INTERVIEW: ACME Dives Deep Into Their Musical Journey at Anime Milwaukee 2019

L to R: RIKITO (ba.), CHISA (vo.), HAL (dr.), SHOGO (gt.)

Those of you who attended Anime Milwaukee in Wisconsin this year are probably now aware that  the members of ACME, who made their U.S. debut there, are quite open and funny! A few hours before their first concert at the convention (and first live show in America), the band sat down with VKH Press for a very candid and in-depth discussion. Each member gave detailed explanations about ACME's journey and influences, all while cracking several jokes along the way. This ended up being one of our favorite interviews that we've ever conducted with a band. Enjoy!


VKH: Could you describe the concept behind your band and why you picked the name ACME?

CHISA: I don't know about America, but in Japan it's actually a perverted word. It has a very erotic meaning. There's a lot of visual kei bands that have erotic-sounding names, but there was nobody with the name "アクメ." So that's why we chose that name in particular. And then also there's the point of "ACME" starts with an "A," so in English it comes up first. And then also in Japanese it comes up as あ ["a," pronounced "ah"], so it comes up first. That was another appeal of the name. But then there's also an actual meaning behind the word. It can mean "ecstasy" and it can also mean "the point of evolution." There's those types of meaning behind the word as well.


VKH: What are some artists you look up to, and do you have any favorite American bands?

RIKITO & HAL: Linkin Park!

SHOGO: Story of the Year.

RIKITO: Michael Jackson!

HAL: Slipknot. I've met Slipknot before in Japan. I played a festival with them once. Nice guys.

CHISA: Korn.

SHOGO: Limp Bizkit.

RIKITO: Mr. Bean... (laughs)

HAL: What about a recent band? Ummm...Green Day! (laughs)

RIKITO: Bon Jovi!

CHISA: Do you have any recommendations for us? We want to know some new bands. Younger kids.

VKH: Well since you guys like to experiment with a lot of genres, we'd recommend Bring Me the Horizon. The new album is very experimental. We would also recommend I See Stars.

All Members: Ahhh!

CHISA: 
Oh, also Issues! Issues is doing a lot stuff similar to what we're doing. We want to do more stuff like Issues. They're doing a lot of cool stuff.


VKH: You have a very bright and colorful fashion style even for a visual kei band. How do you go about picking your looks for each release?

CHISA: I'm the one who actually comes up with the whole image and concept for what we're going for. In Japan, there's a lot of really dark and violent bands out there. But ACME is especially different because we have a pop image, but then our sound is also very loud. So we really want to have the contrast with the fashion that we're going for compared to the sound. That's our aim with what we're doing.


VKH: You released your first full album Zesshou Ouka back in August. The songs on it blended many different musical styles together. Could you talk about what inspired the sounds we heard on the album?

CHISA: It kind of goes back to when we got the offer for me going to Los Angeles last year in July. When the offer came about, we started working on the new album. In Japan, there's not many loud bands that have a Japanese-style image going on. So that's where a lot of the inspiration came from. We thought it would be interesting to create an album that had a little bit more of a Japanese feel to it. And then of course there's the thing about visual kei, where there's a lot of genres inside of visual kei as a whole. So that's why we have a wide variety as well: because it is visual kei, and that's what visual kei is.

 


VKH: Many of our readers who like ACME also know some of you from your previous bands. How did your past experiences as musicians influence you as you formed ACME and started making music?

SHOGO: The members of ACME are actually talented and able to perform what I actually wanted to make in terms of music. So I'm able to make the level of music that I wasn't able to do because my previous members were not good enough to perform them live.

Everyone: (laughs)

SHOGO: You can direct-translate that.

VKH: We appreciate the honesty!

HAL: I'm from the hood. And in the hood, you have three choices in your life: you either become a soldier, you do music, or you go to a life of crime. You have those three choices in order to survive, and so I chose music. I was in punk bands, I was in loud bands, I've done classical music, and all of that experience has led up to ACME thus far for me.

CHISA: Our live performances are a lot better than in previous bands. Outside of that, we're not signed to any label right now: we're self-managed, we're doing everything ourselves. So everything we decide, we decide by ourselves. Of course, we're receiving a lot of help from outside in a lot of ways. But we decide for ourselves what we want to do and what we want to make, and that makes a big difference. So if we fail at some at some stuff, we fail together, but I think that we're working really hard and we're working very earnestly at what we want to make. We've been able to create a lot of opportunity through this, and I think we've gained a lot of experience as well.

RIKITO: I come from a background as a professional live musician, so of course that had a lot of influence in my work with ACME. But also, the image—and working together with these three in creating a new image—is a new approach for me. So I'm gaining a lot of new discoveries through my work with ACME.


VKH: You put a lot of effort into your music videos to make them crisp and entertaining. Could each of you tell us your favorite music video that you’ve made so far and why?

RIKITO: "Maguro Kaitai Chainsaw."



CHISA: I really liked "Last One Show" because we had a dog in it and it was our first time shooting with a live animal, so that was really fun.



CHISA: But I also really liked "Rotten Orange." We had two female dancers in the video, and we asked them to dance in a very cool way. But what was really great was they were doing some sexy dancing really close to me. I got a little nervous from that, but that was a lot of fun too. (laughs)



HAL: I would say "SENKOU," because it was the very first visual kei music video that I've ever taken in my life. I remember when we were shooting it, I was like: "how can I make it look visual kei? How do you make yourself look visual kei in a music video?" So, I don't know, I kind of just tried some things, but...I guess they came out look pretty visual kei in the end? So that's good.

VKH: Yeah, it did. Good job!

HAL: I thought that you had to shoot like this (HAL covers face with one hand while mysteriously peering between fingers), and that makes it visual kei. But I didn't have to go that far. It was a very memorable shooting for me.

SHOGO: I would say "SENKOU." Of course, I love all of our music videos, but I would say "SENKOU" because it's the first song that we did together. It was our starting point as a band, so it has a deep impact in my memory.


CHISA: I guess none of us like "Zesshou Ouka." (laughs) But our faces looked really good. Very beautiful skin! And bubbles! We had the solo shots of the video for "Zesshou Ouka" with the bubbles flying in the air. For my bubbles, HAL was blowing the bubbles, so I tried really hard to not laugh. It was really funny.

HAL: Because my breath was inside each bubble!

CHISA & HAL: (laughs)



VKH: This will be your first time performing in the U.S. Is there anything about playing in front of an American audience that you’re looking forward to? 

HAL: They say that music has no border. Since I haven’t performed overseas, I’d like to see if it’s true on my own. My reason for doing music is to create world peace, so this is the first step in creating world peace...I am the reincarnation of John Lennon.

Everyone: (laughs)

CHISA: Actually, we just came from opening ceremonies. We didn't know what to expect going in, but there were so many people there, and the reaction from the audience was so great. It made me look forward to the concert even more. My dad used to be a hippie. He was a sculptor, but he ended up becoming an art teacher at a high school for his job. So for me, I really wanted to do something that would take me around the world for my career, like how my dad had his vision. So I'm really happy I could come to the U.S. to perform. It makes me want to go to more places around the world and spread my work worldwide.

HAL: So when you go back to Japan, you can go to your dad's grave and tell him about your time here.

CHISA: My dad's not dead. Rude! (laughs)

RIKITO: First, as a musician I want to spread our music around the world. But as a comedian, I also want to—

CHISA: But you said "commentator" at the opening ceremonies!

RIKITO: No, comedian. I want to show a Japanese sense of comedy to the audience, and spread that around the world as well.

CHISA: Yeah, because in Japan he's not funny.

HAL: Japan is a very small place, of course. So maybe he'll have better luck here in America because it's a much bigger country. He might do better here.

RIKITO: Yeah, I think I'll have better chances in America as a comedian.

VKH: Our comedians aren't very funny these days, so you've got a shot.

RIKITO: Leave it to me!

Everyone: (laughs)

SHOGO: It's my very first performance overseas, so I don't know what to expect. But that's what I'm most looking forward to: what the reaction's going to be and what the feelings going to be up there on stage.


VKH: Thanks so much for answering our questions! Do you have any messages for your U.S. fans?

SHOGO: Well, for anyone who's reading about us for the first time: very nice to meet you. For anyone who hasn't had a chance to come see us before: when we come back to the U.S., please come see us!

HAL: As I said before, my goal is to create world peace. So make the closest person to you happy. That's really important. I think that's how you will get rid of war around the world. And in the hard times, please listen to our music.

Everyone: (laughs)

CHISA: I'm lucky to have a lot of support from our previous work up until now from many different people, and being able to come here and perform overseas is really a dream come true. I'm really grateful for all the support. So thank you for supporting us, and please keep supporting us. And come see our live anywhere in the world. We definitely want to play in other countries as well, so we hope to see you at our next show. Thank you so much!

RIKITO: For all of the people that already know ACME: we're going to continue to make more awesome music and make you love us more! And for the people that don't know ACME: I hope that through our new music and whatever we're creating you can get to know us. We'll continue to do our very best in making some really awesome music for you guys, so please continue to support us. Thank you.

HAL: And to all of the industry reading this: please bring us overseas. We would love to come back again, especially to America. So please hit us up; we're great to work with!


LINKS:
OHP
Official English Facebook
Official YouTube Channel
Official Twitter
CHISA’s Twitter
SHOGO’s Twitter
RIKITO's Twitter
HAL’s Twitter

Special thanks to FAKE STAR, USA and Anime Milwaukee for making this possible!
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