BUCK-TICK “will always be five”

Sports Hochi
29 December 2023

text by Kamo Shintaro

first live show since Sakurai Atsushi’s sudden death
10,000 people crying at the annual Budokan show


Rock band BUCK-TICK whose vocalist, Sakurai Atsushi (aged 57) passed away from a brainstem haemorrhage on 19 October held their first show, also their annual year-end solo concert at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on the 29th. They performed 21 songs “in memoriam” during the two and a half hour show.

71 days after his sudden passing, scenes from days when Sakurai was around were put up on the big screen. A spotlight lit up his “usual spot” in the centre of the stage as Imai Hisashi, Hoshino Hidehiko, Higuchi Yutaka, and Yagami Toll played the melodies while feeling the presence of their friend with each memory.

After the death of Sakurai-san, all their scheduled concerts were cancelled but after much consultation between the staff and the members of the band, it was decided in November that they will hold only one show at the Nippon Budokan. The concert name was changed from the traditional THE DAY IN QUESTION to BUCK-TICK Gensho (バクチク現象 / BUCK-TICK Phenomenon), a name which is usually used to mark a turning point for the band.

“Come, let’s get started. We’re BUCK-TICK!” The show kicked off with a declaration from Imai. They used live footage from past shows for the singing. A wide variety of 21 songs spanning tracks from their early days like LOVE ME and Sakura to tracks from their those album like Taiyou to Icarus and Na mo Naki Watashi was performed. All the tickets, including standing spaces, were completely sold out.

After the encore, the four members spoke about how they were feeling. Imai said, “Rather than focus on his death, that he’s not here anymore, instead cherish the fact that he lived, that he existed with us in the same space.” And Higuchi promised, “Although Acchan has gone to heaven, BUCK-TICK will always be five.”

When the concert ended, they announced that they would hold a show on 29 December next year at the Nippon Budokan. They will certainly continue in Sakurai-san’s spirit and keep moving forward. (Kamo Shintaro)


【Comments from the members after the encore】

Higuchi Yutaka, bassist:
Thank you for gathering here today in such large numbers. Thank you to all our fans from around the country who couldn’t make it today. Thank you to all the staff who made such a (wonderful) show possible despite the limited time. After making our debut, we managed to tour and enjoy concerts with many of you. BUCK-TICK is a live band so I believe we grew through our live shows. And it’s also something that’s created together with everyone of you. Although Acchan has gone to heave, BUCK-TICK will always be five. I don’t know what kind of future it will be, but one thing I know for sure is that we’ll continue as BUCK-TICK with everyone. Going forward, let’s continue to build upon the BUCK-TICK that everyone has always cherished throughout this time together… We’re counting on you.

Yagami Toll, drummer:
You could say it’s unprecedented, the situation it’s turned out to be. Should we continue, or is it better to stop? We gave it a lot of thought. Given that we have all of you fans like this… we would like to keep going. There’s no telling how things will turn out, but I believe we’ll start recording a new album next year. I think there are still thousands of melodies and ideas sleeping in the brains of Imai and Hoshino HIdehiko. Please look forward to it. From here on, we’ll continue to rely on your support for this second phase of BUCK-TICK.

Hoshino Hidehiko, guitarist:
We managed to take a new step forward today. My sincere thanks to all of you for making your way to the Budokan despite the uncertainty. You were worried, weren’t you? Everyone was worried. But I’ll say again: the Parade (i.e. concerts) will still continue from here on out. The Parade goes on.

Imai Hisashi, guitarist:
Life sure is unforgiving, huh? So dramatic it’s almost hilarious. But it isn’t funny. It’s death, after all. It’s okay. Because (the band) can go on, right? We’ll go together. Acchan’s died but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a fact of life. So we may be sad, we may cry, but don’t agonise over it. Rather than focus on his death, that he’s not here anymore, instead cheris the fact that he lived, that he existed with us in the same space. Acchan hasn’t yet gone to heaven. He’s still here. I believe he’ll always be together with us. Next year, BUCK-TICK will make new music, and a new album. It’ll be the newest, bestest BUCK-TICK so please look forward to it. (In future, even if our numbers dwindle) the Parade can keep going. I’ll probably be the last one standing. And even then, we can keep going, so I want to take everyone along. The 29th of December is a special day for BUCK-TICK. It’s a day to toast to. Shall we have a toast? Cheers! Thank you. Everyone, have a toast on your way home too and talk about BUCK-TICK, about Acchan.



Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Sports Hochi


2023.07.15 Takasaki City Theatre

Ongaku to Hito
September 2023

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photographs by MASA

Your distortion; my love

Their national album tour has ended for now. In this tour, we got to see the band find themselves again and their revitalisation along with the perfection of their live concert. The final part examines what 異空-IZORA- was about from a live performance in their hometown, Takasaki.



On that stage was the immensity of Sakurai as a performer, the conviction of the true-to-life message
and a band who has recovered what’s precious to them

“My name is Hizumi
It’s Hizumi
All I do is wear my favourite clothes put on my favourite makeup
But everyone laughs at me Even though I’m just living my life
Father, mother I love you
Thank you I love you Goodbye”

Hizumi; you could say it’s the highlight of the concert. The excitement sparked by MISTY ZONE was cooled in an instant by Kogoeru before leading into this song. Then, the world was overcast by Izora (異空). 

Possessed by “Hizumi-chan”, Sakurai began his monologue which sounded like words from a suicide note. And after a moment of silence, the song would start but on this day, the silence went on for a particularly long time. A minute, or no, an even longer stretch of stillness dominated the hall. It was only later that I found out that the delay was caused by equipment issues, but for those few minutes of silence, the audience waited with bated breath, without even the slightest of stirrings. At the same time, the motionless, crouched over Hizumi and the four other members of the band waited statue-like for their chance to start the song.

Those few minutes felt like an eternity. Therein lay the immensity of Sakurai as a performer, and the conviction of the true-to-life message. And also, a band who has recovered what’s precious to them in this tour.

BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- started on 19 April. Their first show at Hachioji was stunning. In an interview, Imai said, “I composed QUANTUM Ⅰ because I thought  it’d be a good idea to start the concert with it.” This alone told me that they already had a solid vision since the beginning of the album’s production, and that the concert was bound to be something highly conceptual. 

The set up which spearheaded this did indeed begin with the curtains raising to QUANTUM Ⅰ and after the encore, the curtains were drawn to QUANTUM Ⅱ. And although there was a simple member introduction segment, there was as good as no MC. There wasn’t even a drum solo by Yagami on this day. This is a band I have watched live for many years, but this is the very first time they’re putting on a show in this style.

In an interview, Sakurai also revealed the existence of the protagonist known as “Hizumi-chan”, but whether it’s because it was the first day of the tour or because his intention was not quite clearly conveyed, there were members of the audience who even laughed. However, this conversely amplifies the loneliness of Hizumi, who has nowhere to belong, and comes across as a more realistic expression. It was a masterpiece. And since the whole thing is still disjointed, the impression each song leaves is even stronger.

Among those was die. Released 30 years ago, the inclusion of this track in the Izora tour as the last song of the main show connects it to all that BUCK-TICK has done thus far. It is proof that they have always been true to themselves on stage. I had nothing but great anticipation for how Izora would be performed and how it would grow in this tour.

So, the first half of the tour. They appeared to try out a format which had the drum solo followed by member introductions in their second show at Utsunomiya, but the show I caught in Kyoto only had a drum solo. Member introductions had been removed. The MC was also kept to a minimum. I suppose they took the approach of removing even the parts of the show that were typical of a concert in order to delve deep into the world of Izora.

Neither the setlist nor the pace changed. The only change which occurred was MISTY ZONE being replaced by ONCE UPON A TIME in the encore of the shows they played during their two days in Osaka, one day in Tokyo, and at Nagano and Hiroshima.

The choice of songs around Icarus was a stroke of genius. Also, the words, “I wonder what it was we were looking for/at the end of it all,” really hit home; they felt like an answer from Imai to the song Boogie Woogie, which looks back at the days when they used to tour from  one unfamiliar city to the next in a broken down vehicle. No matter how old they turn, or how much fewer words they exchange, their collective direction remains the same.

It’s obvious that a major theme of this tour was for the young girl living in a war from Sayonara Shelter and the despair that the LGBT community experiences à la Hizumi to overlap with Sakurai’s own inescapable emotional torment, and for it all to be presented on the stage that is Izora

Yet, at the same time, I got the feeling that with how the COVID-19 pandemic halted tours and even after tours came back, activities could not resume as smoothly as they should have due to restricted vocalisation, and also how the five members of the band couldn’t spend as much time together and were unable to do things the way they usual would during that period, it was important for the band to get back into their usual daily routine. It was a despair akin to that of the resignation in SCARECROW which sings about having nowhere to run; similar to how they were all stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Making us, as those living in the present, look to the future
By connecting this era of deprivation with the darkness in Sakurai’s heart
That’s the kind of album 異空 -IZORA- was

Perhaps it was this distant feeling that gave the Izora album its tension and fresh presentation. But also, perhaps, somewhere in there, they were looking for hope, for the band to come back together.

That’s exactly what defined the song Boogie Woogie, and I believe that Yagami’s decision to decorate his concert outfit with old, personal photos of the band members and their carefree smiles was also a sign of these feelings.

When Yagami stepped on stage for the encore on this day, he turned around and struck a pose with his back to the audience to show them the back of his shirt. As if to say that he carried the band’s feelings on his back. Just the five of them spending time together while touring around the country like they used to probably got him feeling that way.

Also, playing a show in their hometown of Takasaki might’ve also brought up all kinds of memories for them. After their Tokyo shows, they announced that they will be playing two shows at Gunma Music Centre to close off their 35th debut anniversary year. But although the audience capacity isn’t all that large, they probably chose this not-very-well-equipped-venue to close off their anniversary year, which started at Yokohama Arena last year, because it brings up memories of the band’s beginnings and their bond. That’s what I think.

And the inescapable despair of Hizumi versus the hope of Na mo Naki Watashi. A hope, no, perhaps a future. That’s right. Once again, like I wrote earlier, it made me feel that this Izora album makes us, as those living in the present, look to the future through connecting and channelling this era’s reality of deprivation with the darkness in Sakurai’s heart which was represented by Sayonara Shelter and Hizumi, as well as SCARECROW in this album.

By being in this band, he could find light in the darkness. That is exactly what he showed us in Taiyou to Icarus and CLIMAX TOGETHER. And this is a sight that we could’ve never seen if they didn’t go on tour. I believe the ones who probably feel this most strongly are the members of the band. Without a doubt.


I saw the band’s future. That’s the kind of show it was.



Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki


【Concert Report】
the Opening Day of BUCK-TICK’s latest album’s National Tour

24 April 2023

text by Okubo Yuka
photos by Seitaro Tanaka


BUCK-TICK held a concert at J:COM Hall Hachioji in Tokyo, kicking off the national tour BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- for their latest album on 19 April. Here’s what happened.



On 12 April, when the flowers were in full bloom, BUCK-TICK released their new album 異空 -IZORA- which thrilled fans as their “latest and best” update. With this latest release, their nation-wide tour BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- started on 19 April, at J:COM Hall Hachioji in Tokyo.

As the lights turned down and the first instrumental track of the album QUANTUM played, drummer Yagami Toll, bassist Higuchi Yutaka, guitarist Hoshino Hidehiko and guitarist Imai Hisashi came on stage one by one to the cheers and applause of the audience. Although the audience remained masked, this was to be the first tour in about 3 years and 4 months where the ban on audience vocalisations was lifted. When vocalist Sakurai Atsushi appeared centrestage, completing the band, the cheers grew ever louder. This is the moment everyone had been waiting for.

Showered in claps and cheers, the band performed freely like fish to water. With their white costumes and matching equipment, guitarists Imai and Hoshino who usually create a beautiful symmetry on stage looked like a pair of wings. Their two guitars would intertwine to sound one single heavy riff, or take light steps in pleasant unison. On the other hand, the  rhythm team of Yagami and Higuchi were dressed in black as they accompanied the songs with both soft, warm bass notes and emotional heavy rhythms.

And there was Sakurai who took many forms whenever he spread his arms; a scarecrow; an angel; an aircraft. What is it he wishes for with open arms? Is it forgiveness for holding a beloved child in gun-toting hands? Is it the acceptance of diversity? Is it LOVE&PEACE? All the protagonists depicted in 異空 -IZORA-’s songs are so intense that they take hold of Sakurai the moment the song’s intro begins. Every gesture and movement is filled with the power of each character’s emotions in each song; so beautiful, so raw.

This performance consisted mainly of songs from the 異空 -IZORA- album like Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix which had warmth added to it with the gorgeously articulated violin, Mugen LOOP -LEAP- which had an intro which sounded like a gathering of beautiful fragile bubbles of sound, and Boogie Woogie which Sakurai introduced as  “a story from over 35 years ago recreated using the latest technology”. 

As earlier described, all the songs were intense. I was curious to find out what older songs would be incorporated in here, and the final result was beyond anything I could’ve imagined. They create indescribable stories by fleshing out the 異空 -IZORA- songs and adding backstories to them. It was especially so after Taiyou to Icarus; a painful, tragic, gentle, yet beautiful world which seemed to encompass everything awaited.

As I watched the show, Sakura, a poem by Ibaraki Noriko, a poet who lived during the war suddenly came to mind. It describes the fragility and preciousness of human life by comparing it to that of a flower. BUCK-TICK sings: Together with life, “Now bloom in exuberance”. As I held dear this moment where I am enjoying their show, I wonder how many more times can I watch a BUCK-TICK concert, like how the poem asks how many times can we see cherry blossoms bloom in one lifetime.

The tour has just begun. How will the songs of 異空 -IZORA- grow in depth as this tour goes on from late spring to early and eventually mid-summer? And what kind of sky will each and every audience member find in their hearts by the time the final performance arrives on 23 July? This is a show that draws people to watch it again and again to find out how the story of this production will change. I hope to enjoy these shifting skies to the fullest.




Concert/Event Information

Wednesday, 19 April 2023 — Tokyo: J:COM Hall Hachioji
Sunday, 23 April 2023 — Tochigi: Utsunomiya City Cultural Center, Large Hall
Saturday, 13 May 2023 — Kagawa: High Staff Hall, large hall (Kanonji City Meeting Hall)
Sunday, 14 May 2023 — Okayama: Kurashiki City Auditorium
Saturday, 20 May 2023 — Kyoto: ROHM Theatre Kyoto, main hall
Sunday, 21 May 2023 — Hyogo: Kobe Kokusai Kaikan Kokusai Hall
Saturday, 27 May 2023 — Kanagawa: Pacifico Yokohama National Convention Hall
Saturday, 3 June 2023 — Aichi: Japan Special Ceramic Industry Civic Center, Forest Hall (ex. Nagoya Civic Hall)
Saturday, 10 June 2023 — Ishikawa: Hondanomori Hall
Sunday, 11 June 2023 — Nagano: Nagano City Arts Center, main hall
Saturday, 17 June 2023 — Osaka: Orix Theater (ex. Osaka Welfare Pension Hall)
Sunday, 18 June 2023 — Osaka: Orix Theater (ex. Osaka Welfare Pension Hall)
Saturday, 24 June 2023 — Hiroshima: Ueno Gakuen Hall (Hiroshima Prefectural Culture and Arts Hall)
Sunday, 25 June 2023 — Fukuoka: Fukuoka Sunpalace Hotel & Hall
Saturday, 1 July 2023 — Hokkaido: Sapporo Kanamoto Hall (Sapporo Civic Hall)
Sunday, 9 July 2023 — Miyagi: Sendai Sun Plaza Hall
Saturday, 15 July 2023 — Gunma: Takasaki City Theatre, large theatre
Monday (holiday), 17 July 2023 — Shizuoka: Shizuoka City Culture Hall, large hall
Saturday, 22 July 2023 — Tokyo: Tokyo Garden Theatre
Sunday, 23 July 2023 — Tokyo: Tokyo Garden Theatre

Early bird tickets: 9,900 yen (w/ tax)
Tickets currently on sale

For more information, please visit the dedicated website:





Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: BARKS


Der Zibet

Après-guerre Reissue Vol.5
July 2017

Since their reunion, Der Zibet continued activities with their unique stance and has now released 20 Seiki (20世紀 / 20th Century), a best-of album comprising of songs they released in the 20th century, as selected by the members of the band. There is no question that even those who have recently become fans will be able to enjoy their live performances even more after listening to this album. And to those who aren’t very familiar with them yet, I invite you to have a taste of their remarkable legacy.


Debuting in 1986, ISSAY’s presence and their one-of-a-kind band image and music won them an ardent following. Kirigirisu (キリギリス) was the last album they released before they ceased activity. 10 years passed before they reunited. Since then, they have kept active at their own pace with live performances and music releases.




――What gave you this idea to release a best-of album?

HIKARU (H): Around the end of our 30th debut anniversary year, talk about going through some record company to release it started up but since these are old releases, things are complicated with the rights so even though we originally intended to release it last year, it ended up being this year. In the beginning, things were moving along pretty smoothly but setbacks came in at the very end (wry smile). Feels like we finally released it.

――How did you feel when you got confirmation that it was going to be released?

H: Happy, right?

ISSAY (I): Because we never thought it could be. It was the sort of situation where we were questioning whether something like this was even possible.

H: Also because this is the first time we had the freedom to choose all the songs in a best-of album.

――How did you pick the songs?

H: Ultimately, we focused on songs that we perform live. We’ve done live performances of all the songs here.

I: Even if we did include songs that we don’t perform, that’s no fun, is it? There’s an increase in those who aren’t fans from way back, and they voiced out that it’s difficult to get their hands on original releases from those days too. Which also means there are a lot of songs we perform live that they don’t know, aren’t there? So, you see, it was quickly decided that this would be based on the songs we perform in our shows. Then HIKARU came in with, “What do you think about something like this?” and shared a draft with us. From there, [discussions] were like, don’t you think including this is better than that, and all that.

H: Cutting [the number of songs] down was more difficult, wasn’t it? Because we chose a little too many. Everyone was suggesting this and that.

I: While drinking, yes (lol).

H: In the mastering stage, we couldn’t fit [all the tracks] into the first CD (wry smile). We had to revise a bunch of things. Besides, if we were back in the vinyl record days, it’d be a 4-piece release, this collection.

――It’s quite a hefty one, isn’t it? Among the songs, the only newly recorded one is Neo Flower Moon. Why did you choose to record a studio version of it at this point in time? It’s from 1986, isn’t it?

I: We intended to put in in the previous album, Bessekai (別世界 / Another World). We had that in mind but the number of songs we made for Bessekai grew too large so then we again decided to put it back in storage. And now it finally gets to see the sun here.

H: The topic of recording it never came up in the past, and even though we’re only doing it now, it doesn’t feel out of place at all. Although it’s a song from 1986, it doesn’t feel weird to place it within Bessekai, and it’s fine that we do it only now, too. That’s some sort of interesting.

I: It’s something we’ve been dragging out until now so I guess it’s just good that we’re finally doing it now.

H: It’s like a homecoming.

I: And we basically kept the arrangement the same too.

――Even the lyrics?

I: I made adjustments in some parts but it’s basically unchanged, yes.

Often described as unorthodox¹

――Are the two discs meant to feel like they are split chronologically?

H: The songs we released through BMG are indeed in the second CD but that’s a good thing, isn’t it? On the contrary.

I: Because there are a lot of BMG era songs that we started to play after our reunion, aren’t there?

H: The last album we released was Kirigirisu (キリギリス / Grasshopper) and then our activities came to a halt so we didn’t manage to do a tour for it. It was pretty interesting playing the songs from that album after we came back together. We ended up recording a lot [of songs] for disc 2 so I think it’s good that we had them divided like that. Included are also really unorthodox songs that would make people wonder why they’re in a best-of compilation, but they’re a perfect fit for the present, right?

――Do you feel that there’s some reason why you don’t feel uncomfortable playing these songs again now, 30 years later, after so much time has passed?

Both: ……

I: We both fell silent (lol). This time, since we have such a quantity, we were able to include unorthodox songs, especially those from our BMG era. There are unorthodox songs in the first CD too, but whatever people used to call unorthodox back then doesn’t feel as unorthodox as it used to now in present times. After 30 years, we’re finally not unorthodox (wry smile).

――Is that because societal values or something like that have changed with the times?

I: I think that’s one reason, and also that we are now able to easily execute the little things we do in our music. We’re now capable of doing them without needing to strain for it. That’s definitely a thing, isn’t it? Otherwise we definitely wouldn’t include songs like Club Idiot, normally (lol). But when we play them now, it feels good. It feels much better now than it was back then.

H: There are songs that we would never play in this day and age (wry smile). Something just wouldn’t feel right. The music and the melody or the arrangement or something else just wouldn’t be right. Like songs from our third album or something, there are some that we get asked to play but there’s no question that we definitely don’t want to (wry smile).

I: Probably, those songs, I think the fact that they’re over-produced contributes to it too.

H: There might have also been an element of trying to do more in an effort to sell well.

I: Besides, there are also [songs] that we did because we were told to try and do something less unorthodox. Not to say that we did that unwillingly, but because we did that, it also means that we’re straying off our centre line, doesn’t it? Back then, we didn’t know what our centre line was, but now, I would think we know where it lies.

――Maybe it doesn’t feel weird even after 30 years because that centre line sticks out.

I: It’d be cool if I said that it stuck out, but we can’t do anything else. I think basically, when we four or five come together to play, this is the only brand of music we’re capable of making. And that’s something I find particularly intriguing these days. I don’t get the sense that anything’s come through, you know? 

H: Back then, fun times were complicated by unpleasant times. Now, digging up the stuff that we did in the past to play is enjoyable. In those days, we weren’t exactly a fun band having fun.

I: Now you said it (lol).

H: It wasn’t a band where four people made music happily (wry smile). Neither were we a group who got along well with each other. In comparison, we’re actually on much better terms now. It’s way more fun now than it used to be.

――Why’s that? What’s different?

H: Because ISSAY got good at singing.

I: Oy! (Lol)

H: Now I can say that we can peacefully have drinks together and chit chat. We’re not clinging to the past because we want to create new things. Steadily evolving like this is fun.  This is a different feeling than what it used to be. Because back then, since we were signed to a major record label, there were other things to contend with like how the next album had to be delivered after a certain amount of time. Now we can spontaneously release new songs or albums.

――Basically, you do whatever you want.

I: During the 10-year break, I think we came to understand our mutual characteristics. When we started things up again, we really understood our respective attributes.

H: Because playing with the same band members means that we would know their habits from those days.

To feel the passage of time

――That’s also a change caused by the length of time, isn’t it? You mentioned that you don’t feel any discomfort with the songs themselves, but do you perhaps feel the youth in it or something like that?

I: In regard to these songs, there are indeed those that I don’t think I would presently write. There are a lot that I think I could only do because of the folly of my youth, or I could only write because I didn’t understand all that much. I think I probably possessed a strength I didn’t know I had.

――When you say that there are lyrics that you wouldn’t write in the present day… it isn’t about ISSAY-san, is it?

H: Because ISSAY doesn’t stray from his path. I’ve finally come to understand that. I used to think that it would be better if he would write lyrics that were easier to understand, but after the band came back together, we spoke about a lot of things. And when we were working on Primitive, topics like what eternity means to ISSAY came up. He often talks about eternity [in his lyrics] but I wanted to understand the heart of it. After that, I started to think that the lyrics he wrote back then were actually pretty good too (lol). That’s why I say that ISSAY doesn’t stray from his ways.

I: I certainly don’t. Looking at them now, there are lyrics that I think could’ve had a little more ingenuity in them, you know?

H: Because we’re comfortable now. Like the lyrics of Bessekai songs ended up reading like they’re showing you some sort of visual media. Although if you knew what it meant, you’ll probably be able to get a deeper understanding of the unhesitating lyrics from those days which looked like you wouldn’t be able to get it unless you listened to it.

――But don’t you think that things like lyrics have a greater tendency to change?

I: It’s not about writing because I want to write, but instead, I write because something took shape in my mind. Like a landscape or an event; whatever comes to mind, wins.

――Are there instances where you listen to an old song and feel that you probably wouldn’t be able to do the same thing in the present?

I: I think I was attuned to whatever was specific to each era, so I probably chose whatever fit best. But given the way my lyrics are, they won’t really give the impression that they’re dated, so I think they’re relatable even now. I don’t think it’s weird even if we take them out to play in this manner, right?

H: With titles like, Matsu Uta (待つ歌 / Waiting), Shizumitai (沈みたい / I Wish To Sink). Amazing. huh?

I: Matsu Uta just happened to turn out like that, though. It’s a waiting song, so it’s an alias, like, “Let’s do a song about waiting”. When I said that, Chikada Haruo-san said, Matsu Uta as a title is good. So, then, I decided we’ll name it Matsu Uta.

H: And because that’s our debut single, right? It only gets even more messed up from there. Shizumitai was a peculiar one too, wasn’t it? People would ask what’s Shizumitai supposed to mean? But now it’s intriguing. Back then, the only thought I had was, “Are there no cooler-sounding song names?”

I: Because all of us were rebellious, weren’t we? Sticking to what defined rock to us and all that. That’s why things were difficult, back then. We’d butt heads over that, you know? But I also think if we didn’t have those conflicts, then we wouldn’t be here now, anyway. I think it was very important that we fought right there and then while in the midst of production.

H: Production is fun now, isn’t it?

I: We still have conflicts on occasion but those are good conflicts, you know? This album is the product of conflicts but these days, we are capable of taking it normally so it’s good, isn’t it?

H: We’re all really thankful that we can release this at this time.

I: We’re thankful, and we’re just glad. In this album, we arranged the songs as if we were putting together a setlist for a live performance. Like, it’ll sound so good if this song came after this one. And I think that’s the most impressive thing about this album.

H: Arranging them, it felt like we could put on about three whole shows just like that.

――And who came up with the album name?

I: When we were having drinks, I suggested, “What about 20 Seiki?”

H: He likes T-REX and all, so he initially proposed titles like 20th Century Boy. Saying, “20 Seiki Shounen (20世紀少年 / 20th Century Boy) is a great name, isn’t it?” “Don’t you think it’s a good idea to have 20 Seiki come after Bessekai?” 

――It sounds really odd when I hear it like this. We’ve already been in the 21st century for quite some time now, haven’t we? And yet it doesn’t feel dated.

I: Exactly. It’s like saying what you’re currently hearing is what we did in the 20th Century (20 Seiki). And it’d be great if that’s the impression it gives people. Because I think that’s the way we meant for it to be.

――It’s a wonder why it doesn’t feel old though, isn’t it?

I: Because we don’t pander to trends (wry smile). We couldn’t keep up to whatever was trendy. And that turned out to be our fortune (lol).

H: These songs were angled for the band, so simply put, we weren’t sellable (wry smile), but now, that’s a good thing, isn’t it? If any one [of our works] turned out to rake in the cash, then I think everything would start revolving around it, or we’d never remove ourselves from it. After all this time, I think that’s good for us.

――I believe there are a lot of people who would be happy to hear it.

I: Because the album itself is interesting, isn’t it?

――Have you been called unorthodox¹ since your reunion?

H: These days, the world is filled with unorthodox things, so. What we do is legitimate, isn’t it?

I: Basically saying, in the end, we were right (lol).

――I’m sure you’d like for everyone to listen to this best-of collection and enjoy your live performances even more than ever.

H: And we’ve got a pretty tight schedule for the rest of this year, don’t we?

I: We’ll start producing our next album soon.

――Very ambitious! We’ll look forward to it.





¹ マニアック (maniakku), literally read as “maniac” has been translated as “unorthodox” in this interview. Despite how it reads, its definition is more closely related to being obsessed with very specific or niche topics. In other words, something that isn’t generally accepted in mainstream society. Thus the translation choice here.




Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki



BUCK-TICK’s 異空 -IZORA- Tour Final,
a magnificent show complete

Ongaku to Hito
23 July 2023

text by Ishii Eriko
photos by Seitaro Tanaka


2023.7.23 at Tokyo Garden Theatre



I watched the closing show of the masterpiece tour, BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-. The previous time I saw them was on 19 April, at their Hachioji show so in short, of this19-show tour which visits a total of 17 locations, I’m only watching the first and last concert dates. I don’t know what happened along the way, what trials and errors and adjustments they made. But what I know for sure is that the first show and the last looked very different from each other. And that’s despite no changes with the videos and graphics projected on the screen, and the set list being more or less the same.

If I had to say, it’s so different that it’s as good as “a concert unveiling of a new show” versus “a theatre show”. If the purpose of a tour is to play their new songs live, then I think that’s something they have perfectly executed since day one. The 14-track long 異空 -IZORA- album underwent a reinterpretation in the two-hour-long concert.

They connected new songs to old; lining up the intense Showa-era flavoured song, THE SEASIDE STORY next to the distinctive city-pop song Mugen LOOP -LEAP-, and bringing in Jonathan Jet-Coaster right before the highlight of the main show Taiyou to Icarus with both songs sharing a similar theme. As written in my report of the first day, the band is capable of showcasing their work in this format precisely because they’ve kept going for 35 years and innovating throughout this time.

On top of that, what else changed to turn a “concert” into “theatre”? The issue of familiarity is of course one; the five members breathing as one, their bodies gradually growing more and more accustomed to the new songs. But what stood out above all of that was Sakurai Atsushi’s power of expression and performance.

Like Sayonara Shelter in the first half. This song was born from the imaginings of present-day Ukraine, and with each iteration on this tour, the performance of it turned into theatre. Sakurai cradles a small child, escapes to a safe place, dodging bullets as they fly past before returning fire himself with a gun in hand; these scenes captivate the audience as he sings.

Unlike a choreographed performance, he had, in short, fully immersed himself in it. The fear that one day the mic stand he holds at the end would look like an actual rifle seeps in. With the way the performance is executed, the pale moonlight shining from the screen in the back becomes more than a mere visual effect and somehow turns into an essential backdrop. Therein lies the difference between a simple performance and a dramatisation.

The next song which followed was Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni, and coming right before it was a short monologue where he said, “Father, mother, it’s going to rain tonight again. Sparkly gold rain is……” His words bring forth the image of bombs flying between Ukraine and Russia. Would the audience have been just as taken aback and drawn to the scenes on stage if he instead said, “With love from the far east, please listen to this song.”? 

He performs wholeheartedly, turning one reality into a beautiful dream, swallowing both fact and fiction to turn them into one story. The singer who has surpassed the song ruled over the stage.

And there was Boogie Woogie in the midst of it all. On the first day of the tour, in the MC right before the song which sums up their pre-debut life, Sakurai said they’re “recreating a story from 35 years ago”. But now, on this final day of their tour, he changed his words to the following.

“How long can we keep going…… I wonder, how long can we keep going? Until death? No, even after death. We will do this even when we turn into ghosts. They are waiting! They are waiting!”

That was the moment a nostalgic song of the past became a song of the neverending future. Because no matter how far they run, no matter the city they head for, we (= they) who eagerly await them will never disappear. “Boogie woogie! Shoo-be-doo-ba!” These symbolic lyrics resound like an important chant.

This irreplaceable worldview will remain and persist even after the physical body has disappeared and turned into a soul. A man, who in an interview immediately after the album’s completion, said that he was still struggling, that it was hard to live, and that he was as depressed as ever, was the one to make such a powerful declaration.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that this tour is what made Sakurai talk about the future. There were a number of instances when I wondered whether the album, 異空 -IZORA- was really that positive a creation to begin with. Even though there are songs about loneliness and war, the beauty and sacredness of what they have accomplished are carried forth through his sombre and earnest performances. I believe catharsis would also come about amidst this.

The highlight of the main show was Taiyou to Icarus, where the protagonist rushes through to face death head-on. During this performance, Sakurai faced the radiant screen with outstretched arms. The sanctity of his silhouette remains unforgettable even now.

Four songs were played in the encore with old songs interspersed, once again leading us into the world of 異空 -IZORA-. Even though he’s only putting on makeup and dressing the way he likes, the faceless people all around are laughing. Even if such is the confession of the protagonist Hizumi who has no way out, it all slowly gets cleansed away at the end with Na mo Naki Watashi.

A single stalk of a white flower on screen. Midway through, it quietly starts to sway. The moment Sakurai pulls his outfit across his shoulder with a big swish, a blizzard of brightly coloured flowers rained down on the stage. Come to think of it, this move was not present in the first show. With this so-called visual effect showing perfect synchrony with the performer’s gestures, the magnificent show was made complete. It’s so beautiful that it left me speechless. This is the difference between the start and the goal. The difference between a “concert” and a “show”.

And just like this, they continued their way through their 35th anniversary year. The closing day is finally approaching. According to the extra news pamphlet which was distributed after the concert, BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO will be held at Gunma Music Centre on 17 and 18 September.

The world of their new album evolved so much in the course of just one tour. While BUCK-TICK still continues to evolve on stage even now. I can only wonder what their final form will look like.




2023.04.12 RELEASE

■ Limited Edition Version A / B (Blu-ray / DVD)
■ Regular Edition
■ Limited Edition LP Version
■ Limited Edition Cassette Tape

Album cover of 異空 -IZORA-, BUCK-TICK
異空 -IZORA- | Album

〈CD〉※Same for both Limited and Regular editions
03 Warukyuure no Kikou
04 Sayonara Shelter ー destroy and regenerate-Mix
05 Ai no Harem
06 Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni
08 Taiyou to Icarus
09 Boogie Woogie
10 Mugen LOOP -IZORA-
11 Noraneko Blue
12 Hizumi
13 Na mo Naki Watashi

〈Blu-ray/DVD〉 ※Limited edition only
Taiyou to Icarus MUSIC VIDEO




Friday, 1 September 2023 — Nippon Tokushu Tougyou Shimin Kaikan, Forest Hall (ex. Nagoya Civil Hall) ※Substitute



Sunday, 17 September 2023 — Gunma Music Center
Monday (holiday), 18 September 2023 — Gunma Music Center



Friday, 20 October 2023 — KT Zepp Yokohama
Thursday, 26 October 2023 — Zepp Nagoya
Saturday, 28 October 2023 — Zepp Fukuoka
Saturday, 4 November 2023 — Zepp Osaka Bayside
Sunday, 12 November 2023 — Zepp Sapporo
Sunday, 19 November 2023 — ToyosuPIT
Saturday, 2 December 2023 — Sendai GIGS
Saturday, 9 December 2023 — Zepp Haneda


BUCK-TICK Official Website




Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Ongaku to Hito


BUCK-TICK’s 異空-IZORA- Album Tour Begins
An optimistic vitality on opening day

Ongaku to Hito
25 April 2023

text by Ishii Eriko
photos by Seitaro Tanaka


2023.04.19 at J:COM Hall Hachioji




“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-”. I got to watch the first day of this simply titled journey. From start to the very end, it truly was the world of 異空 -IZORA-.

It might be obvious. For 35 years, the band has continued to enchant us with a worldview based off their latest album whenever they release one. It’s not unusual that they would perform all of their new songs, including the instrumental pieces. But I was shocked to find that they stick to the typical style of doing all of that in the main part of the show and then bring on a bit of a festive mood with some past favourites in the encore. It was the world of 異空 -IZORA- through and through, from start to end. I was once again reminded of their confidence and commitment to this masterpiece.

It would be misleading to simply describe it as “dark” but 異空 -IZORA- is an album made heavy by reality. That’s mainly due to Sakurai Atsushi’s mental state which gets redirected into a variety of stories telling of narratives like war, children being sacrificed, even the band’s personal presentiment of an end looming over them, the feeling of being trapped with nowhere to run, and other similar themes. When these are the things that get verbalised in all the songs, it is probably inevitable that [the album would] steadily grow heavier, more serious. But despite this, the concert depicting the world of 異空 -IZORA- was definitely not a sombre one at all.

I have to refrain from naming specific songs, but new songs were connected to old songs to bring out a different nuance from the album. The magic of such song selection was truly magnificent. Their single, Mugen LOOP -LEAP- was paired with a fantastical love song from recent years to create the atmosphere of popular Showa-era songs which transcends time and space. Similarly, their other single, Taiyou to Icarus was sandwiched between a rock’n’roll track we haven’t heard in a while and a nostalgic song that was released in the 90s, starting up yet another different story to tell. Singing of imminent death in Taiyou to Icarus, Sakurai does not break that storyline but instead continues it by depicting the healing, comforting, and salvation of souls in the afterward.

Past experiences complement the present; I believe Boogie Woogie makes for the best example of that. This rock song which Sakurai describes as “a story from over 35 years ago recreated using the latest technology” takes us on a journey looking back at BUCK-TICK’s history of moving from city to city and stepping up on stage once night fell.

The five members of the band are usually all over the place [in terms of dressing], but on this day, Imai Hisashi and Hoshino Hidehiko wore somewhat similar outfits, creating a kind of symmetry with Sakurai in the middle which looked great. The brothers Yagami & Higuchi standing firm in the back, the two guitarists with different music styles, and the charismatic vocalist. It’s late for me to realise now, but this is what harmony looks like.

Imai now stands on stage without the need of a cane, kicking his legs everywhere without restraint. As we headed towards the end, what I really wanted to remember and take note of was the glory of Sakurai’s story-telling ability as he blooms madly in profusion alongside Imai’s guitar solo warping space and time.

This is the power of a band who has kept going and renewing themselves throughout this time. The same members have the same shared times together and kept creating with a trajectory towards the latest album. The overall structure remains intact even when songs from 30 years ago are lined up alongside their latest tracks. Or rather, whatever they’ve done thus far appears to complement the present, so much so that it makes me feel as if the old songs might’ve been put there to make the new songs shine even brighter.

There is no doubt that the heaviness in 異空 -IZORA- is definitely something that came about from facing reality, but thanks to past songs and their level of experience, they managed to maintain the balance even now, without letting things get too serious. There were a number of instances where it looked as if the members of the band themselves were aware of this too.

What made such a show even more exciting was the voice of the audience. Masks are still mandatory. But cheering is now allowed and we could see from the member’s expressions how much morale it gives them. Thunderous applause, everyone singing along to the melody of the chorus, the various calls of “Accha~n!” “Imai-sa~n!” that could be heard between songs. In the past, this could’ve been thought of as something that would ruin their pitch-black world, but hearing this for the first time in three years, I now realise that it is really a reassuring courage, or rather, nothing but a show of support for the band.

I believe the reason why they are capable of so unapologetically releasing an album like 異空 -IZORA- is because of their past of continuity, and in a similar sense, because they have so many fans. War, death, trauma, distortions…… With these words, it sounds like an album close to despair, but these were turned into works of art, stories that could only become a form of entertainment because they have fans who are capable of digesting it. Maybe that is something they came to realise because COVID-19 happened. Even as we tremble at the prospect of an imminent end, nevertheless, BUCK-TICK continues on with certainty. An optimistic, forward-looking vitality. This was the only thing I felt with the start of this tour.





Saturday, 13 May 2023 — High Staff Hall, large hall (Kanonji City Meeting Hall)

Sunday, 14 May 2023 — Kurashiki City Auditorium

Saturday, 20 May 2023 — ROHM Theatre Kyoto, main hall

Sunday, 21 May 2023 — Kobe Kokusai Kaikan Kokusai Hall

Saturday, 27 May 2023 — Pacifico Yokohama National Convention Hall

Saturday, 3 June 2023 — Japan Special Ceramic Industry Civic Center, Forest Hall (ex. Nagoya Civic Hall)

Saturday, 10 June 2023 — Hondanomori Hall

Sunday, 11 June 2023 — Nagano City Arts Center, main hall

Saturday, 17 June 2023 — Orix Theater (ex. Osaka Welfare Pension Hall)

Sunday, 18 June 2023 — Orix Theater (ex. Osaka Welfare Pension Hall)

Saturday, 24 June 2023 — Ueno Gakuen Hall (Hiroshima Prefectural Culture and Arts Hall)

Sunday, 25 June 2023 — Fukuoka Sunpalace Hotel & Hall

Saturday, 1 July 2023 — Sapporo Kanamoto Hall (Sapporo Civic Hall)

Sunday, 9 July 2023 — Sendai Sun Plaza Hall

Saturday, 15 July 2023 — Takasaki City Theatre, large theatre

Monday (holiday), 17 July 2023 — Shizuoka City Culture Hall, large hall

Saturday, 22 July 2023 — Tokyo Garden Theatre

Sunday, 23 July 2023 — Tokyo Garden Theatre


BUCK-TICK Official Website




Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Ongaku to Hito


In Memoriam BUCK-TICK’s Sakurai Atsushi

An unparalleled vocalist who pushed through with his one-of-a-kind performances, and a gentle heart

Real Sound
26 October 2023

Text = Imai Tomoko


My mind has been in a whirl since learning of the sudden passing of BUCK-TICK’s vocalist, Sakurai Atsushi. I was supposed to go watch BUCK-TICK’s performance on the 20th, one day after he fell. The cancellation of the concerts and the announcement of his passing were so sudden that even now, I cannot accept it. Just as shaken up are their fans who are enduring this grief as their thoughts and feelings continue flooding social media.

With a voice and looks both lustrous and beautiful, his tall slender frame was perfect for the stage. He was an unparalleled vocalist who wrote lyrics that were both aesthetic yet aggressive, and put on performances which were both theatrical and dramatic while he sang.

I have always thought that the overpowering presence he exuded on stage was almost deific, unapproachable. I believe that there are many who feel the same way, but I was reminded of this feeling when I watched the final concert of the BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- at Ariake Garden Theatre on 23 July.

Album cover of 異空 -IZORA-, BUCK-TICK
異空 -IZORA- | Album

Songs overflowing with exquisite expressions in every nook and cranny in a large 8000-capacity hall; the limber movements with which he performs the songs using his whole body holds his audience rapt. As the singing performer, it would seem that Sakurai had broken new ground and with the great strides he was making with his songs, it felt as if his fellow band members had also scaled up their playing.

As they celebrated their 35th debut anniversary, what BUCK-TICK had been cultivating through the years felt like it was just about to ripen and it was plain to see from all the elaborate CGI and lighting which decorated the stage, all for Sakurai’s songs. I shared these thoughts with Sakurai after the show and he was really happy about it.

About two months after that, I got to watch the additional performances (BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO) which were to be held at Gunma Music Center, in their hometown of Gunma. In a uniquely designed hall, the band appeared to have enjoyed performing there given the fact that they had played here countless times ever since they first debuted. The way Sakurai danced, flapping his arms like wings as he sang made me wonder whether he was referencing the Jomo Karuta card “Gunma Prefecture, shaped like a crane in flight” (つる舞う形の群馬県 / tsuru mau katachi no gunma-ken). I wanted to ask him about it the next time we met, but that chance was never to be.

Sakurai’s live performances were special. Singing with a clear voice, he conveys the worlds of his songs using a variety of props. An ostrich feather stole or a sheer shawl, or an elegant hat and walking stick, or masks that look like they’re for a Venetian party or an artsy candelabrum; these are just some of the things he uses depending on the song. For example, a single stole can be draped over the shoulders or worn over the head, creating a completely different scene with a little ingenuity.

He further captures the imaginations of the audience with a little inventiveness in his outfits which brings different characters to life. One moment, you wonder whether he just showed us a glimpse of his legs in kneehigh stockings and the next moment, he’s dancing gracefully in a black crested kimono. His physical expressions which even involve the slightest movements of his fingertips more effectively enhanced their songs than any stage set could.

The one who influenced Sakurai to no small extent with such performances was Der Zibet’s ISSAY (vocalist) who suddenly passed away in August. Not only were they fellow vocalists, the two of them had similar tastes in music and art, and had been long-time friends and mutual inspirations to each other. Their relations led to Der Zibet and BUCK-TICK participating in each other’s albums, and even guest appearances at their respective concerts.

On the topic of performing together, ISSAY said, “When it comes to Atsushi-kun, he’s a person who has a unique energy when he’s on stage so that clash between both our energies feels wonderful, truly.” While Sakurai had this to say: “I had to respond to his serious challenges in each moment so I really enjoyed it.” (※1)




Once Sakurai leaves the stage, he becomes an unassuming person of few words, but he’s always gentle, treating everyone kindly and as equals, with the natural disposition to pay attention to detail. 

Many musicians and close friends would always gather for BUCK-TICK’s annual year-end performance the Nippon Budokan, and then join the afterparty which goes on until morning. He had said before that he actually likes to drink alone but he would share a toast with each and every person there.

Of course, it was not only Sakurai but every member of BUCK-TICK who cherished their connections with people, and maintained good relations with many. I believe the outpouring of grief for Sakurai on social media is a clear indicator of the strong interpersonal relationships BUCK-TICK has forged. It also goes without saying that his sincerity, kindness, and generosity have been conveyed to and charmed countless fans through his songs and live performances.

BUCK-TICK started out with Sakurai, and fellow schoolmates Imai Hisashi (guitarist), Hoshino Hidehiko (guitarist), Higuchi Yutaka (bassist). At first, Sakurai was the drummer but switched to being the vocalist when he proposed, “I want to sing.”  Higuchi’s older brother, Yagami Toll (drummer) then joined them and the band started taking their activities more seriously. After that, the band released their first single, TO-SEARCH in 1986 under indie record label Taiyo Records (太陽レコード).

The next year, they released their first indies album HURRY UP MODE and soon after made their major label debut with Victor Entertainment with a concert video, BUCK-TICK Phenomenon at LIVE INN (バクチク現象 at LIVE INN). At the time, it was unusual to start a music career with a film release, and when asked about the reason behind this decision, even now I can still remember Yagami’s reply, “Because we focus on visuals (ビジュアル重視 / bijuaru juushi).” These words come before the term “visual-kei” was coined.

Back then, you would typically see “member recruitment” flyers pasted on the walls of livehouses where those who stuck them up would detail their music preferences and list their favourite bands. At some point, the term “ビジュアル重視” became a common sight on these flyers. This is because in the dawn of the band boom, people came to believe that looks are also an important deciding factor for whether you’ll be featured on TV or in magazines. 

I believe BUCK-TICK at the time focused on punkish sprayed-up hair and new-wave styled outfits instead of Sakurai’s attractive facial features, but Sakurai’s presence was more than enough to draw attention. I heard that MAGUMI (vocalist/trumpeter) from LÄ-PPISCH, another band who also debuted through Victor Invitation (Invitation) said, “Acchan’s (Sakurai) beauty is near divine.” There’s no denying that hearing this changed the way I saw BUCK-TICK.




The band has done countless interviews since their debut, but their earliest interviews were an uphill battle for this reticent group. As their popularity grew, magazines also began to dedicate more and more pages to them. They started conducting solo interviews where the members of the band gradually opened up; Sakurai started giving his insights on lyrics that were being read into, while Imai began to talk about his intent behind the sound constructs. 

With Sakurai, I also got to talk to him about his favourite artists and songs, as well as books and films and many more topics, all of which could be inferred from his music. Like how he often listened to popular songs from the Showa Era as a result of his mother’s influence, his love of Alain Delon and Sawada Kenji, his being influenced by Miwa Akihiro and Edith Piaf. The topics were endless.


BUCK-TICK / Aku no Hana Music Video


In the early days of BUCK-TICK, Imai also wrote the song lyrics but later on, Sakurai began composing them. Ever since the beginning, the lyrics which Sakurai wrote were never simple love songs; they were love songs which were also aesthetically lonesome.

He said before that he wanted to depict “post-sex depression”, but I believe that was gradually channelled towards digging deep into exploring the human psyche. Immersing oneself in an aesthetic of decadence is a result of coming into contact with the dark side of humanity where pain, loneliness and cruelty which lurks in that darkness comes to the fore of human nature.

Woven into the songs in his own words were his explorations into the complexities of gender, differing religious views, and the changing values of society through history. Recorded in the album entitled Six/Nine which they released in 1995 was the song, Rakuen (Inori  Negai) [楽園 (祈り 希い)]」and in it was a line which goes “Garden of Love where the children of god kill each other”. It still hits me straight in the heart even now, and leaves me in admiration of his keen insight.


BUCK-TICK「Rakuen(Inori Negai)」


Speaking of “aesthetically pleasing yet decadent”, Sakurai may give the impression that he sings about things that are detached from reality, but he was in fact an artist who kept a close eye on reality. This was one side of him that really showed in the band’s latest release, 異空 -IZORA- (2023). Recording commenced before the Ukraine invasion which began in February 2022, but there are a few songs in the album which seemed to predict it.

From the start with SCARECROW’s first line, “Can’t run away There’s nowhere for me anymore”, to  Sayonara Shelter which seemed to depict a post-nuclear war world, to  Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni where he gently sings, ‘Mr. Soldier Machine gun  Missile “Flower bouquet”Children Father   Mother “Flower Bouquet”. As he sings this song, Sakurai mimed holding a baby before turning small and cowering on stage in the end.

Also, Hizumi, which he begins in concert with a monologue that starts with “My name is Hizumi,” is a song that expresses the bitterness of a person who struggles with gender issues. Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし) follows right after that and it comes across as a song about everyone existing as equals regardless of name or nationality or gender.

I believe that Sakurai could be so daring to pick difficult themes like these only because of Imai and Hoshino’s incredible pop-sensibilites and aggressive arrangements. But is there any other artist who could take such heavy themes and sing them in such a beautiful and easily understood manner? I cannot think of any.


BUCK-TICK「Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni」


Looking back, there’s an endless amount of things to talk but most of all, Sakurai Atsushi was an outstanding vocalist, a virtuoso of weaving words together to bring across a song. In addition to that, no amount of words can describe how brilliant he was at expressing himself on stage. When I think about how he probably still wanted to go on singing, I cannot imagine how vexed he was to have fallen on stage.

It’s not difficult to foresee how much more accomplished a singer he could’ve become if he continued to sing, and there’s no doubt that he would also add another layer of depth to his lyrics.

On his personal Instragram, Imai wrote, “I wanted to play guitar by Acchan’s side forever.  But, well. We’ll keep going, alright?” (※2) The four members of BUCK-TICK are probably the saddest of us all at the loss of Sakurai, but I hope that they will continue for us as per Imai’s words.There is no end to my grief, but I believe that Sakurai would want us to continue listening to the songs he has left behind for us.


May Sakurai Atsushi’s soul rest in peace.






※1: From the November 2010 edition of PHY (Ongaku to Hito)




Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Real Sound

BUCK-TICK leads into the future
at their concert in hometown, Gunma

Ongaku to Hito
22 September 2023

text by Ishii Eriko
photos by Yamauchi Hiroe, Aoki Sayaka


2023.09.17 at Gunma Music Center




The closing of their 35th anniversary year. Held in a retro two thousand people-capacity hall at the Gunma Music Center in Takasaki with a relatively small stage and sound system that one could hardly call the best. This is also a venue that BUCK-TICK hasn’t utilised in a  while.

I recall the gathering of twelve thousand people in Yokohama Arena one year ago where state-of-the-art LED screens were used. That marked the start of their momentous 35th anniversary of the band’s debut. In terms of the scale of the fireworks launched, it was by far the most spectacular and flamboyant stage. The weight of what they carry was also another factor which added to it. In the year since then, I’ve constantly felt like something was weighing me down

Frankly speaking, it’s the pandemic and the war. We have entered a time where things which we’ve always had without question, like good health and peace and children’s laughter are increasingly under threat. No in-person concerts could be held for their previous album, ABRACADABRA and the subsequent tours which came about afterwards had shows that they had no choice but to forgo due to members of the band getting injured or catching COVID-19.

Perhaps they could’ve made the choice to use this opportunity to take a break, but with the thought of their remaining time counting down in the back of their heads, none of the members of the band bring themselves to do so. There is no time to waste. Anniversary campaigns came one after another, a new album which they originally wanted to release as two CDs, a tour schedule that had already been set……

The words we hear right at the start of 異空 -IZORA-, “Can’t run away There’s nowhere for me anymore”, sounded as if they could’ve been Sakurai Atsushi’s true feelings just before the celebration of their 35th anniversary year; beyond grateful that they can celebrate with everyone. But at the time, the audience weren’t allowed to make even a sound. We couldn’t follow their lead to celebrate at all. Watching their performance of Aikawarazu no Are~ on that stage left such an impression on me that it felt like a horror movie I could never forget, and the one and only new song they performed, Sayonara Shelter, brought the reality of Ukraine in front of our eyes. The celebratory mood was nowhere to be found.

The number of war-related songs only increased in their new album. Like Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (花束を君に / A Bouquet for You) and Taiyou to Icarus (太陽とイカロス / The Sun and Icarus). Furthermore, the despair of no escape evolved through concrete characters in Warukyuure no Kikou (ワルキューレの騎行 / Ride of the Valkyries) and Hizumi (ヒズミ). What I saw during TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- which ran from April to July was Sakurai’s incredible performance with the way he wholeheartedly engulfs himself in the narratives. The band, pressed by an imminent reality, is applying this to the stage, showing us how they turn it into entertainment through radical performances. I believe that it is in this foundation where the anxiety of “Can’t run away There’s nowhere for me anymore” exists as a constant.

The final chapter and, at the same time, the end of their 35th anniversary year. A concert which marks two ends is a little different than the usual. The selection of songs did take into consideration the flow of the tour, but with the inclusion of songs like ICONOCLASM and Ningyo -mermaid-, which were not in the original lineup added to the momentum and added a festive joy back into the show. Even more striking was the removal of Jonathan Jet-Coaster, a song thematically similar to Taiyou to Icarus from the setlist. In short, the sense of confrontation against war had been eased just a little bit.

They’re not telling us to forget all the bad things. They’re also not a band who’s all-smiles, always saying that things are alright. But with the weight of reality carved into a number of songs which they perform in earnest on a near daily basis, perhaps the stage is where they can find a break from reality. The band continues even after the anniversary year concludes. In that case, what will the five of them start going forward? Unlike Takasaki City Theatre, unlike Takasaki Arena, it is the cosy Gunma Music Center that is the closest possible stage to the band’s starting point.

The first time BUCK-TICK took the stage here was in 1988 for their SEVENTH HEAVEN tour. The very next year, they suspended activities due to Imai’s scandal and it was on this very stage that they made their come-back. For all their tours up until 1993, they held the final two days of concerts at this venue so there’s no doubt that this is a closing location filled with precious memories. Digressing, during the encore, Imai took a 360-degree video of the audience floor and the stage with his smartphone. That video also includes a heartwarming scene of Yuta dashing in to try and get in the shot. Whether it was during their performance, in their expressions, or for the MC, the five members of the band seemed comfortable and relaxed.

The encore. Sakurai begins his self-introduction as the transgender lady, Hizumi-chan. Beginning with the words, “Father, mother, I love you, good bye……”, the way we all got sucked deep into the bog of Hizumi is the greatest masterpiece, the nightmarish highlight that grew out of TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-. Singing the words, “The traffic lights turn red” “If it’s going to be this way”, what she has her eyes stuck on is a reality where it’s all too late. Merciless is the pen of lyric composer Sakurai where “rampaging” takes the place of “approaching” in the final line of the song; alluding that the future which should’ve continued as planned is about to get a sudden shake up and lose all equilibrium. I would even say that it is too cruel, too disturbing to write something like this.

But Hizumi-chan has grown through the tour and now, she refuses to sing that aloud. After singing “The next train is…”, Sakurai goes silent and at the end of the chorus sings, “Ah〜”. But it is intentional enough as it is. Just like that, the curtains close with Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし / I, Nameless) and the show ends with QUANTUM II. Thus far, everything goes on as per normal, but on this day, the band heads backstage. And then, the second encore starts again.

Sakurai sounded happy delivering his MC. With a “Thank You!”, New World’s sparkly melody which made it feel like we could just about see the little droplets of sound began. This radiance was a true lifesaver. That something which had hung on since their Yokohama Arena show. That rainy gloom which never seemed to clear. Of course, neither COVID-19 nor the war has gone away. Even so, BUCK-TICK heads into a new world. The memories of one year ago which felt like an unforgettable horror dissipated in the white light. “Cut through this infinite darkness”. After a long time, we could finally catch a glimpse of BUCK-TICK inviting us into the future.



2. Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries)
4. Zangai (残骸)
5. Ai no Harem (Harem of Love)
6. Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix
7. Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (A Bouquet For You)
9. 人魚 -mermaid-
10. Mugen LOOP -LEAP-
11. Boogie Woogie
12. Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue)
14. Tenshi wa Dare da (天使は誰だ)
15. Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus)
16. die


18. Cuba Libre
19. Coyote
20. Hizumi (ヒズミ)
21. Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし)


22. New World


【Concert archive information】

18 September 2023 (Mon/Holiday), Gunma Music Center

For more details on the performance or archived streaming, please visit


LIVE Blu-ray & DVD
『TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan』
2023.12.13 RELEASE

■Limited Edition Blu-ray(BD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK)
■Standard Edition Blu-ray(BD)
■Standard Edition DVD(DVD)

01. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
02. Alice in Wonder Underground
04. FUTURE SONG -未来が通る-
05. Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete
06. Melancholia -ELECTRIA–
07. Villain
08. Maimu Mime
10. Dance Tengoku
11. Eureka
12. Sayonara Shelter
13. RAIN
15. Muma -The Nightmare
18. Memento mori
19. Dokudanjo Beauty -R.I.P.-
21. Yume Miru Uchuu (夢見る宇宙)
22. Kodou (2022MIX)

[Limited Edition bonus (applicable to both Blu-ray and DVD versions)]
・LIVE CD [x2 ] included
・64-page photobook included
・Comes in special packaging

Order from Amazon Japan


Order from HMV



Friday, 29 December 2023 at Nippon Budokan, Tokyo
Doors open 17:30, show starts 18:30
Designated seating; ¥11,000 (w/ tax)

Special Website

BUCK-TICK Official Website




Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Ongaku to Hito


 “Farewell Sakurai Atsushi”
― Ichikawa Testsushi

24 October 2023



Today, it was announced that Sakurai Atsushi, the vocalist of the rock band BUCK-TICK has passed away on 19 October from brain stem haemorrhage. Music critic Ichikawa Tetsushi, who “spent a lot of enriching times with him through my work for Rockin’on Japan and Ongaku to Hito” during the 1980s and 90s, mourns his death.



Despite the fact that BUCK-TICK has consistently been playing peculiar rock music for the past 36 years as Japan’s most avant-garde band who are dark and experimental and not the most appealing to the masses, they are still Japan’s biggest pop-sounding rock band. And their frontman, Sakurai Atsushi was the embodiment of their extraordinary presence and worldview; the rare “pessimistic entertainer”.

The Sakurai Atsushi I know was a person who seemed to have been born to sing in a rock band. He was the “handsome” older brother both inside and out. The young man who stood before a conveyor belt in a factory back before he was formally associated with the band, wondering, “Why am I doing this stuff?” came into contact with music, particularly dark heavy rock music and found what would awaken him to his style of expression; a form which looked both fragile yet promising.

In the last century, I conducted countless interviews with him and I can’t even begin to fathom how many hundreds of hours I spent drinking with him. Despite the smile on his face, on the inside, he was always self-deprecating, asking himself over and over, “What am I?” Even so, he continued to toss and turn in agony as he attempted to express himself as the boy from the blind alley. But because he’s the person he was, he created the unheard-of genre of “stylish pessimistic rock”.

Needless to say, a worldview so unique to him is what gathered sympathisers from far and wide, regardless of nationality or age. Also, when we listen to BUCK-TICK’s music from this past decade or so, we get the message that Sakurai himself revelled greatly in his innate “tiresomely sensitive” disposition.

It is truly a shame [that this has happened] because I was glad to see a Japanese musician ageing as well as Sakurai Atsushi, still going strong 35 years since the erstwhile band boom. This obituary which comes only two and a half months after the passing of DER ZIBET’s ISSAY who he admired so greatly, the other half the duo I call the “Decadent Mentor-Mentee Duo”, is simply heartbreaking.

My sincere condolences to one and all. Ahh.


Ichikawa Tetsushi
Music critic. Author of numerous liner notes and books like BT8992―Buck-Tick’s metamorphosis1989-1992, a collection of BUCK-TICK interviews published by Rockin’On.




Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: “Farewell Sakurai Atsushi” ― Ichikawa Testsushi

BUCK-TICK concludes 35th debut anniversary in hometown Gunma
Gunma Music Center’s Official Concert Report

22 September 2023

Text=Yuka Okubo
Photos=Yamauchi Hiroe, Aoki Sayaka


Kicking off the celebration of the 35th anniversary of their major debut in September 2022, BUCK-TICK embarked on a national tour named BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- following the release of their latest album, 異空 -IZORA- in April. For their final stop of the tour, they returned under the skies of their hometown, Gunma on 17 and 18 September, additional shows named BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO, which were intended to conclude this celebratory anniversary year. The news of these shows meant something special to their fans when it popped up at the end of their concert held in July at Tokyo Garden Theatre.

Alighting at the JR Takasaki Station on 17 September, you will be greeted by posters created for this two-day event. As you breathe in the air of their hometown, you walk down the path leading from the station to Gunma Music Center. The skies over Takasaki are clear on this day. Once you arrive at the front of the venue, you find five life-size standees, one for each member of the band on display. Your excitement can only grow with this second greeting.

Ever since their SEVENTH HEAVEN TOUR in 1988, the band has played numerous times at Gunma Music Center which was established in 1961, a year before the band’s drummer, Yagami Toll was born. That modern structure seemed to suit the world of 異空 -IZORA-.

The story encased in their album 異空 -IZORA- reflects the unsettling state of the world, the strain behind a diverse society, and  the actions and emotions of the people living in these settings. The narrative only grows in depth with each BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- show they perform, and it was thought that it had come to a close following the overpowering performance they staged on the last day of their Tokyo Garden Theatre dates.

In BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO, the songs kept their album placements while older songs were changed or added into the set list, leaving the audience with different feel and impression than before.

As the instrumental track, QUANTUM Ⅰ played, a rousing applause accompanied by cheers rose up as from the left side of the stage entered Imai Hisashi (guitarist) first, followed by Yagami, Higuchi Yutaka (bassist), and Hoshino Hidehiko (guitarist). The moment the four of them took their positions with their instruments in hand, the audience were unable to contain their high spirits and the applause turned to rhythmic clapping. When the music came to its climax, Sakurai Atsushi (vocalist) appeared in the centre of the stage with a black hat and black feather boa while dressed in a black outfit which left his thighs uncovered.

The first song, SCARECROW sounded synchronised with the silhouette of a scarecrow which was projected in the background and even featured the crow which attacks the scarecrow in the lyrics. The four members who played instruments were all dressed in white, making them look especially uniform. The increasing panic and distress at the reality of having nowhere to run grows from the chorus as they up the tempo and push it to the very edge.

That tension carries into the industrial track, Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries / ワルキューレの騎行) and after it fades away, the band leads into ICONOCLASM as Imai  scratches the strings of his guitar in tandem with the familiar “klang klang kla-klang”. Cheers erupted for this song which was not part of this tour’s original setlist. The excitement in the hall heated up even more when in the middle, Sakurai changed the lyrics of the line “Five for Japanese Babies” to “Five for Takasaki Babies”.

The next song, Zangai was also another track which was making its first appearance in the setlist of this tour. It felt as if this rock tune about a powerful lifeforce blazing aflame while living alongside death had something in common with the worldview of 異空 -IZORA-.

Flames of torches danced and the atmosphere changed to the sound of exotic percussion music as Ai no Harem (Harem of Love / 愛のハレム) played. With tingsha bells swaying in his right hand, Sakurai’s melancholic voice sang full of emotion in the sweet luscious music.

Sakurai’s performance of conflicted, gun-wielding soldier sending his child to a safe house in Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix has always had the audience rapt, but on this day, the most impactful moment was seeing him gently place the mic stand, which he always held like a gun, on the floor. During the tour, I’ve seen his performance of throwing it away numerous times, but seeing him convey his emotions of this moment with such a performance on this day was intriguing.

“Father, Mother, here’s a bouquet of flowers for you,” said Sakurai before jumping into the catchy melody of Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (A Bouquet For You / 花束を君に) where he sings about the graphic nature of war from the perspective of a child. Following two mermaid songs, THE SEASIDE STORY and Ningyo -mermaid-, a samba rhythm took over the beachy atmosphere as Mugen LOOP -LEAP- brought about a fantastical soundscape. After that, a short MC.

Perhaps the audience’s expectations of something special happening because this is a concert in their hometown had been impressed upon Sakurai. Say, for example, like how he once introduced the members in reference to Jomo Karuta in a previous show. But instead, Sakurai dodged their expectations with, “People tend to speculate that there’s always something (special) happening in Takasaki (shows)…… There isn’t.” Then, he added, “The members of our band managed to meet each other in our hometown. I suppose that’s about it.”

Moving on, he said, “That girl’s been waiting for us. That’s why we got on stage.” And they continued the show with Boogie Woogie, a song filled with lyrics referencing the band’s early days, and the bluesy Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue / 野良猫ブルー). The shuffle beat song, THE FALLING DOWN was followed by Tenshi wa Dare da (天使は誰だ), both of which reference the Book of Genesis. After that, we finally arrive at the climax of the main show. 

First, Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus / 太陽とイカロス), a lighthearted melody that accompanies the heavy theme of war. When Sakurai sang, “Kanashiku wa nai Kore de jiyuu da”, he spread his arms out, moving them like flapping wings with a bright red sun in the background. The sight could only be described as beautiful, yet sad. Then came die, a song that led us into the spiritual which comes after. Huge spider lilies came on screen to the immersive sounds. Under a light that seems to envelop the whole space, I felt a certain kind of ecstasy.

The encore started with Yagami Toll’s drum solo and turned the heat up with the high tempo CLIMAX TOGETHER where Sakurai sang the line, “WE LOVE ALL   dakishimetai” with all his hopes from this 35th anniversary. They then continued with Spanish-inspired songs, Cuba Libre and Coyote, followed by Hizumi.

Centrestage was a candle lit aflame and a chair. When Sakurai sat down and started his monologue, both Sakurai’s expressions and the atmosphere of the room changed. Next to Sakurai who sang with piercing eyes and a forlorn expression was Imai who hopped and skipped around dancing Jenkka. The imbalance of the performance only added to the melancholy of it all.

During Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし) which sings of life coming into bloom, the sight of petals dancing in the air seemed to expand from the stage to include the whole hall where paper petals float down. While the clear ensemble and powerful vocals brought about a sense of euphoria, they also led towards catharsis.

There was no double encore during the tour so New World was not originally performed during the tour. On this day, the band closed off their 35th anniversary year shining brightly at their future with this track which was filled with a light befitting of BUCK-TICK as they sped into a new chapter. At the same time, it begs a question; will the protagonist from Taiyou to Icarus who pointed at the sun while riding in an aircraft really call our “present” world that has been entrusted to us beautiful? Would our future become something we can be proud of?

Along with the lingering memories of the concert, that question remains in my mind even a few days after the event. The things that connect from past to present and to future. The things we want to protect. I think the message that 異空 -IZORA- carries has been thoroughly conveyed into my heart through this tour.

After the performance, a pleasant surprise was waiting outside for the exiting audience. Using projection mapping, messages from the band members and “thank you” in languages from all over the world were projected onto the exterior of the venue. What great hospitality! Voices of appreciation for this thoughtful display were all around.

The live-streamed performance on the next day, the 18th was a special one that was closed to external parties so that the band got to share a fulfilling time with their fans. I hope that you’ll enjoy this show in the archived stream that will remain available until 23:59 on Tuesday, 26 September (or 23:59 on Monday, 25 September for certain streaming platforms).

In a printed extra that was distributed after this performance, the future of BUCK-TICK was written; they announced that they will be holding THE DAY IN QUESTION 2023 on Friday, 29 December at Nippon Budokan, along with the production of a movie commemorating their 35th debut anniversary year. We eagerly await the completion of this film to see how it will portray the band who ran through the anniversary year without a break.



Gunma Music Center

2. Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries)
4. Zangai (残骸)
5. Ai no Harem (Harem of Love)
6. Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix
7. Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (A Bouquet For You)
9. 人魚 -mermaid-
10. Mugen LOOP -LEAP-
11. Boogie Woogie
12. Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue)
14. Tenshi wa Dare da (天使は誰だ)
15. Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus)
16. die


18. Cuba Libre
19. Coyote
20. Hizumi (ヒズミ)
21. Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし)


22. New World



Upcoming Releases
LIVE Blu-ray&DVD
『TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan』

Limited Edition Blu-ray(BD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK) VIZL-2252 / ¥12,100 (w/ tax)
Limited Edition DVD(DVD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK) VIZL-2253 / ¥11,000 (w/ tax)
Standard Edition Blu-ray(BD) VIXL-426 / ¥7,700 (w/ tax)
Standard Edition DVD(DVD) VIBL-1110 / ¥6,600 (w/ tax)

01. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
02. Alice in Wonder Underground
04. FUTURE SONG -未来が通る-
05. Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete
06. Melancholia -ELECTRIA–
07. Villain
08. Maimu Mime
10. Dance Tengoku
11. Eureka
12. Sayonara Shelter
13. RAIN
15. Muma -The Nightmare
18. Memento mori
19. Dokudanjo Beauty -R.I.P.-
21. Yume Miru Uchuu (夢見る宇宙)
22. Kodou (2022MIX)

[Limited Edition bonus (applicable to both Blu-ray and DVD versions)]
・LIVE CD [x2 ] included
・64-page photobook included
・Comes in special packaging

Pre-order here:
Limited Edition Blu-ray (BD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK)
Regular Edition Blu-ray (BD)
Regular Edition DVD (DVD)


Upcoming Concerts


Friday, 20 October 2023 — Kanagawa: KT Zepp Yokohama
Thursday, 26 October 2023 — Aichi: Zepp Nagoya
Saturday, 28 October 2023 — Fukuoka: Zepp Fukuoka
Saturday, 14 November 2023 — Osaka: Zepp Osaka Bayside
Sunday, 12 November 2023 — Hokkaido: Zepp Sapporo
Sunday, 19 November 2023 — Tokyo: Toyosu PIT
Saturday, 2 December 2023 — Miyagi: Sendai GIGS
Saturday, 9 December 2023 — Tokyo: Zepp Haneda

Tickets on sale now


Friday, 29 December 2023 @ Nippon Budokan, Tokyo

Doors open 17:30, show starts 18:30
All seats designated, ¥11,000 (w/tax)
(Inquiries) SOGO TOKYO 03-3405-9999
General ticket sales starts: Saturday, 25 November 2023


Streaming information
【Concert archive information】

Event day: 18 September 2023 (Mon/Holiday)
Event name: BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO
Venue: Gunma Music Center
For more details on archived streaming, please visit the
Official Website: https://buck-tick.com/feature/specialsite_2023tour_finalo


Upcoming Screenings

Release date: TBC
Title: TBC

[BUCK-TICK Movie Official Website]



*Duplicate images have different sizes


Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: SPICE , Victor Music tweets (1, 2)