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Asterism, The Empire of Rising Rock

Asterism, The Empire of Rising Rock

Asterism is a flame that comes from Japan to set the world on fire. Their hard rock is nourished by the energy that emerges from a blast direct. Their teenager rebellion is manifested in Ignition, an album that finds us with a genre increasingly forgotten in the current charts. Maybe, the future of rock resides in the powerful and iconoclastic Japanese scene. We talked with Astersim to enter the empire of rising rock.

SXSW 2019. Japan Nite crammed the Elysium in Austin. Like a sudden thunder, three teenagers dressed in leather and a rare energy that from the fist accord manage to electrify everyone. I am in shock. Who are these people capable of deciphering the lost hex of rock? Asterism hits on live. It is a madness rarely seen in a concert. Pure rock runaway.

Shortly after and thanks to Audrey Kimura, promoter of the wildest night of SXSW through Japan Nite, I was able to meet Asterism. Talking with Hal-Ca, Miyu and Mio is a fascinating cross-generational cross-cultural intersection.

Rock is still alive in people like them. Fans of hard rock and heavy rock, they have played since they were young kids. Their only ambition and their true freedom is manifested in music. Just 18 years old and have already toured around the world despite being students.

Asterism

In astronomy, an asterism is a formation of stars visible from the earth. Be a musical astronomer for a day, and observe this conjunction of young stars that threaten to make us scream: Banzai, motherfuckers!

A Young Galaxy

What is the first musical memory you have?

HAL-CA

My first musical memory. Hard rock or heavy metal was playing always at home or in car. On the way to nursery, back to home, Ozzy Osbourne or Judas Priest was on. I was so small though, I listened to such music all the time, I sang along.

MIYU

I’m not sure about my first memory on music though, I believe I sing loud Ozzy Osbourne in sloppy English. (song may be Over the Mountain)

MIO

There’s always music playing around as far as I remember, not sure. I slightly remember I sang ‘Still of the Night’ along with Whitesnake in sloppy English. My parents told me I sang quite often Opera part of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.

 

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4/30/2019 Shijiazhuang 北冰洋 #asterism #北冰洋

Una publicación compartida por ASTERISM Official Instagram (@asterism.asia) el

What disc was the first one you bought?

HAL-CA

Loudness, Single Collection. I bought it to prepare for Loudness live.

MIYU

I suppose it’s Jaco Pastorius.  I wondered how God of the bass play. Listening to the album, my bass playing improved.

MIO
It’s Godzilla soundtrack! I ask for it and it’s my first CD to buy. Godzilla the album cover was cool!

How did you all get your first instruments?

HAL-CA

For my 10th birthday, my parents bought me a kid’s guitar. I watched Akira Takasaki from Loudness playing guitar live.  I was struck by lightening and asked for a guitar.

MIYU

About 5yrs. old, I got a kid’s bass in blue color for a birthday gift.

MIO

Parents gave me kid’s drum set at 4th birthday. It was my start.

 

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4/28/2019 The Ruins of St. Paul’s, Macau Selfieing ASTERISM 自拍中的ASTERISM #asterism #ruinsofstpaul #selfie

Una publicación compartida por ASTERISM Official Instagram (@asterism.asia) el

Asterism and a Brand New Metal

What does heavy music mean to you all?

HAL-CA

One and only place I can express real me. I start playing a guitar because I love hard rock and heavy metal. Since then, playing a guitar, writing tunes, performing at live, spend time to do anything relating to music. It is fun, really.
People say to me I am totally different playing at live from being off, I think It’s really me on stage playing a guitar.

MIYU

I can be blast much more than other music genre, and it’s truly fun to play.

MIO

Heavy music raise my tension high, there’s no wall between players and audiences to get excited, also vitalize us to live tomorrow.

SXSW

How was it to play at SXSW?

HAL-CA

Well, it’s our first live in the U.S. We have been delivering our music on YouTube and on Facebook though, playing at the same room with fans in the U.S. was the very first experience for us. Honestly, I got so nervous, but audiences are nice to us, they’re a blast as much as we are. It’s something like having a conversation with them. I was so happy with cheerful shouts from the audiences. It’s great!!!

Do you like the festival and Austin?

HAL-CA

Yes! I love both! Especially in the period of SXSW, Austin is full of music, very bustling, it makes me love Austin!!!

MIYU

Oh, yes! I love it!!! People love music, audiences as well, it’s really fan playing. Thanks, Austin, you’re great!!!

MIO

What I really love about the festival is no matter who you are, music connects us all. SXSW gave me a chance to come to Austin, I enjoyed the festival, encountered great people and great food. That makes me love Austin!!!

Asterism

Do you have enough time to enjoy other shows at the festival?

HAL-CA

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to enjoy other shows, because we played three concerts a day, very busy. But we had some time to explore the city, stopped by some live venue, enjoyed SXSW as much as possible.

How you were selected by Japan Nite?

MIO

It’s simple. We applied and were chosen.

Could you all live without making music?

HAL-CA

I don’t think so. I’m not going to die though, it’s the only place I can express who I am. If I lost it? what should I do to live?

MIYU

No way! For me, music is only one to live. Without music? It’s impossible! (hahaha) I wish we could create more tunes to vitalize people!

MIO

I’m not going to die, for sure, but music I create to make people happy, and it makes us happy. I cannot imagine such a great occupation other than music. I dedicate my life to achieve and get my goal.

Who would you all like to perform live with?

HAL-CA

Obviously, Loudness, its why I started to play a guitar, other influenced artists like Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom, Exodus, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Dream Theater, too many to name!!!

MIYU

Mr. Big. I got influenced most. I really want to perform live with them ASAP!!!

MIO

I want to perform live with legendary artists, It’s true. On the other hand, I feel much stronger that I want to battle with new, young, powerful band on stage, even in a  different genre, but same instrumental band like polyphia, orJason Richardson.

Asterism. Hal-Cal

Japan, the New Empire of Rock

Can technology end the purity of genres like rock or heavy?

MIO

No, we don’t think so. In history, rock started simply with guitar, drums and bass to play then improving with synthesizers, rock and heavy metal get diversified. History repeats itself. In the present, modern technology may change, new generation of rock and heavy metal will be born. This is not end of the purity of rock or heavy metal. We believe we are responsible to be a new generation to cultivate new possibilities of rock and heavy metal, inheriting classic rock souls. On the way, we will encounter technologies.

What technology do you all use?

HAL-CA

So far, nothing new, nothing special. I want to try some if technologies could color or develop ASTERISM sound. Technology seems to be a fan for me. I’d like to try!

MIYU

I use many effectors.  I am very much interested in synth bass.

MIO

I play just acoustic drums so far. I want to try hybrid drums, fusing analog and digital, such as use electronic pad into my set.

How did you all start in the music?

HAL-CA

I have loved music since I was a small kid. I started taking drum lessons in  2nd grade in elementary school. I enjoyed the trial lesson very much, so I started.

Then the drum instructor told me it’s better to see professional artists live. I accepted and went to live concerts like Judas Priest, Dream Theater, Loudness and so on.

Among them, Loudness grabbed my soul! I desperately felt ‘I want to play a guitar like him!’ That’s why I asked for a guitar for my birthday, I have been playing the guitar since then.

MIYU

I was obsessed with Billy Sheehan’s play, Three Fingers, tapping and performance as well, that’s why I chose the bass.

MIO

I encountered Cozy Powell drumming for Whitesnake on video at home. “Holy crap! I want to do that!!!” That’s why I started to play drums.

A Burning Album

How was the recording of Ignition?

HAL-CA

IGNITION is our first full album. For us it’s first experience to execute such a long recoding. It’s fun but exhausted.
At live, we raise our tension to the highest and play, but for recording, we need to calm down, think and play. It’s harder than we think. Anyway, we tried to pretend to play at live. It’s the way we clam down most.

MIYU

I had an amazing time! I used a 7-strings bass and pick, I enjoyed a variety of playing bass up to tune. It’s really enjoyed it!!!

MIO

Building each tune’s story with drumming was deadly hard, but fun. Sometimes I could not create anything and I got exhausted. I think we grew beyond those difficulties and I am proud of it. I think you can listen what we went through in DAWN.

Cover Ignition

Were they songs that you all had already written, or do you all create them for the album?

HAL-CA

All the tunes are newly written but Overdrive. We created tunes considering the album title ‘IGNITION’, and ASTERISM concept BATTLE MUSIC (Fight against something bad). As a result, the album contains a tune everybody bangs their head, the one focused on a story to be almost 10 mins long.  Another one is an emotional and melodious tune that spreads our image from our band name ASTERISM.  Very colorful tunes that make IGNITION very special.

Where did you record it?

HAL-CA

At HEACON STUDIO in Fukuoka. We played and recorded at the studio,  before our ASTERISM debut.

When are you all planning to release a new album?

MIYU

First, together we create many new tunes and then we schedule the next step.

What do you like to express in your songs?

HAL-CA

Most of all, ASTERISM concept BATTLE MUSIC (Fight against something bad). No matter how big or small bad is, we want to encourage people with ASTERISM sound to break it.

Much More Than Music

Are you rehearsing the staging or is it something natural?

HAL-CA

We work very hard in rehearsal. Each of us is a student, not easy to gather, rehearsal is very important. So far, we can share time for rehearsal just once per live. We should concentrate, meticulously fix not only playing, but how to show and moving in stage, everything.

HAL-CA

Have you had any problems for being heavy metal’s fans and players?

MIYU

No, not at all. We blast our power and let everybody comes with us!!!

What would be your main goal in music?

HAL-CA

Three of us together as ASTERISM, perform at a huge venue, touring around the world. For myself as a guitarist, I want to be a global artist, collaborate with great artists in the world live, in recording. I want to be a leading guitarist of Hard Rock & Heavy Metal. That’s my goal.

MIYU

I hone my skills, and let people say MIYU is the greatest bassist ever! It’s my goal!

MIO

I am always considering give surprises people as an artist, to make it, I think I should keep learning. Means I have no goals!

What does success mean to you all?

HAL-CA

Everybody knows ASTERISM no matter where we go!

MIYU

World Tour as ASTERISM, rocket us with fame all over the world!!!

MIO

Be a great name as ASTERISM, touring around the world at huge venues, and everybody recognize ASTERISM signature sound. It’s what I think success is.

Would you fear fame?

HAL-CA

No. I know it’s hard to be famous. But I started playing a guitar to be famous. We executed World Tour – the U.S. Leg- in March, we honestly felt ASTERISM sound could connect with people no matter where they are. We need to expand, we want to. There’s no fear.

MIYU

Never! Most of the world don’t know ASTERISM yet. We should keep up!

MIO

Fear? No. I feel only exciting! What I fear is stay in narrow neighbors, don’t know how the world is, but satisfied with it, simply and quietly close my life. I am scared!!!

ASTERISM

What movies or videos formed your aesthetics?

HAL-CA

I think I have never encountered such movies or videos yet.

MIYU

Momentarily I can be influenced, but not yet influenced that much with movies and videos.

MIO

Movies or something like movies, I am not that influenced. It’s quite natural many musicians form my aesthetics.

Why are aesthetics so important in music?

HAL-CA

As a musician and an expressionist, aesthetics is the most important element to form identity.

MIYU

It’s hardly to say though, something like I obsess, it’s some kind of image, so that it’s core of creating my own sound and consistency.

MIO

Using superficial techniques means just making sound. Create sound nobody else can, listeners recognize who create that sound is required, and it comes from how the person live its own life, what the person think beautiful, I think. I believe that’s why aesthetics truly important.

Is fashion a form of expression too?

HAL-CA

Yes, it is. Music is not only for listening but also for viewing. Fashion is huge to express our own musical style and how to show ourselves in order to attract fans and audiences. When I determine how to show myself, fashion is quite an element for my decision.

MIYU

No doubt! I express myself with playing bass on stage, but fashion is another way to express myself.

MIO

Of course! Fashion is as well as music, very free. Take a look around, you may think most people seem to be the same but it expresses your hidden self and identity. You should enjoy fashion without restriction.

Asterism

An Unknown Universe Called Asterism

Which are your musical references?

HAL-CA

Akira Takasaki from Loudness, Mark Armott from Arch Enemy, Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom, and Victor Smolski.

MIYU

When I was a boy, I listened to only rock and nothing more. Then I encountered Jaco Pastorius. Jaco is trigger. I started playing melody in bass, melodies with much harmonic, it widen my play.

MIO

Mike Portnoy, Steve Vai. Not just drummers, I really love to get influenced from musicians. I can find something new every time I listen to.

What are the bands that fascinate you most about in the Tokyo scene?

MIYU

We’re exclusive to Hard Rock & Heavy Metal. We have never thought about music scene in Tokyo. Talking about Hard Rock & Heavy Metal scene, ASTERISM is the most fascinating! (hahaha)

What are the key places in the Tokyo scene?

MIYU

It might be Shibuya though, in this era, it doesn’t matter where you are. You can connect to anywhere to the world because of  the internet.

Asterism at SXSW

Is the music of the West still interesting? Why?

HAL-CA

Unknown world can connect each other with music. That attracts me a lot. I don’t like to study History, Geography or Art at school though, music of the West gives me knowledge about other countries, relating to art. Listening to it, expands my own world. I really enjoy it!

MIYU

As I am always thinking to reach to top of the world, I do pay attention to music of the West much much more than music of Japan. I, myself am Japanese, don’t speak English but sound is always flowing in to me. I love it!

MIO

I’ve been always with music of the West since I was a baby. Our goal is worldwide, never talked about top of Japan. I am curious what people around the world feel and carry within their own songs.  I always pay attention to music of the West.

How are Urban Tribes in Japan?

HAL-CA

I have never spent much time in Takeshita-dori at Harajuku, I want to do that. I have many chances to go to Tokyo but not enough time for shopping or exploring. I am eager to spend some time to do that, to do something just as a high school girl! (haha)

MIO

About music, about fashion, Tokyo is where the originality of Japan is born, and produce characteristics, very inspiring! It’s very nice to obtain something other countries don’t own. We’re inspired with it, bring it into our style!

Finding the Real Asterism

What are concert nights like?

HAL-CA

I am always nervous until get on stage.

MIYU

Before live, I am restless in high tension. (lol) After get blast at live concert, I can have good appetite, food tastes very good.

Is there contact between the bands in the scene?

HAL-CA

We watched some lives but in the meaning of contact, no. Not specially.

Can you live from the music in Japan?

MIYU

Just a few. In case you become a star, everyone knows you, then yes, you can live from the music.

Do you usually tour outside Japan?

HAL-CA

Mainly our hometown Fukuoka, Tokyo and Osaka. Repeating lives getting more fascinating, we’re very happy with it!!!

 

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4/18/2019 Rehearsal #asterism #rehearsal #yamahaguitar #yamahaguitars #yamahapacifica #espbass #Zildjian #hardrock #heavymetal

Una publicación compartida por ASTERISM Official Instagram (@asterism.asia) el

How does the foreign public react?

HAL-CA

They’re awesome!!! They accept ASTERISM, react directly to us. I think they’re a blast more than in Japan.

Is creativity the only way to stand out among so many bands?

HAL-CA

Yes. It’s important to create whatever only ASTERISM can. That’s why ASTERISM is an instrumental band. We don’t enjoy doing what other bands are able to do. It’s something like stay behind safety line you know you’re secured. How can we enjoy it? Creativity is required.

How do the Japanese bands organize themselves, in collectives, self-management or in record companies?

HAL-CA

Management company organize, it operates to work with label and promoters.

Asterism 2015
Asterism. 2015

Is the audience eclectic or just going to concerts of a specific genre?

HAL-CA

We met fans, always supporting ASTERISM on Facebook, and many other people for the first time. I saw many people wearing Heavy Metal artist T-shirts, I believe lots of heavy metal lovers joined.

Are the bands getting younger in Japan?

MIYU

You mean many bands of younger players? Yes, bunch of us, but as young as we are… not so many.

What projects do you have for this 2019?

HAL-CA

First, we create lots of new tunes, releasing them, play live as much as possible both domestically and internationally. We love to go to Asia and the U.S. again, want to visit and play in Europe, we want to play live in variety of countries and regions!!!

More Music in Urban Moon

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