Tag Archives: polysics

Last Monday I saw Polysics and Do Make Say Think perform on the same night. Polysics was opening the MySpace Music Tour at the Rave, and while there were reports of heads exploding at their live shows, I saw nothing of the sort.

I did see and hear a lot of bad-assity going on. Wearing orange jumpsuits and rectangular shades, Polysics barraged the audience with the kind of old-school energy that could only be channeled direct from David Lee Roth. It was theatrical yet fun, and the group headbanged and did rockstar poses with impunity. They don’t really speak English, but the lead singer was great at saying, “Hello Milwaukee! We’re Polysics from Tokyo, Japan!!!” while windmilling his guitar.

It’s a shame that they were opening that tour — they deserve their own orange-colored jet with black windows flying them around shows, or maybe a performance in the middle of the ocean. Or, at the very least, their own cartoon series on Adult Swim.

While the Rave was being overrun by emo teenagers, I headed over to Stonefly in Riverwest, where part of my favorite band in the world was performing. Members of Do Make Say Think are in the Toronto collective Broken Social Scene, and aside from being a fan of all the side projects (Feist, Metric, Kevin Drew and DMST), I also love seeing how individual members of BSS create work outside of the band that made them famous, and how their creative processes carve totally different paths.

The seven-piece seemed a little crowded on the Stonefly stage, but the melodies and movements of “You, You’re a History in Rust” shone through. That same night, Bright Eyes was playing at the Pabst, but there was still a decent crowd. Head honcho Charles Spearin said the last time he was in MIlwaukee was nine years ago; “a lot has changed since then.” I think he was referring to how much cooler Milwaukee is now. Every time I listen to a DMST song, I try to guess how many musical layers are in the song and what instruments they used — it’s a little game I play with myself. So it was really interesting to see a band who makes such powerful and yet delicate songs work everything out live.

The cigarette smoke in the bar was a little tortuous, though. I chatted a bit with Amit Dahan, their tour manager. He mentioned that the smoke inside the venue was difficult for members of the band as well. While talking I realized he was the guy who had written an awesome series on touring with BSS and DMST last year. He also helped me take photos of the band, which was great, because I only had a gigantic lens from photographing Polysics at a bigger venue.
It was evident that DMST is a musician’s band; I saw members of Collections of Colonies of Bees at the show, as well as members of Brief Candles.

the gig 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22
genre Technicolor pogo punk
where The Rave, 2401W. Wisconsin Ave.,
how much $20.

Milwaukee appearances by bands such as Polysics � celebrated dance-punksters and Japan�s answer to Devo � are few and far between, so heading to The Rave for the MySpace tour would be totally worth it, regardless of who is co-headlining tonight (Say Anything and Hello Goodbye).

The band calls itself Japanese new wave (a.k.a. �technicolor pogo punk�) and sings in Japanese, English or space language (more on that later). They also wear crazy outfits; playing live, they�re equivalent to a truckload of Red Bulls.

The band doesn�t speak English, so its publicists put together a bunch of questions for singer Hiroyuki Hayashi and translated the answers for us fans of sweaty, jump-up-and-down music.

Q: How did Polysics form?
I was watching Devo�s music video clips when I was a high school student, and I was shocked by it. That impact totally overturned the values of music I had been listening to until then, and the experience was that much strong. Devo was dressed in matching yellow jumpsuits, moving around the stage looking like broken robots, and shouting a crazy cover of �Satisfaction� by the Rolling Stones in a mechanical motion, and I thought it was much more punk than just acting like a gang by greasing one�s hair. �Oh my god, this is the new wave punk!� I was so impressed. And I thought, �I want to do new wave punk dressed in a jumpsuit like Devo!� That�s how I formed Polysics.

Q: It is clear that Devo was an inspiration, any others?
I think I was influenced mainly by the New Wave and Techno Pop in late 70�s – early 80�s. Other than that, XTC, Kraftwerk, Revilos, New Order, Gang of Four, Wire, Sparks, etc�Also, I think I am influenced by King Crimson, Yes, Deep Purple, Led zeppelin, etc, as well.

Q: Have you ever met Devo?
We went to Los Angeles in 2000 and visited Devo�s studio without making an appointment. Then we found all the Devo members there in the middle of recording, meaning we could meet everyone all at once! It was so nice of them to welcome us, and they even offered us Coca-Cola.
After that, we met them again at Summer Sonic 2003. Since then, they have come to our gigs in Los Angeles. And two years ago, their ex-drummer, Alan, came to see our year-end show in Japan!

Q: What is �Space Language�?
This is the language which is neither English, nor Japanese, but one which is impossible to be literalized (it’s) put out when we hear our own rhythms and electronic sounds in super large volume.

Q: Do you ever perform without sunglasses?
Yes. It was the gig at Seattle two years ago. We put the sunglasses and badges and stuff in a case at the backstage of the club in Olympia and left it there. (The live set in Seattle) went very good, but we were so embarrassed at first…Then we went back to Olympia to find the case � we found it safe!

Q: Is it hard to see with the sunglasses on?
Very hard. But I got used to it, as I�ve been wearing it for like 10 years.

Q: What was the inspiration behind covering �My Sharona?�
It was just a feeling. One day, we were preparing for the stage of a Japanese rock festival and talking like, �Hey, let�s do a cover song, the song that everyone knows and gets excited about.� We got two candidates � �Hotel California� and �My Sharona.� We just picked up the latter one by feeling. Polysics often does covers of various artists since we think we can show how our musical style is and how amusing it is by covering the other�s songs.

Q: What does Polysics mean?
The name of the synthesizer I bought first in high school days was Polysix made by Korg. The name was well-sounding, and I really liked it, so I named the band after it by changing its spelling.

Q: What are the top five artists you are listening to right now?
Foetus, Ministry (its early era), KMFDM, Genesis, Einsturzende Neubauten

Q: What is the biggest difference between Japanese and U.S. audiences?
U.S. audiences…their vigorousness, especially for those from West Coast! Sometimes they terrify me. (Laugh)

Q: What is your favorite American food?
Whopper sold by Burger King. We love it since it has so much meat and vegetables, making it so heavy! Since there are only a few Burger King stores in Japan, we eat it as much as possible when we go to the U.S.