Last weekend [Alexandros] returned to the UK for the first time since their appearance at The Great Escape Festival back in 2013 to rock JAPAN NIGHT along with OKAMOTO’S, Ling Tosite Sigure and VAMPS. We caught up with them in between the two shows, to talk touring, big ambitions and renaming the band.
Hi guys, thanks for coming!
Yoohei (vocal): Thanks for having us!
It’s good to have you here. So shall we talk about the show last night to start things off?
Yoohei: Oh it was amazing, my amplifier went crazy but it was awesome; I got to sing ‘Wonderwall’ in England while the guitar malfunctioned! That was a great feeling.
And how did you feel the fans reacted?
Yoohei: I think a lot of people didn’t know us when we came on stage, but when we started playing they really enjoyed it.
Hiroyuki (bass): I could hear them singing along really loudly!
Do you find there’s a difference in the fans when you’re playing over here?
Hiroyuki: Not really, once the gig gets going.
Yoohei: yeah, once it’s heated up, it’s the same.
And have you played alongside Ling Tosite Sigure or VAMPS before?
Yoohei: We haven’t played with Ling before, and we’ve played with VAMPS but not like this. Mostly it has been rock festivals, but we haven’t worked so closely with them.
Hiroyuki: Although we did have Nakano, Ling’s drummer, play ‘starrrr’ with us on a television appearance once.
Okay, so it’s all quite new. We know Alexandros has been to the UK before, but how long have you been here this time?
Yoohei: Three days now.
Have you had time to look around at all?
Hiroyuki: Not really! I’ve walked around the hotel! We’re staying in Greenwich, and there’s a lot we want to see in that area. We want to see the planetarium and meridian line.
Greenwich is a great area of London, hopefully you have time to check it out! Moving on to your music now, do you have any particular genres you would typify your music as? We have math rock with Ling and punk from VAMPS, so the night will be quite a mixture!
Yoohei: We try not to put ourselves in boxes. We like to play rock, but we also love hip hop and metal, hard rock and jpop. Music’s inside us, we like to try and fit it all in one song.
Hiroyuki: Exactly, so when it comes to tonight, we want to ask you what you think of us!
“I don’t want to be a band
that’s only famous in Japan”
Well we look forward to that! But in terms of influences, we hear you’re fans of Luna Sea?
Satoyasu (drums): I love luna sea! I got into music listening to them, so they’re my favourite band.
How about UK and US bands?
Yoohei: For me, it’s Oasis, Blur, Primal Scream, Radiohead…Britpop in the nineties was great. But I know the other members like US music.
Masaki: Yeah, I like Metallica, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Jimi Hendrix, and The Police.
That’s quite a mixture! You can hear a lot of diverse influences in your music, so it’s not surprising. And you’re just releasing your latest album?
Yoohei: Yes, ALXD. It’s our fifth album, our masterpiece- hence it’s named after the band. It brings together all those genres we use, and after we made it I wasn’t really tired. I was just excited. Usually after a CD I’m tired- it’s really hard work recording- but this time I was satisfied, and that’s what makes this release different from the past four albums. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
It’s pretty impressive to feel completely satisfied with a piece of art, so congratulations! We can’t wait to hear it in full. Will you be touring Japan with it next?
Hiroyuki: Yeah, from October.
Cool! You’ve played SXSW before, and The Great Escape festival, so you clearly aren’t new to touring around the world. Do you want to come back to the UK or US soon?
Yoohei: Touring around Japan is good, but to attract everyone, to really reach people, I think tours are the best way to go. You really get to learn about the place too. I think it’s a good idea to live in the UK for six months- not that we’d be allowed to at the moment!
Hiroyuki: We want to be famous around the world!
Yoohei: Yeah, I don’t want to be a band that’s only famous in Japan, with nobody else knowing about us. I don’t want to be like that. Glastonbury is the dream. We want to be on top of the world, so our next thing to think about is how to do that. And I think the only way is to travel constantly.
The fact you’re confident in the band’s potential is great.
Hiroyuki: Well this weekend is a big opportunity for us, and in the future we’d love to get involved with other bands, do exchanges and things!
“When we did SXSW,
was actually the name”
What was it like playing alongside Kasabian and Muse on their headline tours over the past few years?
Yoohei: Incredible, especially with Kasabian. They were so friendly to us- and Primal scream were too. We toured with them around the time we had to change our name. I asked Bobby Gillespie what we should call ourselves, he was drunk at the time and suggested we should call ourselves ‘The Leatherboys’. And I was like ‘…nahhh’!
Hiroyuki: I always hated that name!
Yoohei: Yeah, I couldn’t imagine us walking on stage and saying, “We’re the Leatherboys!”
So how did you come across Alexandros?
Yoohei: When we did SXSW, The Leatherboys was actually the name. There was a week from Budokan when we were going to go through with it- we had merchandise and everything, even though we didn’t like it! But then I was researching one last time, and came across Alexandros and told the others that this is what we should be called.
Hiroyuki: And I was so fucking glad!
So when you’re on tour, do you mainly play big arenas? Do you play small gigs too?
Yoohei: We actually start with a capacity of around 200-300 people. We like to have a mixture of intimate gigs and arena shows.
Sounds good. And are there any UK venues you’re interested to visit, while you work your way up to the ultimate goal of Glastonbury?
Yoohei: We played The Pipeline two or three years ago and we’d love to go back. Concorde 2 in Brighton is a great venue too.
Hopefully we’ll see you hit those venues again soon. Thank you for your time and good luck with the show and album release!
Words by Lauren du Plessis