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Shorty Cat

by Daniel Robson

Adding some spice to this month’s Wild Wacky Party event, held to mark the 18th anniversary of Japanese punk ladies Lolita No. 18, South Korea’s Shorty Cat are bound to cause a few cold sweats.

Formed in Seoul in winter 2003, the four-piece are key players in South Korea’s punk scene. They’re one of very few all-girl punk bands, for a start, and they rock a philosophy of unity and passion that will surely nourish the scene in the years to come. And if that’s not enough, they’re also as cool as fridges.

“We formed the band because we love punk!” says guitarist Eun Jin, better known as Pheobe. “There were no girl bands left in Korea’s punk scene, so we wanted to be the first long-lasting girl band.”

Shorty Cat is Pheobe along with vocalist Yu Jung, bassist Na Yoen and drummer Min Chae. The band takes its inspiration from all subgenres of punk music, but especially English artists of the 1970s and ’80s, such as The Sex Pistols, X-Ray Spex and Generation X, and their more modern Japanese counterparts, including Lolita No. 18.

“The history of the Korean punk scene is not so long,” says Pheobe. “There are many small music scenes, and the punk and hardcore scene is the most high profile. But there aren’t many bands. We need new inspiration.”

Quickly honing a joyful, explosive sound, the band signed to Skunk Label Records in 2006, from which they released their debut album “I Ain’t Be Controlled.” Skunk is Seoul’s best-known punk label, founded in 1997 by Jong Hee Won, himself the sloganeering frontman of the band Rux, who also runs the Skunk Hell live house in the Hongdae student district.

Pheobe echoes the label’s punk ethics. “We don’t want to become famous just by making the sound that people want to hear,” she says. “The reason for our band’s existence is for our own fun.”

This is Shorty Cat’s third visit to Japan since they first appeared at Oi! Festival in 2005, and Japan’s unique punk scene holds great sway with the fledgling scene in Seoul.

“Japanese punk has a longer history than in Korea,” agrees Pheobe. “There are more bands and they’re more diverse. Japan’s punk scene is divided into many smaller scenes. We’ve learned a lot from watching bands’ passionate, professional shows in Japan, and we have no doubt that this time will be a good inspiration for us, too. And Japanese food . . . we love it.”

The Wild Wacky Party is headlined by Lolita No. 18, the rotten punk funsters who for the last 18 years have inspired a generation of Japanese girls to make noisy, drunken music. Other bands on the almost all-girl bill include U.S.-indie-inspired Noodles, filthy Osaka punk band Radicals, the naughty noise of Soapland Momiyama, garage grinders Who The Bitch, and more.

While the band is yet to play outside of South Korea or Japan, Pheobe says Shorty Cat are keen to tour “everywhere where there’s a punk scene.” Touting a fun, fierce live show and a bucketful of tunes, they could easily do it. Korean punk couldn’t wish for better ambassadresses.

Wild Wacky Party 2008 takes place on Feb. 18 (from 5.30 p.m.) at Shinjuku Loft. Tickets are ¥2,500/3,000. Shorty Cat also play on Feb. 16 at Moonstep, Nakano. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/shortycat