Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re

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つしまみれ
Origin Chiba, Japan
Genres Punk rock, art punk, pop punk, indie rock
Years active 1999–present
Labels Benten Label Tokyo, July, Australian Cattle God
Website www.tsushimamire.com
Members Mari Kono
Yayoi Tsushima
Past members Mizue Masuda (1999–2017)
Playing music at a concert in Japan, 2008.

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.

The band's original lineup consisted of Mari Kono on lead guitar and vocals, Yayoi Tsushima on bass, and Mizue Masuda on drums. They originally formed the band while in college in Chiba, Japan. In January 2017, Mizue announced she was leaving the band to pursue other projects.

Origin of the name[edit]

Tsushimamire is a neologism coined by the band, not a real Japanese word. It is a combination of Tsushima (the family name of bassist Yayoi) with "Ma" (from guitarist/vocalist Mari Kono) and "Mi" (from original drummer Mizue Masuda). 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[edit]

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."

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.

Influences[edit]

In interviews, the band members have stated that their original inspiration was to be a female version of the Japanese band Blankie Jet City, whose rock music is very fast, energetic, and full of rapid changes. They also consider Rage Against the Machine to be an influence. Yayoi has also expressed a fondness for Western classical music.

History[edit]

Mari (vocals and lead guitar), Mizue (chorus and drums) and Yayoi Tsushima (chorus and 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,[1] 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 15 September 2007, they were featured on the Firefox Rock Festival which was streamed from Tokyo live over the internet.

In 2010 Tsu Shi Ma Mi R 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 with Japanese punk band Peelander-Z.

In 2015, the band released the LP Abandon Human. The following year they toured in support of the album, visiting the United States twice (west coast and east coast), and at the end of the year they also had their first ever European tour, playing shows in and around Germany. They attempted to play at a festival in Russia, but could not enter the country due to visa problems.

In January 2017, drummer Mizue Masuda announced that, after 17½ years, she was leaving Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re to pursue other projects. The three original members had been together since their college days. Their last show together took place in Chiba, Japan, where they got their start and it was later released on DVD. Since that show Mari and Yayoi continues the band with a support drummer.

Awards[edit]

In 2007 they were voted "Best All-Girl Group" in Shojo Beat magazine's Reader's Poll, with 73.4% of the vote.[2]

Discography[edit]

A-Z List of TsuShiMaMiRe Songs

Demos[edit]

  • 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)

LPs[edit]

EPs[edit]

  • Six Mix Girls (2008)

Singles[edit]

  • 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)
  • Ningen Kotingu (2014) [Digital Only]

Live DVDs[edit]

Music videos[edit]

  • 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)
  • Ningen Coating (2015)
  • Hang Out! (2015)
  • Under the Sky of Yesterday (animated, 2015)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re official website (Japanese)". Archived from the original on 2007-07-08. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  2. ^ "Shojo Beat magazine's 2007 Readers' Poll". Retrieved 2007-07-11. 

External links[edit]