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New York Cool - Music

Irving Plaza
December 7, 2008

Written by Matt Boyd
Photographed by Amy Davidson


On December 7, 2009, Mucc put on a fantastic performance replete with ghostly face paint and huge guitar arrangements, rocking out a set easily as dexterous as the elderly rockers of Iron Maiden. But before I had the good fortune of seeing and hearing them that night, I had a chance to catch up with the band during sound check that afternoon.



Mucc’s vocalist, Tatsuro Iwakami, and bassist, YUKKE, met with me the afternoon before their well-attended performance at Irving Plaza show last month. While we sat and talked on their career, influences, touring, and coming up as a visual-kei band in Ibaraki, Japan a line of fans, themselves influenced by Mucc’s costumed spectacle-rock, wrapped around the block, crouched against the building in hooded sweatshirts and wreathed in the white of their breath in the freezing weather. I could only smile and hope they hadn’t been there all night.

I sat down with the two longtime bandmates as Tatsuro turned in his chair, shutting off his PSP, and YUKKE walked into the room.

“How long have MUCC been playing together,” I asked the two of them once we’d made our introductions and decided the interpreter’s skills would mediate conversation a lot more smoothly than would my own shaky Japanese.

“We’ve been together since ’97, playing together about 4-5 years in small local live houses and working part time jobs before we were signed to a major and really started to hit it big.”

Judging from the crowd that was camping out to see them and getting larger on what was a no-joke cold kind of day in NYC, a city on the other side of the world from where they are based now (Tokyo, Japan) and where they started (the smaller Ibaraki, Japan), they have certainly come a long way from working part-time baito and playing small shows.

I asked the pair if they were surprised at the reaction they had been getting since they had been in the states (they were on a 2-show headlining tour following their first visit to the States in February ’08- when they played 34 dates for the Taste of Chaos tour).

“Yeah, the signing line at the last show was pretty long,” Tatsuro volunteered.

So, who are your influences, who do you guys turn on when you want to listen to?” I asked them.

“I like old Japanese visual-kei, bands like Luna Sea,” was what YUKKE told me, referring to the seminal ‘90s J-rock band.

Tatsuro sang a different tune.

“I have to concentrate on writing new lyrics all the time, so I try not to listen to a lot of other bands.”

About visual-kei:. This English-Japanese hybrid word describes a form of music characterized literally by how it looks. Its primary emphasis is on a powerful and unmistakable image. The visual part, you can understand what that means, and the kei part means “form”. It’s like taking a show band like Marilyn Manson and giving it a lot more show.

I asked the guys what bands they’d met and gotten along with while out touring the world.

“We became pretty good friends with Atreyu, so we’d like to play with them again, bring them to Japan.” Atreyu is a metal band from Long Beach, CA that was on the Taste of Chaos tour with Mucc.

Shi-On, the record released most recently stateside had actually been released about 8 months earlier in Japan and Europe, and the band told me they hoped they could coordinate release dates to tour the US again right when their new album, which they were in the middle of writing and recording, came out.

“What does Shi-On mean?” I asked, expecting a darker meaning. Shi is one of the words for death, and on is a word for sound in Japanese. The answer, when Tatsuro fielded this one, was a little unexpected.

“It’s a kind of flower.”

There were two more questions I had to ask them before I left them to prepare for their show that night.

“Where do you guys hang out when you’re home, and what beer do you drink: Asahi, Sapporo, or Kirin.”

YUKKE brightened up.

“Asahi. Definitely Asahi.”

Tatsuro demurred: “I don’t really like beer- I try to stick to liquor.”

Fair enough.

And where do they hang out?

“Kabuki-cho, definitely Kabuki-cho.”

Yeah, these guys like to party.

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