J-ROCK WEEK – WEDNESDAY: THE PILLOWS
Best known for their work featured in the 2000 anime FLCL, The Pillows have stood as a gateway drug to Japanese rock for many people. They may appear to be a typical rock band dressed in t-shirts, jeans and chucks instead of glam rock costumes, but these guys have some serious talent and are 100% raw energy.
Formed on September 16th, 1989 by bassist Kenji Ueda, guitarists Sawao Yamanaka and Yoshiaki Manabe, and drummer Shinichiro Sato, the band adopted their name from the English post-punk record Pillows & Prayers, and got their start like any other- lots of LPs and singles on indie labels. However, after a trip to England to record their second album and Ueda’s early departure, their music spiraled into a vast amount of experimentation due to Shinichiro’s ever-changing musical tastes and curiosity. Taking over in Ueda’s place, he led the Pillows to integrating various genres into their music, such as jazz, pop funk, and even reggae. Eccentric, but it worked. Their next two albums as a trio slowly gained more popularity until the Pillows’ breakthrough and being approached by studio Gainax to provide the entire musical score for FLCL, their newest turn-of-the-century anime project.
Ever since then, The Pillows have acheived legendary status as a rock band and have released up to 18 studio albums and over 30 singles. The Pillows have been active for 25 years straight now, meaning they’ve been around for a while. But somehow, their music still remains so catchy and fresh that it never gets old. While their early music contained various types of musical influence (with their second album Living Field being so diverse that fans couldn’t label it under one genre alone), their music eventually evolved into a harder, faster sound that mimicked the likes of Weezer and The Pixies (both also big favorites of Shinichiro).
The Pillows have always been a promising band, and their goal is to always present the fans with something new, the likes of which they’ve never heard before. That’s what makes these guys so special, along with their ability to create compelling music which speaks to the passionate child within us all.
Leave a Reply