WASI’s Kai Nakamura lives childhood dream performing on Warped Tour
Growing up in the small Japanese town of Isahaya, Kai Nakamura was heavily influenced by Western music. His father loved classic rock, listening to a lot of Queen and Sting, but also classical music, and because of this, a passion emerged in a young Nakamura that has not faded to this day. He wanted to immerse himself in music, not just listening to it, but making it as well.
“When I listen to certain songs today, I feel instantly connected to a moment frozen in time and the song evokes an emotion. This is what sparked my interest in playing music myself. I wanted the opportunity to create this feeling for someone else. It is a special moment when you are taken back and get to relive special memories,” he said.
Now, Nakamura is living that childhood dream as the Producer, Songwriter, and Guitarist of American indie pop, alternative rock band WASI. Nakamura has been instrumental in WASI’s continuous success, helping construct the sound on WASI’s latest album “Riot Pop” and travelling around America on tour, performing at the 100 year celebration of The American Civil Liberties Union Southern California chapter alongside artists K.Flay and Tom Morello, and the “Love is Gay West Coast Tour” with Lucy and La Mer and Polartropica in celebration of PRIDE month.
“The highlight of my career at this point is an easy one for me. WASI went on a national tour and we played the biggest shows we have played yet as WASI. We played several dates with the artist Caroline Rose and had so much fun. We were very well received on that tour and continue to keep in touch with her. It was during this tour where we really clicked as a band and became inseparable. We had hard times and great times and did it together which made us grow together,” said Nakamura.
Part of this tour included the renowned and final Vans Warped Tour in 2018. Warped Tour began in 1995 as a skate punk and third-wave ska tour, but later began to feature mostly pop punk and metalcore acts, ultimately becoming one of the most prestigious venues for a rock band to perform.
“Vans Warped Tour has always been a dream for me to be a part of. Many of the bands I used to listen to play this festival, so it was a big deal that I had the opportunity to be on part of the tour as well. I felt like I had accomplished a childhood dream. In Japan, Warped Tour is popular, so it was just awesome to get to be part of it here in the U.S.,” said Nakamura.
WASI was honored to be a part of such a celebrated tour, but also to be invited by the prominent artist Shiragirl. The Shiragirl stage aims to represent female fronted artists and create a safe space for their voices in a male dominated music festival space. For Nakamura, being a part of a band with two powerful female leads means such representation is extremely significant, especially in their genre.
“I think the work the Shiragirl stage is doing for Warped Tour is very important because it gives women a voice and a space to express themselves. Warped Tour has had the reputation of having a prevalence of toxic masculinity and Shiragirl helps in bringing women to the front. It is so important to not only empower the females in our lives, but to give them the space to share their experiences with others,” he said.
Because of the large attendance of Warped Tour around the country, WASI and Nakamura were excited for the opportunity to ignite a new fan base. Just before the tour, the band released a new single with Hunter Burgan of AFI, which drew a large number of people to their set. Nakamura was responsible for live guitar and visuals, and after several rehearsals, everything was seamless.
“The best part of working on this project was the people that I met. It was also the first nationally recognized festival I have been a part of, so a big goal of mine had been achieved. It also felt really good to be part of an event that supports female empowerment and gives a space for women to be a part of a predominantly male environment,” said Nakamura.
The 2018 Vans Warped Tour reported a $21.3 million gross, hitting 38 cities for a total of 540,688 tickets, according to Pollstar. The averages were impressive, with 14,229 tickets per show. Being a part of such success was an honor for Nakamura, and an amazing experience for the entire band. Since forming a great bond on the tour, WASI and Shiragirl have performed together many times since.
“Getting to be part of Warped Tour with my best friends was the best part honestly. Everyone in the band really loves each other and we have so much fun playing together. Warped Tour was a dream for all of us,” Nakamura concluded.