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Friday, Oct. 15, 2010
Ling tosite sigure seek virgin fans on the road
Special to The Japan Times
Preparing to hit the road to showcase their fourth long-player, "still a Sigure virgin?," Ling tosite sigure have only one thing on their minds: arousing new fans.
Dubbed the Virgin Killer tour, during the 13-concert trek the posthardcore Saitama trio won't be gently seducing first-timers with sweet talk and slow songs. Instead, expect a loud, fast-paced and passionate affair.
"The shows will be hot and exciting," promises guitarist and lead singer Toru "TK" Kitajima.
While some people may squirm at the jaunt's Virgin Killer moniker, the band meant it to be playful. It was jokingly chosen as a tie-in with the title of Ling tosite sigure's recent full-length and their quest to expose more listeners to their music.
Rest assured, the concerts will boast no theatrical, Iron Maiden-esque onstage virgin sacrifices.
"I can't explain why, but the phrase 'Virgin Killer' popped into my mind right after we decided to call the album 'still a Sigure virgin?,' " TK says.
After playing together in a college cover band, TK and bassist Miyoko "345" Nakamura formed Ling tosite sigure in 2002. The addition of drummer Masatoshi "Pierre" Nakano solidified the act's current lineup.
Issuing two full-lengths and an EP through their own Nakano Records imprint, the band raised their stature by signing with Sony Music Associated Records prior to putting out 2008's "just A moment."
"I'm not quite sure if we are becoming more popular than before," offers TK. "There is no way for us to measure or compare our level of popularity now and then."
Despite TK's reservations, most are content enough to use sales figures to gauge success. Ling tosite sigure's numbers display definite growth. Last autumn, the group sold out Zepp concert halls in Tokyo (2,700 tickets) and Osaka (2,200 tickets) in an hour. On April 17, they performed their largest headlining gig, drawing 7,000 spectators to the Saitama Super Arena. More than 9,200 copies of "still a Sigure virgin?" were purchased on its Sept. 22 release date. The disc debuted at the top position on the Oricon album sales chart, moving 26,000 units in its first week.
"I feel our fans understand that under all circumstances, Ling tosite sigure will stay just as we should be," asserts TK.
"We now have more freedom to choose what we want to do while making music and delivering products to our audience. Changing to a major label has allowed us to pursue our musical expression better than before. If it didn't, we wouldn't have signed on with a bigger label."
The band began work on "still a Sigure virgin?" in the summer of 2009. The tight, high-energy rocker "replica," which features strong vocals from both TK and 345, was meant for "just A moment."
"I couldn't finish the lyrics in time for that album," explains TK. "We brushed up the song during the sessions for this record and we decided it would be a good fit for this album."
Although glad to finally find a place for "replica," TK's fondest memories are from expanding Pierre Nakano's responsibilities when making the track "eF."
"The original demo for 'eF' contained only vocals and acoustic guitar," tells TK. "I asked Pierre to try drumming in many different ways, but the drum beat didn't fit.
"I came up with the idea that Pierre should play electric guitar instead because he used to be a guitarist before he started playing drums. It was his first time playing guitar in 15 years. He was so nervous and remained absolutely still while recording the song. It was pretty cute to watch."
Previously concerned primarily with establishing themselves domestically, in May the group lost their international touring virginity, playing four shows in England. The trio had a great time and are obviously eager to do it again.
"Touring in the U.K. was a dream come true," TK shares. "Performing for people who hadn't experienced our music before felt just like when we played together live for the very first time."
Ling tosite sigure's "Virgin Killer" tour starts Oct. 21 at TakuTaku in Kyoto and ends Dec. 4 at Sakurazaka Central in Naha, Okinawa. Each show is ¥3,800 in advance. They also perform Dec. 21 at Studio Coast in Shinkiba, Tokyo (7 p.m.; ¥4,000;  5543-2525). For more information, visit www.sigure.jp.