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This is Rock 'n' Roll: Fink Talks Preserving The Blown Out Charm of Tokyo Punk with New Band Angel Face

Legendary Tokyo punk noisemaker Fink has a new band that's officially off the ground now called Angel Face, whose self-titled debut LP and 7" came out right at the tail end of the last year on Slovenly Recordings (Still Animals, The Cavemen, Les Lullies). Fink's latest musical endeavor carries the same spirit as his past bands (American Soul Spiders, Teengenerate, Firestarter), but with a more brute power pop touch that's ejected through a sonic blitz of gang-vocal attacks, buzzsaw guitars, and a primal rhythm section. To dive deeper, I got in touch with Fink through email to learn all about how he and his brother and former bandmate Fifi got into American rock 'n' roll music through a shortwave radio, stories from the dominant Tokyo garage punk scene of the 1990s, and future plans with Angel Face.

Photo by Takada Yuko

Hi Fink! First tell me what you've been up to lately? What have you been listening to, reading, or spending a lot of time doing?

Fink: Mostly reading books (I like history and philosophy) and listening to records.

Especially right now the MC5. So sorry for Wayne Kramer's passing.

Tell our readers a little about your background. Where did you grow up, what was your childhood like and what type of records got you really into playing punk rock?

Both my older brother Fifi and I were born in the mid 1960s and grew up in a rural port town about two hours from Tokyo. He got a shortwave radio around at 10-years-old, so we both started listening to a lot of foreign music hardly played on Japanese radio. We loved rock, punk rock, and disco music from US and UK on time, but old rock 'n' roll, blues, and soul music from the 1950s and 1960s were also favorites. And we loved Bruce Lee of course.

Did you and your brother buy or share records together? Also how were you discovering this type of music together?

We got information mainly from that radio and a few zines. And one of the big influence was Fifi's teacher at a private remedial school. The teacher was so much into pub rock and soul music and used to lend Fifi records like every day. And I started going to school to learn great music not math from him too. So though we had little information of music, we might know much more than our classmates.

What can you tell readers about the pre-American Soul Spiders band Westside Jet Boys?

I'm so surprised that your mention of Westside Jet Boys. How do you know of it? That was my first band played with Fifi around 1985. We intended to be like a Japanese version of New York Dolls and Hollywood Brats which we both were so much into at that time. I think we released one EP on cassette. American Soul Spiders were the next band I formed around 1987 with Sammy and others. Fifi joined us later. The band was heading for more like Radio Birdman, The Saints and The Flamin' Groovies. We had a few singles and an LP. We had only a few audiences at shows so decided to play in US.

Where were the punk shows mostly happening around Tokyo? Any favorite venues of yours? 

There were a lot of punk venues in Tokyo at that time like Antiknock, The Loft, and Lamama. My favorite was Jam and Shelter.

Following the last few singles of the Spiders, how exactly did that band transition into Teengenerate in 1993?

In our first US tour, the band was split. Six months later, I tried to form Teengenerate with other members but it was so hard to find appropriate guys in Tokyo. No one there knew even DMZ or The Nerves at that time. So the same ASS members as usual came appeared in the end! 

Teengenerate live in the 1990s / Photo by Unknown

The Crypt Records release Get Action is my favorite punk record from the 1990s. What do you recall from the recording sessions of that album?

First we recorded it at Seattle's Egg studio during the second US tour in '94. But Tim Warren of Crypt Records told me "It's not Teengenerate!" He seemed not to like the clearer sound and asked for us to record all over again in our usual style with my 4-track cassette tape recorder as soon as we got back from the tour. I was happy because I also hated that sound too and most of those songs were freshly written and too early for recording. But they were being worked out during the tour. Those tracks from the Egg session were later remixed by me and put out on Crypt years after.

Would you agree that the 1990s was the best time for punk in Tokyo with bands like Guitar Wolf, The Registrators, Teengenerate, and The Tweezers? 

Yes, indeed. It was so much fun everyday.

How exactly did you end up on the Guitar Wolf 7" "Can-Nana Fever b/w Motor Cycle Leather Boy"? 

That was for Wallabies Records, Tokyo. Seiji asked me for recording it. He was so excited while the recording. Jumping up, shouting hard like always.

After the disbandment of Teengenerate, what was it like eventually shifting from The Raydios to rejoin your brother again in Firestarter in the late 1990s? 

The Raydios were the first band I formed with Sammy in 1997 after Teengenerate. Then Fifi started Firestarter in '98 again with Sammy. He kept both bands going. At a Raydios gig with the Oblivians, Fifi suddenly came up on stage and started playing with us. He was drunk so much and said join Firestarter. This is exactly what he wanna do! I don't remember at all why I called it end to join his band instead of his joining into my band.

What can you tell me about the band Ruler you were part of in the late 2010s? 

Ruler was formed in late 2016 and had a couple of 45s. But I quit in 2020 since there was no activity while Covid.

Take me through the origins of your latest band Angel Face? How did this supergroup come together in 2021?

A friend of mine asked me to form a band in 2021. I had just quit Ruler and had nothing to do so I agreed to it. Then Toyozo of Fadeaway and two more guys joined us and I named the band Angel Face because one of the member's name was Angel. It took from the Glitter Band, not from French photo bunkers. I wrote songs for the band, but it broken up in a few months. But right after it, Toyozo asked me to have a new band with him to play those songs. This is how AF got started. And we got a new super singer, Hercules in 2022.

What has it been like composing music with Toyozo, Rayco and Hercules? How far back do you go with the other members of the band?

We make the noise! Just play hard on someone's idea. Maybe with a teaspoon of Eddie and The Hot Rods essence. As introducing the members. Toyozo is on bass and leads Fadeaways for more than 15 years. I knew him when the band started. They are the one of the best authentic garage band in '60s style, I think. He's a nice and sweet. Rayco plays drums and she used to be in Ruler and Triple Junk. She likes The Real Kids a lot and loves British pub rock! And the singer, Hercules, is new as a vocalist, but he's also a greatest punk rocker with a 20 year career as one of the best drummers around! He used to play drums for Liquid Screen and still plays in his Sensitive Lips and the Choosers. And will support Paul Collins' tour in Japan in the springtime. There's no vision or concept behind the band. We're just enjoying playing rock 'n' roll!

What have you enjoyed most about the live shows with this band? Have you noticed a younger audience coming to your shows? I feel like you've definitely left your mark on the contemporary punk landscape.

I'm totally enjoying shows with the band. Not such many audiences coming to see us here because people don't know us. But it's been increasing. Catch the singing Hercules in handcuffs.

The second half of 2023 was very active for Angel Face, with two singles and the debut album seeing release at the end of the year. How exactly did these recordings come about? 

The first single's tracks were recorded as demo in late 2021 when we were a three-piece band. Target Earth Records liked the demos so much, and after Hercules joined, they picked songs and made it. Slightly before it, Peter Menchetti from Slovenly liked our second demo tape and wanted to release it as it is. But there were too many songs to make an album, so they split it up into an LP and 45.

What has it been like working with Slovenly Recordings with this new band? 

Peter is my old friend since he released the Raydios 45s. As we meet each other like every year so this is like usual. Not so special thing but I'm happy to work with him. Because that sticker guy has two great ears!

Do you guys have any other recordings in the works that will come out in 2024?

We're gonna have a single on Seattle's Lucky Records which has been run by one of my best friends there, Jay Haskins. This should be my second single on the label since ASS! 

And hopefully want to have some singles on Slovenly and Target Earth later this year.

Lastly, how would you like yourself and the various bands you've played in to be remembered? 

It's enough to make people think that there were bands like The Flamin Groovies and MC5 in this country in the far East.

Angel Face and "I Can't Go Back" b​/​w "New Generator" are out now on Slovenly Recordings.


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