Hailing from District Z on Planet Peelander, self-described Japanese action comic punks Peelander-Z traveled across the galaxy to eat our smiles at Club Dada in Dallas’s Deep Ellum on Hallowe’en. They are currently touring the southern US and the eastern seaboard with Japanese garage metal band Electric Eel Shock.
The band rocked the house with their smile-inducing 3-chord punk, zany antics, and brightly colored skins (they are not costumes; remember, Peelander-Z are from another planet!) Human bowling, a giant squid (or is it a giant guitar?) and songs about food are just some of the trademark elements audiences all over the country expect from the band.
The audience were frequently enlisted as performers; with their simple lyrics, every song is a sing-along. Peelander Pink [Sidenote: If you can see her in this post’s featured image, it means you’re a good person.] distributed steel pet dishes and drumsticks as makeshift percussion and pulled us onto the stage. When the Peelanders engaged in “human bowling,” they handed their own instruments to audience members to play while the entire band left the stage. Daniel Drinnen, keyboard player for opening band Urizen, was enlisted as the substitute drummer.
Mercury Photo Bureau arranged to document the insanity [Sidenote: Thanks to Christopher Moon at Anhedonia Management and Josh Bloom at Fanatic Promotion for arranging the interview and granting me access during the show.] and here are the results. Be sure to view the gallery and read the exclusive interview. And why haven’t you bought their new album yet? You can find Peelander-Z on iTunes and Amazon.
Note about the Interview
I originally intended to record my telephone conversation with Kengu (Peelander Yellow), but when I called at the appointed time, he was driving the band to their next show in Arizona. [Sidenote: You can see the software setup I would have used to record the interview here.] So he asked me to call back in 10 minutes when he could switch drivers. The 2nd time I called, he asked for a few more minutes because he needed to do something you might have to do during any long trip (I’ll leave that to your imagination). So he wound up calling me back, and when I answered, I forgot to press the record button. The following is therefore recreated from my notes.
Mercury Photo Bureau Hello, Kengu-san. Thanks for taking my questions!
Peelander YellowHello; you’re welcome.
MPBEvery interview with you that I’ve read starts with “Where is Planet Peelander?” to which you invariably reply, “Don’t try to find it, feeeel it.” Human nature being what it is, when we’re told not to do something, our 1st impulse is to do exactly that. Have you thought about using reverse psychology the next time someone asks you this?
Peelander YellowWhen you want something very badly — you try very hard to get it, but it won’t happen. Better to stop trying and just let it come to you. Planet Peelander is like that. You cannot find Planet Peelander. You must feeeeel it.
MPBWas there some sport or activity like Earth wrestling that you liked before you came to our planet, or were you always fans of Earth wrestling, even before the journey across space?
Peelander YellowWe didn’t have professional wrestling on Planet Peelander. We do other sports, like flying — people are very light there; they float. We disovered [professional] wrestling after we came to Earth.
MPBDo Planet Peelander natives share your colors, or is each 1 unique? Is there a Peelander Fuschia-with-a-touch-of-orange-but-only-in-a-certain-light, or a Peelander Magenta-almost-maroon-but-not-quite?
Peelander YellowAll different, and not just colors: you could be Peelander Mountain, or Peelander Rainbow, or Peelander Flower. Your name describes your inner person, and your skin shows your personality. When we came to Earth, we thought everyone was the same [as each other], because they all look similar. We discovered that, inside, each person is very different; it doesn’t show as much on the outside.
MPBHow did you meet Peelander Pink? — and when did she join the band?
Peelander YellowAh, you’ve seen the YouTube videos? If you see Peelander Pink, it means you are a good person. Only good people can see her!
MPBI used to watch Gigantor in the 1960s. Did any of you grow up with Tetsujin Nijūhachi-gō (Tetsujin 28-gō)? [Sidenote: 鉄人28号.]
Peelander YellowAh, that is very early. We watched [Himitsu Sentai] Gorenjā. [Sidenote: 秘密戦隊ゴレンジャ]
MPBThe happy life ceremony, a.k.a. human bowling: is that native to Planet Peelander, or did you create it after coming to the shores of Manhattan?
Peelander Yellow That’s from Planet Peelander. We perform it when something makes us happy. Also, it makes people smile, and we eat your smiles. That is our food. When you smile, you feed us.
MPBWhy did you and Peelander Red originally move to NYC?
Peelander YellowThere’s a good Japanese restaurant there!
MPBSpeaking of which, chili burgers, ice cream, riceball-z, s.t.e.a.k. steak, tacos, wasabi. Any other food I should know about?
Peelander YellowYes! We may have another song about food in our new album. We’ve finished recording it, and it should be out next year.
MPBYou 1st began recording on analog equipment, in the 90s. Thinking of Brian Eno’s essay in which he complains about the loss of immediacy when software becomes an intermediary, does digital technology help or hinder your music making?
Peelander YellowWe don’t think of it that way. When you have a problem, what do you do? You keep trying, and you solve the problem. If there is a software problem, we find a way to work around it.
MPBTell me about the food truck in Austin.
Peelander YellowAh, East Side King [Sidenote: East Side King is owned and operated by Top Chef’s Paul Qui and fellow chef Motoyasu Utsunomiya.] . Good food. They have good food in Austin. I painted their truck.
[We briefly discuss SXSW; Peelander Yellow wants to know if I’ve attended — I have not.]
MPBIs Red excited about teaching future Ninjas? Do you miss him already? Are you searching for a replacement?
Peelander YellowYes, yes, and we’ll see. We don’t know right now.
MPBI already have 3 pairs of glasses. Should I get more?
MPBDo you have anything special planned for the Hallowe’en show that you haven’t done before and are not likely to repeat soon?
Peelander YellowYou’ll have to come and see! Wear a costume! Everybody should wear a costume.
MPBI’ll be wearing my Hausu [Sidenote: House, or ハウス is a 1977 Japanese horror film directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi.] t-shirt and taking pictures of you! Final question: Can we expect to see Peelander Black in Dallas?
Peelander YellowHe is in Japan right now, but he is flying here. We hope he will be at the Dallas show.
Shooting under stage lights is always a challenge. Hardly any of my pictures of openers Urizen were usable due to a combination of low light, red LEDs, and the hyper-kinetic movement of the band members themselves. Peelander-Z had the advantage of being brightly lit; also, I spoke to the house lighting director before their set and ensured the band would be lit with white during their 1st song. Nonetheless, color temperatures were inconsistent, and blue and red LEDs cast weird shadows on the band throughout their set.
What you see below is the result of lots of manual correction in Adobe Lightroom to minimize these artifacts; selective reduction of the red channel and occasional use of gradient filters helped make the images appear more ‘natural.’ Even so, some pictures only looked right when converted to B+W; in color, all detail would have been lost in a sea of red.