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Thursday, July 28, 2011
No sign of a summer break for The Hiatus
Special to The Japan Times
As the guitarist and vocalist of Japanese pop-punk band Ellegarden, Takeshi Hosomi toured throughout the country, played in the United States and South Korea, and even opened for Foo Fighters.
When Ellegarden announced in 2008 that they were taking an indefinite break from making music together, Hosomi began focusing on a new alt-rock project that he eventually called The Hiatus. More than a few critics figured the moniker was directly linked to what was happening with his other band.
"The name wasn't chosen because Ellegarden are on hiatus," says Hosomi. "I got an email from an American fan that had the word 'hiatus' in it. I liked how the letters looked together. I can totally see how people want to tie them together, though."
Hosomi began penning new songs right after Ellegarden split. Initially unsure of whether he would release them or not, he gathered together a talented group of backing musicians including bassist Koji Ueno, formerly of popular garage rockers Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, and drummer Takashi Kashikura from Tokyo math-rock act Toe to help him flesh out the tracks.
"A few of us decided to work together when we were really drunk at a party," says Hosomi. "Other members joined because they were pals with someone else in the band. I believe everything happens for a reason and that everyone who is involved was meant to be a part of this."
The quintet made their official live debut at Makuhari Messe in Chiba during Punkspring 2009. When they were invited to appear at the festival, they had yet to adopt their current moniker and were still nameless.
"I don't remember what my thinking was when we were approached (to do the show)," says Hosomi. "I think I was just like, 'Punkspring? Really? Why not!' "
The event helped create a nice buzz for the May 2009 release of The Hiatus' first full-length, "Trash We'd Love." Brimming with catchy emo and punk sounds, the disc climbed to the top of the Oricon album charts, selling more than 250,000 copies domestically.
In June 2010, their sophomore album, "Anomaly," came out. A heavier effort than "Trash We'd Love," the dynamic "Anomaly" begins as a hard-rock affair and sees the band trying their hand at more experimental, atmospheric music toward the end. It peaked at No. 5 on the Oricon album charts and has sold 160,000 copies to date.
A big festival draw, last year The Hiatus performed at Summer Sonic and South Korea's Jisan Valley Rock Festival. This summer they have already been to the Miyako Island Rock Festival, Nano-Mugen Fes. and Join Alive 2011. They will perform at Fuji Rock on July 30 and play several other festivals in August and September.
"We all like festivals," says Hosomi. "The point of attending festivals is to have a great outdoor summer experience and to enjoy some great music. Some festivals, like Fuji Rock, have an incredible sense of freedom that is tough for people to realize in big cities.
"Of course, festivals can have downsides, too. It's never fun spending 15 minutes in line to use a portable toilet and then discovering that the guy before you threw up in there!"
Fuji Rock is the highest-profile concert on The Hiatus' summer schedule. The band will appear on The White Stage, the event's second-largest performance area. Hosomi has attended Fuji Rock several times as a fan and played on the main Green Stage in 2008 with Ellegarden.
"There was a thunderstorm last time I performed there," he says. "It was awesome seeing strikes of lightning above the mountains while I was singing and people were going crazy in the hard rain. I loved that."
With downpours being a regular occurrence at the festival, there is a decent chance he and his band mates could find themselves in a similarly soggy situation this time around during The Hiatus' Saturday evening set.
Hosomi will also have a late-night solo show at Fuji Rock on July 29 (technically the early morning of July 30). The scaled-down gig will take place at Pyramid Garden, a special stage for campers, and starts at 12:30 a.m.
"An acquaintance of mine organizes Pyramid Garden, and is also the founder of the nonprofit organization Love For Nippon," says Hosomi. "It raises funds for the victims of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake. I feel really lucky to be offered a place on the stage."
Although Hosomi is unsure of his solo slot setlist, expect The Hiatus to showcase at least a few new tracks for the masses on the White Stage. In June, the band issued their "Hatching Mayflies" EP and are currently recording their third full-length, which should surface sometime in the coming months. With all five members of The Hiatus sharing songwriting duties on their new tracks, Hosomi is excited about everything they are creating.
"The Hiatus is like one tree made from five different roots," he says in a sudden poetic moment. "This tree blooms with all kinds of greatness, and we're enjoying that very much."
The Hiatus play the White Stage at the Fuji Rock Festival in Naeba, Niigata Prefecture, on July 30 (6:50 p.m.; ticket prices vary); at Monster Bash in Manou Park, Kagawa Prefecture, on Aug. 20 (ticket prices vary); at Sky Jamboree 2011 in Nagaski City, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Aug. 21 (¥6,500 adv.); at Arabaki Rock Fest. in Eco Camp Michinoku, Miyagi Prefecture, on Aug. 27 (ticket prices vary); at Rush Ball 2011 in Osaka, on Sept. 4 (¥6,300 adv.); at Baycamp 2011 in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Sept. 10 (¥6,000 adv.); and Air Jam 2011 in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Sept. 18 (¥7,800 adv.). For more information, visit www.thehiatus.com.