Recently I got to ask a few questions to Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra member Atsushi Yanaka. It is a short, but fun little interview and I love that I got the chance to take some of his time. Many of these questions were sourced from the 23min of Ska listeners on facebook and /r/ska.
When the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra started, did you have any idea that it would still be around 25 years later?
I had no idea we would last 25 years. It is an extraordinary case in the Japanese music scene that a band as big as we are can continue, specialized in a genre of ska.
How difficult is it to manage so many members?
We don’t have a leader. Each of the nine members have his own opinion so it’s not easy to put all of them together.
What was the writing and recording process like for your latest release “Ska Me Forever?”
It’s an album that TSPO took the longest time in our band history in making it. When we finished one tune, we took time in evaluating the arrangements to make sure everything was okay. Sound wise, we concentrated everything TSPO can do at this time, such as the rock-oriented approach, dub-style sound, etc.
“Ska Me Forever” features collaborations with acts like “Asian Kung-Fu Generation” and “the Fantastic Plastic Machine”, what brought about working with them?
Asian Kung Fu Generation is in an important position in the Japanese music scene and we have always wanted to work with them one day. We couldn’t imagine what would happen if their distinctive worldview mixes with ours, but we were sure the result would be interesting. So we made the offer. As for Fantastic Plastic Machine, we have been friends with them for a long time through the club scene such as DJing. When we made the tune “Damned”, we thought it would be nice to do a club-style approach and we asked them to take care of the arrangements.
Was there always a budding ska scene in Japan or did it sort of start with Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra?
Of course, the ska scene was there even before we made our debut. But we have been active in the media such as television, which might have helped expand the recognition of ska.
Who are your major influences?
In terms of ska, we have been strongly influenced by the Specials, Madness, and the Skatalites.
What is your favorite American band?
It’s difficult to pick just one! But we have been close to Fishbone since our debut and we all love Fishbone. They performed at the “Tokyo Ska Jamboree” music festival which we organized, and vocalist Angelo sang in one of our tunes.
What are the chances on a US tour?
We love performing in front of US audience. We would like to come back every year. Hope it will happen this year again!
Tondemo Crisis has a killer soundtrack, would you ever make a video game OST again?
Thank you! We think we are very good at game music or movie soundtracks, tailoring the music to the themes. We would love to do game music if there are any offers in the future.
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra has a new album out called “Ska Me Forever” now out on vinyl from Nacional Records! For more information, the band can be found on their website and facebook. Also check out more from TSPO on these 23min of Ska episodes!