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Tom Smith on the ROOKiEZ of Japanese punk

ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D met during a welcoming party for new students at their Chiba-based high school back in 2006. The group’s now bass-player, 2RASH, brought up in conversation that he used to play in a cover band of one of Japan’s best loved melodic hardcore bands; HI-STANDARD (note to any punk fans out there; HI-STANDARD used to be signed to California’s Fat Wreck Chords alongside NOFX, Less Than Jake and a whole host of other American bands of a similar ilk). Schoolboy-and-soon-to-be-frontman SHINNOSUKE and his buddy TSUYOSHI were massive fans of the band, so 2RASH had their full attention. And soon, out of a shared love for punk, ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D was formed between the threesome, with SHiNNOSUKE on guitar and vocals, TSUYOSHI on drums, and 2RASH behind the bass guitar.

Classing themselves as a ‘mixture rock’ band, the trio soon started causing a stir in the indie music scene of Shibuya and Shinjuku. After playing a number of regular club nights and events for new rock music in the areas, DefSTAR Records soon took notice and snapped them up, assigning them to work on the soundtrack to the Durarara!! – by 2010 their debut single ‘Complication’ was used as the second ending to the anime series, and the band had their first collaboration album in the works, fittingly titled DRRROOKiEZ!! ~ ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D respect for DRRR!! (that’s DRRR with three-Rs, in case you missed the reference in the title the first and second time).

Soon after their successful debut, TSUYOSHI withdrew from the band and was replaced with the band’s latest member U. At the time ‘Complication’ had made the Oricon singles chart top 20, debuting impressively at number 11. Unfortunately, the band’s follow up single didn’t go down quite as well. Bizarrely named ‘eggmate of the year’, it was released two months after ‘Complication’ but struggled to make the top 150, despite its bikini-packing promotional video, which this writer would gladly watch for eternity.

DefSTAR decided to get the boys back into the realm of anime with their next single ‘Song for…’. Featuring as the 26th ending theme to Bleach, the label and band alike hoped they could emulate the same level of success as their first anime-outing from Durarara!!. Sadly they couldn’t, and ‘Song for…’ peaked in the charts at 91.

But! Blue Exorcist was their key back to the mainstream. Their next single ‘IN YOUR WORLD’ become the second opening to the series, and according to Last.fm, it’s the band’s most listened to song amongst users by far.  It peaked in the Japanese single charts at number 13 and proved PUNK’D was not dead. A new version of the track was also recorded featuring the voice actor behind Blue Exorcist’s protagonist Yukio Okumura, the multi-award winning seiyu Jun Fukuyama.

Blue Exorcist Part 2, featuring ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D’s ‘IN YOUR WORLD’ is out on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment from 29 October.


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