-moi dix mois-
-eve of destiny-
biography article by guest contributor cardy
Tetsu Takano first burst onto the scene as a vocalist sometime in 1991 at the tender age of 18 after realizing he could not perform a guitar solo and also because he didn't want to at the time. During this first year he was vocalist for the band 'Ner-vous' and befriended a drummer named Kyoshi Moro at the live house AntiKnock. Tetsu's first impression of Moro was that he had quite a tall purple mohawk which was ironic because he was also a licensed beautician! In January of 1992 Ner-vous' drummer left the band and Moro replaced him, however, he only had the chance to play with the band for two lives before they disbanded altogether. Disappointed by the loss, Tetsu became familiar with the taste of alcohol. In March of 1992 Tetsu went to see Moro play in his new band which included the bassist by the name of Hiroyuki 'Malawo' Kashimoto, who Tetsu recalls being a 'very tall guy'. Tetsu, Kashimoto and Moro instantly hit it off and became drinking buddies for years to come. The musical style, release and live information about Ner-vous is non-existent or very scarce and cannot be confirmed fully.
Tetsu in Malice Mizer, 1994
Later in August of 1992 Tetsu landed himself in the vocalist position of Malice Mizer alongside Mana, Kozi, Yuki, and Gaz. For the next two years Malice Mizer would perform live, release several demos and include a song in an omnibus before they were able to release their first full album 'Memoire' in July of 1994. Later that year the album would be released again as 'Memoire DX' with the bonus track 'Baroque' but at that point Tetsu had decided to leave the band which sent Malice Mizer into hibernation for several months into the new year. While the exact reason is not known for his departure his parting words at his last show on December 27th of 1994 hinted at musical differences which can be arguably verified by Tetsu's later musical endeavors. Fan's opinions of Tetsu as frontman of Malice Mizer has often been unabashedly negative and favored least of all of the Malice Mizer vocalists. While only eight songs were recorded and released officially on CD, nearly 10 more songs were written and performed by the band during their two year period of activity that appears on a wide abundance of bootlegs existing today. Two songs, Ma cherie and shi no butou, would later be released by Malice Mizer with their new vocalist Gackt and they feature Tetsu's original lyrics suggesting an amicable split from the band.
Sometime in late 1994 or early 1995 Tetsu was apart of the session band 'Forme'd Eros' providing vocals/guitar alongside others like Kozi on Bass and Yasu on guitar/vocals. They performed only a few songs, a Hendrix inspired Star Spangled Banner, The Yellow Monkey's Romantist Taste and Ahen no amedama, Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit and an original composition 'Ima wa...'. Around Fall of 1995 Tetsu would team up with Yasu on guitar to form Mega8Ball alongside Rikiji on bass (later of Oblivion Dust) and Nori on drums. Yasu would eventually leave the band by the year's end and Rikiji would call his friend Yoshiyuki who was living at Los Angeles at the time to join the band. Yoshiyuki joined and Mega8Ball started touring again in 1996 and throughout 1997 until the release of their first album 'Hybrid'. The album featured what some people would call rap-rock and a heavy mix of Japanese and confusing English lyrics. Tetsu's vocals on this album are often laughable despite the fact that he undertook vocal training showing a stronger vocal display than ever before. The band later disbanded and had it's last live on December 29th of 1997 upon which time Rikiji immediately joined Oblivion Dust. They released one demo tape, one album, and participated in an omnibus with Tetsu as lead vocalist. The band would later reconvene in 2001 with Yoshiyuki, Rikiji, and Nori though they would perform no songs that were written with Tetsu on vocals. Rikiji has since been the only original member to stay with Mega8Ball and Tetsu has referenced the band and Rikiji in diary entries fondly over the years.
Mega 8 Ball (Tetsu on far right)
Tetsu realized that in order to sing he must pick up the guitar and do it himself. He had grown tired of being in a band and decided to start his own solo unit. He recruited Kashimoto and Moro, friends from his Ner-vous days, as support members and entered the studio eventually crafting 20 songs together. He thought to himself that the combination of just two people together is immense in music that he once again gained faith in bands and started the trio known as 'nil' or absolute zero in January of 1998 debuting in his hometown of Tokyo. nil's sound is self described as rock with punk, grunge and funk mixed in. They toured and performed such songs as FM, Baby Baby, himawari, sleep, and nani kara nani made until November when Kashimoto announced that he wanted to leave the band to pursue a career at an Electrical Company. Tetsu and Moro continued on for several more lives but eventually called it a quits before the year's end. Moro would go on to start the band 'mugiwara boushi' performing as both drummer and vocalist.
Meanwhile in early 1998, recently bandless musicians Ryo and Den (both ex By-Sexual) and Sakura (ex L'arc en ciel) started a session band that evolved into a full fledged group when Tetsu joined in the summer of 1998. In February of 1999 they debuted live as the secret band 'Malice en Sex' (Marisu an Sekkusu) most likely a play-on of words from their former band's names being Malice Mizer, L'arc en Ciel, and By Sexual (later on they became By-Sex). A more appropriate name of 'Zigzo' was decided upon which is a streamlined romanization of the Japanese katakana spelling of 'jigsaw'. From that summer they started touring, recording and releasing at a feverish pace. Tetsu was the primary songwriter and lyricist in the group and only a few of the other songs were written by the group as a whole. They released eight singles, two albums and several videos within the next two year span and grew to have considerable success as a group. The tragic events of September 11th 2001 seemed to have a profound effect on Tetsu and he wrote the lyrics of the nil song 'Sayonara Davinci' that same day expressing his thoughts. The band Zigzo announced their breakup and the band's final single 'Chelsea' addressed some of the concerns by the band and of the fans. The band would have 'The Last Scene', it's series of final shows, in March of 2002 where it would say goodbye to the fans.
While the exact reason of Zigzo's disbandment is not known, it is more than likely a decision on Tetsu's part that caused the end of that band, possibly out of his desire to create music outside of the restrictions of the major scene. In January of 2002, before Zigzo even finished touring, Tetsu decided to start nil again and got in contact with Kashimoto who realized that his happiness was most important in his life and rejoined the band as well, the first song they composed was Mona Lisa. Moro, however, had grown tired of mugiwara boushi and moved to Jamaica and was not intially interested in joining the band again. And so, Tetsu and Kashimoto held auditions for a new drummer and finally settled on the female drummer Kaori Kobayashi. She didn't get a chance to play with the band as Moro reconsidered and moved back to Japan in June of 2002. He was gladly welcomed back into the band and by the end of the month they had recorded their first mini album 'nil from hell'. They then started touring right away and eventually recorded their second mini album 'Sayonara Davinci' by the end of the summer. Both mini albums were released back to back, the first in September and the second in December, and are meant to be complimentary albums like an A-side and B-side of a LP record. While certain similarities in lyrical content and musical style exist between Zigzo and nil, themes such as Humanity, Love, Peace, War, Life, and Death have a much greater roll in latter. And while Tetsu is striving toward being the guitarist he never thought he could be, he still cannot play nearly as well as Ryo from Zigzo. nil's guitar parts are often not as technically impressive compared to Zigzo's but most would say Tetsu's creativity and songwriting would more than make up for it.
nil would perform throughout 2003 writing and perfecting new songs and only releasing one 4-track EP, 'Down to Dawn EP'. And as part of Tetsu's general gameplan, nil released their full first album '12 inplosion' in May of 2004. Several more releases came out in a rather quick pace throughout the remainder of the year, Tetsu even wanted to start recording the second album mere months after the first album was released but was talked down into doing the cover album 'The Covering Inferno' instead. In any case, Tetsu's overzealousness had the band recording again by October of 2004 for their second album. The constant recording and performing seemed to have fatigued Kashimoto and Moro to the point where they both decided to leave nil at the end of the Covering Inferno tour on January 10th of 2005. While their departure is not known for sure, Tetsu and nil recorded, released, and toured quite a lot compared many indies bands and it is possible that such a constant hectic schedule was too much for Kashimoto and Moro. Another possibility was the direction of the second album which was more pop than previously before. Whatever the reason may have been, Tetsu's ambitions for the band took a deep blow and nil's second album 'Excalibur' was completed during the turmoil and aftermath of their departure. The situation seemed frail and he openly reaffirmed his ambitions and nil's fans repeatedly through his diary and fanclub messages that he would continue on. At one point he stated that his life work is nil and that he would never stop the band. Moro and Kashimoto would later go on to perform together in bands such as Gold77, The High Streets, and Toguar and the Creeplands. In July of 2006 Moro restarted mugiwara boushi as 'mugi' with several lives scheduled through the month of August.
Tetsu in nil, 2005
The drummer Sota 'Furuton' oOfuruton (ex Oblivion Dust and support drummer of Mega8Ball) and Kobayashi Masaru (ex Sads and Soy Sauce Sonix) joined the group and toured for the much abbrievated Excalibur tour. Two mini albums 'Scherzo' and 'Agape' were recorded and released right after the tour possibly in an attempt at christening the band with it's newest members. Unfortunately Furuton would disappear soon after the recording sessions recommitting to his session and tour work with Hyde from L'arc en ciel. Tetsu enlisted the support of Kazama Hiroyuki (ex Fantastic Designs) who would eventually become a permanent member of nil.
And so, the fourth stage of nil has begun and the settling of a permanent lineup has allowed the band more time to play together, try out new songs live, and record together at a somewhat slower pace. An extended Agape Tour started and ended by midsummer of 2006 and recording for their next release happened in between the days off during the tour. Tetsu, ever ambitious, also decided to record on his own as a solo artist in May of this year. And in August he released 'The Ball and Wall' featuring acoustic takes of many ballad and mid-tempo songs in nil's library and also two new unreleased nil tracks 'Beautiful You' and 'Hotel'. Tetsu's constant musical output and his dedication to never end nil seems to be a promise, not only to his fans, but to himself that he will never stop writing great music for years to come.