The Birthday

biography - 19.06.2013 02:42

Formed by ex-members of the legendary garage rock band Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, The Birthday's bluesy, gritty sound has been delighting rock fans for over a decade.

Although ROSSO hadn't officially disbanded yet, in 2006 the members slowly started to turn their attention to other activities. Vocalist Chiba Yusuke and guitarist Imai Akinobu played in a duo called MIDNIGHT BANKROBBERS for a while, but that summer they decided to form a new band called The Birthday. Drummer Kazuyuki Kuhara (ex-THEE MICHELLE GUN ELEPHANT) and bassist Haruki Hirai joined them, completing the line-up.

Information about the new band spread rapidly, and they released their first single Stupid on August 23, 2006. The next single, KIKI the Pixy came out in September, when they also found time to take part in an event called the SWEET LOVE SHOWER.

Their first album, Rollers Romantics, was released on October 25th on both CD and vinyl. In November, The Birthday embarked on their first tour, entitled the Rollers Romantics Tour '06, which lasted a month. They played throughout Japan and many of the lives sold out.

2007 was a productive year for the band, as they released four versions of their third single, NIGHT LINE and continued to tour. They also released the album TEARDROP and two more singles. One of these singles, Alicia, featured a b-side called Ookami no nodo, which was used as a theme for the anime series “Zombie Loan," granting the band a small measure of international exposure.

In 2009, The Birthday released Ai de nuritsubuse, which featured a lighter, slightly more accessible sound. However, any fears fans may have had about the band losing their darker edge were quickly quieted by the single that followed; the haunting Piano, the PV for which featured the band in unnerving, sideshow-inspired costumes. Piano also featured the b-side HUM69, which was used in a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder CM. They went on to perform Ai de nuritsubuse on NHK’s MUSIC JAPAN program as well that year.

2010 saw the release of a single called Digzero, followed by the eagerly-awaited STAR BLOWS album just a month later. The releases kept coming that year, as June brought a B-side collection entitled WATCH YOUR BLINDSIDE and December a live DVD. The band also performed at the ARABAKI ROCK FEST ’10.

In 2010, Kuhara worked with Sawao Yamanaka from the pillows on his solo album, Tedious Man and, in a surprising turn of events, guitarist Imai Akinobu announced his retirement from the band. The news came in September via a message on the band’s website. No reason was given, but the split between him and the other members seemed amicable. The band pressed on, replacing him with Fujii Kenji.

Early 2011 saw the release of the single Nazeka kyou wa, which featured a similarly upbeat sound to Ai de nuritsubuse, but the band showed its darker side was still in full effect once again with its somber, aggressive b-sides 2byou and Tsumeato. The album that followed, I’M JUST A DOG, was similarly diverse.

2012 brought two singles and the album VISION. It also saw Chiba release his first solo album under the name SNAKE ON THE BEACH, which was promoted with a movie based on its songs called "Akai Kisetsu". That wasn't Chiba's only venture into providing music for films either, as he also teamed up with former BLANKEY JET CITY drummer Nakamura Tatsuya, KenKen from RIZE and dip guitarist Yamaji Kazuhide to record the soundtrack for Toyoda Toshiyaki's film "I'M FLASH!" that year.

Imai, who had played guitar on the SNAKE ON THE BEACH album, appeared alongside Chiba in the film "Akai Kisetsu" as part of a fictional rock trio called THE GOLDEN WET FINGERS. To put a bit more buzz behind the film, they performed a few shows together under this name and pulled in Nakamura to replace the actor from the film as their drummer. THE GOLDEN WET FINGERS held a successful tour in 2013 and released an album called KILL AFTER KISS on May 1st.

Chiba didn't let all these other projects slow The Birthday down either; the band had a busy live schedule for the rest of the year and released a concert DVD in January.
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