It’s a seasonally warm spring evening in
David Best and Steve Lewis formed the group in the late 1990s in Brighton, England. In 2003, they recorded their debut, the periphery Electric Karaoke in the Negative. They added two more members for touring purposes but after a lineup change, they settled on the current trio (soon to be quartet) and released last year’s excellent received Transparent Things. Since then, the threesome experience slight rumbles and fissures in the indie world with catchy tunes “Collarbone” about, well, breaking a collarbone, and “Photocopier,” discussing the mundanity of work featuring droning and repetitive beats. Vocalist and guitarist David Best, bassist Matt Hainsby, and keyboardist Steve Lewis literally sat down (on church steps) to discuss horrible day jobs, being in a well behaved band, and how they did indeed name themselves after The Karate Kid’s sagacious Mr. Miyagi (R.I.P).
“The response has been quite positive everywhere,” begins
Best. “Either that or the people who don’t really like us are at the bar.
People who are watching really seem to enjoy it.” The band’s music isn’t
exactly dance music, but one can and does dance to it. Influenced by Krautrock
greats Can and Kraftwerk, their music also delves into the soul and funk of
Motown and Sly and the Family Stone. Their influences go as far as Aphex Twins,
The group has a very ethnic moniker, but before they started playing out a lot, audiences were probably demystified to find out they were indeed English and not just a duo. “They thought were going to get Japanese band, three Japanese girls, but then were disappointed. They should’ve done their homework,” Best jokes.
Between the release of Fujiya & Miyagi’s first record and their latest a lot transpired for them. “We started playing live more which changed the sound a lot,” comments Best. “Things got a lot faster. The beats got more dancey. We’d like to write electronic music. It wasn’t a verse chorus verse chorus pop thing, it was let’s see what happens. Now we’re more song based. We still have that. Repetition.”
Since February, the guys have been able to go full-time as a band forgoing the proverbial day jobs of everything in the spectrum including a stint at the post office. The dream has become a reality and it’s paid off so far. “A lot of people probably want to get in a band from a young age,” says Lewis. “But when you say it to your mom and dad, they laugh at you, ‘yeah right.’ It’s quite nice to say ‘I told you so.’”
Fujiya & Miyagi is under pressure to follow up Transparent Things with a new album. They’ve recorded a couple of tracks and just announced two new singles coming out this summer: “One Trick Pony” and “Uh.” “My expectations are, my only one, is for the new record to be really good, the best we can do,” confides Best. “If you do that, everything else falls into place. If it’s not a great one, well, back to the office.” The new record should retain a lot of what made Transparent Things so effective and memorable. “There’s going to be more dynamic. Light shows. Lasers on the album and cds. 20 minute guitar solos. We’re progressing. We’re getting worse,” the guys joke.
In their live shows, Best performs on his tip toes and all
three contribute vocals. On the album, the multiple vocals don’t bleed through
as much. “We’re a quite lucky band,” laughs Hainsby. “Nothing bad happens to us
but nothing exciting either. We’re either really lucky or really dull.” Best,
Hainsby, and Lewis want to play well and continue to make people dance.