(Moo ‘te keez)
The sun is rising in the suburbs of Tokyo. Beer-soaked and broke but never defeated, Mike Hannah (frontman, Australian) and Jude Conlon (lead guitar, American), place a 6-pack on a convenience store counter. Guitar-in-hand they launch into an impromptu set of acoustic numbers. The clerks look at each other perplexed but eventually start digging it and half an hour later the two chuckling reprobates walk out with a brick of free beer. Understanding this shameless rock-for-beer work ethic will bring you one step closer to grasping the essence of The Mootekkis.
Meanwhile, trapped in a music industry where rock’n’roll success usually means applying make-up and dressing up like a boy band, Koji Iwata (rhythm guitar, Japanese) was performing solo round the Tokyo underground circuit donning his still-to-this-day unwashed “No Beer No Life” T-shirt. Masafumi Sugiyama (drums, Japanese) was drumming at festivals for well-known local acts while Tomoaki Sekiwa aka Yocchan (bass, Japanese) worked in a beef-bowl joint, reading up on Roman history in his free time, his bass collecting dust. Enter Mike and Jude.
Jude, a beer-guzzling bear-sized man from Connecticut, was recording a solo project when he stumbled across Mike fronting a cover band called No Burrito. Mike, whose only previous attempts at singing in his hometown of Melbourne involved stage-crashing other band’s shows, had a vision of a band with a fast, loose-canon approach to dirty rock which shook hands with Jude’s metal and surf-rock leanings.
Koji the pint-sized, tattoo-sleeved convenience store clerk was introduced to Mike through a corner shop owner in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo’s bohemian epicenter. A couple of years beforehand, he had played with an afro-toting Yocchan in a Rolling Stones cover band called Morning Stoned. Masafumi was Mike’s English student and seized the opportunity for free English lessons.
The Mootekkis was born. Koji’s classic rock and blues sensibility, coupled with Masafumi’s clock work drumming and Yocchan’s Stone Roses-esque driving bass lines brought a radio-friendly dimension to Mike and Jude’s offbeat song-writing. By 2011 The Mootekkis had recorded their debut self-titled EP, nabbed their first magazine front cover (Japanzine) after winning the zines battle of the bands, received airplay on Tokyo’s 76.1 InterFMand had their high-energy brand of rock’n’roll sought after for remixes by local club DJs.
In August 2012 The Mootekkis embarked on a 10 day tour of New York where they played Manhattan hot spots Bowery Electric and Piano’s as well as New Haven’s Elm Bar and a handful of basement and loft parties in Brooklyn. Ishmael Osekre, organizer of the New York-based festival Aputumpu, had this to say after seeing the The Mootekkis at a Bushwick, Brooklyn loft party: “This was pure rock’n’roll in a way that most people around here haven’t seen for a long time…it was just amazing.”
In 2013, live shows took a backseat to the shooting of the music video for their first single “The Whiskey” and honing the 10 tracks on their debut album “Heckling the Dawn”. The release party for The Whiskey saw 150+ in attendance and through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, The Mootekkis were able to raise enough money to cover the cost of recording and producing their debut album at Second Drip studio in Shindaita.
With a newly released album (January, 2014) and the arrival of a new drummer, Takahiro Sato, The Mootekkis have their sights set on an overseas recording session with Red Bull and Summer Sonic festival and will be looking to expand their fanbase domestically and internationally in the year ahead.