O!susume – TOTALFAT

Broadcast 14: TOTALFAT

My O! recommendation for May is TOTALFAT, a punk rock group that rose up in the 00\’s and never really left, spiritually speaking. I wouldn\’t call them the most versatile band out there – they kinda have one sound, but if you\’re like me and you really dig that sound, then good news, there\’s plenty more where it came from. So if you like loud, melodious punk rock with a surprisingly positive vibe, keep reading to get some good recommendations.

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Years Active: 2000 – Present (2022)

Core Members: Jose (vocals, rhythm guitar), Shun (backing vocals, bass), Bunta (drums), Kuboty (guitar, 2004-2019),

Point of Origin: Hachioji, Tokyo

So won\’t you

take my hand

there\’s a never-ending story in your eyes

I say, we go out before my heart stops beating

That\’s the chorus to \”WORLD OF GLORY\”, a collaboration between our subject band TOTALFAT and Inoue Joe, another of my longtime favorite artists. There\’s something about this song\’s upbeat vibe and earnest enthusiasm that has always brought the ring of the chorus back into my head, even when it\’s been years since I\’ve listened to the song proper. It\’s kind of funny how bands occasionally become their best when they\’re paired with someone else that really complements their style (a couple groups like SEAMO and Granrodeo, imho, are consistently best listened to as collab projects.) TOTALFAT is fantastic in collabs, but they still pump out enough catchy hooks and punk-rock anthems to make it worthwhile for me to wade through their 20-year discography.

According to a large portion of sources on the net, the band formed in 1999, though their official site claims it as one year later in 2000. The group (Jose, Shun, Bunta and then-guitarist Toshi) started out as a cover band, primarily devoted to American punk rock band NOFX and their contemporaries. The group managed to release their first album End of Introduction in 2003 with Catch All Records, with sales totalling around 3,500 copies. Their guitarist Toshi didn\’t last to see the debut, however, being replaced by Yasushi as lead guitar until 2005, when he was in turn replaced by Kuboty, the longest-running member in the position.

There\’s not a whole lot of details about the band\’s history available online, outside of untranslated interviews buried in the years past. The band got big enough to be recognized in the mainstream, with their single \”Place to Try\” being featured as the 19th ED for Naruto Shippuden. They also maintained a steady output of music over a sizable length of time, with 10 studio album releases from 2003 to 2020, along with a handful of mini albums, singles and the compilation album The Best Fat Collection.

The lead guitarist Kuboty left the band in 2019, and has not been replaced since, with the remaining three members stating that they had no intention of finding another permanent guitarist.

As if their band shirts in the photo above weren\’t an obvious enough statement, their overseas influences gush out of every note and decibel. Their unadulterated love of skate punk aesthetic and 150% energy they throw into their songs naturally corrodes the feeling of tryhard cringe that might try to coalesce on this kind of band. Their songs are what I might call \”aggressively positive,\” in a way that feels like they\’re trying to shout down all the terrible things in life and blast away your despair like a power washer to your soul. They\’ve got a serious \”Don\’t believe in yourself, believe in the me that believes in you!\” Gurren Lagann vibe to them, and sometimes the only way to fight against the insidious logic of negativity is with nonsensical self-assurance.

On their own website they describe themselves as \”yo-kya\” (陽キャ), a term for active, positive people with bright personalities. They say that they play \”powerful and positive songs that bring all listeners together.\” I feel like I\’ve written \”positive\” too many times in this article, but it really is the most accurate summation of their spirit (and perhaps an acknowledgement that they don\’t do too much outside of that well-tread zone.) But for me at least, there\’s few other bands better to turn to when you\’re in a funk and need some lads to yell in your ears about how great you are and how you\’re gonna get up and kick life in the face again.

Here\’s everything you need to know about TOTALFAT, condensed into a single MV. It\’s a great taste of what the band does best, released on their 2009 album For Whom the Rock Rolls. It\’s straightforward, fast-paced and despite the desaturated, desolate backdrop of a hollowed-out factory (which also seems to be missing its roof, given the downpour the band has to endure,) the boys can\’t keep up a grim pretense. They\’re just too goofy and full of joy to not mess around by the end, and that energy is what makes their music feel genuine.

This one\’s a bit of an extended MV, but I wanted to include it because of its subject matter. The band\’s trademark encouraging lyrics play over a montage of skateboarders, which feels like a shout out to their inspirations of American skate-punk music. Between the nostalgic travelogue style of the MV and nearly all-English lyrics, I could easily mistake this for an Inoue Joe song if I didn\’t know better. I do wish he had collabed more with the band, I think they\’re a natural fit for each other, musically and personality-wise.

My third recommendation is 晴天 (seiten; \”Clear Skies\”) as one of their more recent works. This song was produced a couple years before Kuboty left the band, but I think it\’s a good example of how despite their slightly limited genre focus, their musical style hasn\’t dulled at all. The MV is sharp, colorful and flows cleanly right along with the song, which itself seems like a lesson the boys want to impart onto their listeners: no matter the sorrows and stress that slow you down in life, there\’s no such thing as an endless rain (\”yamanai ame wa nai\”), and if you can imagine yourself as the sun, what need will you even have for an umbrella?

And finally, a little treat, for me mostly, but hopefully for some of you as well. One of the things that really turned me on to the WORLD OF GLORY song, whose chorus I lead in the article with, was the official music video I watched back in the day. Through a cruel twist of fate, all copies of it were scrubbed from Youtube years ago, and I resigned myself to just replaying it in my head forevermore. However, as I was doing research for this article, the desire to see the MV rose within me once again, and I decided to scour the internet one more time. And lo – buried several pages deep in Google results, on a Russian video sharing service, sporting only 24 views at the time (several more now once I found it,) at last, my beloved MV! Sadly I couldn\’t find any higher fidelity than a potato-worthy 360p, but I wanted to share it with whoever\’s curious. It\’s basically just the TOTALFAT boys and Joe messing with each other in a silly prank war that at one point puts the whole band\’s naked butts on display, so I\’d say win-win for everyone.

Artist Site: http://totalfat.net/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TOTALFAT/

SOURCES:

https://youtube.fandom.com/wiki/TOTALFAT_Channel

https://www.discogs.com/artist/2736082-TOTALFAT

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalfat

Broadcast written by: Nagi