Japan's high school rockers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2008, 12:00am

Indie J-pop girl band SCANDAL rocked the house on two nights at this year's ACGHK 2008 (Anime, Comics and Games convention). Their performances made it hard to deny their claim of being 'the most powerful Japanese girlie pop rock'. The four young Osaka girls certainly know how to entertain a crowd.

The band members are Haruna Ono (guitar), Mami Sasazaki (guitar), Tomomi Ogawa (bass) and Rina Suzuki (drums). Leader of the band Haruna shares vocals with all the girls so they all get equal time in the limelight.

The girls answered flyers posted at dance and vocal schools in Osaka and Nagoya looking for band members. They came together in 2006 and started writing and playing their own songs.

They started off listening to contemporary J-pop dance music but since the band launched, started listening to western bands like Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The group started off playing gigs at local clubs and music venues in Osaka and Kyoto but soon got noticed elsewhere in Japan. Their big break came when they were invited to play at Shibuya Club Asia, a well respected Tokyo venue.

They were also invited onto a Tokyo radio show and asked to perform at a university festival. Their huge and almost unprecedented popularity, despite not yet having released a single, led to a recording contract with Tower Records.

In March, SCANDAL released their debut single, Space Ranger, to resounding success - it actually sold out across Japan. To meet fan demand, the single was eventually made available in the Japanese and US iTunes music store in April.

Not long after the release of the single, the group went on their first US tour, Japan Nite US Tour 2008, performing in New York, Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, then back to Seattle for a two-night concert at Sakura-Con 2008.

SCANDAL are fans of manga and anime and chose to use the medium to promote themselves by turning each member into an animated character.

A number of simple animated shorts have been made for their website detailing the band's escapades.

Hong Kong fans packed the auditorium at the convention and were treated to the girls' animated web episodes (with English vocals and subtitles) that showed how the group was formed.

When the band eventually came on stage, they were greeted with frenzied cheers of excitement before playing their three singles.

Space Ranger and third single Kagero have an immediately likeable classic rock sound. Their second single Koi Moyo has slightly more of a pop vibe, but the rock instrumentation keeps it from becoming bubblegum pop.

If the girls' performance at ACGHK 2008 was anything to go by, these high school girls have a very bright future ahead of them.