CHATMONCHY
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CHATMONCHY

Tokyo, Tōkyō, Japan

Tokyo, Tōkyō, Japan
Band Rock

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HOMETOWN: Tokushima, Japan

WHY THEY MATTER: With catchy, raw, emotional rock anthems, this all-girl power trio is like the 21st-century Japanese version of the Runaways. Their sound has already swept their native land, and the band -- making their U.S. debut at SXSW -- is looking to repeat the success stateside.

YOU SHOULD KNOW: Almost all of Chatmonchy's lyrics are sung in Japanese. "We want to challenge ourselves in other countries and see if we can convey our music with just the groove, without the lyrics," drummer Takahashi told The Japan Times. - SPIN


Chatmonchy are three bubbly Japanese girls who play crunching, hook-filled power-pop that sounds like Weezer rendered in anime. For all I know the band's lyrics are about herpetology and needlepoint, but the trio, which made its American debut on Friday night, played with such infectious enthusiasm and its songs, especially the fizzy "Daidai," are such ingeniously constructed marvels of tension and release that the language barrier easily came crashing down. If Chatmonchy aren't already big in Japan, they should be. Here too -- and everywhere else. -- DM - SPIN


Before I headed off to Austin, Texas, for SXSW a little while back, I wrote that I was eager to check out a set from Japanese pop-rock trio Chatmonchy. A co-worker at SPIN had tipped me off to the act, who, as far as I can tell, have released two albums in their native land--which they're set to re-release in the U.S.A.

But don't quote me on any of that--official English language information on the band is surprisingly difficult to find. I can't even track down English song titles, let alone a useful biography or discographical information. I wasn't even sure what the band looked like, since the cover of their albums shows the members in sort of stylized cartoon form. Down in Austin, when a girl came up to me, handed me a Chatmonchy flier, and told me in broken English that I should go see the band play, I had no idea until later that she was the trio's drummer, Kumiko Takahashi.

Kumiko gave me the right advice. The band's set was tight and bubbly. They nailed the swooning harmonies. The melodies and song structures moved along in satisfyingly unpredictable arrangements. It was a fun, fun show. I have no idea what the Japanese lyrics are about, but they sure sound like they're about falling in and out of love in the most exciting ways possible.

I saw the band again the day after I got back to New York City from Texas, on March 22. They were playing at the Cake Shop, a small club on the Lower East Side, and I wanted to make sure my initial favorable impression hadn't been too clouded by Lone Star beer and the novelty of discovery.

It wasn't. Chatmonchy was just as good the second time. In fact, they were so self-assured onstage, and their music was so polished, that I got the sense they couldn't be novices. I found their road manager--a middle-aged Japanese gentleman--and asked how big the band is in Japan. He stammered for a bit, then said, "Maybe like Coldplay."

Then I asked what size venues the girls play. "Do you know Budokan? They sell out two nights."

That's the same Budokan where Cheap Trick and Bob Dylan recorded live albums. It holds more than 10, 000 people. No wonder Chatmonchy sounded so good. They're stars. - Yahoo! Music


What happened to the disaffected hipsters? Infectious all-girl J-Rock drives the crowd wild

After receiving an urgent text from my editor insisting that I immediately run across downtown in order to catch the Tokushima, Japan-based band Chatmonchy that “everyone has been buzzing about,” I made what could have been a potentially deadly mistake. In my rush to make it to the official Japan Night showcase at Elysium, I decided to skip dinner and instead down a large cup of coffee and half a Snickers bar.

Sufficiently refueled, I finally got into the club just as the all-girl rock band took the stage. The first thing you notice about Chatmonchy — a term that means absolutely nothing, by the way — is the very specific styling of each band member. Lead singer and guitar-player, Eriko Hashimoto, is the soft-spoken “shy girl” with a quiet and demure speaking voice (and not much to say), long black hair, thick bangs and an outfit consisting of an over-sized shirt with ducks and tight jeans. Bassist and back-up vocalist, Akiko Fukuoka, is the “crazy girl” who likes to address and pump the crowd, has short hair with highlighted chunks, and a zany dress/shirt with crazy prints and leather pants. Drummer and additional back-up vocalist, Kumiko Takahashi is, well, kind of forgettable — the Sporty Spice of the group, if you will.

Chatmonchy is signed to Sony Music Japan, and it shows. This bubble-gum J-Rock trio has been impeccably packaged and sold by execs pulling stings way beyond the reach of the actual band. But as kitschy as the group may appear, they are not the Spice Girls; they were not put together through auditions after a creepy producer had a eureka moment after waking up from a wet dream. Chatmonchy was actually created by Hashimoto in 2000, when she was still going to high school in the city of Tokushima. The band changed faces many a time until Hashimoto solidified the current line-up in 2004. Not long after the lineup finalized, the band’s popularity began snowballing and Sony Music Japan paid attention. Chatmonchy has since become consistent chart-toppers in Japan and plays to countless sold-out shows.

Akiko Fukuoka (left), Kumiko Takahashi (drums), and Eriko Hashimoto (right) of Chatmonchy
This SXSW performance would mark their first foray into the North America music scene. And by the reaction of the crowd, it was going extremely well. Hashimoto’s high-pitched vocals set against some of the poppiest rock music I have ever come across — think Weezer meets the Spice Girls with an additional sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar — was causing the packed crowd to frenetically bounce, jump, and hoot. And every time the gregarious Fukuoka picked up and swung her bass while yelling things like “Make a sound! Let’s dance!” or “You having fun?! Enjoy!” or again “Let’s dance! One two three four, one two three foooouuuurrr!!!!,” the screams from the crowd intensified to the point where at least a handful of people must have suffered some form of permanent hearing damage.

As if the crowd wasn’t already over-stimulated, the latter half of the Chatmonchy performance was accompanied by billowing clouds from a massively over-producing fog machine and blinding LED lights. Already over-caffeinated and in a Snickers sugar high, I think I started hallucinating. By the time the insanely adorable trio laid down their final catchy beats, giggled, and said their good-byes, I wanted nothing more than to grab two girlfriends and have as much fun as this bopping around on stage. Of course, I eventually came out of my delusional sugar coma, but man…the Chatmonchy energy is infectious!

– Molly Wardlaw - MTV Iggy


Tonight, if you’re lucky enough to be at SXSW, there is one thing you should do. Get yourself down to Japan Nite at the Elysium and please, stay till Midnight. That’s when headliner Chatmonchy comes on.

Japan Nite. Girls in short skirts? Or, kick-ass Chatmonchy. Or both?
Hyped as Spin magazine’s #1 buzziest band, the three-piece female rock group from Tokushima have had real hits in Japan — where they’ve been signed to Sony since 2005. Though they happen to be powerful women who produce a tight garage rock sound, this wasn’t founded to make an angry statement about the music industry’s sexism. “We want to establish our reputation as a rock band rather than a ‘female’ rock band,” founder Eriko Hashimoto told the Japan Times.

Singing at such a high range, they instantly recall pop chanteuses. Nevertheless these are punk songs that have just been slowed a tad. Drums run through the tracks in double time. The guitars are angry. And vocalist Hashimoto has power and hate in her voice. This is the a-political Japanese Le Tigre, with less electro and more raw power. And they’ve got real range. While “Dai Dai” could be a track from Matt & Kim, “Sekai Ga Owaru Yoru” sprints in with Nirvana-esque grunge, then unfolds into one of their most sentimental, whispery tracks.

Japanese listeners love the band for their lyrics — which the women write before they set down a note. Why the weird process? They don’t want their sound to define what they want to express, and prefer the complexity of a sad song, sung quickly or a happy song sung in a minor key. Explained Hashimoto:

Here to bare their all. Photo Credit: Ki/oon Sony Japan
“Sometimes we make happy lyrics and turn the tune into a sentimental ballad (and) we can do that because we add the music later….Even though a song has the sense of high-speed, it could be melancholic by using minor chords and it is easier to share the feeling of a song, simply because we create the lyrics first.”

We think that’s totally awesome. Think of all the happy Beatles’ songs in minor keys (“Blackbird”) or all the sad Elliott Smith songs pasted over happy guitars.

On March 24th, the band’s releasing a compilation of its hits — Hyoujyou – which will come with a bonus disc of acoustic versions. That will be their fifth full-length release as a band together. Formed in 2000 by Hashimoto, who had been a member in a brass band for six years in school, the band stayed a three-piece group, without a bassist, because, Hashimoto she has said, she liked the “cool appearance” of such a simple combo. Upon graduation, however, the other members went their separate ways — but she kept the name they’d come up with, a nonsense phrase inspired by the name of a monkey in a Japanese cartoon, Monchhichi. Hashimoto remembered:
“She wanted to name our band ’something-monchi’ or ‘monchi-something’ and we chose ’something-monchi,” “We looked up a word that matched for monchi in a dictionary and found the word ‘chat,’ which caught our eyes when it was written, and so we became Chatmonchy!”

New incarnations of the group cycled through a male drummer, but they settled with the present lineup in 2005 of Eriko Hashimoto (guitar, vocals), Akiko Fukuoka (bass, chorus), and Kumiko Takahashi (drums, chorus). Touring the country in a van, selling their self-produced record for gas money, they were roped in to Tokyo by Sony’s Ki/oon label who has produced the band’s last three records.

Next step: America. And though big Japanese bands — such as Bonnie Pink, Detroit 7, and Ellegarden — have played showcases at SXSW, hoping to get distributed in the US, they’ve never really made it. Maybe Chatmonchy can change things. Listen on their MySpace, check out the videos below, and hear them live. (Tour Dates below).

Mar 19, 2:30 SXSW Cafe Mundi Austin, Texas

Mar 19, 11:45P SXSW Japan Nite (Elysium) Austin, Texas
Mar 21 Bowery Ballroom (Japan Nite Tour) New York, New York
Mar 22 Cakeshop New York, New York
Mar 24 Amoeba Music Los Angeles, California
Mar 26 Amoeba Music San Francisco, California
Mar 26 The Independent (Japan Nite Tour) San Francisco, California
Mar 27 Viper Room (Japan Nite Tour) Los Angeles, California - MTV Iggy


Description
All-female Japanese trio Chatmonchy offers arrestingly intricate indie pop, eggheaded in its architecture but brimming with spunky emotion. Also on the bill is shoegazey pop outfit Apollo Heights.
When
Mar 22 8pm
- Time Out New York


Chatmonchy -- three girls who rock -- are the hottest female band in Japan. The trio sprinkles catchy American phrases through their Japanese lyrics and will make their American debut at SXSW. Akiko is on bass, Eriko on the guitar and vocals and Kumiko on drums, and they wiill come to the US on the heels of a Top 10 album release in Japan.

Describe your sound in your own words?

Akiko: We are a rock band. We are a girl band, too, but first we are a rock band.

How did your band form?

Eriko: Six years ago in 2004 when we were in our second year of high school, the three of us got together and formed Chatmonchy.

How did you come up with your band name?

Kumiko: The name doesn't' have any meaning. [It's just] that it looks good in Japanese, and we like the way it sounds. We liked the word 'monchi,' like monkey -- not a real monkey, but from an image of a cute monkey doll named Monchhichi from a picture [from the animation series 'Futago no Monchhichi']. She wanted to name our band 'something-monchi' or 'monchi-something,' and we chose 'something-monchi.' We looked in a dictionary and found the word 'chat,' and we wrote down chatmonchy and we liked it and became Chatmonchy.

What are your musical influences?

Kumiko: My mother listened to the Beatles a lot when I was young, so the Beatles are definitely an influence on my music.

Eriko: My older brother had a band and he played hard rock, and I really liked that. That sound is an influence on my music.

Akiko: When I was in junior high school, I loved the band Aerosmith. I love American rock bands and British rock 'n' roll. But when we were in school, we spent most of our time studying. We did not have a lot of time for listening to music.

What is your musical guilty pleasure?

Eriko: Many people want me to listen to their band or CD, but I do not like doing that. I do not like to listen to music so much. I have always been like that, not listening to a lot of music.

Kumiko: For me, western classical and opera are my guilty pleasures.

Akiko: My guilty pleasure is techno.

Beatles or Stones?

Eriko: Both.

Kumiko: Beatles. I am a big fan of Ringo Starr.

Akiko: I enjoy the music of the Beatles more, but the history of the Rolling Stones better.

Do you have any expectations being this is your first time in the United States and at SXSW?

Kumiko: We are looking forward to entertaining people. We all sort of have the same objective and goals, to entertain and hope the audiences enjoy our music. We want that, and to have fun and meet new people.

Anything specific you are looking forward to at SXSW?

Eriko: Japan night. It will be fun to perform on Japan night. We are also looking forward to everyone coming to our shows.

What don't we know about the Chatmonchy that we should?

All: We were told by a prophet, Yochan, that because our bass player was born in April of one year, and the guitar player was born 6 months later in October, and then again in April the drummer was born, that we make an ideal trio. We hope everyone wants to come to our show and enjoys our music.
- AOL / Spinner


Closer to Puffy AmiYumi than the Boredoms, Japan's Chatmonchy composes the sort of sing-songy melodies often heard over anime end credits. (In fact, one of the band's songs was so used by Bleach.) But the all-female trio hitches its bouncy tunes and chirpy vocals to spare, bristling rock. Instrumentally, Chatmonchy's music is craggy, dynamic and stately. The group's founder, singer-guitarist Eriko Hashimoto, is a deft player whose apparent influences include Tom Verlaine.

To mark Chatmonchy's first U.S. tour, Sony's digital-only subsidiary just released the group's latest album, Kokuhaku ("Confession"), and its two predecessors, Seimeiryoku ("Life Force") and Miminari ("Ear Ringing"). These albums weren't designed for the U.S. market; most of the song titles and lyrics are in Japanese, although Chatmonchy (like many J-bands) does sometimes shift into English. On Kokuhaku, the English-titled tunes tend to be the fluffier ones: "Cat Walk" is an acoustic-guitar-based power ballad and "Love Is Soup" suggests 1940s girl groups (although Kumiko Takahashi's thumping drums would have alarmed the Andrews Sisters).

The threesome may never top Miminari's exhilarating "Koi no Kemuri," whose intro recalls "Little Johnny Jewel." But Kokuhaku shows that Chatmonchy (a made-up word with no Japanese meaning) hasn't slacked off. "8cm no Pinwheel" and "Kaze Fukeba Koi" match storming guitar and Akiko Fukuoka's primal bass to ascending choruses, while "Hibiscus wa Fuyu ni Saku" gives bossa nova (long popular in Japan) a punch it rarely packs in Rio. Hashimoto may sing in the high, clean tones of a pre-schooler, but her band's music has depth and dirt.

Standout Tracks: "8cm no Pinhweel," "Kaze Fukeba Koi" MARK JENKINS - BLURT


Japanese trio Chatmonchy takes stab at Shonen Knife legacy

“KOKUHAKU,” Chatmonchy (SIN/Sony)

Sony Music Independent Network is releasing to America the first three full-length albums from Japan’s all-woman Chatmonchy and sending the trio to make its U.S. debut March 19 at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas.

Clearly Sony is testing the waters to see if America is fertile ground for another Shonen-Knife-like following. If so, perhaps we’ll be hearing an English-language release from Chatmonchy sometime soon.

While Japan’s three-woman pop/punk Shonen Knife, which surfaced nearly two decades ago, is an obvious predecessor to the three-woman pop/punk Chatmonchy, the younger threesome will make listeners nostalgic for more than the kitschy energy and irreverence of Shonen Knife. “Kokuhaku,” the most recent of its three full-length releases, features serious musicianship from singer/guitarist Eriko, bassist Akiko and drummer Kumiko. The songs merge the spirit of 1980s New Wave music and the earnestness of 1990s alt-rock into a refreshingly timeless jumble of hooks and rhythms.

Best of all, “Kokuhaku” is a break from the AutoTuned-hip-pop-electro that has smothered most genres of contemporary American music.

Meanwhile, Eriko’s soaring voice, which is both emotional and childlike, gives Chatmonchy distinction — though separated from her deft guitar and the muscular cadence from Akiko and Kumiko, the singer’s delivery might irritate.

Whether she’s belting out taunting, rapid-fire lines on the neo-punk “Hirahira Hiraku Himitsu no Tobira” or droning in the glowing serernity of closer “Yasashisa,” Eriko is a force of nature. And despite the limitations of her high pitch, she can smolder in the hypntotic atmosphere of “Aimai na Kanjon” and ratchet up the tension of “Kaze Fukeba Koi.” Yet her peeling guitars, the heavy resonance of bass and the bossy drum beats prove just as vital to the mix.

English-oriented American ears might find Japanese a less-alluring unfamiliar tongue than, say, French or Spanish. But if the Chatmonchy trial balloon flies, maybe the trio will treat us to something we can understand.

Rating (five possible): 3-1/2 - Knoxville


Over at the English-language Chatmonchy forum, they’ve got a thread asking, “Why do u love chatmonchy?” One person loves them because Japanese all-woman bands are cute. Several love the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Eriko Hashimoto. Another steps in to tell everyone not to forget the other two band members, a bass guitarist and a drummer. Elsewhere someone is fretting because their friends think Chatmonchy is a band for young teens. They say it lacks the adult dignity of Mass of the Fermenting Dregs. It is true that Kokuhaku, with its confident pounding rock, somewhere between mainstream and alternative, is more sociable than the work of the abrasive Mass of the Fermenting Dregs. The drums and guitars are forthright but not harsh—hard but not angry. Hashimoto’s voice combines stadium power with a faintly breathless dainty cuteness. If I loved Chatmonchy—I like them, but you couldn’t call it love—anyway, if I loved Chatmonchy, it’s the collaboration between that voice and the hammering instruments behind her that would get my vote. - Pop Matters


Discography


Albums
November 2005: chatmonchy has come (mini album)
July 2006: Miminari
October 2007: Seimeiryoku
March 2009: Kokuhaku

Singles:
March 2006: Koi no Kemuri
June 2006: Renai Spirits
November 2006: Shangurira
April 2006: Joshi Tachi ni Asu wa Nai
June 2007: Tobi Uo no Butterfly / Sekai ga Owaru Yoru ni
September 2007: Daidai
February 2008: Hira Hira Hiraku Himitsu no Tobira
June 2008: Kaze Fukeba Koi
November 2008: Somaru Yo
February 2009: Last Love Letter

DVDs
November 2007: Chatmonchy Restaurant Zensai
February 2008: Chatmonchy Restaurant Soup
November 2008: Chatmonchy Restaurant Main Dish
August 2009: Chatmonchy Restaurant Dessert

Photos

Bio


Chatmonchy recently completed a U.S. tour playing in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and SXSW in Austin. Audiences and critics lauded those performances as well as their most recent album “Kokuhaku” (Confession). NPR’s All Songs Considered called them a “…quirky pop trio…” and Marco Werman from PRI’s The World exclaimed, “…three Japanese women who know how to rock.”

Before the band’s tour Spin included Chatmonchy in their, “50 Must-Hear SXSW Bands” proclaiming, “…catchy, raw, emotional rock anthems, this all-girl power trio is like the 21st-century Japanese version of the Runaways.”

With their most recent album “Kokuhaku” out now in the U.S. SIN/Sony Music Independent Network is pleased to announce the release of Chatmonchy’s “Expression” (Coupling Collection), a B-sides album available digitally May 25, 2010. The 19-song track list has variety of songs including, “Yuge” (steam), a fan favorite at their live show, “Bus Romance” which was used in a Japanese TV ad for the chocolate brand, Lotte, and a standard, “Katamichi Kippu” (one-way ticket).

Playing raw, energy-infused melodic rock music, Eriko (guitar and vocals), Akiko (bass), and Kumiko (drums) have been making a buzz all across Japan since their 2005 major label debut. SIN/Sony Music Independent Network has released three of the band's full-lengths, including 2009's “Kokuhaku” (Confession), “Miminari” (Ear Ringing), and “Seimeiryoku” (Life Force). The albums are now available in the U.S. in a digital only format.
Chatmonchy—whose name means absolutely nothing!—burst onto the scene without any label backing in 2004, quickly catching the ear of Sony Music Japan. The next year, Sony’s Ki/oon Records released their debut EP, “chatmonchy has come,” and the band set off on their first nation-wide tour of Japan in 2006.

Inspiring fans with their feistiness and fire, Chatmonchy released their first full-length album, “Miminari” (Ear Ringing), in July of the same year. The album garnered a Top 10 spot on the national Oricon chart, and the girls were invited to perform at Japan’s most important summer festivals, including Summer Sonic, Rock In Japan Festival and the Nano-Mugen Festival.

After the success of their summer festival dates, Eriko, Akiko, and Kumiko did a national tour in the Fall of 2006, then headed back to the studio to finish “Seimeiryoku” (Life Force), the album they had started writing the year before. The album, released in late 2007, hit #2 on the Oricon charts, and Chatmonchy played sold-out shows all around Japan —including a two-night solo concert at the Budokan in the Spring of 2008 in front of more than 16,000 fans.

Following the first album, the rock-power girl trio released 4 singles that reached the Oricon Top 10, three that hit the Top 20, and 4 DVDs including music videos and passionate live performance footage. In addition, the single, “Dai Dai” (Orange), was featured as the theme song on the anime series, “Bleach”—their first step toward connecting to a worldwide audience.