OffBeat Magazine is celebrating 30 years and reached that milestone with our November 2017 issue. To mark the anniversary, over the next 12 months OffBeat will re-publish excerpts from features and interviews from the past 30 years.
In our eighth installment, from our January 2004 issue, Christen Hardy interviews Alex McMurray, who is playing Bayou Boogaloo this month:
After the breakup of Royal Fingerbowl, McMurray decided to take a job that most musicians would call unorthodox. He flew to Tokyo, and picked up the alter ego of Captain Sandy, a sea shanty singing “atmosphere guy” at Tokyo Disney Sea. “It’s right next to Tokyo Disneyland.” For months McMurray walked around the amusement park performing in front of tourists who had no idea what he was singing. “It was as close to madness as I ever want to be,” McMurray says. “The loneliness was incredible.”
Asked about his experience in Japan, he gave these responses:
The Japanese Passion for Costuming: “In Yoyogi Park every Sunday, there’s this whole goth girl parade. The Japanese look great in costumes. Plus, they’re all wearing uniforms. Everybody’s in uniforms every day—the ‘Salary Man’ wears a uniform, the ‘Office Lady’ wears a uniform, the school kids wear uniforms and their grandmothers wear uniforms. Costumes are an escape.”
Japanese Fetishism: “The Japanese are fetishists. There’s a pocket of fandom for everything. You see boom-box Elvises in the parks—these guys in greaser outfits: black t-shirts, black jeans, motorcycle boots and these pompadours sticking out this far. For eight hours, they would twist in a circle. One guy would go in the middle and shake it, then he would go back to the perimeter and another guy would go in the center and dance. For eight hours.”