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Japanese-British supergroup Muddy Apes visit Tampa to record new album, shoot a video and see the sights of Ybor City

Inside Relevant Church, in front of the congregation’s vinyl folding chairs, a Japanese rock star in a fedora hunkered at the base of the stage.

His name was Inoran, a.k.a. Kiyonobu Inoue, a 42-year-old guitarist from famed Japanese glam rock band Luna Sea. He had sold out the Tokyo Dome several times and recently sang the Japanese national anthem for the president of Slovenia. But in April he was staying quietly in Tampa, recording in a local studio and filming a video in the Ybor City church.

Why Tampa?

Inoran is part of Muddy Apes, a band that includes Dean Tidey, former support guitarist for the British rock band Feeder. Some years ago Tidey married a woman from Plant City and moved to Tampa, where he now teaches Rock School at the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The move exposed his international musical friends to Sunshine State recording opportunities — cheaper, more secluded, more vacation-y.

The Apes came here to record 2012’s Crush It, and liked the setup so much they came back to record their current project, Fairy Dirt. They’re planning to play at the upcoming Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, which draws some of the world’s biggest musical stars.

Rounding out the band are Feeder bassist Taka Hirose, who lives in England and has a food blog on the side (, and lead singer Maeson, a towering enigma with an unwieldy puff of hair and a singing voice somewhere between David Bowie and Iggy Pop.

The Apes didn’t advertise their weeks-long recording session in Tampa, partly because some rabid Japanese music fans have come to the studio in the past and knocked on the door during sessions, they said. They were there to work, not be distracted.

But they invited tbt* to hang out, to sit in on a recording session at RedRoom Recorders next to New World Brewery, to catch a glimpse of their music video shoot at Relevant, which — spoiler alert — involved fire eaters.

So what did the Japanese rockers do during their stay in Tampa?

They went to New World, pretty much every day, and took food porn pictures of pizza and afternoon barbecue. They sat under the bar’s Hav-A-Tampa Cigar sign, sipped beers and smoked cigarettes in the parking lot of Larmon Furniture. They chopped tomatoes in their rental house and ate lunch at the James Joyce Irish Pub. They went to the beach, reclined on plastic sun chairs and routinely visited their favorite place of all time, the Taco Bus.

They took pictures of everyone they met — including this reporter and photographer — for a collage in the liner notes of their new album. It’s due out in July, one month after the next set of auditions for Rock School classes with Tidey.

The Summer Rock School and Rock Star Retreat is June 8 and 10-12 at the Straz. Instruments are required; fees are $10-$15. For details, call (813) 222-1002 or click here for info on auditions.

For more on Muddy Apes, see

[Last modified: Thursday, May 23, 2013 4:45pm]


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