Sunday, April 1, 2007


One of the highlights of our Japan journey was a day trip to Osaka from Tokyo. To get the shoot rolling, we took an early bullet train to meet ill punk band Balzac at their boutique, Shocker, located in the heart of Osaka. Balzac is amazing because they're not only wildly prolific musically, they create a host of extraordinary fashion items and toys tied to their evolved horror film-meets-punk aesthetic. Here's a video still from our interview. From left to right, meet the band: Atsushi Nakagawa (guitar), Akio Imai (bass), Hirosuke Nishiyama(vocals) and Takayuki Manabe (drums). Balzac is radness personified and if you have the chance to see them live, don't waste the opportunity! They have a couple of solid releases available from Misfits records in the US, too.

Inside a lit glass case at Shocker, Balzac houses items that are inspirational to them. A sketch for a painting by master artist Suehiro Maruo sits next to a bass guitar given to Balzac by the Misfits.

From clothing to records and a plethora of insane vinyl toys, Balzac has been dropping the fresh goods since 1992 when the band began. Balzac's members all contribute design and product ideas. In the year 2000, Shocker opened its doors catering to fans of the group's music and punk fashion.

The Skullman toys in the picture below are ultra rare and absolutely stunning--from the well-defined sculpt to the pristinely clear Japanese vinyl. Balzac's Skullman mascot was designed by Hirosuke.

These posters were all over Tokyo record stores promoting Balzac's new CD box set...

After the interview, we begin the stroll to Three Tides Tattoo which is only several blocks from Shocker. On the way, toypunks' Carl and Hirosuke talk about music and art in Osaka.
Balzac bassist Akio's super sick sleeves are pictured here--one side in neutral blacks and grays, and the other in full color. Akio gets most of his work done by an Osaka-based artist named Mutsuo who tattoos at Three Tides. Next stop: THREE TIDES TATTOO!

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