The psychedelic reggae flavor of Inushiki (a.k.a.Dogggystyle)’s sound is high-energy rock at its best. Performing at Fuji Rock Festival ‘05, on July 31, the band released their first full album Life is Beatfull on May 11th. I talked with Inushiki members Miyake Youhei [Vocal, Guitar], Mine Seitarou [Guitar], Ishiguro Shoji [Bass] and Kakinuma Kazunari [Drums] about their new album and the band’s name.

First, please introduce yourselves.
Vocal & Guitar: Miyake Yohei, born 1978 in Louvain, Belgium,
Guitar & Chorus: Mine Seitaro, born 1980 in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. Astrological sign: Aquarius.
Bass & Chorus: Ishiguro Shouji, born in 1979.
Drums: Kakinuma Kazunari, born 1979 in Fukuya, Saitama Prefecture.

Who are the members of Inushiki (a.k.a.Dogggystyle)? What brands of instruments do they play?
Miyake: Fender Japan Jazzmaster, Fender Japan Jaguar, Gibson Humming-bird.
Mine: Fender USA Stratocaster, Gibson J200.
Ishiguro: Fender Jazz Bass.
Kakinuma: Ludwig, etc.

What is the reason behind using the alias Dogggystyle?
Miyake: When I was 18, living in a world becoming more and more constricted by the value system of the concrete jungle, I thought that I wanted to live freely like a wild dog. So I used the name Doggystyle, more for me personally than as a band name. Music with the honesty of a dog’s eyes, asking for and receiving love. Music with the sort of omnivorous spirit to cross over all value systems and genres. This is doggy style music. Also, there’s a more juvenile reason: at the time my favorite position was doggy style. Afterwards, I heard Snoop Doggy Dog’s masterpiece “Doggystyle” and that left a lasting impression. Since his release came several years before the formation of our band, so it doesn’t become a problem in the future if we become an international act and also to show our respect to Snoop, this year we officially changed our name from Dogggystyle to “Inushiki.”

Mine: Because I like dogs.

Kakinuma: We are Japan’s doggystyle.

What first got you into music?
Miyake: My initial motivation was from Michael Jackson. When I was four I would act like him. Also, because my mother graduated from a vocal music school, I learned how to play piano before anything else.

Mine: My father really liked classical music so it was always on in the house when I was little. The first music I became addicted to was a laser disc of “The Magic Flute” by Mozart. When I first became interested in rock I started to hate classical, but now I think that classical, like all other genres, is great, history-rich music.

Ishiguro: When I was in middle school, seeing Sekima II on TV was a big shock.

Kakinuma: Making sound is a pleasant feeling.

Who or what inspired you to make it a career?
Miyake: One day, one of our drinking buddies came to our show in our hometown, western Tokyo’s Kichijouji. At the time (2001), I was a senior in college. At the end of the show this guy said “I’m work at a record company, and I’d really like you guys to be the first band I direct. What do you think?” Working with this novice manager we produced three mini albums. For a young band like us, this was a learning experience. In June of 2003 that guy died while surfing. He left behind a lot of vibes with the band, so we parted ways with Victor. This ended up becoming an opportunity to start our own label, which happened a year later.

Mine: Like Miyake said, the chance meeting with that one man was the beginning. We were still kids so we only halfway treated it as a job at that point.

Kakinuma: An encounter with people we can trust.

What has been Inushiki’s biggest triumph as a band? The band’s greatest challenge?
Miyake: The biggest success is the fact that we’re still continuing. The most difficult is keeping yourself steady within this insecure livelihood. Stuff like Zen meditation is helpful.

Mine: The success was meeting the members of the band because more than just bandmates, they’re friends for life. What’s difficult is being able to enjoy music from the bottom of your heart when you’re constantly doing it for work. It’s hard but I want to always be dedicated.

Ishiguro: Our greatest success is yet to come? And the difficulty is continuing to feel fresh?

Kakinuma: We’ve kept having aspirations for the future. The challenge is always being on time (to live shows, rehearsals, performances, etc.).

Inushiki’s musical style is fairly distinct, what artists inspired you to create the music you do?
Miyake: The Clash, Black Uhuru, Aswad (70’s and early 80’s), Gil Scott Heron, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, The Police, The Last Poets, Nirvana, Phish, John Coltrane, Neil Young, Bob Marley, Nina Simon, Manu Chao & Radio Bemba, The Pogues, Todos Tue Muertos, Caetano Veloso, Yuukadan, Jack Kerouac and so many blues musicians and reggae dub musicians.

Mine: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Miles Davis all broke down traditional values, and many years later popularized ethnic music around the world, whether it’s black, white or yellow.

Ishiguro: In regards to reggae rhythms, it’s The Wailers and Sly & Robbie. From Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Pharaoh Sanders and Milton Nascimento, ethnic music all the way to Iron Maiden, many different kinds of music have influenced me.

Kakinuma: P-Funk. Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66. And so on.

Your new album “Life is Beatfull” seems to have more collaborations and samples in the songs. Was this a conscious choice? What was the concept behind the album?
Miyake: We did it intentionally, but at the same time, it was fated. Through five years of constant activity, we’ve become connected to a circle of real musicians we’ve come across. Last year, we finally were able to reach the point where we could play at the one ideal festival in the over-commercialized Japanese music overground: “nbsa+-÷.” It might be easiest to say the mood is like Philly’s “Ok Player.” We wanted to thank all these real musicians that we’ve met through the scene who have helped us grow, as rivals and as friends, by crediting their names on the first album that we put out on our own label.

Mine: We mostly didn’t use sampling. As for the guests, we just played the music that we pictured, and it ended up like this. We wanted to do this album with the musicians who are trying hard in the scene around us.

Ishiguro: For this album it was a necessity to make the melody using other instruments.

Kakinuma: Same as Miyake, it was fated.

What is your favorite Inushiki song to perform live? Why?
Miyake: All of them.

Mine: I always like to play new songs I haven’t done before.

Ishiguro: It changes day-to-day with my mood. Recently, I guess it was “Life is beatfull.” A long time ago I loved the song called “Nihonkai Hiyori.”

Kakinuma: All the songs.

Have you ever considered coming to Europe or the United States?
Miyake: East Asia, West Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, to travel with the sounds from all the these places, to absorb all their good vibes, I think that’s how Inushiki’s musical development should be. I’m looking forward to the day that, as soon as possible, we can cross the ocean and perform.

Mine: Yes. I don’t want to put it this way, but I have the impression that foreign peoples’ music and culture are strongly rooted. On the other hand, I feel that there’s still deep-seated racial prejudice, but if I ever get the chance, I’d perform anytime.

Ishiguro: I’d really like to go. I want to play at a festival.

Kakinuma: I’d definitely go. I want to experience the world.

Is there anything you would like to say to these fans?
Miyake: God, the truth of the cosmos, and the theory of relativity do not exist for our enjoyment. I think that the real answer to our questions is the freedom that each one of us feels. I want to make rock the embodiment of that freedom so that everyone will realize sooner, if only one day, what a truly enjoyable rock scene Japan has to offer.

Mine: I hope that you all have as much interest in us as we, from this tiny island nation, have in you.

Ishiguro: I want to do concerts [overseas].

Kakinuma: Please let us stay near you.

Interview from 2005.07.03 [Originally published: Keikaku.net. Translations, Graham, James and Hana] I  would like to thank Inushiki (a.k.a.Dogggystyle) and Ishizuka Masaya for their participation in this interview.

– Denise Smith