The Tuesday night before Thanksgiving I attended a Boom Boom Satellites (BBS) concert in New York City. I had no idea who they were before the concert but quickly grew in love with their music. 12 hours later, they were in the Ningin office lounge hanging out with the Ningin NYC staff. It was kind of surreal because it’s not every day we have rock stars just kickin’ it in our office and at the time I’ve yet to fully recover from the wild night of partying. It was a great experience and I was able to learn a lot about them through a somewhat informal interview. Again BBS is a two-person band, Michiyuki (right) is the vocalist and guitarist and Masayuki (left) is on bass. Mimi, their manager helped answer a few questions as well. Enjoy!
Hoc: Tell me how you guys met and how you decided to form a band.
Michiyuki: We went to the same university and at first just played for fun, just to make music. After graduating, we decided to be full time musicians. At first we sign with a European label, R&S, in Belgium. We debut in 1987 in Belgium. Next year, UK, and then finally Japan.
Hoc: Did it matter that Japan wasn’t the first country that you debut in?
Michiyuki: We didn’t care where we played, we just wanted to play our music and get exposure. We sent our demo tapes to many labels and R&S was the only one to contact us.
Hoc: You have a unique experimental rock sound. What were some of your early inspirations for your music?
Masayuki: [Our music] was influenced by UK rock sounds and US alternative rock. So that was our based and its been evolving since.
Hoc: What about now? What other artists influence your music?
Michiyuki: Other inspirations… Nirvana and Public Enemy. We have a song with Chuck D of Public Enemy and also we like Nine Inch Nails.
Note: The Chuck D collab was called, Your Realitys’ a Fantasy But Your Fantasy Is Killing and was on their 2001 album, Umbra.
Hoc: Critics of your music often compare it to The Chemical Bros and The Prodigy. What are your thoughts on that?
Masayuki: We don’t care about critics.
Hoc: Ha, spoken like true musicians. Would you be open to working with the Chemical Bros or in general, who would you want to work with?
Michiyuki: In the future, we haven’t decided yet, but any interesting artists out there, we’re open to it.
Hoc: How did the Flo Rida and Tahj Kick It Out collaboration happen?
Michiyuki: Last time we came here [NYC], we were in a cab and heard the Right Round song. That was the first we heard of Flo Rida.
Mimi: The collaboration idea came from Timbaland Productions. They contacted BBS through me, the label, and wanted to use the Kick It Out song.
Hoc: So Timbaland thought so highly of BBS that they contacted them?
Mimi: Yes. Tahj was also brought on board by Timbaland.
Hoc: Speaking of Tahj, do you guys know that he was on a popular US TV show called Full House? Have you seen any episodes?
Mimi: Just saw it this morning.
Masayuki: I saw it on YouTube. (everyone laughs)
Hoc: Did you know that lots of young American girls had crushes on him?
Michiyuki: (laughs) No comment.
Hoc: What was it like to shoot the Kick it Out Music video?
Michiyuki: It’s very different from Japanese music videos. It was interesting.
Hoc: There was a lot of dancing in the music video, but not much from you guys. Did you guys wanted to dance more?
Michiyuki: (laughs) No not really.
Mimi: They were too busy playing their music.
Hoc: In the video, Flo Rida appeared as a hologram, but was he really there on stage with you guys during the shoot?
Mimi: It was hard to get everyone’s schedule to coordinate because we were all so busy. So the director, decided to include Flo Rida as a hologram instead. It worked out nicely!
Hoc: Are we going to see the Kick it Out single with Tahj and Flo Rida on an album anytime soon?
Masayuki: No, it was a special project.
Mimi: They originally released the Kick It Out song on their past album, On. We might release a new album with this new version of Kick it Out.
Hoc: Depending on the success of Kick it Out here in the US, would you want to crossover to the US mainstream?
Michiyuki: We would like to come tour in the US and release a new album here.
Hoc: What are your thoughts about other Japanese artists looking to crossover, like Utada and BoA and how do you think you’re different?
Masayuki: There’s a lot of cultural differences and plus the many Japanese artists don’t have a good enough [command] of English. Unlike me (everyone laughs).
Michiyuki: We want our music to be universal, and appeal to everyone. And let the music to do the talking.
Hoc: Is that the next big goal for you, to become US rock stars?
Hoc: I ask this because there’s been a number of Asian pop stars, this year especially, (BoA, Wonder Girls, Se7en, Utada) trying to crossover to varying degrees of success. I would love you guys to be Asian US pop stars.
Michiyuki: Ganbattemasu! (laughs)
Mimi translates: He said I’ll do my best.
Hoc: When can we expect to see a US album drop?
Mimi: I’m working on it. We’re working on it.
Hoc: Ok, besides trying to conquer America, what other plans do you have in general? Masayuki: We are making a new original album and a best of album.
Michiyuki: At the end of the year, we’ll be in Taipei and a few gigs in Tokyo. Next year we’ll release the new album and hopefully something here [in the US].
Hoc: The new album is for the Japanese market?
Masayuki: Yes, but hopefully it’ll be released here too.
Mimi: I’m working on it!
Hoc: It’s uncommon to have a female drummer in a rock band. How did you come about with yours?
Mimi: Well originally, we had a guy drummer, [Naoki Hirai], but Yoko has been playing with us recently and she’s incredible so we added her to support the band.
Editor’s note: having a female drummer makes a band 10x more cool!
Hoc: What do you do on your days off? What do you do for fun?
Masayuki: sleep. (laughs)
Mimi: They don’t really have a day off. They have a private studio back in Japan and they’re always there when they’re not touring.
Hoc: Wow you guys work so hard. Ok, what hobbies do you have?
Masayuki: I take pictures.
Mimi: Often times the pictures they take get included in the albums they make. The special edition albums have lots of pictures from Masayuki.
Hoc: What about you Michi-san?
Michiyuki: Getting on a train. (laughs) It’s an inside joke. I mean I get on a train with a recorder and record the sounds I hear. Then take it back to my place and just listens to it. I take the sounds and give them to Masa and he puts it into that [points at the album they just gave me].
Hoc: Oh that’s so cool. So you guys just take whatever sounds in nature or urban life and put it in your music? I never heard anything like that before. It’s so organic and original!
Both of you have the whole cool rock star look going on, especially the hair. Any hair tips you want to share? (everyone laughs)
Masayuki: We try hard.
Michiyuki: I’m really bald.
Mimi: No that’s not true.
Michiyuki: Um, I just take a shower and blow dry my hair and that’s it.
Hoc: Same for you (Masayuki)?
Masayuki: Same. (Laughs)
Hoc: What about relationships? Any girlfriends or wives?
Masayuki: I’m happy being single.
Mimi: haha, next question.
Hoc: What other talents do you have besides photography and music?
Masayuki: We love to cook.
Hoc: Oh what kind of food?
Michiyuki: Everything, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian.
Hoc: So what foods are your favorite?
Masayuki: Rice ball (big laughs from everyone) (in Japan rice balls are called onigiri.)
Michiyuki: Miso ramen.
Hoc: Your concert last night was a lot of fun. You guys rock pretty hard! I’m wondering, what are the differences in US audiences and Japanese audiences?
Michiyuki: Japanese audiences are a little more laid back. Doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying it, but more like listening very carefully. In the US, the fans are more aggressive.
Hoc: Which types of audiences do you like better?
Masayuki: We like that the audiences are a bit different in every country. But as long as they enjoy the music, we’re happy.
It was great how they were so cool and chill about everything. They were really thankful for the interview and the time they spent at our office. I’m like, it’s us that should be thanking you for making the time to be here. They had a lot of other interviews that day including one with DJ Envy of Hot 97, one of the more popular hip hop DJs here in NYC. I really do hope they become successful in the US because they’re good people in addition to being great musicians.
While they were here, they gave me a lot of stuff to giveaway including an autographed tour DVD from their 2008 Japan tour. Both Michiyuki and Masayuki signed it. We’ll be doing some sort of contest giveaway later for that. They also gave me an autographed album which I was gonna give out as well, but sorry folks, they want me to personally keep it!