The lack of a record contract didnt stop these San
Francisco indie-rockers from organizing their own Japan tour
|l to r: Kevin Seidel,
Ward Evans, John Benson and George Carney
Big-league promoters like Smash, UDO and Creativeman would
seem to have the Tokyo rock concert market all sewn up, but
for bands without major label contracts, agents and high-profile
industry connections, there are still ways of making their
sushi dreams come true.
San Franciscos Recliner took just about the most obvious
route imaginable. They contacted Tokyo rock clubs through
their websites, and soon had organized a mini-tour for themselves.
An email I sent to a clubs website was returned,
and suddenly we were talking with Mr. Uchida, the owner of
Live Freak, says guitarist and vocalist Ward Evans from
San Francisco. We sent him a promotional package, and
he booked us for three nights. He has been very helpful in
referring us to peopleone of them, Mr. Akimoto with
Studio Penta, booked our show at Club Sanctuary. George (our
bass player) made friends with all-female J-rock band Linus
Meets Blanket while he was there last year, and they got us
a show in Yokohama with them. Yatta! Suddenly we have a six-day,
This do-it-yourself ethic characterizes the efforts of Recliner,
who formed only in 2003. Comprised of Evans, Kevin Seidel
(vocals/guitar), George Carney (bass/vocals) and John Benson
(drums), the members were all friends and veterans of the
San Francisco indie-rock scene. Three of the four had been
members of the seminal surf band, the Swamis, which disbanded
in the late 90s after releasing two CDs.
After pursuing independent projects for a while, the four
got back together, mixing it up, switching instruments, retooling
their sound, and recruiting Carney who had played with 3-Minute
World, early pioneers of SF power pop. The result was Recliner,
and by the fall of 2003 they had released a self-titled debut
EP on their own Poison Pen Records imprint.
Within a year, the band had issued their second album, Make
A Friend, recorded and mixed in a week entirely on analog.
Blending driving alt-rock rhythms with distorted guitars and
sweet vocal harmonies, Recliners sound has drawn comparisons
to bands as diverse as the Pixies, Cheap Trick and Fugazi.
Relentlessly tongue-in-cheek, they describe it themselves
as the sound of a smiling, well-dressed man holding
As this writer can testify, the media-savvy group are also
effective self-promoters. In 2004 theyve managed to
get themselves a slot at the SF Noise Pop Festival, radio
airplay from Chile to Las Vegas, and a featured artist spot
on 3000 e-Cast digital juke boxes across North America.
Theyve also gotten their self-produced video for the
song All Pleasure national airplay on the FUSE
music television channel. The video is set at a house party,
where a Jesus-like character performs such miracles as making
sure a guys quarters drop into a glass in the quarters
drinking game, and turning a cops handcuffs on himself
when he comes to break up the party. We were wondering
what it would be like if He were around today, says
Evans. Hed probably be the kind of guy who lets
people come over and party at his house (after all, his first
miracle was turning water into wine)...So, one idea leads
to another, we rolled a keg into a friends house, filmed
all day, and by dark the keg was empty and we had our video.
John (the drummer) and I directed itthats our
Meanwhile, for those heading to the West Coast, Evans says
that the SF indie scene is finally crawling out from
under a rock, after getting hammered by the dot-com boom and
bust. Highlights include heavy smart-rockers We Are Invisible,
Lucy, and transvestite glam punks Pepper Spray.
Recliner play Live Freak Shinjuku
on Oct 16-18, Club 24 West Yokohama on Oct 19 and Club Sanctuary
Tokyo on Oct 20. See concert listings for details.
credit: Poison Pen Records
with METROPOLIS readers at http://forum.japantoday.com