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Polysics

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Biography

A violently energetic amalgam of fractured punk rock and vintage video game sound effects, Polysics gained recognition quickly due to their spastic live shows and trademark uniforms: matching orange or yellow boiler suits, straight-bar sunglasses, and badges stamped with the letter P. The band was formed in 1997 by Japanese high-school student Hiroyuki Hayashi, who named the group after his first keyboard, a Korg Polysix. After watching some live footage of Devo and becoming heavily inspired by new wave music of the West, the fledgling frontman/guitarist decided to quit his soccer team and form a band that would expand on the cartoonish image and musical ideas of the zany art-punk icons he had seen on TV. He linked up with drummer Junichi Sugai and Sako (aka Poly 2), who took the role of singing vocoded robotic vocals and driving the low-end through a bass synthesizer. The antithesis of spastic performers, Kayo, also joined the band, and her stoic, mechanical stage presence on the synthesizer and vocoder combined with the other members' frenetic live antics made for an strangely lopsided but exciting stage dynamic.

While leaving their mark on the blossoming J-rock scene, Polysics were picked up by local indie label Deckrec and U.K. label Project, which released their first record, 1st P. Poly 2 left Polysics soon after, and a more rockin', less synth-oriented record followed that October, titled A.D.S.R.M! While the trio made plans to embark on a national tour, Asian Man Records released the group's U.S. debut, Hey! Bob! My Friend!, a compilation of songs from their first two Japanese albums. In April of 2000, just after performing in Austin's South by Southwest festival, Polysics signed to Ki/oon Records (a subsidiary of Sony Music Japan) and released two maxi-singles, XCT and Each Life Each End. That summer, after a series of club dates, the group released the wonderfully frantic Neu in September of 2000. For an extensive tour of Japan, the group enlisted bassist Fumi and the new lineup recorded and released Eno that July. The band began generating a buzz overseas due to the inclusion of Polysics on a series of Japan for Sale compilations that showcased the talents of notable Japanese musicians, and relentless touring and recording ensued before they finished the melodic For Young Electric Pop in April of 2002.

The next year, Sugai departed and was temporarily replaced by Ishimaru (drummer for the punk group Snail Ramp) just before Polysics left for a coast-to-coast tour of the States, where Neu had just been released. In what was proving to be a grand year for the band, Polysics started receiving worldwide recognition during 2003, and after a performance of "Kaja Kaja Goo" on the BBC2 TV show Adam & Joe Go Tokyo, Kaiser Chiefs' frontman Ricky Wilson took notice and invited the members to open up for his band on a future U.K. tour. In 2004, a greatest-hits album, Polysics or Die!!!!, was released on Tofu Records, followed by their most accessible studio album, Now Is the Time!, in 2005. Yano replaced Sugai on the drum stool and Polysics returned to the tour bus for their largest tour, with 96 shows in six countries, in support of the Chiefs.

Fueled by an unstoppable work ethic, the group returned to the studio to record the Japan-only release Karate House on Ki/oon in February of 2007, and put out a series of videos for the singles "Electric Surfin' Go Go," "You-You-You," and "Catch on Everywhere." That spring, after Polysics signed a territorial license deal to MySpace Records, the up-and-coming U.S. label started making plans to re-release Polysics or Die!!!! in the States, with the inclusion of the latest singles from Karate House and a bonus DVD of videos and live cuts. The comprehensive Polysics or Die!!!! Vista was released on October 9, 2007, marking their ten-year anniversary. We Ate the Machine and Absolute Polysics followed on MySpace, before Weeeeeeeeee!!! was released on JPU in 2013.