It’s a warm Friday night in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles and there’s already a line of anxious fans at Xenon (Japanesque Rock and Shibuya Style which regularly holds events) waiting for doors to open at 8:00 PM. They’re gathered here on October 23rd for the appearance of Tomo, guitarist for Japanese Rock band Rhedoric. Rhedoric is a relatively new band that started in 2015 with 5 members who have played in bands such as Delfina Ma'riage, Carat, and 12012. The band just recently debuted with their new label Universal Records in Japan and their first album, “Jiggy” released October 14th, 2015. Tower Records in Japan has already sold out of their album and they’re scrambling to print more. “Jiggy” also recently debuted on iTunes in both America and Europe - a true testament to the faith their company has in their worldwide appeal.
Upon entering, fans promptly took seats as close as possible to the TV centered in the front of the room where music was pouring from a singular flashing speaker. Once the crowd had settled down, it became apparent that the music was 30 second clips of every song from Rhedoric's album “Jiggy”. After the album had played through, the playlist immediately launched into the music video for their single “Guilty”, a catchy rock song with a memorable chorus. The video is set in a classical looking white building and the filmography style highlights the band’s black rock clothing and musical prowess of each band member.
Building on the excitement generated by the video, Justin (manager and event director of Xenon) brought out the LA guest for the night - Rhedoric's guitarist Tomo. Standing at approximately 5’8”, Tomo is wearing a black collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a pink v-neck T shirt underneath. His blonde hair swept over the (Jimmy Choo) sunglasses that he never removed once. Tomo’s entrance is greeted with enthusiastic applause and as it dies down, Justin proudly announces that as a special surprise and treat, several of the other Rhedoric members would be Skyping in as well. He then flips open the MacBook connected to the aforementioned television and proceeds to Skype call the other members: Yuuji, the vocalist, and Yusuke, the guitarist. Yuuji has on a wide-rimmed black fedora and a white strip around the middle which complements his white and blue checkered dress shirt. Yusuke is also sporting a fedora, his a deep red - matching his simple dark red T-shirt. Justin proceeds to introduce the two members, pointing out that Yusuke was the bassist for 12012 before starting up Rhedoric. The bassist, Shigure, is in Taiwan supporting another band and was absent for the Q&A session.
With the introductions complete, the main event could begin: Q&A with the band members. To start the session, Justin had the band members ask the audience questions. Yuuji took a brave stab at the first question by asking the crowd, “What kind of music do you listen to usually?” Replies ranged from Miyavi, VAMPS, Visual Kei (Gazette, Dir en grey) to some fans admitting that they don’t listen to a lot of American bands. That last answer prompted Yuuji to follow up with, “What bands are popular in the US?” The audience replied with Deftones, Nirvana, Senses Fail, and System of a Down. At this point, Justin stepped in and asked Rhedoric what bands they listen to. Yusuke said that he liked Hoobastank and Yuuji answered with Linkin Park.
Yusuke took the next question and he wanted to know what time was it then in Los Angeles. Once he discovered that it was about 9 at night, he followed up with “What are you going to eat for dinner?” The overwhelming answer was ramen (Daikokuya, Orochon, and Mr. Ramen). Yusuke laughed after Orochon was stated and he explained that his friend in Japan owns Orochon.
The third question came from Yuuji and he wanted to know where is everyone in the audience was from in LA or America in general. The audience started sharing the wide range of areas that they came from for the event - Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Riverside. When one of the audience members state that she was from Hollywood, Yuuji jokingly asked if Hollywood if she lived between the H and the O on the Hollywood sign. Amidst the giggles that followed this question, the fan replied that she actually lives next to the O and the D which aroused even more laughter.
Yusuke then asked the fans, “Do you guys think Rhedoric will have a lot of people attend a live show in LA?” A rousing chorus of “Yes you can” came from crowd, the band greatly appreciated this show of support. Continuing the topic of a US tour, Justin asked the audience, “Where do you want to see them play?” Immediately hands flew up - fans wanted to see them at the El Rey Theater and House of Blues. When Yuuji discovered what the capacity was for those venues, he playfully asked the fans to be in charge of booking and to buy 800 tickets. While the fans were still chuckling over that, another fan suggested the Whisky A Go Go in Downtown LA. Yuuji saw this as an opportunity to continue a previous joke and immediately took it - he replied, “The after party is going to be at the house in Hollywood between the O and the D, right?”
Putting the jokes aside, Yuuji decided to ask a more serious question, “Do you guys like Japanese culture, right? What kind of parts do you like about it?” The audience gave a wide range of responses, everything from shiba inus (breed of dog), Godzilla, cherry blossoms (hanami), kabuki-cho (a type of Japanese traditional theater), to nomikai (drinking party). Yusuke was particularly excited by the last response and he admitted that he also loves drinking.
The last question of this segment was from Yusuke and he wanted to know if the fans had anything that they wanted Rhedoric to specifically do/see from them if they come to the US. Fans replied with “Stage dive!” and “Wear a takoyaki (octopus balls) hat!” but by far the most amusing answer was fan service. The band was confused by this since they didn’t know what fan service was. The fan who gave the answer bravely gave a short explanation of what it was, amongst a lot of giggling from her and the audience as a whole since this was by far the most sexual question of the night. She explained it as playing their instruments close next to each other on stage. After much nodding and murmuring of “naruhodo” (I understand), Yuuji simply stated “That would be hard to do” and the crowd burst into laughter.
Once the laughter settled down, Justin announced that the fans would now be able to come up and ask the band questions of their own. When he then proceeded to ask, “Who wants to go first” a young girl in the front popped up and asked the band, “What do you want to do when you come to the states?” Yuuji replied with the classic answer of shopping but Yusuke gave a more smooth answer and said, “I want to meet you, and everyone!” This was of course followed by applause by the fans who appreciated the love that Yusuke was giving them.
After the first question, Justin asked Tomo to move from the couch where he was sitting to up next to the TV so questions could be directed to him as well. This was a smart move because the next question was definitely applicable to all three band members. “What do you want to eat in LA?” Tomo promptly replied with “Mexican food” to which Justin asked, “Do you often eat Mexican food?” Tomo explained that not surprisingly, Mexican food is not common in Japan so he unfortunately does not eat a lot of Mexican food. Yuuji proclaimed that he wants to eat In-N-Out since he hasn’t had it since he came to the states two years ago (but he stated that during that time he ate it every day).
The next fan to stand up went by the name Claudia. Instead of a question, she shyly told Yusuke that he has a nice beard and she requested that he never shave it. Claudia then turned to Yuuji and said that he has a nice voice. Both band members seemed to be extremely flattered by the compliments and Yusuke promised to not shave his beard.
Nora asked the next question. An adorable petite blond who looked to be high school, she hesitantly asked “Do you like natto?” Yuuji replied almost instantaneously, “I LOVE it!” and Yusuke said that he also loves it, especially with egg and green onion. Justin then turned to the crowd and asked, “Do you guys love natto?” Nora appeared highly excited at Justin’s question and she proudly announced that she eats natto every morning with sauerkraut. This was followed by proclamations of “Really?” and “Ewwww” from the crowd since that is not a food commonly eaten with natto.
Next, a small Korean girl with short black hair, Jaime, asked the band, “I’m going to Korea in February and while I’m there I’m planning to visit Tokyo, Japan for 2 days. Do you have any recommendations on what I should do to best spend my time there?” Yusuke gave the most detailed response by saying that Jaime should visit Asakusa since there are a lot of temples and there are rickshaws which she can ride in.
Nancy stepped up to the band after Jaime and asked them, “Besides America, is there another country you want to tour?” Yuuji, with a huge smile on his face, said “We want to go everywhere in the world! We’re really hungry to do tours”. Tomo followed up with a rather unexpected response. He said, “I want to go somewhere safe, where I won’t get shot” which led to laughs from the crowd.
The next question came from Isabela. She wanted to know what were some of the hardships that the band had to endure while making music. Yusuke replied with a rather damper reply of, “Every day we face hardships”. Yuuji explained Yusuke’s response further by stating, “We have to keep our “hunger” so every day is like slamming into the wall for us. We’re working hard to spread out from Japan and once we achieve that, hopefully we will be successful”. After that sobering question, Isabel followed up with, “What are your favorite things to do in Japan?” Yuuji replied with a laugh in his voice that he could drink all day because the bars never close in Japan.
After this question the connection breaks and the Skype call with Yuuji and Yusuke drops. Justin very patiently proceeds to get his MacBook charger to restart the call and while he is working, he directs the audience to ask Tomo questions.
One of the fans took the opportunity to ask Tomo, “Where do you want to go in the US while you’re here?” Tomo, pulling a Yusuke-eque smooth answer says, “I want to see everyone - that’s why I’m here, it’s for you guys”. Another fan shouted out, “What’s your favorite band?” and Tomo replied with Yellowcard and Rhedoric to which the audience giggled at.
Then came the big question of the night, how did Tomo join Rhedoric. Just as he starts to answer this question, the connection comes back and the Skype call is up again. Everyone claps and Yuuji waves his hands energetically in the air to signal his happiness at being able to see everyone again. Once everyone has settled down, Justin explains to the band that Tomo was just about to explain how he started playing for Rhedoric. As the band leader, Yusuke steps in to explain, “I stopped playing with 12012 because I felt like I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do or express what I wanted to express honestly and truly. This is why I quit. I was doing a lot of other projects for a while but I soon found the best way to express myself was through music. That when I decided that I wanted to play in a band again. It was at this point when I met Tomo and we decided to do something together since we had the same feelings and thoughts about music. I was in a rough place before and I still am but now I have good thing going”. After that emotional charged answer, a brave fan voiced the thoughts that the rest of the crowd felt, “I’m so sorry it didn’t work out with 12012 but I’m happy that you’re in Rhedoric now”.
The last fan question of the night was from Eunice, a small girl with jet black hair, and her adorable Cocker Spaniel mixed dog, Hama. Upon seeing the dog, Yuuji asked “Does the dog have a question?” which of course brought forth giggles from the crowd. Eunice replied an upbeat voice, “I was just wondering, do you have pets?” Yuuji paused a second to think and then he replied with, “Growing up, I had a shiba inu but right now I don’t have any pets”. Yusuke gave quite a different answer of, “I don’t really want to have a pet because I hate to see the pet die before me” to which the audience softly murmured “Ahh” in understanding sympathy. Tomo however, announced that he has a cat which completely suits his sly and reserved personality.
With that, the Q&A was done and now it was time for some final words from Yuuji and Yusuke. Yuuji started off by saying, “Tomo and I actually came two years ago to the US but hopefully the next time we come to the US, the rest of the band will be with us. So please support us until then and when we do come, I want to have a huge party for everyone!” A large and highly warranted “Awwww” emitted from the audience and a fan piped up asking, “What is an American gift that you guys want to receive? I’m very into giving gifts to bands and I’d like to give you guys something when you come to the US”. Yuuji uttered a crowd favorite answer by stating, “The best gift is to see everyone in person...and for everyone to bring all their friends as well” which was greeted with a mixed reaction of “Aww” and giggles. Determined to have the last word, Yusuke said in his best impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back!” with his hands raised for emphasis. The audience mimicked him and waved their arms in solidarity. It was at that point that everyone realized that this was the last few moments that they would have Rhedoric and fans began to cry out “Thank you”, and “Arigatou gozaimasu” ("thank you" in Japanese). The frantic waves of goodbye were reciprocated wholeheartedly by Yusuke and Yuuji. And with that, the Skype call was over and fans were left to wait until the undecided date when they would return to the US.
Almost as if the Skype call was a signal, Tomo stands up and moves the clothes mannequin in front of him so as to block him from the crowd. The crowd giggles and Justin announces that Tomo is now going to ask some of his own questions to the audience. Tomo begins with, “In Japan, when you eat something oily people drink tea to cleanse their palate but what do people do in America?” Jaime replied first by saying that people either drink tea or eat mints to which Tomo responded with an immediate “No”. Christina answered next with drinking Coke and Tomo again gave a resolute “No”. After the back-to-back rejections, a brave fan gave the answer of “Oolong tea” and Tomo relented with a simple, “Good”. The next response was mugi-cha (a type of Japanese green tea) and Tomo finally gave an energetic “Good!”
Starting to win the crowd over with his clever responses, Tomo moved on to his next question, “I have some break time while I’m in America, what do you suggest I do?” Eunice suggested the old LA Zoo; there’s no animals but you can walk around and see the cages. Jaime followed up with a Horror House at a theme park since it’s close to Halloween but Tomo said “Nooooo, that’s too scary. I’m easily scared which is why I didn’t want to tour in a place where I could get shot”. That response began to connect the dots with Tomo’s personality, he is not only clever but obviously a bit shy on trying new or scary things. Christina chimed in next with the thought of walking around Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Tomo answered with a straightforward, “Oh sounds good, I think I’ll go”. Another fan said that she would suggest the Museum of Horror but since he hates scary things it might not be a good idea. To no one’s surprise now, Tomo said obstinate “NO” to lots of laughter. Another fan mentioned that there’s a natural history museum, science center, and rose garden in LA that Tomo should look at if he has the time. While Tomo said that it sounded interesting and he wanted to go, he immediately said “No” yet again when the fan specified that there was a new a mummy exhibit on display. Finally used to this playful banter, the audience went crazy with laughter.
Slightly changing the course of the conversation, Tomo began to tell a story from two years ago when Tomo was in the US. Tomo is very big on health and he works out a lot. So one morning he forced Justin to wake up early so that they could go jogging. To which Justin chimed in that he wasn’t happy to be woken up so early. While the crowd was still bemusing the adorableness of the story, Tomo launched into one last story for the night. He explained that during that same time two years ago, he and Justin went to Redondo Beach to eat hamburgers. After they were done eating, Tomo forced Justin to hold french fries and run down the beach. Naturally, seagulls began to chase after Justin for the fries and Tomo just stood laughing and taking pictures while Justin ran for his life. After finally reaching a culmination of shared laughs and an understanding of one another, the fans were prompted to sing Happy Birthday to Tomo (whose birthday would be a few days later). As the song progressed, all the love and happiness that gathered in each fan’s heart during the event could be clearly felt. After the last line was song, Justin told the fans that CD’s were on sale and that they could take pictures with Tomo.
Fans started to mull around Xenon, just talking or buying the CD’s. Most fans were eagerly waiting in a line to take pictures with Tomo. Upon reaching him, Tomo would prompt them with the question, “How would you like to take the picture?” to which all of the girls replied that they wanted to hug him. The platonic yet endearing hugs that ensured between the fans and Tomo were a physical proof of the new bond between the band member and his supporters. That shared connection will be sure to stay strong until the day that Rhedoric is able to perform in the US.
For More Information
RHEDORIC Website: vestimitation.com
RHEDORIC Official Overseas Facebook: facebook.com/rhedoric.oversea.official
RHEDORIC Twitter: twitter.com/RHEDORIC
Tomo Facebook: facebook.com/egawa.tomo
Tomo Twitter: twitter.com/tomo1108gt
Rhedoric - Guilty PV
Rhedoric - WORLD PV