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|Genres||Dub, dream pop, experimental rock, neo-psychedelia, ambient pop|
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra
The band was formed in 1987 by Shinji Sato (vocals, guitar, trumpet), Kin-Ichi Motegi (drums, vocals, sampler) and Kensuke Ojima (guitar and vocals). The addition of Yuzuru Kashiwabara (bass) and Hakase (keyboards) rounded up the original line-up. Their first recorded appearance is on the 1989 compilation Panic Paradise. Two years later, their first album Chappie Don't Cry was released. The band's easy-going sound (mainly influenced by reggae and dub but also including elements of rock, pop, drum and bass, hip hop, ska, etc.), coupled with Sato's distinctive androgynous vocals, gained them acceptance in Japan's underground scene.
Fishmans released several albums on the Japanese indie label Media Remoras, exploring different sounds and trying to avoid Reggae cliches, but always keeping a Dub foundation to their sound, powered by Motegi and Kashiwabara’s rock-steady rhythm section. In 1995 they signed with Polydor Records. By this time both Kensuke Ojima and Hakase had left the band. Neither was replaced and the resulting trio would work with a series of guest musicians on their next records, mainly Honzi (keyboards, violin, accordion and vocals) and Darts Sekiguchi (guitar). The addition of Zak on sound mixing rounded out this second phase of the band, which further evolved its sound to incorporate space rock, ambient and shoegaze elements. Song length started to grow as well, as these new tendencies blended in with their dub foundation.
Aerial Camp (空中キャンプ) was released in 1996, and included what is probably the band's most recognizable song, "Nightcruising (ﾅｲﾄｸﾙｰｼﾞﾝｸﾞ)". This was followed by the album Long Season, a 35-minute-long song divided into 5 parts. Their final studio album, Uchu Nippon Setagaya (宇宙 日本 世田谷), was released in 1997.
Fishmans performed its final concert on December 28, 1998. They played many of their best songs and concluded with a full performance of Long Season. This was to be Kashiwabara's final performance with the band, though Sato and Motegi planned to continue working as Fishmans. However, Sato died the following year on March 15 due to heart problems that he had suffered since birth.
After Sato's death, Kin-Ichi Motegi began working as a stand-in drummer for Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, whose original drummer died around the same time as Sato. He eventually became a full-fledged member of the band and plays drums and sings lead vocals with them. Kashiwabara, who had planned to abandon the music industry, eventually joined forces with Yusuke Oya (ex-LabLife) to form Polaris, whose spacey and dubby tracks bore some resemblance to Fishmans' sound in the late '90s.
Following Sato's death, their popularity continued to grow. In 2004, a tribute album Sweet Dreams for Fishmans was released, and included covers by artists as diverse as OOIOO, Bonobos, and UA. This was followed by the albums Kuchu and Uchu in 2005, which included rare and unreleased tracks alongside their best hits.
On November 22, 2005 the remaining members of Fishmans paid tribute to their fans and Shinji Sato, by performing at the Rising Sun Rock Festival. The show lasted three and a half hours, and featured many guest singers, who performed the vocals. The following month, a tribute art exhibition "The Long Season Rewind" was held in Shibuya with contributions from various artists.
In 2006, The Long Season Revue was released on DVD. The live concert was originally only screened in theatres and it featured the original members of the band together with a cast of supporting musicians such as UA, Asa-Chang, Hanaregumi, Oki Yuichi (of Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra) and Ikuko Harada of Clammbon. Following these concerts, Honzi, long-time contributor with the band, also died.
Since then the band has played a number live shows at Festivals. Most recently in 2016 they played 3 shows in Nagoya, Tokyo and Osaka featuring a number of original band members and guests.
- Shinji Sato (佐藤 伸治) – vocals, guitar, trumpet
- Kin-ichi Motegi (茂木 欣一) – drums, sampler, backing vocals
- Yuzuru Kashiwabara (柏原 譲) – bass (1988–1998)
- Hakase (ハカセ) – keyboard (1990–1995)
- Kensuke Ojima (小嶋 謙介) – guitar, backing vocals (1987–1994)
- Darts Sekiguchi (ダーツ関口) – guitar
- Honzi – keyboard, violin, accordion, backing vocals
- Zak – sound mix
- Chappie, Don't Cry (1991, Media Remoras)
- King Master George (1992, Media Remoras)
- Neo Yankees' Holiday (1993, Media Remoras)
- Orange (1994, Media Remoras)
- Aerial Camp (空中キャンプ) (1996, Polydor)
- Long Season (1996, Polydor)
- Uchu Nippon Setagaya (宇宙 日本 世田谷) (1997, Polydor)
- Corduroy's Mood (1991, Media Remoras)
- I Dub Fish (2016)
- Oh! Mountain (1994, Media Remoras)
- 8月の現状 (1998, Polydor)
- 98.12.28 男達の別れ (1999, Polydor)
- Long Season '96～7 96.12.26 Akasaka Blitz (2016, Polydor)
- Fishmans 1991–1994 Singles & More (1999, Pony Canyon)
- Aloha Polydor (1999, Polydor)
- 宇宙 ベスト・オブ・フィッシュマンズ (2005, Polydor)
- 空中 ベスト・オブ・フィッシュマンズ (2005, Polydor)
- Fishmans Rock Festival (2007) (vinyl box set of all Polydor-era releases)
- Golden Best Fishmans: Polydor Years (2012, Universal)
- Go Go Round This World! ~ Fishmans 25th Anniversary Record Box (2016) (vinyl box set of all Media Remoras-era releases)
- BLUE SUMMER ~Selected Tracks 1991-1995~ (2018, Pony Canyon)
- Night Cruising 2018 (2018, Universal)
- ひこうき (1991)
- いなごが飛んでる (1991)
- 100ミリちょっとの (1992)
- Walkin' (1993)
- いかれたBaby (1993)
- Go Go Round This World! (1994)
- My Life (1994)
- Melody (1994)
- ナイト クルージング (1995)
- Baby Blue (1996)
- Season (1996)
- Magic Love (1997)
- Walking in the Rhythm (1997)
- ゆらめき in the Air (1998)
- いかれたBaby / 感謝(驚) / Weather Report (2005)
- The Three Birds & More Feelings (2000, Polydor)
- 記憶の増大 (2000, Polydor)
- 若いながらも歴史あり96.3.2 @ 新宿 Liquid Room (11/09/2005)
- 男達の別れ 98.12.28 @ 赤坂 Blitz (2005, Universal Music Japan)
- The Long Season Revue (2006, Pony Canyon)
- Fishmans In Space Shower TV: Episode.1 (2007)
- Fishmans In Space Shower TV: Episode.2 (2007)
- Fishmans In Space Shower TV: Episode.3 (2007)