Sunday, March 21, 2010

Life goes on, the band plays on...

Yesterday I attended a funeral in Japan for my friend Kensuke who was the lead vocalist, guitar player & songwriter for Six o'minus. Only twenty seven years old, he committed suicide last week leaving his friends, bandmates and wife of less than one year in a state of shock, bewilderment and sadness. Many who came to pay their respects were friends I hadn't seen since Kensuke's wedding last spring when we all drank and laughed together. This time we hand few, if any, words and simply nodded in silence. Kensuke's bandmates were such an important part of his life that they helped with the funeral services which lasted all Saturday night and finished by Sunday afternoon. After I arrived for Sunday services, I signed in at the reception desk and then waited in line to pay my respects. As I approached the casket I could hear the music of Six o'minus, Kensuke's music and his voice. I bowed to his family then prayed to his casket which had a small alter before it with his guitar and other treasured belongings. My vision was so tense I only remember seeing a Beat Generation book, a similar passion that bonded me to the members of Six o'minus. After everyone finished bowing and praying we were all asked to view the the open casket and see our friend for the last time. Everyone crowded around, the sobbing and crying became deeper as we laid flowers on his broken body. Then the hearse took him away to be cremated as "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" played. Taisuke and Shunsuke of Six o'minus marched off with immediate family to be with him one final time.

Please take the time to listen to the music of Kensuke and Six o'minus:

Six o'minus was the first band I saw live in Japan after moving here over three years ago. The drummer Taisuke was dating an old Taiwanese friend who told me to check them out. After that we became good friends and I took a couple trips with them to Taiwan for festivals and tours. The Taiwanese underground community will be just as shocked and saddened when they get the news of this tragedy.

I'd like to take this time to remember two other friends and musicians who have recently decided to take their own lives. Shortly after moving to Japan in 2007, I got word that Taipei punk A-han, the leader of  the sloppy teenage street punk band Sexy Lips, had committed suicide. They were my hope for Taiwan punk to break away from poppy melodies and put more boot stomp into the music. Read more about Sexy Lips here:

Nearly a year and a half ago, Denton, a friend from my high school and a talented musician and songwriter left us. After I had already started college, his high school band Ear Candy became infamous playing at talent shows and parties my sister threw at our family's barn. He later moved on to numerous experimental indie projects including Egon Strangler, the Please Dept. and Brainweise. We worked together and hung out a bit before I moved to Japan and I remember driving home after seeing X in the city, I played a mix CD of Taiwanese indie bands that he was genuinely enthusiastic about. His death deeply affected my sister and her group of friends and left the local underground music community at a loss.

I'm not writing this delve into the issue of suicide and suicide prevention. Even being a good friend is not always enough and often there are no "warning signs." My purpose is to simply remember how these friends affected my life in interesting and positive ways. My heart goes out to the closest friends and family of Kensuke, A-han and Denton because they are the ones who I see suffering the most.