Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tokyo Raid ROCKS

Tokyo Raid is a three-piece band from San Fransisco, California. Ben Utah sings and plays bass, Tim Kearney sings and plays guitar, and Mike Thompson plays drums. I came across the music of Tokyo Raid last summer, when I was following leads to good bands by finding out what ex-BJM members are doing (Dean Taylor was playing with Tokyo Raid predecessor The Mandarins a while back) when they leave The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Seeing Dean Taylor's name in The Mandarins, I listened to their songs, and they were some brilliant, catchy little rock songs, something I wanted more of, so I chased up the artist a bit more, finding that Mandarins main man Ben Utah had a band called Tokyo Raid. The songs playing on their MySpace player were from their EP Cleopatra. I wanted it, pronto. Did not find it, but did find their self-titled EP on iTunes. Indulgence and Source Inside, totally addictive songs with their fast, sharp drums and angular, punk-ish guitars. Dark Eyes, Battle of Seattle, and the biggest winner of that EP, Sunday Morning, a long, smooth charmer of a tune, make up Tokyo Raid's self-titled EP. Also now available from the band are a second EP titled When The Devil Calls, Tell Him To Take A Number, and 2 singles titled Let's Pretend We're Friends and 31, all worth getting, my friends. Great garage-style guitar rock, smart, energetic, and edgy.

I asked my favorite edgy guitar rockers a few questions, to see what Tokyo Raid have been up to:

How long have you been making music, and what different projects have you been involved with over the years? Other bands and solo stuff?

MIKE: Been playing music for 20 years this year. Had few bands in high school then formed The Big Nasty before college, played with them for 8 years, 4 of which were spent in Austin,TX. Then moved here and freelanced, then joined Midnight Strangers which led to my current stint in Tokyo Raid.

TIM: I started playing in bands in Washington, DC. The most notable were called Red Right Return and LBJ. I've also recorded some soundtrack work for some short indie films.

BEN: I’ve been in bands since I was 17. I was in a bunch of Seattle and San Francisco bands and I have done solo stuff.

Has Tokyo Raid become your main project now? Are you playing gigs around your home city of San Francisco?

TIM: TR is now my main project. Most SF clubs look down on bands that play too often within the City so we try to space out our local shows to every 4-6 weeks. We're now also playing more shows up and down the west coast.

MIKE: Yup.

BEN: TR has been my main project since 2004. We are looking forward to playing in other cities in 2010. When we were still called the Mandarins, we had an aborted Europe tour and I would love to correct that and start playing beyond the West Coast.

What is happening around your home city? Does it feel energized as far as music goes? Do you fit into a scene there?

TIM: There are a lot of scenes in SF but there seems to be decent cross-pollination between them. Tokyo Raid probably hovers somewhere between the SF garage rock crowd and the Oakland rock/punk crowd. Although it's common to find some gypsies, metal heads, and drum and bass fans at our shows.

BEN: I have never comfortably felt like I belong to one scene or another. I think there are a ton of things happening right now, but it’s so marginalized or splintered it is sometimes hard to see if anything is happening at all, until it does happen.

What kind of guitars/amps/gear do you use? (I love learning what my fave musicians use & enjoy playing on, and I think others enjoy this too)

MIKE: Ludwig drums, Paiste cymbals

TIM: I play a Gibson hollowbody electric guitar through a 1980's Marshall head that powers an Orange cabinet.

BEN: Since switching to bass, I am playing an Epiphone Jack Casady Bass through a bass big muff and into an Ampeg SVT-3 and out a Peavey Black Widow cabinet. It’s a hollowbody as well so it gets great growl and feedback.

What artists do you yourself enjoy?

MIKE: The Who, The Clash, Motorhead, Dropkick Murphys, whatever rocks...

TIM: Some regional bands I like are The DoDos, Bellavista and The Entrance Band.

BEN: I’ve been listening to a ton of Suicide, Joy Division and She Wants Revenge lately. I am digging everything from the Black Angels right now.

What is Tokyo Raid working on right now? Are there albums available to us yet, or will there be in the near future? What does 2010 hold for you and your projects?

TIM: We're about to release five or six songs we worked on over the Fall of 2009. The recording process took longer than expected so we've had time to write some new material while recording older songs. We'd like to crank out future songs faster using a more live recording style.

BEN: Tim’s right, we labored over most of 2009 on songs we were recording, it ended up taking more time than we expected. We should have two releases shortly…the new one plus back catalog stuff off of Cleopatra will be available online soon. Once that is available, all the EP’s will be up and online.

Is there a trip to NYC in your future?!

TIM: My last band played a show in Brooklyn a few years back. I've had the itch to visit NYC lately so it's ALWAYS an option!

BEN: I would love to get out to NYC.

Where can we find your music and more about the band?

BEN: You can find our music on iTunes and Amazon. We are on Facebook, Myspace, Reverbnation and our site tokyoraidband.com. Look for us there,

Much thanks to Ben, Mike, and Tim for taking the time to do this interview! You guys ROCK.

No comments: