Don’t Look Back – Daddy-O-Nov’s Guitar Wolf story

Daddy-O-Nov is the promoter behind Emotional Market and Back From the Grave, events that put the Tokyo hardcore and garage punk scenes on the map. He also runs the Radio Underground label and makes custom badges. If you want one, contact him at daddyonov_radio_u@ybb.ne.jp.

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Well, Mods Mayday is over and now it’s summer and it looks like it’s gonna be a long one, “Long Hot Summer,” just like the Tom Robinson Band song. But seriously, those guys work hard to keep those events running, events like Mayday or London Nite Xmas, the ska-billy events and all of that. There are tons of people I only ever run into at those events, year after year, it’s like a class reunion or something.

I hope people feel that way about Back From the Grave. Shit! Speaking of BFTG, I gotta get my ass in gear and start booking bands. It’s almost June! This year’s Halloween Ball will be October 28 and 29 at Shinjuku Loft, so put it on your calendar. Hope to see you there.

We just did the 13th anniversary memorial show for Billy Bass Wolf. Guitar Wolf couldn’t play but there were tons of people and we all thought about Billy and had a great time. Really, thanks so much to everybody who came. We’re definitely gonna do it again… but I guess it’ll be 12 years from now, the next one. (*Ed note: reference to Buddhist memorial services, which are held in a series of years after death, look it up yourself, lazy ass: http://www.google.com)

I feel like he’s still around here somewhere but of course he’s not. I’ll always miss him flashing me that smile and calling me a dirty old man. I wish he could’ve seen the “Garage Rockin’ Craze” movie. I wish I could hear how he would’ve answered the interview questions.

I guess the first time I heard of Guitar Wolf was when Seiji gave me a demo tape at a show. I heard later that Enocky had seen a video of the band and told Seiji they’d be a good band to play Back From the Grave. This was back when they had the pay-to-play system and bands had to audition to play at clubs, so it was really hard for bands outside of established genres to get gigs. It was especially tough for garage punk bands because nobody knew what that was yet.

This was right before the psychobilly scene really got going and I was into that. Then, in the UK, there was this garage revival movement coming up and they often played with the psychobilly bands I liked. The bridge between those two scenes was the Cramps. I was into them and then when the psychobilly scene started winding down, I got super into the garage scene. Bands like the Fleshtones and the Cannibals and the Nomads were really kicking my ass, and all those comps of obscure garage punk from the 50s and 60s.

The representatives of that scene in those days was stuff like Dick Dale and Link Ray, nowadays really well-known artists but back then they were obscure, only garage freaks really knew about them. Jackie and the Cedrics’ did a Dick Dale medley on their demo and Guitar Wolf covered Link Ray. It was that Link Ray cover that really did it for me, but also just the overwhelming harsh noise of their demo. I wasn’t sure about it at first to be honest and I remember Yoshiko from 5,6,7,8’s was really surprised by it, but it was cool too.

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The first time they played BFTG… I mean, we had wild and crazy bands like Texaco Leatherman so wild and crazy was the norm, but Guitar Wolf went way beyond that demo or anybody’s expectations. They blew the fucking roof off the place.

Back when we were doing shows at Shinjuku Jam there was always an after party and I can’t remember a single thing from any of those many parties and I wonder why that is. There should be some shred of memory at least? We didn’t do the after parties at Jam… maybe a nearby izakaya?

Anyway, then just as now, the after parties were really important for bands. Sure, everybody spent a lot of time bullshitting and acting like raving fucking idiots, but there was also a lot of music talk.

We took a break from BFTG and were doing the Halloween show at Shelter and around that time I heard from Monster Go Go’s Hideo that things were starting to kind of happen for Teengenerate and Guitar Wolf overseas. People all over the world still talk about Teengenerate, even now. When Guitar Wolf went with them overseas on tour, people were asking if they had anything recording. So they sent a demo to Goner Records and (nobody could believe it), Goner put out their record. Then they came back to Japan and the name Guitar Wolf was known all over the world.

Teengenerate broke up and Guitar Wolf fell into the Less Than TV label scene. Around this time, they were trying to shoot for the majors, trying to kind of make it big. I was temporarily out of doing BFTG but started again with the Halloween shows at the urging of their manager at the time. Plus, I’d started working at Red Bird in Fussa and was booking shows there. From then on, I was pretty much glued to Guitar Wolf in one way or another.

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The last time I saw Billy was in Europe. I went on tour there at the 5,6,7,8’s and it just happened that Guitar Wolf was there and they all played together at a festival in France. Then after that, they played together along with some local bands in Amsterdam. Touring for months at a time was tough on Billy so he was really happy to have us all there. He wanted to show me around, take me to places he thought I’d like, like sex toy shops and the red light district. I remember in the red light district, we saw some ladies standing around, you know, and we approached one and she just said, “Fuck you.”

After that we went to each Chinese food with everybody from Skydog and all that and then we told each other good luck with the rest of the tour and we separated and that was the last time I saw him. After that, they had shows in Japan but they were bigger shows, not like in the early days, and I didn’t really see them except for at my shows. They were doing big tours and outdoor festivals and they did an American tour and came back and Billy died. So Amsterdam was really the last time.

I always think we should’ve hung out more but that’s how it goes.

Then, Guitar Wolf got UG on bass. He’d never played bass before in his life and he was stepping into some pretty hard boots to fill. But he did great and how he’s gone and they’ll have a new bass player. Anyway, we’re of the same generation and we just keep doing what we’re doing. Big thanks to everybody for all the support.

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