INTERVIEW: Pentagon Japan Brings Their Dark Punk Fantasy to A-Kon

L to R: Atsuki (ds.), Taku (gt.), minpha (Ba.), Chisa (vo.), Yutori (gt.)

Last month, Pentagon Japan made their debut U.S. performance at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena as part of A-Kon 2017. The rising visual kei stars dazzled their audience of dedicated fans and made new ones out of the others that attended. The next day, VKH sat down with vocalist Chizuru, guitarists Yutori and Taku, bassist minpha, and drummer Atsuki to discuss the band's past, present, and future.


VKH: How are you liking your trip to the United States so far?

Chizuru: We haven't been to America before, so it's the first time we're able to be here, and it's been a lot of fun so far.


VKH: Have you guys picked out your favorite American junk food?

Atsuki: Whataburger!

Taku: We like barbeque.

minpha: We went to a place where there was a whole bunch of different kinds of food, and there was this fried beef that we really liked.

Chizuru: It was Cajun-style!


VKH: What are your hobbies besides making music?

Atsuki: Video games.

Chizuru: We also like drinking a lot!

minpha: Surfing the web.

All: Also Youtube and Niconico!


VKH: Is there a core sound that you would use to describe Pentagon Japan’s music?


Taku: We started out with kind of a "dark fantasy" theme as the root of where our music was coming from. But as we've continued to grow as a band, we're exploring a whole bunch of different genres at this point.


VKH: You started out as a session band named Call Me, and then when you became Pentagon Japan, your first album was named Call Me... What’s the story behind the names "Pentagon Japan" and "Call Me"

Taku: For the songs that we used to do as Call Me under that band name, we went ahead and recorded them as Pentagon Japan. So they are Call Me songs recorded as Pentagon Japan.

minpha: We chose "Pentagon" in part because there are 5 members.

Chizuru: But even during our time as Call Me, the bunny doll [that we use in our PVs and album art] was an integral part of the band. And so, from the very beginning, the doll was named "Pentagon" too. So we took the doll's image and added it in on top of that.


VKH: You’ve been active for about 2 and a half years, but in that time, like you said, you’ve experimented with a lot of different types of music, such as dubstep and dark fantasy. Where do you draw inspiration for your songs?


Taku: There wasn't a particular artist that served as an inspiration. It was more just [listening to music that we like.] We'll get on the Internet, listen to a whole bunch of different music, and start studying and learning from it. That's kind of what's served as our inspiration.


VKH: What do you think has changed about you musically since you debuted, and what do you think has stayed the same?

Chizuru: Compared to when we started, it finally feels like we’re able to make the kind of music that we want. In the very beginning, there was a lot of growth [making] music and [how] we've matured as a band. And obviously, the characters that we all have and our visual kei style have grown in parallel with that. There were definitely some things we found difficult to convey to the listeners in the very beginning, but as we've continued our progress and what we've been doing, [it's become] a little bit easier and a little bit better.


VKH: Can you describe the process you use to create your music? Does one person compose the songs, or does everyone work on them?

Taku: We come up with songs by ourselves. The band member with the song idea would sort of work on it internally, put it together, and get it about 80 percent of the way done. Then he would give it to the other band members and say "Hey, this is what I've been playing with." And we'll go into to the recording studio, play around with it, and really get it to a good point. And then obviously Chizuru will jump in and do the lyrics from there.


VKH: Do you think having all five members contributing like that has helped you to create more diverse types of music?

Taku: We all have different preferences as far as music goes, so that definitely expands our repertoire.


VKH: You guys have also played with many different visual themes for your costumes and your PVs, such as a school or a haunted house. What is your favorite PV look that you’ve done?

minpha: I was a big fan of [our theme for] "Popcorn Monster."

Atsuki: There wasn't anything in particular as far as my image or different iterations of clothing, etc. that I was into. But as far as PVs are concerned, my favorite would be "CRAZY TRIBE."

Taku: As far as PVs, "WELCOME TO GHOST HOTEL" was my favorite.

Chizuru: "WELCOME TO GHOST HOTEL" was something I really liked, especially from an image perspective. I got to kind of perm my hair; there was something wavy going on. So just personally, as far as style goes, I really liked that.

Yutori: I was thinking of our CD Zekkyou!


VKH: How would you like to evolve your sound and style in the long term future (5 years, 10 years, etc.)?

Taku: Trying to even think 5 years down the road or anything long term like that is just huge. We're going to be happy if we're able to do the stuff that we want to do at that time. We want to stay really true to ourselves, and that's where we're at right now.

Atsuki: [In english] Me too.


VKH: In your new album WANDERLUST, you’re trying even more new sounds. Can you explain the theme of WANDERLUST and what you wanted to convey with the new album?

Taku: Really it's about freedom. It's about the ability to choose. There's different punk influences as long as they're a little bit more punk and a little bit more dark fantasy...different kinds of sounds and things like that. We were really thinking that this is the album that we were able to put a lot of heart into and really try out a lot of stuff.


VKH: The PV for Toon World was very entertaining! Can you explain the meaning behind the song and the PV for our readers who don’t know Japanese?


Taku: Sum 41's "Still Waiting" was a big influence behind the PV. So that was something we took a lot of images and stuff like that from. As for the contents of the PV, we've got the boss coming in and saying "you need to do this and blah blah blah". We get pushed to the limit and just being able to completely trash the place and really go crazy was a lot of fun.



VKH: The Crazy Tribe PV looked like it was a lot of fun to make. What made you decide to try a nightclub dance song?

Chizuru: So the image in the video is this nightclub. There's a lot of fighting and a lot of energy and stuff like that going on. In the previous PVs that we had made, it was all about "ok, Atsuki's this kind of person, Taku's this kind of person, minpha's this kind of person" and things like that. So this PV was an opportunity to break that apart and do something completely different. We like drinking a lot to begin with, and so that was kind of the scene and the imagery that was there. It was a lot of fun for us, because we were able to do all that stuff. We're sitting there and everybody's having a good time. So it ended up being something that was a [different enough to break] the mold we had previously.



VKH: Thanks so much for sitting down with us! Can you each please send a message to your fans?

Atsuki: Thank you very much for reading. For anyone reading the article and learning about Pentagon Japan for the first time, there are a lot of ways to discover our music on Youtube and things like that. So thank you for having us, and I'm really looking forward to coming back and doing this again.

Taku: Thank you again very much for reading the article. Obviously we're still not selling a lot of CDs in foreign countries, but there are a whole bunch of different ways you can discover our music. There's Youtube, there's magazines...a lot of different ways that you can start engaging with Pentagon Japan as a band. Going forward we're definitely looking forward to doing a lot more lives, and being here a little more, and to really expand the amount of influence that Pentagon Japan can have.

minpha: We're going to continue to work hard going forward in order to get our name, and to be called by a bunch of different countries, so that we can continue to spread our music [more and more] throughout the world. Thank you very much.

Chizuru: Thank you very much for reading. Of course, this was the first time that we were able to come to a foreign country and do a live. And so, being Japanese, there could be a lot of difficulties or walls between us. There's a lot that's different about being in Japan from being in foreign places. But this time we were able to be part of such an awesome event as A-Kon, and we really got to feeling that the languages difference and things like that are not as big of walls as we previously thought. So we're definitely going to take the emotion we got from being here and playing at A-Kon, continue to grow, and become the band that can continue to come back and do lives here.

Yutori: Thank you very much for reading. We're going to continue to work hard going forward. Keep an eye out for us!


LINKS:
OHP
Official Twitter
Chizuru's Twitter
Yutori's Twitter
Taku's Twitter
minpha's Twitter
Atsuki's Twitter

Special thanks to FAKE STAR, USA and A-Kon for making this possible!
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