TRUE TILL DEATH: INTERVIEW WITH TAKUYA YONEZAWA (BULL ORIGINAL, RUMBLERS CC) [ENG]
The Golden Era of Bosozoku: night racing, crime, hard guitar music and cool American clothes. This time determined the new generation; the generation of those people who supported the developing of Japanese custom culture. Takuya Yonezawa was one of them.
All his hobbies despite the difference leads to “old-school” American way of life: from customized motorcycles to hardcore music. In the end of 1990s Mr Yonezawa decided to quit subculture history and opened his own store and “BULL CLASSICS” brand. Due to this circumstances he changed his life completely: left for another city, find new friends and became a member of RUMBLERS, New York car club. Now Yokohama custom scene knows him as the owner of “BULL ORIGINAL”: custom garage, store and clothing brand.
We had a talk with Mr Yonezawa about American hardcore music, Roger Miret meeting and joining the RUMBLERS CC, clinical death, common things between Japanese and American custom-scenes and, of course, about BULL ORIGINAL — his lifework.
Can you tell us about your hometown?
I was born in Sapporo, it’s in the center of the Hokkaido, it’s really unique place. There was a very special atmosphere; it was overcrowded in the evening but the rest of the day it seemed to be ruined. This doesn’t look like what you can see in Tokyo. I had to find myself information about different cultures because there was lack of it.
That’s what helped me to look at things with a different, my own eyes.
What did you do there being a teen?
Well, I attended boxing and motocross. I was in Bōsōzoku gang. I tried to learn more for myself, was kinda like self-taught. My custom-culture passion gave to me an incredible opportunity to leave for the USA in the end of my teenage years to witness myself the real culture. I was fond of listening to music, especially old hip-hop, rock’n’roll and hardcore.
Yes, all of the old school scene: AGNOSTIC FRONT, BLACK FLAG, BAD BRAINS, etc. First time I faced with this kind of music was VHS tapes with “motocross” footage, something like hardcore music played on the background. Hardcore attract me with its energy, aggression and speed rhythm everything that is close to me. This ‘’dirty” culture. But on the other side, I just like any kind of “old school” music.
You launched your first store in 1999. Was it difficult?
Yeap, my life was very tough for a long time. All of my earnings were hardly earned legally. I had to change everything, to get away from this shit. I raised money and started to do what I want. That’s how I got my own shop.
Why you decided to leave for Yokohama?
In 2004 I took a very important decision to leave my hometown. Everything that I did in Sapporo was successful. I just wanted to start my life from scratch. Moving to a new place was a real challenge for me. Motorcycle and car took a very important part in my way of life, that’s why I did need my workshop. I managed to build it after year. My team took part in YOKOHAMA HOT ROD CUSTOM SHOW and won many awards including prizes from MOONEYES USA and Jeff Decker.
Can you remember something from that time?
Right after moving to a new place I got into accident and survived
clinical death. I was about 2 weeks in resuscitation. I remember it
was like I was literally alone in empty white room, but I’m still not
sure whether it was for real or not.
Tell us about brands that you founded.
It’s all started with “Bull Classics” where I did whatever I want. Leather goods, silver jewelry… First years this brand looked selfish, ha-ha. When moved to Yokohama for the first time, a new brand has come “Bay Side Motor Gang”. But, Now it has changed to “Bay Side Motor Gear”. My first aim is to gather all the best things from last brands in it.
You told before that old American lifestyle is your main inspiration. Why?
Workers and motorcyclists looked more real in past century. They usually rode on their motorcycles and hotrods, wore cool clothes even if they had a ride to the Every day. This style, the real one, inspires me.
For some strange reason I’m drawn to “dark side” of this world. I’m particular inspired by Outlaw-bikers and 50’s-60’s and 30’s-40’s mafia.
Perhaps, I think my grandfather Soichi Nagaoka was a real mafia, ha-ha.
You’re nomad of RUMBLERS CC. Tell us about it.
It’s a club that was founded in 1996 by Roger Miret, the vocalist of AGNOSTIC FRONT. In the late 1980’s — early 1990’s custom-scene of the USA experienced difficult times, so the RUMBLERS could give a new life and save from that shit.
How did you get into RUMBLERS?
I got my old friends from Italy, Romano and Anna who visited me in 2006. We had a talk and decided that we should help each other more often.
Years ago, Romano wanted to open RUMBLERS department in Italy, discussing all steps with our colleagues from Germany. I Support Romano with it and after couple of years he has become a president of the Italy department of RUMBLERS.
Later I got my hotrod pickup and good times has begun to me I started to hard work and travel a lot. I couldn’t share it with Romano, and we had a long talk. He told me that RUMBLERS department in Arizona will be openning party. So I was also invited.
First I visited Los-Angeles where I met guys from RUMBLERS LA and we left for Arizona. When we got there, I saw Romano and other guys from RUMBLERS who came from the world. I was invited to the special party where only RUMBLERS members could be presented. Far away from the beginning Roger Miret [the founder of RUMBLERS / vocalist of AGNOSTIC FRONT] greeted me with the words “Welcome to the Japanese family Rumblers Nomads!”
I’m very grateful to Roger. For me RUMBLERS is like a second family. Unlike the other clubs RUMBLERS was beyond my thoughts. Only because of it, I met Roger, Agnostic Front band and hardcore-scene of the US, all the members of RUMBLERS and other people whose contribution to the NY custom–culture is priceless. You should write about each of them. ha-ha. This leads to the launching of the RUMBLERS department in Japan.
By the way, what Japanese and American custom-culture have in common?
The age group is younger than at that time, not outlaws, we recognize that more fashionable bikers have increased and young people have increased. As I know, most of the custom workshops In the USA try to reproduce. More headed towards older culture. For the last 10 years many bikers have died, some of them I knew personally. You need a real talent and skill to ride a customized motorcycle without harm consequences and this is the main reason for developing custom-culture in Japan. It is becoming popular too. Many things in common…..
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