FAR-EAST PHALLUS KICKER won us over during their very first headline concert last summer (August 2021). We then decided to bring these phallus kickers together for an intimate interview and a photoshoot to present them to you in depth. FAR-EAST PHALLUS KICKER is a band that promises to get everyone up on their feet. Get ready to be swept away !
The band name is quite unique. How did you guys come up with the idea ? Is it somehow related to Yayoi Kusama (pop art) novel Woodstock Phallus Cutter ?
Chuya : Yes, it is indeed related to this book (shows the book). However, the very first idea I had regarding the band name comes from a song Hideki introduced me : Kyokutō Lover. I simply fell in love with this song so deeply that I decided to use the first part, Kyokutō (far-east in English), for the band name. There is also a song on our EP titled Far East Lovers, for the same reason. Then, I mixed it with the novel’s title Woodstock Phallus Cutter. I thought it sounded good, I thought it was a boom-in-your-face band name. It’s quite unforgettable right ? The book is very much avant-gardiste. It is also in a particular format. It is kind of presented as a collection of poems. It is different, I like it. Let me read a passage for you : 次が出てきた満月、星の小さい光、消してしまうこと (the next full-moon that followed, the stars’ slight lights is about to extinguish). I love it, even though I don’t fully grasp its meaning (laughs). It makes me reflect. As for the word kicker, it is related to the pounding sound of the drums. During live-shows, I love the sensation of the thumping drum beating behind my back. I feel like the music is penetrating me. It makes me feel alive. I love techno music for the exact same reason. I feel like the pulse of my heart is marching together in harmony with the beat of the drums. It makes me connect with the essence of being, the essence of life, the present moment. It makes me feel alive. The first time we rehearsed together as a band, I thought it was it "it's a kick-ass band" ! The guitar and the bass next to me, the drums behind me… I was caught in between this amazingness. This how I thought about the word kicker. Anyway, how do you say the word phallus in French ?
Phallus, like in English (laughs).
Chuya and Hideki, you have known each other for a long time. You play music together in the band DE-LAX. What inspired you to start another band together ?
Hideki : I am the one who asked Chuya to come play with me. We have known each other for a long time, we have been playing together for ages. I asked him to come jam with me for fun. We met a lot, we jammed a lot and we drank together a lot. The more we met, the more we played together, the more our desire to start a new band enforced. And here we are today, giving an interview to a French media. As for the reason we wanted to try something new… He is the one who knows me the best and I am the one who knows him the best. I thought it would be interesting and challenging to try something new, musically, together. I wanted to create something front scratch with the musician I know the best. A new beginning for both of us.
Chuya : The way you talk about us, about me, is somehow disturbing. It gives me butterflies (smiles in a smitten way). Anyway, then Hideki suggested that we bring along female rhythmic players in the band. He thought it would be badass and I agreed. As I said before, when I thought about the band name and the word kicker, I wanted to convey the idea of being blown away by the rhythm and taken away by dynamic music. There is no better way to get your ass kicked than it is by women. It’s just super cool to have strong, kicking ass female rhythmic players.
Reiko : Chuya, I can really relate to the way you describe the sensation you get on stage, being kicked by the drum beat. This is the first time someone explains exactly what it feels like for me on stage. There’s something quite indescribable about this feeling, it is something very unique to small live venues. The feeling you get on stage is simply amazing. I have tried my best to reproduce this sensation and I am beyond happy I can make you feel that way. It’s very fulfilling (smiles).
Chuya : You know, there is a monitor system on stage called monitor speakers which allow musicians to hear themselves and the other members of the band clearly. But I’d rather not use any, I’d rather have the beat coming from behind me naturally (laughs). It’s so much more enjoyable because stage excitement, tension, can rise better, faster, stronger.
A mixed-sex band is pretty rare. Usually, it’s either an all-male band or an all-female band. As I understand, it was a thoughtful choice of yours to create a mixed-sex band, wasn’t it ?
Chuya : At the very, very beginning, we didn’t think about creating a mixed-sex band. At the end of the day, I don’t really care about gender. As long as the band is great, nothing else matters. That being said, the first time I saw Reiko Mukai play the drums, I thought this woman was badass and I wanted to have my ass kicked by her (laughs). I hope everyone understands the image (laughs).
Reiko : Thank you (smiles). That being said, all of their musician-friends declined their offer. It’s our common friend, Matarow, who gave rise to the idea of making me the drummer of the band.
Hideki : Yes, Matarow suggested the idea and I talked about it with Chuya. Chuya and I play together in a band called DE-LAX as you mentioned earlier, so we really wanted to sound differently from what we have been doing so far together. Ery and Reiko just match perfectly in this new project.
Ery and Reiko, how did you feel about joining the band ?
Ery : I was the last member who joined the band so I am going to let Reiko talk first.
Reiko : Chuya contacted me, he asked me whether I was available on April 16th or not, for a performance in a live-house. I, of course, accepted the offer right away. I admire and respect him as an artist. I was happy that he thought about me. I was really excited to be able to play with him on stage. I learnt the songs. What surprised me though, is that shortly before the rehearsals, he told me we would take artist photos to celebrate this musical collaboration. I was speechless… He said : "But before this, let’s have a meeting together to officialize the birth of this new band”. This is how I got in (smiles) !
Chuya : This is how I roll (laughs) !
Hideki : This man has a free spirit (points Chuya). He just goes with the flow and embraces spontaneity as you may have noticed. He just marches the beat of his own drum. Unfortunately for us, he’s a real B blood type…
Ery : As for me, I was spotted playing the bass along with a common friend, Matarow. He invited all of us, individually, at his birthday party. I guess this is how I got noticed.
Hideki : Spot on, I thought it would be great to have you.
The music industry is said to be sexist. I mean, women are marginalized as performers (apart from pop artists), songwriters, or record company owners. Being women, have you ever had any difficulties ?
Reiko : As far as I am concerned, I don’t feel any sexism. Male musicians treat me as an equal, as another musician, as one of their colleagues. Nowadays, I never feel any different from the other musicians, sincerely. That being said, I have been in the business for a long time. It wasn’t like this before. It has changed, for the better. 20 years ago, I could feel a sense of superiority from the men. They would think things like : "she can actually play", "good for a girl". It is still a men’s industry since they represent the numeric majority but I don’t feel any kind of sexual discrimination anymore. When we hang out together, we talk about music. I really don’t feel like I’m treated differently from the others.
Ery : As for me, I have never really felt any super ugly kind of sexual discrimination. Some men might still think that women can’t make good music but I pity them. I have met, once or twice, men who belittle and have dismissive attitudes towards me but once they hear me play the bass, they shut it up and their faces brighten up. They are positively surprised.
Are you happy with the band, results, so far ?
Hideki : I’m very happy so far. I think we have a great and solid foundation. That being said, I feel like we’re still searching for our own, unique, sound. We’re still at the very beginning of the process. From now on, it’s gonna get more interesting and exciting. I am so looking forward to seeing what will comes next. Especially, with HIM, that guy over here (points Chuya). He has reached an excellent level. He’s also a perfectionist. It’s very interesting for me to make new music, to build a new musical project, together.
Chuya : Oh, with HIM… Together….(smiles with an infatuated look upon his face).
Hideki, for the time being you are the main song writer. How are the other guys involved in the creating process ?
Hideki : Yes, I am the main song writer for the time being but I am very open to ideas. I actually encourage them. Please send me your stuff (laughs) ! The problem is that everybody is very busy and active with other music work. That being said, everybody’s has his or her own musical identity. I compose but they arrange all the tracks.
Ery : Yes, what we do is the arrangement. Basically arrangement is a musical reconceptualization of a previously composed work. The final song usually differs from the original work by means of reharmonization, melodic line change, orchestration, or development of the formal structure.
Hideki : I sometimes struggle with self-doubt when writing music. Sometimes I feel like I am at the top of a mountain, and other times i feel like I am falling off that mountain. When in doubt, when I’m stuck, I ask for help, I ask for ideas. You know, I barely write any drum beats. I leave that completely to Reiko. She’s totally free to do and create whatever she wants. She always offers amazing ideas.
Is there any concept behind the band ? Have you agreed on anything regarding the band's image for example ?
Reiko : We spoke about our image just once. It’s not something we’re very interested in. We only agreed on the fact that we’ll basically dress in black. As for the music, the only thing we agreed on was the fact that we should always love the songs we create. Musicians aren't always fans of their own music because the music they create sometimes doesn’t turn out to be as great as they'd hoped. The only rule is that we all love the tracks we create.
Chuya : Thinking about your question, I have just realized we haven’t talked much about what image we’d like to develop.
Hideki : Well, actually I did have an image in mind and the image was, mostly, you Chuya. HIM, that man right here (laughs).
Chuya : Aw ! Is that so (looks very happy) ?
Hideki : You’re the boss (laughs) !
Though you haven’t decided about much of anything, how would you describe your universe, sound and aesthetics to someone who has never heard about you ? When I saw you on stage, I was struck by the balanced mix between Japanese rock culture and Western rock culture that the band and its music exude.
Hideki : Wow, that is a very difficult question (laughs). When I compose, I never think about whether the song will sound Japanese or westerly. The first thing I have in mind is the vocalist who will eventually sing the song. As for the band, the first thing I had in mind was Chuya, his universe, his special words. He is Japanese and so am I, so even though my musical taste is definitely rooted in the West (blues, rock, punk), even though I’m definitely influenced by the West, my creativity is filtered through the lens of my Japanese-ness.
We’ve talked about it earlier, how exactly was the creative process of your first EP ?
Ery : Hideki writes the music and we rearrange it according to our tastes. We book a studio to rehearse the track. We practice and practice some more. We play it live and modify it until we reach full satisfaction. We go back to the studio to record it. Nowadays, lots of musicians record their musical parts separately but this is not what we do. We all gather up to record music together.
Will you create the next album the same way ?
Ery : Yes, we will procede the exact same way.
Hideki : I haven’t said it to anyone yet, there are only 2 songs left to create and refine to complete our first album.
Reiko : How cool !
Hideki : Once the interview is published, you'll be pressure to complete the album with me (laughs). Right guys ?
Thanks for the exclusive information.
Could you tell me what you like best and least about being a musician ?
Reiko : What I love the most is seeing people enjoying the music I play during a live show. There’s nothing like it. Concerts are my favorite things, ever. The most difficult part about being a musician is the everyday life. The life of a musician is insecure. That being said, I love what I do and I do what I love. If I had chosen an ordinary path, an ordinary job, I would have had more money that’s for sure, I would have had my weekends off, but I wouldn’t have been happy. This is not who I am.
Ery : I totally agree with you. What I love the most is definitely performing on stage. But to be exact, the most important thing for me is the interaction with the people who come to the shows. There’s a special and unique chemistry that comes off each concert. Each and every performance is unique. It’s the most extraordinary thing about being a musician. As for the cons, I would say the income instability. Year 2020 was tough in terms of money. All my shows were canceled, I basically earned no money (laughs).
Hideki : Being an artist involves putting a huge amount of effort and emotion into a project and I love the process. I love trying to materialize creative ideas. I am enamored with the creation process, the way ideas come into mind as the tiniest synapse and then, grow and come into being. The negative point is related to the creative process though… I sometimes self doubt, I sometimes struggle with materializing my own ideas. When I complete a song, I am always a little nervous about how people will receive it. I always wonder if I have done my best to create the vision I had. Will the people be as excited as we were ? The reception of something I have put so much of myself into is very stressful for me.
Chuya : Music reminds me why going solo goes against our nature as social beings. I have sung with many bands, I have tried to play solo for a while but it was too hard for me. Something was not right. Alone, I feel like I’m not getting anywhere. There’s something special about being in a band that’s missing when we perform alone. When I sing with musicians by my side, as a band, we all have to breathe together. That breath is the music. What I love the most is the emotional synchrony of being in a band. As for the cons, I sincerely don’t think of any. I am a musician, that’s the best job in the world (smiles).
That’s a very cool answer.
Are there any musicians who inspire you ? What qualities do you admire about them ?
Chuya : Ah, I’m very interested in knowing what the others have to say. I want to know their musical tastes. As for me, I love David Bowie and Nick Cave. I have always loved them. Recently, I’ve been listening to THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS. The members are the same generation as Cave and Bowie and are still active which is absolutely amazing ! They are all great frontmen. What I love the most about them is their vocal abilities. Their songs valorise their voices. That’s actually what I love about Hideki. He has the ability to create songs that fit my voice. His songs always make me want to write beautiful lyrics. I also love the sabi-melo, the melody.
Hideki : What’s that ?
Ery : The main melody of a song, I guess.
Hideki : Oh, right on ! You are mastering Chuya’s language decoding. You’ve leveled up (laughs) !
Reiko : As for me, I’ve always admired THE BEATLES and THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS. Concerning THE BEATLES, I really love some drum sequences in their songs. Without these sequences, I think the songs would love their greatness. These sequences are iconic. The first time I heard them, I was blown away. I think they build the identity of the tracks. They build their character. As for THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, I love how the voice of the singer is always carried and highlighted by the drums.
Chuya : This is exactly what I mean when I say I want to have my butt kicked by her (laughs).
Ery : The first person that comes to mind is MÖTLEY CRÜE’s bassist, Nikki Sixx. He has been a real source of influence for me. I love the way his plays the bass. I love his style. His playing is not very technical but he knows how to put on a great show. He emits an amazing energy. He’s also very charismatic on stage. He knows how to engage with the audience and as a bassist, it’s remarkable. He has the ability to get people excited about him and I really admire him for that. I have always wanted to be a performer like him.
Hideki : Damn, I guess it’s my turn. I love so many artists, it’s very hard to pick just a few (laughs). I really love Link Wray, an American guitarist from the 50’s. He has so much charisma. His playing style is really cool ! He has a unique touch of playing and a distinctive approach to composition. He is the one who made me want to become a guitarist myself.
Thank you all.
Let’s conclude the interview with a little game.
Recording studio or Live concert ?
All as one : Live
Interview or photoshoot ?
Hideki : Photoshoot.
Chuya : I am a narcissist, photoshoot !
Ery : Interview. Both are fun though.
Reiko : I feel uncomfortable in front of a camera. Interview !
Hero or villain ?
Ery : Villain !
Reiko : I love villains !
Hideki : I am a Tora-san (車寅次郎, Kuruma Torajirō) type of person (laughs). A hero, a kind-hearted vagabond who is always unlucky in love.
Chuya : (starts singing David Bowie's Heroes) We can be heroes !
Idealist or realist ?
Hideki : Considering my age, realistic (laughs).
Ery : Generally speaking, I am more of a idealist.
Reiko : Artists are idealists, aren’t they ?
Chuya : I am definitely in space (smiles)
Which Deadly Sin are you : pride, envy, gluttony, lust, wrath, greed and sloth ?
Ery : Sloth !
Reiko : Me too, Sloth !
Hideki : (sighs) Lust, I can’t help it (laughs) !
Chuya : Ditto, lust !
Since Yoann chooses sloth and me, lust, let's take a photo: the sloth team on one side and the lust team on the other.