In the age of piecework, freelancing and independent contractors, it's hard to imagine doing the same thing for thirty-seven years— but that's how long the Osakan band Hijokaidan has been making extreme noise music. After a globe-spanning and decade-spanning career of sonic violence, Hijokaidan is preparing to play their first ever New Orleans show on Wednesday, March 30th, along with a daunting lineup of other improvisational and experimental Japanese acts.
Before I began attending local noise shows, I assumed "noise music" was just clattering Einstürzende Neubauten outtakes— cacophony for its own sake. I was startled by how wrong I was, and remain continually impressed by the breadth of approaches to noise within even our smallish city's smallish scene. Almost any adjective or adjectival combo you can stick in front of the word noise exists. There is silly noise, harsh noise, rhythmic noise, ambient noise, gay Southern witch noise — bands that sound like dance music, bands that sound like guided meditation, bands that sound like those Halloween cassettes from the dollar store. Every noise act seems to inhabit its own subgenre.
That same diversity will be present at the show Hijokaidan's headlining, with performers such as Atsuhiro Ito, who manipulates the electromagnetic feedback from fluorescent lights, and the creepy a capella of Hatis Noit, whose vocals are like the medieval plainchant sung to accompany ritual execution on some alternate-timeline Earth.
The full bill is Hijokaidan, Hatis Noit, Atsuhiro Ito, Dora Video, uncv, Jeff Carey, Kou Katsuyoshi, sofheso, Yosuke Fuyama, Death Posture, Proud/Father and DJ Weird Steve. Besides gamercore maestro Jeff Carey and New Orleans' own cassette-collaging ambient/drone godparent Proud/Father, none of these acts have ever played New Orleans before.
As Hijokaidan prepared for tour, I was able to interview JOJO Hiroshige, one of the band's founders and core members. This venture across the language barrier was made possible by the translation skills of Aine Fujimura, to whom I am grateful. I found JOJO's answers as rendered by the translator an intriguing contrast to his notoriously extreme stage persona and musical output.
GAMBIT: Your band has been creating and innovating music for decades. Now in 2016, how would you describe your position musically? What has been the recent direction, and what can the audience expect?
JOJO: Now we reach the best performance level to play instruments, though our roots of noise to perform have never been changed since 1979. We are confident with giving the best and latest noise to people on this U.S. tour too. We think the audience can expect us to perform such, so we hope they enjoy our awesome noise.
Reading "The Hijokaidan Story," [a partial history of the band], I was struck by the many different venues, scenes and political/cultural moments that Hijokaidan has outlasted. How have these changes to your own local environment affected your music, and in what ways? Urban areas in Japan are in wonderful situation that we can listen to music around the world anytime. So thanks for Japanese clubs, record stores, book stores or some such, like we Hijokaidan could be born and have been performing over 37 years.
I was interested to see your repertoire includes covering Hawkwind— another long-running, rules-breaking band with constant personnel changes. Are Hijokaidan's frequent shifts in lineup and even number of musicians a hardship, or are they an important piece of the creative process?
Me, JOJO Hiroshige is the core member of Hijokaidan. Including T.Mikawa and JUNKO, we three are Hijokaidan I think, because they have been a member of Hijokaidan even for 35 years too.
Are there any New Orleans musicians you draw influence from or enjoy listening to?
I have never been interested in New Orleans musicians before. So I look forward to seeing how cool musicians and audiences there.
You have a track called "The Beyond" — is this a reference to the awesome Fulci film set in Louisiana?
“The Beyond” is one of my favorite movies.
Are you stoked to drive on the creepy Causeway from that film yourself?
I want to visit the same place!
—- Hijokaidan, Hatis Noit, Atsuhiro Ito, Dora Video, uncv, Jeff Carey, Kou Katsuyoshi, sofheso, Yosuke Fuyama, Death Posture, Proud/Father and DJ Weird Steve will play at Siberia, 2227 St Claude Ave., beginning at 8pm Wednesday, March 30. Advance tickets can be bought for $10 at holdmyticket.com or for $12 at the door. More info and the latest updates are at the show's Facebook event page.