On July 7, PANTA (real name Haruo Nakamura) of the legendary rock band “Zuno Keisatsu,” known as a symbol of the anti-establishment movement of the 1970s, passed away. The cause of death was respiratory and heart failure due to lung cancer, and he was 73 years old.
In 1969, Mr. Panta formed “Zuno Keisatsu (Brain Police)” with Toshi in the same year. At a time when “rock music is for bad people,” the group was hailed as the “idol of the left” for its politically radical lyrics and live performances, as if to incite political activism that was intensified by the students. However, the band was forced to cancel many of its live performances, and the “incident” in which PANTA masturbated on stage at the 1970 Nichigeki Western Carnival has become a legend in the history of Japanese rock concerts. The band broke up in 1975, but when they reunited in 1990, “FRIDAY” interviewed the two,
In “Zuno Keisatsu,” there were no rivals or seniors, and the band had been groping for original Japanese-language rock. They said, “We came up with the idea that what we wanted to play was what the times demanded.
He said, “I came here thinking, ‘What I want to play is what the times demanded. From the 1980s, he provided songs for Keiko Oginome, Checkers, and Kenji Sawada, and also focused on producing.
In July 2008, “FRIDAY” interviewed Mr. PANTA for the first time in 30 years on the occasion of the release of the documentary film “zk/Tozuno Keisatsu 50: Mirai e no Kodo,” which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the formation of “Zuno Keisatsu. He talked about the 50 years since their debut, the present in the COVID-19 crisis. And he also talked about the future. (Age and title in the article are current at the time of publication.)
The future as seen by PANTA, the legendary band “Zekkei kana” and “Zuno Keisatsu” (Brain Police)
It’s “Zekkei kana” (“Is it a beautiful view?”). That’s exactly how I feel right now. This view that I’m seeing from here, alive right now, is a ‘spectacular view,’ I think.
The legendary band “ZK/ Zuno Keisatsu 50: Mirai e no Kodo” (ZK/ Zuno Keisatsu 50: The Pulse of the Future), a documentary film celebrating their 50th anniversary, is currently in theaters.
The Corona has crippled not only Japan but the whole world. Music is not being made as it should be. This is an opportunity. The whole world is on the same starting line, and we haven’t even taken a step forward yet. At best, we have only taken half a step.
In 1969, PANTA formed the band “Zuno Keisatsu (Brain Police)” with Toshi, who was the same age as PANTA.
Be original, be free
I want to do something original, even if it’s lame or bad. At that time, Japanese music was, you know, youth? I started writing songs when I was 17, and I wrote about 100 songs, all with English lyrics. I started writing songs when I was 17 and wrote about 100 songs, all in English, but I thought, “This is not good enough to compete with the West; I should sing in my own words. I decided to sing in my own words, and various words were born. Then I came across the “Declaration of the World Revolutionary War” and decided to write a song about it. I was going to sing it as if I were whispering with a whisper, but when I got on stage at Hibiya Nohe, the blood rushed to my head and I was screaming. A spark for a moment. Like rapping. I think it might have been the first rap song in Japan.
Overwhelming support from students as an agitator of the times
In an age without social networking services, the existence of the “brain police” spread by word of mouth to students all over Japan.
We sang it at universities all over Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, but that song shouldn’t be sung three times a day.
Opposition to the Security Treaty and the Vietnam War: Students and riot police clashed in front of the National Diet Building and in the Ochanomizu neighborhood, which used to be a student district. Stones were thrown, water was sprayed, and students were holed up in the Yasuda Auditorium of the University of Tokyo, creating a storm of anti-war and anti-establishment protest.
I thought I was right. I thought I was right and everyone around me was the enemy. That’s a dangerous sense of justice. But because I thought I was right, I said, ‘Don’t be stupid. But in the U.S., we sing “FUCK” in rock music. Looking back on it now, it was a youthful indiscretion, but I was frustrated with the world and myself, and I was fighting. There were lots of incidents that couldn’t even make the news.”
The Brain Police’s stage performances were always scandalous, with stones being thrown during performances, provocations from the stage, and blood in the audience from brawls; their first album, released in 1972, was banned; their second album was also recalled and banned from the airwaves. However, their radical lyrics and free melodies received overwhelming support from young people, and they became icons of the student movement.
I got sick of it,” he said. I got tired of being an idol of the left. I got tired of having my image fixed. So we broke up.”
PANTA says he “played around” with the idea of producing idols while working as a solo artist.
The times are always more in tune with the times.
When I made my solo album “RED” and tried to do a live show, the songs that fit well together were the ones by the Brain Police. So I said, ‘Well then,’ and we reunited for one year only, and that was the end of the Showa era.”
In 1990, FRIDAY magazine covered a live performance of the Zuno Police reunion. In an interview at that time, PANTA said, “The times, they come to me.
The title of the tour at that time was “All Things Flow,” and it was a reminder that human beings keep doing stupid things. Nothing changes in the world.
Ten years later, the Mind Police reunited, this time for a limited three-month run.
I don’t know how it all started. Anyway, Toshi and I went on tour again under the title “Jibakusho” (Final Command). Five days after the tour finale, 9/11 happened.”
In 2019, this legendary band will celebrate 50 years since its formation, and PANTA and TOSHI will turn 70 years old while continuing their respective musical careers.
They said, “We started making a documentary, and we spent a year on the 50th anniversary project, documenting events and stages here and there on film, and then on February 2, we did a concert to celebrate our 70th birthday. Then, I’m going to refrain from doing so. If this had been a year or six months later, we wouldn’t have been able to do the concert, and we wouldn’t have been able to film it. It was last-minute timing.”
The new song “Zekkei Kana” was written for the end roll of the documentary film. The filming took place at an unpopular Shibuya live house at the end of March.
I’ve said a lot of things about you, but I’m amazed that you haven’t been killed. Anyway, I wrote this song before Corona. I wrote it before Corona, but that’s exactly how I feel right now.
In July, the band, which had suspended its activities, held a live performance without an audience.
I thought it was a betrayal of the live show. But, regardless of the merits or demerits, I decided to give it a try. I was going to do it and regret it. It was going to be my first and last attempt, but when I actually did it, I found a lot of things I wanted to do. I found a lot of things I wanted to do.
There are many things that both the musicians and the staff can do. Young people, Southern and Tatsuro (Yamashita) are all trying to distribute. They are energetic. It’s evolving more and more. Anything is possible, apart from illegal things, now.
The future is full of hope
Because the world can never go back to the way it was. Music, publishing, everything. Now, the whole world is at the starting line and evolving. It’s a hassle, but as long as we can’t go back to the way things were, we have no choice but to evolve. We are going to make a great change, all of us. The future will be what it will be. We’ll let ourselves and others be free, and look at this wonderful world, and wonder if it’s a spectacular view.
PANTA’s speech is soft and passionate. This is not because he is getting older, but because this is his true nature.
I want to be original. I want to sing in my own words. I have a lot of things I want to sing now.
Even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, when the music world has shrunk dramatically, PANTA seemed to have an uncontrollable emotion and a glimmer of hope.
We pray for his soul rest in peace.
PHOTO： Shigeo Kikuchi/©︎2020 ZK PROJECT
zk/ ZK/ Zuno Keisatsu 50: The Heartbeat to the Future" (movie)