Ice Cream Shout rode into sudden awareness on a music video. Clips from an 80s gang violence documentary re-purposed over this inexplicably soothing tune—it was an odd crossing that worked too well. And from where? Kansai, Japan. Two months later another concept arrived to similar effect, this time from their frontman’s solo project. Genuine interest turned to inquiry and here we are.
In addition to playing along, Bob was kind enough to share an unheard remix of that initial gem. Its origin: “I heard Metrotune‘s ‘Casio Beach’ on Altered Zones and even though I’ve never met him I felt he could do some magic to one of our songs.” So let’s have that be our soundtrack.
DS: What’s it like being a band in Japan?
BW: Obviously nobody appreciates the lyrics. It was comforting at first but now it’s disappointing, lyrics are an important dimension of our songs. Also, it’s a very different music scene here compared to the American Midwest where I grew up. Japanese people tend to not half-ass their hobbies. If they play guitar, they take lessons, they study it and they practice. The caliber of musicianship tends to be very high here. The live scene is a bit of an annoyance though, it’s basically all pay to play unless you’re on a decent label. The venues’ actual customers are the bands, not the listeners.
That practice probably kills off many of the more interesting and less responsible bands so you tend to see a lot of skilled but conservative sounding bands. There are some fucking gems here though.
DS: The lovable Cups LP moves around quite a bit. Where next?
BW: If we were a band ten years ago that album would have been our demo tape. With iTunes and Bandcamp though it’s so easy to release an album (that subsequently no one will ever hear of). It was basically the first 8 songs we made so each one was an experiment. There was a lot of Mika on that album. The next will have more of myself I suspect.
DS: And how about your solo alias Cloudy Busey?
BW: I work about 60 hours a week, Fumi too I think. Chris and Mika both work 40 hours or so. We can usually only meet once a week to practice. It’s not enough time to make a lot of songs as a band so lately I’ve been making some songs on my own. If we can play them live as a band they go to Ice Cream Shout if not, they go to Cloudy Busey. Cloudy Busey will have no direction, it will be all kinds of songs. I can’t help but write pop songs though.
DS: You premised the release of both “Tattooed Tears” and “Pound Your Town to Hell” with a positioning paragraph and self-made video. How do these settings play into your writing process?
BW: Both songs were conceived from the beginning as stories. I was watching Latino gang documentaries to do research and the kids in Children of Violence matched my image of the concept – Morrissey-loving gangsters. The video influenced the song. PYTH was completely finished before I started looking at video. I wanted to make the video myself but didn’t have the resources to do it justice. Psychomania just happened to have some similar imagery.
I don’t think we’ll release any singles without a video. We’ve become accustomed to seeing music so much that I picture the video when I’m writing the song. If you want a song to reach people over the computer it has to have a video. On the radio, people are out driving around listening. They’ve got things to look at and draw their attention away. That’s the best way to discover a song, letting it creep into your mind when you’re paying attention to something else. It’s like looking at galaxies in the sky. If you look right at it and try to engage it directly you can’t see it. Look to the side of it though and you can see a cloud of stars.
DS: “Morrissey, shoegaze, dreamy” – a few tags used on your bandcamp. This would be the ‘what are your influences?’ question.
BW: I can’t speak for the rest of Ice Cream Shout very specifically but insofar as it relates to our roles in the band Mika and Fumi tend to like cute music (not Hello Kitty cute, more K Records cute). Chris is into more left-field kinda stuff. And I like pop music. Scott Walker, David Bowie, Stephin Merritt, Morrissey, Lee Hazlewood, Jarvis Cocker, Stuart Murdoch, Willie Nelson…lyrics are important. Sonically I like Martin Hannett, Geoff Emerick, Kate Bush, Aphex Twin, Vangelis, Hugh Padgham, euro/italo-disco, and a lot of club and hip hop producers: Bart B More, RZA, J Dilla, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, DJ Toomp, Kanye, Stephan Bodzin… so many but those names come to mind.
Ultimately though we don’t want to be a band known for any particular sound, just great songs.