Shutoku Mukai“Taking one band to the top of the Japanese indie rock world makes you noteworthy. Starting all over and doing it again makes you .” James Route

Known as one of the most renowned and influential bands in Japanese rock history, Number Girl’s former frontman Shutoku Mukai (Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard) is an indie rock legend. Bringing together some of the most talented musicians in Japan to play alongside him; Yoshida Ichiro (Bass), Matsushita Atsushi (Drums) and Yoshikane Sou (Guitar) — ZAZEN BOYS pushes the boundaries of Mukai’s creative genius, composing intricate math rock, while delving experimentally into electronica, blues and folk.

Canada’s premiere Japan underground music tour; Next Music From TOKYO will return again this May for its fourth showcase – ZAZEN BOYS will headline the lineup. I talked briefly with Shutoku Mukai about ZAZEN BOYS inclusion in the tour and new album in 2012.

Please introduce yourself.
I’m Shutoku Mukai, leader of Zazen Boys.

Who, or what non-musical influences have shaped you and your music? And continue to do so?
The city lights. Having been born and raised in the countryside, I find the gleam of the city both dazzling and glaring.

Remembering back to your first time in front of a live audience, what comes to mind?
I remember just innocently enjoying playing.

What has been ZAZEN BOYS’ biggest triumph as a band? Greatest challenge?
Never had any triumphs. Always in mid-challenge.

If the whole world were listening, what would you play? And why?
I would like to know what people around the world think of the lyrics to Honnoji.

I myself don’t really know what they mean, so it would be great if someone could tell me.

ZAZEN BOYS are touring Canada in May – what is the one thing you hope to see/do there and what do you want to get out of the experience?
It’s my first time playing in Canada, and I just hope that people in Canada like my music.

Also, I intend to drink Canadian Club whiskey until I drop.

Let’s hear a little about your tastes not related to music ― Could you name some of your favorite books or movies?
A recent film I liked very much was Cold Fish by Japanese director Sono Shion, because it manages to be brutally violent and very funny at the same time.

I also like the films of Korean director Kim Ki-duk for similar reasons.

How does music affect you and the world around you?
For me, music is both a job and a means to confirm my own existence.

What should we be looking forward to in the coming year from ZAZEN BOYS?
We are recording for Zazen Boys’ new album.

The last words are yours, please say anything you wish and thank you.
Please come and see me play when I come to your town.

I would like to thank Shutoku Mukai Zazen Boys for his participation in this interview.
~Denise Smith (interview 2012.05.15)


Next Music From TOKYO Tour vol 4; May 18 Toronto @ The Rivoli, May 19 Toronto @ The Rivoli, May 21 Montreal @ Divan Orange, May 23 Vancouver @ The Waldorf Hotel, Canada.