TOKYO (majirox news) – While many foreign musicians cancelled their shows in Japan, Canadian rock band Your Favorite Enemies (YFE) is performing “Arisen from Despairs – A Morning of All Hope” this weekend in Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto.
“I asked a lot of people if it was appropriate for us to do the shows since we wanted to honor the Japanese people,” said 30-year-old bandleader (vocals) Alex Foster. “Since we have a strong relationship with Japan, we were thinking of canceling our previously planned tour after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami on March 11.”
The group received so many emails urging them to empower the people with their music that they decided to tour.
“It’s not like we came to Japan to have a party,” he said. “We came to be with people. There is not much we can do. But if people need someone to talk, cry, and scream with, I wanted to say, ‘Hey, we’re here with you.’”
The group, which started in 2006, is known for its close relationship with Amnesty International and creating fan communities across the globe through social networking sites (SNS). More than 36,000 Japanese connect with them via MySpace, Facebook, email and Twitter.
“I spend almost every day connecting with people through SNS sites to be a part of what people are living,” Foster said. “SNS sites made us accessible to each other.”
Additionally, the group’s “Hope Project” for Japanese victims has received worldwide attention. It collected 50,000 post cards, including drawings from children and messages that were written in various languages and translated into Japanese. The band also made a large Japanese flag with “HOPE” printed on the sun that included many signatures.
“I was blown away by the huge response from all over the world,” Foster said. “People wanted to let the Japanese people know that they were not alone.”
The group went to a shelter Wednesday at Minami Sanriku in Miyagi prefecture, which was totally destroyed, delivering encouraging messages sent from across the globe.
Foster reflected on his experience. “I have been inspired by the courage and dignity of people and volunteers. I saw people rebuilding their lives and supporting each other although some of them lost their families and friends.”
The band, which manages all aspects of its activities through its own label, Hopeful Tragedy Records, and has its own recording studio with streaming audio, is especially impressed with the group’s Japanese fans.
“I was amazed how real and full of life they were,” Foster told Majirox News. “They are very different from what I was seeing in the entertainment industry at the time where everything was so plastic.”
Since Japanese fans spent a lot of time translating the band’s English site, YFE decided to set up a Japanese social networking page.
“We wanted to craft a community,” said Foster. “We learned there was a lot of loneliness and depression among young Japanese. We are not saving people, but we wanted to reach out and revitalize the sense of community Japan used to have so that people can find a reason to hold on.”
In fact, among all of the band’s SNS communities across the globe, Japan’s was the first to emerge.
The band first toured Japan in 2008, before even recording an album, and it gained more popularity by contributing theme songs to the best-selling Japanese video game series “Final Fantasy.” Some of the members visited Japan to meet with fans and to shoot an independent movie with no live show and no record PR involved.
The band aims to establish Hopeful Tragedy Records Japan by the end of 2011.
“It will be our official record company in Japan, and in a way, it is the result of the friendship we built over the years,” Foster said. “We will support artists we love in Japan as well.”
Song PV: http://youtu.be/4AVCjcc_WnM
About HOPE project: http://youtu.be/FFjGftlqrRU
Your Favorite Enemies will have shows in Tokyo May 28, and Kyoto May 29. Ticket information: http://www.yourfavoriteenemies.com/japan/tickets.html