KEMURI are ska-punk legends over in Japan and the US, jumping between the two countries creating hearty ska tunes since 1995, all while garnering a cult following across Europe.
For decades fans have been dreaming of hearing their sound on UK stages, and last month that dream became a reality as they took to Bristol, Sheffield, Birmingham, and London alongside Less Than Jake, The Skints, and Mariachi El Bronx. We talk with frontman Fumio about the tour, the band’s reunion, and PMA.
This is your first time performing in the UK?
Fumio: Yes! This is our very first time in UK and we loved it!
How would you describe your music to someone listening to KEMURI for the first time?
Fumio: I would say… KEMURI’s music is happy and positive! It makes you want to enjoy your life more!
In 2007 you disbanded, what made you guys want to take a break from the band?
Fumio: We just did not know what we should create as a band. We tried to be professional more than enjoying what we are and what we have, I guess.
You returned with a massive reunion tour in 2012. How was it coming back together after so many years?
Fumio: It felt natural. As if we were together the whole time. I mean all of us, including the fans.
In the early days of the band you spent a lot of time in the US. How did working and performing in the US compare to Japan?
Fumio: Well, spending time in the US is more challenging. Away from home and family and putting yourself in a different culture. That motivated us a lot and we performed and worked pretty well.
At what point did you decide to embrace PMA (Positive Mental Attitude)?
Fumio: Positive Mental Attitude started to mean a lot at the point that I almost gave up living as a musician.
I have asked myself so many questions and tried to face myself more than before. I decided to believe in myself more.
Your music careers have spanned over three decades, how much has the ska/punk scene in Japan changed since you first started out?
Fumio: I think we have more styles now. It is hard to classify everyone as a ska/punk band, you know.
Well, the bands are so good and very sophisticated now.
You’ve toured the world, what was the weirdest and best thing that has happened to you while on the road?
Fumio: The weirdest thing was we were denied entry to the US and the best thing was we made the UK tour with our brothers, Less Than Jake! Shit happens and also great things happen, as you know.
What music do you listen to while on tour?
Fumio: I listen to jazz a lot. Instrumental music is what I listen to.
This tour with Less Than Jake is one of your biggest international tours to date, correct? How does it feel to be sharing stages with such prestigious acts?
Fumio: Yes, it is! We felt very honored to be sharing the same stage. We felt very confident with what we do and also want to perform in the UK more!
Now you’re playing Europe, where do you hope your music takes you next?
Fumio: I want to come back and play in Europe more. After that… maybe Asian countries more. China, Korea and Indonesia.
Your best of album SKA BRAVO got it’s UK release via JPU Records. The album features re-recorded versions of some of your oldest songs, how was it revisiting tracks from as far back as 1997?
Fumio: Oh, it felt natural. The oldest song we wrote and the most recent song we wrote live together so well.
The lyrics and the music sound very fresh still.
Can you give us three reasons why people so go out and buy SKA BRAVO?
Fumio: #1 SKA BRAVO will make you want to enjoy your life more.
#2 SKA BRAVO will make you want to love yourself and your family more.
#3 SKA BRAVO will make you want to hate your enemy more.
For some people in the UK this will be the first time seeing of KEMURI, do you have any words for those people?
Fumio: Hello, everyone! We are KEMURI from Tokyo, Japan with Ska/Punk! Come sing and dance with KEMURI!
Photos and video by Charles Shepherd