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Who Are HEY-SMITH? Meet the Japanese Punk Band Heard in the Latest ‘Tokyo Revengers’ Arc

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Japanese punk band HEY-SMITH has announced that they were tapped to perform the ending theme for the Tenjiku Arc of the TV anime Tokyo Revengers. The song, “Say My Name,” is the band’s first new song in a year and its first anime tie-in.

Formed in 2006, the six-piece band has undergone several changes in membership before settling on its current lineup in 2015: guitarist and vocalist Shuhei Igari, bassist and vocalist YUJI, saxophonist Mitsuru, drummer Task-n, trombonist Kanasu, and trumpeter Ken Iikawa. In 2020, it signed with veteran American punk label ASIAN MAN RECORDS and began streaming its album Life In The Sun World Edition around the world. HEY-SMITH is a melodic punk band with its own horn section. Their most famous songs include “Endless Sorrow,” which riffs on the melody of the Farandole from Georges Bizet’s “The Girl from Arles,” “Be the One,” which combines the heavy sound of metal with an energetic melody, and “NOT a TV show,” which they played on their first appearance on a music TV program in 2018. HEY-SMITH’s leader, Igari, is responsible for both the band’s lyrics and music. Through their music, the band has always shared the core ethos of punk, that people need to speak up and make themselves heard so they can continue to live free and have fun.

HEY-SMITH performs almost 150 shows a year and is known as a dyed-in-the-wool live band. In 2022, despite the pandemic, they did a tour of all 47 Japanese prefectures. During the summer, they’re invited to play in festivals and shows with other bands across the country, performing almost every week. They also organize their own outdoor festival, “OSAKA HAZIKETEMAZARE FESTIVAL,” spearheading their own movement.

In 2017, they only played two solo shows. Even in their own tours, they almost always play with opening acts. The members of the band decide on their openers themselves, reaching out to bands that they’ve seen in shows and been impressed by. They choose bands that put on good shows, regardless of how long they’ve been playing or how well-known they are. This inspires HEY-SMITH and livens up the music scene.

Listeners aren’t the only ones supporting their blistering live performances and other activities. They also enjoy solid support from other bands, and there are countless episodes that show how they are truly a “band loved by bands.” For example, in 2019, while Igari was hospitalized for pneumothorax surgery, the rest of the band performed in a show called “Kyoto Daisakusen 2019.” The members of SiM, coldrain, dustbox, and 04 Limited Sazabys came together to help the band through this pinch. The show featured a tremendous on-stage collaboration of different artists.

HEY-JUMP is a powerhouse, a name familiar to everyone who is into Japanese bands, especially those who go to see live music. Now, they’ve created the ending theme to the TV anime Tokyo Revengers. This must have come as a surprise to a lot of people. When the announcement was made, the jacket of their new single, “Say My Name,” was also unveiled. The jacket features the members of HEY-SMITH replaced with Tokyo Revengers characters. People must also have been surprised by the new jacket — yet, at the same time, found it a perfect fit.

“Say My Name” was released on the same day as the second episode of the anime was broadcast. The song begins with YUJI’s high-pitched vocals, a driving rhythm, and a melody played by the horn section. Igari then leaps in with a shouted vocal line. Listening to the song, it’s easy to imagine the scene of an audience going wild at a live show, kicking up a cloud of dust as the heavy sound of the music washes over them. The song’s theme of fighting for hope and freedom reflects HEY-SMITH’s own punk spirit. But, at the same time, the lyrics “You are my hero and you cry/I know I know I know I know/we defeat everything” evoke the story of Tokyo Revengers and its characters, such as Takemichi Hanagaki, who leaps back in time over and over to change a bleak future, and his girlfriend Hinata Tachibana, who maintains an unswerving faith in Takemichi. The song is perfect as a new HEY-SMITH song and as the ending theme of the Tenjiku Arc of the TV anime Tokyo Revengers. Clocking in at just 1 minute and 48 seconds, it’s a short tune without a moment of fat, an electrifying demonstration of the band’s talents.

On October 11, HEY-SMITH released the single “Say My Name.” This will also mark the major debut of HEY-SMITH on Pony Canyon. What’s more, they’ve announced that on November 1, they’ll be releasing a new album, Rest In Punk. This will be their 6th full album and the first in almost 5 years. Following their album release, on November 16, they will be starting their largest tour ever, the nation-spanning Rest In Punk Tour. They’ve already announced show dates up to April 10 of next year, but their tour schedule ends with “And more…” so new dates are likely to be added. Here’s hoping that the band’s major label debut will usher in an even more active period in the band’s history.

–This article by Chinami Hachisuka first appeared on Billboard Japan

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