It was a chance meeting out side Shibuya station in Tokyo that resulted in Japanese girl punk-pop band Toquiwa’s signing to a UK record lable and collaborating with The Wedding Present.
Toquiwa (as Pinky Piglets) were playing a street live out side the famous Shibuya station in the heart of one of Tokyo’s most popular entertainment districts when the promoter who was booking the Wedding Present Japanese tour walked past and stopped to listen and had one of those wonderful “A ha ! ! !” moments. He booked Pinky Piglets as they were called at the time to support Wedding Present and the start of a common journey with the two bands began.
But as Pinky Piglets, Toquiwa had already played overseas in Canada, UK and Singapore, and were experienced troupers with more than 10 years solid gigging and several mini albums released and in Japan. They had an enthusiastic fan base and reputation for being a great live act. So maybe it was not such a strange decision after all ! ! !
The colaboration between the two bands has continued since then. Toquiwa opened for The Wedding Present in Japan and after that in the UK. Toqiwa then went on tour with Wedding Present again in the USA, where they played the opening set for Wedding Present at the South by South West Festival in Austin Texas where they also headlined the Japan Nite Preview event at the festival.
Toquiwa have recently signed to Wedding Present’s Scopitones record label and today (22 October) is the release of their first UK album
So the new album and tour with Wedding Present is maybe not such a surprise, but rather two bands who mutually respect each other, and obviously enjoy their collaboration deciding to take the relationship a step further
How the relationship started – Street Live in Shibuya
Interview Part 1
You formed in 1998 and performed live shows and won several competitions between then and 2006 when you changed your name to Pinky Piglets and released the first CD single. During this time, how did you keep your motivation and did you ever feel like giving up?
We have been playing together since secondary school. We have progressed step by step together and that’s how we have kept our
motivation alive. Maybe we have felt like giving up sometimes, but there are always someone who support us, like other members, staff, audience. They always encourage us and move us. That’s why we want to keep going.
You had an established following with the name Pinky Piglets and won the GBOB Challenge event in 2008 with that name. Why did you change it and does TOQUIWA symbolise anything to you?
We used to have a manager but now we are self managed and change the band name. Toquiwa means “evergreen” in Japanese. We want to be fresh, feel fresh all the time.
What is the hardest challenge playing live with only three instrumentalists in a band?
This year’s UK tour will be the first time we play as a three-piece band. Maybe we will have some problems, but it is simpler and we are full of expectations.
You are considered a “pop-punk” band in the UK but how are you seen in Japan and how do you view the Japanese live music scene now?
We are probably categorised as a Rock Band in Japan. When we come back from abroad, we find the quality of stage performance by Japanese bands are really high in general. A lot of them are straight forward and good at entertaining people by playing music and by creating good atmosphere. So I think every band should go out and play out there!
I think the British and the Japanese audience are a bit similar. They are more quiet and more focused on the music. In the US, people seem to be more eager to enjoy the show, the atmosphere as a whole. We appreciate the both type of audience.
It is a really tough schedule for this tour and you are playing almost every night. How do you keep your energy high for performances?
It’s never enough to thank The Wedding Present for giving us such great opportunities. We have toured with them quite a bit, we understand each other a lot, so we have less worry about going on the tour.
We don’t really have time to feel fatigue with a joy of touring with them. Same goes when we think about people who would come to see us and people in Japan who support us.
Toquiwa - Tokyo Merry Go Round
I would like to thank Toquiwa and Scopitones Record Company staff for taking the time to answering our questions and for their co-operation.
Later this week Shane will post part 2 of the interview and a review of Toquiwa’s new UK album release. So please make sure to check it out! ! !