THE STAR CLUB - Biography
The Star Club


THE STAR CLUB were formed in Nagoya, Japan in April of 1977. The first line up is sketchy but was probably made up of Hikage, vocals; Kaoru, guitars; Eddie, bass; Kouji, drums. THE STAR CLUB were the first punk band in Nagoya. The band quickly gathered a cult following locally and in 1978 released their first record, a live 7". The band were fairly raw at this point playing heavily English influenced punk with a rock and roll edge. I believe that they were banned from some radio stations. A demo cassette was released in 1979, which has never been officially released, but has been bootlegged. I have a live bootleg from 1979 and I'm fairly certain that these are actually one and the same.

By 1980 their next piece of vinyl, Toll Gate Ahead, was released on Electric Lady Land. Hico was listed as the new guitarist, in fact the band later released alternative recordings of Toll Gate Ahead with a guy called Ryoh on guitars, I guess they were the original recordings and when Ryoh left the band his parts were redone by Hico (who i think was the studio engineer). Toll Gate Ahead is an extremely rare piece of vinyl and almost unseen outside of Japan.

By the following year, Kyouji took over on guitar and No-Fun Pig became the new drummer; the seminal STAR CLUB line-up was beginning to take shape. A new single was issued in 1981 and the bands popularity started to increase throughout the country. Hikage was quickly becoming an icon for Japanese punk. In 1982 they released 2 singles which furthered THE STAR CLUB's popularity even more. On the second of these singles Lou took over on guitars and Kyouji moved to bass when Eddie left. This line-up would become the definitive STAR CLUB line-up.

Around this time THE STAR CLUB had a fan club formed, Cosa Nostra, they already released records on their own label, Club The Star which was (and still is) their management company. The fan club issued a magazine as well as starting a singles club, the first of which was the Anoko Ni Hitombore flexi. Cosa Nostra continued to issue a flexi every Christmas to fan club members until 1990. The fan club still exists today which you can access via a special members area on their web site. Who knows what wonders awaits the STAR CLUB fans there...

In 1983 the band issued their first full length, the live Hot & Cool. A great live document with all of their classic songs. But even better was the next single. Frontline/The Unknown Soldier are two of the greatest STAR CLUB songs ever. Both are classic punk, Unknown Soldier with a mournful, rocking mood, Frontline is a classic punk song in the grand tradition. The single reached No 1 in the Japanese Independent chart. Later that year THE STAR CLUB released their first full length, the live Hot & Cool, recently re-issued.

By 1984 however the bands popularity was such that their records were topping the independent charts and to go forward they needed a bigger label, so they signed to Tokuma Japan. Not a major label but a large independent at that time, THE STAR CLUB and Tokuma were about to unleash two of the greatest Japanese punk records ever. The first of which, Hello New Punks (1984) was I believe an exercise in wrapping up their early years. I say that because Punk! Punk! Punk! (1985) displayed a new energy within the band, Hikage's singing style became a little harder and the songs seemed more edgy than before. Punk! Punk! Punk! is possibly the better of the two.

THE STAR CLUB were the best known punk band in Japan and selling a lot of records. Bearing in mind that this was 1985 - nearly six years after the original punk era had died away in the west, quite a feat. The natural progression for the band was to go a full major label, Invitation/Victor. No Fun Pig had left and was replaced by Tatsuya. Their first LP for Victor, Final Count, was not quite up to the heights previous records, but that was only natural after such an extended period of activity.

THE STAR CLUB made an attempt to break into Australia and played gigs, released records and even recorded an album there. perhaps because Hikage still sang in mostly Japanese, the band didn't achieve the success they should have. However, there are still Australian fans out there...

1987 proved to be a busy year for THE STAR CLUB, it was their 10th anniversary so they started the year off by releasing a best of album, which finally made available again the classic early independent songs. Later in the year an album of covers was released, God Save The Punk Rock, a memorable paean to the original punk bands such as the Damned, Sex Pistols etc.

At this point the classic line up was slowly falling apart; Kyouji was replaced by Akiller, and later on Lou left at the end of the 80s to be replaced by Toru. THE STAR CLUB continued to release albums every year but as the years wore on the albums started to sound more generic.

Although they were starting to stagnate a little, THE STAR CLUB released a fantastic album called Illegal Dial in 1991, with classic songs throughout, stuff like Slash With A Knife and Blackguard Angel showed that Hikage was had lost none of his songwriting skills. The music and production sounded more melodic and professional than those early days, but the spirit was still with them.

Whatever the formula 1992 delivered another truly great STAR CLUB record. Never mind the usual spring album release of Message From The Jail, for the bands 15th anniversary Hikage planned something special. So over a three month period THE STAR CLUB recorded Thought Homicide. On the cover it proclaims that this album is "the most radical and real album in the history...faster & faster, stronger & stronger, harder & harder, noisier & noisier. Don't be afraid, don't avert your eyes, look straight ahead."

Hikage had a point to prove, that the band/he had not sold out or faded away. And true to his word the album does sound a different STAR CLUB, more aggressive and more political. This was the first time we heard some hardcore elements - something we would hear more of in a few years time. Thought Homicide is an album I return to a lot, perhaps as much as the early records.

In 1992 Hikage formed J.A.P. with members of Zett (Cat), The Strummers (Nakaz) and Nicky & the Warriors (Keigo). They recorded and released a quickly made album called Anarchy in the J.A.P, made up from cover versions and originals. The band came together 6 years later for another less important album, Underground King.

Hikage released a solo cyber punk styled album in 1993 called Cancer and THE STAR CLUB came together again the following year for Ihojin. Toru had left (he now plays with Mad Capsule Markets) and Ken replaced him along with Kishi on drums, who replaced Hiro. Ihojin was more formulaic than Thought Homicide had hinted at and the album really set the tone for the next few albums, one or two great songs padded by filler.

Delivering an album every year with all original songs is no mean feat. Hikage writes the bulk of THE STAR CLUB's lyrics and music, so perhaps it is Hikage's nature to keep the band members rotated to keep the band youthful and energetic. It probably keeps Hikage feeling young, or maybe the younger members are unable to keep up with Hikage!

In September 1996 the band supported the Damned and The Buzzcocks on a mini tour of Japan called the "20th Anniversary Gig(s)". This must have been very exciting for Hikage to be playing with two of his idols.

For the next few years all was at peace with THE STAR CLUB, album followed album and the band managed tour Japan every year. It was a very hectic schedule. In 1997 Nakaz (J.A.P., Strummers) took over from long standing bassist, Akiller. The band released a tremendous single called Love You Something, but that years album was pretty average - including the poor and unnecessary new version of Unknown Soldier. The following year, fellow J.A.P. member, Keigo came in on drums and the music started to turn a little tougher...

And then in 1999 STAR CLUB fans had a shock when the band released Pyromaniac. The band, Hikage, with new guitarist Gazz, had turned hardcore! The sound was a modern American style of hardcore and, Hikages voice excepted, sounds unlike THE STAR CLUB of old or even relatively new. Some fans hated it, but nevertheless Pyromaniac is a solid album and has some decent tunes if you can get with the style - Grand Cross, Designer Gene certainly stand out for me.

The follow up, Trigger was a real low point - derivative and bland hardcore, far too American for my taste. THE STAR CLUB took part in the Japan Punk Rock festival in 2000 along with Anarchy (old Japanese Clash soundalikes), Cobra, Laughin' Nose and The Ryders.

Gazz left and a new guitarist came in, Uki, for 2001 (the album). This sounds like an attempt to make punk sounding rock - but its another record all at sea. The band took part in the Japan - Korea Punk Rock Festival in 2001.

And when you think all is lost with THE STAR CLUB, Hikage plans and executes a masterpiece: Kieta Punk Rock (Where has punk gone?), is as good a record as you're likely to hear, ever. THE STAR CLUB emerge with a completely new line up, Hana (bass), Mitome (guitar) and Ryo (drums) and a concept album?!

Kieta Punk Rock chronicles the timeline of punk from Hikage's point of view. The music is pure classic old fashioned punk, the kind which THE STAR CLUB stopped making years earlier, every song is killer. THE STAR CLUB we knew and loved were back. An anniversary tour followed and then a DVD box set of all the STAR CLUB's video releases.

In 2003 THE STAR CLUB released Style. Later in the year a 3CD compilation of tracks chosen by Hikage was released, All-Time Best. Just as that came out Hana was replaced on bass by Hiroshi. The band spent January and February of 2004 recording a new album for spring release.

As they proudly proclaim: We have no reason to live, but we must survive.

Thanks very much to Stu from Euro-Punk for this info.