Japanese metal idol group PassCode will be embarking on their first U.S. tour this September after putting on a sold-out show at Nippon Budokan last year. The tour will begin in Dallas on September 3rd, before moving east to New York, and looping back west to Los Angeles to finish up on September 7th. Ahead of the tour, APA spoke with the group’s current members – Nao Minami, Kaede Takashima, Hinako Ogami, and Emily Arima – about their music, and what to expect on the tour.
This is your first time coming to the U.S. for a tour. Was there something that inspired the timing for this tour now?
Emily Arima: I joined PassCode in August 2021, and now that the COVID-19 restrictions have eased up, we’ll be heading out to deliver PassCode’s music to all the fans who’ve been waiting eagerly. There have been a bunch of English comments on our SNS too!
What’s the biggest difference between preparing a setlist for a festival versus your own concert? Is there anything particular you keep in mind preparing for an overseas performance in comparison to your shows in Japan?
Nao Minami: We are being cautious even during our solo live shows, but for this US tour, we’re really mindful of how the setlist flows, especially considering those who will be hearing PassCode’s songs live for the first time. The track “NINJA BOMBER” isn’t something we perform very often in Japan; it’s a bit of a rare gem. But, because it has that Japanese flair and a catchy title, we tend to slot it into the setlist more frequently when we perform abroad.
Nao Minami: Back then, I started noticing this trend where idols, like BABYMETAL, were getting into heavier music that was quite different from the usual idol style. That’s when I sent PassCode’s sound producer, Koji Hirachi, the URL of BABYMETAL’s song on YouTube – I think it was probably “Doki Doki☆Morning.” At the time, it was more like, “Wow, there are groups like this too!” sort of thing, and that was pretty much the end of it. But about six months later, when we had more members and I listened to the demo of a new song, it had transformed into a rock sound.
Even with the switch in your musical style, part of your charm is that you’ve continued to maintain your pop idol styling and dance moves to pair with your metal-style arrangements. Why did you decide to combine these two aspects together to move forward? What inspired the kawaii metal genre?
Nao Minami: I know I’m kind of repeating what I said earlier, but BABYMETAL was actually the one that introduced me to the fusion of metal and idol music, which later inspired the direction that PassCode took. After that, we continued to draw inspiration from various bands and groups, and as we kept on with our activities, I believe we were able to evolve into a truly unique presence.
What is your musical process like when it comes to creating albums and singles?
Kaede Takashima: PassCode’s sound producer, Koji Hirachi, has been in charge of creating all our music since the beginning. He gets inspiration from the group’s situation at the time and from live performances he’s actually seen. This way, he crafts the songs that are just right for the group’s current needs.
You just released your new song and music video for “GROUNDSWELL.” Can you tell us a little bit about this song? How long did it take to complete this song, and what do you hope to convey through it? What does the title “GROUNDSWELL” mean to you?
Hinako Ogami: Our sound producer, Koji Hirachi, managed to whip up “GROUNDSWELL” with a lightning-fast schedule – he finished composing around mid-April, and we did the vocals recording in the latter half of the month, and we’re all set to release it in June. Quite a rollercoaster ride, isn’t it? The term “GROUNDSWELL” implies meanings like “surge” or “wave,” and we’re eager to get more folks acquainted with us, to pull them into the whirlwind that is PassCode.
Kaede Takashima: I’d like to try singing a ballad. It’s the complete opposite of what we do now, so it’s like stepping into the unknown, which sounds super intriguing.
If you could choose one song by PassCode to play as an introduction to someone who has never heard of the group before, what would you choose, and why?
Hinako Ogami: I think “MYTH“ is a track where you can fully experience PassCode’s signature strength and shout, so I really want them to give it a listen! There’s choreography that feels like a battle too, so during our live shows, I hope they’ll pay attention to the dance moves as well.
What’s something you hope or want fans to look forward to seeing or learning about PassCode on this tour?
Emily Arima: I hope they can feel the appeal of PassCode’s intricate musical style! We’re working hard every day, along with all the members and team, to bring that out to the fullest during our live performances!
Tickets are still available for the group’s first U.S. tour, and can be found on Ticketmaster here.