Metal band, Bridear became the first Japanese group to tour internationally last year, performing shows across the UK and Europe. Now, the band is set to return in September 2022 to support their recently released album, Aegis Of Athena.
A whirlwind of NWOBHM-inspired riffs and modern influences, the record comes as the group celebrates its tenth anniversary and is sure to set the band on its way to reaching its goal of global domination. Following the album’s release, V13 spoke to Bridear about the album, their influences and the brave new world…
Thanks for your time. You’ve just released Aegis of Athena; tell us a bit about the album because looking down the track listing, the title seems to have more of a historical/mythical twist than song titles like “Determination” and “Greed” do?
Kimi: “The album title strongly expresses our overall intention, while the song titles focus on the spirit of each song.”
Ayumi: “When we were writing the song titles and lyrics, we had some idea of the concept of the album, so I think the song titles were somewhat influenced by the album title. Aegis of Athena is named with the idea that we are like the goddess Athena, protecting everyone with the power of music. But for example, “Determination” is not a direct description of the song, but I wrote the lyrics to reflect a defence of the heart, so when you think of it that way, there is a kind of similarity there.”
Haru has said, “it will be amazing to play these songs live.” If money was no object, how do you visualize the ultimate Bridear live show?
Haru: “Our music has all sorts of twists and turns and can be very dramatic. We want the audience to go on a ride with us. So we would love to have production like a big screen and lots of fire! We would also like to have our giant mascot, “Mrs Bride” appear on stage every night, just like Eddie during Iron Maiden’s shows. We have “Mrs Bride” actually, and she comes on stage sometimes, and we hope to bring her overseas one day. And since many of our songs are written with the intention of getting people hyped up and excited, a big audience singing every word would make it perfect!”
You talk about the NWOBHM being a huge inspiration on Bridear; which bands, in particular, had the biggest impact on you?
Kimi: “Iron Maiden and Judas Priest are probably the biggest influences.”
Haru: “We were inspired by Iron Maiden when we performed at an event called “Metal Matsuri” in London in 2019 and while visiting the former site of the Marquee Club.”
Ayumi has described the new record as being a “huge leap for the band.” Can you elaborate on that further? How do you feel you have grown as a band since your previous records?
Ayumi: “We as band members are beginning to understand and learn about each other and how far we can go to challenge each other. It’s all about chemistry. This is partly because we are now in an environment where we can freely talk about what we want to do, both technically as musicians and intellectually as songwriters. We have entered a zone.”
When you started out on the journey for Aegis of Athena, what was your vision for the record and did that change due to the pandemic?
Natsumi: “We were trying to create strong songs that would be able to resonate not only in Japan but also internationally.”
Kimi: “Yes, the main theme of the project was to create something that could span worldwide, so we wanted to push the boundaries of what is uniquely us without being constrained by existing musical frameworks. We did approach the theme of Athena as a means of resistance and show of strength to the negativity of this pandemic era, but it’s still a universal theme. We accomplished that vision, I think.”
Could you talk us through some of the themes inspiring the songs, particularly “Brave New World” and “Determination?” They feel like they could be inspired by life in 2022. Is this the case?
Ayumi: “‘Determination’ is actually inspired by a certain game, but of course, it was also inspired by my own life experiences. I wrote this song with the hope that it would give power to everyone who listens to it just as I have been empowered by the music I love.”
Haru: “After all, the impact of the global coronavirus epidemic was significant. While many people were frustrated and saddened, we also had much to think about. We strongly hoped for revenge and said, “We will fight. Let’s face it together.” We created “Brave New World Revisited” specifically to convey this message.”
You managed to tour outside of Japan in 2021. What are your memories from those shows and, going back to question two, what was it like playing the new songs live?
Haru: “We have always been committed to returning, even though our tour schedule has been cancelled many times due to COVID. The moment we played “Brave New World Revisited” in front of the audience, I felt a sense of accomplishment in that we had not given up. And it was the first time Bridear played such a complex and dramatic song which represented our evolution. I’ve been looking forward to seeing what kind of response we’d get, which exceeded my expectations, and I felt that we had become one with the audience.”
Natsumi: “Before performing that song on the European tour, I must admit that I was nervous because it was the first time I had performed it, and it’s a big piece with a lot of irregular time signatures. However, as the days of the tour went by, I became more and more confident in my performance at the shows. Our European fans were so excited that they raised their fists and got excited about every song, including the new songs and “Brave New World Revisited,” which made us feel even more passionate the songs and the performance.”
Your sound doesn’t just pick in NWOBHM influences, and you’ve talked about influences from J-Pop to Muse. Given the diversity of your sound, in 2022, who do you think the perfect band for Bridear to tour with would be?
Kimi: “I would be happy to tour with Beast in Black, Five Finger Death Punch, and The Halo Effect.”
Ayumi: “I would like to play with any band, regardless of genre.”
In the UK and the US, bands are pushing the boundaries of heavy music by incorporating outside elements not normally associated with metal. What is the rock and metal scene like in Japan in 2022? Is it more traditional metal, or are there other bands like Bridear exploring elements from outside the genre?
Kimi: “In Japan, not only in the form of bands but also in the form of solo singers and Vocaloid songs, there is an increasing combination of metal and other subcultures, the so-called “Cool Japan” style. Many of the songs are performed in the style of metal music and sung in the style of anime songs. Classic metal music seems to be fading in Japan.”
Ayumi: “I believe that Japanese rock and metal bands are diversifying in the same way. As genres are being exhausted, we are searching every day to establish our own musical style.”
You’ve talked about the new single “Determination” being an anthem for the band. From the recent shows, has this been picked up by fans as an anthem as well?
Ayumi: “We have not played this song at many shows yet, but we felt that the response from the audience so far has been very positive. In Japan, audiences are still not allowed to shout out loud due to strict regulations about covid, but I can’t wait to shout out loud with everyone.”
With the album now out, if a metal fan was to come across Bridear and the album for the first time, what would you tell them to expect if they were to give Aegis of Athena a listen…
Ayumi: “First of all, you will be surprised at the variety of expressions in the first track, “Side of a Bullet.” Then, you will feel the individuality of Bridear as you play through the album. Before you even realize it, you will be wanting to listen to the first track again.”
Natsumi: “The album contains a wide range of METAL songs in one album, so even first-time listeners are sure to find something they will like. The order of the songs on this album is also very particular, so we’d appreciate people listening to the album in order from the first song to the last.”
Now the album is out, what are your plans for the rest of 2022?
Kimi: “For the rest of this year, we will focus on shows! We are back in the UK in September and will be announcing European dates soon, so stay tuned!”
Thanks for your time, and good luck with the album. Do you have a final message to your fans overseas?
Kimi: “Thanks for all your support! I read all of your comments and other comments on social media. We’ll keep bringing you cool music, so please keep an eye out for what’s to come!”
Ayumi: “Thank you for reading. We plan to see you all in Europe again this year! We will do our best to see you in the rest of the world as soon as possible. Stay tuned!”
Haru: “I hope you’ll listen to our CD and experience our music at one of our shows! And we will continue to send out our message to all of you wherever you are throughout the world through YouTube and social media. And I’ll see you again this year on our international tour!”
Natsumi: “Thank you for your support. I hope you get to hear a lot of our music and come to our shows!”
Decide To Survive Tour Dates:
09/06 – Glasgow, The Attic
09/07 – Manchester, Academy 3
09/09 – Huddersfield, The Parish
09/10 – London, Boston Music Rooms
09/11 – Birmingham, Castle & Falcon