Monday, May 4, 2020

Primitive Souls - Tokyo garage rock captured on camera!

Anyone who has been to a garage rock gig in Tokyo - be it a psychedelic all-nighter at UFO Club, a wild and primitive blast of raw energy at Heavy Sick, or the legendary Halloween Ball at Shinjuku Loft - has been struck by how the bands not only sound great, they also look really good and make for great photo opportunities. You can find many Tokyo rock photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram, but as far we know there has been very little in the form of printed documentation of these amazing performers.

Enter Australian photographer Michael Liddell who rightly thinks it should be a crime to leave thousands of unique portraits of Tokyo’s garage-rock, punk and psychobilly live music scene wasted on a hard drive. In the interest of preserving some history of a visually striking subculture and showing off what the scene has to offer, Michael has produced a series of photo books.

Blow Up - Primitive Souls encapsulates the raw energy, interesting fashion, varied influences and power of Tokyo’s talented underground musicians. The first book contains portraits of 45 bands, including rock ’n’ roll veterans Guitar Wolf, visually powerful Tokyo Cramps and the raucously energetic Stompin’ Riff Raffs.

Michael’s main goal with the photobook series is to have a tangible history for the bands to hold and flip through, stored within reach of the record player. Also, to give something to the punters to remember sweaty gigs and crazy nights and perhaps introduce new people to the scene.

Usually a model and commercial photographer, Michael was taken to a Halloween Ball garage rock festival hosted by the legendary Back From the Grave collective a few years ago and this changed his career trajectory irreparably. Since this mind blowing moment, he’s spent all his time perfecting the art of live music photography in the darkest, dingiest lighting, being punched in the back of the head and often being covered in beer.

The garage rock and primitive music scene is tight knit and ultra-friendly, it didn’t take long for him to get close access to the bands and capture one of a kind shots. The entire community has been incredibly helpful with the books and the bands threw in all their support within days of being approached.

With over 100 bands and more shows in the hard drive waiting, the first 2 completed books have just barely scratched the surface. Watch out for the following issues of Tokyo’s garage, rock and punk primitive portraits.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Tokyo Rockin' Nightlife Café

The people behind the Tokyo Rockin' Nightlife page have now opened a café, where you can hang out with other music fans, get information about upcoming gigs, and treat yourself to coffee and food (vegan and gluten free options available)!

The café is open It is in the same Shimokitazawa place as legendary music bar Poor Cow, so why not come back after they close and talk music all night!

Opening hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays, noon to 5PM.

Web page

Facebook page



Monday, June 10, 2019

Tokyo Rockin' Nightlife - get the inside track on what's cool in Tokyo!

There is lots of great music in Japan but if you want to see a really good band in Tokyo, it can still be hard to know where to go, especially if you are only visiting and don't know the language. Here at Tokyo Deep we used to run weekly updates of the best gigs of the week, but sadly do not have the time for this anymore. The venerable Tokyo Gig Guide is still around but can be confusing and is mainly reliant on user-submitted gigs. So what to do if you want a curated, high-quality guide to the best gigs?

Enter Tokyo Rockin' Nightlife! This new blog was started by Masaya, who lives in Setagaya, Tokyo and mainly hangs out in rockin' Shimokitazawa. Masay plays guitar in two bands, DARK THE GIANT and OCHA∞ME, which are well worth seeking out.

The main feature of Tokyo Rockin' Nightlife is a detailed list of upcoming shows. This is very similar in genre to the old Tokyo Deep listings, but is made even better by live videos for many of the bands, so you can check them out before you go. Great idea!

Masaya has also listed some cool local places (including several Tokyo Deep favorites) and gives some helpful tips on how to attend a live gig in Tokyo.

I'm really happy to see this excellent new source of information for Tokyo nightlife and rock-n-roll, and wish Masaya the best luck in the future! Here he is himself on guitar with power popers Dark the Giant:

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Radio Ramen - serving up great Japanese music by way of Australia!

As everyone who's followed this blog knows, there's a lot of great music coming out of Japan! But it is also very hard to keep track, especially if you do not speak Japanese. Most bands have little or no internet presence, and release their music mostly on limited edition vinyl singles - if at all. The best way to experience Japanese rock, punk, garage and more is of course to see it live. But what if you don't live in Tokyo, or have the luxury of going there often?

Radio Ramen to the rescue! Since starting out in April this year, the Australian music podcast has put the spotlight on a host of Tokyo Deep favourites, including Stomping' Riffraffs, Fadeaways, Baitones, Go-Devils, and many more! The format includes interviews in both Japanese and English with selected bands, as well as highlighting old and new tracks from a wide variety of artists. And as we all know Australia is home to some of the best garage and punk bands in the world, so putting the two countries together sound like the perfect match!

The podcast was the brainchild of an independent musician who had enjoyed the hospitality of the Japanese musical underground, and a DJ/radio producer. Like everything in Australia the idea was born over a few beers! They were discussing the lack of infrastructure for independent Japanese bands. Several Japanese bands who had toured Australia had articles written in newspapers and web pages as well as radio interviews -  things that Australian bands take for granted, but which can be out of reach for Japanese visitors. Thus Radio Ramen was created to allow the Japanese bands we all love so much a platform and, hopefully, allow independent Australian bands a chance to let Japan know about them before touring. 

I am sure this great initiative will create new ties between local and international bands, and put the spotlight on all the amazing music that is coming out of Japan. 

Asked about the future, Radio Ramen say they want to continue to build this musical bridge between Australia and Japan and let the world know that there is so much exciting music out there.

Finally, I asked the folks behind Radio Ramen what would be their dream lineup, and they had this cryptic answer:

"Can't say, but it's coming up and it's MASSIVE!"

Keep your eyes and ears peeled!

Below are a few exclusive snapshots from deep inside the RR studio!


Friday, September 29, 2017

Halloween Ball 2017, October 28-29

It's only a month left to the biggest Japanese garage punk event of the year - the Back From The Grave Halloween Ball! Join dozens of bands, wild DJs, and a cast of thousands in outrageous outfits (including yours truly) over Saturday and Sunday at Shinjuku Loft!

Halloween Ball day 1 Facebook Event

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Quit Your Band! But first, delve into the history of Japanese pop

Writer and music blogger Ian Martin has published the first of two promised playlists going deep into the underbelly of Japanese rock and pop music. They are intended as accompaniments to his excellent book Quit Your Band! Musical Notes from the Japanese Underground - partly a summary of the Japanese music scene, and partly his own personal history as DJ, label manager, music reporter, gig organiser and more in Tokyo. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to know more about what lies beyond the Akihabara girl groups!

Read more here and don't forget to buy the book!
Quit Your Band! Soundtrack 1 (Japanese Pop 1950-2001)

Friday, December 23, 2016

So long and thanks for all the sashimi!

Fuzz Things at Live from the Kitchen Disco - photo by Andi Brooks
As you might have surmised if you follow my Instagram feed, I have left Japan! I got an offer too good to refuse, and will move to Newcastle Upon Tyne in UK early next year. This means that there will be no more regular updates on Tokyo Deep - in particular, no more weekly Live Picks. There are still quite a few bars, books and bands I want to write about, so look out for the occasional new post next year. And of course, if mine and Mamiko's band Fuzz Things are playing, this is the place to find out!

It's been a little over a year ago since I started Tokyo Deep, in September 2015. From there it has grown to over 8000 visitors per month at last count, and still rising - most coming from outside of Japan. I believe this is just about the only place you could regularly get information about garage rock and punk gigs in Tokyo in English. Even though I did over 60 posts, some of my big ambitions were never fulfilled, and I would have liked to write about many more venues and bands, but let's just say I had other things to do...

Thanks for visiting! If you are going to Tokyo feel free to contact me through e-mail or the Tokyo Deep Facebooks page, and I'll try to give some personalized recommendations. Sayonara!