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!
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.