waterweed have been at the forefront of Japan’s underground post-hardcore and punk rock scene since forming in 2003. It’s there where they crafted and sharpened their own style, evolving their sound with every release and gaining an international cult following in the process.
Over a decade of work and several lineup changes, the band has ended up with a triumphant discography that’s home to brutal hardcore slugfests and skate punk bangers.
On April 5th the band released Brightest, their first album is just over 3 years, and possibly their first major break into the mainstream.
We talked with waterweed to learn more about about the band, their evolution, and their rise from the underground.
Despite being such a prominent member of Japan’s underground music scene, in the UK there’s not many people who know what waterweed are all about. So first off, where did you guys meet and how did you end up forming waterweed?
Tomohiro Ohga (“T”): In the beginning, I formed the band with my hometown friends for fun. Now, I’m the only original member in the band. Many members have left, but I’ve been working with the current members since 2009.
Shigeo Matsubara(“S”): I met him at the live house. I was in another band and was asked to join waterweed.
What made you settle on the name waterweed? Is there a story behind it?
T: The band name is random. When I was in high school, I told my friend that I was wondering what I should name my band and they told me, “how about waterweed?” I asked him, “what does it mean?” And he said, “I just translated some random words.” I decided to name the band waterweed because I thought it fits great and almost felt stupid trying to come up with meaningful band names any more.
In the last few years we’ve seen the rise of bands like HER NAME IN BLOOD and coldrain who originally made a name for themselves in the underground scene. For decades waterweed have been an underground band, do you feel now is your time to take the next step to becoming a bigger name both nationally and internationally?
Hiroshi Sakamoto (“H”): I have my sights set on not only Japan, but also the world. I wanna fly high!
S: Yes, I want to spread my wings to other fields, towards overseas and mainstream in Japan.
T: Being in the underground is just the result of us seeking somewhere we were comfortable being, so it wasn’t like we were stuck in the underground. We want our band to fit in anywhere whether it’s underground or mainstream. We want to be active not only in Japan, but overseas as well. So, we are grateful to have the opportunity to do this interview. Thank you.
You’ve shared stages with Trash Talk, CHARIOT, and a load more top hardcore acts. Who has been the most influential band for you guys over the years?
H: I think that 90s melodic bands like Belvedere is the most influential band for waterweed.
S: Personally, I’m most influenced by the band FACT.
T: I was musically influenced by the Canadian band PROPAGANDHI and spiritually influenced by a local band with guys a few years older than me in Osaka.
You performed alongside SHADOWS on their debut live record last year. You’ve been label mates for years, but how did you guys first meet?
T: We’ve known each other for more than 10 years and are good friends with the guys from SHADOWS since they were called FACT. We even played shows together in high school. That is when FACT had three guitar players. SHADOWS is one of the few bands that has the same taste in music as us. We became friends after playing together often after we debuted on Theory&Practice records. They’ve always been great friends and I love them.
S: I met them when I was in a different band and they were FACT. Since then we’ve been good friends. They asked me to provide support on their debut album.
waterweed originally formed in 2003 so you guys have a lot of history. Over the last 14 years what have been your most memorable moments as a band?
H: The tour with FACT in 2012 is a great memory. Each of us felt that our feelings for the band strengthened during the tour.
S: I can’t nail it down to just one… because I have so many great memories.
T: When I look back, so many things have happened. It seems like 13 years have passed in the blink of an eye. It feels like 2007, when we first released the CD was just yesterday. If I can pick out the most memorable moment, that would be when we performed at Taste of Chaos in 2007. I was very happy that we, a melodic hardcore band that was relatively unknown, was chosen when there was already so many screamo bands in Japan. It was huge for me to be able to perform with my idols Rise Against. I watched their performance from the edge of the stage and went backstage to talk to them as soon as they finished performing. But I wasn’t able to talk to them because the 4 guys were having a serious meeting, so I left right away and pretended that I was getting my bag. (laughs)
How about weirdest tour moment?
H: The sake chugging party that we had during the FIXED TOUR with Survive Said The Prophet. (laughs)
T: When we were on the tour with YOUR DEMISE from the UK, we taught Stuart Paice, the guitar player, Kansai dialect. He kept speaking it and I think he liked it. So great. I miss him.
What LPs have you guys been listening to recently?
H: Protest The Hero / Pacific Myth
T: Darko / Bonsai Mammoth
How about your favourite LPs of all time?
H: No Use For a Name / Hard Rock Bottom
T: Propagandhi / Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes
We checked out #waterweed_jp on instagram and came across some photos that could do with some more context – what’s the story behind each photo?
T: That is when we went on tour with MUTE from Canada in 2015. They use a chainsaw for their artist photos so we got a chainsaw from a local band member in Nagoya and took this picture. From that moment, we were friends with Etienne, the drummer of MUTE. The chainsaw made us closer even during the difficult English conversation for me. (laughs)
T: This photo is when we did a 360 degree, open floor show in Yokohama. It was an interesting experience being watched from the rear. By the way, we just did a show in the same venue and environment. (laughs) Its fun to feel the audience so close!
While FACT were in London back in 2014 they suggested we check you guys out. Are there any bands you suggest people should be giving a listen?
H: LEXT. They’re a good melodic band!
S: I recommend SHADOWS, Joy Opposites, Survive Said The Prophet, The Coastguards and kamomekamome.
T: I recommend bacho, FIVE NO RISK and PALM, the three bands with whom we held the event MANPOWER. They are wonderful buddies that share the same goals as us. I highly recommend you to go see their live shows. They also joined us on guest vocals for our new album Brightest.
Speaking of, on April 5th you dropped your killer new album Brightest. Is there a particular concept behind this album?
T: I think we could portray three piece melodic hardcore the best way on the new album Brightest.
How would you say your sound has developed between the release of your first EP Killing the earth means our suicide in 2007 and Brightest?
T: Killing the earth means our suicide includes many live staples that we still play to pump up the live shows. I think we could only make those sounds back then. 10 years have passed and I believe we have grown up musically and as people, so now we can better express ourselves. Everything we’ve experienced is connected to what we write and sing.
What have you guys got coming up this year that you want people to know about?
H: A tour after a tour. (laughs)
T: We are planning a nationwide album tour. We are also planning to tour Europe next year so please keep checking up on us!
Any words you want to leave with our readers and your international fans?
S: Please check it out. We are going to play many places.
H: We want to tour the UK!
T: waterweed is in a good place now. We want to continue to play our best and keep moving forward so our fans will feel the same way. Please continue to support us!
Release Date: 05/04/2017
Get at: CDJapan.co.jp