Church of Misery


KW caught up with Tom, Guitarist of Church of Misery, at their Manchester show- Check out what he had to say about playing in his dream band!

Could you give a quick explanation about who Church of Misery are for those not heard of you?

The band started in about 1996, and it was started by the bassist Tatsu. He was in a technical thrash band before that called ‘Salem’ and he wanted to start a 70’s style band like those he’d grown up listening to. He wanted to include the 80’s and 90’s doom music that he’d also been listening to. So then he went to find people, made demo’s and got bootlegged around the world. This led to three full length albums, and a lot of singles- this is the third tour in the UK.


So how did you guys all meet up... considering Hideki, Tatsu and Junji are all from Japan and Tom is from Australia?

Well the band has had a lot of members, from the original line-up there is only Tatsu left. So there is 1 bass player (*Tom points to vocalist Hideki and tells us that he isn’t the bass player. Only because Hideki is at this point trying to shoot us with a bass as though it’s a shotgun!*) There have been 3 guitar players and 4 singers, so its not like we all just met up! (*Tom at this point began to speak to Hideki to get his version…) Hideki says he met Tatsu to originally audition for Salem and he failed! So that’s how he knows him, Junji the drummer auditioned too. I was a fan of the band and then the guitar player was leaving and I heard they were looking for someone…so yeah.


It’s always better to be in a band you’re a fan of…

Oh yeah, totally, it’s a dream come true coz I used to go see them every chance I got. I had all the albums and tee-shirts and everything, so when I heard about that it was perfect!


How do you think the underground music scene has changed since you began making music in 1996?

Worldwide… or in Japan? (KW: Both?!) It’s definitely changed, it used to be like really hard work to find bands because you had to know someone who knew a band, so now, all you need is a name, get on the internet and there they are! So that’s a big difference. It used to be more of an adventuring kind of thing and now its not that way. So that’s kinda great. It’s so frustrating because you used to have to know someone who had a band’s album and the demos. So now people can just go on Youtube and at least check it out. In Japan its not really changed, in general it is still the same. 


Your work centres around the subject of serial killers... What’s the fascination there?

I think everybody… well not really… is interested in it. Everyone seems to get a bit ‘woooooo’ at that subject, and there are a lot of movies about it so I think people find it interesting in general. Basically when Tatsu started the band, he thought it would be a pretty cool theme for the band and it makes writing the lyrics beautiful for someone who doesn’t speak English. Its a very queer topic as we can take direct quotes from people. We have this almost freaky psychedelic sound that reflects the mind…


Do you think there is a link between the darkness of death and underground music then?

Oh sure. Oh yeah, that is the theme in all underground music.


This isn't the first time you've played in the UK, what feelings do you get when you know you're doing shows here and what are the audience's reactions like compared to other countries?

I’d say dirtier?… And more noisy! Yeah, like we always have really good shows here. (KW: Yeah we’re pretty filthy…) Yeah! We were in Nottingham, something to do with an Angel… (*he asks Junji who doesn’t remember either*) Never mind! It was gross, but it was a totally fun show. Last time we played in Manchester it was our best show of all time.


What do you think of Manchester as a place?

Oh I dunno…I do a lot of touring. It looked nice on the way in, I was looking out the window, listening to the new ‘Cathedral’ album and having a good time. We went through a cemetery with beautiful blossoms and green trees so it was a good visual accompaniment. It seems good, our tour manager in Germany said its a place where the most shit gets stolen… (KW: Yep.) So that’s one thing, it seems nice to me.


Do you get nervous at the thought of playing a show?

Uhhmm.. Yeah? Big shows I do a little bit, like we played Roadrunner and the other bands seemed more nervous. But in general no, all of us have been doing this for a long time and once you’re on tour everyday it just becomes normal.


Has anything embarrassing ever happened to you onstage?

Yep! Last time we were in Manchester, the stage had these like little platforms, so of course we were all like YEAHHHHH!!! You know? (*At this point, Tom has jumped onto a table in the interview air guitaring and rocking out…*) And I went to get off and I just went BOWWWW!!! (*Now Tom shows how he went backwards off the edge of the platform*) And I didn’t QUITE go over, but I was certainly winding the windows!! (*He waves his arms as you do to stop yourself falling*) That was embarrassing! That’s the only one for me… our singer falls over quite often. But he doesn’t get embarrassed by it… (KW: Well that’s Rock N Roll?) Yeahhhh!  I mean, some of our shit breaks a LOT on stage, this tour has been really good actually. Last tour, plenty of stuff broke. First tour I was on we had stuff breaking all over the place. Its not embarrassing its just… (KW: A bit awkward?) Yeah. Especially when you’re borrowing it! In 2006 we blew up an amp 3 days in. Its not my fault! I didn’t do anything weird to it….


Do you have a type of routine you like to do before going out on stage?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I see stuff on TV and people like huddle and stuff and they’re all like ‘YEAHHHHH!!!!’ and I’m a little bit jealous because it would be nice you know? But these guys? They’re not like that… Usually we set up our gear and go… ready? And then we start. But bigger bands have like road crews that set up their gear so they have way more time to meet before they go on.


Its every musician's dream to get out on the world's road to share their music, how do you think you're doing living up to the dream?

Awww Awesomely! Seriously! Even more fun than you think! Yeah I love it. I would be on tour all the time if I could. I don’t get sick of it. This is the longest tour now and its 5 weeks, but I could go on forever. It would probably get tiring after a while, but its more fun playing gigs and meeting people and getting free food (KW: Free tee-shirts?!) FREE TEE-SHIRTS! This has been my 3rd tour and each one has just been more fun than the last. What’s really cool is touring with other bands and being friends with them.


Tom, you made the announcement on COM website that you'll be leaving the band to return to the west to live in London after ten years in Japan, why such the big decision?

Oh my god, well actually. I’ll try to do it as quickly as possible… I had this intuition two years ago that I really HAD to leave Japan. I really loved living there, it was really fun I liked it. But I had a feeling I just needed to come to Europe and get back to my normal culture. You know, I was waiting for some door to open and it did… but it didn’t actually work out. I was going to live in London but I’m not anymore. (KW: where are you moving to?) Dunno. (KW: You’re homeless?!) I’ve got all my massive suitcases on the bus because I was supposed to be stopping in London but I’m going back to Australia after the tour for 2 or 3 months. But all of this happened 2 days before the tour, but its cool, it just means all opportunities are open and whatever comes my way… I’ll just think of something.


So what should the UK expect in the future from COM?

Its very tricky, they are ALREADY looking for a new guitarist (KW: Ouch?) Ahhh its totally cool! I dunno if they are gonna find the right guy though. If they find the right guy then I’ll say awesome… go on… conquer the world and have a great time.  Now things have not worked out as I thought they would in London, it would mean me moving back to Japan, having sold all my stuff and saying these big ‘Bye everybody!’ It would be weird to just go back to Japan but I love playing this music and love playing with the band. If I could have the band AND move to Europe.


Finally, do you have a message to the Japanese music fans in the UK?

Thanks for coming to the shows… I CAN’T remember any crappy shows in the UK. They’re always cool… people always come and dance. A LOT. I think a lot of bands go along and get worse and worse, but that’s not gonna happen with COM. They’ve got new songs done and they’ll just get better and better. We’ll see you on the next tour!