Interview with Peelander Yellow of Peelander-Z
by Greg Allard
Peelander-Z is a punk rock band from Japan who now reside in Brooklyn. Although some say they were born in Japan (others say their origins are even more remote), they all met in Brooklyn where they started what they call a “Japanese Action Comic Punk band.” They are currently touring on the strength of their ninth album, “Metalander Z,” which is their first venture into heavy metal. Recently in the band’s history, Peelander Yellow (aka Kengo Hioki) has taken over the front man duties of the band after Peelander Red went back to the Peelander Planet to become a teacher at Ninja High School there. I got a chance to talk to Peelander yellow over the phone the other day about his band’s origins and history, the new album, and their coming to play along with We the Invader / Partials / Slugage / Gregg Cee Bday Bash at the High Dive in Gainesville, Fla. tonight.
Can you tell us why the new album, Metalander Z, has a new sound for you, namely ‘80s metal? You guys were doing a lot of punk before.
The last album was a spacey kind of an album. We used electronic drums. The one before that we did one for kids. So, every time we want to change [genre]. And this time we did metal because my hair is longer now and we wanted to do something crazy. I think the next one may be country… may be hip hop, maybe blues. But this time, hair—heavy metal time, that’s what we choose—because my favorite is Night Ranger, baby.
Excellent. Do you think your longer hair gives you special heavy metal powers?
Yes—you will see the big huge guitar—yellow guitar—we call it “flying the P”—it look like a “P”—so that is how I give our power to you. That’s the beginning of the show, so don’t miss our big, huge “flying the “P” guitar.
Could I ask you something about your origins? You guys are from Brooklyn, via Japan and before that The Peelander Planet. When did you move from the Peelander Planet?
(Laughs) We come here every three minutes and we go back to Peelander every three minutes. Actually, we are living in New York a long time—over ten years. To save, make everybody happy. We are not human being. We eat smiles. So, that’s why we have to make you smile. Our project is make you happy, and then I gonna eat you smile. That’s our project for like over ten years.
So, you make us smile and then you eat them.
Yes! Because we are hungry. Make you smile and we gonna eat. You happy—you are gonna take our energy and you become happy.
Do you do it just for pleasure or do you need the smiles to survive?
Then we have to put your smile in our “smile bank” and we have to send to our planet.
That’s an interesting arrangement. Now, just one more question about your planet. I understand that you don’t really have costumes but that’s your real skin.
(Laughter) What is the average lifespan on the planet Peelander?
Oh, people never die on Peelander. They are not human beings. Look like human beings but they are amoebas. (Whistles)
That’s very good. (Laughs) Now, how did you become the frontman for the group? Because you’re the lead vocalist?
I mean usually Red is kind of leader—like on Power Ranger—Red is always the leader. He went home back to Peelander. He is Ninja High School teacher right now. So, now I am kind of a leader because everyone need pineapple, everyone need banana, and everyone need mustard—all yellow food—that’s why I am the leader of Peelander- Z.
Yes, I agree. Yellow food is very important. That makes perfect sense. And some people like mustard more than ketchup, so it’s a good change. Now, I’ve been listening to your new record. It came in the mail today and..
You like it?
Yes, I like it a lot. You guys got the hair metal sound down. How long did it take to get that sound down?
I don’t only like one music. I want to learn all different type of music. That’s one reason to make a new style. So maybe next one is something new, maybe French pop. So, I want to make a new style and I want to learn. Maybe some of the new kids doesn’t know the heavy metal, so maybe people learn from us this new style. You know the heavy metal but I want to introduce– heavy metal is FUN, COOL, SEXY, everything. So, I want to give it o everybody.
I heard that one time when you were in New Mexico that you jumped from the second floor of the venue and got hurt.
Yeah—long time ago in New Mexico, I jump from the second floor to the first floor and I broke my leg bone. It happened on stage. And then 2004 at Bonaroo Music Festival, Tennessee, I lost my front tooth on stage because my guitar hit me.
Yes, I put new tooth in and you can see my front tooth is yellow now.
Have you ever thought about writing a song called, “I Lost My Front Tooth at Bonaroo?”
How do you guys have so much energy on stage? You jump on each other’s back when you play, perform stunts, dive into the crowd. How do you keep that up?
Yes, it’s true. Everybody give us a big smile and are happy happy with Peelander- Z. We get a smile and we get energy and then we give it to the fans—it’s like never-ending communication and we get energy from everybody.
There’s a song on the new album called, “I Got Fired.”
(Laughs loudly) Yes—“I GOT FIRED”—yes ‘cause boss said “You FIRED!” Then I thought that was good and said, “I’m cool, I’m going to do babababababa. But then I understand when boss said “fired” it mean I lost everything. So, it’s sad song, maybe you can cry.
Oh, I’m sorry. (laughter) So, you’re coming to Gainesville on October 23rd?
Are you excited about that?
Yes—I am so excited. Gainesville is always crazy and they are waiting for us and we are very excited. I have a lot of friend over there—that whole crowd. And yeah—YOU HAVE TO COME TO SEE!
OK—I’ll be there—that’s great! I was wondering about this other song called “My Shake.” I heard that you’re a big fan of milkshakes—is that true?
Always we are on tour and driving very long long long time. And I think I want to drink shake. So, I’m thinking about shake like my girlfriend, so I think, this sound very nice—I really need to have you, booboobooboo. I love you. You see we want to make Peelander Shake and everybody have to shake for me.
Where does your girlfriend live?
Everywhere! Every harbor! All over the world—all over the planet. Every harbor! So, look like I’m Starship-crazy-captain. (laughter) I have wives, girlfriends all over forever and however.
That’s very convenient.
Ok, Yellow. Is there any other message you would like to leave for us earthlings before we say goodbye?
Yeah—don’t be shy, please come to see our show. If you have a costume for Halloween you come and wear. We have a party when we come there, Gainesville, I love you!
Thank you so much, Peelander- Yellow. It’s been a real pleasure and I learned a lot about your people. Have a good rest of your day and have a good tour.
Ah, thank you very much! See you there!
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