Seikima II Interview
Intercontinental Black Mass Kicks Ass in Dallas!
by Edward L. Holland
An international threat for well over 2 decades SEIKIMA II (The End of the Century) on the avex trax record label completed their Intercontinental Black Mass tour in Dallas and Paris coinciding with the upcoming July 28th release of “Akuma Relativity” a follow up to last year’s “Akuma Nativity,” which both contain English lyrics. Combine these with a dual disc set of both albums titled, “A Quarter Century of Rebellion” and you have a monstrous volume of music destined to plague new and old converts across the globe.
Since their humble beginnings in the 80s when they chose our small blue planet as the focal point of their massive, musical movement under the formative leadership of the Crown Prince of Hell, His Majesty Damian Hamada and their lead singer, His Excellency Demon Kakka (Lord) they have challenged the universe with their entertaining black comedy and infectious heavy metal music, ballads and even jazz songs in a way no other band can match.
They wrote their first scripture in 1985 on the Fitzbeat/CBS Sony record label and will make an appearance at the Ezo Rising Sun Rock Festival in Hokkaido Friday the 13th of August, 2010 and later this autumn start a 17 show Limited Black Mass Japan tour.
This notorious group plays songs on a larger than life scale about: killing King Ghidorah, Godzillas, pink dinosaurs, houses of wax, lost civilizations, love & destruction, ghosts, the Garden of Eden, Mephistopheles, frightful restaurants and other mind bending topics. In their music you can hear definite head banging nods to signature rock and metal bands of the United Kingdom and Europe.
In concert they involve the audience and throw in heavy elements of tokusatsu (live action). There is nothing more powerful than seeing a band hit the stage accompanied by Akira Ifukube’s “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah” suite backed up by that infamous radioactive roar we all know and love. Fans from across the world converged in Dallas, Texas at AKON-21 the nation’s longest running Japanese anime convention to catch their only American appearance during this tour. Later in Paris, 5000 fans celebrated the Japanese rock legends explosive concert at Japan Expo on the 4th of July.
Thanks to CURE MEDIA USA, a branch of CURE JAPAN convention attendees got their money’s worth on Friday June 4th. The band unleashed their Black Mass on eager and hungry Shinjas (disciples/worshippers) who had built up their appearance months in advance over the Internet. Some traveled from as far as Japan, Canada, New York, and California to meet in Dallas for their performance. The AKON-21 staff has brought Japanese bands to their festivities for years, but this event topped all other live shows from previous conventions.
SEIKIMA II officially disbanded in 1999 according to their original plan, but reunited for a special Limited Black Mass Tour in Japan in 2005. The idea of reforming again and a proposed international tour set the wheels in motion for this stateside appearance. On this tour band members included: His Excellency Demon Kakka (Lead Vocals), His Imperial Highness Raiden Yuzawa (Drums), Dr. Xenon Ishikawa (Bass Guitar), Staff General Sgt. Luke Takamura (Rhythm/Lead Guitar, Vocals) and Empire Magistrate Jail O’hashi (Rhythm/Lead Guitar, Vocals). Not present for the reunion were original members, Guitarist Captain Ace Shimizu who is busy focusing on his own band, face to ace and supporting Keyboardist/Producer Kaijin (Alien Being) Matsuzaki-sama.
According to press releases they adopted entertainment as a way to spread their doctrines through singles, albums, videos and dvds and their worship rituals are legendary in Japan and with shows now being held on western shores the congregation continues to mushroom and multiply.
After their Tokyo final live 3-day performance in 1999 their international popularity began to skyrocket and with new i-tunes releases more news is guaranteed to follow. Search them on youtube and you can sample their unearthly, musical prowess. Of course the best way to enjoy their message is to see and hear it live. Having played New York, London, Spain, Hong Kong, and being interviewed by Larry King on CNN in Japan years ago the group has always been in the media’s eye.
H.E. Demon Kakka has been a commentator for sumo matches in Japan, recorded and toured with Swedish rock musicians, been a commercial sponsor for Fuji Film, and was featured in the film, “Godzilla vs. Biollante,” Toho Studios 1989.
This band is also professionally dedicated in their human forms as solo musicians, delivering a highly structured variety of musical styles live and in the studio. Their drummer, Raiden Yuzawa, bassist, Dr. Xenon Ishikawa, and supporting keyboardist Yuichi Matsuzaki even teamed up with John Wetton from Asia for a recording and performance as the band RX in London years ago after their original disbanding. Lead guitarist, Luke Takamura also heads up the rock group CANTA with Raiden Yuzawa, and bassist, Masaki of the group, ANIMETAL. And finally, H.E. Demon Kakka has toured for a decade now always in his akuma (devil/deity) persona with many different supporting musicians.
During the concert H. E. Demon Kakka asked the audience if they could feel their groove and there were emphatic responses at every opportunity, particularly from screaming, female fans. Some disciples had waited 10 years or longer just to get a chance to see them. Granted, there were many anime fans at the concert, but many traveled to the convention solely for the SEIKIMA II show. Other concerts on the west coast were slated but unfortunately did not happen. The faithful Shinjas were overjoyed to see their heroes in the flesh at this exclusive kickoff date of the tour.
Covering the band in our fanzine and on the Dallas TCI Cable Access program in the early 90s was a gesture of appreciation for SEIKIMA II, but we never expected in a million years for them to perform at AKON. We discussed tokusatsu and anime at our panel on Friday and highlighted their presence as a heavyweight contender in the ring of Japanese rock, showing a clip of “Adam’s Apple,” from their reunion tour in 2005. The video generated smiles, and some in the audience remembered the band from our cable show 19 years ago.
During the convention SEIKIMA II held 2 autograph signings and a question and answer session with many fans in attendance. Translation was provided by AKON staff and the members themselves. Just prior to this we conducted a quick interview after the autograph signing. I was driving down the highway in another part of town when I got the call that the interview was approved, so I raced back to the convention in time to sit in the court of the kings of harmful rock from Japan. Special thanks to Shion of CURE MEDIA USA, AKON-21’s Jess Reade and SEIKIMA II’s Shinya Yamada for their invaluable assistance with this interview.
I brought a copy of Issue 8 of MAT with me and instantly Demon noticed Jail O’hashi on the cover and said, “Oh you’re in it,” pointing to Jail. (MAT 8 features an in-depth interview discussing his early days, inspiration, solo career and events up to the release of “Akuma Nativity.”)
I mentioned briefly that the contributors of MAT come from all different backgrounds and many are experts in their respective fields on Godzilla, Ultraman, Gamera, Kamen Rider and other characters.
Instantly, Demon started humming the MAT (Return of Ultraman) attack theme music by veteran Tsuburaya Productions composer, Fuyuki Toru very clearly and pronounced as the other members checked out the magazine and laughed with him. We spoke about Gojira and production studios a bit and I mentioned that we wished to include information about their group. Xenon Ishikawa was quite interested in the publication as well. I opened up the interview to all band members while Demon fielded most of the questions.
EDO: What was it like preparing for the 1990s Europe tour and playing in Spain and London and how were you received?
DEMON: The band members and performers had nothing particularly planned but we spent most of our time changing our lyrics to either Spanish or English. Members studied a bit how to speak Spanish or English. We learned 3 sentences to say. First one was, muerte! (death)
DEMON: The second one was Jyo Tambien pienso asi. (I also think so) That’s why.many Spanish girls were going up to the stage together with Seikima II, dancing Flamenco or something. There were very pretty Spanish girls there, so I said in Spanish something like, “Spanish girls are very pretty!” Then everyone said, “Jyo tambien pienso asi.”
RAIDEN & XENON joining in: “Jyo tambien pienso asi.”
DEMON: We were saying “Muerte,” and “Jyo tambien pienso asi.” This is how we were speaking onstage. Then we said another phrase since everybody had to take a taxi from the concert hall to the hotel. Our producer told us to say, “Please get a receipt.” So, we said, “Recibo por favor.” So everybody everyday was saying, “Jyo tambien pienso asi, Muerte, Recibo por favor, Jyo tambien pienso asi, Muerte, Recibo por favor,” in the taxis. (Lots of laughs).
RAIDEN (over and over): Muerte!
DEMON: So taxi drivers were saying, what are they speaking?
EDO: There were many fans wishing you could come to Mexico and other countries. You have many fans everywhere. (Nods of acknowledgement by band members) Do you plan on doing an extended tour of Europe and North America in the future?
DEMON: To answer your second question, you know we are the limited reunion band so we planned to hopefully go to many countries this year and many cities, but it is very difficult to go around Europe and the states, so we came to just two places Dallas and Paris. We really want to go as many places as possible, but since it was only a reunion for just this year it was very difficult to book places so we just came here and later we are off to Paris.
EDO: We are very fortunate for it. While you were in London did you enjoy recording in Abbey Road Studios? Was it fun?
RAIDEN & XENON (together): We had a great time. (The album, “Ponk,” released on Fitzbeat/Sony Records in 1994 was produced at the infamous studios of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Panic at the Disco and countless others.)
EDO: Toho, Tsuburaya and Toei Studios seem to be a strong influence on the stage show, costumes, and some of your videos. The OVA (Original Video Anime) “Humane Society” (directed by Jun Kamiya who worked on the “Bleach” anime series and movie) was a cool film, but do you ever plan on making a live action movie on the band or its characters? Even your costume is reminiscent of Kamen Rider and the design is very cool. Do you ever plan on doing a tokusatsu live action movie in the future?
JAIL: (in English) It depends on the sponsor. (Laughs from Luke and Demon).
DEMON: Right. We are only active for this year with the limited reunion so such a project would be difficult to do for us as well. But we have a promotion video made 20 years or so ago. It was somewhat like an action movie titled, “The Outer Mission.” Did you watch it?
EDO: I have seen it.
DEMON: The director was the son of Tezuka Osamu (father of the golden age of manga & creator of Astroboy, Kimba, Black Jack, etc.) His name is Tezuka Makoto. In this film we had 3 or 4 songs together. (Tezuka Makoto, part owner of Tezuka Productions has also released posthumous works of his father and is married to professional manga artist, Reiko Okano.)
EDO: Like “Ratsbane” and..?
DEMON: Yes, yes. We filmed video and there were a lot of.
EDO: .You guys were dressed like ZZ Top walking around?
(Laughs from Raiden and Xenon)
EDO: It was very good! This question is for all members. If you could meet or if you could tour with any musician, or any band in the world whom would you like to tour with? (Later at the Q&A they were asked this same question and had similar responses.)
DEMON: Please go ahead (directed at other members).
DEMON: AC/DC? (laughs from others). Is it okay if the band does not exist?
EDO: Any band is okay.
XENON: Tower of Power
RAIDEN: Sounds good.
LUKE: Well, Led Zeppelin.
JAIL: The Beatles
DEMON: Not the Stones? The Stones, right?
JAIL: The Beatles.okay, Elvis Presley (small laughter)
BAND MEMBERS: Whoa!!!
EDO: That’s great, wow.
LUKE: Adam Lambert
LUKE: Adam Lambert
DEMON: I don’t know who that is
JAIL: I don’t know who that is.
DEMON: Who is that?
LUKE: American Idol performer from last year.
DEMON: Is that so? Oh, now I know.
JAIL: If we toured with The Beatles, then we could see their show everyday, but if I could have a chance to see their show once that is already so much to me.
EDO: How long did it take to prepare for the Intercontinental Black Mass Tour?
DEMON: It took about a month.
EDO: Wow you guys are so professional.
DEMON: The reunion was like rehabilitation. (Laughter)
XENON: It was not rehearsal. It was rehabilitation.
EDO: Interesting. For the Japan tour what we might expect, something different or special?
DEMON: (Pause) Rehabilitation (lots of laughter)
EDO: I understand. (I contained my laughter, but really wanted to laugh out loud.)
DEMON: We have not really decided to do any preparations yet, since the tour starts in the autumn. Since we were so focused on Dallas yesterday we have not really thought about the shows in Japan yet.
JAIL & XENON: It is the first show with this member lineup so it is like a new former band.
JAIL: This is the first time in our history with this lineup.
EDO: This lineup sounds very good. Last night the audience was very impressed.
JAIL: It is still rehab. (Laughter from members).
EDO: This is to Ishikawa san, you made a post in SEIKIMA II Fan Club ‘MAGINE CLUB that you wanted the band to be around for 10 years or more.
XENON: I understand. After the band has absolved their activities as SEIKIMA II, what I meant to say is that not the activity, not the band, but the music, cds, and the soul of SEIKIMA II hopefully lives on. I hope that everyone wants to hear us and I want our spirit to be kept alive forever. I am very happy that we have survived.
EDO: Since I bought your first 2 records back in 1986, as a fan.
EDO: .no one stateside knew about your music and yesterday’s performance was completely different and wonderful. (It was very surreal to see them playing on the small Sheraton Hotel ballroom stage. Everything became blurry at times during the show. It was hard to believe it was happening in the U.S. and it felt as if it was an arena concert. The audience was ecstatic and I enjoyed it even more!)
EDO: I am so happy for you guys.
DEMON: Ahh, hmm. Uh huh.
EDO: It was a long road as fan to see that day.
DEMON: Uh huh.
JAIL: You had a good eye.
DEMON: Yes! Right, right.
EDO: Maybe so.
JAIL: You had a good eye!
EDO: So how have you been able to keep the band together, making such good music, so well for over 2 decades? It’s incredible. You guys are very tight.
LUKE: Because we are Devil! (Laughs and screams)
DEMON: We are Akuma, Akuma! Akuma!
EDO: I understand. (I felt H.E’s incredible power as he said this in a serious tone.)
LUKE: Good Job.
EDO: I know you are busy. I have one more question. Should overseas Shinjas…
EDO: .expect more international activity from the band, or individual projects? And additionally, many fans have asked about subtitling your dvds for American and European release. Fans from Russia to Greece to Venezuela are interested, because many cannot travel to Japan to see your shows.
DEMON: Please send mail directly to the record company.
EDO: Okay, we will. (Who would like to help with such a letter campaign? Please contact MAT.)
BAND MEMBERS: How could we do it? It is a money issue.
EDO: Many reacted favorably about your “Hakurai” show (Demon’s solo project which involved Takashi (Jail) O’hashi, their keyboardist Yuichi Matsuzaki, drummer, Kohta Igarashi and Swedish bass guitarist, Anders Rydholm and guitarist, Ola af Trampe) Many people really enjoyed that title!
DEMON: Hakurai show, ah hah!
EDO: They enjoyed it and it is very unique to their collections.
DEMON: It has subtitles. We have one. Did you ever watch “Dracula?” (Butou Kageki Dracula – The Live Black Mass B,D.4B, 1995/2005 BMG Japan Inc)
EDO: Yes, in Hokkaido.
EDO: Yes, it’s great!
DEMON: And English subtitles, are not in every scene, but sometimes they are there throughout.
EDO: You were playing in the rain.
DEMON: Yeah, yeah. (laughs)
EDO: That is a popular one too.
DEMON: It’s not selling outside of Japan. But maybe, the cost I am not sure about that. It will cost a lot to have them translated. World. World is money.
EDO: Yes, yes. In Spanish, el mundo es dinero.
DEMON: El mundo es dinero, el mundo es dinero. Dinero is money! (I thought he was going to burst out in song for a second)
EDO: Thank you so much, I appreciate it.
DEMON: Yeah, thank you.
EDO: I want to say that you are incredible performers. I really appreciate true musicians as yourselves. Muy fuerte. (very strong)
DEMON: Muy fuerte, muy fuertes. Uh!
EDO: Strong! Thank you very much for your time.
JAIL: Thank you.
EDO: Thank you so much.
DEMON: You are welcome.
EDO: See you next time.
DEMON: Yeah, next time.
EDO: You put on an autograph you signed to me one time, you wrote, I brainwashed.
DEMON: Ahh, ah hah.
EDO: Do you remember?
DEMON: At Shibuya AX?
EDO: My brain is washed. It’s your fault, sir.
DEMON: Good!!! It’s good for your life.
EDO: Yes I think so. (All members laugh) Arigatou gozaimashita.
I felt elated after the interview and really thankful to AKON-21 staff and CURE MEDIA USA for bringing the group to the U.S. It was a wonderful weekend with friends, family, faithful believers and an important chapter in the history of the group!
It was mentioned that in true Texas fashion before they boarded their mother ship back east that they enjoyed bottles of tequila provided by the AKON staff. They belted out a great show that many felt was the best concert they had ever seen and the autograph signing and Q&A session gave us a rare up close glimpse into their pestilent rock world.
After 25 years of playing, recording, releasing videos, laserdiscs, dvds and 25 albums the band’s concern for quality and their fans adoration continue to shine like a supernova!
When asked, “Where would you like to play again if you toured the states,” Luke Takamura replied, “Dallas!” It was a dream or nightmare come true for many fans to witness history and just like the Battle at the Alamo this event will be remembered by those who were there for a long time.
Long Live SEIKIMA II!!!
SEIKIMA II images and likenesses ©YOSHIMOTO KOGYO CO., LTD
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