Minagoroshi

In this day and age, the U.S. seems to import everything.  Cars, electronics, steel and even agricultural products by the ton.  So why not death metal?  Fear not, we’re importing that too!  Minagoroshi is a Japanese death metal band from Osaka that has reached near legendary status around the globe despite having broken up in 2004 following an on-stage “mishap”.  Luckily for death metal fans, the band re-formed in 2009 and has since been on a recording rampage.  Following the re-recording of their debut EP “Death in Details”, a LP of all new material “Tokyo Harumageddon”, and their first stateside gig on the main stage at the Merchants of Metal Festival, the band is in high demand.  So despite their demanding schedule and obvious language differences we managed to wrangle an interview with the band in Tokyo between recording sessions for their latest record.

We met with the band in a lounge of the recording studio run by their label AfterHours Records in Tokyo.  The band, Kazuya Akuma – Vocals, DIEsuke – lead guitar, Kaonashi – rhythm guitar, Genji Suzuki – bass guitar, Kaneichi Harada – drums, were all dressed in black suits with black ties and black dress shirts and gave off an imposing but not menacing air.  In fact, the only color the group wore is a wild assortment of dyed hair, from Kazuya’s bright, glowing red, to DIEsuke’s white spikes, to Harada’s long mane of green, straight hair.  As we spoke, Michael Yamazaki, the band’s manager interpreted for the band.

Figment News:  According to your press materials, your band’s name means “kill everyone”, “wholesale slaughter.”  Any worries that a name like this will effect your ability to stock your album in Wal-Mart?

[Michael Yamazaki’s (MY) translation of the question causes them to glance back and forth and lean in close, whispering in Japanese. Now and then “Waru… maruto?” can be heard. They give MY some puzzled questions back]

MY: Ah, I think the problem is Wal-Mart is not existing in Japan… Ano, let me try again…

[MY does some explaining, the band members suddenly all say “Ahh!” Harada snaps his fingers and adds, “Sou da, daiakugaisha (evil empire)!” and then the band members formulate a response.]

MY: Ok, they say they do no worrying, if what is rumored about American big chain stores is truth, the Wal-Mart should be happy to carry their music. Same philosophy.

Figment News:  Your band broke up in 2004 following a stage mishap.  What exactly was the mishap and how did the band decide to reform in 2009?

[MY relates the question, and while the band had been eager and congenial a moment ago… silence falls. Some of them fold arms and look angrily at Kazuya…]

MY: Ano, it’s a bit of a tricky topic…

[MY motions to the band, but Kazuya turns his nose up and huffs, others look away too.]

MY: Ok. I’ll fill in, I don’t think they want to do the discussion… Well in 2004 at Club Desu, popular spot in Osaka for Death Music, Kazuya-san stepped on the guitar’s chord of DIEsuke-san and pulled it from the guitar. Feedback rang out to make the crowd deaf, ruining the song in the middle. DIEsuke-san took off his guitar and threw it to the ground and started to yell at Kazuya-san. Kazuya-san shouted back, while holding the microphone. Everyone in Club Desu heard the angry words. Harada-san stood up and tried to be peacemaker. Kaonashi-san kept playing guitar. Genji-san took off bass and walked off stage. Then it became worse… Harada-san threw drumsticks at Kazuya-san and DIEsuke-san when they kept arguing. Then Kazuya-san’s girlfriend came on stage and punched DIEsuke-san in the face–

[Kazuya (KAZ) cuts in]

KAZ: Say, say say say! Not imporutant. Now, re-yunaito! Back together! Jya, once again besto furendo!

MY: The condition of the reunion decision are many… Genji-san had to give up playing Pachinko, DIEsuke-san had to quit membership in Rod Stewart cover band, Kazuya-san had to part with girlfriend–

[Kazuya starts in interrupt again, all the band members start talking, leaving MY to try and keep up]

MY: They say, at the heart, all felt empty. Their life had lost meaning and directions, and wanted to make more music as Minagoroshi, so apologies were made for the sake of the music, and they began to practice once again as the original band. All for the music, they say.

DeathInDetailsEP

Figment News:  What was it like re-recording your debut EP “Death in Details” earlier this year?

[Band members look a bit nostalgic and talk a bit more vigorously in formulating their answer]

MY: They say very good. Very, very good. It was old songs, but felt like brand new songs. It was something they knew from inside, and still felt like the first time expressing the notes. They knew they had done the right thing to be playing the music again. They all found the same page.

TokyoHarumageddon

Figment News: “Tokyo Harumageddon” was your first new recording in 10 years.  Was it hard to get back in the habit of writing new material for the band?  Who does most of the writing in the band?

[Again, the band animatedly discusses things, MY tries to keep up.]

MY: Coming up with new songs was simple, they felt overflowing with ideas after retracking  old songs on first albums. The band music once more became an outlet for emotion. They all felt immense energy and vigorously “attacked” the new ideas that they discovered during the playing of older songs, yes, “attack, attack” and–

[Harada smacks Kazuya on the head and a several of them say “Yaro!”]

MY:  Kazuya was taking credit for all the music writing, but the band disagrees. I know them to each write their own parts. So eechi member contributes to the process of creation of the songs. I mean each.

Figment News:  You recently played your first gig ever in the United States when you played the main stage at the Merchants of Metal FestivalWhat was that like and why do you think it took so long for you to reach the U.S. market?

[There is a lot of thinking, but Kaonashi answers first.]

MY: K-san is sure the band’s reach is slow in America because American interest is in China, and no longer about Japan and Japanese culture. Americans think all Japanese watch anime and love J-pop, so misconceptions hold back real Japanese culture understanding in America. As for playing in America–

[The band begins to talk with lots of gestures, some imitating the cheering crowd, some pantomiming playing their instrument, then alternating back to the crowd, then back to air-guitaring or air-drumming even faster, then back to being the crowd and flailing their arms]

MY:  Ano, they said it was a dream. They had never before played music for so many people, all who seemed so energetic and crazy. It made them play harder to please the audience. They are all very grateful to have such an experience here in America and got to be as crazy for them in return. Energy builds on energy, the crazy American crowd made their show better. Japan shows are small venue only for Death music.

Figment News:  Your single “Soul Burnt to Black” is getting extensive airplay on radio stations across the globe.  What’s it like to hear your music becoming so universal?

[The band explodes in excited Japanese, going on and on loudly, each one competing and explaining verbosely.]

MY: It is “cool.”

Figment News:  What’s the Japanese death metal scene like?

[Band turn a little grim, mentioning “muzukashi”,  which means difficult, prominently in their descriptions]

MY: It’s very hard. Japan is full of old people right now who think Death music is bad noise. You have to be extreme to get noticed, you have to keep doing newer and more extreme things to keep attention.  Competition is thick, only TV game shows let Death music performers on air time. Genji-san broke his leg on “Converyor Belt Super Challenge!!” show and had to perform from wheelchair for months. All band members have part-time jobs.

Shinjuku Death Moon

Figment News:  Your latest record is a note for note re-recording of your original LP “Shinjuku Death Moon”Why did you decide to re-record another one of your albums?

MY: They wanted to understand where they had been in past times when fans loved them. There has been lots of criticism at reformation, “MG is now different band!” and things. After so long not playing as Minagoroshi, influence had changed, individual sounds and styles of play had gone in many directions. “Shinjuku” album redo was band re-sync.

KAZ: We wanted to give fansu old taipu style, nyuu skillzu! Raito now, we are still the same band as all time! Soremo, fansu say lots, “Old recaado sound like hard to listen to,” so… Eto… fixsu! Tadaa! Now, nyuu sound!

Figment News:  Who are your band’s influences?

[The question brings a lot of head or chin scratching.]

KAZ: Eto, Nyuu Yoruku Death, we all like very muchi. America-style Death… “Kirru! Kirru!” kind of thingu. “Sukinu erodingu eksuposu za sukereton…” All very–

DIEsuke: Ai raiku Rodo Tsuwarudo ando Roi Orbaasan… [(Rod Stewart and Roy Orbison)]

[Silence falls. Obaa-san is Japanese for Grandma.]

Figment News:  Any plans to introduce some American bands, like say Zeroth, to Japanese audiences?

[Whole band goes on a little tirade in Japanese, MY waits for them to calm down a bit]

MY: Well, they say there is no need, Japanese fan base listen to more foreign music than domestic Japanese. Unless it is J-pop. However, they take new their new friends’ from crazy shows’ music back to Nihon with them. But they are sad, Zeroth probably outsells Minagoroshi on Osaka charts. Japanese audience has no loyalty to Japanese Death music.

Figment News:  What’s next for Minagoroshi?

MY: One more re-recorded album is to be released within following month of July, controversial “I Am Death Alive.” For the special release event, they have recorded an American-only release EP in AfterHours studio America. After that–

KAZ: Nyuu taipu Emu-Gee Album create! Huuuuu~!! Tsugi, Amerika e kaiete kuru yo~!! [(After that, we’re come back to America!)] BEWARE! Dangerousu! Emu-Gee to return for showtime ATTAKKU!

[As Kazuya poses, the other band members all stand up and bow.]

BAND: Arigatou Gozaimasu.

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