The difficult times are over for Japanese rock band Radwimps, whose members have never gotten along better.
Speaking to Life! at Orchard Hotel last Friday, vocalist Yojiro Noda, 28, says of their chemistry: "We've been together as a band for so long, we're more than friends and brothers - it's almost like we're lovers. We'd know if one of us was sulking or lying that he feels all right when he is really not."
Last Saturday, the four-member group performed for the first time here at Tab in Orchard Hotel in a two-hour show attended by some 500 fans.
This is the last overseas gig of their concert tour, Radwimps Grand Prix 2014 Live Tour, which started on Feb 5 in Gunma, Japan. The tour took the band, best known for hits such as Order Made (2008) and Dada (2011), to South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Their name might combine slang words "rad" and "wimp" to mean cool cowards, but they sure have confidence in their music.
"We never dreamt that Radwimps would make it this big, but we were very confident when we started making music 10 years ago and this has not changed," says drummer Satoshi Yamaguchi, 29.
The members say that they had not heard from their fans here previously.
"I didn't know that there were so many people who listened to our music outside Japan," says Noda, who also writes the band's songs. Fame did not come quickly for Radwimps, whose seventh and latest album, Batsuto Maruto Tsumito (The Wrong, The Right, And Crime), was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.
The group was originally formed by five schoolmates in 2001, including guitarist Akira Kuwahara, 29, and Noda. While they successfully debuted with the song Moshi Mo (If) in 2003 - the same tune that won them the grand prize in the Yokohama High School Music Festival in 2002 - three of the five original members left the group in the following year.
They were replaced by bassist Yusuke Takeda, 29, and Yamaguchi.
Radwimps' big break came in 2006 when their third album clinched 13th place on the Oricon charts in Japan.
Things have been looking up since.
They are the latest among a string of J-rock artists to come here for a concert.
Last year saw performances by bands such as Luna Sea, One Ok Rock and Screw. In 2012, veterans L'Arc-En-Ciel played to a near sell-out crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The members feel that Japanese musicians like themselves can take heart from this situation.
"The Japanese have always been quite a closed community," says Noda. "Now, with online platforms, we can see the response of fans outside Japan and gain confidence from that."
What it takes for J-pop to gain global popularity like K-pop, the band feel, is for one breakthrough international hit in the vein of Psy's Gangnam Style.
Kuwahara says: "It opened doors for K-pop internationally. I hope there'll be someone like that in the Japanese music industry as well."
This article was first published on June 9, 2014.
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