Space punk oddity
An all-female Japanese trio from planet Kero! Kero! brings frog-music to the Senator
When the female rock trio eX-Girl formed in Tokyo five years ago, none of its members knew how to play an instrument. In punk theory, that meant they were on the right track.
With no pretension and few noticeable influences, the three young women opted to forge their own unique sound, a quirky mix of surreal a cappella and experimental Casio punk-pop—all the more noticeable because it emerged from within a culture that traditionally expects women to be passive, not punk. Especially not punks who claim they are from a frog planet ruled by an “anti-everything” force known as Rainbow Satan. That’s going just a little far.
“Planet Kero is an elongated triangular pyramid. We three eX-Girls live at the respective corners forming the smallest triangle, and the Frog King’s throne is at the pointiest apex. It’s interlocking dodecahedral orbit is a result of being a constellation of 12 stars. The biggest one is black and central to the constellation. It is said that is where the true body of Rainbow Satan resides,” bassist Kirilo says from the group’s Web site.
Kirilo, who also does vocals and is a onetime member of Super Junky Monkey, joined the group in the fall of 2001 after an original member quit. She is accompanied by Keiko on guitar/vocals and the manic Fuzuki on drums. The band claims that “two-thirds of the music they play is inaudible to earth people, since it is from another parallel spectrum that extends all the way from x-ray into the audio range.” What audiences can hear is at times bizarre but always entertaining, thanks to the wild stage show.
The girls from planet Kero Kero (translated “ribbit ribbit") say they live a party-life every day and are ready to meet fans in Chico, where they have already heard tell about the Crazy Horse mechanical bull. They have prepared to access our American culture by studying Carl Jung and are ready to perform such song gems from their catalog as “Cucumber Surrender,” with the immortal lyrics “before you slice him up and make him a meal/ stroke your cucumber let him know how you feel.”
The trio released its first album, Heppoco Pou, in June 1998 under the tutelage of producer Hoppy Kamiyama, who is touted in specialty-music circles as the “Japanese Brian Eno.”
Embraced in the States by college radio stations like KUSF in San Francisco, the band began extensive touring right away, amusing crowds worldwide with their energy and antics on stage—often zapping audiences with ray guns—not to mention displaying wild costumes compliments of Rainbow Satan: frog masks, huge foam brain hats and psychedelic flower-power dresses. Their threefold vocal harmonies and quirky choral chants often experiment with phonetics, pitch and delivery and combine with offbeat, angular rock, earning them critical comparisons to influential performance rock groups like Devo and all-female groups like The Slits.
Over its five-year career, the band has released three experimental space punk albums, an amusing a cappella effort and some raw, clumsy sessions under the names Pink Lady and Legend of Water Breakers. It’s also become a popular live band (drawing a large crowd at Austin’s famed South by Southwest Festival), thanks to a dozen Japanese tours, five U.S. tours and two world tours. Writer Robert Jarrell characterizes the group’s show as “trippy Mystere des Voix Bulgares with flashes of Talking Heads and Nina Hagen, their onscreen stage personas similar to a wacky Devo video or the crazy celestial adventures once performed by Sun Ra.”
In 2000, the girls toured Europe with Mike Patton’s and his band Fantomas and were soon signed to Patton’s noted indie label Ipecac Records for American distribution.
The trio just recently finished touring Finland and is hitting a few cities on the West Coast, opening for Siouxie and the Banshees before headlining the gig in Chico at the Senator on Friday, April 26.
With a cool new album, Back to the Mono Kero!, that rocks like few others I’ve heard lately—combining operatic pop/punk with new-age prog rock—eX-Girl should present a bizarre and highly entertaining evening.