Seiji, lead singer and guitarist for Guitar Wolf
|Origin||Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Japan|
|Genres||Garage rock, hard rock, noise rock, garage punk|
|Labels||Sony JP, Ki/oon, Goner, Matador, Narnack, Okami|
|Members||Toru, Seiji, U.G.|
|Billy and Narita|
Guitar Wolf (Japanese: ??????) is a Japanese garage rock power trio founded in Nagasaki in 1987. The band is known for songs with piercing vocals and an extremely loud style of noise-influenced punk which emphasizes heavy distortion and feedback. They coined the phrase "jet rock 'n' roll", which they also use to describe their musical style - an energetic cross between the Ramones, Link Wray, rockabilly, 77 punk, and garage rock. The band is part of Sony Music Japan's Ki/oon Records division.
Guitar Wolf has released nine studio albums internationally as well as a live album, numerous singles, and a retrospective compilation called Golden Black. The band members have also been featured in two B-grade science fiction horror movies: Wild Zero and Sore Losers. A collection of Guitar Wolf's most popular videos and live performances have been compiled into a limited edition DVD titled Red Idol. In March 2005, bassist and founding member Billy, also known as Bass Wolf, died of a heart attack at the age of 38. His replacement in the band, bassist U.G., has become a permanent member of Guitar Wolf and now rounds out the trio which currently consist of band members Seiji (Guitar Wolf): U.G. (Bass Wolf); and Toru (Drum Wolf).
Guitarist Seiji was born in Nagasaki and following high school moved to Shimane prefecture and then Tokyo. After arriving in Tokyo, Seiji became lead vocalist for the band, Far East Punch. With a strong desire to play guitar and after giving up on several attempts, Seiji finally dedicated himself to the guitar after discovering a vinyl copy of Link Wray's "Rumble" at Tower Records in Shibuya. Seiji has stated that the Link Wray song "saved his music life."
Seiji and bassist Billy became friends while the two were in Harajuku. The two crossed paths while working, Seiji in a used leather jacket and 50s clothing and antique shop and Billy in a punk rock shop located behind Seiji's shop. Realizing they shared similar musical tastes, the two decided to join together to play rock and roll. After convincing Seiji's coworker Narita to accompany them on drums, Guitar Wolf formed in Harajuku in 1987. After creating the band, each member adopted a Ramones-style surname reflecting their instrument of choice: Seiji became Guitar Wolf, Billy became Bass Wolf, and Narita became Drum Wolf. In time, Narita left the band, apparently to become a fortune teller, and was replaced by Toru, a drummer suggested by Enocky from the band Jackie & The Cedrics.
In time the band would come to develop its own unique strain of punk rock music, fusing multiple genres together into what the band described as Jet Rock 'n' Roll. Although Guitar Wolf has cited Joan Jett as an important musical and stylistic influence, contrary to some reports, the term Jet Rock is not derived from Joan Jett's name. The term's origin is, rather, attributed to the sound of a jet plane. In an interview conducted in St. Louis April 5, 2012, frontman Seiji clarified, "I love jet plane. I love noisy music, too. So... There were records... many records... every record have no big sounds. So... easy to listen. I hate that! So! I add jet sounds. Bwaaaahng! Explosion!" In the same interview, when asked who created the term, Jet Rock, Seiji replied, "Me. Yeah, yeah. So we are #1 Japanese Jet Rock Band."
After releasing two vinyl albums in Japan, the first of which, Wolf Rock!, was recorded in guitarist Seiji's basement, the band started a tour of America. Guitar Wolf performed at the 2nd Garageshock festival in Memphis, Tennessee, where Memphis local and Oblivians member Eric Friedl first saw the band. Impressed with the band's set, Friedl approached the band and received a demo tape which he decided to self-release, forming his own label, Goner Records, for the specific purpose of exposing Guitar Wolf to an American audience. After placing a call to the band in Japan in order to get permission to issue the album, Goner Records released "Wolf Rock!", Guitar Wolf's debut LP, in 1993.
Guitar Wolf released their first CD, Run Wolf Run, in 1994, distributing it through the Japanese Less Than TV label. In 1996 an in-store performance at a New York City record store secured the band a contract with Matador Records, who issued the band's fourth album Missile Me! that same year. Guitar Wolf would continue releasing albums with Matador until 1999's Jet Generation, an album which Matador Records claims is the loudest CD in history.
In 1997, all three original members of Guitar Wolf appeared in the John Michael McCarthy's The Sore Losers, as the "mysterious strangers" alongside Memphis indie rock musician Jack Oblivian. McCarthy also directed the music video for their song "All Night De Buttobase!! (Roaring All Night!!)". In 2000, Guitar Wolf starred in the Japanese rock 'n' roll "zombie horror" movie, Wild Zero, directed by Tetsuro Takeuchi. The band plays themselves as they take on crazed fans, zombies, and an alien invasion. Guitar Wolf recorded the soundtrack to the film as well, releasing it in 1999 under the title, Wild Zero. Guitar Wolf has begun looking for a sponsor for the sequel, Wild Zero 2.
In 2002 the band made the move to Narnack Records where the band continued to release material until 2005 when the band released their greatest hits album, "Golden Black." That same year after completing a U.S. tour, the band returned home to Japan where bassist Billy/Bass Wolf suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 38. Billy, whose real name was Hideaki Sekiguchi, died in Tokyo on March 31, 2005, and is survived by his wife and two children. In September 2005, Guitar Wolf played their first show with their new bassist, U.G.
The band have their own line of Jet clothing consisting of jackets, pants, T-shirts and belts. The Guitar Wolf motorcycle jacket, a variation of the 613 Perfecto called 613GW, is manufactured by Schott NYC.