By Erin Jardine
VANCOUVER — With an undeniable desire to produce music derived from his own mind, the sounds of jo passed a.k.a. Joseph Hirabayashi explores the limits of modern psychedelic rock. Under the suggestion from past bandmate Ridley Bishop, Hirabayashi took a new direction with his approach to band relations.
“Where it’s really clear who is writing, if it’s someone’s band, rather than a group effort on all fronts,” Hirabayashi says. “So I started jo passed. It’s my band, my name is in the name of the band, so it has to be around me I guess.”
Hirabayashi is humble about his project, and his words refer to the process of a band’s functionality – rather than his own ego. After his collaborative project Sprïng disbanded, Hirabayashi held on to the inspiration that was finding him through playing with Sprïng and that has manifested into jo passed. His EPs delve into emotional themes, and are backed by solid riffs produced through distinct analogue emulating effects.
What started as a Facebook name ended up as the moniker for the jo passed solo project. “It’s a play on a joke we had at Thor’s Palace about being really tired, we’d say, ‘Oh, I’m so passed,’ and then one day I was like, ‘I’m Jo Passed,’ which is a play on a jazz musician’s name, Joe Pass. He was an amazing guitar player, but he’s pretty much the most non-rock-and-roll person of all time,” laughs Hirabayashi, “I like the ‘passed’ thing about being sleepy and tired, because it’s very psychedelic. You gotta be tired before you can dream, y’know?”
Hirabayashi’s bandmates enjoy the straightforward process of jo passed as well, “It’s hard to write with more than two people,” remarks Bella McKee (badass synth). “People need to mesh really well.”
The simplicity of jo passed’s structure allows for flexibility for touring, “Bands are hard, I think when bands were jobs, I read in that David Byrne book that Talking Heads formed, and then in a few months they were making money off Talking Heads in three months or something. Back then it seemed more intense, but it was a job. Now everyone has this ambition to pursue a collective goal with a band, but you’re also not making any money and pulling off these DIY tours. It’s hard. Your friends change, things might get weird. With jo passed, that’s eliminated. If a band member doesn’t want to tour, that’s fine – unless it’s me I guess.”
Jo passed is releasing their second tape EP in 2016 alone. The first, Out, was self-released, and the current Up is being released through Golden Brown in Portland. “[The name] Up was suggested by my brother in law, ‘oh you should call your next one Passed Up, because you’ll send out your EP to labels and it’ll be passed up by all the labels! He didn’t mean it as an insult but it’s true! A lot of people are going to pass it up. Ironically, the first label I sent it to didn’t pass it up, they’re putting it out!”
“Tapes are sweet; you can put them in your pocket,” laughs Hirabayashi.
You can pick up jo passed’s first two tape EPs at the jo passed Tape EP Release show on July 2nd at the Astoria.Astoria, BC, British Columbia, jo passed