Who are your favorite Japanese rock stars? Can you think of any at all? This quartet is here to change that. Founded by twins Mana and Kana, CHAI is a punk band from Nagoya, Japan, and they will drop their sophomore LP this Friday. They call it PUNK, an obvious title considering their mission. They are on tour currently in the U.S. with a Los Angeles show date at the Moroccan Lounge on March 25.
CHAI rejects the Japanese buzzword “kawaii”; they say so on their website. Their first album was called PINK and their new album, sporting a title with just one letter difference, is just as rosy in its artwork. But the music is steeped in rough physical instrumentation: guitar, drums, and ample noise. Perhaps this is why they create such a force: Mana’s vocals, often supported by the rest of the band, are light and fun, typically accompanied by a grinding axe or synth line.
Halfway through the new record, CHAI take time to introduce themselves. Its proto-punk influences mingle with the bombastic rhythms and ad libs (ba ba badah ba!) typically found in J-pop, a style that is both mocked and revered. This foursome is punk at their core, bucking genres and hell-bent on changing how you see them. Four women in a rock band are prone to scoffs and sneers and umpteen microagressions, but CHAI will eradicate misogyny. Don’t be disarmed by their affinity to pink—instead of representing what’s tiny and cute (kawaii), it’s armor for women to stand behind.