Tokyo Sex Wale, Retrospectively
When the idea of making all of the old Tokyo Sex Wale recordings available online was being discussed, my friend Pat Alexander (of 90s HK bands Star Whores, That Guy's Belly, The Green Partner) emailed:
"When is the TSW reunion tour and can I make the rockumentary? First we fly to Tazzy to extricate Jamie from his farm, then San Fran to free Pranjal from the vegan metal cult that is holding him hostage, then we get Mark Hoppus to get you a slot on the Warped Tour, via Mark's restaurant, and Warrick can do the SWOT analysis. First show at the Warehouse!"
It's an amusing idea, a TSW reunion show, though probably unfeasible. Not only have we likely all forgotten how to play most of these songs, but some of us haven't played an instrument in a long time, and I doubt any of us could competently play this fast anymore. I'm convinced there's a correlation between quick tempos and youthful energy, and those days are long gone for us. TSW was teenage music in every way - fast, energetic, raw, super emo!
Pat's email made me laugh because it speaks to how different we are, the four of us who were in TSW. At the time, maybe we didn't know it, beyond choosing different instruments and knowing we were individuals. But when you play out 15 plus years in four lives, like sources of data on a graph of geography, careers and life choices, you can see how little directional hints widen from a common point to distinct paths. Now Pranjal's in California, Jamie's in Australia, Mark and I are in London, but we once had this shared identity that people still remember kindly. I loved playing music with Pranjal, Jamie and Mark, and I'm happy that, together, we form a small part of a small group of people's shared adolescence.
TSW were together for around three years from 1995-1998, which at the time felt like a very long time and which in retrospect doesn't seem like long at all. Three years, though, is a decent length of time for a group of people with complimentary skills and personalities to become a good team. We all liked different music, though our immediate influences were generally confined to the bands I copied when writing songs! It would be hard for me to argue, with a straight face, that there was a TSW 'sound', but you could draw a straight line through the various genres that many of us progressed through between '95 and '98 to get a sense of the ground we covered - grunge and alternative rock, pop-punk and skate punk, emo and hardcore. Around 1997 I sent a demo to Fat Records, and eventually got a letter from them saying that we scored 3 out of 5 on their demo-rating scale with the comment 'you're okay, but you're not that good either'!
TSW came to a natural end, when Pranjal and Jamie went to the US and Australia respectively after we all finished 6th form at South Island School. We ended on a high - a better band at the end than when we began. That said, I'm fond, in a strange way, of bits and pieces from our output across those three short years. There are a lot of songs here, and if I were to pick five highlights they would be:
Big Fat Nuthin
The Heart Against The Mind
Finally, Arthur deserves a lot of credit for this. It was his idea and his hard work that made it happen. I hugely admire his dedication to supporting the music that he loves, and for helping this tiny piece of history get digitised for posterity. Thank you, Arthur!
London, June 2014
For many an angsty teen in Hong Kong who came of age in the 1990s, Tokyo Sex Wale's importance wasn't just limited to the fast, fun and at times poignant and hopelessly romantic Punk Rock which evolved to catch the emo and indie rock sounds that crept in the latter part of the decade.
Those who enjoyed the shows and recordings, even when discovered years after, through the band's very existence realised that Punk Rock and the Do-It-Yourself attitude weren't confined to western culture to be enjoyed from afar. Being young and chemically imbalanced with a hankering for a raw, rough, yet passionate soundtrack was something any young'un anywhere in the world could relate to and be a part of - you just had to work a little harder to immerse yourself in it!
Tokyo Sex Wale, or TSW as they were referred to, were loved, respected and still are fondly remembered by many. This could be seen through the bands, shows, cassette and cdr releases and fanzines that sprang up around the time and shortly after their existence. But throughout three short years TSW *did* DIY like few others. Jumping fences to play shows in grass fields, appearing on local and international compilations and bookending their recorded output, appropriately enough, with self-made cassette releases.
In recent years it's surprising how many people not only remember, but are still passionate about this band of four high school boys playing Punk Rock. But scraping at the warped tapes, yellowing fanzines and old flyers for shows at the Warehouse in Aberdeen, those days seemed destined to fall by the wayside simply because they were from a time that pre-dated being able to document the sights and sounds around you and share them with your entire circle of friends instantly.
The members of Tokyo Sex Wale have teamed up with Artefracture to assemble an extensive package of all 90-plus minutes of the band's recordings along with flyers, press clippings and pictures which not only showcases truly underground and independent music that could have only existed in that time, but puts it into the context of the truly special years when the songs were created.
Hong Kong, June 2014
released June 21, 2014
Tracks 1-11 from the 'Attack of the Idiot Children' split cassette with Star Whores recorded at Volume studios.
(1996) Tracks 12-13 from the 'Hong Kong... Punk Wonders Never Cease!' compilation cd (1997)
Tracks 14-17 from the 'Ten Days Before The Handover' split cd with That Guy's Belly (1997) Recorded at OK Studio
Tracks 18-27 from 'The Agony of Degradation' cassette (1998) Recorded at the Warehouse and Pat's house
Track 28 from the 'Be Original' compilation cd (1998) recorded at Warehouse
Artwork by Ali Reid www.turtle-media.com
Special thanks to Joe Buckner
all rights reserved