Shutoku Mukai, who has spent nearly three decades snarling and shouting in some of Japan's most influential rock bands, loves to ride his bike around Tokyo.

“It’s an electric bike, but not one of the cool sporty ones. It’s something a grandma would ride,” the 50-year-old artist tells The Japan Times from his studio in Shibuya Ward on a Thursday afternoon, occasionally taking sips of beer. “Sometimes I’ll ride as far as Saitama. I avoid main roads and instead go into residential areas. Just observing ordinary people going about their ordinary lives in these random places.”

This hobby helped shape “Rando,” the first original album in 12 years from Mukai’s Zazen Boys project (also featuring guitarist So Yoshikane, drummer Atsushi Matsushita and bassist Miya, who joined in 2018). Released last month, the 13-song collection still features the sonic hallmarks of the band: jittery melodies in the mold of math rock, start-stop rhythms and Mukai’s vocals that veer from sturdy to staggering to shouting. But this new album has a focus on the everyday. Mukai’s treks through the sleepy side streets of the capital inform songs that offer snapshots of teenagers moseying around Suginami Ward, old ladies selling sweet potatoes and folks taking in the evening in empty parks.