Japanese TV had never seen anything like it. During the final episode of irreverent variety show "Tamori's Music is the World" in March 1996, viewers were introduced to a group of silver-haired Canadians billed as "the Rolling Stones of noise music" — a sobriquet that clearly owed more to their age than their relative fame.

"Are you sure that isn't death metal?" quipped the show's host, Tamori, after watching a clip of The Nihilist Spasm Band in action, conjuring an improvised clamor on an array of homemade instruments. When one of the group's members, John Boyle, demonstrated a twin-horned electric kazoo for him in the studio, he laughed delightedly: "It's anarchy, isn't it?"

By the standards of Friday evening TV, it certainly was. Speaking over Skype from his home in Peterborough, Ontario, Boyle echoes Tamori's original assessment of the band.