long while now though. It all sounds so samey and bland. And that goes for the image as well. Perhaps as this business structure solidified, whatever spark may have been there at the start has been killed (producers burnt out? forcing more popular images without experimenting? Trying to make too many bands?).
    I liked stuff like early Kagerou and BLAM HONEY, weird music like that. However that was created, at least it was creative and awesome.
    These days, Dir en Grey seems to be the only VK act putting out anything good.
    I guess I should point out that I’m one of these male foreign fans.

    Reading this right after reading about game companies Japan, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the country and working there.

    A question… What about the band ANTI-FEMINISM? I’m not a fan, but if I remember correctly they have constantly switched members for a long time.

  75. d.note March 7th, 2010 5:12 am

    dude this article was fucking amazing
     
    the bit about the "certain musician left his Visual band and became a  famous pop star, whose songs sold millions of records"
    got me pretty well! if its who i'm guessing XD but it musn't be pretty hard to get that right
     
    also, when are you uploading the next parts? can't wait to read about stuff related to hide's death

  76. Luna March 7th, 2010 5:18 am

    Why did you post this now, when the interview was given in 2008?

    And how were you able to get to know "Satoh-san" and interview him?

    And how was Miyavi being able to survive, if he even is married???

  77. AeY_OmU March 7th, 2010 11:51 am

    Thanks for your interview.
    It's very usefull for me and.. yes for everyone who loves visual-kei.
    I sincerely and really want to share this interview with my friends, but English is not our native language. It'd be better to read this in our  mother language.
    Could you please allow me to translate this to Thai language?
     
    Please reply me.

  78. Doriinatrix March 7th, 2010 5:02 pm

    Holyyy shit.  The entertainment industry is a scary, scary thing.

  79. admin March 8th, 2010 1:03 am

    @all: NEW RULE: From now on -I’m only going to approve comments about music (VK or any other style) if the commentor knows a) the name of the governor (or official person) in charge of their city/state/prefecture/province, and b) knows one policy of that governor. Why? I just want to make sure people are at least a bit grounded in reality.

    I’ll go first: my governor (tokyo) is Ishihara Shintaro, and I don’t like his ass because he cracks down on street musicians and honest Africans who just really want to introduce you to some nice girls at this cool bar that is so cheap!!!

    @ AnokPanda: “Also, the interview blew the “Angry Buddhist vs.everyone” forum battle away in its level of attention and contorversy.” Huh? Sounds fascinating – can you explain?
    @ Don’t Want To: That’s an amazing story. If you’re for real. They didn’t even try to pretend the minder was “just and interpreter”? It was that blatant? If you want to learn more about why Japanese people think it’S OK to treat reporters like that, just google “kissha kurabu” (press club).
    @ Luna: good questions! I did not publish this interview until now because, Mr. Satoh was nervous. As soon as he gave me permission, I put it up.

  80. NOA March 8th, 2010 4:05 am

    Wauw.. I am quite shocked.. It's quite insane that it goes like this though..
    Thanks for the interview.~!

  81. Don't want to get kneecapped March 8th, 2010 4:22 am

    @ admin – Email me if you like and I'll tell you the rest of the story, I probably shouldn't post more here in case it outs me. Like I said, some of these people are honestly a little scary. I'm glad to see someone else talking about it.
     
    And yeah, the kissha kuraba system isn't quite replicating itself here, but they sure are trying to apply similar principles. It honestly is a problem for the bands. Their management's refusal to adapt to outside systems is making Western press not want to deal with them, because they just don't seem to be able to grasp the fact that things work differently overseas. There's already one band who I will never cover again because of it – it's just too inconvenient to be worth bothering.

  82. Don't want to get kneecapped March 8th, 2010 2:08 pm

    Also just as a general thing…most VK bands, unless they're being overseen by American management, pretty much just do things their normal (wierd) way without bothering to explain what they're doing or why. I don't think it would even occur to them to try to explain away the presence of a minder. They seem to just expect American, European, etc. media people to accept their, um, unique business model and press relations style without question. I'm not sure that they're even aware of how incredibly wierd and ass-backwards their way of doing things looks to outsiders.
     
    Some of the bands seem to be aware of how wierd it all looks, though, and a little embarrassed by it.

  83. szaszha March 10th, 2010 12:18 am

    this was wicked rad. i still cant believe that out of all the crazy shit you've translated or reported on, this one got the most attention. well, i guess i can believe it. the angry vk fanperson commenters were crazy funny. i wish we could see the comments that didnt get approved.

  84. kharizm March 10th, 2010 6:26 am

    damn. i'm shocked.. It's fucking insane…

  85. XD March 10th, 2010 5:56 pm

    This is the best interview I have EVER read!
    This describes everything I have thought of music indrusty of any country, it's good to know I'm not making assumptions in my head like crazy :P

  86. Kakanian March 13th, 2010 4:02 am

    I must admit that I'v not been shocked at all but very entertained by this interview. A bit less than by your Hello Ura Worker Interviews though. I do not care about details …like who's been in which band at which point too much and found the general picture that mr. Satoh drew of the industry very believable. It fits with other rackets like the subcontractor-schemes, the vote-buying schemes, the way the Noise-music scene operates and the way you described these small-time Cuetsey Girl singers behaviour.

  87. Lydia March 13th, 2010 8:04 pm

    @Kakanian: He didn't conduct those interviews, though! Check one again; they're from a book he translated.

  88. kawaii_candie March 14th, 2010 1:25 am

    Holy fuck! my friend gave me the link to this cuz he knows i like visual kei… i've never been on this site before. i actually live in japan and discovered vk here. i go to about one or two vk lives per month, so i guess my experience is different than european or american fans… (and yes, there are pretty much only girls at lives ever, and if you haven't heard a japanese person talk about visual kei as a genre, it's because they don't know what it is. it's not mainstream AT all. even the big acts of the moment, "normal" people have pretty much never heard of them) but i disgress.
    anyways, my jaw just kept dropping as i was reading this… at first i kept thinking "oh, but this guy's talking about the 90's, it's different now" and "it must be just the bigger bands, and not the indie ones i like"… but no. and then that big chart at the end with all the labels of all the bands i like on there. wtf!!!  i guess i shouldn't be this surprised, honestly, but it makes me sad that the members of these bands get screwed over so much, even when they do get big. i've got this one band that i like and follow around a bit, and yes they know my name and shit and i just really don't wanna think of any of that stuff happening to them… :(   meh. i guess this is japan we're talking  about, with all its silly rules and strictness and refusal to change the way things have been done forever… but i do hope it can change a bit for the sake of these guys.

  89. admin March 14th, 2010 4:15 am

    @all: if you are wondering why your comment never appeared here, did you remember to include your local political leader’s name and an opinion about one of his/her policies?

    @kawaii: thanks for reading it! Also, I’m waiving the “name of politician” rule in your case, because I like your whimsical attitude towards capitalizing things. Did you know Germans capitalize ALL nouns? Caps are a nazi plot, I tell you.

  90. Steve March 14th, 2010 9:03 am

    Hey, I want to say things now! Oh right, but first elected officials: I voted for Eric Massa, because he was on the Democratic ticket and neither his campaign (nor the smear campaign run against him!) said anything about how he would wuss out on important votes. Even with the most impressive (dis)information network of all time, voters still can't get all the facts. For anyone that has crap against me for voting along party lines, his opponent in the election was a Republican who voted against abortion rights. Even though Massa technically isn't an official anymore, I still think 'gropey-McWuss-out' would have been better than 'Mr. Control-women's bodies but don't control guns, because we all know which one is more dangerous, btw trickle-down for life'.

    Right, so back to that article/interview. I'm a huge fan of 'selling fantasy to get people's money' theories, so this thing was right up my alley. I'm less interested in the "oh my god, visual-kei is a plot to make girls obsessed with trivial things, which will make them less productive, and then the patriarchy can thrive forever!!" part of it, than the, "dirty salaryman confronts young male teen in a dark alley 'hey buddy, you wanna be a star? Put on this makeup and wig and see where it takes you.' " aspect.

    From what I was reading, it sounded like the girl fans started with the control. They wanted something, and the industry had to conform to their wants. Of course, once they gave the girls what they want, they pulled the ol' switcheroo with all that, "ha! now that they're in our trap, lets squeeze them for all they're worth!". So my question is, if they completely scrapped visual kei today, would girls still have a want for a bunch of femmy guys in goofy costumes? Would there be some way to give girls the fantasy and not have it be run by exploitative businessmen? Are there any femmy visual fantasy guys in real life who these girls should be listening to if they don't want to support a corrupt industry? I'm just sort of wondering why nobody has brought up the old, "hey, maybe I like being deceived and indulging in a little fantasy" argument that Pro Wrestling fans use.

  91. Ricardo Van Morton is not my name March 14th, 2010 6:30 pm

    Illinois, Pat Quinn; Genuinely, but gingerly attempting to fix our disturbingly huge 13 billion dollar deficit but the fuck is making huge budget cuts in Illinois education (1.3 billion to be exact)…I'm going to end this here before I get into a whole thing.
     
    I actually haven't been to T.D.R. in a year or so (not for any particular reason), glad to see you're still up and running. Anyway, that was a solid interview. I had read in Speed Tribes by (Karl Taro?)-which you should read if you haven't- a couple years back about how fucked the entertainment industry was in Japan but Satoh revealed so much in such a specific genre, in such a concise way; gotta hand it to him. I wonder how it is for smaller foreign bands (in other words, unsigned or self-signed bands who make it big enough to afford something like that) trying to play out in Japan. Do you think they have to deal with the same bullshit when they go out there? 

  92. Alda March 14th, 2010 7:25 pm

    Sorry, I did not see the "new rule" for the comments. 
    Paterson: He's currently facing an alleged sex scandal (wow, surprising much? oh gosh, now politicians ARE HUMAN.) He proposed a budget plan — a two year $5.2 billion deficit reduction plan to counteract the state's financial turmoil. He reduced funding towards healthcare, education, and other aspects of state spending, in hopes of producing a 2 billion in savings 2008-09 and 3.2 billion in 2009-10. 

  93. Argeetacos March 17th, 2010 11:30 am

    As required: My Senator is this guy called Obama.  No wait, I'm represented by someone who our governor, Blagojevich allegedly sold the seat to.  No wait, some committee appointed some guy named Kwame Raoul.   Stupidly enough, he seems to be doing a better job then representatives people elect, doing things to help education and supporting programs that help reform ex-convicts.
    You can finish your chart by referencing one of the early Cure Magazines.  Mine are off in storage (I should sell them) or I'd tell you which one.  I wouldn't consider something that had been published openly to be shocking.  Then again, I find even major English-speaking news outlets often report on Japanese culture and events without having anyone who speaks Japanese figure out what is really going on before they report it.  Maybe it IS shocking to the English speaking fandom.   At least the Tommy Dynamite scandal finally makes sense, none of the badly written English write ups were accurate and the Japanese was beyond my ability to understand.  So thank you for that.

  94. JRM March 18th, 2010 3:57 am

    All I really gotta say is that none of this was really a surprise to me, but it's nice to have it laid out so nicely so I can show other people (like companies who are interesting in doing music business with Japan and just don't get it no matter how many times I explain it to them!) I myself have worked around or directly with some groups on both sides (Japan and US) and have a handful of experience with both Japan's Visual kei scene and US music industries in general. (I've had to explain a lot of things to the US side so they understand why the promoter/purchaser in Japan needs all of these photos and video clips, lol.) And for me, this is actually what I've grown to know as "the way music business goes". By now, though I've learned that this is just in Japan, and more specifically with pop and visual kei. Like in the US there are talent agencies and management groups and artist rights associations and all that. *shakes head* not in this country!
    A lot of the stuff that I haven't been able to see for myself, I've guessed this much as well. So it's nice to have this as clarification as well.
    However, the tone of the text makes it sound really horrible, though it doesn't sound like the guy himself sees it that way. Because you know, while it is true what he said, it's not horrible. It's just the way things are run because well…. Yoshiki of all people, is running the show. A lot of things start up out of nowhere and are based on connections (this is the case anyway actually) and the workers are not usually skilled or contracted, everything has to be built up somehow, so this is how it goes – it is all kinda sketchy and underground. It's hand-made music production.
    There are of course some really bad situations with certain bands and certain labels, but this is just the way things are done. The musicians come in with nothing at all and have little expectation and this is just the give and take that they have to go through. I doubt these people are looking to become rich, they just wanna rock and avoid being nobodies with no high school diploma, or avoid joining the yakuza and getting killed. And there are cases where crap happens in the US as well, with poor or inexperienced managers who put their own personal gains before the well-being and success of the artist (like one of my own family members, is one of these kinds of artist managers, but no one knows this from the outside).
    Like it sounds really sketchy but if you're here and used to this, it's just the way things are done! Bands don't get blacklisted all the time because why make a fuss if they have everything they need? It's like a perfect dictatorship, if your people are happy or at least too busy to think about their level of freedom that they're sacrificing for their happiness, then the dictator can do whatever he/she pleases. And who can say that is bad if everyone is happy? If the artist is really being seriously abused, then he will weigh the risks and some kind of sacrifice will be made. Chances are, the artist is happy and can tolerate whatever it is. Once in a while, life really sucks for some particular guy or group. That happens anywhere.
    And totally random – I gotta say though, having offices in rented apartments isn't unusual AT ALL in Japan, it's not unique to music business or visual kei business. As silly as it sounds, one of the apartment rental agencies I've used in my time spent living in Japan, had their offices all on one floor of some high rise apartment building! It was so Le-Sketch, but it worked well for them. There are even some Cafe's that are run in apartment buildings. Kinda strange coming from an American point of view, but that's just it. It's Japan. There isn't a lot of space here, people make do with that fact.
     
    Thanks A LOT and I'm totally going to use this link as a reference in the future, many many times for sure.

    (PS – "TDR" made me laugh – Here we're talking about V-kei conglomerates, and TDR=Theodore Delano Roosevelt, credited as the original "Trust Buster" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidency_of_Theodore_Roosevelt#Trust_busting)

  95. JRM March 18th, 2010 4:22 am

    Sorry didn't see the new rule…..
     
    Ishihara Shintaro (Tokyo)
    Tim Pawlenty (Minnesota)
     
    I honestly don't know much about Ishihara other than I know he's with LDP (duh, though) and that he seems racist and nationalist and homophobic, but what LDP politician isn't at least one of those? I don't know much about his policies. I know he adamently bid for the 2016 Olympic games and I thought that was really stupid. It would be good for Tokyo's economy but HORRIBLE for the games, and shitty for the people living and working here.
     
    Tim Pawlenty – I know he voted against the medical bill reform and it doesn't surprise me because he's a republican. He's been our governor for what seems like forever and since I THOUGHT our demographic was Democratic, since in every presidential election since I was born we have voted Democrat, it just seems odd. Maybe people who voted for the presidential elections never voted for the gubernatorial ones. Figures =/
     
    and um.. I don't have a TV at home (in Tokyo) and I don't read newspapers so I don't pay a whole lot of attention to much of this anymore, though I do watch podcasts about the US news. Why? Because I'd rather experience life first hand, and I think too much time is wasted on watching the TV. I find it kind of interesting that you judge someone's connection to reality on their ability to name and form an opinion on their governor. Anyone could do that! On the fly, even. You couldn't pick something else?  On top of all that I'm kinda getting sick of Japan, I've been here five years and have not had very good working experiences (not because of the company but because of the politics within companies and the whole overworking thing. Like they have labor laws in Japan against overworking and stuff but no one cares because "It's someone else's personal business." That, and people don't really seem to have much of a private life outside of work either. Not for me.) so I almost don't care. But I know he's conservative or rightist or whatever you wanna call it, and that's not unusual to any politician in Japan (duh, LDP), and uh…that's about it.

  96. Anti_JRock_Snobbery March 18th, 2010 8:55 am

    Oh right… the rule, I didn't see that. (guess this means you can just forget the previous comment and go with this one?) Let's see, my governor is Ted Kulongoski (Oregon) and in 2004 he formed a federal-state-tribal-local partnership to resolve disputes over water quantity and quality, and fish and wildlife issues in the Klamath Basin. That good enough for ya?
     
    Anyways… I caught wind of this interview through someone else's livejournal, ironically there were key pieces of this that seemed to describe fans of their type (which sadly are not a "Japan-only thing"), but knowing this person and their habit of selective reading, they probably skipped most of it to get to the stuff about Dynamite Tommy. Quite unfortunate, because there were much better things to get out of it than just that.
     
     
    "These fans also get aggressive with other fans – both fans of the other bands at a show, or girls that they consider ‘fake fans’ of their favorite band."


    "Some of the most serious fights were between fans of the same band, who would go at it after the show – trying to decide who was the ‘best fan’ or the ‘one who really understood what the band was about’."


    "You’re playing with girls’ emotions! They know they’ll be able to get all the songs when the full album comes out, but they buy all the overpriced collectors’ crap anyway, to compete with the other girls, and win the hearts of the band guys. ‘I’m his biggest fan!’ ‘No, it is me! I have more sh*t than you!’ It’s just like the women who go to host clubs and buy presents for the gigolos, hoping that they’ll be able to show up the other customers."


    "Actually the ‘original fans’ are the most dangerous. They want to ‘protect’ the band from the new mainstream fans, who are in fact the ones making all the money for the label! And that’s when the original fans get very aggressive – either gossip, email flaming, or smacking faces."
     
     
    In the 6 years I have been a fan of JRock, I still have yet to understand the compulsive collecting and aggressive competing that comes with this fandom. There are folks who question the validity of the interview, and others who need it to be real to prove their own rumors about the bands… but if ANY of it is genuine, the important thing to get out of it is that the verbal and physical boxing matches over the "Best Fan Ever" trophy, and buying up everything with their name on it 6 times over and arguing over who the band's BFF is actually does more to make the bands and their labels think you're a tool than it does to make them think you're cool or interesting.
     
    And after reading this and seeing that this is how they think of you colleccionists / competitor types (ie: that you're just a cash cow to be exploited and milked for all you're worth) how can you still treat fandom the same way you always have? It's all just a fruitless battle for a useless title and you can keep it.
     
    I'm just here for music, not to pit a collection of one-time-only memorabilia and imported cd's against other fans like Pokemon cards in some ridiculous pissing contest for fan supremacy… I'll stick to my low re-sell value U.S. label releases and the occasional stateside performance.

  97. Marion March 19th, 2010 12:51 pm

    Can I still like the music? I can TELL some bands are not prefabricated and as long as I'm not a vk industry employee, I don't really give a shit about whatever mafia is behind it. I don't buy Gazette shower soap. I only buy cds. You will find shit in every industry, in every country, regarding whatever society. Get over it. Smart-assing over this kind of crap is pointless.
     
    Not critisizing the interview though, good periodistic research.

  98. Hayri March 20th, 2010 10:17 pm

    Maine: John Baldacci. Expanded our civil rights law to prevent discrimination of sexual orientation, and tried to legalize same-sex marriages. So he's a pretty-kick ass guy.

    This article is amazing. I can't wait to shove it in the faces of those crazy-ass "elitist" fans and make their heads spin.

    Happily, I have never fallen victim to the whole "buy 8 different versions of the same single" thing. Even when I was in high school I thought it was ridiculous, especially since the price of each one is between $20-$30 because of shipping costs. This is one of the many reasons I download.

    Sadly, because of this article, I will probably doubt my favorite J-rock artists forever more. Are they really as talented as I believe they are, or are they dumb fucks who've never had an original thought in their lives and hardly know what a guitar is? This will cause many sleepless nights. (But I will still listen to them and love them).

  99. Anti_JRock_Snobbery March 21st, 2010 5:44 am

    (I probably can't use the same guy twice, so I'll go with Commisioner Randy Leonard.l He's worked to increase use of biofuels in PDX. Many of the Tri-Met busses currently run on B5 biodiesel).

    @Hayri
    You go girl, or maybe boy?
    …lol

    And it's quite funny how the 'leets are eager to link to something like this when it supports their theories about Dynamite Tommy being the pimp to a bunch of band guy rent boys, but when they catch the stuff about what the bands and industry folk really think of fans, they change their tune from "interesting read" to "UR AN ASSHOLE AND I'M GUNNA GET MY E-LAWYERS TO MAKE SURE YOU NEVER WRITE ANOTHER THING LIKE THIS EVER AGAIN!!!11" If the parts that support their stuff is true, then so is the stuff that talks about how the bands don't really give a crap who the elder fans are or who has the biggest fan clitoris collection. And there lies the dilemma… So they will try to negate the "bad parts" in their heads. "Yeah, well that guy just tacked that crap on afterwards cuz he's a jealous jerk newbie scunt who's only been a fan for a nanosecond who can't accept that WE'RE the greatest fans ever, but everything else is 100% TRUFAX!"

  100. Shizuka March 23rd, 2010 11:11 am

    Great interview!
    Really interesting stuff to read.
    I'm in that scene for about 6-7 years now, one of the 'old ladies' that maybe would be invited to one of those parties; I went to Japan twice, visited a lot of concerts (like 50) and bought lots of 'shit'.
    Studying Media & Entertainment Management now and really want to work in the Music Business later. – still :D
     
    I really got some of my thoughts confirmed ( the relation to the host-scene at most) but … anyway.
    I think you can find structures like that in every kind of 'big business' and this interview won't stop me from loving that music.
    It's like reading a book: You know it's fantasy, but you still just -want to- get sucked into those world. Totally at your own will.

  101. Shizuka March 24th, 2010 10:45 am

    Oh me again *haha*

    I really thought a lot about this yesterday after reading this and there were some things comming to my mind:

    1.) Selling 'the same shit 4x' isn't really screwing fans, but a clever marketin strategy for keeping people away from downloading and for still being able to sell CDs nowadays
    2.) Saying that these guys are from poor or lower middleclass makes them stupid and dumb at the same time is actually really rude.

    3.) I think a lot of what is said in the interview is true but it doesn't differ from any other showbiz. E.g. the whole TV-programm is a fooling the audience. Every glossy magazine with its photoshoped models is too. Actually we are surrounded by people who try to create a unrealistic common sense in ours minds.
    4.) About lables creating the bands images. That is a common thing. Every A&R is trying to create a certain image for the band, something fans can identify with etc. That wasn't invented by Yoshiki…
    5) About pushing money around to avoid taxes: Also common. I worked at a crappy tiny concert agengy and they also wrote receipts for each other over the amount x and paid each other in cash anyway. If a balance sheet isn't in balance everyone would just made something up that sounds realistic enough.
    6) I know that bands are paying the livehouses by their own out of first hand. Lets say 5 bands are playing at AREA they will say like "okay each band would have to sell 20 tickets then we can get out 0:0 ( that's why you get ask for which band you are attenting the live) They then will count their tickets. You sold more tickets= you made a profit; you sold less = you have to pay.
    Of course you can manipulate the audience again. ( saying like: If you come for band x you get a free photoset! : D)
     
    and finally
    7) I think that person who was interviews has saw the scene growing up. He (I assume it's a 'he') maybe began his carreer with that high motivation to help bands out, have fun with them and share great moments. ( like I will when I finished my studies XD)
    If he was in a band before he wouldn't have known about the business behind all this.
    Then he got beaten down by reality.
    Anyway he might have still belived in his power or dream to change that and still does..
    I still belive what he said is true but it has his own opinion and experiences are spread out in the text and everyone who read that should have in mind that this might not be the objective truth.
     
     
    I bet I still have forgotten some point that came to my mind yesterday night but… anyway.
    I still think that this interview is amazing and will schock the younger fans you really think all those guys are gay and  wearing their dresses also in private life XD

  102. Anti_JRock_Snobbery March 24th, 2010 3:36 pm

    (^are we still doing the name of politician before approval of comments stuff? It seems like we aren't anymore)
    It's nice to see folks actually taking some time to write things out in a calm and legible manner, but you should work on your paragraphs. Like maybe try spacing them out at the ends a little bit more. Not trying to start beef with you, I'm just saying… it helps make your shit more easy to read if the sentences aren't cut up into sporadic chunks or all one huge wall-o-text that goes on for 18 lines.
     
    "…one of the 'old ladies' that maybe would be invited to one of those parties; I went to Japan twice, visited a lot of concerts (like 50) and bought lots of 'shit'."
     
    ^I'd like to say that sounds a tad familiar, but let's not get accusatory… by the way, you saw this part right?:
     
    TDR: And even after the band gets big, the ‘original fans’ always get invited to the parties, right? To thank them for helping the band get where it is?
     
     
    SATOH-SAN: The opposite!!! Actually the ‘original fans’ are the most dangerous. They want to ‘protect’ the band from the new mainstream fans, who are in fact the ones making all the money for the label! And that’s when the original fans get very aggressive – either gossip, email flaming, or smacking faces. That’s not the kind of thing you want at your after-party.
     
     
    Does that description fit you? Do you hate on the newbies because they encroach upon your sacred territory? Do you think they're lesser fans because they have less shit or because they bought it from the wrong stores? Or mayhaps you are the total opposite… if so, then good for you. Keep bucking the trend, my friend.
     
    From what little I could get out of what you wrote it seemed as though you were saying that the interviewer or maybe the interviewee has a bias due to an experience and that is why they say all that stuff about the fans. Personally, I thought it was spot on, lol… and Western fans are just as bad for this kind of brow-beating and smear-campaigning one another to get higher up the fandom food chain.

  103. Cameron March 25th, 2010 4:57 am

    Very interesting interview. I'm a White male and I lived in Tokyo from 1998 – Dec. 2008. I saw over 500 different bands in 10 years, went to more lives than I can remember, met band dudes…. and was even interviewed in SHOXX.  I collected CDs like mental, bought photo sets galore, and still have a huge inventory of LIVE photos back when it was still OK to take them. Being immersed in the scene as a (male) fan, it was not hard to see (and learn) a lot of what Satoh was talking about, especially with regard to the fans, their attitudes, how they are lured, kept in, and how the bands act on and off stage etc. It's a fascinating scene in every way and I dearly miss it. Alas…. at my age… being on the scene now would only get calls of… "Okay… dare no otasan???" 

  104. QueenAlice March 29th, 2010 11:13 am

    I'm still acting suspicious towards this whole thing… call me butthurt if you like but I don't think all this shit applies to every damn band. Most of what the guy says is more or less common knowledge (record labels are always eeeevil, as are all big companies), but some things seemes twisted back and forth a few times.
     
    Also, I would have taken this a little more seriously if your attitude wouldn't have been so… LOLOWNEDish. Make kids cry has never got anyone laid (unless you have a special interest I guess).
    I mean, what the hell? I though you outgrew those things in high school. I don't like vkei-fans in general but I handle that by simply don't caring about thier asses.
    But if you want to make an impact, write a book, don't post it on the Internet. Even children knows it's all lies.
     
    Also, I don't have state or governor, I live in Sweden, a country the size of an average american state. So the Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt will do? He's into being vauge and indefinite, and I'm not sure he has any views on anything. He looks like Moomin, though. And recently his pollitical party increased tax for retired people. Wooh!

  105. admin March 30th, 2010 11:51 pm

    @alice: the interview was not about vk, it was about the secret ways that japanese entertainment industry does business, and the attitude of the bands towards the fans. vk was simply the entry point. predictably the fans ignore the point of the article and focus on superficial things about bands and individual rockstars, instead of focusing on the money and illegal behavior. that’s not my fault so who cares.

    also if you are swedish you should listen to opeth instead of caring about japanese music. this should be obvious, especially if you are queen of sweden. opeth is the best thing ever made in sweden.

    also is it true that female members of abba were a lesbian couple? use your queen powers to get this information and then report back, tak tak!

  106. Anti_JRock_Snobbery March 31st, 2010 1:19 pm

    ^  Like I said, Selective Reading.
    They're only looking for the shit that backs their conspiracy theories. They skip all the good stuff that could actually make them stop and take a sec to re-think their fandom. And even if they see it, they still won't change because their way is always right. By the way, Schultz… what was -this- about? "I saw that mealymouthed apology you made to my friend." I'll take a wild guess and assume you too have upset The Lordess of All Things JRock (Whom All Noobs Must Get Permission Slips From Or Meet Collection Requirements To Like Her Bands), and so she sent a lackie to make those e-lawyer threats, since if she had wrote them herself they wouldn't be nearly as constructed or legible. All I can say in that situation is to just sit back and enjoy the lulz, but it seems like you were already prepared for that after you posted the article. If you get any emails with every sentence broken into pieces, misplaced commas and periods, lack of apostrophes in contractions and threats of spells or hexes… cap 'em and post 'em to your email bag.

  107. AnokPanda March 31st, 2010 8:13 pm

    @Admin: Regarding the “Angry Buddhist vs.everyone” forum battle.On the old site's forum (when I was Peasant Dictator) an angry person started a thread in response to your picture of some offensive grafitti at a shrine (it was on some piece of wood ornament/charm thingy that people usually write prayers or wishes on. something like that)

  108. [...] no music sub-industry without a back-scene to it, and a recent English blogger managed to score an interview, more of an exposé, really, with an ex-industry [...]

  109. HecateAscend May 29th, 2010 12:19 pm

    Well, what can I say? Everybody deserves their fanservice.

    I’m a male, and I agree with all this fanservice thing that is essentially a part of thing industry and even enjoy it to a pretty good degree myself as a bisexual.

    I understand the purpose of ignoring the real, understandable meaning in someone separating differences between different kinds of fans in the fandom. But I think there’s a better way of doing it instead of being so banal. I understand Visual Kei fans bicker too much about who’s a fan and showing faux-”harsh realities” to other fans so they can look like a “true fan” without taking a step back and realizing how ridiculous, but with connotations of being a “fangirl” there’s an understandable difference between someone who can’t be the type of fan you talk about who can be truly approachable to them, but enjoy the aspects they know are being marketed to them and why, and without being a stark raving lunatic who’s going to be further removed from them than they already are.

    I think it’s ridiculous to act like Visual Kei needs to be “taken back” from the fanservice fans and to “real music” with a halfhearted face and putting on a ridiculous facade that there’s non-fanservice merit in a lot of things. It’s not as if there should be any shame, but some of these “faux” purists who claim to only like Visual Kei “for the music”(yeah right) and then listening to hardly anything else, knowing hardly anything about music, and acting exactly like the stereotype of the Visual Kei fangirl they claim to despise. Again there’s nothing wrong with a girl liking Visual Kei for the guys like it’s marketed for, guilt-free, and being able to call a spade a spade.

    BUT STILL, there’s still room to understand the difference between crazy nutjob fangirl and general drooler. You can be a different type of fan without changing these type of exceptional things which you talk about. Many bands are a franchise such as KISS, that being a responsible fan who can’t be lumped in with nutties is not the same as picking up a guitar and being in equal company to them. You go to far to that other end with that generalization and don’t properly show the vast variety of people and types of fandoms within this admittedly controlled fandom, it’s almost like you just stop short of saying “liking prettyboys is pointless”.

    A person who knows and understands the downsides but still doesn’t mind partially this fantasy and inequality so long as they get to drool over guys they like and have the general act of romanticism in performance deserves the dignity of not being lumped in with delusional maniacs which most people more associate with the “fangirl”. The distinction between faux-realist and realist, and “fan” and “rabid crazy fangirl” is just as distinct.

    It’s understandable why someone wouldn’t want to let go of some of the themes and fantasy they have there. And creating a new genre of romanticist, Visual Kei inspired mismash of Industrial, Gothic, Metal, and Punk subcultures would do little unless they can successfully recreate part of what makes the matter enjoyable. Given the current fanbase, it would mostly be women who like romanticism and things with a boys-love/yaoi element. Which would amount to being a bunch of women just further generally practicing abroad which is mostly Gothic Lolita subculture(arguably the biggest influence and piece of Visual Kei in general), and a bit of the other elements such as Candykid/Decora. Which would already be basically just absorbing themselves back into the general Goth-Industrial subculture that Gothic Lolita is already a part of. And the other subcultures if they’re more involved.

    It’s really not so simple as “just forming a metal bad”, such kind of thing kind of tries to sterilize the fanservice aspect of the whole thing. And downplays the importance of the female gaze. How does removing it of everything that indeed disguising it from all the other cultures it derives from, purify it for what the fans want? This is almost like taking the homosexuality out of yaoi. To make a whole new kind of thing like this, and going for less exploitative, would take an INCREDIBLE amount of work. And a lot of the same chaste rules and play would likely still stay. Except for maybe now groups will have to worry about living the image perfectly and having REAL complicated Mystic knowledge and involvement in heritage revival as a hardline ideology.

    Maybe if they tried to appraise and help the current derivative cultures in Japan and inject them with Visual Kei culture minus as many of the exploitative aspects, something more utopian could happen. But only if the business model so to speak withing Japan’s current heavy metal, hardcore and other punk, and gothic and industrial scenes in Japan is really so different from that in Visual Kei.

    As for the article and the exploitation, I think it makes a good showcase for how petite bourgeois can be just as exploitative as big business or “haute bourgeois”. While neither is good, in some instances the contract with the Big Business leaves even more freedom than in the small one.

    Even still then, your articles shows both some ups and downs to the matter. One up is that even with how Draconian, and in a way, cruel the small groups are, they’re as you’ve shown, better than a lot of prospects these young folks have. But that doesn’t mean it’s a workable solution. The condition that oppresses and puts Japanese proletariat in such hard luck, giving them this as one of their best answers, should be done away with and the living conditions for the Japanese working class and general poor must be raised, just as it must be worldwide.

    Another one of these things is that it does apparently inspire youth to doing interesting things they many times come to greatly enjoy. It seems that a lot of these people are given direction when they have none and behavior which fosters talent driven, while giving some freedom to those with vision. That itself is not a bad model given it’s circumstances. If a person is asked “well here are the things we work with, what are your talents and what do you like?” and answers with “well I dunno, whatever man, I’m just poor and want to rock!”, it’s understandable to say “well here’s our concept, try this out”. And then when one musician who is different comes out and says “yeah I’m really into this whole Visual Kei thing and I was just really thinking, I’d really like to do a Rococo thing and I have this idea for a song on the guitar and I’d like you to hear it”, gets allowed and fostered, that’s entirely fair.

    What’s not fair, is that even though the so called creative forces put in a lot of work, the whole situation is still indeed brutal and totally exploitative.

    For that whole politics thing, how’s Blanche Lincoln for ya? I’ve heard a lot of bad things about her being a big business sell out. Which is sad because she’s one of the few females in office, and seems to generally be much in favor of gay rights actions.

  110. Annie June 4th, 2010 3:17 am

    @admin This is probably old news, but I'd like to point out, concerning Don't want to…'s comments about the treatment of reporters, that it's pretty much standard procedure. I've been on both the organizing end & the reporter end of things and although not nearly all managements keep their bands on such a tight leash, many observe the interviews. A few do fill in when (despite of themost likely extensive training the band members get in doing interviews and 'right' & 'wrong' answers) the members fail to remember what the official opinion of the band is.  It doesn't matter if you're successful or a not-so-successful band, it's more about the management. You can probably guess which companies are the most anal about this.

    That's just how the business works. Interviews, for the most part, aren't supposed to be meaningful ventures into the psyche of the members, they're advertisements. Even when there's nobody watching, it's clear that for many bands the answers are for the most part trained. It would be easy to write a believable interview of a mediocre VK band without even meeting the band, as they rarely have anything really interesting to say – most likely because it's forbidden to say anything too contraversial. I'm surprised people don't know this already. I mean come on, compare a few interviews and you'll see it's mostly copy/paste.

    But, you shouldn't forget there are many VK bands that actually have a lot of control on what they say & do, too! Those guys deserve much more respect than they are currently getting.

    That's how you roll with them. Of course you can hit your head against the wall of Japanese stubbornness over and over again, or adjust yourself to the way they work. The latter, in my experience, is far easier and faster. So what if you die a little more inside every time you need to let go of your own ideals & plain common sense to accommodate the Japanese way of business. That's the price you pay.

    Even if you'd still want me to name a politician, I'd rather not, as I'd like to stay anonymous. It's not good to say stuff like this out loud when you're still in the business.

  111. admin June 4th, 2010 5:38 pm

    @annie: I was going to delete your mail, but I’m approving it for one reason: you make your whole community look really bad, which I find amusing.

  112. squall June 5th, 2010 10:28 pm

    this interview was amazing…i´m a male brazilian vk fan, and everything that i had read here made sense…that´s why they cast sooo much singles,maxi singles,all that bullshit…here in brazil the most singers relase full albuns,and it's rare somebody relasing something with 2 songs. but what i found most ignorant is the fact that they don´t like their fans…My favorite band is called "megamasso".Their compositions are so beautiful,with beautiful lyrics and melody…but if all that stuff come out of the members of the band,if they´re free to do what they want,and they like theirs fans…i would love vk muuuch more!(they say that ryohei(the guitarrist) composes everything,but must i trust it?),anyway, that REALLY dessapointed me.
    i´m gonna take care and don't support the bands buying anything of them.
     

  113. Anti_JRock_Snobbery June 6th, 2010 1:32 pm

    I enjoy(ed) the music… But the fandom itself is rather shite. You have the normal fans who appreciate one another and are happy as a hog in slop to be able to meet other people who like the same music they do…. and then you have Fans with a capital F. The kind of fans who lay claim to a band and treat them as their own property, obsessing about every little intimate detail of the members and their personal lives, and only doing anything for them with the expectation of a reward or special treatment. These kinds of fans don't really care about the bands themselves and their music, but what kind of status they'll get as a fan. I'm so sick of hearing such types always going on and on about how they did this and they did that, they own this and they own that, they been to see such and such band 50 times over, and how they had some kind of direct link to them and how anyone who is not as fanatical a fan as they are really isn't a fan…  So much hate and infighting over music and bands and all the rumor mill competitions, it kinda burns me out and really taints the whole experience and makes me wonder if it's even worth sticking around. 

  114. Mana July 24th, 2010 6:57 am

    Thanks alot for this article!
    A friend just linked it and it rewarded everything Ive already thought and felt about this scene.
     
    I'm into this scene since 2004 and lived in Japan for work from 05/2008~10/2009
    If you've been living over there,even though it might only be for a few months,and are into this scene for quite a long time, you shopuld be able to feel parts of this machinery.

    All I wanna say is,as long as youre not a fangirl and go visit lives for members only,it's not as invisible a you think

  115. Bernadette July 28th, 2010 3:07 pm

    “Did you know Germans capitalize ALL nouns? Caps are a nazi plot, I tell you.”

    At first I was really glad to have found your site since I find the articles I’ve read so far quite interesting, but this comment of yours really takes the cake of all the bullshit that has been written on here.
    As a German I find this remark highly offensive and I find it rich that this brainless crap is coming from you since you’re the one claiming that some of the commenters here are behaving rather irrational and idiotic. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?
    Oh, the freedom of being the admin and thus being able to censor the bullshit of others and yet not being able to censor your own.

  116. admin July 29th, 2010 2:00 am

    @bernadette: thanks for the first funny comment on this thread since May.
    Usually I don’t allow VK mails from people who don’t also post about their political leaders and the decisions of those leaders, but since you’re german, i think it’s obvious, so you don’t have to say it. It can be our secret!

  117. Bernadette July 29th, 2010 4:48 am

    Wow, what anti-social scum you are. How old are you? I bet you earn a lot of new readers with that kind of attitude. Are you Japanese? I hope you know that the Japanese were allies of Nazi Germany and we all know what kind of attitude they STILL have towards people of other races and ethnicities, right?! Haven’t learned a fucking thing, just like you!
    And don’t worry, you don’t have to post info about your political leader since I already know who that is.

  118. sephim July 29th, 2010 5:00 am

    So, everybody who lives in Japan is Japanese… Interesting theory. Let's apply this theory to my own country of Australia and say everybody who lives here is Australian. Time to get out of my country, Aborigines.

  119. Bread July 30th, 2010 12:32 pm

    Hahaha, after having a million people ask me, with totally straight faces, if I eat hamburgers every day (I have not eaten a hamburger in several years, mostly to avoid being stereotypical), seeing a meltdown like that over something that was obviously a joke made my day. Danke, aufgebrachte deutsche Frau :)

  120. Itameo September 14th, 2010 8:46 am

    Greetings,
    I thank you so much for this interview since for months I was trying to find a "bigger" report about the dark side of music industry in Japan, or better to say, industry controlled by Yakuza. The entire base of the assumptions and information from the interview, a long time ago, if you have a common sense, came to my mind. Common sense tells you that in Japan, nothing is working, but through the strict connection's, families or clans.
    It just can't be so cristal clear, easy entertainment! Whole this movement, or should we call it, visual entertainment, can't be some music trend or anything else. In Japan "visual kei", as opposite to pop and enka, or also new age, is known as "underground" scene, and well describe it. In fact, only bands who sported visual image and became famous, remembered, or created some real (but thats loud music, while classical – new age is real music) were: "X Japan" or better to say, Yoshiki, what didn't and will manage to sell over 20 million records, or 30 million records, "Luna Sea" what sold around 9 million, "Buck-Tick", "D'erlanger" and band I quiet like, "Dead End", along Morrie's solo project "Creature Creature".
    From my thoughts, if Malice Mizer's leader Mana founded his own label, and the band was under it until the fame peak contract with a major company Nippon Columbia what lasted until the ending of 98s, they weren't under the control of Godfather or others. What's also interesting, Gackt called the MM's roadie Kamijo (and Miyavi in other moment) as a special guest for the extra content on his live-dvd box set "nine*nine". What I do not know, but divined that they weren't invited by him personally. Gackt said that Kamijo was his roadie at the time, but also that many people don't know that, MM and Lareine trip, and more fun notes.. Here's the link to the video with subtitles in Portuguese and English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOwRNeP5E4Q 
    On July of 2006, Shuukan Gendai magazine article was about Gackt sleeping with fans (under a strict major label, Nippon Crown). If you don't know, "Dears" is a well-organized fanclub with special tours/shows with extra staff, yearly worldwide one week travel for 1-1,5 thousand fans (hotel of at least four stars), and other extra things, like cd's or dvd's. His fanbase has some quiet rich girls or women, yep old women. And they buy almost everything what has to do with him, or tour. Gackt, especially the latest arena tour, is known for the best performances, and entertainment in Japan. And along this things you have more fun, doing pressure to others. Backt to the article, this rumour, for me, is literally false. His schedule is too ocuppied, and for sure has had and has a girlfriend, and alike to ex or neo visual kei guys, is enough smart to take such a risk, it's just stupid. As well, he was married to a Korean around the 20s. Gackt admitted this was so she could claim a Japanese nationality, their divorce came about in part because she was taken ill – this was exacerbated being hounded by fans – as Gackt was becoming well-known – proof for having no girlfriend? He was very upset about the article, so accused them and won in court.
    Thro my research, what I want to share is (especially) this:
    http://www.fightopinion.com/2006/07/19/gendai-gackt-associated-with-dse-owner/
    http://www.fightopinion.com/2007/04/01/shukan-gendai-yakuza-owner-problematic-employee/
    In the same year, Shuukan Gendai magazine has had a real top story. I don't know how much you're aware of the Pride Fighting Championship fall, but here's the proof Gackt did worked or is working along, or for Yakuza. Gackt's ex-managment "Museum Museum", is Mr. I (Ishizaka) talent agency, the alleged yakuza owner of PRIDE who was/is rumoredly hiding in South Korea. If you don't understand why in South Korea, it's because the roots of this organization are more connected to Korea than Japan itself. To cite in short, "…attaching the name of Gackt to the PRIDE scandal is an attempt by the magazine to add juice to keep the story alive in the eyes of the public. In the article, it is noted that Gackt made an appearance at a PRIDE show a couple of years ago and the media was unexpectedly told that he was/is a friend of Hidehiko Yoshida, but the supposed real reason being that Gackt was at the show to see Mr. Ishizaka. Some say Gackt's in debt to Yakuza… What's also interesting for me, is Gackt's home, or three connected apartments on three different floors (you must see that!). What he could earn over a solo career, and from 2004 up to now, constantly changing, doubt he had enough resources for this underground eight wonder. As well his cars, and other expensive stuff.
    For the end, "Museum Museum" was reportedly closed, but Gackt's main manager is now working, for fans infamous, Gordie Entertainment, who's also Sugizo's managment. That's it, have a good, calm, life.

  121. Itameo September 14th, 2010 9:02 am

    Also to add, since 2006, Gackts sales were more than just halved in half.

  122. Penguin September 22nd, 2010 5:17 pm

    I will attempt to see this and comment from an Asian perspective.
    I appreciate the effort taken into this interview, but I read it objectively and without feeling any overly negative emotions. For those who believe it 100% and start thinking that the VK industry is a stinking scam, and similarly for those who feel this whole thing is fabricated, I think both 'sides' have valid concerns, it is dependent on the beliefs we grew up in.
    As a person who grew up around the VK culture (unavoidable when you live in Asia) and appreciating it, the 'revelation' in this interview are not even shocking. Do I believe it? Of course. Do I think it's bad? Not necessarily. In Asia, this is generally how business (at any level, any industry) is done. We might try to conform a little bit to please our Western counterpart, especially with globalization now and the fact that we're cooperating globally. But it still remains that in Asian culture, connections are important, and sending your 'people' to expand and head your many little enterprises/branches is the norm. When I went to the 'Western part of the world' to study business, the culture shock was not in the culture I was living in, but in how business was conducted East vs West style. 'Family' thing is not only a big thing in Asian culture, but it is ingrained. I'm not saying it's good or bad, I'll just say it has it's advantages and disadvantages, and obvious ethical issues.

    In one of my business class, we were discussing kickbacks and bribes. The view of what are kickbacks/bribes between East and West was eye opening. The Asian in me will consider this: If you give me a 'token of appreciation' after a business with you, I am now obliged to you exclusively because now we're in this together (family). It is not forced on me, and you do not really expect it, but social graces and culture made it that way, and it is something you just 'get'.
    On the other hand, the Western education in me tells me this is wrong anywhere else in the world because it signals the needs for reciproaction to the other party i.e you're psychologically bullying them to be obliged to you. So where in Asia I would have sent you a bottle of champagne to your office, perhaps personally, to thank you for your cooperation…in the West I have to consider the legalities of that sort of action, and now am limited to writing a Thank You note with company's letterhead, or something safely impersonal, like a company's pen. In Asia, this would amount to "you have not even thought it through, you're just sending me the first thing that you grab off your desk! So why did you even bother? Are you mocking me?" I still find it hard to merge my Eastern upbringing and Western education, particularly now since I have to think that if I'm dealing with a fellow Asian working in a Western company, should I go Asian (and offend his Westernised sensibility by thinking he'd approve of 'kickbacks'?) or should I go Western (and insult his Asian sensibility by gifting something inappropriate)? Particularly since Asians who were brought up Westernized or have been Westernized would have differing principles in what is proper or not.

    Again, I'm not saying this is good or bad, I'm just offering opinion from my culture.
    About the 'fantasy creating' of the bands, in my opinion this is akin to a marketing/branding ploy, only this is with a group of humans, instead of a product.

    I apologize if this was way out of topic…still, thank you for your effort with this interview.

  123. Penguin September 22nd, 2010 5:24 pm

    Oh, I forgot to connect this. So what I meant to say after all that (sorry it was long!) that I think these guys would work so hard for a monopolistic record label is the reciprocation and obligation culture. You gave me a chance and made the effort, I'm doing what I love (music), getting what I wanted (fame) so the least I could do is continue to work hard for you. That 'salarymen' mentality where you stay with your company forever, and devoting your life to them. On the fact of the various seemingly 'dodgy' merchandising techniques the company employs…I actually like and appreciate that fact. But that's because I'm a Marketing/Business student. All in all, I'm a big fan of this interview and am truly thankful for it.

  124. admin September 23rd, 2010 12:15 am

    @penguin: I got a lot of abject reactions to this article, but i think you’re the first person to see it as a “how-to.” Jesus, man.

  125. Penguin September 23rd, 2010 2:04 am

    @admin: Uhm..I'm sorry that my reaction wasn't 'abject'? It's just that instead of me seeing it as what one might call a 'how-to', in my eyes it (the phenomena covered in your interview) have been the how-is. Though I fully understand that my opinion can potentially receive 'abject reactions'. Each to his/her own, I guess.

  126. Kristoffer September 30th, 2010 10:12 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. It was extremely interesting reading, all the way through. I got into VK about ten years ago, when I was still a naiive teenager back in my home country. Even so, it didn't take me long to start suspecting there was a lot of corruption and control in the place of genuine artisitc intent. Thank you for clarifying.

    It's interesting how many parallels you can draw between the world of VK and the world of hosting. I used to work as a host in Tokyo, and I think fashioning alternative reality and maintaining fantasies by use of control really are some of the most recurring themes within Japanese society.
     
    Thanks again!

  127. Mr Waffle October 8th, 2010 9:35 pm

    Excellent read, thanks. Though I should note that a lot of what he says is a "visual kei" thing is certainly common in other genres, like idol pop. Especially the "why release an album when you can release multiple versions of singles" and the like, exploiting the fans. Virtually every idol group (eg AKB48, morning musume) will release 3-4 versions of their singles with a slight difference (eg the 3rd track), and then an "album" every year or two which essentially all the singles + 3 or 4 filler songs…

  128. JSP November 24th, 2010 5:18 pm

    In a few of your comments you mentioned that there are additional parts to this interview. Do you ever plan on posting them? I'd definitely be interested in reading them.

  129. Kanaru von Pepinous December 11th, 2010 1:02 pm

    Major Governor of Bogotá in Colombia is Samuel Moreno Rojas and he is 'destroying' the city with a lot of stuff of infraestructure constructions, and repairing roads. Too much in all the city, and all of them are getting late because bizarre cases of corruption.

    Now, my words about this issue.
    It's a very interesting article, and of course, I got very sad, and a bit disappointed. Some things didn't surprised, anyway. I enjoy visual kei since 2008 (although I knew some bands as PENICILLIN and Malice Mizer since 2006 year, and I listened without to know about the scene).
    I must to recognize I really get to enjoy it, although I don't buy CDs and it's just because I don't have the money for it, and I prefer to take care about money. Now I have stronger reasons for keep downloading. Yes, X JAPAN is my favourite band, but even I respect and admire Yoshiki as a musician, I don't going to give my money for him, or Tommy Dynammite. I'm sorry, but I must to be more responsable as a fan and consumer.
    And… the thing of too much versions of a maxi-single is just pointless. I prefer to download all three, or ask to someone: "If the main song is the same version always, then which is the best second track?". I remember I did this with Reila single by The GazettE, and someone recommended me the "Lesson D" (although until now I consider Shuntetsu no Koro a boring song XD)

    No, I am not a supposely sexual frustrated. I think the looks are cool, but I really have clear it is just makeup, and they don't attract me, I just think "Oh, it's cool! but just it". I prefer to enjoy the music, share my tastes with anyone who can understand my thoughts and such things. Not a obsessive, I even had problems in the past with obsessive fans of other stuff of Japanese entertainment industry.
    I'll keep enjoying it, as I enjoy a lot of other stuff as well. But anyway I took a lot of decissions about this stuff, and I explained. I don't going to give my money for the bosses. I even declined to buy DVD of X JAPAN's Last Live in a official way.
    Honestly, thank you very much for this article.

  130. Meg January 7th, 2011 4:09 pm

    Hello! I was looking for an email address for you but couldn't find one.
    I am writing an article on the social stigma of visual kei and would like to know if I may use material from your interview with the record executive as part of my research for this. I would, of course credit you for your hard work. :)
    Please let me know if this would be okay! Thank you!

  131. Anok Panda February 9th, 2011 10:23 am

    Is this one of your pratical jokes:
    Visual Kei Concert Etiquette: A Beginner's Guide
    http://www.jame-world.com/us/articles-72145-visual-kei-concert-etiquette-a-beginner-s-guide.html
    Its on a prominent VK/Jrock site, its so weird and fucked, I'm not sure even you could make it up.

  132. admin February 10th, 2011 7:16 pm

    @anok: that was not me. I enjoyed reading it, so thanks for that. I think that article would appeal to fan-girls who were jr-high outcasts because they never understood the social clique rules of their own country, and now they can have Japanese girl-clique rules explained in detail, and they’d be like, “OK I made the right decision to do this VK thing.”

  133. Meg February 17th, 2011 1:45 pm

    I actually wrote that article for JaME ^^; and I don't think I could even make something like that up if I tried. I'd like to say it was a joke because I totally agree it's weird and fucked, but the Japanese visual kei scene is the weirdest and most clique oriented I've ever seen. It was way worse than my high school! To make matters worse, it changes between cities and even band fan bases, so while we were researching there was actually debates over what was the most accurate "rules" in some cases.
    Hopefully beyond its totally bizarre nature though you enjoyed it and maybe got a laugh out of some of it. I loled about the "OK I made the right decision to do this VK thing."

  134. admin February 17th, 2011 8:12 pm

    @meg: hey and thanks!
    Truthfully i used to go to those shows myself – but it was always makeinu (unpopular loser) bands. this killed two birds with one stone:
    small shows = not a huge competition to stand in front, so I didn’t have to worry about the rules you (no doubt accurately!) described
    small shows= more interesting. Since, to me, the most fun thing about VK bands was the pathos/absurdity of dudes trying to be super rock stars or European royalty on a budget of 25 dollars and a casio drum machine. the gap between what they’re going for and where they actually are is part of the fun for me.

  135. Meg February 18th, 2011 8:04 am

    Thank you for reading! :)

    When I was younger I used to go to shows and I started small but worked my way up so I saw a lot of this craziness first hand – never really meddled in it, but enjoyed watching it from a distance because it was just so weird. I remember the first time I relayed it to friends in the US, they didn't believe me, lol. I haven't been back in several years but when researching this, was confirmed by numerous fans that this stuff is still alive and well.
    I remember going to some shows that were exactly like you mentioned, they had like four fans and costumes that looked like they were glued together and instruments that looked well beyond their years .. it was always interesting though to see them really giving it their all despite the fact that no one really cared. lol

  136. DomiKko February 22nd, 2011 6:06 pm

    I love Visual Kei, and I thought this interview was absolutely brilliant. In fact; it makes me love it as a culture even more. I'm a musician; I realize that the music isn't all great, but I like it anyway, maybe like appreciating abstract painting.
    While I am myself a fan of the genre, I find it interesting to see these squabbles unfold themselves, and the extortionate prices people pay for things. I don't buy the maxi-singles and the album – I buy the album if I like it, and torrent everything else.
    This was a brilliant read, and anyone that can't appreciate this article that is into VK is pretty shallow.

  137. What'sWrongWithBeingAWesterner?! May 4th, 2011 8:43 pm

    Just For FUN!!! 
    President: Barack Obama
    I think that HE IS trying his best at fixing our 14.3+ trillion debt. Over his 2 years as president, I know he has been losing popularity because of various policies, and his inability to magically fix everything or back up his slogan "CHANGE" as previous supporters had imagined. But, since as of now I'm studying American history, I noticed something, it's NOT his fault, and Americans, critics, and his political enemies are just putting most of the blame on him because he is a major figurehead. Of course, he should've known what he was getting into with becoming president at such a critical time in our country. Although, I too disagree with some of the things he's doing, but certain other things worked. I will not elaborate because it'll take too long…Point is, I would not like to be in his shoes, and probably more than half of those critics could not handle the stress of being president either. I have to hand it to him…he's trying :) !
    Governor: Jerry Brown
    I honestly think we need a new governor…I mean come on, he's in his third term!!! California is pretty much the same, up and down the economy ladder. Also, I'm tired of hearing about education budget cuts like every month!! Although, I thought the other candidate was so-so (Meg Whitman), the U.S. democracy system was set up so people cannot stay in office forever, and new politicians can be elected in once people decide that they have had enough( and need new input). *sigh* Stupid adults deciding my generation's future!! Well, on the up-side at least Gov. Brown can USE his experience. I hope that he was rightfully elected and progress will become more self-evident.
     
    Ok, now to actually REPLY to whatever this is. First of all, I guess I should just come out with it. Yes I'm a "ignorant" Westerner from the U.S. (if you know politicians, you could guess from my politicians analysis). Also, YES I'm at the age that shoujo manga publishers aim for.
    That was an interesting interview, but I kind of figured all of this stuff was true (lol thanks to shoujo manga-esque stuff ironically). And, not once have I completely believed in the show-biz industry. I am fully aware of most of its corruptions, and newer corruptions cease to amaze me too much, but I don't really care(?), I just go along with it. Yeah, I enjoy mainstream to an extent and allow myself to get brainwashed (I am guilty of watching and liking idol dramas). Also, yes I'm superficial enough to care about visuals. The thing is I DON'T CARE. Although I do like these things, I've never, not once, bought all those weird collector stuff, gone to any lives, bought those expensive single CD's, or submitted to fangirlistic fantasies/obsessions ;) at least not in public, lol.
     
    In short, thanks for clarifying some things admin. and making it funny!!! :)
    Also, I still like V-Kei with all their femme outer-space alien 17th century cross-dressing super-pierced and multi-colored vampire-esque style! :) I was never a hardcore fan, but their styles don't cease to amuse me and I actually do like some of their music. Usually the vocalists' voice is unique compared to pop-singers and I enjoy the sound of a legit band playing together(digital or not, I <3 guitars+drums+occasional different instruments played together). This interview does not disappoint me at all, it  doesn't really concern me since my like for music-related interests is corrupt anyway. 
     
    haha, and yes, someone needs to exploit Johnny's (the label), they are definitely another huge mafia boss!! I have nothing against them though, like I said, yes I think that getting only hot boys as your company's selling point is a super cunning and truly ingenius plan AND yes I enjoy it. One day, I need to walk through their offices, and just count how many pretty/hot/handsome bishies I see…not that I would want to risk my life for that (literally, I don't know who's more dangerous: security or fangirls Dun Dun Dun!!!!)

  138. Oji August 30th, 2011 2:29 am

    where's the freaking article?

  139. atoma August 31st, 2011 1:54 am

    im also looking for it >.<

  140. Zi September 3rd, 2011 11:36 am

    I really would love to read the article, I'm super interested in this, although I've kindof got most of the interview from the comments Please relink the article. Its a really important interview that I think more people should read.

  141. admin September 7th, 2011 6:09 pm

    @zi, atoma, etc.: If you really want to read the interview, I think some goons on livespace or myjournal or whatever stole the whole thing and posted it there. But honestly, you should just give up on that music altogether and get into some better bands. If you go to the top page of this site, you can learn about tons of rad music which will be new to you. If you wanted to read the interview NOT for visual kei resons, but because you were serious about learning the “dark side” of Japanese life, then read some of the book reviews I’ve been doing on that subject. As if anyone cared.

  142. sephim September 7th, 2011 10:53 pm

    http://aramatheydidnt.livejournal.com/642314.html

    There's the link to the article, along with a fuckload of comments that amount to nothing…

    Hey, at least the original source is credited. Which is strange for the internet, even stranger for livejournal…

  143. atoma September 13th, 2011 9:41 am

    i gave up on this music; but i cant stay calm when somebody is getting so excited about visual key bands; thats why i need this interview -  to make such a person read it and see the reaction :) i cant stand girls that almost wet their pants talking abut these bands…

  144. tt September 16th, 2011 4:55 pm

    Bah, they can't be as bad as Bob Dylan fans. They are insufferable.
     

  145. li September 25th, 2011 9:26 am

    Hello,
    I can't  find where the article has been moved to, the link takes me to the blog.

  146. tt September 27th, 2011 5:22 am

    Fuhgeddaboutit, the article is a not very funny joke. He just wanted to upset some visual kei fans, but now that the hype has died down, the only visual kei fans left are hardliners, so why bother.

  147. Lisa October 25th, 2011 5:46 pm

    wheres this article gone? im going on a goose chase. Ive read it many times before but i wanted to show someone so they could read. thank you.

  148. sephim October 26th, 2011 3:27 am

     
    http://aramatheydidnt.livejournal.com/642314.html

    Because people don't seem to read the comments I don't know why I'm posting this link AGAIN.

  149. Lisa October 26th, 2011 2:10 pm

    well im really sorry i didnt read the comments, but from what i remember there were tonnes of comments, and i had read through them about three times each time i read the article.. but i havent re-read them lately. So im VERY SORRY, i missed your original link and the post just sent me on a wild goose chase. Im really sorry to put you out..but thank you.

  150. sephim October 27th, 2011 6:28 am

    I do like to help people find their way to interesting things, so it's not a real problem

  151. derpy May 30th, 2012 3:14 am

    Hey thanks for the cool article. I believe this is at least partially true for a lot of vk bands, but I feel like this does not explain how there are a lot of older band members in the vk scene in their late 20s and 30s (who are not one of the big guys) who have consistent style of composition or lyrics writing, that is, if they indeed write them themselves. Or how there are bands who can play really well live. Or release records outside labels (even if they do use some kind of distribution company). I mean it does not explain how they still get to play in live houses if doing all these make them "outsiders" (or maybe it doesn't). It makes me wish this guy would name more names 8D

  152. Iamafan_ October 3rd, 2013 6:47 am

    Not much is surprising to me even if this article is at least partly true. It’s not worse than any other Japanese entertainment industry anyway (idols, non-VK pop/rock, anyone?). Even if a band can write their own music, there will still be producers because music is a product and you need to market it properly to its demographic. Most mainstream Japanese (or Western) pop or rock is just as generic or even crap anyway as most VK bands. They just have different demographics and are marketed differently. Sometimes I can still find a few VK bands that have a different sound from most and the music is genuinely good (and I am not talking about old-school bands). Maybe this time the producers have decided to do something different. Who knows? As long as they make good music, I don’t care about anything else. And yes, there are bands that can play well live. I just enjoy the music for what it is.

  153. Iris December 29th, 2013 10:14 pm

    Thanks for the acrticle!It didnot surprise me a lot but I do find some new stuffs.Can I translate it into Chinese can post on tieba.baidu.com?I will also post the link of this page.

    The government leader is Zhu Xiaodan in my home provice.He insists on industrial structure upgrading and I am glad they reduce the focus on Guangdong (government) being the richest province(government) in China.

  154. Carl January 27th, 2014 11:23 pm

    Very good article about the visual kei/music industry.
    I love VK music but I know this all true because I have japanese friends in tokyo and they tell me that vk brings a bad name to the japanese music industry.
    The answer is in this article.

  155. James January 29th, 2014 12:40 pm

    The visual kei music industry is insane, it’s all about money.
    There are good bands because you can watch them live and listen to their stuff since their demotapes.
    As fans, we all know that the visual part and the production comes from a label, but what I didn’t know is that the concept of the band comes from the label as well, and this made me feel very disappointed.
    The fact that the label gets members of other bands to form a super band makes me feel sad too.
    Everything makes sense, I think there’s no other explanation for all this.
    Now I have reasons for not to buy stuff from this industry.

  156. Hal April 19th, 2014 6:07 am

    Doesn’t bum me out either way the bands I like no one knows about or never get popular enough anyways. As long I have some music to listen to enjoy on my daily exercise routines who cares I still like the genre

Mexico