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Nishiwaki (Discrete Records) Interview

posted Feb 1, 2015, 2:04 PM by Thomas Mayhugh   [ updated Feb 1, 2015, 2:05 PM ]

Discrete records has been delivering some of the best, and in my opinion, some of the most underrated Japanese hardcore material to the table since 1992. Discrete is most commonly known for releasing 3 of the DSB 7”s on CD prior to their licensing by western labels, or the monstrosities that are the 3 ep’s by Blood Feast from Mie city, but the label goes far beyond that. Are you longing for raging hardcore records with titles like “Cry Out, Fist Up!’’ or miss the sounds of straight forward, no frills Japanese hardcore? If so then this label is for you. This label holds a lot of importance to me. The ratio of quality releases is high, the releases have a uniform sound and style that one really begins to mesh with. Secondly some of the bands just seem to be over looked by western audiences, and there’s never been any sort of writing or coverage about any of the bands on discrete, except DSB in fanzines outside of japan. So I was thrilled when Nishiwaki-san agreed to this interview.   I’ve also written a sort of discrete records “beginners guide’’ or “best of’’ as well as discography information that will be included here as well. Thanks to Nishiwaki-san!

GS: can you please introduce yourself, and tell us some information about you? Where you are from, how old are you, when you started Discrete Records.

Nishiwaki: I'm 40 years old. I come from the center of Japan, geographically, Oogaki Gifu. Discrete Records was established in the summer of 1992 for the release of the CD single by Scarecrow Carried Brain. I also established Harvest Records in 2000.


GS: How did you get interested in punk and hardcore?

Nishiwaki:  My school days in the provincial town were boring. I was impatient and sick of it. I was introduced to exciting and extreme music such as Star Club, Cobra, SA... Etc. by my friend.  After that I met local hardcore band members of S.D.S. (Societic Death Slaughter), Disgrace, Sex Pot Ugly Face... Etc.  And became friends with them. I can't forget the initial impulse when I encountered the powerful energy and fashion of punk and hardcore.


GS: You were playing in scarecrow carried brain. When did this band start?  Did you play in any bands before, or after Scarecrow Carried Brain?

Nishiwaki:  Scarecrow Carried Brain (SxCxB) existed from 1990 and disbanded in 1994.  Members still play in various bands.   I was playing guitar in D-Starve (Nagoya) and as a session member with others while also doing the duties of my record label.


GS: After Scarecrow Carried Brain, what made you want to release records by other bands, how did Discrete Records start?

Nishiwaki: There was no such thing you could call the Gifu scene at the time. A lot of great hardcore bands were struggling in those days. There was nothing happening other than releasing demo tapes. I felt a sense of alienation without opportunities for exchanges or communication with punks in other prefectures. So to spread those bands to a lot of people, I thought there is no way other than somebody to do a record label!! I think that's origin of Discrete Records.


GS: On discrete, you released a lot of compilation records and CD’s. What do you enjoy about compilation records, and why do you think they are important?

Nishiwaki: Releasing an omnibus means spending a lot time and effort. My enjoyment is always because you can meet and hear new and exciting bands.  My pleasure is releasing bands who come to Nagoya to play gigs, and talk and drink booze with them. The standard of bands I chose to release is not only by their sound. I think honesty of people is also important. I can't associate or work with an irresponsible person.


GS: How else do you decide what bands to release on Discrete Records? 

Nishiwaki: Honestly, some bands I felt an intuition when I saw their live show. I also decided to release some things after communicating many times with bands who sent me recordings, and checking out the integrity of the music.


GS: Are there any bands which you saw live, and you really wanted to release a record for them, but were not able to?

Nishiwaki: That's a good question.  Of course many bands releases never happened!! You feel like you want to offer a release when you saw a great live show, but they already had scheduled a record for release through somebody  else, or just not interested in a release, the reasons are various. 


GS: The name discrete, how did you choose it, and what does it mean to you? The Discrete catalog number DIS-(J)&(O) does the “(J)&(O)’’ have any significance or meaning?

Nishiwaki: That's the question that is asked every once in a while. Discrete meaning in Japanese is “individual’’ and “solitude’’.  I used this name in my desire that it does not belong to anywhere!! I chose the title “Human Discrete’’ on my band Scarecrow Carried Brain's demo tape before I started the label. As for the meaning of the catalog# (J)&(O).  “J’’ means Japanese sales and distribution, “O’’ means overseas sales and distribution. The vocalist of the great band called Beyond Description from Tokyo, Mr. Okahara, helped distribute overseas when I established my label.  He is the owner of Forest Records and my mentor.


GS: There were some Discrete Releases I’ve seen advertisements for, or read about in interviews that never came out. One is a second ep by Gaizi from Tottori city. And a compilation record with tracks by G.J.P.B.?  Why did these records never get released? Were there any other records you wished to release, but never came out?

Nishiwaki:  In the regard of the Gaizi ep, Gaizi lost members and were no longer able to play. They asked me to on hold until they regained band members and were able to release record, but the band broke up for various reasons.


GS: Discrete records has never released an LP record. Even in the early 90’s when CD’s were not as popular with punks, you were releasing CD’s. Were CD’s cheaper than LP’s in japan then?

Nishiwaki: I never released LP.  In japan in the 90's most EP/LP were pressed at overseas pressing plants, and normally took 2-3 month to release.  For that reason many bands asked to be released on CD. They can go to tour with that CD.  And space wise, it’s easy to ask small CD shops to stock it for sale.


GS: What sort of quantities of CD’s and 7’’s were you pressing?

Nishiwaki:  Recently I’ve not released an EP. In the case of CD, standard is 500-700 copies. Nowadays CD cannot sell well in japan. Free downloading on the internet....and other things, it’s such a terrible situation for bands. People are disregarding the wishes of the bands.


GS: I didn’t know there is there a big problem with downloading in japan. I thought most punks were against it? I remember Yoshikawa from DONDON got in trouble some years ago for making a download page online for old Japanese hardcore bands.  Are Japanese punks starting to download lots of music? We have a big problem with this in U.S.A. and Europe.

Nishiwaki: I think free downloading is a problem.  In the respect, it’s the same with bootlegs made without the permission of the band!?  Of course there are some pros and cons, but many bands are against it. I'm not trying to tell you story of the music industry, but for products made by bands and labels, they spend money and time. The problem is that when something is free its value is easily lost, so people who only download and listen to bands have an imaginary value about them, and they won't go see them live.  I consider these to be connected. On the bands side, having a sample on their official webpage is different, but an unknown person doesn't have permission (to use the band’s music, etc.) We don't think there are any bands who have had their recordings used in this way that are pleased about it.


GS: As someone who did a label for about 20 years now, what are the biggest difference between bands and releasing records in the 90’s and now in 2013?

Nishiwaki: Well, bands can get various information because it’s easy to get connected with other bands by email and webpages...etc. It’s easier to take action when booking tours, this is a big change.  A long time ago, they wrote letters to bands in other towns and asked live houses to book tours. The various sound of bands is growing now. They have different styles, and crossover with other music.  Of course they have a notion of punk. It’s more difficult to sell records and CDs now in Japan, but I believe live shows are the best for bands!!


GS: I really love the Blood Feast / Poison Cola split 7’’ can you give us some information about Blood Feast, Poison Cola, and Bater Records? Are those guys still into hardcore and going to gigs?

Nishiwaki:  Blood Feast still playing as ever!! And playing with superb energy. I had contact with poison cola's vocalist Mr. Koza about 15 years ago, but I don't know what they are doing now... I remember he told me they can't find members... I'm looking for early music source of poison cola because have been asked by your friend Zach, but still can't find...

(Editors Note: In the years after Poison Cola, Koza-san played in Unkind, who had 2 EP’s on Crew For Life records. In 2014 Koza-San has started a new band, and Zach (Not Very Nice) will release a double CD, and EP of Poison Cola material!)


GS: What are your top 10 hardcore punk bands of all time?


1.     Indian

2.     Outo

3.     City Mess

4.     Confuse

5.     一家心中 (Ikka Shinjyu)

6.     Cruck

7.     The Clay

8.     Bastard

9.     So what

10.    T.U.S.K. 

GS: Are you a record collector?

Nishiwaki: Records have occupied a comparatively large space of my room for many years. Does this mean I’m a collector? Maybe so.


GS: So did you stop collecting, or are you still searching for new and old records?

Nishiwaki: Unfortunately record collecting is never ending......There are still many things I’d like to hear....


GS: When is the next discrete records release coming out?

Nishiwaki: Currently I’m working on the band T.U.S.K. They were active in the 80's in Nagoya, and I’m making a DVD of them. T.U.S.K. is being talked about as a legend in Nagoya, recently they played a live show with the original members. This live video also in DVD, so please look forward it!!


GS: Any final words?

Nishiwaki: Thanks Tom for the interest in Discrete Records and for this interview.

My label doesn’t have a home page, but I’m glad if readers are interested!! Because there are many great bands in Japan!