Courtesy Narnack RecordsThe novelty of Japanese bands—The Orange County Registerarticles notwithstanding, and related omissions of Teengenerate seriously unforgivable—should have dropped away years ago; Japanese hardcore and rock & roll bands are so unremarkable in the U.S. now that they can play Taco Beach on a Friday night and only get 40 indifferent people just like the locals do—ah, music really is a universal experience! But, but, but Guitar Wolf still gets to strut around at the top of the pile; it's a pack seniority thing.
They started almost 20 (!) years ago as sort of vaguely known but enthusiastic Link Wray worshipers, background hum against Teengenerate—who make Guitar Wolf even now sound as scary as the Cowsills—and pre-new-wave Registrators. But sheer lupine determination made them obscenely gigantic in Japan: They star in movies and play shows for heaving billions, and has any rock & roll band in America ever enjoyed as much? The Monkees, maybe. Oh, and the Ramones, whose silhouettes and sound Guitar Wolf reanimate with Frankenstein subtlety.
It's never really been the songs themselves with these guys—the Guitar Wolf sound is confined to the infinities between needle atthe red and needle inthe red, and when they need a breather, they cover Link Wray's "Rumble," usually about every other album. Instead, it's the work ethic. Guitar Wolf puts on a SHOW; they are absolutely, almost uncomfortably and desperately determined to rock—the legend goes that Guitar Wolf himself (not Bass Wolf or Drum Wolf) once deliriously leapt off a 20-foot-stage, cracked his leg bones, let the crowd pass him back to his guitar and—of course—finished the set. That's one of those things that's true even if it's a lie: "We've never collapsed," Guitar Wolf told a San Francisco webzine. "But it's quite hard to stay conscious."
SEEALSO:BACKYARDBABIESBack in that interval after Turbonegro broke up, some Swedish guys were so sad they started listening to Billy Idol—not Generation X, but Billy Idol—and then they bought some pink or possibly black guitars. When Turbonegro came back, they were really happy, but they had already developed a career as dirty-ass Scandinavian glam scum and they didn't wanna let the hair spray go to waste. So they put out records that sound like Hanoi Rocks and then they came here.
GUITAR WOLF WITH CALAVERA, THE HITCHHIKERS AND CHELSEA SMILES AT THE GLASS HOUSE, 200 W. SECOND ST., POMONA; WWW.GLASSHOUSE.US. WED., 7 P.M. $12. ALL AGES; BACKYARD BABIES WITH THE AMPLIFIERS AND ADHD AT ALEX'S BAR, 2913 E. ANAHEIM, LONG BEACH, (562) 434-8292; WWW.ALEXSBAR.COM. WED., 8 P.M. $10. 21+.