John’s Favorite Japanese Bands: The Pillows

The Pillows have been around for a long time. Since 1989. That’s like, 24 years. The Pillows and their music have truly stood the test of time and they continue to be very popular to this day. Their music ranges from alternative to indie rock, and even has some power pop thrown in there for good measure. I liked The Pillows ever since I first heard them, and they haven’t let me down since.

This month, I’m going to be bringing you a new favorite band of mine every week. If you’ve not already heard the band, you’re in luck, it’ll be great. And if you have already heard the band, I’m sorry. Last week I shared Perfume with you so this week you’ll be getting something a bit more mellow.

The Pillows

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWajprtWpf8']

As of 2012, The Pillows have released 18 original studio albums, several EPs and compilations, and over 30 singles. That’s a lot. The guys are like 50 years old now though, so it makes sense. They’ve been making music for quite some time. Outside Japan they are best known as being responsible for the FLCL soundtrack.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EXleSHjnGc']

They have three members, and one dude who was only with the band during their first three years. He played bass for them, but since then they’ve just had two other guys playing bass who are only recognized as support members. Also I love the drummer. He’s just so chill.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG586JxIaAU']

The band got their name when two of the guys were hanging out and an English post punk compilation record entitled Pillows & Prayers caught their eye and inspired them. From that moment on they were known as The Pillows.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r1VlZzVlI0']

Since they’ve been around so long, there were a ton of songs for me to choose from to put on here. I managed to narrow it down to my top favorites. I usually don’t like music that’s really simple, but The Pillows does it so well that I just can’t help but be happy when listening to their stuff. They have some more emotional, sad sounding songs, but those ones I don’t enjoy as much.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=987rsgpYrs8']

The Pillows is one of those Japanese bands that I don’t really mind when they sing in English. Especially with songs like this one. You really just can’t help but sing along with the English parts. At the top of your lungs. Every time. I know I do.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYXIYbC43Ug']

This clip is just a snippet, but it’s from their last album of 2012. This song is just proving that they’ve still got it. They still sound like the same Pillows we know and love. Awesome.

Asian Kung-Fu Generation


Asian Kung-Fu Generation – Blue Train

This week’s post was a toss up between The Pillows and Asian Kung-Fu Generation. In the end I had to give it to The Pillows just because they’ve been around for longer, but I do love the both of them. This is one of my favorite Asian Kung-Fu Generation songs. Hopefully you enjoy it.


So tell me, how do you like The Pillows? How do you think they compare to Asian Kung-Fu Generation? Worse? Better? The same? Share your thoughts in the comments!

  • simplyshiny

    <3<3<3<3 The Pillows!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ltsiros Luciano Tsiros

    haha I see we have the same taste for bands ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/AveryGoodgame Nick Hattan

    YES! I’ve been waiting for this one!
    Hopefully whenever somebody goes through their intense “must watch all popular anime” phase, they’ll go by FLCL, like the music, and become a swift member of the J-Rock fanbase. The Pillows are freakin’ awesome!

    I just hope that those who like The Pillows because of FLCL extend their ears past what just the series has to offer. Skeleton Liar is kinda awesome.

    And good catch on the Asian Kung-Fu Generation; their music is very similar to Pillows’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Biffo1969 Bethanne Crane Paepke

    Thanks John for turning me on to an AWESOME band! I hope iTunes has some of their stuff! Keep up the good work, I’m an avid fan of Tofugu.

  • http://twitter.com/JapanMatt Matt Bonder

    Also one of my favorite bands of all time!

  • Kyo

    I really like the pillows too, I still haven’t seen a band that is anywhere near as good as they are. There are many more great songs like ONE LIFE, Please Mr. Lostman, Lo-Fi Boy Fighter Girl, Kanojo wa Kyou, Mole Town Prisoner, MY FOOT and one among the best of personal favorites: Blues Drive Monster.

  • Kasma88

    John, you seem to have done it again. Up until last Saturday I was struggling to find Japanese music I could connect with and you’ve managed to give me three (Perfume, The Pillows and Asian Kung Fu Generation)! Thanks again and keep up the good work! (‘:

  • spacecutlery

    They used to be my favourite band until I realized the Japanese indie music scene had so much better artists to offer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLcRhM7kxiM

    Shinsei Kamattechan

    crazy indie-pop noise with vocal distortions. they’re getting increasingly popular in Japan, having released 5 studio albums since 2010.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfWRQoCdj74

    Soutaisei Riron

    jazzy post-rock with coquettish vocals. also pretty big in the indie music scene.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgEst0zETYI

    Naan

    Amazing instrumental post-rock. Pretty sure they split up though, as I haven’t heard anything about them in a long time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQc-2bBmdfw

    Mass of the Fermenting Dregs

    Pretty (I think) big name post-rock band. Their stuff got increasingly more energetic.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ6Sk8Aj-SQ

    Melt Banana

    Insane pedal-driven guitar-work with high-pitched screaming vocals. People either say “shit they are amazing!” or “derrr I just couldn’t, like, get past the vocals..”

    And others, like Midori, Ogre You Asshole, Lullatone, Urbangarde etc etc

  • John

    Haha, awesome! Happy to help!

  • Hamyo

    they song reminds me with Blink 182 :D

  • http://twitter.com/rapchee rapchee

    i prefer akfg, because to me they feel a bit more compex and energetic. (here and there) now and then a bit of pillows is nice though

  • shnu-gi

    Wow, thanks! I’ve been listening to The Pillows since yesterday evening, they’re great! :D Reasons to love Tofugu: Reliable source of good culture ^^

  • http://profiles.google.com/ronmoses Ron Moses

    Ah, finally your tastes and mine coincide. I’m a HUGE pillows fan. I’d say Happy Bivouac is probably my favorite album, but Little Busters and Good Dreams are close behind. I think their insistence on putting out an album every year has made their output a bit inconsistent, but when they’re on, they’re awesome.

    AKFG is kinda like if Weezer was Japanese and didn’t give up trying to be awesome after their second album. I like ‘em.

  • ocac

    Can’t say I really took to The Pillows. Will yet try Kyo’s suggestions. Thanks for the look-see though, John. Only their most recent track seemed to have the energy or busy-ness that engaged me more than sporadically. However, AKFG are quite the reverse…I’m always taken with their sound, can always drift to focus and bass, vocals or rhythm as each is so interesting in its own right.

    For my own suggestions, I offer the very post-MBV SUPERCAR/スーパーカー and the more upbeat STRAIGHTENER/ストレーテナー. I think if you like either The Pillows or AKFG, you’ll likely like both of these. SUPERCAR have unfortunately disbanded, but STRAIGHTENER are still going, have a neat new album, and tour at things like NANO MUGEN with AKFG:

    SUPERCAR:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F2mcVM1-QM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UljBmNsCeVs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8RrddJgA7g

    STRAIGHTENER (all live – a good thing, though Lightning’s PV is quite nice):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L46lV7QGFY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hemmVyfs_zw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTV-IgwMUY0

    Bonus suggestion if you like these; the New York based band Asobi Seksu (whose singer Yuki(?) is I think Japanese-American). Nice tumblr too. Quite post-MBV, but with a sound very much their own. Try the album Citrus which contains the likes of this and much more intense sound, or their newer work for something different, but different good.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=8paDhfGQH4E

    Hope somebody has a happy discovery in that!

  • Aya

    Eeee, I LOVE Asobi Seksu, I’ve been a fan ever since I first heard ‘I’m Happy But You Don’t Like Me’ from their debut album (back in my highschool dayz). ♥

  • Didn’t some of the super car members create LAMA?

  • ocac

    I love the debut album! :-) For me the song was ‘Walking on the Moon’. When I kept playing it in my head for days after the first listen, I knew I had to pick up the rest of their music.

  • ocac

    I knew about the solo stuff people were involved in, but missed LAMA. This is a good news day – thank you!

  • jiman

    I love Pillows…thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/YokaiAkito Gerran Coppin

    Ah! Thanks for sharing this! I LOVE The Pillows and AKFG! I personally like AKFG a bit better, but that’s mostly because I like punk. I really like the videos that you chose for this post too! I think they do a great job of showing their range of skills.

  • Maggie Moor

    I love the Pillows! I’m always surprised when I put my Itunes on shuffle because the pillows come up so often. :D

  • 8giggles

    One of the 1st things I did when I wanted to start learning Japanese was to start looking for music I’d like. J-pop was easy to come across but I’m more of a rock fan. The Pillows was the 1st band I came across that I liked. I’m really glad for this series. Hopefully I can expand my knowledge on Japanese bands! (oh & as far as The Pillows vs. Asian Kung-Fu Generation…I prefer The Pillows but I can certainly appreciate AKFG)

  • Jinan

    Ah, AKFG is one of my favorite bands, though I really like the Pillows as well– I especially like their songs Scarecrow and Tokyo Bambi ^^

  • http://www.facebook.com/AbigailCamarillo Cam Abi

    I love both the Pillows and Ajikan. Although, I do favor Ajikan a bit better 24ji being one of my favorite songs by them. I still think you should make a post about them :D