BAND-MAID’s Miku Kobato Talks About 10th Anniversary and 2023 North American Tour

While Japanese rock band BAND-MAID has toured the world numerous times, this year’s tour marks a special milestone: their 10th anniversary. In a conversation with Miku Kobato, vocalist and guitarist of the band, she couldn’t help but express surprise and joy at having reached this particular anniversary. Although the members have no personal plans to celebrate the occasion, Miku happily chirped, “The fact that we’re going on tour to celebrate and meet our masters and princesses is special enough.”

This North American tour will bring the five members to more cities across the continent than their previous tours, and they look forward to visiting new places, gaining new experiences, and seeing how fans in different cities get excited about different songs. It’s no secret that the bassist, Misa, is a beer enthusiast, so naturally, we had to talk about trying local beer in new places. Although Miku is cutting back on drinking this tour, she said, “We always try local beer after the show. While not everybody drinks, Saiki and Misa drink every night after shows on the bus. They try them out and discuss what it tastes like and what they think about it; that’s how they enjoy their beer.” More stops on tour also means more time traveling and more time on the bus. “The members, I feel like all of us are one,” she said. “We’re sharing one room on a bus. I feel like I’m on a school trip, and I’m spending time with my friends.”

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When reflecting on the past 10 years, Miku expressed that some things have changed and some things that haven’t: “One thing that hasn’t changed is that all of us are really good friends. We met 10 years ago, and not one of us has left [the group]. We are staying strong and are very close together. If anything’s changed over the course of time, it’s that we’ve become closer than ever.” Going member by member, Miku shared what she admires about each of them. Starting with Saiki, she said, “Our vocalist Saiki. She’s very stoic. She trains everyday. She takes care of her own body the most out of us, and we all really respect that part of her. As for her vocals, it’s only getting better and better. We, not only the fans, strongly feel she’s amazing as a vocalist.” Next up was Kanami. “As soon as she holds the guitar, she changes. When she’s on stage, it’s amazing how she transforms. She’s our guitar hero. Off stage, she’s just as amazing during rehearsals and practice. She leads us to make us one.”

Then, there’s Misa. “Our bassist Misa. She’s a cool beauty when she’s on stage. However, off stage when she’s not performing, she’s so lovable and very very cute. She’s like a child, like a princess. All of us members, we’re always saying that she’s so kawaii.” Last but not least, Akane. “Her drumming is amazing, and we love her as a member. But off stage, she’s like a comedian. She always makes us laugh, and she’s the main moodmaker. Maybe she doesn’t intend to be a comedian but, without her, maybe BAND-MAID wouldn’t be as bright as we are.” Miku brings her own bright energy to BAND-MAID as well. One part of the BAND-MAID experience that is uniquely Miku is “Omajinai Time” during live performances. That’s when she takes control of the stage to entertain and interact with the fans, while the rest of the band takes a small break and watches on. Miku admitted she doesn’t prepare much for these special segments, so it’s fair to say she’s a natural when it comes to crowdwork: “I never think about what we should do beforehand. It’s all up to the masters and princesses who are at the venue, and it’s my goal to surprise them.” She added while laughing, “Sometimes I get too crazy and the members get mad at me. There’s one time that I was so excited that I actually fell off the stage.”

While she can get rowdy on stage for live performances, Miku also channels that buzzing energy into writing lyrics and exploring new ways of self-expression through music. Inspired by everything from personal experiences to books and film, Miku often writes memos when inspiration strikes. She also tries to see if there are ways she can incorporate words or phrases she hasn’t used in the past. One example is the phrase “fumougokai (不妄語戒),” which is a Buddhist precept to refrain from speaking false and harmful speech. “It’s a phrase that Japanese people don’t commonly see or hear often, but I wanted to try using it in our song, ‘Blooming.’ I thought it would grab the attention of listeners and make them think about the lyrics.”

All in all, BAND-MAID is a group of dreamers who have come together to pursue their passions and explore their creativity. Throughout the past 10 years, the band has overcome many challenges and earned various achievements, ultimating attracting a loyal and passionate fanbase all around the world. Drawing from the band’s experience, Miku thoughtfully shared some advice on chasing your dreams: “Number one: don’t give up. We’ve been together for 10 years, but in the first two years, there were times we thought it was the end. We were always worried and thinking about what to do, but we kept going. I think that we’ve shown that if you keep going, it’s possible. Number two: don’t forget to always have fun.”

Mai Nguyen

Editor-in-Chief at Asia Pacific Arts.
Feel free to send me a note on Twitter to @hellomailee.

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