By Yusuke Tsuruta / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterGlim Spanky have always been strongly influenced by rock music from the 1960s and 1970s. The duo's latest album — a mix of psychedelia with authentic rock'n'roll — is the clearest expression of their stylistic inclinations so far.
With "Bizarre Carnival," released in mid-September on Universal, vocalist Remi Matsuo and guitarist Hiroki Kamemoto have finally produced the kind of music they've long envisioned.
Matsuo has a distinctively hard, husky voice, while Kamemoto plays the guitar like a classic rock star. They formed Glim Spanky in high school and made their professional debut in 2014.
"Our first and second albums were like business cards to introduce ourselves," Matsuo said. "Up until now, we’ve held off on the kind of maniacal rock music we really like."
The track "Fukinuku Kaze no yo ni" (Like a wind blowing through) includes phrases reminiscent of rock’s trailblazers, such as "Shukyo ya senso mo boku ni wa nai no sa" (I have neither religion nor war) and "Korogaru ishi no yo ni" (Like a rolling stone). The song describes how Matsuo felt when her grandfather passed away this spring. "I understood that our family had no religion when I was told there wouldn’t be a funeral," she said. "There’s nowhere [for me] to turn to when someone dies. I realized I need to be independent and myself while understanding the meaning of freedom."
Other songs on the album reflect the duo’s purpose — to inherit the spirit of earlier musicians and infuse this with their own, more contemporary style.
Much of the band’s musical style derives from the influence of Matsuo’s family. Her father was an avid collector of vinyl records, meaning she has listened to various genres since childhood, from rock’n’roll to indigenous music from many countries and regions, such as Africa and the Czech Republic. "Those records were always played at home, so I was really surprised when I learned of Japanese rock, like Bump of Chicken," she said.
In recent years, they have come to feel that fans are supportive of musicians who pay respect to music of the past. "How much you can share excitement with other people when music festivals are held has become important with social media," Kamemoto said. "I think people find it easy to share their impressions — like, 'Oh, that’s the Beatles,’ or 'That’s Jamiroquai.’"
The guitarist describes the duo’s role as "a cleric of sorts," who preaches the teachings of rock gods like John Lennon and David Bowie.
Matsuo said she believes that she and Kamemoto are "part of a crop of musicians destined to bring music to everyone by becoming more and more edgy."
"We must continue being rockers, to deliver Asian rock to the world," she added.