Tekno Mando: Hot Trend or Cruel Hoax?
During the week of April Fool's Day, 2002, a very interesting e-conversation took place on the Mandolin Cafe discussion boards. Participants in Chicago claimed to have attended some shows featuring bands playing a new style of music: "tekno mando" or "space age mando punk." Allegedly, most of these bands were from Japan, and their shows involved outrageous costumes, extremely loud rock music fronted by electric mandolins (preferably Japanese-made Kingston EM1s), and extended jams. These shows were reportedly "underground" events held in an abandoned warehouse and advertised by word of mouth, like the "rave" parties of the early 1990s. The bands eschewed anything that smacked of publicity and commercialism, preferring an under-the-radar "guerrilla marketing" approach. Nonetheless, it was claimed, at least a thousand people attended one of these shows.
This discussion went on for several days, and naturally I offered such support as I was able to provide. I took down the names of the bands and the players and added them to this site. I made an appeal for photographs and recordings and offered to attend any shows in the Seattle area if these bands performed here.
And what happened then? Nada. I did receive one e-mail, via a Yahoo! address, purporting to be from a band member, but that was all. Meanwhile, one of the contributors to the aforementioned discussion board claimed that most tekno players thought this site was "lame." Nonetheless, I and several other individuals whose interest was piqued by the conversation attempted to track down the bands who were mentioned. But despite our efforts, we have never been able to confirm the existence of a single tekno mando band, although I think the discussion thread may have caused a temporary spike in demand for secondhand Kingston EM1s. (The EM1 originally retailed for $49, but it was claimed that young headbangers were snapping them up at prices of $350–700.) If these bands really do exist, then they've perfected the art of underground marketing: They're so far underground that you can't find them even if you want to.
I should add that I did have a couple of telephone conversations with another individual posting information about the bands. I will not name names, but the individual has never followed through on his promise to send some recordings. Only he knows for sure whether tekno mando is real or a joke. However, as I have noted, the discussion did take place around April Fool's Day, and most of the posts in support of tekno mando came from the same IP address, although they purported to be from different people. (The discussion thread itself is long gone; Mandolin Cafe had to move its boards to a new ISP and its archive was lost in the process.) Having spent a year and a half in a fruitless search, I now declare myself a confirmed skeptic. I have removed all mention of tekno bands and players from elsewhere in the site and dumped it here. If you can supply hard evidence to confirm that these or any other tekno mando bands exist, feel free to . Otherwise, I'm forced to conclude that tekno mando is nothing more than an interesting myth in the world of mandolin lore.
Rice, Children of the Sun, the Untouchables, Jade Sisters, Bright White Light, Eight String Express, Motorcross, and Flying Tigers were some band names mentioned in addition to the ones below. There actually is a band named Flying Tigers, but it's a conventional American rock band that has no mandolin player. And anyhow, why would a Japanese band name itself after a WWII American bomber squadron famous for its raids on Japan?
Miko was a Kingston EM1 player described as an outstanding soloist.
Niko (go ahead, send her an e-mail) played with a band called Crimson Dynamo. Here's the text of the single e-mail message I received that purported to be from Niko:
"We have no CD yet, but we will have one very soon. Both Sony and EMI have contacted us. For the last two years we have been on the underground tekno circuit, playing a few nights in clubs all over.And there you have it. I should add that Crimson Dynamo is also the name of a Marvel comic series. So sue me.
Annie and Rachel Sabatini
The Sabatini sisters allegedly played Ovation mandolins and fronted a Chicago band called Daughters of Eve.
Another Kingston EM1 player.
Yet another EM1 player, leading a band called Flaming Sun.
I haven't been able to confirm Michael's existence either; the only place I've heard about him is in connection with tekno mando. Based in Milan, Italy, Mike allegedly made 8-string instruments that resemble Gibson's Explorer with reverse "V" headstocks, as well as teardrop-style 8-strings, and had built mandolins for George Harrison and Jimmy Page.