Thanks so much to Shimoda-san for the interview!! And also to Hirose-san for the great translation! Thee Windless Gates is one of the most exciting neo-aco bands (even though they want to be rock!) bands from Japan at the moment. After a mini-album, they found their sound on the FABULOUS split CD with Alvysinger, which I recommend getting a copy! Also for all of you that love indiepop family trees, Shimoda-san used to be in the cult Japanese indiepop band Johnny Dee in the 90s, who released a couple of records on Vinyl Japan. So yeah, let me introduce you to Thee Windless Gates! Check more of their stuff on their site too!

++ Hello Shimoda-san! Thanks so much for being up for this interview! First of all how are you doing? Whereabouts in Japan are you these days?
こんにちは。下田さん。今回のインタビューをお引き受け下さり感謝しています。 まず最初に、最近はいかがお過ごしですか?日本のどのあたりで活動なさってるんですか?

Hello Roque-san! Thanks for your interview, indeed. Nowadays I’m too busy for my current work, so I can’t enjoy my musical life thoroughly,what a shame! In 2012,I really want to release our new album which has been stranded at the moment.
【回答】 こちらこそ、ありがとうございます。 仕事が忙しいため音楽活動を十分に出来ていません、作成途中のアルバムも来年はリリースしたいです。

Now we’re in Kumamoto which is situated in the southern part of Japan, maybe somewhere kind of like Glasgow (though I’ve never been there)

++ You used to be in the fantastic Johnny Dee! But ok, that’s a story that will have to be told in another interview. But I’m wondering how different would you say are Thee Windless Gates compared to Johnny Dee?

The period of Johnny Dee was not so long,but for me it was an great experience. The difference between JD and TWG, I can say JD was mecanical sound as we mainly used drum machine, on the other hand,TWG is a three piece band which is my ideal style.
【回答】 JOHNNY DEEというバンドでの活動期間は短かったのですが、僕にとって大変貴重な経験 でした。僕にとってJDとTWGの違いは、JDがリズムマシン主体で無機質であったのに対し、TWGは スリーピースのバンドサウンドであることです。TWGは理想の活動スタイルです。

++ And what happened in between both bands? Were you involved with music?

JD was ended naturally, nothing to do with TWG.There was no feud between them. Before JD I was in a neo-psychedelic band called THE WAVE. I started my new band TWG with the member of THE WAVE.
【回答】 JDについては自然消滅的に活動をしなくなっただけです。JDとTWGの因果関係はゼロ。TWGは僕がJDで活動する以前にやっていたバンド(THE WAVEというネオサイケバンド)のメンバーで再び活動始めたんです。

++ So alright, when did Thee Windless Gates start as a band? And is it just you or are there any other band members?
ウインドレスゲイツは、いつバンドとして活動を始めたんですか? バンドメンバーはあなた一人、それとも他にもバンドのメンバーがいる?(これは ひょっとしたらジョニーディーの元メンのことを言っているかもです)

As I wrote ,TWG was formed with the past member of whom bofore I played as JD. I started TWG in February 2010 with Yamamoto Masaaki on bass and Masuda Takeshi on drums. They were not members of JD.
【回答】先程書いたように、JD活動以前に一緒にやってたメンバー、BASS 山元賢明(やまもと まさあき)DRUMS 益田剛(ますだ たけし)と2010年2月から活動を始めました。2人ともJDとは関係ありません。

++ And what’s the story behind the name Thee Windless Gates?

Once I heard chickens at the poultry farm are vulnerable to the stong wind, so they are protected by the windless gate. When I heard that, I thought our band was like chickens, as we were in the musical scene like only tasteless American rock music was main stream.
【回答】 養鶏場のニワトリは風に弱く、ウィンドレスゲートというもの(商品名らしい)で 風から守られているそうです。米国的な暑苦しいロックこそ王道である、というような中で活動しているTWGはニワトリのようなものなのです。

++ As far as I know, there has been one release, a split CD with the great Alvysinger. Care to tell me a bit about the songs on this CD and how come did this release happen? Who released it?
僕の知ってる限りでは、ウインドレスゲイツはアルビーシンガーとスプリットシングルを1枚リリースしていますよね。 このCDに収録されている楽曲についてちょっとお話頂けますか?またリリースに至るいきさつを教えて下さい。どこからリリースされたんですか?

We have known each other for more than 10years. Alvysinger has a musical talent and is really nice guy. We decided to release split single , then we managed to make it by self production.
I think we did a really good job.

++ I really like the artwork for this release, who made it? What’s the idea behind it?
このシングルのアートワークが大好きなんですが、どなたがデザインされたんです か?またジャケット製作の背景にはどのようなアイデアをお持ちなんでしょうか?

As far as artwork’s concerned , Alvysinger directed by himself. We TWG are pleased with the artwork,which can tell our musical taste .
【回答】 アートワークに関してはアルビーのディレクションによるものです。我々も気に入ってます。楽曲のイメージ通りのアートワークです。

++ And yeah, for us Westerners, what’s the best way to get a copy of it?

There are few Japanese record shops you can get the CD. You can order at the record shops below.




【回答】少数の日本のショップで扱っています。DISQUE BLUE-VERY, APPLE CRUMBLE RECORD, PEANUTS RECORD  であればオーダー可能です。

++ On Youtube I also found that there was a CD (?) called “How Does it Feel” that included 5 tracks. Was this released? And when was this recorded?
youtubeで拝見したんですが、5曲収録の”How Does it Feel”ってCDがありますよね。これはリリースされたんですか?またいつ製作されたんですか?

As I wrote before, TWG were formed in February 2010, and we made 1st mini album called “HOW DOES IT FEEL?” in May 2010. The sound was so rough and experimental ,as we just wanted to find out our musical direction in this album. It was totally different from our present sound .However we are fond of the album and if you want , you can get it for free through our web site and also MP3 download is available through SOUNDCLOUD.
【回答】 先に書いたとおり、TWGは2010/2に活動開始した訳ですが、2010/5に1ST MINI ALBUMとして “HOW DOES IT FEEL?” を作成しました。バンドの方向性を確認するための音源で荒削りであり、今のTWGサウンドとは異なりますが我々は気に入った作品です。ちなみにWEBから無償で配布しており、SOUND CLOUDからもMP3のDLが可能です。

++ So I can say I know 7 Thee Windless Gates songs, 2 from the split, and 5 from “How Does it Feel”. Are there any more songs available from your band? Are you planning another release soon?
で、2曲をスプリットから5曲を”How Does it Feel”から 僕は、計7曲TWGの曲を知っているんですがあなたのバンドでこれら以外にも入手が可能な曲はあるんですか?また近々リリースされる予定はあるんですか?

In September thee windless gates and Alvysinger had a gig called MTMR in Kyoto. http://5by5.up.seesaa.net/image/mtmr0922omote-3931b.jpg

At that time we gave another split single ,which contained 2 each songs ,to the audience for free. In this single we played “KISS ME SUGAR” and “HAPPIEST MOMENT”. Now we are planning to release a full album or a mini album in 2012.

++ For me, I’d say my favourite song is “In Another Day”. It’s just pop perfection!! Those guitars!! Where did you learn to play like that!? Who were your guitar heroes?
僕は”In Another Day”.が一番のお気に入りなんですが、まさにポップスの最高傑作です!あのギター!!あの(マーばりの)ギタースタイルはどこで身につけられたんですか?あなたのギターヒーローって誰でしたか?

I’m glad to hear that! As you can image, I was inspired by JOHNNY MARR a lot , although my skill’ll never catch up with him, ha ha! Apart from him ,I like PAUL WELLER, NOEL GALLAGHER,BRIAN MAY (you might think he’s quite unexpected ), GRAHAM COXON,ADAM FRANKLIN,PADDY MCALOON and so on.
【回答】うれしい!マー先生には到底及ぶわけありませんが(笑)JOHNNY MARRはじめ、ポール・ウェラー、ノエル・ギャラガー、ブライアン・メイ(これ意外かも)、グレアム・コクソン、アダム・フランクリン、パディ・マクアルーン ETC

++ And yeah, care to tell me the story behind this fabulous song?

Thanks, this may not be a behind story, but for us JIM JIMINEE ‘s TOWN & COUNTRY BLUES is one of the killer tunes in our club scene. I just wanted to express such kind of speedy sound in TWG, that’s the sound of “In Another Day”, right?
【回答】裏ばなしって程のことではありませんが、我々にとってクラブでのキラーチューンといえば、JIM JIMINEE の TOWN & COUNTRY BLUESなのです。あの疾走感をTWG風に再現したかった。それが「IN ANOTHER DAY」です。

++ Which would you say is your own favourite song?
あなた自身の曲で一番のお気に入りの曲は、何ですか? (念のために他のアーチストの楽曲でもお気に入りをお願いします)

As far as TWG is concerned, I like “MEXICAN HOUSEWIFE” and “IN ANOTHER DAY”.
If I choose my fabs from other artists, there seems to be countless, so I ‘ll show you the numbers I listened lately.
The Cribs ~ We Share The Same Skies
【回答】 「MEXICAN HOIUSEWIFE」「IN ANOTHER DAY」 他のアーチストはあげればキリないので、ここ一週間くらいで聴き返して良かったモノ

++ Have you played gigs as Thee Windless Gates? If so, any favourites?
TWGとしてはライブはされましたか?もしされたのならライブでのお気に入りの ナンバー(よかったライブ)は?

We played a gig in October, which was our last gig in this year. We’ve been playing gigs once or twice a month mainly in our local town. Lately we play “IN ANOTHER DAY” pretty well.
【回答】今年10月を最後に今年のライブは終わりました。月1回~2回は地元中心にライブをしています。最近は「IN ANOTHER DAY」が良いノリで演奏できます。

++ And what about your inspiration, what inspires you to craft your songs?
曲を作る際にきっかけとなるものは何ですか?ひらめきのきっかけとなるようなも のは?

I’m not particular about writing lyrics at all, but I want to compose music that can make audience imagine the scenery. That’s my ideal writing style. Even though they can’t understand the words, I always wish the sound will move them.
【回答】 歌詞への思い入れなど一切ありません、音で情景がイメージできるような、そういうサ ウンドが理想です。言葉分からなくても音が心に響けばなあっておもいます。

++ So, when you are not making music, what other things do you like to do? Do you know how to make sushi?

I’m afraid I can’t make sushi, but I used to go fishing. I am keen on watching anime nowadays. My favourites are Natsume Yujin Cho and Gintama

++ Haha, talking about food, which are your favourite Japanese specialties that you’d recommend?

If you visit Japan, please have Ramen, not soba or udon. There are several kinds of Ramen in Japan. There are many differences in each Ramenshop. There are some popular Ramenshops in every town.

++ And what about the sights in your town that you recommend a tourist like me if I was to visit?
もしもあなたの町を訪れたとしたら僕のような(海外からの)ツーリストにお勧め の観光スポットはありますか?

Kumamoto is popular for the sea and mountain , we also have rich hot spa where many foreigners visit. Kumamoto is also famous for Basashi (horse-meat sashimi ) , you can’t image, can you?
【回答】 熊本は海・山の観光スポットがあり、温泉も豊富で海外からの旅行者も多いです。 想像できないかもしれませんが、「馬刺し」という食べ物があります。

++ What about the neo-aco scene? Do you like any other bands at the moment in Japan? What about any international band? Do you follow any?
現在のネオアコシーンについてはいかがですか?今の日本で他に好きなバンドはあ りますか?海外のバンドでは?フォローしてるバンドっていますか?

Well, actually we are not in such kind of scene and I don’t want to be related, either. I want TWG to be a rock band, not a neo-accoustic band. In Japan I like Alvysinger and Sloppy Joe, they are absolutely cool! And there are quite a few up and coming young bands in Kumamoto.
【回答】 うーん、そういうシーンに関わっていないし、関わるつもりもないです。 ネオアコというよりもロックバンドでいたいのです。 日本のアルビー、スロッピージョーはイイですね。 あと、熊本には若い良いバンドがたくさんいます。

++ What was the last record you bought? And was it online or from a record store?

The last record I bought was SONIC NURSE / SONIC YOUTH, Haha… I bought it at the record store.
【回答】 一番最近買ったのはレコードショップで SONIC YOUTH の SONIC NURSE (笑)

++ One last question, what comes easier for you, as I notice you do both, singing in English or in Japanese? Why?
最後の質問です。あなたは英語と日本語で歌っていますがどっちのほうがしっくり きますか?またその理由は?

I like English better than Japanese, though my English isn’t good enough. As I’ve been listening to British music for a long time, I don’t have any good command of Japanese words, It seems quite difficult for me to write Japanese words for the melodies I wrote.
【回答】 英語がいいですね。英語は下手ですが。 ずっと英国音楽を聴いてきたので、メロディーの乗せ方が日本語だと イメージ通りにならないのです。


Thee Windless Gates – In Another Day


Thanks so much to Michael Weare for the interview. After being told by Uwe Firestation on how fabulous were The Mulberry Ceilings (and The Aurbisons) I always wondered how they sounded like. Months ago Dave Driscoll (from Fruitier Than Thou blog, and The Aurbisons) shared with me 4 songs recorded live by The Mulberry Ceilings, and they blew my mind. They were just so good, impressively good. The guitars were jingly jangle, chiming, just my cup of tea. Some weeks ago some videos appeared on Youtube by The Mulberry Ceilings and then, well, I couldn’t stop smiling. It was just fabulous indiepop. I hope, and wish, one day, these songs get a proper release. So good. Please enjoy!

++ Hi Michael! Thanks a lot for being up for this interview! I hear you live in Sweden these days, how come? Do you miss the UK at all?

Yeah, I’ve lived in Sweden for 11 years now. I live in the south of Sweden, a small town/village called Bjärred, near Malmö. I’m married and have 2 kids Lucas 8 and Emmie 6. I do miss the gigs and the pubs.

++ So yeah, I heard about The Mulberry Ceilings earlier this year thanks to Dave Driscoll. Four live songs. And they were fantastic! It’s a shame that they are not properly recorded. But, did you properly record any songs? Was there any intention to release some of your stuff at some point?

We recorded 2 tracks – Pillow Crazy and Tea in a China Cup. They were done on a 4-track at Liz’s house. She had this great room that used to be a barn so we could make plenty of noise. Unfortunately I no longer have a copy of these songs as I lent them to a friend and never got the tape back. It also included some live tracks when we played as a 3 piece. Chris Kelly, Liz Paton and myself.

++ You did make two promo videos though, what was the main idea behind them? And was it an easy choice which song to make a video of?

We only did one video for Pillow Crazy. It was done on black and white super8. We didn’t do it for any promotional use. Sean Johnston thought it would be cool to do a video. He wrote and directed it. Andy the bass player couldn’t make the filming so we used Liz’s brother Tim as a stand in. The blonde girl in the video who I’m trying to give flowers to is Chris’ girlfriend at the time Jo.

Sean also made a couple of videos for The Aurbisons, Creating a Fuss and Holy Cow. I was a stand in for Steve Harris for the Holy Cow video as he did not liked to be filmed. We made a mask that looked like Steve and I mimed along. I was also the back end of the pantomime cow- my first 15 minutes of fame.

We also made some gross out splatter movies that we showed as back drop when we played gigs. I remember at one gig people were not clapping or cheering when we just played one of our best songs. All I heard was “that’s disgusting and urggh” I turned around and the scene behind us was one of blood and guts and the audience was watching our films in the background. The films were not of the highest quality and but we still had a couple of people coming up to us uttering their disgust at the films.

++ When did the Mulberry Ceilings start as a band? Was it your first band? And who were the band and how did the recruitment process work?

Mulberry Ceilings were not my first band. I was in a band called Tomorrow the World- A very bad goth band that didn’t even dress in black. We later changed the name to The Monkey Puzzle and played only a couple of gigs in my hometown of Fleet. The Mulberry Ceilings were formed when I met Chris Kelly at a college in Basingstoke. He had a couple of songs that we practiced in his bedroom. Pillow Crazy and Tea in a China Cup. Liz joined me on vocals and but we did not have a bass player or drummer. We borrowed Sean Johnston (drums) and Andy Bennett (bass) from the Aurbisons who helped us record these 2 songs.

++ What were the expectations when you started the band?

We did not have any expectations. We just wanted to write some songs and play a few gigs.

++ Where in the UK were you based then by the way? Which were the venues you’d usually go see bands? And what were the places or neighborhoods you’d see The Mulberry Ceilings hanging out on say, a Saturday night?

We were based in Fleet/Basingstoke. 2 small towns in the south of England not too far from London. We had a fantastic venue called the West End Centre in Aldershot. There was a couple called Jo and Danny who put on some great gigs. It was called the Buzz Club. They managed to get The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Blur, Manic Street Preaches, The Charlatans, The Beautiful South, Blue Aeroplanes and many others to play. The support bands were mostly local bands. The venue was not that big so you always had a cracking atmosphere especially if there was a big band playing.The Mulberry Ceilings only played once at the West End Centre. It was a local band night and we played in the bar as a 3 piece. Chris, Liz and myself.

++ What about the band name? Where does it come from?

Chris the guitarist suggested it and it stuck.

++ From those songs I’ve heard, I was impressed by the cover you did of The Poppyheads. Were you mates with them?

Someone had this on a mix tape and thought it would be a cool song to play. We only had a couple of our own songs and we needed to fill out our set for a gig.

++ And speaking of that, how much of a fan, and how involved were you, with the indiepop scene that was happening in the UK then? Which were your favourite bands?

I was really into the indie scene at that time. The jangly and faster the better.
We listened to everything from the 14 Iced Bears, Flatmates, Mighty Mighty, The Jazz Butcher,The Bodines, Close Lobters, The Primatives, The Fall and The Wedding Present to name but a few. I’ve just been looking back at an old scrap book and I was going to 2 to 3 gigs a week. The only band I never managed to see live was New Order but that was probably a blessing in disguise.

++ What about covering The Aurbisons’ “Debbie Rix”? I guess that happened because of the Dave Driscoll connection? What other covers did you use to play? Or which covers would you have liked to play and never did?

We did a cover version of Never seen Before by The Close Lobsters, not as the Mulberry Ceilings, but as the Aurbisons. I liked doing cover versions like this. Songs that people hadn’t heard of much that we could pass off as our own but I had forgotton that we did a cover version of the Poppyheads.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? Do you have any favourites? Any anecdotes that you could share?

We didn’t play that many as a 3 piece. We played at Farnborough Technical College, The West End Centre-Aldershot, The Basingstoke Caribbean Club, a hospital in West London and some busking in a shopping centre in Farnborough.
Not very glamorous I have to admit.

++ The other two songs I’ve had the chance to listen were “Pillow Crazy” and “Two Lumps Please”. Both are great! Would you care telling me the story behind both?

Chris came up with the guitar riff for Pillow Crazy and we wrote the lyrics and tune together in his bedroom. It was the first song we wrote together. It was the first song that I had I recorded and couldn’t stop playing the demo to all my friends at college. It was always one of the live favourites. Two Lumps Please – I think the tune and lyrics came first and Chris came up with the guitar riff after that. It was such a long time ago this maybe incorrect.

++ So how played guitar? I love the guitars of your songs, they are fast, jangly, chiming, I don’t know, just perfect for indiepop. Wish more bands played them like that. Where did you take inspiration? Did you have any musical heroes?

Chris Kelly played guitar. He loved the Wedding Present and all he wanted was to be able to play guitar as fast as them.I don’t really have any musical heroes but I loved Joy Division and New Order. I have never thought as them musical geniuses. I always thought they sounded like amateurs but they managed to make a great sound together.

++ How long did the band last and when and why did The Mulberry Ceilings split? Were you involved with music after?

The Mulberry Ceilings never really split up. We sort of evolved into the Aurbisions. The Mulberry Ceilings and the Aurbisons were going to play at the same gig. We were going to be the support band.
We needed a drummer and a bass player for the night so Sean and Andy from The Aurbisons were going to help us out. So both bands decided to practice at the same time to save on time. Someone suggested that for one night only we should play as one band.

Everyone thought that this was a great idea especially Steve Harris. He always wanted to have a big band sound. We went under the name The Aurbisons and that was the end of the name Mulberry Ceilings.
We decided to swap singing duties on the night and that’s how I ended up singing Debbie Rix.

I cannot remember how many times we played as a 7 piece but it wasn’t many. Steve Harris never really got the big band sound that he wanted and left the band. We carried on playing as a 6 piece but changed the name of the band to Cow and started getting in the baggy scene but that is another story.

The main core of the band carried on Liz, Sean, Dave and I until 2000 when I moved to Sweden and Sean moved to New York. Sean and I have been friends since we met at school aged 11.
We have always been in the same band and I’m sure we would still be doing something in a band now if we hadn’t moved away. We all still keep in touch even though we are so far apart.
I recently found Chris Kelly with the help of Facebook.

++ Looking back in hindsight, what would you say were the highlights of The Mulberry Ceilings?

Playing as a 3 piece at a student bar in Farnborough. For one of the songs we did a cover version a Splendids’ song. The Splendids was a friend’s band whose singer had a unique way of dancing with a hat. We started the song and there was a groan in the room. The small audience mainly made of friends thought it was a bad song choice. I thought we had 2 and half minutes left and people were not happy so I decided to start dancing in the same style as singer from the Splendids. Nobody expected this not even Liz and Chris and I managed to capture the singers dancing down to it. The audience thought this was hilarious and we got a huge round of applause when we reached the end of the song. That broke the ice and the rest of the gig was warmly received.

++ And aside of music, what other hobbies or interests do you have?

I still listen to plenty of music. I love bands like Primal Scream, Film School, Low, Efterklang, Broken Social Scene etc. Just recently I have started playing football (Soccer). I’m not very good but I get stuck in.

++ What about Stockholm? I really loved it there when I visited, would love to move one day even! What are your favourite places to have a beer, or to eat? Any Swedish specialty that you would recommend?

Stockholm is a beautiful place especially in the summer. It is made up hundreds of islands so I would recommend a boat trip next time you are over. If you go in the winter visit the Ice Bar. The drinks, mostly vodka, are served in ice glasses and you are given a extremly thick winter jacket and gloves. It is so cold you can only stay inside for about 20-20 minutes.

++ And how easy was to learn Swedish for you? Would you recommend someone to move and live in Sweden? Why?

I’ve never learnt a language before so it took me quite a while to learn the it. Nearly all Swedish people have a very good knowledge of English and even though I speak Swedish with them they sometimes answer in English.
I would recommend moving to Sweden if you have any connection here. If I hadn’t moved to Malmö I would have chosen Gothenburg or Stockholm as the other alternatives.

You cannot visit Sweden without trying the Swedish meatballs.


The Mulberry Ceilings – Pillow Crazy