Vicious Vacation




I was lucky enough to spend the first couple weeks of this year in Japan. And, of course, I had to hunt down the stuff that makes my heart go all fuzzy: cats, ramen, and metal. I succeeded on all three counts.

It’s kind of been a goal of mine, as well as my longtime traveling buddy’s, to seek out metal bars in the cities we visit. Osaka was no exception, and after wandering around for approximately two hours, staring blankly at Google Maps on my phone, and amusing all the prostitutes we kept accidentally circling, we found RockRock on the third floor of a building in Nishishinsaibashi.

RockRock is pretty famous, and it’s apparently where all the visiting bands go after shows. The pictures and backstage passes on display tell customers that everyone from Pantera to Maiden to Backyard Babies has stopped by. As it happened, we were there at the same time as a band, too. It was, um, Simple Plan. And another group whose name escapes me. It had Seconds in the title, though, and it wasn’t 7 Seconds, as the gentleman who talked to me half the night was definitely not Kevin Seconds. In honor of these groups, the bar played mostly pop-punk/actual punk, but it was a pretty tiny space, and since we weren’t really in the mood to get splashed with White Russians to Less Than Jake, we bid them good luck with the Japanese ladies and made our escape

Still, if you’re ever in Osaka, I’d suggest you look it up. They have theme nights every so often, but be prepared to spend a little money, as it is kind of pricey.

Even with RockRock being kind of a misadventure, I did discover a few local bands though from the flyers thrust in my hands. Like Jabara, a noisy garage hardcore with a sax player.

Then there are The Slowmotions, who sound like a dirtier Guitar Wolf from the movie Wild Zero. I actually really liked them, and this video is brilliant:

There’s also Blowback, but I really couldn’t find anything on them besides one performance video,  mostly because there’s another band called Blowback from Sweden who kept waylaying me.

If you’re into something more sweeping with shades of power metal, there’s Anthem. They’re like slightly less cheesy, infinitely more entertaining Edguy. But if they’re a bit much (and they can be), try Gargoyle instead; they’re thrash/hardcore/weird. Just watch the lead singer.

Of course, there are the Japanese wave of ‘80s heavy metal bands. (Look, I invented a genre that looks like a license plate! JW80HM.) I quite love Loudness and all their brash attitude and dramatic head-banging. Oh, and those white boots.

In that same vein, there’s Earthshaker, though I’m not really a big fan. I do prefer this guy to his English counterpart, David Coverdale, though.

Last but not least, there’s Tokyo Yankees and their especially poignant song, “Japanese Motherfucker.”

And speaking of Tokyo: more bands, and adventures coming in part two.


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