INTERVIEW: Total Fury
I can't remember when or how it was (an MRR review perhaps?), but some way or other I discovered this label from Japan called Dan Doh Records. Back then, I was co-running a label called Special Forces Records and I made sure to trade some records with Dan-Doh to get their stuff, which I would often bring to shows in NJ to sell. This must have been late '97 or early '98, and the youth crew thing was still the prevalent taste. It's amazing how many records I was able to sell by nameless bands that bit the youth crew sound, and how many blank looks I got when I tried to give the Dan-Doh stuff the hard sell. Because, really, ALL of that shit was so good. There was hardly a bad release in their whole catalog, which was mostly a slew of excellently done, and somehow elegant-looking 7"s. For the most part, the folks that bought some of the crazier foreign stuff I got were my friends (Jesse from No Contest often helped me out by unloading some good records off me) and strangely enough, kids from Mass. who came down for shows. In this case history was on my side, because the Dan-Doh stuff is on plenty of people's want lists nowadays.
One of those bands was Total Fury, whose Spring Thrash 7" is damn great. (One Size Fits All were another favorite off the Dan-Doh roster, but was never able to get in touch with those cats.) When Mad at the World became a zine and I made sure to get some folks in there that was real curious about myself, I sent some questions for an interview to Total Fury which they graciously returned with some additional treats. This interview, done sometime in 1999, I suppose, was to appear in Mad at the World #3 which never came out. I've toyed with the idea of releasing it now and re-collecting all the work for it, if only so I could use the awesome cover art Gary Gilmore from Wrongway Flyers drew for it, but more on that some other time.
I had the chance to meet these guys a few years later. Mark McCoy took a liking to these guys, and they put out a record on
TOTAL FURY PICTURES STOLEN FROM THE HAVOC RECORDS WEBSITE. Taken by Laura Pleasants and Jason Penner at Thrash Fest 3. My scanner was acting up and I didn't have the patience to figure it out so I tracked these down....
MATW: How long has Total Fury been together? What is the band history? How hard is it for a band to get shows in your city in Japan? Does Total Fury have much contact with bands in other cities in Japan?
Kenji: Total Fury was formed in the summer of 1994. Members have changed since then. As of now, we have one EP, one split EP, and 4 compilation CDs out. Our shows are almost all held in Sendai, but we also travel to Tokyo, Yokohama, Urawa, Kyoto, Sapporo, Nigata, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Kochi.
MATW: When I heard your "Spring Thrash" EP, it reminded me a lot of early 7 Seconds, as well as early Dischord Records bands. Even your lyrics remind me a bit of these bands. Is this intentional? Why do you choose these bands as your influences?
Kenji: I found out about punk music when I was 12 years old. I listened to so many bands, but the bands that inspired me most were 7 Seconds and the DC bands. We are very thankful to hear that our style is like theirs. I would have liked to see the Teen Idles at least once.
MATW: The titles of your 7" is "Spring Thrash." What does "Spring Thrash" mean? Do the flowers on the front of your 7" represent anything? Or were they just a cool design?
Kenji: "Spring" and "thrash" represent the band Total Fury perfectly. I drew flowers on the front of the EP because people grow just as plants do, and flowers on the front of the EP show my feelings fittingly. Punk music is a means of self expression and tell of human frailty.
MATW: Do you have any songs that are in Japanese, or are all the lyrics in English? Why?
Kenji: We're like all the people in the world to be able to listen to (and understand) Total Fury's music even though we are Japanese. Also, it would be expensive for people to buy a Japanese dictionary.
MATW: Does Total Fury play many shows? What are Total Fury's shows like? What do you and other kids do after shows? In many scenes, punks hang out together, not only at shows, but also when there are no shows. Does this happen in your scene? Are there any problems between police and punks?
Kenji: When we are having live shows, some people just sit back and watch, some do the slam dance, and some dive into the stage, but we always try to make for a good and friendly live show. We don't have any problems with the police at the moment. On our days off, we go snowboarding, drink, and chat, but we don't do drugs. Drugs have nothing to do with us.
MATW: How did you first get into punk and hardcore? In Japan, the culture is very different from over here in the USA, so I am curious to know how Japanese kids get into hardcore punk and how it is different from over here in America. How does Japanese society view punks.
Kenji: The first punk music I heard was the band Laughin Nose. I began to read magazines of punk from Japan, and also the whole world, too. I'm turning 27, but when I was in high school, I played Laughin Nose and Blue Hearts at our school festival. Now the boom in Japan is Green Day, the Offspring, Rancid, etc. I call this the second wave.
MATW: In America, with certain bands, punk and hardcore is quite popular. In some cases, in some high schools for example, punk and hardcore is so popular that the "popular kids" are into hardcore, not just the rejects and the outcasts. Is this the case where you are from?
Kenji: We have hardcore fashion book as you have in America. Punk/ hardcore is becoming popular among the young ones in Japan, but let me tell you something. These young kids like punk and they go crazy when Hi-Standard is playing the clubs, but they don't come to our live shows. Punk and hardcore is a boom in Japan, but we won't let it be just a fad. We'll positively lead many people into it.
MATW: What is Total Fury doing in the future? Any plans or new records coming out?
Kenji: Total Fury is going to be on another two compilation CDs this year. We'll also make our second EP on Dan-Doh Records. We want to play live shows where we haven't played yet, and we wish to have a live how in American one day.
The interview reads a bit like a questionnaire, but I didn't really know anything about them when I wrote them and was genuinely curious. It might come across in my questions, but at the time I was particularly interested in how punk and hardcore scenes were able to establish themselves in so many different cultures around the globe. Even when folks didn't give such a detailed answer, I found the input revealing...