Thee Michelle Gun Elephant is a band name you often encounter if you surf Engrish websites, along with the Goddamn Motherfuck Shitass Bitches, Sound Masturbation, Bathtub Shitters, and Flying Testicle. From what I can tell, based on the lack of information on the other bands, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant (TMGE for short) is probably the most successful of these Japanese noise bands.
The group is a foursome of Yusuke Chiba (vocals) and Futoshi Abe (guitar), Koji Ueno (bass) and Kazuyuki Kuhara (drums), who met while attending Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo. The group debuted in 1991 in roof top concert in Shimokitazawa. The Engrish name comes from the combination of the mispronunciation of Machine Gun Etiquette (The Damned's 1979 album), and Billy Childish's band Thee Headcoats. TMGE also list The Who, Dr. Feelgood and The Kinks among their influences.
After playing club dates and going on mini tours in Japan, TMGE released their first album cult grass stars on March 1, 1996. cult grass stars was followed by High Time in November of that year. After touring for most of 1997, including four dates in London, TMGE released their third album Chicken Zombies on November 1, 1997. You may have seen the billboard for this album on an Engrish site, with each band member wearing a football helmet, spelling out the word FUCK. 1998 was highlighted by the "World Chicken Zombies Tour in the U.K." and the release of their forth album GEAR BLUES (which reportedly sold 450,000 copies) in November. TMGE toured for during 1999, making their US debut during the international leg of their "WORLD GEAR BLUES TOUR" which took them to 17 club throughout the US. TMGE released their fifth album CASANOVA SNAKE in early 2000, and after more touring released both a live album and a greatest hits album. 2001 saw the group do more touring and the release of their sixth album RODEO TANDEM BEAT SPECTER. After a quiet 2002, where TMGE signed with Universal Music Japan, TMGE looks to return with their seventh album SABRINA NO HEAVEN in June 2003.
In the interest of full disclosure
, I am not really a fan of TMGE. I just picked up their single "taiou wo tsukannde shimatta" (I Have Grabbed the Sun) while I was in Japan after I remembered their name from Engrish
sites. To give you an idea of TMGE's music, I'll describe their song "Valentine" (written in katakana
). In the background you hear heavy guitar, while you hear Chiba repeat "Valentine, Valentine I love you baby Valentine... (moaning) Fucking sweet". Although there is some Japanese lyrics, the majority of the song is either loud instrumental or the above line repeated in weirdly pronounced English. That might not do the group justice, but it should give you an idea of what kind of music they play.