Tunes on Deck
The 5,6,7,8's are a fem-rock (a word I thought that I made up but in fact means something entirely more specific than "female rock" which is really all that I wanted) group out of Tokyo that have been bringing the noise for the past 25 years. Started 1986 the 5,6,7,8's is comprised of two sisters Sachiko on the drums and Yoshiko aka Ronnie on vocals and guitar. The group has been somewhat of a revolving door since inception with 10 members coming and going, but is currently a threesome with Akiko Omo playing bass guitar. Their first major introduction to Western culture came with the 2003 film Kill Bill Vol. 1 in which they performed four songs - most notably the incredibly catchy "Woo Hoo" in a Tokyo nightclub. The song was originally written by the American rockabilly group The Rock-A-Teens. If you saw the movie, the song was probably stuck in your head for a bit afterwards. They also performed a cover of "I'm Blue" by the American group The Ikettes, as well as their own "I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield." The song beckons images of 1950s California surfers, and much of their music borrows from American surf, rockabilly and low-fi rock and roll. They cover many American songs from the years between 1950 and 1990 but their own work is more often than not written and performed in Japanese. Their "Woo Hoo" cover displays their fun, poppy 1950s side, but they also have a much harder punk edge. Ronnie describes the band's music, "I like Chuck Berry and we wanted that sound, but we wanted to deconstruct that rock 'n' roll into punk music by using distortion and noise and screaming." The ladies are queens of the Japanese underground music scene and I think it's fair to liken them to the American relationship with the group The White Stripes -- and funnily enough they are on the same record label. Don't let the kitten heels and satin house dresses fool you, these chicks have got a serious punk streak in them. After their appearance in Kill Bill international press outlets were desperate for more information on them. Immediately after the release of the movie they were fielding hundred of emails begging them to be on magazine covers or featured in tutorials. They even were propositioned by Italian Vogue. But, Ronnie explains that the language barrier is too much, "We've received an avalanche of offers from abroad," says Ronnie. "Italian Vogue have even tried contacting us. But I don't speak English so we're having a hard time. We've got this stack of emails that we haven't replied to." Punk rock til the end. Their underground fame has not only led them to a performance in one of America's best underground films, but they also were given the opportunity to perform at Prada's SS12 Tokyo show. The collection featured themes of Americana, muscle cars and 1950s rockabilly -- who better to perform than the 5,6,7,8's?! Blogger Susie Bubble was lucky enough to attend and snap a few photos. The music they release is full of youth and vitality, so to think that the sisters have been at it for some 20 odd years now comes as a bit of a shock. They're both married and have husbands and children and homes to worry about, but they're in it for the long haul. Sachiko explains, "And in Japan there's more bands out there doing it. It helps that now when people get past 30 they don't just quit bands and 'settle down.' People have realized that you don't have to stop having fun." For these ladies it comes down to one thing: rock and roll. And I'm sure their love for it will keep them rocking til they're in the ground.