Like their brothers in Crossfaith before them, Japan’s coldrain are making waves in Europe and the US. And they’ve got their eyes set on stadiums the world over.
Introducing Japan’s hottest export that you’ve never heard of.
For a musician, one of the most rewarding aspects of touring abroad is being able to witness the growth of your band in a foreign region. For Masato Hayakawa, the powerhouse vocalist for Japanese hard rock band coldrain, he was able to experience that feeling firsthand when his band returned to Europe recently to play Download Festival and Rock Am Ring off the back of a maiden voyage with Bullet For My Valentine in February.
“We went out not expecting that much, but it’s been great from the start,” begins Hayakawa humbly, catching his breath after returning from a run. “The crowd had just grown way bigger than we’d expected, so we must have done something right the first time we went over.”
Though they may be new to our ears, coldrain aren’t the new kids on the block. They spent six years playing inside of their native Japan building up a steady fanbase, and the recent switch to European festivals has brought about fresh feelings of starting over, of being out of their comfort zones and working from the ground up once more. Before the five- piece came into being, they cut their chops playing the local Nagoya scene, with the current members originally split between two rival bands.
“There aren’t a lot of bands that play our style of music in Japan,” Hayakawa explains. “After a while we figured out that half of the guys in our band and half of the guys in their band had higher goals and higher dreams and one day we just figured out that both of our bands weren’t really going anywhere, so we decided to get together and form one band.”
Hayakawa himself is of both Japanese and American descent, which lends itself to not only some cultural perspective when it comes to coldrain’s lyrics, but it’s also had an immense impact on their sound.
“I definitely grew up listening to more American bands and I was always a big nu metal kid,” the singer admits. “1999 was around the time I started buying a lot of CDs and trying to form a band, so bands from that era are my main influence, but you always grow up with the national music style. In Japan it’s pop music, a lot of anime stuff is going on. Our guitarists grew up on a lot of Japanese pop and metal type groups, and I think it’s a Japanese thing that we try and do a little bit of everything inside our style of music.”
The most striking element of The Revelation – coldrain’s third full- length – is how stadium- ready its choruses sound. The band may not be pulling such numbers just yet, but cuts like “The War Is On” and the title track soar with the gusto of acts like Linkin Park, 30 Seconds To Mars, Bring Me The Horizon, and at times our own Hands Like Houses. The record also received a boost thanks to the handiwork of awardwinning producer Dave Bendeth ( whose credits include the likes of Of Mice & Men, Asking Alexandria, Underoath and countless others). There’s no questioning that the Japanese five- piece are out to take the world by storm.
“It was the first time we’ve worked with anyone who’s done decent records,” the frontman tells us. “I mean the engineers and people that we’ve worked with in Japan, they definitely know how to make things sound good, but they didn’t work on Paramore, they didn’t work on Breaking Benjamin or with Papa Roach. To be in the studio with people that tracked some of your favourite records, you feel so safe in their hands. It’s funny, you really forget that Dave’s written platinum records until you get into an argument with him and he says, ‘ How many records have you sold? How many records have I sold?’” Hayakawa laughs.
“When we were recording, he was always telling us that we needed to sound like 30 Seconds To Mars, it had to be as big as Muse,” the frontman tells us. “And we know that we’re not one of those bands that does that stadium thing, but we tried to write choruses that were as big as those. To me it was always trying to get a Linkin Park vibe, keeping it simple but big. When the chorus hits, you know that people are gonna wanna sing to it at shows. I think to that effect, it’d be cool to hear one of our songs on the radio. If your song is being sung all over the world, I think that’s the dream.”
For the first time in their career, coldrain didn’t worry about what their fans in Japan would think. Scoring a deal with Hopeless Records earlier this year has allowed The Revelation to see a release in Europe and the US, as well as through Sony here in Australia, and much like their hard- partying brothers in Crossfaith, Hayakawa never considered anything other than the English route for his lyrics.
“We always talked about trying to take our music to a world- class standard to try and get this record out there,” he says of the album. “I think in Japan it’s something really weird that we’re doing and people are reacting more and more as it sinks in. It’s definitely different when you’re playing in front of an audience that understands the words, that understands what style we’re playing, but here in Japan it’s breaking new ground. It’s been interesting watching the record from over here and how it’s gonna do now in the rest of the world.”
Speaking of those scamps in Crossfaith, the two bands have formed a bond as they both set their sights on something bigger.
“We shared a bus with them when we toured Download and Rock Am Ring, and those guys are like brothers. I mean, our styles aren’t really super close, but we’ve always toured in Japan and we’ve always had the same kind of dreams, so it’s cool to see what they’re touring and it’s definitely gonna be cool what we can do together from now on.”
And what of Crossfaith’s hard- partying, liver- destroying ways?
“They tend to pull us into that too,” Hayakawa laughs. “They have to have Jäger everything. It’s like a bottle a day.”
THE REVELATION IS OUT NOW ON SONY.