Thanks so much to Masahiro, Darelle and Wendy for this brilliant interview! I interviewed Masahiro a week ago about his solo-project Tricycle Popstar and by doing so I learned that he was also involved in the mysterious The Love Mushrooms who released just one CD-single with the label A Trumpet Trumpet Records in 1992. That single has 3 poptastic songs, that sound timeless today, with jingle jangly guitars and catchy female vocals. A perfect pop record to my ears! The band didn’t last long. They played live once. And their story was quite forgotten. But it is now time for all of us to rediscover this gem of a record!

++ Hi again! How are you? Thanks a lot for being up for a second interview. How is the Australian winter treating you? Do you have any plans for going back to Japan soon?

Masa: Melbourne winter is not that cold compared to my hometown. No plans to go back to Japan at the moment. But I’d love to go anytime:)

Darelle: I live in Hobart, Tasmania – it is a little cold, but I like that!

Wendy: I live in Melbourne – it is wet and cold but I like the contrast to our dry hot summers. I hope to go back to Japan in two years with my family for my 50th birthday – it has been 20 years!!

++ We talked last time about Tricycle Popstar, your solo project. But just before you had started Tricycle Popstar and the label Behaviour Savior you were for a short time in the band The Love Mushrooms, is that right? How long did The Love Mushrooms really last as a band?

Masa: About half a year ~ one year??

++ And why the name The Love Mushrooms?

Masa: I like those 60’s girl groups like The Supremes, The Ronettes, The Shangri Las etc.  The image of the name came from there.
Also The Love Mushrooms sounds erotic.

++ This is a silly question perhaps, but as you wrote songs about food, I wonder are there any particular mushrooms you really like?

Masa: I like any mushrooms. My favourite are Matsutake, Maitake.

Darelle: I am the same as you, Masa. I could eat mushrooms everyday – especially morels

++ So you had been living in Akita and then moved to Tokyo, but before moving to Tokyo you used to visit the city quite a bit. How often did you go? And how did you meet Akiko Masuda who would prove important to get your music out there?

Masa: In my Akita days, I haven’t been there, even once. After graduate high school went to Tokyo. That was my first time.

When I was a high school student, I had a message on a music magazine classified section: “Looking for friends who likes The Housemartins, The Flipper’s Guitar”. And one girl sends me a letter. Her name is Akiko Masuda. She was living near Tokyo and she teach me a lots of news of Tokyo indie scene, UK & US indie scene, and sends me a lots of music video recordings from TV program (*Tokyo area has lot more TV station and they had lots of interesting music programs too. Akita had just 2 local broadcasting stations back then). When I came to Tokyo I often meet her. She was doing a club event called ”Smiths Night” back then. (The event was playing only The Smiths records all night long!)

And through her, I was into those UK & US & Tokyo indie scene more. I was young, and I thought “I want to release my music out there!”

++ How were those Smiths nights by the way? What was the crowd favourite Smiths song when everyone went crazy on the dancefloor? And what about yours?

Masa: My favourite is “This charming man”

There are many hard core The Smiths fans there.
Any songs could those people went crazy on the dancefloor.

Darelle: I love “Cemetery Gates”.

Wendy: I met my husband by quoting from the song ASK and him replying with the next line..so that is certainly one of my favourites but I have also always liked Girlfriend in a Coma

++ That first demo you handed to Keisuke Hatsuda from Motorway Records, what did it contain? And how come he didn’t sign you?

Masa: He hadn’t started Motorway Records yet then, He was the guitarist of a band called “Budgie Jacket”. He is a great man and had great knowledge of those UK & US indie scene, it amazed me. And I can’t remember what songs were in the demo tape.

++ The demo was to end in Masashi Naka who ran A Trumpet Trumpet Records and he was going to offer you a release. But he wanted sort of a girl band sound, why was that? What reasons did he give you and did you feel comfortable about it?

Masa: I always do it on my own. And I know my vocals  aren’t that good. So I thought that was good idea. He’s got a sense. He knows what kind of music appeal to people.

++ And this is the point when The Love Mushrooms really form, when you get Wendy and Darelle in the band. How did you meet them and you convince them to join?

Masa: Wendy & Darelle, whom I also met through Mark. (also from Tasmania too). And I just ask them Like “Let’s do it! It’s gonna be fun!!”

Darelle: I had met Mark when I was 15 years old, so we already knew each other when I moved to work in Tokyo in 1992, and he introduced me to Masa. Wendy and I were both from Hobart, but had not met until we worked together in Japan. Wendy, Mark, Masa and I spent a lot of time hanging out together and when Masa asked us to sing we just thought it was something fun to do!

Wendy:  I knew Mark vaguely from Hobart as we worked at the same hotel on the front desk. The rest is history as Darelle tells it. We were all very close and spent a lot of fun times together.

++ The first incarnation of The Love Mushrooms was you and your friend Hiroshi Kudo back in Akita, is that right? Are the recordings from the split tapes with Tricycle Popstar, Dynamic Pops for the 90’s Vol 1 and 2, and The Best Of, from this period? Where do you usually record with him?

Masa: Me & Hiroshi were playing together my original songs in Akita back then, and some of songs were used as Love Mushrooms songs. I just changed the lyrics. And we recorded at my apartment usually.

Darelle: We would all squash in at your apartment – it was so tiny! Fun times!

++ Were Hiroshi, Wendy and Darelle into indiepop? Which of bands would you say inspired the music of The Love Mushrooms?

Masa: Hiroshi wasn’t much interested in indie music, But he likes music in general. Wendy & Darelle were big music fans. Wendy was into indie music and I know she collected some 7”s & records. Darelle loved 4AD type of music. What inspired the music of The Love Mushrooms?, mmm… maybe Talulah Gosh, Hevenly, Nelories.

Darelle: I loved anything on 4AD at that time, especially Cocteau Twins, Lush – still do! I was really into The Smiths and The Cure, New Order. I have loved all types of music for my whole life. I find it a great escape from the real world.

Wendy: I enjoyed alternative music from a young age. The Cure, Blur, Ride, The Smiths, The Go-Betweens….a lot of their music is still so relevant today. When I was in Tokyo, discovered the Sarah Label and collected quite a few singles – The Sea Urchins, Another Sunny Day… I can hear that kind of music in a lot of Melbourne bands nowadays.

++ So in 1992 A Trumpet Trumpet was to release your one and only release, the 3″ CD single “Wait and See What Happens”. It included 3 songs, all sounding gloriously, I can’t believe I’ve only discovered the songs as of late. I was wondering if you could tell me just in a few lines what each song is about, “Funny Sunny Day”, “You Make Me Feel” and “Satisfy Me”.

Masa: “Funny Sunny Day” – I think this song is “The Love mushrooms”. “You Make Me Feel” – My favourite track on this EP. “Satisfy Me” – I wanted to add more sounds on this track actually.

Darelle: I remember “Funny Sunny Day” was about a day Wendy and I spent in Tokyo with a friend from Canada. “You make me feel” and “Satisfy Me” – I love both of those songs. Masa always writes great melodies. He was the brains behind the whole band. I just happened to sing as I was there. Wendy and I would contribute to the lyrics. It was a lot of fun.

Wendy:  Yep I agree with Darelle, thanks D!

++ And how did the creative process work for The Love Mushrooms? Was it the same as for Tricycle Popstar?

Masa: Yes, It was quite same. Sometimes, I need to have harmony vocal tracks, I requested them. Darelle was great on those harmony vocals, She created those harmony parts by herself.

Darelle: Oh Masa! I really enjoyed doing the harmonies. I have always loved to sing, even though I am not that great. It was the most exciting, fun time. For me, it was about friendship. And an awakening to the big world.

Wendy: Yes, Darelle was amazing…I never really had the confidence and am not a great singer, so was more comfortable being in the background….but it was such a great experience recording and practising. We really had fun and that was the main thing, and we had such strong ties then.

Masa: I think Wendy’s vocal is very cute!! I remember we were very very nervous at the recording studio.

++ This single has a girl photograph in the cover? Who is she? Is she Wendy or Darelle? I hear this covert art also was featured on a magazine at the time?

Masa: A girl photograph in the cover isn’t Wendy or Darelle. The designer took the photo from somewhere. Our CD jacket was on i-D Japan magazine, that was thrilled me.

Darelle: I loved the cover!

Wendy:  Me too!

++ What do you remember about recording these songs? Any anecdotes you could share?

Masa: Mr. Naka paid for recordings. We recorded in a small recording studio. We recorded 3 songs in one day.

I didn’t bring keyboard with me on the recording day (I thought they have some keys in the studio), but there was none, only a small toy keyboard was there. So I played all key parts with the toy keyboard.

Soon after that recordings (maybe not soon, I can’t remember), the songs were mixed by Tatsuhiko Mori at his studio, he is a professional mix engineer / programmer, he collaborated with many major & indie artists.
[He also owned record label called “Hammer Label” that label reissued albums of Danish band called ”Gangway”, I love Gangway very much and Mr. Mori let me hear a song of them before releasing.]

I was there when Mr.Mori did the final mix on the songs. That was amazing!! Especially “You Make Me Feel”. After his magical treatment, that song turn into a great pop song!!
Also he changed drum tracks into better drum sounds (programmed by him) on “Funny Sunny Day” & “You Make Me Feel”.

Listening music in a studio environment & see the professionals work in real time was really a great experience for me.

Darelle: I remember being very nervous, as I am really not the best singer! I love singing but in the shower only! So it was so nerve wracking. It was a really fun day. Mori did a great job with the mixing and especially my vocals on “You make me feel”. I remember loving the result.

Masa: Yeah, That was a “WOW” experience.

Darelle: You wrote a really great song, Masa!

Wendy:  As I wrote before, it was a great day and an experience I will never have again….and I love Masa’s music…I often play his music to my friends because I am very proud of how much he has achieved as a solo artist.

++ You did mention that The Love Mushrooms appeared on the Auto Guide’s First Triangle compilation. That was the only compilation appearance of the band?

Masa: I remember!
The Love Mushrooms appeared on The Birth Of The Untruth ‎(Cassette tape – Compilation) tt003 1992 from A Trumpet Trumpet Records, before releasing CD ep. Those recordings are from my 8 track recorder. There are 2 songs on it. Love Is Just A Game & Satisfy Me.

Love Is Just A Game is a cute song. There were 3 of us on vocals. (Masa, Wendy & Darelle) & Mark too (for a second).

Satisfy Me is more raw/lo-fi ish recording (can’t remember).


++ And did the band get any reaction by the press or radio?

Masa: The Love Mushrooms were played on College Radio Chart show (FM). Few fanzines were interested in The Love Mushrooms/Tricycle Popstar. Some record stores made beautiful pop up displays for us.

However, The Love Mushrooms is kind of a secret / recording project, we didn’t appear in public / we didn’t play live on stage (only once). So actually people didn’t recognize us as musicians.

Darelle: I remember we were mentioned on TV once – that was a big thrill for me.

Masa: Oh, yeah.

++ You played just one gig with The Love Mushrooms, supporting Nelories and Venus Peter at Meiji University Campus. How was that experience? How did you get the support slot? And how did you like Venus Peter and Nelories?

Masa: I remember KAMATA TETSUJI (Dr) from Budgie Jacket asked me to do the support slot at Meiji University Campus Music Festival… I like Venus Peter and Nelories, I have their CDs. However, we didn’t talk much at the backstage. We are not familiar with those scene.

KAMATA TETSUJI (Dr), HIROSHI KUDO (Bass), and I think another Guitar player Mr.KATO from my hometown were helping to play at the gig.

However, that gig was terrible. We didn’t have much time to rehearse.

Darelle: I think the gig was terrible because I really was so nervous and had never sung in front of an audience before (except in a choir at school). Wendy and I were nervous as hell! It was awful! But I remember it with fondness.

Wendy:  Oh yes, SO nervous and I was sick so my voice sounded worse than normal – I am not a singer at all, so I think that it was really hard for me to stand up and perform.

++ After that gig did you decide not to play more gigs? It wasn’t for you?

Masa: No. It wasn’t for me. I prefered just making music, not play music on stage.

Darelle: My daughter Isobel plays and sings in a two piece. I actually went to see a gig last night, She doesn’t show any sign of nerves! Wish I could have had her confidence when we played all those years ago.

Masa: What’s your daughter’s band called? DO they have Soundcloud or anything??

Darelle: They are called “Bert Shirt”. I don’t think the have anything up on Soundcloud at the moment, but they are working on it. They are a two piece – Isobel sings and plays keys. They have written some great originals and the also did a cover the other night – Alvvays, “Archie, Marry Me”. It is such a sweet song.

Wendy: I am certainly not a performer and don’t feel at all comfortable up onstage, so was thankful we didn’t do any more.

++ I do wonder why did you stop The Love Mushrooms?

Masa: On the later days of my Tokyo era, Darelle went back to Tasmania, and I was planning to go to Australia. It was busy time. I think that’s why we released cassettes only around that time. Because we could make copies by ourselves. If we made CD or 7”, we have to sell them and keep the stock with us.

Darelle: That year in Tokyo was one of my best! It was great to have such wonderful friends.

++ Wendy and Darelle were from Tasmania. I wonder, have you ever been there? How did you like it? Do you know any good indiepop music from there?

Masa: YES. Few times. Tasmania is beautiful place. We spend time at Wendy’s parents house on New years eve long time ago. And had Wendy’s dad’s homemade rhubarb wine there, was very very nice!!

Darelle: Yes! His rhubarb wine is the best! I live in Tasmania now. It has become a really vibrant, artsy place, especially since the advent of MONA [https://mona.net.au] – an amazing museum/gallery that many travel to come and see.

++ And did Hiroshi, Wendy and Darelle continue making music afterwards or not? Do you know what they are up to?

Masa: I’m not sure what Hiroshi is doing now….

Darelle: I went back to Japan for 2 years in the early 2000’s with my (then) husband and 2 little girls. It really is the most beautiful place. We lived in Melbourne for some time, but I have returned to Hobart. I sing everyday – to myself! I am so passionate about music and how it makes you feel. I can put on one of my favorite songs and instantly my mood lifts.
I am thrilled my daughter finds such pleasure in her band.
I am now a nurse and work with the elderly. We are about to implement a program which involves providing our residents with ipods filled with music that they love. I am so passionate about this because I know how much music can evoke emotions and memories.

Masa: Oh, that’s great job, Darelle!! You should get a big speaker for them to dance!!

Darelle: That’s a great idea! I love dancing myself – it really lifts my mood!

Wendy:  No, no more music for me but I love seeing live bands and Melbourne is the best city to do that. There are gigs all over the town every night. I have lived here for almost 20 years (since I left Tokyo) and love it. I’m looking forward to visiting Japan when I turn 50 in a couple of years.

++ Looking back, what would you say was your favourite Love Mushroom song you made and why?

Masa: My favourite Love Mushroom song is “You make me feel”, because that song had a great professional treatment and turned out really great!!

Darelle: I love that song too! Masa wrote a great melody.

Wendy:  I liked Satisfy Me as it was a bit ‘grungy’ but also You Make Me Feel. Masa is very clever!!

++ Thanks again, I’m going to do my best to track this single, it is amazing how much it sounds to many popular Swedish girl-fronted indiepop bands from the early 2000s, I’d say you were ahead of your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Masa: It was fun time for us too. Great memories.

Darelle: When I think back to that time I remember fun and being young! It really was great!

Wendy: I miss those days, but have great memories and even though we don’t see each other so much now, I believe we will always be friends and I am thankful for our time together there.


The Love Mushrooms – Satisfy Me