人間椅子 (Ningen-Isu), circa 2016.
|Genres||Doom Metal, Hard Rock, Progressive Rock|
|Years active||1987 - present|
|Labels||Bandstock, Tri-M, Meldac, Freiheit, Pony Canyon, Trycle, Tokuma Japan Communications|
|Current members|| Shinji Wakima|
人間椅子 (Ningen-Isu, which translates to "The Human Chair") are a hard rock/doom metal band from Aomori, Japan. Active since 1987 and known for their productive releases, they have twenty full-length albums released as of 2017. their lyrics are themed largely around literature, dark horror, history, eroticism, humor and buddhism. The name of the band itself is taken from the title of one of Ranpo Edogawa's short stories, The Human Chair specifically written in 1924.
They often write about Japanese classical literature, for example, Osamu Dazai, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Jun-ichiro Tanizaki, and so on. They often take up topics such as hell, Buddhism, the universe, and gambling. Wajima and Suzuki have a local accent called "Tsugaru dialect", which adds a unique atmosphere to their songs. They always wear Kimono and "Fundoshi" on stage; Wajima looks like an literary master of Meiji era, Suzuki paints his face white and looks like a Buddhist monk. He wears "Fundoshi", old Japanese underwear under the Kimono. While Nakajima wears Koikuchi shirt and sunglasses and looks like a Japanese gangster. In the band's early days, Suzuki often wore cloths like Nezumi-otoko, a rat man (a character of "Ge-Ge-Ge no Kitaro" by Shigeru Mizuki). Wajima "wanted our name to be weird and evil like Black Sabbath or some meaningful name in Japanese. The Christian religion is not so prevalent in Japan as Western people think. We Japanese don’t understand a concept of the conflict between God and Satan very well. Even if we took our band name which evoked Satan in Japanese, we thought we couldn’t make any impact to Japanese listeners. I though it was very cool to take our band from the title of literary works like “Flowers of Evil” by Mountain. “Ningen-Isu” could evoke suggestive and psychotic images, like an imperfect human being or on the way to human being, etc. I shout with Mr. Suzuki “This is it!”."
Despite a nearly 30-year career and slowly building an audience abroad the band has never performed outside of their native Japan.
Formation and Early Albums (1987 - 1992)Edit
Ningen-Isu formed sometime in 1987, founded by the trio of Wajima, Suzuki and Kamidate. Very little is known of the earliest years of the bands except for their earliest performances dating back to the fall of 1989 and their debut EP released in connection with the band's appearance on a TBS TV special, labeled as "strange" based on their appearance.
In an interview With Invisible Oranges, Wakima explains the origins of the band:
|“||“Suzuki and I have been friends since we were junior high school students. There were very few people who listened to rock music of US and UK in Aomori Pref. where we lived. Though we went to a different junior high school, we came to know each other because we listened to almost same kind of rock music of UK and US. We went to same high school and we got a band together. The band was origin of Ningen-Isu. Then we kicked our band into gear when we were college students. At that time, we copied so many songs of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and so on. We thought we wanted to make original songs which were like that kind of British hard rock bands. But I couldn’t write the lyrics in English as intended. I thought we couldn’t surpass the British hard rock bands if we only followed their concepts. So we decided the band’s concept was to write the lyrics in Japanese and make the band name in Japanese. Ningen-Isu was formed at that time.”||”|
— Shinji Wakima, Invisible Oranges
The next year the band would sign to Tri-M Records and release their first album Ningen Shikkaku (No Longer Human) on 21 July 1990, followed by a live house tour of Japan through the summer. Signing to Meldac for their second album, Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita followed the next year on 13 March 1991, with a 25+ date tour of Japan following through the year. Ougon No Yoake followed on 21 June 1992 with Noroyoshi Kamidate departing from the band the same year.
Rashoumon and the 1990s (1993 - 1999)Edit
Now signed to Meldac with new drummer Masuhiro Goto behind the seat, the band kept the wheels rolling with Rashoumon on 21 October 1993 (With a single for "More Light!" and a tour of Japan to promote it) to positive reviews, even with the musical world around them changing. Odoru Issunboushi (10 December 1995 on Feriheit) and Mugen no Juunin (20 September 1996 on Pony Canyon) would be the next two albums, both of which being the only records to feature Iawo Tsuchiya on drums before Goto would return to the band though the tour dates would be more infrequent at the time.
Having re-signed to Meldac the band would create three albums in a course of three years in one of their strongest creative periods (Taihai Geijutsu Ten in 1998, Nijusseiki Sousoukyoku in 1999 and Kaijin Nijuu Mensou in 2000.). The band would tour more frequently in these years, celebrating a tenth anniversary tour in 1999.
Kaijin Nijuu Mensou and the early 2000s (2000 - 2005)Edit
Mishiranu Sekai, the band's tenth studio full-length, saw it's release via Meldac on 21 September 2001. A split live video dedicated to Japanese culture saw release the same day with Gargoyle (A progressive thrash band), Onmyo-za (A Folk Metal band in the style of feudal Japan) and Gonin-Ish (A literary progressive metal band). 2003 would see their eleventh studio album Shura Bayashi, released on 22 January followed by a short tour and string of shows throughout the year. Masuhiro Goto's last performance with the band would be on 14 December 2003 at the Shibuya O-West in Tokyo.
The band would be undeterred by the lineup change, quickly finding new drummer Nobu Nakajima, whose wild drumming complimented the band's hard rock/progressive rock style. The band would quickly take to the studio and release San Aku Douchuu Hizakurige on 29 September 2004, with the band's first show under this current lineup being on 25 August 2004 in Nagoya. The band would follow with a short tour that next February and at some point that year would sign to Tokuma Japan Communications.
Fu-Chi-Ku, signing to Tokuma Japan and resurgence in popularity (2006 - 2013)Edit
Ningen-Isu's next studio album came in the form of Fu-Chi-Ku ("Hoochie Koo"), released on 22 February 2006 and showcasing speed, progressive, doom and heavy metal with all three members sharing literary vocal duties, a short tour following. Thanks to the internet, the band also started to slowly build a following of fans beyond their native Japan as well. Two live DVDs saw release the same day as Fu-Chi-Ku. Manatsu Yoru No Yume followed the next year on 8 August 2007 and Mirai Romanha followed on 4 November 2009 in time for a 20th Anniversary tour.
2010 saw a string of shows and the band's first live CD and DVD set in Shippuu Dotou: Ningen-Isu Live! Live!! on 1 December 2010. Shigan Raisan would follow on 3 August 2011 and Mandoro on 7 August 2013, putting the band up to seventeen studio albums at this point. The band played out more frequently in support of these records, notably the memorial show for Munetaka Higuchi (Loudness) who passed away in 2008.
Burai Houjou and recent activities (2014 - Present)Edit
In 2014 Ningen-Isu would celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band, starting the year with a mini-tour and leading into their eighteenth album Burai Houjou, released on 25 June 2014 on Tokuma Japan. A 25th anniversary tour followed with career-spanning sets alongside this charging new material. A new "best-of" compilation followed on 3 December entitled Utsushi wa Yume ~ Nijuu Shuunen Kinen Best Album, featuring songs up to Burai Houjou and four brand new songs to close out the two-disc set.
The band would continue their 25th Anniversary tour into the next year with a live DVD documenting said tour following in July. The band also composed a song for the hit anime "Ninja Slayer" (Doro no Ame) and released a collaborative single with Japanese hard rockers 筋肉少女帯 (Kinniku Shōjo Tai, translating to "Muscle Girl Zone") in the form of Jigoku Aloha ("Aloha Hell"). The band closed out the year performing at OzzFest Japan, sharing the stage with Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society, Babymetal and Hatebreed among others. Two more studio albums have followed to critical praise in recent years: Kaidan Soshite Shi to Erosu on 3 February 2016 and Ijigen no Houkou on 4 October 2017 with Japan tours to support both albums.
- Shinji Wajima - Guitar, Vocals (1987 - Present)
- Kenichi Suzuki - Bass, Vocals (1987 - present)
- Nobu Nakajima - Drums, Vocals (2004 - Present)
- Noriyoshi Kamidate - Drums (1987 - 1992)
- Masuhiro Goto - Drums (1993 - 1995, 1996 - 2003)
- Iwao Tsuchiya - Drums (1995 - 1996)
- Ningen Shikkaku (1990, taken from the novel "No Longer Human" by Osamu Dazai.)
- Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita (1991, taken from the novel by Ango Sakaguchi. Translation: Below the Full Bloom Cherry Blossom Forest)
- Ougon no Yoake (1992, translates to "The Golden Dawn")
- Rashoumon (1993, taken from the novel "Rashoumon" by Ryuunosuke Akutagawa.)
- Odoru Issunboushi (1995, taken from the novel "Odoru Issunboushi" (lit. "a dancing pygmy") by Rampo Edogawa.)
- Mugen no Juunin (1996, taken from the comic "Mugen no Juunin" (lit. "a dweller of eternity") by Hiroaki Samura.)
- Taihai Geijutsu Ten (1998, translates to "degenerate art exhibition".)
- Nijusseiki Sousoukyoku (1999, translates to "funeral march for the 20th century".)
- Kaijin Nijuu Mensou (2000, taken from the novel "Kaijin Nijuu Mensou" (lit. "mystery man with 20 masks") by Rampo Edogawa.)
- Mishiranu Sekai (2001, translates to "An Unknown World")
- Shura Bayashi (2003, which means a kind of traditional Japanese music for "Shura" (a word from Buddhism)
- San Aku Douchuu Hizakurige (2004, the name is taken from a concept of Buddhism. The title is also a parody of the novel "Tokai Douchuu Hiza-kurige" by Ikku Jippensha.)
- Fu-Chi-Ku (2006, translates to "Hoochie-Coochie")
- Manatsu no Yo no Yume (2007, translates to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare.)
- Mirai Roman-Ha (2009, translates to "A Future Romantic School".)
- Shigan Raisan (2011, translates to "The Worship of This World".)
- Mandoro (2013, translates to "Full Moon")
- Burai Houjou (2014, translates to "Freedom and Luxuriance")
- Kaidan Soshite Shi to Erosu (2016, translates to "Ghost Stories: Death and Eroticism".)
- Ijigen no Houkou (2017, translates to "Roar From Another Dimension")
Live Albums / VideosEdit
- 遺言状放送 (Video) (1991)
- 怪人二十面相 (Video) (2000)
- 涅槃神楽 (和風鋼鉄音楽活動絵草紙集) (Split Video with Gargoyle, 五人一首 and 陰陽座 (2001)
- 見知らぬ世界 (Video) (2002)
- 見知らぬ世界 (DVD) (2006)
- 遺言状放送 (DVD) (2006)
- 疾風怒濤 〜人間椅子ライブ! ライブ!! ("Sturm Und Drang: Ningen-Isu Live! Live!!) (2010)
- 苦しみも喜びも夢なればこそ「現世は夢～バンド生活二十五年～」渋谷公会堂公演 (DVD) (2015)
- 威風堂々～人間椅子ライブ!! (2017)
- 押絵と旅する男 (Oshie to Tabi Suru Otoko, "The Traveler with the Pasted Rag Picture") (2002)
- 人間椅子傑作選～二十周年記念ベスト盤～ ("The Best of Ningen-Isu: 20th Anniversary Celebration Best-Of Album") (2009)
- 人間椅子傑作選～二十周年記念ベスト盤～ (The Present World is a Dream ~25th Anniversary Commemoration Best-Of Album") (2014)
Singles / Other ReleasesEdit
- Ningen Isu (EP) (1989, taken from the novel "The Human Chair" by Rampo Edogawa.)
- Official Blog
- RocketNews Article
- Rocketnews Article
- Japan Times Article
- Japan Times Article
- Invisible Oranges Interview
- The Metal Observer Interview
- Doom-metal.com Interview