band biography

Plastic Tree has come a long way in their over 10 years of existence. Their evolution of music was possible by the maturity of the band members and their relentless efforts of expressing their feelings, paying no special mind to what genre that a particular song might fit into. It is this vision that sets Plastic Tree apart from the rest of the Japanese music scene and might be why the band is still so under appreciated today.

In the early 1990s, Ryutaro Arimura met Tadashi Hasegawa while they were both in different bands. Coincidently, two members that were both in their respective bands were brothers. Tadashi had become familiar with Ryutaro's face because of this and decided to go to one of their lives. He believed their band was interesting in that Ryutaro's musical taste and band image was very similar to his own. The two decided to form CAM-FLAGE in December of 1993. The band was renamed to NTT FUCKS then later decided on Plastic Tree, aiming for "something abstract and natural at the same time", as Ryutaro puts it. Akira Nakayama, who had been a former band mate of Ryutaro's, later joined along with a drummer named Koji, who left the band six months later and was replaced by Shin. Their first mini album, Strange fruits -Kimyou na Kajitsu-, was released in December 1995 under their contract with GIO RECORDS.

In March of 1996, Shin left the band and was replaced with Takashi a month later. That same year "Jellyfish Breed" opened as their official fan club, which was later renamed to "Sickroom" in 2000. After being successful with many one man live shows, the four continued to release albums and singles. Their second album, Puppet Show, established Plastic Tree as a band in the eyes of its members. "We could express ourselves well and balance what we had done before and what we could do at that time and what we wanted to do after that," explains Tadashi. Each album is created with the bands current feelings and desires first, not limiting themselves to stay within a specific genre. "Basically, we do whatever we think is good and want to do" (Ryutaro). In their most recent album, Nega to Posi, the band was able to put their own satisfaction first. Ryutaro describes that "we wanted to show what Plastic Tree is, what we stand for".

However, 2001 gave way to a rough start with Takashi leaving Plastic Tree, as well as Ryutaro going into throat surgery. The three remaining members held many auditions for a new drummer and at one point almost decided on settling for a temporary drummer. Sasabuchi Hiroshi gave them hope however, as he become their support member in March of 2002, later becoming an official member in July of that year.

2004 was another pivoting point for Plastic Tree, starting off with a new sound engineer. They signed on with a new record company, J-ROCK, leaving behind SWEETHEART. Their fan club name was also changed from "Sickroom" back to "JellyFish breed".

Decisions are made as a band, and even though Tadashi is most often associated as the leader, he firmly believes that he doesn't have a specific role when compared to others. A majority of their songs in their early years consisted of lyrics written by Ryutaro and the music by Tadashi. The band has evolved away from this composition method however. All of the members now contribute to writing the songs, which mostly start out as demo tapes that are brought in and are later arranged together.

Plastic Tree uses very strong carnival and circus themes in many of their albums, specifically in their PVs. This reoccurring theme can be related to their childhoods from their home town of Chiba. Ryutaro believes it is something "unusual" and was always fascinated by it. "Circuses, playhouses and shows in traditional Japanese festivals, clearly remain in my mind from when I was a child. When I write lyrics, I go to those memories sometimes, and when I bring them to our band, they work well."

The band has not been without hard times. Ryutaro recalled that it was difficult to keep the motivation of the band up as they gained popularity because not everything could be accomplished by only the band's four members. "I came to think that when we start to plan for our ideas, we can't do it by ourselves and need someone's help to achieve them, so we have to cooperate too..." 2007 marked the band's 10th anniversary for going major and it further pushed the limits of the bands existence, as if it were being "tested". It was a time for the members to do some "soul searching as a band" (Ryutaro). It is the fans that continue to keep Plastic Tree going however, and performing lives allows the band to rejuvenate. It is the energy and the ability that "emotions run free" that gives the band a connection with their audience and fans, as Ryutaro explains.

With all these years together, Plastic Tree has become more than a band, it's become a family. They take pride in making original songs and being "the band that no one can replace". (Ryutaro) There truly are no limits for Plastic Tree.

quote sources Interviews from 06.09.2006, 09.01.2006, 02.23.2007, 08.31.2007, 02.18.2008, Schwarzes-Zelt, JaME World, and 10th Anniversary Interviews.