Church of Misery’s Riff Worship

Japanese tsunami hits Red 7 on Monday

Church of Misery’s Riff Worship

After almost two decades, Japanese doom quartet Church of Misery competed its first U.S. tour last year, 15 dates including a stop at Red 7 for Chaos in Tejas. Days later, my fiance and I flew to the Bay Area to get married. We detoured in S.F. to see COM.

In fact, we detoured our nuptial plans so that I could see the band again. When I realized we were flying into Oakland the same day they were playing in San Francisco, we decided to stay in my birth city that night. The upshot was we got our marriage license at City Hall the next morning instead of some East Bay backwater as planned.

Agnes liked the band, knowing well my obsession with Church of Misery and their every song being about an infamous serial killer. Now, we laugh at the small but crucial part they played in the adventure of our getting hitched.

Having emailed founder and sole original member Tatsu Mikami for some merch in 2011, and again last year for a Chaos in Tejas preview, I got back in touch last week during Fun Fun Fun Fest to inquire about that first U.S. tour.

“I’m not good at speaking English,” he replied when he sent his answers. “Could you please fix if my English is strange??”

I did very little fixing, because, of course, his English is a LOT better than yours/mine/our Japanese. Church of Misery returns to Red 7 on Monday, Nov. 18.

Austin Chronicle: Last year, Church of Misery finally made it to the U.S. What took so long? Was it something you’d been thinking about for a long, long time?

Tatsu Mikami: Yeah, it takes almost 20 years since our first release. Since 1996, I always got tons of mail from our fans, “Come to play U.S.” At that time, we thought that we want to tour U.S. if we had chance. And we began to tour Europe every year since 2005. Reason why we didn’t tour U.S. is very simple: I don’t know booking agency in U.S. Karl [Simon] from Gates of Slumber introduce me to current booking agency when we toured UK/Ireland in 2010 with Cathedral and Gates of Slumber. Finally, it happened in 2012.

AC: So, how was it – the first U.S. tour?

TM: Really awesome. So many crowds everywhere. It seems that they waiting for us long, long years. We communicated with tons of our fans. “Thanks for coming to U.S.!” everyone said to us. We really happy and had a great time in U.S. Nice place, nice people, nice venues, and totally awesome.

AC: Differences between touring Europe and the U.S.?

TM: I don’t feel differences. Every time, rock & roll tour is hard. Especially long drives to next place. But on U.S. tour, it’s very, very fun to see everywhere while long drive. Good weather in West Coast, so many cactus in the endless desert of South. There are so many good places. We really enjoy everywhere.

AC: How was your experience in Austin for Chaos in Tejas? What were your impressions of Austin? How did Texas strike you?

TM: Yeah, Chaos in Tejas is great festival. First, I heard that festival is for punks. So we don’t expect response from audience. But that show was one of the best shows in our history. Church of Misery and audiences made great vibe. So exciting! Anyway, we really enjoyed playing there. Impression of city? I remember that Texas is very hot.

AC: Did you make it to the UT Tower, where Charles Whitman made his stand? If so, what was that like?

TM: “The Texas Tower Sniper”! As you know, we already wrote his song, “Road to Ruin,” in 1996 (this track was included in Early Works Compilation 2-CD ). If we had time, I really wanna visit that tower.

AC: The new album, Thy Kingdom Scum, reassembles my favorite COM line-up. How did that come about? Was this album a long time in the making? How were the sessions?

TM: It takes only one week for recording. ’Cause we already rehearsed hard and played our shows before we recorded. We record three or four take each songs. [None were the same.] I always think it’s big weapon for us. Other band just play song like studio materials onstage, but we always different. Good vibe leads us into next level. Anyway, I always think most importance for “rock” music is “riff” & “groove.” New album is full of neck-breaking cool guitar riffs. Worship “riff”!!

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Church of Misery, Tatsu Mikami, Chaose in Tejas, Gates of Slumber, Cathedral, Charles Whitman

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