Japan’s SCANDAL is set to drop its 10th album MIRROR on Jan. 26, the band’s first studio set in almost two years.
The popular and gifted four-woman rock band — with members HARUNA, MAMI, TOMOMI and RINA — formed in 2006 and celebrated its 15th anniversary last year. The band has gained a great deal of respect from fans and fellow artists over the years, having performed numerous times outside of Japan and founding its own private record label called “her” in 2019.
SCANDAL’s upcoming studio album includes tracks that each of the members wrote and sang vocals on. Takayuki Okamoto interviewed the four women on behalf of Billboard Japan and asked about their songwriting process on MIRROR and their first international tour in a while promoting the new set.
What did the members discuss about the content of the album?
RINA: Each time [we made albums] in the past, we always tried to face the times, be honest with ourselves and just make the music we wanted to make at that moment. For this one as well, we started making one song at a time without deciding on a concept from the beginning. We settled on MIRROR as the title in the end, and decided to write a title track to lead the set. So we came up with the first song on the track list, “MIRROR,” and the album came together.
Could you elaborate a bit more on how you went about creating the title track?
MAMI: “MIRROR” was the last song we wrote for this album. We already had nine songs ready to go, but someone noted that we should have another song that would represent the set, a kind of killer track that would sound awesome being performed as a band. We’ve been paying particular attention to the rhythm, tempo, and sound in our works lately, and with that in mind, I believe we’ve come up with the best killer track that we’re satisfied with.
HARUNA: It’s one of the more powerful songs on the album, but I felt that it wouldn’t be right to sing it powerfully like it sounds. I aimed for the thin line between powerful and tender. I was able to face all the songs on this album as an individual and sing them accordingly like that.
The way “Ai no shotai” (“The real nature of love”) shifts into gospel was a surprise.
TOMOMI: We studied gospel music in our lessons as students in dance and vocal school, so it’s part of our musical roots. We’ve always wanted to try it.
Now that I’m in my 30s, I’ve noticed a lot of “selfless love” that exists around me, and that I’m also personally familiar with the joy of giving. My friends are getting married and having children, and I’ve lent an ear to the problems that young LGBTQ people have on our radio shows. I’ve been thinking a lot about love. There are various issues such as nationality, gender, age and more, but I feel that “love” in its simplest and largest sense is something that we all possess. I wanted to put that thought into words, so I wrote “Ai no shotai.”
“Ivory” is also a track that has that kind of warm, heartfelt message of love. MAMI, you wrote and arranged it, as well as sing lead vocals on it. Could you tell us about it?
MAMI: I got the sense that all of humanity sort of started from zero because of COVID-19, so I wrote that song to express how I felt then. I’m singing about my own feelings like I’m really talking to myself, but when I got other people to listen to it, it occurred to me that it unexpectedly ended up being a song for everyone.
RINA, you created “Kanojo wa Wave” (“She’s a wave”) on a digital audio workstation, right?
RINA: I finished the whole song on a DAW, and then asked everyone to listen to it and copy their parts. I wanted to write a song about a girl who lives freely like an ocean wave. I didn’t have any experience working on DAWs, but enjoyed doing it so I’m glad I tried it.
“Yugure, tokeru” (“Dusk, melts”) features an unexpected coupling of an alternative rock sound with poetic lyrics. HARUNA, could you elaborate on this song you wrote?
HARUNA: When I started writing the song on a guitar, I didn’t have much of an idea of how to arrange it. So the song and its arrangement are separate and that sense of incongruity probably makes it sound more interesting. The title was the first thing I came up with, and it’s also a bit strange. So from there I decided to try to put into words the kind of gut feelings I have about the things I like but have a hard time explaining, and put some abstract words together in the lyrics.
The band’s tour promoting the album called SCANDAL WORLD TOUR 2022 “MIRROR” will kick off in March in Japan. You’ll then travel to North America in July, then on to Berlin, London, and Paris in September. This will be your first international tour since U.S. & Mexico Tour 2018 “Special Thanks” in September 2018. What are your thoughts on your first global tour in a while?
HARUNA: We’re really looking forward to it! There are still some unknowns since we don’t know what the situation will be like for live shows overseas after the pandemic, but we were gradually able to do shows in Japan in 2021. I thought, “Concerts are awesome,” and felt really happy being on stage. I’m excited to be able to have that experience for six months again in 2022.
When you came up with the set lists for your previous tours, did you consider the affinity with the local music culture and national character of the countries you visited?
MAMI: Yes, we did. For example, in Europe and other areas that are a bit cold, there are lots of fans of punk and hardcore. Listening to blistering tracks warms you up, so there’s a physical reason for this. Based on such information that we get in advance, we decide things like, “Let’s keep things a bit wild today.”
Many people who come to see us when we perform outside of Japan first find out about us through our anime themes. But in Mexico, for example, people apparently often dig around for Japanese bands on YouTube, listen to them, then spread the word. So they have a different way of getting into our music compared to other countries.
TOMOMI: We’ve been making music for fifteen years, so the general taste in music for each region also changes over time. In the past, rock tracks with minor chords were popular in Asia, but now pop is popular, and it’s interesting how things keep changing.
Will you be going to some cities for the first time?
HARUNA: Berlin, Toronto, and Atlanta. We’ve been to New York, Anaheim, Dallas, London, and Paris before.
In the cities you visit for the first time, what would you like people to watch for in your shows?
RINA: If we perform the way we always do in Japan, I’m pretty confident that our audience will feel something from it, so we’d like to enjoy people’s reactions. We do find ourselves wondering why we have so many fans in other countries.
TOMOMI: We’re surprised by how many people come to our live shows (outside of Japan).
HARUNA: And there’s also a wide range of generations, so we’d like to know how everyone got into us and what they like about us.
MAMI: Some even carefully held on to their tickets for the tour we were supposed to do in 2020. They send us messages every day, signing off with “With love.” We’re looking forward to visiting them and giving love in return.
HARUNA: To our international fans… Please look forward to seeing us live!
This interview by Takayuki Okamoto first appeared on Billboard Japan.
SCANDAL WORLD TOUR 2022 “MIRROR”
North America dates:
July 9 – TORONTO ‒ Queen Elizabeth Hall
July 11 – NEW YORK CITY ‒ Sony Hall
July 13 – BOSTON ‒ Big Night Live
July 15 – ATLANTA ‒ The Masquerade
July 16 – CHICAGO ‒ House of Blues
July 18 – VANCOUVER ‒ The Imperial
July 20 – SEATTLE ‒ The Neptune
July 22 – ANAHEIM ‒ House of Blues
July 26 – DALLAS ‒ Legacy Hall
Sept. 22 – BERLIN ‒ LIDO
Sept. 24 – LONDON ‒ 02 Academy Islington
Sept. 27 – PARIS ‒ Yoyo