Japanese Punk Rock Bands You Need To See Live

Musicians who’ve toured Japan recommend the best live punk rock bands they saw over there: this a one-stop list of Japanese punk recommendations you need to check out.

Article by Sarah Williams. Cover photo: Shames taken by Cold Front Photography.

We’ve made a playlist of all the bands featured in this article – listen on Spotify.

For UK bands, touring Japan is the Holy Grail of punk rock. Success in DIY music cannot be quantified by financial gains or commercial exposure, but it can be measured by how far you’ve travelled to share your music with excited fans.

With the assistance of dedicated organisations like RNR Tours, increasingly more UK and European bands are playing Japan. We’ve covered them in Tree’s Fair Do’s tour diary and Tom West’s Japan Tour Survival Guide. Although many tours have been cancelled recently as a result of COVID-19, PMX made it over just before the global travel restrictions.

As more UK and European bands are receiving attention from Japanese crowds, we thought it time to reciprocate and give column space to the Japanese bands making waves over here. No doubt a knock-on effect from Anarchistic Undertones promoter Ian ‘Tree’ Robinson’s trip to Tokyo with Fair Do’s last year, Manchester Punk Festival this year had booked four incredible Japanese gems: SHAMES, Stone Leek, Green Eyed Monster and Gibberish (who have one Japanese member). Although MPF’s fallen foul of the Corona catastrophe, there’s no doubt that the same bands will be invited again for a future event. Beyond these, there is a whole culture of uptempo, angry, exciting bands that many of us are yet to discover.

I asked UK artists who’ve toured Japan to recommend their favourite acts, to give you an trustworthy overview of what Japanese punk rock has to offer. Continue reading “Japanese Punk Rock Bands You Need To See Live”

Video: Practicing Meditation for Wellbeing On Tour With Waterweed

Jo of Bad Juju Yoga created this insightful short film whilst on tour with Japanese skate-punks Waterweed, recording the benefits and challenges of keeping up a daily meditation practice.

Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

When you think about life on tour, meditation isn’t the first word to spring to mind. However, when you consider the long, hard hours spent on the road, sardined into a van with a stack of equipment, the boredom of travel, drinking to excess and charging through sweaty half-hour live shows… taking 15 minutes for yourself to recentre begins to make sense.

Jo Smith, of Bad Juju Yoga, created this insightful short film whilst driving Waterweed on a seven day tour around Europe. She relays the challenges and benefits daily meditation practice in this entertaining tour diary.

Here’s what Jo had to say about it: “In April, I spent 7 days on a European tour, co-driving/ managing/ merch-wenching with Japanese skatepunkers Waterweed. I documented this journey for a bit of fun, and to also see if I could commit to my daily mediation practice on the road. I regularly felt tempted just to drink beer, chill out and not do my meditation but I by the end of the week, I had some self-realisation of what the meditation really did for me. So here is my doco/ tour vid of my experience.”

 

Bad Juju Yoga began in 2015 after founder, Jo Smith, discovered the Punk Rock Yoga manifesto. The manifesto empowered Jo to do what felt most authentic when teaching, which is why most of her classes use a variety of music genres.

Bad Juju is more than just physical exercise. It is a lifestyle, promoting a philosophy of community spirit. Bringing together like-minded people into a space where they can develop their own practice and knowledge of yoga and wellbeing. A space where they feel welcome and where they can be themselves.

You can find Bad Juju Yoga on online, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Jo also teaches punk rock yoga classes at various UK and European festivals, teaching in a creative way using a style that is all-inclusive, sharing yoga through the love of music, mantra, sound and vibration.​ We highly recommend that you check out her online classes in the near future.

Explore our #MentallySound series for more articles about mental health in music.

 

5 Things I Learned From Touring Japan [by Almeida’s Tom West]

Tom West of Almeida imparts some valuable advice to anyone touring or visiting Japan (a.k.a. the Punk Rock Holy Grail).

Article by Tom West (Almeida).

Last month, thanks to RNR Tours, Almeida realised our longtime dream of playing a run of shows in Japan – and had the honour of sharing a stage with Belvedere, Waterweed and our cruddy buddies Darko every night.

In my experience, playing in a band – particularly a DIY punk band – means that your proud achievements don’t always translate when talking to regular folks with regular lives. Cramming into a smelly van for hours and rating the service station toilets out of ten isn’t the most jealousy-inducing boast, no matter how many different countries you’ve rocked the fuck out in.

But there’s something about touring Japan that seems to really resonate with people and help them (accurately) realise, “Wow, you’re really serious about this!”

For this and a million other reasons, going to Japan was a highly gratifying landmark experience for Almeida, and if you’re in a touring band I’d highly recommend you start networking in order to get out there as soon as you can.

If you do get around to it, there will likely be a few culture shocks and bits you’ll forget to do, so here are some top tips to help you survive.

Travel

A 15 hour flight may be daunting (and very boring if your in-flight entertainment conks out – grazi mille, AIitalia airlines!), but if you’re used to long stretches of staring at the back of someone’s head on tour, you’ll be fairly well prepared.

Make sure you pack comfy gear like PJs and a good quality neck pillow – if you travel on a budget like us you probably won’t get much decent kip on the rickety old seats. It’s not just vital that you stay comfortable for the sake of your flight, but you don’t want to be spending your whole time on the road in Japan trying to pop your neck back into place.

We took our instruments and drum breakables on as hand luggage, which was a good way to ensure they weren’t getting smashed about by the airline – but make sure you’ve established whether it’s ok to do so, as you may incur heavy charges if you haven’t cleared it with them beforehand.

Almedia plane.jpg

Crew

RNR Tours were an awesome well-oiled unit to work with, helping us get from A to B, all the while making sure we got some time in to stroll around a 16th century castle in Nagoya, see the bright lights of Shinjuku, and frolic with feral deer in Nara. As ever, it’s important to not faff about too much in the mornings if you want enough time to see the sights.

We’d have been absolutely hopeless without our team. Unless you have a fluent Japanese speaker in your band, you’ll outright need to employ a tour manager at the very least.

The RNR team are incredibly efficient and assisted us every night with loading our gear in and out of the venues. If you get into a similarly fortunate situation, you can help them (and yourselves) by ensuring sure you label and number your bags to avoid something getting left behind. Probably good practice for any tour, to be honest. Continue reading “5 Things I Learned From Touring Japan [by Almeida’s Tom West]”

Top 10 Moments of Manchester Punk Festival 2018

MPF 2018 was a special weekend for reasons beyond just the music. Sarah’s rounded up her personal highlights from the festival.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos from Mark Richards, Jimbob Taylor, Josh Sumner and Marc Gaertner.

Now widely known as Manchester Pals Fest, MPF 2018 has been even more of a blinder than previous years. I guess we knew that it would be from the moment the line-up was first announced, with Propagandhi topping it. In a landslide of Facebook posts, messages and hugs once the weekend was over, the word out there is that it’s the best festival in the UK. The three-day weekender in the Rainy City is drawing like-minded punk rock fans from all around the world.

The festival is special both as a personal and a collective experience. If you attended, you would have been amazed by the number of familiar faces in crowd. I barely had time to chat to someone properly before running into the next person. With that many dedicated, creative and intelligent people surrounding you, it’s easy to see that the UK scene is thriving at the moment. Although it felt like we were all sharing this one great, special experience, as the weekend is split between five venues around town, it’s possible that you could have had a completely different experience to a friend who also attended.

With that in mind, these are my personal Top 10 experiences of the weekend. What were yours?

Ducking Punches closing Thursday’s show with Smoking Spot

Ducking Punches cred Mark Gaertner.jpg

“This is about how punk has taught us all our ethics; this is for all of you,” Dan Allen says between songs, instantly capturing the spirit of the festival. While most of my friends were queueing to get into Random Hand and getting turned away, I opted to catch Ducking Punches at Rebellion on Thursday night and I really don’t regret it.

Earlier in the day, Danny from Fair Do’s had said, “Look around you. This is what a beautiful, intelligent and ethical punk community looks like.” Both are examples of how appreciative the bands are of the event they’re attending. Far from being a big fest where you turn up, play and fuck off, Ducking Punches were around for the whole weekend, partying and enjoying the music like the rest of us. I had a transcendent moment during somewhere between Sobriety and Big Brown Pills from Lynn where I remembered that all my friends in the world are in this city with me, enjoying an incredible time. There is an overwhelming sense of community that I’ve not felt elsewhere – partly from the punk scene and partly from Manchester, a city with a strong sense of identity.

Closing on Smoking Spot was the perfect move from Ducking Punches, who’ve really grown with their new album Alamort. “This is a song about having the best time with your best friends,” Dan says. Perfect.

Random Hand cred Jimbob Taylor.jpg
Here’s a photo of Random Hand for good measure. Photo: Jimbob Taylor.

Watching my friends’ bands playing to sold out rooms

For many bands it’s their first time at the festival (and their first time in Manchester), but every act played to a huge crowd. Through general gigging and through this website I’ve become friends with some of my favourite bands, so I’m absolutely bubbling with pride when I see them getting an enthusiastic reaction from a big audience.

Darko cred Jimbob Taylor.JPG
Darko. Photo: Jimbob Taylor.

On Thursday, No Matter opened the festival to an almost full room at Rebellion. Following them were Captain Trips, a skate-punk group from the South Coast that I have a massive soft-spot for. I’ve been trying to get as many people to hear about them as possible, so to see Rebellion full for their set was incredible. Not only was the venue rammed – the crowd were dancing, moshing and generally enthusiastic about seeing them. It made my heart melt a little bit. Continue reading “Top 10 Moments of Manchester Punk Festival 2018”

Bonus Drunkcast: MPF Highlights with Holly from Kiss Me, Killer

Holly Searle joins us to talk Manchester Punk Fest highlights and Hell Hath No Fury Fest.

“Let’s record a podcast,” I said.

“When’s the next time we’ll both be in the same place?” he said.

“How about at Manchester Punk Festival? Sunday morning might work.”

“Sweet. We need to check out of the hotel at 10:30, we’ll be at yours for 11am.”

In hindsight, that is the moment where it all went wrong. Mark Bell, our podcast co-host and general all-round sensible guy, agreed to this idea, no doubt considering the fact that he doesn’t tend to drink too much and that he’s smart enough to go home before the end of the afterparty.

Unfortunately, we didn’t factor in was my tendency to keep partying as early into the morning as possible. I lasted all the way through the afterparty, then ventured to the after-after party, then did some street drinking, then wound up at my friend’s flat partying with the last of MPF’s survivors. This is where Mark found me at 10:45 on Sunday morning, still drinking, swearing profusely and talking over everyone in a drunken fashion like a right twat. [Edit: I thought I’d powered through, but apparently I’d passed out and needed to be woken up 3 times while Mark was calling me.]

And so we recorded a podcast. Immediately afterwards, I passed out on a staircase. Continue reading “Bonus Drunkcast: MPF Highlights with Holly from Kiss Me, Killer”

Top 10 International Bands To Discover at MPF

Manchester Punk Festival is a brilliant opportunity to catch bands from around the world that you might never see otherwise. These are our top picks.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Every year Manchester Punk Festival bring some brilliant bands from around the world to our little Northern city, this year upping their game with international headliners like Propagandhi, Iron Chic and Death By Stereo.

Although there’s no shortage of acts to see, it’s worth grasping the opportunity to experience artists from further afield. There’s a wealth of talent from America, Russia, Japan, Australia and mainland Europe to enjoy. Last year, my favourite sets included Edward in Venice (Italy), Sweet Empire (Netherlands), Kollapse (Denmark) and Clowns (Australia), none of whom I’d had the chance to see before.

Note: The aim of this list is to highlight some great bands that you might otherwise dismiss because you’ve not heard of them – some are less well-known, others are big names that I’ve highlighted in case they’ve slipped by you in the past. However, I have deliberately excluded major acts that I assume everyone knows (i.e. Death By Stereo, Propagandhi, Iron Chic, The Copyrights). Obviously you should check them out too.

Either way, here are our top international bands worth discovering at MPF 2018 (in no particular order):

The Bennies (Melbourne, Australia)

I tend to assume everyone’s heard of The Bennies now, but then I’m reminded of the last time I saw them back in July last year. They supported their besties The Smith Street Band on tour and, apart from in London, they seemed to surprise audiences in every venue they played. In Norwich, the crowd began the set looking utterly bewildered, but by the end they were dancing and chanting, “Hey motherfucker, I’m a party machine!”

If you’ve seen The Bennies before, you’ll be going to see them again. If you’ve not seen The Bennies before, I highly recommend you go party with them; they are the ideal festival-fun band. Coming all the way from Australia, they play a mix of dance, ska, psych, funk, doom, 80s rock and punk that’s mashed together in this incredible spandex-clad surfer-beach-hair can’t-not-dance catastrophe.

The Bennies are playing in The Bread Shed at 18:05 on Friday.

Svetlanas (Moscow / Milan)

I’m not going to lie, the first time I listened to Svetlanas they scared the hell out of me. It’s proper hard-rocking punk straight out of Russia, like Motorhead have been doused in Petrol Girls, lit on fire and let loose on Red Square. Singer, Olga, has amusingly (and surprisingly accurately) been described by Jello Biafra as having a voice like an angry, cornered mongoose and they’ve been celebrated for their chaotic live presence.

Alongside their ferocious music, they are known for their vehement politically left bearing and, despite gaining a lot of critical acclaim, they’ve remained firmly DIY. After releasing a split with The Dwarves, they also attracted the attention of Nick Oliveri, who officially joined the band in 2016.

Svetlanas are playing in The Bread Shed at 19:45 on Saturday.

Mobina Galore (Winnipeg, Canada)

Mobina Galore are coming all the way from Canada with their pals Propagandhi. You may already be familiar with them, as they’ve toured here before with Against Me, PUP and Milk Teeth, and they’ve previously played Groezrock, etc.

It’s very easy to compare punk bands with female vocals to Distillers, but the comparison stands here, although Mobina Galore’s sound is cleaner and more stripped back. They’re a female duo who play heavy power punk in the form of consistently strong, memorable tunes, with an impressive undercurrent of attitude. This is proper, vocally aggressive, chainsaw riot grrl punk.

Mobina Galore are playing in Gorilla at 19:55 on Saturday, just before Propagandhi.

Continue reading “Top 10 International Bands To Discover at MPF”

Shout Louder Podcast #4: Manchester Punk Festival Special

Mark and Sarah discuss all things MPF 2018 including insider tips and line-up clashes, plus we announce the Wotsit Called Fest headliner!

We are so excited to share Podcast #4 with you! This is our favourite one so far; we just hope you love it as much as we do. You can listen on iTunes, Soundcloud and many other podcatchers, or on the link below.

Recorded in the extremely silly, hungover aftermath of Dugstock Festival Mark and Sarah discuss all things Manchester Punk Festival in detail. We pick through the whole line-up, talk about the festival’s history and give you insider tips on surviving the weekend. Even if you’re not attending the festival, it’s worth a listen to hear some fantastic punk tunes and to laugh at how tired we are.

Stay tuned till the end as we will also be proudly announcing the Friday night headliner of Wotsit Called Festival. Wotsit Called was one of our top festivals of 2017 and it’s growing even bigger this year. It takes place on the last weekend of September at The Palace in Hastings – you can book tickets here. We can’t wait to tell you who they’ve booked!

The podcast is available on iTunes (here) and all other good podcatchers, or you can listen to it right now:

These are the songs we play:

Continue reading “Shout Louder Podcast #4: Manchester Punk Festival Special”

Waterweed Interview: Japanese Melodic Hardcore Heavyweights

Read our in-depth interview with Osaka’s Waterweed ahead of their UK tour this month.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Japanese melodic hardcore heavyweights Waterweed have caused a ruckus in the UK punk scene lately. First, it was announced that they’d be making an appearance at Manchester Punk Festival. Then we heard that Lockjaw Records would be releasing their second album Brightest in the UK. Finally, a further flurry of exciting dates across the UK and mainland Europe have popped up.

Skate-punk fans may already be well aware of Waterweed, as a relatively big act in Japan, but as they’ve never visited Europe and never had a release here before, you can’t be blamed if you’ve not heard of them. We were keen to find out more about the band, the tour and the album, so we spoke to singer/bassist Tomohiro Ohga.

I am so excited to see you live at Manchester Punk Festival, and on your tour around the UK and mainland Europe! Is this your first time in the UK?

This is our first European tour. Outside of Japan, we have also toured in South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia.

What part of the trip are you most excited about?

Everything, I think! The scenery, sounds and smells in Europe will be a new experience for me.  Looking forward to finding some new inspiration.

Waterweed Live 1.jpg

Which bands you are looking forward to playing with most?

We are very excited to be performing with Satanic Surfers in Paris. When Waterweed was first formed, we listened to Hero of Our Time and were deeply impressed. We saw their show in Japan and are honored to perform together with a band we admire.

Also, we are performing with Propagandhi and Iron Chic at Manchester Punk Festival. Not on the same date, but also honored to be involved with the same music festival. We are playing on the same day as Death By Stereo. They came to the venue I work at during their Japan tour last year. I started liking them even more after seeing their great performance and personality. I’m also looking forward to performing with Darko and Bare Teeth after we join them, Almeida and Belvedere on a Japanese tour booked by the RNR crew. Continue reading “Waterweed Interview: Japanese Melodic Hardcore Heavyweights”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In April

We’ve done all the hard work for you and found the best punk gigs across the country in April.

Article by Sarah Williams.

At Shout Louder, our April revolves the smorgasbord of sonic splendour that is Manchester Punk Festival. Now in its fourth year, MPF takes place over April 19th – 21st and, besides featuring many fantastic bands, it is also a major friends-fest. Every year the festival inspires punk rock pals from around the country to descend upon the Rainy City, this year seeming to pull even more attention from around the UK and further afield.

That said, it’s already sold out so we’re not going to bang on about it here. We will be banging on about it soon, with a series of related interviews and articles highlighting some of the acts you may be less familiar with. Keep your eyes peeled for pieces over the coming weeks, plus a very hungover episode of our podcast.

If you’ve got cash, time and energy leftover from Manchester Punk Festival, there are our top picks of this month’s events:

Gig of The Month: Nosebleed Album Release & Tour

  • When: April 7th
  • Where: Wharf Chambers, Leeds
  • Who: Support from Riggots, Snake Rattlers, Batwölf , Bones Shake and Guns On The Roof
  • Check out the Facebook event

Nosebleed are always jaw-droppingly entertaining live, so imagine how good they’re going to be in their hometown, surrounded by friends, at the launch of their debut album. It’s going to be complete rock ‘n’ roll carnage. Just don’t forget to give Dickie some love when Ben and Elliot abandon him to roam around the dancefloor.

The line-up they’ve organised is the perfect complement to their stripped-back, raucous style. Every act puts their own unique twist on the punk rock that we love, be that minimalist hip-shaking venom from Snake Rattlers, Bouncing Souls-esque perfection from Guns on The Roof or entropy-made-audible in the form of Riggots. Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In April”

Album Review: Waterweed – Brightest

The new album from Japan’s Waterweed is the perfect mix of heavy and melodic, due for release on Lockjaw Records in April.

Review by Joëlle Laes.

“I have something you might like”, Sarah said. To say I was excited to review Waterweed’s Brightest is an understatement. I’ve been trying to get my hands on it since it came out in 2017 but outside of Japan it’s nearly impossible to find. Thanks to Lockjaw Records it’ll be widely available in Europe from April 6th!

That’s not all: this Japanese band will embark on their first European tour in April as well. They’ll start off in the UK and head to the mainland as well to play in the Netherlands, France, Czech Republic and Germany. Audiences can expect to be floored by their heavy approach to melodic hardcore… it’s a rare opportunity to enjoy bands from the thriving Japanese punk scene on our Western shores. This is a do not miss.

I must say I’m already a Waterweed fan. I am quite fond of their earlier records but was a bit worried when I heard mixed things about Brightest. “They became soft. It’s too poppy. It’s not fast enough,” some fans said. As far as I’m concerned, they are dead wrong. This album is a perfect mix of heavy and melodic.

The first song Red Eyes definitely sets the pace, though the tracks that follow appeal to me far more. From the second track Beyond The Ocean onward, the album becomes a lot more melodic and the vocal harmonies flow together smoothly, which leaves me excited for what’s left to come on the album. Continue reading “Album Review: Waterweed – Brightest”