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MUGWUMPS Vital Stats
Hiroyuki Koike
Hiroyuki Koike
Vocals & Guitar
Birthday: May 8th, 1985
Birthplace: Shizuoka
Blood Type: A

Yoshitaka Shinmura
Yoshitaka Shinmura
Vocals & Bass
Birthday:May 4th, 1985
Birthplace: Kanagawa
Blood Type: B

Kozo Kurosawa
Kozo Kurosawa - Drums
Birthday: March 24, 1986
Birthplace: Tokyo
Blood Type: AB

No Excuses song sample

Laughing Out Loud

I Know What You Want


At Pop Speed (2008)

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MUGWUMPS Interview

Mugwumps - Photo by H and A - click for full size "I was first into some Japanese pop bands, but one day I saw Sid Vicious on some magazine..." And that's all it took for a young Hiroyuki Koike to be thrown into the world of punk rock. With an unusual upbringing in Wales starting at age 5, Hiroyuki is now fronting a very Japanese punk rock group along with Yoshitaka Shinmura on bass and Kozo Kurosawa on drums.

Their 2008 debut album, "At Pop Speed" was produced by former Suicide Machines guitarist Dan Lukacinsky and features a snappy lineup of punk rock songs like No Excuses and Tell Me.

On March 16, 2009 Hiroyuki Koike from MUGWUMPS was kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of MUGWUMPS with additional credits to H and A, Fujiikun, Wataru Umeda and Yuki Kuroyanagi.

Let's start with the release of your 2008 debut album, At Pop Speed. How big of a moment was it for the band?

Mugwumps - Photo by H and A - click for full size Totally exciting and rad. We had a great time in the studio with Dan completing the full length.

The album is also going to be released in the US and France soon?

Yes, the USA version off Asian Man Records is coming out in April and the French version will be off of Guerilla Asso sometime after that.

How many years had you been working on the music?

About a year.

How would you describe the album's musical style?

Full of energy and poppy melodies.

Can you describe what the recording sessions were like?

Mugwumps - Photo by H and A - click for full size The recording process was pretty simple, but there was a magic word we used throughout the recording: "High Energy!"

What was it like working with The Suicide Machine's former guitarist Dan Lukacinsky?

It was really interesting and of course a great experience. I still can't believe we had him to produce the record for us. Basically, he gave us his tips and advice in making a good record and also gave us some strawberry flavored "Pocky" (come to Japan if you don't know what that is) throughout the whole recording. Yummy.

How do you write music? Does the music or lyrics come first?

I start with music first, then lyrics. Sometimes I get a good title for a song first then I start working on the music.

Once you have an idea for a song, is it easy or hard to finish it?

Mugwumps - Photo by Fujiikun - click for full size Pretty easy actually, but while making the album I learned it's real important to thoroughly check the songs if something is too much or too less.

Do you have a favorite song to play live?

No specific song, but playing new songs and getting used to playing it live is always good fun.

Can you tell us about your upcoming tours?

We have no long tours coming up, but we got plenty of shows in Tokyo.

What is the band like on the road together? Fighting? Nothing but fun?

Nothing but fun! I love meeting new people and making new friends on tour. Yeah, and sometimes I get wasted and find myself on the floor.

Let's learn about the band's unique background. Where was everyone born and raised?

Mugwumps - Photo by Fujiikun - click for full size Our bassist Yoshi and I were born in Shizuoka, the prefecture that Mount Fuji is in. Our drummer Kozo was born in Tokyo.

Can you describe the neighborhoods you each grew up in?

My neighborhood was totally normal, nothing out of the ordinary. There was a venue in my town and another one in a town nearby, and Yoshi and I used to go and hangout there a lot.

What kind of kids were you? Shy? Outgoing? Loved school?

I loved school! I just listened to punk most of my school days.

How did you first get into music?

I was first into some Japanese pop bands, but one day I saw Sid Vicious on some magazine. That changed my musical preferences after that.

Who were your musical inspirations growing up?

Mugwumps - Photo by Wataru Umeda - click for full size Hi-Standard inspired me a lot.

Did you always think music would be such a big part of your life?

Yes, and it was too late when I noticed it.

When did your family move to Wales?

It was about 1991, so I was 5 or 6 then.

If you had a lost twin who grew up in Japan, how different a person do you think he would be?

He'd be using an umbrella when it's barely even raining (people in Tokyo never turn down an opportunity to use an umbrella).

Tell us the story of forming the band in 2004.

Yoshi and I were looking for a good drummer after we moved to Tokyo to go to university, and my friend introduced me to Kozo.

What other groups had each of you been in before?

Mugwumps - Photo by Yuki Kuroyanagi - click for full size I was in a 5 piece girl vocal pop punk band, and for Yoshi this band is his first band. Kozo had several bands but I don't know much about it.

Who came up with the band's name and what does it mean?

Kozo did. He found it in a dictionary and we liked it because it didn't sound like other Japanese bands. It means overconfident and lonely, or something like that... I guess.

What were the first few years like together?

Well, first I wrote songs that sounded like Blink182, but a good wise friend told us that's no good. After that I started to concentrate on writing songs with a more relaxed feeling, and that really worked well for me.

What do your family and friends think of your musical dreams?

I don't know, I never really ask them. But I appreciate their great support.

Tell us about making the video for Laughing Out Loud. What was it like working with Tetsuka Kazunori?

Mugwumps - Photo by Yuki Kuroyanagi - click for full size He was a real cool guy. We brought whole sets of amps and a drum kit into an old warehouse and just played like we do live. We also went to an onsen (hot spring) with him after the shooting. Nothing like a trip to the onsen after some good work.

Can we get a peak into the romantic life of the MUGWUMPS? Anyone married? Kids?

No one is married yet. I'd like to get married and have kids, but before that I have to make good music that I could keep doing for a living.

Are you a romantic lot? What type of places do you like to go on dates?

My girlfriend and I prefer indoors and we stay in the house a lot. But we go out and watch movies and go shopping sometimes. We like the Ghibli museum too.

Aside from music, what type of things do you do to relax and have fun?

Spending time with my girlfriend, and going out with friends for drinks. But listening and having music in my head is the best.

Do you have a favorite Japanese (or Welsh?) food that most people in North America have probably never tried?

Maybe gyoza. Actually that's Chinese food. Do you guys have gyoza in the US?

Mugwumps - Photo by Yuki Kuroyanagi - click for full size What are your plans for the rest of the year?

To keep playing good shows and keep writing good songs. We're planning an EP release at the end of this year or beginning of next year.

Do you have anything else you want to bring up or comment on?

We would love to tour in the US or somewhere outside Japan!

Do you have a final message to all your fans?

Thanks for reading the interview. Keep listening to good music, and don't forget to look for good music on your own.

For more info checkout MUGWUMPS MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments