Breaking into the scene back in 2009 with the release of their first LP ‘Here Are Okamoto’s’, these rock ‘n’ roll newcomers are importing the sounds of classic Brit rock into Japan, giving it a new edge, and are now exporting it to the rest of the world. In 2010 they took it to SXSW, now, five years later, their rip-roaring music has made it full circle to the origins of it’s inspiration, the UK.
It’s your first time in London, how many days are you spending here?
We came here yesterday, playing tonight, tomorrow is the day off, we go back the next day, so not really much time!
What do you hope to do in that time?
Maybe go digging through vinyl records, we’d like to go to Waterloo Bridge too.
So do you collect many vinyls?
Yeah, many vinyls! (laughs) I hope we could make it back home y’know…
Maybe don’t get too much then, have you already got a big collection? Do you have any favourites?
Yeah, a pretty big collection! Hmm maybe The Who, The Rolling Stones, Pretty Things. Hmm (points to guitarist Hama) he’s the big collector of The Who records. (everyone laughs) I think he’s got everything! Like… this is the German 7inch single and this is the Russian something..and… things like that, he has it all!
So would you say The Who has been one of your main influences then?
Yeah it is, definitely.
What elements do you feel you have been able to take from them?
Hmm, I don’t know…I think every member is like the hero of the band, I think that’s a big point, the focus isn’t just on the singer. You have to see every member when you see the live show, you want to remember all of their names. I think that’s the main thing.
In 2010 you played SXSW? You were the youngest Japanese band right?
Yeah (laughs) we were!
What was it like performing in the US, was that your first time?
It was the first time, we were still 18 or 19 years old, and we just kind of went there and played like old music we all knew, we played that kind of style, so they kinda liked us, and it was really fun.
Obviously you haven’t played in the UK yet, but so far how is it comparing?
Yeah, it’s another really special place for us- London, British rock, it’s really big to us, so we knew someday we were gonna play here, but we didn’t know it was now, so we’re really excited!
Are you hoping to perform more in the UK?
We hope so, we really hope so! We are trying to grab the chance tonight!
How about festivals?
Yeah festivals are great, I dunno, maybe we’d go to a lot of small pubs, places like where Dr Feelgood and Nick Lowe played, we’d love to play there someday too, and hey maybe big places too!
In 2012 you played with Paul Weller on his Japanese tour?
AH YEAH! We did!
How was that?
Ahhh it was really amazing, he was so nice and kind to us. We thought like, ahh he comes to Japan and we’re just like kids, we thought he wouldn’t care about us but he did. He came to our room and said hello to us, stuff like that. We love his music, The Jam, we covered Slow Down when we were in high school, we like his music, it was one of the big things in our life.
You guys grew up in the 90s though, so did you have any guilty pleasures? Like Britney Spears, cheesy music?
(laughs) We still like Britney Spears, 50 Cent, stuff like that… Sum 41, that was…I dunno… we don’t feel guilty! (laughs) We kinda like everything that’s good!
So you released your single ‘Dance With Me/Dance With You’ last month, do you have an album in the works?
Yeah we’re working on it, we were planning to record in London, but it didn’t work out, but maybe next time. We were just recording before we came here!
Your last album was released in 2014 right?
Hmm yeah about a year and a half ago. We’re trying to make a rock opera now, like Tommy by The Who! We always wanted to try it, and finally we’re able to. Like a story on the album. We’re really enjoying making it!
Going back to your tour with Paul Weller, what are your fondest memories of the tour?
He was really watching our live shows backstage, that made us so happy! That was the main highlight.
Are there any words you have for listeners in the UK?
We hope that the audience can see that this kind of band exists in Japan too, not just the UK. Not just pop.
Words by Charles Shepherd