Thursday, November 15, 2007

Destruction PANCAKE!

I'm posting this not because it has any particular relevance to the moment, but because it's awesome.

This video clip was previously missing from anywhere that I could find on the net. (Ok, the extent of my search basically consisted of YouTube.) Here is Ami singing (and playing!) her song "Destruction Pancake":


Ami wrote both the lyrics and the music to this song. She sang it and played it both on the album Spike and live. You know, like a real solo artist. It is totally her song. If Puffy were ever to part ways, this is probably what Ami's solo music would sound like.

Actually, I've watched this clip closely and I'm not convinced her guitar is even hooked up to anything. Her strumming doesn't always match the audio. But it still looks damn cool. I love how she plays all the way up on the neck. Terrible technique!

I can at least confirm that she is playing real chords. Whether her guitar is hooked up or not, she's not faking it, she's playing the song. A lot of Americans don't realize the girls can play guitar at all - they're not great guitarists, but they do play occasionally on the albums and they have played live. Just not in America.

The guitar she's playing through most of the clip is a Fender Mustang. The guitar she's playing in the cutaways to the Shibuya show (and that she plays through most of Spike Daisakusen until she breaks a string) is a Fender Jag-Stang, which seemed to be her preferred guitar at that time. Both of these guitars were made popular by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, who Ami idolized. Before Kurt (and even after), the Mustang was considered Fender's "student model". Kurt used one because it was cheap, and Nirvana started out as a poor indie band.

He also used a Fender Jaguar that he had heavily modified, also because they were cheap at that time. A bit before his death, Kurt had written out a specification on a paper napkin for a prototype guitar that he called the "Jag-Stang" because it was a combination of a Mustang and Jaguar. The Jag-Stang was similar to the Mustang but with an extended body for comfort, an upper horn like the Jaguar and the addition of a humbucking pickup in the bridge position for more tonal variations.

This guitar only ever made it into production in Japan, and Ami played one.

Incidentally, the Jag-Stang was considered a failure as a guitar design, sort of a Frankenstein's monster with parts that didn't quite match. It was discontinued pretty soon after launch, and Fender went back to the drawing board. The follow-up to the Jag-Stang was called the Fender Cyclone, and it's this guitar that would help make Kimura Kaela famous:


This guitar kept the humbucker from the Jag-Stang but returned to a more Mustang-style shape, with a thicker body made from a different kind of wood and a slightly longer neck. Kaela was probably the most famous artist ever to use this guitar, and it again was discontinued fairly quickly despite a good reputation. Without a famous American artist playing one, it never caught on with the public in either Japan or the US.

By the way, all of these guitars - Mustang, Jaguar, Jag-Stang, Cyclone - are part of Fender's patented "offset" guitar line, meaning they have offset body cutouts that have the effect of sliding the whole guitar down a bit while you're sitting. Makes it more comfortable to play that way. That line also includes the Jazzmaster, and there's a big fan community now that's gathered around them. They are almost all very different in both sound and feel than the standard Stratocasters and Gibson Les Pauls that a lot of bands play (including PUFFY's own guitarists). Offset guitars are often associated with grunge and alternative music these days, although Fender originally intended them as jazz and surf music guitars. (Jazz is often played sitting down.)

As for Ami and Yumi, neither of them, to my knowledge, have played guitar on stage after the Spike tour. And Ami has never played "Destruction Pancake" since then either, with or without a guitar in hand.

Ami still plays on her own, though, and she's also a big fan of Gretsch guitars. She owns a Brian Setzer model that she had signed by Setzer himself. (For those who don't know him, Setzer led the rockabilly band The Stray Cats as well as the Brian Setzer Orchestra.)

Image courtesy of PMJ2

She may or may not also own a Gretsch White Falcon, which she's been pictured with (may just be a prop, but it seems coincidental, and it would be an expensive prop). I'm not sure if Yumi still even plays, but she's also been pictured with a candy apple red Fender Jaguar more than once - again, a guitar that Kurt Cobain played (among many other famous artists).

Yumi has also owned a Rickenbacker guitar in the distant past, although I'm not sure of the model. I think it's a Rickenbacker 340. This was the guitar she played in the "Mother" video, and also on the Jet tour:


Ami is playing a solid-body Gretsch (or a good copy).

Anyway, I've gone way off on a tangent here - I really just wanted to post that "Destruction Pancake" clip! Well, I hope this has been at least somewhat interesting.

6 comments:

  1. Wow, how observent!

    I know nothing about musical instruments. I've never had the urge to really play them. I'm the odd one out among my friends!

    Some day...
    Some day...

    Unique content like this is a boon for the Puffy world (and music world in general). Thanks for the interesting read.

    -Mode7

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the posting. Ami here certainly performs cool a rock song. I watched it just by a rental CD Spike Daisakusen about 2 years ago. It's worthy to mention that both music and lyrics are written by Ami.

    The lyrics are on an angry boy who is frustrated about the reality(spilled milk = destruction pancake), and goes see his girl friend with a ice(candy) in his left hand and a knife in his right hand. Though, his girl friend is probably an anime doll that is shown in Akihabara Shop.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think Yumi's Rickenbacker is a 325, and she has (had?) two of them. In addition to the one in the "Mother" video, she also played a fireglo model with f-holes on "Fever*Fever DVD" (Additionally, that guitar can be seen in the tray liner of the Japanese "Spike" CD, along with what appears to be a Gretsch Country Gentleman).

    I don't think it's a coincidence that Ami and Yumi were given a Gretsch and Rickenbacker to play live. Definite shades of The Beatles circa 1964/5.

    Also, Ami's Gretsch guitars from the "Mother" video and "Fever*Fever DVD" appear to be Jet Firebirds, I think. Kinda like the Duo Jet.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the comments and additional info. I am not an expert on Gretsch or Rickenbacker (I am more of a Fender guy as you can probably tell), so that was helpful.

    And thanks for the story of the song, TofuUnion. Your description actually made me laugh. I wasn't expecting that last part.

    I actually wrote most of this post while piss drunk on champagne last night :) Celebrating the final end to my student loans. I was just going to post the video and like 2 sentences about it and I just ended up rambling. Glad some of you got something out of it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. hey!
    i've already seen this vid.

    it's awesome!

    and Ami's voice is better here than the music from CD!

    I didn't like the from CD but now, I'm listening everyday!
    (*_*)


    ~bai bai boo!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You probably already knew this, but I think it may be worth mentioning. Ami is left-handed, and, as you might imagine, does everything left-handed. The one exception: she plays the guitar right-handed. Which may account for the odd way she holds it. As for her "solo" stuff; "Always Dreamin' About You" and "Security Blanket" are two songs that she wrote (in English, no less) by herself. One's Western Swing, and the other's an homage to Green Day. Quite a talent!

    ReplyDelete


 
CDJapan