Attempting to stand out among your peers when you practice your art in the world of Japanese pop/rock/punk is no mean feat, but New York City-based Peelander-Z has certainly made some serious waves. Blending elements of the Power Rangers, Japanese and American pop culture images, sci-fi, and pro wrestling, Peelander-Z won fans and friends from a wide cross section of the pop audience, appearing on a number of compilations, as well as festivals and conventions.
The group, made up of Kengo Hioki (aka Peelander Yellow -- vocals, guitar), Kotaro Tsukada (aka Peelander Red -- bass, vocals), and Kazuki Yamamoto (aka Peelander Blue -- drums, vocals) came together in 1998. As "legend" has it the three were born in the Z region of the planet Peelander, and their colorful garb was not merely costume, but their "alien" skin. Their debut recording, the mini-album Peelander-Z, was released in 1999, and -- coupled with their frenetic (to say the least) live show -- the buzz led to their first American television appearance, on Comedy Central's Upright Citizens Brigade that same year. 2001 saw the release of the debut full-length, Rocket Gold Star, as well as the band's first appearance at the New York CMJ Music Marathon -- a gig they would play a number of times over the next few years. 2002 saw the band take on their first nationwide U.S. tour, and in 2003, Peelander-Z released their follow-up album, P-Bone Steak.
Over the next five years, the group toured, appeared at numerous festivals (including Bonnaroo and SXSW), made television appearances (Spike's Most Extreme Challenge, for one) and released more manic J-pop/punk masterpieces, including 2005's Dancing Friendly and 2006's Happee Mania. After a busy 2007, which included the band's first DVD release (Peelander Is Fun!), the band was shaken up in 2008, when it was announced that Peelander Blue (Kazuki Yamamoto) was being "called back" to the Planet Peelander, as he was next in line for the crown of the kingdom of his home world. The actual story as to why Yamamoto left the manic trio is far more mundane -- family commitments -- but Peelander-Z was able to soldier on, when Peelander Green (Akihiko Naruse) signed on to further the group's momentum. In 2009, back to full strength, Peelander-Z released its fifth album, P-Pop-High School, and spent that spring touring their new collection. In 2013, the group tried on a new look for Metalander-Z, a spirited sendup of '80s hair metal. ~ Chris True