Husking Bee

Husking Bee was a Japanese pop-punk/alternative rock band whose sound was characterized by the occasional usage of two vocalists and a frantic rhythm section. The group was popular in Japan and even won some renown in the U.S., but broke up in 2005 after a decade-plus run. Husking Bee was formed in 1994, although only bassist Tetsuya Kudo remained from the initial lineup, which was stabilized in 1995 with the inclusion of drummer Leona Hiramoto and vocalist/guitarist Isobe Masafumi. The trio soon gained enough recognition to record their first full-length ,Grip (1996), and have it produced by the label Pizza of Death of the prominent Japanese punkers Hi-Standard. Their second album, Put on Fresh Paint, was out in 1998, handled in Japan by Inu and Toy's Factory, and getting stateside distribution via Doghouse the next year. Two months prior to its American release, Husking Bee played the Texan SXSW festival, a popular destination for Japanese bands. In 2000 the band expanded to a quartet, adding the second guitarist Kazuya Hirabayashi, who played on their third album, Four Color Problem, produced by Mark Trombino (blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World). The record was released in both Japan and the U.S., but failed to ignite the charts and became the group's last American release. Being dropped from Doghouse's roster prompted Husking Bee to switch from English to Japanese lyrics, their first song in their native language being "Shinri no Kaze" off the single Autumnal Tints (2001). Their fourth album, The Steady-State Theory (2002), mixed tunes in both languages -- as well as adding acoustic elements and more adrenaline to the songs, and the fifth album, Variandante (2004), was done entirely in Japanese, although Masafumi chalked it up to lack of time, promising to do the lyrics in Italian, which never happened. In 2004, the band became involved with the anime series Beck, about a young rock band, with Hirabayashi performing the singing parts for one of the characters and the Husking Bee's song "Brightest" featured in the series' second soundtrack, Keith, in 2005. After that, however, the band decide to throw in the towel, with the self-explanatory Anthology (2005) summing up their career. Hirabayashi went on to form Fine Lines. ~ Alexey Eremenko

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