Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on January 2014
Just off a tour of England in support of legendary indie rockers the Wedding Present, four-piece band Taffy are in a slightly unusual situation. Despite touring internationally, they’ve never been around Japan.
“Actually we haven’t toured Japan yet, so we can’t compare,” singer Iris says in answer to a question about differences in touring Japan and the UK. “But the whole tour was just amazing. The Wedding Present members were very nice people—we loved watching them after our show and never tired of seeing them.”
The members of Taffy first got to know The Wedding Present leader David Gedge and the rest of the band after meeting them when they last toured the UK. With Taffy’s sweet, jangly guitar sound that meshes nicely with Gedge’s homespun rock songs, it’s not surprising the two bands hit it off.
Iris says they learned a lot from touring with a veteran like Gedge. “He would always be standing at the merchandise place and chatting with fans,” she says. “He spent a lot of time communicating with them. And he would also watch our shows and tell us how they were.”
Taffy are busy building their own pedigree here on Japan’s indie rock scene. Their latest disc, Lixiviate, is only their second since coming together in Tokyo a few years ago, but the album tells the tale of many years of collective musical experience. Singles like “Boys Don’t Cry” a shimmer with the gritty confection of ’80s and ’90s guitar rock, but it’s Iris’s sweet, ethereal voice that puts the taffy in Taffy.
Iris cites classic acts like the Carpenters and Beatles as an impetus to start playing rock ‘n’ roll. Still, there are no specific influences on Lixiviate. “We don’t have any specific concepts when we make albums,” she says. “But as always, there are a variety of songs coated with our Taffy sound. And on this album, I think you can see different sides of the band.”
Having now played before sizable audiences at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, Taffy are looking to reacquaint themselves with a domestic crowd. But wherever their musical journeys take them, they’ve got the right attitude.
“Music is my doctor,” Iris concludes. For guitarist Asano, it’s “fun to listen to, fun to play—something amazing.” Bassist Koichin says music is “something he never wants to lose,” while for drummer Ken, it’s “life itself.”
Heaven’s Door, December 13
Considering rock band Taffy’s appearance, you might expect them to sound like a typical J-rock outfit. So when they put on a set of entirely Western sounding indie rock, the effect is cathartic for audience members impervious to the charms of the local product.
Taffy are a Japanese rock band led by woman vocalist Iris, with three male members providing backup. On December 13th, they performed at the event called “Three Thumbs Up!!” at legendary Sangenjyaya rock dive Heaven’s Door.
There were nearly 10 effects pedals lined up at the guitarist Asano’s 10 effects pedels contrasted sharply with bassist Koichin’s Spartan approach—he connected his bass directly to the amp without altering the sound a wit.
Behind them both, drummer Ken viewed the audience with a big smile. Lone female, guitarist and vocalist Iris, stood in the middle, and without further delay they summarily released an enormous volume of sound.
The overwhelming pressure of noise and feedback flooded the venue, but, surprisingly, Iris’s melodious vocals managed to float above the violent flood.
Taffy are currently washing back into Japan on a wave of attention generated by British media including NME, and gradually starting to create a buzz in Japan. As the sound overwhelmed, I realized their days in the underground may be numbered.