I’m going to go see DMBQ tonight for, what is it, the fifth time. Instead of waxing poetic about overcoming tragedy, I thought I’d share an e-mail I received when I contacted DMBQ lead singer/guitarist Shinji in June of 2002 when the band was on its way here for the second time. I don’t remember what else I told him or asked him. I guess I was not feeling well when I wrote, and I probably asked what he’d been listening to…
Date: June 5, 2004 7:31:14 AM PDT
To: Bob Doran <journal(at)cox.net>
Subject: Re: Questions from Arcata
I am sorry you have a headache. Are you OK? Please take care. And yes, I am fine. Now I am listening to the Joan Jett’s Runaways. Then I am gonna listen to Johnny Smith. My record shelf is in disorder.
OK, here are answers:
What are your first memories of music? My parents had a lot of record and I could listen to them freely when I was child then. I liked the smell of vinyl very much. Even now I like it. Moreover, I liked gazing at rotation of a turntable abstractedly too. So playing record was my favorite thing. One day I found Lionel Hampton record. It was my first favorite record. Even now, I like the sound of vibraphone very much.
Did you start making music when you were a young boy? In school perhaps? Yes, I started making music when I was in junior high, 13 years old. I bought an electric guitar with the mail order. Although I am a left-handed, I was not able to buy the left-handed guitar because it was sold 30% up. When I played electric guitar first, I was very much disappointed. It is because the distorted sound like a record did not come out.
Did you listen to a lot of American music when you started making music? If so, what kind of music? What bands inspired you? Yes. And a lot of British rock too. When I was young kids, I loved Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Velvet Underground, Blue Cheer, NY Dolls, Quick Silver Messenger Service, Captain Beefheart, Kiss, PIL, Ted Nugent, Television, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Pop Group, and Throbbing Gristle etc. I had no music friend in school. So I got know music information through magazine or local record shop.
How did DMBQ get started? What kind of music did you want to make in the beginning? I deluded the friends with the word “blues” and formed the band. The “blues” is very convenient word to assemble the friends of rock band. Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart, Blue Cheer, Sonics, Led Zeppelin… they are all the child of the blues, right? I wanted to make a rock band full of noises. In short, I just wanted to make the noise which merely has a rhythm. I seldom considered what kind of music I want to make, haha!
Do the initials DMBQ have any meaning? Can you explain? It has no meaning basically. I made the band member gather the favorite alphabet and applied the word to it. Guitarist=D, Bassist=M, Drums=B, and me=Q. Then, I applied D= Dynamite M=Masters B=Blues Q=Quartet. This is the image of a country third-rate band. Since I did not think that this band had continued like this for a long time, I didn’t choose the name not so seriously. I repent of a bit.
How has the band changed since the early days? We studied so much thing through the band. The honest performance method of the guitar. The place of a painful musical instrument when kicking. The method of the full power kick which does not destroy amplifier. The safe method of throwing drum set to the audience floor. How to jump down from a higher place without suffering a fracture. The musical instruments are not so burnable. How to discover the audience of the oxygen shortage promptly. How to apologize to neighbors for the complaint to loud noise. Yes, my band changed very much.
How does DMBQ fit into the Japanese music scene? I know you record for a major label — is the kind of music you make well respected? Ummm… It is very difficult to find our position in the whole Japanese music scene. I think it is mere luck that we have contract with a major label. We are from the Japanese underground scene, so we can not yet fit to the major scene exactly. We are heretics clearly in such scene still now. It is easy to find the position on the underground scene. In that scene, we are the same as other underground band and the band respect each other very well.
I bought a DMBQ CD — “A Bootleg For U.S.” — at your show at the Alibi. (I like it.) I am wondering about the song titles. What is “Girl Cream”? Do titles like “Go Go Evil” have a meaning, or are they just for fun? Haha, yes, they have no meaning, just for fun! I don’t know what girl cream is. It sounds tasty though.
When you played here you used an electronic device I have not seen before: something shaped like a microphone that you rubbed on your leg and used along with a vocal microphone. What do you call that device? Is it something you invented yourself? Yes, I invented that device. He has no name, but I call him just “noise mic”. That is combined handmade steel diaphragm for resonance with a pickup for electric guitar. I’ll bring some new noise devices to your town.
Why do you make music? Um, I also want to know it, haha! Having fun, self-satisfaction, desire to expression, destructive impulse, harassment to common sense, yearning loud sound and huge sound pressure, appearance of unusual space, getting a kind of magic, communication beyond language, exposure of an animal instinct, embodiment of the scenery within a brain, dissolution of irritation, calming madness…and more.