Visual Kei&Anime – hide with Spread Beaver

Well folks, it’s December, and I decided to end on a bit of a bang. This month’s feature is none other than the legendary hide with Spread Beaver. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and jump into it.

hide was at his simplest, a musician, singer-songwriter, record producer and best known as the lead guitarist of Visual Kei royalty band, X Japan. hide began his solo career around 1993 until his untimely death in 1998. His solo endeavors included his solo albums “Hide Your Face”, “Psyence”, and “Ja, Zoo”, starring in the art house film Seth et Holth (review here), producing and releasing his own music via his own label LEMONed and so much more. He was an artist in his own right, and considered a major icon of rebellion culture in Japan.

hide with Spread Beaver was formed in 1997, which was originally his touring band, but then cemented as his primary focus as a solo artist. Obviously hide was the main vocalist, but also contributed guitar, and bass and even arranged and produced the majority of the band’s music. He was joined by Kazuhiko Inada – who did percussion, programming, and backing vocals, Toshiya Matsukawa – guitar and backing vocals, Hiroshi Watanabe – bass, acoustic guitar, backing and lead vocals, Satoshi Miyawaki – drums, Daijiro Nozawa – keyboards, piano, guitar, backing and lead vocals, Kiyoshi Honma – guitar and backing vocals, and Kazahito Iwaike – guitar and backing vocals. Each member contributed their skills to different degrees depending on the release, live performance and year.

What is a bit unique is that even after hide’s death in 1998, the band would tour briefly as their original line-up with tribute performances in 2008, 2016, and 2018. It gets a bit dicey in terms of music recorded and released pre and post-humorously, since hide had multiple bands and outlets as just himself. Credited to hide with Spread Beaver the album “Ja, Zoo”, and approximately six singles. Again this is based on your interpretation of hide’s timeline and discography.

Officially, most of hide with Spread Beaver’s music is largely only available through physical media these days. Although hide does have an official VEVO channel on Youtube, as well as a Spotify page with limited releases available. So let’s jump into the single anime tie-in they have!

hide with Spread Beaver contributed their song “Rocket Dive” as the opening theme for the anime AWOL: Absent Without Leave. It’s their first and only collaboration, as well as the final release that hide would be alive to witness. It’s an impressive song, but let’s take a look at the anime it’s linked to:

Cyress is a peaceful place, with everyday people – until terrorists strike and begin their assault. The people are defenseless, and the military attempts to figure out what happened, except the terrorists have hijacked several missiles. Now the terrorists call themselves “Solomon” and are holding the entire planet hostage, and of course they must be stopped”. [Paraphrased from the MAL Entry]

I’m not an expert on hide by any means, but I feel something incredibly ironic about this tie-in. Like the actual lyrics of “Rocket Dive” verses the anime it’s tying into couldn’t be more different. Plus not to mention hide’s notoriety wasn’t exactly in line with the standards for Japanese ideals at the time. I get the feeling someone at the animation studio pulled some strings, and managed to get hide to sign the paperwork to make it happen.

It’s also pretty obvious I think to most that hide with Spread Beaver isn’t technically a Visual Kei band. hide with Spread Beaver is it’s own project, and very much rooted in rock. You can tell with the opening lines are very clearly mimicking the double meanings that American rock music hide loved. For those that can’t make it out, the opening lines (repeated three times) is “Come and go let me show you my rocket, come and go baby blow my rocket” which also ends the song too. I don’t think it needs to be said, but this is all metaphorical since the ‘rocket’ isn’t a rocket ya know?

Overall, being familiar with hide in X Japan verses hide with Spread Beaver, this seems to be a very personalized outlet for hide specific ideas. I think the best part is just how much fun you can feel radiating from the song, the chorus, riffs, drum patterns, bassline, even hide’s vocals have such positive tilt to them. It’s not the deepest song that’s been released, but it’s cohesive and really does uplift those who are listening. Of course, it is tinged with a lot of nostalgia, and a bit bittersweet – it is the last song that hide released before his untimely death. But it really embodied what he wanted to do on his own time and pace and I think he achieved that.

I know that this is a lot different from my usual format, but hide deserves it. I’m sure there’s something I could have nitpicked or more to point out, but… I don’t think it’s needed. hide with Spread Beaver is a special project, and while I’m no superfan: I can’t help but have a soft spot for it. That being said, I’ll see you all next year with the next post!



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s