Home Features Remembering the Hanatarash Bulldozer Gig (Complete Colour Photo Gallery)

    Remembering the Hanatarash Bulldozer Gig (Complete Colour Photo Gallery)

    On August 4, 1985, Yamantaka Eye of Hanatarash committed one of the most egregious acts ever in the name of noise by driving a bulldozer through the front door of a venue he was playing. View the complete and in-colour photo gallery of the event below.

    Hanatarash performing live after driving a bulldozer into the venue
    Yamantaka Eye at the infamous bulldozer gig.

    By design, noise is a ridiculous genre. And by extension, it attracts the most ridiculous of people. All of which perhaps goes some way to explain why Yamantaka Eye of Hanatarash decided to drive a bulldozer through the front door of his show in 1985. 

    Now, if that sounds unhinged, I don’t really have a counter argument. But I will add a slightly venerating prefix to assert that it is gloriously unhinged. And, importantly, not without artistic merit (however destructive it may be). 

    As mentioned, noise music can be thought of as a kind of limitless sonic excess. It is both everything and nothing, joy and detritus all mixed into one. A default feeling of offensiveness jackhammers its way out of this most oppressive of musics. Apt for a genre named after what is effectively “unwanted sound”. 

    The benefit of operating within such a boundless space is precisely that; the lack of boundaries. With no limit to work with, and working with peers who relish in widening non-existent borders to their farthest, most obnoxious outer limits, it naturally lends itself to experimentation and reckless abandon. 

    This format was well suited to Yamantaka Eye who formed Hanatarash with Mitsuru Tabata after meeting as stagehands at a show by Einstürzende Neubauten. The two bonded over a shared feeling that punk had become too polished, predictable and mainstream. Hanatarash released a handful of albums in the 1980s including Take Back Your Penis!!ハナタラシ2, and Hanatarash 3. The latter of which was assessed to be the ‘best noise album of all time‘ by Decibel Magazine. 

    Hanatarash 3 album cover
    The Hanatarash 3 album cover

    With Japan in the 1980s at the forefront of noise music (and what would later become ‘Japanoise’), Hanatarash found local peers in the likes of Merzbow, Hijōkaidan, Incapacitants, Masonna, The Gerogerigegege and plenty more. The array of likeminded artists finding kinship in their use of unconventional instruments, shocking themes, abrasive sounds and rejection of traditional music structures. 

    Yamantaka eye would also form Boredoms in 1986. Boredoms leaned more into noise rock, and later into more hypnotic psychedelic territory. Though only a short hop away from the harsh noise of Hanatarash and their compadres, Boredoms fit with a more ‘post-noise’ and noise rock inclined movement of Japanese experimentalists alongside the likes of Keiji Haino, Zeni Geva, Melt Banana, Acid Mothers Temple, Grind Orchestra, Omoide Hatoba and others.

    On August 4, 1985, Yamantaka Eye of Hanatarash committed one of the most egregious acts ever in the name of noise by driving a bulldozer through the front door and into the venue he was playing. David Hopkins (of Kansai label Public Bath) recalls of the event:

    He didn’t know how to drive it, so he put the shovel up and the whole thing tipped over, it was leaking gasoline onto the floor. . . . The audience held him down because he acted like he was going to light fire to the gasoline.

    Yamamtaka Eye himself recounts the following memory from the event:

    We got on this thing and rode it—bang!—through the doors of the hall. It’ll spin a full 360 degrees, so we were spinning and driving through the audience, chasing them around, when suddenly there was this wall we spun into and opened a rather large hole in. The wind came blowing in. The shovel part got stuck in the hole and, trying to get it out, we pushed a switch that started the tractor tipping up, like it was about to go over backwards. . . . Nobody got hurt there, but it cost us several thousand bucks to pay for all the damage. We’d also broken the backhoe and had to pay for that . . . the place was all concrete walls and no windows. We smashed everything.” 

    It was stunts like this, as well as sawing a dead cat in half, requiring audience members to sign a waver before showering them in broken glass, and almost amputating his own leg with a circular saw strapped to his back that helped create what came to be known as ‘danger music‘. 

    Unsurprisingly, Hanatarash became largely banned from playing live. 

    View (colour!) images of the infamous Hanatarash bulldozer incident below.

    Photos by Gin Satoh.

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    The founder and creator of Discipline Mag, Daniel has been an ardent follower of music subculture for as long as he can remember. The combination of this interest with many years spent abroad confirmed the necessity of Discipline Mag as a vehicle to tell stories from the underground.