by Luke Stoltenberg
Where I grew up there was nil to do, lest you enjoyed rugby or drinking. Fortunately I excelled at one of these things, but as a musician I was always longing to be surrounded by like-minded people. Having lived in such a place for 6 years now, occasionally I wrongly assume things I know are common knowledge.
Years ago I remember mentioning to my boss, the late great Geoffrey Rasmussen, that I was in a heavy metal band. “Heavy metal?” he contemplated, “Haven’t heard that term for a long time.” It hit me that despite heavy music undergoing a popular resurgence, the only people in the know were those actively seeking it.
Such is the fragmented state of music today, where the underground has become a mainstream unto itself, enabled by electronic connectivity and accessibility to recording and promotional tools, some of which didn’t exist 10 years ago. Yet the underground is not sufficiently organised to alert surface-dwellers to the rising musical movement of amateur professionals.
Thus, I present you my take on what you will find if you breach the surface of Aichi.
When I arrived in Japan information concerning heavy music was scarce. I was initiated into the scene by a 7-11 clerk who liked my t-shirt and invited me to his show (the right t-shirt opens doors). The local produce is surprisingly good. The premier band in Nagoya right now has to be Each of the Days, with an intense live show and a smoking hottie behind the skins. They play several shows a month around Japan. If you like your metal with a bit of gaijin flavour, you can’t go past Shark Ethic. Gravel throated Aussie crooner Josh and his boys put on an energetic show that’s guaranteed to please. Special mention goes out to Crossfaith who despite coming from Osaka are damn good and are on the bill for Soundwave 2013 in Australia. The best place to catch these bands is at Club Zion in Kurumamichi. Apollo Theatre and R.A.D. In Shin-Sakae also cater to this crowd. Tickets range from ¥2500 – 4500.
Each of the Days – www.facebook.com/eachofthedays
Shark Ethic – http://bit.ly/sharkethic
For those who prefer their rock with balls, there’s a shit-hot underground rock scene. Stoner/doom rockers Eternal Elysium have what I would describe as mesmerising stage presence and if I was a little more young and stupid I could definitely imagine myself dropping acid at their show. Crocodile Bambi and The Garcia are the bastard children of Nagoya thrash legends Outrage and play good old energetic rock and roll. You can find these bands playing at live houses Huck Finn and Zion in Nagoya, Radio Club in Mikawa, and Club Chaos in Ichinomiya for around ¥2500. Classic / desert rockers eleven (with a lowercase ‘e’) also get a mention because I have a thing for drummer chicks (and I used to be in the band). They will be appearing at Rocktoberfest. If you’ve ever wondered where the Elvis impersonator guys dancing in Central Park go at night, stop wondering and join Nagoya’s only monthly psychobilly event, Alienslap, which is held at Club Rock’n'roll for ¥2300.
Does [↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A select start] mean something to you? Do you prefer your women dressed as maids and your men dressed as Monkey D. Luffy? If either of these questions elicits a ‘yes’ you are an otaku and you must attend Anison Matsuri, Nagoya’s premier event for anime theme songs, chiptunes and otaku culture. There is also Animericana with Iowan DJ Ogin if you feel the need to reprazent your own blasting 1980s Saturday morning anthems to the masses. You’ll also witness this crazyness at clubs O-Zon, Spiral. The next Animericana is on 11/24 at P.O.D. Entry will be had for between ¥1500 and ¥4000.
The foreign band scene around Nagoya is flourishing right now in a diverse range of styles. For lack of a more inclusive term I will refer to this scene as ‘gaijin-core’. My own band S.H.I. plays progressive groove metal and we are often supporting YouTube superstars Ghost of Matsubara and Toyohashi twin terrors Molotov USK and Snack Mama. S.H.I. is currently auditioning drummers so holler if you’ve got the skills. Hopefully you’ll catch us at Rocktoberfest. My other band The Rats plays strictly 90s covers so chances are you started noticing hair growing in new places to the soundtrack of our setlist. You’ll find these bands playing at Taurus in Nagoya, as well as House of Crazy and Cavolo in Toyohashi. Tickets are cheap as, going for ¥1000-1500.
No doubt, a fire burns within this city’s diverse musical ecosystem. So why not jump in the fire if you think you’ve got what it takes. If you’re scared then you’re better off not playing with fire ’cause Mummy says it’ll make you wet the bed.