December 7, 2008
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
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
“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.”
And where do they hang out?
Yeah, these guys like to party.