Sakuracon 2023 - FLOW Interview

Sakuracon 2023 – Flow Interview

By Sean Cruz, Matthew Fu, Jun Hua Pua, & Lisa Su
Transcribed by Matthew Fu
Edited by Sean Cruz

Japan-A-Radio was part of a round table interview with veteran Japanese rock band FLOW, who were celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. A wide ranging and lighthearted interview followed, with the band answering in a mixture of Japanese and English.

*At points in the interview the individual band members answered on their own, other times they joined together or agreed on the same answer.

Q: Well congratulations on your 20th anniversary. My first question is, many bands have split up in less time, did you stay together in the last 20 years?

FLOW: We have been able to stay together through mutual respect and love.

Q: How did COVID affect you individually and as a band?

FLOW: As a band, we weren’t able to do live concerts the way that we always were able to do. However, we able to try doing online concerts and other things otherwise we were not able to do so it was not all bad.

Takeshi: Since I had a lot of time, I was able to watch a lot of anime. Over the time with COVID, a lot of their concerts which we had planned for abroad were all cancelled which was very disappointing however, we are very excited to be able to come back to meet our fans abroad again.

Q: To follow up, the announced world tour assigned was canceled in 2021, are there any plans for another world tour?

FLOW: Nothing, no plans that are definite but since last year in 2022, the borders around the world have started to open again, so we are actively trying to go other countries and we are very excited for that. The tour which was cancelled for 2021 was supposed to be a bus tour which would have been would have been the first time we’d done so.

Q How often do you talk to other rock bands that travel abroad for example ONE OK ROCK who has been touring in North American about two years now and Queen Bee that is here this weekend, so often do you communicate with other groups about their experiences and how often do you share those experiences.

FLOW: During our tours abroad, we do not really have an opportunity to talk to bands so much but now that other bands are doing more anime songs and especially bands are doing more tours and events abroad, we are slowly starting to talk more with those bands about our experiences abroad.

Q: Suppose you have been to Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Germany, and the US, what is something that each member needs to have with their performing overseas, would it be food, would it be some kind of item?

Iwasaki: What I bring depends on the country I go to but the item I always bring is a portable bidet.

KEIGO: No matter how hot the country’s climate is, inside is always really cold so no matter where I go, I always bring a jacket or something to wear inside.

Got’s: Hot water boiler to drink hot tea; electric kettle.

Q: And for the other two members do haven’t?

Kōshi: Passport! Especially to buy alcohol, you need your passport.

Takeshi: How we are different in Japan.

Q: I think in comparison to Japan, American is much stricter in terms of its alcohol laws.

Kōshi: I tried to go to a bar without my passport, they will not sell.

Q: In Saudi Arabia, they have alcohol, but I think it is prohibited to drink.

Kōshi: It was hell!

Q: You have done a lot of theme songs for anime series, is there an anime series that you would like to do a theme song for?

FLOW: Demon Slayer!

Q: Any other ones?

FLOW: Jujutsu Kaisen, Chainsaw Man, Spy x Family.

Q: Regarding the anime songs, like recently you did the song DICE for the anniversary of Code Geass, just wondering what is the difference between creating DICE vs creating Colors?

FLOW: COLORS is for Lelouch, DICE is for Zero.

Q: Previously, FLOW did a 15th anniversary version of Fighter Dreamers in 2017, do you have plans of doing another anniversary of any other song, for example Code Geass’s WORLD END is 15 years old.

FLOW: In terms of Naruto series, the opening song “Sign”, there is a possibility to do an anniversary or a remake of that song.

Q: FLOW has been together for 20 years, what is has been your best performance, whether it has been in Japan or international tour or show.

FLOW: In Japan, our favorite concert was the Japanese famous concern venue Budokan, as it was very special to go there. In terms of concerts abroad, their first time coming to America in 2006 is Dallas which was really special. In 2020, we did a live concert at Makuhari Messe Event Hall which is big venue in Japan where we only played anime songs which was called Anime Shibari; and this year we will do a bigger scale anime song event also at Makuhari Messe Event Hal which is very exciting.

Q: You have been touring a long time, especially coming to the US in the anime conventions, what differences or changes have you noticed from when you first started coming to America vs now?

KEIGO and Takeshi: The cosplayers, what they cosplay has really changed over time with the anime which is popular.

Q: What about your band’s style? Does it change or do you feel that you have changed?

FLOW: As a band we have not really changed much, but as we put out new anime songs maybe the kind of expressions of the band of the song have changed. We have been able to do new and more expressions through the new anime songs.

Q: You do lot of anime songs and there is a lot of original music, how do you balance between anime and original?

FLOW: Depending on what concerts we are playing; in the conventions, we mainly play anime songs but over in Japan for example after releasing their new album we do a tour adjust where we play mostly our original songs.

Q: How does FLOW balance between creating original works vs creating anime music.

FLOW: When we have a tie up song with an anime, we create the song to match the theme of the anime and the theme of what the anime is about. When we create original band songs, it is more about what the band would like to express as a brand expression vs doing for an anime theme. The new album “VOY” which was released this year for our 20th anniversary, the band imagined 5 continents and created the album with the concept of travelling through different continents which you can hear in the album.

Q: FLOW actually cares very much about international fans, so for this upcoming concert you have ticket section specifically for international fans separate from the Japanese fans; not many bands do this so why did FLOW decide to open up tickets specifically for international fans?

FLOW: Because the event is anime songs only, so may international fans who love anime have found FLOW through anime and thus come to love FLOW, so for FLOW, it is really important them to have this special event open to all their fans to love anime and love FLOW. At a more recent event in Japan, someone from Argentina went to see their concert.

Q: Is there a particular anime theme song which gave you difficulties in the creative process?

FLOW: Naruto is a very special case as we have only done 10 songs which are related to the series and each time, we feel the need to do better than the last time so that is a little challenging with that kind of pressure to keep going more and more.

Q: Examples like the opening song for each series like Naruto, Naruto: Shippuden, and Boruto.


Q: Actually a question about that is, how did FLOW create the opening song for Boruto because the next generation, so the people who grew up with Naruto are like oh, this is a new generation of ninjas and younger generation, did you shape the song to reflect off the new fans who will be watching or did you have the original Naruto fans in mind?

FLOW: Great question! We are listening quite a lot, thank you very much! So when Kōshi wrote the lyrics for GOLD, he wrote it as a song to the members of FLOW to themselves when they song and wrote GOLD; so as over 18 years the lyrics are to FLOW, the current FLOW singing to the younger FLOW which also relates to Naruto singing to his son Boruto.

Q: I see one of the members is wearing a Dead by Daylight shirt, so are you all gamers or what are your favorite games right now recently?

Kōshi: Resident Evil 4: Remake. Have not started yet but when I get home, I will start.

Got’s: I play Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Lost Stories which is a mobile game which FLOW has done a song for.

Iwasaki: I do not play games.

Takeshi: Life is a game.

Q: FLOW has made songs for games, what games do you like to make songs for?

FLOW: Super Mario Brothers

Q: Maybe the movie? It comes out this week.

Got’s: I want to do anything for anything.

Q: If FLOW had a chance to collaborate with any US bands, who would it be?

FLOW: Recently there have been a lot of American bands which have been coming to Japan; Linkin Park has been a big influence for Take.

Q: Are there any countries or cities or venues which you have played in yet which you like to play in?

FLOW: We have played on almost all continents, except for Africa and Oceania, so we would like to play on either one or both of these continents to complete the continents. Right now, for the band, the direction we are going, playing in these two continents is the most appealing and important to us. Any place that we have not been to yet, we really would like to go meet our fans and choose as many places that we can. Our first priority is the continents which we have not been to yet but for Iwasaki, he would like to play in venues such as Whisky a Go Go in LA or Madison Square Garden.

Q: A little big for Whisky a Go Go because it is a pretty small live house in comparison.

Iwasaki: The place to go, I like to have the experience of. Are there any outdoor venues in Los Angeles?

Q: There is a lot like Hollywood Bowl and Rose Bowl, the Coliseum is also very big

FLOW: Stadium live would be very big (laughs). It will be fun to have a special little stage at Venice Beach, drink beer and watch FLOW.

Q: What is your favorite alcoholic drink?

Kōshi: Tequila! I love tequila, I have license for tequila in Japan.

Q: That is why you have tequila sweater.

Kōshi: Yes! In the video, voyage! I have a license as a tequila maestro.

KEIGO: I like American light beer; Actually, here in Seattle last night I drank some Seattle beer and liked it a lot. We drank Rainier.

Takeshi: Whisky with soda. I like Bourbon.

Iwasaki: I like red wine and Jack Daniels.

Got’s: I like cheap wine and cheap Japanese soju.

Q: Do you have your own tequila brand in the works?

Kōshi: Yes, in the future I really want to do it but it is so difficult to get there. Everyone’s made their own brand tequila, I hope I can.

Q: Actually, why is that? I noticed what Kōshi is saying like artists tend to make their own alcohol, like for example Miyavi created his own brand of Sake, but I would buy at least tequila!

Q: What is something about FLOW that you like fans to know more about if they don’t already know?

Takeshi: A lot of people know FLOW through their songs but have not seen them live so I would really love as many people as possible to come and see FLOW perform live and have fun.

Got’s: I would like people know that we are very nice and kind people; maybe you can’t believe it coming from us!

Q: This is your 20th anniversary, where do you see yourself in the next 20 years?

Iwasaki: Maybe I die! (laughs)

Takeshi: In Japan there was an event called Punk Spring that came where a lot of punk and emo bands came, so Bad Religion came and even at their age, they were able to have a really great performance, so Takeshi thinks that saying age is kind of an excuse.

Got’s: I would like to create a 40th anniversary album.

Q: Since they started FLOW in their 20s, is there anything that they would like to go back and do differently?

Iwasaki: I wouldn’t do anything different because if you were to go back and change things, we wouldn’t be where are at now so he wouldn’t change anything.

Takeshi: If you could go back, I would probably study more English when I was younger.

Q: Are there any other additional future upcoming developments which you can share with us?

FLOW: It was mentioned before about the 20th anniversary Anime Shibari festival in Japan which is coming up, working hard which is coming up July 1st and though nothing is decided yet FLOW would really like to do a US tour again and come to America again as much as possible.

Q: Please include Canada in your tour.

FLOW: Good place.

Q: Yeah, I actually did buy tickets to the last tour for the one that got cancelled so I was really disappointed. I did not get a refund but received a voucher, so I am like waiting to use the voucher!

FLOW: We must go!

Q: FLOW has already travelled to Texas, California, New Jersey, Washington DC, Boston…; what is left to do or what you would like to do in the US?

FLOW: We’ve been to a lot of places but still have not been to every US state and there is a lot of cities which FLOW has not been to yet, so we would like to go to anywhere we have not been to so far; do you have any recommendations?

Q: Atlanta in Georgia is a really great place to go, especially for music peers.

Iwasaki: I want to go to Florida!

Q: Miami?

Iwasaki: Yes

Q: Nashville is nice!


Takeshi: Many, many places.

Q: What do you want to do in Seattle since they have not really had the chance to go around yet.

FLOW: The original Starbucks!

Q: The line is very long for that store!

FLOW: Oh really, KEIGO went this morning.

Q: Oh wow!

Takeshi: I would like to go to the Mariner stadium where Ichiro played. Is he still here as a coach?

Q: Yes. Unfortunately, they are on the road this week.

Q: Hopefully they can come to Los Angeles to see an Angel’s game with Shohei Ohtani.


Q: Also on the road.

FLOW: Right before we were here there was a game, just a little too late.

Q: Stay a little longer!
FLOW: (laugh). Everyone in Seattle knows Ichiro, right?

Q: Yeah, everyone should know.

Q: Are there any celebrities which you would like to meet that you have not, other than Ichiro and Ohtani of course?

FLOW: Got’s really wants to meet Ohtani.

Q: Actually if they want to make Super Mario music, maybe they should go visit Nintendo North America!

FLOW: It is not in Seattle, right?

Q: Yes.

Takeshi: We must go!

Q: Go to their corporate offices!

Manager: That’s all the time we have today.

FLOW: Thank you very much.

Q: Thank you very much.