HelloAsia! Interview with Masato

Coldrain, the first band announced for Soundwave Festival earlier in the month left a lot of punters saying “WHO?”. But Masato Hayakawa of the Japanese rock group took the response in his stride, “it definitely exposed a lot more people to our music”. Indeed, in this case at least, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

The timing couldn’t have been better. The band went on to release their album The Revelation later that week, their first official Australian release - though it’s the bands third full length album. When asked what made this album worthy of the international release over their earlier albums, Masato remarked, “It was just the right timing. Everything was aligned. We met Raw Power Management, toured with Bullet and then signed up with Hopeless Records all in the space of a few months. It allowed us to release The Revelation outside of Japan. We’re really excited to be getting it out in Australia”

But given it was 12 months later, it went without saying that the guys are already looking towards the next album. But it seems like they have a bit of touring to get through first. We went on to talk more about what’s next, while reflecting on the Japanese music scene and more…

Tell me about Evolve?
Oh, that’s the DVD. We’re coming out with a bunch of videos towards the release, I’m not sure exactly what’s happening over there yet, though. [Laughs] There is going to be a lot of stuff coming from us.

I think so! I think we’ve got a bit of catching up to do here in Australia!
Yeah, definitely!

Tell me a little bit about the metal scene in Japan. There are quite a few fantastic bands to have come out it in recent years, but we’re being exposed it much later than it is at home. As you said, you’ve spent the last few years releasing albums, touring and building up a fan base at home. What is the metal scene like in Japan?
When we started out, there was never really a scene at all. There were a lot of bands who played heavy stuff, but there was always a lighter genre and we never had a big drawing for crowds. We never used to actually sell enough tickets to survive as a band. We thought there was definitely a fan base that could be grown there. It took seven years, but we’re right now at 3000 capacity halls and it’s worked out that, gradually, there have been more bands coming out and more opportunities, more labels willing to release the heavier bands. Basically, I think it took time for people to get used to heavy riffs, people screaming and it grew! It used to be, ‘Why are you screaming? What’s the point of having low-tuned guitars?’ I guess people got into that kind of music late, but people are into all that now. It’s just growing by the minute.

You must feel then, not ownership, but at least a bit of responsibility for being part of growing this scene, which before then, didn’t exist.
All we aim for is that it doesn’t die out quickly, we don’t want it to be a fad. We want it to be something that sticks in Japan. That’s always our aim. Going and challenging ourselves outside of Japan in going and doing this world release, it actually connects to that too. We wanted to show that whatever Japanese people love and Japanese bands can actually do something outside of Japan too, we just wanted to show that to our fans too. So far, it’s been working out pretty well, I guess.

In the last seven years as well, there have been a lot more festivals popping up in Japan that bring onboard these genres and the harder rock genres. Outside of Japan as well, throughout Asia. What is the touring scene like? Have you toured much around the Asian market, outside of Japan?
We’ve done a few shows in Korea and Taiwan, we’re actually going to Taiwan this week. It’s really cool because over there, people will listen to a lot of Western bands and then they’ll listen to a lot of Japanese bands. We’re always put in the line up…this week, we’re playing in the middle of Architects and While She Sleeps. It’s totally different from any other country in the world and it’s definitely cool, because we’re going to be able to meet people and for us to be able to show what the Asian scene is like to those kinds of bands…it’s going to be interesting to see.

For sure, it’s an exciting time and it’ll be interesting to see as well, how things go for you down here in Australia. It’s a long way from home!
Definitely! We’ve only heard good things about Australia and we’ve always wanted to go and we’re super stoked all this is happening right now.

You know, I guess it’s not too dissimilar to the European market or some of the North American market. What have your experiences been? I know you’ve toured with Bullet For My Valentine last year, or earlier this year?
Earlier this year, yeah. It’s crazy. We grew up listening to Bullet and for us to be playing over 20 shows with them in Europe, spread out over a month…the best European shows we’ve ever had. It’s interesting, all the fans are there to have a good time and they probably came to the shows not knowing us, but the second time after that when we went back to countries like Germany and Prague, people came out to see our shows because they saw us then. It definitely worked out! We love those guys and they helped us out in growing ourselves. We’ll definitely tour with them again I think and we’re trying to get them to come back to Japan. It’s been an amazing experience and for us to be starting out in Australia with Soundwave is probably going to be as good or better, even.

For sure! You mentioned that you were big fans of Bullet - with a band like that, how do you get exposed to that sort of music in Japan? When they were kicking off, was there a market for that sort of international music in Japan?
Actually, yeah. Ten years ago, when they started out, the market here for Western bands was actually bigger. I think more people were into that kind of music and I think more bands were coming to Japan and more tickets were being sold. It was just this time that things started to slow down and more domestic bands got more of the spotlight; it’s a good thing, but I think it’s cool if we can make that come back and everyone gets the spotlight so we can bring smaller bands that aren’t as big in Japan as they are in the home country, to actually tour with us. We did that with bands like Miss May I and Crossfaith and it definitely worked out. It’s cool if we can get the spotlight on a lot of the younger bands coming to Japan for the first time, like Bullet did back in the day.

Fantastic. Well, we’re really excited to have you down here in Australia and I hope everyone’s going to be checking [the record] out when its released. As you said, you’ve got a bit of a bit of an interesting response, being the first band announced and all, but I think it should work out well for you.
Awesome, we can’t wait to see what happens!
Transcription assistance by Sosefina Fuamoli.


The 59th Sound interview with Masato

“We’re playing a lot of Japanese festivals right now, and we’re going to Taiwan this week. But basically between the shows on the weekend, we’re just chillin’ out”, casually explains Coldrain front man Masato Hayakawa.

For a band that seems unprecedentedly steeped in global popularity, Masato rattles off news of mammoth international tour dates and busied degrees of new releases like a rock n’ roll veteran. Having just signed to Hopeless records, Coldrain are, after half a decade of recognition in their native Japan, unquestionably bridging themselves to the world stage. Come early 2015, they’ll be down under for their first ever Soundwave festival.

“It just kind of happened, I guess… they just wanted us to play! It’s crazy. We didn’t know about it until a week ago, either. And we didn’t know we were the only ones announced until it actually happened. Yeah, it’s been crazy, and the influence it’s had so far has been crazy, too. I can’t wait!”

In song, Masato flawlessly whips between operatic falsettos and a blistering scream. Conversely, the man is a warm and measured voice down the line from Tokyo as he deduces some logistics of what has led he and the band to this new level of notoriety.

“We have Raw Power managing us in The UK, and Hopeless, and Sony Australia doing our new record, so the forces are definitely there. We’re so stoked everyone is behind us, backing us up. Everyone backing us up has something to do with things happening. We’re totally stoked, and ready to do everything!”

Before embarking on their trip to Australia come the southern hemispheric summer, there’s a home town that first needs their attention.

“We have a big one called Summersonic that’s coming out this week. It’s always headlined by, like… it’s always huge. It’ll be similar to Soundwave in some ways, I think. Metallica is headlining. This year though, there’s not too many heavy bands on it, but our stage is going to be Megadeth, us, all those sorts of bands. It’s one of those festivals that has all sorts of artists. You can leave it to Japan to do all types of styles!”

With veteran Japanese metallers like Maximum The Hormone enjoying gargantuan success at home for the least decade, but still relatively unknown overseas, it’s curious to hear whether or not Masato is seeing a shift toward more planetary exposure for heavy Japanese music in this day and age.

“All the Japanese bands have definitely had those kinds of goals and dreams, but it’s never been easy to get record labels to back it. It’s always hard with the Japanese market being so distinctive, to get those kind of deals outside of Japan. I think with other bands seeing us tour Europe, and bands like Crossfaith doing the whole world, it’s become more real to a lot of bands.”

“I think a band like Maximum The Hormone, like, they’re so big in Japan that they’ve lost their timing to do global releases. I think more and more though, it’ll happen! We’re on the same record label as them. Maybe we could be the start of a new route for Japanese bands coming out. A think a lot will happen for them in the near future.”

Having initially released their third LP The Revelation way back in 2013, but not getting the chance to in Australia until a few short weeks ago, Masato is positive about retreading older material while touring internationally next year. And with a new EP thrown in as a bonus for countries not yet acquainted with the album, it’s certainly not all older songs during a live show. Australia will certainly be met with an exceptionally tight live show, as will anywhere else they plan on touring before or after.

“We’re trying to get a tour to Europe at maybe the end of this year, and the US early next year, we’re not sure yet. I hope we maybe get to play sideshows in Australia. I mean, anything that comes along, we’re ready to do it, definitely.”

“It’s cool that we’re going to be ready! You’d rather play a record that’s a year old, than releasing it and be playing it a month later and not ready with the songs. We’ve had way enough practice with these songs! We’ve played three to five tours with them, so we’ll be ready to play them wherever we go!”

Until The End is the aforementioned EP that is available as an addition to The Revelation’s re-release. Masato chirpily explains how the recording came about, and how Coldrain goes about their song writing in general.

“We only had time to write a single, or an EP. So we’d rather release more tracks than come out with a single. Usually it’s only two or three, but we had enough time to write six, and release something that was worth buying.”

“After a while you get your own formula, and get your own way of writing. When it comes fast, it comes fast, and when it takes time, it takes time! You learn quickly when a song’s not going to work out, you have the courage to say ‘fuck it’, and not use that song. You know what it should sound like after while. It gets faster after a while, but it can get tougher. It’s cool, we’ve been making good tracks, I think (laughs). ”

“I always write about what’s happening to me right now. Some songs are basically based on what the band is doing at the minute. When recording the last record, we were definitely in a state of touring the world and always going overseas, and stuff. So those messages are in there, and I always try to keep trying to change a negative in to a positive. It’s always personal stuff in there, too. Every track has it’s own theme, I guess.”

Finishing up, Masato explains what the music scene was like in the band’s home town of Nagoya when Coldrain started out, undoubtedly proving that regardless of what people are doing in your local scene, it’s possible to be different and successful with a bit of hard work.
“Nagoya was all about the Hip Hop and club music, our city was all about the clubs. There weren’t that many bands going around, like a punk scene, but never a really heavy music scene. It’s always important in Japan to tour around, because we’re not a huge country. You can do it! But you have to be constant and keep going around until people actually recognize you. Even now with playing 3.000 capacity venues, we still have to go around trying to keep that going. You have to be constant, like every year, because people are so quick at moving on.”

Coldrain will be touring nationally for Soundwave early next year. Their album The Revelation is out now through Hopeless records.

Todd Gingell