Back in August 2023, Japanese rock band Gacharic Spin flew over to America as special musical guests for Anime Matsuri. We sent GAIJIN GUYS Wave and Ryan to interview the pop-rock ladies at the annual anime convention in Houston, Texas. This was especially exciting for Wave as he was going to meet the band that selected his video as the overseas winner of their reaction contest for the song Kachi-kachi Yama [カチカチ山].
Gacharic Spin is a girl band of six musicians led by F CHOPPER KOGA and includes HANA, TOMO-ZO, OREO REONA, yuri, and Angelina1/3. Below is the edited transcript of their lively conversation.
The GachaReact!! Contest
Wave: Welcome back to America! It’s great to have you here at Anime Matsuri again.
GS: Yeah, we are happy to be here.
Wave: First, I wanted to say thank you so much for selecting my video for your reaction contest, GachaReact!! That was really cool to see you guys watch my video. What did you think of all the other different reactions to your song, Kachi-kachi Yama [カチカチ山]?
HANA: I looked at all of them, and everyone looked like they were having fun, but you seem to be having the most fun. Unlike other reaction videos where it’s just somebody sitting in front of the camera reacting. You put a lot of effort into it which was very enjoyable to watch. Also, you were able to play small parts of our song. Especially for certain portions, I was really surprised that you were able to pick out the notes correctly. And then the choreography, like it was you cosplaying. In that video, was that all your idea and direction?
Wave: Yeah, after I did the reaction to your song, I just started writing the script and then put it all together. I just went with the flow and made a bunch of different videos. Then I edited the best parts together to upload one on YouTube for the contest.
GS: Oh, it became like a jigsaw puzzle you put together. That’s interesting because Japanese people tend to react differently. They tend to reserve their emotions. Yet, people overseas express themselves more directly. In Japan, culture there, people are more concerned about humiliation. So, their humility holds them back from fully expressing reactions in videos as outwardly as Americans do. It’s really refreshing to see somebody react the way you did with true feelings to all our songs.
Wave: Oh, that’s cool! Actually, I embarrass myself a lot and am used to it.
GS: We could not tell at all. [Laughs]
Wave: Awesome! Now, I want to ask about your recent album, W. There are great songs on it like REPLICA [レプリカ]. But another song I found fascinating was NANMAIDA [ナンマイダ]. I was wondering how you came up with that song and why you chose to name it that?
HANA: Good question. Well, the lyrics we wrote together. It’s a song where we sing about the life of the band, Gacharic Spin, and what it was like to be a regular member of the band. For NANMAIDA [ナンマイダ], it came from jotting down a bunch of stuff like, “Oh yeah, this happened, and then this happened”, in the history of Gacharic Spin. We wrote those moments into the actual song. It’s kind of like a storytelling song in a sense.
The saying NANMAIDA [ナンマイダ] comes from the Buddhist religion. Usually, it signifies that something is coming to an end. Kind of an inside joke that we use sometimes. Like whenever a member leaves, it’s as if the existence of the band “dies”, but we get reborn whenever we change the structure or get a new member. All in all, it is a homage to the death and rebirth of the band. So, we tell the story of our history within it.
Getting To Know the Band
Wave: Incredible! As for your current rebirth—I love your lineup right now. Very talented; every single one of you adds so much to the music. This leads me to a question your fans want to know, what made each of you decide the instruments you play?
KOGA: When I was about 16 years old, in high school, my classmate Senpai [earlier colleague] was in a band. They said, “Hey, come play in our band. We don’t have a bassist.” As a young musician, I wanted to play with them. So, that’s why I picked up the bass! It’s not that I picked it first, it was just the open position in that band. At that time in the very beginning, I didn’t know the difference between guitar and bass. Thinking back now, I feel the bass was nice to learn instead of any other instrument. [Smiles]
Ryan: Yeah, I think you’re one of the most profound bassists actively performing today. You make it look so easy!
KOGA: Thank you.
HANA: I was looking at the drums and the guitar, but I started with the drums. As the band was growing, I wanted to change the way Gacharic Spin looked and sounded. So I said, if we find a good drummer, I’ll be on guitar and vocals. Then we got a good drummer with yuri and now I’m a guitar player! But I’ve been playing drums for over ten years.
KOGA: Not only drumming and guitar, HANA has played every single instrument while also doing vocals! But at the beginning of Gacharic Spin, we were like who should do what? And I said to HANA, “You look cool behind the drums, why not play the drums!”
Wave: Ever since I first saw Gacharic Spin, you’ve been one of my role models. I’ve been inspired by your multi-instrumentalist aspect and ease of switching between instruments.
GS: Thank you!
yuri: So I started playing the drums when I was about 15. At that time, I wanted to form a band with my good friends. We wanted to be like SCANDAL, the girls band, and I wanted to form a cover band of them. So, that’s how I started drums, me as the drummer in high school.
Wave: Oh, cool. So for ANGIE, a different type of instrument with your voice, when did you start singing?
ANGIE: I started singing in front of people after I joined Gacharic Spin. The reason why I wanted to sing was because I’ve always loved singing since I was little. Growing up I would practice with karaoke.
Wave: Your voice is strong with harsh vocals, too. Did you learn to scream before you joined Gacharic Spin?
ANGIE: I didn’t know how to do it until I joined the band. I was given lessons for learning death growls and learning to scream. The other members who sing have a different significance in their voices. So, I learned from their methods and styles. Also, I really like the fact that there’s a difference in everybody’s voice and I like hearing us even more so after.
Wave: Yeah, I notice that when you guys come together for harmonies, it works very well.
TOMO-ZO: When I was 10, I decided to form a band with my friends. And I originally wanted to become the lead vocalist. But there was another friend in the group that wanted to be the vocalist more. And I was like, “Ah, okay, I guess I’ll be a guitarist”. But in Gacharic Spin, I’m able to sing as well as play the guitar, so I’m actually very happy with that.
OREO: I’ve been playing piano since I was three and I always hated it! I kept trying to quit, but couldn’t really quit. And then around 12, I finally quit. After that, I wanted to be a dancer. I was influenced by a Japanese female dance group called Speed. I was interested in becoming like them while also being influenced by Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne. But everyone I saw was so talented that I gave up on that dream. Then, I started playing the keyboard again at 15 years old. Eventually, I focused on becoming a pianist so I could join a band.
Wave: Have you ever damaged one of your keyboards by jumping on it to dance?
OREO: [Laughs] No, not really. The repair costs would be expensive!
Check back for the next part of our interview.