The Kaje talks taking a break to The Japanese Voyeurs

japvoyIt was on a very cold December night that I left my deliciously warm mountain cottage, mounted my trusty mule and went to the Manchester Academy to talk to the Japanese Voyeurs and see them do their turn. This five-piece London based grunge/rock band have a very busy schedule what with touring with the Young Guns throughout December, embarking on their own tour in February and seeing out the winter with a showcase tour with Rock Sound Exposure. I caught up with Tom Lamb and Romily Ellis who told me a little more about themselves…

I read a biography of you somewhere in which you were advising your underage fans to be rebellious. Were you like that as kids, or is it just an image to go with the music?

Romily: I think that was a biography we did right at the beginning. It’s all tongue in cheek, it’s all for fun. Music wise, part of the reason we started this band was because of the music we grew up loving and we felt like there wasn’t that same influx of new heavy old rock/punk bands, in the UK anyway. I don’t know if we were really rebellious as kids but I think that was probably just something one of us said that didn’t really mean anything.

Whenever you’re not feeling particularly angsty or emotional, how do you write music?

Romily: I think I’m definitely not one of those people who screws up their lives in order to write songs. You see them all the time, ‘Oh, everything is so terrible because it helps my art.’ For me it is about imagination, like with lyrics it’s about taking an emotion that you might just feel for a second then really focussing on it and pulling it out. I mean, a lot of the stuff I think we do feel but it is a very small proportion of a whole feeling, ye know?

What do you think people who listen to your music are like? Who are they?

Tom: I think they’re like me when I was younger. I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it properly.

Romily: The thing is, at our shows there seems to be quite a mixed crowd and for me that is a good thing. Like when you look out and see older people who like it and were probably around when the bands that we loved were playing, I think that is kind of exciting because they come from the same roots, musically, as us and they think that we’re good. It is also nice when there are kids there who maybe haven’t seen that much of the same genre that we are.  Has that just completely not answered your question!?

No, no, its fine. I will just change the question to fit the answer! There is a reference in one of your songs to the Virgin Mary and her habit and I notice you’re wearing a cross. Are you anti-religion or do you just not care?

Romily: I’m fascinated by religion, all religions. I think it is really really interesting the things we use as humans to make us feel worthwhile but yet I don’t have a fixed opinion on it, I’m just exploring it and I think lyrically it is all an exploration as opposed to a judgement on anyone.

Your reviews are quite divisive. Or rather your reviewers say that the people to listen to you are divided. Would you rather have a cohort which is united or do you like the fact you are divisive, even if it loses an audience?

Tom: I quite like it. I mean, I don’t love it. I think it’s kinda cool.  

Romily: It definitely means you’re doing something right. I mean, I think the most important think is to make people feel something whether that is that they love it or they hate it. At least you’re waking people up and provoking a reaction. We don’t make the music we make to be intentionally provocative but I’d much rather it was the case that people really didn’t like us than we were a generic, average rock group who people didn’t have much of an opinion on.

In everything I’ve read about the band there is quite a list of comparisons to Seattle, 1992, Daisy Chainsaw. Where have you guys come from, where do you fit in?

Romily: Not very well. We’ve found it pretty hard to find any balance at all. We definitely identify with the grunge scene of 1992. But it isn’t a revival or anything. I don’t feel as though we’re doing anything backwards. I think it stems out of a love of a lot of different bands. Some of them are in that grunge scene but also some of them are heavier, more metal based. I don’t think we do really fit in. There are quite a lot of cool bands at the moment who are doing heavier stuff than we are who aren’t massive but who are in that sludgy grunge genre.

In the next few months you guys are doing a proper tour. How are you feeling about that?

Romily: Well I’ve been moaning about how cold it is. I’m not looking forward to touring in the cold. But it is exciting because doing your own tour, even though it is more pressure, it is fun because you know you’re not making people watch you. That is the hardest thing with being a support act, you feel like you’re wasting someone’s time because they don’t like your music. I always feel quite bad. But the Rock Sound Exposure tour will be great. We’re touring with Dinosaur Pile-Up, the band Steve, our drummer, was in so it’ll be fun to play with them again.

You cancelled a lot of gigs in the recent past. What was the highlight of your spare time?

Romily: Amazing question! We started making stuff! We’re doing some Christmas presents for fans! We can’t tell you what they are. We’re in the middle of making the components for those presents that we’ll be sending out to people.

Wait! I know what it is! It is the advent calendars!

Romily: No, that was last year.

I know now! It is guitar pedals!

Romily: Whoa! I wish we could afford to make and send everyone guitar pedals! But we are making a couple of pedals for ourselves.

Why were you stuck in Canada?

Romily: Hah! Well I was supposed to be there for ten days but then a certain group of people didn’t pay the studio we were recording at I had to stay because of that and then I got ill then someone else got ill and then there was a volcano. It was like a series of hilarious and awful things which were all conspiring to not ever let me go home.

Tom, boxers or briefs?

Tom: Oh, boxers, definitely.

Romily: But you were saying the other day that you were bored of boxers?

Tom: Yeah, I think I’d like to try some Y-fronts. I’ve been on the boxers for a while. I used to wear them as a kid though.

Words: Hugh Hamill

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1 Comment

  1. i like it


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