The pillows

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Japanese band, the pillows. (right to left) Shinichirou Sato (D), Sawao Yamanaka (Vo/G) and Yoshiaki Manabe (G)
The title of this article is incorrect because of technical limitations. The correct title is the pillows.
For information on the cushion, see pillow.

the pillows is a Japanese rock band, best known outside Japan for their music in the anime series FLCL. The band's name is intentionally written without capitalization.



Early beginnings

the pillows formed in 1989, when the legendary '80s J-Rock band Kenzi & the Trips split up. Former Trips Kenji Ueda (Bass) and Shinichiro Sato (Drums) teamed up with Yoshiaki Manabe (Guitar), who had previously played for 80s hair-band Persia, and Sawao Yamanaka (Vocals).

The group recorded their first five-song demo tape, Pantomime, as The Coinlocker Babies (after the Ryu Murakami novel Coin Locker Babies). They toured and performed for almost three years before being picked up by Captain Records as the pillows. They re-recorded the Pantomime demo, which was then released as their first EP. This was immediately followed by a second EP, 90s My Life.

the pillows then signed on to Pony Canyon, and in 1991, released their first full album, Moon Gold. In 1992, shortly after their second album, White Incarnation was recorded, Ueda left the band. He was never properly replaced; the band simply used a series of guest bassists in recording sessions and on tours, including Tatsuya Kashima of Bad Face, and Jun Suzuki of The Chewinggum Weekend.

In 1994, the band once again moved, this time to King Records, and released Kool Spice, their major-label debut. With Ueda no longer in the band, the pillows' style started slowly drifting away from their style of jazzy pop and wildly experimented between varying genres. Kool Spice blended jazzy instrumentals like "Twilight Park Waltz" with their own distinctive style of rock in songs like "Naked Shuffle." The 1995 release Living Field also featured built on the jazz-inspired tunes, but was predominately a more popular, easy-listening style. Manabe's interest in reggae was most present on this album, in "Native World."

Growing popularity

It was on their transitional record, 1997's Please Mr. Lostman, that the pillows finally got their groove. Preceded by a series of hit singles, and evocative of such American rock bands as Weezer and Pixies, it catapulted the band to mainstream success in Japan. The album largely serves as a link between the band's earlier style and the hard rock that would follow. After a wildly successful tour, the band proceeded to release three increasingly successful follow-up albums over the next two years: Little Busters, Runners High, and Happy Bivouac.

In 1999, the pillows were approached by Gainax, an anime studio famous for hits such as Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Gainax wanted to license the pillows' three most recent albums, for their latest anime, entitled FLCL. the pillows agreed, even composing two new singles specifically for the anime: "Ride on Shooting Star" and "I Think I Can."

the pillows would not release another album until 2001, but they were still successful; the FLCL soundtracks sold well, as did their own best-of compilation, Fool on the Planet. Sawao concentrated his energies on Delicious Label, his record company side project. Manabe released a solo album as Nine Miles, continuing the reggae experimentation hinted at in earlier albums.

The band rarely makes reference to their earlier, radically different work, almost never playing any pre-"Lostman" songs at concerts, but in 2004 the video documentary "Walkin' on the Spiral" focused on the pillow's early music.

Recent developments

the pillows released their next album, Smile, without releasing any singles. In 2002, the FLCL anime became available in the United States, winning more converts to the band, which was releasing its tenth album, Thank You, My Twilight, along with a double-album collection of B-sides, Another Morning, Another Pillows.

After another short break, during which Sawao released some solo work under Delicious Label, Manabe released a second Nine Miles album, and Sato toured with various other bands, the pillows released Penalty Life in November 2003.

Their latest album, entitled Good Dreams, was released on November 3, 2004.

U.S. touring

In 2005, the pillows played their first ever U.S. show in March 2005, at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, with Noodles. After that, they began to tour other large market cities, including Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and LA (among others), where they have been well received, and continue to expand their fanbase. In mid-2005, a domestic release of "Penalty Life" is planned, which Yamanaka says, is the first of more US album releases.


  • Sawao Yamanaka (山中 さわお): lyrics, vocals, guitar
  • Yoshiaki Manabe (真鍋 吉明): guitar
  • Shinichiro Sato (佐藤 シンイチロウ): drums
  • Kenji Ueda (上田 ケンジ): bass (1987-1992)
  • Tatsuya Kashima: bass (1992-1999)
  • Jun Suzuki (鈴木 淳): bass (1999-)
    • He is usually not considered an "official" member out of respect to the original members



  • Ame ni utaeba (1991)
  • Kanojyo wa shisuta (1992)
  • Girl Friend (1995)
  • Tiny Boat (1996)
  • TRIP DANCER (1996)
  • Strange Chameleon (1996)
  • Swanky Street (1996)
  • Kanojyo wa kyou (1997)
  • Hybrid Rainbow (1997)
  • ONE LIFE (1997)
  • Another Morning (1998)
  • Instant Music (1998)
  • NO SELF CONTROL (1998)
  • CARNIVAL (1999)
  • RUSH (1999)
  • Ride on shooting star (2000)
  • I think I can (2000)
  • white summer and green bicycle, red hair with black guitar (2002)
  • ターミナル・ヘヴンズ・ロック "TERMINAL HEAVEN'S ROCK" (2003)
  • その未来は今"Sono mirai wa ima" (2004)

External links

ja:The pillows


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