By Aki Ikeuchi / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterThere is nothing up their sleeves when it comes to the soaring popularity of the three-member Kansai-based group, yabai T-shirts yasan, not with lyrics that stick in your head from the first listen combined with powerful melodies.
The three-member Kansai-based group has released its latest album, titled “Tank-top Festival in Japan,” and there seems to be no stopping this trio that is fired up to become a “band of the people.”
“Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Then, I do! I do! I do!”
— Translation from “Happy Wedding-mae Song” (pre-happy wedding song)
You surprisingly get so caught up in the music, it takes your breath away before you know it. Every song seems to bring out a chuckle. Age is irrelevant when it comes to enjoying yabai T-shirts yasan (roughly translated as “seller of crazily awesome T-shirts”), or “Yaba T” for short.
The trio — Koyamatakuya (guitar, vocals), Shibataaribobo (bass, vocals) and Morimorimoto (drums, chorus) — were members of a club at the Osaka University of Arts when they formed the band in 2013. After making their major debut in November 2016, they grabbed attention with their piercing Kansai-dialect lyrics and fully expressive melodies.
“You’re a cute-E. More than that, a cute-F, aintcha! Your charm is overflowing, aint it!
— From “Kawa-E” (Cute-E)
“Where can you buy those kids shoes that have the wheels in the heels? They don’t have to be banned, but the parents should stay close at hand.”
— From “Kakato Roller” (roller in the heel)
This time, the group sticks to its own way, too.
“All [of our songs] are from personal experiences, or things we normally talk about,” said Koyamatakuya, who handles most of the songwriting. “To put it plainly, they’re not made up.
“The lyrics may seem a bit ridiculous, but in reality, we want people to feel that what we’re saying is deep, so it’s something they will want to listen to many times,” he added with a smile.
The songs cover a wide range of themes, from “shoulder width” to “drones” to “drowsiness.” “When you come up with words that leave an impression, it just expands from there,” Koyamatakuya said.
The final track of the album is “Yutori Rock,” which addresses young people’s views on society.
“For us, having a song with a message that comes last is an act of defiance,” Shibataaribobo said. “Without abandoning our original intent, we came up with an album that also brings up new things.”
Adds Morimorimoto: “It’s an album that was created without inhibition. I think our growth [as a band] is packed inside.”
Last year, the group’s tunes were used in a commercial and as a movie theme song, and the trio became regulars on an NHK show. Their concerts have increasingly drawn fans in their 40s and 50s. The band’s goal this year is to be invited to appear on the NHK’s traditional “Kohaku Utagassen” (Red & White Year-end Song Festival).
They have also drawn their share of critics, who insisted the band would never be successful or it was “an embarrassment for Japan.”
“There are days when I think, ‘Why are they saying this?’” Koyamatakuya said. “But I believe we still have room for growth. We’ll be happy if our fans support us with the feeling that they are supporting the band of a friend.”Speech