Staunch believers in rock and role playing, the members of the Asheville, N.C., band Monsters of Japan deliver traditional metal with a full complement of theatrics.
Taking up nom de shreds Bacon, Skeet R., Devilicious and Roast, the band invokes Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, KISS and Alice Cooper.
Roast, the band's frontman, said playing in a band in which music and theatrics intersect, has been his dream since childhood.
"I totally think that the idea of a show in rock 'n' roll is gone," he said. "I miss that. I miss those old stadium rock shows. I mean, I saw KISS when I was eight and told my mom that's what I wanted to do."
Though the band looks to lavish rock productions for inspiration, Roast said, the challenge of Monsters of Japan is pulling off the horror-movie imagery on a limited budget.
"This is a show that is put together with duct tape," Roast said with a laugh. "It's on a budget, but it comes from those rock staples, stuff I found in old Alice Cooper concerts. Guys today just don't do it."
Being a band with a show means carrying some baggage. Roast said that a lot of people approach a Monsters gig with trepidation, fearing that the time, effort, fake blood and smoke poured into, and over, the set is meant to mask musical ineptness.
"There are a lot of people, when they first come into a place, that think the show will be good but the band will suck," he said. "But we're interested in playing, in playing well. I mean, when I started playing, guitar players could really play. The way rock has gone, a kid can get a seven-string guitar, tune it down and play the bottom two strings. I'm not at all interested in doing that."
Although a Monsters of Japan show typically involves blood, bare skin and the invocation of an imagined demon named Akira, the goal is always entertainment.
"I've always felt that if there are three or 300 people, you have to put on a show, because those people will come back and those people will talk about what you have done," Roast said. "Sure, it would be awesome to be successful, to always have a backstage and a green room. But that's not success and I'll tell you, if that happened, I probably wouldn't know what to do. I'd probably have to pinch myself."
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Monsters of Japan, The Hellblinki Sextet and JJ MAJ and the Unpolished Brass
WHERE: The Mission, 1157 Broad St.Call: 722-1233