|Studio album by B'z|
|Released||March 4, 2015|
|Recorded||August 2014 - Early 2015|
|Singles from EPIC DAY|
EPIC DAY is the nineteenth studio album by B'z, released on March 4, 2015. The album was the band's first in nearly four years after the 2011 release of C'mon. Its release was preceded by their comeback single "Uchouten" in January which was collected for the first time on the album. As a first for the band, the album was released in several editions. Along with the CD version, a special LIVE-GYM edition containing LIVE-GYM 2015 memorabilia as well as the album was released, as was a CD and DVD version including a full concert from B'z LIVE-GYM 2012 -Into Free- EXTRA. Additionally, a special vinyl edition was announced to be available as a limited run item alongside the others. According to an interview with the band in volume 102 of Be With! documenting the creation of the album, the idea of releasing on vinyl came about during the recording process. This would be the first vinyl album released by the band since their second effort OFF THE LOCK received the same treatment in 1989.
The album was supported by B'z LIVE-GYM 2015 -EPIC NIGHT-, which ran from March to July of 2015. Unusually for the band with the large amount of songs in their back catalogue, every song from the album has been performed live with none left unperformed—the first occasion in which this was the case since 1997's SURVIVE. While all were performed, only one track—standout ballad "Classmate"—was not recorded on the eventual home video release as it had been swapped for fellow ballad "Kimi wo Ki ni Shinai Hi Nado" for the dome portion of the tour.
Upon release, the album debuted at the top of the Weekly Oricon Albums chart with 209,576 physical copies sold. The album quickly reached Platinum status with sales in excess of 250,000 copies and continued the band's streak of having all of their studio albums reach the distinction. Ultimately, this would be the band's twenty-seventh number one album release. Additionally, the album was the second highest selling of March 2015. On March 18, the album was made available for digital purchase on a variety of Japanese music platforms, including the Japanese iTunes store.
Production and information
Following their year-long festivities for their 25th anniversary in 2013, the band took a break from B'z activities following the B'z Special LIVE at EX THEATER ROPPONGI show on November 30, 2013. This hiatus afforded the individual members time to dedicate to solo activities. Tak would go on to release his tenth studio album New Horizon in April and followed it up with his first true solo tour, Tak Matsumoto LIVE 2014 -New Horizon-, from May to June. Meanwhile, Koshi released three digital exclusive singles leading up to his fifth studio album, Singing Bird, in May. A special live engagement entitled Koshi Inaba LIVE 2014 ~en-ball~ saw ten shows all played at Shinagawa Stellar Ball over a period of two weeks.
As the band's solo activities wound down, it was revealed in Be With! issue 102 that the duo would immediately be returning to the studio come August to work on their next B'z album. It was unknown whether the album would be released by the end of the year as few public announcements were made during the recording process. Shane Gaalaas and Barry Sparks were both involved in the recording from the onset, with the former providing social media updates as he came to and from Japan. However, in October, the 103rd issue revealed twenty-seven tour dates from a then-untitled 2015 tour, with more dates promised in the near future.
With regard to returning to their recording rhythm, the band changed their tactics slightly. Unusually, the second half of the album was recorded with Koshi in Tokyo and the rest of the recording unit in Los Angeles. He initially found this difficult, but began to appreciate the time difference as he was able to calmly collect his thoughts and have something ready for the band on the following day after they had exchanged ideas. Additionally, the sessions saw the band creating a full chorus for each song with dozens of potential songs being written a phrase at a time. Once the song progressed far enough and was agreed upon, lyrics would be added. When asked why, Tak recalled, "I don't remember why so well. Essentially, I wanted to make a lead single that would signal a restart of B'z after our solo activities. I recorded a chorus to numerous potential songs trying to find [the right] single." Notably, the sessions led to a great many full-sized out-takes from the album, not just partial ones.
The first song to be revealed from the sessions was "Exit To The Sun", an acoustic ballad that was simultaneously announced as the theme to NHK drama series Dark Suit. The series began airing on November 22nd and featured the song throughout its run. One week later, another song could be heard on television and online when "NO EXCUSE" began airing as the theme to a line of Smirnoff Ice commercials. The title of the album was first publicly revealed shortly thereafter in various morning newspapers across Japan on December 3, 2014. Along with mentioning the title EPIC DAY, the spread unveiled lead single "Uchouten" along with its release date and the details of its two editions. At the same time, the previously untitled LIVE-GYM to begin in March received its final title of B'z LIVE-GYM 2015 -EPIC NIGHT-.
The lead and only single from the album, "Uchouten" was much-anticipated as it was the band's first in the nearly three years since 2012's "GO FOR IT, BABY -Kioku no Sanmyaku-". A sample of the song was briefly available on the band's official website, but it would not be heard in full until it premiered on radio in the last weeks of 2014. The first live performance of the song came on Music Station SUPER LIVE 2015 on which B'z was one of the premiere guests. A music video was shot for the single, clips from which began airing on various Japanese news and music-themed television programs as well as being featured in commercials leading up to its release.
On January 1, it was announced that the February issue of YOUNG GUITAR magazine would feature Tak Matsumoto and Slash on the cover together as well as the subjects of a special joint feature. The two guitarists sat down for a lengthy discussion, during which they discussed their influences, playstyles, and the two of them both having worked with Koshi in the past.
With the tour start date looming, "Uchouten" was released on January 14, 2015 and debuted at the top of the Weekly Oricon Singles chart for the band's forty-seventh consecutive number one single as it moved over 75,000 physical copies in its first day on shelves. Two days later, on January 16, it was revealed that a new EPIC DAY song, "Amari ni mo", would serve as the theme to a pair of commercials for H.I.S, a travel company based out of Japan.
After a long wait, the release details for EPIC DAY were confirmed on January 26, 2015 with an update to the band's official website. In an unprecedented move for the band, the album was announced for release in four separate editions. In addition to the CD version, special vinyl and LIVE-GYM merchandise bundles were also made available, with this being the first occasion on which B'z officially issued a vinyl for retail purchase. A longbox edition including both the CD album and a bonus DVD included the full performance from B'z LIVE-GYM 2012 -Into Free- EXTRA in Osaka. The home video thus marks the proper video debuts of "HEAT" and English versions of "Love Bomb", "Ultra Soul", "Juice", and "Into Free -Dangan-". It also marks the first time both "MOTEL" and "Itoshii Hito yo Good Night..." appear in an uncut home video concert recording. Along with pricing and pictures of the various editions, the update also confirmed the final tour dates for B'z LIVE-GYM 2015 -EPIC NIGHT-, with its final date being scheduled for July 26 at Nagoya Dome.
On February 12, a short music video for album opener "Las Vegas" was added to the band's YouTube channel. Additionally, the previously-aired video for the album's single "Uchouten" was also uploaded in shortened form as well. Along with the updates came news that "Las Vegas" would be serving as the theme to the 2015 Red Bull Air Race in Chiba come May 16 and 17. Short music videos for "Kimi wo Ki ni Shinai Hi Nado" and "Classmate" were likewise uploaded to the channel shortly thereafter.
The title of the album originated in Koshi watching a day-end sports summary program in English, in which a player having been the most valuable in the game was described as "having an epic day". He was not familiar with the idiom of describing things as "epic" in such a way at the time, which is why he explained the term to the crowd during the ensuing live tour. Shortly thereafter, while preparing to go surfing in Los Angeles and listening to the local news for weather updates, the state of the waves were described as "epic". Hearing this, he asked drummer and Canadian native Shane Gaalaas, "You can use it in this context too?" Afterward, he proposed the title EPIC DAY to Tak, which was agreed upon.
The cover of the album went through a number of variations. B'z were presented with various concept pieces from famous locations around the world, but none were considered suitable and were rejected. The band then suggested they try using a location in Japan and from that came renditions of Roppongi and Shibuya—the latter of which was ultimately used as they felt it was most recognizable.
NOTE: The vinyl edition splits "Las Vegas" through "Amari ni mo" into SIDE A and "EPIC DAY" through "Man Of The Match" on SIDE B.
- Las Vegas
- A hard-hitting rock number with a carefree atmosphere, "Las Vegas" was not written in the typical B'z fashion. Tak had composed most of the music foremost and had played it for Koshi. In the conversation, he said, "I'm writing a song like this; does any sort of keyword come to mind?" Koshi said "Las Vegas" came to mind and that became not only the title but the entire inspiration for the main part of the melody. This is at odds with their usual method in which Tak would create all of the music and its accompanying melody and have Koshi apply lyrics at the end. Lastly, the song was used as the event theme to the 2015 Red Bull Air Race in Chiba though it was not written for the occasion.
- Uchouten — Ecstasy, 有頂天
- The band's first single in nearly three years, "Uchouten" is a hard rock song designed to work well in a live setting with several call-and-response moments, priming it as a crowd pleaser. Koshi described it in the band's 2015 New Year's message as the "first new explosion of B'z sound in a long while" due to the hiatus between releases. The composition includes a bass solo prior to the guitar's and sports an arrangement that utilizes both solo guitar and full band instrumentation at alternating intervals. On the lyrics front, Koshi mentioned in a press release for Gakkou no Kaidan—a school-centric drama series for which the song served as a theme—that he focused on the themes of "confidence and insecurity, happiness and sadness" and added, "This song is about cheering oneself up and trying to move on, while embracing these two conflicting feelings."
- Exit To The Sun
- The first song to be heard from the album by the public, "Exit To The Sun" was written for and served as the theme to the Takumi Saito-starring drama Dark Suit which began airing on NHK in November 2014. The announcement served as the first official confirmation that the band had resumed activities after the year's earlier solo efforts. Tak and Koshi only began production on the song after reading the script for the start of the series. Regarding the its status as a ballad, this was a direct request from the series' production company. The song begins with acoustic guitar and strings before building to an ending that involves electric guitar. Regarding the arrangement, Tak stated, "The original plan was to rely on piano and not put in any guitar until the last chorus."
- NO EXCUSE
- The second song to be previewed from the album, "NO EXCUSE" was used in a Smirnoff Ice commercial in Japan. As has occasionally been the case, such as with the single "ARIGATO", the lyrics in the commercial version differ from those found here on the eventual album. In fact, when the tie-in promotion was announced in November of 2014, the album title had not been revealed. The song was written specifically for the tie-in with their only directive being that it be made with such a beat. Tak recalled it was a "very intelligible request" and that the song came together very easily, with it happening almost instantly after he heard the request. However, Koshi did not have as easy a time with the lyrics. "Since I wasn't given any direction as to what they thought would fit the tie-in, I wrote one version of the lyrics that I thought may work. Later, I reconsidered them with the rest of the song in mind and rewrote them."
- Amari ni mo — And More, アマリニモ
- At the time of release, "Amari ni mo" was used as the theme song to commercials supporting H.I.S.—an international travel agency promoting numerous destinations at the time. The song came early in the album's production process. Koshi relayed in an interview that he had been borrowing an apartment by the seaside in Los Angeles when the idea for the lyrics came to him. He had been listening to internet radio and had heard really old songs that would normally not be broadcast; it made quite an impression and ultimately became the image that formed the lyrics.
- EPIC DAY
- The title song of the album, "EPIC DAY" is one of the band's hardest rock songs in recent memory. It was the second song to enter production but the vocals were not recorded until the latter half. Due to the album being divided amongst two sides to accommodate the vinyl release, it was decided shortly after they began working on the song order to put "EPIC DAY" at the top of SIDE B. During the compositional stage, Tak had thought of the guitar work formed by Rainbow and Deep Purple and was surprised that the song became the title song. It would later serve as the closing song for the main setlist during B'z LIVE-GYM 2015 -EPIC NIGHT-.
- A song originally recorded during their activities in 2012, "Classmate" became a standout favorite from the album with regard to ballads especially. When selecting tracks for the album, the band returned to it and decided to re-dub the vocals and give the mixing an overhaul. With regard to the track, Tak stated: "I thought it was a really nice song during rehearsal. It's only one out of every 500 or 600 songs in which the melody and the song [lyrics] match well but this is one of them." He also speculated that the sentimental lyrics written from the perspective of a young student were drawn from Koshi's own youth.
- Black Coffee
- As had been the case with album opener "Las Vegas", the complete music behind "Black Coffee" was also written by Tak after Koshi provided a "keyword" to form the rest of the song's image, which also became the title. Originally, the second part of the melody was completely different but in the arrangement phase, Tak decided to re-write it to improve the song and thus it came to be released in its current form. The song also ends on a thirty second guitar-led outro, which is not the norm for the band.
- Kimi wo Ki ni Shinai Hi Nado — The Day I Don't Care About You, 君を気にしない日など
- As one of the few B'z songs to be premiered live, "Kimi wo Ki ni Shinai Hi Nado" was first performed live as part of B'z Special LIVE at EX THEATER ROPPONGI at the end of 2013, following their twenty-fifth anniversary touring efforts. The latter tour also used the song as an Ending SE. Interestingly, it is also the oldest song on the album after having been initially produced in 2010 as an out-take from the summer 2011 album C'mon. The song was re-recorded like "Classmate" had been, although Tak thought the guitar solo was sufficient and re-recorded it exactly as it had been previously written. Although both were performed as part of B'z LIVE-GYM 2015 -EPIC NIGHT-, the song replaced fellow ballad "Classmate" for the dome portion of the tour. After release, it was used as the commercial theme to the "Festival of 1.1 Million Roses" event held at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Japan.
- Man Of The Match
- Although the music for the song was created and recorded at the beginning of production as the first song, the vocals to "Man Of The Match" were the last to be done. The title, like its lyrics, are a reference to soccer's player of the match honors. The final chorus of the song was completely overhauled from the initial demo to the final result at the very end of the album's production. The chorus to the song is performed by support members Shane Gaalaas and Barry Sparks, marking one of the very few occasions in which support members held such a role. The idea behind the jazz-infused guitar solo set at 4 beats was proposed by Shane. Although Tak had previously released the Grammy Award-winning jazz collaboration TAKE YOUR PICK with American jazz legend Larry Carlton, he still did not feel he had enough jazz knowledge in his repertoire and sought out a jazz teacher for a guitar lesson. Regarding the fact that the song was last one to be recorded, Tak and Koshi both looked to one another and said, "Is this the last one?"
EPIC DAY CD & DVD Edition
B'z LIVE-GYM 2012 -Into Free- EXTRA at Osaka Jo Hall
EPIC DAY Vinyl Edition
EPIC DAY LIVE-GYM Edition
The special LIVE-GYM edition includes the album CD and, for the first time ever, a bundle of original tour merchandise that is usually only available at tour venues and on B'z The Store. The items included are an B'z LIVE-GYM 2015 -EPIC NIGHT- tote bag, muffler towel, and tour pass, as well as a coupon for a rubber wristband to be exchanged at the venue for any of the tour's shows.
- Las Vegas [44 SHOWS]
- Uchouten [58 SHOWS]
- B'z SHOWCASE 2015 -Shimonoseki Uchouten NIGHT- [1/1 SHOWS]
- B'z LIVE-GYM 2015 -EPIC NIGHT- [40/40 SHOWS]
- ROCKROCK 20th ANNIVERSARY LIVE "ROCK BEYOND ROCK" [1/1 SHOWS]
- B'z SHOWCASE 2015 -Shinagawa Uchouten NIGHT- [1/1 SHOWS]
- TV Asahi Dream Festival 2015 [1/1 SHOWS]
- B'z SHOWCASE 2017 -Hissatsu Hiokinin- [1/1 SHOWS]
- B'z SHOWCASE 2017 -B'z In Your Town- [11/11 SHOWS]
- ROCK IN JAPAN FESTIVAL 2017 [1/1 SHOWS]
- RISING SUN ROCK FESTIVAL 2017 in EZO [1/1 SHOWS]
- Exit To The Sun [41 SHOWS]
- NO EXCUSE [42 SHOWS]
- Amari ni mo [41 SHOWS]
- EPIC DAY [42 SHOWS]
- Classmate [31 SHOWS]
- Black Coffee [41 SHOWS]
- Kimi wo Ki ni Shinai Hi Nado [11 SHOWS]
- Man Of The Match [41 SHOWS]
- Las Vegas
- Exit To The Sun
- NO EXCUSE
- Amari ni mo
- EPIC DAY
- Black Coffee
- Kimi wo Ki ni Shinai Hi Nado
- Man Of The Match
|No.||Cover||Album||Physical Copies Sold||Chart Positions||Certification|
- Tak Matsumoto: Guitar, Music Composition, Arrangement
- Koshi Inaba: Vocals, Lyric Composition, Arrangement
- Shane Gaalaas: Drums (TRACKS 1-6, 8-10)
- Hideo Yamaki: Drums (TRACK 7)
- Barry Sparks: Bass (TRACKS 1-6, 8-10)
- Chiharu Mikuzuki: Bass (TRACK 7)
- Akira Onozuka: Piano & Organ (TRACK 5)
- Takanobu Masuda: Organ (TRACK 6)
- Kazuki Katsuta: Saxophone (TRACK 7)
- Shiro Sasaki: Trumpet (TRACK 1)
- Takushi Tohyama: Trumpet (TRACK 1)
- Makoto Igarashi: Trombone (TRACK 1)
- Atsushi Doyama: Horn (TRACK 7)
- Aya Kodaki: Oboe (TRACK 7)
- Hiroko Ishikawa: Strings (TRACKS 3 & 7)
- Maiko Sugiyama: Strings (TRACK 9)
- Lime Ladies Orchestra: Strings (TRACKS 3, 7, 9)
- Hiroyuki Kobayashi: Recording & Mixing
- Satoshi Fukuda: Recording
- Tomoko Nozaki: Recording
- Mixed at Birdman West
- Recorded at Rodeo Recording, Birdman West
- Yoshinobu Ohga: Arrangement (TRACKS 1, 2, 4-6, 8, 10)
- Hideyuki Terachi: Arrangement (TRACKS 1,-3, 7, 9), Vocal Direction