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A promising band who had quite a slow start, are now hitting the ground running! Read here what they think about the label they just joined and their newest single!


You celebrated your 5th anniversary this year. Is there something you’ve achieved as a band that you are especially proud of? 

YOSHIKI: While our band activities weren’t fast-paced at all, I believe that we still have come a long way since the formation of the band. Above all, I remember being really proud to release a song about COVID, in the middle of the pandemic in 2020, and that we could link that to our first one-man concert.

SOW: I think it’s the same for me. The audience capacities of live houses were limited because of COVID, but I think I’m still proud that we played two SOLD OUT one-man concerts. I’m not satisfied at all though (laughs). 

KOUHEI: Even though I once separated myself from the visual kei scene in the past, I am proud of the fact that we, as HOLLOW SHADE, managed to be so active at various events that helped remove both the prejudice against visual kei and barriers of the scene. Even from an objective point of view, I think we did it. I am very proud of that. 

A short time ago you joined Starwave Records. What does this step mean for you personally and for the band in general?

YOSHIKI: It means a lot to us. Up until now we were doing everything on our own, which was very difficult. Therefore, we are very grateful for the support we receive in terms of distribution and efficient promotion. Also, on a personal level, it created a spark to face the band more stoically than ever, it felt like “turning over a new leaf.”

SOW: It is one of the signs of our determination as a band. Personally, I feel like we’ve finally reached the starting line.

KOUHEI: This is a step towards even bigger goals.

With entering the label, you also announced your new single LAVE CAVE – TI/DE. LAVE CAVE starts like a very typical metalcore song and then switches between melodious and hard parts. How does it feel for you to switch between different singing styles within one song?

YOSHIKI: As a composer, I give the vocals a role similar to the instruments. Especially during the shouting parts of the songs, the vocals become a part of and play the role of a rhythm instrument.

SOW: Switching between the shouts and the clean parts is already the default for us, so there is no deep meaning to it (laughs). In fact, there aren’t any HOLLOW SHADE songs that are just melodious. Currently, we use either a mixture of shouts and melodious singing, or just shouts. At the composition stage, we choose shouts or clean parts depending on which works better with the songs.

In TIDE you have the line ”Won’t run away next time.” Is there something you personally have been running away from?

SOW: I’m sure everyone experiences a moment when they want to run away from facing reality. Even if you don’t realize it during such moments, it often happens that you look back at the situation and then notice it. You realize after a while that you have been running away from the pain, and choosing comfort at that time. I put such experiences into my lyrics, so the answer to this question is “There were moments when I ran away from the painful reality and uncomfortable situations.”

KOUHEI: I think that confronting something rather than running away always means being conscious of death. In the past, there have been times when I had to weigh running away and death, and often chose running away for self-protection.

Your lyrics are a mix of English and Japanese phrases. How do you decide which phrases you want to express in English and which in Japanese? 

SOW: The strength of writing in Japanese is that one thing can be expressed in many difficult phrases and roundabout expressions, so the listeners can interpret and analyze the meaning for themselves. I really like that. I think indirect expressions are a part of lyric culture that is peculiar to visual kei. I use English when I want to make more “direct” expressions or talk about emotions such as “true feelings”. 

SOW and YOSHIKI, you were also part of the same band called XENOBLOOD. How did you meet KOUHEI and decide to form HOLLOW SHADE?

YOSHIKI: Originally, KOUHEI and I were acquaintances as senpai (senior) and kouhai (junior) guitar players. We often played twin guitars together at the concerts. SOW met him when he joined HOLLOW SHADE.

SOW: I think it was at a bar. I can’t remember the beginnings much (laughs).

KOUHEI, your usual position seems to be guitar, but you’re a bassist now. What is the reason behind the change and which instrument do you like more? 

KOUHEI: I was originally invited to HOLLOW SHADE as a supporting guitarist. After the initial bassist left the band, I was very honored to be invited as a guitarist. However, I was uncomfortable with the bass being played through a sound generator at concerts, so I personally proposed to do the supporting bass. I play the guitar, bass, and piano, but it can be difficult to choose which instrument you like the best. For me, playing any instrument is a way to express myself, and the more I practice, the more I realize the virtue of each instrument.

You’ve been without a drummer since the formation of HOLLOW SHADE, so who comes up with the drums for your songs? And in addition, how do you usually proceed during song production? 

YOSHIKI: Basically, I am the composer. We do it mainly through step recording, but we keep the music sheet simple at first. Then, we mostly refine it further based on the improvisations of the support drummers in the studio, or based on the arrangements for the concerts. Among them, we work with a support drummer named Yosuke Kawase who helps us create organic drum phrases in the early stages of composition and recording. Most song compositions involve me sitting in front of a computer with the guitar, and doing the programming while focusing on the guitar and the drums. I believe that the “core” of our band is the carefully assembled union of guitar riffs and drums. 

We checked out some of your backstage videos on your Twitter account. You seem to have a lot of fun on and off stage. What is the funniest thing that’s happened so far during your tours and song production?

YOSHIKI: It makes me very happy that you are checking out even the smallest details about us! Most of the memories that made a lasting impression are the ones about troubles (for example, our car broke down when we were going to Osaka during a tour, shooting promotional videos outdoors was harder than expected, etc.). However, when I think back, they become fun memories about how we were able to make it through the difficult situations. 

SOW: I agree with YOSHIKI. Every trouble we face makes a good memory in the end.

KOUHEI: It’s the same for me. I like facing troubles. When our car engine stalled in the middle of a mountain, I was so excited (laughs).

In April, you teamed up with 皇國電影軍楽隊 (KOUKOKU DENEI GUNGAKUTAI) to support Club Riverst with a donation of 50% of your cheki sale. Can you tell us why you wanted to support this club in particular? 

YOSHIKI: Because Club Riverst is the live house that we are most indebted to. It’s the venue we had our debut live at and various other events. Also, local live houses are very, very important bases to maintain the local music scene. At the time, the whole scene was filled with despair caused by COVID, so we started thinking “Is there anything we can do?” and decided to act on it. 

SOW: It’s like a home to us (laughs).

KOUHEI: Because we really love this live house. 

The combination of visual kei and metal is very popular overseas. Which songs would you recommend to people who don’t know HOLLOW SHADE yet?

YOSHIKI: Personally, I’d recommend A DAY IN LIFE and COCYTUS. Both are heavy songs highlighted by a 7 string guitar, but the selling point of the former song is that it switches between hard and melodic parts. The latter, however, is an ambitious work that incorporates compositional elements like “COVID”, “the Plague”, and “Hell” that appears in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Please listen to those songs. 

SOW: COCYTUS and our new release LAVE CAVE. I think the world views and the metal elements of those songs are off the charts.

KOUHEI: TI/DE and COCYTUS. The sound alone has many spectacles, such as the magnificent development of the songs, technical performance, and the beauty of the melodies.

We saw that you reply to comments from your overseas fans on YouTube. Are you interested in performing outside of Japan one day? 

YOSHIKI: I am absolutely interested! When the situation in the world gets better, I definitely want to go there as the next step. For now, I will devote myself to doing promotions through the internet, and to making amazing songs to improve the outcome.

SOW: I want to do it. I am very interested. It’s one of the dreams I definitely want to realize someday.

KOUHEI: I want to realize it in the near future. We are waiting for offers from all over the world.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose? 

YOSHIKI: Crabs.

SOW: Crabs (laughs). YOSHIKI and I both love crabs like crazy (laughs).

KOUHEI: Crabs.

And last but not least, please leave a short message for your overseas fans.

YOSHIKI: If you like listening to our songs, please recommend it to your friends! Your reviews will be our biggest promotion!

SOW: I am very confident in our cool sound. You, who is reading this interview, I ask you to please confidently tell people around you that “This Japanese band HOLLOW SHADE is really cool!” (laughs).

KOUHEI: HOLLOW SHADE is the best so please help us be active all around the world. 

Interview: Jenny & Chris
Translator: Gamze
English Edit: Franzi

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It would be great if you could support us with a small donation.
It might not be much for you, but it would help us providing more and better interviews in the future.
With a little bit of your support we might be able to realize even more!

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