A photo collection by Hiro Tanaka, culled over many years spent traveling with bands like Cursive, Lawrence Arms and Minus The Bear.
If you’ve met Hiro Tanaka, then you’re already a fan. He’s a ball of energy that exudes positivity 100% of the time. A constant that makes me smile always. I first met Hiro in 2001 on the Plea For Peace Tour when he was hanging out with the SELBY TIGERS. We became instant friends and I love him so very much.
Hiro is famous for many things including being able to eat more than a person twice his size. Weighing in at about 120 pounds, he has outdueled my 230 pound frame on many occasions, but he is most famous for being the picture guy. Taking nearly 2,000 photos a day, and often seen in the pit at a hardcore show with camera in hand, taking photos whilst being tossed around like a rag doll
His photos are beautiful, thoughtful, and need to be shared with the world, but I am not a book publisher. In fact, I have no idea what I’m doing, so that’s why this Kickstarter is being presented. The cost to produce 1,000 photo books measuring 10.5” x 8”, including 104 pages of full color photos is extremely expensive. At nearly $10,000, It’s too much of a financial burden for me to take in all by my lonesome. So I’m hoping we can raise half of the funds and I will cover the rest. But of course, the best case scenario is that we are able to cover all the costs. After researching a bunch of Kickstarter projects, we tried to set up fair rewards that equate to you receiving a good return on your investment. Please share with anyone you know that loves Hiro as much as I do.
Peace, mike park
"As a teenager, I often daydreamed of a day when playing music could offer me access to see the world. As I hurtle ever closer to my forties, I feel like I've been chewed up and spit out at the butt end of those dreams, now wishing music would simply afford me some much needed time at home. The novelty of tour, of seeing the world, has worn off like the once glossy finish of my guitar.
I guess what I'm saying is I've taken it all for granted. My teenage self would be pissed at me (though, wouldn't most of our teenage selves likely be pissed at us?). But whenever I travel with Hiro, well, it's hard to take anything for granted: you can't take your food for granted, "OHHH! Super electric burrito!!!", you can't take your hotel room for granted, "Ahhhh, pretty nice view, eh, Amigo?", you can't take your backstage for granted, "Ooh, nice couch for poquito nap...". And I don't want to take things for granted; I love traveling with Hiro, I highly recommend it, if ever given the opportunity. Hiro helps me see the road with fresh eyes, perhaps similar to how I envisioned it as a teenager. When I look at his photos, it's not the wild, rock and roll shots that most affect me (though they do, they must), but the stillness of the salt and pepper shaker, the crack in the sidewalk. I see what Hiro sees, yet I need someone like Hiro to show me. As for these pictures: they are wild in their movement, in their gestures. They are colorful, off beat, unusual, silly and crude. At times, pensive, sometimes stoic, thoughtful, emotional, often inquisitive. A bit mysterious, sly. At other times, bombastic, explosive, adrenaline-fueled, bold, even majestic. Always beautiful.
And as for Hiro? Well, if someone were to ask me, "Who's Hiro, what's up with that guy?", I suppose I could simply tell them to look at his pictures."
-Tim Kasher (Cursive)
This book shows all the moments of being in a small band that we are too swept up in the moment to capture. It is a book I have been anticipating for years, feel honored to write a blurb for and I hope inspires people to enjoy every moment of life, no matter how frustrating, confusing or boring it may appear to be on the surface."
-Jeff Rosenstock (Bomb The Music Industry!)
Hironobu Tanaka is a shaman in the purest sense. Through him we are able to recognize that in each moment is a lesson, and with every lesson, a snapshot of our life."
-Cory Murchy (Minus the Bear)
"Hiro Tanaka is a cool guy. When I first met him, he was living in
Minneapolis and touring with a band as a merch guy/general mood livener.
I don’t remember what the band was called, but the bassist in the band
dressed like Duane from One Day at a Time and another guy played guitar
in a sailor suit with a stuffed parrot perched on his shoulder. Even
then, Hiro stood out as the most fascinating person in their squad. Hiro
was most notable not because he was from Japan (not too common in the
northern Midwest), not because he was a human garbage disposal (he
could, and still can eat absolutely anything happily and lustily until
it is all gone regardless of size or potential grossness), not for the
fact that he took awesome pictures (even though his stuff is amazing. My
own dumb band, as well as many vastly cooler bands, have used Hiro’s
awesome candids and live shots on numerous releases) or even that he is
the most uniquely positive, happy, uplifting, good-time human you will
ever, ever meet in your entire life. No, the thing that made Hiro so
notable was the fact that even though his English was limited, he was a
mad consumer and connoisseur of American slang (the slang, not the
Gaslight Anthem record).
Hiro carried a notebook and pen with him everywhere and whenever anyone would utter a colloquialism in his presence, his eyes would light up and he’d ask, in the most enthusiastically polite broken English, if the speaker could repeat the expression, define it, and write down the definition in the notebook. This notebook became famous in Midwestern punk circles and band folks started using overly expressive syntax around Hiro in hopes of introducing him to a new turn of phrase and thus becoming immortalized in his notebook.
Hiro’s notebook quickly became a series of notebooks, and Hiro studied their contents tirelessly until his command of American slang was beyond that of anyone else I knew. His conversational English was still limited, but as a slang speaker, he had no equal. As a result, Hiro spoke almost entirely in euphemism. For example, where I may say “let’s go get a hotdog. I’m hungry, and my stomach feels weird,” Hiro might say “man, I need muy bueno lips and assholes so I can drop kids off at pool later, amigo. Super electric!” This is not bullshit, and this is in no way exaggerated. Hiro is kind of impossible to believe in until you’ve met him and even once you have, it’s a stretch to imagine that he’s just a boring old human being with all the same ugliness and selfish shittiness that lurks in the rest of us. Hiro’s just more fun, more excited, more eager to live and vastly more polite than other earthlings.
Beyond that, he’s an amazing photographer with a natural eye for landscapes, portraits and tabletop shit, AND he’s like 73 even though he still looks like he’s 25. I don’t even know what else to say. Last night, Hiro wrote me and said, in regards to this book: “really hope you could write something! I need your master blaster power !!!!!!!!” and I wrote all this. I could go on for ten more pages about this guy but I’m gonna stop now. Check out his pictures. Hiro’s stuff is beyond reproach. I don’t know how he even picked the shots that made it in here at the expense of his other great images, but I know that you’re holding a great collection of his work.
Oh shit! Selby Tigers! That was the name of that band. Those guys were cool too."
-Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms)
"I've known Hiro Tanaka since the mid-90's when he spent many different spells in Minneapolis, MN. Since then we've logged countless hours together on the road. He has always been an artistic force and an inspiration whether he's behind the camera, helping lug band gear, or eating astounding amounts of food. He manages to be everywhere at once with a keen eye that is drawn to out of the way details. He has a warmth about him that finds it's way through the camera and makes his subjects feel and look special. I'm proud to call Hiro an artistic contemporary and a friend. You will meet him one day, and when you do... get psyched for that full body handshake! It's the stuff of legends."
-Sean Tillmann (Har Mar Superstar)
More photos available on the Hiro Tanaka book preview page: HERE
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
As a record label releasing LPs and CDs, we have no idea how to get the word out about a book such as this. We're hoping that word of mouth and that this Kickstarter will help Hiro's book get the attention it deserves.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.