The Poem of June ──
Interview with Hoshino Hidehiko

Ongaku to Hito
July 2020

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photographs by Sasahara Kiyoaki_L MANAGEMENT

 

20 Years of Poems¹

To think that the annual June solo interviews with Hoshino Hidehiko would see its 20th year. The phrase “persistence pays off” must have been referring to this interview series. For such a memorable milestone, plans like visiting his favourite Southern island, releasing a photobook, or throwing a fancy party were in the making, but due to the emergency declaration and self-quarantine measures put in place in light of COVID-19, we found ourselves in a mood which leaves us unable to do interviews or anything with any pizzazz.

This segment ended up being handled the same way with a short photoshoot in the garden by Tama River, followed by a remote interview held on Zoom. We mainly talked about the band and their album recording which got put on hold, and about his usual laid-back everyday life, but we also hope that the days when we can relax and talk normally about these regular things will return soon. And next year, we’ll really go to a Southern island for this interview!

 

 

The album is hard to describe in one word (lol). It’s simple but there are songs that have new wave or techno influences too

―― What do you think? Your first Zoom interview.

Hoshino (H): I heard a lot about it. My soccer friends had a remote drinking party recently but I was late and didn’t get to join them (lol).

―― Hahahahahaha.

H: I want to join them next time, though.

―― I’ll be waiting to hear about it from you. Well, it’s the 20th year of this Poem of June interview and I was thinking of setting it on a Southern island but……

H: There you go again (lol).

―― No, no, no, I’m serious. We’re going to be a year late but let’s make it happen next year. We’ll publish Simply Life 2 as well (lol).

H: If only things would settle down, right?

―― Of course.

H: How’s Ongaku to Hito coping?

―― We only come to the office when we absolutely have to, but we’ve basically switched to working remotely. For shoots, they’re now mostly screenshots or selfies too, or like today; a quick photoshoot with a small group of people on short notice.

H: Yeah, even TV programs are either being recorded remotely or broadcasting reruns. Everyone’s struggling.

―― BUCK-TICK’s recording got suspended too, right?

H: Yeah. Recording quickly came to a halt the moment the state of emergency was declared in Tokyo. That was around the start of April, so I’ve been staying home for more than a month since then. I haven’t really left the house except to buy food.

―― What do you do at home?

H: Nothing special…… But in such a situation, don’t you get the urge to rearrange things at home?

―― Totally! I’ve been spending my days decluttering and making orders on Amazon.

H: Likewise (lol).

―― What kind of rearranging are you doing? I can see from the screen, in your background, that you’re in your home studio.

H: I didn’t really make any changes here, but I made other parts of the house, like the veranda more comfortable.

―― What did you do?

H: I DIY-ed, stuck tiles on the deck. And I bought a hammock.

―― A hammock for the veranda!

H: It turned out rather nicely (lol). I was also lacking in exercise, so I did yoga with videos on YouTube.

―― It’s the same in my house (lol).

H: If this goes on for another month, you’d definitely run out of things to do.

―― Since you’re a musician, have you seized this chance to write heaps of songs?

H: Somehow, I can’t get into the mood for that (lol).

―― Please get into it (lol). But when you look at Instagram, doesn’t it seem like Imai’s composing a lot?

H: I heard he is.

―― Do you check his Instagram account?

H: Soーmetimes (lol). A little bird told me that he collaborated with a different Hoshino-san² and I was like who, who?

―― You’re bandmates and yet someone else had to tell you!

H: Hahahahaha. That’s because we don’t contact each other all that frequently.  But recently, since, you know, we’re in these circumstances, I asked them if we should hold a meeting on Zoom.

―― An invitation from Hoshino-san?

H: Yeah. But no one replied (lol).

―― Hahahahahaha.

H: I think I spoke about it with Yuta for a bit. Like, “What do you think?” But after that, we didn’t have any particular reason to hold meetings anyway; we’re just waiting to get back into recording.

―― But although it was suspended, I heard that you guys were actually making good progress.

H: Recording was going unusually smoothly (lol). All the songs were pretty much done and there were just a few songs left to record for the guitar, so it feels like if we had just a few more days [it would’ve been completed]. Though, I don’t know whether Imai-san might still be composing more.

―― Was it because the song compositions were simple that things went so well?

H: That’s right. The songs themselves were simple with lots of guitar parts and riffs too. Generally speaking, these songs aren’t the type that are jam packed with sounds. It’s more like playing guitar phrases rather than layering things on. That’s why the work itself is relatively simple.

―― How does Hoshino-san envision this album to turn out?

H: It’s hard to describe it in one word (lol). It’s simple, with less sounds, but there are songs that have new wave influences. There’s even a sort of techno song included, and stripped down songs like Datenshi. I think we’ve made this album from a different angle than the last.

―― What about Hoshino-san’s songs?

H: I’ve composed 3 songs and I think the recording’s all done already. But I still don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Because we don’t know when we can get back to work anyway, right? Besides, I don’t expect that we’ll be able to gather in the studio in a big group to work  on things like we always had. We’d probably have to cut down the number of people and make sure it doesn’t get too crowded.

I hope that our future will be one where this time next year, we’ll be able to ask, “Shall we visit a Southern island?” and laugh about it

―― Makes you wonder what it’ll be like.

H: It’s hard to say. Because this isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved with us making some sort of effort and doing our best to work it out, right? The only way around it is to keep up with [safety] measures on a personal level. Like, washing your hands for 20 seconds, doing mouth rinses, bringing your own disinfectant alcohol solution when you go shopping.

―― But it’s tough to keep doing this too, isn’t it?

H: Isn’t it way unexpected that a pandemic of this scale would happen in our lifetime? Like, who would’ve thought that the kind of event that would show up in a history textbook would happen now. Now we can’t even do the things we used to take for granted. We can’t even go out and have a meal with our friends. We can’t have a face-to-face conversation. And especially in the case of livehouses…… I never realised how lucky we were to have had all these things we took for granted. Really makes you wonder what live concerts will be like in future too.

―― Because you can’t perform shows the same way anymore if we’re going to go with what they’re now calling the ‘new normal’, right?

H: What are they referring to?

―― Keeping at least a distance of 1 metre between you and another person, needing to be far enough from each other to allow singing or cheering or just holding it online, avoidance of crowding, close contact and closed spaces, etcetera.

H: Makes it difficult, doesn’t it? Thinking about it like that it seems like we can’t even start [putting on shows]……

―― Because this problem basically won’t go away unless we can get immunised or vaccines get distributed, right?

H: Isn’t that why we’re all in agony over this? At the same time, we can’t even go out for drinks, can’t even go exercising. And when that happens, we end up doing nothing but clicking the buy button on Amazon (lol). Since the hammock is working out well, I’m thinking about getting a high-pressure cleaner.

―― What a family man³!

H: Hahahahahahahaha. I’m just thinking that it’ll probably be necessary for us to live comfortably. Like, I want to do the things I normally won’t be able to do.

―― Speaking of which, how’s your health? You got hospitalised last year and lost quite a lot of weight but after that……

H: I started wondering about a bunch of things about myself so after our tour concluded the last year-end, I thought I should probably get another check-up at the start of this year so I went to the hospital, and everything’s good so.

―― That’s good then. We’ve both come to an age when we need to take care of our health.

H: Because once you pass the age of 50, it’s just a battle against yourself, isn’t it?

―― A battle against yourself!

H: Everyone feels the same, right? It’s something you come to understand once you’re over 50 (lol).

―― If, next year, I say, “Let’s go to a Southern island for our interview in June,” where would you like to go?

H: Shonan⁴ is good enough (lol).

―― What.

H: I mean, I hope that our future will be one where this time next year, we’ll be able to mention that and laugh about it.

―― But the only thing we can do is to believe that’s how things will turn out and keep going. Although, I think I might continue working from home a little longer though.

H: We’ll have to stay home a bit more. Ah, come to think of it. I had a photoshoot at Tama River for a bit just now, right?

―― Yes.

H: I just remembered; we also did it at Tama River 20 years ago, right?

―― Ah! Now I remember (lol).

H: Though, at the time, I was also wondering, “Why an interview with me now, at this timing?” (Lol)

―― And you’ve been wondering for 20 years (lol).

H: I didn’t think it would go on for so long.

―― I think the most significant thing to me back then was probably that you poured your heart out to me and said that you were happy to be in this band. Because those weren’t the kind of words you’d hear from band members⁵ in those days.

H: I suppose that’s true.

―― I hope that the band will continue being active for the next 5, 10, 15 years and that this Poem of June will keep going, and that our magazine will endure.

H: Let’s keep our fingers crossed (lol).

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ Fuubutsushi (風物詩) is defined as “something which is reminiscent of a particular season” or “a poem about natural scenery or a particular season”.

² With Hoshino Gen. Imai actually posted thrice.
1st: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_Ftx6-JMtK/
2nd: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_IcNrApePI/
3rd: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_K3wX_J-Aw/

³ In Japanese, the phrase is straight up マイホームパパ (my home papa).

⁴ Shonan (湘南) is located southwest Kanagawa prefecture which is approx 1 hour away from central Tokyo. Shonan area is basically a seaside region of Sagami Bay from Enoshima to Oiso.

⁵ Not sure if he was talking specifically about BUCK-TICK or bands in general.

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Patowinds on Tumblr

The Poem of June ──
Interview with Hoshino Hidehiko

Ongaku to Hito
July 2001

Text = Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Photography = Okada Takayuki
Styling = Yagi Tomoharu

 

So, Hide-san
How’s BUCK-TICK recently?

Hoshino Hidehiko is BUCK-TICK’s guitarist. If you’re a fan, you’d definitely know that this friendly and easy-going personality of his is his honest self, but this person really hasn’t changed one bit. In a good way. There are times when he seems inconspicuous because of the exceedingly spontaneous guitarist named Imai Hisashi, but it is his guitar and melodies that give the band its vibrant allure. While Sakurai and Imai are busy with SCHWEIN, it appears that preparations for BUCK-TICK’s activities were also ongoing and there’s even a new Hoshino song included in the songs that are currently being recorded. There’s much to look forward to in the near future with BUCK-TICK. So how about it, Hide-sa~n?

 

 

—— Readers have been asking, ‘What’s going on in the realm of BUCK-TICK’s activities?’ (lol). So here we are, having this interview.

Hide (H): Yeah, well. But recent days have been just like what you’re seeing in the photos. Personally, I’ve been spending my time quite leisurely everyday. I’d routinely wake up around midday, watch daytime dramas (lol).

—— Fuhaha, daytime dramas.

H: The ones that started recently aren’t that great though, are they…… Well, but I am writing songs (lol). And recording just happens to start today too. We’re working on it bit by bit in the free time that we have.

—— On Hoshino-san’s song?

H: That’s right. Today we’re going to start recording something that I wrote myself. And there’s also Imai-kun’s song. We’ve just begun so I can’t really go into detail yet.

—— You’re being unusually assertive (lol).

H: Not at all (lol). But, well, since they’re quite busy with SCHWEIN, you know? So I have to show that I’m working hard here too (lol).

—— So about SCHWEIN, what do you think?

H: In short, they’ve taken an industrial-like approach [to music]…… I guess you could say that much was as expected since [the music] felt like the kind of sound that those two, Raymond and Sascha would make.

—— Is Hoshino-san personally on the fence……?

H: It’s not like that. I’m interested in it, though. Recently, when it comes to things surrounding guitar sounds…… I’m not talking about an intensive use of programming. More like, adding rough guitar noises [into the music] and…… that sort of direction. That’s what I’m liking recently. This year, I don’t expect that we’d be holding many BUCK-TICK concerts anyway, so I don’t think I’d out in public much. And that’s why I figured it’d be important.

—— Do you think that these extra-curricular activities would bring something significant to BUCK-TICK?

H: I wonder…… Well, there might just be something? I’m sure there’s something that will be brought back [to BUCK-TICK]. There won’t be anything coming from me though (lol), to the band.

—— An easy-going statement, as usual (lol).

H: As I’ve often been told…… (lol). But if there were to be changes, it’s better if it happened anyway. Besides, I’m pretty sure we’d fall into some sort of convention when we’re making music in the same environment with the same people. That aspect…… is a plus to me.

—— The conventions within the band itself?

H: ………… I think they definitely exist, right? Conventions. Whether they’re good or bad. And that’s why I want that to change, to some sort of transference…… In the end, it’s bad if we don’t make progress, right? That’s something I felt keenly 2 years ago.

—— Like, ah, turns out I feel like that (lol).

H: Yes…… My heart’s gone dull (lol). It felt to me like we weren’t getting anywhere 2 years ago, so I’ve been feeling uninspired since then. Most of the time I just feel like, “I want to perform live,” and things like that. I need to be in front of people (lol)…… Because then I have to appear in public. Otherwise I’d look a mess (lol). I don’t really think about myself, you see.

—— Hahahaha. Since it’s just everyday life (lol).

H: Yeah (lol)…… Well, nothing can be done even if I jump the gun myself anyway (lol).

—— It feels like you’re a band of 5 who think as 5 different people (lol).

H: Yeah. I think we’re quite independent of each other anyway (lol).

—— But hasn’t the band been progressing in good form since the release of ONE LIFE,ONE DEATH?

H: Yeah…… I think it’s good. Well, in terms of level of satisfaction though, it comes with each composition. Like the reactions I get, or when someone tells me its good…… Those are pluses to me. At least, that’s what I feel.

—— Are you concerned about the kind of reactions you’d get?

H: Mm……………… I think I am…… Well, I act as if I don’t mind but I do (lol).

—— So you’re just acting (lol).

H: No, I do care, usually even. Although, I’m not bothered. Not really (lol).

—— Wahahahahahaha!

H: I care on the inside (lol).

—— Whether it’s the lyrics or the person, you haven’t changed one bit (lol).

H: Yeah. Because I don’t think the bottom line has changed at all. It’s the same for me and even Acchan’s still the same since the first time we met. You’d get that sense too when you look at the band. Though, I guess we’re changing bit by tiny bit (lol). In the end……I think the parts that don’t change, won’t change no matter how many years we do this. I guess most fundamental aspects [of ourselves] can never be changed by people, or anyone for that matter. And we just stay like this; it’s as if we don’t interfere with one another.

—— Even though you say that, the 5 of you are often together, aren’t you?

H: I actually think we can stay together precisely because we don’t butt into each other’s affairs. We do go too far, though (lol). How do I say this…… Well, I guess it’s like, we don’t touch the things that we shouldn’t…… I don’t really give it that much thought, though (lol).

I’m happy being here. And I’m sure that it’ll stay like this going forward. All the way

—— Do you think you think you’ve achieved the ideal you have in mind?

H: Right. It’s also been 15 years since the band was formed, hasn’t it? About what we’d be like now, back then…… we didn’t think about it at all. For example, we played our first gig at Shinjuku’s JAM or something, but we only thought as far as, “Man, I hope we get to play at LOFT next,” (lol) you know? We didn’t think about where we’d be now and somehow…… it doesn’t feel like we’ve grown up, barely. Hey, am I an adult (lol).

—— Hahaha, please don’t pose that question to me.

H: Mm…… I don’t quite feel it, you know. It feels like I’ve gone through a time warp (lol).

—— From 15 years ago? (Lol)

H: Or rather…… The idea of what makes an adult back then…… is completely different, isn’t it? Although, its true that if you look at an old photo, say, from 5 years ago and compare, we’d look completely different and you’d probably even think things like, “Ah, I’ve gotten more wrinkles,” (lol) but it’s not as if we live our lives checking these things all the time, and besides, I’ve still got the same band mates around me anyway. And on top of that, we do the same things, have the same relationships, play the same roles when we drink, laugh about the same things; everything’s the same (lol). There’s something weird about this, isn’t there?

—— Like an island that’s cut off from the outside world (lol).

H: The Galápagos Islands (lol).

—— Have you ever thought something like, “I didn’t expect this would go on so long.”?

H: I did think that it would be nice if we could keep on going…… It happens that just spoke about this with Yuta just now. Like, “We’ve already known each other for 20 years, huh.” Something that was just said out of nowhere. It was shocking and at the same time it really just sank in (lol). I thought, “20 years, right. That’s amazing……”, but there we had Anii still drumming like he always had since the beginning, and Yuta was being Yuta as usual (lol). It got me wondering, “Where are these 20 years?”

—— Right?

H: It’s so weird~.

—— Seems like it happened to someone else instead (lol).

H: No, no, no. I think I would feel that I’ll probably be playing in a band for a long time to come because this is such a cosy place for me to be. Besides, depending on the person, it’s probably not good to spoil them, I think…… all while being spoiled, hahaha.

—— But I find myself wondering what is it that ties you together in such circumstances? Considering that you don’t butt into each other’s affairs.

H: Hm. What indeed…… There’s no particular “something” though…… And, well, when it comes to the music, it’s obviously because I like the sounds that everyone makes. Maybe that’s what.

—— Don’t you want to get a feel of those sounds from somewhere else?

H: I somehow don’t really…… I don’t want to do it unless its BUCK-TICK, you know? Once, I was invited to take part in the recording of ISSAY-san’s solo work but…… I just couldn’t wait to go home (wry smile).

—— Fuhahahahaha.

H: But it’s not as if I don’t like recording work itself. My surroundings, like the presence of staff members who I don’t know at all, not seeing the faces who have always been there…… Being there, I felt very uncomfortable (lol).

—— Is it the vibe? (Lol)

H: Mm… I’m not so good at it………… Like, I’m not good at dealing with people I’m meeting for the first time (lol)…… I don’t think I was like that when I was a child, though.

—— So, if you were with BUCK-TICK, you could chat casually, and you’d be at ease.

H: That’s one, for sure. I’m happy, and besides, I’m enjoying myself (lol).

—— You’re definitely the person least likely to be described as distressed or stoic (lol).

H: I don’t really want to work too hard (lol).

—— Whether it’s because of that or not, there’s a reason why Hoshino-san’s melodies and sounds feel so gentle.

H: You know, people say that, but I don’t really know why either (lol). But there was a period of time when the, melodies and whatnot…… people would say that they’re very much my style, and I really hated it when they put it like that, and I was like, “I’m gonna show you a different side instead!” So there was this period when I forced myself to go in a direction that was nothing like my style.

—— Deliberately?

H: Yeah. But then suddenly, it sort of hit me like, “Ah, the best is to go my typical way.” So I made that my brand……or something like that (lol).

—— Is your position in BUCK-TICK a pretty comfortable one?

H: I get very…… Rather, I have a lot of freedom [to be myself] (lol). That’s what I like about it. But if the only songwriter was Imai-kun then maybe…… I might start to feel that even being in a band isn’t much fun because I guess the things I’m required to do would feel prearranged (lol).

—— Ah, so you want to have the space to assert yourself a little (lol).

H: No, not that. The fact that most of my songs are BUCK-TICK’s…… I doubt that’s the case (lol).

—— Ahaha. But it’s true that the band isn’t stuck going in one direction because of Hoshino-san’s presence, right?

H: Yeah. Because I’m making music as it comes to me; I just go with the flow. Without forcing things. Without thinking about unnecessary things. That allows me to make music spontaneously…… Without considerations like what’s trending now, none of that…… Besides, even without all those, [the music] still holds up anyway, and I actually feel that in BUCK-TICK, we can’t [make music] if we’re sensitive to those kinds of things. I definitely don’t mean that we turn our backs on it though.

—— Right.

H: I just feel that we don’t have to think too much about it. As long as we can evolve slowly while swimming in the same tank…… In the end, we’re all in this together. I hope that our bottom line will always stay the same, and…… even if we have our own personal concerns, this is where we can forget about it all, right (lol). That’s why, at this point in time, I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m happy being here. And I’m sure that it’ll stay like this going forward. All the way.

 

 

 

 

Notes:

※ This interview was published online by Ongaku to Hito on 16 June 2020 as part of a series of interviews they began posting during the lockdown in Japan during that year. This particular interview was chosen partly to celebrate the 20th iteration of Hide’s series of annual interviews which was going to be published in the July 2020 issue of the magazine.

In the online post, there was an additional introductory paragraph written for this piece, also written by Kanemitsu Hirofumi:

June 16th is the birthday of BUCK-TICK’s guitarist, Hoshino Hidehiko. Here at Ongaku to Hito, we conduct an exclusive interview with him every June, and this year will mark the 20th iteration! In this latest July (2020) issue of Ongaku to Hito, Hide-san talks about his laid-back everyday life. But this character of his that has remained unchanged throughout all this time is one of his biggest charms. So here is a republication of the interview from 20 years ago. The Poem of June [Roku Gatsu no Fuubutsushi¹] began with an honest sharing of his feelings towards the band. Let’s celebrate his 54th birthday with a comparison of the new interview and the interview from back then which were both shot at Tama River!

¹ This particular interview series with Hide is an annual special called “6月の風物詩”. Fuubutsushi (風物詩) is defined as “something which is reminiscent of a particular season” or “a poem about natural scenery or a particular season”.

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Ongaku to Hito

DER ZIBET

Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
October 1987

 

 

DER ZIBET’s concerts blow you away. They understand what it means to entertain the audience. Through repeated experimentation and destruction, they crept ever closer to their true form. —— But first impressions are important. They’ve been too straightforward with expressing their superabundance of energy that they’re being heavily misunderstood. Will this 3rd album that they’re working on be the answer? We’ll find out in this interview with Issei¹ and Hikaru¹.

 

 

DER ZIBET, also known as Derujibe (デルジべ). I think they’re a band dogged by the problem of having an awfully vague image. The kind that has you thinking you know them but at the same time, you don’t. Sandwiched between misconceptions and being misunderstood, they look out of place for some reason. Perhaps they have truly arrived in a situation where they have to be serious about their image and the preconceived notions that are at the forefront of what creates a fair representation of themselves.

“I’m confident that if they listen to our music, if they watch our concerts, people will understand who we are, but I’m not sure how to make them listen to us. Like those people who don’t know anything about us at all, those whose idea of us is still that same image of decadence, all of them.”

“Besides, it’s not as if we’re a closed-in band, you know?”

Hikaru and Issei are a bit irritated.

But that is, I dare say, a positive frustration.  Because they’re so strongly confident of who they are as a band, they exceedingly detest the idea of being classified by their image. On one hand, it’s been said that their music had changed a lot between the 1st and the 2nd album, but at the same time, there are few who understand the current DER ZIBET.

Keeping that in mind, they are now as good as a new band who just made their debut. That much makes sense when we consider that in the three years since the formation of this band, the number of concerts they have played is the most concentrated in the past year.

The progression of this band that seems to be riding the wave of their “Alright, here we go” momentum is undoubtedly fast. Now that they have finally started their engines, where could they possibly be headed?

That being said.

I’ve never heard their 1st album and I’m a typical human being who judges based on first impressions. When you mention DZ, Issay² immediately comes to mind, and when you mention Issay², I’d immediately associate him with being the pantomiming oniisan…… I am ignorant to the point of having such an impressively simple thought process, if I do say so myself. That’s why I was thrown off when I saw the Baby, I Want You music video. It was a form of culture shock. It was a lively song of the sort that gets you dancing up a sweat. But it was such a big change that I definitely wondered, “What happened?   Who are these people?” Sometimes, equating a band’s evolution with growth confuses people. This is especially so for a band like theirs where there is an extreme “suddenness” in their transition “from stillness into motion”.

“I don’t have a problem with it, but I don’t get it.”

Without quite knowing what to think of it all, I hesitantly went ahead with the interview.

 

―― What do you think about how you used to be?

Hikaru (H): I think we didn’t have as much power as we do now, but it’s basically no different than what we’re doing now.

Issei (I): Yeah. I don’t think the essence of it has changed, but the musical style and the appearances of what we put out have certainly changed.

―― You’ve probably been asked before, but how did this happen?

H: Things just naturally turned out like this while we were going around on tour, though.

I: I guess you could say, it was since about the time of the Revenge of Electric Moon tour that we turned our focus to dance, or rather, made [our music] easier to grasp.

H: Because we enjoyed it when we actually got down to doing it, you know?

I: Something about it just makes your body move on its own, right? I guess it’s that sensation that makes a seated audience get up and start dancing.

―― So, recently, dance beat bands have been garnering a lot of attention…… Is that why you’re…?

I: But we’re not making disco music. You see, we’re making dance music that falls in the genre of rock. Besides, I think even punk music can become dance music, so I think we can make dance music that comes from such a stance. But there aren’t any such bands in Japan, so I guess that’s where it’s easy for people to get misconceptions of us. If we’re talking about dance bands in Japan, I suppose it’d just be TM³, right?

H: They’re not a rock band, though. That’s why I feel that it’s hard to label us as a dance band.

―― But I listened to your 2nd album and as far as that is concerned, I thought it wouldn’t have been odd to call you a dance band, or rather, in a way, that’s how it turned out……

I: Yeah, I suppose it might seem complete if you’re looking at it from a dance perspective, but we wanted to become more powerful. More rock-sounding, or rather, more wild, I suppose. Also, there are some parts in our second album that seem sophisticated, so instead of that, we wanted to make music that’s more stripped-down, the kind that’s fierce and comes right at you.

H: Besides, there’s no point in making rock music sophisticated.

I: Exactly. You might as well do something else.

―― There’s also the way you all look. Like, Issei’s silhouette looks very thin compared to the other 3 members. And no matter how much you try, that just doesn’t tie in with rock music terms like ‘wild’, does it? So even if I do know what ‘wild & danceable’ is in my head, you won’t come across as a clear definition of it.

H: And that’s what we call a weapon. I believe there are a lot of rock bands that are made up of 4 big-boned members who 4 charge right into you. We may be slight, but you could say that we’re leaning towards being on the fine-edged side of things. In that sense, we’re not just a band that plays 8-beat music, but also 16-beat.
Besides, performing live is what we’re most confident in right now, so I think the impression that we give now is might be a far more brazen one that before. What’s rock-like about us is the parts of our performance that aren’t decided; the improvisation that we do so in any case, I’d like people to come and watch us play.

―― Another thing about DER ZIBET that hampers is the lyrics that Issei writes. It’s pretty much abstract poetry, isn’t it?

I: Basically, I think it’s straightforward, but I realise that what feels like everyday life to me is far removed from what everyday life generally is. Like when there’s a lot of imaginary elements, I’ve been told that it’s cold. That’s why I figured that I need to come up with things that are more relatable to everyday life. I think it might be a good idea for me to a little further forward too. With lyrics where you can see that there’s a second party, where you can tell there’s a “you” involved. And writing write lyrics that are obviously being sung to a particular someone. I think that’s how we’re going to do our 3rd album.

―― Why?

I: I suppose that’s what you’d call broadening our horizons, right? Because no matter how simple we make our rock and roll music, if no one understands the lyrics, then it gets us nowhere, right? So that’s why we have, or rather, want to diversify.

H: That’s why I think our 3rd album will bring across an even clearer message that “This is DER ZIBET.”

―― Finally, please share what’s the outlook for your 3rd album.

H: We plan to release it next year; either in January or February, and the concept for it is pop. What we intend to do is to make rock music that encompasses what we think is pop and those danceable elements as well. In short, we want to make use of our band members’ experimental spirit and expand our horizons so we don’t want to make things too rigid. And this time, it’ll be almost as if we’re working on 2 projects because we’ve asked Okano-san⁴ from Pink⁵ and Kisaki-san⁶ to produce for us.

I: We’re really taking on this challenge, you know. For people like Okano-san and Kisaki-san, if we don’t get involved, [the music] will definitely end up getting steeped in their signature styles, right? So we’re going to get into this like we would a fight. We have to drink without getting drunk. The outcome of this fight will probably be in our 3rd album.

H: In that sense, it feels like we’re bringing in new blood. Really, I can’t understand Kisaski-san. I do get the musicians he brought up (Sawada Kenji, Kikkawa, etc.) though. I’m looking forward to this.

I: It’s more distinct with bands, isn’t it? Because I think [their sounds] aren’t really audible among the music that the 4 band members are already making. Although I suppose they’d add depth to our sound by adding a horn section or keyboardist, right?

H: I get a dilemma, you know. When I have to express sounds using words. But you see, it’s because we don’t pander to everything. We make the music we want to make and  we want them to understand that we want to be accepted for that.

I: Depending on the band, I suppose there are those whose style is to stick to one thing and go all the way with it, but that’s not the kind of band we are. I think we’re a band who changes as we go along, and I think we’re capable of making all kinds of music too.

H: That said, it’s not like we’re throwing away our past. It’ll always be kept somewhere in the back of our minds so we can bring it back out whenever we want. And right now, I guess you could say that we have confidence in ourselves when it comes to rock music for a number of reasons.

I: I guess we’ve been tumbling around, and we’ve finally learnt how to roll so that’s why we’re so confident in that.

H: When we were doing negatively, we didn’t know what to do if accidents were to happen, but now, we’ll be okay no matter what happens. We’d think that we can probably pull it off. That is something that each one of us can confirm, and it really feels like we’ve got our groundwork laid. Because of that, we’re also attracting attention in the streets now…… This is still the starting line. And we’re always in search of words and themes.

 

Contrary to their appearance and their image, there was a blunt and rugged rock band under the surface. What on earth had I been baffled and confused by…… In one sitting, I felt like an idiot. “I’m happiest when our fans happily come back and say that they enjoyed it even if they don’t really understand it,” said Issei. “It’s the same as making a woman climax. Captivate [them] in that moment (lol),” said Hikaru.

Those blatantly rocker statements blow away all the silly prejudices. What the hell, they’re a rock band, that’s all — This is no longer a question of “know, or don’t know”. DER ZIBET is DER ZIBET, and that is self-explanatory enough.

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ The interviewer wrote their names in Katakana as イッセイ (issei) and ヒカル (hikaru). I’ll be spelling their names as written.

² Yet here the interviewer chose to use “Issay”. I suppose this is a deliberate distinguisher between the person and the stage persona.

³ Referring to TM Network, a Japanese rock/new wave/pop band that formed in 1983 and made their major debut in 1984.

⁴ Okano Hajime was a bassist in the band Pink. He is also a keyboardist, composer, arranger & producer working with Japanese rock bands like 44 Magnum, D, Asagi, Dead End, L’Arc~en~Ciel and many more. View his credits here.

⁵ Pink was a late 1980s new wave band from Japan. They formed in 1983 as a collaboration between Vibratones member Fukuoka Yutaka and Hero member Kamiyama Hoppy. Each member of the band was an established musician in their own right and they continued to work on solo projects while involved with Pink until they finally disbanded in 1989, ending the production of new material.

⁶ Kisaki Kenji (木崎賢治) is a Japanese record producer.

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: morgianasama on LJ

The ornaments are incendiary*.
── Sakurai Atsushi Mesmerises!

GQ JAPAN
September 2021

Photos 奥脇孝典 Takanori Okuwaki@UM
Styling 清水ケンイチ Kenichi Shimizu
Hair&Make-up 山路千尋 Chihiro Yamaji@Fats Berry

 

Having turned 55 this year, Sakurai Atsushi who made his major debut in 1987 as the vocalist of BUCK-TICK is a forerunner of the rock scene even now. This rock legend who “have always been fascinated by the New Romantic movement” charms us bewitchingly, clad in his latest look.

 

 

 

Coat ¥649,000 | Sweater ¥209,000 | Pants ¥132,000 (All from TOM FORD), Sunglasses ¥55,000
〈TOM FORD EYEWEAR /All the above are from Tom Ford Japan〉
Necklace ¥242,000 | Bangle  ¥1,320,000 | Ring ¥286,000 〈All from TIFFANY & CO.〉

“The architectural tailoring is reminiscent of British brands, and the way it fits the body was really cool. I also liked the combination of the metal buttons and gold jewellery.”

Music rejuvenates me

A glossy shirt and slim-cut jeans, along with a pair of heeled boots. Sakurai-san showed up at the studio in an all-black ensemble. The moment he came in, he introduced himself with, “I’m Sakurai from BUCK-TICK.” There were, however, no mannerisms suggestive of the impetuous performances he puts on stage. He was mild-mannered and his tone, courteous. “It’s been a while since I last did a fashion photoshoot, but I had fun,” he said.

“My fashion is really, simply, black. I feel at ease when I wear black, and somehow I look sharper as well, so part of it is that it’s easy for me, and like putting on armour, when I wear black and slip on my boots, I’d naturally get into the zone.”

The hallmarks of BUCK-TICK when they debuted were heavy makeup and flamboyant outfits. But where did that come from?

“We’ve been influenced by 80s punk and New Romantic music, artists like David Bowie and Sex Pistols, Culture Club and all that since we started out as an amateur band, so we learned and imitated them with the makeup and the music. Putting on makeup gets me into the zone before we go on stage and perform in front of everyone. That stretch of time gives me such a sense of fulfillment. Back then, we’d be told that men aren’t supposed to wear makeup, but now, we’re at a time when there’s no need to decide that “men have to be this way”, everyone is free [to be as they please]. I think this trend of enjoying your own life is something good.”

Last year marked the 35th anniversary of the band’s formation. Still rocking at 55 years of age, the one thing that keeps Sakurai-san’s unchanging style alive is music.

“I drink and there are times when I neglect my health, but music is what rejuvenates me. Music is the only secret behind my energy cycle (lol). Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve come to think of the day-to-day life that I’ve led up until now as a miracle, so all I hope is to perform as many concerts as I can, and to keep making music for as long as it is possible.”

 

Jacket ¥583,000 | Pullover  ¥117,700 | Pants ¥506,000 | Three-strand necklace (Top) ¥162,800 | Necklace (Middle) ¥138,600 | Necklace (Bottom) ¥113,300 | Belt ¥244,200 | Bracelet ¥73,700 | Ring (Right hand) ¥24,200 each (est. price) | Ring (Left hand) ¥40,700 〈All from DOLCE & GABBANA〉

“The glitter from the embellishments and accessories designed into the set-up brought about a positive feeling and made it an enjoyable look to shoot.”

 

Coat ¥512,600 | Shirt ¥57,200 | Pants ¥171,600 | Stole ¥36,300 〈All from YOHJI YAMAMOTO〉

“I actually became a fan of Yohji in my 30s and there was a period of time when I bought the pieces for my own collection. It’s been a while since I’ve worn [clothes from Yohji Yamamoto] but it’s impressive to see that there is this consistent attitude in the craftsmanship that hasn’t changed since that time. I occasionally visit the Aoyama store, so it’d be cool if I get to bump into Yohji-san one day.”

 

Jacket ¥517,000 | Shirt ¥330,000 〈Both from GIORGIO ARMANI〉
Necklace with brooch ¥4,730,000 〈MIKIMOTO〉

“Matching Armani’s signature velvet texture with pearls creates an air of nobility, doesn’t it? This is the first time I’ve worn pearls but it’s got an elegance and an aura of tranquility, I think they can be used on a variety of occasions.”

 

 

PROFILE
Sakurai Atsushi

Born 1966 in Fukuoka City, Gunma Prefecture. Made his major debut as a member of BUCK-TICK in 1987. The band has remained active ever since with no change in member line-up. Legends in Japan’s rock scene, they celebrated their 35th year together in 2020 and continue to be an influence of many artists’ to this day. Their latest single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN is set to be released on September 22 while their live Blu-ray & DVD, TOUR 2020 ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN/ABRACADABRA LIVE ON THE NET is now available. Their national tour, TOUR2021 Go-Go B-T TRAIN will kick off on October 3.

 

 

 

Notes:

* This was a challenge. The title was 装飾がバクチクする (soushoku ga bakuchiku suru). You’d probably recognise バクチクする as the phrase that was often used as a naming pun for BUCK-TICK. It was translated as “explosive”, “crackling”, “fire cracker” (this doesn’t work as a verb) but in this case I chose “incendiary” because the whole piece wasn’t exactly as… bombastic as the other words might imply. The clothing prices though…

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: GQ JAPAN

BUCK-TICK — Uta/Kimi e Review

Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
April 1995

Text by Onojima Dai

 

BUCK-TICK will be releasing their new single Uta/Kimi e on March 24. What is this sound that broke their long silence like?

BUCK-TICK announced their new single, Uta/Kimi e. How many years has it been since we had a new record from them? Apart from Yuta’s serialised column in this publication, we’re barely heard any news of BUCK-TICK’s movements during their break. It’s also been a really long while since I’ve met or even spoken to the band members too, so I could listen [to this single] with a fresh mind.

Uta was composed by Imai Hisashi, and Kimi e, by Hoshino Hidehiko. The lyrics of both songs were written by Sakurai Atsushi.

Whichever song you listen to, the first thing you’d notice is the introduction of distortion-filled heavy metal-like rock guitars. And they weren’t effectively used in specific parts of the songs. Instead, they shaped the character of the songs by reverberating throughout pretty much the whole track. Based on the general impressions I’ve got, I’m sure that even though Imai and Hoshino’s guitars can be noisy and make strange sounds you wouldn’t hear anywhere else, I don’t think they have ever pushed such an orthodox and undoubtedly rock-styled distortion sound to the forefront before.

As a result, the subtle delicateness and exquisite shades that had always been present in BUCK-TICK’s music until now has disappeared and turned into a strong, heavy rock tune that slams into you.

On the other hand, the world of Sakurai Atsushi’s lyrics and his vocals largely maintains the image that he’s created so far. Of falling endlessly while desperately reaching your hands out in search of light in a world where hope and despair are in conflict. This in itself is an approach towards a perfected universe.

But, a problem lies in the sound balance.

I’ve listened to it close to 10 times since I received the tape, but somehow, I just couldn’t shake this feeling that something felt off. Before, I’d always feel like I’d made a new discovery or like my heart had suddenly been pierced with a delicate touch whenever I listened to a new BUCK-TICK song, but this time, there was none of that.

The singing and the playing are disparate. Or, well, maybe making them disparate is just one honest way of expressing it, but rather than going in the direction of each part complementing and playing up the other, I ended up getting the impression that these two parts were killing off each other’s positive aspects.

And the most uncomfortable part of it all was the beat. I can’t feel any groove at all. The rhythm is precise but there’s no nuance or timing that is strong enough to lead the whole song along so no matter how eager they are to try to distort the guitars, it doesn’t have the slightest bit of rock ‘n’ roll intensity. Why on earth did Anii drum such a flat rhythm when he’s supposed to be a fan of the role model of rock ‘n’ roll dynamism and nuance John Bonham (Led Zeppelin).

But I thought of something when I heard this longitudinal rhythm. Maybe the composer had in mind industrial sounds representative of Ministry or Nine Inch Nails. Rather then subtle nuances and sensibilities, the industrial machine beats that seem to barge through thick and heavy are like a sort of hardcore punk with a spasmic beat, kind of like a pulse without the groove and undulations. That, in its own way, is powerful and cool but I don’t think that this beat that BUCK-TICK brought this time is anything that meticulous. Somehow, everything is half-baked. In short, I suppose it doesn’t match their nature.

But, well, I guess it’s fine too. More than anything, the thing that disappointed me the most when I listened to this single was that I could barely sense any BUCK-TICK-ness or anything that is specifically unique to BUCK-TICK and only BUCK-TICK. The one most conventionally BUCK-TICK-like thing in this whole single was probably, Sakurai’s singing. As a vocalist, he is by no means perfect one. While delicate, Sakurai’s voice, which is neither robust nor that of a heavy rock vocalist’s, keeps getting muscled out by the loud and forceful background music. His subtle nuances and thoughtful wordings gets blasted away, leaving only a brutal impression like that of a rough, grainy photograph.

And their sound. They probably have a few creative ideas of their own, but unfortunately, barely any of their original ideas or that ingenuity can be detected in the BUCK-TICK sound in this single. Whichever song you look at, it just seems to me that they are taking overused formulae from Western rock music of 4 to 5 years ago that have been reused for years, only to recycle it again now.

I rated Shapeless, an album of BUCK-TICK’s songs remixed by Western techno artists highly. Of course, the remixing is the work of the remixers and have nothing to do with BUCK-TICK themselves. But even though they had the opportunity to see what different possibilities their music has with the help of these top Western artists, they instead chose to go against the times and step backwards, going industrial. This is just too much of a waste. I’m not saying that BUCK-TICK should make techno music. I don’t think it’s too much to ask of them to apply the spirit and new direction shown in techno, the music of this era. At the very least, isn’t this a more correct solution for them as compared to forcing themselves down the heavy rocker route if they considered their own nature as musicians? Well, having said all that, “No, I only did it ‘cause I wanted to,” is what I can already see Imai saying though……

RR97 Coverage Report:
Sakurai Atsushi/BUCK-TICK

ROCK AND READ Blog
07 September 2021

The next issue of “ROCK AND READ 097” (sale on 24 September) is a special issue of BUCK-TICK who are releasing their new single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN on 22 September.

BUCK-TICK will finally be dropping new music one year after their last album ABRACADABRA was released in the middle of the pandemic.

In addition to an interview with Sakurai Atsushi, who wrote the lyrics for all the songs on the single including the new versions, Uta Ver. 2021 (唄 Ver.2021) and JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver. 2021, in this issue, there will also be an interview with Imai Hisashi who composed the title track Go-Go B-T TRAIN, and Hoshino Hidehiko who composed the new B-side, Koi (恋).

There will also be an article discussing the original JUST ONE MORE KISS and Uta, the era they were created in and their impact, plus a report on the conceptual live stream concert Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara~SHOW AFTER DARK~ (魅世物小屋が暮れてから~SHOW AFTER DARK~) which was broadcast back on July 17.

So, the first part of this 52-page Go-Go B-T Special is a long interview with Sakurai Atsushi, who graces the cover of this issue.

He goes into detail about all the songs recorded on Go-Go B-T TRAIN and talks about what happened in the year following the release of ABRACADABRA. Sakurai’s words in this interview on what “flowers” mean to him is quite a touching moment too, so do look forward to that.

Charging ahead fueled by love, the BT Train driven by BUCK-TICK who chants the “Spell of Love” is on its way!

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: ROCK AND READ BLOG

 

 

Somewhere Nowhere 1995 Live Report

Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
July 1995

Photography by Inoue Seiichi
Text by Oshibe Keiko

 

At long last, “Six/Niɴe” begins!!
Breaking report!! 2 Days’ Concert at Budokan

The curtains have finally been raised on BUCK-TICK’s tour, Somewhere Nowhere 1995 with their 2 days of opening concerts at Budokan on May 16th and 17th. Their sound becomes ever more experimental with each new release. But even as their staging becomes less appealing to the general masses, the band’s collective power remains unparalleled. Now, we’ll tell you all about what the concert was like, ahead of everyone else in this ultra breaking report that made our printing company cry.

 

 

Their continual search for sonic innovation while maintaining a pop presence is even more poignant

BUCK-TICK’s long-awaited album, Six/Niɴe was released on May 15th. They kicked off their tour, “Somewhere Nowhere 1995” with 2 days of opening concerts at Budokan on May 16th and 17th.

This tour will go on for a period of approximately 2 months, ending with their final 2 days at Osaka Koseinenkin Hall¹ on August 2nd. As this magazine will go on sale when the tour is still in its first leg, I will do my best to refrain from spoiling the setlist in this report.

Two days before the start of the tour, the band played at Shinjuku LIQUIDROOM².

Compared to an auditorium, the ambience of a live house makes it easier to bring out a sense of euphoria and a particular communal sense of unity. And I frankly think that more often than not, the closer you are [to the performers], the more tangibly thoughts and feelings can be conveyed.

However, after watching these two shows, I realised that in the case of BUCK-TICK, it was easier for them to get their message across when there’s a certain amount of distance between them and the audience.

Because their show isn’t the type where the energy gets amplified by getting the audience involved. Instead, I feel that it draws you in with a deliberately constructed overall mood on top of an increasingly unique ambience in terms of sound. Coming too close will contrarily make it difficult for them to convey this ambience, as if in a bid to create some kind of distance.

For example, in a live house, Sakurai’s lines in Somewhere Nowhere or even his screams sound like a script from an avant-garde play with a rawness that left me at a loss as to how to react, but in Budokan, it came across with a poignant effect instead.

If musicians innovated without losing their inquisitive spirit with each new work they put out, just like BUCK-TICK, then oftentimes, the range of audiences they can reach narrows. That is to say in other words, the factors of the greatest common denominator, or their mass appeal, diminishes.

But BUCK-TICK’s audience have always been flexible in accepting whatever they release. I think that is in part a result of giving typically-passive audiences a sense of autonomy through the process of them evolving their sound all while compellingly drawing in listeners. Because of that, even songs like Uta can be classified as pop as long as it is being performed by BUCK-TICK.

Personally, it’s BUCK-TICK’s band power of randomly shifting values that intrigues me.

This new album appears to be an attempt to rebuild using new elements after demolishing a certain level of mastery they had attained in their last. It is exceptionally proper of them as artists to disregard the pursuit of any sort of “likeness” or anything like that amidst the pre-established harmony. This stance along with their consistent ability to draw in an audience makes for a simply gratifying tale.

But how does the audience view this present album? While there is an increased sense of “better conveyed from a distance” in their pursuit of innovation, I also got the feeling that there was diminished connectedness with the audience. Watching the arena from the second floor, I could see that although the audience understood the band’s stance, they yearned for moments when they could somehow connect with the men on stage somewhere.

Like the tune hummed after the Uta’s break, or Sakurai’s short emcee. In those moments when it felt like there was some way to connect with the stage, the audience felt as if they were groping around trying to find it.

The main set comprised only songs from the new album, arranged such that it would bring the singular flow to a close at the end.

Caught up in such a flow, I think the audience felt that it was easiest to eke out those “moments” during the song from Kurutta Taiyou, which the band played in the encore. But that connection was severed all too soon the moment the song ended and the auditorium light up. While there might be those who simply enjoy this set up or who get some sort of masochistic pleasure from this, I’m sure there are also those who were left feeling like there’s unfinished business.

However, this concert was held the day following the release of the album which also means that not everyone was familiar with the music yet.

Taking that into consideration, at this point in time, it is still a mystery as to whether the uncertainty exhibited by the audience was because of that, or due to the confusion around the band’s direction in the new album.

It will be interesting to see what the mood in the various tour venues will be like as [the audience] soaks in the album.

At the same time, it is as Yagami Toll said during his interview for the new album; the band’s principal stance is to disregard their audience and do whatever they want.

How “pop” of an existence will this piquantly self-seeking band who hurtles headlong into going their own way continue to be for their audience from now on? Will their sound evolve as they figure out how to keep up their centripetal force so strong that it transforms their worth?  Looking at the way they’re going recently, I personally feel that there’s a lot we can expect from them in this respect.

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ Now known as Orix Theater.

² First opened in July 1994 before shutting in January 2004. Later that year in July, they moved to Shibuya and reopened.

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Endless Dei (@DeiEndless on Twitter)

 

Related articles:

[Jun 1995] Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll: Six/Niɴe Feature — Double-Edged BUCK-TICK

[Jul 1995]  Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll: Outpouring from the heart — Part 2 of Sakurai Atsushi’s interview in the Six/Niɴe Feature

 

Outpouring from the heart

Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
July 1995

photography Hitoshi Iwakiri (岩切等)
hair & makeup Takayuki Tanizaki (谷崎隆幸)
styling Tomoharu Yagi (八木智晴)

 

The last issue featured a special segment for BUCK-TICK’s latest album Six/Niɴe, but due to space constraints, we could only publish half of the interview with Atsushi Sakurai, even though he made the effort to share his true feelings with us. And so, this time around, it’s the continuation. Through this interview, I hope you’d uncover the key to the change they displayed in the contentious Six/Niɴe.

 

Read part 1 here

 

 

And so, here is the second half of Atsushi Sakurai’s interview. It’s a continuation from last month’s issue, so please give that a read too.

 

In the end, (music) is just entertainment, isn’t it?
I’m just very happy that I can simply entertain.

 

S (Sakurai): It’s all sorts of things. Like…… Hmm…… Someone who says they like me? For example…… It’s like…… In the end, it’s entertainment, isn’t it? Like, I’m just very happy that I can simply entertain, and things like that.

―― So, even if you’re not doing anything that doesn’t satisfy the world, you’d be happy as long as you can feed yourself.

S: Yes.

―― I suppose that’s for sure. I guess you could also say that it doesn’t matter at all whether everyone here (the artists, the manager, the journalist, the writers, etc.) are here or not.……

S: I wouldn’t go as far as to say that, though (lol). Well, I guess you could say that it’s the first time I felt like this.

―― Feeling grateful for that kind of happiness?

S: That…… what do you call it? You know how people often say, “First of all, I want to thank God,” or something like that when they receive some sort of an award? That sounds textbook, but there are times when you feel like that’s all just a lie. Somehow, the more someone says it, the more fake it sounds.

―― You mentioned someone who said they like you. Do you mean like a girlfriend or something?

S: Could be a girlfriend, or, well, fans or siblings, yeah. Someone important. Well, it could be people you work with, or you date. It’s just the people you’re together with, like, close friends and the like.

―― Hm. But that’s a very big change of heart, isn’t it?

S: That’s true.

―― In the past, you definitely gave off a stronger sense of “I’m alone”, right?

S: Well, that I’m alone, I think that was how I presented myself.

―― How you presented yourself.

S: Like, drawing sympathy [to myself], like begging for it.

―― So, that’s what you called theatrics earlier on, like a false pretense.

S: And all that other…… My apologies to others who are doing similar things, please don’t misunderstand, but if I was begging [for it], then I must be thankful, or rather, I want to be grateful [for what I received]. Or something like that.

―― And that state of mind has influenced your lyrics?

S: I suppose that’s where it seems to have started for me, personally.

―― But considering all those feelings, that actually makes it feel heavy on the whole, doesn’t it?

S: The sound?

―― Sound, lyrics. They certainly don’t have that bright, letting-go feeling.

S: I guess, isn’t that some sort of simplicity? Living and dying, likes and hates.

―― What artists have you been listening to lately?

S: All kinds of things inspire me. Records do, and movies, and manga, and so on. In this album, ISSAY-san (DER ZIBET) participated as a guest vocalist and I got to have a nice chat with him about his approach, the way he works and all that. So, you could say that I was influenced in that manner too. Having read the books and manga that were recommended to me, those he said he liked quite a lot, that also really influenced me significantly. It’s like that with movies too. Just, anything. Like a snatch thief, because I’m hungry [for more]. Even people watching in a place like this (the pub where this interview is being held) can inspire me.

―― And doing this makes you come out of your shell more and more until those false pretenses fade away along with the negative parts of you. So, do you get the desire to try and create something where you’re in complete control of everything just so that you can show 100% of who you are as you gradually revert to being your natural self?

S: That’s plain troublesome.

―― (Lol) That’s the only thing that doesn’t change, is it? For you. Since the beginning.

S: That sort of thing, working the musical instruments, it’s such a pain that I just can’t.

―― But you don’t have to play the instruments. You can just give instructions, right?

S: Mmm…… But I don’t think I can convey [my ideas]. Because I don’t know them. The technical terms. Not one bit. I don’t even know the processing for voice effects and all that. But I want to change that. A bunch of things.

―― Like?

S: Limitations like being required to finish producing an album by a particular date, things like that. Like, promotional strategies. If these things can be changed, I’d like to do it myself. For about a year or so.

―― Album production. Well, certainly it’s probably good if you could spend more on it.

S: We can’t do that.

―― But with BUCK-TICK’s present position, the mixed-media portion of your promotional strategy has grown to comprise quite a large percentage of it, right?

S: Yes.

―― Do you understand those things?

S: Yeah, I do.

―― It makes me wonder if you truly feel that it doesn’t matter whether or not your album sells. Even if you do say that, wouldn’t you still question in the back of your mind whether it’s good or not if it won’t sell?

S: No, I don’t really feel that way. It’s just that, even if it’s unpopular, we won’t have the time [to dwell on it] anyway.

―― I spoke to Imai-kun just now, and he said that it’s ultimately the buyers who judge your releases. So, this can only mean that the indication of their verdict will depend on how well your records sell. That is what was said, but does Sakurai-kun really feel that way?

S: But even if you like a particular song a lot, doesn’t the opinion change from person to person? Even if you’ve made a very good something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be popular. For me, I really love ambient music that doesn’t have singing voices. But even though they make me think, “This is so good!”, it doesn’t sell very well.

―― Ah, that’s about music other than your own, though.

S: You’re talking about my own music? Ahh. I’m not particularly interested in those kinds of things. This’ll probably make me sound like I’m just being cool but the number one thing [for me] is to like what I make. Well, it’s even better if it sells well too. I’d think everyone feels the same way.

―― But frankly speaking, BUCK-TICK does sell. If you’re someone who’s living from hand to mouth, you’d probably have a desperate desire for [your music] to sell. Depending on the person.

S: Right. I suppose so.

―― For a musician, I’d assume that you’d keenly hope that if you release a record, you’d want to sell enough to at least fund your next work, or enough that you don’t have to work extra jobs. So, saying that you’re not concerned [with sales numbers] is.

S: Mm, the privilege of those who do sell well.

―― But there’s also the fact that because you’re someone whose records sell well, you must produce things that you like.

S: I think we’re doing that.

―― Right. Listening to this album, I felt that it’s an album that makes you want to listen to the next one as soon as possible.

S: Ah, really?

―― Somehow, this one gives me the feeling that you’ve yet to decide on what you’re going to do next.

S: I suppose that’s because it’s volatile, this album.

―― Probably, yes.

S: So, you want to listen to something stable?

―― Rather, your last album and even the one before made me want to take a careful good look at this world, but this time, in comparison, left me restless instead.

S: Oh, yes. I get it. But I think Imai wanted to demolish that expectation that you can listen and feel at ease.

―― Ah, there’s that too.

S: Whatever we’ve done so far has always been for ourselves.

―― Yes. But this changing direction somehow feels like a result of all the members going down different routes. That’s why I’d find myself wanting to listen to the next release as soon as possible where, hopefully, all the members would have settled on one direction and gone with it.

S: I don’t know whether we can (lol). I’d expect that we wouldn’t communicate enough again anyway.

―― But haven’t you learnt your lesson?

S: Buーut, I don’t think we ever will.

―― Hmm, based on my earlier conversation with Imai-kun, it’s not very……

S: He hasn’t leant, has he?

―― But it’s not right for me to be the one telling him that it’s not good for him to be slow with the song composition.

S: But you should’ve said it.

―― No way (lol).

S: Please tell him, it’s not fair (lol).

 

Aesthetics of Invariance

Ongaku to Hito #087
April 2001

Text: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Photos: Ogishima Minoru (荻島稔)
Hair & Makeup: Tanizaki Takayuki, Yamaji Chihiro (Fats Berry)

 

Last year, BUCK-TICK went on a hall tour, then a livehouse tour, and finally an auditorium¹ tour following the release of their first album in two and a half years. It was a sprightly burst of activity that is very much like them (lol) but who could complain about that. The 21st century has turned out to be a little bit different for these guys who would’ve normally gone back underground after all that activity.

On 28 March, the band will be releasing ONE LIFE, ONE DEATH CUT UP, the live CD, VHS, and DVD of the performance that they gave at Nippon Budokan. In addition to that, Schwein, the Japanese-German-British coalition that Sakurai and Imai have joined will soon commence with a tour also in the works. So this month, we’ll be talking about Schwein…… or so I hoped, but they haven’t made their music yet (lol). Hence, we’ll be talking about Sakurai Atsushi’s year 2000 and his band philosophy. And then, it’ll be Schwein in the next issue…… probably.

 

 

What is it…… This wasn’t our aim, but I guess we’ve succeeded in achieving versatility

 

―― This issue is going to be published in March so it might be a little late for this, but what do you think about your tour?

Sakurai (S): Mm…… It was the first time that we divided our shows between the hall venues and the livehouses but having tried it out, I came to realise the benefits and enjoyment of performing in the two different types of venues. It was especially so with the livehouses, though. I’ve never really given it much thought until now, but I think we are more suited to [livehouses] after all. Because we’ve never really made that kind of a distinction between the two until [last year].

―― Of course, because you’re closer to the audience. There’s a sort of unity, an atmosphere about it, or something.

S: You’re right…… Mm… This is something I only realised after we’ve split our shows into these two styles, but you could say our audience hold themselves back or something when they stick exactly to where their designated seats are…… It’s like they sit and stay still (dry laugh). And that’s certainly quite, well, I don’t need to say it again, but being able to move and act however they wish…… When I get to see that from the stage, I’d sincerely feel that it was a good thing that we decided to do this. Part of it is because we’re closer, yes, and us as performers also get to feel the liberation from a regulated world that live concerts are too. Also, for us, we won’t feel like we’re putting on a performance with a formal sense of “showing” something but rather, we can leave it as unpolished.

―― So, let’s look back at your activities in 2000 again.

S: Of course, broadly speaking we changed record labels and all that, and thinking about the time when we were recording, we’ve started working on our music so we didn’t really have much time to spare, but I could definitely sense that everyone was feeling positive with the fresh start.

―― And that wasn’t like, a sense of urgency or anything like that.

S: It sure wasn’t. If we did feel anything like that, it’d be more likely that 2 or 3 years ago, we’d already be feeling, “So, anyway, we’ve released a single,” then started to wonder, “Which company should we go to?”.

―― How did the band fare during those uncertain times?

S: Mm, the pace and stance of the band itself didn’t really change from our usual, but as you’d expect, if you’re asking about things that aren’t related to music, we can’t really…… How should I put this…… We can’t really do anything on our own. I guess I can’t help saying childish things like that (dry laugh), but in the end, I’d rather leave those things to people I trust to handle, so.

―― It could be said that the band still stands in that unstable situation, or rather, you don’t even budge an inch, right?

S: That’s definitely because it’s me and the other 4…… For example, I’ve often been asked whether I’d like to go solo or anything like that, but there are a lot of good and bad points to consider and all that…… But anyway, it’s definitely because when I look around me, I see the same faces I’ve always known and they’re all feigning ignorance as if they don’t know anything.

―― Fufufu, feigning ignorance (lol).

S: Well, it’s me wondering whether they know that I’m getting offers or not (lol). Then, I’d suddenly feel at home, in a way. I can’t do anything even if they felt bothered by it, but I don’t really worry or feel negatively about it. It’s not some kind of weird confidence or anything like that but it’s just, I feel that whether they cut our contract or whatever they do to us, whatever happens we’ll somehow make things work, or rather, no matter what happens, it’ll turn out alright. My thoughts don’t really go in a negative direction. But…… Well, there are times when I’d feel uneasy, just personally speaking. Like when I’m working on the singing, or the lyrics, or the staging, or I get stuck while working on an album and I’m feeling like, “I have nothing more to offer!!”…… Those insecurities sometimes come out of nowhere, but when it really comes down to it, I can visualise in my head what I’d do for that piece of music, or the staging and all of those things on my own. As a result, I’d get so absorbed in it that I’d get into a bit of a high. You could say, that’s why my frustration disappears completely.

―― So you’ve just about never given any conscious thought to the possibility of the band breaking up?

S: …… Conscious thought…… Mm… Well, I’ve thought about those types of situations to kill time (lol).

―― And?

S: I think it sounds like a pain in the ass (lol). No matter what happens, there’s no chance we’ll ever talk about “divorce”! (Emphasis added)

―― Ahahahaha! Sounds just like what a woman would say.

S: Yeaah, I got reminded of a bunch of past experiences (dry laugh).

―― I see (lol). But, say, for example, if you wanted to “depict life and death”,  or “sing love songs”, if you had themes like that, you don’t necessarily have to stick to being in a band to do that, right? I just wonder where your motivation to make music in a band comes from.

S: Mm………… I guess it might be because it’s easy (lol). Working hard, words like, “You can’t buy hard work,” and all that, I absolutely haaate those, you know (dry laugh). And…… Mmm…… This is a band that we’ve built together from scratch after all. People keep telling me, “Go solo,” but, mm…… It’s troublesome, and I don’t really like leaving my house empty, you know?

―― What fatherly comments (lol). I guess you want to protect your family.

S: Noo, I don’t like that sort of clinginess (dry laugh). I don’t like being cheated on too though, but…… I’m happy that I’m being asked (to go solo and things like that), but I suppose, in the end, essentially, what I want to be is the vocalist of a band, you know. Besides, there’s also the fact that the other members will possess whatever I’m lacking in. And if we’re talking about someone who was a solo artist to begin with and then later decided to start a band, they’d already know the lightness of moving along freely too. I might be saying too much, but lots of bands change their lineups, and there are those who had members go solo, or start other bands, but…… the original is still the best, or something (dry laugh). There are certainly cases where things are different, and there are lots of people who do great as solo artists, but somehow that power is…… With the focus on their personal power, even if they’re performing in the form of a band, in the end, they’re still not a band, are they? It’d just look like that [solo artist] person is the only one giving his all (dry laugh).

―― Speaking of which, you’ve recently started a unit in the form of Schwein. I was hoping you could tell us more about how it came to be.

S: Hmmm…… I really don’t know! (Squarely)

―― Hahahahaha! It happened before you realised it? (Lol)

S: No, it’s not quite that but…… I think it was last year, around the time when we were doing our recording? That this topic came up. It’s not the kind of thing that just comes to mind, you know? I’m not agile, and if I’m giving my all working on one thing, anything else turns into a pain in the ass. So, I think Raymond (Watts / PIG) had given it a lot of thought, but it was only around the end of last year when things finally became reality in the form of a “unit”…… Although, even now, I still don’t know what it’ll be like (lol). Of course, as you already know, it started from SCHAFT and we did gigs together two years ago, went on tour together too. We’ve also contributed music to each others’ CDs and took part as guests too. We’ve always had that kind of relationship. Although somehow, I don’t really know why he’s so interested in us (lol), but he’d call us whenever something comes up. For Raymond, he’s got PIG to work on and perform in America too, so he didn’t actually have to go through all that trouble to deliberately invite Asians to do this (dry laugh). That was the very first thing I thought, anyway. I don’t think we’ve talked about it before. That’s why I can’t really go into detail. We don’t even have songs yet (dry laugh).

―― Ahaha. Then, is there anything that Sakurai-san personally keeps in mind for what you’ll do in Schwein? Perhaps, like wanting to do something different here, as compared to what you usually do in BUCK-TICK.

S: Mm… Personally, I’d say it’s basically the same, I think. But, although I’m doing this with Imai, both the music and environment will change completely, so I think that would change me too. That’s something to look forward to as well.

―― When we look at this combination of Raymond of PIG, Sascha of MDFMK, and Imai Hisashi, you can’t help but get the feeling that sound will be prioritised over words, so what is it that Sakurai-san thinks should be expressed in that?

S: Well, you know, as a Japanese…… Fufufu. The, what do you call it, the feeling that there’s no difference between a British and a German, I get that feeling, but there’s a nuance that only the Japanese have when it comes to song and…… I guess that’s pretty much it, though. I’m just thinking that I should just do what I need to do. My best, or maybe, un-best (lol).

―― Fuhahaha! So, I guess we’ll talk more about Schwein next month.

S: Please contact Raymond for a proper story (lol). Work on the tracking for our video(s) and all that are still going on, right, so I can’t quite transition away from BUCK-TICK.

―― Is there a need for you to switchover?

S: Yeah. Although, I don’t really think it’s particularly necessary for me to switch from the BUCK-TICK version of me to the Schwein version or something. This is more about switching from the work of “making it even better” during the tracking to the creative work in composing. Because I always start from the surface of it (dry laugh). I would want to set up my own world nicely and do things properly inside of it (lol). When it comes to composing, I would want to get into that mode and work on it all in one go, but I can’t really do that well.

―― Like thinking about things while listening to PHYSICAL NEUROSE or what (lol).

S: Fuhahahaha.

―― But anyway, why did you decide to perform that song live?

S: Ah, well, Imai was…… Initially, well, it’s how we’ve always done things but we’d brainstorm about which songs from the album and our back catalogue would be good to perform. I’d often mull over the setlist and things like that, but everyone leaves it to me, so. At that point, I’d say, “Everyone disregard the line-up and structure and tell me what songs you want to play.” Then Imai slides in and mentions that song. Although, it was a great help to me that he said it without thinking too much about it, you know. Everyone’s restraint…… Well, by now there’s no such thing as holding back or mincing our words, though (lol). They’d just tell me things like, “I’ll leave it to you.” Then, when it’s all up to me, I’d be stuck in a dilemma (dry laugh).

ーー Ahaha! I guess they just want you to decide.

S: But I’m biased, you see. I’d end up picking all the daa~rk and gloomy songs (dry laugh). We also performed LOVE ME, SPEED, and ICONOCLASM, right? Just when I was wondering what should we do with those 3 songs towards the end, that song was raised. It was actually brought up during our first tour, the hall tour, but I wasn’t quite convinced. It made me think, “It’s kind oーf, mm, I don’t know if it’ll workー?” So, it was only after we were pretty much done with the hall and livehouse shows that…… this inconceivable song came around so I’m really relieved that it did, like, “Ahh, thank goodness.”

―― Your “ultimate weapon” (lol).

S: Mhahaha! Although, I think there are quite a number of people who don’t know that song.

―― Right? But when it comes to performing such an old song, won’t you somehow…… get that sense of “incompatibility”? Looking at it now.

S: I do. Especially when I start singing, I feel it very strongly. I don’t think [the others] would get much of a sense of that since [they’re] playing instruments, though. I even found myself thinking, “Ah, how embarrassing… These words, I don’t really want to say them now.” (Dry laugh).

―― Although, it really felt like a breakthrough for you to suddenly do PHYSICAL NEUROSE right there and then, didn’t it?

S: That’s true. It would’ve never been a thing before, but what is it…… this wasn’t our aim, but I guess we’ve succeeded in achieving that sort of versatility. It’s not like we can rely on hit songs forever (lol)…… It’s probably phrased badly, but it’s something that makes me feel, “If we play this song, it’ll probably make things interesting.”

―― Like a breaking ball²?

S: Right, something like that. If we played JUST ONE MORE KISS or something at that point of the show, you can already guess that the audience will probably get all hyped but (visualising)…… Mmー I guess it’s a good thing sometimes, though (bright smile).

―― Oh! (Lol) Well, I suppose I can expect a little more from your next tour (lol).

S: Mmmー (lol).

―― Mhahaha! So, you might’ve been asked about this before, but does BUCK-TICK have a strong desire to constantly stay up to date as a band?

S: Nope, we don’t. There are probably people who like doing that, but we don’t want to burden ourselves with that kind of weight and force ourselves to carry it. I think we’re capable of accepting anything and everything if the time is right for us, but since the very beginning, we never wanted to be at the forefront of that.

―― What about when it comes to language?

S: It’s the same with language too. As long as they are words and phrases that I understand well and are fresh to me [I’d use them]. Whether they’re outdated or recent slangs, I don’t know. But if they’re fresh and I can grasp it, then anything goes.

―― I can’t really imagine Sakurai-san using words like “you’re bugging me [uzaa~i³]” anyway (lol).

S: Ahh, I hate that kind of language (dry laugh). Like, “for sure [zettee⁴]” and those kinds, right?

―― Ahaha. Chew on those words and digest them properly. 

S: If I can digest them…… I still don’t think I can make use of them after all (lol).

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ This “auditorium” actually refers to the venues of TOUR ONE LIFE, ONE DEATH which was held in large convention centre venues, namely Orix Theatre in Osaka, Nagoya Congress Center, and Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan.

² In baseball, a breaking ball is a pitch that does not travel straight as it approaches the batter. It isn’t a specific pitch by that name, but is any pitch that “breaks”, such as a curveball, slider, or screwball.

³ ウザイ (uzai) is basically the Japanese slang version of describing something as annoying or irritating. It’s a very casual/informal form.

⁴ ぜってぇ (zettee) is very casual/informal kind of slang-ish version of 絶対 (zettai). It means the same thing, which is “definitely/for sure”, or something along those lines.

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans:  tigerpal from LJ

 

 

Double-Edged BUCK-TICK

An Intense Hunger For Life

Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
June 1995

photography Hitoshi Iwakiri (岩切等)
hair & makeup Takayuki Tanizaki (谷崎隆幸)
styling Tomoharu Yagi (八木智晴)

 

It’s been 2 years since their last album, darker than darkness.
Following the release of their 2 singles, Uta and Kodou, BUCK-TICK’s new album,
Six/Niɴe will arrive on May 15.
That special withdrawn decadence which was brought to fruition in darker~
has been eclipsed by the intense hunger for life portrayed in this album.
But what does it all mean?
From demise to rebirth…… The key to this are the north and south poles of a magnet or in other words,
hidden in the album title which implies the concept of opposites.
In this issue, we’ll close in on them with a double feature of personal interviews with the members of the band
and the direct confrontation between Onojima and Imai over the single Uta!!

 

 

 

 

Individual Interviews

_______________________

Atsushi Sakurai

Interview by: Onojima Dai

This interview was held right after the conversation with Imai that comes later.
Here, there are quite a lot of differences in the nuances of what they say. And this is the first time that Sakurai so blatantly shared his opinions about his fellow band members. Although it is of course that these opinions are, ultimately, based on the fact that the members have a close relationship with each other, like family.

I do sense the mismatch between the singing and the music, and I get what you mean by that.
But the main reason behind this is really because that guy was too tardy with the songwriting.

―― What did you have in mind when you were in the process of producing this album?

Sakurai (S): It was definitely…… to stop using words that I didn’t know. Even with the applications of words and phrases, I decided that I’d stop using things I don’t know. It probably sounds weird, but I guess it feels as if doing that reveals my own stupidity to a certain extent, whether in the music or the lyrics. Things like vocabulary, it shows everyone your ability, like how you would with your musical instruments and your technique. So, it’s already become difficult for me to do that, things like trying to make myself seem like a bigger deal than I really am.

―― Why did you need to make yourself look like a big deal?

S: (Long silence) I don’t know. I don’t even know if I could make that last either.

―― Maybe you didn’t want to be looked down upon?

S: That might be the reason. But we can’t bluff, can we? Humans. Especially when it comes to this sort of…… Well, maybe that’s not true for everyone. …… Because, me, I’m no actor. Neither am I a poet, right? I’m just a member of a band, anyway.

―― Do you have some sort of complex around being a band member?

S: (Silence) No, no. I don’t.

―― For you, do you feel that you don’t want to fit into the role of the band’s vocalist or that you can’t?

S: Mmn…… (Long silence) …… I don’t know (lol). Do you think so?

―― Don’t ask me.

S: Hahahah. Well, even I don’t know myself.

―― Don’t you think that people in general all get the feeling that their present state of self isn’t their true self, or that “This isn’t who I am.”?

S: I think that might’ve gradually gone away. This might sound contradictory but I’m usually thinking, “Ah~ So this is the kind of person I am.”

―― How did you come to think like that?

S: It’s self-defense, isn’t it? It’s easier like this. To me, at least. It’s like, if I’m at ease, I can deal with anything that comes my way, I suppose.

―― Looking at the lyrics in this album, there are a lot of times when expressions like “I want proof of my life” seem to come up out of nowhere. Does this have some sort of relation to this change that youspoke of?

S: Yeah. Yeah…… But poetry, it’s nothing more than theatrics after all. If I didn’t feel that I had to write, then I wouldn’t. Ah, I might’ve written poetry but I don’t know about song lyrics.

―― Is poetry different from song lyrics?

S: I think it’s different. To me.

―― Is putting music to words itself something that feels unnatural to you?

S: There’s some part of turning my words into lyrics that feels quite unnatural. Because I have to write according to Imai’s or Hide’s music. Even for a phrase like “そうですか [I see] (so-u-de-su-ka)]”, if Imai gives me tan-tan-tan, three beats, it would turn into “そ・う・か [I see] (so-u-ka)”. I noticed that this time, because of that, I had to, as much as possible, do my best to not deviate. From what I’ve written and what I had in mind.

―― So, this album, I thought that the balance between the music and the singing was exceptionally off. That was particularly so in Uta. It’s as if the singing is losing out to the music, or they just don’t match up or something. Though, Imai-kun made it sound as if that was, to some extent, intentional.

S: I can’t, I’m not capable of production like that, of myself. That guy…… Calling him “that guy” sounds terrible. He’s capable of doing that kind of production, you see. I don’t think about those things or go that far. Although, I do sense that mismatch and I do get what you mean by that……

―― Hmmm…… I don’t know if I should say it……

S: Please say anything you want.

―― I got the feeling that there wasn’t enough communication between Sakurai-kun and Imai-kun prior to writing a song and all that, though…… Or am I wrong?

S: No, there was barely anything lacking. That more or less happened when we got to the later half of our work, but there wasn’t anything like that in beginning. Then, after it starts to take some shape, we’d decide that we like this, we don’t like this, things like that…… There’s no planning on the whole, yeah. There are positives to that but there are also things that just don’t work. I don’t think we ever said it was a good thing, though.

―― Even compared to before?

S: No, but we’ve never done that before either…… Because the songs that we wrote earlier on… Like Uta… I guess it’s just Uta. There’s nothing with that song. I didn’t want to say anything, and I was frustrated too…… Because, you see, both him and I, we hate giving in. We also hate making others bend over for us.

―― But weren’t you in perfect agreement for your previous albums and releases?

S: Were we?

―― (Lol) Well, that’s just what it sounded like to me based on what I heard. That both of your goals were aligned and the band came together to move towards the one same direction. Not that it’s in monotony, you know.

S: Mm…………

―― Though, I suppose it just so happened that the result was unanimous.

S:  Yeah. I guess you can say that. Which is why this time, I really couldn’t…… grasp it. Because even after we’ve started recording, Imai hadn’t written the songs yet. Then it was a rush, recording the rhythm section, I didn’t even know anything about the other band members’ work too, yeah. It’s too late to blame anyone for anything, but I won’t blame anyone so I’ll just blame myself (lol).

―― I thought BUCK-TICK achieved a point of perfection with darker than darkness. Then, both Imai-kun and Sakurai-kun decided to change things this time around.

S: Yes.

―― But even if you chose to change, won’t you end up looking at the disparate parts? That’s why you’d get the feeling it doesn’t come together as an album.

S: Do you feel that way?

―― Yes. Frankly speaking.

S: On the whole?

―― There are, of course, good songs but if we’re talking about the power of everything coming together to become one, as the album’s appeal as one work, I think it’s definitely your previous work that has it.

S: But, you know, the main reason for this is definitely because that guy was really too late.

―― But it’s not the first time, is it?

S: No, he really was too tardy this time (lol). We couldn’t really do much about it, you know, with the songs that came last.

―― You’ve got a schedule planned out this time around, though. With the film concert and all that, so I guess you were also in a situation where you absolutely had to stick to the predetermined release date.

S: It’s not great, is it? I especially hated that. But, you see, even though I didn’t say anything, my voice was crushed. We had no choice but to do it. Well, even if I said this, it wouldn’t have changed anything. Rather than having no release at all, we decided to bring it as close to 100% and release it, though. I think that’s the kind of mismatch problem that Onojima -san sensed. Be it between the vocals and the instruments or between different instruments. Although, there’s really nothing that can be done even if I complain about it. But although there are parts that you can’t digest, I think it’s fine as long as people still feel that it’s good. Because I feel that it’s very much a case where if you think it’s good, it’s good.

―― Do you think that the misalignment that you felt with Uta has been solved by the second half of the album’s production?

S: Mm…… Rather than solved, we just stopped caring about it.

―― Gave up?

S: It’s not that we gave up…… We thought that it sounded convincing, that it’s good like this.

―― Didn’t you wonder why you had to persuade yourself into believing that it sounds convincing? 

S: (Lol) Convincing myself…… I think it’s definitely because…… How do I put this…… It stinks but having formed such a band, I guess we’re just happy that we can do what we like, so it’s simply because of that…… Is this a boring answer?

―― No, not at all. Because it means that you’ve still got that fresh feeling.

S: No, rather than saying it’s still here, I think it’s more like I’ve been taking it for granted until now.

―― Oh? Did you have some sort of change of heart?

 

…… And that’s unfortunately where we’ll stop because we’ve run out of printing space. The latter half of this interview will be published in the next issue of this magazine. Look forward to it.

 

 

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Hisashi imai

Interviewer: Oshibe Keiko

It might be contradictory to the work I do, but I’m fascinated by this breakthrough album that turns “genre” into a mere empty word, so much so that it makes me abandon the thought of critiquing or analysing it. That is usually a direct reflection of an artist’s views and instincts, and yet, although it’s convincing, it doesn’t tend towards logic. That is simply an abstrusity that comes from the fact that the album is not bound by the logic of genres. That said, this new album by BUCK-TICK might just be an abstrusity  in itself. Even if we tried to make sense of it with logic, it is an album that immediately turns the pleasant feeling of sensual enjoyment into something profound. In that sense, we could probably say that this work is an album in which Imai was given the ability to tackle his instinctive urges as a composer in a more direct manner than usual.

If we’re talking about nerve-wracking, I guess it’s my bad for being tardy with the composing (lol).
I did have the intention of finishing things up early, but somehow…… I wonder what happened (lol).

―― Well, anyway. In terms of creative inspiration, what’s it like? This time around.

Imai (I): Nothing particularly new. I don’t think it’s any different than before.

―― I heard that you were still coming with new songs even after all the rhythm sections were recorded, though.

I: Because I just kept thinking that there was not enough, and just continued composing.

―― What’s “not enough”?

I: A bunch (lol). Same with the overall balance too. But what I was really worried about were the songs which came first. They were really just vague…… They had this feeling that they were somehow lacking one other thing. Because I wanted to do that. In the latter half, the songs, it was just…… we were late with those because of small details like drum patterns and bass riffs, guitar riffs, these things.

―― Were there any instances where the final product turned out to be a whole other song, or you had new techniques you wanted to try out, or anything like that?

I: In terms of techniques…… There were songs that were made with programming too, so that’s about it. There wasn’t really anything special in the way we did things. But also because it feels like somehow, we haven’t really found our way out of it.

―― Did you have some kind of vision for this album on the whole?

I: Mmm…… I can’t quite put it into words.

―― Say, for example, the title. Did you have a specific idea in mind?

I: The complete opposites of North and South…… The North and South poles. I had that sort of two-sides-of-the-same-coin idea. I kept thinking about that for some reason. Then I figured that indicating it with 6 and 9 might be the easiest way to get the message across.

―― As something which symbolises the aspect of opposites coexisting.

I: That’s right. Not that it’s a good or a bad thing. Aside from that…… I’m not too sure.

―― So it doesn’t particularly hold any deeper meaning. It’s just a symbol for what you had in mind.

I: Yeah. It’s just because I had that North, South idea in the beginning.

―― I see. So earlier, we talked about your vision for this album, but what about for the previous album? Personally, it gives me the sense of being run through. In terms of imagery, it’s like a futuristic yet decadent landscape at the end of the road.

I: In a way…… I suppose I wanted to do songs that are more stripped down, noisier, those types.

―― I think that gives this album a sense of speed that isn’t just about being fast and also a kind of exceptionally weighty feeling, but did you deliberately intend to enhance those elements for this album?

I: Those aspects of weight and speed naturally occurred without any deliberate effort this time around. So for that…… It was just a matter of letting it grow.

―― I wondered if perhaps those elements were increased as a result of taking that image which inspired you and transferring it into the music at a higher level of concentration.

I: Meaning?

―― Like, maybe you had less doubt than before when you’re putting the song together. For example, the kind of hesitancy where the idea comes to you and then you think, “Maybe it’s better not to do this.”

I: Ahh. Well, that it’s good to speed things up and just do it once I get an idea was…… something I only realised in the later half of my composition work (lol). Because before, I’ve only always been…… aware of it.

―― That said, I felt that this album turned out to be rather frank, though.

I: Well, that’s the idea (lol). But I know that it definitely feels best when the groove really comes out strong like that. It’s just that I ended up taking a whole day to think about how the intro should go, about the rhythm patterns, and things like that. And it was hard to expand from there.

―― When did you start composing for this album?

I: Around December…… I think it was around then. Probably.

―― So at what point did things start to stagnate after you started composing?

I: The first song was done quickly. Then I redid the second song about 4 times at home. That’s why I have quite a number of different tunes that no one has ever heard before, though. …… At that point…… was when I ran quite far behind.

―― No one’s ever heard them before…… What kind of music is it? Those you’ve rejected on your own.

I: No, well. It’s just kind of music that we’ve never ever done before. I thought it might feel a bit wrong if we were to go with those.

―― That it’s not quite the type for BUCK-TICK to play?

I: Nah. It’s the songs themselves.

―― Ahh. …… So, there were quite a number of songs, weren’t there?

I: There were. That’s why I think we might’ve been able to wrap things up a little earlier if we just did the songs in the order that they came to me, though.

―― You mean, like the song you’re most interested in or whichever song you’re having the most trouble with at the moment?

I: The song that I was troubling with on my own was Kodou. Because its a song that’s easy to misunderstand. Depending on the way it’s captured

―― Specifically speaking?

I: It can be poppy and melodious and cute and pretty and all that. For BUCK-TICK to do that…… I was worried about whether the band could pull it off or not. …… But I figured that if I leave it up to Acchan, he’d get it. That’s why I handed the song over as it was.

―― Ah, so it’s not from the perspective of the listener. But rather, the song could end up with a completely different impression depending on your band members’ interpretations. So, do you think that it turned out well in the end?

I: Yeah. I think so.

―― By the way, earlier, Yagami-san said that the recording atmosphere had improved a lot compared to what it was before. Does Imai-san personally also think that such a…… change has happened?

I: Because it felt like a chore during our first album, second, and until our third album. The recording. We had no time, we had to do one song a day, we’d go into the studio and when everyone’s there, we’d start. It was…… a chore (lol).

―― (Lol) So, were you simply able to enjoy the recording work itself this time around?

I: …… Although, there were times when it felt like something wasn’t quite right (lol). But I think we were able to go through with it very very well this time around.

―― It’s just that in reality, I assume it’d often be nerve-wracking.

I: If we’re talking about nerve-wracking…… I guess it’s my bad for being tardy with the composing (lol) and that was really what made it nerve-wracking. Although, it wasn’t all that stressful once we got to the recording stage.

―― But because it was so nerve-wracking, wouldn’t you think, “I am definitely going to make sure that I’ll finish this up early next time” (lol).

I: If I did things with that intention…… If I did that, we’d probably end up in a position where we’d be saying there’s no way we can be any more polished than we’d ever been (lol). But really, I did have the intention to do that, you know? It’s just that somehow…… I wonder what happened (lol).

―― (Lol) Soー. How much time do you think is enough time to compose an album’s worth of songs?

I: ………… Until I’m done.

―― Until you’re done. That sounds like you’re going to take forever, though.

I: Nah. …… Nothing like that (lol).

 

 

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Hidehiko Hoshino

Interview by: Sasaki Mika

There’s always an air of calm around Hide, reminiscent of his beautiful melodies. In this album, he has recorded 4 songs and he appears to have become more aware of his position. Is it almost time for the taciturn backseat rider’s counter attack!?

I thought it’d be great if every song would have its own strong character
and we’d be able to play around with the sound to turn it all into one album.

―― Did you expect this album to end up this lengthy?

Hoshino (H): Nope, I didn’t think that there would be so many songs. Because I thought the most we would have would be 12 or 13.

―― I wonder why it turned out like this.

H: Imai-kun is why (lol).

―― How did you feel before you started composing?

H: Personally, I didn’t feel all that…… How do I say this. I felt that I couldn’t see the entirety of it at all and that I’d just write the songs I wanted to write. We compiled it later anyway.

―― Without any discussion to say, like, let’s do something like this?

H: Yeah, we didn’t do that. Then again, in the end, even if I did discuss things with Imai-kun, the differences in our sensibilities and things like that will definitely come to the fore, so you could say that it’s absolutely impossible for any one of us to be the same as the other. Such conversations didn’t happen precisely because we did our own thing. We previously did have discussions about what kind of album we wanted to make on the whole, but this time was special; we didn’t have that.

―― So, what did Hide-kun personally hope for it to be like?

H: I imagined that every song would have its own strong character and we’d be able to play around with the sound to turn it all into one album.

―― Was this 2 year gap between your previous album and the current one planned?

H: Mmm…… I wonder. I wonder if it is (lol).

―― (Lol) What did you do last year?

H: Relaxed so much that I got tired of it.

―― You’re tired of it?

H: Tired of it (lol).

―― Did you write anything during that period of time?

H: Nope, not at all. I started composing when we started talking about releasing the first single, which was around the end of last year, I think. Around November or December. 

―― How many songs did you finish by then?

H: 2 songs. Uta’s b-side, Kimi e and one more. We dropped that one, and I originally composed Kimi e for the album but it didn’t feel quite right either so we used it as a b-side instead.

―― If Kimi e was included in the album, you’d have 5 songs in there, but this 5 was picked out of how many?

H: Around 8, I think. 3 were dropped.

―― But, by the time Hide-kun had already presented all your songs, Imai-kun’s songs had yet to be done, right?

H: Yeah. At all (lol).

―― In that situation, didn’t you think of adding more of your songs into the roster?

H: Nope, not really. (Lol) I did think of putting them in if we could, but in the end, if I wasn’t satisfied with the music as a demo tape, I wouldn’t release it anyway.

―― It appears that no matter what, it’s Imai-kun’s songs that determine the album’s direction.

H: Yeah, they do.

―― If that’s the case, then it feels like Hide-kun is always just sitting in the backseat along for the ride. Do you like being in that sort of a position?

H: Mmm…… Rather than saying I like it (lol), well, it’s the natural flow of things.

―― You can tune into what Imai-kun composes because you’d feel that it’s good enough for you too?

H: Ahh, that, I do.

―― Well then, please comment on Imai-kun’s music in this album.

H: There are a lot of cool songs. The songs in the latter half were made in a hurry but they’re really cool. Like love letter. I think this one was probably composed last.

―― But do I wonder why that person took so long.

H: Don’t you think that it’s simply because of the way he thinks? I guess he probably started late too, but it’s most likely because he works things out down to the details.

―― Does no one push him about it?

H: We do. We do, but it’s completely useless (lol).

―― What’s it like recording again after 2 years?

H: It was tiring. The hours were long this time, and there were a lot of songs too. The recording itself was very…… How should I put this? In the first half of our progress, I would go into the studio on my own and work alone and that was nice. Since there wasn’t anyone else around me, I could relax and take my time with it.

―― Do you like that kind of solitary work?

H: When it comes to recording, I prefer that. Because, after all, people sitting behind me in the studio will become a distraction. Especially when it comes to my own songs. It’s better for me to mess around however I want. Although this time, it took a long time to get to business after I was done with that.

―― Waiting around drains your motivation more (lol). That’s why it doesn’t feel like you made [this album] together.

H: Because there was a lot of solo work. Like doing things in different studios and all that.

―― Are you responsible for your own songs?

H: There is that, yes, but even Imai-kun’s songs are done by him going into a different studio to work on it on his own. We were being pressed for time so if we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have made it in time.

―― Without thinking about how the 2 guitars would play together and things like that?

H: That was done to some extent in the demos so we just listened to that and played accordingly. We did discuss it, though.

―― And this Rakuen was a different version than the b-side to Kodou.

H: We did think of putting the single version into the album, but I got a bit selfish and asked for a version that removed the drums and bass and all that and only featured the tabla, and that was what we put into the album. Part of the reason was because I just wanted to try using the tabla as an instrument.

―― When did you decide on the album title?

H: Just recently. Around the time we were done with tracking.

―― How do you interpret this title?

H: I guess you could say it’s interesting. Deep.

―― I was hoping you’d explain this “depth”.

H: I’m also not that…… (Lol) I wasn’t the one who came up with it so I don’t really know but…… I think it’s got something to do with symmetrical opposites, like the north and south pole.

―― Maybe 9 songs are the key to the album?

H: …… Could it be? (Lol)

―― I’m asking you! (Lol)

H: Hahhahhah. Maybe not?

―― There are people saying things like, “It’s the BUCK-TICK revival!”

H: (Lol) That’s not our intention. Well, it’s true that it’s been a long while though…… Hasn’t it?

―― And there are a lot of new bands who people are labelling as post-BUCK-TICK too.

H: Really? Well, I’m not familiar with that so I’ve got no idea.

―― Aren’t you worried that you might’ve lost fans to other bands?

H: No, not really. No such thing.

―― No interest in the Japanese music scene at all?

H: None at all. Because I don’t listen to them, nor do I read the magazines.

―― So you separate yourself from the trends of the general public to create your own world?

H: Yeah, that’s probably it. Don’t you think that’s better? Besides, I think it’s good for people to respectively make the music they want to make.

―― Then, what kind of reaction to the album are you hoping for from your listeners?

H: It’d be nice if they like it.

―― That’s itー?

H: Yeah. Hahhahhah. No, really.

―― Did you think about including the general public with your core fans when you release an album?

H: Sometimes I do, in the end…… While it’s true that if we made pop music…… I don’t know if you’d call it a boundary, but there are times when I get very concerned about it, though……

―― Are you no longer bothered now?

H: Rather than now, it’s like, turning down the noise distortion on the guitar alone would give it a completely different sound. I’m doing all the things that I think are good, so I don’t really think about such things.

―― So, it’s good enough for you if you win over the undecided by doing whatever you want to do?

H: Yeah, that’s right.

―― I suppose you can only think like that if you have the confidence that you’ve made something good, right.

H: Yeah. I especially feel that this time around.

 

 

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yutaka Higuchi

Interview by: Sasaki Mika

We meet every month, but there’s no one who stays the same as much as Yuta. I think it’s a welcome addition to the band to have such a person as their bassist. Although, I would’ve liked it if he would write songs like before, if possible.

That Imai-san sure is a genius. That’s something I’ve reaffirmed when we started recording again after this break.
Because listening to the 1st and 14th songs, you wouldn’t have thought that both were from the same band, right? That’s why it’s fun.

―― What do you think of the final product?

Yuta (Y): There were so many songs that I wondered how it would turn out when we put it all together, but once we put the 1st song, the 15th and this one right in the middle (the 8th) between them when we were finishing things up, everything changed. Rather than the songs just playing one after another, they really brought about a clear image of the whole album.

―― Were these 3 songs an idea that came up at the end to bring some sort of completeness to the album?

Y: There weren’t really any songs that sounded similar or were of the same genre, so we thought they’d be good for that purpose. We’ve never made an album which started with speech either so I thought it could be interesting.

―― Is there anything in the way you produced this album that was different from what you’ve been doing thus far?

Y: Most of it stayed the same but because the songs were composed late, we were recording the rhythm parts until quite late in our schedule. At least, that’s the impression I have. But the way we did things was the same.

―― Was this the latest ever?

Y: Look, we haven’t even started recording the rhythm parts for other songs when we were already working on the tracking (lol).

 

―― Is that undesirable?

Y: It’s not that, but I was hoping that I’d have a little more time to rehearse my part.

―― Wouldn’t you feel uneasy when you can barely see the big picture for this album?

Y: I was more or less uneasy, yeah. But there wasn’t really anything like changes in the organisation [of work] or anything like that [so it wasn’t too bad].

―― You’ve said before that it’s easy to see what Imai-kun wants to do with his songs, so it’s easy when it comes to figuring out the arrangement too, right?

Y: Yeah.

―― Considering that, would you say that there’s likely a clear picture of the kind of album you’d be making in Imai-kun’s head?

Y: Hmm…… Probably.

―― Did he put that picture into words and share it with the band?

Y: Mmm…… There is a certain extent of communication with us when he’s done with a song so…… Yeah.

―― I wonder how he intended to bring out that sense of completeness.

Y: Mm…… I don’t know that much about it. About what’s in Imai-san’s mind.

―― Then, what does Yuta-kun think about it? As a member of the band.

Y: Like the vibe of the music. Since we had so many songs, I personally thought of suggesting to get rid of some if it so happened that things didn’t sound good together or anything like that. But it turned out nice when we tried lining them up anyway [so we kept them all]. It’s somehow like an atypical 2-CD set, isn’t it? The album’s got that kind of image.

―― What kind of role do you think this album will play in BUCK-TICK’s career?

Y: While we’re doing new things, this new album’s also still got the good parts of what we’ve done before. I personally don’t feel like we’ve used a different approach than our usual, so, yeah, we’re trying new things while taking all the good aspects that we’ve got since our very first album. That’s why I think it’ll be a very easy album to digest for those who have always been listening to our music.

―― So, you’re saying that’s what the album resulted in?

Y: Yeah. I think that’s unintentional.

―― When you say you’re doing something new, which songs are most representative of that?

Y: Probably these few, for sure (points at 9th, 14th, and 15th song). It feels like we’ve increased the number of different sides we have to us again. Compared to our previous album, we’ve completely switched up the atmosphere in this album, haven’t we? It feels like you can clearly see the vibe of each individual song.

―― I guess that might also be the result of the songs being worked on in batches rather than all together.

Y: I think that’s another big reason for it. We’re always working on one song at a time, but in the end, the totality of it, I suppose, turned out to be slightly different than our previous album. And this time around, the vibe of our previous album still remains in a good way. That’s why it wasn’t like we got rid of everything and started back from square one again. I guess you could say that it’s like our standard work but not quite.

―― A transitional album?

Y: …… I don’t know about that. Not yet.

―― How do you feel about making music with everyone again after 2 years?

Y: We make all sorts of remarks here and there so it was fun. I don’t quite remember exactly what they were if you want examples, though (lol).

―― Was it fun while playing too?

Y: It was. It’s just that there are too many one chord songs (lol). That’s why it can get a little bit boring playing bass, but on the contrary, I thought that made it more interesting too. Because then I could play it very thoroughly. I mostly played with my fingers this time around. I guess that was fundamentally different. I basically changed my play style. Deciding between my fingers and the pick is usually dependent on the vibe of the song, but this time, I felt that there were more songs that would be better played with my fingers so I naturally chose to go with that.

―― Which songs do you particularly like how you played?

Y: I suppose it’s these (points at 2nd, 14th, and 15th song). Ah, but I like all of them~.

―― No regrets?

Y: None.

―― You’ve done everything that you’re capable of at this point in time?

Y: I guess I feel that way too. But this time, I really felt, “Ahh, we’ve really made something great.” With the songs arranged in this order, it’s of course, don’t you think?

―― What do you think about the album title?

Y: It’s sleazy…… Actually, no (lol). What was it, something like, they’re actually the same even though they appear to be opposites. Like a sort of cycle.

―― Like a pattern?

Y: That can be rolled anyway you like. Like, something that has the same shape but turns into a completely different meaning once you roll it around. As to what it means…… I don’t know (lol).

―― Was there anything you’ve reaffirmed when you started recording again after that break?

Y: That Imai-san sure is a genius. That’s what came to mind. Because, although you’d get a particular vibe when you listen to this part (14th and 15th song), when you listen to the other songs, it’s a whole other feeling again. They bring something different that doesn’t exist in everything else you’ve heard. For example, if we look at Uta, it’s got a sound that’s unique to only Uta, right? That’s why I thought he’s really amazing.

―― So even if it takes time, it can’t be helped?

Y: Yeah (lol). Because listening to the 1st and 14th songs, you wouldn’t have thought that both were from the same band, right? It’s probably the same when we listen to the 2nd song too, though. That’s why it’s so much fun.

―― To me, I think that among the members, Yuta-kun is the one who is most aware of how people perceive you.

Y: Is that soー. I guess I am the type to care about how people see us.

―― Is it the one thing you think about the most?

Y: I wonder. But I think everyone wonders about how others perceive them, so I don’t think I’m all that conscious of it all the time, though……

―― You’re most in touch with the general public, right?

Y: But Imai-san’s the most popular, though?

―― Huuhー!?

Y: He’s popular. And he’s a people pleaser too. For me, it’s just because I talk a lot, right? The other members don’t talk at all but. Imai-san is a person who can explain things in 1 sentence where I’d take 10.

―― I see. Do you think that these 2 years were a needed break for the band to make this album?

Y: It was a good period of time for the band, wasn’t it? Not specifically because it enabled us to make this album. Well, I guess it plays a part, but I think it’s been a good 2 years. Besides, if we keep releasing things one after another, we’d look cheap. Although, if we really thought that it was good for us to release something every 3 months, then I think it’s fine, though.

―― As the big-name BUCK-TICK.

Y: We’re not big at all. We’re still rookies (lol).

―― But you’ve got tons of followers.

Y: I can’t say that. That’s for others to say. We’ve got our own hands full…… But that’s good, isn’t it? As long as everyone works hard.

―― As the headliners.

Y: I suppose so. Although we’re probably only ranked like maegashira-13¹ (lol). But I think it’s good enough if we feel that we really made a good album. Besides, this one’s got weight in it, doesn’t it? It’s over 70 minutes long. Quite something, isn’t it?

―― If you were to take a 70-minute train ride, you’d travel really far too.

Y: You’ll arrive at our hometown (lol).

 

 

Notes:

¹ In sumo, maegashira is the lowest of five ranks in the top makuuchi division. All the makuuchi wrestlers who are not ranked in san’yaku are ranked as maegashira, numbered from one at the top downwards. 13 is just one rank under the rank (14) that allows a wrestler to be promoted.

 

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Toll yagami

Interview by: Oshibe Keiko

“This is how it’s always been, but we don’t really keep to what we’ve grasped in our previous release. We do things as if we’re starting from scratch again,” said Yagami Toll. More importantly, it appears that new elements that are created through the band members interacting and influencing each other on stage will naturally tie into the next album. How has his own style evolved in that flow? That’s another part of the process we’ll find out as we talk about the album.

Even if Imai wrote JUST ONE MORE KISS for this album, we’d probably have tossed it out.
Because we prioritised our desire to do things that we’ve never done before for this album.

―― So, this album. Was there anything from your previous tour that you personally wanted to bring into it? Like something related to your drumming, or sensibilities.

Toll (T): Personally, there wasn’t anything in particular but…… Although there’s always been that wild aspect and things like that, I wanted to bring out more natural-sounding drums. That’s why I think most listeners might probably think that the drums sound muddy when they listen to it this time around. But I guess you could say that’s exactly what makes it a truly rare sound coming from the drums. When you hear most drums in the flesh, their sound would be muddy. But when it gets picked up by the mic, it’d turn into a really clean and beautiful sound, right? But that’s not reality, so there’s a part of me that feels that this muddy sound is contrarily better.

―― It seemed especially so in the intro of Kimi no Vanilla.

T: Yeah (lol). That was recorded with something like this (tape recorder for interviews). Because doing that created a really great effect.

―― That’s pretty extreme, but this kind of sound that seems as if you just walked into the studio and recorded on a whim is rather fresh, isn’t it? Gives it a unique vibe too.

T: I guess it’s because the muddiness of the drums itself makes it more real. We just did it with a simple, “How’s this?”, “Sounds good.” But it came together very well, didn’t it? That’s why I’ve had enough of processed, clear sound qualities…… then again, anything goes in these times, so I guess I just want to do things that other people don’t do. Which is why I told my friend’s kid who plays the drums, “Don’t copy me.” But the kid retorted, “There’s no way I can copy such a sound.” (Lol).

―― (Lol) On the other hand, was there ever a period of time when you sought to drum with precision for a clear sound?

T: Rather than seeking it, it naturally turned out that way. Probably like our 3rd album TABOO. I guess you could say it’s because we had a producer (Owen Paul) so I simply had to be precise. But that was also a lesson in a good way, and I get the feeling that it also led into the albums that followed.

―― Would you say that if not for that experience, it would only be much later on that you’d go in the direction that you’ve chosen for this album?

T: Yeah. It might probably only happen much later.

―― But in the past, I used to have the impression that you’d go all out drumming the 8-beat pattern, yet recently, it’s like you’re more toned down or something. For example, I noticed that you’ve shifted towards the idea that drums are supposed to be an instrument played by humans and that’s what they should be.

T: I’m not all that conscious of it, though. It’s just the way it is now. That’s why I’d say that if we’re talking half a year ago or half a year later, I might feel differently too. But, you know, our recording sessions used to be very tense, but now, I can even think about how roughly or relaxed I want to drum. In the past, I wouldn’t say that it was autonomic dysfunction but there was turmoil similar to that. It’s as if your head’s always spinning (lol).

―― Was it really that bad (lol).

T: Yeah. But I won’t be able to drum well if I get too excited either. Because that happens, I decided to get very relaxed for in darker~. Up until then, I had been drumming at full power like crazy but once I decided to do that, I somehow started to feel the groove in chunks. But I wanted to produce a rounded sound, you know. It was completely different once I started drumming with leeway to spare. It’s definitely because I could move freely when I did that. …… But for this album, I didn’t really think about that. I just wanted to drum so…… It might spell trouble for me to say this, but I don’t really know whether I did well or not yet (lol). Although, there’s a strong sense of accomplishment. But, simply put, I lose interest quickly in things that are immediately obvious. There were aspects in darker~ like that, but comparing that album to our current one, I think that album might still be easier to comprehend than this.

―― Could that partly be also due to the idea of making music with the listeners in mind having faded off?

T: But for us, we’ve never done that since the very beginning (lol).

―― Since the beginning (lol). Ever since you debuted?

T: Yeah. We’ve really been doing whatever we like. That’s why, I’m grateful that we do get sales to a certain extent, though (lol). But if we do something badly, it’s just for our own satisfaction anyway, right?

―― Then, do you get the sense that having made it this far, you can now do something like this too?

T: I don’t, not really. It’s just how things turned out when we gave it a go. We don’t even consider things like, “Shall we go with an easy to remember melody?” (Lol). Because we decide whether something is cool or not based on our own standards. Like, if one of us said, “Isn’t this tacky?”, that thing would get tossed out.

―― This perspective on how good something is, are the members of the band always in agreement over it?

T: …… Before, oftentimes Imai would say, “This will definitely be a good song so let’s do this,” and I’d retort, “This isn’t ever gonna work.” (Lol). But that doesn’t happen so much any more. In any case. We have to respect the other’s feelings (lol).

―― So, if there’s even the slightest disagreement, you’d have to put in the effort to understand each person’s opinion on what’s cool (lol).

T: Because we’re a democracy (lol). Majority wins. Whenever we have to decide on something. …… But the songs that Hide wrote in the beginning were very pop. I thought that was incredible. But Acchan said, “It’s not the kind of music we’re doing now.” And Imai’s one word of, “Old-fashioned.” (Lol).

―― (Lol) Did you decide to deliberately eliminate pop music or something like that? For this album.

T: Mm~n. That’s why I think if Imai wrote JUST ONE MORE KISS for this album, we’d probably have tossed it out. It’s not that we’re intentionally eliminating anything pop, but more than that, it’s because we prioritised our desire to do things that we’ve never done before for this album. And when I think of totality, that song comes to mind, so that’s just it.

―― Ahh, I see. By the way, how did the recording work itself go? The sense of fulfillment after completion seems to be quite high, though.

T: But it was tiring (lol). Because, so far, the rhythm portion has always been the very first thing to be recorded, right? But this time, even though we’ve started tracking the music, we were still recording the rhythms (lol).

―― That’s because there were songs that were handed in quite late, right (lol).

T: Because Imai is a slow starter (lol).

―― How was it compared to the last time?

T: It’s the first time that things dragged on so long.

―― Won’t it mess up the pace? Your own too.

T: Even if it would, there’s nothing we could do about it, right? Besides, we’ve even posted the ads (lol). When I saw it, I thought, “It’s going on sale sometime in May. Can we make it?” (lol). At first, when we finished recording 11 or 12 songs, I thought, “Ah, I guess that’s all of it.” But then, Imai said something like, “I’m working on 2 songs.” But I guess he wanted to keep working on it until he was satisfied. You know…… It happens all the time, but we were told that the manufacturer was waiting for us. They stopped production.

―― (Lol) Amazing. A band that stops even the factories.

T: Hahahaha.

―― But is this recent pace of releases ideal for BUCK-TICK? For Japan, it’s come to a point where the average is to release one album a year. Compared to that, you’re taking a little bit more time, though.

T: But that, you know, is because it’s business, right? Releasing something every year. So, thanks to this, my annual income has been cut in half (lol). Because we didn’t release anything last year too. …… Kukukuk. We’re poor (lol). I was shocked when I filed my tax return. Like, “I can only save this little.” (Lol). That’s why, from a business point of view, I’d like to push something out every half a year or so (lol). But, you know…… In the end, it’s unrelated, isn’t it? [Music and] whether it makes business sense or not.

 

 

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Direct Dialogue — Hisashi Imai vs Dai Onojima

The controversy over Uta finally comes to an end!!

Mr Onojima’s criticism of Uta from 2 issues ago caused quite a stir, prompting Mr Okamoto and Mr Ohno to bring a re-examination of the song in the last issue, but I believe, in the end, to truly settle this controversy, we had to wait for composer Hisashi Imai to make an appearance after all.
In this article, Imai shows up to answer Mr Onojima’s questions about Uta and Six/Niɴe as well.

How will he counter Mr Onojima’s scathing comments?

Uta was written in the spur of a moment. It’s only natural that there would be split opinions, but that’s fine.
I’ve come to feel a lack of freedom with the format that we’ve done our songs in thus far, because you can see already where we’re heading with it.

Back in the March issue, I wrote a rather critical review of BUCK-TICK’s single Uta/Kimi e. There were a lot of responses to it including those from the band members, so this article was written to ask them, especially Hisashi Imai, the one who leads the band in their sound direction, for their counterarguments and their creative intentions.

However, since that article was written back when I had only listened to the single, the criticism I wrote was only focused on that song in the single, so now that the album is complete and Uta has now taken its rightful place in it as one of the tracks, it doesn’t make sense for us to continue discussing just that one song. And so here, we will be looking at the overall album concept and flow, which includes Uta.

The very first thing I can conclude is, Hisashi Imai is Hisashi Imai after all. “No matter what critics may say, I will do what I want to do and when it results in something that I’m proud of, I don’t particularly care about criticism or anything like that.” That is what Imai said in a nutshell. He truly is a man who goes his own way. And that’s fine. He makes music. I talk about music. Those are the things we have to do in our respective professions.

First, we started talking about the production concept of the single Uta.

“With that guitar riff, the song was quickly finished. I wrote it without thinking too hard. We chose to feature this song as the single because it’s been quite a while [since our last release], and we thought that it would perplex listeners especially because it’s a song that sounded like a chorus without a chorus, something unlike anything we had ever done before. I think it’s only natural that there would be split opinions about this song. Like some may get surprised or wonder, ‘Uhー what’s this?’. But that’s fine, I don’t really care.”

In other words, not only did he, to a certain extent, expect criticism like mine, he is also saying that he made a controversial piece of work that was bound to stir up discussions. Regarding my comments about how the imbalance between the singing and the music was a problem, this was what he said.

“Even now, we’ve got heavy-sounding songs like Deep Slow and Ao no Sekai anyway. So I don’t like it when people tell me that. Because we’ve put in the effort to make sure that these songs won’t sound like that too. But, well, I guess what will be will be. It’s just the kind of song it is anyway.”

That is to say Imai means that he doesn’t want the verdict of whether his music is good or not to come from people who received a sample CD for free, people like me. He clearly states that the only people who are qualified to judge his music are “those who spent their own money to buy the CDs”.  Then, I asked whether he meant that his music should only be judged by record sales, he answered, “Well, yes. Because all kinds of people will be listening to it.” It appears that his reasoning is that the assessment of music is based on personal subjectivity, and the only objective standard is record sales. But it doesn’t mean that good music will definitely sell, nor does sellable music necessarily equate to good music.

Next, the production concept of the album.

“So far, we have had concepts that could be described as ‘heavy’ or ‘dark’ and so on, but I didn’t want to make something around those concepts this time. I wanted [the album] to give the feeling that something else had escaped, like an additional something to the music that BUCK-TICK has been making thus far or something. The feeling that you can see where we’re heading with the style that we’ve had until now. In other words, I’ve come to feel a lack of freedom with the standard format of songs which start with an introduction, followed by the verse, then the chorus, and a guitar solo, and so on.”

I suppose this means that the BUCK-TICK sound that they have established thus far has turned into something that is no longer inspiring to Imai. That’s why their new album is actually a collection of different types of songs with a variety of arrangements. There are songs like Uta too, which are heavy yet are in no way one-dimensional. It’s a good thing, but rather than giving me the impression that [the album] “holds a rich variety”, it feels more like an album that shows the difficulties of using trial and error instead. To that extent, I don’t get the same power of completeness that darker than darkness has from this album, neither do I sense anything close to a deep conviction. Instead, all I get is the feeling that it is still on the way to completion, with songs that sound like ambient techno that, depending on how you listen to them, feel diffusive and out of focus.

“I wonder. I wanted to include a variety of songs, and I sure did include them. But I didn’t want [the album] to feel frivolous, like we simply tried to put different songs together. Yet, on the other hand, I thought it’d be very risky for us to fill up the album purely with songs like Uta.”

Following his experience with Shaft and other external projects, I think the horizons of Imai’s own creative appetite has grown all of a sudden. Imai, who had only known nothing but the band that is BUCK-TICK until recently, has started to possess an urge to express music beyond the category of BUCK-TICK. And as a result, perhaps a gap has appeared between the things he wanted to express and the band’s range of allowance. To put it differently, therein lies the question of how he can turn what he wants to do into reality with the present band. These troubles are now more clearly visible than ever before.

“Right. So how are we going to execute what we want to do together as a band of 5? But it’s also not as if it’s impossible to perform this song without being in a band.”

However, there is one thing I’m uncertain about regarding his reason for being so particular about doing things in a band and as a band. Let’s say, even if drums and bass guitar were excluded depending on the song, while guitars and vocals were taken depending on the occasion, BUCK-TICK is still BUCK-TICK and this doesn’t diminish the importance of each member or their unity. Somehow, although the things he wants to do have long since gone beyond the restrictive category of bands, he’s giving me the impression that deliberately forcing himself to squeeze into that small frame.

Imai himself says that he believes that his band mates understands his intentions. 100%. But I’m under the impression that apparently, communication with his bandmates wasn’t always smooth this time around. It feels to me that as a result, this shows in the vocals-music balance in Uta, in the album’s overall unfocused ambiguity, in how conspicuous it is that the album is the aftermath of ups and downs, and all these things. I do wonder whether Imai had no choice but to stick to his insistence of the “format” of a band because there wasn’t enough mutual communication involved. Or perhaps, this opinion is just a little too farfetched.

After I wrote my review of Uta, I had hoped that I would change my assessment of it after listening to the album. But honestly speaking, even after I’ve now heard what Imai had to say, the murky feeling I’ve got hasn’t disappeared. I think there’s no one who praised Kurutta Taiyou, Koroshi no Shirabe, and darker~ more than me. However, when I listened to this new release, it did not hit me with an impact that got me feeling, “Amazing! They’ve won me over!” or a freshness that made my heart throb like those albums did. Those albums had a monstrous power, asense of unity that forcefully pins the listener into a corner without leaving room for negotiation. I suppose it can be said that I was overwhelmed by the immensity of their talent which grew with every new album they released.

However, even if this time’s BUCK-TICK release was “hard work”, I cannot say that it was their “best work”. Perhaps, BUCK-TICK are now at a critical juncture in their career. At least, that’s how I feel.

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Endless Dei (@DeiEndless on Twitter)

 

Related articles:

[Apr 1995] Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll: Review of BUCK-TICK’s Uta/Kimi e Single

[Jul 1995] Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll: Part 2 of Atsushi Sakurai’s interview