Jet Boys, Ed Woods

September 24, 2009

Recently I’ve been checking out the underground live music scene in Tokyo, and it’s decidely more extreme and entertaining than the rinky-dink J-Poop you see on TV.
Yesterday I witnessed punk band The Jet Boys (presumbably named after Elton Motello’s twisted punk classic, “Jet Boy Jet Girl”), who screamed and bounded around the stage like amphetamine junkies. Their encore featured their deranged acid-blond carnival geek of a singer stripping nude, pouring a carton of milk over his head, playing the guitar with a large radish (and grating it with the guitar strings), before pissing into a hat and putting it on his head.
Now there’s a performance I’d like to see Ayumi Hamasaki emulate on TV.

These kind of outrageous antics have been performed in the past by the likes of G.G. Allin of the Murder Junkies, but curiously enough, unlike the maniacal G.G. Allin, the Jet Boy’s singer was actually extremely shy and polite when I spoke to him after the show.

Similarly incendiary are The Ed Woods, named after the legendarily inept transvestite director of the classic “so-bad-its-good” movies “Glen or Glenda” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space”. These guys are horror-movie afficianados and their flyers and backdrops feature images from trashy films films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Burning.” They dress up in blood-splattered overalls and straw hats, like inbred redneck zombies, and play music not unlike The Cramps.
(They’d be good for a Halloween party).

When I last saw them perform live, the double-bass playing singer stripped off, poured a bottle of shampoo all over his hair, jumped off the stage and slid across the floor on his head, then slid back again until his head smashed into the stage. Talk about showmanship!
And yet, that guy is very friendly and courteous in person, too.

I just feel sorry for the poor bastards who have to clean up after these shows.

“Ed Woods homepage”
“Jet Boys Homepage “
(pics from their websites)


Japanese Bikini Trombonists

December 18, 2008

Just my luck- I wait all my life for a band of bikini-clad trombone players, and when I finally discover one I find out they broke up last month. Tsk!

“Futomomo Satisfaction” featured three female trombonists in bikinis,
performing covers of The Ramones, The Rolling Stones and Buggles, alongside original tunes. The three fetching girls, Jackie, Suzuyakko, and Lumiere, certainly put the “bone” in “trombone,” if you catch my drift.

The girls described themselves on their Myspace Page thus:

Futomomo Satisfaction is a Japanese bikini Trombone gal band.
This revolutional icon in Japanese indies, will inevitably fascinate you!

Indeed. This is the exact kind of inspired, uncynical silliness and lack of regard for convention that keeps me living in Japan. Here are some videos of their shows.

Here’s a link to the Futomomo Satisfaction website.


May 16, 2008

I’ve been reading “Japrocksampler” by Julian Cope (the eccentric singer, writer and acid-frazzled archaeologist.) It’s an enjoyable history of Japan’s unheralded rock mavericks, groundbreaking musicians who absorbed American rock n’ roll in the postwar years, and fed it through a filter of Japanese thought, culture and experience, to make something entirely new and weird.

Some of the records mentioned, from the likes of Brain Police and Flower Travellin’ Band (pictured on the book cover, riding motorbikes in the nude) sound utterly mental, and I’m eager to get down to the record shop and pick some of them up (even though they’re fairly obscure, even in Japan.)
You probably won’t have heard of most of these guys. TV and radio in Japan have rarely given exposure to independent or alternative artists, and even now only give airtime to those signed to a handful of major labels and agencies. And yet, if your explore the underground clubs of Koenji or Shimokitazawa, you would have a good chance of seeing some astonishing and unique musicians.
Japrocksampler is a good introduction to Japanese rock and roll, and is greatly helped by Cope’s enthusiastic, hyperbolic writing style.
He’s even started a website about obscure Japanese music which you can check out here.

Bowie Night

January 10, 2008

One advantage of living in a city as rammed with people as Tokyo, is that you can organize any kind of event, safe in the knowledge that people will show up, no matter how weird or esoteric it is. In a city of twelve million people, you could throw a German polka music party, and expect a full house.
One place which proves this theory is Shinjuku’s excellent Club Acid Tokyo, where each night is themed around a completely different kind of music. Over the weekend I went to “Bowie Night,” where they strictly played only songs by David Bowie for the whole night. This is a fantastic concept if you’re into The Thin White Duke, but it’s like Guantanamo Bay if you’re not. Fortunately, I’m partial to a bit of Bowie, and had a fine time grooving to “Heroes” on the dancefloor.

It’s a credit to Bowie’s long and varied career that I wasn’t bored by the music once. I left the club with a renewed respect for the dude- there aren’t many artists who could fill up a DJ’s six-hour set-list without getting repetitive. I’m a big Ramones fan but I’d grow tired of hearing “!” after a couple of hours. (…Or perhaps not.)
You couldn’t get away with an event like Bowie Night in most countries, but such is the obsessiveness and dedication of Japanese fans (who eagerly blow their savings on rare B-Side compilations and T-shirts of their favourite musicians), that the crowd in Club Acid were loving it.
Once, Club Acid even had a night entirely dedicated to the 80s Goth group Bauhaus, I kid thee not. That is very obscure indeed, but it must surely have brought smiles to the faces of the small cluster of Bauhaus fans living in Tokyo, (perhaps for the first time in their miserable lives.)

Crazy Japanese Nightclub Flyers

October 22, 2007

When I go to to clubs and gigs around Tokyo, I usually pick up flyers for upcoming events. These phantasmagorical flyers, hastily designed by eccentric art-school graduates and drug-addled musicians, often turn out to be more spectacular than the events themselves.
Just the names of the events, musicians and DJs, can be surprising. For example…

“MONKEEEEEE FUUUUUUCK!” is an eye-catching name if ever I’ve seen one. If that’s not enough, “Fuck Masta Fuck” is surely the best DJ name ever.
Similarly offensive is the following flyer for Club Mass, where you can listen to “wanky techno” courtesy of the delightfully-named “DJ Cunt”.

There’s also the silly “DJ Cak”…

…and last but not least, the unbelievable “VJ Pile of Dog Shit.” He shouldn’t be so hard on himself.

Let’s hope they all team up for a song, appear on “The Disney Club” and top the billboard charts (“…and at number one this week is DJs Fuck Masta Fuck, Cak, Pile of Dog Shit and Cunt!”)

As well as this colourful use of the English language, there are also some amusing misspellings on Japanese nightclub flyers, as you can see below.

This flyer intructs us to “bring bring” but what is it that we’re supposed to be bringing? Bring a bottle? Bring the noise? Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia?

I’m not sure that people will be lining up to hear this “bland new mix.” It sounds as if they’ll be spinning Enya and Kenny G all night.

The flyer below appears to be promising discounts for customers who bring kitchen equipment.

And the words aren’t all that’s freaky on Japanese flyers, the illustrations are equally mind-blowing, like the two, frankly disturbing ones below.

Who knows what kind of antics go on at those parties, but I’m sure they’re fun for all the family. Don’t forget to bring Granny!

Chip Shop Boyz

October 10, 2007

I’ve discovered another funky new Japanese band, charmingly called the “Chip Shop Boyz.” While mooching around a record shop I spotted the ace CD cover above, and decided to have a listen on the headphones. All the songs turned out to be versions of famous tunes, that sound like they’ve come from computer games circa 1987. The Chip Shop Boyz have a winning sound that is idiosyncratically Japanese. Where else can you groove to a Gameboy version of “Doo-Wah Diddy”?
Here’s their website.

Alluring Ladies and Randy Gentlemen

October 10, 2007

Time for another amazing and amusing nightclub flyer. The party below, an wild and eccentric costume event organized by “Tokyo Decadance,” appeals to me chiefly because the flyer says “Alluring ladies and randy gentlemen need to enter pleasing.” Who could resist such a sales pitch?

Here’s a link to the Tokyo Decadence website. Their parties look pretty damn mental. I must go!