横山剣インタビュー Yokoyama Ken Interview

From the Yokohama Seasider Magazine, December 2009

It’s hard to live in Yokohama for very long without hearing about Yokoyama Ken and the Crazy Ken Band. When I got to see him live and speak with him myself (no small thanks to our friend Chibow for that) I told some friends. Practically everyone proudly reminded me that he is one of Yokohama’s favorite sons. Crazy Ken has been playing rock and roll and writing songs for decades. He has written songs for a wide range of popular bands and scored plenty of hits himself. Despite his celebrity, he is still a local at heart. Many, if not most, of his songs celebrate Yokohama and Kanagawa prefecture in some way.

Despite heavy rain before the show, there were hundreds of fans lined up at Bay Hall for his last performance on the “Girls! Girls! Girls!” tour. The house was almost packed and the crowd was mixed, with practically all ages represented. Ken came on stage with the other eleven members of his band wearing matching suits to meet the ecstatic crowd—Ken wore his trademark hat and sunglasses. His showmanship kept the 3-hour show energetic, though guitarist Onose Masao is also a particularly impressive musician. CKB’s music is so varied that you might be able to salsa during one song and head-bang during the next.

Before the show, I sat down with Crazy Ken. Compared to his explosive stage personality, he wasn’t so crazy at all—just a regular, relaxed guy in a T-shirt.

YSM: You describe yourselves as “The sound of Yokohama and Yokosuka.” What do you mean by that?

Crazy Ken Yokoyama: We echo the sounds you hear when you are out in Yokohama. I grew up in the 60s and 70s. Back then, Honmoku was home to a US military presence and there were plenty of bars and stores that catered to the Americans. I remember the first time I heard rock and roll when I was young. It was like a forbidden fruit. I would hear exciting music coming from the ventilation ducts of bars and from passing cars and it started to interest me. I didn’t know the names of any of the bands I was hearing except for the Beatles. Yokohama was—and still is—a place where Western and Japanese culture and music met and mixed. We are definitely influenced by rockabilly, reggae, hip hop and R&B. I would say that our sound has a cultural ancestor in Motown and old Showa kayô ballads.

YSM: I definitely hear the influence from Motown and your vocals are indeed sometimes reminiscent of Showa kayô. Are you trying to create a nostalgic sound?

CKY: Ah, not at all. I definitely don’t want to just copy old music. I like variety. Like I said, we play what we hear on the streets and that’s why we also incorporate more modern music like reggae and latin music. I’m interested in the mixture of American and Japanese culture. I want to make music like those shiny Yokosuka jackets with the dragons on them… or a sign for a Japanese restaurant in Honolulu…or (he picks up our magazine) something like this. It’s Japanese, but not really, and not quite exactly Western. I like stuff like this.

YSM: Thank you! So, when did you start playing music? What were you doing before you went major?

CKY: I started playing in bands when I was 14 years old. I was doing a bunch of different day jobs and playing at live houses at night. For a while, I was just operating a forklift at a warehouse in Chinatown. I also spent 8 years as an export inspector, opening crates before they shipped out.

YSM: What are you trying to do with your new album, “Girls! Girls! Girls!”?

CKY: There are a lot of songs about women. It’s a sort of homage to women. I just want to show my love and respect for the women that I have known, starting with my wife, my mother, and my two daughters.

YSM: What do you usually do when you aren’t touring or recording?

CKY: I like to just go for drives. I like classic cars and I have a motorcycle, too. I head out to Yokosuka, Hayama and places like that for the fun of it. Around here, I don’t drink alcohol, but I like to stop by Boogie Café in Honmoku, and Bitters sometimes. I come to Bay Hall quite often for the reggae and hip hop nights.

YSM: Thanks Ken.


ライブ当日は激しい雨にもかかわらず、「ガール!ガール!ガール!」ツアー最終日の会場となった横浜BAY HALLにはたくさんのファンが列を作った。会場を埋めたファンの年齢層も幅広く、まさに老若男女といった感じ。11人のバンドメンバーとともに、トレードマークのハットとサングラスのスタイルで横山剣が登場すると会場は一気に興奮のるつぼに。ステージは3時間の長丁場。ギターの小野瀬雅生のプレイも光っていた。クレイジーケンバンドの曲はとてもバラエティに富んでいて、ある曲でサルサを踊ったと思ったら次の曲は激しいヘッドバンギングミュージック、といった具合だ。




YSM: なるほど古いモータウンの影響は強く感じられますし、昭和歌謡を連想させられるところもありますね。懐かしい当時の音を再現しようとしておられるのでしょうか?

横山: いや、昔の音をそのまま再現することは全く望んでいません。いろいろな要素が混ざり合った音が好きなんですよ。さっきも言いましたが、横浜という街に居ると聞こえてくるいろいろな音をミックスして僕らはやっています。だから新しいレゲエやラテンっぽい要素も入っているのです。僕はアメリカ文化と日本文化の混じり合ったものが好きです。龍の刺繍をあしらった派手なスカジャンのようなイメージ、あるいはホノルルのジャパニーズ・レストランの看板みたいな感じ、(本誌を手に取りながら)あるいはこの雑誌みたいなイメージ、の曲を作りたい。日本のものだけどちょっと違う、そうかといって完全にアメリカンでもない、そんな混ざり合った感じが好みです。

YSM: どうもありがとうございます。ところで、実際に音楽を始めたのはいつ頃ですか?メジャーデビュー前は何をしておられたのですか?

横山: バンドを始めたのは14歳の時、昼はいろいろなアルバイトをしながら夜はライブハウスで演奏していました。中華街の倉庫でフォークリフトの運転をしていた時期もあります。輸出貨物の検査官は8年間やりました。

YSM: ニューアルバム「ガール!ガール!ガール!」のテーマは?

横山: 女性についての歌がたくさん入っています。女性を称賛する内容と言いましょうか。妻、母、そして二人の娘を始め、女性に対する愛情や尊敬の気持ちがテーマになっています。

YSM: ツアーやレコーディング以外の時間はどんなことをして過ごされていますか?

横山: ドライブに出掛けることが大好きですね。昔のクルマやバイクが大好きで横須賀、葉山あたりまで走らせます。酒は飲みませんが本牧のブギーカフェにはよく行くし、ビターズにも時々行きます。BAY HALLにはレゲエやヒップホップを聞きによく来ています。

YSM: 今日はどうもありがとうございました!