“There aren’t any other bands like us” — Interview with Hibushibire
Alex Raworth sits down for a conversation with Japan’s Hibushibire about their new LP, Deep Purple and LSD after their recent show in Salford.
The Eagle Inn pub is situated in what is possibly the most Salford of Salford places — the industrial estate. It is in the middle of what is seemingly an urban-nowhere. Its owners are ‘straightedge’, or so I have heard. Its venue is quite possibly the smallest in Manchester. And it is, like its siblings The Castle Hotel and Gullivers a few miles up the road, a stopping point for nationally super-underground touring artists.
However, on the 28th April, there was a scheduled change. The Eagle Inn in Salford was due to host Osaka’s Hibushibire — an act that seemingly most of the audience knew very little about. But, that was the entire basis of an argument for a small interview with the group: to get to know them a bit better in the hopes delivering an introduction or even a small biography to the trio that had seemingly taken the UK underground physical music market by surprise in March 2017, upon the release of their debut, ‘Freak Out Orgasm’.
Much like their set at The Eagle Inn, their LP, ‘Freak Out Orgasm’, was sporadic, chaotic, moody and as hard as a kneecap to the thigh. The only difference between the two was that their performance carried with it elongated versions of the tracks within ‘FOO’, much to this writer’s pleasure. After all, when psychedelia, Hibushibre’s self-labelled genre, transcended into the norm, wasn’t that how it was meant to be? Playing with feeling and not-stopping until you felt like it, even if that meant bringing inspirational improvisation into the room?
The answer is, well, kind of. What is psychedelia anyway and how does it relate to Hibushibire? The urban dictionaries answer isn’t that specific; they note it as something that only LSD users or fans of hallucinogenic drugs would understand — heightened sensitivity and often feelings of despair or euphoria. If that is the meaning, then Hibushibire, along with their debut, are psychedelic as fuck.
Perhaps because Hibushibire have shown the UK (a nation that is infested with parasites that claim the word ‘psychedelic’ in order to separate themselves from the masses of indie-rock bands) a return to the original and old school psychedelic experience meant that the only viable conclusion would end in their debut selling out everywhere. A prewarning here, the NME once stated that the vinyl revival was a faux as the crowds were only investing in reissued records. Hibushibire, along with countless other acts, have proven that notion to be bullshit. ‘Freak Out Orgasm’, in the last year has been repressed multiple times, it has sold out on cassette and is disappearing vastly on the friendly format of CD.
Chang Chang, the groups frontman and guitarist, hand on his heart, expresses the astonishment and confusion that he had initially felt when the news broke through of the large sales from their label, Riot Season Records:
“Woah, surprise. I’m still thinking why, why has it sold so well here? I’m still thinking it now. We think the reason as to why it sold so well was because of Makoto Kawabata [The Acid Mothers Temple guitarist who produced the record]. But still, he didn’t play at all on the album, so we are still wondering why it still sold so well. But yeah, we are so pleased with the result”.
It should be noted here for the glorious reader that elsewhere in the interview, the group also relayed that the recording process with Kawabato, whom they refer to as a positive influence within their career, also pushed Hibushibire within the recording sessions. His presence within the LP itself is also felt, mainly due to the consistent flow of emotions throughout. This, it turns out, is possibly due to one thing, according to a snickering Chang Chang:
“Well, we recorded it in just two takes. Sorry, wait, three takes. It was very speedy”.
It’s funny really, the producer of the record, Kawabato, has been the headliner of the Japanese psychedelic scene for decades, however in the entirety of the country, the genre that Hibushibire belong to hasn’t truly moved and Acid Mothers Temple as well as a handful of acts are all that exists of Japanese psychedelic rock. The group also tells me that inside Osaka, the scene appears worse.
“There are none whatsoever. In Japan, there’s Acid Mothers Temple and a few others, but if you were to focus on just Osaka there aren’t any other bands like us. There’s many metal and hardcore bands, but psychedelic rock — no”.
That hard fact doesn’t hurt Hibushibire too much, they are not necessarily too bothered about other acts throughout Japan:
“[In Osaka], we don’t connect our music to anything, that is why we are here in the UK, and why we go anywhere…”
And it doesn’t seem that they care too much on how much they are perceived by crowds in Japan; in essence, its more on how drummer Ryu and bassist 821 perceive Chang Chang’s music:
“What we want to do is to sound like Hibushibire (a freak out orgasm) and the two of them are just really trying to understand the outcome. And that’s how we perceive our sound”.
The further in the conversation develops, it begins to emerge that perhaps outside of their own music, a suggestion can be made that a persona for Hibushibire doesn’t necessarily exist. Persistently, after the process of questions being translated, they answer in tame forms. Even on the topic of politics, when Chang Chang was asked on how the group reacted to the topic on Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister offering a ritual to a shrine dedicated to Japanese militant imperialism. A hint for those muddled on the concept of just how negative this is, think of it like this: Theresa May visits Amritsar to pay tribute to the British Ghurkha’s that had killed between 379 and 1000 peaceful protestors. Their answer to the question of what their opinion on the topic was, after a brief talk amongst themselves and their translator, was simplistic at most and they didn’t extend upon their reply.
“As far as Hibushibire go, we’re not really interested in politics or British or anything like that. As Hibushibire. What we want to do something non-related. As human beings, we’ve got some opinions. But…”
This is, though, nothing to be critical of. Hibushibire’s statement adds to the long list of an argument on whether art should be mixed with society and politics; this writer typically believes that art can be connected to whatever the artist likes — that is typically what makes contextual and significant art. Moving on, if the beloved reader would like to know at least one controversial subject that had appeared from Hibushibire that night, on the 28th April, then please do gather oneself.
When asked on the relevancy of their musical tones to the stand out artists of the sixties and seventies and which one they relate to the most, Chang Chang replied with Deep Purple — “But only Deep Purple in ’69!”. Of course, in the UK this is a near bizarre thing to say and the band are as much a taboo as they are an icon. After all, what do most people attribute Deep Purple with? The answer, a painful yet innovative and minimalistic guitar riff that most, if not all seven-year-olds learn to play on their £25 Argos guitars that they’d obtained from the bank of their mother or father: ‘Smoke On the Water’.
What else is there too learn about Hibushibire? After a brief conversation about the groups album artwork and merchandise — which, according to a proud Chang Chang, was designed by his wife, Chang and Ryu had quickly responded with an answer that declared their own love with LSD. This should of course come to no surprise; is it possible to be a fan and composer of psychedelic music without at least experimenting with the drug that had attributed massively to a developing counter culture throughout the late sixties and early seventies? Unfortunately, the group hadn’t managed to elaborate much on their own experimentation of the drug.
It was around this point in time that 821 was being harassed and had become a hostage by a drunken ‘fan’ who was also promising this writer a rented flat in Manchester’s Northern Quarter opposite Band on the Wall. This is, as the trio are probably now aware of, a direct of symptom of trying to break the taboo of conducting an interview within a pub — something that is illegal in their homeland of Japan.
So, it felt high-time to end the interview, but not without one cliché question — what is the near future looking like for Hibushibire?
“After this tour, we are going to start straight away and begin working on our next album. We want to finish recording the it by the end of the summer, and then hopefully release it by autumn”.
Do they have an idea of how they want it to go?
“I don’t know how it’s pronounced, but we’d like it to be much faster than ‘Freak Out Orgasm!’, but more Freak Out!”
Interview and words from Alex Raworth.
Find more of Alex’s work at https://araworth.contently.com/