BLINDMAN, Japan’s leading melodic Hard Rock band, released their 11th studio album “EXPANSION”. Their melodic gems and unique style are still heard in a excellent form on this crucial album. This is their 3rd studio album with current line-up since Ray (Vocal) and Shun Minari (Drum) joined the band. Tatsuya Nakamura has again proved his talent as a composer, melody-maker and of course a guitarist and produced wider style of music while keeping their signature melodic Hard-Rock style. Ray and Shun Minari gave synergetic effect and BLINDMAN’s music went deep, also contribution by Tatsuya Toda (Bass) and Hiroki Matsui (Keyboards) are excellent in terms of keeping their music in BLINDMAN fashion. We had a chat with all of the band members about this new album “EXPANTION” which is surely going to impress not only their fans, but also wider range of music lovers.
Interview / Text Mamoru Moriyama
Translation Hiroshi Takakura
BLINDMAN L to R : Hiroki Matsui(key), Tatsuya Toda(b), Ray(vo), Tatsuya Nakamura(g), Shun Minari(dr)
Muse On Muse: EXPANSION, the third original studio album in the current lineup, keeps the core elements of melodic hard rock, but their musical direction went deeper and extensive to be embraced by wider range of music fans.
Nakamura: It was our aim so I am happy if they think so.
Ray: My mission in BLINDMAN is simple. I just wanna sing good songs on tracks made by Tatsuya Nakamura so I’ve never cared about what genre it is. But I’ve never found out what a good song is.. I think I will try and experiment forever lol.
Toda: I’m hoping people who loves different sorts of music like this album.
Matsui: It is a usual things for us to receive tracks one by one from Nakamura in a short span of time but what I was surprised was style of tracks were all different this time lol. I even thought it could be too much but when we played them on studio, it’s BLINDMAN music! Although sound and arrangements are different, there are some signature sound of Nakamura on it lol.
Minari: We proved what we five could do in sound without saying anything. I’ve never thought I do this kind of style with BLINDMAN so it is kind of a treat for me.
MM: Nakamura’s composing skills allow him to create variety of music and all members are good enough to be able to assimilate it to BLINDMAN music. I think that’s BLINDMAN’s strength and originality.
Nakamura: Thanks for the kind word. Well, same vocalist sings and same members play so it is normal to be BLINDMAN style but I’m grateful to have such versatile musicians in this band, it gives me a freedom as a composer.
MM: From catchy and pop songs to hard-rock songs, Ray’s emotional vocal will impress listeners through this album.
Ray: Thank you. I’m trained for 5 years in this band so I think now I am a better vocalist. I sung melodies on all songs of “Expansion” almost exactly as same as its demo, with only few fakes. The recording process was fast and smooth.
MM: Songs like “Promise of Love” and “Love Drifter” are drum driven tunes.
Minari: In “Love Drifter”, I played drums straight forward but I tried to not play with Hard Rock/Heavy Metal style in “Promise of Love”. I think not many people notice it but that’ is my rebelliousness lol.
MM: The bouncy up-tempo number “Never Say Never”, “One Step Closer” features a kind of British New-Wave keyboard sound and hardcore “Your Melody” are all different in terms of its musical style but it blends perfectly in the same album. This is not many bands can do.
Nakamura: Thanks again for your kind words. I think an album should have many different characters but keep it as an artwork.
Ray: We all are versatile musicians so I think we could display many sorts of ROCK music.
Toda: I think that is BLINDMAN and also is my strong point.
Matsui: Songs like “One Step Closer”, if an average HR/HM keyboard player played this song, he will probably play only 8th notes and it would have been boring. But I love this kind of loop besides it is electric piano lol.
Minari: I don’t know why but the scene is very conservative and tends to refuse other music. I guess they’re badly influenced by 80s rockstars who said such things lol. We five love and listen to good music whatever the genre is. It should be normal thing but it’s our strong point.
MM: The dramatic number “In the Autumn Wind” suits well as the last track of the album.
Nakamura: I can write this type of song and all members can express their emotion. I think it is the strength of this band.
Ray: It suits well in this season lol.
Toda: I really feel Nakamura in this track.
Matsui: I love the polyrhythm of the mono synth on intro. It’s good isn’t it?
Minari: Again we played “good music” as BLINDMAN on this.
MM: The melancholy and melodic guitar instrumental “Over There” and fantastic acoustic number “Solitude” give accents to the album.
Nakamura: We’ve never made this type of song so I thought it could be a good occasion to do it and it came out good so I’m happy with my decision.
MM: By the way all lyrics of BLINDMAN are English. Is it because English is more rhythmic than Japanese?
Nakamura: It’s not about rhythm. I just want to make our works better and lyrics are written in English. Of course there are good bands with Japanese lyrics and they are cool. But you know how we are.
Ray: BLINDMAN’s lyrics has always been in English so I wrote lyrics in it. It doesn’t matter if it is written in English or Japanese personally but it could sound weird for our fans if I start singing in Japanese from now on lol.
MM: What do you think about singing in English in terms of expressing yourself as a singer and conveying your message to your fans?
Ray: It has never been my intention to write lyrics with a strong message. I write lyrics that suit the sound and atmosphere of songs. I care about how my vocal is working with other elements and my voice and tone find some space on it. So it’s probably easier for me to apply a good tone in English than in Japanese.
MM: This is a question we’ve asked in previous interview. It may be difficult to name one song from the album, but please tell us what song is most impressive to you and why.
Nakamura: It’s not difficult, it’s impossible lol.
Ray: I put my emotion on lyrics of “Never Say Never”. So I am personally attached to it lol.
Toda: “One Step Closer” for me. I simply love this type of song.
“Your Melody” for me. It starts with a dark and heavy intro, which BLINDMAN hasn’t had before. But from the B-melody to the chorus, it is absolutely BlINDMAN sound lol. The organ solo is also my favorite!
Minari: Hmmm… the more I play them, the better they all get lol. But I could see my progress on “Tonight”. I don’t think it would have been like this if I played this a few years ago.
MM: We still are in uncertain situation due to the pandemic. I’ve heard you’ll be working on live-stream gigs.
Nakamura: Yeah, we really don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future. We do what we can do for now. I think streaming is a new musical activity for us.
MM: Please leave a message to your fans.
Nakamura: Please be safe and take care of yourself in this challenging time. I hope “EXPANSION” will help you to stay positive and encourage you in this situation.
Ray: I really hope to see you again in venues very soon.
Toda: Our new album turned out great and I think many people will like it. Please recommend this to your friends as well.
Matsui: It’s strange time but hope everyone finds some small joy and happiness in your life and let’s get through this!
Minari: We all have never experienced this difficult situation before. But we will try to do what we can do for our fans and this album is just one of it.
BLINDMAN official site http://www.blindman-official.com/
BLINDMAN / EXPANSION
Walkure Records WLKR-049
01. Love Drifter
02. Angel Smile
03. Promise of Love
05. Over There
06. Never Say Never
07. One Step Closer
08. Your Melody
09. In the Autumn Wind
11. I’m falling Down