Eddie Japan
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Eddie Japan

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Rock Pop




"The orchestrated pleasure of Eddie Japan"

Sitting with Eddie Japan frontman David Santos, there is suspicion he might be a spy. He's well-dressed, to suit any occasion that might arise, and he refuses a drink. It might be a sign that he wants to keep his senses sharp in case he's surprised with questions that probe deeply into the subtle cynicism that runs though Eddie Japan's new EP, Modern Desperation, Part One. "Everything's gotten a little too cute," says Santos of the indie scene that left him cold in the decade leading up to Eddie Japan's rise.

After a four-year run with the guitar-focused Mercury Quartet from 1994 to 1998, the Seekonk-native and current Western Mass resident took a sabbatical from music while his musical mind mulled new ideas. Eschewing the virtues of the Pitchfork scene, Santos decided to clap his hands and say no, instead looking to the fertile past for inspiration. As a bit of an outsider himself, Santos found it in the sympathetic guise of '60s outsider pop — such as the melodramatic music of Scott Walker and Love.

The infatuation started with Love's 1967 classic "Alone Again Or" (famously covered by the Damned). "I wanted the band to sound like that trumpet solo!" says the singer of the song's dark-hued mariachi vibe. The question for Santos, though, was whether these sounds might actually be achievable. He got his answer when he fell hard for former-Bostonian Paula Kelley's 2003 orch-pop gem The Trouble with Success. "I thought, wow, this can be done on a local level," recalls Santos. From there he reached out to Kelley's horn player, Chris Barrett, to bring Eddie Japan to life.

"I have always been interested in incorporating horns into modern pop/rock songs in more imaginative ways than most rock bands do," says Barrett, also of Kingsley Flood. "That seemed to be David's bag, so I was in."

After bringing in other key players, like Tribe's Eric Brosius, a debut EP, 4 x 6, was released in late 2009. The addition of such a well-known Boston guitarist was not insignificant. In addition to getting a gallant read on all of Santos's musical ideas, Brosius also recorded three of the EP's five tracks in his home studio — including Eddie Japan's masterpiece-to-date, "A Town Called Nowhere." While the crisp production on the EP's other tracks nod to greats like the Jam and Dexy's Midnight Runners, the ultra-lush and melodic "A Town Called Nowhere" is a full-on descent into a John Barry Bond-fantasy. Its beguiling string section and distinguished tremolo-guitar make its message known very quickly.

It all adds up to a band that's sneaking up on the Boston scene. Kind of like a spy.

Read more: http://thephoenix.com/boston/music/147425-orchestrated-pleasure-of-eddie-japan/#ixzz2ZJUXvAkd - Boston Phoenix

"Eddie Japan crowned Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble champs"

CAMBRIDGE — Ask 50 local music fans for the meaning of the Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble, the annual WZLX-sponsored battle of the bands, and you’ll get 50 different answers. Ask any of the judges drawn from the New England music world on any of the nine nights of competition what makes for a winner, and the answers will run the gamut as well. That’s both the appeal and the drawback of the contest: It’s simultaneously a feel-good, community-engendering homecoming of sorts for the local music scene, and a divisive clash of opinions.

On paper, the criteria for choosing a winner are more clear. Bands are judged on songwriting innovation, on-stage musical effectiveness and showmanship, vocal prowess, pacing of the set, and a certain “it’’ factor. One might make an argument that the winner should represent the most likely to succeed of this year’s crop of bands, although it’s been quite a few years since one went on to make a big splash on the larger national stage — the Dresden Dolls in 2003 being perhaps the best recent example.

Whether or not that will apply to the ’60s-style cinematic-noir-rock of this year’s winners, Eddie Japan, remains to be seen, but as in sports, the championship doesn’t always go to the best in theory, it goes to who performed best in between the whistles. On Friday night at T.T. the Bear’s, they were the clear standouts.

The night got off to an interesting start, with state Representative (and mayoral candidate) Martin J. Walsh warming up the crowd. “Who brought the suit?” one might have wondered. Walsh is the one behind the push to make the Modern Lovers’ classic, “Roadrunner,” the Massachusetts state song, after all, so at least his Boston rock taste checks out.

In what might be its first time following a politician onstage, the young four-piece Twin Berlin hurried through a set of aggressively delivered garage punk. The band — who seem poised for attention outside of the local scene, with memorable tracks like “Can’t Take, Take, Take,” power-chord-slashing pop, and Strokes-like guitar leads – nonetheless wrestled with a poor sound mix that swallowed all sense of nuance and flattened out their quiet-loud-quiet dynamics. “Who’s drunk?” bassist Sean O’Neil said early on in the night, to few responses in the
affirmative. “We don't stand a chance,” he joked.

The wide-open, cleaner chords and professional polish of Glenn Yoder & the Western States came as a stark contrast. Americana-leaning songs like “Just Want You to Love Me” found the five-piece harnessing both the genre’s mournful teardrop slides, as well as a rowdy bar-rock energy. “Younger Brother” had Yoder and company coming together with perfectly executed three part harmony, while “Pretty Little Girl” crescendoed into a rousing high point of guitar soloing. The crowd was rightfully impressed.

With the 20- and 30-something acts covered, the seasoned veterans of Eddie Japan — comprising frontman David Santos and an eight-piece band that included two backup singers and horns — completed the survey of the Rumble’s sweeping generational demographic. Songs like the swaggering, guitar-noir of “This Married Life” made it hard not to feel swept up into the enthusiasm of the riveted crowd and the music itself. Sounding something like the house band of a Western B-movie, or a Tarantino soundtrack, the band’s busy arrangements were executed deftly, with Santos’s belting soaring over the mix. “A Town Called Nowhere” made a ghost-town gunslinger standoff sound like a party.

When asked just after their set if he thought they might win, Eddie Japan multi-instrumentalist Chris Barrett said, “No, but I didn’t think we were going to win the other two nights either.”

Luke O'Neil can be reached at lukeoneil47@gmail.com. - Boston Globe

"Eddie Japan stands with Boston, takes home the 2013 Rock And Roll Rumble"

There was a moment toward the end of Eddie Japan’s set at the Rock And Roll Rumble finale Friday when frontman David Santos introduced “Fight Song” in a manner which pretty much spot on summed up the rollercoaster ride of this year’s annual celebration of Boston area music. “It’s about sticking together,” he said of the soon-to-be-recorded track, “which is what we’ve done for the last month.”

Santos easily could have been talking about his sprawling, baroque-inspired ensemble, or he might have been referencing the cluster of bands that began to duke it out for the Rumble crown on the first Sunday in April. But what he said no doubt encapsulated what our city has made abundantly clear in these past few weeks. “We are Boston,” the (once more) “Mystery-Shot”-fueled revelers at T.T. the Bear’s Place chanted in unison as the champagne was sprayed on Santos and his crew when Eddie Japan was announced the winner; it was another display of unity in what has always been sort of a warm and fuzzy fest despite its competitive moniker.

Anyone who caught even one Rumble night with Eddie Japan on the bill can tell you they were the outfit to beat. With a sound that would fit squarely in any Tarantino flick (“A Town Called Nowhere”) and a sharp-dressed Santos’ moving like Mozzer, they routinely pulled out all the stops. From a pair of female backup singers that were having just as much fun onstage as those in attendance (infectiously so on “This Married Life”) to the final song introduction of a string section to Chris Barrett constantly slaying on trumpet, few had a chance.

That’s not to say there weren’t worthy challengers. Twin Berlin came through the back door as a wildcard for the second time in this year’s Rumble. There was a good degree of buzz that the rooted in Connecticut alt(ish)/punk(ish) rockers would pull the upset of all upsets -– especially after a Monday night semifinals jaw dropper that ended with singer Matt Lopez sprawled out on T.T.’s beer soaked floor with his baby blue guitar exhaustively resting on his chest. There would be none of that Friday, as for the most part the band played it straight, once more silencing those comparisons to the Strokes with an energy that Julian Casablancas and Co. are typically too bored and detached to muster. This is an act that is still in the midst of an upward trajectory; one that shows no signs of wavering.

Glen Yoder & The Western States were slightly reminiscent of last year’s Rumble winner, Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck. Not so much in down home boot-stomping manner (though there definitely was some of that), nor that they both rock what is these days the underutilized ampersand, but more the way that they had the audience in the palm of their hands with the sonic ebbs and flows. There was some languid guitar soloing on “Not the Man For You,” a song which had jarring bursts of instrumentation that were met with eruptive cheers at each turn. Yeah, there was a good deal of that Neil Young vibe going on, and there were also more raucous Americana moments, like the very Wilco-esque “Just Want You To Love Me.” Yoder looked like he was having a blast, and at the end didn’t seem like they were close to being finished -- all the more reason to catch him at the Lizard Lounge at the end of the month.

While the judges were deliberating or hitting up the photo booth or enjoying the triumph of yet another year pulling off what often looks impossible, 1985 Rumble veterans The Dogmatics busted out of the Wayback Machine to show the upstarts how it’s done. Touted as special guests for the evening, the Dorchester natives played garage-tinged rockabilly like they had nothing to lose -– which of course they didn’t, fitting right in with the genre blendering that the annual event is renowned.

In the end, it wasn’t a shock that Eddie Japan won the whole thing and landed that damn fine booty which includes loads of studio time, professional photography and even hours of free legal advice, but what shone the brightest this year was the spirit of Boston. No, not that overpriced tourist trap on the Harbor, but the strength and backbone that has gotten us through these recent times of trouble. The music scene here is just one tiny faction of what makes this city tick; it’s loud, it’s bratty, and it gives a shit about one another. And while Eddie Japan took the Rock And Rumble 2013, we all took it to another level in pushing through and marching on.

Sentimental? Probably – but true. - Vanyaland

"Eddie Japan rumbles to the top"

When the dust settled Friday (well, the crack of Saturday, actually) at TT the Bear's, the swinging sounds of Eddie Japan swept up the crown at finals of the 34th Rock 'n' Roll Rumble.

Eddie Japan faced off against Glenn Yoder and the Western States and Twin Berlin for the conclusion of a wild Rumble season, one disrupted by tragedy then transformed into a powerful symbol of community. Before Rumble Queen Anngelle Wood announced the winner, chants of "We are Boston" filled TTs.

Eddie Japan offers a sprawling sound laced with trumpet, keys, twin guitars, back-up singers and_ for its big finale_ strings on "A Town Called Nowhere." The band puts a sharp, modern edge on a retro sound, proffering "Pulp Fiction" rock.

Eddie Japan and Glenn Yoder and the Western States faced off on Night 3 of the preliminaries. Eddie Japan won that night, but Yoder and crew advanced to the semi-finals as a wild card and beat its field in that round. Twin Berlin made it to the finals via two wild-card nods.

Watching all three at work Friday was a celebration of the long-held diversity within the Boston music scene. Eddie Japan's tarted up R&B brought to mind Lou Miami and the Kozmetics; Yoder's tumbleweed and Crazy Horse concoction summoned memories of Del Fuegos; and Twin Berlin's punked-out pop smacked of the Neighborhoods. No doubt all those elder statesmen had their doppelgangers as well.

And really, I'd rather have this type of smorgasbord than a Sunset Strip, CBGBs, or easily pegged "Boston sound." So cheers, Rumble, for celebrating all that does go into the real rock of Boston.

A few finals observations, and then you can check out a thorough recap of the finals in Monday's Boston Globe.

State Rep. Marty "Roadrunner" Walsh is running to succeed Tom Menino as mayor of Boston. Walsh, who filed the legislation to make the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner" the state rock song, stumped for votes from the Rumble stage, making him perhaps the first of the Boston mayoral hopefuls to campaign in Cambridge.

The Dogmatics, who played a special guest set before the Rumble winner was announced, need a minimum two songs to warm up. But once they get cooking, these '80s garage punks summon all the snot and swagger of that era's club scene. The Dogmatics nailed its cover of Charlie Chesterman's "King Size Cigarette," and noted the passing of George Jones with a roaring cover of No Show's "White Lightning" (featuring TT's own Kevin Patey on harmony vocals).

And one last shout out to TT the Bear's for being a such a great place to watch the Rumbling. Happy 40th anniversary. - Boston Globe

"Eddie Japan win the 2013 Rock 'n' Roll Rumble"

You know who I thought would win the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble: Camden.

Or the New Highway Hymnal. Or Lifestyle. And obviously The Field Effect.

Then I saw White Dynomite. Holy mackerel!! Those cats were insane (KISS meets Replacements in white suits and feathers everywhere). And what about Coyote Kolb and the wicked opening harmonies of “Cockroach Blues.” I could go on, and on, and... But you get the point: The 2013 Rumble was as good as any Rumble ever.

And so to the finals: Eddie Japan was the old band that brings it night after night to compete with the young bucks. Twin Berlin were the young bucks with monster volume and garage punk arena hooks. Glenn Yoder was the dude with the roots rock feel and a trunk loaded with great songs.

Basically, it was a perfect distillation of this year's Rumble. They all deserved to win. No, honestly. I know, I know, that’s just what people say. But they say it because it’s true. The three bands couldn’t have been more different, but they were all impressive, they all were awesome. But somebody has to win. Why was it Eddie Japan? Here’s why:

* David Santos has something about him. He’s as compelling as David Lee Roth or Mick Jagger but has none the macho schtick frontman lean on. He’s the ringleader of a circus of jazzy horn lines and girl group cooing, of swinging '60s cool and odd '80s new wave.

* Chris Barrett. Horns and keys. Often at once. He adds so much.

* Guitar solos and strings. The over-the-top and the sweet & sad.

* Best pop song in the Rumble -- or at least it's in an 12-way ties for best: soaring, scorching ode to out-of-date rockers “You Will Find Me Dead in My Comfort Zone.”

* They wanted it more. OK, that’s not true. But they really did want it.
Why’d the other bands loose? I have no idea. Glenn Yoder is so damn great. Twin Berlin made the club shake to its foundations. I dug them all.

Well, that’s it. Thanks Anngelle Wood. Can we do it all again next week?

- See more at: http://bostonherald.com/entertainment/music/guestlisted/2013/04/eddie_japan_win_the_2013_rock_n_roll_rumble#sthash.tUcQl3a9.dpuf - Boston Herald

"The Right Tracks - 10 Local Acts That Rock"

David Santos found it “validating” when his band Eddie Japan won this year’s Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble. “Our style is different from what might normally be heard in Boston,” says the singer, who cites ’60s-rooted influences like baroque-pop maverick Scott Walker and psychedelic rockers Love as well as mariachi music. In contrast to indie-rock, he says, “I wanted to make a bigger sound. A lot of Scott Walker’s music, while it’s not soundtrack music, has a huge orchestral element that appealed to me.”

To cultivate that sound, Santos and keyboardist/trumpeter Chris Barrett drafted a virtual rock orchestra over the past six years. Drummer Chuck Ferreira and bassist Charles Membrino anchor the bottom, and when Barrett’s Kingsley Flood foil George Hall left Eddie Japan in 2010, guitarist Bart LoPiccolo preserved the band’s guitar tandem by calling on his brother’s old Tribe bandmate Eric Brosius.

Brosius, audio director for music gaming company Harmonix, runs a home studio where Eddie Japan rehearses and recorded three tracks for their 2012 EP Modern Desperation, Part 1, including standout “A Town Called Nowhere,” which Santos calls “a metaphor for a midlife crisis.” The group temporarily widened their spaghetti-Western atmosphere with backing vocalists (including Brosius’ wife, Terri, also of Tribe) and a string trio (with Kingsley Flood’s Jenée Morgan) for their winning Rumble sets.

It’s all a cinematic playground for Santos, whose widow’s peak reminded high-school friends of Eddie Munster, inspiring half of the band’s name, while Japan came from a David Bowie lyric. “I identify with crooners more than rock singers or belters,” he says. “My influences have been people like Morrissey and Roy Orbison, kind of torchy and flamboyant, and dramatic.” - The Improper Bostonian


Four by Six
Modern Desperation, Part 1



Boston's Eddie Japan combines '60s baroque pop and mod influences with the less restrained tendencies of '80s alternative guitar bands to create a soaring, dramatic sound that stands apart from the beats and banjos of today's indie scene. The band was described by the Boston Herald as "...a circus of jazzy horn lines and girl group cooing, of swinging 60s cool and odd 80s new wave."

Winners of the 2013 Rock 'n' Roll Rumble, Boston's celebrated battle of the bands that artists such as 'Til Tuesday, Dresden Dolls, and The Lemonheads have competed in over the years, Eddie Japan is a live band that delivers. A male/female octet, the sound is expansive and the performance energetic, with frontman David Santos summoning the swagger of a young Tom Jones and the dramatic ache of Morrissey.

Eddie Japan's latest EP, Modern Desperation, Part 1, is a lush, moody, and musically big throwback of a record that squares off against the times, stylistically and thematically. From the Blue Note-inspired album art to the grandiose arrangements, the EP is a cinematic journey into the heart of darkness. The opening track, "You Will Find Me Dead in My Comfort Zone," made two best of 2012 lists from the Boston Herald and the Boston Phoenix. The closing track, "A Town Called Nowhere," spent 10 weeks in the WZLX Boston Emissions Sunday Top 5, hitting number one three times.

The band's Rock 'n' Roll Rumble win in April of 2013 garnered plenty of new fans and media attention. In December of 2013, Eddie Japan received a Boston Music Award for 'Live Artist of the Year,' edging out such notables as Aerosmith, Dropkick Murphys, Bad Rabbits, and Peter Wolf.

David Santos - vocals
Chris Barrett - trumpet/keyboards
Eric Brosius - guitar
Chuck Ferreira - drums
Bart LoPiccolo - guitar
Charles Membrino - bass
Emily Belastock - vocals
Morgan Llorens - vocals

Band Members