AvelCain is a visual kei band that has been becoming increasingly popular with overseas vkei fans recently. Their 90’s-style looks and Japanese horror-inspired videos are certainly part of the appeal, but their music and lives are undoubtedly what keep fans intrigued.
Despite their rising reputation, it’s difficult to find original information on them in English. That’s where S-T.net comes in. In mid-December, the members of AvelCain revealed to us their insight on everything from the band’s origin, to upcoming releases, to Karma’s role in the upcoming movie “MOONBOW,” to their perception of their overseas fans, and more.
Read the band’s first interview for an international media outlet until the end for your chance to win a special prize!
-Since this is our first time interviewing you, please give us a brief introduction of each member.
Karma: I’m the shinto (believer/vocals), Karma.
Kaede: I’m Kaede on guitar.
Zen: I’m Zen, the bassist.
Byou: I’m Byou on drums.
Seiko: I’m Seiko, and I’m a ball-jointed doll.
-You just joined the band in August, right, Byou? How has the band been?
Byou: I’m still trying to figure out how I want to express myself through trial and error.
-Do you feel the band has changed in any way (goals or attitude) since Byou’s addition to the lineup?
Kaede: He’s played support with us for about a year and half, so not much has changed since he joined as an official member. Our attitude hasn’t changed either. We’re the same AvelCain as ever.
-Could you tell us the origin of your band name? Do you have a band concept?
Karma: Our name comes from the story in the Bible about the brothers Abel and Cain. Cain kills his younger brother, making him the first murderer ever. He killed him out of jealousy. AvelCain’s music follows that theme; a lot of our lyrics are about jealousy. It’s like a way to express love without telling someone you love them. We don’t normally say things like “I love you,” but it’s often at the center of many emotions we feel. Maybe it’s a roundabout way of getting it across, but our concept is that different way of expressing love.
Well, that’s the heart of our concept, but our look contains a lot of elements of horror and Japanese culture. We’re like an older, 90’s style of visual kei.
-If there was one song you could recommend to someone who has never heard your music, which would it be and why?
Karma: We have a lot of different kinds of songs, but I’d have to pick one of our most impactful songs, “PSYCHO.” It’s a pretty bizarre, visual-sounding song.
Kaede: “BELIEVE.” In our band photos and on social media, our image is a bit scary. We look like we might do something crazy. But “BELIEVE” is a ballad, and when Karma sings it, he uses a lot of gestures to express the lyrics. It’s not a song you’d expect us to play, so I think this song is a good way to show one of our other, more surprising sides.
Zen: This song is one of our more different songs, but I choose “Nekomata.” It’s the name of a Japanese youkai (monster) whose story is a bit different from Western horror. The lyrics and music are based on this unique aspect of Japanese culture – the key, the instruments used, the strings, everything. It’s also a bit of a pop-sounding song, but I think you’ll also be able to experience a bit of Japanese culture by listening to it.
-So you’d recommend this to those living outside of Japan?
Zen: It’s a special part of Japanese culture and an expression of Japanese horror. It might reveal a side of our culture that most people don’t know about.
Byou: I pick “Kataomoi,” since it has a PV.
Karma: There’s also a movie, but this song represents it. It’s one of the tracks on our mini-album “Omajinai.”
Byou: Because it has a PV, it’s easy to understand our image.
Seiko: I recommend “Himawari no Uta.” It’s the first song I released.
Karma: It starts off with Seiko growing sunflowers (himawari). Planting sunflowers is something that a lot of elementary school students do on summer vacation. She plants the seeds, the sprouts gradually emerge, and finally bloom in July. So the song is an expression of her joy from successfully growing sunflowers.
-So basically, she just wanted to write a song?
Karma: Yes, like her solo debut. (laughs)
-What did fans think of it? What were the in-store events like?
Karma: We normally have 2-shot photo sessions with members. For the first time, there were some people who wanted to take one with Seiko. She’s becoming spoiled.
-Wow! Seiko is popular, isn’t she?
Karma: She is.
-What is your usual creative process for new songs?
Karma: I always start with the title. From that, I can figure out the feeling of the song. When the song is finished, I write the lyrics.
-Do you write all of the lyrics, Karma?
Karma: Yes, I do.
-Speaking of new songs, you have two consecutive singles coming out in January and February: 「月-MOON-」 (“MOON”) and 「蘇-よみがえり-」 (“Yomigaeri”). These are both being used in the upcoming movie “MOONBOW.” Can you tell us a bit about this tie-up?
Karma: We’ve made our own short movies in the past, like “Kataomoi,” but this is the first time I was given a role in an actual movie. “MOONBOW” refers to a sort of rainbow inside of a moon, and praying to that rainbow. That’s what the opening theme “MOON” is about. I’m actually still working on it.
-So you started writing it after it was decided you’d write the theme song?
Karma: Correct. Now that filming has finished, I think it will be easier to write lyrics based on it.
-Is the same true for “Yomigaeri?”
Karma: Yes. The movie contains a bit of magic, like raising people from the dead. But it’s not enough to just wish for that kind of power. This song is about the pain associated with that feeling. It’s like the price you pay for your wishes, on the opposite spectrum of “MOON.”
-For “Kataomoi,” did you decide to film the movie after the song was finished, or was it the other way around?
Karma: We came up with them at the same time. We made an album based on the theme of “omajinai” (or “good-luck charm”), and we decided to make the contents of the album into a movie. That’s why the lyrics and movie for “Kataomoi” are basically the same. The feelings of the main character [in the movie] are reflected in the album.
-So are the songs you wrote for “MOONBOW” the first experience you’ve had writing songs specifically for a movie [that’s already been made]?
Karma: Yes, it will be our first tie-up.
-Have you done anything different or faced any difficulties with writing the songs?
Karma: Not many of the lyrics I write for AvelCain are from my own perspective. They’re usually in the third person, from the perspective of a girl. But for “MOON,” I want to mix in a lot of my own feelings of pain that I don’t normally express. I want them to be about my own interpretation of what the moon means to me and not necessarily about the movie.
Musically, the chorus should be catchy since it’s the opening theme, but the verses will sound more like AvelCain.
-Who composed the song?
Zen: We have a sound producer that has written several songs for us already. They’re in the process of writing it now.
-Could you tell us a bit about your role in the movie, Karma?
Karma: In the movie, I’m Karma.
-What? As in, yourself?
Karma: No, the character’s name is Karma. (laughs) In the movie, I’m the manager of a butler cafe.
-Have you ever been to a butler cafe..?
Karma: No. (laughs) I didn’t know they existed until I was given the role. The character Karma is eccentric even for a butler cafe manager. He’s really into occult stuff and completely obsessed with whatever he’s interested in. That causes him to lose sight of the things around him. One day, he finds a magic book and gets really excited about it.
At shows, I normally express feelings of sadness and pain. This was the first time I had to express happiness [for an audience], so it was a bit difficult.
-Was the overall acting process difficult for you?
Karma: Well, I was still playing Karma even though I was also playing the manager of a butler cafe. I made decisions based on what AvelCain’s Karma would do. Normally, the emotions I express during lives are part of the show. I think concerts in general are a form of acting, so [acting for the movie] wasn’t such a difficult transition.
-Let’s move on to another topic. Following the 2-month consecutive releases, you will embark on a 9-stop one-man tour “Hajimari.” What do you have planned for this tour?
Kaede: The venues we’re going to play at for this tour aren’t the types of places that visual kei bands normally play at. We purposely chose ones that are incredibly small and have no rails. We want fans to experience not just a visual kei live, but a live in the true sense of the word. Some of the venues can only fit about 150 people, some are in weird places, and some have stages that are only about 15cm tall. It’s all so our fans can experience a crazy show.
-On the other hand, the tour ends at Akasaka BLITZ…
Kaede: Yeah, it’s a pretty big venue.
Karma: The title of the tour is “Hajimari,” or “beginning,” right? About two years ago, we had a one-man show with the same title. I think it was our first one-man?
Kaede: It was our second.
Karma: It was our second, but it was our first serious one-man as AvelCain. We gave this upcoming tour the same title to reflect on things like how small the livehouses we used to play at were, and when we seriously started to “begin” band activities. The final at BLITZ will be like a condensed version of all that AvelCain has accomplished until now.
-Will BLITZ be the biggest venue you’ve played at so far?
Kaede: Yes. Well, we’ve played at venues as big as BLITZ capacity-wise, but it feels bigger because of its reputation.
-You already have a lot of plans for 2016 – what are you looking forward to the most in the new year?
Kaede: For me, we have a lot of two-man tours and shows coming up that I’m excited about. We’ll be playing with bands like THE GALLO–who we tour around with a lot–and DADAROMA, who we don’t play with at all.
-Their sound is a bit different from AvelCain’s, right? That should be interesting.
Kaede: Yeah, I think it will be interesting, too. I’m looking forward to it.
Zen: I’d say one of my bigger goals for this year is [to pull off] the Akasaka BLITZ show. It’s the same venue that Lycaon chose for their disbandment live, and it’s a venue I’ve personally wanted to play at for a while. I want to know how far AvelCain can go. Watching Lycaon play there gave me a lot of ideas about what kind of show I’d like to put on there. I hope we can make some of them happen.
Byou: One of the stops on the tour is in my hometown, Kyoto. I’m looking forward to that.
-Have you played there before you were in AvelCain?
Byou: Yes, a long time ago.
-Does it feel like going back home?
Byou: …Not really. (members laugh)
I’m glad that I can go there with AvelCain, though. It will be our first Kyoto one-man.
Karma: I’m excited for the release of the new songs. I really enjoy making new songs.
Zen: Well, we actually don’t have a lot of videos up there. We only have one PV uploaded, and we don’t have PVs on our CDs or anything. You need someone’s help to be able to see us. We don’t even allow our videos to be published unless there’s a high demand.
Kaede: While we don’t have any live videos, we have a lot of videos that could be classified as Japanese horror. I think people overseas who are interested in Japanese horror are drawn to us.
Zen: Yeah, like “PSYCHO.” That one is fairly easy to understand.
-If you could play a show anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Kaede: I really want to play a show overseas. I want to go to Paris.
Zen: You really like Paris, right?
Kaede: Well, that, and a lot of visual kei bands that play overseas have a show there. I think vkei is most popular in that area. I’d also like to go to Sweden. We also get a lot of comments from people living in Brazil…
Byou: Anywhere is fine, really, but I want to play somewhere big. Like Madison Square Garden in New York. (members laugh) Maybe that’s too big.
Zen: Personally, I love Italy, so I want to play there. I’m interested in Venice and Venetian glass – it’s beautiful. I want to go to places I see on TV. They seem to have a very unique culture there. Its history is carefully preserved in its architecture. They name everything from streets, to plazas, to staircases.
There’s one place I really want to go to called St. Mark’s Square. Everyone goes there to just hang out when the sun is out. I want to hang out there, too.
I also want to play in Germany…and Thailand, though I don’t know if visual kei is popular there.
Karma: I want to go everywhere. Like Byou said, I also want to go to New York. I want to be able to yell “Are you ready, New York!?” to the crowd. I want to play in Europe, too.
-Do you have any plans to promote yourselves to overseas fans more?
Kaede: Hm…I want to portray a more Japanese style. I don’t want to do that using Japanese-style clothes, though – I want to do it in Western-style clothes. It’s obviously easy to portray a Japanese style with Japanese-style clothes, but with Western-style clothes, it’s a bit more difficult.
Zen: We’d like to try playing a live overseas first and foremost.
-Finally, please give a message to your overseas fans and the readers at S-T.net.
Karma: AvelCain strives to represent the original style of visual kei, so I hope that you can experience the heart of visual kei through us.
Kaede: This is our first interview specifically for readers overseas. Whether you’re a fan of AvelCain or not, I hope you’ll read this and be able to understand not just the band, but visual kei as a whole more.
Zen: If you’re reading this interview–fan or not–I want you to come to Japan and experience us live. I hope we get the opportunity to play overseas, too.
Byou: I want to go overseas, and I hope you’ll enjoy our music.
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Text by Shannon and Yayoi