The High-Lows

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The High-Lows were the second big project of singer Hiroto Komoto and guitarist/vocalist Masatoshi Mashima, the godfathers of Japanese punk, who achieved superstardom in the late '80s and early '90s with…
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The High-Lows were the second big project of singer Hiroto Komoto and guitarist/vocalist Masatoshi Mashima, the godfathers of Japanese punk, who achieved superstardom in the late '80s and early '90s with their unit the Blue Hearts. High-Lows didn't stray far from the noble path of old-school melodic punk -- closer to the Clash than to NOFX -- but they were always keen on throwing additional ingredients into the mix, as the inclusion of a permanent keyboardist Mikio Shirai demonstrates. Shirai was in fact with Komoto and Mashima from the beginning of the High-Lows, which dates back to 1995, with the rhythm section -- bassist Sakito Shirabe and drummer Kenji Oshima -- joining them shortly. The band started in high gear, releasing their eponymous debut in 1995 and launching a set of lengthy tours that included stints with Tom Robinson Band in 1996 and Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1997. Those shows really boosted their popularity, supported by a string of releases as well: the second album Tigermobile was out in 1996, and Lobster followed in 1998, to say nothing of the 11 singles out between 1995 and 1998, including Mune ga Doki Doki (1996), used in the popular anime series Detective Conan. Most of their singles since Mune ga Doki Doki entered the Oricon Top 20, and all of the band's full-lengths cracked the Top 10.

High-Lows' heavy touring spell culminated after the release of Baumkuchen (1999), which was promoted by a 70-date marathon, and followed by a set of shows in 2000 played with the group's future buddies the King Brothers and the Neatbeats. 2000 also saw the release of their fifth album, Relaxin with the High-Lows, which gave the band their best chart performance, scoring at number three, but after that High-Lows eased up on live activity, although they continued to toil in the studio, recording the albums Hotel in 2001 and Angel Beetle in 2002, not to mention two best-of compilations (Flip-Flop in 2000 and Flip-Flop 2 in 2003). In 2003 keyboardist Shirai left High-Lows, and the group never fully recovered after that. They managed another bout of activity in 2004, when they did a big tour, appearing at Fuji Rock Festival, attended that year by Pixies, Killers, and Primus, released their final studio album, Do the Mustang, and contributed a song for the movie Zebraman, but in 2005 they tidied things up with the retrospective Flash: Best and called it quits. Komoto and Mashima established another punk rock act, the Cro-Magnons, straight after disbanding the High-Lows.