March 24, 2013

CMW Review: Japan Nite Four Minutes til Midnight

What a day for Japanese/U.S funk rock band, Four Minutes Til Midnight! First off, the original member/guitarist, Kenta Hayashi who plays a big role in the band is not touring with the band due to his visa situation in the States. Secondly, the lead singer, Eli Taylor didn't make it to the flight to Toronto so he had to take a greyhound bus from New York for 13 hours and barely made it to their show, just one song after their show has started. (It was more like 15 mins after Midnight, get it?) The moment Eli jumped on the stage, there was a relief on the faces of the members and it felt as if it was their reunion show. It just made EVERYONE in the venue smile and so more excited.

Once Eli got ready to rock out with the Canuck audience for the first time, they blasted their funkyest bass slaps and guitar howls to the loudest. Their unique style of the funk/jazz/rock infusion was a reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their boarder-less musical style was intriguing to witness. Despite the 13 hour bus ride, Eli Taylor was very energetic and showcased his hand dancing with rhythmical rapping. It was 5th band of the night where the audience usually get tired out by the end. However, the energy of the whole venue kept up very high and the audience swayed along with the groove as if it was transmitted from the stage. This is definitely a band that you want to keep eyes on. Let's talk a little bit about their history as Music Psychos had an opportunity to speak with the bassist Yu-suke prior to the show.

This unique quartet from two continents started back in 2005. The guitarist, Kenta and singer Eli met in a music institute in L.A and shared a common music ground and started playing together with the bassist,  Yu-suke from Japan who was also living in San Francisco back then. " I used to live in California and played with Eli, but we both (Kenta and Yu-suke) had to go back to Japan last year due to our visa situation. The visa expiration in the State forced us to go back." Said Yu-suke.

Prior to the departure from the States, Four Minutes Til Midnight has released a self recorded album called, Find My Way. A single off the record, Cold Lonely Train has marked #1 spot in Japanese indie rock radio chart, Usen, which made them buzzed up in Japan. They've also participated in the world biggest battle of the band, Emergenza Music Festival and won the second place. All the buzz from media outlets and labels landed them with an opportunity to provide a cover song, Lounge Act in the Nirvana's tribute album, Never Mind in 2012. "We are not really famous in Japan yet. ( we are going to be!) so we had to choose a song that was left on the table after other artists chose theirs. I was happy with the choice it was the song that I wanted to play, but other members wanted to play other songs. Kenta rearranged the whole song and brought it to the band." The cover song is spiced up with their signature funk taste to it."

This contribution has made them even hotter among major labels, and finally Four Minutes Till Midnight was signed by Universal Music Japan. " It was a great timing that our band got signed with a Japanese major label ( to be back in Japan.)"

After landing in the homeland, the band was physically parted but not spiritually,one of the hardest things for Yu-suke was to adjust back in the Japanese culture. "I've been living in the states so long that when I went to back, I was shocked. Japanese people are very shy. Japanese audience seem like when bands are playing the song, they kinda watch it and taking all in, whereas American audience are lively aggressive. So it can be very intimidating to play in Japan. Everyone is watching and being very attentive. In America, it's so much like a party. I miss the culture here and I wish I could move back to the states. I love Japan, but I prefer the North American culture better."

They've released their debut album through Universal Music Japan last year. One of the songs off the album Brothers has such a strong message to it along with its alluring funk rock melody."Kenta made the melody line of the song first. At the beginning of the song, there is a old man narrative. Eli works in a supermarket and he met the old guy in the store and he talked about WW2 with him and he did an interview with him and recorded the narrative portion and we used it in the song."

After this Japan Nite U.S tour, Four Minutes Til Midnight has a recording plan lined up. "We are going to record a new album next month in Mexico. It is set to be released in Nov 2014. I feel lots of pressure now that we are living in different countries that we can't record or practice often. But I hope the recording in Mexico will go well." 

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