Editor's note: Zac Bentz has been writing about the fringe of modern Japanese music for many years, covering hundreds of bands both in print and on the web, including his own ZB’s A-Z of J-Music. He’s also a musician, graphic designer and pet owner. Bother him on Twitter.
Being a film geek is easy. Being a comic book geek is easy. These days, even being an anime geek is easy. But things start to get a bit tricky when it's bleeding-edge Japanese indie rock that you're after.
Sure, you might get a taste now and then if you're a hardcore anime otaku, but even then you're not getting an accurate feel for what's going on in the sweaty back alley clubs of Tokyo or Osaka. For that, you need to dig deep and have a passion for chasing down the ghostly hints of guitar feedback humming just beyond the horizon. Word of mouth from fellow fans is stronger than any billion dollar PR machine when that machine speaks a foreign language.
For many people, the first taste of what Japan has to offer came from the band Shonen Knife. The all-girl punk rock trio has been not only rocking non-stop for over 30 years, but they've also been touring the world for most of that time. They sing in English and are the perfect blend of foreign and familiar.
“I first got into Japanese music via a discarded Shonen Knife CD, Let's Knife, in maybe 1996 or so. I fell in love with them, because that is the correct reaction to Shonen Knife” says Daniel Robson, a Tokyo-based writer, event organizer and host of It Came From Japan. “After that, a Japanese college friend started recommending some other cool bands to me and I fell in love with some of them, too.”
Robby Takac (of the Goo Goo Dolls) founded the American label Good Charamel Records, which took Shonen Knife into their roster. “Once we began working with Shonen Knife we began to discover many other original and exciting bands in Japan and began courting female fronted rock bands to release to North American audiences...Each time we are introduced to another act, we are blown away by the originality and the unique angle the bands approach their music from.” FULL POST