Hi, and thank you for allowing me to do this interview with you akai SKY.
Q: So please introduce yourself, and what part you play in the band?
Hayashi: Osu, Hayashi desu. I play lead guitar.
Ryuusei: I’m on vocals and occasional guitar!
Umi: I play bass.
Jinra: And I’m on drums.
Q: Now I caught your band at Hypercon 2012. How did you guys enjoy the event?
Hayashi: It was our second year playing and the organizers, Mark and Eddie, and everyone at the con were great to work with. We like playing and supporting local shows, so it was a blast to only drive 20 minutes to perform.
Q: So what genre of music does your band play?
Umi: We play American Rock-inspired Japanese Rock music. More specifically I would say if you blended American Classic Rock and Alternative Rock along with J-Rock, that is what we pretty much sound like.
Hayashi: It’s important for us to pay respects to both sides of our musicals roots hence the reason why we play American style J-Rock music with Japanese lyrics!
Q: So how long has your band been together?
Umi: akai SKY was formed prior to 2005 by Hayashi and myself. We were just learning to play our instruments back then, as well as learning how to play in a band. So, we really consider our first performance in 2005 as our official starting point.
Ryuusei: Jinra and I joined the band in 2008 and we’ve been gigging together ever since!
Q: Now you guys decided on the name akai SKY for your band. What was your reason or meaning behind picking this name?
Umi: Naming the band was difficult. It’s a name that sticks with you, so you don’t want to get it wrong. We had a lot of brainstorming sessions and tried out a few names for a month or so, but nothing really stuck. At that time, Hayashi was really enjoying a song by SOAP called Red Sky and so I absentmindedly suggested “akai SKY” one day but it turned out the other members liked it because it rhymed and it married a Japanese word and English word just like our music does.
Q: Who are your musical influences?
Hayashi: I’m influenced by any music with hard riffs, catchy choruses and killer solos, mainly in the vein of mainstream J-Rock and Hard Alternative Rock.
Jinra: I wouldn’t say my drumming is influenced anyone, but I do borrow a few fills and patterns from some of my favorite drummers; though I do so with entirely my own style and take on it.
Q: How would you describe your show, visual and musically?
Hayashi: We always try to put on an energetic shows and get people on their feet. I play guitar like I don’t have any money and need the tips to buy myself dinner and a ride home.
Umi: We understand that when people see a live music show, it’s as much about the visual presentation as it is the music itself, so we’re striving to improve both elements of our live shows all the time.
Ryuusei: I aspire to really give the audience something more than just listening to our recordings. Our recordings represent the best of what we have to give musically, but our live show provides an additional avenue to really connect with our fans as people.
Q: What inspires you to do what you do?
Jinra: Playing music wasn’t a big part of my life before I was 18, which is one of the few things I regretted about my childhood. I was never encouraged or supported by my family when I took an interest in drumming, so I didn’t start until later in life. When I explored how amazing it was to play with other musicians and in front of an audience, it just stuck with me. It’s something I’m willing to invest time and money in without a second thought.
Q: What are the biggest obstacles for a band?
Hayashi: A band is like a marriage with three other people where you don’t make a ton of money.
Jinra: Expanding on the marriage analogy, a band has to be compatible with each other or there will be chaos and clashing ideas and goals. It’s like a relationship with multiple chances of failing! But once you do find people you work well with, it can be a awesome thing.
Umi: Aside from group chemistry, another big challenge is commitment and the ability to get things done and moving forward. Without that, a band could spend years rehearsing in the studio on their own – never performing live, finishing an original song, recording an album or building up an online presence.
Q: What were some of the most memorable spots that your band has played at?
Hayashi: We’ve played at Fanime in San Jose, CA which was fun since it was the first con I’ve ever been to. One time we played a show at a museum in San Francisco for an Osamu Tezuka exhibit, which was quite a different experience than a regular gig. We always love playing at SacAnime in Sacramento because the staff, fans, sound guys – basically everyone is so good to us!
Jinra: Florida Anime Supercon was my favorite show. I was pretty fresh and it was my first show with akai SKY so I didn’t play particularly well (not to mention the equipment failures), but it was an amazing experience since I got to travel and play at a venue that someone paid us to perform at.
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?
Hayashi: The more you play anywhere, the better you become. But don’t get stuck in this trap where you play 10 shows in 3 months in the same area to empty crowds. Make sure you craft your art first and play a few great shows rather than tons of messy ones.
Ryuusei: I’d agreed with Hayashi. Any opportunity to play is an opportunity to learn and grow. Do your best for the people listening, even if it’s just a few fans. I’d rather play to a few people who are excited about our music than a bunch of people who are indifferent.
Q: Any advice that you would like to give to any bands starting out?
Ryuusei: Practice, practice, practice! Play what you love and be cool with taking useful criticism. Make sure you know what’s useful!
Umi: Make sure you have a band leader that is organized and is able to whip everyone into shape, like Hayashi does for us.
Q: So what future events/venue’s can your fans look forward to seeing you at in the future?
Umi:We’ll be playing in Berkeley, CA on October 13, 2012 at Anime Destiny. We’ll also be playing in Monterey, CA on December 1 & 2 at AnimeiCon.
Well, thank you very much akai SKY for taking time out of your day to do this interview with me. Are there any last words that you would like to say to the readers?
Hayashi: Hit us up on Facebook! We love talking to people who have been to our shows. It’s really the main reason why I play music – to connect!
Thank you Hayashi for those final words, and it was a pleasure seeing akai SKY perform at Hyper con 2012 this year. If you would like follow or listen to more of akai SKY’s work please visit one of their sites: