I’ve always been fascinated by the Japanese rock scene, as it can provide some of the best worldwide acts in their respective genres, like Hi-Standard, Maximum The Hormone or Fact. Unfortunately, Japanese bands often struggles to make a name outside of their country and only a few of them really get some success abroad. Meet Osaka’s punk rockers Waterweed through Tomohiro Ohga (bass/vocals), as they have just landed in Europe for their very first European tour.
Waterweed is around for quite a long time in the Japanese punk scene, and I remember we played a show together in Osaka back in 2010. Please could you introduce your band, its discography and what you have been through ?
That’s right. It was the COCK SUCK event. I formed waterweed with my local friends in 2003. At that time, we were performing our demos at a live house in Osaka. We released two full albums and a few EPs. Please check the website www.waterweed.jp/release for all the details. Since we formed, the members have changed but Shigeo and Hiroshi have been members since 2009. The guitar player left the band in 2015, so now we are three-piece band, Fortunately, we’ve recently gotten a lot of live show offers, so we’ve been doing shows as much as possible and composing as well.
Despite all the line-up changes, Waterweed has always kept on releasing records on a regular basis. Shigeo, Hiroshi and you are the real core of the band. Do you miss a second guitar player and what makes the band is stronger with the current line-up ?
I appreciate maximum10 for letting us release albums this close together. I don’t think I need a second guitar player now. Since the 3 of us have been working together for so long, I think it would be difficult to have a new member. We’d rather stay in the studio and focus on achieving our best. This three-piece band is a first for me in my career so it is fun and different. It reminds me of the feeling when I first started the band. Right now, we are enjoying the three-piece style.
You signed with Maximum10 in 2013, which also has bands like FACT or LOST, and it seems you did a big step since then. What is the difference with being on such a label?
I have a better environment to work in now. I think it is a big improvement that I have more time for the band now.
Lockjaw Records (UK) has just released “Brightest” in Europe, and you are now touring here, after the Punk Rules Okay Tour in Japan. I think you never toured outside of Asia. How do you feel about this ?
It’s been my long time goal to release an album and tour outside of Japan, so I’m very happy. We are a little worried because we don’t speak English, but I think we will overcome that with our passion.
Osaka has a very active punk scene with bands like Good4Nothing, Now Or Never or JT301, but it seems that many disbanded or are not much active. How are the Osaka and Kansai punk/rock scene doing these days ?
I don’t know about Good4Nothing, but NOW OR NEVER and JT301 are almost not paying anymore. The melodic punk bands in Osaka are almost extinct. In recent years, because of RNR TOURS, ICE GRILL$ and BLOODAXE, more bands are coming to Japan to perform, but the number of bands that can support the shows are limited. The melodic punk bands are waterweed, NAFT, LASTEND, THE MY BABY IS A HEAD FUCK and SIGHTS and the hardcore bands are PALM, RUNNER, NUMBERNINE and Brave out. They often support foreign bands here.
I hope the number of bands that are interested in supporting the foreign bands will increase.
What are the next steps for Waterweed ? Any new records or new touring plans in the next few months, or even next year ?
We are planning to release a new album. Of course, we will tour as much as possible. Please keep your eyes and ears open.
We’re almost finished. Are there some cool Japanese bands you would recommend to Distrolution’s readers ?
I have so many bands in Japan to recommend. But I especially recommend PALM, FIVE NO RISK and bacho. We hold the event “MANPOWER” with these three bands. Each of their genre’s are different but the heat at their live performances is crazy. As for melodic punk bands, I like MEXICAN AGE.