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(click the image for the photo gallery)

Switch 3 playing at Club Footprint
Nankii-Shirahama, Japan
Photo by The O-shinboon

Friday - January 28th, 2005
Club Footprint, Nanki-Shirahama, Japan

For those unaware, Osaka and Tokyo are not the only places in Japan that can attract rock music from all over the world. In the south of Wakayama Prefecture there is a small town by the name of Shirahama, known for its white sanded beaches and heavily populated summer tourist season. Imported from Perth, Australia, the soft white sand generates a paradise-like atmosphere for those lucky people able to witness it. Australia has helped Shirahama make a name for itself and become the focal point of its neighboring towns. Keeping all this in mind its no wonder Canberra’s own highly energetic and charismatic band, Switch 3, decided to begin its tour of Japan on its home turf, well sand.

Pop Quiz hot shot. What is the capital of Australia? When is Australia day? Who is Anton Hagop? What other famous bands have come out of Australia's music scene? If you said Sydney was the capital of Oz, then you are not unlike most people who have little knowledge and/or live outside of Australia. The capital of Australia is the city of Canberra. Australia’s music scene is home to many bands such as AC/DC, Midnight Oil, Powderfinger and Sliverchair, who broke into the American charts with their 1995 hit album, Frogstomp.

During the winter season Shirahama is pretty quiet to say the least. Not many tourists like coming to the beach when its freezing, but for the lovely people of Australia, this is summertime, and that means rock 101 is now in session. So on Australia Day 2005, January 26th for those of us who lack Australian holiday knowledge, Switch 3, consisting of Maf Davis, 26, Michael Hoorweg, 26, Nick Lucey, 19, and Ben Davis, 28, made their way to Japan to spread their sound. With the Sidelined EP available for download off www.switchthree.com, and the new Do Nothing Be Nothing EP, produced by Australian Recording Industry Association (A.R.I.A.) producer of the year for 2002, Anton Hagop, the guys are fully prepared to show their high-quality sound and straight-from-the-heart lyrics to the Japanese rock community.

Before their Shirahama show, I had the pleasure of meeting the band and getting the inside scoop on how they came to be the Switch 3 of today. The story begins about six years ago in Canberra. Two friends Matt (Maf) and Mike (pronounced Mick) played in a band together called Lap Speed. Although Lap Speed was a punk band both Matt and Mike’s musical influences differed in some areas. Matt, the main vocalist, recalls rockin out to such bands as Led Zeppelin, the Cure, the Misfits, and so forth. Whether it’s the mystical passion carried through Robert Plant’s vocals, or the haunting sounds of Danzig, its obvious that Matt has done his homework, and that definitely comes out in his live performance. Mike on the other hand, was more influenced by bands like Soundgarden and Queen. During the days of Lap Speed, Mike was the guitar player, but since starting Switch 3 he traded in his electric guitar for the hypnotic speaker-rattling sounds of a bass guitar. I am not sure if his bass has a name or not, but if you are interested you can always email Mike . I am sure he would be happy to tell you.

(click the image for the photo gallery)

Switch 3 playing at Club Footprint
Nankii-Shirahama, Japan
Photo by The O-shinboon

Due to uncontrollable circumstances, Lap Speed had to break up. This left Matt and Mike without a band, but it didn’t take long for the two rockaholics to start their search for new blood. The search for a new band started really close to home. Well, it started in Matt’s home to be honest. Matt asked his older brother Ben to join the band. With five years of classical training under his belt, Ben is an interesting breed of musician. There is only one thing that Ben seems to trust when it comes to his music, and that’s his ear. Ben makes sound, rather then write it down and remember his part visually like most musicians, he memorizes the sound and plays off that. So when Matt asked Ben to join the band, Ben laughed at first, and joined soon afterwards. One band that influenced Ben in his youth was Iron Maiden. Ben also played in other bands before Switch 3, but in those bands he was the bass player. Since Mike turned to the sounds of the bass a guitarist position remained vacant. Soon after agreeing to play guitar he went to a store to buy his new instrument. It must have been destiny because the instance he entered the store he saw a Patrick Eggle guitar on sale. For people with little knowledge of guitars, Patrick Eggles are extremely rare and very expensive when found, and Ben luckily found one within his price range. This left one more vacant spot in the new band. Matt, Mike, and Ben needed a drummer.

Many ads were placed in newspapers and music shops to look for a drummer. The ad read, “Nice guys, must be quick and use a double kick.” Luckily the drummer they chose is not only quick with the double stick but has seven years of experience under his belt. When Nick Lucey joined the band he was at the ripe young age of 15 and still in high school. If you think that’s young then you should know Nick started his drumming career at age 12 while he was living in Washington D.C. Nick spent a few of his younger years in America’s capital idolizing bands like Pennywise, The Offspring, and especially Blink 182. Actually, Nick’s favorite drummer is Travis Barker of Blink 182. If you are reading this Travis then you gotta check out Nick’s handy work because it’s definitely a sight not to be missed. Once these four guys clicked together Switch 3 came to fruition.

On January 26th, Switch 3 made their arrival in Shirahama. This is the first time Switch 3 had toured Japan, and this Shirahama concert was the first show, so everything had to be perfect. In the few days leading up to the show, the guys were all over the place doing soundchecks, meeting people, and most importantly doing publicity for their upcoming show. By the time I met up with Switch 3, they were ready to give Shirahama something to talk about besides its white sand.

Two weeks before Switch 3 arrived in Japan there was a punk rock show that took place at Club Footprint in Shirahama. Club Footprint, a predominantly hip-hop and raggae club, is the main reason this area’s music scene is getting recognition on the west coast of Japan. This punk show attracted many people from the next few towns over. This event was proof that there is a loyal punk/rock following which exists outside of Osaka and Tokyo. Once the show ended all you could hear were people making plans to see this cool Australian band called Switch 3. The hype was on and everyone was truly excited. In the two weeks time from when the show ended to when Switch 3 arrived word started to travel among the surrounding areas. More and more people were starting to hear the buzz and making plans on how to see the show.

(click the image for the photo gallery)

Switch 3 and Jump'N'Fall at Club Footprint
Nankii-Shirahama, Japan
Photo by The O-shinboon

The sunset on the night of their show was beautiful. The wind had brought a cold breeze off the ocean and the band watched the sun sink into the horizon off the beach made of the sand from their home. It was at this moment that Switch 3 confessed their collective passion for Japan. “We would be coming here to see the country, our friends, and to go snowboarding. The fact that we can play shows is an added bonus,” explained Matt. As the day ended and the evening began the band had a few hours of calm before the storm.

The first band of the evening was the local Jump’N’Fall, who had headlined the punk show that took place a few weeks earlier. Jump’n’fall was the perfect band to open up because this set the stage for the energetic performance from Switch 3 the crowd had been waiting to hear. Nick even looked a bit worried about getting upstaged by the female drummer from Jump’N’Fall.

Once the clock stuck 9:00 the crowd did a bit of a shuffle as Switch 3 took the floor. Flashes from cameras seemed to be strong enough to make a man go blind. People from the back started to come forward and all eyes were directed at Switch 3. The tension was thick enough to cut with a knife. Then in an instant a wall of sound, like a tidal wave of energy, filled the room from corner to corner. Everywhere you looked you could either see someone dancing to the music or trying to capture a moment of it on film or video. It was as if Nick, Matt, Mike, and Ben were all talking to each other with their instruments. Like hearing another language being spoken in front of you and not understanding it, but appreciating the opportunity you have to hear it. The peak of their energy came during the first song off their new Do Nothing Be Nothing EP titled, Memories Fade. Listening to this song live is like having a beam of energy shoot directly into your chest; making you flail every which way as if self-destruction is inevitable. Once the show came to a close the crowd was left with only one word in their vocabulary, “Encore!! Encore!!! Encore!!!” After their encore Switch 3’s first show on their tour of Japan officially ended. Mission successful, and in true rock fashion no less.

Switch 3 definitely left their footprint within the Shirahama music community. To Switch 3, this show was the kick-off to their tour of Japan, but to the people of Shirahama and its surrounding areas, this show was monumental. It brought an international flavor to the local rock scene of Wakayama Prefecture. Switch 3 is a very strong group with a sound you could rock to in your car or on the slopes snowboarding. With strong lyrics and a sound that’ll get your juices flowing, Switch 3 has all the ingredients to make music for a long time. For everyone’s sake, lets hope they do.

Sam Frank - Journalist
The O-shinboon
samfrank@o-shinboon.com

ON THE WEB:
Switch 3
Jump'N'Fall
Anton Hagop