Realizing that August was approaching, I was tempted to dedicate the ‘Monthly Shuffle’ to songs by my favorite Japanese band, The SALOVERS, but I decided to make a post instead. Unfortunately, the group broke up before I could see them live, their last concert being in August of 2015 (or perhaps the last nearest concert).
My love for the band, I feel, was more about the timing of when I heard them. I was going through a lot of stress and anxiety regarding my move to Japan. It was my first real job and I was buying a one-way ticket to a place that probably wouldn’t accept me. Of course, I was excited too, though. I was listening to a mix of Sekai no Owari and Brian the Sun to help pull me through the days until my departure, and then I saw a young Yutaro Furutachi in my recommendations.
With the video thumbnail…of just Furutachi—as handsome as he is–I wrongly thought the group was some mediocre band with a hot singer. I didn’t even bother to click. But the video kept popping up and finally, I decided to listen. Boy, did I feel guilty!
What stood out to me about The SALOVERS wasn’t so much their handsome singer, but the pure energy put into each of their songs. This is a band I often listen to when I need encouragement to get through a gloomy day or when I’m doing something active like hiking. My favorite album, Chin Bung Kan Bung, for example, has the perfect mix of fast and slow, featuring songs “ビオトープ生育空間” (‘Biological growth space,’ according to Google), which is a refreshing instrumental at the beginning of the album that I often use while I’m reading on the train. As the song starts off with just a few guitar plucks and eventually moves into the rhythm guitar, bass, and drums, it’s a great song to begin an adventure, much like how the song leads into the high-energy “Genghis Khan and Hepburn”.
I think the song that decided my fandom was 「文学のススメ」” Recommended Literature”, which I haven’t been able to find on any album thus far. However, even with my limited Japanese, I was able to understand and appreciate the vulgarity of the song. Or at least, it definitely sounds like he’s cursing. But just look at Furutachi in the video! He’s absolutely insane! Hahaha! The whole band seems to be full of such cool, laid back guys that it’s hard not to like them personally.
The video for “HOT!HOT!HOT” also offers the same playfulness that is prevalent throughout most of their videos. Although it’s not my favorite song, the video is probably the most entertaining.
Entertainment aside, though, there’s also an authenticity that I’ve been able to catch onto, despite the language barrier. Perhaps it’s the “Fuck your opinion” vibe I get from Furutachi, but I guess that’s what rock music is all about.
Although I listen to the albums all the way through, constantly, here are some of my favorite songs.
Once I arrived in Japan, the first thing I did was search for their albums, 3 of which I now own (C’mon Dresden, 珍文完聞, and 青春の象徴 恋のすべて)
The SALOVERS can best be described as rock, with a noticeable punk influence. They seem to be big fans of bloodthirsty butchers, as even their name suggests that it’s a play on the song「サラバ世界君主」
In Japanese, ‘The SALOVERS” is written as 「ザサラバズ」”Za Sarabazu” and I later learned that サラバ (Saraba) actually translates to something like “farewell”. While it’s possible there’s no relation between the band name and the title of this song, it IS interesting to try to connect the two. I thought the name The SALOVERS was quite unique, even for a Japanese band.
But why are The SALOVERS still relevant if they’ve broken up? Well…THEY aren’t, but vocalist Furutachi is still trying his hand at music. Thank goodness. It’s not The SALOVERS, but I’ve been really loving the stuff he’s put out as a soloist. It’s definitely more on the folk side, showcasing Furutachi’s gift for storytelling. Although I couldn’t tell you honestly what his lyrics are about half the time. However, after watching 「Under North Swamp」, I realized that another reason I love The SALOVERS so much may actually be because of their lyrics.
The video, although low budget, presents a simple story about a young man who’s put into an unexpected situation and, at the end, decides to take control and return to his own way of life.
It’s a song I often listen to when I need comfort, though I have no idea why. As I mentioned before, my Japanese is still at a conversational level, but the delivery and the presentation of each of Furutachi’s songs is unique from other non-English speaking artists I listen to. For instance, as much as I love K-pop, I quickly lose interest in a song or an album that I’ve bought. Sometimes I return to that artist’s music, but there isn’t a non-English speaking band that I listen to more to than The SALOVERS. I hope that one day I can decipher Furutachi’s logic, as he’s now started a new band called ‘2’!!!!! They are SO new they only have footage from live concerts (and perhaps you can’t even really find that, because…right now I can’t), but I’m really excited to see what stuff they’ll release!
You can follow them here at 2band
To end, one thing I’ve learned from writing about The SALOVERS and Furutachi is that…how you connect with music is totally mysterious and personal. Hahaha! Are there foreign artists you’ve felt the same mysterious connection with?