A “vamp” is a woman who seduces or beguiles by using feminine charms, according to my dictionary. It’s also the name of a new magazine that promotes underground Japanese bands, preferably if the band members are equipped with guitars, boobs and cute pouts rather than guitars, biceps and bad chat-up lines.
“Japanese girls are often too dependent on men. I’m interested in girls who take up rock and art and feminism and go out and cast a spell on you,” says Ayumi Tsubouchi, Vamp’s founder. “I was inspired to do Vamp by the Riot Grrrls (early ’90s fem-punk movement). In Japan there isn’t a magazine about female artists, except for idol girls, so Vamp aims to inform girls about what’s going on in music and encourage them to participate, too.”
I ask her how come a couple of all-boy bands appear in the latest issue.
“Vamp is for girls, but I’m happy if guys read it, too,” she says. “And I also like boy bands so I allow a few to sneak in.”
Ayumi has assembled a beguiling lineup of bands to perform at a Vamp event at Shimokitazawa’s Shelter next week.
Prambath (pictured) are in the same vein as Osaka’s Mummy the Peepshow, delivering sugar-coated pop-punk with simple, effective melodies and prepubescentlike schoolgirl screaming; Water Closet — from the Pizza of Death label — proffer anthemic punk with plenty of “Oi! oi! oi!” to get arms punching the air; and Supersnazz are veteran garage-punkers. The only all-boy band in the lineup, Registrators, sound like a British Invasion band would if they were catapulted through time to witness a Strokes gig and then sucked back to the ’60s to improvise on what they’d heard.
So after finding a niche in the magazine market, what’s next?
“I want to start a record label and hold a festival of female bands like ‘Ladyfest.’ But first I want to sell all my Vamp T-shirts at Shelter.”
That’s Ayumi for you: Her head might be in the stars, but her ears are to the ground, picking up on some of the best bands in the underground and sending them our way.
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