For any normal fellow, a free trip to a foreign country means living in the lap of luxury while trying the local fare, immersing in the land’s culture, and snapping selfies in front of every tourist destination. Hiro Tanaka is no normal fellow. Upon winning a free trip to the USA, he instantly packed his bags, left the language barrier by the door, and found himself on tour with US indie rock, punk, and hardcore bands for several years. Along the way, someone gave him a camera and he has been taking photographs ever since.
His photobook, Dew Dew, Dew Its, details his crazy adventures all across America, as he gradually transformed from a frenzied music fan to curious traveler, to photographer, to an avid documenter of the American music and art scenes. Its initial pages were precursors to the sudden shift in lifestyle, gradually unfurling a storm of American culture. Quiet vivid landscapes tenderly juxtapose the ferocity of being in the music industry that interweave with daily scenes in different towns.
Dew Dew, Dew Its accords readers a clear view on the pleasures and the rigors of being on tour with indie and hardcore bands. It depicts a world where riotous, exhilarating energy transcends from performer to spectator, generating harmony amidst the adrenaline-filled turmoil. What seems to be mayhem is a mere exercise in being attuned to personal sentiments coated in jangly guitars, oft-raspy vocals, and pulse-pounding beats.
Towards the end of the photobook, readers will get accustomed to the mixture of grit and exuberance found in the underground music scene, regardless if they are not from the US. Older ones will feel at least a hint of nostalgia as they relive the glorious times when they rocked out to their generation’s music icons, while younger readers can draw parallels to their respective scenes with those painstakingly captured by Hiro.
Dew Dew, Dew Its is Hiro Tanaka’s first photobook, published by Asian Man Records, and is the winner of the French ShaShin Book Award in 2014. In leafing through its pages, one will recognize music to be a universal language, one that is not necessarily confined by verbal vernacular, but bound together by the parlance of sound. He didn’t know English when he embarked on his US trip, but he certainly knew how to speak punk rock.