Isaac Rother and The Phantoms


GUITAR WOLF is a Japanese self described “Jet Rock N’ Roll” band that came out of Nagasaki in 1987. That was a full eleven years after Bob Seger decided he wanted to bring back that old time rock and roll.
Guitar Wolf recently played a showed in Phoenix, Arizona this year on July 7. That’s a full 39 years since that song by Bob Seger.

Everyone in my generation probably grew up with or has some kind of memories of whatever we think the idea of “Classic Rock” is. Bob Seger was probably thinking of Elvis and The Beatles when he wrote that particular song. Being that it came out in 1978 it had a particular way of actually affecting the next decade of rock music. He wrote that song at the end of the 70’s, and even if it wasn’t the first self-aware song about rock music being a particular novelty it was arguably the one that got the most radioplay.

That’s important because the it marks the cycle of pop-culture nostalgia beginning. The moment an artist can make a self-aware production about the medium they’re working in is usually a good sign that something has came and went from being recognized as something to want more of to something that people wanted to experience again. Out with the old in with the new but we always want the new to remind us of what we don’t have anymore. Rock music splintered in a thousand directions through the seventies, and then even more the decade afterwards but it never recaptured the feeling of that old time rock and roll.

Maybe there’s nothing more fondly remembered in the collective psychosis than the solid two decades of rock music that blanketed the airwaves and echoed through bars out of jukeboxes and record tables.

Nostalgia in pop culture grows out of a collective fondness for a particular era or thing, and there’s probably not something that’s more fondly remembered than the era of rock music that existed in the 70’s. (rewrite)
If you were to turn an eye to the 80’s and examine the movies that came out inspired by the previous era you’d be looking at films like Streets of Fire and Purple Rain which are two movies that treat rock like an absolute fantasy. Those movies and some contemporaries would go on to define filmmakers today that continuously revive rock music through the music they fill their movies with.

For me though, I’ve personally never thought that any of the things people feel about The Rock And Roll era ever really existed. Just like how the American Western fables grew out of dime novels and heroic cowboy movies, we remember Rock and Roll as a time of sweat, blood and personal perseverance. A time when the artist reigned supreme and the world vibed with an energy that music has never really since recreated.
Masculinity was at an all time high and even the most popular women of the era blended it into their own performances.

On July 7th, Guitar Wolf played The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix. Among being a highly energetic set, Guitar Wolf gave a performance that embraced the fantasy of a Rock and Roll that never really existed.
They followed Isaac Rother & The Phantoms a band that exists as a portal to an era of mutton chops and vinyl catsuits. What better in a show like the one on the seventh than a band that plays like it’s straight out of fiction than a band that sounds like a distorted version of swingin’ rock music?

Guitar Wolf did not come out on stage and talk to anyone. They came out and immediately started playing. The first notes came before they’d even finished telling everyone who they were. Maybe they were introducing us to the idea of Jet Rock N’ Roll, a type of music communicated just as much as it is in pure guitar energy as it is in feedback.

Guitar Wolf played a show from a Walter Hill movie. Maybe they play every show like that and I fucking hope so. There’s a point in the show where the band stopped playing and walked off stage, it’s just that point where everyone starts shouting for an encore. It played out exactly like you think it did: they came back out and played an entire additional set for us.

At one point in the show Seiji shouts into the microphone between songs. He wants us to sing along but nobody speaks Japanese in the audience. For a second the crowd goes quiet when the language barrier gets up. Even for the people that are hardcore Guitar Wolf fans that have looked up translations of every song – there’s a difference between hearing a song over a pair of headphones and hearing a song rise out of someone’s stomach and be shouted at an audience.

He didn’t lament so long that he didn’t go back to communicating through spit and rock and roll. We all did our best – so where were you that Friday night?