After a long time, I got to see the rock band Elephant Kashimashi（エレファントカシマシ）again. First it was through their performance on the 68th edition of the Kohaku Utagassen and then this morning, I saw the Friday night broadcast of "News Watch 9" on NHK in which the co-anchor had an extended interview with the vocalist for the band, the iconoclastic Hiroji Miyamoto（宮本浩次）.
As I pointed out in my very first mention of the band when they did a cover of Yuming's（ユーミン）"Kageriyuku Heya"（翳りゆく部屋）, the lasting memory I had of Miyamoto was that he had a habit of just messing about with his hair. The comedic duo Downtown didn't fail to make hay out of that during Elephant Kashimashi's many appearances on "HEY! HEY! HEY! Music Champ". Miyamoto himself could have been become one of those ippin geinin, a comedian who becomes known for a particular shtick or catchphrase. He soon came across as quite a character.
I couldn't find this morning's particular interview but I did find a recent appearance by Miyamoto and company on the NHK morning show "Asaichi"（あさイチ）, and the lead singer comes across as this coiled spring with really active arms. My impression through the interview was that in the early days of Elephant Kashimashi in the 1980s, Miyamoto was even more intense and perhaps scary in that he yelled at the audience to sit still and listen and not scream and dance about. I also remember one scene where he cut down one audience member at the knees for daring to shout out something while on stage. Seeing those early performances, it seemed like any remaining punk essence from the UK all went into him.
He's mellowed out considerably since then and he comes across as quite humble although he is very expressive when he talks. It's like watching a Japanese Robin Williams in how restless he is. Another thing I got out of the interview was he and the band finally realized that it wasn't enough, in his words, to bludgeon the audience with the truth and that a more softly, softly approach was better. Still, seeing that coiled spring stance of his, I think that he can be pretty intimidating if crossed.
One of the goals for this blog has been to reminisce about the songs that I remember and find like-minded fans out there. Another goal that slowly bubbled up over time was unearthing songs that I had forgotten about in the folds of my brain, and it seems like a lot of those songs were made in the 1990s and perhaps into the early years of the 21st century.
Sure enough, when Elephant Kashimashi performed "Koyoi no Tsuki no You ni" (Like The Moon Tonight) on the Kohaku Utagassen, I internally went "Oh, right....I remember this song!". This was actually released in July 1997 as the band's 15th single, written and composed by Miyamoto. As you can hear, it's not a thrashing rock piece but more of a sweet ballad with Miyamoto's soaring vocals about getting back on one's own feet after going through a tough time.
I also vaguely remember that "Koyoi no Tsuki no You ni" was a theme song for a Fuji-TV drama, and indeed it fronted "Tsuki no Kagayaku Yoru dakara"（月の輝く夜だから...Because It's The Night of the Shining Moon）which was originally broadcast during the summer. At the time, I was starting to drift away from J-Dramas generally speaking and I wasn't a fan of the band so the song didn't especially hit me at the time although its hit status meant that I did hear parts of it often enough through a number of channels, literally and figuratively. As has been the case for a number of songs I've re-discovered over the past few years, my attitude has also mellowed for this song. It's not a type of song that I've heard in quite a long time.
According to J-Wiki, "Koyoi no Tsuki no You ni" is the band's biggest hit as it hit No. 8 on Oricon, going Triple Platinum and becoming the 81st-ranked single for 1997. The producer for "Tsuki no Kagayaku Yoru dakara" had asked Miyamoto to come up with a theme song for his project, and the singer did so by finding out about the synopsis of the drama. It was the band's first tie-up song with a drama and their very first Top 10 hit. The song also helped in raising Elephant Kashimashi's profile to the country.