Feel the noise coming out of your bento box

Feel the noise coming out of your bento box

Guitar Wolf, Zombies & UFOs

Banzai! Guitar Wolf played on August 28 at the Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC and it was epic. From Nagasaki, Japan, they have appeared in a number of science fiction B-movies and they are going to blow your head off.

Japanese rock bands seem to get it more than the self-conscious American music industry does. Pioneers in noise rock and heavy metal, bands like the Boredoms, Loudness, and guitarist Keiji Haino with his feedback landscapes, blood curdling screams and decimating crashes have taken music to sonic frontiers that would knock most Americans off their bar stool as they wait for the next predictable tune to come on the jukebox.

Back in the early ‘90s there was a bartender in Brooklyn who removed a Naked City album out of the jukebox (which on some tracks featured the Boredom’s vocalist Yamantaka Eye), because he thought the music would start a brawl. Back then the Boredoms was a band that would be considered on the fringe in the US, but were part of recognizable pop culture and mainstream in Japan at that time.

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Guitar Wolf is brilliant. Their name sounds like it could be an arcade game. They have much of the sensibility and spirit of the Ramones but not as formulaic, often introducing a little variety to their pulsating musical palette. Some of Jet City vaguely reminds me of The Damned. There also is a great version of Guitar Wolf doing the old Eddie Cochran song “Summertime Blues.” They do a great punk version of this and in the video the attendees of their concert slam in a mosh pit. I put their version up their with Blue Cheers’ 1968 version of the song which is one of the most obnoxious, ruckus and ingenious covers I’ve heard.

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Guitar Wolf’s lead singer Seiji cites that the inspiration for their music is the discordant rumble of jet planes much like Iggy Pop has cited that the industrial noise pollution of Detroit (jack hammers, demolition cranes, automobiles and such) are the inspiration of his music. GW named their energetic genre of garage rock Jet Rock & Roll. You can hear what they are talking about on tracks like “Jet Generation“and “High Schooler Action,” and they have been in action since 1987. The feel of these tracks are similar to the Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer,” British punk from 1977. If you listen carefully you can hear traces of Chuck Berry and the blues on tracks like “Can-Nana Fever.” Many of these songs have English titles and you can pick up the American loan words amidst vocals that are predominantly in the Japanese language. Many of these tracks open with a Ramones style count in, “one, two, three” in English.

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Seiji mentioned that the “Rumble” by Link Wray, was a major inspiration on his wanting to learn how to play guitar. Jimmy Page cited the same record as an early inspiration of his in the rockumentary film It Might Get Loud. Link Wray was a brilliant guitarist and Shawnee Native American from North Carolina who innovated his own hybrid of surf rock. Urban legends have said, but this is not verified, that Wray would experiment with his sonic landscape by stabbing the speakers of his tube amplifier with screwdrivers and other utensils in order to create different kinds of distortion. All this mutilation, I presume, was displayed during live performances because Wray’s classic instrumental studio recordings are clean and melodic often with a good amount of reverb.

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Guitar Wolf has become infamous in Japan. The appeared in a number of films including Tetsuro Takeuchi’s Wild Zero, a zombie/UFO horror flick. They are referred to in the anime television series Black Lagoon based on Rei Hiroe’s manga (comics and graphic novels). In the Black Lagoon series the main character Ravy is a Guitar Wolf fan. In addition to this notoriety, the band has created its own style of fashion and has a line of jackets, shirts, belts and pants. The Guitar Wolf motorcycle jacket is a big seller.

Guitar Wolf - 22//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsGuitar Wolf will finish touring the US and hit Europe in October. September brings them to Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, Pontiac, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Memphis Columbus, Cleveland, Baltimore, Providence, and Brooklyn. In October they play Paris, Hamburg and Haarlem in the Netherlands.   In addition to Guitar Wolf, Paint Fumes and Hans Condor played the heck out of a couple of sets, and should make your list of ‘to-see-ASAP’. Hans Condor Hans Condor - 09//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Paint Fumes
Paint Fumes - 09//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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