If at first listen, Molice comes off as nonchalant, even apathetic, it’s a rouse. A siren song to lure you in. Don’t fight it and you’ll be rewarded with fuzzy, melancholic jams that speak to your inner being.
It doesn’t get more indie than Molice, who have opted for low-fi rock in an ocean of over-produced pop. Their’s is a nostalgic sound harkening back to drifting punk lullabies more than three decades old. Given how much success the band has enjoyed in a mere five years of playing, it seems being the black sheep of Japanese music has paid off handsomely.
Molice publicly came into being with a performance at the highly-touted Summer Sonic Music Festival in Japan just months after forming the band in 2007. In case you’re wondering just how big of a deal that is, the last three Summer Sonic line-ups read like the collection of artists your iPod has wet dreams about. We’re talking Nine Inch Nails, Beyonce, Aphex Twin, Sonic Youth, Jay-Z, Taylor “I’monna let you finish” Swift in addition to Japanese bands like X Japan, Avengers In Sci-Fi, Perfume, Beat Crusaders, Nico Touches the Walls, and Midori.
Promotional video for Molice’s “Romancer.”
Summer Sonic faded into their first album, 2008′s Doctor Ray, with subsequent tours in the UK and Asia. Their sophomore follow up, Catalystock launched them into more touring, including a stop at Atlanta’s Anime Weekend. It also caught the attention of Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robbie Takac who signed them to his label, Buffalo, New York-based Good Charmel Records.
Female fronted Japanese indie rock that I can actually purchase without paying exorbitant importing mark-ups? You’re not dreaming. All of Molice’s material is available including their latest, Neugravity, which came out on April 17.
While the unpolished rock sound of Doctor Ray has carried through, Neugravity upgrades Molice with elegantly-executed hooks that waste no time in burrowing deep into your audio receptors. That combined with constant references to Ridley Scott’s 1982 Sci-Fi classic Blade Runner makes Molice’s third album the best yet.
For a full low-down on Neugravity and the thought processes running through the band behind it, Nihongaku interfaced with Molice singer Rinko via electronic mail. Geospatial distances and prohibitively expensive plane tickets be damned!
Nihongaku: How did Molice begin working with Good Charamel Records in the U.S.?
Molice: It was 2010,the label owner Robby mailed us directly as he was very interested in our music after he listened to it.
N: What has the reaction been to your album releases in the U.S.? Do you feel like you have enough of a fanbase to do a little more touring here? Are there plans for Molice to tour in America?
M: We received quite a lot of mail after the last album. We were very happy to read them. We’re planning a North America tour, but nothing is fixed yet. We’re very looking forward to it.
N: How has the band changed since Catalystrock?
M: We played gigs in Atlanta in the States, London in UK and Vietnam. We got energy from the audiences and felt more confident seeing good reactions from international audiences.
N: I feel like Neugravity has many more hooks. It’s catchier in places. Is that what you were going for?
M: We worked on the new album feeling that we wanted to continue evolving. I’m glad to hear you think the new one is catchier. I love catchy songs.
N: How much do you guys like Blade Runner and why did you decide to include references to it on Neugravity?
M: We do like Blade Runner but more like feeling it’s the real world. People think the movie is a science fiction classic but I think it did a good job of visualizing the future. I never feel strangeness with scenes in the film. Too much informationed world, acid rain, strange figured people…it feels like common, everyday life in like Tokyo. The references came naturally, we didn’t bend to include them.
Promotional video for Molice’s “Please Please Pris.”
N: Do you think there’s an interesting juxtaposition in playing low-fi, rock songs that make references to high-tech robots?
M: Yes, it’s always interesting. This time robots represent our words.
N: What story are you trying to tell with Neugravity? Is it a work of fiction or are you trying to say something about the world as it is now?
M: In “ACTIVE IMAGINATION” the human has enough imagination to escape gravity. Molice imagines that people will get a new sense of gravity after listening to Neugravity and take flight.
N: Your music is so different from the typical Japanese Pop that dominates the Oricon charts. How are you received in Japan?
M: We really don’t know. We are not concerned with how the average person judges us. We are inspired by our fans and by people who write us and find something in out music.
N: I understand that you’re picking up steam abroad. Are there any places you would like to play?
M: We’d like to play everywhere in the world. Actually even in Japan, we’d like to play more outside of our home ground Tokyo. We want to play in the States as we released new album there. Also we have received inquiries and offers from Europe, Australia and South America. We’d really like to play those places.
N: Is it true that you made your U.S. debut at Atlanta’s Anime Weekend? If so, do you like anime? What was it like to play for anime fans?
M: Yes, It’s true and we all like anime. In Japan we watched anime on TV from childhood. But is not like we are all obsessed with anime.
N: I hear from many Japanese musicians that Japanese anime and manga fans in the U.S. are more than likely the people who will appreciate Japanese music the most. What do you think about that?
M: When we played at Anime festival in Atlanta, many from the audience bought our CD and asked for an autograph in KANJI. This means they’re interested in Japanese culture, I guess. So it is natural that they are open to Japanese music, but I don’t think they all have the same taste in music.
N: I know that Neugravity just came out, but any idea what you’d like to do differently on the next album?
M: Now we’re free from gravity so next we’ll fly into space and maybe next sing in an alien language, who knows? Actually we already start recording of next album. We really love recording and making albums.
N: You guys have been compared to the Pixies and the Pretenders in some of the stuff I’ve read about you. What Japanese bands do you draw influence from? Or, if you don’t, what non-Japanese bands are most influential to you?
M: We have so many Japanese bands and non-Japanese bands to list up.Usually we mention The Police, Doors and Pixies.But also we’re influenced by Classical music, jazz, early R&R, Beastie Boys even Samba. We don’t care about genres. The most important thing to us is how much energy it has.
Special Site for Neugravity