You know things are getting serious when the lead singer of Echo & the Bunnymen throws in the towel.

These days many of us in Japan are going about our daily lives contemplating, “Exactly how much would Kim Jong-un like to fire a nuclear missile at Japan?”

He really seems to want to get one all the way to North America, and technically he’s at war with South Korea. But the former is still a heck of a long way away for his rockets of dubious quality to reach without getting shot down 100 times first, and the latter is a little too close to home.

That would seem to make Japan a pretty convenient target, and that belief that some people here may or may not have compared the North Korean leader to a rotary telephone certainly doesn’t help.

Still I didn’t think it was too bad until I read the news that British musician Ian McCulloch hightailed it out of here so fast he didn’t bother to tell anyone.

“Urgent Notice: To everyone planning to visit Ian McCulloch’s Japan performance, in response to the news that there is an armed conflict between the US and North Korea, Ian and his manager have left Japan without permission. We had to cancel today’s performance.”

For younger readers, Ian McCulloch was the frontman for Echo & the Bunnymen and he was to the 80s what Kanye West is now: an above-it-all, self-proclaimed “genius” whose exaggerated bravado is admittedly backed up by some pretty good songs.

▼ Love him or hate him, there’s no denying “Killing Moon” is a great tune.

Readers of the news were shocked and saddened by the singer’s abrupt departure. Some who also feel particularly vulnerable to what chaos may break out sympathized with his decision, but still did not excuse his rudeness to the event organizers.

“He made an understandable choice. This situation is constantly broadcast all over the world. Of course he would leave.”
“I get it. I wouldn’t want to die in another country either.”
“I get why he would want to leave, but why so secretly?”
“He just came to Japan to make a buck. I wouldn’t want to get caught up in a war I had nothing to do with if I were him.”
“Without telling the organizer? That’s just rude.”
“I understand his concern…but slipping away secretly isn’t very cool.”

Others who are more desensitized to North Korea’s fiery rhetoric, didn’t understand his decision at all.

“He’s probably going to lose a lot of money.”
“I think the probability of death by terrorism is higher where he’s going back to.”
“Does he think Japan is North Korea?”
“British intelligence is among the best in the world…. Maybe he knows something we don’t?”
“He thinks Britain is safer?”

However, most comments accused McCulloch of not truly embodying the spirit of rock by performing in the face of danger.

“That’s not very rock-and-roll now, is it?”
“He can’t call himself a rock star anymore.”
“I think we are witnessing the birth of chicken rock.”
“I don’t know if it’s rock or not, but it’s certainly unprofessional.”
“Michael Hutchence would have never bailed on us like that.”
“Not rock, man.”
“Totally not rock!!! A rock star should not fear death.”
“Bad form… say goodbye to your Japanese fans.”

One comment did, however, bring up a valid counterargument to McCulloch’s alleged lack of rock:

“Actually, suddenly leaving the country without permission is kind of rock when you think about it.”

Also, to be fair, McCulloch has been vocal about his desire to live (not uncommon among humans) even going on record about it with Spin magazine in 2008 saying, “I plan on not dying, but if I have to, I want to die in Liverpool.” At least he’s a man of his word.

Meanwhile the rest of us not-yet-rock stars in Japan will continue to hang out while sabers rattle, hoping both sides of this conflict can find some way to chill out.

▼ Maybe they can listen to some Joy Division or something?

Source: Twitter/@VINYLJAPAN via Itai News
Top image: Wikipedia/Ferran from Amposta