F Chopper KOGA & TOMO-ZO (Gacharic Spin) – Interview (2024)

F Chopper KOGA & TOMO-ZO (Gacharic Spin)

Interview by Todd Nelson
March 31, 2024

Gacharic Spin is a 6-piece all-female rock band known for their unique style of music, highly skilled musicianship, and engaging stage shows.  On a recent trip to Japan, we were able to sit down with bassist and leader F Chopper KOGA along with lead guitarist TOMO-ZO to talk about their new EP ACE , the band’s 15 year anniversary, and their upcoming DOLL$BOXX shows slated for the end of this year.

Congratulations on yet another release, ACE, once again you’ve delivered something that is new and fresh to the ears while still being Gacharic Spin.   

In my opinion the material on this EP is some of the band’s most experimental and progressive yet. At our last interview, your song creating process was explained in detail. TOMO-ZO from your perspective did it just happen that you were inspired from your playlist to experiment further when creating these new songs?   

TOMO-ZO: To answer your question, pretty much yes.  (laughs) 

So to dive a little deeper, how do you find and build your playlist? Do you just listen to things randomly and go down some rabbit hole and into different areas? 

TOMO-ZO: Right now, I’m using subscription-based services and listen to random songs from different genres. Listening to such songs, I will think of how certain parts of the songs might be a fit for Gacharic Spin. I took the ideas that I got from them and put them into the making of this album. 

One more follow-up to that, are you purposely looking for ideas when you are listening, or do they just happen as you are listening for enjoyment?  

TOMO-ZO: It’s kind of a mix of both, because there’s of course music and genres that I listen to that I like, but to push the envelope in a sense, I’m trying to listen to new songs that I usually would not listen to, in order to make new songs for Gacharic Spin. So, I’m kind of branching out exploring other types of songs.

KOGA: When it comes to most of the members, we end up looking at things just in our private lives, our their daily lives, and be like, ‘oh,  we could use something like this for Gacharic Spin’, or  ‘we could incorporate this’, or we see some small goods and think ‘we could sell this under Gacharic Spin’, and so on. Well, in Japan we call it workaholic, but I guess everybody in the band even without thinking, kind of mixes their private lives with their work lives in a sense, and is always trying to make Gacharic Spin related stuff subconsciously. 

So that sort of explains how every album sounds a little bit different. It is hard to believe that you’ve been able to do that for 15 years. Many bands get stuck in a rut or their best material was early on. It’s pretty amazing that the band’s output has always been consistent and evolving. 

KOGA: I guess over the years since the members have changed, some of that must be influenced and derived from having different members. How to show the band in a different light because of this member change and that member change. Maybe we wouldn’t have any different songs or whatnot, that probably has a good deal to do with it, but we do keep striving forward.

Your previous album, titled W , had a special meaning and theme to it, so I was wondering if ACE does as well? 

KOGA: Usually, the ace is on one team, there’s going to be one ace. However, for this album, I wanted it to be everything.  Everybody in the band is the ace, and every single song is the ace of the album. Every single song is different in a way that it stands out just as much as any of the other songs. So, they’re all the ace. 

KOGA: Which song do you like? 

“ストロボシューター” (STROBE SHOOTER) 

KOGA: Ah, that one, do you understand the lyrics? 

I am hopeful that the meaning came across correctly more or less when I put them in a translation app. 

Now knowing the meaning of ACE, did any of the songs on ACE exist when W was being made, and if so, were they purposely held back for the concept of this EP?  

KOGA: Surprisingly they are all brand new. Usually, we might use a song or two that we’ve had, like saved in a sense, we do have a lot of songs saved that have not appeared on an album. But this time we were trying to make new songs that stand out, and they ended up being all brand-new songs. 

As part of this interview, I asked fans for some questions across various social media groups, one topic that came up was the suggestion of releasing a double album since the band has so many songs that haven’t been released. Have you ever thought of doing something like that? 

KOGA: Ah, it’s not that we don’t want to release this stuff. It’s that being under a record label and trying to put out an album as a product is difficult. If we put the songs that we’ve made into an album or double album even, the record label will have some say in what is released, they want to make it a nice piece. So, they will hand pick each of the songs and be like, no, let’s do this one. Let’s do that one, and they will have half of the say. So, it would be really hard to release something like that.

The “Let It Beat” MV is very cool, loved the location of the scramble, and the band definitely stood out from the crowd. How did that idea come about? 

KOGA: So, the idea came from the director that was going to shoot the music video, who also shot “I Wish I” and “Mindset”.  We wanted to do another music video with her. During the meeting, when we were explaining what the song meant and what we wanted to do, and how we wanted to shoot it, it just kind of naturally came up in the conversation that we should shoot it at Shibuya scramble.

 I was really surprised how most people took no notice of the band during shooting, even with Angie laying on the ground, people would definitely be curious at the very least in America. Were you using paid actors at all or is it just a cultural difference? 

 KOGA: A little bit of it has to do with the place itself, because people taking video at the scramble is not really that big of a thing because it happens all the time.  

 TOMO-ZO: There’s also kind of an innate desire to not have your face shown in cameras that are in Shibuya scramble because there are so many. So, if you do see it, you usually don’t want to have your face in the shot. Most people will avoid it.  

 KOGA: I guess it could come down to a cultural difference, but more so I feel it is a lack of time. There’s not enough time for people. They’re all so full of what they have to do, that they don’t really have time to pay attention to anybody else. Currently the times have changed to the point where people just don’t have enough leeway to have their sense shifted to other places, so they can’t really pay attention too much. They have to worry more so about themselves in this current day and age. 

KOGA: During the shoot there was one older gentleman who said there’s a girl on the ground. Are you ok? He came over to see if she needed help. 

He had time because he’s probably retired. 

KOGA and TOMO-ZO (laughing) 

Out of curiosity, how much time was spent at the scramble for the shoot? 

TOMO-ZO:   Almost half a day, probably from somewhere like 8:00 AM to 3:00 pm. 

KOGA: Many times, many times we were in the scramble square.

We talked about the song writing for ACE, but I also would like to discuss the mixing. The lower notes and bass seem really deep and full on this release, very prominent. You can really feel it. Any insights on this direction for ACE? Is being self-produced now a factor at all?

KOGA: No longer having a producer in a way does have an impact on it. However, it’s not really something we all talk about together, because now since we are self-produced, whoever made the song is the producer in a sense. For example, “Let It Beat” was made by TOMO-ZO, so she’s the one who’s going to handle the production side, like decision making, and making that sound. And then for “ODORIODORE that would be Hana who made the sound, so she would have more of the decision making.  I guess in a way we all wanted to make a similar style of an album, so we all independently decided that the album should be more bass forward subconsciously without little thought to it.

So, your 15th anniversary is in October, congratulations! When the band first started did you think you would still be going strong 15 years later? 

KOGA: Not really. Because I mean, in the beginning it was like 10 years from now is so far away. We were more thinking like maybe in one to two years if things don’t go well, we’ll go ahead and go in a different direction and what not. We were all too busy looking at what was right in front of us, that we’re like, oh, it’s 15 years already. 

TOMO-ZO: Over the years there’s been a lot of what we call ‘pinch’.  Like, it might go south really quickly, dire moments. There have been many dire moments for the band over the years, so that we’ve really been more or less in damage control and not thinking about what’s in the future. After all that we realize that we’re already way over here.

Too busy having to deal with the here and now. 

KOGA: We’ve been kind of going at it hard for like 10 years and then COVID hit and because of the COVID hit, we had more time. So, we decided at that point to go away from our producer and then self-produce our songs. We had more time to think about what we wanted to do in the future. So, we’ve been kind of going down our own path now since there was more time. COVID was not really a great time at all, but at the same time it gave us time to think. Just about the band, because before we didn’t really have time to think at all. 

With all the experiences you’ve had up to now with this band, if you could go back in time to the beginning and give yourself some advice or wisdom what would it be? 

KOGA: I’ve been so busy for so long, but ever since I’ve had more time to do things I’ve been really valuing, I guess, going to watch movies or reading books and stuff like that. So, I would like to go back to my former self, who had no interest in such things back then, and tell her that she should watch movies and read books and get influenced by other things.  

TOMO-ZO: In the beginning, I didn’t really have too much confidence. And because I didn’t have much confidence, there were a lot of things that I couldn’t do. So, if I could go back in time, I would like to tell myself to have more confidence in yourself. It’s ok. I mean, you are surrounded by all these members and fans who will support you.

The 15th anniversary artwork looks so cool – the original artist designed the 15th anniversary logo? Have they done any other work for you? The early singles for example? 

KOGA: So, the logos from “Lock on” and “Hunting Summer” were made by a person named Hizashi, who is from HyperCore in Harajuku. He didn’t do anything with the artwork per say, but the logo was his at the beginning of the band. I met Hizashi when I was in Pink Panda. After I quit Pink Panda and was looking to make a new band, I asked him to make the logo for the band, and he made it. I thought it would be fitting to have him make the 15th anniversary logo since he was there at the start. 

With the ACE tour ongoing, which song do you enjoy performing the most nowadays, either from ACE or something else? 

KOGA and TOMO-ZO: We both enjoy playing songs from ACE a bit more because it’s newer and whatnot.

While making ACE I was wondering if you had any funny or memorable experience that stuck out. Maybe about a specific song or something in general. 

TOMO-ZO: When it comes to making an album, there is typically a prerelease song prior to the album coming out. So, I brought “STROBE SHOOTER “ to the label as the early release track. According to the record label they thought that song was not fast enough, so I had to quickly come up with a different song. I came up with the song “ BakuBaku” , because there was a time crunch I actually took the original “STROBE SHOOTER and turned the tempo up for the drums and used it for “ BakuBaku”. So, while we were in the actual recording studio for the full album I was talking with Yuri, and Yuri just realized that it was just an up tempo version for “STROBE SHOOTER.  We both were like, ‘Oh no, we got to change it’. So we changed the entire drum line for “STROBE SHOOTER. (laughing)

KOGA: For “Let It Beat” the original first chorus at the beginning, is actually the very last chorus now. When we were making the song, we wanted to change it up a bit so we decided to come up with a different start for the song. But since TOMO-ZO and I really liked the original chorus so much, we both decided to actually keep it in the song. So, it went from the beginning to the very end. That’s one fact that I thought was kind of cool as we were recording the album.

You are quick on your feet. (to TOMO-ZO)

TOMO-ZO: For “Let It Beat” I actually put together about 6 patterns for the original chorus. Because the first one, only KOGA and I liked it, so I put out five or six more.  Making those patterns it wasn’t like, ‘oh man, what should I do? I can’t think of anything’ or ‘oh no, what am I going to do? ‘, it was more so like ‘ok, I understand’, and then made another and another, and so on. 

KOGA, I understand that there is a special meaning behind the song “Lin-Lin-Lan” 

KOGA: This will probably be long. The things or feelings that are on your mind. You should convey them now. This is something I have recently learned. I learned this after my father passed. The news was very sudden, and I was told that at most he would have 2 to 3 months left. And since we were both very stubborn people, a lot of the time we would bicker and end up fighting. I wouldn’t really want to ever convey my feelings, and would rather make sure not to really tell him, and growing up I never really said thank you to him. But really, I wanted to tell him that.-This makes me think of it again- And I really wanted to tell him that. But it almost felt like if I did tell him thank you, I would, in a way, be accepting the fact that he really is going to die. And from that, I really couldn’t bring myself to convey my thoughts and feelings like, “Thank you dad.” Or “I am so grateful to be your daughter, dad.” I was just unable to tell him these things, so in my head I was always stressing out like “What do I do?” But when I had time, I would always go visit him and be like, “You got this dad.” I guess somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that he was going to pass, but I didn’t want him to go. But towards the end, the day before YAON. I got a message saying that my dad was in serious condition at the hospital. So I called my mom, and she said “I am currently at the hospital with dad.” I had her hand the phone to my dad there, and I was finally able to say Thank You to him. Later that night, he passed away, but I am so grateful I was able to tell him in the end. If I was not able to tell him, I would have regretted it very much if I didn’t call. So I think it is important to convey your feelings to those that are close to you, or you might regret them, or rather, you will remember that you weren’t able to, I think. So being able to say things like “Thank you.” or “I like you.” or “Sorry.” is something I think should be conveyed; however, for a song with such a heavy meaning, I didn’t really want it to be a ballad or something like low tempo. But instead call it “Lin-Lin-Lan”, and make it more pop.

That is very moving, you almost made me tear up just now telling me the story behind it. 

Some fans have been wondering if there is a possibility of Gacharic Spin making any more songs for anime? I know you released some songs for a pachinko game last year.  

KOGA: At the moment there are no talks. 

Is it usually something where the band is approached by the show creators?

KOGA: Yes, there is that type too. 

Overseas fans have noticed that the members seem to be posting more in English, so which member is the most confident in their English? 

KOGA: Nobody has confidence in English. (laughs)
I’ve been using Google when I upload a lot of English things, I don’t have time to confirm it, just as long as the meaning gets across, I’m ok with it. So, I’ve been posting like that. 

TOMO-ZO and KOGA: You know what, after this question we want to go back to the question where we give ourselves advice from 15 years ago – learn English! (laughing) 

KOGA: Every time we go to America, we always tell ourselves – oh man, I need to learn English, but we never do. (more laughing) 

Now, if you’re both ok with it, I want to ask about some of your non Gacharic Spin activities. 

In addition to Gacharic Spin activities you also announced some DOLL$BOXX shows at the end of the year. Many overseas fans were quite excited to hear this just like your fans in Japan. It seems about every 5 or 6 years the band gets back together in some form, is it planned or just coincidence? 

KOGA: Really? Its completely a coincidence. We always keep in contact privately with Fuki, but our schedules don’t always line up. I guess it just so happens coincidentally that’s in like a six year cycle. Every time we go back to DOLL$BOXX it always feels like they’re playing a new song because we haven’t played it in so long. As you know it is a side project, and we think it’s very cool and we always want to go back and do it again, but it’s just that a lot of things happen to line up timing wise for it to happen. 

With the Gacharic Spin/DOLL$BOXX shows coming up in December, is there a possibility of any opening acts? Personally, I was wondering about Metallic Spin generation 2 which featured Keith Lichards (Fuki) on vocals. 

KOGA: I can’t really confirm or deny that. I can’t really outright deny that that might be a thing. 

That is better than I was actually expecting, so I’ll take that.

KOGA: If we ask Fuki, it all depends on her answer. For us, it would be kind of fun.

Just side question, how long ago was it that Fuki did that that? Like 2012 or thereabouts? 

KOGA: It started in 2012 and I think ended somewhere in like 2013. For some reason there were a lot of fans for that that style of band. 

The last time DOLL$BOXX reunited for a show in 2017 new material was released as well, is that a possibility with this reunion as well?

KOGA: We can’t really say for sure because both Fuki and Gacharic Spin are moving at such a fast pace. There are of course some songs that we’ve made that we think would fit DOLL$BOXX very well. However, being able to turn that into a physical song, we’d have to fit Fuki’s schedule with ours and work things out in that sense. So It wouldn’t exactly be easy. Therefore we can’t say yes or no. 

KOGA:  Because it’s going to be a two man live, we’re probably going to do 10 songs or somewhere around 10 songs, which is going to be songs that we’ve already done in the past, but would you rather not hear two of those songs and get two new songs instead? 

I personally would want to hear two new songs, I don’t know what other people’s preference would be, I would think most people would want to hear a couple new ones. 

KOGA and TOMO-ZO: Ah, you’re right! 

A couple of questions fans had, pertained to Hana, but I can ask them here if either of you could answer them on her behalf. 

Saki’s style is a bit different than Gacharic Spin’s, is Hana doing anything special for preparations for Saki’s solo live show? 

KOGA: Hana is just practicing in general, but it’s more so because Hana likes instruments in general. So, it doesn’t really seem like it’s a different genre. It’s more that Hana has an affinity toward just playing music in general, so nothing really special. It’s essentially just like rehearsal. We’ve known Hana for so long and she’s good with pretty much all instruments, seeing her go from drummer to guitar to support guitar for a different band doesn’t really surprise us too much.

Is there an instrument Hana can’t play? 

KOGA: Maybe not. She can’t do it perfectly, but Hana’s father plays a trumpet, a wind instrument. He’s pretty famous. The trumpet is one of the harder instruments for Hana to play. She doesn’t really play perfectly. 

That was my last question. Once again, I really appreciate both of you taking time out for the interview. You’ve shared a lot and I think our readers will enjoy it! 

Order Gacharic Spin’s EP from CDJapan!

Ace [w/ Blu-ray, Limited Edition]
Title: Ace [w/ Blu-ray, Limited Edition]
Release date: February 28th, 2024
Description: Gacharic Spin brings an EP including “BakuBaku” and more for five tracks in total. Comes with a bonus Blu-ray featuring the live performance “Limit Breaker – Kessei 15 Shunen ni Mukete -” held at Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall (full length) and bonus footage.

Ace [Regular Edition]
Title: Ace [Regular Edition]
Release date: February 28th, 2024
Description: Gacharic Spin brings an EP including “BakuBaku” and more for five tracks in total.

Gacharic Spin Website – http://www.gacharicspin.com/
Gacharic Spin Twitter – https://twitter.com/Gachapin_info
Gacharic Spin YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/gacharicspinch
GachatoTV – https://www.youtube.com/user/GacharicSpin

Member SNS Account Info
KOGA – Instagram / Twitter
Hana – Instagram / Facebook
Oreo – Instagram
TOMO-ZO – Twitter
Angie – Instagram / Twitter
yuri – Instagram / Twitter

© Copyright 2024 UniJolt