Something feral makes its way to all points rock ‘n’ roll. Seiji a.k.a. Guitarwolf, Toru a.k.a. Drumwolf and U.G. a.k.a. Basswolf comprise Japan’s Guitar Wolf and are set unleash their inner beast on this side of the Pacific. This ferocious trio touched down in Memphis late September and is set to prowl and stalk across North America equipped with a state of the art 12-inch vinyl titled, Beast Vibrator.
A moment of acuity and keen observation spawned this recording. “Everyone was looking at smart phones while walking in the street. One day, surrounded by the telephone junkies, the anger exploded in me. That was the moment the album title track “Beast Vibrator” was born.” Seiji believes there is a solution to the technological malaise of the soul. “Recently, I noticed people saying, ‘I want to be healed,’” says the guitarist. Instead, he sees the real need is a matter of energy, to become “wild beasts” and to transform. “Move your body, shake your body more and more!” he exclaims.
There is a well-documented Japanese fascination with American rock ‘n’ roll; both masters of raw intensity, colliding, yet distinctive. “It’s like a difference between King Kong and Godzilla. I bet the longing for King Kong motivated the creator of Godzilla. “The rockers in Japan admire rock ’n’ roll in America strongly,” says Seiji. He mentions variances between Japanese and American culture, as well as physical characteristics, so Japanese R&R has come through the filter differently. “It’s like trying to be King Kong but turning out to be Godzilla with a long tail. I’m one of those rockers in Japan, clumsy but aiming at one of a kind R&R,” he explains.
Seems appropriate that Guitar Wolf lands in the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. This relationship was established because of a demo tape handed over to a man at the end of a live show. “Six months later, a vinyl record of the tape was delivered to me. The man was Eric of The Oblivians, a founder of The Goner Records in Memphis,” he says. It was a place that accepted the band when no one else was interested. “Sometimes, some interviewers do not know we are from Japan and ask us ‘Where are you from?’ Then, of course, I answer ‘Memphis, Tennessee,’ ” he adds.
“Energy” is a constant with Guitar Wolf’s music; it reads like a science fiction novel. “When I was in high school, I had sleep paralysis, old hag attack … it seemed I was taken away to UFO and they embedded a chip inside my body. I write the songs when I receive the messages or the commands from the star,” he says and explicates further, “It might be a memory of the past of the aliens. The source of my power and energy is UFO and a cool Alien chick I haven’t met yet.”
There is further evidence of this phenomenon on Beast Vibrator with titles like, “EARTH vs. ALIEN.” Stories of time travel with “Mesopotamia Lonely,” a motorbike ride to “Sapphire City,” the power of “Magma Nobunaga,” the prophetic “Gasoline Lullaby,” the motivation of “Ghost You,” and technological love story with “Maria Robot,” to the ferocity of “Female Machine Gun.”
Science Fiction is evident; distortion obliterates and lays waste to the doubt of non-believers of the robust power. “There are two types of human beings in the world: Ones who can play the guitar with clean sound and ones who can’t. I’m the one who can’t,” he says, “I’m the one who wants to destroy the sound. I guess those of us who like noise and distortion want to explode ourselves all the time. That’s right, the rockers who rode on such a sound were always exploding.”
Guitar Wolf live is a transformational experience. A connective ritual and Seiji is the master of ceremonies, harnessing and molding the energy. “Of course! You haven’t looked at the movement of my throat when I gulp down a beer. It’s the Morse code. I’m sending a message to everyone, “Fire up tonight!”
Get set to create, build and destroy with Guitar Wolf at the Rickshaw Theatre October 9th.
By tiina liimu
Photo: Takayuki Mishima