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INTERVIEW - MAN WITH A MISSION: "I wanted the song to represent the whole story, the view and the philosophy which I believe Demon Slayer contains."

 


Japanese rockers MAN WITH A MISSION is one of the most successful rock bands in Asia. The half-man, half-wolf collective consist of Tokyo Tanaka (vocals), Jean-Ken Johnny (guitar, vocals, rap), Kamikaze Boy (bass), DJ Santa Monica (DJ), Spear Rib (drums). They have been a part of major cultural moments in Japan and beyond. Their songs have soundtracked numerous films, TV shows, video games, sporting events and TV commercials (as you will find out below). They have recently released two new tracks, which are the opening and closing theme songs for the massively popular anime series Demon Slayer. They will bring their new songs to audiences across the globe with The Wolves On Parade tour, which kicks off in the US on May (14th), and they will hit the UK and Europe for a string of June dates. We caught up with Jean-Ken Johnny to learn more about their new singles, their tour and more!



So firstly, let’s get the obvious questions out the way – how did you arrive at your band name and your mission?

All I recall is that we were born with this name, so there’s not much to say. I’m not sure if I can also explain our mission, but I believe part of it, maybe most of it, you can understand or at least feel by listening to our music.



You have recently released your new single and music video for ‘Kizuna no Kiseki’ with milet. How did this collaboration come about, and what was the experience like for you?

As the main two characters of the new series of the animation were both male and female, the director of the animation wanted the song to be a mixed voice duet song which reminds and represents those characters. milet was already chosen, and we were on the table with other artists, wrote some demos, and we took the opportunity by this song. As the animation series is indeed a mega-hit worldwide, it was a pleasure and an honour to be chosen.



The single has become a massive hit, especially as it’s the opening theme song from the popular anime series Demon Slayer. How excited were you to have your song as the theme, and how did that happen? Did you write the song, especially for the anime series? How did this feature come about?

As I said above, we are really grateful for this honourable opportunity. I actually did write the song specifically for the series. I wanted the song to represent the whole story, the view and the philosophy which I believe Demon Slayer contains.



What was the writing and recording process like for the song?

I listened to the previous songs for the animation, which are all great masterpieces and tried to make ours a different genre from what has come before. I believe I first wanted the song to have an essence of alternative guitar rock blended with a punkish vibe. I also reckoned that the previous opening songs haven’t chosen much Japanese instruments to appear. In addition to making it differ, I chose to present those kinds of sounds pretty much throughout the song, which I believed would definitely make a great impact and impression.



Can you tell us a bit about the epic video for ‘Kizuna no Kiseki’?

The director of the film is Mr. Arafune, who we’ve worked with before with the video for “Take Me Under”, which is full of really cool CGs and effects. I really love the work and his sense and ideas he puts into his creation. We asked him to please work on this one, and he gave us the plot of the idea. We loved it again, and that’s how it happened. The whole background is made of CGs, and it’s so awesome.






You have also released another new song featuring milet and this closes the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba –Swordsmith Village Arc- series. Can you tell us a bit about the songwriting process and themes for this song?


The songwriter Yuki Kajiura is like a master maestro of making music, especially in the animation scene, so it was such an honour to work with her. I heard this from milet but Kajiura had a very unique way of giving directions in singing. She pointed out that every and each letter you pronounce when you sing has a meaning and purpose and, of course, an emotion. I really thought that was inspiring and a fabulous view.





As well as your latest singles, you have had many of your songs featured in films (Mad Max, Godzilla vs Kong), TV shows/animes (My Hero Academia, Vinland Saga, The Seven Deadly Sins), video games, sporting events and TV commercials. What are some of your particular highlights that you have been a part of, and again do you actively seek to get your songs featured in these medias?

All of the collaborations that you’ve mentioned were all great. It’s great to be a part of something that you already know as a fan and have been following. I believe creating something and spreading it out is another story, but it’s always a pleasure and thankful for us to have the opportunity to join and have the chance for us to have more people to recognize our band and music.



As a band, are you all massive film and TV/anime fans, I’m guessing also? What are some of your favourites?

“Ghost in The Shell”, all of the series of “Koukaku Kidou Tai”

“AKIRA”, all the work of Katsuhiro Ootomo

All of the Jhibli Animes especially “Spirited Away” and “Tonari no Totoro”

Gundam Series, Especially the very first one

Dragon Ball

Shingeki no Kyojin “Attack on Titan”



How happy are you with the response to your latest album ‘Break and Cross the Walls II’ that was released last year?

Since it was meant to be a double album with the first one, which sums up to 28 songs, it was a quite tough recording, but it was worth it after all the reactions we’ve heard from everyone.



In June you will be playing some headline tour dates in the UK and Europe. How excited are you for this tour and what can attending fans expect from your live shows?

It’s been so long since the last time we met you all, so we’re stoked to be back. And I’m pretty sure that it’s gonna be RAD.



Have you got any particular highlights of touring in the UK that come to mind and how different is it playing shows in the UK and Europe compared to playing in Japan?

Fans in the UK are just awesome, and we can’t thank you more for all of your support.

Each and every country and area has their own genuine vibe, and we always love it, but what we do or what we put out on stage doesn’t differ no matter where we are. The only thing that has changes is that I speak mostly in English.



Other than the recent singles you have just released, are you currently working on any other new material or full-length releases?

Actually, we’re on a long worldwide tour, probably the longest one ever, so we’re taking a little break from creating now.

What else have you got planned for the rest of the year, and what else would you like to achieve?

We’re on a tour that’s gonna lead to the end of the year. That’s all we’re up to right now. But truly, it’s great to be back on the road which leads us to your countries, so we can’t wait to see you guys.



Check out MAN WITH A MISSION on tour on these dates:



For more on MAN WITH A MISSION:

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