MUTANT MONSTER is something of a family business. Sisters MEANA and BE found their love of punk rock in their parents? record collection, growing up to the sounds of The Clash, Sex Pistols and Ramones. They?re joined by CHAD on drums, who is not another sister but their high school friend. They even call their fans the "MMfamily".
They?re also no strangers to the UK, having toured here in 2016. Now, the pop-punk trio return as the latest addition to JPU Records? eclectic roster of Japanese artists. Their appearance at HYPER JAPAN is the first stop on a UK tour supporting their new mini-album Abnormal.
Their song Preparation serves as an intro before they emerge from backstage, dressed in matching outfits, with MUTANT MONSTER emblazoned across the tails of their shirts and a dash of fluorescent war paint on their cheeks. They scamper to the front of the stage to greet everybody, BE and MEANA grinning and waving while CHAD holds a MUTANT MONSTER towel aloft. They grab their instruments and finish the intro with a crescendo of crashing guitar and drums before launching into the opener, Abnormal.
The title track from their new album is an upbeat number. The Ramones influence shows through clearly, as the sound is punk with a catchy pop sensibility. There?s no need to warm the crowd up as they?re into it from the word go, chanting along with the song. MEANA leaves them to it briefly as she adjusts her amp to squash some nasty feedback.
MEANA greets the crowd with ?Welcome to MUTANT MONSTER show!? and a big high kick that is matched by her sister. She shouts ?Barabara? and they crack straight on with the next number. The audience joins in with the ?oi! oi!?s, punching the air, and MEANA cocks an exaggerated hand to her ear, encouraging their chanting. MUTANT MONSTER?s songs are peppered with these singalong opportunities and MEANA makes the most of them, grabbing the mic and heading to the front of the stage to lead the chorus.
A quick pause for breath and MEANA takes a moment to say ?Hello everyone. We are MUTANT MONSTERfrom Japan!? CHAD pipes up with ?Thank you for coming tonight,? and MEANA responds, ?Tonight??, which raises a laugh. They?re playing this set at lunchtime.
MEANA introduces the next song, Kawaii Dakejya Irarenai, which she helpfully translates as ?We Don?t Wanna be Just Cute.? This is another one with plenty for the crowd to join in on and MEANA steps up front to lead a singalong session, but with her guitar stopped while she conducts the audience it sounds as if the bass has gone missing in action.
After the song is finished, CHAD asks the crowd, ?Can you hear bass?? MEANA wanders across to see what?s up and then it dawns on BE, ?Oh? no mic!? The problem is solved, although CHAD can?t quite believe it, ?Already we played three songs and no bass!?
BE conducts an impromptu soundcheck by gently riffing away. The neon yellow strings of her bass glow under the lights as they return to full volume. The sound problems are a slight distraction but they take them in their stride. It?s an occupational hazard for this sort of tightly scheduled event where bands only get 10 minutes to set up.
Soundcheck sorted, BE keeps the riff going and the crowd claps along as MEANA announces ?Introduce ourself? time. First up, it?s ?BE on bass? very, very small bass?, which gets a laugh, then CHAD on drums and finally, in a mashup of Japanese and English, ?Watashi, I am MEANA da yo!? All this time, BE has been playing the bassline to their next song, Yuryorenai and as MEANA asks everyone, ?Let?s dancing, OK?? they get underway again. It?s another punky number with that 60s pop touch, and MEANA cheekily wiggles her butt at the crowd as a bit of added encouragement to get them dancing.
Between songs, CHAD takes the opportunity to get in a plug for their new CD. JPU Records have beefed up the UK edition of their Abnormal mini-album with the inclusion of a couple of bonus tracks, Sparkling Energy and Summer Ticket, and both songs get an outing during this show. For all their western influences from the likes of The Clash and Ramones, Sparkling Energy?s vocals have a definite retro Japanese pop feel. Summer Ticket is another punchy, perky number that sees BE and MEANA pogo their way through the bridge to the final chorus while the crowd joins in, bouncing up and down.
They close the show with Girl?s Fight, a feisty, angry slice of pop-punk. This one gets an extra blast of aggression and the fans respond in kind, chanting along. MEANA signs off their set with a combo of punk attitude and that unfailing Japanese politeness as she shouts ?Thank you very fuckin? much!? The sisters head to the front of the stage and thrash it out, guitars held aloft, before a synchro high kick to finish.
MUTANT MONSTER might not be the snarling, spitting punks of your dad?s misspent youth. They?re rebellious exponents of "girl power" instead and above all, great fun, full of energy and smiles. Before they depart, it?s time for the MMfamily portrait. The band poses for their photo in front of the crowd, everybody grinning with their hands raised in the shape of MUTANT MONSTER claws. Welcome to the family!
03. Kawaii Dakejya Irarenai
05. Sparkling Energy
06. Summer Ticket
07. Girl?s Fight
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