As many of you may, or may not know, I’m a bass guitar player. Like any bass guitar player, the first thing I’ll notice in a song is the bass line. A decent bass riff can have me hooked in seconds. This is how I discovered Tokyo based band, BARBARS…
Miki – Bass & Vocals (left) and Rioko – Guitar & Vocals (right)
BARBARS – Make No Systems
The crunchy bass riff from Miki kicks in to open the track, as Rioko and Kōsuke join in to get the song underway. The composition is classic (Bass, Guitar, and Drums), but that’s just one of the great aspects of BARBARS, in that they aren’t using layers upon layers of backing guitars, backing vocals, synth, and whatever else they can throw in there. BARBARS are a rock band! Two bad ass chicks, twin vocals chorus work, superb guitar riffs, groovy bass lines, and bouncy drum beats enough to scare the hell out of people to listen.
Miki and Rioko at EGGMAN, Shibuya 01/04/14
In April this year, I was able to catch one of their live performances at EGGMAN in Shibuya, as they were the opening act for Sugar ‘n’ Spice (who were launching a new E.P that night). I dropped a quick tweet to Rioko asking if they were going to play “Make No Systems” that evening (as at the time, it was really the only song I’d heard in full as BARBARS music isn’t readily available outside of Japan). She didn’t have time to reply (most likely she was warming up for the show) however after the performance, I was able to speak to them both briefly to which Rioko apologised for not playing the track, as she received the tweet too late. Very cute.
BARBARS – Hero (I wanted to show Rioko’s pedals at the end, I’m not gawping at her legs!)
(You can also listen to the full version of Hero by clicking here)
In my broken Japanese I managed to explain we’d traveled from England to watch the show, and we really enjoyed it. As I only had ¥2,000 on me at the time, I could only afford one album, so I went for their debut album “OPEN!!!” (which has Make No Systems on there) and the girls even signed my copy for me.
My stack of merch from Sugar ‘n’ Spice and BARBARS
Since returning to England, my biggest regret was not taking more money to buy their second album. As soon as I’d finished listening to “OPEN!!!” all the way through, I put the entire album on repeat, after that, I wanted more! Luckily BARBARS do have a webstore which can ship internationally, however it’s a little tricky to navigate if you can’t read Japanese. I managed to figure it out, so if you want to buy their albums don’t be afraid to drop me a message and I’ll help you navigate it.
My mail order of “CUT! CUT! CUT!” and “花畑ダンスフロアー” single.
Now that I own both albums and have time to listen through all the tracks, it really resonates with how catchy each track is. I can listen to both BARBARS albums back to back, without skipping any tracks (a very rare occurrence for me). It’s impossible to not be captivated by Miki’s bass riffs, I could genuinely watch that girl play bass all day long. That Danelectro DC-1 bass guitar she uses, is something to die for. A bass guitar from the 1960’s, with the classic Danno twang factor, even with a single pickup for that beautiful bass tone, a beautiful sound as beautiful as the woman behind it.
*ahem* Sorry, where was I? Oh yes! BARBARS…
BARBARS – A brief history:
2004 – Formed under the name of “VIRIDIAN” creating very heavy music, similar to System of a Down.
2006 – The direction of the band was heavily reconsidered, with more focus on the female twin vocals, and including some English lyrics.
2008, June – The self-produced mini-album “Karoriumu” was released.
2010 – They won a contest held by music magazine ROCKIN’ON in “RO69 JACK 2010” (Rock festival).
2011 – A band who owned the trademark of “VIRIDIAN” contacted them, so as of January 2011, the band was renamed BARBARS (Babazu)
2011, March – The debut album “OPEN!!!” was released via King Records.
2012, August – The first single from the album was released “Reverberation Sub-story”. Watch the making of here! (The most hilarious moment for me is at 7:25 when Rioko tells Miki to “drink sexily”. I sent a tweet to Miki recently about this clip, to which she said it was incredibly embarrassing, but brought back good memories.)
2012, October – The band released their 2nd album “CUT! CUT! CUT!”.
2013, November – After nine years of performing, Kosuke Kageyama sadly left the band. He left on good terms, and still speaks to the band.
Miki Tanaka (タナカ ミキ) – Vocals & Bass guitar – Miki on Twitter
Rioko Minato (ミナト リオコ) – Vocals & Guitar – Rioko on Twitter
Eri Utsumi (ウツミ エリ) – Drummer (Replaced Kosuke Kageyama in November, 2013)
You can find BARBARS in the following locations…