PM: Now do we get to know your real name, or just Peelander Yellow?
PY: My real name is Kengo Hioki. Most people call me “Yellow.”
PM: Okay Yellow. I know that you guys are originally from Japan but formed in New York City. Can you tell us how the group got together originally?
PM: [laughs] I don’t know how much of that I believe, that you’re from a different planet.
PY: Yeah, anyway, we are not human beings. But anyway, anyway [laughs]. That is the main story. My real story is that I came from Japan to be an artist in New York City. I graduated art school in Japan and then came to art school in New York. I love fine arts and printmaking. Actually, now, I have an exhibition in New York. Anyway, at that time, over 10 years ago, I started a funny comic action Japanese punk band.
PM: Speaking of the Japanese comic action punk band, what made you decide on all the colors and the costumes? Was that something just to stand out from the other bands?
PY: Yeah, I really wanted to be the red. Because-you know Power Rangers?
PY: The red Power Ranger is always the leader, the captain, that’s why I wanted to be the red. But my band mate said he wanted to be red, so there was no choice and I became yellow. I was so sad at first, but now I am so happy, happy, happy that I’m yellow.
PM: Now you’re happy that you’re yellow?
PY: Yellow, yellow! I’m so happy. So then stories of Red: he’s a very passionate, crazy guy. Red is the bassist, and he’s like fire, so that’s why he’s red.
PM: So Red’s the bassist, Yellow, you play guitar? Who else is in the Group?
PY: Peelander Red is the bassist, Peelander Green is the drummer. His smile is very pretty, all people melt because his smile is so happy. And then we have a Pink. This tour, we have a special person from Japan, Peelander Black. He plays guitar too.
PM: I’ve read a lot of reviews and obviously you do a pretty fun and exciting live show. I read that one time you broke your leg or your foot in New Mexico. Can you tell me what happened on that tour?
PY: Yeah, that happened a long time, almost five years ago in Albuquerque. The stage had a second floor, and we could see the audience from the second floor, so I gave somebody my guitar, moved to the second floor and I jumped down to the first floor.
PM: So you gave someone your guitar, went to the second floor and you jumped?
PY: Yeah, I jumped to the first floor! I thought, “I am a superhero, I can do that.”
PM: [laughs] Well, you know you’re not really a superhero.
PY: [laughs] Yeah, that time. One year before, I jumped the same thing and I was all right because I was young. But then one year after that, I jumped same place, same height, but I broke my bone, so I must have gotten old.
PM: [laughs] Maybe.
PY: After it happened, I played for two weeks every night, from Albuquerque to New York City and had to play through the pain.
PM: From what I hear, you guys are also big fans of wrestling and incorporate that in to your show as well. How did that come about?
PY: I like music, but I want to say that I am interested in wrestling more because I grew up around American WWF-style wrestling in Japan, so all that craziness really stood out. They were my heroes and I wanted to be a wrestler, but my body is not strong. So I decided to be an artist, but I want to do a kind of wrestling show. Wrestling has a 360-degree audience, so I want to show music to all people. Sometimes we play our shows on the floor like wrestling. I love, love, love wrestling. A wrestler wants to do our show, to work with us. I’m so happy to work with a wrestling guy.
PM: That’s really cool. You guys are still on the road right now-I know you’re playing SXSW in Austin this week. Can you tell me a little about the shows you’re playing in Austin and what the plans for the rest of the summer are?
PY: This year we have a couple shows here. Last year we released our new album P-TV-Z, and we’re playing that at SXSW. We have a show Wednesday-it’s free barbeque! Woo woo woo! Yeah, tomorrow we have a show, then Wednesday, Saturday, and then Sunday we have a kid’s show with a kid’s band and Peelander Z, and it’s an all free show. I really wanted to do a show for the kids.
After SXSW, we have a tour until early May. We’re going to the West Coast, and then Chicago, everywhere, and then back to New York.
PM: I also heard you guys are playing Warped Tour this year?
PY: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we are so excited. We are playing in July, Cleveland to Orlando, FL for about two weeks. We are so excited because it’s our first time playing the Warped Tour, so I think we’re going to get new friends and new fans over there.
PM: So you’re first time playing Warped Tour?
PY: Yeah, this is my first big dream. I really wanted to play the Warped Tour. So I’ve got my first success! Woo!
PM: You mentioned that you’re playing a children’s show, which is interesting because the last album you put out was-I don’t know how to describe it-sort of a comic-book-style children’s album, really, which was a little of a surprise.
PY: Because our label boss from Chicken Ranch, his name is Mike, he got my sample and he showed it to the kids, and the kids were crazy about us. So he decided that, “Okay, this guy is a crazy punk-rock band but could be good for the kids,” so he asked me to make a kid’s album. Then we started to make the kid’s album and we covered “EIEIO”-you know that song?
PM: Absolutely! And “Tacos Tacos Tacos.”
PY: We played that song and we made an animation for “EIEIO.” Please check it out-it’s a great animation and good for the kids. It’s very pretty.
Yeah, I mean, our range is very wide. We can play for punk rock kids, we can play a normal song, we can play for the parents, and then we can play for the kids. Our sound is punk rock, but our style is-we don’t have any style. We’re going to be a teacher for everybody, every Z group of people.
PM: Now you guys are heading out on all these tours. Are there any plans for some time off after that to make a new original punk rock record?
PY: We have that tour until May, then come back to New York, then we go back to Austin again and we’ll made a new record then too. And then in July is Warped Tour. I’m so happy we are busy.
PM: You are absolutely busy. Now, I don’t know if this is going to be a sensitive issue for you or not, being that you guys are from Japan and with what happened there this week, how has that affected you? Do you still have a lot of family back home?
PY: My family is okay. Every member’s family is okay, but for many people still, their families are missing. If possible in the piece, can we include the Red Cross or somewhere people can donate money to help. I’m not a super rich guy, so I can’t donate a lot of money, but I pray every day, big smile, big energy.
(Click here to donate to the Red Cross.)
16 years ago, I lost my house [in an earthquake]. Everyone was okay, but I lost my house. I feel very bad again because of this big earthquake in Japan. Now, everybody needs a smile, so I will make a big smile and I’ll never stop doing funny shows. Some people say don’t do that, and they get upset at the funny shows, the comic shows. But I don’t think so. Now, a singer has to sing, a wrestler has to do wrestling, an artist has to do the drawing, drivers have to drive cars, doctors have to save people, and me, my style is I have to do the Peelander Z show. Tomorrow I’m going to start this long tour everyday and try to do the sets as usual and do the best show.
PM: You’re going to go out and do the same show regardless. Does that help you cope and deal with some of these things?
PY: I think so, I think it can help us and other people. My heart is very sad but me, I have to smile. Not a selfish smile, but I have to give it from me to everybody: that is my job. That’s my life, so I have to keep doing it.
PM: After the tours and records and everything, what sort of big picture plans do you have for the band?
PY: I want to make more of a Peelander family. Maybe we can carry a white tiger, we can carry everybody on the big trailer. We can do eating competitions-we have a song about steak, so we could do the steak eating competition. We want to do, all over the world, a Peelander Family Union tour to make everybody happy. And then we’re going to shoot documentary videos. I want to show my real side and then my Peelander power man side.
PM: That’s really all the questions I have for you. Is there anything else you want to tell readers before you go?
PY: Everybody please visit our website, peelander-z.com. We have a Twitter and a Facebook, check us out. And say anything to me that you feel about the band. Come to see our show and give me your smile. I collect your smiles and send them all over the world. I want to make everybody happy.