When you think about themes that would work well in a pop song, the Japanese manga Naruto is probably not one of the first things that jumps to mind. Nonetheless, New York-based band Juice has taken a crack at writing a great, Naruto-themed pop song; the result is a single entitled “Konoha.”
Now, to ease the minds of the manga-skeptics who are out there, “Konoha” isn’t just about Naruto, it’s actually mostly about embracing life and being grateful for what you have around you, as vocalist Christian Rose told American Songwriter:
“We were on Nantucket and it was 4 a.m. or 5 a.m.,” Rose said. “The sun was rising and I was glowing because we had played an unforgettable show earlier in the night. I couldn’t sleep and I was thinking about the people around me — my bandmates, my family, my best friends, some new friends I had recently made and a girl I was falling in love with — and everything was quiet except for the birds and the crickets. I started writing my portion of the lyrics about what I was thinking and feeling in that moment and I realized that I was writing a love song to everybody around me. For fans of Naruto, I was writing a song about my hidden leaf village. My Konoha.”
This sentimentality, combined with playful, up-tempo indie sonics, makes “Konoha” an irresistible track. Juice consists of seven friends who met and formed the band in their freshman year of college. The connection and camaraderie between the group’s members is palpable on the track and adds to the feel-good atmosphere.
“One of the less obvious things about the song — and really my favorite thing about it — is the ad-lib track,” Rose said. “There are a few layers of things happening, but as the song grows there are these little moments where you can hear laughing in the track, people talking or Ben going ‘hey, hey, hey.’ In the bridge Kamau does this series of ‘yeah where we gon go, huh?’ and it adds this peculiarly perfect layer of energy that makes the section feel human and grounded even while the whole song is building to this maximalist climax.”
Listen to Juice’s new single “Konoha” below: