London-based band Japanese Voyeurs hark back to an era almost long forgotten; to a time when Kurt Cobain was still alive and angsty, Josh Homme was a name most commonly associated with his band Kyuss, and most of you freshers were just about being born.
Together the five-piece create reigniting the flame of grunge, with twisted lyrics, crunching guitar riffs, and unashamed worship of a musical age that saw its heyday almost 20 years ago. Lead singer Romily flits between singing with innocent cherub-esque tones the one minute, and snarling like a feral child the next, a style that critics seem to have responded to in pretty much the same way that the British nation responds to Marmite. Yet whether you love it or hate it, her voice accentuates the frenzied nature of the band’s musical offerings.
Having got together as friends and schoolmates, the band developed their sound through a shared love of past grunge greats. Romily cites some of their influences as “Kyuss, Nirvana, and The Melvins”, all of which can be recognised easily enough upon hearing any one of their tracks. The grunge style seemed natural enough to them – Romily says that it was simply a case of “that’ s what we’ve always loved, and so we wanted to start making that sort of music”.
However, it seemed that at first the music world wasn’t really open to what the band had to offer.
As Romily recalled, “we’ve been together for about three years, and have been gigging since at least two years ago now. In the beginning it was hard; no-one really knew what to do with us. Promoters didn’t really know how to put us on or where to put us on … there wasn’t much going on in the same genre that we were playing, so we didn’t really play that much at the beginning. But now it seems to be quite different.”
Apparently so, as things seem to be progressing for the band at a fairly reasonable rate. Last year saw the release of their first EP, Sicking and Creaming, and earlier this year they released a single in the form of horror-tinged track ‘That Love Sound’. Brand new single ‘Milk Teeth’ sounds like it should have been playing on MTV2 back in the 90s, possibly wedged between ‘Black Hole Sun’ and ‘Alive’ (if you don’ t get the references, well, work them out in your own time, kids). Plans for a fulllength record are also in motion: “The record’s coming out next year, so we’re hoping to secure a headline tour early next year, I think.”
Japanese Voyeurs have already proved their live credentials at a few festivals over the summer, namely at the Mecca of the metal world, Sonisphere, and a few others including Boardmasters Festival, Underground Festival and Guilfest. Romily says of the Japanese Voyeurs live experience: “it’s energetic and it’s loud … I think a lot of people are surprised by just how heavy it is live.”
They had been geared up for a tour alongside Fucked Up and headlined by popular punk veterans Against Me!, but the headliners cancelled due to unspecified personal circumstances within the band. This missed opportunity opened up a space for a new one, and Japanese Voyeurs are now lined up to share a stage with Young Guns, a tour that the band are pretty psyched about and one that will be hitting York next month.
The upcoming live dates should continue the steadily growing media fervour around the group – the band have received nods of approval from publications like Artrocker and Kerrang!, and this month Romily has graced the cover of Rocksound.
With the band’s ever increasing exposure and the promise of more to come as we trundle towards 2011, it seems as if Japanese Voyeurs are a band to keep an eye on for the future. Some have claimed that the band are leading a ‘grunge revival’ – if it sounds this good, then bring it on.