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Friday, March 13, 2009
While most young acts tend to start off in smaller venues and work their way up, AA= opted to do the opposite. The new solo project from Takeshi Ueda, bassist with apparently now-defunct tech-metal heroes The Mad Capsule Markets, played their first-ever concerts to thousands at the massive Intex Osaka and Chiba's Makuhari Messe as part of the Countdown Japan 0809 festival in December.
With little chance of Ueda suffering from stage fright — having performed during his 16-year stint with The Mad Capsule Markets at many large-scale concerts, including slots at the Ozzy Osbourne-helmed Ozzfest — it made perfect sense to introduce AA= at the popular event. Their well-received appearances provided fantastic exposure for the late-February release of AA='s singularly titled full-length debut, "#1."
With The Mad Capsule Markets being on an indefinite hiatus since 2006, Ueda concentrated on establishing his clothing line, Fuzz Rez Zweep, before starting to create music as AA=, which stands for "All Animals are Equal," in early 2008. Similar to The Mad Caps' sound, albeit with a poppier edge, all 13 electro-infused hard-rock tracks on "#1" were written by Ueda, who penned the lyrics with Takayoshi Shirakawa from Tokyo hip-hop- and techno-loving punks Back Drop Bomb.
During live shows, Ueda plays bass and synthesizer and shares vocal duties with Shirakawa. Former The Mad Capsule Markets' guitarist Minoru Kojima and Rize drummer Nobuaki Kaneko will round out the band during their tour this month. Their eight-song sets at Countdown Japan were packed with high-energy, pulsating beats and seizure-baiting flashing lights that saw 40-year-old Ueda playing with the gusto of a young rocker half his age.
With two festival appearances already under their belts, the success of these shows could help net AA= slots on any one of Japan's upcoming popular summer music events.
AA= play March 20 at Nagoya Club Quattro (7 p.m.; ¥3,300;  264-8211); March 21 at Shinsaibashi Club Quattro, Osaka (7 p.m.; ¥3,300;  6281-8181); and March 24 at Shibuya-AX, Tokyo (7:30 p.m.; ¥3,700;  5738-2020). For more information, visit www.creativeman.co.jp