Living in Japan
Sushi Caberet: Nagoya style!

Sushi Caberet: Nagoya style!

Added In: Living in Japan › Arts

Jospeh Stavoy

Hailing from four different countries, the members of The Sushi Cabaret Club met and formed their band in Nagoya in 2003. This trivial twist of birthplace happenstance should not lead one to assume, however, that their musical worldviews, tastes and influences are in any way divergent. Indeed, what you find is a band whose ethos is steeped in similarly discriminating pop/rock sensibilities. It is also a band whose members possess a correspondingly earnest work ethic; the band played over 70 shows last year, and is finishing up work on its fourth CD in as many years. 

Guitarist/vocalist Dave Wallace, from Scotland, and keyboardist/backing vocalist David Freeman from England met in Japan four years ago while in separate bands working corporate promotional gigs in Nagoya. They hooked up, met Australian bassist Aaron Beutel in Misfits, then advertised for, found and auditioned American drummer Mike Bagley to complete the rhythm section.

Since 2003, the band has gigged extensively around Japan (most notably, two Fuji Rock Festival appearances) and released three CDs. They are wrapping up production on a new album and finishing a year of touring in support of their last CD, the eminently listenable Band in my Head.

The first song on Band in my Head is the rocker “Blues and Greys.”  Replete with a strong melody, a hooky chorus and edgy stutter and pop from the rhythm section of Beutel and Bagley, it sets a striking tone for the rest of the album. Then on “Smile,” a mid-tempo joint with a rootsy guitar/organ interplay, Dave Wallace’s superb alt-rock vocals wrap around another tasty melody. His singing may remind some of Chris Robinson, John Mayer or Dave Matthews; others, proceeding from a more British perspective, may hear him channeling Rod Stewart or Joe Cocker - an impressive cohort, in any case. What’s certain, though, is that Wallace’s voice projects a soulful R&B-meets-alt-rock vocal style that is capable of capturing plaintive, expressive moments as well as full-throated rock epiphanies. 

The second half of the CD - Side Two, for all you vinyl freaks - is awash with the most compelling and introspective tracks on the album. “New Beginning” starts out with a proggy synth intro and then progresses into an upbeat guitar rocker that is steeped in a 70s aesthetic; “Three Wishes” follows with a perfect rock melody and a weary growl of a vocal. With an immediately accessible arrangement, “Three Wishes” is a musical microcosm of the production values on Band in my Head. Wallace and Freeman may write the songs, and there’s no doubt that they are dynamic melodists, but the entire band is responsible for the arrangements and the sonic texture that gives The Sushi Cabaret Club its very big groove. 

Finally, “Breaking,” the concluding track, adheres to the slow/fast dynamic used liberally and to great effect on many of the arrangements on Band in my Head.  Dave Wallace’s voice floats over a soft piano intro in a haze of echo and ache before the full band kicks in and the song surges into a prodigious denouement of guitars, synths and the most inspired drumming on the album. 

The Sushi Cabaret Club have managed to brew in a few short years, both on CD and in their live performances, a most resonant and melodic rock potion. And with Band in my Head, they have captured a compelling vibe that courses through every track on this terrific song cycle. And here’s some more good news - the discerning concert enthusiast will find their live shows to be just as intense, focused and engaging. Be convinced; go to the show. 

The Sushi Cabaret Club will be performing live at Mojo in Kyoto on April 8. Their new CD will be out in May, 2007, to be followed by a CD release party at Nagoya’s Club Diamond Hall on June 2, 2007. Visit their website for more details: