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When a style is in vogue, every scene wants some. That's certainly true in the case of Rize, who provided a fix of nu metal for Japan in the early 2000s -- they owed a huge debt to Limp Bizkit, but compensated for that with their powerful delivery and ability to branch out (their late-2000s work added a reggae vibe). The band was established in 1997 by Jesse, son of the popular guitar player Char and a guitarist/vocalist in his own right, and drummer Nobuaki Kaneko. Finding their bassist in Tokie, they entered the inevitable demo/club gigs phase, which lasted until 2000, when a performance at the tenth Kitazawa Music Festival got them a deal with Epic Records. That year, their debut single, "Kaminari," was followed by "Why I'm Me" and then their first studio album, Rookey, which charted at number eight -- a very good result for a trio of newcomers. The initial success was followed by a lineup shift -- Tokie left for Ajico, her place taken by U:zo, and second guitarist Nakao Yoshihiro joined the group as well -- but the changes didn't deter Rize. In 2001, they played big fests like Rock in Japan and Summer Sonic; did "I Can't Live Without My Radio," the theme song of the FM Festival; recorded with Zeebra; and completed their second album, Foreplay, in Los Angeles. More high-profile live mayhem ensued in 2002, the most notable gig being the 30,000-strong ETP Festival, organized in South Korea by the national rock legend Seo Tai-Ji and billed as the biggest field festival of its time.
Rize's third album, Natural Vibes, came out before the end of 2002 and included the single "Vibration," done with the up-and-coming reggae-pop duo Def Tech. More collaborations followed in the westward direction: Jesse played with the Beastie Boys at the Tibetan Freedom Concert and appeared on Crazy Town's single "Hurt You So Bad" (credited as Jroc), and Rize hit the road with rapcore units Kottonmouth Kings and Phunk Junkeez in the U.S. That finally exhausted Rize's batteries, and they stopped until 2005, when they released a best-of and fourth album Spit & Yell; switched bassists (U:zo was replaced by Nobuaki's brother KenKen); and resumed live activities, with the highlight shows in 2005-2008 including Live 8 and the Japanese leg of Live Earth, Hide Memorial Day and Hide Memorial Summit, and a tour with Acidman. In 2006 Rize also founded Far Eastern Tribe Records (a subsidiary of Universal), which handled their new records: the album Alterna that was released in 2007 (spawning the single "Lady Love," used in the anime Shion No Ou) and the sixth full-length, K.O., which followed in 2008. Nakao quit Rize after K.O. came out, leaving the band reduced to a trio and focusing on side projects for the duration of 2009, when Jesse collaborated with Uzumaki, and Kaneko prepared a solo album. ~ Alexey Eremenko
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