Jumping in the night – Rock and roll in Fukuoka

This is Nakagami-san’s blog post about a trip to Fukuoka with Ruler. The original Japanese post is here

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In early January, for probably the first time in like then years, I went to Fukuoka. The last time was probably with Rockbottom. Over the last few years I’d set up some shows with Hirashima in Fukuoka for Raydios, Tweezers and Beat Caravan, but I hadn’t gone there myself.

The reason I went was to hold an exhibition for my photos. I’d held the show in Koenji and then got asked to do it in Mito, so I guess with Fukuoka, I was officially on tour. I could’ve just sent my photos and said do what you want with them, but Hirashima talked me into coming. Then, I figured why not make a live event out of it.

I tried to get Firestarter but they couldn’t work it out with their schedules so I asked Ruler. Ruler hasn’t put out a record yet but they’re drawing big crowds in Tokyo. I told Hirashima and then left the rest up to him. I wondered whether it should be a show with photos on display or a photo exhibit with bands playing, and ended up going with the latter since that makes it kind of a rare thing.

I went early so I could get things set up. Hirashima picked me up at the airport and took me for a massive bowl of ramen. I then set about putting up the pictures. Ruler showed up, helped me a little, did rehearsal and then went somewhere, probably a record store.

There I was putting up pictures and then suddenly it was time for the doors to open! I don’t know how that happened so fast. I also had the chance before the show to talk a little with Ishimaru from Pushers. I’d seem him at the Pushers show in Tokyo but we hadn’t really had time to talk.

During the show, I was talking to people looking at pictures, watching the bands, taking pictures a little, and drinking all in a whirlwind of activity. Actually, as far as the drinking goes, I had to hold it together a little more than usual because I had to tear down after the show. I usually didn’t have any responsibilities like that when I go on tour. But the pictures gave me lots of opportunities to talk to people who were there.

Everybody really seemed to be enjoying the photos. Just like in Mito, I thought it must be fun for them to see all these photos of Tokyo bands. I love traveling and talking to people all over Japan. Each scene is a little different with a different atmosphere.

Unfortunately, Okutaki from Banana Erectors and the Kakizoe brothers from Nervous Breakdown couldn’t come. I had pictures of them that I really wanted them to see. But NB drummer Nakaji was there playing in the Routes.

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The first band was the Naggs. They’re kind of an updated version of a 90s band called Plastic Man. They’d sent me their CDR last year and I was really looking forward to seeing them. They have a pop sound kind of like a Seattle power pop band from the 90s called Flop, but with a slightly unique sense. You don’t see bands like them much nowadays.

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I keep in touch with Sak from 5speed on Twitter but it had been a really long time since I’d seen the band. Not since the last time I was in Fukuoka. Some of the members had changed but they still had that great sound. I love that they hadn’t changed. This time, they really reminded me of Lazy Cowgirls. Just really good, unpretentious rock and roll.

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I’d seen the Routes before, in Kyoto. At that time, it was Nervous Breakdown’s Bancho on bass and Nakaji on drums, but after some member changes, this time it was back to the original lineup of Nakaji and Nishimura. They had the same psychedelic sound as their records do. Of all the garage rock bands in Japan, I feel like somehow the Routes don’t get their due. They tend to favor playing originals to covers and this really sets them apart from other bands in the Japanese garage scene. They have a bunch of releases and I really recommend checking them out. I reviewed their debut single in 2010 and you can read it here.

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I really love tv.orphans. I put them on the “I Don’t Like Sex” comp but I hardly ever get the chance to see them. The last time was probably at Koenji Penguin House. I first met Kurach when he was in the Hoovers and they opened for the Rubinoos in Fukuoka. I’d say tv.orphans is his most straight-up punk rock band to date. Their songs are just fast and no bullshit. Since the comp, I haven’t done anything else with them and I really should.

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Ruler doesn’t have any records out and it was the first time for them to play in Fukuoka but the crowd loved them. Of course, it’s easy to call Ruler Fink’s new band, but vocalist Otoya really steals the show. They’re going to put out a record in the US and I wish they could tour there, but it seems tough with everybody’s busy work schedule. It was tough even to just set up one night in Fukuoka. So, the audience in Fukuoka was lucky to get the rare chance to see them (sorry, I’m bragging…).

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I didn’t mention anything about the DJs yet but, to be honest, I can’t really put the faces with the names. They were all good and each had their own style. The DJs were supposed to be Mami (The Tuesday), Yuko (ex-Pad the M.P.) and Nut (ex-Banana Erectors) but it ended up being Mami, Yuko and Kurach. I think Mami was Banana Erectors’ first vocalist but I’m not sure. She looked at Banana Erectors pictures for a long time.

Unlike me, none of the DJs there fucked around or played goofy shit. They all played really good stuff and everybody had a great time.

That’s pretty much it really. The show was over and people were milling around and I started taking pictures down and then everybody started helping me. Then they were taking pictures with me, some with me with my pictures. Kind of funny, but it was really relaxing after running around being busy all night. I thought, this is the way a photo exhibit should be.

The after-party started around 1 and went past 3. I drank a lot and talked to a lot of people. I remember talking to Kido from Neil ☆ Uma (ed.: A Fukuoka band, I think).

The event was a great success and I’m so glad they invited me. At one point, Kurach was looking at pictures and he said, “Some of these people are gone.” Recently, two more left, Mark E. Smith and ECD (ed.: ECD is a Japanese hip-hop artist). It made me realize the value of taking these pictures. I don’t mean that the value of a picture goes up because the person in it has died. I’m talking about preserving the moment. I’m thankful to all the people who’ve let me photograph them and the many more in the future.

 

 

 

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