APHASIA: Speaking Out Their Minds

APHASIA is an all-female four piece metal/HR outfit from Tokyo, Japan. The band consists of Yumi (vocals), Goe (guitar), Kyoko (bass) and Jun (drums). Founded in 1994, the band released three demo tapes until now and also contributed two songs on the "Women's Power: First" compilation album. APHASIA is a well-known live band in the Tokyo club scene and they are in fact working on their very first full-length album right now. MM spoke to the ladies only recently and here's what they told us......

Not many people here in Europe know APHASIA very well. Can you give us an update on how things started rolling for APHASIA, since your formation in 1994?
"Like you already mentioned, we founded APHASIA in 1994. Our very first gig was in March '95 in Tokyo and it went really well. We started working on our first demo tape, which came out in June '96 and sold around 300 copies. In 1997, there were a few line-up changes: Goe (guitar) joined in May and our bass guitarist Kyoko a few months later. We've been playing in this line-up ever since. Our second demo tape ("Aphasia II") was recorded right after Kyoko joined the band. It was valued very highly in the Japanese hard rock/metal magazine Burrn and we received a lot of positive response from the people, who bought the tape. Our third demo tape was released in '98 (see review in MM#16/June '99-editor MM) and we also appeared with two songs on the compilation album "Women's Power: First" last year."

Please introduce the band members and tell us which instrument(s) they play...
"Hello, I'm Yumi and I am the vocalist of APHASIA. I'm Goe and I play guitar; I'm Jun and I play the drums. Hi, I'm Kyoko and I am the bassplayer."

Did any of you play in other bands before APHASIA?
"Yes, but I don't think it's worth mentioning. APHASIA is the most successful band for all of us."

Which bands have influenced you (musically) the most?
"Our influences come from a lot of different hard rock and heavy metal bands, like DEF LEPPARD, TNT, MR. BIG, OZZY OSBOURNE, DOKKEN, EUROPE, MSG, SCORPIONS, FAIR WARNING, NIGHT RANGER, etc.etc. Also SHOW-YA is one of them. However, classical music and some Japanese pop bands have been one of our early influences as well and I definately would like to add THE CARPENTERS to our list."

How would you describe your music?
"Melodic hard rock!"

In connection to your new four track demo tape ('98), you released two earlier demos and you appeared on the compilation album "Women's Power: First" with two of your songs. How were the reactions of the press (the magazines) on this?
"As far as our second demo goes, we got really good reactions. We haven't gotten any reactions of the press on our latest demo tape, but we are sure we'll get even better reactions than the second demo."

Who's responsible for writing the lyrics and the music of APHASIA?
"We pretty much write all of our music as a team, but Yumi writes all the lyrcis."

How does an APHASIA song usually come together?
"Each one of us brings out their ideas and next thing we do is playing it over and over again, until it's suitable and good enough as an APHASIA song."

What are your lyrics about? Do you write about the 'real' things in life or are they just 'made-up' fiction stories?
Yumi: "I usually write about the things that happen in daily life. I try to concentrate as much on things that can happen to anybody, to make our songs as convincing as possible."

What's the thing you've done with APHASIA, that you're most proud of?
"Our show at On Air West (a pretty big hall) with KEIKO TERADA and Sun-go."

Isn't it hard for female musicians (or women in general) to be accepted in Japan? Sometimes in Europe these 'problems' seem to rise now and then, but I gather in Japan this would be even harder. What's your opinion about this matter?
"Yes, it's really tough for us all-female bands to be getting some recognition here in Japan. We still have a long way to go, but we believe as soon as the time is right, there's no turning back and nothing can stop us!"

Being a band from Tokyo, I know you've been playing a lot of shows over there. What can people expect from an APHASIA gig and which songs do you usually play 'live'?
"Expect a very energetic gig and four musicians, who give their very best! We usually play songs from our demo tapes and some new material."

Do you also play any cover songs in your set? If yes, which one(s) and why?
"Yes, we play "Hello There" by CHEAP TRICK. It's our opener. It's a great song to start a gig and I think the title really says it all. Besides, Goe likes CHEAP TRICK very much!"

What's the music scene in Tokyo like these days?
"Mainly there are some kind of rock men putting on make-up. We call it 'Visual Rock' here."

Are there any other all-female or female-fronted hardrock (or metal) bands in Japan at the moment to look out for?
"I'll give you the web site address of Women's Power (Flying Cat). It's: http://www.digibros.co.jp/user/flat."

Do you have any plans to record a CD in the (near) future?
"Actually, we're planning to record our first full-length CD this summer."

Did you make any video clips to your songs?
"Yes, we did a video of "Afterglow" and "Innocent Crime."

What are your future plans?
"Our first priority is making a CD and hopefully going on the road all over Japan."

Is there anything you want to say to the readers of Metal Maidens?
"Please listen to our music. Thank you very much!!"

Visit APHASIA's website at: www.aphasia.jp

Discography APHASIA
*Mirage On The Ice ('99; Stella Music)
*Wings Of Fire ('01; Castle Records)
*Labyrinth In My Heart ('03; King Records)
*Wild And Innocent ('04; King Records)

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Rita van Poorten, 1999.

This interview was published in Metal Maidens #17/September 1999