Posted December 17, 2005


Since its formation in 1987, Japanese garage rock band Guitar Wolf has re-written the rule book on rock’n’roll intensity. Yet in early 2004 it appeared the same intensity that underpinned the Guitar Wolf legend threatened to halt the band in its tracks when bass player Billy Wolf died tragically from a heart attack on the eve of the band’s second Australian tour. But with new bassist Ug in tow Guitar Wolf has decided to keep up the war against the jive and returns to Australia at the end of December. PATRICK EMERY spoke to vocalist and guitarist Seiji on the eve of the band’s tragically delayed return to Australia.

Welcome to the I-94 Bar Seiji. We are very excited to hear that you are returning to Australia later this year. The news of Billy’s tragic and untimely death was terrible to hear and we hope his family is receiving the support it deserves. We extend our condolences to his family, and his brother wolves, again. There was an amazing outpouring of grief, love and support after Billy’s death. Were you surprised at the depth of emotion that was expressed by Guitar Wolf fans?

We received the condolences from many people all over the world. It was amazing. It was great for us to know there were so many people out there who cared about us. We deeply appreciate all the messages from our fans.

In the aftermath of Billy’s death did you consider breaking up the band? What made you decide to keep playing?

When I saw Billy’s face in the coffin for the last time, I determined to keep moving forward. It was painful to accept the fact Billy stopped walking our path with me any longer, but I made a decision to go on.

How did you go about choosing a new bass player? How many applications did you receive?

There were so many applications we got. It was impossible to choose the right one just by looking at the photos.

What qualities did you look for in the new bass player?

Bad boy with no education.

What is Ug’s background? I’ve heard that Guitar Wolf is his first band – given this how do you think he’ll cope with the band’s reputation for intensity on stage?

He is 19 years old. Guitar Wolf is the only rock’n’roll he has ever listened to. He had never played the bass, either.

Do you expect Ug will have a major impact on the band’s sound or style?

Of course. I’m the one who chose him.

The world we live in today is increasingly a world dominated by suspicion and paranoia, Do you think that rock’n’roll creates a sense of community that can counteract that fear?

In order to face fears, we need power. Rock’n’roll gives us the power.

Is rock’n’roll about a reaction to what’s happening around in society, or is more than that? Can rock’n’roll help save the world?

First of all, rock’n’roll saves me, and then those who loves rock’n’roll. That means rock’n’roll can help save the world.

Do you think the spirit of the original rock’n’roll movement is occasionally forgotten by bands these days?

No. Even if it seems so, is it a problem? You have Guitar Wolf.

Songs on the new compilation album was compiled from fans’ requests for their favourite Guitar Wolf songs. Were there any surprises in the songs requested for inclusion in the compilation CD?

I wasn’t surprised. I was just happy to hear from the fans.

Do you think the songs on the new compilation "Golden Black" represent the best of the band’s output?

Absolutely. I just wanted to include more, let’s say ten more songs if I could.

In-Fidelity Records' Bruce Milne reported on his label’s website recently that he’d seen Guitar Wolf play a ‘secret’ show in Japan recently (the report was very favourable). Do you think the band will change any part of its approach to playing live, or its sound generally in light of the events of this year?

Ug has a huge influence on us. The songs become even simpler, which is cool.

What are your future recording (and touring) plans after touring Australia?

I’d love to do a recording in the beginning of 2006.

The Stooges are finally touring Australia early next year. Have you had an opportunity to see them play at their shows in Japan (or elsewhere). If so, what did you think of their shows?

Best! Iggy is always great. He’s so cool even now.

Do you have an opinion on ‘legendary’ bands reforming many years after their ‘peak’ period?

They don’t look that cool to me. That’s why we keep rockin’ whatever happens.

What band or performer would you liked to have seen in their prime? What band – or song – would you like to cover most (that you haven’t done so already)?

Elvis Presley (period).

The last time I interviewed you for the I94 Bar you were in the United States, drinking Pabst. What are you drinking now?

Jet Beer.


Guitar Wolf Australian Tour
The Rev, Brisbane + Six Foot Hick + Onyas + Dangermen - Dec 28
Marquee, Camperdown + Six Foot Hick + Mach Pelican + Mink Jaguar - Dec 29
The Tote + Legends Of Motor Sports + Specimens + The Mystaken - Dec 30
Special NYE Show @ The Tote + Spazzys + Mach Pelican + Sin City - Dec 31