Sunday 5 June 2016

INTRODUCING: Japanese Fighting Fish


It’s time to interview another batshit crazy band. Meet Japanese Fighting Fish.

They’re a Leeds-bred London-based alt-rock four-piece with a new exciting album out called Swimming with Piranhas.

According to their website bio, their band name was christened to them by ‘the mysterious Ishii’. Their album title Swimming with Piranhas meanwhile is based on true events, frontman Karlost and drummer Sweetman having journeyed to Ecuador to live with the Quechan tribe where they dipped their toes in the Amazon.

Clearly a wild bunch, I was unsurprised to learn that their music was equally wild:

Confrontational lyrics, aggressive riffs, tribal percussion and war-cry-vocals make for a selection of rugged fight anthems. Fight anthems with a cartoonish twist I may add. Founding member and vocalist Karlost does not simply sing, but performs each track - delivering a theatrical range of yelps and trills and squeals and snarls. I'm reminded of a more gravelly Mike Patton. I'm reminded of my ex is the morning. The sounds of a crazy person.

Perhaps it isn't a 'performance'. Perhaps the band are genuinely nuts. In any case, their brand of fight music is undoubtedly demented, infused with the groove of funk, the campy horror of metal and the raw energy of punk.

It’s the kind of music an armless boxer might enter the ring to. It's the kind of music the West Australian army will play if there's ever another Emu War. It's jukebox music to fuel a bar brawl at the retirement village. It's the kind of music I play when tasked with getting rid of the spider in the bath, a twenty minute duel involving much screaming in which I usually resort to gingerly approaching it with a vacuum cleaner.

But that's enough of my own trials and tribulations. What about Japanese Fighting Fish? Eager to dig up some personal secrets about this mystical band, I jumped at the opportunity to interview Karlost from the group. Read on for stories of bearded Batman, blood-spattered guitars and loop-offs with Ed Sheeran…

Cute artwork...

First off, if your band was a pizza what toppings would it have?

K (Karlost): Pizza is a difficult thing ...we’ve got a vegan ... he will drink your blood but he won't eat chicken! So we are going to have to split this 75/25... on the 75% hot hot hot jalapeƱos, sliced and cooked until crispy pepperoni, noisy yellow peppers, olives (not too many), vienetta ice cream (mint), jelly babies, a scattering of only orange smarties finished with chilli oil from the highest point in the Italian mountains!

Our pizza tastes like our album a different mouthful of oddness every time. On the 25%, veg and shit! 

You guys name Faith No More as a big influence. I’m a complete and utter Mike Patton fangirl. Favourite Faith No More album?

K: Faith No More are tooooo much we love them a lot, I'm really enjoying the new (ish) album Sol Invictus at the minute but you can't beat The Real Thing, pure joy! I bloody love them all! And Mr Bungle! Ahhhhhh!

Tell me more about the ‘mysterious Ishii’…

K: Ah you speak of the mysterious one Iishi ... certain things we can never speak of! He is still with us you know in spirit! A beautiful man with a crazy look in his eye, responsible for naming the band and inspiring our madness! He loved his cocktails as well! Top lad on a night out! Sometimes his samurai sword would cause problems, door men being shirty and all that but with a wink of his eye we are inside VIP! Crazy times but unfortunately he passed shortly after meeting him! 

One of your older songs is called ‘Don’t Wanna Be Bat, Man’. It has a rather crazy video. How did you get Batman to agree to it?

K: We got Bale... Affleck had moved in and beat both myself and Bale to get the role in the movie Batman vs Superman, it was decided with an ultimate warrior competition and an arm wrestle. Me and Bale then had to decide who would feature in the music video (Bale realised this was his last chance to don the suit, it made him feel like a 'big Man Braappp') Needless to say Bale won and got the part. One condition of the role was he had to grow and dye both his hair and beard orange?! 

I did wonder about the beard! The title of your new album ‘Swimming with Piranhas’ is inspired by true events, right?

K: Of course it's true! A story of luck, a canoe, a short swim, and what can only be described as an act of stupidity! Never and I repeat never try to actually swim with Piranhas but the album on the other hand is kind of a survival guide just in case you find yourself in a canoe surrounded by flesh eating fish!

Is it true the track ‘For Queen Marilyn’ was written spontaneously during a jamming session? Were any other tracks conceived this way?

K: ‘For Queen Marilyn’ was one of those magic tracks that just happened instantly as in first time luckily our producer, Tom Bullen, pressed record... ta da!... ended up being one of our favourites!

Explain the inspiration behind the song ‘Provocative Cat’?

K: The cat is the old me, this tale was a reoccurring situation for me in a year of my life being single in the middle of Headingley and Hyde Park in Leeds. The girl in this story ...well that's a secret!

I imagine you dudes have played some wild live shows. Funniest gig story?

K: We are the most accident-prone band you could meet. We have all bled at some point, a week before our summer of festivals our drummer 'did a Grohl' but instead broke his arm. Gareth's guitar is covered in blood ... grim … months and gigs of the stuff! He doesn't clean it ever as each drop is a trophy! Actually, out of us all Matt, is your safest bet in an unsafe situation!

What does the future hold for Japanese Fighting Fish?

K: For the future? Well we aim to infiltrate the music scene to the heights of Ed Sheeran, my Ginger nemesis… there ain't enough room in this town for both of us ... we will have a loop off! And I will defeat him! In a Darth like fashion! Don't you try stop me (breaths heavy with hand over his mouth 'LUUUKE') in actual reality (here comes the science bit) we are touring in September. The album is out on June 17th 2016, get involved in Facebook japanesefightingfishuk or Twitter @jffuk, or visit our lovely website and find out all the latest information. Our videos are all on YouTube Channel JFFish and our tracks available on all digital platforms blah blah! Ace! Well good to chat see you at a gig come and say 'hi', our next show is at Ritzy in Brixton June 18th!