Janne Da Arc
About Janne Da Arc
After toiling for several years in Japan's indie rock scene, Janne Da Arc only found success in the late 1990s when the five-piece were picked up by the Avex Trax label and radically overhauled their image to match the prevailing visual kei craze of the time, which basically involves male bandmembers looking androgynous and moody while playing theatrical pop-metal, wearing lots of makeup, and sporting oversize hair.
Singer Yasunori Hayashi formed Janne Da Arc with four of his Osaka high school classmates -- guitarist Yutaka Tsuda, bassist Kazuyuki Matsumoto, and keyboardist Kiyo in 1996. (Although in the group from the start, drummer Shuji Suematsu would only become an "official" bandmember in 2006.) A manga fan inspired by '80s Japanese new wave acts Boøwy, Dead End, and X-Japan -- arguably the first visual kei band -- Yasu did not take the band's name from Joan of Arc but rather from a character in the Go Nagai-penned manga Devilman.
JDA released three mini-albums independently before they signed to Motorod, an offshoot of Avex Trax. Their first single on their new label, "Red Zone," went Top 50 and spent three weeks on the Oricon charts, while debut album D.N.A., released in 2000, cemented Janne Da Arc's position as one of Japan's most popular rock acts. It's a position that over the course of five albums the group has yet to relinquish, despite a temporary hiatus taken in 2006 so that the bandmembers could pursue various solo projects. Predictably, the most successful of these offshoots has been the Yasu-fronted Acid Black Cherry. Yasu has also written a novel based on the 2003 JDA album Another Story, and tried his hand at manga, including a story about JDA's formation. Over the course of their career, JDA has gradually toned down the makeup and outlandish hair cuts associated with visual kei bands, instead relying on old-fashioned rock & roll swagger to get their message across. ~ David Hickey