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Half Japanese



Half Japanese is a band started by goof-off brothers in their parents' basement and they still sound like it and that's why they're great. Their band may sound subversive, but the brothers -- Jad and Dave Fair -- embody something decidedly American: that powerful sense of individualism that says anybody can become successful at anything they want. Now, rock and roll has told that particular story over and over again, but perhaps nowhere is it truer than in the case of the Fairs, a pair of slightly deranged Maryland boys determined to become rock stars despite an apparent lack of musical talent. They succeeded making rock music that celebrated their lack of musical talent, creating a joyfully artless sound all about the fun of just making noise, a style which few would have the wherewithal or the chutzpah to attempt to replicate. But Half Japanese's peculiar sonic primitivism turned out to have a huge impact on a wide range of music that followed, from punk to post-punk to indie rock to experimental music.

While David left the band after three records, Jad has kept Half-Japanese running ever since with a constantly shifting lineup that has included former The Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker and highly regarded experimentalists John Zorn and Fred Frith. His prolific and deranged output has earned him the reputation as the reigning lunatic of American indie music. It may be hard to understand what could be so appealing about listening to a nutcase who doesn't really know how to play an instrument, but if you spend some time with Half Japanese, you'll come to understand that Fair's genius is his intuitive feel for music and his ability to infuse his songs with his unique, zany personality.

To date, Fair and associates have amassed nearly three dozen releases under the name Half Japanese, including more than a dozen full albums. Fair has also issued a number of solo recordings and collaborations, including several with current Half Japanese member Jason Willett. The featured songs all appear on Half Japanese's 2001 Alternative Tentacles release, Hello.