TOMO - Vocal/Bass
Birthday: August 7th
Birthplace: Fukuoka, Japan
Blood type: B
Yocchi - Organ/Chorus
Birthday: June 21st
Birthplace: Fukuoka, Japan
Blood type: B
Sue - Drums/Chorus
Birthday: August 14th
Birthplace: Fukuoka, Japan
Blood type: O
Live at Howler's Coyote Cafe
Live at WKDU Philadelphia
1. Don't Break My Heart
2. Red Star
3. Love Me Tonight
4. Stroller In The Air
5. Nobody Knows
6. It's All Over
7. Everything's Alright
9. Short On Love
10. Aeba Suki Suki
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Thee 50s High Teens Interview
If you (and who hasn't) ever once thought, "I wonder what female Japanese rock and roll vampires would look and sound like," here's your chance to find out. As an added bonus, you'll be the first on your block to know just what the heck "Thee 50s High Teens" actually means--and no it has nothing to do with the 1950s.
On December 29, 2008 TOMO, Yocchi and Sue were kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of Thee 50s High Teens with additional credits to Eric Bresler and Samantha.
Congratulations on the band's tenth year anniversary. TOMO, can you tell us the story of how the band was formed?
TOMO: When I was 16, I got so despaired about my life. I didn't know the meaning of life. So I dropped out of high school. I started thinking, what I was able to do? Finally I thought rock n' roll music would be great. That's why I started the band.
Where did the name come from and what does it mean?
Our age is called "high teens" in Japan, which actually means late teens in English. 50's is not for the 1950's but the 50's in Showa-era of Japan (1975-1984). So the band name comes from us--the members were born in the 50's Showa-era and were "high teens" when the band formed. Our age actually is not "high teen" now but we still feel as if we were high teen.
At what point did everyone in the band's current line-up join?
We have experienced many member changes so it is a fluid situation. Now we are looking for an official guitarist.
How would you describe your group's original musical style?
Primary impulse...? It is like, we do as we like. I think our music is very emotional.
How does it compare to what you play today?
I don't compare to anything. We are just us.
What motivated you to dress up in your vampire style?
Because it's just cute, cool and sexy. But we have another outfits other than vampire style. We think outfits are very important. Of course, we play music and we have to try with our sound, but I also think the visual image is important to get people interested. Don't you think it's much more interesting when you see and enjoy at concerts? It's one of our performances.
Do you consider yourself to be a part of the goth scene?
We don't consider ourselves to be goth... But it's up to people what they think. I think it's OK if they get interested because of it.
What type of places did you first perform at?
Small venue that have already closed down.
Tell us about recording your first album.
"Hellish" three days, in one word. We had to finish all the recording procedures in three days. It was a very hard schedule.
Who writes the music and lyrics?
How do you write the songs? Is there a set process you go through?
TOMO roughly thinks it through first and then all the members work out the details in the studio.
Your second album, Punch De Beat, was your first released to the US. How does the music compare to your earlier works?
It is more pop music than our first album. I hope many listeners were able to accept our music even if they are not interested in garage rock.
Tell us about the song Don't Break My Heart.
The song is about a woman who loves a nasty man. She's got a broken heart and feels so sad but she still can't forget him. I made it in a very short period right before we recorded.
TOMO, your screams are pretty amazing. How did you learn how to do it?
Well, since my childhood, Mom and I shouted at each other when we quarreled, which makes my screams. (^^;
The band did a tour of the US in September. How did it go?
It was very fun and exciting.
Was this your first time here?
Yes, it was our first time to visit North America.
What surprised you the most about touring overseas?
Every food portion we were given to eat was huge!
The intensity of your live performance is pretty impressive. What do you do to get yourself pumped up for a show?
We do different things; try to get irritated or drink a little to get fired up.
Let's learn a little more about everyone's background. What was your hometown like?
We all grew up in Fukuoka. It's a very beautiful city and the food is great. It is not so countryside nor so urban, but comfortable to live in. People in Fukuoka seem to be attention seekers. There are lots of entertainers and musicians from this city.
Rock in Fukuoka is called "Mentai Rock" music and is considered very special in Japan. I think Fukuoka people have passionate hearts.
We were not friends at first. We met each other when we all looked for a band to play in, but we all grew up enjoying music influenced by our parents. It was very natural for us to begin playing music together.
What kind of kids were you? Shy? Outgoing?
TOMO: Tough on my own turf. Shy but an attention seeker.
Yocchi: I was very forward girl.
Sue: Good girl. A girl who listened to what parents and teachers said.
Were you good students? Teacher's nightmare?
TOMO: I was a teacher's nightmare, really. I hated school and always tried to bunk it.
Yocchi: Good girl. But I didn't get along with some teachers and some didn't like me too.
Sue: Good girl who always worked as class officer every year. Teachers liked me so much. But now I think myself a bit shifty.
How did you all first get into music?
TOMO: Mom loved music and I think it influenced me the most. My parents had many old records at home so I listened to music since my childhood.
Yocchi: Dad loved music and I found myself starting to play instruments.
Sue: I learned to play the piano when I was little. There was always music around me.
How did everyone pick the instrument that you play?
TOMO: My ex-boyfriend recommended me to play the bass.
Yocchi: The band wanted to have an organist. (^^
Sue: My teacher in elementary school was a drummer, which made me think that drums were great. But I didn't imagine that I would play in a band!
What artists did you love when you were growing up?
TOMO: There are many artists I love that I can't name here.
Yocchi: The Golden Cups
Sue: Uh...I have almost the same favorite artists since my childhood.
What groups still inspire you today?
TOMO: Many groups. Good is good if it is famous or not.
Yocchi: The Animals. This is because I started playing the organ.
Sue: Takarazuka Revue Company. I really wanted to join them when I was little.
Outside of music, what type of things do you all do for fun?
We are still young girls and just enjoy everyday life.
What are your plans for 2009?
We will play at Cinema Festival in January in Germany. It is not a tour, though. This will be the second time to visit Germany. We have not fixed other schedules but hopefully we want to release a new CD and visit the US again.
Do you have anything else you want to bring up or comment on?
We want to be characters in a cartoon. Someone do a cartoon about us!
Do you have a final message to all your fans?
Cheer us on to success in a cartoon!? (^^ We are definitely more interesting than Puffy!
For more info checkout Thee 50s High Teen's official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments