HEAVY METAL NOBLE MISSION
A Hollow Union is giving back by doing what its members know best - rockin’ the house in a benefit for the Sex Abuse Treatment Center
By Darlene Dela Cruz
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Spiked bracelets, skull rings, bullet belts and big black boots aren’t exactly iconographic accessories of optimism. And for members of local rock band, A Hollow Union, heavy metal’s notedly noir uniform presents them as an expectedly ominous bunch. Passersby are quick to glance, part in perplexity and part in intimidation, at the broody group in black.
Yet Lee Miyashiro, Mike “Haji” Higa, Garrick Yogi, Freddy Pedro, Camille Yago and Alex Monico hold a bright premise behind A Hollow Union’s bleak design: making music to make a difference. As part of their altruistic artistic mission, the band will host a benefit concert for the Sex Abuse Treatment Center Saturday, July 26, at Anna Bannana’s in Honolulu.
“We decided that since so few people in our scene were playing for a cause other than self-enrichment or self-promotion, we wanted to do something about it,” says Miyashiro. “We decided to give back.”
A Hollow Union’s positive attitude ironically stems from a series of negative situations some of its members have faced. Drug addiction, sexual abuse, homelessness, angst and disenchantment are true-life muses behind the band’s lamenting lyrics (“This is a war of mind ... My skin, drenched in the fight that is me”), shredding riffs and impassioned vocals. Music, the band says, has been the one constant in life that has always helped them to deal with it all.
“There’s a song for everything,” says Yogi. “When I listen to music, it’s a getaway, an escape.”
A Hollow Union formed its own musical outlet in 2007, with lead singer Higa, 23, who works as a lifeguard by day, at the helm. Higa recruited his childhood friend Pedro, 23, a soft-spoken preschool teacher, to play bass. The two grew up in Kalihi and attended Farrington High School together. Added to the mix was long-haired, sheepish guitarist Monico, a 22-year-old Home Depot sales associate, whom the band met at Foodland. A Hollow Union was then made complete with Yogi, 23, the band’s energetic, Mohawked drummer from Honolulu, and guitarist Yago, 19, a reserved Waipahu native with tinted hair and kohl-lined eyes that give her an unmistakable starkness.
Combining musical influences from soft-rock Journey to the darker dins of Deftones and Disturbd, to the industrial sounds of Nine Inch Nails, A Hollow Union created a unit of aggressive, moshable anthems. They recorded a demo through the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s KTUH radio station and have tuned up a head-banging onstage set list.
“(Yogi) practically goes into convulsions on the drums,” says Hilo-born Miyashiro, 32, the band’s de facto manager.“They’re the most energetic band.”
Unfortunately, the lack of metal-accommodating venues in Honolulu proved to be a problem for the band’s intense live show. Smaller rock cult spots like Pink Cadillac have since closed their doors, and bigger venues like Pipeline Café were too much of a cost-stretch for the start-up group to work with. Miyashiro,
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