I recently caught up with the eclectic electric swirly pop/rock band Edward’s Operation at a Tokyorehearsal studio. Actually, it wasn’t hard to do, since I’m in the band. EO is fantastically talented but because its members have regular daytime jobs and live mainstream conventional lives their musical personae reside in a deeply hidden underworld of musical freaks, impoverished virtuosos and recording techno wizards. They float through the streets of Tokyo’s night club denizens, haunting tiny basement clubs - and sometimes second floor clubs. Which means that EO gets very little sleep, hence their reputation as being not only one of Tokyo’s grooviest expatriate bands, but one of the sleepiest as well. The world of Edward’s Operation is a world of word-of-mouth familiarity that critics might say consigns its scope to the local scene.
Still, EO is whispered on thousands of lips like an urban legend, but they are rarely seen together in the flesh. Is it a conspiracy, incompetence, or just bad timing? Anyway, opportunities to see the band - variously a duo, a trio, a quartet and a quintet - perform are golden chances. EO did perform in Tokyo last fall, and when I met them in a studio recently they were rehearsing for the gig.
“But isn’t that backward?” I asked. “Shouldn’t you rehearse before you play the gig?”
Long-time band leader Six Fingers Eddie told me, “Well, yeah, usually. But Japan is the opposite side of the planet from where I grew up so it’s natural, isn’t it?”
“Doing things backwards.”
“I think so, too” chimed in lead violinist Fast Sari Edwards - simply called Fast Sari in the band.
“But you’re Japanese.”
“Yes, I am.”
“How’s your English?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Alright. How did you get your nickname, Fast Sari? Is it because you play like a rabid animal, or like a little boy desperately trying to reach the bathroom?”
“No! It’s no my nickname! I tell this everybody to a million time now! Before my born my father want me to call Sally. But he has lisp - he lisped? - so it sound like ‘Sari.’ That’s how hospital’s registrar persons write it.”
“I thought a lisp affected just the letter ‘s’.”
“That’s English man’s lisp. Japanese lisp is ‘l / r’ sound, dummy!”
“Okay. And what about the ‘Fast’?”
“My mother call me that because I come out so quick. Like tofu, I easy.”
“I see. And what about you, Six Fingers Eddie?”
“To begin with, just by coincidence everyone currently in the band has some derivation of the word ‘Edward’ in their name.
It wasn’t always like that. When I started the band thirty years ago ...
“Don’t interrupt. Where was I? Oh, yes, to do things backwards ...”
“You were saying about how everyone has the name ‘Edward’ in their name.”
“Right. When I started the band we all had normal names, like my old school mates Nastee Wim and P. Standing who were in the band at the beginning, in the days of Margaret Thatcher. But then I re-formed the band after coming to Japan. Members came and went. Mostly they went. But it’s the Edwards who have stuck around. Ask Dr. Darkman.”
I turn to drummer Dr. Edward Darkman, eating a banana in the corner.
“What’s your nickname, Dr. Darkman?”
“It’s‘Darkman,’ because I always dress in black.”
“It’s to hide, so no one will see me. I want to leave not only as little nitrogen footprint in the world as possible, I want to pass under everyone’s radar and remain unnoticed until I’m gone, then everyone will say, ‘Who was that?’”
“Do you think that’s likely?”
“Are you hiding from anyone in particular?”
“Japanese government men, always. A couple of old girlfriends. Oh, and my wife. Don’t tell her I’m here. She doesn’t know I spent the money to get this banana. ”
“Why, how much did it cost?”
“It must be a really special banana.”
“Well, it tastes real good, yeah. But by itself it didn’t cost so much. I’m just factoring in the cost of getting here by train and then renting this studio. My wife doesn’t know.”
“Do you always have secrets from your wife?”
“Well ... yeah.”
“Alright. But you said you wanted to leave as little nitrogen footprint in the world as possible. Don’t you mean carbon footprint?”
“No. Everyone’s doing the carbon thing. Nitrogen’s the future, babe.”
“Are you a real doctor?”
“Certainly. I bought - I mean I got my diploma in Bangkok. Wanna see?”
“What kind of doctor are you?”
“My diploma says gynoneuropsychoproctodermohippogryph.”
“I’ve never heard of that.”
“Six Fingers, back to you and your nickname.”
“Right. Okay. Well, when I was a boy I was born with a vestigial sixth finger. It was surgically removed when I was a
“No way. It’s true. I have no memory of it but I have this scar here, see? Sometimes I tell people it’s a callous from the guitar strings. They don’t know the difference. My family’s doctor said it was what was left of an in utero fetal twin brother or sister that I absorbed in the womb. I learned that information when I was a teenager. It freaked me out, but ever since then I have felt a sense of loss for the sibling I ate. So I once thought of a stage nickname like‘Edward the Cannibal,’ or ‘Cannibal Animal,’ or ‘Edward Eat Me’ or something, but I never decided on a good one.”
“So how was it decided?”
“Dr. Darkman suggested it because when we practice I always have a tendency to speed up during a song. It’s a chronic vice.”
“What sort of man are you, Six Fingers?
“Oh, just the usual sort, only more so.”
“Well, what are your hobbies?”
“I’m very much an English country gentleman. I like to putter about my rose garden.”
“How about you, Fast Sari?”
“I like cakes. I want to open a cake shop.”
“You mean, Edward’s Operation is not a career for you?”
“Yes, it is. But I still want my cake shop.”
“And how about you, Dr. Darkman?”
“If I moved in next door to you your grass would die. Dogs bark at me. But I love young children.”
“Thank you. Finally, what is Edward’s Operation working on today?”
“This year we are finishing up a new CD, the first in what will be a series of surgical themed albums. In particular we want our fans to expect two especially funky upcoming songs. One is Dr. Darkman’s first song, ‘Tell Me.’ The other is another tricky little number I like to call ‘Upside down flip rubble bubble cake.’ When we’re ready we will be performing live regularly.”
“Oh ... somewhere.”
“Thanks for your time.”
“It was our please” said Dr. Darkman, finishing off his banana.
To learn more about Edward’s Operation and to view Youtube clips visit edwardoperation.com and youtube.com/user/EdwardsOperation