Razorcake Podcast #88: With Russ Van Cleave

Razorcake Podcast #88: With Russ Van Cleave

I don’t often like to tie these podcasts into things that I’ve done with any of the bands I played in, but I decided to make an exception in this case. Earlier this year, one of the bands I play in, The Tim Version, had the opportunity to tour Japan for the third time – here’s the journal from that tour that got posted earlier (

Tracklisting:
-Blotto – “Spinning On A 45” from Remember Buy The Vinyl First…Singles Collection 2004-2007 (Snuffy Smiles / A.D.D.)
-The Centerhits – “Fuck You Beach” from City Girl Friend EP (Snuffy Smiles)
-Gleam Garden – “Evaporation” from Gleam Garden / Dan Padilla split (Snuffy Smiles)
-The Miscasts – “Watch Out” from Your Pest Band / The Miscasts split (Snuffy Smiles)
-Zero Fast – “Stay Free” from Zero Fast / Shotwell split (Snuffy Smiles)
-Pear Of The West – “Haste” from Passed Out The Wasted: Incomplete Discography 2000-2008 (Snuffy Smiles)
-Your Pest Band – “Going Down Again” from Your Pest Band / The Miscasts split (Snuffy Smiles)
-The Because – “Let Everything Be” from As Time Goes By… (Snuffy Smiles)
-The Crump – “Used Out Few Chords” from Shyboy / The Crump split (Snuffy Smiles)
-Navel – “Fragment” from Depend (Snuffy Smiles)
-Driftage – “Puzzling Distance” from Paint It Black EP (Snuffy Smiles)
-Shyboy – “Chokin’ In The Wind” from Shyboy / The Crump split (Snuffy Smiles)
-Browntrout – “One More Step To Midnight” from Gleam Garden / Browntrout split (Snuffy Smiles)
-The Urchin – “Maybe That’s Where We Belong (Everytime We Sing The Same Old Song)” from One Leaf / The Urchin split (Snuffy Smiles)
-Malegoat – “Leave” from The Life Between Me And You (Waterslide)
-Minority Blues Band – “Metaphisical Burst” from Momentary Beautiful Burnout (Snuffy Smiles)

BLOTTO: These guys might be one of the most well-known Japanese bands over here in the States. They’ve done a few tours over here and have contributed songs to compilations over here, including the We’ll Inhereit The Earth tribute to the Replacements that came out a couple years ago on 1-2-3-4 Go! They’ve also put out a lot of great splits over the years with bands such as Drunken Boat, Modern Machines and Off With Their Heads. Unfortunately, Blotto is sort of winding down, but I think all the guys are gonna keep playing music.

THE CENTERHITS: My first impression to this band was during their show in Fukuoka. They were dressed up all weird or something and the lead singer was this dainty little Japanese girl who wore a kitty-kat skull and crossbones eye-patch and screamed like a banshee. Some psychologists might describe this experience as cognitive dissonance. At first I was skeptical, but the records I have (this one and another split with Your Pest Band) have made me a believer. I especially like this song due to the very subtle “Fuckin’ A” backup vocal you hear right after the title line.

GLEAMGARDEN: I wanna say these guys are from Kumagaya which is sort of a remote sub-city of Tokyo, but I’m not for certain. We got to see thme play twice and both times they were great. Super nice fellas to boot. They’ve put out a few other splits with Browntrout and…uh…The Tim Version.

THE MISCASTS: Gon from the late-great Kyoto band I Excuse plays drums and sings in this band. Gon played guitar in I Excuse and didn’t know how to play drums until he started this band. This is even more impressive given the fact that there isn’t really anyplace to setup a play drums except in expensive practice studios in Japan and that he managed to get the hang of singing and drumming at the same time in such a short amount of time. The songs on this split are really great, but they also have a split with Driftage.

ZERO FAST: Zero Fast is among one of the first bands I heard out of Japan. Aside from The Urchin, Blotto, Pear Of The West and possibly Navel, Zero Fast is the only other band that has played at least one show with us on every trip we’ve made to Japan. I’m not sure what much else they have out, but if you go to Haga’s izakaya in YokohamaCity and say you like the Yokohoma City Bay Stars you might get a free beer out of it or something. He’s a big baseball fan.

PEAR OF THE WEST: Pear Of The West is from FukuokaCity and have always been fun every time we’ve gotten to see them. They’ve been around a long time and, recently, Snuffy Smiles released a CD collection of a bunch of their singles and compilation songs. This is from a comp called “After All, It’s All Bollocks” on Stand Recordings

YOUR PEST BAND: These guys are part of a new wave of younger bands (along with The Because and The Centerhits) that have been puttin’ out some really good music. They’re a lot more lo-fi than many of the bands and this song, while great, is uncharacteristically slow for them as they are normally cruisin’ along at pretty break-neck speeds.

THE BECAUSE: These guys have been one of my favorite bands to come out of Japan in the past few years. They’re from a really small town called Ise which is an odd place for a band like this to come from. They’ve put out a few other split 7”s with One Reason, The Dauntless Elite and Blotto, but a lot of what they have has been released on a CD called “Get Out Through The Back Door” that they self-released last year.

THE CRUMP: The Crump are from a smaller town on the island of Kyushu called Tosu. U-ichi and crew have always been really nice to us that past couple times we went there. He just recently came to FEST with a few of his friends and seemed to have a really good time. The Crump also have a 7” EP called “Leave Home” and a split 7” with Smalltown.

NAVEL: These guys have been playing around in Japan for a long time. Tomi and his wife have put us up on, I think, every tour we’ve done out there and they’re always fun to watch live. The Snuff influence is definitely evident in this song.

DRIFTAGE: Driftage are from Matsuyama, the largest city on the island of Shikoku. They’ve been around for a good few years at this point and, aside from the Paint It Black EP, have also put out a split with The Miscasts and have a song on the As Time Goes By… 7” compilation.

SHYBOY: As far as I know, Shyboy has only released two songs on this split 7” with The Crump. They were great to see live and Yutaka makes some of the best curry I’ve ever had in my life.

BROWNTROUT: I first heard Browntrout when Miso, singer and guitarist, came out to the States to tour with Blotto. He gave me a 2-song CD of his band. After that, we got to play with Browntrout on our second trip to Japan and again this last time. They also just recently played a few shows around the U.S. with Drunken Boat. I think this split with GleamGarden contains two of their best songs to date.

THE URCHIN: The Urchin have been around since at least 1998. I’m not sure of any DIY band in Japan that has been around longer than these guys have. They’ve put out a couple full-length records and countless 7” EPs and splits. They’ve toured the US a couple times, Europe and even played FEST a few years back. They’re a band that we all listened to before we ever even thought of getting a chance to tour Japan and when we were super stoked to find out that they were gonna play with us on our first tour. We’ve gotten to play with them every time since and we always look forward to seeing them. It was hard to narrow down just one song to play by The Urchin, but I decided this one was a good introduction to the band if nothing else.

MALEGOAT: These guys are a relatively new band. The only song I have came from this compilation that someone gave to me when we were over there. I had too much shochu that night to remember who it came from (Takashi I think?), but the next day it was there with all my other crap. So, I thought it only appropriate to play this song.

MINORITY BLUES BAND: MBB was another long-running Japanese band going back to 2001. They were from Tokushima, Japan and put out a couple full-length records and several split 7”s that are all complied on the CD I played here. They’ve unfortunately been broken up for some time, so we didn’t get to play with them. But since we played a couple shows with Spalding and George’s new band, Wedding Nights, and, since George had to forego hours of sleep to drive us over hill and dale, I felt it a good idea to end the show with this song here that was originally released on their split with J-Church back in 2001.