Fishmans is a Japanese rock/reggae/dub band that has been highly influential in the Japanese underground music world since its formation in 1992. Consisting primarily of Takeshi "Dub Master X" Hosomi (vocals/keyboards) and Hiroto KÅmoto (guitar), the group has become renowned for its unique sound blending sounds from across numerous genre boundaries, as well as their ambitious live performances.
Formed in Chiba, Japan in 1992, Fishmans initially comprised of vocalist/keyboardist Takeshi Hosomi, guitarist Hiroto KÅmoto, and bassist and producer Hisama "Hamaco" Matsuura. Inspired by the dub music of Zion I up to the English punk group Beat, the trio began to make a lasting impact even before the release of their first single in 1994, showing an already adept ability to combine numerous musical styles such as rock, reggae, jazz, dub and pop. Following the singles' success, they took advantage of a record deal to hire Soh Yasuda (drums) and translate their demo 'Live Fish' into a mini-album. They were noticed almost immediately by the local Japanese music scene, and together they managed to create a lasting style in a foundational 'shoegazing scene', eventually collaborating with renowned Japanese artists such as Pizzicato Five.
Fishmans' debut major albumLong Seasondirected by renowned producer and recording engineer Takeshi Fujii, was released in 1996. The album found a large following in the indie music world, with its signature sound of laidback grooves and exploratory guitar work showing the new generation of Japanese album creators the possibilities of art-pop fusion music. The band signed onto Ki/oon Records in 1997, the same year longtime friend Makoto Kubota joined on the mix of the album Mogura Iruyo (Here is the Mole).
After another Japan Tour in 1998 and a series of singles, the bandâ€™s magnum opus 8:14 (2000) was released. The album is widely seen as one of Fishman's finest moments, and is seen as an seminal record for Japan's experimental reggae scene. It features a lush mix of reggae, dub and rock, nothing held back and critical controls to its tastes; however, 8:14 was also a time of depression for Hosomi, as publicised in the lyrics and power of its tracks.
The band's following releases were spread out over the next few years: 1998'sUnited Five Tokyo, 2002s Pretty But Chaos Sounds andStrange Dream. It was in this period that the group became well known for their sprawling live performances, which drew on elements of contemporary electronics, reggae and rock. The line-up of Hosomi, KÅmoto, Yasuda and newcomers Sure Vibes Masao ever remix and rorieka would take the stage each night for lengthy, joyous sets, playing anthems and instrumentals that could go on for over 2 hours as the sun went down.
On the final 2003 tour, the band released 'Final' on DVD, showing the close of their brilliant final tour. In December 2003, bass player Hisama Matsuura announced his intentions to leave the band due to creative differences. He left to form his own band and pursue a solo career. By the time of Hosomi and KÅmoto prepared their new project Akasaka Panca in 2004, guitarist Shinichi Kasahara had joined as a regular member, and would contribute to the band's setlist, breaking down some walls and truly pushing their sound in unpredictable and enjoyable directions.
Fishmans survive on to the present day as a beloved memory with its legend grown by both the press and audible fans. The band has come to be seen as one of seminal electronic rock bands of a generation, from their formation in 1992 up to their disbanding in 2003. With its distinctive sound bridging genre boundaries and blending diverse styles, Fishman's packed dance floors and recreation rooms on tours, as well as showing the Japanese world the power and creation that experimental dub music could bring. In short, Fishmans and its members, remain as marks that a strong creative ambition can make in the world of music.