OTTAWA—They are rock stars in Japan, but their roots are in Canada. And their successful fusion of Canadian/Japanese pop rock is so well loved that the Government of Japan named them the “Goodwill Ambassadors” of the 80th anniversary of Japan-Canada relations this year.
As part of this celebration, Canadian brothers Maynard and Blaise Plant, born and raised in Ottawa, arrived home to a big welcome this week with their two fellow Monkey Majik band members, Japanese musicians tax and Dick.
Monkey Majik will be playing two shows in Canada. While it typically performs in large venues before thousands of fans in Japan, Ottawans and Vancouverites will have the rare opportunity to hear the band live in two settings that are much more up close and intimate—at Ottawa’s Zaphod Beeblebrox on October 30 and Vancouver’s Richards on Richards on November 3.
The band consists of Maynard and Blaise as vocalists and guitarists, along with Takuya “tax” Kikuchi on drums and Dick on bass. Maynard and Blaise sing in both English and Japanese.
Maynard moved to Japan in 1997 to teach English, and Blaise followed in 2000 to team up with his older brother to play music. That was the year Monkey Majik came into being.
The band’s first album, “Spade,” was a tremendous hit when it was release in September 2003. It stayed at the top of the music charts for 13 weeks in a row and had the highest overall sales record of the year.
Monkey Majik’s popularly steadily soared. In January 2006, its first single, “Fly,” was the No. 1 most-played song on FM stations across Japan for four straight weeks. Since then, every live concert has been sold out.
Their fourth and latest album, “Sora wa Maru de,” entered the Oricon Chart (the Japanese sales chart) at No. 3 when it was released in July 2007. And the album’s title song of the same name became the first song in Japanese history to hit No. 1 on the Yusen on-air Chart (the Japanese cable radio chart) before the actual CD was even released.
In March 2008 Blaise started a solo project called “The Alphabet Project,” releasing his first single, “Call me.” He has since released six more songs, the most recent being “Ice cream.”
When Blaise wrote “The Sweetest Day” last summer, he was thinking of going back to Canada to see his family for Christmas.
“I haven't been home for CHRISTMAS in a long time so I was hoping that by writing this song, by some miracle I would get the chance this year to be home for CHRISTMAS. I enjoy making HAPPY songs and this is definitely a song that makes me happy!” Blaise wrote on his blog.
Monkey Majik’s home base in Japan is in the city of Sendai, about 300 kilometres north of Tokyo. The name of the band was inspired by a widely successful song called “Monkey Magic” by Godiego, another popular group in Japan.
Monkey Majik will play at Ottawa's Zaphod Beeblebrox at 27 York Street on Thursday, October 30 at 9 p.m. In Vancouver, the band will be at Richards on Richards at 1036 Richards Street on Monday, November 3 at 8 p.m.