super butter dogInspired by such bands as Funkadelic and Sly and the Family Stone, Super Butter Dog’s funk-rock sound is as refined as it is funky. Combining cool guitar grooves, vintage beats and keyboard with their own sophisticated style, they bring a modern take to this classic genre. The group was on extended hiatus until 2007, with members pursuing various side projects.

Super Butter Dog’s founding members – vocalist and guitarist Takashi Nagazumi, and lead guitarist Tomoyasu Takeuchi – met in 1994 at university and found they both loved the music of funk bands. Funk-rock forms the bedrock of the band’s sound, but just as important are Nagazumi’s songwriting skills and melodic sense. The template for the band was “Japanese funk, using idiomatic Japanese, with no limits.”

Nagazumi and Takeuchi recruited drummer Shuichi Sawada, keyboardist Takafumi Ikeda, bassist Tomohiko and vocalist Megumi Yamaguchi (who later left the group), and Super Butter Dog was born. The band started its career by doing covers of tunes by Sly Stone and other funkmasters, but gradually began writing original material. After getting some attention when two of its songs were included on producer Ken’s Soup Up compilation album in 1996, Super Butter Dog were signed by Toshiba-EMI talent-spotter Keitaro Kamo, who described the band as representing a new generation of Japanese musicians who had a more “international” sound that combined club music and rock.

Their first major-label release was the 1997 album Freeway. The first two songs on the album show two sides of Super Butter Dog’s music: “Kakehiki no Judgment” is a frenzied funk workout, with Takeuchi’s scintillating guitar blasting out killer riffs at a frenetic pace, while “Shuden Magiwa no Bungee Jump” is much more mellow and shows just what a master of the songwriting craft Nagazumi is. Super Butter Dog released seven more albums after that, their most recent being [COMPLETE BOX SET] SUPER BUTTER BOX, which came out in December 2008.

I’ve read various reports of this band’s future: Broke up! They are back! On hiatus! Which is true? I will quote the words that use to greet all visitors to their homepage during that first long hiatus: “Super Bitter Dogs!” Those words are gone. I think they are just sleeping again.