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Sawao Yamanaka
Sawao Yamanaka Sawao Yamanaka with the Pillows - click for larger image Sawao Yamanaka with the Pillows Sawao Yamanaka playing guitar
Sawao Yamanaka is the Japanese singer and guitar player for the popular group the Pillows. He also plays in the group the Predators along with Shinpei and Glay bass player Jiro. Sawao is known for writing and playing a highly varying style of music over the years.

He wrote two songs for Puffy's 2007 album Honeycreeper: Sayonara Summer and Complaint.

Sawao Yamanaka was born on December 7th, 1968 in Hokkaido and grew up listening to punk rock. In 1988 he began singing and playing guitar for the group the Coinlocker Babies and recorded a demo tape called Pantomime.

In 1989 he started up the group the Pillows in Hokkaido with Yoshiaki Manabe, Kenji Ueda and Shinichirou Sato. After rerecording some of the music from their earlier demo they signed with Pony Canyon and came out with their first major release Moon Gold in 1991. Since then they have released White Incarnation (1992), Kool Spice (1994), Living Field (1995), Please Mr. Lostman (1997), Little Busters (1998), Runners High (1999), Happy Bivouac (1999), Smile (2001), Thank You, My Twilight (2002), Penalty Life (2003), 90's My Life Returns (2004), Good Dreams (2004), My Foot (2006) and Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up! (2007).

While the Pillows have played in the US, England and Mexico they are perhaps best known outside Japan for writing the music for the anime show FLCL (Furi Kuri).

Other facts: Sawao started his own independent record label in 1999 with former member Kenji Ueda called "Delicious Label." He also made an appearance in the 2003 Japanese movie "Colors of Life." The band name "the Pillows" is officially spelled in lower case.

For more info checkout their official site.

The Anime News Network has (or had) an interesting interview with the group from 2006.