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Japanese Punk Terrorists

Punk, by definition is rotten wood, fungus growing on wood, used as tinder: Worthless stuff, rubbish, tosh. So thought the Australia Musicians Union when it last year banned Japanese punk band THE STAR CLUB from playing live in Australia. A spokes person from the Union said at the time that THE STAR CLUB were not culturally sound enough to be given the grace to play.

THE STAR CLUB returned to their native Japan with bowed heads. STAR CLUB member Hikage says the band were very frustrated with the decision. "We were angry and upset by it," he said through the help of a translator. "Before they knew who we were they shut the door on us. It's not like we're Dire Straits! we are not big enough to take jobs away from Australian musicians. The politics of the situation were ridiculous and they should not have been aimed at us."

What were your impressions of Australia while you were here?

"I didn't have time to formularize any comments Hikage. "We came here to record a mini-album so most of our time was spent in the studio. When we did get out to see some bands, we were not that impressed. We saw The Saints and expected a lot but were disappointed in them. They let us down."

Is punk music popular in Japan?

"Punk Music has a certain amount of followers but it is certainly not as big as mainstream pop or heavy metal. There is a core, however. I think when certain people reach a certain age they change their tastes to suit the scene they are in at that stage. They may start out being punk followers but when they get older everyone is changing around them and so they change too. From punk to middle-of-the-road is usually the transformation."

Surely punk music and the ethos that goes with it is frowned upon in such a conservative country as Japan?

"Japan is as conservative as England."

Can punk music still change things like it did in the 70s. Is it still as relevant?
"Well, we want to change music and society. We have been influenced by punk music, but it is most important for us to express ourselves within our music. Punk music doesn't have to change things but we want people to listen to what we have to say. We have a message and we want people to understand that. We certainly don't want to live in the past."

As Australians, we know little of the music of Japan. Some of us know of Yellow Magic Orchestra and its members, and possibly we know about some of the heavy metal bands. What is Japanese music like in general?

"Most Japanese pop music is crap, it's really bad, especially the stuff they play on the radio that's un-listenable. The music from Yellow Magic Orchestra and the members Yukihiro Takahashi, Haruomi Hosoro and Ruiuchi Sakamoto is admirable but it is mostly boring to me because it doesn't come from the streets. I can't relate to music which doesn't come from the streets. It seems to me to be lacking in passion and commitment."

Which bands do you like?

"Not many I am inspired by or admire. John Lennon is one of my heroes and of the punk bands I like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones and Conflict. They are one of my favorites."

THE STAR CLUB will be in Australia until June 25th. Are you going to this time try and see a bit more of our country and people?

"Of course, we want to know a lot more about your country. That is why we came out to Australia last year - we wanted to learn a lot more about the country and the people. We would have done that if we hadn't been banned. This time we will be able to do that. We want to see everything. We want to especially see and hear your bands. We are looking forward very much to seeing you."

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