Tom Smith on anime’s new rock force: SPYAIR
We’ve seen on the Manga blog before how popular bands and artists can become once they land a song in a popular anime, TV series or film. So imagine how big a band must be when 11 of their 12 singles have been tied to all three! Meet SPYAIR, one of the hottest new pop-rock talents to break out of Japan.
SPYAIR began life as the living definition of ‘independent’. After forming in 2005, they proceeded to go about doing everything by themselves, from producing their own singles to rocking the streets of Nagoya – literally! They would regularly turn up in the trendy Sakae district of the city and perform live on the pavement in the hope of gaining new fans and listeners.
Five years of hard work later and SPYAIR find themselves signed to Sony Music Japan and releasing their debut major single ‘LIAR’. The track was a perfect homage to each member’s personal favourite musicians. Guitarist UZ is into The Prodigy and Linkin Park, which would explain the inspiration behind the song’s sharp electronic sections. Drummer KENTA is much more into Korn, Nickleback and P!NK, contributing to LIAR’s pop-rock beats that border on sounding heavy, but without alienating anyone whose ears aren’t attuned to the ways of metal. Then there’s IKE on vocals, his favourite artists include all of the above, as well as Michael Jackson. Perhaps that’s why every SPYAIR song, no matter how rock or punky its guitar riffs are, manages to retain a strong pop element – vocals especially. This is rock for those turned off by screamy, aggressive music.
SPYAIR’s second single ‘LAST MOMENT’ was another example of upbeat rock with an overlaying pop vibe. It was used as the 25th ending for Bleach (episodes 292-303), and despite the band since having songs in Gintama (‘Some Like It Hot!!’, as well as ‘Sakura Mitsutsuki’ from their latest album) and Gundam Age (‘My World’), ‘LAST MOMENT’ remains their most popular track with international fans.
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Their links with anime transcended music, too. Above is the video to ‘Sakura Mitsutsuki’, used as the 13th opening to the Gintama anime series. Check out vocalist IKE’s hair! It’s pure white, just like Gintama’s unconventional samurai Gintoki Sakata. Coincidence? Not a chance.
The UK version of their new album MILLION, released at the end of September courtesy of JPU Records, has also been created with the anime fan in mind. On top of the regular albums tracks found on the Japanese release (which include ‘Sakura Mitsutuki’, as well the theme song from Gintama: The Movie – The Final Chapter: Be Forever, Yorozuya, ‘Genjo Destruction’), the JPU version will additionally include three exclusive bonus tracks from SPYAIR’s run-in with anime so far, including the tracks mentioned earlier from Bleach, Gintama and Gundam Age – the first time these tracks have been released on CD in Europe. If ever there was a time to get into the world of SPYAIR, this is it.
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MILLION from SPYAIR is out now on CD and digital format from JPU Records.