PART 1: HIZUMI’s dilemma
“How many times did I shout your name in the storm? My voice’s drying out… I live because of you, so I believe…’close your eyes’. Therefore, this pain never heals…” – Infection, D’espairsRay
Considering the devastating news that has been released recently, the chorus of Infection seem to be a bit prophetic, won’t you agree? Here’s hoping though that the “this pain never heals” part won’t be real as well. Although come to think of it, the whole thing feels surreal. A lot, I’m sure are still in denial, but it is really of no use suppressing the truth any further: HIZUMI has vocal cord problems and as a consequence, D’espairsRay would be on an indefinite hiatus.
What makes it even more devastating is that in a span of barely a week, D’espairsRay was the THIRD to announce suspension of band activities due to the vocalist being sick:
- September 16 – Vidoll marked their last live as vocalist Jui had to undergo major surgery to fix the blood clot in his throat.
- September 18 – Kagrra, postponed their Nagano performance on the same day due to vocalist Isshi losing his voice. A trip to the hospital had revealed bad news: performing that day would be impossible. Then finally,
- September 21 – D’espairsRay announced that the band will take a break to allow HIZUMI to fully recover from his rare throat condition.
Hearing about Jui and Isshi’s problems saddened me but it was the news about HIZUMI where I took the hardest blow. My first reaction was of course, shock. Then devastation (yes, this poor little fangirl shed some tears). Before finally, disappointment – with a tinge of indignation. But don’t mistake the latter two to be caused by the hiatus. On the contrary, I felt a little angry because it took them this long to finally go ahead and take a much needed break. THIS SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED A YEAR AND A HALF AGO, when HIZUMI’s condition was at its worst.
It was around April of last year when it was revealed that HIZUMI was having difficulties. D’espairsRay went on doing various lives and eventually released a critically-acclaimed album during the second half of this year. All seems to be well. The band is riding high on the crest of a major world tour and probably still nursing a hangover from celebrating 11 rockin’ years in the industry just a few days ago. Then suddenly- BAM! They let out that all this time HIZUMI has been suffering. “HIZUMI has dealt with this rare throat condition for over a year, but the band’s busy touring and recording schedule hasn’t allowed him the time to fully undergo treatment,” the announcement revealed.
Let it be said that I have a higher level of respect bestowed to HIZUMI now for putting up a brave front these past few months. I won’t even attempt to fathom how difficult it must have been for him, physically and emotionally. Still, he gave it his best and I commend him for that. I salute his courage and determination but not his bullheadedness. The announcement further shared that at this point, “(they) have tried many treatments, but have not yet found one that has a high chance of success”. It went even as far as to ask fans for information regarding “promising treatment options, including those done overseas”. All of these indicate that HIZUMI’s condition is critical, even life altering. So my question now is: why the hell did they push themselves so hard?” Then again, that’s a stupid question to ask, right? Of course, they have to continue doing what they do best so everyone’s agenda can still be fulfilled. The band gets to do it for their fans while the record company gets their due. Well, bullshit. Look at to what that brought us all in. To think that they still want to continue with this year’s tour.
If HIZUMI is really, really sick then he should take his rest as soon as possible. Not early next year as they originally want, not in a few month’s time but NOW! I mean, c’mon D’espairsRay. Please give us, your fans, more credit. Not hearing or seeing anything new from the band for a while would surely be a great void but if it would mean their well being then we would totally understand. WE’D RATHER MISS D’ESPAIRSRAY FOR A YEAR RATHER THAN TO LIVE IN CONSTANT THREAT that HIZUMI won’t be able to sing again, or that Karyu and ZERO cannot play their guitars anymore, or that TSUKASA have to let go of his drums. Bands take a hiatus for a myriad of reasons and theirs couldn’t be more valid. We get that. And we can live with that fact. Hopefully, so can D’espairsRay.
PART 2: Steven Tyler’s Incredible Human-machine
In the spirit of finding a ray of hope amidst despair, I did a bit of desk research on other singers afflicted with vocal chord related concerns.
Crude joke as it may be, HIZUMI, Jui and Isshi are actually in good company. My research has showed me that even the legendary Frank Sinatra had his career almost in jeopardy when his vocal chords were diagnosed with hemorrhaging. Dame Julie Andrews of the Sound of Music fame is also another example. Her vocal chords were shattered because of a botched-up surgery to remove non-cancerous nodules. Examples that the jrockers would perhaps be more comfortable being associated with include Matt Tuck, vocalist of Welsh Metalcore quartet Bullet for My Valentine, singer Tony Kakko of Finnish melodic metallers SONATA ARCTICA and finally, THE Steven Tyler of legendary band Aerosmith.
As the name of HIZUMI’s actual condition is yet to be revealed, it’s hard to assume which of the abovementioned singers’ ordeal would match his. Based on their experiences though, HIZUMI best hope lies on a Dr. Steven Zeitels of the Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is associated with two ‘revolutionary’ treatments on vocal chord related conditions: polyethylene glycol injection and state of the art laser technology.
The first option, polyethylene glycol injection is still experimental so I’d rather focus on the high tech laser surgery.
In the midst of their “Rockin’ the Joint” tour, Aerosmith was forced to cancel the 20 remaining concerts as Steven Tyler was downed by vocal injury. To get back into the action quickly, he agreed to take part in an experimental surgery. Based on the report by the Wall Street Journal (as reposted by Aero Force One, an Aerosmith dedicated site),
“(Tyler) was treated with a pulsed potassium-titanyl-phosphate (KTP) laser, the latest and most promising procedure to come out of Massachusetts General’s voice center. Quick bursts of green laser light, lasting just 15 milliseconds, zapped Tyler’s broken blood vessel, sealing the vessel without touching it.
The procedure is sounding a positive note for more successful and resilient recoveries from vocal disorders like Tyler’s. It has saved the voices of at least 14 other singers since 2005, including the opera star Carol Vaness.”
The whole procedure was documented in a National Geographic show called Incredible Human Machine.
Below is an interview with Dr. Zeitels. Annoying female newscaster aside, it is very informative. I hope it could be of some help to HIZUMI, Isshi and Jui.