Daymare puts its bands through a hardcore filter for Leave Them All Behind event

by Ryotaro Aoki

Special To The Japan Times

“There are people who like aggressive music the way they like sports, but I think ‘hardcore’ is about being self-aware of what you’re doing, about how to create your own space,” says Tadashi Hamada, manager of independent music label Daymare Recordings. “That’s my first requirement for bands. So hardcore can come in all shapes and forms.”

Hamada and his label will be hosting the music festival Leave Them All Behind this Saturday at Daikanyama Unit in Tokyo. The festival, which is Daymare’s flagship event, was first held in 2009 and has featured acts from both here and abroad associated with the hardcore, drone, metal and shoegaze scenes, such as Sunn O))), Isis, Godflesh, Envy and Boris.

Headlining this weekend’s show will be post-metal band Jesu, led by Justin Broadrick, guitarist of seminal British industrial-metal band Godflesh. Jesu, who last came to Japan in 2007, released its new album, “Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came,” in September last year. The other overseas act on the bill is Chicago-based atmospheric-metal trio Russian Circles. Representing Japan will be instrumental post-rock band Mono, who has just returned from a two-month tour of the United States, and post-black metal band Cohol.

A former buyer at a record store, Hamada began his foray into labels by working at one specializing in film soundtracks. After learning the ropes, he started Daymare Recordings in 2003. The label became a subsidiary of record-store chain Disk Union in 2006.

“I don’t really think about genre,” Hamada says. “We’ve put out everything from black metal to hip-hop. I wanted to put out stuff I liked, things that have passed through the hardcore filter. So anything that meets that criterion. Also, I think there’s overlap in the obscure mainstream acts and the top-class artists of the underground scene, and I think a lot of those artists are doing new things.”

The label’s impressive, wide-ranging roster includes acts such as Seattle drone band Earth, post-hardcore act At The Drive-In, post-metal band Isis and black-metal act Deafheaven, whose album “Sunbather” was a critical favorite last year. The quality control and lineup is determined entirely by Hamada, who runs the label by himself.

“With other labels, everything is compartmentalized, so with big labels the people dealing with the artists and those doing the label work are not necessarily the same,” he says. “A lot of artists contact me directly, so I think it would be rude if I didn’t communicate with them myself.”

“Leave Them All Behind” is a reference to a 1992 track by shoegaze band Ride, of which Hamada says he’s a fan. This year’s headliner and lineup will most definitely be bringing the deafening volume and sonic intensity shoegaze is known for, while bringing a hardcore and metal edge to the music.

“I think there’s a stereotype out there that heavy rock and hardcore is made by dumb people who just want to go crazy,” he explains. “I’ve tried to show a little that it’s not.”

The one-day event will be followed by two “extra” shows: one at Shinsaibashi Pangea in Osaka with Jesu and Russian Circles, and another at Tsutaya O-Nest in Shibuya on July 15, in which Russian Circles will be joined by Broadrick’s other project, the dubstep-electronica act JK Flesh. Joining in on the 15th will be up-and-coming Tokyo five-piece noise band, Endon.

“With the label and events, I like to place dots and lay the foundations down, and hope that in about a year they all become connected,” Hamada says. “I think Leave Them All Behind is a place where I take it upon myself to show these bands, both domestic and foreign, are on the same playing field, sharing the same values. It’s not really about introducing the label, but more about the music and the artists. The label is more like the connecting link.”