Now I know part of the answer...and the knowledge crushes.
I found their new website, and in a section titled 'biography' was this note about Noriko, their original guitarist and vocalist:
She died of stomach cancer on January 24, 3 years ago.
Though she had splendid talent, she died young, only 27 years old.
The time that we spent with her was not long, but she gave us many things.
She lives in our heart all the time and Rides the Rockin Rocket in Teeny Frahoop!
27...so young. I had no idea.
Did they already know something was wrong when they made their second and last album, 2nd Hospital?
It's a classic that represents a stark departure from their first album, Wee Wee Pop, which is whimsical, happy, but rocking. 2nd Hospital is darker and more serious—were pain and depression what gave it its feel?
I hadn't listened to Teeny Frahoop much recently, but after reading about Noriko I began to spend all my time playing their second album on my iPod.
Now the intro of the first song felt even more sad: “I get up early morning, and/ I regret I was born, so that/ I go to bed late night/ I fear a nightmare everynight”.
And the second song is called "Where is cancer?" and ends with the words "Hello, the darkness of night/ Hello, you know my rainy day/ However hard I try,/ I can’t reach it/ I can’t shine."
What did it feel like, being a Japanese girl, in her 20's, in a rock band, but faced with such gloom? The lyrics give you a sense.
Or...maybe not. I might reading too much into the album. It came out in 1999, and under circumstances that I'm not completely aware of, the band disbanded in 2000. I'd like to find out more.
2nd Hospital, in any case, is a great album that you owe yourself a listen if you like Japanese rock. It contains two of the best rock tunes I've listened to in Japan, or anywhere—“Inside Of Theater” and “Ride The Rockin' Rocket”, the song by which the remaining TeenyFras remember Noriko.
Of my many little regrets in life, one is that I was in Japan during the years when Teeny Frahoop were active, but I never found out about them then. The guys at Badbee knew them and saw them live—I wish I could have too.
Happily, they are back now, with a new guitarist named 'Tacco'. That's why I found their website, and the note on Noriko.
They were playing at a show at the Shimokitazawa Shelter on November 4 that featured a bunch of other girl bands from the K.O.G.A. Records compilation Good Girls Don't! Neo. I couldn't wait for the show—the compilation opened my eyes to a lot of bands I'd never heard of before and are great, but most of all, I wanted to see Teeny Frahoop, a group whose music I've loved for years. (They contributed a touching new song called 'Tiny Filled Hope' to the K.O.G.A. omnibus album.)
But then, life intervened.
Something serious came up that made me, heart full of regrets, unable to go to the Shelter show at all.
At least I've heard that Teeny Frahoop will play again sometime in the middle of the year, and I have my heart set on going to that show.
In the meantime, I have two great albums of theirs plus a new song to keep me happy. How sad it is that Noriko passed away so young... but what she left behind is precious, it adds color to life, and I want to thank her, so much, for what she was and what she did.