Artist Profile – Akira Asahina19 August 2015
When you hear the phrase ‘hardcore punk rock’, do you imagine the musicians and fans wearing leather jackets, neon-coloured mohawks, facial piercings and a nasty, nihilistic attitude?
Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Meet Akira Asahina. He’s the bassist for Born Free, a band influenced by the New York hardcore scene of the ’80s, formed in 2013. Dressed in sweatshirt and jeans, he looks like your typical uni student. At a glance, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that he’s a part of the scene.
Born Free’s latest release, a 7” titled Evil Hands, will make you want to be up front and centre at their gigs, ‘fighting an invisible enemy’ (that is, moshing), while their lyrics will make you want to fight a not-so-invisible enemy: The Man.
“Some lyrics in our song ‘Power’ has to do with the ‘evil hands’; the whole song is lyrically about consumerism and the dichotomy in power between the higher-ups and [society at large]. But at the same time, like in our song ‘Resent’, we also got lyrics about more personal, emotional issues, so it’s a mix.”
Interestingly, they also draw influences from science fiction, which will be more evident in their upcoming full-length album, Sorrow.
‘There’ll be a song titled ‘Trust No One’, which is inspired by an X-Files episode. We’ll also have the song ‘X-Files’ re-recorded for this album, and we’re gonna do a rip-off X-Files t-shirt at one stage,” Akira laughs.
Being a part of an active, touring band, as well as a full-time uni student, Akira finds it difficult at times to juggle his commitments. But in his spare time, he runs his own vlog/parody channel on YouTube, and plays Warhammer, Halo and Pokémon.
“For Pokémon, I’m trying to get into the competitive scene, so if anyone wants to battle, maybe I can try and get my [Nintendo DS] friend code in here somehow, we’ll see how that goes,” he beams.
And since Akira’s quite the joker, he even co-runs several meme pages, the most popular one being the ‘Pingo’ page on Facebook, with over eight thousand likes.
“It’s about Pingu the penguin, that show from your childhood… If there’s any bad posts in there, it’s the other admin, not me!” he chuckles.
“It’s just another dumb idea of mine. I like entertaining people: that’s why I’m in a band, that’s why I do these things. Just like in my YouTube, I pretend to be serious but it’s really not, it’s just a lot of fun.”
Aside from playing in Born Free, Akira also plays in two new bands, Broken and XLAIRX, both of which just released demos (self-titled and Wrath of the Immaculate, respectively). He also collects vinyl records and cassette tapes, whilst running a zine called Hardcore X-travaganza with his friends. As he’s currently studying Psychology at uni, writing zines is a good avenue for him to better understand the scene and the people in it.
“Writing your own zines, you have the power to ask anything you want, and I like knowing stuff about people, asking interesting questions such as: ‘Who’s the hardest [mosh] pitter in Melbourne?’ ‘Who’s got the best stage dives?’ Stuff you wouldn’t normally think of, but it’s entertaining to read, and maybe we can even create something positive out of that.”
Ultimately, Akira is rather inseparable from the hardcore music scene – and it is inseparable from him. For seven years, he has been ‘straight edge’: a movement in the community to consciously abstain from alcohol, cigarettes and illicit drugs to preserve the clarity of the mind. He also cited how hardcore bands have a message through their music and lyrics; many provide a sense of self-empowerment, and spread awareness of various social issues, such as the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia.
“Hardcore music is definitely a unique genre, even a lifestyle, as much as going to a nightclub every week can be considered a lifestyle,” he explains.
“If you can get past the moshing, it’s a really open community: no discrimination, no one’s gonna judge you. It’s opened my eyes to things many people normally wouldn’t think about. Key example: I’ve never been in a room filled with so many vegans as I have in any hardcore shows. It gets you through a lot of stuff on an emotional level, and on top of that, it’s fun.”