Interview with Polysics’ Hiro Hayashi
Polysics—basically the Japanese art-punk version of Devo—has become a contemporary new-wave institution in both Japan and America. One of the band’s longest-standing members, Kayo (above, third from right), has decided to leave the group after a decade to dedicate the next years of her life to being a “normal woman.” This news comes in the wake of the release of their 10th album (in about as many years), Absolute Polysics, and precedes a handful of dates here in the United States including a stop at The Casbah on Saturday, Jan. 30. These dates will be the last when you can see the solemn Kayo perform with her jumpsuit-adorned, overly frenetic bandmates before she celebrates her official graduation from Polysics in Budokan, Japan, in March. I spoke to Hiroyuki “Hiro” Hayashi (actually I spoke to a translator who spoke to Hiro—hence the broken English), original mastermind and founder of Polysics, about the new direction his band will take after a brief break following Kayo’s departure.
You are one of the hardest-working, certainly one of the busiest, contemporary bands. Is the hiatus a result of a much-needed rest? Or a result of Kayo’s departure?
Here’s what to do with a hiatus. I, myself, am like a hamster on a wheel. Always on a working mode. Even if I am not working, I would be writing songs. And as for Kayo’s graduation and departure from the band—all this whole process was sorted out about two years ago when she was thinking of doing something other than Polysics, and it happened now right after the release of Absolute Polysics, and yes.
Do you have anything new and special planned for these last shows with Kayo? Or will it, like the new album name describes, be classic, ”Absolute” Polysics?
Thank you. For the upcoming U.S. tour, we are going to be playing a lot of songs from Absolute Polysics but we are thinking and considering about featuring more of Kayo’s future songs.
Do you feel Absolute Polysics is a fitting conclusion to the band’s 13-year run?
It has been five years that we’ve been together as with the current line-up. So we were trying to put on everything we can with the current lineup for the Absolute Polysics album. Also, now as the band Polysics we had been working for 13 years now, that [this lineup of] Polysics can also play this album. This album consists of everything that has been featured.
How does it represent the band better than previous albums?
I don’t know if this Absolute Polysics album scene was actually Polysics itself, and maybe the track that best describes this album scene could be the track “Beat Flash.” This is the track that’s similar to what we had been playing while even still an Indie band and featuring fast sequences and hard rock style blended, and this is what they wanted to once again—explore with the current line-up. And also the track “Young Oh! Oh!” might be another representative of the album, and with these songs we finally thought we can make the theme of the album as Absolute Polysics. It wasn’t just about reminiscing about the old days, but we were also feeling that we have accomplished what we had been doing in the past, and the new plan was our accomplishment.
You’ve said We Ate the Machine elevated Polysics to a new level of music-making. How did you further this feat with Absolute Polysics?
So there are a lot of Polysics after We Ate the Machine. You can call this latest album the ultimate Polysics music and as you know, lately Spin called another band Polysics that featuring the Polysics sound, although many bands in the press today try a mixture of electro and down tempo but again, there is nobody playing our type of music, our sound that is in a way that we can recognize again. That this is our way, this is our task and we should always be seeking and searching for the pure Polysics sound.
A handful of members have come and gone, but none as significant as Kayo. When the hiatus is over, do you think Kayo’s departure will have any effect on the classic Polysics aesthetic (jumpsuits, sunglasses, etc.)? Or will it be business as usual?
The graduation, or Kayo’s graduation, is a success. Intimate for us. And come to think of it, maybe with Kayo we had a deeper and longer relationship than concerning even to our families. This is a big loss for us, but at the same time we are taking relief in our very positive way and we would want to positively celebrate the graduation and that’s what we’re aiming to do for the March Budokan [Japan] show. For the future you need to start from the fact that we’re about the new Polysics, and the very fact we’re not even considering bringing in new member. Our aim is to try and create the new Polysics sound with the current three members. No one else out there can replace Kayo.
Obviously you’re a self-professed workaholic, but is there anything besides music you’re looking forward to spending time on during the hiatus?
Actually, I just want to get prepared and to get started with the new Polysics, and all I have in mind is about the new Polysics and I’m really eager on focusing on new electronics for the new album!