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I Have Come To Know Him, And He Is Immortal

Okay, music lovers, it’s 2012, which means that by now we know a few things about this crazy ol’ world. It’s generally accepted that the Earth is round, and that the moon is not made of cheese. In the event of a nuclear apocalypse, cockroaches will inherit the earth. Sharks are terrifying unless it’s Shark Week, in which case they are terrifyingly awesome. We also know by now that vampires are really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking. Oh sure, horror movies dating back to 1922 will try to tell you otherwise. I mean, Max Schreck made a fantastic Nosferatu, but seduction was not widely considered to be his forte. However, literature has taught us over the course of centuries that real vampires are drop-dead sexy. Seduction is their thing; it’s the way they lure in their prey. Ugly vampires are great for scary stories, but they don’t really function well in the real world. To survive over the centuries, vampires would have to either start their undead lives as breathtakingly gorgeous or evolve to become so, because humans are shallow creatures and tend to not automatically kill pretty things. This fact alone first alerted me to today’s topic: Atsushi Sakurai, the lead singer of BUCK-TICK, is actually a real-life vampire.

It’s not my place to “out” anyone here, but surely I can’t be the only one who’s noticed it. I mean, just look at him. (Yes, that is a link to my personal Pintrest board dedicated to Atsushi. Someone had to do it, why not me?) He’s lovely when he’s younger, but what’s really interesting is that he actually seems to be getting better-looking with age. According to Wikipedia, he’s supposedly forty-six years old. No human looks that good at forty-six. No one. It’s almost as though Atsushi is ageless. What kind of humanoid creature is ageless? Well, that’s easy. Vampires are ageless.

“But wait,” I hear you cry, “literature is filled with all sorts of immortal humanoid creatures, from faeries to ghosts to gods to, well, immortals! How do you know Atsushi isn’t one of those?” Fair play, and I commend you for being so well-versed in otherworldly creatures. I have more facts that point specifically to vampirism, but for now I’ll share with you exactly what made me 100% certain that Atsushi is a vampire. That, friends, is the English translation of the lyrics to the stunning BUCK-TICK song “Kuchizuke:”

Will you say that we can love… love each other? I’ll cover your lips
Close your eyes and give me a sinful kiss

We can love… love each other surely, stabbing into the nape of your neck
Close your eyes and give me a sinful kiss

I can’t ever return again, but that’s okay
I stare into the middle of the night and drink my wine dry

We’ll love… love each other more, seeming to go mad in our intense thirst
Close your eyes and give me a sinful kiss

Your scent drives me mad
I wake up in the middle of the night and drink insanity and love dry

Come here into my arms, “The darkness over there is bitter”
You’ll get confused and waver
It’ll turn eternal before long, “The darkness over here is sweet”
I’ll pierce you deeply

Your scent drives me mad
I wake up in the middle of the night and drink insanity and love dry

Come here into my arms, “The darkness over there is bitter”
You’ll get confused and waver
It’ll turn eternal before long, “The darkness over here is sweet”
I’ll pierce you deeply

Come here into my arms, “The darkness over there is bitter”
You’ll smile a little
With this, it’ll turn eternal, “The darkness over here is sweet”
I’ll pierce you deeply

I started to highlight all of the lines that pointed to vampirism, but really, the entire song fits. A sinful kiss, like a vampire’s bite, stabbing into the nape of your neck. Seeming to go mad in our intense thirst…your scent drives me mad (vampires have a heightened sense of smell, as all vamp literature aficionados know)…the darkness over here is sweet (y’know, vampires and eternal night)…I’ll pierce you deeplywith this it’ll turn eternal…it really couldn’t be more clear. This song is Atsushi’s declaration to the world that he is what we’ve suspected: a vampire. He’s the real life embodiment of Anne Rice’s Lestat, a vampire rock star who’s pretending to be a human who is pretending to be a vampire. It’s the oldest trick in the book, and a very good one at that. If you watch any video of a BUCK-TICK performance, you can see Atsushi clearly feeding off of the energy of the crowd. He feigns indifference, but that just makes the audience crave him even more, building up to a frenzy.

BUCK-TICK very rarely play outside of Japan, and I have discovered the reason for this. One time, during a photo shoot in Nepal, Atsushi became deathly ill. He proclaimed that if he was going to die, he wanted to die in Japan, and so he was rushed back to his homeland. Once there, he miraculously recovered. Atsushi was ill, but he recovered once he was on his home soil. Hmm, who does that sound like? Oh yes, Dracula, another fellow who always had to have some of his home soil near him. Dracula kept his home soil in his coffin when he traveled in order to retain his full power. Atsushi simply chooses never to step foot off of his. (For more about this actual event in BUCK-TICK history, please see this article.)

Atsushi enjoys dark music, movies, and styles, yet he’s also secretive and hard to know, according to bandmate Hisashi. He love cats and red wine, both of which are favored by Goths and vampires alike. He also loves Bauhaus and David Bowie. Come to think of it, Bauhaus first hit it big with their single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” which was used in the opening to the vampire movie The Hunger, starring David Bowie. Is it a coincidence that vampiric bits of pop culture seem to flock to Atsushi? BUCK-TICK provide the opening song for the anime Trinity Blood, which is about vampires. They also provided a song for Nightwalker, about a vampire private eye. More recently “Kuchizuke” was used as the opening song for Shiki, a horror anime that I have yet to see (but very much want to). Here’s the description for that series: “All hell breaks loose as the villagers discover their loved ones’ corpses are rising from the grave with an insatiable thirst for human blood.” What does that sound like? Yeah, thought so.

Obviously I’m not the only person who sees Atsushi’s paranormal side as plain as moonlight. A quick search for his name on YouTube and a great fan video pops up showing clips of Atsushi set to Lady Gaga’s “Monster.” Excellent song choice, fantastic Atsushi shots, and oddly telling, if you ask me. “He ate my heart,” indeed. Also, have you seen the video for BUCK-TICK’s “Romance?” (Hopefully you have if you’ve been reading this blog, as I’ve posted it before.) Unreal. The man is dark, the man is sensual, the man is, quite clearly, an immortal being obsessed with blood. And I, for one, am here to speak in his favor. If you’ve ever felt bad because you see someone who just seems to be way more awesome than everyone else, take heart. That person is probably not a “person” at all, but a vampire. And those immortal creatures (especially Atsushi himself) are more than welcome to come drink the red, red wine with me any day.

Here’s one more BUCK-TICK song to get you through the week ahead, little earbuds: their dark and delicious ditty, “Gessekai.” Enjoy, and don’t let the vampires bite. (Or do, if that’s your thing.)

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The Immortality of Vampires: Even More BUCK-TICK

Last week I talked about my latest (possibly greatest? It certainly feels that way right now!) new musical obsession, the visual kei phenomenon known as BUCK-TICK. Surely, dear reader, you didn’t think I could end it at that, did you? While all of the videos that I shared last week were undeniably fantastic (they were! I challenge anyone to deny it!) I acknowledge that they were all relatively recent videos. Because BUCK-TICK have been around since 1983, there’s a whole lot more to them than just the most recent wave of highly intoxicating songs. To prove that this band may indeed be one of the greatest in the world, I’ve decided to delve a little deeper into the BUCK-TICK backlog and share some other facets of this marvelous menagerie of musicians.

Dress (circa 1993)

Hard to believe for some, but 1993 is quite old now. In fact, in another year and a half, 1993 will be twenty years old. That’s two decades ago! Yet even then, BUCK-TICK were on the scene making deeply seductive music flavored with gothic romance. Which makes sense when you realize that BUCK-TICK were influenced by the seminal goth bands of the Eighties such as Bauhaus, The Cure, Love & Rockets, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Sisters of Mercy. Lead singer Atsushi Sakurai in particular has spoken openly of his fondness for all things “dark,” which is clearly visible in his appearance, performances, and lyrics. In “Dress” we see a young cross-dressing Atsushi who exudes prowess and innocent allure while crooning in a beguilingly knowing way. If I ever get the boudoir of my dreams (a room swathed in deep crimson veils lit by candles) this song will be playing on constant repeat. So sexy!

Razzle Dazzle (live in 2010)

God, I love that moment in a concert just before the artist hits the stage. The excitement, the frenzy, the anticipation! This video captures all of that flawlessly. A band that’s just as great live as on their albums is some kind of heaven for us music geeks, and BUCK-TICK are the archangels of that heaven with their showmanship and dedication to the dramatic in their musical craft. And did I mention that this was filmed just last year? Oh to have been in that audience! The opening is delicious, but if you’re impatient, forward to 3:17 for the good stuff.

Dress (abingdon boys school with special guest Atsushi Sakurai)

This is one of my favourite videos to watch over and over again. Just look at the faces of the fans in the crowd after Atsushi takes the stage with a.b.s! I get goosebumps from all of the intensely palpable energy they created, and I’m just watching this performance on YouTube. Imagine what it was like to have actually been there! The fact that not only do newer (and quite popular) bands like a.b.s. choose to cover BUCK-TICK songs, but also that Atsushi blends so seamlessly into this performance speaks to the timelessness of their work. They were great two decades ago, and they remain great now.

BUCK-TICK make amazingly lush videos and they put on incredible live concerts. Not to mention their influence speaks to a whole new generation of fans year after year. Now do you see why I would nominate this band as one of the best in the world? I could seriously make a blog that’s only devoted to BUCK-TICK, so great is my love for this band. In fact, they even inspire me to break with my traditional Top 3 format and include something extra: a live performance of what is possibly my favourite BUCK-TICK song (or at least my fav for the moment), “Dokudanjou Beauty,” from the same concert above, performed last year on the Razzle Dazzle tour.

Ah, perfection. Hisashi Imai has his Keith Richards rock-god-kick goin’ on, while Atsushi just sneers at the camera. He knows that he commands the attention of the entire room, and he doesn’t even need to try. I honestly don’t know which version I like better, the studio single or the live recording. And that, to me, is the sign of a truly awesome band.

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Visual Kei For Vampires: Put Some BUCK-TICK In Your Brain

You know about visual kei, right? It’s just one more example of why Japan is cooler than anywhere else on the planet. I always admired the fashion of visual kei, but never found my way to the music. Then I watched Trinity Blood, and there at the opening was my key to a whole new world of fandom: BUCK-TICK. I liked them from the first time that I heard them, getting drawn in especially by the melodious vocals. The name of the band references the Japanese word for “firecracker,” which I find very appropriate. Sure, they’re one of the biggest bands in Japan, but as I am not Japanese, I discovered them a scant two weeks ago. Yet from that point in time through the present, I CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO THEM. Their music is exciting and extravagant, dark and sexy, and the only thing better than listening to them is watching them perform. Today I give you three videos from my new number one band-crush, but I dare say there will be more posted in the future. How can I stop at just three when the videos (and music) are this good?

3.) Dokudanjou Beauty

This video is pretty much the perfect amalgamation of everything I love: punk, goth, renaissance, roses, swords, dangerous jewelry, boys in black with awesome hair, you name it. All they need is a cat walking through the background and I’m in heaven. The music is powerful but still bouncy, definitely worthy of fist-pumping at top volume with the windows down in your car. And how badass is that wishbone-esque guitar? One listen and you’ll be hooked, I guarantee.

2.) Romance

Preeeetttttttttty. *Drool* If you don’t believe in vampires, you will after watching lead singer Atsushi Sakurai in this video. This time BUCK-TICK amps up the gothic quotient to fantastic proportions (which is especially delicious for us darklings in the audience). Even without understanding the lyrics, the deep sensuality is quite palpable in the slow, seductive rhythm of this song. I could go on, but I believe that YouTube commenter Vinerilla sums it up best:

Ok. Five years ago, I heard this man’s voice for the first time. My jaw dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was the most sensual voice I had ever heard in my life, smooth as liquor, like liquid velvet, dripping with raw emotion. I went to Youtube. I looked him up. And I found THIS. The most beautiful man in the world, to match the most beautiful voice in the world. How is that even FAIR? x____x 

1.) Kuchizuke

This was the first BUCK-TICK video that I ever saw, hence it will always hold a special place in my heart. This video showed me that there was more to love than just “Dress (Bloody Trinity Mix).” Oh so much more. I would like to state here and now that I understand that bands are composed of more than just a lead singer, and this entire band is marvelous. But I have to take a fangirlish moment to say that the part with Atsushi and the apple is so sexy that I think I might expire on the spot every time I watch it. I’ve seen him when he was younger, and he only gets better with time! That man has the Johnny Depp cheekbones to carry him into an elegantly sexy old age. However, even though this blog entry is about visual kei, it all comes back to the music. And this song is incredible. The pounding drums, the crunchy guitars, the gorgeous vocals (which is what first drew me to BUCK-TICK) and even the twinkling chimes combine to make this audible gold. The dark fairy tale of a video is really just icing on the cake (but it’s that super luscious icing that you could eat even without cake).

Just as Black Butler and Vampire Knight provided a gateway into anime for me, BUCK-TICK is opening up an entire universe of visual kei for me to feast upon. I feel almost giddy at this discovery, and I can’t wait to find even more visual kei bands to absorb into my ever-expanding fandom. Now, to watch more BUCK-TICK videos. *Swoon!*

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