Perhaps this is a question many new fans ask when encountering the rock group, Brian the Sun. It was certainly what I asked myself when I first listened to their song “Baked Plum Cake“. Having studied Japanese for a year at the time, I began to think it was some sort of play on words for “Fry in the Sun”. However, noting bands with names like Senses Fail, All Time Low, Blink 182 in existence, “Brian the Sun” doesn’t REALLY seem all that strange.
The members who make up Brian the Sun are lead guitarist, Shinji Ogawa, vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Ryota Mori, bassist Haruki Shiroyama, and drummer Shunta Tanaka. Together, they form this sort of…jazzy…grunge sound. Perhaps the best way to describe them is alternative, as they’re quite difficult to categorize.
The influence in their musicianship seems to be rooted in jazz, most evidently so in “Hayagane” and their new song “Pathos and Ethos”. There’s a heavy emphasis on the bass and drums, but the even-toned vocals are reminiscent of the dry, honest lyrics of grunge, especially in songs like “Time Machine” and “Schrodinger’s Cat”. With the band’s apparent interest science, noting the video of “Maybe”, which is about a robot falling in love with her creator, perhaps they think of their music in the same way, constantly experimenting with sounds and testing their musical capabilities.
You could say that, in this band, the voice doesn’t lead, but serves as a constant rhythm against the variation of the guitar and drums. A good example of this would be in their song “Glasstrife”; in this song, Ogawa’s guitar seems to ‘talk’ as much as Mori, adding details to the vocals, rather than fighting against them. It’s also just a gorgeous song, despite its 3-year-old age. It could even be 4 years old. I was always the type to prefer the grainier days of first albums and EPs. Most of my favorite Brian the Sun songs are off their old albums, my favorite probably being their self-titled album, Brian the Sun from 2014.
However, despite their growing popularity, they’ve managed to maintain this raw sound in their album Pathos and Ethos. The variety of songs on the album, ranging from the fast-paced, energy of “Pathos and Ethos” and “Physalia”, the slow sway of “Maybe”, and the bluesy “Ironic Star” make for an interesting listening experience, perfect for long car rides. Speculating on why the album was called “Pathos and Ethos”, I wonder if this range of sound plays into those very themes. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, coined these terms to describe methods persuasive writing. “Ethos” is a method that uses objectivity—ethical reasoning to appeal to an audience, whereas “Pathos” appeals to emotion. (1)
Is Brian the Sun trying to appeal to these sides of their audience? For example, in songs that we can literally scream along to like “Pathos and Ethos”, opposed to songs like “Ironic Star”, which may be referring to the band’s view of their growing fame? There’s a chance there’s an interview on how the album was made, but for now, I’m happy contemplating.
Check out their new album: パトスとエートス http://www.brianthesun.com/discography/