Thee Michelle Gun Elephant

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Thee Michelle Gun Elephant
Origin Japan
Genres Garage rock
Blues rock
Punk blues
Years active 1991–2003
Labels Nippon Columbia
Universal Music Group
Alive Records
Associated acts Rosso
Radio Caroline
The Birthday
Midnight Bankrobbers
The Hiatus
Website Rockin' Blues
Past members Yusuke Chiba
Futoshi Abe
Kōji Ueno
Kazuyuki Kuhara

Thee Michelle Gun Elephant (often abbreviated to TMGE) was a Japanese garage rock band formed in 1991.[1]


The band was formed in 1991,[2] while Chiba, Ueno, and Kuhara were students at Tokyo's Meiji Gakuin University. They later drew influence from The Roosters. Their unusual name originated when a friend mispronounced the title of an early jam session recording; featuring cover songs of Thee Headcoats (one of the band's main influences) and from The Damned's album, Machine Gun Etiquette.[3] Some years later Futoshi Abe joined the band. After an independently released EP in 1995, they signed to Nippon Columbia's Triad label, releasing the album Cult Grass Stars in 1996, followed later that year by High Time, the band enjoying chart success in their home country.[2] Chicken Zombies (1997) gave them a top five hit.[2] The band's 1998 album Gear Blues was the first to be released in the US (in 2000).[2]

The band announced that they would break up on October 11, 2003, after their Last Heaven tour of Japan. On July 22, 2009, the guitarist Futoshi Abe died of an acute hematoma.[4]

Song titles and lyrics[edit]

The majority of the band's songs have English titles, which often appear to be a random selection of words cobbled together - 'Pinhead Cranberry Dance', for example.

The lyrics are almost entirely Japanese, with the odd English phrase or word thrown in.

Musical instruments[edit]

None of them used any effect pedals at all. They used to perform with coiled guitar cables as Dr. Feelgood did.

Yusuke Chiba

Chiba did not play the guitar so much. Sometimes the sound of Chiba's guitar was not sent to PA's mixer, because he played the guitar not to make a sound but to keep himself a rhythm.

Futoshi Abe

Seen is a brand name of the guitar produced by Matsushita Guitar Factory, placed in Harajuku, Tokyo. Some details were changed in Abe's Telecaster Custom-modeled guitar. The toggle switch was replaced where the tone knob of the rear pickup should be, because the switch's setting could be changed easily by his heavy playing. Because of it the guitar had only 3 knobs, 2 volume knobs and a master tone knob. For the majority of TMGE's lifespan, Abe played a Fender "The Twin" - a master volume amplifier with pre-amp distortion. Later he used a Marshall JCM-900.

Koji Ueno

Through almost all the time of Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, he used only two units of Fender bass guitar. Two of them were completely same, one had 3-tone sunburst body and the other vintage white. Both of them had amber pickguards. Fender Jazz Bass and contrabass were used in some tracks. He always played the bass guitar with a Jim Dunlop's pick.

Kazuyuki Kuhara

Side projects[edit]

All four members have had other musical projects or played with other bands both while in TMGE and after its break-up. Some of these are as follows:

Yusuke Chiba

  • ROSSO (Vocals, Guitar and Songwriting on all releases)
  • The Birthday (Vocals, Guitars and Songwriting on all releases)
  • The Midwest Vikings (Vocals, Guitars and Songwriting under the alias 'LACOSTE')
  • Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (Vocals on one song on the album 'Stompin' On Down Beat Alley')
  • Raven
  • Bugy Craxone
  • Midnight Bankrobbers

Kazuyuki Kuhara

Koji Ueno

Futoshi Abe

  • KOOLOGI (Guitar on first album)
  • Barebones
  • Strawberry Jean (Guitar - This was Futoshi Abe's pre-TMGE band - their one album is sometimes available via Japanese online auctions)



Live albums[edit]

  • Casanova Said "Live or Die" (2000) Triad
  • Last Heaven's Bootleg (2003) Island


  • Sekai no Owari (1996) Triad
  • Candy House (1996) Triad
  • Lily (1996) Triad
  • Culture (1997) Triad
  • Get Up Lucy (1997) Triad
  • The Birdmen (1997) Triad
  • G.W.D (1998) Triad
  • Out Blues (1998) Triad
  • Smokin' Billy (1998) Triad
  • GT400 (2000) Triad
  • Baby Stardust (2000) Triad
  • Abakareta-Sekai (2001) Triad
  • Taiyou wo Tsukande Shimatta (2002) Island
  • Girl Friend (2003) Trippin' Elephant
  • Electric Circus (2003) Island

B-sides compilations[edit]

  • Rumble (1999) Triad

Best of compilations[edit]

  • TMGE 106 (2000) Triad
  • Collection (2001) Alive Records (US release)
  • Grateful Triad Years (2002) Triad
  • Thee Greatest Hits (2009) Columbia

Other releases[edit]

  • Wonder Style (1995) Trippin' Elephant
  • Wonder Style (reissue) (1997) Triad
  • Vibe On! (1998) Trippin' Elephant
  • Kwacker (with Mick Green) (2001) Trippin' Elephant


TMGE have released a number of live and PV DVDs. A box set of some of these were due to be released by Universal in January 2010, consisting of 10 discs under the title of 'THEE LIVE'.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Thee michelle gun elephant │ オリコン芸能人事典-ORICON STYLE". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 1025-6
  3. ^ "ROCKIN'ON JAPAN インタビュー : チバCollection". 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  4. ^ ドコデモタワレコ. "ニュース - Tower Records Online". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 

External links[edit]