Information to Band-Maid
Band-Maid, stylized as BAND-MAID and formerly as BAND-MAID® until March 2016, is a Japanese rock band formed in 2013. The band combines a rock sound with a maid image modeled on Japanese maid cafés. Originally signed to Gump Records (an imprint of the Platinum Passport artist management and talent agency), they switched to major label Nippon Crown’s sub-label Crown Stones in 2016 and later moved to new sub-label Revolver Records in 2019. For international releases they have been with JPU Records since 2016.
The band formed in July 2013. Singer/guitarist Miku Kobato, formerly an employee of a Japanese maid café, envisioned forming a band that juxtaposed the maid image with rock music. Kobato recruited lead guitarist Kanami Tōno after an Internet search. Tōno had performed as a singer-songwriter and suggested her occasional backing drummer Akane Hirose for the new band. Hirose in turn suggested bassist Misa, with whom she had attended music school. On July 24, 2013 they had their first live performance at the PP Audition held at Osaka Deep, as a quartet with Kobato on vocals. The band then decided to recruit an additional lead singer and selected Saiki Atsumi during auditions. Their first performance as a five-piece was at the P Festival at Shibuya-AX on August 22, 2013.
Early in their history, Band-Maid regularly performed live at various venues around the Tokyo area. The group released their debut mini-album Maid in Japan in January 2014, written in collaboration with musicians Masahiko Fukui and Kentaro Akutsu (the latter formerly of the musical group Zero). In August 2014, they released the maxi-single “Ai to Jōnetsu no Matador” (titled “Love, Passion, Matador” internationally). In November 2015 they released their sophomore mini-album New Beginning. The album was their first chart placement, reaching No. 64 on the Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart. The band undertook a tour of Tokyo venues to promote the album through February 2016, culminating in a sold-out concert on February 14.
In March 2016 they had their first overseas performance at Sakura-Con in Seattle, Washington. The group released their third mini-album and major label debut, Brand New Maid, in May 2016 on the Nippon Crown sub-label Crown Stones and JPU Records overseas. That album reached No. 19 on the Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart. In October and November 2016, they went on their first world tour that took them to Mexico, Hong Kong, and six countries in Europe.
In January 2017, Band-Maid released their first full-length album titled Just Bring It. It was preceded by the single “YOLO,” released in November 2016. Just Bring It reached No. 16 on the Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart. Band-Maid appeared at the 2017 Golden Melody Awards and festival in Taiwan on June 23–24. The maxi-single “Daydreaming/Choose Me” was released in July 2017. They covered “Honey” for the November 2017 Mucc tribute album Tribute of Mucc -En-.
The band released their second full-length album titled World Domination on February 14, 2018. World Domination reached number 9 on the Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart. Also on February 14, 2018, they reissued their 2014 debut album Maid in Japan with two bonus tracks. While the original release of that album did not chart, the reissued version reached No. 26 on the Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart. On April 1, 2018, they performed at Warped Tour at Makuhari Messe as the first date on a world tour.
The maxi-single “Start Over” was released on July 25, 2018. The CD singles “Glory” and “Bubble” were released simultaneously on January 16, 2019. Under the name Band-Maiko and adopting a maiko image, the band released an EP titled Band-Maiko on April 3, 2019, which adapted several previous Band-Maid songs with traditional Japanese musical instruments and lyrics in the Kyoto dialect. In April 2019, the band announced a tour of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Taiwan, and the United States in partnership with Live Nation Entertainment.
The band’s sixth album Conqueror was released digitally on December 4, 2019, with physical formats following one week later. The album featured one song produced by Tony Visconti. It debuted at number nine on Japanese Oricon weekly albums chart but debuted at number one on the Oricon weekly Rock Albums chart. Also in December 2019, it was announced that Band-Maid will appear in the upcoming Netflix film Kate, playing themselves. They released their first standalone concert video Band-Maid World Domination Tour [Shinka] at Line Cube Shibuya (Shibuya Public Hall) on April 29, 2020.
Image and music
Band-Maid’s image is modeled on maid café hostesses, with the standard uniform adapted to match each member’s personality. In interviews, they explained the concept came from founding member Miku Kobato who had previously worked at a maid café in Akihabara. This theme is reinforced by the band, who refer to their male fans as “masters,” their female fans as “princesses,” and their concerts as “servings.” The band’s “submissive” maid appearance is meant to contrast with their aggressive rock style. They decided to have two vocalists to allow a larger variety of music with two different voice types.
Kobato loved Japanese enka music when she was a child, and Tokyo Jihen led her to rock. She attended a vocal school around 2012, but started playing guitar with the formation of Band-Maid the following year. Atsumi started singing when she was 14 and Band-Maid is her first band. Tōno is a big fan of Carlos Santana, has played classical piano since she was a child, and began playing guitar when she joined her high school band club. Hirose is a fan of Deep Purple and Maximum the Hormone, particularly the latter’s female drummer Nao Kawakita, and also plays trombone and piano. Misa likes Paz Lenchantin, The Smashing Pumpkins and Jimi Hendrix; she started playing piano at around 3 or 4 years of age, and also plays trumpet, alto horn, and guitar.