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LIVE

Akihiro Namba

by Shawn Despres

Last year’s Fuji Rock was the place to be for fans of 1990s punk act Hi-Standard. The event boasted separate sets from former guitarist Ken Yokoyama and bassist Akihiro Namba. If ex-drummer Akira Tsuneoka had been on the bill, Naeba very well could have seen a one-off regrouping of the popular Japanese trio.

Hi-Standard toured throughout Japan, the United States and Europe with punk heavyweights such as Green Day, The Offspring, and NOFX. They sold more than a million copies of 1999′s “Making the Road” before disbanding in 2000. Wanting a change after Hi-Standard, Namba moved to Okinawa and started making techno tracks under the moniker Ultrabrain.

Relocating to Niigata two years ago, he began rediscovering his musical past. His 2010 “The World Is Yours!” solo debut was a poppy mish-mash of dance and rock sounds, while Namba’s newly issued EP, “Punk Rock Through the Night,” marks a full return to his punk roots.

“I love punk rock, and now I want to play punk rock again,” says Namba. “The reaction to my music from Hi-Standard lovers has been so good.”

Currently recording his sophomore full-length, Namba will break from the studio for several concerts. Performances will include Namba’s tunes and some Hi-Standard favorites. “Punk Rock Through the Night” includes a version of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” so expect the cover to surface during gigs, as well.

“These concerts are going to be filled with real punk rock,” says Namba. “I’ll play all over Japan this year and will appear at some summer rock festivals, too. I can’t reveal which ones yet, though.”

Akihiro Namba plays at Sendai Park Square in Miyagi on Feb. 20 (6:30 p.m.; [022] 267-0433); at Club Upset in Nagoya on Feb. 23 (7 p.m.; [052] 763-5439); at Shangri-La in Osaka on Feb. 24 (7 p.m.; [06] 6343-8601); at Pepperland in Okayama on Feb. 26 (7 p.m.; [086] 253-9758); at Matsuyama Salon Kitty in Ehime on Feb. 27 (6:30 p.m.; [089] 945-0020); at Drum Be-1 in Fukuoka on Mar. 1 (7 p.m.; [092] 737-5300); at Club Quattro in Tokyo on Mar. 4 (7 p.m.; 03-3477-8750). Tickets for all shows cost ¥2,500 in advance. For more information, visit www.akihironamba.jp.