O!susume – [Alexandros]

Broadcast 20: [Alexandros]

My O! slot for September is all about [Alexandros], a band with a 20 year history, with much of their fame gained under their previous name [Champagne]. The band’s long road to mainstream popularity started with a Japanese kid, living in Syria, listening to British rock. Even while climbing the charts, the band’s bohemian choice of song and tour names has shown a dedication to amateur passion over professional ego.


Years Active: 2001 – Present (2022)

Core Members: Kawakami Youhei 川上 洋平 (vocals, guitar), Isobe Hiroki 磯部 寛之 (bass, backing vocals), Shirai Masaki 白井 眞輝 (guitar), Ib Riad (drums)

Former Members: Ishikawa Hiroki (2007-2010), Shomura Satoyasu (2010-2021)

Point of Origin: n/a


The band was formed in 2001 with two core members, guitarist/vocalist Kawakami Youhei and bassist Isobe Hiroyuki. Kawakami is a fluent English speaker, having been raised both in Syria and the United States. Given the prevelance of English lyrics in popular Japanese songs, it was likely a boon for the band to be multilingual from the start. Kawakami’s musical inspiration came from British rock,  as he lists Oasis, Primal Scream and Radiohead among his favorite bands. This admiration was strong enough to provide the band with its former name [Champagne], derived from the Oasis song “Champagne Supernova”.

Kawakami admitted in a 2013 interview that he had initially started the band with four other members. They were quick to leave when they realized how serious Kawakami was about making the band a major success (according to Kawakami himself). Shirai Masaki joined Kawakami and Isobe in 2007 as the band’s other permanent member. Shomura Satoyasu, the band’s longest-term drummer, joined in 2010 after years of playing as support.

2010 can also be seen as the band’s breakout year, as they joined the label RX-RECORDS and debuted their first album Where’s my Potato?. [Champagne] also gained significant exposure from their cover track of a Mary Poppins song on a Disney compilation distributed through the popular media merchandise outlet Village Vanguard. They topped off their year with two EPs (city and You’re So Sweet & I Love You), and a performance at Countdown Japan.

A couple years later, Kawakami was able to realize his dreams of playing shows in the UK, as they opened for the British band Kasabian, and performed at THE GREAT ESCAPE UK music festival. These performances garnered international attention and many positive reviews.

The band’s touring success continued in the following years with a 2013 tour of Japan called the “We Don’t Learn Anything Tour”, SXSW 2014 in Austin TX, and a sold-out show at the Nippon Budokan. It was at this time they announced their official renaming to [Alexandros], respecting an official request from the Bureau du Champagne of Japan. They levelled up with their label as well by signing with Universal Music in 2015.

During these years, fans were able to watch the band ascend higher in the charts with each album release. Their second album I Wanna Go To Hawaii. debuted at #14 on the Oricon Charts in 2011, followed by Schwarzenegger at #10 in 2012, Me No Do Karate. at #7 in 2013, (ALXD) at #3 in 2015, and finally EXIST! debuting at #1 in 2016.

Despite the band having several prestigious awards under their belt, including the Japan Gold Disc Award for New Artist of the Year and several Space Shower Music awards, Kawakami at least seems to remain connected to the mentality and dreams that got the band off the ground in the first place. When interviewed about the meaning behind the lyrics he writes, he said “[they] don’t really have any meaning, because if they [did], the listeners could not put their own feeling into the song. So I make them kind of empty. If it sounds nice, that’s fine for me.” Whether or not this attitude can be considered one of [Alexandros]’s strengths is up to the audience, but given their popular reception it seems Kawakami’s approach is sound.



“Adventure” has held strong as my absolute favorite [Alexandros] track ever since I first discovered them. It’s got everything I want in a song: the clean guitar and bass riffs that are given their own space to shine, just the right balance of catchy melody and technical instrumentals, and overall just a fun, upbeat vibe that you’re not fussed to have stuck in your head. I do like the post-song footage of the extras behind the umbrella wall, a fun little behind-the-scenes perk for watching the MV. I wouldn’t call this one of [Alexandros]’s “headliner” songs, but definitely the first one I’d show to anyone I want to introduce to the band because it’s so easy to listen to.



ワタリドリ (wataridori: “Migratory Bird”) is a song from 2015 that has a nice blend of Kawakami’s smooth English lyrics blending seamlessly with the Japanese. The song has a light, floaty air to it, the kind of sound and melody that does well with the mainstream listening public in Japan, especially in the last decade. Having two high-school girls provide the story for their MV makes space for plenty of visual tropes popular with the sotsugyou-rock crowd.  I also appreciate the band’s dedication to a particular style of native lyric subtitling for most of their MVs, usually written in traditional Japanese top-to-bottom style on the right side of the screen.



閃光 (Senkou: “Flash”) is a slightly moodier track than the previous two, being used as an opening theme for the Mobile Suit GUNDAM Hathaway anime. I haven’t seen too much Gundam, but I think the song captures the show’s overall vibe of “angsty teenagers pilot giant mechs to shoot each other in space”, with fast-paced guitar riffs and a snappy drumline (as well as Kawakami’s on-the-nose English lyric of “take the sword and prepare for the fight”). I do kinda wish the slower, instrumental lead-in section lasted longer tho. I believe this track is also new enough to feature the band’s most current drummer, Ib Riad.