Often in the west when we think of Japanese bands we tend to generalize them as using gimmicks, strange images or a mash of musical styles. And, to be fair, this isn’t always much of a stretch as this is often a fair description of many of the Japanese bands that we see here in the west.
Now this is not to say that the music is bad, in fact quite a few of the bands (which have gained popularity in the west during recent years) have some great music and incredible players; but many of the band’s first gain attention based on their image; which some fans have to get past to really get into the music the band is producing.
At least, that has been the case. Now a new to the west band ‘One Ok Rock’ is one of the Japanese music industries latest exports and the band is quickly getting noticed here in the west.
First formed in 2005 by a group of high school friends the band parodied the time they rehearsed at (one o’clock) with their knowledge of the differences between the Japanese and English language to create their name One Ok Rock.
The bands look and sound is very much like a western rock band, with the exception being that their lyrics are a mix of Japanese and English.
Unlike other Japanese bands which use placed English words or phrases, One Ok Rock moves back and forth between the two languages so seamlessly that it often takes a moment to fully register that they aren’t signing in English anymore and then again when they switch back.
Which is also interesting considering that Japanese and English don’t always translate into one and other exactly, and different phrases take on different meanings between the two cultures and yet One Ok Rock have managed to craft their songs around these differences seamlessly.
While the band has been enjoying growing success in the east for a few years, they are still relatively new to western fans but are quickly growing a dedicated fan base. But none of these details answer the most important question which is – how does the band sound?
Seasoned and solid.
Their music is tight with a lot of movement, groove and enough variation that keeps their songs from sounding like the same thing over and over while avoiding the trap of making their songs sound confused and disjointed.
Not a metal band, One Ok Rock has a radio friendly sound without sounding like a list of other bands already on the airwaves. Live the band is tight, high energy and sound just as good (or better than) their recorded work.
As always I’ll leave a video for you to decide for yourself; while this isn’t their latest song it’s a fan favourite and a great example of the bands work.
John Goodale is the author of ‘Johnny Gora’ (available through Amazon.com), and a number of articles here on TMRZoo.com. His monthly column ‘Indy Comics Spotlight’ appears here and through his blog Indy Comics Spotlight