Wednesday, June 09, 2004

House Plan!

I first became a fan of House Plan! around 1999, when they played from time to time in Shimokitazawa, a Tokyo neighborhood filled with music clubs and stores. I found out about them because they were playing in the same multi-band event as Qypthone, who I had gone to see -- a good example of how, often, bands that are radically different appear together at the same clubs in Tokyo's live indies music scene. Qypthone (pronounced Kip-thone) played music that is pop, techno, jazzy and sophisticated. House Plan, on the other hand, was a spirited punk rock band that did fast and fun tunes. They came from one of the prefectures east of Tokyo -- the equivalent of San Pedro versus LA (like Minutemen), or New Jersey versus Manhattan.

The trio stood out. Like a hard rock Beastie Boys, the guitarist, bassist and drummer took turns mid-song doing the singing. There was nothing deep in their songs, which had titles like 'Ninja Force', 'Psycho' and 'Les Yes' (about a guy's depression upon finding out that a girl he has a crush on turned out to be a lesbian), but their hard rocking songs were fast and aggressive without being too serious.

Then I left Tokyo for a couple of years, and when I came back they had disappeared. I checked the Internet, but all I could find were references to their career in the late-90's. Did the band members get bored of the music scene and quit? Did they become ordinary salarymen? I soon wrote House Plan off as a good band that was gone, and forgot about them.

Until one day, when the intricate web of Japan's music scene led me back to the band, in their current form. One night I saw a show that included the band Poly ABC, one of whose songs appeared in a compilation album that also featured advantage Lucy and the Cymbals (the album is called Killermont Street). A few weeks or months later, I went to a show by the Banks, led by the former singer of the band Hoff Dylan. I noticed that the bassist for the Banks was the same guy as Poly ABC's bassist. Upon further research I found out that the musician went by the nickname Umu. And, in a big surprise, Umu also played bass for House Plan.

After that, I went to see House Plan last month in Shinjuku's ACB Hall, advertised on Umu's home page. They were a different band from the one I had seen in '99. For one thing, there wasn't the tossing-of-hot-potato-like switching between band members of lead vocal parts. The band members themselves were different. From what I've been able to figure out, members of the Beat Crusaders, one of the more popular indies bands, left and joined House Plan, which by then consisted only of the guitar/singer Tatsuyoshi Genda. The new House Plan was still a hard rock band, but their music seemed more mature than when I last saw them, and they had written a bunch of songs and were working on a new album. I plan on seeing more of House Plan.

No comments: