ZEROSHIKI will almost embark on a European tour, consisting of a few shows, including an opening show at the first edition of Metal Matsuri in London. It is going to be the first time they’re going to perform in Europe, so it’s time to get to know ZEROSHIKI better. Mugi, the leader and founder of the band, but also the bass player, took the time to answer some questions.
AVO: ZEROSHIKI has been active for a long time now, 20 years, but since 2017, the band has been performing with the current line-up. How did the current line-up come together?
Mugi: In early 2013, three members left the band and only two of us remained, one guitarist and myself. We kept on going like this for a while recording songs and playing shows and finding supporting musicians along the way. Then, current vocalist DAI joined the band only for the guitarist to leave soon after. However, nothing would stop me from keeping the band going, and then our current guitarist Chocchi joined.
Over the years we have been blessed to have many supportive musicians aid in keeping the band going. And in 2017 we finally found our current guitarist Toki and drummer Hikari. And although they are only supporting members, they are some of the best members I have played with.
AVO: Perhaps a frequently asked question: Who or what are the biggest influences for ZEROSHIKI?
Mugi: All members have different backgrounds and influences. For example, I am a huge fan of NIRVANA. I still believe that NIRVANA helped shape me into the musician I am now. My root music is definitely Punk music.
And if I had to say, game music too. Honestly, I started to listen to Metal music really late in my life, like after I hit 30 is when I really started to listen to Metal. While on the other hand, Chocchi has been a Metal kid since he was in middle school. For me, he is my Metal teacher.
Our vocalist DAI, has grown up more with J-Pop influences, like the groups that make the charts, not Punk or Metal at all.
Ultimately, I believe that really different musical backgrounds and influences enhance our band and its sound.
AVO: In 2017, ZEROSHIKI toured with alternative idol group NECRONOMIDOL in the United States. Word on the Internet, from people who had seen you perform on that tour, is that you made a good impression. How was the experience touring with NECRONOMIDOL from your perspective?
Mugi: It was a great experience. It was the first time for us to be a back-band for someone else. Which was not easy but it was still fun.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to rehearse for our ensemble part of the performance and there was also some juggling of who was our drummer but we did quite well with that situation regardless. The members of NECRONOMIDOL and our band had a chance to talk deeply about how we would build our show together for the fans enjoyment during the tour. If we have a chance to play with them again, I have the confidence in bringing even better performances next time.
AVO: You have been planning to perform in Europe for a while now, how does it feel to finally have a few dates planned in Europe?
Mugi: We are really happy to have this opportunity for sure! We have looked forward to playing in Europe for a long time now, and I am really excited to be able to do this with our current members. And I would love to send my sincere appreciation to those who helped us to get these shows confirmed.
AVO: You have the honour to be the first band to perform on the opening day of Metal Matsuri on 4 October, a two-day music festival celebrating Japanese metal music. How does it feel to be participating in this event as your first European concert date planned for ZEROSHIKI?
Mugi: 20 years we’ve been playing in Japan yet we rarely get an opportunity to play a big show such as Metal Matsuri. And although we are only the Opening Act, we are putting our hearts into preparing for this opportunity to showcase with some of the greatest musical talents that exist in Japan today. And yes, it is going to be our first performance in Europe so we want to get off to a great start!
AVO: The mini-tour in Europe is coming up soon, and you have quite a lot of experience with touring in Japan. How are you preparing for this international tour?
Mugi: We made special CDs just for this tour and we are preparing some other merchandise as well. And we are rehearsing now to ensure our setlist will be a good mix of new and old songs. Also, we are carefully crafting our stage performances so that people can visually see what ZEROSHIKI is all about.
AVO: In May, ZEROSHIKI released the music video for the song Rou, on one hand, it is a loud song including technical instrumentation, but also it contains a certain tranquillity that Dai brings to it.
How did this song come together?
Mugi: In this case, I wrote the original materials, and had Toki arrange them. Toki, our support guitarist, was really quintessential as he not only did the arrangement but he also produced this song Rou as well. Since DAI was born into a Shinto Shrine family, I had him choose the words that priests use for praying. Then we discussed the song lyrics together as a band.
I realize now how important having a producer is to provide a third point of view in the production phase of creating a song. Toki’s talent for arrangement and production is just brilliant. The song Rou never would have reached its full potential without him.
AVO: According to your official website, so far ZEROSHIKI has released only a couple of singles. Is there any chance for a full album in the near future?
Mugi: We are currently working on a new 5 song EP, which will be completed by this winter or by spring of next year at the latest. Our lifestyles and budget have posed a challenge to producing a full album up to this point. But, if this 5 song EP proves satisfactory to us, we will be inclined to make a full album someday in the near future.
AVO: What are the next steps for ZEROSHIKI after the mini-tour in Europe?
Mugi: As I mentioned already, we are currently working on our new EP. The new material we are writing now is going to be great, for sure. And I am really excited to share it with the world. We are already searching for our next European tour opportunity and are always open to the possibility of our first Asia tour as well.
AVO: What is your message to your fans and people interested in seeing you perform in Europe?
Mugi: With many members changing over the past decade-plus, it has undeniably been a long journey to bring this band to where it is now. I believe the current band members are of the highest calibre. And for this opportunity to play with them in Europe now, I am truly grateful.
I have to say, we might not be such a young band, but we continue to show audiences that age really doesn’t matter when it comes to playing Metal music. I want everyone to listen to our music of course, but also I hope everyone feels our way of life through our performance on stage.
Many thanks to ZEROSHIKI for making this interview possible, Mugi for answering the questions and Chocchi for translating. ZEROSHIKI will play on Metal Matsuri on 4 October and will be performing in Musicon on 7 October and one day later, on 8 October in Rocking Bull. The flyer below can be used to promote the upcoming tour. In this case: sharing is caring, it needs to be spread all over the internet.