Across the universe

Peelander-Z brings interplanetary funhouse to Blind Bob’s

By Rusty Pate

Photo: “Japanese Action Comic Punk” band Peelander-Z will perform at Blind Bob’s on Nov. 15; photo: Whitney Lee

Every band needs a story, and Peelander-Z has a good one.

The group’s members hail from area Z on planet Peelander. That’s right, aliens – of the interstellar variety, rather than the ones that drive Republicans so crazy. Each Peelander represents a different color. They may look like costumes, but on planet Peelander, skin just so happens to look like spandex.

Their mission is a simple one.

“Our planet’s people, they eat smiles – like a steak, like a vegetable, like a ramen noodle,” said the group’s lead singer and guitarist, Peelander Yellow. “We come here to collect smiles. We have to send to them and rescue them. So that is our project, that is why we are here.”

Preparing for an interview such as this was tough. My contact told me I would be talking to Peelander Yellow. Google revealed Yellow’s name to actually be Kengo Hioki, a Japanese-born New Yorker who helped found this outfit in 1998. A quick search of YouTube turned up interviews featuring broken English and wild and high-energy answers that often had little to do with the questions posed.

I decided to play this straight. If their website said they were aliens and I was instructed to ask for “Peelander Yellow,” I was going to play along.

“Don’t miss our show,” Yellow said. “We are not a band. We never play music. We just want to play with you.”

In a world full of Emo, hipster bearded troubadours, Peelander-Z feels like a breath of fresh air. They can be accused of many things, but they certainly do not take themselves too seriously. They’re not trying to be The Beatles. They have a much more difficult goal in mind.

“We want to have a happy entertainment show and make you smile and make you happy,” Yellow said. “Of course, we have music, but music is like 10 percent. The other 90 percent is: we’re going to do human bowling, we’re going to do jumping rope, sometimes baseball, sometimes football. We’re going to do something crazy on stage.”

The band has released nine albums, with early releases falling more in the punk esthetic. However, they have spanned several styles over the years. They’ve recorded a kid’s album and a space album. Their most recent effort, Metalander-Z, offers heavy riffs that bring to mind the early 1980s heyday of metal, before Bon Jovi came along and ruined the genre.

However, the albums only scratch the surface of what’s happening. Their live show is a tour de force of seemingly boundless energy and near mandatory audience participation. Self-described as “Japanese Action Comic Punk,” perhaps the biggest mystery surrounding Peelander-Z is just how they fuel their kinetic stage presence.

“We eat sushi. We eat noodle. We drink sake every night. We ate hamburger, pizza,” Yellow said. “We eat everything, every world food, every space and universe food … and we have Red Bull. That’s why we have lots of energy.”

They’ve performed more than 1,300 shows in their history, according to Yellow. The group’s core features Green (Akihiko “Cherry” Naruse) on drums and Pink (Yumiko Kanazaki) “maybe” playing bass for their upcoming shows. They also have a Purple and Black, sometimes.

It might not be fair to say they play characters, as that denotes a level of insincerity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps it all sprang from the fact that getting noticed, especially in a place like New York City, requires a bit of intergalactic thinking.

“We started in 1998 and nobody come. Nobody cared because our music is kind of stinky – nothing, just two chord, three chord,” Yellow said. “We started the other side. We do something crazy. We do wrestling move, we dancing, dancing, dancing, like New Kids on the Block – crazy stuff and everybody love it. I just decided, ‘OK, forget about music,’ because all good musicians here – I cannot beat. We decided we’re not musicians, we are performers.”

As the interview progressed, I may have confused him a bit by asking how Earth is different from Planet Peelander. Eventually, he let me in on the secret that they were actually humans wearing costumes.

I’m not going to lie – I was a little bummed.

The Peelander ethos draws people in. Modern indie music often leaves a lot to be desired in the “happy, happy” department. To find a band so joyously unconcerned with some B.S. pursuit of credibility or gravitas feels so refreshing. After all, live shows are meant to be fun – an escape.

Peelander-Z provides that escape, not only with their live shows, but also with their approach to their overall craft. One of the easiest, and admittedly lazy, questions an interviewer can ask a performer concerns influences. It is meant to provide a common language for the reader, but Yellow shunned the query. The real goal of art is communication. When it is done right, it doesn’t need to be explained.

“I love super, super simple because I cannot play,” Yellow said. “I don’t want to say anything, but people can catch my message.”

Peelander-Z will perform at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. in Dayton, on Saturday, Nov. 15. at 7 p.m. Admission is $7 for patrons 18 and up. For more information, please visit


Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at

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