GARAGE ROCK! GARAGE PUNK! ROCK’N’ROLL!
“Garage Rockin’ Craze” is a music documentary based around Tour-de-France cycling fanatic Daddy-O-Nov and his other enthusiasm, rock and roll. Through many trials and tribulations, he’s gathered together a family of bands around his events, nights and enthusiasm. He’s helped evolve a Tokyo garage punk explosion, where age, polite speech or respect for elders, in the Japanese context, is irrelevant. Insane good time vibes, with the whiff of the dangerous has brought these beautiful people together in an atmosphere of camaraderie and occasionally fisticuffs, which is all part of the licensed misrule vibe. Freedom loving rock and roll can dangerous, with all the high energy adrenalized sensations, but it also gathers up the big hearts of the bands and the fans! The maestro, Daddy-O-Nov, had gone through the whole gamut of musical genres, as he has been an avid music collector since childhood. When he stumbled upon garage rock, and its trashier offspring, garage punk, he embarked upon an epic search to find bands in Tokyo, who played such music.
Garage Rockin Craze is screening at the 19th Japan Film Fest Hamburg
He also went digging into the annals of Japanese rock and roll to discover a hidden horde of ‘Group Sound’ nuggets from the late 1960s. Group Sound is the 1960s Japanese response to two important bands that toured Japan in the 1960s. Instrumental rock and roll band The Ventures toured in 1965 and then the global phenomenon that was The Beatles, who toured in 1966. These touring extravaganzas kicked off the explosion of Japanese ‘Group Sound’ bands. The chart bound Group Sounds, according to fellow garage DJ and former musician Jimmy Mashiko, was light stuff. The tunes and bands that didn’t make it to topper-most of the charts, turned out to be the most interesting. These obscurer gems started to be re-issued in the 1970s and 1980s. The Out Cast, The Jaguars, The Spiders, The Carnabeats; fuzz laden groovy rock and roll tunes or scorching instrumentals.
Ironically, it was the British Invasion in the USA that kicked off the initial phase of garage rock as a genre in itself, with bands such as The Standells, The Chocolate Watchband, The Seeds, The Sonics etc…who formed a more direct, snotty, stomping rock and roll response to the lads from Merseyside. The mid-60s garage explosion was inspired by bands like The Beatles, The Animals, Them, The Kinks and The Yardbirds, but its home-grown foundation was already in place! The primitivism of Bo Diddley, the high energy mania of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, the perfect concise pop tunes of The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly, the rockabilly of Eddy Cochrane, Gene Vincent and Link Wray, as well as The Ventures and the surf guitar instrumental explosion of the early 60s, with the Girl Group pop symphonies.
The sleazier side of garage ethos slimed into action in the late 70s, when the punk explosion collided with some of these more retro forms. Perhaps the band that reflected the Japanese taste for sleazy trashy garage punk is The Cramps, with their surf, horror and rockabilly vibes; their witty trashy lyrics and the occasional moment of fuzz mania. Daddy-O- Nov went on the lookout for such outfits in his home city of Tokyo. There was a brief Group Sound revival in the 1970s, but when punk exploded, it was time for the Tokyo bands to create their own hybrid of punk Group Sound vibes. Daddy-O-Nov discovered his crazy bands and he kicked off his ‘event’ “Back From The Grave”! Daddy-O- Nov took inspiration from Tim Warren’s classic compilations of 1960s primitive lo-fi garage trash. The Back From The Grave compilations are a glory of inept wannabes, deranged novelty records, and all out screaming rock and roll.
Mario Cuzic and B.B. Clarke document Daddy-O’s odyssey into Tokyo’s rock and roll explosion from the 1980s onwards, with high definition interviews, with the various movers and shakers, as well as the important bands in the developing scene. They offset the witty stories of the players with gloriously raw lo-fi footage of the bands in action. They mix up archive footage from the late 1970s onwards, with live footage which the documentary makers filmed themselves, at various events from 2011 to 2016. The bands blast out their goods, performing within an inch of their lives! Cuzic and Clarke slot in slices of stock footage to hammer home some of the stories. Cuzic and Clarke have woven together an exciting documentary film that flicks between professional filmmaking and the more primitive off the cuff raw live footage from gigs; this is apt for the genre. The raw film of one of the band members getting ready to rumble with the audience is gloriously absurd, as he pronounces his love of violence! There are no voice overs, just the protagonists speaking. B.B. Clarke guides the bands, DJs and promoters excellently, bringing out the deranged nature of the scene; the wit of the bands, the absurdities and the overall fun of the experience of rock and roll into a crazy narrative.
Informal fraternity within a formal society
It is the sense of belonging and comradeship that really starts to shine its way through the various narratives; this is of most intriguing aspect of the film. B. B. Clarke has coaxed out some really interesting observations from the band members. The bands are in rock and roll competition with each other, but there is an unusual sense of family and respect between them all, without any need for the cultural formalities and etiquette requires in general day-to-day interaction within Japanese culture. I’ve never been to Japan, and I have no understanding of the various cultural norms, but what shines through is that many of the bands, especially the younger artists, is that they can find an escape from such norms with Daddy-O-Nov’s garage rock extravaganzas. They all find the events equally strange, somewhat bizarre and exciting too. The occasional eruption into brawling is equally strange to some of the younger bands, but adds to the excitement. Daddy-O-Nov is man who seems not to give a fuck, apart from what really matters, exhilarating rock and roll! What is fascinating is the strong sense of respect, love and bond, through this licenced misrule and the absence of polite cultural formalities in Daddy-O-Nov’s garage rock zone! One of the absurdities is that some of the bands started out in straight hard-core punk bands, but still had to bow to elders within the scene, which seems completely weird considering the nature of the genre. Once the bands had gone garage and played Daddy-O-Nov’s club night’s, bowing is considered the height of uncool in the garage punk sleazy atmosphere, which was still a surprise to those fiery punks. All out adrenalized rock and roll is what is important, so the bands have to show everything they’ve got, either from stomping tunes to insane stage performances. They have to have some hook or quirk to make it onto the scene, the sheer effort many of the bands make with their image is fascinating. Some bands go for ‘we’ll just wear underpants’ look, where others are looking groovy and chic. Every band needs to have its individual handle, so there is much effort looking striking onstage, as well being a cool or crazy rock and roll band, depending on the affectation. In typical independent filmmaking style, it has taken Cuzic and Clarke many years to film, write, produce and edit the film. It’s taken at least 6 years, in between their own day jobs, gathering the equipment, gathering up volunteer camera folk at gigs, as well as pinning down the bands, promoters and DJs to create this superb slice rock and roll documentary filmmaking. In terms of other music docs, “The Beatles Anthology” documentaries seem like basic template, but they’ve given it an indie guerrilla filmmaking twist. They allow the bands to speak for themselves, through guided questioning that is not featured in the film itself, great footage of the artists, and some stock footage for context. The D. A. Pennebaker fly-on-the-wall style is another good method for music documentaries, but that is better for individual artists/bands rather than a whole mass of crazy bands.
Mr Death introduces the film, glorifying the virtues of Japanese garage punk, primitive rock and roll and the Back From The Grave ethos! Go-Go dancing, titty shaking and great bands! Guitar Wolf, The 188.8.131.52s, Teengenerate, Jackie And The Cedrics and Supersnazz; all these top garage bands grew out of the Back From The Grave scene. There’s a whole horde of other great Japanese bands, less well known internationally, that are all guided by the Back From The Grave Svengali, Daddy-O-Nov! He started the event with the magnificently deranged Texaco Leatherman, to introduce them to the Japan and the world. Daddy-O-Nov finally achieved his aim, and what a concoction of magnificent creatures Texaco Leatherman truly are! Right from the go, in between Mr Death’s monologue, there is a montage of crazy footage of numerous bands rocking and rolling, assaulting the viewer with images of wild rock and roll, with the artists in various states of excitable derangement. There is also a mind-bending multiplicity of wild band outfits. There are many high concept band images even though this is a lo-fi primitive rock and roll genre, paradoxical and beautiful. House DJ Jimmy Mashiko plays the primitive vibes in-between the on-stage carnage; a pride of Japan and one of the gurus of the garage! Mr Death himself has the honour of being part of the Back From The Grave family as a fez festooned DJ, wearing his smoking jacket and Buddy Holly specs, one crazy dude!
Mr Death speaks about Back From The Grave!
‘From this spectacular event a plethora of perverted, weird and strange bands, that play internationally, yet still remain underground’!
Punk band Jet Boys with permanently young singer/guitarist Ono-Ching first met Daddy-O-Nov about thirty years ago at a hard-core punk event called Emotional Market at Shinjuku Jam Studio, that Daddy-O-Nov was promoting. The film cuts from Ono-Ching saying he’s getting old to a witty slice recent footage of him playing a gig, semi naked in his underwear, his lithe torso and tattoos on show, as he grates a corn cob on his guitar, onstage, saying that he met him back in 1982/83. From other footage Ono-Ching, wears a red boiler suit, varying his stage attire. If he’s been rocking over thirty years he’s weathered very well, he still looks like a young man.
Seiji of Guitar Wolf first met Daddy-O-Nov when he was in his twenties and Daddy-O-Nov was already in his thirties. Seiji considered whether Daddy-O-Nov was too much of an old fart to be involved in rock and roll!
Seiji ‘This little guy who looks like someone’s dad comes up to me and says ‘I’m Nov’!’
Seiji says it was Enocky, the Japanese surf guitar God from Jackie And The Cedrics, who introduced the two major garage punk players. Seiji consider Enocky his guitar master. Seiji is the uber cool cat of the garage punk scene. He’s leather clad, Gene Vincent style, usually with his cool shades on, in the fashion of The Velvet Underground. Seiji is a mean, lean rock and roll machine.
Jackie And The Cedrics are positively old school in their interviews, all in green sports jackets, smart trousers and dickie bows, the classic look for a classic instrumental style band. Enocky wittily observes that Daddy-O-Nov is always hanging around kids in their teens and twenties. Everybody else grows up and becomes more mature, Daddy-O-Nov just continues to put on his fun rock and roll nights, he has a gusto for life!
Rockin’ Jellybean of Jackie And The Cedrics makes some interesting observations, especially for an international audience.
‘Here in Japan there’s always this…well…pervading ‘Japanese-ness’…even with bands and punk rock, you bow to your seniors…The DJs world is like that, too. Garage is the only scene without that… even though daddy-o is the oldest and has been doing it the longest, he’s always getting pushed around ‘Oi! Daddy-O’, like that! That guy everyone loves to pick on. You could say the garage scene is more like America than Japan over here’
Miracle Kiss of Jackie And The Cedrics considers Daddy-O-Nov to be a sweetie who isn’t concerned with pecking orders. The entire band agree that this makes him particularly cool and somewhat unusual. As they talk, there is cool footage of Jackie and the Cedrics in action, surf guitars to the fore, as well as Daddy-O-Nov goofing round, accentuating his respectability. There is an egalitarian sense of mischief, piss taking and fun on the Japanese garage scene.
Leather clad rock and roller Eddie Legend of the Mad 3 has a more mythological take on the maestro.
‘Daddy O is a freak. You could say he’s a monster or…a beast. It is obvious he is different from normal humans. A monstrous presence out of folklore, a yokai! A yokai that happens to love rock and roll…He’s always got his feelers out seeking out for new and interesting things. I think because he’s got that energy, that he was able to organise the garage scene’
There is footage of the Mad 3 over the course of several years of filming with various hairstyles, cool vintage gear and high energy vibe that intercuts with the interview of Eddie. Wearing his Damned T-Shirt and Cramps case, Eddie has the philosophical sleazy punk aura about him.
The Word Spreads
The garage heads started to notice the Back From The Grave night advertised in a local gig information magazine. Named after the infamous garage compilation, the aficionados wanted to check out this new mysterious night. This is how Enocky of Jackie And The Cedrics discovered the roar of the garage scene. Guitar wolf recollects the original Back From The Grave events back at Shinjuku Jam as ‘weird, strange’. There is superb footage of Guitar Wolf, back at the time when Seiji was playing his Link Wray style longhorn Danelectro guitar. This very groovy grainy footage, with the leather clad garage maverick is in his trademark shades looking particularly supercool.
Seiji ‘It was like a secret society. Secret shows, night after night…that was the vibes’!
Cycling And Garage Punk?!
Toko of Toko Black wittily dissects Daddy-O-Nov’s new obsession away from rock and roll, his love of bikes, cycling and the Tour-De-France. There’s footage of Daddy-O-Nov in his yellow jersey cycling his way around the streets of Tokyo. Not unlike his rock and roll obsession, he has deep knowledge of the cycling scene. He even ended up in Europe, cycling, making it into the newspapers in Spain! Daddy-O-Nov is a true good time obsessive!
In-between footage of garage rock bands going wild, there’s Daddy-O-Nov’s demolishing a bathroom with some heavy tools. A grafting workman through the day, he then gets onto a bike for his for his evening cycling tour, then onto rock and roll! Daddy-O-Nov’s is a busy man!
Enter Texaco Leatherman
Now the scene switches to perhaps the most eccentric, if not the wildest, deranged band on the Japanese garaged punk scene, Texaco Leatherman! The front-man in shades, headband, 70s style polo shirt and shorts tells the tale, his comrades in insanity, sit listening. One is covered up in a big hoodie. One long haired dude sits in his underwear. Another dude, has his jeans on, but is bare chested and wears shades. Among these strange and crazy characters, is a beautiful rose, an elegant and pretty lady, who sits comfortably and dresses sharp. The wannabe Bjorn Borg talks about Daddy-O-Nov
Mokkos Europe ‘He’s the one who built the garage scene here!’
And he sparks up a cigarette!
The mysterious hooded figure regales
‘Back from the grave is…Nov putting on the bands he likes’
Daddy-O-Nov openly admits that he got the Back From The Grave name from the seminal garage rock compilation by Tim Warren. Daddy-O-Nov got to know all the bands once he started his events. DJ, Jimmy Mashiko, put on an event called Garage Rockin’ Craze before Daddy-O-Nov with his garage night. Jimmy was also in a neo-GS band called Twenty Hits, so he had the garage vibes in his blood.
Mr Death explains that Jimmy Mashiko is an important figure in the creation of the garage scene, and now Mr Death, Jimmy and Daddy-O-Nov all work together in the cause of garage punk. The footage now switches to full on retro style, mod-garage, neo-GS band, The Shallows. They are all decked out in groovy gear and they are going for that full on beat-garage 66 sound, playing the GS classic We Are Mops. Jimmy Mashiko gives a history lesson about rock and roll in Japan, with the arrival of The Ventures and then The Beatles. The GS sound was influenced by the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, as well as instrumental music of The Ventures and Dick Dale. Jimmy says that back in the day, if a band got signed, they had to play the songs the label writers came up with, which were inoffensive pop tunes that lacked gusto. In the 1980s, Susuma Kurosawa put together a discography and he self-published a book about obscure Group Sound bands. These groups were very groovy and wore wild exciting clothes. Jimmy contacted Mr Kurosawa about these bands, as he was making people tapes of these obscure bands.
Jimmy Mashiko ‘He sent me a tape and the fuzz was very intense, the songs were all really wild. It seemed like something out of Pebbles (a famous 60s garage rock compilation series)’
Japan already had a home-grown garage scene, back in the late 1960s, that disappeared into obscurity, until the 1980s. The Shallows continue this groovy scene with their straight up 1960s influenced Group Sounds band. They delight in the fact their sound is based on these wild 60s vibes, but they all grew up on the more crazy garage punk sleaze of The Mad 3 and Guitar Wolf, so that attitude filtered into their more rarefied 60s style explosive sounds. They sound like a top beat garage band.
Daddy-O only later found out about the neo-GS boom that happened in the 1980s, with Jimmy’s band Twenty Hits and their Japanese 60s Group Sound colliding with American garage rock sounds, into Neo-GS rampage. When Daddy-O-Nov started to get into garage punk/rock, Jimmy was putting on his Garage Rockin Craze DJ event that featured some of these neo-GS bands, like The Phantom Gift, and Daddy-O-Nov became a gig fan. Through Nov, The Phantom Gift became aware of groovy The 5,6,7,8s and thus a scene started to grow through Daddy-O-Nov connections. Daddy-O-Nov and Jimmy have being putting on garage punk events for over thirty years. Daddy-O-Nov helped The 5,6,7,8s and Guitar Wolf into the public eye.
There’s great footage of The 184.108.40.206’s with their raw stripped down rock and roll girl group sound, wearing various outfits. The footage of them wearing Kato style masks is particularly fantastic! At an event called Emotional Market, at Jam Studio in Shinjuku, the sisters Ronnie Yoshiko Fujiyama and Sachiko Fujii started hanging out with Daddy-O-Nov and other friends, every week on Wednesdays and they knew everyone there. The girls recall everyone was in High School apart from Daddy-O-Nov who was 21, that’s how he got his name Daddy-O, as he was the oldest! Daddy-O-Nov recalls The 220.127.116.11’s were a Ramones style New York punk band at first, rather than a garage band, and this was before The Mad 3, Guitar Wolf and Jackie And The Cedrics. The two sisters from The 18.104.22.168’s remember the early days of Back From The Grave that most of the patrons (audience) were in bands, watching the bands at Back From The Grave! Small garage rock scenes’ across the globe seem to be of a similar ilk, where most of the audience are in garage bands, watching other garage bands, making it a global underground scene of musician-based garage fanatics. I know the situation is similar to the garage scene in West Yorkshire/Leeds. Garage bands watching garage bands at small events, in the back rooms of pubs. A cosy but fanatical audience! The footage of The 22.214.171.124’s in their masks is particularly cool. Jimmy has known Ronnie of The 126.96.36.199’s for a long time and has seen their development in an interesting, if not exotic manner
Jimmy Mashiko on The 188.8.131.52’s
‘Ronnie and her sister are real maniacs…their love of things long-buried away, exotic things, like titty tassels and stuff’
Jimmy remembers that the sisters watched an obscure video of an all-girl Japanese-American band from the 1960s and studied their band choreography, their dances and how they moved.
They are like archaeologists of odd ball culture from the 50s and 60s and bring back into the now!
Texaco Leatherman! Great 3! Back From The Grave!
Jimmy started an event called Garage Rockin’ Craze after the guitarist from his band formed another band called Great 3. Somehow Jimmy was persuaded to promote some of their gigs and he started DJing garage rock tunes at the event. Great 3 were made up of Daddy-O-Nov’s friends, and he found them to be fucking cool. He followed them around, being a fan. By chance, Daddy-O-Nov happened to see the insanely monstrous and magnificent Texaco Leatherman, where ears are instantly curdled and their live shows are positively dangerous. Daddy-O-Nov was so impressed by the deranged Texaco Leatherman, he wanted to put on an event around this crazy band. Daddy-O-Nov started Back From The Grave to showcase Texaco Leatherman. All the movers and shakers agree that there would be no garage scene without Texaco Leatherman. From the footage, the filmmakers filmed the band over several years and it can instantly be discerned that this is a mad, bad and dangerous to know outfit! Semi-naked thrills on stage, with the mysterious guitarist still masked up. The elegant bass-playing lady, shows off her fine body. There is footage of the band, where they are wearing more clothes, though the singer is going for the 1970s sportsman style chic, in his shades, completely crazy stuff.
Mokkos Europe, their insane front-man, got into The Pebbles, Groups Sounds, Nuggets etc… as an art student at Musashino university. He was initially in a hardcore punk band, whilst at university, but after drinking the garage strange brew, he wanted a garage band side project. Texaco Leatherman basically were a bunch of hardcore punks, who couldn’t quite get rid of their punkyness, but imbibed the garage sludge, so decided to do a sleazier version of punk, thus garage punk! They are not too dissimilar to The Cramps in attitude, ironic punks who preferred trash culture rather than nihilism and all out insurrection. Texaco Leatherman seem to have kept the nihilism and insurrectionary insanity though! The tape of the band in action is an insane, as you’d expect! Trashed gear, bonkers outfits, twisted snarls, high energy, and high entertainment. Mokkos admits that no one went to see their deranged early performances; even so, Daddy-O-Nov had caught their set and was desperate to put them on at an event. Mokkos thought Daddy-O-Nov was all mouth and no trousers, but when he got the event off the ground, with Great 3, Back From the Grave was born! Daddy-O-Nov was deadly serious about crazy rock and roll. Even Mokkos considered it shocking that two such bands existed in Tokyo and that they played at the same event! The filmmakers then cut to our eccentric hero brandishing a samurai sword on stage.
Mokkos Europe ‘Damn, this garage stuff is really fun!’
‘I saw these weirdos wandering round and was like, who are these guys!?’ Sachiko Fujii of The 184.108.40.206’s
They certainly left an impression on The 220.127.116.11’s, with ‘woah’ being an apt description, as footage of the band, in various bonkers outfits, doing various bonkers things, ‘they are cool’!
In typically eccentric style, they got their name by fusing horror films, S&M marketing and a love of Formula 1 car racing to concoct Texaco Leatherman as their band name. A perfect name to describe this otherworldly group.
Enocky says that Texaco Leatherman would always be on the bill in the early days, as the event was created around them.
High energy rock and roll band The Great Mongoose could only declare ‘what the fuck is this?!’ the first time they saw them play. The samurai sword particularly eye-catching!
‘The sword was stuck in the damned ceiling!’
Daddy-O-Nov’s method of band selection is a simple one, as they weren’t that many garage bands known to be around, he asked for demo tapes, so he could check out the rock and roll credentials. At the first Back From The Grave event, The Great Mongoose and Enocky turned up with their demo tapes. Jackie And The Cedrics became regulars from the next show! The Great Mongoose got their chance a few months later when they debuted at the event.
Enocky got his foot through the Back From The Grave door due to the unusual nature of his demo, it was a Sony Betamax video tape of the band playing, and unusually for the time, Jackie And The Cedrics were, and still are, an instrumental surf band. Enocky thought surf and garage punk to be from the same source, with his love of the tough instrumental sounds of Dick Dale and The Ventures. Enocky decided he needed to get on Back From The Grave, to show off his untamed surf sounds. Jackie And The Cedrics conduct their interview in their retro smart gig suits, but they play completely wild. Jackie And The Cedrics, smart but wild! Enocky’s vintage gear raised eyebrows among the bands, with his vintage Fender reverb box, an old piece of equipment, and highly unusual to see in those early gigs. Enocky became known as the all-round sage for vintage gear, knowing how to fix and maintain it. A certain gentleman called Kawamura was also an experienced expert of antique retro gear, who went to Great 3 and The 18.104.22.168’s gigs. A known antique amp maniac and vacuum tube amp geek, he’d make fuzz boxes and various boutique effects, and he’s the general go-to guy to maintain amps. Because of Enocky and Kamamura, bands could achieve that 60s distorted sound, the holy grail of garage sounds!
90s Tokyo garage punk
The leather clad Seiji of Guitar Wolf connected to world of Back From the Grave through Enocky and he knew he had to go. Seiji saw Jackie And The Cedrics, met Daddy-O-Nov and he experienced that whole weird world of garage punk.
Seiji ‘It was very mysterious’
Seiji knew he had to play Back From The Grave at all costs!
Seiji ‘I wanna dive into this movement’
Enocky introduced Seiji to Daddy-O-Nov. Nov got a demo tape of Guitar Wolf and he checked it out with Ronnie of The 22.214.171.124s, they were blown away, amazing sounds. Daddy-O-Nov put them on, they had the goods. Guitar Wolf exploded onto the Back From The Grave scene, a leather and shades colossus, burning out the ferocious garage punk. They started out there and they are still the rampant, what a band!
Daddy-O-Nov discovered and started to promote lots of decent rock and roll bands, such as The Great Mongoose and The Titans, things were taking off! Teengenerate, American Soul Spiders, Supersnazz, it was all happening!
Interestingly, one of the guitarists of Supersnazz, Tomoko and Fifi, ex-Teengenerate, now of Firestarters and The Tweezers, recall how difficult it was for bands to play clubs back in 1989. They had to audition and make the required patron quota (audience quota). The patron quota is a racket that is worked to death on the UK venue scene too, paying to play basically. This is the ‘privilege’ to play at a ‘prestigious venue’ that is basically a toilet with some kinda super-loud sound-system and an engineer. The promoter expects the band to do all the promoting for the gig too! Due to the racket style nature of the Tokyo rock scene, it was very hard for bands to develop a DIY scene away from the toilet venues, which is possible in the UK at least. If you have to promote your own gigs, you may as well cut out the middle man, and go DIY. Unfortunately, this was impossible in late 1980s Tokyo.
Daddy-O-Nov started Back From The Grave and his garage thing and he asked Teengenerate to play, which was a genuine surprise, as the promoter was going to do the promoting! That was a mind blowing experience for both Teengenerate and Supersnazz. The gig is about the garage, and if you have the chops and put on a great show, that is all that counts, Daddy-O-Nov will do the rest. At normal gigs, cliques gather in the clubs and pubs depending on the music genre the fans were into, and most fans would only see the band they’d gone to see and then leave the gig. This is an experience many bands starting out find for themselves, when trying to write original material. What made Back From The Grave so attractive was that it was an event catering to garage punk and the family of rock and roll genres that are embraced by the ‘garage’ A simple premise that really worked, and ironically it was the first time many of the bands got paid to play a gig! On the normal circuit, the band would have to cover the cost if they didn’t get enough patrons through he door, thus they were essentially paying to play, a racket.
Texaco Leatherman banned! Back From The Grave on hiatus!
After two years at Shinjuku Jam, with Back From The Grave, the samurai sword wielding Texaco Leatherman went maximum wild, up to 11 and they ended up getting banned from the venue. In an amusing interview, the band consider all the options of why they got banned. There were many possible reasons due to their eccentric craziness. Texaco front-man Mokkos liked punching walls, wrecking stuff in the green room, to get warmed up and move into the zone for a gig. They set off a smoke bomb at the Jam and the cops turned up, as the fire alarm went off. They tried to blame it on The 126.96.36.199s! The mad hooded, sometimes masked, guitarist finally remembered that he vomited on a monitor. It must have been a surreal scene, projectile vomit emerging from of his hoodie! That was that! They were banned from Shinjuku Jam and they had to pay for the damages. They’d never make any money, as they’d always break something at the venue and had to pay for it.
Mokkos ‘I wonder why we did that? I don’t know. We barely got paid for anything’
Texaco Leatherman inadvertently had to pay to play, as they kept trashing stuff at venues. Their earnings never covered the damages, so it came out of their own pocket. Their crazy dynamic rock and roll must have been worth the cost, as they’re still causing chaos today!
Daddy-O-Nov’s recalls the event was hit and miss in attendance, sometimes really busy, sometimes the bands played to the bar staff, it was a hard road. Daddy-O-Nov kept it rolling, until Texaco Leatherman got banned at Shinjuku Jam, and Daddy-O-Nov kinda lost heart with Back From The Grave for a short while, so a hiatus ensued.
The Rock Must Roll
Though Back From The Grave, as an event, was on hold, Daddy-O-Nov couldn’t but help himself putting on garage punk rock and roll bands. Daddy-O-Nov lived in a part of Tokyo called Fussa, an American base town, which gave the town an American style vibe. There was a club called Red Bird, in Fussa, and Daddy-O-Nov started to work there. He put the garage bands on in the club! It was supposed to be a Thai restaurant that inadvertently became a garage punk venue too! There is plenty of great archive footage of hooded bands, masked wresting guitarists, young bands freaking out, guitars getting trashed, a mustachioed man waving around nunchaku, crazy shit etc..
‘Red Bird was the fucking tits…’ Ronnie Yoshiko Fujiyama from the 188.8.131.52s and Toko from Toko Black!
He promoted Jackie And The Cedrics and The 184.108.40.206s in this suburb of Tokyo. The crazy Texaco Leatherman were back screaming into the suburbs. Guitar Wolf, Phantom Surfers would all make the trip. A load a classy bands in this little club in the suburbs, fun times!
The next generation of bands developed right from the start of Back From The Grave. Eddie Legend of the Mad 3 went to the second Back From The Grave and was impressed. He’d moved on from a girl-group style garage band, to his own more high energy Mad 3. Daddy-O-Nov remembers them being quite scary right from the beginning. They formed in 1989 and began to play Back From The Grave quite regularly. He’d occasionally play guitar for The 220.127.116.11s, or he’d just watch, if he wasn’t playing. Those shows were the embodiment of his adolescence!
Miyagi of Texaco Leatherman and ex-Supersnazz reminiscences about the mania for The Cramps influenced psychobilly taking off in the late 1980s, and things got rough. There were lots of fights, so he had to be mentally prepared see a show. Psyching up just in case a brawl erupted. Miyagi found the atmosphere of intimidation charming, and remembers that period fondly.
Of the next generation, The Saturns were the new kids making a noise. In their WWI style metal trench helmets, looking like they’re ready to go to the Western Front, they are a high energy Goliath of garage! Texaco Leatherman were impressed
‘Saturns…they’re fucking garage’
‘That kind of evil vibe’
The filmmakers catch some very cool footage of The Saturns in action, all bathed in red light, with their helmets, something very apt for the lost generation!
The 18.104.22.168’s remember Isao of The Saturns being a mega fan of the genre, always coming to their shows with Mad 3. He eventually declared he was going to form the band, and they turned out to be a very cool outfit. He’d been learning from observing and he was gonna take it to the next level.
‘They play hard and fast, very manly. Get in and get out’
Ronnie Yoshiko Fujiyama of The 22.214.171.124’s philosophises
‘A band is…it’s something that surprises and entertains people. I think that’s something a lot of people have forgotten about. The Saturn’s nail that and they’re a great band’.
Things get wittily nihilistic at one of their performances when Sachio the singer, with his two front teeth missing, proclaims and argues with the audience
‘Violence is supreme! Violence, motherfuckers! Fuck You! Get up here and say that!’
USA is A-Go-Go
The year Daddy-O-Nov took a break from Back From The Grave, many of his protégés toured the USA. Guitar Wolf, Teengenerate and The 126.96.36.199’s, Tomoko of Supersnazz mentioned that they played garage events in the USA. Wittily Fifi of The Tweezers, Firestarters and ex-Teengenerate says that they didn’t really play America, just New York and San Francisco and a few other cities. They played an event called Garage Shock which was really similar to Back From The Grave, organised by the owner of Estrus record in the early 90s, in Bellingham. David Cider brought all the bands he liked together for a big show.
Daddy-O-Nov recalls that when the bands got back from the USA, they started to get their own followings. The gigs started to really get stomping.
The Fly And His One Man Garbage now performs, playing his guitar and hitting the bass drum pedal and hi-hat with his feet. He’s in a suit, a massive fly head and a groovy guitar, insanity! There is now a long montage footage of the Halloween Ball, the yearly Back From The Grave event that Daddy-O-Nov decided to create. What is instantly visible is the sheer effort Daddy-O-Nov and the Japanese garage bands put into the event. Everything is meticulously considered. Mr Death says the Ball is a two day event every year, at various venues, though seems to have settled at the Shinjuku Loft, becoming ‘thee’ premier Japanese garage event. The energy and spectacle of the footage is amazing, a whole array of outfits and craziness.
Mr Death ‘Everyone thinks what costumes will we wear? What kind of show will we play?’
Essential questions to ask if you’re a Japanese garage punk band, playing this premier event! Punk outfit Jet Boys decided to play the event, after the magnificent Ono-Ching decided that the straight up punk and garage genres were more in alignment. Even though he’d know Daddy-O-Nov for many years, Ono-Ching shied away from his events. He thought his brand of punk might not be suitable. Times had changed and the amazing Jet Boys now play the event and now he loves it. Full on rock and roll!
Nov re-started Back From The Grave on October 31st, so he decided to make the Halloween event an annual event, as an anniversary event of the Back From The Grave phoenix arising from the ashes. There is some great footage of The Titans playing is white face paint, laurel crowns, then onto NASA space suits and cowboy hats, then all in black, with the odd beret. Then they are all in white, with bizarre masks, then all in red stripes! This is a fine example of the effort the Japanese bands put into how they look, as well as how the play!
Daddy-O-Nov contemplates that garage punk/rock views the world through music, horror, hot rods etc.… so Daddy-O-Nov Halloween bash is in keeping with the garage spirit.
The footage of the fans and the bands attending the ball is exciting and fun. It would be an event any rock and roll band in the world would love to play. Nunchaku wielding madmen appear on the stage once again, all part of the entertainment!
Young power-popped up rock and roll band trio The Fadeaway are the young kids on the block, stripy t-shirts, Vox guitars, high energy, the good stuff! Toyozo first experience of the Back From The Grave Halloween event,
‘What the hell are those people!?’
The Saturns and then Texaco Leatherman on stage! What a real mind blower for a young rock and roller.
‘What the fuck are those people? Also a fight broke out!’
Young Toyozo had never seen a fight and he was really scared, but the whole experience was memorable to the young lad and now he’s playing Back From The Grave with his mega band.
The new breed of rock and roll
With the late 80s/early 90s garage crossover in Japan and USA, one of the main band’s to influence the next generation of Japanese outfits were The Mummies from San Francisco, the crazy budget rock outfit, in mummy outfits.! Theee Bat are one of these new bands and they play in old style UK policeman style comedy helmets. Mika Batt couldn’t believe such a wild rock and roll scene existed in Japan
‘This is fucking intense’
She sees Back From The Grave like a school of rock and roll, with vintage gear, like Teiscos, the Japanese guitars from the 1960s and everybody looks cool. The 188.8.131.52’s were big influence on Theee Bat, and the Mad 3
Mika Batt ‘They’re so cool you can’t help but wanna cover your eyes’
Tsuneglam Sam was a young punk, who went through rockabilly phase, psychobilly phase and finally he fell into the garage. He is the singer in a new glam-tastic band called The Young Parisians, all glitter, shiny outrageous gear, a proper glam band in the T-Rex/New York Dolls style, with Ziggy Stardust like make-up. In the 1990s, lots of Sam’s friends were into melodicore, Green Day, NOFX etc., which he found boring. He couldn’t find anybody into The Cramps, Bettie Page or Ed Wood at school. Tsuneglam Sam was a lonely lad, but all this was an everyday part of the garage scene, which Sam loved when he discovered it and it saved him.
‘With Japanese garage punk, everyone is unique; every band is the only one of their kind’
Sam realised you can’t do the same as someone else, you have to find you own hook in this scene so Sam veered towards a more glam and good time sound, rather than an overt garage punk roar. He gathered up a gang, put on the outrageous clothes, make up, glitter and now he camps around the stage in platforms, looking magnificent and sending out his stomping good time vibes with The Young Parisians.
The almost Medway UK style garage band Vivian Boys see Back From The Grave as
‘The lowest point of primitive rock and roll’, which Honda Suicide of the outfit considers a special place!
With their big but simple massive chords, they stomp to the primitive garage beat. Tommy of the band didn’t realise a garage scene existed in Japan until he stumbled upon Back From The Grave in 1994, he was delightfully surprised. Honda considers that many of the bands have links to the art schools in Japan, unlike the American garage scene. The Great Mongoose, Jackie And The Cedrics and The Titans had links to Zokei school, Texaco Leatherman from Musashino school.
Rockabillies, Mexibillies, Astrobillies, Voodoobillies
The garage scene caters for a wide variety of genres and sub-genres; it is basically a rock and roll extravaganza, so all sort of bands are welcomed under the garage punk umbrella. The Drexel play old school rockabilly, with double bass, Gretsch guitars and quiffs. Daddy-O-Nov admits he is no rockabilly expert, but he digs The Cramps who blended 50s rockabilly with surf and 60s garage rock. Daddy-O-Nov is open-hearted to the rock and roll genres. Nov’s advice to the Drexel was
‘Don’t practice; let’s have a good time… Just having fun: that’s the Daddy-O way’
Not the most practical advice, but keep it stripped and primitive!
The bonkers Los Rizlas are Mexican masked wrestling influenced rock and roll band, with their surf guitar meet fuzz sounds and raucous chant like choruses. This is Mexico Japanese style! Nov considers them garagey rockabilly, they are really wild!
Los Rizlas, with their Mexican flags, masks, the occasional sombrero, a couple of longhorn Danelectro guitars, this are cool rock and roll. Los Rizlas take their Mexican affectation to the maximum, a great band!
Stompin’ Riffraffs and three girls and a guitarist, they have a surfy rockabilly sound, with additional Theremin overload. Daddy-O-Nov really digs their space-age rockabilly sounds. There is glorious footage galore of the band in a cornucopia of outfits, freaking out! They chew the scenery in their outrageous and campy costumes, sending the audience into a lather. They really enjoy the camaraderie of the scene, where bands and audience are like one big family. The Joker and three Catwomen is one particular eye catching slice of footage!
Instrumental band Bobby’s Bar consider Back From The Grave an egalitarian autonomous space.
‘Everyone there is truly free! No juniors, no seniors, everyone’s on the same level’
Ageless Intergenerational Rock And Roll
Enocky of Jackie and The Cedrics contemplates the garage zone!
‘Well, garage nuts, they’re underground to begin with’.
Age is seen to be completely insignificant on the garage scene in Japan. Deference is given a holiday, the vibes are what matter!
The snappy suited Minnesota Voodoo Men are seen playing an instrumental on stage, at Back From The Grave. The guitarist hangs from the ceiling or he charges into the audience. The exciting guitarist from the Minnesota Voodoo Men is in conversation with Enocky from the Jackie and The Cedrics. He asks Enocky if he used polite speech when he first met Daddy-O-Nov.
‘Of course, I didn’t know the man then’
Enocky says he always speaks politely to everyone, young and old. Yusuke Fabian of Minnesota Voodoo Men says he’s the opposite. He met Enocky when he was 16 working at Air Garage practice studio. He’d see all the groups The 184.108.40.206’s, Jackie And The Cedrics, Mad 3, whilst he was working and they were practicing. At 16, he asked Enocky if he could play a session with them. Jackie hadn’t got to the studio yet (the original drummer of Jackie And The Cedrics), so Enocky was on drums. Jellybean, the bass man, asked him what he liked and what he could play, so he says Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana! Enocky on drums, Jellybean on vocals and Yusuke on guitar, playing Nirvana! Years later, Eddie Legend says to Yusuke
‘Man, Yusuke, you were a cheeky little cunt back then. Never speaking politely…’
Yusuke, a true teenage rebel! Enocky says that they knew he was something special, a prodigy on guitar, so they could say they knew him as a kid; he got away with it!
Maki S, organ playing wizard, has been gigging in bands for 30 years. She has written lots of original material, but she wasn’t really into the garage scene, although she loves rock and roll. She met Daddy-O-Nov whilst seeing and playing with many different bands. Her daughter, Yakumo S, remembers that when she was in Junior High, Daddy-O-Nov used to crash at their place. Every week Daddy-O-Nov or Taka-Rocky might crash over at their place. Maki S says she would go out and leave Yakumo S at home, saying she was going to work. When she had gig, she would say she’s off to work, as it was easier to explain. Once Yakumo S started High School, she began listening to rock and roll on her own violation, through her own taste. As she got older, the places she used to hang out would overlap with her mother’s. Yakumo S had started playing guitar at elementary school and was learning drums by Junior High. As she moved into he later teens, she was bringing flyers home for bands looking for members. Hayato, a friend of her mothers, is a fan of the bands in the Back From The Grave scene, and her daughter become friendly with him. He introduced her to the sounds of Guitar Wolf and Mad 3. She’d listen to these bands at home and tell her mother about these wild sounds, it turns out they were all friends of her mother’s! Her daughter had become a fan of her friends from the Back From The Grave scene. Yakumo S went to see The Cramps flick Live At Napa State Mental Hospital with friends, she realised there were older men like Daddy-O-Nov, who had crashed at their place! Enocky was there, The Saturns, then she realised most of the people attending were from bands! Maki S couldn’t believe that her daughter had found her way onto the Back From The Grave scene. Maki S couldn’t lie anymore and told her that she’s been gigging around for years and she knew all the people she admired, so she started to get involved into the Back From The Grave scene, gigging with her daughter!
Everyone from their teens to those in their fifties plays at the Back From The Grave, a genre that attracts so many generations. Teenagers play in the same band as folks in their fifties
‘Rock and roll overcomes ages and generation’; Jack ‘Elovis’ Sato of The Tokyo Cramps contemplates.
‘Rockers in their fifties are cool just look at ‘em. Ono-Ching Of the Jet Boys. He’s really fuckin’ cool. He’s like fifty three or fifty four. Nov’s cool. Seiji’s fuckin cool, Seiji’s fifty. They’re all cool, all those old dudes are cool…but once you stop playing, then you’re not cool anymore, that’s when it changes, so let’s keep rockin’ until we’re in the grave!’
Jimmy Mashiko thinks Daddy-O-Nov has created a space that is easy for young people to come to. The scene might not be massive, but a passer-by will see, DJs playing the sounds, bands gigging the sounds and small but very enthusiastic audience loving the sounds. To make this space available for garage music in Tokyo is a real achievement. People who came as patrons went on to form bands. Folks share information and people make friends. That Daddy-O-Nov has managed to keep things going for over thirty years, which is a triumph in itself.
Daddy-O-Nov talks to young bands with no hesitation which impresses The Shallows. His success in creating a garage scene and then keeping it going is equally impressive to the younger generation. He treats people as people and he’s not bothered about the deferential polite speech thing, which particularly amazes the younger bands. The band has simply to produce the goods and Daddy-O-Nov will be happy.
Daddy-O-Nov enjoys the fact that bands really appreciate it when he gives them a shot at his Back From The Grave night. For a band like The Shallows, it was a dream to play the event. Daddy-O-Nov takes great satisfaction and happiness that the young band feels this way. It makes Daddy-O-Nov feel that it all worthwhile and it’s not been a waste, as promoting your own events, is hard work, but he can’t stop doing it! The only pressure on the band is just to perform well, but not to worry about patrons. Daddy-O-Nov will try sort out the audience, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
Garage Rockin’ Craze
Mario Cuzic and B.B. Clarke have created a fascinating portrait of a vibrant and exciting rock and roll scene in Tokyo. This is a garage punk scene that is filled with wonderful and eccentric characters, high energy sounds and a wild egalitarian space, where deference is considered uncool and anybody, of any age, can have a good time. The effort everybody puts into the events is astounding, and as the saying goes, this is the real stuff, rock and roll. I can’t think of anything better to say that other than that Garage Rockin’ Craze is a fucking great rock and roll film!