Posted May 17, 2006


1967 saw the Summer of Love, and its baby boomer mythologised images of free love, beads, Stanley Owsley’s best chemical produce and promises of everlasting community.  By 1973 things weren’t so rosy.  Drug fueled visions of a future dominated peace and happiness were replaced by the grim reality of social existence.  The obtuse optimism inherent in psychedelic music had been overtaken by the leering machismo and power chords of the heavy metal brigade led by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and closer to home, Buffalo. 

It’s this bruising, metal tainted blues world that forms the core of Japanese band Electric Eel Shock’s world.  Electric Eel Shock discovered their musical world – and their halting Japenglish – through the growling prism of early 70s Zeppelin and Sabbath. 

After developing a substantial fan base in Europe and the United States, Electric Eel Shock have brought their Sabbathian musical quest to Australian shores.  PATRICK EMERY spoke to guitarist and vocalist Akihito Morimoto about music, touring and the idiosyncratic pleasures of recreational fishing.

How did the band first get together?

Kazuto and I ( Aki ) met up in high school in Osaka, we made 80’s heavy metal cover band. Then, we made Red Hot Chilli Pepper style band to play original songs. And after university, the band got record deal, we move to Tokyo. Unfortunately, the band broke up soon, we needed a new drummer to make a new band. We found Gian in Tokyo, he played funky stuff, but we felt something crazy from him.

Is it true you learned English from listening to the songs of bands you liked? 

Yes, it is. Of course we have English class in Japanese public school. But I was a very bad boy…. I escaped my class often…

I understand you all came together because of a mutual interest in Black Sabbath.  What’s your favourite Black Sabbath album, and why?

Especially I believe in Black Sabbath. My favourite is all of their album with Ozzy. But if I have to choose one, it is first album.

What do you think of the Sabbath recordings when Ronnie James Dio replaced Ozzy Osbourne?

Uhhhh. For me, Black Sabbath is only with Ozzy. I feel crazy, heavy, funky, dark and fun only from Black Sabbath with Ozzy.
Ozzy’s voice and feeling really matched their heavy songs, and made originality. But I like Ronnie James Dio’s “Dio”.

Given your original interest in glam metal bands, did you go and see Motley Crue on their Red, White and Crue reunion tour?  If so, what did you think?

I missed them….But I saw their show in Japan in '80s. It was amazing!! Drum set rolled!

I didn’t see reunion tour, but I believe it was also great tour, because I am a pupil of them.

Your first album was called “Maybe I think, We Can Beat Nirvana”.  Were you referring to writing better songs than Nirvana, or becoming a bigger band (commercially) than Nirvana?

Have you felt something “Wao! We are Rock’n’Roll! better than Rolling stones?”? A misapprehension, or conceit became an initial impulse to try a difficult thing. Do you understand my bad English?

The first line-up of Electric Eel Shock comprised 11 members.  What was the sound like of that line-up compared to the current three-piece band? 

We are something like “heavy metal meets garage”now. 11 piece EES was the sound like “heavy metal meets Santana”.

How difficult was it to organise gigs with an 11 piece band?

You know? I have to call 10 people to get practice day. And even if 1st to 9th person say OK for target day, 10th person is not OK, I have to restart to call again…

How did you originally meet Bob Slayer?

He blot out my memory using some equipments.

You first toured the United States in 1999.  What were your expectations when you first landed in the US?  Was it difficult to make an impression in places like New York, which is blessed with so much good music, and such a daunting rock’n’roll history?

We didn’t care about any strategy to rock. First our US show was only to get fun for us. But we got an amazing reaction from the audience.

Yes, sometime we feel NYC is a bit slow to get excitement. But almost big city is same, Tokyo as well.

Did you enjoy touring in the United States?  I’ve read that you lived on the sale of CDs and t-shirts when you first arrived.  Is that true?

We really enjoyed! Rock’n’Roll, Fishing, Driving. We lived only on the music, CDs and T-shirts. But a lot of friends and bands helped us to stay, to eat etc...

So we survived! We feel thanks for all of Rock’n’Roll fans!

What are your favourite memories of your early American tours?

Van broke down, 800mile drive in a day, cancelled show by something accident…..

Big fish! Blue sky! Mother nature! And crazy audience!!!

How did your first tour of the UK come about?

Bob Slayer made it.

He did amazing job. He putted 11 shows in 10 days, even we decided we go to UK10 days before. Last show of them was in front of 2000 people in Aussie celebration party!

Electric Eel Shock have played a number of festivals in the United States and Europe.  Do you enjoy playing festival shows, or smaller local shows? 

Both have a different flavour.

This is a kind of silly question!!!!!?Ha ha ha?

We enjoy every show! Of course playing on big festival is exiting. I like small show to get excitement face to face.

Is it easier or harder to get a reaction from the audience at a festival show, or do you enjoy the challenge of playing to thousands of people?

We always take care how much we enjoy on first priority. If we enjoy to play the show, audience feels happy. If audience gets happy, we enjoy more and get exciting.

I believe Rock’n’Roll show is made by band and audience. We have interaction for Rock’n’roll.

You’ve become very successful in Europe and the United States.  How well known are you in Japan, and do people (including the music media) in Japan realise how successful you are overseas?

You may don’t believe me. We were really really small in Japan. Almost nobody knew us. Only my mum knew us. But now, it is changing.

We released album in Japan, Radio shows play our album often now. We are getting better in Japan now.

How would you compare the audiences in the United States to those in Europe? 

They are not so different. Euro audience are crazier, US audience are craziest.

Your lyrics celebrate the importance of rock’n’roll, and bands like Black Sabbath and the Ramones, to Electric Eel Shock.  What is it about 70s metal and rock bands that’s so inspirational?

They made a lot of original styles. They made many followers. They didn’t have a strict category for music.

We really respect them, also our music is based on 70’s and 80’s music. But always we try to put something new on the old school type of rock.

Do you think there’s a danger that bands forget that rock’n’roll is about having fun, rather than making money?

Yes, I do.

I believe having fun to play makes success. Too much strategy makes no interesting. I don’t know about smart guys, anyway we can’t make music on target to money.

With “Beat Me” you tried to combine the energy and excitement of your live shows with a production that was consistent with your garage roots.  Do you think you managed to achieve that?

Yeah, we think we did it with Attie is great producer from Netherlands.

He has worked with Judas Priest, Scorpions, Bootsy Collins etc.. such great names. He has a magic.

Our target was every one feels we are high voltage 3 peace band, and they can see our face, character and personality, from album
Attie gave it to us.

Even a song was recorded by only basic instruments, another song was made by basic and many over dubbings, you can feel the album is made by only 3 guys.

I understand “Beat Me” is going to be released locally in Australia very soon.  Do you have any more information on that?

Sorry, I can say only it’s coming soon, from our friends label is called Spooky Records.

Do you have any favourite Australian bands that you’re keen to check out while you’re here?

I have an interesting for Wolfmother. Do you have any recommend?

What are your future touring and recording plans?

We are going to Australia tour with Mach Pelican on May, you know. Schedule is on our web site,
And we are going to studio to record new stuff in Sep.

Given your interest in fishing, will you be checking out the unique species of fish in Australia?

I was a competitional pro fisherman in Japan. I still have a monthly column on Japanese popular fishing magazine. And I was on Japanese fishing TV program this month. I really want to catch Aussie special fish is called “Balamundie (I’m not sure about spell)”. Do you have any information about this fish? I need your help….

What’s more enjoyable, fishing or playing rock’n’roll?

Oh! Silly question again!!! Ha,ha,ha. I love Rock’n’Roll venue is on side by river or festival site in forest with great lakes. I mean I can’t choose.

This interview will appear on the I94 Bar website and it’s customary to ask interviewees what they’re drinking.  So what are you drinking at the moment?

Japanese beer!!!! I’m really exciting now, to drink Aussie local beer on this next Australia tour! See you soon!! Thank you.