Band-Maid

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Band-Maid
Band-Maid performing at Gramercy Theatre in New York City, September 2019 (L-R: Misa, Miku Kobato, Akane Hirose, Saiki Atsumi, Kanami Tōno)
Band-Maid performing at Gramercy Theatre in New York City, September 2019 (L-R: Misa, Miku Kobato, Akane Hirose, Saiki Atsumi, Kanami Tōno)
Background information
Also known asBand-Maiko
OriginJapan
Genres
Years active2013–present
Labels
Members
  • Miku Kobato
  • Kanami Tōno
  • Akane Hirose
  • Misa
  • Saiki Atsumi
Websitebandmaid.tokyo

Band-Maid (stylized as BAND-MAID® until 2016) is a Japanese rock band formed in 2013, consisting of singer Saiki Atsumi, guitarist/singer Miku Kobato, lead guitarist Kanami Tōno, bassist Misa, and drummer Akane Hirose. The band combines a rock sound with a maid image modeled on Japanese maid cafés.[9] They are currently signed to Pony Canyon,[10] and their most recent full-length album Unseen World was released in 2021.

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

Band-Maid's official logo (2014–2017)

The band formed in July 2013. Guitarist/singer Miku Kobato, formerly an employee of a Japanese maid café, envisioned forming a band that juxtaposed the maid image with rock music. Kobato recruited lead guitarist Kanami Tōno after an Internet search. Tōno had performed as a singer-songwriter and suggested her occasional backing drummer Akane Hirose for the new band. Hirose in turn suggested bassist Misa, with whom she had attended music school.[11] On July 24, 2013 they had their first live performance at the PP Audition held at Osaka Deep, as a quartet with Kobato on vocals.[12] The band then decided to recruit an additional lead singer and selected Saiki Atsumi during auditions.[13] Their first performance as a five-piece was at the P Festival at Shibuya-AX on August 22, 2013.[12] The band signed to Gump Records (an imprint of the Platinum Passport artist management and talent agency) that year.

Early in their history, Band-Maid regularly performed live at various venues around the Tokyo area.[14] The group released their debut mini-album Maid in Japan in January 2014, written in collaboration with musicians Masahiko Fukui[15] and Kentaro Akutsu.[16] In August 2014, they released the maxi-single "Ai to Jōnetsu no Matador" (titled "Love, Passion, Matador" internationally).

In November 2015 they released their sophomore mini-album New Beginning.[17] The mini-album was their first chart placement, reaching No. 64 on the Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart.[18] The band undertook a tour of Tokyo venues to promote the album through February 2016, culminating in a sold-out concert on February 14.[19]

International recognition[edit]

Band-Maid first gained international notice in April 2015 when the English-language Facebook page of internet radio station Jrock Radio promoted the music video for "Thrill", which led to over 1 million views in the following year.[20] In the wake of that video's success, the band decided to abandon the more mainstream pop-rock sound of their debut mini-album and pursue a much more hard rock direction.[21] In March 2016 they had their first overseas performance at Sakura-Con in Seattle, Washington.[22][23]

The group released their third mini-album and major label debut, Brand New Maid, in May 2016 on the Nippon Crown sub-label Crown Stones[24] and JPU Records in Europe.[25] That album reached No. 19 on the Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart.[26] In October and November 2016, they went on their first world tour that took them to Mexico, Hong Kong, and several countries in Europe.[27][28]

In January 2017, Band-Maid released their first full-length album titled Just Bring It. It was preceded by the single "YOLO," released in November 2016. Just Bring It reached No. 16 on the Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart.[29] Band-Maid appeared at the 2017 Golden Melody Awards and festival in Taiwan on June 23–24.[30][31] The maxi-single "Daydreaming/Choose Me" was released in July 2017.[32] They covered "Honey" for the November 2017 Mucc tribute album Tribute of Mucc -En-.[33]

The band released their second full-length album titled World Domination on February 14, 2018 (2018-02-14).[34][35] World Domination reached no. 9 on the Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart.[36] Also on February 14, 2018, they reissued their 2014 debut album Maid in Japan with two bonus tracks.[37][38] While the original release of that album did not chart, the reissued version reached No. 26 on the Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart.[39] On April 1, 2018, they performed at Warped Tour at Makuhari Messe[40] as the first date on a world tour.

The maxi-single "Start Over" was released on July 25, 2018.[41] The CD singles "Glory" and "Bubble" were released simultaneously on January 16, 2019.[42] "Glory" serves as the second ending theme for the second season of the Japanese anime series Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS, while "Bubble" serves as the theme song for the Japanese drama series Perfect Crime.[42] Later in 2019, the band signed a new deal with Revolver Records. Under the name Band-Maiko and adopting a maiko image, the band released an EP titled Band-Maiko on April 3, 2019, which adapted several previous Band-Maid songs with traditional Japanese musical instruments and lyrics in the Kyoto dialect.[43] In April 2019, the band announced a tour of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Taiwan, and the United States in partnership with Live Nation Entertainment.[44][45]

Recent history[edit]

The band's third full-length album Conqueror was released digitally on December 4, 2019, with physical formats following one week later.[46] The album featured one song produced by Tony Visconti.[47] It debuted at no. 9 on Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart[48] and debuted at no. 1 on the Oricon weekly Rock Albums chart.[49]

They released their first standalone concert video Band-Maid World Domination Tour [Shinka] at Line Cube Shibuya (Shibuya Public Hall) in April 2020.[50] In late 2020, the band left Revolver Records and signed with Pony Canyon. The non-album single "Different" was released in December 2020; the song also serves as the opening theme for the Japanese anime series Log Horizon: Destruction of the Round Table.[51] The band's fourth full-length album, Unseen World, was released digitally on January 13, 2021, with physical formats following one week later.[52] It debuted at no. 8 on Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart[53] and debuted at no. 1 on the Oricon weekly Rock Albums chart.[54] Guitarist/singer Miku Kobato, under the name Cluppo, released the J-pop solo single "Peace & Love" in April 2021[55] and the double single "Peace & Love/Flapping Wings" in August 2021.[56]

Band-Maid made a cameo appearance in the 2021 Netflix film Kate, playing themselves in a concert scene.[57][58] Their songs "Blooming" and "Choose Me" were used in the film.[59] The single "Sense" was released in October 2021; the song also serves as the opening theme for the Japanese anime series Platinum End.[60] In December 2021, they announced a second US tour including Aftershock Festival, scheduled to take place in late 2022.[61] "Choose Me" was used in the US TV series Peacemaker.[62] In March 2022 Kobato, again under the name Cluppo, released the EP Hatofull.[63] In July 2022 Kobato released the non-album Cluppo single "With You", which serves as the ending theme for the Japanese anime series Smile of the Arsnotoria.[64] Band-Maid released an EP titled Unleash on September 21, 2022.[65]

Image and music[edit]

Miku Kobato and Akane Hirose (back) performing in 2017.

Band-Maid's image is modeled on maid café hostesses, with the standard uniform adapted to match each member's personality.[11] In interviews, they explained the concept came from founding member Miku Kobato who had previously worked at a maid café in Akihabara.[13] This theme is reinforced by the band, who refer to their male fans as "masters," their female fans as "princesses," and their concerts as "servings."[66] The band's "cute and submissive" maid appearance is meant to contrast with their aggressive rock style.[11][67] They decided to have two vocalists to allow a larger variety of music with two different voice types.[13]

The ''servings" are usually interrupted by a pause where the members present some comedic interaction with the audience. This is called Omajinai-Time and mainly performed by Kobato. She gives her voice a high pitch to appear extra cute (kawaii). This performance includes calls and responses of ''moe moe kyun'' which comes from anime movies and maid cafés to show cuteness.[68]

Kobato loved Japanese enka music when she was a child, and Tokyo Jihen led her to rock.[69] She attended a vocal school around 2012, but started playing guitar with the formation of Band-Maid the following year.[70] Atsumi started singing when she was 14 and Band-Maid is her first band. Tōno is a big fan of Carlos Santana, has played classical piano since she was a child, and began playing guitar when she joined her high school band club. Hirose is a fan of Deep Purple and Maximum the Hormone, particularly the latter's female drummer Nao Kawakita, and also played trombone and piano. Misa likes Paz Lenchantin,[69] The Smashing Pumpkins and Jimi Hendrix; she started playing piano at around 3 or 4 years of age, and also played trumpet, alto horn, and guitar.[11][13][66]

Band members[edit]

  • Miku Kobato (小鳩 ミク) – rhythm guitar, vocals (2013–present)
  • Kanami Tōno (遠乃 歌波) – lead guitar (2013–present)
  • Akane Hirose (廣瀬 茜) – drums (2013–present)
  • Misa – bass (2013–present)
  • Saiki Atsumi (厚見 彩姫) – lead vocals (2013–present)

Discography[edit]

Band-Maid discography
Studio albums7
Live albums1
Video albums2
Music videos31
EPs2
Singles8

Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
JPN
Oricon

[71]
JPN
Billboard

Top
[72]
UK
Ind

[73]
UK
Indie
Break

[74]
UK
Rock

[75]
US
Hard
Rock
[76]
US
Heat

[76]
US
World
[76]
Maid in Japan
  • Released:
    • January 8, 2014
    • February 14, 2018 (re-issue)
  • Label: Gump Records, Crown Stones (re-issue)
  • Formats: CD, digital download
26 (re-issue) 22 (re-issue)
New Beginning
  • Released: November 18, 2015
  • Label: Gump Records
  • Formats: CD+DVD, digital download
64 49
Brand New Maid
  • Released: May 18, 2016
  • Label: Crown Stones, JPU Records
  • Formats: CD, CD+DVD, digital download
19 15
Just Bring It
  • Released: January 11, 2017
  • Label: Crown Stones, JPU Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download
16 20 49 13 17
World Domination
  • Released: February 14, 2018
  • Label: Crown Stones, JPU Records
  • Formats: CD, CD+DVD, CD+BD, digital download
9 7
Conqueror
  • Released: December 4, 2019
  • Label: Revolver Records, JPU Records
  • Formats: CD, CD+DVD, CD+BD, digital download
9 9 29 4 11 25 19 11
Unseen World
  • Released: January 13, 2021
  • Label: Pony Canyon
  • Formats: CD, CD+DVD, 2CD+BD, digital download
8 6
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

EPs[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
JPN
Oricon
[77][71]
JPN
Billboard
Top
[72]
Band-Maiko
(as Band-Maiko)
  • Released: April 3, 2019
  • Label: Revolver Records
  • Formats: CD, CD+DVD, digital download
15 11
Unleash
  • Released: September 21, 2022
  • Label: Pony Canyon
  • Formats: CD, CD+DVD, CD+BD
9 TBA

Live albums[edit]

Title Album details
Band-Maid Online Acoustic Okyu-Ji (Dec. 25, 2021)[a][78]
  • Released: April 27, 2022
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: CD

Singles[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
JPN
Oricon

[79]
JPN
Hot
100

[80]
JPN
Top
Singles
[81]
"Ai to Jōnetsu no Matador"
(愛と情熱のマタドール, "Love, Passion, Matador")
2014 Maid in Japan
(2018 edition)
"YOLO" 2016 36 42 Just Bring It
"Daydreaming/Choose Me" 2017 20 18 World Domination
"Start Over" 2018 16 65 16 Non-album single
"Glory" 2019 12 70 11 Conqueror
"Bubble" 14 13
"Different" 2020 19 17 Non-album singles
"About Us"[b][82] 2021
"Sense" 14 13 Unleash
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart.

Digital singles[edit]

Title Year Album
"Secret Maiko Lips"
(as Band-Maiko)
2018 Band-Maiko
"Endless Story" 2019 Conqueror
"The Dragon Cries"
"Reincarnation"
(輪廻, "Rinne")
"After Life" 2020 Unseen World
"Unleash!" 2022 Unleash

DVD / Blu-ray[edit]

List of video albums, with selected peak chart positions and sales
Title Details Peak positions
JPN
DVD
[83]
Blu-ray
[84]
Band-Maid World Domination Tour [Shinka] at Line Cube Shibuya (Shibuya Public Hall)
  • Released: April 29, 2020
  • Label: Revolver Records
  • Formats: DVD, BD
8 10
Band-Maid Online Okyu-Ji (Feb. 11, 2021)
  • Released: May 26, 2021
  • Label: Pony Canyon
  • Formats: DVD, BD
11 13

Other appearances[edit]

Year Title Album
2017 "Honey" (ハニー) (Mucc cover) Tribute of Mucc -En-

Music videos[edit]

Song Year Director(s)
[85][86][87]
Link
"Thrill" (スリル) 2014 Daishi Hamada [1]
"Real Existence" 2015 Takayuki Kojima[4] [2]
"Don’t Let Me Down" [3]
"Alone" 2016 Ryōji Aoki [4]
"The Non-Fiction Days" [5]
"Before Yesterday" Un­known [6]
"Order" Ryōji Aoki Brand New Maid DVD only
"YOLO" [7]
"Don't You Tell Me" 2017 [8]
"Secret My Lips" [9]
"Daydreaming" [10]
"Choose Me" [11]
"Domination" 2018 Toshikazu Tamura [12]
"Dice" Ryōji Aoki [13]
"Secret Maiko Lips" [14]
"Start Over" [15]
"Glory" [16]
"Bubble" 2019 [17]
"Gion-cho" [18]
"Endless Story" [19]
"Rinne" (輪廻) [20]
"Blooming" [21]
"The Dragon Cries" 2020 [22]
"Different" [23]
"Manners" 2021 [24]
"Warning!" [25]
"After Life" Pennacky [26]
"Sense" Ryōji Aoki [27]
"Unleash" 2022 Mitsuho Seta [28]
"From Now On" Un­known Unleash Blu-Ray/DVD only
"Influencer" [29]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award ceremony Year Category Nominee(s)/work(s) Result Ref.
Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards 2016 Japan Next Generation Band-Maid Won [88]
Neo Awards 2020 Best Musical Act Won [89]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Only sold to official fan club members.
  2. ^ Only sold to official fan club members.

References[edit]

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