Half Japanese

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Much like The Shaggs before them, Half-Japanese represented amateur rock music at its best (or worst, depending on a particular point of view).

Started by brothers Jad and David Fair in the late 70s, the band rejected all conventional ideas about music and were some of the strongest supporters of the notion that that anyone can pick up a guitar and play (in turn, the band won a lot of supporters, especially from indie/alternative musicians including Kurt Cobain, Teenage Fanclub and Sonic Youth).

Lyrical subjects of their songs were as unusual as their music philosophy – from horror movies and tabloid headlines to sexual tension, they reflected a certain sense of naivete / innocence that the band also captured through their music. The band themselves pointed out that all of their songs fall into two categories – “love songs or monster songs”.

HJ record their first EP “Calling All Girls” in the late 70s and released it on their own 50 Skidillion Watts label. It was followed by another EP – 1978  “No Direct Line From My Brain On Heart” (also on 50 Skidillion Watts).

1--2-gentlemen--not-beasts--1980
1 / 2 Gentlemen / Not Beasts - 1980

By the 80s, the band signed a deal with UK label Armageddon and the decade saw them unleashing a whole string of albums and singles – starting with 1981 “1/2 Gentlemen, Not Beasts” (arguably, the first debut 3-LP box set in history of music) and ending with 1989 “The Band That Would Be King” (which also gave the name to a documentary about them).The band also showed their roots by including covers of  songs by Doors, Springsteen, Dylan, Fats Domino, among others.

The band started the 90s with “We Are Who They Ache With Amorous Love” which All Music Guide called “spirited, noisy” and “one of Half-Japanese’s most self-indulgent efforts”, followed by 1993 “Fire In The Sky”, which featured covers of songs by Daniel Johnston and Roky Erickson and, according to AMG, “finally pushed the group from the obscure fringe of the U.S. post-punk underground into a full-blown indie rock legend.”

The rest of the 90s saw the release of Hot (on Safe House label), Bone Head (on Alternative Tentacles label) and Heaven Sent (on Emperor Jones label) and, finally, new millennium, saw their latest (as of 2009) effort – “Hello”, with each album further exposing the world to their brand of sonic quirkiness.

Band Members:

David Fair (Coo Coo Rocking Time, XXOO)

Don Fleming (B.A.L.L., Backbeat Band, Dim Stars, Gumball, Idlewild, To Live And Shave In L.A., Velvet Monkeys, Wylde Ratttz)

Jad Fair (Mosquito, XXOO)

Jay Spiegel (B.A.L.L., Gumball, Idlewild, To Live And Shave In L.A., Velvet Monkeys)

Kramer (Mark Kramer) (B.A.L.L., Bongwater, Butthole Surfers, Chadbournes, Fugs, New York Gong, Shockabilly, Ween)

Mick Hobbs (Family Fodder, Lo Yo Yo, Lowest Note, Officer!, Work)

Rich Labrie (Red Light, Y Front)

Discography:

Calling All Girls EP 7″ (50 Skidillion Watts, 1977)

No Direct Line From My Brain To My Heart EP 7″ (50 Skidillion Watts, 1978)

1/2 Gentlemen / Not Beasts 2xCD / 3xLP (Armageddon, 1980 / T.E.C. Tones, 1992)

Loud LP (Armageddon, 1981)

Spy / I Know How It Feels…Bad 7″ (Armageddon, 1981)

Horrible 12″ (Press, 1982)

Our Solar System LP (Iridescence, 1984)

Sing No Evil CD / LP (Iridescence, 1985 / Drag City, 2000)

Music To Strip By CD / LP (50 Skidillion Watts, 1987 / Bad Alchemy, 1987 / Paperhouse, 1993)

Charmed Life LP (No Man’s Land, 1988)

U.S. Teens Are Spoiled Bums 7″ (50 Skidillion Watts, 1988)

The Band That Would Be King CD / LP  (50 Skidillion Watts, 1989 / Paperhouse, 1993)

Untitled 12″ (Overzealous Editions, 1989)

We Are They Who Ache With Amorous Love CD / LP (T.E.C. Tones, 1990 / Psycho Acoustic Sounds, 1990)

Eye Of The Hurricane 7″ (Paperhouse, 1992)

Fire In The Sky CD (Paperhouse, 1992 / Safe House, 1993)

Postcard 7″ (Erl, 1992)

Boo! Live In Europe 1992 CD (T.E.C. Tones, 1994)

Greatest Hits 3xLP (Safe House, 1995)

Hot CD / LP (Safe House, 1995 / Fire, 1995)

Bone Head LP (Alternative Tentacles, 1997)

Hello CD / LP (Alternative Tentacles, 2001)

Loud & Horrible CD (Drag City, 2004)

Compilation Tracks:

I Want Something New” on 30 Over DC – Here Comes The New Wave! (Limp, 1978)

Someone I Care About” on Blub Krad (Los Angeles Free Music Society, 1978)

Paint It Black” on Miniatures (Pipe, 1980)

Fun Again” on Let Them Eat Jellybeans! (1981)

Tracks Of My Tears” on Just When You Thought That It Was…Quiet! (Quiet, 1982)

You’re Gonna Miss Me” on High Muck (Didco Products, 1983)

Too Much Sex Too Much” on Assemblee Generale 4 (Ptose Production Presente, 1984)

Electricity Respect” on Shadow And Substance (The Wonderful World Of Glass Volume 2) (Glass, 1984)

Girl Athletes” on Sound Cosmodel (Atelier Peyotl, 1984)

Don’t Put Your Fingers In The Fan” (with Tinklers) on Tellus #3 (Tellus Magazine, 1984)

Ranxerox” on Assemblee Generale 5 (Ptose Production Presente, 1985)

Sooner Or Later” on Bad Alchemy Nr. 3 (Bad Alchemy, 1985)

Boule” on Boule (Ptose Production Presente, 1985)

Interview With Jad Fair” on On-Slaught No. 6 (Idiosyncratics, 1985)

Best” on Voices From North America (Temporary Music, 1986)

RKKRN/KMSLR/TKRNR/KRMLN” + “Hog Wild / Wild West” on Journey Into Pain (Beast 666 Tapes, 1987)

T Is For Texas” on Potatoes – A Collection Of Folk Songs From Ralph Records (Vol. 1) (Ralph, 1987)

Should I Tell Her?” on The 20th Anniversary Of The Summer Of Love 1987-1967 (Shimmy Disc, 1987 / Shimmy Disc Europe, 1987)

Big Train Tango” + “A Man Without A Head” + “Muleskinner Blues” on A Classic Guide To No Man’s Land (No Man’s Land, 1988)

Charmed Life” on Human Music (Homestead, 1988)

Something New In The Ring” on Chemical Imbalance #8 (Chemical Imbalance Magazine, 1989)

T Is For Texas” on Tourney Into Pain (Beast 666 Tapes, 1989)

I Heard Her Call My Name” on Heaven & Hell -Vol. 3 (A Tribute To The Velvet Underground) (Imaginary, 1992)

Inky And Winky” on Goobers – A Collection Of Kid’s Songs (T.E.C. Tones + Elemental, 1991 / 1993)

I Heard Her Call My Name” on Fifteen Minutes – A Tribute To The Velvet Underground (Imaginary, 1994)

Dark Night” on Lo-Fi – Electric Acoustic & Radical (Meldac Corporation, 1995)

C’mon Baby” on The Virus That Would Not Die! (Alternative Tentacles, 1997)

Heaven Sent (Excerpt)” on Waiting To Exhale (Trance Syndicate + Emperor Jones, 1998)

All The Angels Said No To Her” on Apocalypse Always (Alternative Tentacles, 2002)

1 Million Kisses

I Know How It Feels…Bad (Live)

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