The 5678s were formed in Tokyo by sisters Sachiko (drums) and Yoshiko “Ronnie” Fujiyama (guitar), and have played their own brand of rockabilly-garage-surf since 1986.
Joined by a loose but regular, rotating line-up, the band are still very active and continue to release records and embark on worldwide tours.
Legend has it that they invented their name by using the first numbers of the decades by which they were most influenced; 50s, 60’s 70’s 80s. Their songs, with twanging guitar and thundering drums, serve as a to soundtrack their joint love of beehives, rock and roll and tattoos.
“We wanted to deconstruct that Chuck Berry-style rock’n’roll into punk music by using noise and distortion and screaming,” says Fujiyama. “We’re also inspired by girl groups such as the Ronettes and the Shangri-La’s, and wanted to incorporate elements of that into our music.”
Looking like the Ronettes while also citing the Ramones as an influence, it’s almost like they were custom made … for say a role in a Tarrantino film …
Funny you should mention that. In 2002, as Quentin himself was doing some last minute clothes shopping in Tokyo, he chanced upon a boutique who’s was playing a 5678s CD via the shop music system. Without any time to go record shopping himself, he offered to buy the shop copy, but the assistant, a devoted 5678s fan stubbornly refused until the manager was called. Negotiations ensued and a price of double the going rate was finally agreed.
Subsequently, Tarrantino invited the band to perform three songs for ‘Kill Bill – Vol 1’, and even made an appearance as the house band at ‘The House of Blue Leaves’.
Their most well known, and most commercially successful track is a cover of “Woo Hoo” originally by another obscure American 1950s band, the Rock-a-Teens. Their version not only featured in ‘Kill Bill’ but was used extensively during an advertising campaign by Carling lager.
The 5678s turn classic Americana into an oddly jarring, and slightly more exotic version of itself. They’re a band who pay no heed to advances in technology, and continue to play live using vintage equipment. Yoshkio famously still uses her original Teisco guitar, and the band frequently use handclaps as extra lo-fi percussion.
Their influences, who they cite as ranging from early punk rock like the New York Dolls, to surf, to garage and rockabilly, seem to have several things in common; they are all Amercian, all men and all from a different era. So what do these, now middle aged, Japanese women think they’re doing?
Lets put ourselves in the shoes of 5678s. With the same enthusiasm and primal energy that drove early rock and roll, and a side of punk rock attitude, the Fujiyama sisters just seem to be doing what they love. They’re like a living breathing, imported record collection.
They evidently love the sounds and look of that era; the pure twang of surf guitar, the unashamed instrumentals, the fast paced beats of early rockabilly. Albeit from afar, maybe they’re just doing what their shared love of vintage records has inspired and taught them to do.
The 5678s, not so much lost in translation, more lost in music.