Looking like a Shinjuku motorcycle gang in sunglasses and matching black leathers, Guitar Wolf took the stage at Knaack and demonstrated their conviction that three chords can build not just a band but a human pyramid. Their song titles, Jett Generation, Fujiyama Attack, Roaring Blood give no small indication of what to expect. This is a Yakuza aesthetic, something strange and feral and possibly fake from the Empire of Signs.
Formed by Guitar Wolf (Seiji) in 1987, the band’s original Drum Wolf (Narita) quit to become a fortune teller and Bass Wolf (Billy) died of a heart attack back in 2005. Tonight, having long since recruited new wolves to his pack, Seiji fronts a band consisting of bassist U.G and drummer Toru. They are here in Berlin to promote their new album Dead Rock (Okami).
Seiji describes the primitive sonic onslaught of his band, a mixture of the Ramone’s dumbest (and best) riffing, 60’s garage rock & roll with just a smidgen of Kiss, Rockabilly and Japanese Noise Pop as “Jett Rock ‘n’ Roll” and one can only assume that St. Joan would approve.
Seiji/Guitar Wolf, obssesively chewing gum, consults the nine studs on the sleeve of his jacket for a carefully measured eternity, sweeps the crowd with the dead accusatory index finger of Elvis and downs a bottle of beer in one. These are moves that have been rehearsed in the mirror for twenty years. Drum Wolf pulls a comb from his boot and drags it through his slicked-back 50’s greaser hair, U.G’s bass begins to tick. A guitar technician/roadie in a matching Rock & Roll studded belt watches nervously.
Strafing the crowd with his black SG, eyes hidden beheath impeneterable black shades – a wall of distortion hits the crowd, as the battered Marshall valve amps begin to whimper feedback under the onslaught of Seiji’s guitar.
This is not, however, about musicianship – more the cult of vintage equipment as the fetish through which the anima of rock & roll can be summoned. Seiji’s guitar and U.G’s bass both have electrical tape indicating the location of the intervals. What matters is the attitude. What matters is that Seiji has figured out that Ron Asheton’s Gran Mal seizures, Townsend’s windmill, are fundamentally images. Images which can be appropriated. He sneered at us and spat a wad of gum.
All hell was sure to break lose and soon did. Crowd surfing casualities were carried to the back of the room and somewhere between Jet Generation and repeated screams of MOTHERFUCKER from Mr Wolf an overexcited audience member was encouraged to steal his guitar. U.G looked on nonchalantly throughout, keeping a constant industrial throb and Drum Wolf ensured the momentum didn’t sag as Guitar Wolf stalked the stage throwing shapes, growling and shrieking and inciting the crowd.
Soon Seiji/Guitar Wolf was being carried overhead, leaping on the speaker stacks and encouraging the hapless new guitarist to jump, JUMP!
The crowd roared its approval.
At the second encore, amp failing and drenched in sweat but grinning insanely the band clawed its way to a final number as the audience was pulled on stage to form a human pyramid atop which climbed a triumphant Guitar Wolf!
JOIN THIS GANG NOW!