Dragon Ash has been one of Japan's most successful bands of the last decade, and influential in helping establish Japanese hip-hop and "mixture-kei". The group was originally formed by high school friends Kenji Furuya (guitar/vocals) and Makoto Sakurai (drums). They held auditions for band members, and hired on bassist Ikuzo Baba (AKA Ikuzone, with umlauts not included here), who was 29 at the time and had some experience in the music business. Kenji Furuya is the son of well known actor...read more
Dragon Ash has been one of Japan's most successful bands of the last decade, and influential in helping establish Japanese hip-hop and "mixture-kei". The group was originally formed by high school friends Kenji Furuya (guitar/vocals) and Makoto Sakurai (drums). They held auditions for band members, and hired on bassist Ikuzo Baba (AKA Ikuzone, with umlauts not included here), who was 29 at the time and had some experience in the music business. Kenji Furuya is the son of well known actor Ikko Furuya, and the association, along with the fact that Kenji had done some TV and movie work, helped draw attention to the group. Kenji tries to downplay the connection to his famous father, and even uses a different kanji character in his name, but while the connection was not "officially" announced until 1999, the link was widely known early on. Dragon Ash began playing live in mid-1996, and in 1997 signed on with Victor. They added another high school friend, DJ Bots on turntable, which led their sound away from straight ahead punk to more "mixture-kei" (as punk combined with hip-hop is commonly referred to in Japan), somewhere near the realm of the Beastie Boys. Their debut EP Mustang did well, and was particularly popular in indie/alternative circles. Their 1998 album Buzz Songs became a fairly big hit, but their follow-up EPs in May 1999 - I Love Hip Hop and Grateful Days - were massive. The "I Love Hip Hop" song is basically a reworking of the rock standard "I Love Rock'n'Roll". "Grateful Days" makes use of the intro from the Smashing Pumpkins song "Today", a group the band is known to admire. Part of Dragon Ash's appeal is their positive lyrics. In general Japanese hip-hop focuses more on positive ideas like following one's dreams and being true to your friends and family, and while it also contains braggadocio, rarely Does it include threats of violence like much American hip-hop. In fact, very few Japanese young people are involved in gangs, and even less with guns, and for them to rap about such things sounds pretentious. With themes that are more "real" to Japanese young people, Dragon Ash, along with Rip Slyme, Kick the Can Crew and Ketsumeishi helped Japanese hip-hop find its own course. Dragon Ash's 1999 Viva La Revolution was huge, right on target for kids who grew up on both rock and hip-hop. It was heard everywhere, and was one of those albums that defined the times. 2001's Lily of Da Valley did nearly as well. It contained a somewhat harder sound, seemingly influenced by Atari Teenage Riot, which brought them additional respect from the adventurous, if perhaps losing them some pop fans. Furuya, who often uses the nickname Kj, has branched out into producing other groups, and together with Bots made the side project Steady & Co. Unusual for Japanese musicians, Furuya is said to be a devout Christian, and has been quoted as saying that the Bible is the most important book that exists in the world. Due to the various side projects members became involved in, and the relative inactivity of Dragon Ash, some began worrying about the future of the group. In March 2003 Dragon Ash surprised many by announcing a new line-up, which included three new members, Hiroki on guitar, and dancers Dri-V and Atsushi. Some fans and critics did not wholeheartedly embrace the change, feeling that Dragon Ash being a serious band did not need "back dancers". In July 2003, after over two years without a new CD, Dragon Ash finally released Harvest, which further pushed the envelope, and as a result received somewhat mixed reviews. Likewise for their six track Sequence Criminal release of August 2004. While Dragon Ash may no longer be the sensation that they were in 1999, the group remains widely respected, and their new releases much anticipated.collapse
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Dragon Ash - Ivory PV
starktz added the video "Dragon Ash / ROCK BAND - YouTube" in May, 2013.
luffy3san added self as a fan of Dragon Ash in January, 2010.
czar indicated that no Kanji is used in name in February, 2009.
czar updated the profile for Dragon Ash in February, 2009.
Artist page created by: Keith Cahoon
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