“The worst thing about our band is that if one of us says something another one doesn’t agree with, she’ll come right out with it, straight to the other’s face. We get into fights quickly,” says bass player Azu. Drummer Moe chimes in: “Yeah, we really don’t put up with any nonsense. If we’re hungry, we get angry. If anyone abuses us, we’ll get mad.” I glance down nervously at the half-eaten bento boxes on the table and hope that Tokyo band LAZYgunsBRISKY had enough time to satisfy their appetites before this interview.
We’re backstage at the Loft concert venue in Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku district. The band has just played a gutsy set consisting of bone-shaking rhythms, tight three-chord tunes and the husky hollering of vocalist Lucy to top it all off. The band’s 1960s-inspired sound never comes across as stodgy; the four members effectively channel the vibe of that distant decade directly into their electrifying live shows. This year, they’ve proved themselves capable of arousing overseas interest by touring Europe and releasing their latest album, “26times,” there and in the United States on Good Charamel Records.
The members came together through their high school’s keion (light music) club, just like the characters from current smash-hit anime “K-On!” Unlike their vapid and cutesy cartoon counterparts, though, the members of LAZYgunsBRISKY were not a group of girls to be trifled with.
“Izumi wasn’t very civil. She was too cool,” recalls Moe of their guitarist. “Maybe even dark, and scary. She was so pretty,” adds Lucy. “She didn’t really speak so much,” continues Moe. “Or even laugh,” cuts in Lucy. “Aren’t you exaggerating a little?” protests Izumi, who, as the quietest, is often gently teased by her bandmates.
How about Azu? I ask. “Kowakatta (she was scary)!” says Lucy with conviction. “Don’t you mean kawaikatta (she was cute)?” amends Azu, laughing at her own play on words.
“Moe was a yanki (delinquent). She was so pushy, the baseball type. She was so strong,” says Lucy. On stage, Moe’s muscles positively ripple as she pounds the drums, confirming she’s lost none of her power since her high school days. Interestingly, no one pronounces judgment on Lucy who, with her sultry looks and husky voice, is perhaps the most intimidating in the band.
Lucy and Azu are the creative heart of the band, with Lucy writing the lyrics and Azu the music. The process begins with Azu.
“It’s all about instinct,” she says. “I play the guitar, and while I’m playing, I find a nice chord sequence or nice phrase and the song is born. So it’s not really about my state of mind, if I’m sad or happy, that’s got nothing to do with it.”
Once Azu’s written the song, she passes it over to Lucy, who writes the lyrics. I ask Lucy why her lyrics are so often in English. “When I get a feeling, it’s in English. Also, it’s cool,” she says.
Their latest release is a three-track limited-edition CD titled “Childhood.”
“Guns N’ Roses have that song ‘Sweet Child of Mine,’ ” says Lucy. “I heard it and thought, ‘Oh yeah, childhood is great.’ That single goes back to our roots. We decided to make something easy to understand and listen to. We’re not just expressing our ideas. This ensemble of guitar, bass, drum and vocals is cool, it sounds great together. That’s what rock ‘n’ roll is. But we also wanted to make songs that appealed to everyone, that didn’t just express our ideas. Anyone can have that pure place, when they were a child playing in the park; it will resonate with that pure place inside them,” Azu explains.
The EP sees the band’s sound moving a little further forward in time to the era of skull rings and snake tattoos, adding a heavy-metal edge to their classic-rock sound. “Childhood” is the first record they’ve put out on their own label, G.O.D. Records, since splitting from Victor, their previous label in Japan.
“I guess the timing was right for everyone. It was just that we’d grown up,” explains Azu. The band aren’t letting the split slow them down and will be touring throughout Japan for the next two months. “In reality, everywhere LAZYgunsBRISKY go — even if it’s only three or four people — there are people waiting for us. Those people are rooting for us and I think it’s really important for us not to forget them,” says Azu.
The band love to tour, and relished the experience of a jaunt in Europe in May and June.
“We were rock stars!” says Lucy. “Our gig in Bordeaux made the biggest impression on me. It was like we were pizzas in an oven. It was hot and in a basement and it looked like the inside of a pizza oven, like a cave. There were about 130 people there going crazy; it got to about 50 degrees in there. The instant we got on stage, we were sweating. It was tough, but fun.”
“Right at the end, in Switzerland, I was so sad and I didn’t want to go home. I was crying,” pipes up Izumi in a small voice.
“Izumi was totally crazy about Europe,” teases Azu. “She really didn’t want to go home. Maybe because when she got home, she was broke.
“At a gig in France, they cooked for us. It was really tasty food handmade by volunteers. We had cheese and wine. French food is really delicious. We got a warm feeling from everyone and everyone was getting along so well. After the gig, they told us we were great and helped us carry our equipment. French people have this warmth: They believe that if life isn’t fun, there’s no point. . . . We really loved that way of thinking.”
So what’s the LAZYgunsBRISKY philosophy of life? “If you laugh through bad times, you’ll come out victorious,” says Azu with a smile — proving that the band don’t always solve their problems with their fists.
LAZYgunsBRISKY continue their way across Japan on the LAZYgunsBRISKY × The Waybark Howling!!!! Tour. The band play Mersey Beat in Kobe on Dec. 9 (5:30 p.m.); Mojo in Kyoto on Dec. 10 (6:30 p.m.); 108 in Kobe on Dec. 11 (6 p.m.); and Fire Loop in Tennoji, Osaka, on Dec. 12 (6 p.m.). All lineups include other bands, so ticket prices vary. For information on performances in Nagoya, Aomori, Tokyo and other cities in December and January, visit www.lazygunsbrisky.com.