Bleach's index: CDs; Live shows; Interview

--Bleach (aka Bleach 03) are young and small, but they make a very large explosive roar--

BLEACH (aka BLEACH03) (Bleach will no longer be referred to as Bleachmobile)

Kanna--guitar & vocal
Miya.--bass & vocal (previously called herself Suke B.)
Sayuri--drums & vocal


Otokoichokusen (A Man’s Way) -- (12:06) -- (2000) -- Ripley -- RP-001

  1. Otokoichokusen (A Man’s Way)
  2. Namae No Jijou (Associations Of A Name)
  3. Yoi Ko No Machi (Town Of Good Children)
  4. Kobuta 28-gou (Piglet #28)
The first BLEACH release includes three songs rerecorded later on Kibaku-Zai. They’re rougher here, with slightly longer intros. ‘Otokoichokusen’ starts with two notes repeated on guitar till a galloping bass begins a rampage that concludes with a triumphant stomp. ‘Namae No Jijou’ features a repetitive riff, that taunts as it charms, though it too has an attack mode. More galloping bass and pummeling drums begin ‘Yoi Ko No Machi’, alternating between aggravated boredom, and furious attack. ‘Kobuta 28-gou’ has similar extremes, but more control of its fury gives it more power.
 

Kibaku-Zai (Triggering Device) -- (22:49) -- (2000) -- Ripley -- RP-002 (released in U.S.)

  1. Shikai No Haba (Field Of Vision)
  2. Santa Claus
  3. Kakumeiriyoushuudan (Those Who Profit From Revolution)
  4. Kobuta 28-gou (Piglet #28)
  5. Yoi Ko No Machi (Town Of Good Children)
  6. Koe (Voice)
  7. Otokoichokusen (A Man’s Way)
  8. Bleach Kaidou (Bleach Road)
This is a fine collection. Hardcore is a main influence, but there are many flavors and surprises, making this rollercoaster ride a broadening experience. Proficient? Yes, maybe even gifted. They kick hell out of their instruments, and all expectations. A variety of styles are harnessed, but the threat of another hardcore assault always remains. At the speed they maneuver, will the steering hold out? They’re young. They’re testing the limits. They’re gonna find out! Next we need a full-length, ‘cause these gals rock, and their path is not yet chosen.
 

Odoru Kubi -- (17:47) -- (2001) -- EMI/Toshiba -- TOCT-24616

  1. Odoru Kubi (Dancing Neck)
  2. Ikenie (Sacrifice)
  3. Dare Suka (Who Are You?)
  4. Namae No Jijou~live (Associations Of A Name)
  5. Santa Claus~live
‘Odoru Kubi’ and ‘Ikenie’ appear later on Hadaka No Jyuu. This mix of ‘Odoru Kubi’ seems bassier, and the wild background vocals are mixed higher. ‘Ikenie’, here, is a different recording and arrangement. Restrained at first, it eventually lets loose violently, which the other doesn’t. ‘Dare Suka’ is a nice BLEACH stomp, with a pair of vocals urging each other on, and a wacky break. The live cuts, originally from Otokoicchokusen and Kibaku-Zai, are rough and exuberant, not like seeing them live, but good fun! The cover, I believe, is Miya (then Suke B.) with a plastic bucket on her head. Good fun!
 

Furueru Hana (Shaking Flowers) -- (3:08) -- (2001) -- EMI/Toshiba -- TOCT-22192

  1. Furueru Hana (Shaking Flowers)

DVD
   1.  Shikai No Haba (Field Of Vision)
   2.  Odoru Kubi (Dancing Neck)
   3.  Bakuondashitai A-77 (Team A-77 Make An Explosive Roar)

‘Furueru Hana’ is a powerful song. It was released a month later on Hadaka No Jyuu. With it come three videos of BLEACH mostly live. The first two, ‘Shikai No Haba’ and ‘Odoru Kubi’ seem to use the finished tracks as their soundtrack, but ‘Bakuondashitai A-77’ seems to be an authentic live track with the live sound. It’s great to see BLEACH live, even if it’s not authentic. On all three videos the cuts are quick and constant. They’re matched well to the songs, but BLEACH’s songs are such onslaughts already, for the videos to try to ape their frenetic pace with quick edits is a bit much.

 

Hadaka No Jyuu (Queen Of Nudity) -- (24:46) -- (2001) -- Toshiba-EMI Limited -- TOCT-24697

     1.  Kemuri Kemuri Kemuri~Jiko0 Shibou101 (Smoke Smoke Smoke~0 Accidents, 101 Deaths)
     2.  Furueru Hana (Shaking Flowers)
     3.  Odoru Kubi (Dancing Neck)
     4.  Yowa (Scary Story)
     5.  Getsumen (Surface Of The Moon)
     6.  Ikenie (Sacrifice)
     7.  Bakuondashitai A-77 (Team A-77 Make An Explosive Roar)
     8.  Hadaka No Jyuu (Queen Of Nudity)
     ---(untitled)

Wow! I’m really impressed! Seemingly, they have yet to choose a firm path. That’s great. They’re trying out as many new things as they can think of, and at this point, I’d say they’re creating their own genre. I was surprised at the amount of jazz influence this time out, but with their technical chops it suits them well. Their range is amazing! The abrasive attack is still always a threat, but there’s warmth and beauty taking hold as well. Some of this is even quite catchy. Their potential is formidable. I look forward to their next aural adventure, and would love to hear them do a full-length.
 

Three Girls From Okinawa -- (31:52) -- (2003) -- Arrivederci Baby! -- CIA0005CD

  1. Width Of A Field Of View
  2. Baby Pig No. 28
  3. Bleach Street
  4. Kemuri Kemuri Kemuri (Accident 0 Death 101)
  5. Trembling Flower
  6. Dancing Head
  7. The Night Story
  8. Moon’s Surface
  9. Sacrifice
  10. The Explosion Sounds Party A-77
  11. Naked Queen
  12. Door
This is a U.K. release of Hadaka No Jyuu. Included are three songs from Kibakuzai and a video of ‘Naked Queen’. I loved both those releases; this is the first BLEACH CD over thirty minutes long; and I get a thanks for recommending them. So, yay Arrivederci Baby! BLEACH are an uncompromising band, with impressive technical chops, that mix hardcore with whatever runs out in front of them. There is an incredible range of catchy hooks, jazz riffage, astounding beauty, all of it threatening to give way at any moment to a vigorous pummeling. You’ll be sore, and you’ll want more!
 

Canary Teikoku No Gyakushuu (Canary Empire Strikes Back) -- (8:14) -- (2003) -- Highwave Co., Ltd. -- HICC-1615

  1. Taiyou (Sun)
  2. Canary Teikoku No Gyakushuu (Canary Empire Strikes Back)
  3. Howling
All three of these songs are brilliant, and though they all sound like BLEACH, only ‘Howling’ sounds like anything we’ve heard from them previously. They’re inching closer to a mainstream sound, but on their own terms, and if they keep it up, it’s awe inspiring to think what they might come up with. ‘Taiyou’ flows between a driving beat and a kind of sea shanty. ‘Canary...’ sounds like a European folk song sped up to the clip of an Irish jig. All three show the power of the band, and though that power is still threatening, they now seem more interested in building things than tearing them down.
 

Bleach -- (28:27) -- (2003) -- High Wave Co., Ltd. -- HICC-1715 (released in U.S.)

  1. Kuropen Bigaku O Tenshi-chan To Kangaemashita (My Sweet Angel And I Considered The Aesthetics Of The Black Pen)
  2. Sun-Dance--Moon-Dance
  3. Canary Teikoku No Gyakushuu (Canary Empire Strikes Back)
  4. Chousen (Challenge)
  5. Raikou~Kareki Ni Hana Wa Sakanai (Lightning~Flowers Don’t Bloom From A Dead Tree)
  6. Nils
  7. He (Fart)
  8. Howling
  9. Arigatou Gozaimasu (Thank You Very Much)
  10. (untitled)
Occasional brutal attacks remain, but much new ground is covered. BLEACH are expanding their rock toward the more traditional. They bring to it a rambunctious energy, that, and their formidable chops. The variety is stunning! Suke and Sayuri are as likely to step forward, and sound great when they do, but Kanna’s guitar provides some of the nicest surprises here. It’s a full meal, with many exciting new flavors, and the table will have to be extended. BLEACH is now catering to a wider audience, and the food’s so good here, you’ve got to figure that audience is gonna be heading this way.
 
Migi Mo Hidari Mo Shihai Suru Atama Wa Kyou Mo Niku O Kui Yodare O Tarasu. (Again, The Head, Which Controls Both Right And Left, Slobbers The Meat.) -- (41:08) -- (2006) -- Highwave Co., Ltd. -- HICC-2215
  1. Samurai Jungle
  2. Migi Mo Hidari Mo Shihai Suru Atama Wa Kyou Mo Niku O Kui Yodare O Tarasu. (Again, The Head, Which Controls Both Right And Left, Slobbers The Meat.)
  3. Headcleaner
  4. Torch
  5. Peacock No Housoku (Law Of The Peacock)
  6. Get You Ningen (Get You Person)
  7. Not Peter
  8. Kono Koro Fantasy (Recent Fantasy)
  9. Myakudou (Pulsation)
  10. Rock Ni Yobarete Iru (Rock Is Calling Me)
  11. Sketchbook
  1. Naname (Askew)
  2. Skull Saiban (Skull Trial)
  3. Ayashi No Yume (Fascinating Dream)

    DVD:
    1. Get You Ningen (Get You Person)
    2. Torch
    3. Migi Mo Hidari Mo Shihai Suru Atama Wa Kyou Mo Niku O Kui Yodare O Tarasu. (Again, The Head, Which Controls Both Right And Left,.Slobbers The Meat.)

This is one powerful band. Technically, Kanna’s guitar was the soft spot. Now it’s shining! With Miya, a master of the bass, and Sayuri, running like a motor, this band is growing in every direction. Their range now includes slower tempos with no loss of intensity. The technique is awe-inspiring. Kanna’s guitar and vocals shimmer, Miya screams her head off, and Sayuri keeps things pounding at a clip only they can keep up with. Some have said twenty minutes of BLEACH’s intensity is as much as they need. Here, at twice that, it’s a marvel. Plus, you get a DVD of this amazing band live!
 

Kien (Blazing In High Spirit) -- (32:50) -- (2008) -- Highwave Co., Ltd. -- HICC- 2615

  1. Jovovich~Dead Blood
  2. Gesshoku (Lunar Eclipse)
  3. Desuko (Death And Children)
  4. In Ghost’s Sigh
  5. Pastel Color No Jibun O Korose (Kill Me With Pastel Colors)
  6. Akuma Wa Tonari (The Devil Next To Me)
  7. Shokuzai (Atonement)
  8. Psycho Caravan
  9. Rakushite Kantan Fushiawase (Easy Simple Unhappy)
  10. Kyouki O Tabete (Eating Madness)
The structures of BLEACH’s songs are continuing to gain a certain weight and power. ‘Psycho Caravan’ is even a beautifully haunting song. If you’re a fan of this band, you’re not going to be terribly surprised by anything here, but you should be well satisfied. BLEACH’s usual musical decimation is scary enough, but they seem to have added some horror film tropes. These horror film elements even seem reflected on the cover. Or maybe what I imagine as a horror movie feel is just the way BLEACH’s growing beauty currently happens to meet up with their not infrequent furious sonic attacks.
 

Bleachstone -- (23:37) -- (2009) -- Highwave Co., Ltd. -- HICC-2815

  1. Worm
  2. Boku Ga Boku De Arukari (As Long As I Am Me)
  3. Night Of The Living Wood
  4. Inca Rose
  5. Kokoro No Moyou (A Pattern Of Feeling)
  6. Mikai No Ikazuchi (Undiscovered Thunder)
  7. Complex Ningen (Complex Man)
  8. Tsunagaritai ‘09 (I Wanna Connect With You ‘09)
BLEACH has left us with an even less predictable album than usual, which is certainly fitting. There are the usual violent attacks, the occasional stompers, and ‘Inca Rose’, one of the most beautiful songs they’ve delivered to us yet. It’s, for the most part, unmistakably BLEACH, and yet, it seems to be moving in all kinds of directions at once. I was hoping for a defining BLEACH release, but I don’t know what that would have been. What is BLEACH? Three gifted women whose music seemed to grow in uncontrollable, unpredictable ways. Bleachstone will amaze you anew, and show you once again the power of this incredible band. It will not answer your questions.


---LIVE---


Japan Nite 2001: Love Psychedelico/Bleach/The Jerry Lee Phantom/Heart Bazaar--Elbow Room--3/19/01
        Wow! It was a great night with four good to maybe even great bands, all of which got a good response from the crowd. It was well attended, almost exclusively by Japanese. That’s good and fitting. Still, I can’t help but feeling that non-Japanese New York rockers are really missing out. As the crowd left, Supervoid.com (who sponsored the show) passed out a free sampler CD with songs by the four bands and five others.
        I had heard of BLEACH, but was surprised to find that they were a hard-rockin’ all-gal trio. They kicked ass! The bassist and drummer were way on top of their game, and the guitarist was damn good, too. SUPER JUNKY MONKEY was the obvious comparison. BLEACH were nearly as good technically as that band. Their songs were at points as intricate as that band, too. The difference was that BLEACH were all-out screaming rockers. One of the results of their all-out approach, unfortunately, was that they had to retune the bass and guitar after nearly every song. Another drawback was that theirs was the shortest set. I was disappointed to see them quit so soon, but believe they did give their all. It was a jaw-dropping set!

Japan Nite 2002: Bleachmobile/The Salinger/Understatements/Bonkin’ Clapper/Nananine/Clammbon--Elbow Room--3/18/02
        Again Supervoid.com sponsored Japan Nite, and like last year, as we left we were given a various artists CD with two songs each by ten Japanese bands, five of whom had performed for us that night. 
        It wasn’t long before BLEACH emerged. In the U.S. now they’re calling themselves BLEACHMOBILE, to avoid legal entanglements with a Christian band, I believe. They’re three young women, and they kick ass! Their material seems to be growing in all kinds of directions, incorporating influences as diverse as hardcore, funk, and jazz. One song that the guitarist sang was bordering on beautiful. While she sang it, the bass guitarist jumped out into the audience and danced around with people as she played. When the bassist sang, she often seemed to be insanely angry, even theatrically so, adding a kind of horror aspect to the sound. When they rock, it’s one of the most powerful things I’ve heard. The drummer, Sayuri, is all over her kit, her hair shaking about in all directions at once. The guitarist, Kanna, is incredibly innovative. Her range of sounds and styles continues to grow. And Suke B., the bass guitarist, is the most amazing of the three. I overheard four different people, gushing about what a great bassist she is, and at least one of them was a bassist himself. The set was probably about half the length of THE SALINGER, but the range and power they achieved in that short amount of time was stunning. They had to be disappointed at the remaining size of the audience, but their reaction was to put on a great show for those who stayed. It’s one I'm not likely to forget.

Japanese Girls Samurai Tour ‘04: Bleach/Petty Booka/Noodles/Kokeshi Doll--Knitting Factory--3/23/04
        BLEACH came out next, and Suke B., on bass, was sporting the Rock of Japan T-shirt I had given her. Thanks, Suke! Once they had everything working they launched into their set. Mostly it was material from their new, self-titled CD. I believe it’s the first time I’ve seen them live playing material I was completely familiar with, and it was a revelation. Their new, more complex, songs were handled smoothly, and expanded their range of sounds. At first Kanna, on guitar, seemed to be stalking her side of the stage, as if discontented with its limited size. Suke never settled down, jumping and twisting about and repeatedly bumping into her microphone, knocking it this way, that way, and over. When she used it for vocals, they tended to be blood-curdling screams, which added a certain amount of wild energy to the proceedings. Kanna’s vocals were more controlled, but no less passionate, seeming to threaten both beauty and evil. Sayuri, on drums, concentrated her energy on keeping the beats under her control, and emphatically slamming home the accents when they were needed. I was impressed to find that she was also the one handling most of the pop-influenced background vocals. Together, their accumulated technique is awe-inspiring. Combine that with the energy this trio puts out, and you’ve got a rockin’ machine that doesn’t wanna stop. Unfortunately, it eventually does stop, and it always seems to stop too soon, but who’s gonna complain when it was that good?

Aqui/Bleach/School Trauma Flashback--Trash--10/15/04
 
      After checking out LUMINOUS ORANGE at Siberia, I hopped the subway over to Williamsburg to see BLEACH at Trash, where I thought I had never been, but I think it’s the old Luxx remodeled.
        As BLEACH set up, I got more and more excited. I was recognized by a guy who praised Rock of Japan, and told me that it was how he had heard about the gig. He and his friends were up in front of the stage when BLEACH began testing their microphones, and then launched into their set. After a powerful song from their Bleach CD, they seemed to be urging each other to speak to the audience, and finally Suke B. came up to her microphone. In a sweet, gentle voice, she began talking rapidly in Japanese, and then, without a pause, they suddenly launched into the next song, and in that instant the sweet Japanese girl turned into an insanely angry woman, screaming into her microphone as if possessed. They are such an amazing band! Sayuri charges into a song, then stops and starts on the drums, and easily drops a flurry of beats into spaces that didn’t seem able to hold them all. Suke’s bass is always active, and at times, especially after a good screaming fit, she’ll sling it around, slapping and strumming at it, and making it do things you wouldn’t have thought possible. Kanna came out in a red hat, but it only lasted a song or two before she threw it to the side, and allowed her long, blonde hair to hang where it would. Her guitar ranged from strumming muffled strings, to power chords that seemed to fly off the neck of her guitar, and best of all are the riffs that contain both beauty and fire. The songs are powerful assaults, played to the limits of their intensity, and I’m just never going to be able to get enough of it, because with the wildest bass flinging of the set, Suke lets the strap slip off her shoulder, lays the bass against the amp, and the set is over. Every time, I’m surprised that it’s already over, but it’s such a thrilling ride, like the best rollercoaster you’ve ever been on, that even though it seems too short, you know it was the best rocking you’ll see in a long time, and even though you know they’re not coming back for an encore, you clap and scream to thank them for another great show!

Japunks Panic Jamboree #8: Spunks/Bleach03/Ed Woods/DJ Mammoth & MC Eagle/Peelander-Z/The Dudoos--CBGB--4/23/05
        It was still an overcast evening when I made my way over to CBGB for Japunks Panic Jamboree #8. It was drizzling once when I walked outside, and it rained enough that now and then somebody’s coat brushing against me was wet, but by the time the rocking evening, which was like a big party, was over, it was raining no longer. Tonight’s fun seemed to have been sponsored largely by Kaiju Big Battel. Throughout the night they were showing Big Battel movies on the side wall, foks from Kaiju Big Battel announced each of the rounds and which band was playing next, and characters from the Big Battel were walking around CBGB all night and often even joining in the mosh pit.
        Finally, the moment had arrived. BLEACH were up on stage checking their settings and connections. When it was time to check microphones Sayuri, on drums, and Kanna, on guitar, seemed pretty satisfied, but Suke B., on bass, began trying to tell the sound man to turn hers down, and then demonstrated why by screaming at the top of her lungs, over and over again. During the first part of their set, it actually seemed like they had turned Kanna’s microphone down more than Suke’s, but when BLEACH launched into their first number, an instrumental, it was a wonderful roar that let everyone know that they were in for a treat. BLEACH are a great band, and the mosh pit responded accordingly, going nuts during the rockers, and calming down during the softer, more textured numbers. The music covered a wide range of material from throughout their career, and there were a good number of songs which I’ll be looking forward to hearing on their next release. The vocals were shared pretty close to equally. Kanna’s were usually accompanied by a wonderful array of dynamic and often sweet guitar riffs which regularly showed that this powerful band’s range is continuing to grow at an amazing rate. Sayuri’s back-up vocals provided about the only pop aspects to their sound, and she kept her drums in submission as she pounded out her big beat. Suke’s vocals, we’d been forewarned, were always powerful screams, which regularly caused her face to contort as if her anger was completely out of control. At one point, a guy next to me turned to his friend with the comment, “The bassist is deranged!” “She certainly is.” his friend replied, reminding me of Laurel and Hardy. Suke’s bass playing was more controlled than I remember ever seeing live before, but there were times when she got a chance to let loose and really show us how she could tear into a run that seemed to use every possible note. She was also the only one in the band who I saw crack a smile the entire set. She smiled several times, and was obviously having a great time. The band was tight. The range was incredible, and best of all, perhaps because of a huge, slower stomping number in the middle of the set, they’ve successfully managed to nearly double the length of their set, and in this case, more is better. Everyone I talked to afterward was very impressed, and the people who had never seen BLEACH before were the most impressed of all. BLEACH’s records are great, but you’ve got to see this band live to truly appreciate both the power and the finesse they now possess.

The Pixel Panda/Bleach 03/Lebanon/Lozen/The Dirty Secrets--Lit Lounge--10/19/07
        Last night I was at an anti-CMJ show, and tonight was a CMJ show. This one mostly featured artists of Australian Cattle God Records. Guess which one was better!
        BLEACH 03 were up next, and it was great to see them again. It’s been a couple of years since the last time I saw them. I’ll be seeing them again at Bowery Ballroom on Sunday, but to see them at a small, intimate place like Lit Lounge was a special treat, especially since there weren’t that many people there, outside of the personnel of the other five bands. The people who were there, though, crowded around the front of the stage for BLEACH 03, and the three young women played through a wide array of their material. There were a good number of songs I didn’t recognize at all, so they were probably new, and then there were a good number of their most classic numbers. It was a great mix, and though I wish they had played a bit longer, it was certainly a good sized set, and they seemed almost too relaxed playing their music. Their songs come in all colors and stripes, and you can’t even count on them to color inside the lines. Usually it’s Miya, the bassist, who shouts wildly; Sayuri, the drummer, who sings the catchy pop back-up; and Kanna, the guitarist, who sings the ballads and wails a bit; but tonight I often caught them usurping each other’s roles. They don’t trade instruments yet, though. To end a frenetic run on her bass, a few times I noticed Miya pulling her hand away from the bass, and then slapping the strings from over the top of her neck. When Kanna wasn’t busy singing, she’d often wander the stage, still cranking away on her guitar, almost never looking at the crowd of people excitedly jerking about in front of the stage. During one song Miya ran out into the crowd, and then bent over, as if hiding, and concentrated on her bass playing. Sayuri kept the beat coming like a stampeding herd, expanding the band’s sound with her catchy vocals, and a few well placed shouts. Now and then, curious as to how much I was missing, I’d pull an earplug out, and marvel at the furious assault, and its sublime beauty. BLEACH are an amazing trio, with a range which I expect will keep expanding, but so far, whether they’re doing a hard-core rant, or something that sounds like an Irish jig, the tempo never slows down for long. I was disappointed when they stopped, and it was obvious that they were packing up, and weren’t doing an encore, but the show itself had been wonderful, and left me feeling extremely happy to have experienced it. I’m looking forward to Japan Girls Nite on Sunday at Bowery Ballroom, and I like Bowery Ballroom a lot, but to see a powerful band like BLEACH in a small club like Lit Lounge, is something very special.

Japan Girls Nite: Gitogito Hustler/Bleach 03/Noodles/Falsies On Heat/Red Bacteria Vacuum--Bowery Ballroom--10/21/07
 
      Wow! What a night! This special Japan Girls Nite ‘07, brought to us by Audrey Kimura of Sister/Benten Records, is only happening once, right here in New York, and was lots of fun, but then, I knew it would be. The crowd wasn’t that big, but it was OK for a Sunday night, and the crowd was enthusiastically enjoying themselves more and more as the night went on. Interested in getting an OK to photograph the event, I had warned Audrey that Bowery Ballroom was usually very strict about photography, so I found it humorous when I saw a bouncer, who had that night accused me of videotaping, pulling Audrey aside for videotaping her own show. Oh yeah, and I think every band told us that they loved New York, though one of the guitarists of FALSIES ON HEAT may have spit and pretended to heave shortly after telling us how much she loved our city.
        BLEACH came out and began setting up. Miya warmed up with some runs, her back to the audience. Sayuri familiarized herself with the drumset, scattering beats around the set and making small adjustments. When they started up, they ruled that stage. They ruled the night! Kanna sang the first couple of songs with a driven authority. Miya has simplified her bass playing a lot since their early days, which gives Kanna’s passionate guitar more of a chance to be heard, but even so, afterwards people were still talking about what an amazing bassist she is. On this bigger stage she moved like a wild animal. Her body jerked about in every direction, and her now longer hair flew about like it was possessed. She sang the next two songs, which, of course, is more like a wounded and angry bellow. By then they had proven a wider range than anyone could have expected, but next they were playing a slower song with Kanna’s guitar doing a disjointed psychedelic dance around a mesmerizing bassline that never stayed the same. Sayuri kept the beats coming, and once again proved herself a master, her startling precision seeming to land the beats before she had even thought of them. The set was similar to the one I had seen two nights before, but already there had been some changes, and the larger stage and the Bowery Ballroom’s fine sound system made them seem even more powerful than I think I’ve ever heard them. When they stopped to tune-up again, they once again ignored the audience, until Sayuri began thanking us and telling us she loved New York. When Miya finished tuning, she interrupted her, and then told her to go ahead with the English. Sayuri finished up by plugging their merchandise, at which point Miya pointed to the sign above proclaiming “Japan Nite”, and introduced the next song in Japanese. The material continued to expand their sound with new and old, familiar songs. It was a magnificent set, and I’d go see them again tomorrow night if I could. They just keep getting better and more amazing.
        BLEACH 03 would have been a satisfying end to the evening for me, but GITOGITO HUSTLER came out and finished us off with a rousing set of rock ‘n’ roll.


--Interview--


        In the early evening of March 23, 2004, Ryota Mori and I met Bleach, their manager, Nami Higa, and Konosuke Okumura, who helped them in many ways throughout the tour, at BLEACH’s Knitting Factory Tap Room soundcheck. Deciding that the club was too loud a place to do the interview, we returned to their hotel, pulled a couple of tables together in the restaurant, and settled in for a half hour chat. I had no preconceived notions what to expect from this wild rocking trio, and was happily surprised to find them all very sweet and pleasant. They all had some English comprehension, but generally preferred to have Nami, whose English was quite good, translate for them. Suke was the boldest, Kanna the most softspoken, and Sayuri the most reserved. They tended to keep their answers brief, but all three spoke their minds, and it was a genuine pleasure meeting and spending some time with them.

Paul: You just played South by Southwest. How was it?

All: Tanoshikatta!

Suke translating: Fun! Enjoyed!

Paul: You also played the Fuck By Fuck You show. (Some called it the alternative to South By Southwest.) Was that different in any way?

Nami translating: They didn’t feel any difference. It was the daytime, and outside near the railway. (Ryota later reported that Suke waved from the stage to the passengers as the trains passed by.)

Paul: How did the three of you meet?

Suke: Live house.

Paul: You were seeing another band?

Nami: Everybody was playing with different bands. (Then, after discussing further with the band) It was six years ago. Kanna and Sayuri were still in school. Sayuri was in college, and Kanna was in a special school for hair-stylists. Suke was working.

Paul: Were you friends before you began playing together?

Nami translating for Suke: At first Sayuri and Suke were friends, and then Kanna joined. Sayuri had a part-time job. Kanna was always coming to see her at her workplace.

Paul: What was your part-time job?

Sayuri: Convenience.

Nami: She was working at a convenience store.

Paul: Suke, you said you were working, too?

Suke: Live house.

Nami: Kanna and Suke were both working at a live house in Koza. It’s an area of Okinawa.

Paul: You are all from Okinawa.

Kanna: Right. Yes.

Paul: How is Okinawa different from the rest of Japan?

Suke: Attatakai!

Nami: Warm, nice weather (BLEACH are laughing and commenting)...time goes very slow.

Kanna makes a comment. about Tokyo.

Nami translates: We don’t have to rush compared with Tokyo.

Kanna continues her comment.

Nami: She said, they can be lazy.

Paul: What do you like best about Okinawa?

Nami translating for Kanna: It’s comfortable.

Paul: This is your fourth time in the U.S.

Kanna: Hai! [Yes!]

Paul: What are your impressions of the U.S.?

BLEACH discuss the question, and Nami translates: Active. The people are very active. Everybody, even the audience are very active.

Sayuri makes a comment.

Nami translates: There are lots of kinds of people living in the United States.

Kanna comments.

Nami: They can feel freedom.

Paul: Your sound continues to grow in very exciting ways. What types of music are each of you listening to?

Kanna: Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, PIL, Tom Waits, MORPHINE, nado nado [etcetera]...

Sayuri: Japanese rock bands. Saikin [recently], FLOWER COMPANYZ, BUMP OF CHICKEN, ULFULS. Japanese rock!

Suke: Terence Trent D’Arby, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, RUN DMC, and heavy thrash bands like METALLICA, ANTHRAX, SLAYER. Suki! (translates for herself) Like! (Then adds) PRIMUS band ga suki desu. [I like the band PRIMUS]. (Kanna and Sayuri laugh.)

Paul: Suke, describe Kanna in three words. (general laughter)

Suke: Pierced, red, boshi [hat] (Much laughter and Kanna’s exclamations of mock disbelief)

Paul: Sayuri, describe Suke in three words. (They comment amongst themselves the difficulty of the question.)

Sayuri thinks it over carefully, then says: Yohki, to sunao, to nanka jiyuu.

Nami translates: She said, a cheerful person, and honesty, and free.

Suke comments: Tabun, (and translates) maybe. (eliciting much laughter and a comment from Sayuri, “Uchi kara mita Suke!” which Ryota later translated for me as “This is my description!”)

Paul: Kanna, describe Sayuri in three words.

Kanna: Ookii koe.

Nami translates: Loud.

Kanna elaborating: Loud voice!

Kanna makes a long comment which Nami translates as: Bomb. She wants to say she’s like a bomb. She cannot stop her.

Kanna comments and finishes up with: Yohki.

Which Nami again translates as: And cheerful.

Paul: For each of you, What is your favorite movie?

Suke is first to reply with: Twin Peaks. I like Twin Peaks.

Sayuri offers: Stand By Me.

Kanna: Erabenai.

Nami: She cannot choose one.

Kanna considers, and then begins the decision by mentioning her favorite director.

Nami translates: The name of the director is Takashi Kitano. He directed Hanabi, Brother, and Zatoichi.

Kanna decides: Bandit Q (known here as Time Bandits, directed by Terry Gillium). I don’t recognize the movie by that name, so Kanna decides to change her pick to: Hanabi.

Paul: What is your favorite animal?

Kanna immediately replies: Cat.

Nami translates for Sayuri: She likes small animals, a rabbit, or a hamster. She likes small ones.

Suke: All. All animals, I like. Ichiban nai. [No favorite.]

Paul: What are your favorite pastimes?

Nami misunderstands the question, and asks them what they wanted to be before they became musicians. It turned out to be one of the best questions of the interview.

Nami translates for Kanna: She wanted to be the person who creates something, like furniture.

A carpenter? I ask, and Kanna agrees.

Nami translates for Sayuri: She wanted to be a stage actress, or a voice actress for the anime.

Paul: Have you done that at all?

Nami translates: When she was in college, she was studying acting. She had a stage role where she wore a pink, print housedress, girly costume, and she did a nice girl’s role.

Later Ryota translated an additional statement that Sayuri had made as, “It was a very different role from the way I really am.” and Suke’s response as, “I want to see those pictures!” (There is general laughter.)

Nami explains: No one has ever seen the pictures. She never showed the pictures to them.

Nami translates for Suke: She never thought about doing anything else besides playing the bass. (This is when I realize they’re answering a different question, and I ask it again.)

Paul: I mean, when you get home from a tour and you just want to relax, what do you do?

Suke: Ah, relax, neru [sleep], and listen to music.

Sayuri: Relax? Manga!

Nami: She reads a comic book.

Kanna: Eiga [movies], to [and] drive. Go to the ocean.

Paul: Do you have any message for your American fans?

They all agree: Come see the live.

Nami sums it up: They are going to come back to the States, so when we come back, please come see the show!

(Personally, I’d recommend you taking that advice. I think you’ll be quite pleasantly surprised. I’ve seen a fair number of people with their lower jaws hanging, and shaking their heads in disbelief after a BLEACH show!)

I thank them for the interview, and after a few more pictures they went off to get some rest before the show that night. You can read my review of the show above.

All interview photos, and the live ones included with the interview, were photographed by Ryota Mori. He was a pleasure to work with, and did a great job. Check out some more of his photos at SmashingMag.com.