I was born in Minnesota but moved to Japan when I was 3. I lived in Japan until I was 8 and was able to get enough Japanese schooling to be able to communicate with Japanese people without issue. I can’t say the same for my brother who left Japan when he was 6. He still has trouble expressing himself in Japanese. I feel the same way from time to time, struggling to comprehend more mature topics like finance, politics and more technical vocabulary. I do thank anime, manga, and video gaming for my current ability to understand Japanese. I kept up with the 2-D media while I lived in the U.S., through Gundam animes, Power Pro Baseball games, and read all of the highly rated manga like Slamdunk, H2, BECK, etc.
While in the U.S., I was forced to join band by my mother, presumably to keep me out of gangs, drugs, and Rock n’ Roll because those are the only things high school kids do if they aren’t involved in extracurricular activities, am I right? So, like any other badass, I picked percussion as my instrumental oshimen. During my 7 year stay in band between middle and high school, I was trained in orchestral and marching percussion. Our drumline was rated the number one in the state of Florida during my senior year and we competed in the Winter Guard International competition and came in dead last among 19 contestants at the highest level of high school drumlines. An eye-opening experience indeed and realization that a bunch of spoiled kids playing drums for fun isn’t good enough to be the best in the world. The pride and joy I took out of this experience is the immense amount of fun I had messing around with the guys on the drumline and knowing the fact that I got the highest audition scores out of everyone each year (I was mathematically the best percussionist in our high school band?).
While in high school, I was part of a post-hardcore/screamo band named, “All In A Day”. Check us out we were so hardcorexxx. I had a blast being in this band. We would practice in my garage. I remember being super annoyed by having to put up sound proof carpeting on the garage door so we didn’t get the cops called on us. We played a bunch of shows locally and split up after we realized that the band members were “too busy” to practice and had a lot of “life issues” we had to take care of.
After high school, I went to school for three years without any intrigue. Joined another band, this time a cover band of the current and past popular rock songs.
Attending a university was pretty boring; going to 12 credits worth of school per semester, working part-time at the student center, painting walls and changing light bulbs, etc. I spent my downtime watching A LOT of anime and playing video games. I even fansubbed anime for about two years as well. I honestly haven’t watched as much anime since my days at school. I attribute my abundance of free time for watching every anime I’ve ever wanted to watch.
After spending three years in school, I came home to work because my family was in a hole financially. I’ve worked 40 hour weeks for the past four years helping out the family and spending my days off enjoying my hobbies like idols, gaming, watching sports, etc.
Because my story is a tad bit stale without getting into the territory of “too much information”, I will highlight my favorite albums of all-time that have shaped my musical interests leading up to me becoming an idol fan.
Alkaline Trio’s album, “From Here to Infirmary” provided a darker take on pop-punk rock and showed me that pop-punk music can be edgy and downright dark from time to time.
At The Drive-In’s “Relationship of Command” lead the way in the evolution of the post-hardcore genre and is my favorite post-hardcore album to this day. The lead singer Cedric Bixler and lead guitarist, Omar Rodriguez went on to form the more well-known band, “The Mars Volta”.
Audio Karate’s sophomore effort, “Lady Melody” is one of the most creative and distinct pop-punk album I have ever heard in my life.
B-DASH is not your typical Japanese pop-punk band. The catch is that 90% of their songs are in gibberish.
Four Year Strong’s “Rise or Die Trying” is a bit of a new-comer to this list but has had a huge impact on me. The sound of Four Year Strong captures the pop of pop punk but has an edge reminiscent of hardcore music.
RX Bandits have a totally distinct sound, combining progressive rock, reggae and ska punk. One of the most musically creative bands I have ever heard of in my life.
Then there are obvious influences like most of The Beatles discography, which has had a huge impact on what kind of music I look for and what it takes to capture my attention. These bands I listed have shaped what I look for in idol music as well. What I like to hear in idol music is creativity and catchy melodies.
Now, how did I get into idol music? I was into Morning Musume in the early 2000’s during their peak. I still have the copies of “Love Machine” and “Koi no Dance Site” to this day! After a couple years, Morning Musume faded into the back of my mind. What brought the idol fandom back? Well, I was following a certain video game podcast site called, 4Player Podcast. I was actually watching David dancing to Japanese songs on the video game, “Just Dance”.
After a few minutes of watching, I noticed that David was dancing to “Renai Revolution 21” and noted how great the song was. I was sitting in chat and said, “I like ‘Renai Revolution 21′ but I like’ The Peace’ better”. That was my first contact with an idol fan. After that I noticed that David was plugging his off-shoot idol site, “New School Kaidan” on the 4Player Podcast so I checked the site out and started to download the NSK podcasts.
I left the “fandom” (may have been more of an infatuation with Abe Natsumi and Tsuji Nozomi) a little bit after the sixth generation of Morning Musume joined so it was so weird to hear that the idol industry in Japan was still going strong and hearing David, Dae, and Tron talk about other groups besides Morning Musume. I started checking out this group they were talking about called, “AKB48”. I Youtubed AKB48 and the first result was “Heavy Rotation”…My initial reaction was, “WTF DID I JUST WATCH!? IS THIS LEGAL!?” I walked away from the video thinking, “Well… I don’t think all of their music videos are like that…”. So, I went back and watched something else. I watched a live performance of “Flying Get” and saw their microphone stand choreography and thought it was odd but interesting. I didn’t think too much of the music but did notice the amount of cute girls involved. After that I ran into SKE48’s “Gomenne, Summer” and I was absolutely sold on the music; it is still one of my favorite idol songs today. The idol fandom snowball effect started when I found the site “AKPedia“. I went through all of the members of AKB and saw the talent I had to work with…then and there I became a fan. The more info I read on AKPedia about the members, the more invested I became in the group.
That is pretty much how I got started on following idols. It was thanks to 4Player Podcast, David dancing to “Renai Revolution 21”, New School Kaidan, and the great people I’ve met on and offline. I can’t thank the people involved with New School Kaidan enough. The staff who welcomed me with open arms, and the amazing, loyal community that I met online for giving me this opportunity and platform to express my opinion on this fandom and being able to share my interests with others who like idols as much as me. Thank you all and thank you for reading this long winded edition of “NSK Origins”.