Guitar Wolf’s index: CDs; Film; Live shows; Interview; Tribute

--Perhaps the rockin’est band on the planet, Guitar Wolf’s live shows are wonderfully chaotic--

GUITAR WOLF

Seiji “Guitar Wolf”--guitar & vocal
Toru “Drum Wolf”--drums
Ug “Bass Wolf”--bass

Billy “Bass Wolf”--bass & vocal (sadly, died March 30, 2005)


Wolf Rock! -- (47:04) -- (1993) -- Less Than TV -- ch-36

  1. Wolf Rock
  2. Ace Of Spades
  3. Indian Guitar
  4. Apache Leather
  5. Red Rockabilly
  6. Mars Twist
  7. Shooting Star Noise
  8. J Jupiter Joan
  9. Machine Gun Guitar
  10. Jack The Ripper
  11. Rumble (unlisted)
  12. Gloria
This CD is a mess, but perhaps that’s the point. Seiji has claimed it was recorded in his basement. It was first released on LP by Goner Records in the US. You can hear the needle, so Less Than TV transferred to digital from the record. In the liner notes they mention how awful the record’s fidelity was, and things are only worse now. The band’s sound is distorted to begin with. Amazingly enough, you can still hear the individual Wolves most of the time, but it sounds like it’s coming from another room. Still, there are moments when this jumbled mass of noise sounds amazing
 

Run Wolf Run -- (36:00) -- (1994) -- Less Than TV -- ch-5 -- (released in US)

  1. Run Wolf Run
  2. Captain Guitar
  3. Jett Rock
  4. Baby Indian
  5. Kouya No Guitar (Guitar In Wasteland)
  6. All Night De Buttobase!! (Roaring All Night!!)
  7. Kick Out The Jams
  8. Rumble
  9. UFO Shakin’
  10. Thunders Guitar
  11. El Toro
  12. Wakusei Blues (Planet Blues)
This, their first CD, may very well be their best recording to date. It kicks ass. They don’t just rock. They pull out all the stops, all the time. Grounded only by their roots, the touchstones of rock ‘n’ roll through the ages, they pick rock up by the scruff of its neck and bounce it around the room a few times. Here they cover songs by Link Wray and THE MC5, and reference both Joan Jett and Johnny Thunders. There’s no subtlety here. This group is on a crusade to put the rock back in rock ‘n’ roll. Every song is distorted and rocking, full on, out of control. It’s an unbelievable sound.
 

Missile Me! -- (28:05) -- (1996) -- Matador -- OLE-219 -- (U.S. release)

  1. Missile Me
  2. Hurricane Rock
  3. Kung Fu Ramone Culmination Tactic
  4. Can Nana Fever
  5. Midnight Violence Rock’n Roll
  6. Link Wray Man
  7. Guitar Star
  8. Racing Rock
  9. Jet Rock’n Roll
  10. Devil Stomp
  11. Jet Blues
  12. Venus Drive
Here they are on their second CD and their tactics haven’t changed. This one doesn’t seem to have quite the same punch that Run Wolf Run has, though. Perhaps, having gone through the recording process once, the spark wasn’t quite as hot this time out, but they haven’t changed their approach. The bass seems up higher in the mix and the rumble takes some of the fire out of the guitar. There are no covers on this one, but the material seems just as strong. Every song rocks as fast and as loud as they can get it to go
 

Planet Of The Wolves -- (37:04) -- (1997) -- Matador -- OLE 248-2 -- (U.S. release)

  1. Kawasaki ZII 750 Rock ‘n’ Roll
  2. Planet Of The Wolves
  3. Invader Ace
  4. Motor Cycle Leather Boy
  5. Far East Man
  6. Wild Zero
  7. Planet Heart
  8. Energy Joe
  9. Jett Love
  10. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
  11. Kung Fu Ramone’s Passion
  1. Let’s Get Hurt
  2. All Through The Night Buttobase!! (Roaring All Through The Night!!)
  3. Rumble
This is an impressive release. No, they haven’t changed their all-out, no-holds-barred attack on rock as we know it, but they are throwing a few curve balls into the mix. There’s more riffing going on here. Their arrangements have more definition, and the sound has filled out to make room for it all. The title song even has wind sound-effects. They’ve added THE ROLLING STONES as a touchstone, and decided to have a crack at Link Wray’s ‘Rumble’. The expanded arsenal of tricks hasn’t added any real subtlety, thankfully, but it has brought out their growing song-writing skills.
 

Kaminari One (Thunder/Lightning One) (45) -- (6:28) -- (1098) -- Less Than TV -- CH-53

  1. Kaminari One (Thunder/Lightning One)
  2. Captain Guitar
  3. Slow Down
‘Kaminari One’ was redone for Jet Generation, though the changes are small enough to have possibly taken place in a remix. ‘Captain Guitar’ is cleaned up substantially from its appearance on Run Wolf Run. There it sounds like an overpowering sonic blast. Here it’s a classic sounding, rough and tumble, rock ‘n’ roll song. Which brings us, fittingly enough, to the only appearance of Carl Perkins’ ‘Slow Down’ on a GUITAR WOLF record. Billy often sang the covers, and he sings this one. The actual lyrics are muddled a bit, but he nails the rockin’ spirit. Rest in peace Billy! We’ll miss you!
 

Jet Generation -- (36:17) -- (1999) -- Matador Records -- OLE 331-2 -- (U.S. release)

  1. Jet Generation
  2. Fujiyama Attack
  3. Kaminari One (Jet Version) (Thunder/Lightning One)
  4. Kung Fu Ramone
  5. Teenage U.F.O.
  6. Cosmic Space Girl
  7. Roaring Blood
  8. Gakulan Rider (Schoolboy Rider)
  9. Refrigerator Zero
  10. Shimane Slim
  11. Cyborg Kids
  1. Summertime Blues
  2. Can-Nana Fever (Jet Version)
This is not the loudest CD ever. If you destroy your stereo, it’s your own damn fault. It does, however, sound like the most expensive recording equipment GUITAR WOLF has ever overpowered. The fact is, most of it sounds fine, with only a track or two per cut in the red to give it that raw feel. There is an incredible amount of energy here and it only sounds like it’s bursting your speakers to get out! It’s impressive how close this actually comes to sounding like their live shows. It’s also got a great looking booklet, and the new material kicks ass, when you can hear it over the noise.
 
Rock ‘n’ Roll Etiquette -- (34:32) -- (2000) -- Ki/oon Records -- KSC2 328
  1. God Speed You!!
  2. Jet Virus
  3. Neppu Jiro (Hot Wind)
  4. Rock De Korose (Murder By Rock)
  5. Toilet Face
  6. Kinsei Drive (Drive To Mars)
  7. Sore Loser
  8. Okami To Drive (Drive With Wolf)
  9. Hoshizora Jet (Starry Sky Jet)
  10. Chikyu Love (Earth Love)
  11. Teardrop Shonen (Teardrop Boy)
  1. Ramen Shinya 3-ji (Ramen At 3AM)
  2. Route 66
  3. Highway Baby
  4. Rock ‘n’ Roll Etiquette
OK, the production here still sucks. It’s compressed this time, meaning we no longer have totally distorted sounds hurtling out of the mix at us. We’re back to a rock band, raving like caged animals. The cage is moving though, and it seems to be gaining speed. The rock’s full-on. It barely matters that some of these songs are not the best they’ve written. If you turn ‘em up loud enough, they rock! A few, ‘Kinsei Drive’ and ‘Highway Baby’ among them, are right up there with their best, and there’s enough malevolent guitar attack, feedback, and howling to satisfy the youngest and bravest.
 
Live!! -- (66:55) -- (2000) -- Ki/oon Records -- KSC2 347-8
Disc One
     1.  Okami Wakusei (Wolf Planet)
     2.  Jet Generation
     3.  All Night Buttobase!! (Roaring All Night!!)
     4.  Ryusei Noise (Shooting Star Noise)
     5.  Reizouko Zero (Refrigerator Zero)
     6.  Jack The Ripper
     7.  Wild Zero
     8.  Rock ‘n’ Roll Etiquette
     9.  Missile Me
   10.  Kawasaki ZII 750 Rock ‘n’ Roll
   11.  Summertime Blues
  1. Kasei Twist (Mars Twist)
  2. Too Much Junkie Business
  3. Machine Gun Guitar
  4. Ramen Shinya 3-ji (Ramen At 3AM)
  5. Kick Out The Jams
  6. Rumble
Disc Two
     1.  Jet Virus (Digital Hardcore Remix)
What is that horrible noise? It’s over an hour of GUITAR WOLF live, and they’re out to destroy your eardrums, and that’s just to start with! This is assembled from four different gigs, but half of it’s from their last show at CBGBs. It wasn’t their best show, and it doesn’t matter, ‘cause this band rocks! It’s recorded like you’re on the stage with ‘em. Duck! Seiji’s gonna do another lead! New songs and classics are all battered to within an inch of their lives! This is the way GUITAR WOLF was meant to be documented. You’re not gonna believe it! Oh, and the mini-disc remixes an Elvis interview into a live track.
 

UFO Romantics -- (40:13) -- (2002) --Ki/oon Records -- KDCS 80024 (released in U.S.)

  1. Hi No Tama Red (Red Fireball)
  2. Houkago Sandaa (School’s Out Thunder)
  3. Zaazaa Asphalt (Hard Rain Against Asphalt)
  4. Taxi Driver
  5. Diamond Honey
  6. Gion Midnight
  7. Hikari No Baby (Baby Of Light)
  8. UFO Romantics
  9. Nagasaki Jet
  10. Jet Beer
  11. Orange Juice
  1. Alcohol Ace
  2. Inazuma No Melody (Melody Of Lightning)
Just over half of this is a straight-up rock production. You can hear the entire band, and they sound good. It’s Billy and Toru’s dependable chops that have freed Seiji to cut loose with his untamed sonic blasts, and it’s good to hear the band the way they’d sound without the signature redlining. As if they couldn’t help themselves, though, the second half of this disc, starting with the title cut, reverts to the familiar GUITAR WOLF sound. Still, it’s a good production even when they veer out of control, and it’s reflected in the versatility of approaches they use to rock your little house down.
 
Love Rock -- (48:29) -- (2004) -- Narnack Records -- NCK 7020 (U.S. release)
  1. Love Rock
  2. Demon Card
  3. Jet 13
  4. Violent Letter
  5. Shinkansen High Tension (High Tension Bullet Train)
  6. Universe Youth
  7. Midnite Blood Pump
  8. Moonlight Boy
  9. Ultra Might Nite
  10. Black Hawk
  11. Katsumiya Tobacco City
  1. Fire Joe
  2. Blood Splashed Sky
  3. Time Machine Of Tears
  4. Only That Girl
  5. SF Tokyo
  6. Black Rock ‘N’ Roll
There are a few added effects, like the motorcycles in ‘Black Rock ‘N’ Roll’. The vocals are a bit more distorted than usual. A couple songs seem like complete, well thought out ideas, and most notably, some of the guitar leads seem to start out with a clear idea of where they’re heading, before veering off, and ricocheting around the walls, floor, and ceiling, shooting sparks the remaining length of the hallway. Most importantly the riffs are here, and now and then, one will pop your little head like a cherry. Yep, it’s GUITAR WOLF, and the love mentioned in the title is the love of rock!
 
Golden Black -- (74:38) -- (2005) -- Narnack Records -- NCK 7035 (U.S. release)
  1. Can-Nana Fever
  2. All Through The Night Buttobase!! (Roaring All Night!!)
  3. Missile Me
  4. Rock ‘N’ Roll Etiquette
  5. Wild Zero
  6. Loverock
  7. Lightning’s Melody
  8. Sky Star Jet
  9. Jet Generation
  10. Shinkansen High Tension (High Tension Bullet Train)
  11. Jett Beer
  1. Kaminari One (Thunder/Lightning One)
  2. Invader Ace
  3. UFO Romantics
  4. Jet 13
  5. Murder By Rock
  6. Mars Twist
  7. Fujiyama Attack
  8. Sparkle Baby
  9. Red Rockabilly
  10. Kawasaki ZII 750 Rock ‘N’ Roll
  11. Taxi Driver
  1. Shimane Slim
  2. Roaring Blood
  3. I Love You, OK
  4. Summertime Blues
In tribute to Billy’s passing what’s more fitting than a collection of the band’s adventures to date? A summation of their achievements before they move on with UG to further explorations of the rockin’ cosmos. Here are twenty-six roaring fireballs that sound like they were spit out of a primal volcano, and captured in their primitive magnificence, allowing the magnitude of these sounds to burn forever on shiny discs, that we might all be allowed to experience raw rock ‘n’ roll passion. Golden-sparkle paint drips over wild photos of the band in a booklet which includes all the lyrics in English.
 
Dead Rock -- (56:14) -- (2007) -- Ki/oon Records -- KSCL 1090
  1. Dead Rock
  2. Andromeda Man
  3. Led Me
  4. Kenka Rock (Fight Rock)
  5. Sex Napoleon
  6. Koukousei Action (Highschool Action)
  7. Wild Bikini Girl
  8. Tokyo Zombie
  9. Asian Explosion
  10. Ikebukuro Tiger
  11. Fire
  1. Red Situation
  2. Kuchibue Shadow (Whistling Shadow?)
GUITAR WOLF are as wild and unruly as ever, and this is one of their best records ever! Explanations? They had more time? They had more to prove? Who knows? What’s obvious is that these songs are better written. The riffs are thought out, and the hooks work, differentiating one song from the next. There are actual dynamics, with instruments dropping in and out, along with the usual GUITAR WOLF balls out approach to crashing through the wall. Dead Rock is recorded better, too, straining the boundaries, but not damaging anything in the process. Welcome UG! Welcome back GUITAR WOLF!
 
Mars Twist -- (43:01) -- (2007) -- Ki/oon Records -- KSCL 1170-1
  1. Uchuu No Melody (Space Melody)
  2. Kasei Twist (Mars Twist)
  3. UFO Romantics
  4. All Night De Buttobase!! (Roaring All Night)
  5. Missile Hassha (Missile Launch)
  6. Missile Me
  7. Red Rockabilly
  8. Arashi No Maebure (Prelude To The Storm)
  9. Hurricane Rock
  10. Shimane Slim
  11. Jet 13
  1. Gang No Melody (Gang’s Melody)
  2. Machine Gun Guitar
  3. Gang No Melody 2 (Gang’s Melody 2)
  4. Time Travel
  5. Namida No Time Machine (Time Machine Of Tears)
  6. Rock ‘n’ Roll Etiquette
  7. Z II
  8. Born To Be Wild

          DVD (region 2)

  1. 1993 US Tour clip
  2. 1994 US Tour clip
  3. Mar. 18, 1996--Can-Nana Fever @ CBGB in NYC
  4. Aug. 1, 1998--Kinsei Drive (Drive To Mars) @ Fuji Rock Festival
  5. Feb. 19, 1999--Bakuon Broad Bakuon Terebi (Roaring Broad Roaring TV) @ Akasaka Blitz
  6. Aug. 30, 2000--Rock De Korose (Murder By Rock)/Something Else @ Fuji TV Rock ‘n’ Roll Summit
  7. Sept. 2, 2001--I Love You, OK @ Rock Japanese in Pacifico Yokohama
  8. Aug. 9, 2002--UFO Romantics @ Rock in Japan Festival
  9. Jan. 22, 2005--Loverock @ Tokyo Kinema Club
  10. Sept. 30, 2005--Red Situation @ Shinjuku Marz
  11. Mar. 30, 2007--Kenka Rock (Fight Rock) @ Ebisu Liquidroom
This is a strange mix of new songs, old GUITAR WOLF classics redone, short sound effects/theatre, and a cover of ‘Born To Be Wild’. It’s damn good! I like the sound pieces interspersed between the driving rock of GUITAR WOLF, and I guess they figured they had to teach Ug all these old classics, anyway, for the live show. It’s unlike any GUITAR WOLF CD you’ve heard, and its got this cool DVD, which they call “Guitar Wolf Live Archives”. It’s a video look at GUITAR WOLF through the years. The new songs rock! The old songs rock! Hell, the sound snippets rock! There’s even a 20th anniversary photo booklet!

--Film--


Wild Zero--Directed by Takeuchi Tetsuro (1999)
This movie’s stupid and fun. There’s lots of cool music, too. Flames shoot out of microphones, motorcycles and cars. Is it a rock ‘n’ roll movie? A horror movie? A teen movie? A comedy? It takes what it wants from whatever genre and cooks it up. Aliens have landed, and they look and act amazingly like “living dead”. Using a variety of weapons, GUITAR WOLF saves the world for teenagers, and dispenses wisdom: “There are no boundaries in Rock ‘n’ Roll.” There's a positive gay subtext: “Love has no borders, nationalities or genders,” proclaims our super-hero. “Believe in Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

---LIVE---


Guitar Wolf/John Felice & The Devotions--CBGBs-11/22/96
        GUITAR WOLF did not seem the novices they seemed the first time I saw them. Seiji also seemed to have curbed his exuberance. There was no jumping into the crowd and it seemed more like just another gig. Possible explanations were that they had played at CBGBs once before and this time there was a big crowd. Again, they played early in the night. Apart from those things, GUITAR WOLF put on another good raucous show. This time they pulled up a woman to play the guitar in ‘Kick Out The Jams’. Having seen them twice before, the show seemed a bit tamer and more planned out than it had before. Hence, it didn’t seem to be as loud and out of control. Dan seemed to enjoy it more than I did, but I enjoyed it.

Guitar Wolf/Bad Popes--Continental--3/3/97
        I'm hopped up like I haven’t been in quite a spell. I just got back and wanted to get my impressions down while my ears are still ringing. It seems like it’s been quite a while since it was actually worthwhile going out to a rock show alone.
        I had a feeling that GUITAR WOLF was gonna kick ass there, ‘cause the place is a quintessential sleazy rock dive. Their music/act was perfect for the dump and they’re still not well known enough to fill the place yet. They rocked! And unlike last time it didn’t seem as staged this time. Seiji conformed to all the same schtick as before, but it felt authentic again, like the first time. It was beautiful. He didn’t tune up once the entire set and it didn’t matter. His guitar could have been louder. It seemed like they cut off everything but the vocals in the P.A. once they figured out what was going on, (Probably the board was run by a guitar snob) but it didn’t matter. The band just kept rocking. The drummer and bassist were on top of their game and Seiji just keeps rocking up as much noise as he can grab ahold of. I was glad I saw ‘em again.
        I didn't even mind the drizzle on the way home.

Guitar Wolf/The Plungers--Under Acme--7/19/98
        The guitarist of THE PLUNGERS impressed me by pushing her way through the crowd to get a view at the foot of the stage for GUITAR WOLF’s set.
        GUITAR WOLF seemed a bit more disorganized this time out. It may have been seeing them with earplugs for the first time (me, not them), but there were quite a few points during the show where they didn’t seem to be sure whether they were ending the song or starting the next one. They played with wild, unstructured abandon and it was beautiful to see. They rocked past the point where it made any sense, and then they rocked some more. Billy, the bass guitarist, has lost some weight and is looking mighty good. He took a larger role in the vocals, singing about four songs, including ‘Slow Down’, a new addition to their set. So, Carl Perkins has joined their rock and roll touchstones. Billy also has moved upstage, whereas before he tended to stay back in front of his amp more and let Seiji rule the roost. By the end of their often frantic set, everybody in the place had sweat covering their bodies. There was a large contingent of Japanese fans there, and when Seiji pulled a guy out of the audience to play guitar for ‘Kick Out The Jams’, which he announced as, “Get A Job, Motherfucker!” they went wild, hopping up onto the stage, stage-diving and slam dancing. Then when Seiji jumped out into the audience, they kept him aloft and passed him around above their heads for a bit before plopping him back down on the stage. It was truly a rock and roll moment. They really are a great rock band, and I believe their sound is growing and expanding, adding ever larger doses of chaos. They are forging a path of honest rock and roll in our modern age.

Guitar Wolf/The Woggles/The Blacks--CBGBs--10/31/99
        It was Halloween, so GUITAR WOLF came out in gorilla masks eating bananas. Seiji’s gorilla was even wearing sunglasses! That didn’t last long. The masks came off and the rocking began. It was the most enthusiastic crowd I’ve seen them play to. The mosh pit started immediately and kept up a pretty active level of pushing, shoving, stage-diving, jumping and gyrating throughout the show. The band seemed a bit tired at first, but were soon covered in sweat and rocking up a storm. Dan noticed that Seiji fairly quickly broke three strings on his guitar and never bothered replacing them. I guess as long as it still makes noise, that’s all that’s really necessary for a GUITAR WOLF show. Unfortunately, the sound man had Billy’s bass mixed very low, but the rockin’ continued non-stop just the same. For ‘Kick Out The Jams’ Seiji pulled up one of THE BLACKS’ guitarists and actually let him play, while he jumped out into the audience. ‘Rumble’ started with Seiji jumping onto the stage from a large platform photographers often use. It didn’t help his tuning any, but no one was complaining. Surprisingly, GUITAR WOLF did not come out for an encore, but the spoiled crowd must have been worn-out, ‘cause for the most part they didn’t bother to call for one. In which case, they certainly didn’t deserve any more. GUITAR WOLF had done their job.

Guitar Wolf/Andy G. & The Roller Kings/The Shemps/The Plungers--CBGBs--11/26/01
        Finally GUITAR WOLF’s bassist, Billy, and drummer, Toru, took the stage, and with the P.A. still cranking out music, they began making a good amount of rumbling racket. The P.A. music didn’t come off, but when Seiji took the stage it changed to a swanky ‘50s soundtrack type tune, and while Billy and Toru styled their pompadours, Seiji chugged a beer to start the set. Then the rocking began. The place had filled up quite a bit, and for a Monday night it was a good crowd. Having seen a lot of GUITAR WOLF shows, there weren’t that many surprises. They were playing a bunch of new material early in the set, and Seiji seemed to be concentrating on his guitar playing more than putting on a good show. Just the same, it was a good show. They seemed to take it up a notch with ‘Satisfaction’. Unfortunately, by the time they got to ‘Kick Out The Jams’ Seiji’s microphone was out. He was unable to direct the guest guitarist, and it didn’t come off as well as usual. They pulled it all together with a fine version of ‘Rumble’, with Seiji diving onto the stage from an elevated platform, and by the end of it the microphone was back on. At one point, Seiji stopped the rocking to request some Jack Daniels. Unfortunately, no one seemed to understand him, and I don’t think he ever got any. Crowd surfers included a guy with his arm in a sling. Later, Seiji crowd-surfed while still playing his guitar. Overall, it was a good show, but uneven, and they really didn’t get enough applause to call for an encore. The P.A. tunes came on again, and most of the crowd headed straight for the door. No doubt, many of them had already gotten a bigger dose of rock than they knew how to handle. My friend, Paul, for instance, seeing them for the first time, couldn’t believe it. “That's the wildest thing I’ve ever seen, and the sound was like sticking your head next to a giant lawnmower!” The forty or so faithfull who hung around, though, got a nice surprise. GUITAR WOLF came out for an encore anyway. CBGBs had already turned off the P.A., but there they were. They plugged in and began rocking with no vocals. The faithfull went wild, dancing all over the place, and when CBGBs did get it together to turn the P.A. back on, the sound just seemed colossal. They played two more songs, and rocked just as hard, maybe even harder than they had all night. It was a wonderful and joyous celebration, and the faithfull obviously appreciated it. That time they got a call for an encore more deserving of response, but even it had died down when once again they came out for a second encore, and played two more enthusiastic rockers. Why they did those encores I’m not sure, but they turned an OK show into a great show, and proved what a bunch of cool dudes they are. They’re a great band that are rockin’ for the love of it, and don’t much care whether you want more or not. It’s good to see they’re still going strong. On the way out the door, Paul said if they were playing again tomorrow, he’d go see ‘em again.

Guitar Wolf--Knitting Factory--2/20/03
        To be on the safe side, I arrived at 9PM. It was lucky that I did, as X27 had already played, and GUITAR WOLF’s equipment was being set-up. I knew they were serious when they brought out Billy’s beer. It wasn’t long before Billy and Toru came out and began a kind of warm-up jam, and soon Seiji was chugging a beer to begin the show. I was surprised that the volume was subdued compared to my memories of GUITAR WOLF shows. Apparently, Knitting Factory, which seems to be in the process of some renovation of its stage, had limited GUITAR WOLF’s volume. It was puzzling, but the band didn’t seem to think twice about it. They did their show with their usual gusto, and the room, packed full of all types, was quite appreciative. An active mosh pit danced, jostled, pushed, and shoved each other about in front of the stage throughout the show, and most of the audience seemed to be enjoying themselves even more than the band, who were obviously happy to be back rocking New York City one more time. They played through a good selection of their tunes, and when they got to ‘Kick Out The Jams’ Seiji latched on to a young man who had been sent crowd-surfing style up to the front of the stage. Even with help, Seiji couldn’t hold on to this guy, who just could not be persuaded to take over the guitar duties. He frantically squirmed, struggled, and eventually managed to escape back into the crowd. Thankfully, it was not difficult to find a replacement, and the show was able to continue. At one point Seiji climbed up to the top of a stack of P.A. cabinets, which towered a good ten-feet above the stage, and dramatically jumped back onto the stage. At another, Seiji caustiously stepped out onto the crowd’s upraised hands, still playing his guitar. It might have seemed a more triumphant stunt if a stage-handler, apparently fearing that Seiji would be carried off by the crowd, hadn’t grabbed hold of his belt and refused to let go until he had him safely back on the stage. The reduced volume negated GUITAR WOLF’s overpowering sonic attack, but the catchiness of some of the songs, and the energy of the band kept the crowd hopping. Knitting Factory had already turned up the lights, and some of the crowd had begun to disperse when GUITAR WOLF came out for their second encore. They began rocking, and soon the people were crowded back up in front of the stage and the lights dimmed one last time.

Guitar Wolf--North Six--11/5/03
        I arrived early because I wasn’t sure what was going on. There were no surprise opening bands. Only GUITAR WOLF were going to play, and in the meantime, their newly released (in the U.S.) DVD, Red Idol, was shown on one of the walls of the club. It was the first time I’d seen it, and its highlights are easily the videos and live clips. It was shown about one and a half times, so I was able to see the entire thing, but was not disappointed when they shut it off, and RAMONES tunes warmed up the New York crowd for some rock ‘n’ roll. Billy and Toru emerged to cheers, and started up what I imagine was an improv just to get the juices flowing. Seiji finally came out to even more cheers, and the rocking soon began with a Link Wray number. Seiji was sporting an old Punk magazine T-shirt under his leather jacket, and a big ol’ Joan Jett autograph on his guitar, which I hadn’t seen before, but you know he’s proud of it, and that made me feel good for him. It was a good solid GUITAR WOLF show. Billy roamed his side of the stage, sometimes menacingly, sometimes with a big smile on his face. Occasionally Seiji would raise his guitar above his head and hold it like a flag, still playing it, or he’d whip it around behind his head and keep playing it. Toru just kept rocking throughout the show. Now and then a song like ‘Jet Generation’ would inspire some vigorous moshing. Seiji found a game audience member to play guitar this time, but there seemed to be a bit of a communication problem. At one point Seiji climbed up on the guy’s back to force him into submission, but it didn’t seem to improve the dialogue much. Toward the end of the show Seiji cleared a path in the audience and jumped out into the crowd for a guitar solo. The show finally ended and the band received a well deserved encore. Again, Billy and Toru came out and did a simple rockin’ improv, before Seiji came out and the band rocked through another number, in which Seiji found some fans to hold him aloft by his feet while he swayed and played guitar. They left the stage, the music came on, the lights came on and people began heading for the door. Only about half the people were still there when GUITAR WOLF came out for their second encore. It was kind of a, “Hey, you can leave if you want to, but we’re not done rockin’”, and the lights and music went back down and they played a very rocking ‘Shimane Slim’. Somehow, by this time, Billy had lost a lens out of his shades--a little rock and roll, wear and tear--It looked just fine. “I think that was the end.” I overheard someone say after they left the stage for the third time, but it wasn’t. A couple of minutes later, with only about forty people remaining in the club, Seiji came out alone, plugged in, and played us ‘I Love You, OK’ which we had seen him do on the DVD. It was totally unnecessary, but gave the impression that he wanted to give his all to the New York fans, especially the ones who were still there, and I’ll bet it was

Guitar Wolf/Peelander-Z/The Spunks/ Goggle-A/The Young Ones/Rocket Jack Vaders/Volume Out--Japunks Jamboree #6 @ CBGB--11/18/03
        That was a wonderful night, a kind of miraculous night, and with GUITAR WOLF on the bill, the size of the crowd grew very fast, and the palefaces may have actually outnumbered the Japanese! One of the nicest touches were the women who came out at the beginning of each set and held up signs with the “Round” number for each set on one side, and the name of the band on the other side. There were seven rounds in all, and, yes, it was a knock out. Thanks Japunks!
        Round seven was GUITAR WOLF. The place was packed by now, and most of them were there to see GUITAR WOLF. The moshing started immediately, and crowd surfing started shortly after that. GUITAR WOLF started with their traditional opening. Toru and Billy came out and started up the show. Seiji joined them quickly and drank his beer with a flourish as they combed their hair back. They were rocking up a storm in no time at all, and it was obviously going to be another good GUITAR WOLF show. Seiji was in good spirits, enjoying the raucous crowd, and regularly smiling. The stage diving soon began, which, of course, led to even more crowd surfing. Frankly, it was hard to take pictures with all the jostling and people’s feet getting in the way, but that’s rock ‘n’ roll. The band was cranking away, and their rocking onslaught was joyful. Billy, again, was playing to his side of the stage, and sneered like a man who knew he was doing a job he enjoyed, but didn’t feel any compulsion to act like he was enjoying it. At one point later in the show I noticed a Japanese man frantically signalling to the soundman to turn Billy’s bass down, but it was sounding just fine to me, and maybe it was even making Seiji’s guitar fight a little harder to get through. The stage divers quickly became obnoxious, raising their hands above their heads to announce their presence on GUITAR WOLF’s stage, before diving back onto the crowd for some more surfing. The band totally ignored them, even the ones who grabbed the mic away from Seiji to take over the vocals. Please guys, stage-diving’s fun, and after all, it’s a rock show, but when you’re on that stage you’re a guest. Be respectful of your hosts! As the show continued, the rocking roared into a chaotic attack on the senses, and between moments of fighting for my balance and avoiding getting kicked in the head, there were blissful moments when Seiji’s guitar playing cut through the roar and expressed a serenity inherent in the chaos. Those moments made this one of the best GUITAR WOLF shows I’ve seen. Even the guest guitarist tonight was good, and it was one of the few times that Seiji seemed to have no troubles with him at all. It was a great show, and I was well satisfied, even before they finished the set. Just the same, they came back for two encores. Interestingly, by the second encore, all the moshers, stage divers, and crowd surfers had departed, grown too weary, or lacked enough support for their antics. There were still lots of fans enjoying the band, though. By the time Seiji came out for his solo expression of love, things had calmed down even more. Throughout the show he had expressed his love for his New York fans, and his smiles had said even more. His solo performance was more than we needed, but certainly appreciated. It had been a truly great GUITAR WOLF performance, and a perfect way to close a wonderful night.

Guitar Wolf/The Shop Fronts--Maxwell’s--2/27/05
        I picked a spot near where I wanted to be for the GUITAR WOLF set, sat down, and waited for a while, until I heard the crowd’s cheers as Billy and Toru entered the room and made their way toward the stage. Toru sat down behind his drums and made a few adjustments, as Billy began running off bass riffs up and down his guitar neck. The riffs didn’t seem terribly connected, and often they’d verge into random noise. Billy paced his side of the stage, and as Toru started up a beat, Billy settled into a more repetitious riff, and soon the cheers from the crowd announced that Seiji was heading up to the stage. Seiji slung on his guitar, and he and Billy leaned forward, with their hands raised in the two-fingered rock ‘n’ roll salute, and led the crowd in a chant of, “Hoy! Hoy! Hoy! Hoy...” The crowd at GUITAR WOLF shows just seems to get wilder every time I see them. There was a rowdy mosh-pit going on during most of the set, and regular crowd-surfers, though the first five times it was the same jerk over and over again. After Seiji drank his beer, and the trio posed a bit, GUITAR WOLF played one of the longer sets I’ve heard them play. Toru pounded away on the drums, keeping the beat steady and lean. Billy paced his side of the stage, alternately smilling and sneering, and I could feel his constant bass barrage pounding against my chest. Meanwhile, Seiji’s guitar powered the band, and seemed to shread itself into numerous pieces as it bounced off the walls of the small club, and spurred the excited moshers into madness. It was difficult to pay attention to the band’s antics whilst regularly being knocked over by fellow audience members. Seiji would pose for a while, and then lean over and concentrate on his playing. At one point he headed out into the crowd, and made his way back to the bar, which he got up on and played the rest of the song from their. It was an exhilerating experience to see this powerful band rocking away, never slowing the beat, and salting their tunes with memorable hooks. When they did finally call it a night, Seiji left his guitar leaning up against his Marshall amp, and Billy used his strap to hang his bass around the corner of his amp, so it was draped in front of the speaker cabinet. The feedback roared above the crowd’s screams for an encore, which gave the band a chance to rest, till somebody turned off the amps and they were called back for two encores, the first of which started up with ‘Jet Generation’. After a long set, the encores were only a few songs each, but the band had rocked us well. It was a wonderful night, and I look forward to seeing them again tomorrow.

Guitar Wolf--CBGB--2/28/05
        Yasuyo and I dawdled over dinner, and didn’t expect GUITAR WOLF to start their show on time. CBGB is notorious for running behind schedule, but when we arrived, GUITAR WOLF seemed to already be about halfway through their set, though I was told later that we may have only missed a few songs. Either way, their sets are so generous these days, we got a healthy serving of the rock. The first song they started up after we arrived was THE ROLLING STONES’ ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’. They hadn’t done it last night, and I appreciated that they were varying their set. For ‘Kick Out The Jams’ Seiji pulled a large woman up onto the stage and handed her his guitar, even giving her more than the usual instructions on how to play it. GUITAR WOLF were in good shape tonight. Billy played to his side of the stage, where hands reached up to touch him every time he moved over close enough, which he often did. Seiji played to the entire house, banging out chords with the guitar above his head, behind his head, down at his knees, and everywhere else he could think of, and sending fractured leads careening around the room. Tonight the audience didn’t even begin much moshing until the encore, when, again, GUITAR WOLF launched into ‘Jet Generation’, and the mosh-pit started up in good style, and kept going most of the rest of the show. Again, the patient members of the crowd got two encores, though whether or not we cheered enough to deserve them was debatable. There were certainly enough people who stuck around to enjoy them, though. During one of the encore numbers, as he had last night, Seiji stepped out into the crowd and was supported aloft by them for a while, as he continued to play guitar. As they had last night, they closed with a triumphant arrangement of ‘Black Hawk’, which brought things to a roaring finale. There was one more surprise remaining, though. As more people headed for the door, and back out into the blizzard, Seiji emerged onto the stage alone, plugged in his guitar and showed his respect for CBGB and his New York fans by singing and playing what I believe is called ‘I Love You, OK’.


--Interview--


September 23, 1999

Seiji was relaxed and friendly when he met Hitoshi and I at the front desk of the hotel. We were able to find an empty lounge and talked for half an hour. There was mutual laughter, and I believe we all enjoyed the brief chat.


Paul: I heard that you have a shrine to Joan Jett.
Seiji: Oh, ha, maybe just toilet. Just poster, Joan Jett poster, in toilet. No shrine. Just I love Joan Jett.
P: Oh, it's in the john?
S: Yes, somebody think...mistake.

  P: You moved to Tokyo, right?
S: Yes.
P: You are from...?
S: Nagasaki.
P: Why did you move to Tokyo?
S: Ah, easy to rock.
P: So you moved to Tokyo to play rock music?
S: Yes.
P: I moved to New York to play rock music.
S: Oh really? From where?
P: St. Louis.
S: Ah, Chuck Berry!
P: Yes. You are playing St. Louis this time.
S: Yes, one time.
P: Just once? This time is the first time?
S: Second time, maybe. We play St. Louis this time?
P: The Side Door, I think.
S: Oh really? First time is with The Cramps.
P: Mmm, great show!
S: Yeah

P: How did you meet Toru and Billy?
S: Then we were working in Harajuku. Billy was working in punk rock shop. I was working in used clothes shop, in front of his shop. So just, I and Billy are friends. So, let’s do it. Yeah! Play rock and roll. Cool band!
P: How did you find Toru?
S: The first drummer is Narita. He was working with me. He suddenly quit the band, because he said suddenly, “I wanna be fortune teller.”
P: Hmm, omoshiroi...
S: Then I asked Jackie & The Cedrics, do you know? I asked Enocky. He looked for Toru.

 

P: You like motorcycles?
S: Yes.
P: How long have you ridden motorcycles?
S: Seventeen years. Seventeen--eighteen...
P: So were you in a teenage motorcycle gang?
S: Ahhh, no. Ahh, a little bit.
P: That’s more motor-skooter, right?
S: No, no. Big ones.
P: Were you in any kind of motorcycle group?
S: Mmm, just one, name of Cobra, but not now. Long time ago.

P: Are there some Guitar Wolf records that are not released here in the States?
S: Yeah, everything. Every record was released here except singles.
P: And the video is not here yet.
S: You know? Hero Wolf!
P: Yes, I have seen it, and I also saw the movie Guitar Wolf was in.
S: Yeah, Wild Zero! New movie. Why do you know?
P: Wait, it’s new? This was a couple of years ago.
S: Sore Losers, from Memphis?
P: Yes.
S: I have new movie from Japan, Wild Zero.
P: You’re the star?
S: Ah yes. Just rock and roll. Very stupid, cool movie, and zombie UFO. Last scene I cut the UFO by guitar-sword.
P: Alright! It sounds very close to Sore Losers: UFO, rock and roll...
S: Yes, but more rock and roll!
Hitoshi: Just yourself, or the three of you together?
S: Three of us together. Now...(Japanese)...
H: (translating): It’s in the theaters now.
P: Ah, in Japan?
S: Yes. Maybe U.S., too.
P: Oh, I hope so! That’d be fun! So, you enjoyed it?
S: Yeah. Well, first time when director said to me, “Please, be in the movie.” First time, I don’t wanna do it, because I’m not actor. But, if I’m not necessary to act, and as Guitar Wolf we can do. Now I’m very happy, because very cool movie. Cool and stupid.
H: Sounds good!
P: Yeah, I’ll look forward to it.
 

 

  P: Your records, they have different sounds, I think. What would you attribute the differences to? Does the producer...
S: No, the producer is me.
P: Always?
S: Yeah, always, but first album, second album, third album are just four-track or walkman. Some songs are only walkman, because just cool. Fourth and fifth album is from Sony studio.
P: So, more tracks and...
S: Yeah, maybe sixteen.
P: So, do you do the mixing, as well?
S: No, engineer. The first time it was a little bit hard for me to explain our sound to engineer. I said, “Engineer, don’t move needle. Just red zone.” But a professional engineer can not do at first, but after that’s no problem.
P: So after awhile they say, “OK, just red!”
S: Yeah, just red!
P: Your sound, live and in the studio, seems to be getting noisier.
S: Ah, yeah, recording is like live show. Not separate. Same. Same time vocals, guitar, bass, drums, yeah, and with drink alcohol.
P: Even the live show seems to be getting noisier. Like maybe there is a longer period in between songs...
S: Oh really? But maybe from long time ago. I always, I like, I need noise. Because we are no skill. Our skill is no good. No technique. We need...Basic rock and roll is: Number one is looks; Number two is guts, tension; Number three is action; Maybe four, five nothing; Six is skill, technique.

P: When you’re on tour do you go sight-seeing?
S: No. Never. Just eating, sleeping. But twelve times. Twelve times in U.S.! We seldom have sight-seeing.
P: Seldom, but have you seen anything that you remember, that was really cool?
S: Ahh...oh, yeah! Devil’s Tower. Michi tono souguu te nante iu no?
P: David’s Tower?
H: Ahh, in the film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, by Spielberg, there is a...
S: Tee-tee (sound effect) UFO.
H: Yeah, there is a mesa named Devil’s Tower.
P: Oh right, Devil’s Tower.
S: ...and Mount Rushmore.

P: You mentioned eating. What is your favorite road food?
S: Waffle House! Yeah. Don’t you know? Waffle House.
P: Maybe not.
S: A little bit diner, but they’re small. Very famous! Waffle House.
P: OK. Other people will know it, I’m sure. I have been in New York too long.
S: But sometimes I have to eat Japanese foods.
H: Of course.
P: Well, in New York you can do that.
S: Oh yeah, easy! Easy to eat in New York, and cheap.
P: Hmm, cheaper than in Japan maybe...
S: Ahh, same.
P: but not as good.
S: Same.
P: Same? What are your favorite cities to play here?
S: In U.S.? Memphis, New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, and New York. Yeah.
P: Where else have you toured in the world?
S: Now we’ve played North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. I hope, near in the future, I wanna go to Brazil and Egypt. South America and Africa we’ve not played. So...
P: You want to conquer the world...
S: Yeah.
P: What do you do on your days off?
S: Ah, nothing, just eating, sleeping, on tour.
P: But when you are not on tour, not recording, how do you enjoy and relax?
S: We don’t have a lot of time. Always recording and always have tour. Japan tour, Europe, Australia, U.S. So, maa demo...just relax.
 

P: Are you a collector?
S: Ah, no. Not collector. Nukemichi sagashi, kana?
H: Oh, he likes to look for shortcuts, like a small alley or backstreet.
S: ...to my house, and motorcycle maybe.
P: How many motorcycles do you have?
S: Oh, just one. Kawasaki.
P: What would you say is your favorite thing in the world?
S: Favorite thing? Mmmm, nanika? Leather, sunglasses, motorcycle maybe.
P: OK, three. What is your favorite English word?
S: Jet!
P: How about your favorite record?
S: Ah, L.A.M.F. Heartbreakers.
P: Yeah, good one! What is your favorite animal?
S: Animal? Wolf!
P: Well, that makes sense.

  P: In Tokyo, in Japan now, in the scene, are there any bands that we should look for that are coming up?
S: Ah, Firestarter from Teengenerate. Do you know Teengenerate?
P: Yeah, they broke up.
S: Yes, the next band is Firestarter; Mad 3;...
P: They're great.
S: 5,6,7,8’s; Jackie and the Cedrics; Chelsea, from Kyoto; King Brothers; and Accel 4, my brother’s band.
P: I have seen them.
S: Similar.
P: Yeah. Is he, your brother, the guitar player?
S: Yes.
P: He lights his arm on fire. Yeah, they put on quite a show, a big show, like you guys!
S: Thank you.

P: OK, I think that’s all I need, thanks.
S: Ja, thank you.
P: It was great. It’s nice to meet you.
S: Yeah, me too. See you in CBGBs.
P: Will you wear costumes for CBGBs?
S: Maybe.
P: It is Halloween...
S: Yeah, I know. I have to.
P: Alright! It’ll be good.
S: Yeah. Thank you.
P: Thank you.
H: Domo arigatou.

All interview photos by Hitoshi Toyoda


--Tribute--


Various Artists
I Love Guitar Wolf...Very Much -- (41:42) -- (2005) -- Narnack Records -- NCK7028
  1. Planet Of The Wolves--Lightning Bolt
  2. Black Rock ‘N’ Roll--Fast Fourier
  3. Kawasaki Z11 750 Rock ‘N’ Roll--The Hellsquad
  4. Wild Zero--The Wildhearts
  5. Kaminari One--Jim O’Rourke
  6. Fujiyama Attack--Porch Ghouls
  7. Kawasaki Z11 750 Rock ‘N’ Roll--The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
  8. Shinkansen High Tension--Total Dork
  9. Energy Joe--Autoramas
  10. Jet Generation--Snuff
  11. Cannana Fever--Puffy Amiyumi
  1. Planet Heart--Cato Salsa Experience
  2. Cyborg Kids--J. Mascis + The Fog
A tribute to GUITAR WOLF, and most of the artists truly seem to have GUITAR WOLF’s rockin’ spirit in mind as they lay down their versions of this collection of GUITAR WOLF classics. The exceptions are TOTAL DORK whose noise on noise approach self-combusts, and PUFFY AMIYUMI and J. MASCIS + THE FOG, who both prettify things, thereby artfully expanding the range into some new realms. Hey, it’s not GUITAR WOLF, but it succeeds in fermenting some of the spirit. So, yay!