In a world more divided than ever, what we need is togetherness, something Joker’s Hand emphasizes in their work. Their ironically bouncy new single “War Profiteer” draws inspiration from reggae and sarcastically comments on people who benefit from others’ suffering.
Based in Torrance, California, the alt-rock duo met when members Kevin Kawano and Matthew Lau became roommates while studying film at UC Santa Cruz. They toyed with the idea of making music together, but didn’t consider making a career out of that passion until their last year of college, when graduation approached and they wanted to face their adult-world fears together.
This flip of courage is also what inspired their name – as Kevin explains, ““Every deck of cards comes with two jokers in it. The joker cards are cast aside. You don’t expect to use them in a game. I’m half-Japanese and half-white, but my upbringing was more akin to a strict Japanese household. Matt, who is full Chinese, grew up in a similar fashion so we were pushed toward a ‘normal,’ career-driven life. We weren’t raised to take chances or speak our minds.”
Meanwhile, Matthew shares, “Growing up feeling socially isolated and unpopular from the herd led us to music, but also triggered a fear of letting people in.”
2020 was poised to be Joker’s Hand’s biggest year yet, with their debut, self-titled EP coming out in March, planned showcases at SXSW, and festival appearances alongside Sublime With Rome. But, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in their plans. This year, they’re moving even further forward and planning two new singles in the coming months: “Hibakusha” and “Devil’s Nest.”
The duo has also been vocal about the Stop Asian Hate movement, and their efforts have included playing shows in support of the cause as well as speaking out.
“It’s messed up what’s going on,” Kevin says. “I get that people have been locked away for a year and this has not been easy for anybody. They’re looking for someone to blame because of where the virus came from and, frankly, it didn’t help with that president we had calling it the ‘Kung Flu’ and the ‘China Virus.’ We’re trying to help give a voice to people who may feel threatened by the current political climate and xenophobia.”
The importance of empathy and caring for others is at the heart of Joker’s Hand’s music, and they won’t stop until their messages of unity reach as many people as possible. You can connect with Joker’s Hand on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and their official website!
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