It might make you feel old to think so far back, but remember how OGBiS and punk rock went together hand-in-hand? Not just the oh-so-fun visuals and their infamous destructive antics, but the music itself was exciting because back in those days, idols moshing to punk songs really was Brand-new. From their cover of the original Primal. by The Yellow Monkey to the musical and lyrical references from Stay Gold by Hi-STANDARD in I wish I was specIaL, BiS truly lived, breathed, ate and shat punk music. When BiS3 were auditioning, one of the conditions was that the members truly understood the method to the madness of OGBiS which, aside from “anything to sell,” was arguably embodying that cool, stupid fun punk style. So after a few years, here we are with a full BiS punk cover album!
Thee Michelle Gun Elephant’s Smoking Billy for your pleasure! BiS’ take on things almost feels worlds apart from the original, but that’s a very much a good thing. The songs have their own identity rather than just being carbon copies of already-good songs by other people. Yusuke Chiba’s scratchy, masculine vocals really evoke the feeling of being inches away from a man that smells of cigarettes and sweat, screaming down a microphone in a cramped bar venue whereas Toggy? Toggy sings Smoking Billy like she’s just been lifted onto somebody’s shoulders at a show and has the primal urge to scream the lyrics while shaking the person holding her violently, with her legs. Both fun. Both also maybe a little dangerous but fun nonetheless.
There’s a lot of standouts on the record too, again both from BiS and the artist they’re paying homage to. NUM-AMI-DABUTZ is one that’s caught a few eyes on account of it being by legendary band Number Girl. SCRAMBLES’ instrumentation of the classic makes it sound almost glossier, kind of pop-rockier but that helps it to work with Monchan and Teebu’s voices, both singing and frantic rap-talking segments. Their rendition of GOOD GIRL by The Mad Capsule Markets is also a little more subdued in sound, with the original being closer to digital hardcore with it’s bass (think Atari Teenage Riot) and then with BiS’ take maintaining that edge, but in a more palettable kind of way – less digital hardcore sounding, but still incredibly fun.
A lot of the musicians covered are also friends of BiS too. You’ll be forgiven for missing this little detail since it was a one mini-tour only deal, but with Toru Hidaka (BEAT CRUSADERS, THE STARBEMS) on guitar, Noriaki Tsuda (KEMURI) on bass and Ronzi (BRAHMAN) on drums, they formed the backing band 20th CENTURY STUPiD BOYS to create “ARABAKI×BiS GIP! -GREAT iDOL PURiTANS-“. That’s a lot of nouns to take in, but the supergroup of rock stars and idols (who are also rock stars) was just as cool as you could have imagined. Let the music speak for itself with their rendition of “BASKET BOX:”
If you like that then there’s plenty more on the Blu-ray edition of BiS DiVE into ROCKS. Oh, and covers of BiSimulation and MURA-MURA. You all asked for OGBiS content so now is the time to, unfortunately, pay for it. Those two songs were chosen specifically because Hidaka wrote BiSimulation and Tsuda wrote MURA-MURA too, so there’s a reason for it and not just seemingly random fanservice. They’re never doing Nerve again, face it.
Part of BiS has always been that they’re a living, breathing loveletter to the music that Watanabe likes while simultainiously walking their own outrageous path. BiS are still punk and most importantly, still BiS; Even if somebody whines that Pour Lui isn’t there so it doesn’t count or that they’re not fulfiling an American blogger’s idea of “subverting idol culture,” BiS covering a shitton of punk songs is one of the most BiS things they could do. So get into it! They’re not going anywhere, that’s for sure.