This is NOT Greatest Band (actually, it is)


Although the song is called Taboo, we all know that nothing is, actually, taboo if you began Visual Kei. We know this. And the immortal Visual-Kei group Buck-Tick knows this and shows this.

Considering they’ve been making music for 25 years, you would think that we would be tired of listening to Buck-Tick by now. No, we’re not. No, we never will be.

Pronounced bakku chee-kku by the Japanese, the name is a romanized, creative spelling of the Japanese word for fire-crackers. If you don’t get it– don’t worry. Trust me, it all makes bizarre sense somehow.  Anyway, Buck-Tick was created by guitarist Imai Hisashi of Gunma, Japan, in 1984 as a 5-member pop-rock-goth band. The band was cobbled together– the now-vocalist began as a volunteer drummer who was later leveled up. Apparently the band thought he was too short to be the vocalist (just kidding). It’s a good thing they changed their minds.

Although their “first album” was 1987’s Hurry Up Mode, they super-debuted the same year with Sexual xxxxx! to great applause.

While their contemporaries such as Luna: Sea and XJapan were wearing squid-wigs to make Marie Antoinette burn with fish-department-envy, and wailing out whiny lyrics, a blonde, leather-pants-clad Atsushi was prancing around the stage making some kind of unfathomable statement. Their music from this era sounded upbeat, moodily popish and sported titles such as Sexual xxxxx! and Taboo.

Buck-Tick less appeared on the music scene and more attacked it. They quickly renounced the reserve shown by, say, Luna:Sea and began writing some incredibly unreserved music. I’m weighing words here, trying to decide whether I should describe the terrific band as “unbridled” or “downright evil”. We’ll compromise. Buck-Tick began moving out of their poppish years fairly early, and by the early ’90s had converted fully and completely to the dark side. They were not remotely afraid of being eccentric, morbid, downright weird, and/or slightly unethical. Even their poppier pieces took on this air of ‘badness’. While Luna:Sea and XJapan veered off to create the modern-rock genres of Jrock, Buck-Tick raced groups such as Malice Mizer to create the gothic, gloomy aspects of Visual-Kei.

bucktickDuring their early-mid ’90s transformation,  Buck-Tick took on a darker look, and left the ‘80s hair and disco-lights behind for a classier, more elegant style. Titles turned to themes like “La Vie En Rose“, “I HATE YOU ALL” and other such dark, blood-red and black velvet-image-inspiring subject matter. By 2005, Buck-Tick was climaxing their darker side with what I dub Vampire Hunter D rock, i.e. brimmed hat and black cane.

Their sometimes drugged-up electronica, moody melodies and morbid lyrics, paired with Sakurai Atsushi’s versatile, gorgeous voice and commanding on-stage presence make for a unique, colorful bouquet of vocal music that is a definite refreshment from today’s unvaried schemes. One can go from Kiss Me Goodbye, ‘80s pop, to Muma: The Nightmare, where Atsushi creates an unbelievable performance complete with a candlelit, fabulous venue, historical costume, cultic chanting and writhing possession.

Last we heard, Buck-Tick‘s impressive repertoire included 26 singles, 15 albums, and 15 special releases. On February 18th, 2009, they released a new album, Memento Mori, and were featured as the cover-story for the Japanese music-magazine Fool’s Mate’S.

In 2005 the tribute album, Parade~ Respective Tracks of Buck-Tick was released. The compilation featured surprisingly few big-name bands, aside from the glorious cover of Dress by abingdon boys school.

If you’re not sure where to begin, pick up their newest album, Memento Mori and check out their latest tracks, or dig up some of their older stuff and grab  This is NOT Greatest Hits… (But don’t believe them– they ARE.)


Buck-Tick official website (Japanese only)


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