Some people may say that Draft King is on the decline. That Draft King’s days are numbered. Well I strongly disagree! This all girl J-Rock band has nowhere to go but up! What, did you think I was talking about something else? While you may not recognize them, you should be quite familiar with Steropony. They did the third opening of Gundam 00, and their other songs get played regularly on the station. (If you didn’t know, we’re an anime radio station, and you can click on the red listen now button to have the latest and greatest in anime and J-pop/rock blasted into your ear. Try it now!)
However, like a good plot arc, it had to end sooner or later. Steropony disbanded in 2012 for reasons. The lead singer AIMI went off to peruse a solo career. It was assumed the remaining members, NOHANA and SHIHO would just replace AIMI with Evan Taubenfield (Avril Lavigne’s lead guitarist) to form Evanpony. Instead of doing that, they formed Draft King, adding Mao (Stereopony’s support guitarist) along with recruits Erica and Hiddy. Hiddy ended up quitting to pursue a solo career, bringing Draft King down to four members.
While I would like to say I got this info through journalistic sleuthing and cultivated relationships in the J-music scene; but I just got all this info from their English fan site/club, Very Good Days. All this shifting around may remind of you Gundam Wing’s second half, but you gotta remember that grouping musicians can sometimes be like herding cats. It helps to have a diehard international fanbase to sort this out for everyone else.
What’s important is that NOHANA, SHIHO, Mao, and Erica are Draft King and they got invited to Otakon last year. Otakon is the east coast’s highest level con so they have the resources to get guests all the way from Japan. That year they got Draft King and since The Fan is a radio station, I feel obligated to cover their first US appearance.
The first step in covering a band is to attend one of their concerts. Well actually the first step is to research the band by reading up on their history and watching all the videos on their official Youtube channel. While the latter can be achieved in the comfort of my own home, the former could only be done at Otakon. Draft King rocked out the Friday night concert and got the crowd swinging their official Draft King hand towels. The site of it didn’t bug me at the time but in hindsight I find the choice of merchandise unusual. I know bands gotta sell stuff to make a living but hand towels? I would have liked to see the decision process behind that. I can only assume that the hand towel producers had a sale of some type. Do the people who have these thing use them and find them high quality? Or do they keep them in mint condition as souvenirs or collector’s items? Your guess is as good as mine.
Overall, I found the concert pleasant. It’s good, but not, “I would kill my best friend to get it” good. It’s nice, but not, “I would allow myself to be consumed by a body jumping ninja,” nice. It’s enjoyable, but not “I’ll throw my body in front of a tongue wielded sword to protect it” enjoyable (yes, I have been reading the Naruto manga lately). To tell the truth, I perfer their Stereopony stuff to their new stuff.
I will say that they’re better then rocking out then I am at interviewing Japanese people. Okay, a lot better. I assume you can deduct that I did interveiw Draft Kings and I was disappointed at how I did it. To save myself the embarrassment, I’ll just give you the cliff notes. Draft Kings were happy with the fruits of their success, I got permission to play their music on The Fan, and there really was a suicide attempt in one of their videos. You read that correctly. So in my fore mentioned research, I was enjoying one of their chipper music videos when all of the sudden, I was sucker punched by the sight of the protagonist with her wrists bleeding out. I wasn’t even sure it happened at first. I was flabbergasted by it. I don’t even know how that managed to get through without getting censored. All I can say is wow, that is hardcore. And also really unexpected.
Also full of the unexpected things was their Otakon panel. Personally, I go see J-rock stars to hear them sing; not hear them talk. I’m not too interested in learning about them as people. In this case, I must have been in the majority as the attendance for the Draft King Q and A panel didn’t clock in above twenty. All though in their defense, Otakon is ridiculously full of great things to do. What’s really weird is that the panel started late. That normally doesn’t happen in these types of panels so I asked an Otakon staff member what was going on. “What’s going on? Are they setting up a freakin’ performance?” I asked in jest. The staffer stood in silence. “You didn’t say no?!” I retorted. “I didn’t say anything” was all she said.
Eventually, we were all let in to get to know Draft Kings better. For example, they decided on the name “Draft King” because they wanted to invoke the idea of selecting the best, or picking the best people possible to be in the band. If you thought it referred to the drinking of alcohol, you would be wrong but not illogical/unlogical. Seems the Draft Kings do enjoy a good draft. In fact, alcohol is their second favorite American thing (with their American fans being the first of course). Drinking is SHIHO’s favorite thing to do; so much so that she is considered hands down the best drinker in the band. The others admit so without any hesitation.
The Draft Kings do enjoy plenty of things besides imbibing. They’re excited to be in America, are amazed by our cosplays, and want to see our sights. They found their concert a lot of fun and would love another chance to sing in the U.S.A. SHIHO would love to live here and Mao would enjoy having an English song in our stores. They all like how everyone was swinging their towels around during the concert too. The crowd couldn’t sing along for a note but they swung those towels around like crazy.
The topic even turned to music for a bit. (surprising, right?) Their influences include The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Queen. Erica wrote the “This is Me,” single by herself because she wants people to love themselves (awww). They’re also comfortable with both acoustic and electronic play. Which they proved during their panel performance.
Draft King decided to treat the panel crowd to a little show and invited us to gather around. So we all got up and sat up right next to them. We were so close I’m gonna spend the next paragraph explaining how close we actually were. It wasn’t like a normal concert where they were on a stage and everyone was on the floor with a mini wall further separating us from them. We were all crammed together in the same square footage. It was like we were all hanging out in the same classroom. I was literally in Taijutsu range of them while they were performing.
While Draft King is a J-Rock band, they decided to go autistic for the panel. I’m no expert but I imagine there were many reasons to go autistic in that situation. I’m glad they did because that performance was magical. Draft King on autistic is like adding wind nature to the Rasengan. It’s like adding natural energy to your chakra. It’s like throwing shurikens and setting them on fire! (okay, that last comparison was weak) The rawness of it allowed the purity of their talent to shine through. And you all missed it! It was the best thing ever but only the tiniest speck of people got to see it. The probability of you seeing a Draft King autistic set is lower then you seeing what’s behind Kakashi’s mask. And that is a bad thing, because it’s really good.
Don’t fret though. Finding Draft Kings themselves isn’t hard. They have a twitter account for the band as well as the individual members; an official website, and all that jazz. If you want, you can bug your local convention to get them as guests. I imagine they won’t have to do too much arm twisting to invite Draft Kings, but Japanese guests can be expensive no matter how you cut it. Another option is to bug our DJs to either play more Draft Kings/get them added to our music database.
If you’re in the market for a new J-Rock band to love, Draft King would be a safe bet. There’s a good chance you’ll end up hitting the jackpot. Worst case scenario, you’ll think they’re all right. Those are good odds no matter how you look at it.