Interview with the band Kurenai

Left to right: Veball Va (Vebo), Michael Nguyen, Francis Nguyen, and Lauren Mar from the band Kurenai

Hello Kurenai, and thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me. Let’s go ahead and get started. So please introduce yourself.

Lauren: Hi! My name is Lauren and I am the lead vocalist. ^-^

Francis: I’m Francis. I play drums and make lots of loud noises with various body parts.

Michael: Hey, my name is Michael, and I play the geetar. And the cowbell (but don’t tell Francis…)

Vebo: My names Vebo. I’m the bassist and I also play the role of comic relief.

Q: Now I caught your band at Hypercon 2012. How did you guys enjoy the event?

Lauren: It was a lot of fun. Great crowd! All the bands were really supportive of each other as well.

Francis: It was pretty fun! It’s a nice small convention, but people were pretty receptive. The only thing I was bummed about was how dark it was during our show; I had to take off my sunglasses. Eye protection is important.

Michael: It was a lot of fun! Crowd was cool, and lots of interaction with the other bands that were also there (who are, by the way, awesome :D). Much better than last year’s Hypercon, haha.

Vebo: It was cool for a small venue. The highlight was definitely the concert with all the musicians, In my opinion. The only crappy part was all that crap that was on the grass from the dog crap. What a buncha crap. I was like “Holy crap! Look at all this crap! Crap! Hey, watch out for that crap, guys…”

Q: So what genre of music does your band play?

Lauren: A mix of Japanese pop and rock. Teehee! Pop ROCKS! XD

Francis: We play a mix of J-rock, pop-rock, and whatever sounds cool.

Michael: We generally play J-rock, but kind of dabble in related music.

Vebo: Regga Polka Ice Cream.

Q: So how long has your band been together?

Francis: We’ve been together as a band since early 2011.

Lauren: Almost two years now? We started playing together in March 2011. So ya. Almost two years.

Vebo: 12 parsecs. (google it)

Michael: Since the beginning of time.

Q: Now you guys decided on the name Kurenai for your band. What was your reason or meaning behind picking this name?

Francis: When we formed a band, we tossed around a lot of ideas for names. I don’t think any of us were too good at picking out cool things.

Lauren: So we started thinking about song names and came across “Kurenai” by X Japan. We all love that song so we decided to make that our band name. Kurenai means crimson.

Francis: We’re pretty big fans of X Japan.

Michael: X-Japan. ‘Nuff said.

Vebo: I uh… I don’t know… I don’t know who came up with it. Whoever did… bless his soul.

Q: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Lauren: I find a lot of my musical influences not from big name artists (though I do have a lot of favorites), but more from YouTube singers. For example, before HIMEKA won the 2nd Anison Grand Prix in Japan, I was a gigantic fan of hers on YouTube. I would get so excited when she uploaded a new cover. Same with Charice Pampengco (now just Charice). I really like big voices like theirs. I just think the undiscovered talent on YouTube is just simply amazing and really inspiring. I hope I get the chance to meet more and more YouTube vocalists in the future.
Non-musical influences would definitely have to be my family, my boyfriend, and my band mates. My whole family is strong and true to who they are. Even my grandmother who passed away late July this year lived her life to the fullest and doing what she loved best. The same goes for my boyfriend and my band mates. We are all different, but yet we all stay true to who we are and I find that very inspiring.

Francis: I have a lot of both Japanese and non-Japanese influences. On the Japanese side of things, Yoshiki (X Japan) and Nao (Maximum the Hormone) are pretty big influences on my drumming. Songwriting as a whole is heavily influenced by Asian Kung-Fu Generation as well. Their drummer, Kiyoshi Ijichi is pretty awesome as well; they just play so tight as a band. It’s something I wish I could do. On the non-Japanese side of things, a few of my drumming influences are The Rev (Avenged Sevenfold), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Dave Grohl, and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters). I also have a big thing for singing drummers. As far as non-musical influences, my parents are pretty influential. They taught me my work ethic. Although I guess they’re also musical influences as well. They both have a musical background and gave me a foot in the door for music.

Vebo: Uh… definitely, not X-Japan. I don’t know why would anyone think of that. As for non-musical influences, I strum like a little girl holds her tea cup. So maybe Princess Diana.

Michael: My music influences really start with metal/hard rock music. When I was just starting to play guitar, my biggest influences were probably Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold. Nowadays, my playing is a lot more influenced by J-rock and hard rock. Some current favorite bands include Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Rise Against, Seo Taiji, and Yousei Teikoku. As far as non-musical influences go, I guess my big influences are my family and friends. Really, they’re the reasons why I am the person I am today.

Q: How would you describe your show, visual and musically?

Lauren: Lol! Um……….visually…………Asian, Asian, Asian, Asian. Musically…………..VERY LOUD ASIANS! Haha! XD

Francis: I would say it’s a big, loud, musical hangout, sometimes with puns.

Michael: I feel like our shows are fun and energetic, and we try to show it; as far as sound goes, we are loud. Like, really loud.

Vebo: Lots of teasing. I’m usually at the end of it. I feel like it balances out though since I tease everyone else at practice.

Q: What inspires you to do what you do?

Lauren: I don’t think I can ever give a straight answer to this question. To be blunt, I just love to sing. I sing in the car. I sing in the shower. I sing around the house. I just can’t imagine my life without singing or music. I just have an internal instinct that truly enjoys music. Even though I have no musical training whatsoever, I enjoy every bit of it.

Francis: I’m just inspired by my love for music, how much fun I have doing it, and other musicians I get to meet.

Michael: Well, music is a passion of mine and by far my biggest hobby. I love playing different instruments, and I feel like I have so much to learn on all of them. My desire to become better at what I do really drives me to practice and become skilled at my instruments.

Vebo: Food and booze.

Q: What are the biggest obstacles for bands?

Lauren: Finding people you really mesh together with. You can have a great sound, but if you don’t have good chemistry within the band then it’s no good.

Francis: One of the biggest obstacles is finding other like-minded musicians who you have chemistry with.

Michael: I would say it would finding people that you get along with well enough to be stuck in a band with for a prolonged period of time. If everyone doesn’t connect on some level, personally and/or musically, the band’s gonna have a pretty tough time staying together. Another possible obstacle would be getting the resources/opportunities to play gigs.

Vebo: Chemistry. Sound check. Lack of food and booze. Dog crap. Time management. Lack of booze and food. Crap management. Dog check.

Q: What were some of the most memorable spots that your band has played at?

Lauren: Hmmmmmm………the ones I remember the most were our worst shows cause we laugh at ourselves afterwards. Haha! Like when we tried to coordinate wardrobe at Anime Destiny 2011. Lol! Never doing that again. But my favorite show to this day would be SNAFU 2011. All the attendees were super fun and awesome. Love you guys!

Francis: The most memorable for me was playing at San Francisco’s Japantown for the Cherry Blossom festival earlier this year. We had a great stage setup, great sound guys, and a stellar backdrop.

Vebo: Old Sac was really fun! SNAFU was great but we’re not going to be staying there for a night this year so no hotel parties for me

Michael: The most memorable place we played at for me was also SNAFU last year. I was sick the day we played, and it was also my birthday. The crowd sang happy birthday for me. Was pretty awesome.

Q: Now most bands usually start out in small venue’s like bars, and clubs etc… What would you say are some of the positive, and negative things about playing in a small venues such as those?

Lauren: We never played at bars and clubs. We play at anime conventions cause everyone knows what we play. I would have to guess that it would have to be space limitations? Cause some bars and clubs are smaller than others so you may not have room for all your equipment, not enough power sources, etc.

Vebo: I think it’s more intimate with the audience. And most of the audience doesn’t know what to expect also. So there’s that mysterious excitement. But I’ve never played on a big venue really so I wouldn’t know what differences there are.

Michael: Well, I haven’t really had experience playing in bars and clubs. However, the issues I would expect to have if I were playing in a bar/club would be lack of resources and experience. The band might not have all the equipment they would like to have in order to play, and if it’s a band that’s just starting out, I would guess there are a few kinks they are still working out of their show.

Q: Any advice that you would like to give to any bands starting out?

Lauren: Love what you do and do it. If you don’t love what you’re doing, it will show through your music and stage presence. You only live once. If you don’t love the stuff you’re doing then why are you doing it?

Francis: (Did you just say YOLO?) Anyway, my advice would be: Find out what it is you want to do, and do it. Screw what others think.

Vebo: Buy a dolly! And uh, don’t play at Deceptikon. Just kidding lol… no seriously. It’s terrible. Just kidding haha… >_> (not)…

Francis: Speaking of which, first gig advice: Practice setting up and tearing down, flow between songs, don’t agree to play in 100 degree weather, and don’t play in 100 degree weather dressed up fancily. Terrible idea. And practice is important too.

Vebo: Commitment and progress is most important. In fact, out of those two things I provide 1/10 of them Jk…1/12 lol

Michael: Practice (Vebo…). Listen to what your bandmates are saying (Vebo…). Don’t be an egotistical jerk (Vebo…). Take constructive criticisms (Vebo…). Be on time (Vebo…). Most importantly, don’t get so serious about the whole ordeal that you forget to have fun!

Q: So what future events/venues can your fans look forward to seeing you at in the future?

Lauren: Oh boy! *pulls out planner* Our next show is SNAFU in Reno, NV on 9/23. Next is Anime Destiny on 10/13. After that, Anime Vegas on 11/10. Then AnimeiCon on 12/1? Not too sure on the details for AnimeiCon. We’re still chatting with the con, but we’ll be there for sure.

Q: Well, Thank you again Kurenai for taking time out of your day to do this interview with me. Are their any last words that you would like to say to the readers? Feel free to say anything.

Michael: Pie.

Lauren: I can’t wait to meet everyone! Hope to see you all very soon! ;D *hugs*

Francis: Thank you very much! We hope to rock you at a show near you!

Vebo: Anything? Eh, I don’t think that’s a good idea. There’s a reason why I don’t have a mic and it has nothing to do with me sucking on backup vocals. But um… stay outta dog crap! THE END!

Mmmm, Pie… Oh, wait where was I? Oh yea that’s right… So those were some great last words, and it was a pleasure working with you at Hyper con, and I look forward to seeing more of your performances at future conventions.

If you’d like to follow or see some of Kurenai’s past performances please check out their websites:



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