By Dan Grunebaum
The death of bassist Billy seemed the right occasion for
a retrospective, says main wolf Seiji
Everyone knows Guitar Wolf stand for de-evolved, leathernsweat
rock and no-holds-barred decadence. Or do they? By reputation,
frontman Seiji should be in the process of throwing TVs out
the window when I enter the sterile conference room at Sonys
Ki/oon label. But instead, he eases out of a high concept
chair and gives me a genial handshake and greeting in rudimentary
but serviceable English.
The occasion for the interview is the release of a best-of
album and a live DVD in tribute to bassist Billy (aka Bass
Wolf), who died of a heart attack on March 31 at age 38. Its
a difficult subject to broach, so I take the circuitous route
with the obvious question...
Why did you decide to release the album now?
Billy died, so it seemed right. Ki/oon said this would be
a good time. I was like, really? OK.
The songs were selected by fans who voted on the bands
homepage. Any surprises?
The song Rock de Korose [Murder by Rock]
is the loudest on the albumvery dirty and loudbut
everybody loved this song. Wow! Thank you!
When you listened to the songs, did you feel like anything
No, because we always play old and new songs. To choose the
order, I recorded each song on MD, and after that I listened.
Wow! Great! I wanted the album to be like Ramones Mania.
The Ramones werent on speaking terms by the end.
How do you stay friendly?
Were always joking, and beer helps too.
Tell me about your different personalities...
Im the leader. Billy was the chimpira [hoodlum]. [Drummer]
Toru is the conscience of the band. Not serious, but he stops
us from going too far. He is like dog trainer, but not too
The new single is just the two of you. Tell me why you
decided not to look for a new bassist.
We are looking for a new bassist. But now its just us,
so we decided [to document] this moment. We thought: important.
On the DVD its clear how popular you are worldwide.
How was your tour to South America?
Especially Argentina, now no money. Its poor and violent
place. The town is not so bright, a little dark. Maybe not
so many bands go there, so everybody was hungry for rocknroll.
The next day, I went to Brazil. The sun was very strong. No
shadow because directly overhead. And every girl is very beautiful.
Very different from Argentina. Hot girls and boys.
Do people know your music well?
Yeah, at CBGBs they know us. Almost all countries we
visited, everybody know us. In my childhood, I always thought
in uso [pretend] English, and now they think in uso Japanese.
When we were young we listened to English songs and sang uso
English, now theyre singing in uso Nihongo.
What kind of image do people have of Japan?
Harakiri! [laughs] Japan is famous these days, so they
dont have strange image. I visited Japantown in São
Paulo. Good food.
Doesnt touring get tiring?
No. Never. I keep my energy with Jet Beer.
Is that a brand?
Yes. Our song.
What does jet mean to you?
I like the word jet. Jet plane is fastcool. Every word,
if we add jet to it, it will be cool. Jet water, jet rain,
jet mike, every word will be made cool!
What first gave you the idea for the name Guitar Wolf?
I like the animal. It has a cool feeling.
How about your Guitar Wolf edition jacket?
Schott designed it. Because I always wear Schott from long
time ago. Its got a beer pocket. Youre not supposed
to bring in beer, so I can hide beer. If it was made out of
cloth, it would rip. Leather is stronger.
Are there special stage-diving pads?
Good idea! And it should have air conditioner.
Its a classic rockabilly look. Was that an influence?
Of course! Elvis, Link Ray...and punk rock. Johnny Thunders,
Ramones, Clash, Sex Pistols
and Bruce Lee, Joan Jett.
What do you think of the Yoyogi Park rockabilly dancers?
My friends, but I dont dance with them.
Tell me about working with Joan Jett.
Of course she is a big star for me, in my heart
birthday! Miracle! One day long time ago I read Runaways album.
The album had discography. It said, Joan Jett, birthday Sep
22. Whaaaa, wooww, seggaii, great! I called somebody and said,
Same birthday with Joan Jett. They were like,
oh, I see...
How did you feel when you met her?
I was scared, very nervous, but she was not nervous. I couldnt
talk with heronly ask for her signature.
No jam session?
Just opening act. But the set list was all jet songs: Jet
Generation, Jet Nagasaki
Recently theres been a new wave of garage rock. What
do you think of it?
Really? I thought it never died.
Is there anything you like?
The Vines. I like their songs, but their live show didnt
impress me too much. Theyre too serious.
What do you think is behind this new wave?
Golden Black (available with special
edition gold leather case) and Live at Sekai Ookami Rising
(Live at the World Wolf Rising) are available on Sony imprint
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