Article by firstname.lastname@example.org
Japanese shoegaze band Taffy return with new album 'Lixiviate' next month, but before that they release a new double A-side single 'Tumbling' and a reinterpretation of The Cure's classic 'Boys Don't Cry'. Check out both below, but first hear what they've got to say about the British influence on their music, the current music scene in Japan and who their ultimate idols are.
TSOC: Our site focuses a lot on indie/guitar type bands. These kinds of bands hardy sell in the UK at the moment, yet most of them say they have large fan bases in Japan. What do you think the reason for this is? Do Japanese people have better taste?!
Taffy: The indie/guitar band scene here might not be as big as being said there. It’s obvious that less people actually come to the shows and people stopped buying CDs, because of this whole internet world. And not sure for the reason for this, but when I (Iris/vocals) hear people talking about the great guitar bands, they are usually talking about the guitar bands from the '90s. I guess it could be a fact that most of the great guitar bands are from that time, and the people talk about the bands from back then more, I guess it’s because good things are always good no matter how much time passes by.
TSOC: What's the general music scene like in Japan? Do any particular genres sell more? Hip-hop is apparently the biggest selling genre in the world; in the UK it's probably plastic chart-pop and R&B. Who tops the charts over there?
Taffy: The idols are the main CD selling genre here. And there is this genre called “Animation Songs” which sells a lot too. This is a genre of songs that voice actors/actresses from cartoons sing. Our bassist is a big fan of them too. Speaking of that, each members of Taffy has such a different tastes in music, it is so different that it’s weird. Anyway... those two genres you have mentioned selling in the UK probably do the same in most of other countries too. I’m not the right one to ask about the charts, because I don’t really dig much into the music scene or what’s hot out there so.... I don’t know, I have no idea who tops the charts (laugh).
But one thing I know, it’s probably the idols taking over the charts here... and maybe only a few artists and the bands who can actually write or sing songs.
TSOC: We can name several great Japanese bands, Shonen Knife being the most obvious. Do you have any tips for bands or artists we might not know that we should be checking out?
Taffy: Umm... there must be a lot of them, it’s just that I don’t know a lot about the scene as I mentioned before, and they don’t know much about us either! But there are many many bands here, so many in Japan and I’m quite certain that there are many good ones somewhere out there.
TSOC: Does singing in English turn some Japanese music fans off your music? Why did you pick English for your songs?
Taffy: Yes absolutely!! Haha. Me singing in English sure turns them off. But what is weird is that there are tons of bands who sing in English and still are well accepted here. But it’s not like that when it comes to Taffy and I always wondered why. People do like English songs if the person singing is a westerner, that’s for sure. Otherwise all those big hits from the UK and the US charts wouldn't sell out here either. Is it me?? Am I the problem? (ha!) Well I sing in English because it was a lot easier and natural for me as I spent my younger days in an international school and though English is not my first language, somehow it was a natural thing to sing in English. I never thought of singing in Japanese and I probably won’t from now on either, unless I strongly feel like too. I really don’t have any borders in doing anything actually, I just always do whatever it feels right at that moment.
TSOC: It's very difficult for bands in the UK to make a living from their music, so many have day jobs too. This is partly down to the current economic conditions and partly down to internet streaming and illegal downloading. Do you think this problem is much the same around the world?
Taffy: Oh yes, as mentioned earlier, the internet world changed many many things and music problem sure is one of them. People download musics from anything anywhere, they get satisfied just by watching shows on YouTube. There is no mystery in people stopped buying CDs and less people come to the shows now. But I think, at the same time, it has opened up a door and created a road for the music to be heard all over the world. Like us, Taffy, living so far away from the UK and all, none of these things would have happened without internet! So I’m very thankful for that, and we are just so happy that people from all over the world actually listen to our music. And for all that, why not have a day job? I think it’s worth it. Of course it would be a lot easier and better if the artists can make living without their day jobs, but it is more important that the art work is to be heard or seen. Some things have to change from time to time, we have to adjust through the moments and the generations,even though certain things never change, like the fact that “people like good things”. Good music is always good music, no matter how it’s being passed around.
TSOC: What about touring? Is it cost effective for you to try and set up a string of gigs in Europe or North America?
Taffy: It’s hard to say that it’s cost effective, but it’s definitely worth it. We want our songs to be heard all over the world and it seems to be happening that way through the internet and everything else. But it’s something else how we get the direct response from the actual audience when we play a show. Since all the members of Taffy live in Japan, we can’t really go tour around the world that often, but we do get mails and everything saying “come to our country!” kind of things all the time. And yes, we do like to respond to that as much as possible.
TSOC: Are you a fairly “rock 'n' roll” band when on the road? Is it all late nights and loads of booze or straight to bed after gigs? Any notable exploits? TVs thrown out of windows and so on?
Taffy: We are very VERY quiet on the road. First of all, I don’t drink, nor does Ken (drummer). Can you believe half of the band is non-drinker in a rock’n’roll band? Koichin (bassist) rather likes to drink, and maybe he is the only one who drinks a lot. Asano (guitarist) can drink but maybe only a few glasses of beer or whatever. So some nights, Koichin and Asano go out to a bar and have a few drinks and come back to the hotel or they buy cans of beer and drink in the hotel room. We have noooo problem spending quiet nights during the tour. Especially me, I like to go back to the hotel and just put the TV on (instead of throwing it out of windows) and think of what to wear the next day... have some cup of tea and maybe a cupcake, and hot bath and so on. The Taffy way of rock ‘n’ rolling.
TSOC: That's perfectly acceptable! I don't drink either! You've chosen to cover 'Boys Don't Cry' by The Cure on your album. Is there any particular reason for choosing that band and that song? Did you consider other tracks instead?
Taffy: No I didn't have any particular reason for choosing that song. Actually, I didn't know much about The Cure. They are very famous and there are so many hardcore fans in Japan too. But often, I can’t match a song and the artist who plays it. After I hear a song many times without knowing who it is, then at some point I find out who’s singing it, and I’m like “ Oh! So this is them”. That happens often and this was the case. One of my friends who loooves The Cure suggested this song for Taffy to cover. I wasn't sure what song it was when I was told the title , but when I listened to it, I was like “ Hey! I know this song!!” and at that moment I had this image how it’s gonna be if I were to sing this. Now I really like the song, like it so much that I even recorded it! Every time I sing this song, it gets to me so much that it almost makes me cry, so “boy’s don't cry” in the middle of the song helps me not to, although I’m not a “boy”, haha. Now I love this song. It’s really a nice song.
TSOC: A question for each of you: Ken - who do you consider your favourite drummer ever? Asano - your favourite guitarist? Koichin - your favourite bass player? And Iris - your favourite singer?
Taffy: Ken: Jimmy Chamberlin (ex Smashing Pumpkin), Asano: Wayne Kramer (MC5), Koichin: Bootsy Collins, Iris: The Beatles, Aqualung, and Cameron Mitchelle.
TSOC: Finally, the tricky question: Fantasy festival time! Taffy are headlining, you can pick five bands, past of present to also appear on the bill. Who do you go for?
Taffy: OK, I’ll pick two and one from each member will be five. The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Ken: Frank Sinatra, Koichin: The Smiths, Asano : CAN.
TSOC: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us!