During the Japanese “band boom” of the ‘90s, pop-rock quartet Spitz helped show rock’s versatility to a generation of fans, and they continue to explore the genre from different angles. The group formed in 1987 after four college classmates—Masamune Kusano, Tetsuya Miwa, Akihiro Tamura and Tatsuo Sakiyama—came together over a shared interest in ‘60s British artists like Donovan and ‘80s Japanese hard rockers like The Blue Hearts. They merged those two styles early on, performing covers of classic Japanese songs in a heavy style, but soon sought out their own artistic identity. They shifted to acoustic-guitar-guided songs as the ‘90s began, placing Kusano’s high-pitched vocals over easygoing melodies. Their breakthrough singles—1995’s contemplative “Robinson” and the bittersweet 1996 hit “Sora mo Toberu Hazu”—embraced this jangly sound. While this remained their sonic base, Spitz stood out from their arena-sized contemporaries like Mr.Children and B’z by dabbling in rock subgenres, frequently bringing in elements of grunge, shoegaze and punk to round out their numbers. For many growing up in this decade, Spitz played the role of rock educators, showing listeners just how much was happening in North American and UK alternative scenes at the time. They’ve kept creating midtempo rock songs while also experimenting with electronic elements and funk. Spitz’s members still have their ears to the ground and continue to link Japanese audiophiles with new rock trends from around the world.