Electric Eel Shock are on tour have been on tour for years, bringing their no nonsense, stripped-down hard rock directly to the fans. We caught up with Aki, singer and guitarrist, who kindly answered a few questions for us. This is the unedited version of the interview. For the edited versión española, click here.
First of all, congratulations on your worldwide success. You’re one of the few Japanese rock bands with a cult following in Europe and America. It must be a great feeling to know that you have so much fan-based support. I think the fans (and certainly the press) appreciate the way you achieved success. You really did it on your own, with no help from record companies. Tell us about your $50,000 pledge.
We haven’t gotten big record company’s help so far. But we’ve got huge helps from our friends, fans and small record companies.
We couldn’t make our world wide tour life without these helping. $50,000 is one proof of our wonderful fan base. We entered the fan funding sight “Sellaband”. The investor who is called “Believer” receives one CD and right to receive divvy with only 10 dollar investment. Mainly our believer bought only one or two pledges. It means they don’t target to make money, they just only want to have our new album. And our number of believers raised up very fast. Our believers came from over 30 countries, it is our pride of tour life!
You’re playing several cities in Spain, and all over the world. You’ve been on the road for years. Touring all the time must be a lot of fun and hard work. Do you think that’s the future of rock ‘n’ roll? I mean, there are more and more bands out there and less and less record sales.
Yeah, I think live show will be more important for bands.It becomes easier to get music by download day by day. I think it doesn’t necessarily mean bad. But we lost prime time to meet new songs. For example, when I bought “Diary of a mad man (Ozzy Osbourne 1981)” that is analog record at the release day, my friends came to my house, because it was expensive for low teenager, and of cause there were not illegal download site at the moment. Or when my friend bought Dio album, I went to his place. It was a great listening party, one of my great memory. But now it is too easy to get music, either way regal and illegal download. So no one doesn’t need to go out of home for it. We have more than 1000 songs in our pocket now. It is good, but also it reduce specialty to listen music.
But still live show is special. I believe more people will come back to club to feel specialty.
I think you belong to the same generation as The White Stripes. They also decided to simplify: less studio production, and more honest blues/rock and roll. And when I listen to the White Stripes or EES I always think of Nirvana’s “In Utero”. That raw feeling. Any new bands you can recommend? What is your favourite Japanese band?
Thank you very much, I’m grad you list great bands with EES. I really recommend Black Keys, even they are not new band. Sorry, if you already know, because they are pretty famous. And my Japanese favorite band is “The JFK” and “The Thanks”, their sound like museum of 70’s and 80’s hard rock, mixed up Thin Lizzy, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin etc. And “Natsumen” is super Japanese hardcore free jazz rock band. I don’t know why they are not so big…
It seems that Japanese indie bands are becoming more and more successful outside Japan. Shonen Knive, Church of Misery, Detroit7 and other acts are touring Europe. What do you think of the Japanese alternative scene? Has it changed much since the late 90s, when you started?
J-pop rock and Hip Hop are major now. Alternative scene was big in late 90’s….it is not big now. That’s why a lot of this kind of bands are going out Japan. But EES are getting success in Japan now. Our latest show in Japan was full house, even not so big capacity club.
We played 2 and half hour set there. People loved it ! We will re-make strong indie scene in Japan one more time. You should see EES show to feel currently Japanese indie scene on our Spain tour.
One difference between rock in Japan and here is the number of girl bands, mainly punk-pop bands. I really enjoy Red Bacteria Vacuum. Why do you think there are so many girl bands in Japan?
I don’t know why… I had to read this question before last night… because I met Red Bacteria Vacuum girls last night. Anyway it makes me proud that we have a lot of good girls band in Japan.
You must be asked this many times but I have to ask it again: is there any difference between the fans in Japan, America and Europe?
I don’t think there are big difference now. I had thought there were difference 10 years ago. I had thought Japanese fans are bit quite, and Western fans are always crazy. But I know the reason why I had thought so, because we were quite small band 10 years ago in Japan. Our Japanese fans are also crazy now. I think Japanese fans are just bit shy, they are not easy to get crazy at empty club…
But Western people doesn’t care empty or full, They are always crazy. So it is small difference.
Could you tell us something about the way the band started? I’ve read you were an 11-piece. Is this true?
After my previous band was broken, Kazuto and I made this EES. Already EES has more than 15 years history. We has been changed several times in early time of EES. Yes, we were 11 piece very early time. We were looking for possibility (Of cause we are looking for it also now). 11 piece was one of challenge to find it. We played sound is like “Heavy Metal meets Santana”, we had percussion, organ, brass, and female singer etc…. It was good sound, but it was so difficult to control. Especially booking was quite difficult, because all guys had another band or job. Three piece is easy…I love it, it is comfortable. Always easy to go! you can feel our comfortable suite sound is made by our 3 piece on our albums.
Finally, what are you plans for after the tour?
I am hungry to make songs. I want new songs really, because a lot of piece of idea is in my brain. So I want to go to studio after this tour. But also we have some offers from Japanese bands or summer festivals. So it will be very busy in this summer.
When I can go to fishing ?!?! Because I am crazy for fishing.
Aki (Vo and Gt)
THANK YOU AKI AND ELECTRIC EEL SHOCK FOR TAKING YOUR TIME. GOOD LUCK ON THE ROAD, SEE YOU IN MADRID AND KEEP ROCKING!