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Violence is in, pop-pickers. You’ve seen those pictures of those troops whooping it up in Iraqi jails. Violence is clearly fun. It’s cool. It basically rocks! Just ask Bush and Rumsfeld. They kicked the whole thing off.

Perhaps they’re secret Marilyn Manson fans — I mean, his music was blamed for priming two Columbine high-school kids for a killing spree. And maybe it was they who ordered U.S. troops to blast Sunni militiaman in Fallujah with the AC/DC album “Back in Black” and songs such as “Shoot to Thrill”?

What music are Bush and Rumsfeld getting high on? I think we should be told! Over in Japan, my guess is they’d feel at home at the gigs of two of this country’s most dangerous bands, featuring a bunch of frothing psychos and, as it happens, a bearded bloke called Osama.


From Tokyo . . . TEXACO LEATHERMAN

They got their name by mixing up “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” Formula-1 and a gay shop in New York called Leatherman, and they look like a bunch of foul beasts who’ve just crawled out of a dank dungeon beneath the livehouse floor.

Noise guitarist Osama is a giant rotting haystack of a man; lead guitarist Guchi le Sou Gyummy (Mishima to his pals) resembles the corpse of Jim Morrison; bassist Mammy-Akko dresses like a dominatrix but is actually a ballet teacher; tattooed drummer Tetsu is dirtier than the filthiest Hell’s Angel; and pintsize vocalist Mokkos Europe stalks the stage like a demented leprechaun, brandishing a samurai sword in one hand, while his other is stuffed down the front of his pants, rubbing his groin so furiously you think he must have some particularly troublesome STD.

Do they rock? Texaco Leatherman namecheck Butthole Surfers, Cramps, Pop Group, Stranglers, Dead Kennedys, AC/DC and The Stones as influences. So imagine that motley crew melded into a nightmarish carnival of psychotic, tribal garage-rock. Yes, they rock all right.

And they don’t just look mean.

“We’re not that easy to get on with,” growls Osama. “Three times we’ve been banned from venues. [Shimokitazawa’s] Shelter refused to let us play for years. We bust the amplifiers and stuff. I plugged in the guitar and it went bang and I don’t remember much more.”

“A staffer was trying to stop you plugging it in but you kicked the guy,” Mishima points out.

They also appear to be constantly wasted, like now at this Shinjuku izakaya . . . Mokkos is about to pass out, his head hovering dangerously over a bowl of steaming soup. I try to rouse him with a question or two. Like, where did he get that evil wizard-like name? “Mokkos is what they call cows in Kyushu. Those bulls that go crazy,” he croaks into the soup. “The supercar is the Lotus Europe. Lotus is like Mokkos. It’s all scrambled together. Ridiculous but cool. That’s our kind of concept.”

Wielding that sword on stage is pretty dangerous. You could take off someone’s head.

“I am very aware of safety,” says Mokkos. “Unlike Osama, whose guitar is always banging me in the eye. The sword is not the most dangerous thing on stage.”

Why are you always fiddling with your tackle?

“It’s figurative masturbation,” explains Mokkos. “The penis is a guy’s symbol. It’s the same for all guys, but other guys don’t do it with so much style.” He then passes out.

“There’s this Japanese song about it sung by Tatsuo Umemiya. It’s called ‘A Guy’s Symbol,’ ” adds Osama. “He played yakuza characters and also sang. It’s the kind of thing that Tarantino loves about Japanese culture.”

You can bet it’s no bed of roses being in this band.

“We had a guitarist who told me, ‘If you are going to get drunk then don’t play.’ He didn’t last long,” says Osama. “The next guitarist vanished too, in the middle of recording. He was weird.”

You calling someone weird is, er, weird.

“He was a lot weirder than us, but it’s too heavy to go into,” says Osama. “It involves people dying.”

They took 15 years to make their first album, 2003’s “Duke,” and have been described as the laziest band in Japan.

“Our whole lifestyle is lazy,” says Osama. “With our band, if you’re enthusiastic and really want to achieve something then it’s best you just f**k off.”

Texaco Leatherman’s shows are shambolic. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes terrible, but always highly entertaining.

“Whatever happens, happens,” says Osama. “The band is a hobby. And I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed about. Two of us design stuff for Guitar Wolf and that’s our life. I hate those bands who don’t make any money, but say their band is their whole life. It’s bullshit. The people who say that often end up disillusioned and quit, but we’ll probably continue until we die.”


From Osaka . . . WATUSI ZOMBIE

Like a man possessed, wild-eyed Jugem Tanimura writhes about on the floor of the stage. He’s frothing at the mouth, some of his spit hitting the kids in the front rows, and his face alternates between a maniacal grin and a look of sheer terror. He gets to his feet and hurls himself into the crowd, holding his guitar out in front of him like a spear. Kids dive out of the way so as not to get kebabbed on his six-string as he sprints around the livehouse like an escaped lunatic.

The show climaxes when Miyake Meguru — aided by some crazed fans — drags his drum kit into the middle of the mosh pit and delivers a turbocharged flourish of manic tribal beats. The crowd surrounds him, screaming in an orgiastic frenzy. Meanwhile, Jugem is back on stage, crawling between fellow guitarist Anri Yasuzato’s legs as he stands on a monitor spraying the crowd with guitar gunfire.

It’s a typical anything-goes Watusi Zombie show. Voodoo rock ‘n’ roll, if you like, just like the obscure tribal ’50s song called “Watusi Zombie” that plays as they take the stage. “The name is stupid, ridiculous and kind of cool, so we used it,” says Anri. “But each show is different,” says Jugem. “We don’t plan anything, like dragging the drums into the crowd. These things just happen.”

So is it blues? Punk? Speed-garage?

“It’s irrelevant to try and deconstruct our music into punk or blues,” says Anri, who shares singing/songwriting duties with former high-school chum Jugem. “I cannot say where I get my influences from. But I guess punk and blues use less chords and that’s best. It’s more raw and effective in expressing the primitive nature of the music.”

In fact, they’d rather talk about art.

Jugem has a picture of Taro Okamoto’s sculpture “Tower of the Sun” on his guitar.

“At first glance that sculpture is incomprehensible,” says Jugem. “But Taro’s feelings are incorporated in his art to express something that is extreme in a way that normal people can accept, and that is what interests me. Taro’s famous quote is ‘Art is an explosion.’ All this relates to what we try to achieve with our music. We might sound extreme, but there’s no reason why our music should only connect with underground fans. We want it to connect with normal people too.”

“What we want to do relates to the concept of the artist,” says Anri. “We do not want to communicate easily. We want our music to touch and ignite the primitive aspect in humans that, in their daily lives, most people are not aware of. We want them to be thinking, ‘What the f**k is this? What the hell is going on?’ “

“It’s not about understanding our music,” continues Anri, on a roll. “That’s a lower form of being moved. We want our music to disintegrate built-up social factors like common sense so people walk out of that door thinking, ‘I don’t know what happened to me tonight but something inside me changed.’ “

What’s with the daibutsu head hanging on Jugem’s mike?

“I’m from Nara, but ultimately it comes down to that Taro thing again,” says Jumem. “I love big things and daibutsu are big.”

“Big is good,” agrees Anri.

“Of course, if we became big, we’d have the money to have a huge daibutsu descending from the ceiling at shows. Something like AC/DC,” adds Jugem.

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