17.6.19

Elopers

Our apologies again for our lateness on posting this. A lot has been happening in our universe lately and the time flies so fast we wouldn't be surprised if we were abducted by aliens somewhere in there... any of y'all know the feeling? 

Anyhow, here it is, in all its industrial glory: a singable English translation of Shiina Ringo's "Kakeochi-Mono" ("Elopers"), written in the image of Sakurai Atsushi and featuring Mr. Sakurai on vocals. 

Mr. Sakurai explained that he was contacted by Shiina Ringo, who explained she'd written this song in his image, and therefore kindly requested that he perform the guest vocals. He said "When she put it like that, how could I refuse? But I still wonder why she chose me. Am I really such a passionate man?" At which the interviewer laughed, and the rest of us laughed with him. "Am I really such a passionate man?" Good joke, Acchan! That's like Imai feigning innocence and asking, "Do I really look like I woke up in a dumpster?" Or Hoshino Hidehiko fluttering his eyelashes like an ingenue and asking, "Am I really such a sexy beast?" 

Shut up, Acchan. On your knees and kiss the floor! If you really can't even remember that time you wrote a whole song called "Passion" (which Buck-Tick never perform live anymore because it's a Hide song... jeez Imai please allow this song to be played live again, don't be bitter because it was the best track on the whole album and you know it, everyone knows it's now the Age of Aquarius and it's time to transcend ego and learn to be non-corporeal genderless beings of love and sarcastic jokes like lil ol' Cayce here so let Hide have his day, you have royalties enough for a queen!) ... yeah, if you really can't remember that time you wrote a whole song called "Passion," we're going to make fun of you for getting old. But if you can remember and you're just pretending not to, methinks you deserve a spanking. Don't pretend not to enjoy it. Oh wait, the pretending is all part of the fun. Fine. Role-play away. (Real talk, did any of y'all play Vampire: The Masquerade back in the day? Poll question: Atsushi Sakurai, Toreador or Lasombra? But I digress...)

Anyway, Mr. Sakurai's take on the song was that it was a very Showa era (mid-20th century) style of love song - these days, such all-consuming love is out of vogue, he thinks, but back in the 70's and 80's it was the hot shit. However, we're not so sure we agree with him. To us, it sounds not so much like a retro love song as like something space-age and sci-fi, like that "twin souls" phenomenon that's been all the rage on the internet lately. Less Showa nostalgia and more Reiwa futurism! 

And from our perspective, it's something slightly different from passion. Transcendence has always been one of Mr. Sakurai's big themes. Sure, he writes about sex a lot. But it's not just sex. It's a longing for a union of opposites - an achievement of metaphysical nonduality. In Sakurai's love poetry, he longs to merge with his lover, and rues the fact that such a merging is impossible. Or is it? It seems to us that in "Kakeochi-mono," Shiina Ringo is imagining a world in which that perfect union is possible after all, and illustrating the existential satisfaction and sense of omnipotence that such a union would offer. She seems to be asking, if you had a true "other half," why would you want or need to stay on planet earth? Honestly, if you're asking our opinion, personally we think these lyrics fit Mr. Sakurai to a tee, and we feel a bit vicariously flattered for no reason at all that Shiina Ringo bothered to spend enough time with Buck-Tick's lyrics to be able to read Mr. Sakurai this well. But then again, everyone in the Japanese music industry adores Buck-Tick, they're all just too shy to admit it.

If anyone feels like sharing the live performance of this song which Mr. Sakurai and Ms. Shiina gave on the program Music Station on May 31st, share away, though we don't doubt most of you have seen it already. In an era of mostly shitty television, this performance was certainly a breath of fresh air - not only was Shiina Ringo accompanied by a backing band made up entirely of women who were actually playing instruments and not just faking, but both Ringo and Acchan-chan seemed so paralyzed by mutual "holy shit I'm singing a duet with a big rock star, what do I do with myself!?" respect that they were unable to muster up any stage chemistry whatsoever. The fact that they still have that kind of respect is proof that they're still human and have not been transformed into mutant ego-monsters like Yoshiki (oh shit did we just name a name?), so we should respect them in turn for it. When we're not busy laughing at how awkward they look, that is. Mr. Sakurai is so uncomfortable yet secretly pleased that Ms. Shiina wrote a song this sexy and awesome for the lowly and unworthy likes of him that he rolls his eyes like a California valley girl as she introduces him. Bookmark this one and add it to your "greatest Buck-Tick moments folder," along with that time in At the Night Side that Hide falls off the stage while playing guitar.

And please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on the song in the comments below. 

29.5.19

Here's to the Sexy Beasts

Hey kids! It's a week late, but we are now pleased to present to you the kanji, romaji, and annotated translations for "Night of the Beasts" and "Rondo," so we suggest you head over to This is NOT Greatest Site right away to check them out. The translations are both singable with the original melody, and these songs are catchy as hell and great fun to sing, so please go ahead and sing away. Sing in the shower, sing in your car, sing in the street, sing wherever! Buck-Tick are on the up-and-up again - on our way back from Night One of Locus Solus Bestia, we stopped into our neighborhood Lawson only to hear "Kemono-tachi no Yoru" playing over the sound system. The only places we've ever heard Buck-Tick songs played on the regular as background music for shopping are Closet Child and the (now long gone) Atelier Pierrot store in Laforet Harajuku - Buck-Tick are a cult band these days and they don't get much public exposure anymore, so hearing them playing in Lawson feels like almost as much of a delicious trip back to 1992 as the massive bombast and sensual gothic romance of Locus Solus - recapturing the spirit of the OG, utterly brilliant, long hair, swishy-pants, synth guitar and roses Climax Together... but more on Locus Solus in a bit - right now, let's talk about the new single. 

On first listen it might sound like mostly fluff - dark, sexy, goth/industrial fluff, but fluff all the same - simple, repetitive melodies tailor-made to worm their way into your ears forevermore, and straightforward themes designed to be accessible to wider audiences. "Rondo" lives up to Sakurai's promise to deliver a kid-friendly version of Buck-Tick-style goth, with so many dreams within dreams that Inception is ready to wet its pants with jealousy (real talk kids, Inception is a fantastic film. If you haven't watched it, go watch it right away). "Night of the Beasts," on the other hand, feels like one of those classic dance club tracks that are all about... dancing at the club. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with this. Catchy, fluffy songs are lots of fun and not even a goth as gothical as Mr. Sakurai wants to be clinging white-knuckled to cosmic life and death every minute of the day. Sometimes you have to take a break and let your hair down (or put on a giant feathery gangsta coat and tell the bitches in the hood to shake that thang, as the case may be). Plus, it's great that Buck-Tick are getting more anime theme exposure, and it was wise of them to write the catchiest, most memorable song they could, in order to snag some young new fans. But the more time you spend in Buck-Tickistan, the more you realize that nothing in Buck-Tickistan is ever as simple as it seems on first glance.

The fact is that "Rondo" may sound simple, but it's actually quite a sophisticated piece of music, calling for much more vocal coloratura from Sakurai than most of Imai's compositions require - a tribute to the fact that Sakurai has done a lot of work to improve his vocal technique, especially since The Mortal, and has become a much more powerful singer as a result. Beyond that, it's clear that Imai has spent a lot of time practicing guitar lately. The gypsy noodlings in the instrumental section are far more zippy and complex than anything he normally writes for himself to play - not to trash on Imai here, but usually, he leaves all the hard parts to Hide. Imai's guitar style may be instantly recognizable, but he's always been a more accomplished songwriter than guitarist, and even as recently as Razzle Dazzle, he was notoriously sloppy with his solos during live shows, and made mistakes onstage all the time. Which was fine - part of the fun of live performance is watching the performers mess up, and Imai always managed to make his mistakes sound good. But starting around the release of Yumemiru Uchuu, it became apparent that he'd been practicing more, and his higher level of technical mastery made the songs more fun. He's done nothing but improve since that time, but "Rondo" is the first song where he showing off his new chops at full power, and it's a thrill.

Also, "Rondo" though may sound a bit similar to the third incarnation of "Victims of Love," especially since "Rondo" features another guest performance by Kokushoku Sumire, this time, Imai did everything right that he did wrong the last time. The violin and accordion feel natural here, true to the aura of European folklore the song evokes. Rather than the saccharine timbre of genteel chamber music, this violin is raw and grating, calling up images of something much wilder - caravans and carnivals and late night dancing around the bonfire. Pay special attention to the second verse, in which the violin becomes the voice of the cat sitting on Sakurai's lap! We're pretty sure this was Imai's idea - he was already making cat noises on his guitar during performances of "Gustave" last year (and we're pretty sure he stole that whole "make animal noises on your guitar" idea from King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, from whom Imai has stolen a whole lot more than cat noises over the years, but that's also just fine - Picasso himself said "great artists steal" and Adrian Belew is a pretty cool dude.) 

But in any case, props to Imai for coaxing something that sounds like music out of Kokushoku Sumire, because this is something nobody has ever done before. We ourselves thought it couldn't be done, but Imai did it, which is just more proof that he's a mad genius (as if you needed any more proof). And whether because Imai has refined his sensibilities, or because Acchan-chan put his diva "there can be only ONE vocalist in this band and I am it except when I let you rap because you are my husband and you enjoy rapping so I will let you do it because I love you" foot down, the guest vocals from Kokushoku Sumire's vocalist Yuka are pretty much only present in the credits in the lyric booklet. You can sort of hear her laughing on the "fu fu fu" bits, but she's mixed down to a level that she might be nothing more than a shadow on the wall, exactly where her tuneless wailing belongs. Politics! It's a beautiful thing! She gets her royalty check of more money than she's ever made in her whole life and bragging rights and gets to blah blah blah I sang with Acchan blah blah blah his vocals are so erotic blah blah I don't know what eros is because I'm a lolita and it's a known fact that lolitas think that Clitoris is a city in Uruguay (or was it Zimbabwe?) blah blah at every lolita fangirl party from now till she dies, and the rest of us get to walk away without our ears bleeding! Buck-Tick are over 30 now. They are real adults. They have seen some shit and now they know how to swing it so everybody wins.

However, personally, our favorite part of "Rondo" is the ending - you expect it's just going to go out with a dramatic but utterly predictable "bum bum BUM." But it doesn't! Instead, Sakurai's voice lingers mournfully over that last "yume," floating away over the lamenting violin just like the dream melting into black smoke. Lovely! If only they'd managed to use real candles in the PV instead of cheap Christmas decor from American Wal-Mart, we could have time traveled straight back to Juusankai wa Gekkou. But real candles would have been a fire hazard and possibly burned Hide's beard off, and that simply will not do. Sadly, life is full of sacrifices.

"Rondo" is a beautiful piece of music, and it represents a major step forward for the band in terms of technical skill. "Beasts" feels like classic late-90's Buck-Tick by comparison. So what's new in this one? More than you might think. Take a closer look at the lyrics. Is this really just a song about the kids dancing up in the club, or is it a glorious celebration of Sakurai's return to the stage at the Nippon Budoukan at the end of last year, following his near-collapse onstage at Zepp DiverCity?

"Time to rip through the curtain, time to let the night begin" - sounds like the beginning of a Buck-Tick show, doesn't it? "Shaking all over" - that's the pre-peformance nerves for you, and he probably felt more nervous than usual that night, considering that he was still recovering and probably felt some trepidation about whether he'd be able to deliver, after what happened three weeks earlier. "Sing of love and dying and living" - that's what Mr. Sakurai does, and from the moment he stepped into the spotlight that night, he was positively slithering with enthusiasm, clearly pleased as punch to be back on the stage. He made a speech at the end of the night and nearly burst into tears as he tried to thank the fans for all the support and get-well cards they sent him while he was in the hospital, and the people who cheered him on when he bull-headedly insisted on finishing the encore despite the fact that he was literally bleeding inside. The lyric about the smiling kids is for the fans (or at least, for the fans who smiled! Most of them don't smile, but it's nice that the ones who do are getting some Acchan-chan love). Sakurai has been identifying himself with Pierrot since "Aku no Hana," and staying on stage till the end is certainly what he did, both the night of his collapse and the night of his comeback. 

But what about the devil? In the first chorus, it sure sounds like he's calling the dancing fans devils... why? Well, remember that line in "Devil's Wings" about "human being, human devil"? "Devil's Wings" was a lament about climate change, overpopulation, and all the other fucked up things human beings have been doing on and to the planet. But Sakurai has obviously felt a new love and appreciation for life on earth after his illness, and now he's re-thinking his bitterness a bit. We may be devils, but boy are we some cute devils, eh? 

And that's what "Night of the Beasts" boils down to: the tremendous visceral sense of triumph that our animal bodies feel when we succeed at survival. "I'm alive," he sings. "My whole body's boiling over." There's nothing like losing your health to put you back in touch with how precious your body is, and how good it feels to be alive in a healthy body. There's nothing that feels better than regaining all the strength and stamina and energy you lost to illness. Nothing that feels better than getting up out of your sickbed at last and putting on beautiful red makeup and shimmying into some PVC hot pants and lace tights and going out into the hot lights before an adoring crowd and shaking your ass and killing it like a boss - because every minute you lay in the dark sweating and suffering, incapacitated and riddled with pain, wondering who you are and if you'll ever get better and if you'll ever get to be you again, you wished so profoundly to be back on that stage, in command of all that power you had, that you took for granted, that you lost, that you fear you'll never regain. 

Major illness is terrifying, demoralizing, debilitating, humiliating, and it puts you directly in touch with the animal you are. When your flesh is locked in the grip of illness, it becomes a prison for your soul. And you could leave your body and drift off into a dream world... but more than anything you want to get back into that body, to make that body  beautiful again like it was born to be, to dance and sing and fuck, to do what it was made for. And when you worry you'll never get that chance again, and you get it again, nothing is sweeter. You are a beast and you exult. You will luxuriate in physical sensation that is pleasure rather than pain. You will hunt. You will growl. You will prowl. You will love and rut and howl. You are alive. You will survive.

Don't ask us how we know this stuff. We just do.

Anyway, great jorb, Buck-Tick. You've gone and done it and outdone yourselves again. Please never stop. We just want to get higher and higher from now on and we prefer that you be the ones to take us there.

Next up, Locus Solus live report. Because dear sweet Jesus, we were waiting to hear "Ai no Uta" live for twelve whole years, and even that seemed like no big deal when compared with the shredded falsetto jazz scat Spanish guitar erotic ecstasy of that all-acoustic "Seven Deadly Sins." (All-acoustic Buck-Tick say what? Acoustic what? They did WHAT!!?) And don't even get us started on the cherry blossom petals. Or the pink eye shadow. Or the black feather flapper dress. Or Imai rapping about fish to video visions of a red-lipped Sakurai crooning and mooning in an actual fish tank. As the kids like to say these days, we literally can't even. We need some time to calm down. Give us a few days, an ice cream, and an ice cold shower. And if you liked the translations, buy us a Ko-Fi, because we spent six months too sick to work but we've got rent to pay.

23.4.19

Stations, Apples, and Beasts

The news just keeps streaming in from Buck-Tickistan!

First, there's be some sort of poster of Buck-Tick on display in JR Takasaki Station as of April 22nd. It will be on display until May 26th. Buck-Tick's official website also notes that Buck-Tick fans are expressly discouraged from contacting the station or station master regarding the Buck-Tick poster. As for what the poster looks like, the website says it "contains a design with band member visuals." If any of y'all Blog-Tickers go up to Takasaki for a visit, please do send us a picture to clarify this most opaque description, as we don't personally feel moved to undertake a three hour train ride just to view a poster. 

And for those of you who just became Buck-Tick fans five minutes ago - Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, is more or less Buck-Tick's home town. The the band members actually grew up in the nearby small town of Fujioka, but Takasaki is a big enough city to be a dot on the map, while Fujioka is not. Also, JR Takasaki Station is about 500 times bigger than JR Fujioka Station, which is more or less a concrete shack in the middle of a rice field that hosts about 20 trains a day (about ten in one direction and ten in the other), so all in all, JR Takasaki Station makes for a much better promo locale. 

.

Second, it has been announced that Mr. Sakurai will be appearing as a guest vocalist on the song "Kakeochi Mono," on singer-songwriter Shiina Ringo's forthcoming album Sandokushi, scheduled for release on May 27th. For those of you don't already know, in the early 2000s, Shiina Ringo was one of the top three most popular female artists in Japan, along with Utada Hikaru and Hamasaki Ayumi. A talented composer and multi-instrumentalist, Shiina Ringo has always written all her own lyrics and music, and her grungy retro-rebel look offers a very different vision of female beauty and power than the schoolgirl idols and sex kitten pop stars of recent years. Made nervous by her sudden fame, Shiina Ringo gave up on her solo career after 2003, instead forming a band, Tokyo Jihen ("Tokyo Incidents"), which were also very successful. However, she returned to her solo career in 2007, and has since undertaken numerous projects and collaborations, including musical direction for the film Sakuran, songwriting for the j-pop duo Puffy AmiYumi, a guest appearance with Utada Hikaru, and more.

But what this bio doesn't capture is the fact that Shiina Ringo is an icon. Her popularity, especially among the "old millenials" born in the late 80's and early 90's, is astounding. She was and is an inspiration to a generation of young Japanese musicians - and that's impressive, because there's nothing easy or conventional about her music. Her lyrics are dense, wordy, and peppered with allusions, and her songs are full of unexpected twists, turns, and modulations. Like Buck-Tick, she's a real artist, ready to offer you an education if you're ready to learn.

"Sandokushi" means "History of the Three Poisons," the Three Poisons being the three root flaws or afflictions according to Buddhist theology: delusion, greed/sensual attachment, and aversion. These three are said to be the basis for all the other afflictions which keep souls trapped in Samsara (the opposite of Nirvana). Basically, they're like the Buddhist version of the Seven Deadly Sins. "Kakeochi-mono" means "Eloper." How will Mr. Sakurai factor in? We can only wait with bated breath. Shiina Ringo's high, brassy, nasal voice is very, very different from Sakurai's deep velvet croon, but Buck-Tick have gotten light years of mileage out of the contrast between Sakurai's lyrical melody and Imai's harsh sci-fi cackle, so we can only hope that Shiina Ringo will milk the contrast just as well. Given her formidable talent and experience, we expect that whatever this is, it will be good.

Who knows how or why this collaboration came to be, but if it's a marketing move, it's surely a good one. Most of Shiina Ringo's fans are a generation younger than Buck-Tick's, and unlike so many Buck-Tick fans, many Shiina Ringo fans actually like, listen to, and understand music, instead of just blindly chasing garter belts. Also, unlike previous Buck-Tick collaborators like Kuriyama Chiaki and Kokushoku Sumire, Shiina Ringo is a real artist on whom Mr. Sakurai's talent won't be wasted like so much spilled milk in the desert (pry the haterade from our cold, dead hands.) Wow! Victor got Buck-Tick both an anime tie-up AND a high profile collab! It's almost like they're actually trying to promote the band and increase their sales, or something! Amazing! Here, Victor dog, have a biscuit.

The album will also feature a number of other guest vocalists on various tracks. For more information, visit the album official site here.

Anyway, if you're interested in checking out Shiina Ringo's music, she's got a lot of it out there, but for now we'll recommend "Queen of Kabuki-cho," one of her earliest releases. Yeah, this was a while ago, but the Shinjuku name-checking and visual shoutouts to Terayama Shuuji and Showa drag queens never fail to make us smile.

Update: check out the super-duper awesome music video for one of the other guest vocalist tracks on Sandokushi here. Will Mr. Sakurai get to be in a Shiina Ringo PV, too? Probably not, but wouldn't it be cool if he did? Will Shiina Ringo let Mr. Sakurai sing as much as she let Miyamoto Hiroji sing? If she knows what she's doing, she will. But we're pretty sure she knows what she's doing. Let the expectations mount!

.

And third, for those of you who haven't seen it yet, Buck-Tick just dropped this promo on us. Yes, this is "Night of the Beasts," folks... and holy moly, is it ever beastly (#SexyBeastsBT)! Leave a comment starting with the phrase "I'm not a furry but..." if watching this made you feel breathless and uncomfortably titillated.

.

P.S. What happened to embedding videos, YouTube? Has it become impossible or are we just no longer tech savvy enough to know how to do it? Someone, pleez halp!

17.4.19

Radio Free Buck-Tickistan

Those of you who are members of Fish Tank may have been surprised on your lunch break by a news email with a very special announcement: the Trojan Dinosaur that is Buck-Tick's management will finally, at long last, be putting most (not all!) of the band's discography up on the music streaming subscription services Spotify, Apple Music, LINE Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited. For links to the Buck-Tick related pages for each individual service, go to the announcement page on Buck-Tick's official site, here. Nope, it's not free. But at least it's giving Buck-Tick some more general exposure. Some of the songs will also be available for digital purchase. However, not all the songs may appear on all the streaming services. For details, we suppose you have to look at the pages of each individual service.

There's no word on whether the services extend internationally or not, so Blog-Tickers, please test it out and let us know! And if the B-T streaming doesn't extend internationally, please spam the fuck out of the Fish Tank customer service department and demand international service, like we have been suggesting in the public announcement here on Blog-Tick since summer of 2017.

Officially, this whole streaming service thing is being launched as part of the hype surrounding the release of the No. 0 live DVD next week - the first thing you can listen to if you join the streaming services is the live audio from the Tour No. 0 extra special additional show that was held at Tokyo International Forum Hall A on July 26th, 2018. We had the pleasure of attending this show in person, and we can attest that it was an excellent show and that Tokyo International Forum Hall A has excellent acoustics, so this is surely a live album worth listening to. 

But seriously. Buck-Tick should have been on all these music streaming services for years already - streaming appears to be the future of music, and making your music available on streaming services gives a much wider audience easy access that they didn't have before. It's a great way of making new fans! And maybe the Trojan Dinosaur that is Buck-Tick's management don't care about making new fans, but they really should. All it takes is a glance from the stage into the audience at any Buck-Tick show to see the disproportionately large number of dolorous ladies with pissy prissy pouts on their faces, standing rigidly, looking like being at a Buck-Tick show is the worst kind of punishment  (until Mr. Sakurai flips his skirt and they all shriek like banshees and claw at the air, that is). Where are all those people who danced under the sun with smiles on their faces at Mona Lisa Overdrive Xanadu? How can we get them back? Streaming services seems like a good start. (The anime theme strategy is good, too.)

We'd laugh about how funny it is that Fish Tank is advertising Buck-Tick streaming services to fan club members... after all, if you're in the fan club, doesn't that mean you have all the music already?... but 21 albums and 36 singles is a hell of a lot of music to listen to, let alone buy on CD. How was it for you, Blog-Tickers? Have you listened to Buck-Tick's entire discography? How long did it take you? How many Buck-Tick CDs do you own? Please discuss in the comments.

.

On another note, the Buck-Tick official website has announced some weird bonus extras that will be awarded to people who purchase the limited editions of Rondo/Kemono-tachi no Yoru from various shops...

Tower Records: an A5 sized clear file folder
HMV: a B2 sized poster (that's a BIG poster, wowee)
Rakuten Books: a pocket mirror
Tsutaya, Amazon, etc.: a sticker

If y'all want to order the single through us, shoot us an email. 

4.4.19

News From the Woebegone

Hello, Blog-Tickers! How've you been faring without us? Have Discord, social media and Google Translate rendered us obsolete, or are our B-T besotted shouts into the void still welcomed by a few distant ears?

The fact is, we don't care if we're obsolete. We're going to start blogging again like it's still 2009... because this year, our very own Blog-Tick Phenomenon will be celebrating its TENTH birthday (count 'em, one two three four five six seven eight nine TEN birthdays, kiddos!) and there is far too much going on in Buck-Tickistan for us to remain silent any longer. 

And if you are still out there listening, we thank you for your patience with our silence. It's been a long season in hell for us, and we're still living in the lingering shadow of our malingering malicious malady, so getting back into the normal swing of things is taking some time.

Anyhow, without further ado, the news from the woebegone!

.

1. Dirty Talk Tomcat Roleplay

First, the old news: Mr. Sakurai's debut as a voice actor! And what role did he play, you ask? Why, a cat, of course! The animated film, "Neko Kikaku" ("Cat Plan"), was conceived and designed in Aichi prefecture using experimental animation techniques and a cast of Aichi-based voice actors. It was first screened in the fall of 2018 in Aichi prefecture, and was then brought to select theaters in Tokyo and Osaka in January 2019. Due to our illness, we were unable to go see it for ourselves in the theater, so if any of y'all can point us in the direction of where to watch it after the fact, point away. Mr. Sakurai doesn't play a lead character, but we're sure even without having seen it that he stole whatever scenes he's in.

When asked about the film for the Fish Tank newsletter, Mr. Sakurai said, "For this job, I already knew it was a cat, so I thought it sounded interesting. A cat? I asked, but they told me 'it's a voice role,' and somehow I thought that was too bad (laughs). But it was a good time." 

As of February, Sakurai stated that he had not yet seen the film... but the Fish Tank interviewer had, and confessed that hearing Sakurai's voice coming out of an animated cat's mouth gave her a "shiver of pleasure." Doubtless some of you have also seen the film, so please feel free to tell us what you think. Were there any shivers of pleasure involved? Post in the comments below.

.

2. The Beast with the Rocks in His Soul

The second bit of old news is that Buck-Tick will be mounting a two-day concert series at the Makuhari Messe convention center on May 25th and 26th, with the cryptic title "Rokusu Sorusu no Kemono-tachi," which we're pretty sure translates to "Rocks Your Socks Like a Beast"... whoops, that was supposed to be "Rock the Soul of a Beast"... whoops, I mean, "Lock Stock and Bestiary"... whoops, what we actually meant was "Ruckus Suck Us Beastie Baes"!

Oh, wait. Mr. Imai resolved the perplexing question of whatever the fuck the katakana "Rokusu Sorusu" were supposed to mean, you say? He drew it in the Fish Tank newsletter, you say? It was really supposed to be "Locus Solus Bestia," you say? Ahhh... now that makes more sense!

"Locus Solus," which is Latin for "unique location," is the title of a novel published in 1914 by French author Raymond Roussel. The plotline revolves around a brilliant inventor demonstrating his mad science creations. The novel has been translated into numerous languages, including Japanese, and in addition to inspiring the title of a short-lived 1960's American experimental literary journal and a 1983 John Zorn album, it was also the inspiration for an episode in Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex Season 2. In short, it's got "shit Imai loves" written all over it in grease pencil. 

As for where the beasts come from, if you've spent some time on Not Greatest Site, you've probably noticed that Sakurai loves the words "kemono" and "kedamono" (both mean "beast"), and he's used them in numerous songs, from the eponymous "Beast" to "Kalavinka" to The Mortal's "Grotesque." More recent, and probably more relevant, are the uses of "kedamono" in the lyrics to "Septem Peccata Mortalia" and, of course, "Gustave." 

In addition to the lyrical references, the Buck-Tick members have been pictured as various animals on various sets of tour goods - they were portrayed as pandas on the 2014 Anarchy Budoukan goods, as crows on the DIQ 2015 goods, and as cats on the goods for the No. 0 Guernican Moon tour. Plus, Yutaka's got Serious Bear, Toll's got his Pussyhawk character, Hide has been impersonating a fox during the band's live performances of "Gustave" (like the foxy dude he is! #sexybeasthide), Imai has the murderous Teddy Scissorhands bear who's out to murder Serious Bear, while Mr. Sakurai is the most consummate Cat in the Hat since "The Cat in the Hat." 

All in all, bestiality is something the Buck-Tick members do well. NO! We meant that to be, "beastliness is something the Buck-Tick members do well"... wait, fuck. That's no good either. Our blogging skills are getting rusty and the meds are making us lose our memory! What was the phrase we were searching for? 

Oh, yeah: the Buck-Tick members are five sexy Sexy Beasts. Not that you'll be able to see them at Makuhari Messe, which is the size of a jumbo jet hangar. But no matter! No matter how far from the stage your seat is, the beauty of a live show is that you can always cheer loud enough to make up for it... that is, until some sourpuss fangirl mama whirls around to shush you, filthy gaijin, for having the chutzpah to be nakedly, brazenly having fun in public. (If this happens to you, we recommend you respond with that quote from "Septem Peccata Mortalia": "gomen baby, gaman dekinai yo, kedamono da mon! - I'm sorry baby, seems I can't hold it in, cause I'm a beast!")

Beasts to the beasts in Buck-Tickistan!

Anyhow, tickets for these shows are currently on sale for 9500 yen per day, plus fees. If you'd like our help with getting tickets, just shoot us an email. We're back open for business as of right now.

.

3. Rondo and Night of the Beasts

If you wondered, back at the end of last year when Buck-Tick announced the Locus Solus shows, if the title of the shows would tie in with a future Buck-Tick release, you wondered correctly. Buck-Tick will be releasing a new double A-side single, "Kemono-tachi no Yoru/Rondo" on May 22nd. This will be their 37th single, can you believe it? Not only that, but "Rondo" was written specifically as the ending theme for the children's Sunday morning anime series "Ge ge ge no Kitaro," so you'll be able to see it there first. Next generation of Buck-Tick fans, ahoy! The fun starts now! Imai says that both the songs are extra catchy up-tempo numbers, and Sakurai told Fish Tank that "Rondo" is a typical Buck-Tick style dark fairytale, but rated PG, in consideration for the youthful audience. 

In addition to the two A-side tracks, the single will include a version of "Kemono-tachi no Yoru" ("Night of the Beasts") rearranged by electronic music artist and longtime Buck-Tick collaborator Cube Juice. The limited editions will include a DVD of the music video (videos?) for at least one of the songs, inside special packaging. The limited edition with BluRay will cost 2480 yen plus tax, the limited edition with DVD will cost 1980 plus tax, and the regular edition (without the music videos) will cost 1200 yen plus tax. If you'd like our help in ordering any of these from Tower Records to get the inevitable bonus items, just shoot us an email. 

The jacket art has just been released, and wow is it ever "Alica Auaa in post-apocalyptic video game wonderland"! (Fun fact: Cayce once drank tequila shots with the designer of Alice Auaa and picked his brains about his inspiration - he told us it was Depeche Mode.)


 We haven't seen word on whether this single will be available on international iTunes, etc., but since it seems that Buck-Tick's recent releases have been, that it stands to reason that this one will be, too.

.

4. Tower Records Wants to Fatten You Up So You'll Fit in Better

Japanese fangirls will be the first to tell you that here in Japan, the nail that sticks out will get hammered in (or at least trash-talked on 2channel)... and the B-T fan who's too skinny will get fattened up! But don't blame the fangirls for this plan. This one is all on the Tower Records, which will be hosting a new Buck-Tick theme event from May 16th to June 2nd at the Tower Records Cafe locations in Harajuku, Tokyo, and Umeda, Osaka. No word yet on what the special food and drinks will be, but as before, they will be designed in the image of Buck-Tick songs, and/or suggested by the band members (for the drink selections). 

So, while we're waiting, anyone wanna take some guesses? How about "Igniter" brandy pudding flambe? Or what about the "Salome" head on a platter? (It looks remarkably like a human head but in fact, it's made entirely of vegan veggie sausage, so all you virtuous eaters can rest easy!) Ooh ooh I know! What about the "Gustave" special, produced by Sakurai - it's a WHOLE TIN OF WET FOOD, tuna flavored (your favorite! Go on, meow at me! Paw my legs! You'd better be cute enough to justify waking me up at 5AM, or you're not eating!) 

No way to be sure until the menu is officially announced, but we're confident that the predictions we made here will come true.

.

5. Watch the No. 0 Live DVD on the Big Screen!

If you love being in a crowd of Buck-Tick fans so much that you'd be happy to stand in a crowd of them even when Hoshino Hidehiko isn't standing live in the sweaty flesh onstage in front of you wearing a really low-cut tank top, there are some more tickets on sale for special screenings of the forthcoming No. 0 live DVD, which will be held at select theaters around the country on April 18th at 7PM.  For those of you currently in Japan who didn't have the opportunity to attend the No. 0 hall tour final held at Kokusai Forum on July 26th of last year, these screenings might be the perfect opportunity to catch up on what you missed: being so far from the stage that you have no choice but to watch the band members on the big screen, and being in a whole theater full of grown-ass women who would in a heartbeat spend every penny they earn to traverse the length and breadth of their country just to catch a glimpse up the skirt of a 53-year-old man. 

No band members will be present at the screenings, but the tickets cost a whole 2500 yen anyway, because this was the only show on the sprawling No. 0 tour in which the Purple Cat's Eye of Sauron appeared, and as such, the screening of this film is a historical event and must be priced to match. Anyhow, interested parties can view the Ticket Pia page here. If you'd like our help with buying tickets, or with buying the DVD, just shoot us an email. (Real talk - we were there, and it was a beautiful concert. But the DVD is probably a better investment than the screening, since you can watch the DVD as many times as you like, and pause it when you get to the best bits, like the Purple Cat's Eye of Sauron.)

.

6. More Metal than Ironman

Last but certainly not least, we'd like to wish a happy belated birthday to dear Mr. Sakurai, who has just assured the fanbase in the most recent issue of the Fish Tank newsletter that he's been given a provisional clean bill of health by his doctor as of the end of February. When asked why he made the choice to continue with performing the encores rather than stop the show early and go to the hospital, Mr. Sakurai replied that if he hadn't finished the show, he "would have regretted it."

The Fish Tank interviewer continues with a blow-by-blow account from Mr. Sakurai on just exactly what happened that woeful night at Zepp DiverCity, which goes something like this:




Happy birthday from us, dude. We've been plenty sick, but YOU were sick as fuck. If abruptly starting to bleed inside while you're onstage in the middle of performing then powering through the rest of the show by the brute force of your determination to live life with no regrets isn't the most metal thing any rock star has ever done, then it's definitely in the top five. 

And 53 is the perfect age at which to start painting your nails red.

.

5.3.19

Gotta Catch 'Em All

Post should be titled, "Gotta Catch 'Em All, or, You Know You're Old When."

Does anyone else remember this site?




Wonder where Hide and Toll are? Don't ask us, we have no idea. We have no idea who made the site and it's long gone into the lost bits of internet history, fallen by the wayside on the staticky road of electronic time. But if you caught a Pocket Bishonen yourself at some point, please leave a comment for posterity.

.

.

.

.

.

On another note...

Thank you for your continuing concerns about our health. This illness has been far longer and more difficult than we anticipated, but we are now well on the road to recovery and hope to resume normal operations within the not too distant future. Thank you so much for all your messages of support - we plan on responding to all of them, it will just take some more time. This year, NGS welcomed our thirteenth anniversary (holy crap!) and we're not ready to call it quits just yet. Thank you for your patience.

13.12.18

Health Woes

Amid all your warm wishes for the recovery of our health, we really, really hate to have to post this announcement, but knowing how full of sound and fury and wildly inaccurate information the internet can be, we consider it our duty to inform you in person of the publicly available facts as quickly as possible, so that others don't fill your ears with baseless freakouts and fearmongering.

First, thanks for asking, but unfortunately, we're not better. We're on the mend, but our condition remains serious, and for this reason, we are taking medical leave from the shopping service until the beginning of February, or further notice. Anyone with pending transactions - we'll deal with you. New orders must wait till February 1st. We have no reason to believe at this moment that we won't make a full recovery - it's just taking longer than expected. Anyway, don't worry about us too hard.

Instead, please send Mr. Sakurai all your good vibes!

Why? Because the remaining dates of the Guernican Moon tour have all been postponed indefinitely due to the fact that Mr. Sakurai was diagnosed with gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and needs to take time off to recover. No announcement has been made about the 29th at the Budoukan as yet, so it's possible that if he's recovered sufficiently by then, the Budoukan show may still take place as planned. However, I think y'all will agree that Mr. Sakurai's health is more important than any concert, and that if cancelling the Budoukan is the price of his recovery, it's not too high a price to pay.

Fans who bought tickets to the remaining Guernican Moon shows should sit tight holding onto the tickets until a decision is made as to whether the shows will be postponed to a later date or canceled outright. Don't assume cancellation - the remaining shows of the Utakata no Razzle Dazzle tour were postponed after the Great East Japan Earthquake, but then took place to great fanfare six months later. We think it's likely that Mr. Sakurai would prefer to postpone rather than cancel if at all feasible.

As far as the underlying causes of his condition, there are really too many potential causes of GI bleeding to be able to speculate, but two of the most common are ulcers and the stress related to heavy drinking, so let's just hope this is nothing more serious than a man who's not as young as he used to be working and partying a little too hard.

But whatever the cause of his illness, he needs all the good vibes you can send him. There have been an awful lot of bad vibes in Buck-Tickistan lately - an unprecedented level of crowd violence and fangirl vitriol against foreign fans, for one. Back when we started going to Buck-Tick shows, fangirls mainly pushed in the pit in order to get closer to the stage, but these days, strangely, they seem less interested in enjoying the show than they are in starting fights. In particular, the swath of fangirls including the bitchiest, most obsessive Japanese Acchan fangirls from the Tokyo area seem to have been taking it as a point of pride lately not to smile, cheer, dance, or show any sign of enjoying the music, while simultaneously attempting to punish all the people nearby who are daring to commit the terrible sin of dancing and looking like they're having fun.

How this trend got started, we can't guess, but we're quite certain Sakurai and the other band members have noticed - while the band's performance at Tokyo's Toyosu Pit was low energy verging on lackluster, and their performances at Kawasaki Club Citta' and the Fish Tanker's Only date at Zepp DiverCity Tokyo were solid but not really up to the band's full potential, the performances at more far-flung locations such as Osaka, Hiroshima, and Takamatsu were brimming with the band's usual gleeful energy, and it was easy to see why - the crowd was more into it. All you want to see when you're a performer is an audience who looks like they're enjoying the show, so holding up bitchy disaffection as the only acceptable posture for the True and Pure Acchan Fangirl seems awfully self-defeating.

I guess what we're trying to say is, if Acchan-chan caught some bad vibes, he caught them from his fangirls. And now it's up to us to send him good vibes instead. Close you eyes with us right now and imagine sending him a whole rose garden of loving, positive warmth and healing. We know he'll feel it.

Also, for what it's worth, we were at Zepp DiverCity on December 9th (yes, we have been following B-T despite our illness, yes it has been very difficult at times, but somehow life is so much easier when B-T are onstage, so we found the strength to carry on even if we couldn't manage to dance quite as much as we would have liked). In any case, we witnessed Mr. Sakurai's near stage collapse for ourselves, and all we have to say is, he's one tough cookie. He'd been looking a little off since the beginning of the show - missing lyrics, dancing less, though we doubt most people noticed it - but it wasn't until about halfway through the show that he started to look visibly ill. At first he hid it well, keeping it to less movement and longer breaks between songs, but once he left the stage to speak to a staff member, we could tell it must be something serious. His wan performance of Gustave was troubling, but somehow it hurt more to watch himself draw himself up to try and take on Rozen Kreuzer and growl out the vocal line perfectly despite the fact that he appeared to be having trouble standing. Each song grew obviously more difficult, and he spent more and more time in between songs wandering in circles, drinking water, or bending over and clutching his left side. During Imai's noodling before "Seven Deadly Sins," Sakurai picked up his handheld spotlight and flashed it aimlessly across the stage and the crowd, staggering in a slow circle as if at a loss for what to do and hoping that the light would guide him. And yet somehow, he sucked it up, and performed the song in its entirety, and even managed a little awa-odori dancing on Memento Mori before stumbling off for a much needed break.

Personally, we'd have been okay with the show ending right here. Had the people cheering for an encore not noticed what was happening? It seemed unfair to cheer for an encore, somehow - health is always more important than encores. But Mr. Sakurai is a perfectionist with a lot of pride, and in retrospect, it seems likely to us that he finished the show as much out of personal pride as out of reluctance to let the fans down. After a slightly longer break than usual, he returned for the sequence of "Reishiki 13gata Ai," "Guernica no Yoru," and "Tainai Kaiki," belting out each number with pitch-perfect aplomb, despite the fact that at certain points, he was once again obviously having trouble standing up. Fans were increasingly cottoning on to the fact that there was a problem, but still seemed reluctant to dance in support of Mr. Sakurai's bravery, shame on them.

Again, it would have been fine if they'd ended the show after the first encore - once you've played "Guernica," you can call it a show, right? But after another longer-than-usual delay, the band were back out and Acchan-chan was back with them, with a smile on his face, performing "Tango Swanka" with more energy than he'd shown since the first half of the set, and even deigning to service a few fans with the opportunity to grab at his outstretched fingertips.

"Sorry for causing trouble," he announced between songs. "I won't make excuses. All kinds of things happen in life... I won't go into detail. But thank you for the warmth of your applause and your cheers of encouragement."

As usual, the band concluded the show with "Kodou," which seemed even more appropriate tonight than on previous nights. Before leaving the stage, Sakurai strolled across the front of the stage in a semicircle, reaching out his hands and miming embracing the audience. See? He felt the good vibes already.

.

So that's what happened, and never let the Twitter nits tell you differently. But we admit, we'd been waiting for an announcement of this kind ever since Sunday. We understand that it's probably quite distressing for some of you to hear, and we're more than a little bit distressed ourselves, but look on the bright side: he's been diagnosed and he's being treated, and the Japanese medical system is one of the best in the world. It's much better that he should take the time off to recover than continue to push himself and worsen his condition. Something about his announcement on Sunday night makes me think that whatever happened didn't just happen out of the blue - but that might not be bad, it might just mean that he already knew about the problem, which with luck will make it easier to treat. Ulcers, for one, tend to stick around, but they also don't tend to be serious. A witchy friend of ours believes this is simply a necessary wake-up call to him to improve his health routine. Let's hope she's right, and send him all the good vibes in the meantime. Whether or not you believe it, this stuff works.

And while you're at it, send us a few good vibes, too, since we're sure that without a fully recovered Mr. Sakurai slinking around flashing his shiny hotpants at unsuspecting citizens, we will never recover enough to rise from our coffin and stalk the nighttime Tokyo streets for blood anymore, and what a shame that would be. For one thing, it would mean the end of NGS/Blog-Tick, and after nearly 13 years, it would be a damn shame to fizzle out just as the cute kittehs are finally multiplying. So let's hunker down and kumbaya and get the big bad groove back for a scintillating and salacious 2019.