The Asian Rock Thread

I saw y’all’s interesting discussion on music started by Catwalq in the other thread. I agree with you, there aren’t many Asian American ROCK bands, except maybe the Morning Benders. Sorry for all the old videos; I’ve been away from the scene for a while. But these are among my favorite Asian rock songs:

My daughter likes this song by Elephant Kashimashi:

Here’s the Morning Benders:

I think it’s hard to be an AA rock band. The singer-songwriter acoustic thing seems to be more popular, regardless of who is singing.

Since everyone seems to be on an IR tear, check out this B’z video:



Edit: I forgot Luna Sea!

16 thoughts on “The Asian Rock Thread

  1. Not sure if Glay qualifies as rock, but here they are:

    You know, the thing about this is that these Japanese rockers have an entire society standing behind them. So while I agree that there aren’t as many AAs in rock, it’s a little of an unfair comparison. Rockers are further out there than pop stars are, and so it’s a bit harder to really stand on your own without some kind of mass support.

  2. Wait, what?
    I inspired a post? Mother!!!!!!!! Come and see what your daughter has done in oyinbo land…hahahaha, just joking

    You are right about the successful artists having an entire community behind them. I have always wondered why that is. I volunteer on Kollaboration and you would think that tickets to the show would be sold out waaaaaay before hand but no, every year, we have to go knocking from door to door and try to sell just less than a thousand tickets.
    There has to be support and there has to be variety because there are many tastes within the community

  3. I have my music snob tendencies that I try to contain because I pursue my own musical interests and work for far different reasons, but I just wanted to clarify that there is nothing wrong with the acoustic you tubers doing their laid back stuff.

    But what I do see is this: rightly or wrongly, acoustic guitar music has gotten a bad rap with the sensitive singer songwriter sap…..again, that particular Jack Johnson style is what is popular at a given time and sets itself up as a trend. And in trends, plenty of people jump on board because that’s what is hot and what gets you attention if you can play in that style. That’s nothing new, that happens all the time.

    I do advocate for trying to bend the genre or find something new to say with acoustic based music. Because there ARE lots of artists creating songs that pull away from that perception of the sensitive, laid back folk stereotype and show that acoustic music can be much more than that. And to make the point from the other thread, one way NOT to be an invisible hetero AM is to not participate in the same old funky little grooves, mellow laid back stuff that gets stereotyped–once again.

    Either work on crafting better songs, improve the lyric writing and story teling, or just go grab an electric guitar and thrash. And yet I’ll say this as well from an artist’s perspective: none of the acoustic you tubers should pay me any mind. If their motives are being committed to their craft, then they shouldn’t care one bit what anyone thinks about their work. If it’s in your heart and in your blood to create, then go forth and do not let anyone get in your way. But if you’re doing it just to get attention and all that celebrity crap, well, then I’m not so sure I’d even pay a dime to see you.

    Now, as for the AA rock bands, of course it would be great to have a community behind you; but if not, then you just have to slug it out in the trenches and build your own fan base, gig by gig. You might not be able to reach a mass audience, but if you have decent songs, your music will touch someone.

  4. Oyinbo? Haha!

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=oyinbo

    I think that in general there is a difference between the audiences of a pop group and a rock group. If you look at American rock bands–Phish, Crosby, Stills Nash, the Stones, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Grateful Dead–there are people who follow them all over the place. Their fan base is smaller than that of their pop counterparts–Beatles, N’Sync, Bee Gees, whoever–but their fans tend to be more intense. So if you’re Justin Timberlake, you’ll probably have more fans. But if you’re Kurt Cobain, you’ll probably have more fans who will travel across the country to see you.

    Mojo,

    I’m not into that Jack Johnson stuff either. I know some people are against amplified music, but I think it can be so much more intense when done right.

  5. Asian America in its current state could never produce artistically unique, genre-bending music as some Japanese do, that people would actively listen to as opposed to passive, laid-back “acoustic youtube” listening.


    (the ending is pretty epic 4:00 onwards)

    Envy is a great example of an Asian band that has an underground yet deep fanbase, and is possibly more popular in the West. They’ve done split albums with some better known Western bands such as Thursday and Jesu.

    There is a lack of motive for AA to create their cultural identity through music. Most of us are risk-averse, as being a musician means living like a beggar if you’re not talented. We lack the social cohesion that blacks and Hispanics do, and we’re rather petty about ethnic nationality.

  6. A band like Envy could not have come out of an American Japantown, it’s just highly unlikely. They draw their musical influences from the East and West (not just the West) and it’s music that no Westerner could pull off.

    Despite having 2 Asian Americans in their band, the Morning Benders sound like any other pop-rock band and they draw nothing unique from their Asian heritage. The Far East Movement are anything but a “far East movement,” they produce pop music that conforms to the status quo of Western pop. I’d also add that the sunglasses that they always wear function as a mask for their Asian identities.

    Where is the Asian American equivalent to jazz?

  7. “Despite having 2 Asian Americans in their band, the Morning Benders sound like any other pop-rock band and they draw nothing unique from their Asian heritage. The Far East Movement are anything but a “far East movement,” they produce pop music that conforms to the status quo of Western pop”.

    Worse, they stick out like a sore thumb because they are not unique. Most AA rockers can’t even sing in their respective languages of their forefathers, let alone compose a song in one of them.

  8. envy song was interesting though a tad self indulgent. and well arranged like a lot of japanese music ive heard.

    one particular ‘luxury’ that that band has, as any east asian band is luxury of singing in the native language .

    when east asian bands try to be white or black it comes across as cute but when asian americans do it, it just sounds white. with too much emphasis on the ‘american’ and ‘asian’ just being a political appeasement tag

    also as someone said above asians dont care enough about their culture. and not only that, music ought to the times. what can you say about asian american culture that is genuine right now? hence the happy white wannabe acoustic crap.

    re:FEM i wont disrespect because i respect they are a bunch of hardworking guys , and they also have to play into the a market where asians are hated by media. but going back to music, noone wants to explore dark stuff.

    so do we sing about IR and being invisible?or confucian restriction, or divide and conquer tactics in western media? if it is, why dont we explore it? because we want to save face and pretend everythings a ok? or is a comfortable living all we ever wanted? theres no cultural foundation for being an asian american musician because asians dont really want to explore how bad the situation is thats why 10 years from now we will still be reading the same blog posts and if anything asian america will be whiter than ever. meantime id rather listen to HK or chinese metal. at least it feels genuine.

    asian america is a conundrum – what is our central issue that we can make our culture around? and how do we express it in a way that will sound interesting. noone seems to know what asian american culture is because noone can even define chinese american culture or japanese american culture for that matter.

    for asian american culture to bypass its specific relevance to the respective motherland AND prove relevant to east asian ( and south asian im guessing?) americans its a big task.

    again the answer is in racism and discrimination, but once again we are too scared to confront these topics in a violent or aggressive enough way. its all just too …tepid.

  9. “Worse, they stick out like a sore thumb because they are not unique. Most AA rockers can’t even sing in their respective languages of their forefathers, let alone compose a song in one of them.”

    But African Americans did not sing in native African dialects when they pioneered blues and jazz music, nor did they use the instruments of their forefathers. They drew from their roots and created something completely new with it.

  10. But African Americans did not sing in native African dialects when they pioneered blues and jazz music, nor did they use the instruments of their forefathers. They drew from their roots and created something completely new with it.

    Exactly, there is nothing original or unique about AA rockers.

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