The one and only edward’s operation
Edward’s Operation is in Japan now. Their presence here is not directly related to last summer’s Japanese general election or with the ongoing debate in Americaover health insurance and detention of terrorism suspects. Stool Ridges, Dung Philips, P. Standing and Yu Rine formed Edward’s Operation at St. Denis’ Secondary School in Manpool - suburban England, half-way between Liverpool and Manchester - in the tail end of the 1970s in the midst of dying Disco and Glitter Rock, and waxing New Wave, Punk, and Reggae Fusion. They were the darkest days of economic Thatcherism when the teenaged band members cut their musical teeth, earned their stripes and paid their dues in the hard scrabble world of Hertfordshire and Cornish clubs, school auditoriums and Church halls, driven around by Yu’s big sister in his mum’s VW Rabbit. With Stool and Dung on guitar and vocals, P. on bass and Yu on drums, EO forged a Jethro Tull sound with wittily narrative lyrics. Later they took in Yugoslavian exchange student Blad Dur on keyboards.
After school graduation in 1981 unemployment and uncertainty thinned their ranks and E.O.’s lineup regularly changed as some members separated for gigs with bigger bands in the London, Hamburg and Antwerp music scenes, some core members temporarily lost their way in the adversity of university, and others became bankers and antiquities auctioneers. Blad Dur brought his family to Britain as refugees before the collapse of Yugoslaviaand the start of the Serbian troubles in the Balkans. They settled in suburban New Manpool where Blad studied food management at vocational school before buying a franchise of the Super G Supermarket chain.
But in 1988, after graduating from the University of London’s Paleo-agronomics department, Stool Ridges trekked to Japan - literally trekked here - following the trans-Siberian railway on foot across Eurasia to Vladivostok. He said it was to do follow-up research on his paleo-agronomics dissertation, and also good for his health. But what it was really about was to win a bet he had with Dung Philips and P. Standing. Plus he thought it would be a good idea and give him lots of material to write songs about. Stool won - ten quid, which is all the money in Dung’s pocket when he made the bet. Using money cabled from his Dad, Hamish - a semi-retired hammer design engineer for the German DasSchtorm AG pharmaceuticals company - Stool got a ferry ticket and crossed the Sea of Japanto the coastal city of Niigata. Now he was stuck in Japan with no skills to earn a living except that he could play guitar just like ringing a bell and speak English pretty well, even with a Manpool accent - derisively called a “Manxcent” by many southern English.
Alone and without his old band mates Stool taught English for eight years, supplemented by Nuskin sales commissions and occasional acting work in Japanese television before courageously re-launching EO with a new lineup of more diverse musicians than EO ever hosted before - people drawn from the pool of expatriates living here: Stool on guitar and vocals; Nastee Wim on bass, Juniper Groin on violin, and Veronica Nipulls on keyboards. No percussion. Percussion was always a problem. Yu Rine was the original teenage drummer, but in Tokyo an appropriate, reliable and compatible skin man was hard to come by, plus problems of irregularity and spotty membership continued to plague the band until after their first new, live gig in 15-years occurred at the famous Fiddler stadium in Tokyo’s trendy Takadanobaba district in 1999. It got rave reviews from Stool.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2003 that Edward’s Operation acquired a new, stable percussionist when Stool’s English-teaching buddy, Doctor Darkman, joined the group and E.O.’s new foundation and new sound took form around the pair, who dubbed themselves The Dark Twins. Doctor Darkman arrived in Japan in 1989, only months on Stool’s heels, and although it took a few years for them finally to meet, when they did cross paths they immediately knew they were kindred spirits, members of the Tribe of Joseph. Together they mixed Stool’s quirky Jethro Tull lyrical pop virtuosity and Darkman’s dull-as-dirt, basic forward-moving-keep-your-head-down-and-don’t-look-around-drumming.
Currently Edward’s Operation are recording their second CD, Scrubbing In, and planning their third. It’s groovy, and very edwardian! Registeredalien was the first given an interview by the peripatetic, enigmatic group:
“Clearly, Stool, you’ve had a thing for Jethro Tull since high school.”
“Yes, I think they’re neat.”
“What about you Doctor Darkman?”
“Why do you do the things you do?”
“Because I’m magic, that’s why.”
“Do you have a thing for Jethro Tull, too?”
“No, I never heard of them until Stool told me.”
“Tell me about the music you liked growing up.”
“Well, I was a Beatlemanic. Still am, I wouldn’t wonder.”
“Who were your drumming heroes?’
“Ringo Starr, of course. And Charlie Chaplin”
“But Charlie Chaplin was a comedian, not a drummer.’
“That’s what everybody thinks. Stool likes Charlie Chaplin. It’s the mustache - and the young girls. He also likes Stewart Copeland and he wants me to drum like that. But I don’t know. The Police are good, you know, but I think Copeland is a baby grag.”
“What’s a baby grag?”
“You know, it’s a small version of one of those things with the thing that goes ‘Graaaaggg!”
“It’s anything I want it to be.”
“You decided to re-man the band with Japanese girls, I hear.”
“That’s right. We think Japanese females are fab. A girl bassist is so cool because they are so petite and it’s such a huge, stiff
and archetypical male instrument. I like girls so much that I even got me one. A couple more would be fun.”
“Me, too. And they have ovaries. What’s with that, anyway?
“But you know what’s coolest of all? A girl drummer.”
“And Darkman and I decided to get tattoos. For the band, of course, not for any other reason.”
“Tell us about it. Where did you get tattooed?”
“No, I mean where on you bodies?”
“I was afraid to, so Darkman got enough for both of us.”
“That’s right. It’s my charitable nature.”
For more news, information and photographs of Edward’s Operation visit their website at edwardsoperation.com.