Japanese quintet Man With A Mission have been making giant waves in the rock world, both in their home country and beyond.
We sat down with guitarist, vocalist and all-around good wolf, Jean-Ken Johnny, to get the lowdown on their new single, ‘Left Alive’, and their all-important upcoming performance at Download 2019.
Formed in Shibuya, Tokyo in 2010, Man With A Mission began making a name for themselves playing shows around their hometown. A US tour, a mini-album and appearances at Japanese festivals followed and it wasn’t long before they became one of the hottest names in Japanese rock.
The band have gone on to released five full length albums and have their songs featured in various media. The theme song for the popular anime, The Seven Deadly Sins, was written by the band and their song, ‘Survivor’, was chosen by Capcom to feature in Street Fighter V.
So, where did the wolves come from? According to the band, they were created in a lab by Jimi Hendrix, before being frozen in Antarctica for many years. Now they’ve been unleashed and are ready to take on Donington Park.
You played Download back in 2015. What are the best memories from that?
Actually, everything! A lot of my friends have taken part in Download Festival before – bands from Japan like, Crossfaith, and they were really happy for us to be a part of it too. It was just such a great moment to play in that atmosphere.
What will be different when you play this time around?
When we played last time, that would have been the first time seeing us for a lot of people – it was the first time we’d played the festival. But, now we’ve been touring a lot, in the UK as well, so hopefully a lot more people will get down to see us!
You’re playing at Download Japan as well. How do UK festivals compare with Japanese ones?
You know, Japan is a really tiny country -but, there’s tons of festivals in such a tiny place! It’s not that different, but I’d say that the festivals in the UK are a lot more significant – they have their own character. Download, in particular, has its own character and is very original.
Who are you looking forward to seeing on the line up?
You’ve just released a new single ‘Left Alive’. What does this song mean to you?
It’s all about searching for meaning and choosing your way – that’s what life is all about – make up your mind and pursue what’s out there. It’s all your responsibility, no one else’s. You’ve just gotta have the guts and the courage to just go for it.
The song is featured on the PlayStation game, Left Alive. Do you play video games?
Yes, a lot – especially our drummer! We like to play Mario Bros, Mario Kart, we also like to play a football game called Winning Eleven.
Does this new song mean that there’s more new music on the way?
We are working on a lot of things right now and recording a lot of new stuff. Hopefully we’ll release an album next year.
I love all those bands, especially Slipknot! If it was Def Leppard, it might be ‘When Love & Hate Collide’. If it was Slipknot it’d be ‘Sick’, one of my favourite songs.
WWE NXT UK is coming to Download! What would your wrestler name be?
We are actually big fans of wrestling, we actually wrote a song for a pro-wrestling community in Japan. My wrestler name… it would have to be to do with wolves. Maybe just ‘The Wolf’ would be perfect!
Finally – Download Dog took one look at you guys and thought he’d be great for your band. What does it take to be a member of Man With A Mission?
What was his name? Download Dog?! He’s already perfect!