Guitar Wolf

Tokyo's Guitar Wolf is the coolest band on the planet. For almost two decades, the cult garage-punk icons have spread their hip, high-tension rock-and-roll etiquette across the earth and, if you believe the band members, beyond. Along the way, they've destroyed eardrums, speakers and stages in a Sapporo-fueled frenzy of jubilant chaos and rolling brilliance. Clad in black leather and dark shades, these kung-fu Ramones represent everything glorious, noble and cool about rock and roll.

Guitar Wolf's live show is always an awesome force to behold. They will play their hearts out and abuse their instruments, and sweat will pour. The only pauses in the aural mayhem come when front man Seiji slams down another beer while bassist Billy and drummer Toru comb their pompadours. Once the booze, music and spirit of rock-and-roll lunacy take over, Seiji begins climbing and jumping off of anything in sight -- amps, bars, walls, audience members -- howling, "Roooock and roooollll." When asked if he has ever suffered a serious injury from his on-stage insanity, he casually replies, "No problem. I had a surgery and I'm a cyborg wolf now."

Clearly, few bands exhibit that level of passion. Sure, lots of them are just as serious about their music, but none can deliver the same scorching sonic goods. In 1999, Guitar Wolf's magnum opus Jet Generation was unleashed with a stickered warning proclaiming it to be the loudest album of all time. From the first screech of feedback to the last filthy chord, it puts your stereo in the constant red, even if played at a safe level. Ever since, people have warned others that if you play a Guitar Wolf album loud enough, it could kill someone. That hasn't happened -- yet -- but on their latest album, Love Rock, the band dishes out infectious, unrelenting and amazing shots of high-voltage rock fury that can put you into a manic riot, bouncing off the walls until you're fighting the urge to destroy everything in sight.

The members of Guitar Wolf admit that the layers of noise and distortion help conceal their lack of technical skill. But so what? They understand the true essence of rock and roll -- that it should be beautifully chaotic -- and they create just that in a way that makes most of their peers seem insignificant, dull and useless.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jason Gagnon