Doping Panda

Doping Panda began as an indie rock band, but moved to bridge the two vital parts of the Japanese music scene -- optimistic alternative rock and shiny dance-pop -- though staying firmly on the rock side. The trio, which consists of Yutaka Furukawa (vocal, guitars, and programming), Taro Houjou (bass), and Hayato (drums), has been bouncing around the Japanese indie scene since the turn of the century, releasing the debut album Performation as early as 2001. It was followed by two more indie releases, the EP PINK PaNK (2002) and the full-length We in Music (2004), before Doping Panda were signed to gr8 records!, a subdivision of Sony Music housing UVERworld and Orange Range. The band kicked off its major-label career with two EPs, High Fidelity and High Pressure (both 2005), before diving headlong into touring, and soon became a sought-after live act, securing slots at some of Japan's biggest rock festivals including Rock in Japan and Summer Sonic, where they played with Sparta Locals, Polysics, and Base Ball Bear. The album Dandyism was delivered in 2006, when Doping Panda also appeared on Cosmicolor, the album by Japanese hip-hop classics m-flo. The 2007 EP High Brid [sic] secured them a slot on the popular TV program Music Station, and the same year Furukawa was featured on the "Lose Your Mind" single by Korean/Japanese superstar BoA. The fourth album, Dopamaniacs, came in 2008; soon after, Verbal from m-flo returned the favor, appearing on band's single "Majestic Trancer," which was included on Doping Panda's 2009 album Decadence, along with a contribution from Toru Hidaka of Beat Crusaders. ~ Alexey Eremenko

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