By Sam Frank:
My favorite video game as a child was always Street Fighter 2. All the characters had their own special moves that, once mastered, would enable you to beat unsuspecting opponents. Immediately following the moves were sound bites like Ryu’s famous “HA-DOU-KEN” after his fireball or the “SHYO-RYU-KEN” Ken would belt out during a dragon punch. Another memorable burst of aggression was Guile’s “SONIC BOOM,” a ring shaped energy attack which would knock your opponent on his ass. While getting hit by a “HA-DOU-KEN” or “SHYO-RYU-KEN” may land you in the hospital being pounded by a “SONIC BOOM” can leave you wanting more like it did for a packed Santos Party House when the Boom Boom Satellites (BBS) unleashed a barrage of audio mayhem on the big apple this past November. Joined on stage by singer/songwriter Taj Mowry the show got underway with their new remix of 2006’s “Kick It Out.” As fans cheered it became apparent that very few people in attendance actually knew who the Boom Boom Satellites were. This slower and more acoustic version of “Kick It Out” was exactly what the audience expected, but by song two, BBS literally set the record straight. Let’s put this situation in perspective: BBS sell out arenas on a regular basis. They get constant rotation on MTV Japan, their albums sell very well, and everyone in Japan knows who they are so when electrifying songs like “Morning After,” “Easy Action,” and my personal favorite, “Moment I Count” were unleashed on the venue’s powerful sound system they came with tidal wave force. The multi-colored strobe effects only added to the audio intensity. People went from being perplexed to headbanging at the drop of a hat. Watching BBS perform at Santos was like seeing Metallica at Joe’s Pub. A large sound with very little room to breathe. People in attendance who didn’t know anything about the Boom Boom Satellites beforehand experienced the same thing everybody does at their sold out shows in Japan, a “SONIC BOOM!” The only difference is that Japanese people know its coming.
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Boom Boom Satellites:
Singer/Guitarist – Michiyuki Kawashima [MK] | Bassist/DJ – Masayuki Nakano [MN]
[Editor-In-Chief, UnRated NYC]
Thank you for speaking with me. Before we begin I wanted to congratulate you on winning Japanese Magazine’s best album of 2006 award for ON. I bought that album before leaving Japan in 2006 and rocked out to it the entire 14 hour flight home. Coming off the success of ON was there any particular sound you were striving for while recording your most recent album, Exposed?
MN: We were trying to go for a more metal sound. Something heavier. We used a lot more guitars and drums on Exposed than on any of our prior records.
Who were some of the artists that originally got you into electronic music?
MN: I was very influenced by the Detroit techno sound of the early 90s. One group I remember listening to a lot early on was 808 State. While club-hopping around Tokyo in the early 90s I would see these revolutionary DJs perform and talk to them after their sets. It was an exciting time.
It’s great that you were able to have such personal experiences with these pioneers of the game. Security is so tight now that it would probably be harder to have those kinds of moments. Although Exposed is being released “digitally” in America it actually hit stores in Japan exactly a year ago, do you think it’s being embraced more by Japanese fans or international fans?
MN: I’m not sure if fans outside Japan are receiving it well because the album has only been released in Japan, and we haven’t toured outside Japan.
MK: We have opened up for many artists like The Chemical Brothers, Moby, and Fatboy Slim, but have yet to headline anything major outside the country. That’s about to change as we prepare for our first Australian tour. We digitally released Exposed in Australia a short time ago and since then we’ve been receiving positive feedback.
Would you like to tour America sometime in the future?
MK: Of course, the American audience is great. They really understand our style of music and are extremely enthusiastic about it. I remember opening a show for Moby in Minneapolis a few years ago and the crowd was really into it. Everyone was dancing and having a great time. We can’t wait to perform in America again.
Is there anything you would like to say to the Americans who are read this article?
MK: Yes, please come out and see us. We have a really great show planned for you. For every album written, we record two different mixes. The first mix is the one everybody hears on the album, but the second mix can only be heard during the live show because we synchronize the music with a series of complex visuals that are also mixed live. Another reason for the two recordings is to make everything more exciting for the crowd, and they get to hear something new.
At what age did you start getting serious about becoming a musician?
MK: While I was in middle school. We [Nakano & I] originally met in college while I was in another band, but it was during those middle school days that I got serious about music.
What sparked your interest to work together?
MK: Well, I wanted to create a rock band that incorporated aspects of the nightlife scene in its music, something similar to what was going on in the U.K. Unfortunately, though, we were short a drummer so I asked Nakano to lend a hand. From that point we started recording demos and performing at small, local venues.
What did your parents think when you told them your dreams?
MK: There were times when we had support from our parents, and others when we didn’t.
The times without that support must have been difficult.
MK: We were going to quit Boom Boom Satellites after our third year, but inside we knew that giving up our dream was not the answer. Soon after the decision to continue songwriting our music began generating buzz. It wasn’t until we started doing remixes and movie soundtracks that our sound got a major push.
The movie soundtracks your music ieatured on appears to be mostly animations. Are you into Anime?
MK: I grew up on anime, and still watch it today. Two songrom Exposed have already been used on various soundtracks. “Shut Up And Explode,” is the opening theme to Xam’d: Lost Memories (亡念のザムド ) and “Easy Action” ieatured in the film Vexille. It was truly a wonderful experience to be involved so early into production. We plan on writing more music for soundtracks in the future because we know how much audio manipulation impacts the visuals.
Just watching the video for “Moment I Can” off 2005’ull Of Elevating Pleasures I can tell you guys take visuals very seriously.
MK: Music videos are part of the creation process so its important to work closely with the video director. After a few meetings we decide on the concept, and move forward with production.
Are your live gigs just as intense as the videos?
MK: More. With the inclusion of drummer Naoki Hirai we become a three piece ensemble that drops you somewhere between a heavy metal concert and a warehouse rave party. The combination of audio and visual stimulation magnifies the live show’s potency.
It appears that 2008 has been a pivotal year for the Boom Boom Satellites. So what’s next for guys?
MK: We just released a new Live DVD set that was recorded in 2008 while touring, and are already in the studio recording a follow-up to Exposed. After that we’d like to focus on getting our music to more people around the world.
Has the past success changed the way Boom Boom Satellites music is created?
MK: Not really. For this new album we basically locked ourselves in the studio and began writing, which is what we’ve done in the past, but this time the only pressure we have come from our own desire for perfection.
All the photos in this gallery are from Boom Boom Satellites electrifying performance at New York City’s Santos Party House on Tues, November 24th, 2009.