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Japanese ska-punkers Kemuri came together during the summer of 1995. Charismatic singer Fumio Ito planned to travel to the U.S. in October and decided to assemble a band and put together a demo, so that he could try to land a recording contract in the States while the group remained in Japan. Ito's friend Tsuda was the first to sign up on bass, followed by guitarist Yukihiko "T" Tanaka, trombonist Yuji Shimoda, and Shoji Hiraya on drums. Bringing a couple hundred copies of the demo with him on his Stateside trip, Ito made the rounds to all the record companies, and made several contacts with bands (such as Mustard Plug and Less Than Jake). Ito built up his frequent flyer miles by repeatedly jetting between the U.S. and Japan so Kemuri could record and write more tunes. Due to their hard work, Kemuri appeared on a total of three ska-punk compilations (Misfits of Ska II; Asian Man Records, Punk Goes Ska; Stiff Dog Records, and Screw Ball; Ramen Records), and shared a 7" single with Less Than Jake. In September of 1996, the group finally got their wish and were signed by Roadrunner Records. The whole band relocated to San Jose, California in January of 1997 for the recording of their debut album, Little Playmate. Produced by Robert Berry and Kemuri, the album was an energetic alternative ska affair, with the group embarking on their first extensive U.S. tour opening for Rocket from the Crypt. 77 Days followed in 1998 and Senka-Senrui was issued two years later. ~ Greg Prato


1995 in Japan

Years Active:

'90s, '00s