Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re
|Genres||Punk rock, art punk, pop punk, indie rock|
|Labels||Benten Label Tokyo, July, Australian Cattle God|
Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re (つしまみれ, TSMMR) is an all-girl Japanese rock trio. Their style is eclectic punk rock, mixing noisy and pop instrumental sounds with idiosyncratic, quirky, often funny or disturbing lyrics. They are one of the many bands to have become famous in the United States through the Austin, Texas South by Southwest music festival, and also through their performances at anime conventions, with the Suicide Girls, and at Benten Label's "Japan Girls Nite" U.S. tours.
Origin of the name
Although tsushimamire sounds like a Japanese word, it is not. It is a combination of Tsushima (the family name of bassist Yayoi) with "Ma" (from guitarist/vocalist Mari) and "Mi" (from drummer Mizue). In addition, mamire means "mixed up" in Japanese: thus the effect is that of "Tsushima (Yayoi), Mari and Mizue all mixed together."
Musical Style and Themes
Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re's musical style can be broadly classified as punk rock, with eclectic influences of noise and Japanese pop music. Several of their songs begin with strong bass lines by Yayoi, but Mari's guitar and Mizue's drums finally make equal contributions. Several songs combine sweet female vocal harmonies with hard drum playing and punk guitar riffs, for a deliberately ironic effect, for example in their signature tune, Tea Time Ska. The lyrics are consistently quirky and idiosyncratic, with the most common themes being sex, food, and death, and sometimes all three at once. Underneath sweet vocal harmonies, the lyrics frequently hint at far darker, scarier themes.
Food is a noticeable subject in their lyrics. In the rap-rock title song from no-miso shortcake (brain shortcake), lead singer Mari invites the listener to eat her brain. In Kamaboco (Fish Cakes), all three girls play the roles of food ingredients in Japanese hotpot, with fish cakes (Mari) feeling rejected and lonely because she is never added to hotpot. In their very first single, American Hamburger, an upbeat pop song, the singer describes herself as fat and food-loving but beautiful; the first line is, "I'm a pig so I eat pork." (Actually, all three band members are usually quite svelte.)
Some of their most powerful songs address death and its inevitability. In Na-mellow (Nameru), the singer plays the role of the young daughter of a fisherman, who gradually realizes her father will never return from a fishing voyage. In Manhole, the singer speculates about where manholes in the street might lead to, perhaps to the land of the dead.
Another common theme is sex, which is frequently juxtaposed against the squeaky-clean stereotype of the innocent-looking Japanese girl. In the title song from Pregnant Fantasy, the unborn baby of a pregnant teenager asks why her mother will bear her when she is not wanted. In World Peace & BOU, the singer appears to be speculating that world peace can be brought about by a cartoon penis.
Tea Time Ska, the song which often closes their live shows, features a unique mix of punk-rock screaming and sweet harmonies. It describes an innocent young girl who invites her first boyfriend home for tea. However, her father, "who loves me too much", becomes jealous of the boyfriend because his daughter has never made tea for him.
Mari (Vocals & Lead Guitar), Mizue (Chorus & Drums) and Yayoi Tsushima (Chorus & Bass Guitar) formed Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re in 1999 while they were all still college students. They started playing in various clubs in the Chiba prefecture, as well as releasing their first demo single Hamburger Set in 1999 and then their second demo single Bloody Mohawk [Ryuketsu Mohikan] in 2001.
In 2004, they toured with other native Japanese bands Petty Booka, Bleach, Noodles, and Kokeshi Doll in the United States as well as performing at the South by Southwest music festival. On August 25 of the same year they released their first full length album Pregnant Fantasy on Benten Label.
In March 2005, they toured the United States once again in the “Japan Girls Nite US Tour.” Along with some of their previous tour mates, this excursion included notable rock group The Pillows. Though the short tour only went through a few cities such as Chicago, New York, Seattle, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the tour was met warmly and gave them extra exposure. This prompted Benten Label to release the girls' first album and future records in the United States through the Australian Cattle God label.
Also in 2005, they performed as an opening act for the "Suicide Girls Live Burlesque Tour" which involved a grueling thirty-five shows in about one month's time, September 30 through November 5. After the Suicide Girls tour, they also played a few small west coast dates with other Japanese girl bands, once again part of the Benten Label's “Girls Nite Tour.”
In 2006 they were invited as musical guests to perform at Anime Central, making it their first American convention appearance. Afterward they toured a second time with Suicide Girls. This tour was cut short when the Suicide Girls changed plans to become the opening act for Guns N' Roses. As the last several shows were suddenly cancelled, Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re played a few hastily-arranged shows on the west coast.
On July 7, 2007, Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re released their most recent album no-miso shortcake [脳みそショートケーキ] (called brain shortcake in English-speaking countries). This was released through the July Records label, unlike their earlier CDs which were released through Benten, apparently indicating a change of label. This is an enhanced CD, containing seven songs and a Flash animated music video for "Air Control Remote Control." The CD was initially listed as available on Amazon.com in the USA, but later its status was changed to unavailable. As of September 2007, the CD was currently available as an import from Amazon in Japan and from www.hmv.co.jp.
On Sept. 15th. 2007, they were featured on the Firefox Rock Festival which was streamed from Tokyo live over the internet.
In 2010 TsuShiMaMiRe released the album "Sex on the Beach" and were featured on the compilation "I Love J Rock" on Good Charamel Records in North America. In November 2010 they toured the USA w/ Japanese punk Band Peelander- Z.
Upcoming Tours and Albums
According to Mari's blog on the official TSMMR Myspace, they are currently in production of a new American release album which will include previous songs from their 2nd album and new songs, including an English language one.
Again, according to a post by Yayoi on the official TSMMR Myspace page, they plan to tour the United States in September.
During an interview with TADA Music in June 2008, all three girls stated their excitement at touring the United States for a 7th time in September 2008.
In 2007 they were voted "Best All-Girl Group" by Shojo Beat magazine's Reader's Poll, with 73.4% of the vote.
- ハンバーガーセット (Hamburger Set)(2000)
- 流血モヒカン (Ryuketsu Mohikan) (2002)
- Love & Peace & Bou (2005)
- Brain-a-la-Mode (2006)
- Pregnant Fantasy / 創造妊娠 (Souzou Ninshin) (2004)
- 脳みそショートケーキ (Noumiso Shortcake) (2007)
- つしまみれとロックとビアで (Tsushimamire to Rock to Beer de) (2008)
- Ah Umi Da / あっ、海だ。 (2009)
- Sex on the Beach (2010)
- Giving Blood (2011)
- Shocking (2012)
- Tsushimamire (2013)
- Mamire ('Best Of' Compilation) (2014)
- Six Mix Girls (2008)
- Time Lag (2009)
- Strobo (2010)
- 献血ソング / キッチンドランカー (Giving Blood Song / Kitchen Drunker) (2010)
- Jaguar (2013)
- 良いDVDです。 (Yoi DVD Desu.) (2005)
- Live DVD (2006)
- バンドは水物 (Band wa Mizumono) 10th Anniversary (2009)
- Blood Movie (2012)
- NO PUNK (2013)
- 15周年記念LIVE DVD「バンドは水物２」(15th Anniversary) (2014)
- エアコンのリモコン (Air Control & Remote Control) (animated, 2007)
- Sakuranboy (2008)
- Mi Kara Deta Sabi (2008)
- Hyper Sweet Power (2009)
- タイムラグ (Time Lag) (2009)
- まつり (Matsuri) (2009)
- ストロボ (Strobe) (2010)
- 献血ソング (Blood Song) (2011)
- グレープフルーツガール (Grapefruit girl) (2011)
- Hungry and Empty (2012)
- JAGUAR (2013)
- Speedy Wonder (2014)
- English language Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re site from Benten Label Tokyo
- Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re official website (Japanese)
- MySpace page (English)
- Morning Scene interview
- Keikaku.net interview 1 interview 2
- Discussing how they made their first album
- TsuShiMaMiRe Fan Page (lyrics and interview)