Bass:
Yoshihito
Onda
Guitar:
Takuya Asanuma
Vocal:
Yuki
Isoya
Drums:
Kohta
Igarashi


Most of you anime fans would undoubtedly know JAM from "Sobakasu", the opening song for the first season of the popular anime Rurouni Kenshin, but I've been a fan of theirs long before I ever heard of the show. This offbeat band made their debut in 1993 and have since become among the most popular alternative rock bands in Japan. Their music is very punky, very spunky and really catchy. It's a mixture of styles from British punk-rock to Shibuya pop and with Yuki's influence it's a little bit "girly rock" too. I'm not to knowledgeable about specific names of rock n' roll punk bands of the late 70's and early 80's but I can say that this is very much the type of music you'll find in this band. Musically quite close to groups like the Ramones (bassist Onda does say his favorite movie is the Ramone's movie "Rock n' Roll High School"). The music is often fast and fun. It's all about having a good time and when you're watching JAM, you can't help but be happy. Their live shows are wild and among the most fun you can possibly have in paid seats. Their videos are equally interesting to watch. Never boring unlike most other music stars. Why is it so entertaining to watch JAM? Well, partly for the improvised musical antics, adience involvement, individual energy of each member, and even for the fashions.

While they're not exactly what you'd call a visual band, they're known for their kitchy sense of slacker fashion. Yuki for example will go on stage in all kinds of outfits ranging from cute to weird. Often she just wears simple dresses and the like, but other times she'll don poofy wigs, colorfully mismatched clothes with funny designs, animal costumes, and some things so unusual that I can't find words to describe them. It's caused many young women to emulate her style.





The band started shortly after Yuki and Onda had a chance meeting during a film shoot in Yuki's hometown of Hakodate, Hokkaido. Onda had played with countless bands and was currently with a band called JACKS'N JOKER and returning from a recording in L.A. Yuki herself had some experience in the music scene being in a couple of bands. Their fortuous meeting would lead to the formation of Judy and Mary 8 months later in February 1992. Onda got Kohta, who he had met a few years before, to be their drummer, although Kohta didn't become an official member until later. Two months later they released an album with an independant label. Takuya, who had experience with a few other bands previously was the last to join one year after JAM's creation. Not long after, they signed with EPIC/SONY Records and the rest is history.

Most of the music is written by either Onda who is often considered the band leader or Takuya. In early years, Onda wrote nearly all of the songs, but in more recent years Takuya has been writing more of their music. Also because of his dynamic guitar playing with the way he runs around the stage and plays up to the audience he's been getting almost as much attention as Yuki (His antics sometimes remind me of Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers). But all of the members are involved in the song writing process as Yuki and Kohta do write songs as well. As for lyrics they're usually written by Yuki and Takuya. Yuki had a love of poetry as a young girl and it really shows in the way her lyrics are so kooky yet clever.

I like all of the members a lot. But I especially love Yuki who's quite an interesting vocalist. Often her high pitched singing is reminiscent of a little girl's screaming and hollering, but at the same time her voice can be quite melodic and beautiful as well. It's quite a mysterious thing that she can combine two completely opposite singing styles into one. Like I said, their music is very fun and full of spunk but it's also really well written rock music underneath the whimsical style. I like bands that don't take themselves too seriously and it's because of JAM's lively and humorous style that they've become one of my favorite bands. As long as you're someone who believes rock should be fun, you too may become a Judy and Mary fan.

Notes:

- Apart from what the name might lead you to believe, there's no one named Judy or Mary in the band. It's just the band name which is sort of a metaphor for yin and yang. Judy is meant to have a positive connotation while Mary is supposedly a negative one.

- JAM guitarist Takuya was the singer for a band called Robots before joining Judy and Mary. However in 1996 he started up Robots again and now divides his attentions between the band and his solo project. Takuya has said that down the road he'd prefer to be in Robots full time since it is his own band, but stays with JAM because the money's good.

- Recently after releasing their double live CD, Judy and Mary have gone on hiatus for an undetermined amount of time. Right now Yuki is apparently joined with a new band called NiNa which Yuki does vocals along with former B-52's singer Kate Pierson. They recently released their first single with an album on the way. I think it's just a temporary thing though. I know Onda has been producing a band called White Berry, but I'm not sure who else. I believe Takuya is as always playing with his band Robots, but I haven't been aware of any new singles yet. I still don't know what Kohta is up to. Does anyone know?


TAKUYA YUKI ONDA KOHTA

 
Mason's Favorite Album
Miracle Diving


Their third album is deleriously funky and while no one song will instantly catch you, all of its songs will really grow on you if you give them a chance. Each and every one of the songs on this album are JAM-packed full of fun. At no time have I ever been tempted to skip songs. I like them all treMendosly. It has rockin' improv style songs like Miracle Night Diving and Little Miss Highway where you can tell the band really gets to have a lot of fun. The same goes for Stereo zenkai which is one of the most popular JAM songs and one you can really get into. The first single Overdrive is probably the most famous song off the album and is a real good-time tune while the second single Doki Doki is another wickedly fun song with a cute and funky melody. Kyoto is a mellow and harmonious rock song that fills me with a warm feeling of hearth and home. This album also has a very 50's pop feel in many of the songs. Such as Anata wa Ikiteiru, Platinum and Anemone no Koi which introduce the use of a 50's style melody and backing "Woo" vocals. One of my favorite yet most underrated songs Oh! Can Not Angel has some of the best bass and guitar I've heard from any JAM song. Just thinking about the melody sets my head a' boppin'. A great song written by Kohta. The album ends with the quiet and moving ballad Kaerenai futari that consists of Yuki singing by herself with only Takuya on acoustic guitar and some bubbly sounds as accompanyment. Here Yuki shows surprising sides to her singing ability. I find it kind of disheartening that Miracle Diving is so often overlooked when I hear fans rating the best JAM album. To me this is their best album, hands down. Some may pick one of their other albums since they had more singles (This album had just two singles while the other albums had three to five). The thing with this album is that all of the songs are equally enjoyable which in turn means that no one song sticks out from the rest. This is unlike all of the other albums which usually had a few songs that were slightly more catchy than the others so they got noticed right away. That difference may be why this album sticks out less in people's minds since it's not evident which song should they favor. That's my theory anyway.

(1995/12/4)

[1]Miracle Night Diving
[2]Over Drive
[3]Kyoto
[4]Little Miss Highway
[5]Anata wa Ikiteiru
[6]Doki doki
[7]Stereo Zenkai
[8]Oh! Can Not Angel
[9]Platinum
[10]Anemone no Koi
[11]Kaerenai Futari


Mason's top 25 favorite JAM songs
  1. Daydream
  2. Overdrive (midi sample)
  3. Jitensha
  4. Doki Doki (midi sample)
  5. Kujira 12 gou (midi sample)
  6. Radio
  7. Sampomichi
  8. Oh! Can Not Angel
  9. Sobakasu (midi sample)
  10. Lover Soul (midi sample)
  11. Lovely Baby
  12. Stereo zenkai
  13. Lolita A-Go-Go
  14. Brand New Wave Upper Ground
  15. Kaze ni fukarete
  16. Make Up One's Mind
  17. Power of Love
  18. Tegami o kaku yo
  19. Anemone no koi
  20. Hello! Orange Sunshine
  21. Kaerenai futari
  22. Miracle Night Diving
  23. Music Fighter
  24. Natural Beauty '98
  25. Kyoto


    Judy and Mary Links

Judy and Mary Official Homepage
Hyper JAM
Judy and Mary
(from Japan, but in English)
Judy and Mary Singapore
Judy and Mary in English
Judy and Mary @ J-COM