Drugs In Japan – Emerging Artist Spotlight NXNE 2013 Edition

June 12 2013 – North By Northeast (NXNE) is here and we are excited! NXNE may not be as well known as SXSW in Austin Texas but for us rock lovers in Toronto this festival satiates our musical hunger. We love discovering bands and take the opportunity of NXNE to find out more about some of them.

In 2012, T-Mak World initiated extensive coverage of NXNE and we saw a total of 51 bands/artists and interviewed the following 15 bands as part of our Emerging Artist Spotlight series:

Bella Clava – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
Black Owls – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
The Blue Stones – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
The Boxing Lesson – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
Conveyor – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
Darlings Of Chelsea – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
Dearly Beloved – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
The Death Set – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
Derrick N. Ashong & Soulfege – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
Fast Romantics – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
Filligar – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
The Honeyrunners – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
Little Foot Long Foot – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
Rise For Order – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight
Secret Broadcast – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight 
Vorasek – NXNE 2012 Emerging Artist Spotlight

Our wrap up article from 2012 is here and we are excited to be back in 2013 and to interview more bands to our Emerging Artist Spotlight Series. Today we focus on a band from Toronto, Canada here is what they had to say to us:

  • Hey Drugs in Japan, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Let’s start off with the obligatory introductions. Who’s in the band and what instrument does everyone rock?

DRUGS IN JAPAN: Thanks for inviting us to chat.  Drugs in Japan is comprised of Po yelling and hitting (lead vocals and drums), Aaron screaming and strumming (guitar and backup vocals), and Zain picking and slapping (bass guitar).

  •  How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen?

DRUGS IN JAPAN: Like most great couples, Aaron and Po were introduced through mutual friends. They learned they had the same birthday, wrote a couple tunes, picked-up Zain at  a Coffee Time and the rest, as they say, is a Michael Jackson album.

  • Who are some of your musical influences?

DRUGS IN JAPAN: The influences that are most apparent in our music are 80’s hardcore heroes the Dead Kennedy’s and the Misfits, as well as, 90’s grunge gurus Helmet, Nirvana and White Zombie.  Our more modern favorites include the Blood Brothers, Refused and At the Drive In.  We also draw heavily from local bands.  Bands like Careers in Science, Old Major, Tight Nuns and Meeko Cheech are great to see, gig with, and help push us forward creatively.

  • Congratulations on being selected to play at North By Northeast, what does the opportunity mean to you? 

DRUGS IN JAPAN: We love this festival! NXNE is the only time of year where having a laminate hanging around your neck that says “Artist” gets you into a bar rather than thrown out of one!  We know that we’re going to see some amazing talent and get to play for, and with, a whole new group of people. That’s very exciting! We’re going to play our best and hopefully pick up a few new fans.  NXNE also offers us the opportunity to speak with professionals who work all over the music industry.  We learn more this week about ourselves and what we need to do to be successful than any other time.

  • When and where is your NXNE gig? And more importantly, why do you suggest a music fan come and see your show instead of all the other choices available to them at that time?

DRUGS IN JAPAN: We play at midnight on Friday, June 14th at the May (876 Dundas Street West). It’s a very cool venue.  The last time we were there was for a Moon King show and since there’s no stage the band becomes a part of the crowd.  We also will be a part of a great line-up.  All of the bands are amazing. We played NXNE with Mobina Galore last year and they melted our faces which have only recently grown back.  There will also be an actual band from Japan, RoundFace! How often do you get to see a Japanese rock band in Toronto!

  • What’s it like being on stage? Do you get nervous or are you thriving on the adrenaline (or somewhere in between)?

DRUGS IN JAPAN: It varies for each of us.  Po’s the consummate pro and has been in bands since he was a kid. Zain’s also very experienced from his other bands Dinosaur Dinosaur and Me and My Rhythm Box.  Aaron shakes like James Bond’s bartender before going on stage.

  • What does 2013 hold for you?

DRUGS IN JAPAN: We’re working on putting an LP together.  We’ve got 4 songs out there now and about 8 more to record.  We are going to release them online as they are completed but once they’re all done we’ll put out the collection as an album.

  • Imagine that you were asked to be the opener for any band’s world tour (both current and historical). Which past band’s tour and which current tour would be your dream opening gigs?

DRUGS IN JAPAN: In the past it would most definitely be Refused.  To be a part of the party program on the Shape of Punk to Come tour is THE dream. Warped Tour would be a cool 2013 tour to be on or the System of a Down reunion tour.  That said, we wouldn’t say no to globe-trotting with the Biebs.


  • How important is the performer/audience connection for you? Can you rock a show as hard for 10 people as if you could playing an 80,000 person festival?

DRUGS IN JAPAN: Any Toronto band who books winter shows has probably had a few end up during times of severe weather warnings. It’s during these times that you learn that it’s just as fun to rock out for the other bands and the bar staff as it is for a full room. We will bring it regardless.

  • Where can people get your music/CD, is it being sold anywhere? 

DRUGS IN JAPAN: All of our songs are available PYWC through our bandcamp page: http://drugsinjapan.bandcamp.com

  • At the end of 2012 we published our picks for top 10 albums of 2012. Lists like those are always a reflection of personal tastes so if you were making the list what are some albums you would you have had on it?

DRUGS IN JAPAN:  Your list rocks. We would make no changes. {Ed Note. You didnt even click on it did you? LOL – just teasing}


  • Any closing remarks for our readers?

DRUGS IN JAPAN:  Thanks a lot for reading and getting to know a little bit about us!  Please check us out on the web through our various social media channels and, if you dig it, tell all your friends.

Thanks so much to DRUGS IN JAPAN. We hope that you can see them live. They are playing at the May on Dundas West. Midnight on Friday, June 14th.

The band’s website is here (insert link) and as you would expect they are on Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime check out their video below from YouTube.

Article – Terry Makedon
T-Mak World: Toronto’s Site for Music, Movies and Culture
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