“At that time in the music industry, it was said that female bands wouldn’t last long, but this year we’ve entered our 36th year since our debut. We’ve been around for 36 years now, and I think we’re doing something amazing.
The vocalist Keiko Terada (58) of SHOW-YA, a pioneering female rock band with hit songs such as “Marginal Lovers” and “I am Arashi,” explains her current state of mind. 35 years have passed and the band released their latest album “SHOWDOWN” this summer. Her latest album “Showdown” was released this summer, celebrating her 35th anniversary, and all songs are written in English.
When SHOW-YA was formed in the early ’80s, girls’ bands were a foreign entity in Japan.
“At the time, there were only ZELDA and Akasaka Komachi (the predecessor of Princess Princess). And in the case of SHOW-YA, they were hard rock, so musically they were unfamiliar to the world. That’s why no production company or record company would take us on. There are five female members, so if each of us had a child, our activities might have stagnated for a long time. In this day and age, it would be normal for a woman to return to work after having a baby, but that was not the case in the 1980s. It was a completely male society.
In 1985, the band managed to make their major label debut. In 1985, the band managed to make their major label debut, but the rest of the year’s activities continued to be slow, and Terada and the band members spent their days struggling.
“In order to change the band’s image, all the members cut off their hair, and sometimes even went in with clippers to get a close-up. I had been determined to be a professional singer since I was a teenager, so I was willing to do anything to sell. But changing my hair and fashion didn’t budge me. There were times when I wondered if I wasn’t attractive enough to be in the front. I sometimes thought.
Compete as you are
What Terada ended up doing was to expose her true self.
“After much deliberation, I decided to sing in a lingerie-like fashion. One day, when I was taking a bath and took off my clothes one by one, I had a flash of inspiration when I saw myself in my underwear in the mirror. I thought, ‘This is it! There’s no need to decorate anything. I decided to keep being myself, both in the music and in the lyrics. That led to ‘Marginal Lovers’.”
The single was released in 1989 and reached #13 on the Oricon chart. The following album, “Outerlimits,” reached #3 on the charts. The band became instantly popular.
They were sometimes seen as rivals with Princess Princess, who had hits like “Diamonds” at the same time.
“In reality, we were good friends. At festivals, we exchanged costumes and performed each other’s songs, and in our private lives, we went out drinking and went to Disneyland together (laughs). In private, we would go out drinking or to Disneyland together (laughs), and the members would even stay at each other’s houses.
Did you have any interaction with male bands?
“No, not at all. The office was very strict. If I was talking to a band member in the dressing room, the manager would interrupt me (laughs). (laughs) Before I sold “Marginal Lovers,” when I was recording in LA, I got into a good mood with the local staff. But sure enough, my manager came to interrupt me. I told him later. I told him later, “If you interfere with someone’s love life, can you take responsibility? I said to him later. But I was still in love, even though I was disturbed. I’ve never been out of love (laughs).
Having become a popular band, SHOW-YA had a busy life. With media appearances, live performances, songwriting, and recording, Terada’s average sleep time was two to three hours.
I was writing music even in my dreams,” he said. Actually, the band was aiming to expand overseas at this time. So I had to learn English. I was under pressure mentally and physically. There is an anecdote in the rock world that says, “Famous artists die at the age of 27. That was the case with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain (“Nirvana”). And I was 27 at the time. I thought, “If I continue living like this, I might really die,” so I decided to quit the band without consulting the members during the recording of the album “Hard Way” (1990). It’s really selfish, isn’t it?
Continuing to sing even in old age
Later, while continuing his solo career from 1992, Terada realized the magnitude of SHOW-YA and bowed to each of the band members to reunite the band in 2005. This was the beginning of the band’s overseas expansion.
“When the idea of making an overseas album came up this time, I think the members were thinking about what happened back then. “When the idea of making an international album came up, I think the members were thinking about what happened back then: ‘Isn’t Keiko going to quit again? That’s why we talked it over. So we had a heart-to-heart talk. We decided that if we were going to go abroad, we should be prepared. I couldn’t say “help me” back then, but I can say it now. I think I’ve finally become honest with myself.
On the other hand, SHOW-YA is the organizer of the “NAON no YAON” rock festival for female artists. It started in 1987 and has been held a total of 15 times.
“The number of female bands has increased to the point where an event can be held with only female bands. It’s so hard to decide now. The success of Pri Pri is a big part of it, but I think we’ve set a precedent that bands with only women can sell. When I appeared on “Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai” (TBS) in July this year, I pushed hard for younger bands such as SAKI, the guitarist in “Mary’s Blood” and “NEMOPHILA”, and “Gacharic Spin”. The kids nowadays have everything we barely have. That’s why I think they will break out even more, and I hope everyone will support them.
Terada, who watches over her younger colleagues as a big sister, turned 58 this July. She is just before her 60th birthday, ala Sixty. With all due respect, there must be times when she feels uneasy about her physical strength to continue playing rock music. But what is the reason why he continues to sing?
“Because it’s my destiny. Right now, even if I lose my life in the process, I think it’s my true desire. If my body is in shambles, I want the audience to enjoy me in shambles. If my voice is hoarse, I want the audience to enjoy the hoarse me. I want everyone to enjoy my efforts as I grow old. That’s why I met the band SHOW-YA, and that’s why I’m still doing this.
The girls will continue to be at the forefront of girls rock bands in the future.
From “FRIDAY” November 5, 2021 issue
Reporting and writing： Yukinori Otani Photography： Hiroyuki Komatsu