“The Parade Will Always Go On”
BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. Official First Day Concert Report
15 October 2022
After BUCK-TICK celebrated the 35th anniversary of their major debut and released their best-of album CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. on 21 September 2022, they kicked off their national tour BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. with their first show at Tachikawa Stage Garden on 13 October.
Looking back at BUCK-TICK’s anniversary concerts, both the 20th and 25th anniversary shows were lively festival-style events featuring artists who participated in their tribute albums. For their 30th anniversary show, they switched to putting on a bang of a solo show over two days with a special stage set up at Odaiba, Tokyo and vastly different setlists for each day covering their 30-year career.
Their 35th anniversary concert was held on 23 and 24 September this year at Yokohama Arena, Kanagawa. The setlist was a departure from the festive mood of the previous anniversary live shows; instead of going for nostalgia of the past, they performed songs with messages that were crucial for the present and overwhelmed the audience with the use of bold imagery that even covered the performing members from view to bring this worldview into reality.
BUCK-TICK is a truly rare band of its kind. Huge posters were put up in Shinjuku and Shibuya stations during the run-up to the 35th anniversary show. I saw a group of office workers on their way home from work who stopped when they saw the poster that featured BUCK-TICK’s debut photo and the band as they are now posing in the same way.
“Wow, what a throwback.” “BUCK-TICK? …… You know them?” “Oh, yeah. They used to be a Visual-Kei band back then, though.”
That was a conversation I overheard, probably between a boss and his staff. Fans who heard it will probably think there’s a bunch of wrong information there, and those who aren’t fans will probably think that’s all there is to the conversation.
However, the undeniable facts are that BUCK-TICK has continued to focus on their music and evolve for 35 years without losing themselves, they have performed at the Nippon Budokan almost every year, their revolutionary sound and discrete style are a major influence on bands who came after them, and even now, they’re still being “discovered” and are attracting all kinds of audiences. Such bands are hard to come by.
On the other hand, the news that their singer Sakurai Atsushi would be a radio personality (every Friday at 9pm from October to December on FM COCOLO) “for the first time in his 35-year career” caused a stir among their fans. It’s probably hard to find another band who would fit in such a box.
While they did live stream concerts and have a film concert tour during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the first time in almost three years that the band is holding a national hall tour with 21 shows. While the first show of their tour may bring a whole lot of nerves, the selection of songs were full of character, bringing smiles and tears where appropriate. The band ensemble rich with expression and a full-on performance from fingertips to toes tactfully weaved the show together.
The setlist, built around these five concepts of their best-of album, CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. which showcased the band’s songs in themes rather than a timeline, was fresh with the way it linked two timeless songs to create a new story and also included songs that hadn’t been performed in quite a while. Also, projection mapping visuals filled the stage, bringing to life the worldviews of each song in a way that is again different from what they showed us in the Yokohama Arena shows.
“I hope we get to shout ‘love’ and ‘peace’ together soon,” said Sakurai during an MC break before leading into Sayonara Shelter, the new song in their best-of album. This performance could very well be considered to be the highlight of this tour with the way he softly sings this song that is quiet yet strongly angry at the current state of the world despite its gentle melody, as if praying.
“I don’t know how it will last, but the parade will always go on.” ── Sakurai
“Parade” refers to BUCK-TICK’s locus. This word will always be attached to their anniversary shows. The message may sound contradictory for a moment, but we can sense their intention to “see the parade that is BUCK-TICK to the end”. But it’s still too early for us to get ahead of ourselves and feel sad about the end which we don’t even know when to anticipate.
Taking off with a spring in its step and full of lively music, this “B-T TRAIN” is fueled by the love of those who ride along with it. I’m certain it won’t be leaving anyone behind as it races towards its final destination, the 29 December show, BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan. And after that, we will await a new hope, and a new start in the form of a new album.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the “Beautiful Music” special feature is a theme that was made for BUCK-TICK. In this issue, we bring a long, wholehearted interview with Sakurai Atsushi and Imai Hisashi that gives us a look behind what inspires the band’s consistently beautiful visuals and their absolute worldview which comes second to none as they celebrate the 35th anniversary of their major debut.
Major Debut 35 Years
It’s been 35 years since the band first debuted with a major label. In that time, BUCK-TICK has remained at the forefront of their peers without a single change in band members or a member departure. Furthermore, their range of musical styles is so broad that they cannot be so easily described as a mere “rock band”.
At present, they have released 40 singles and 22 albums with major labels, all of which have achieved chart topping sales and records. Listening to the large number of songs they have produced is enough to engulf you in their immersive world while introducing you to all kinds of genres. In many ways, there is no other like them——
1st major-release single 「JUST ONE MORE KISS」 Released 26 October 1988
They had already released two albums prior to this but their first single came from the album, TABOO. This song might very well be the song that made BUCK-TICK known to the world when it was used as the commercial song for the CD radio-cassette player called CDian. It’s a song with a nuance of transience in it’s catchy tune.
First chart entry at no. 1 『TABOO』
Released 18 January 1989
The band’s 3rd album which was their first charting release, and also their first album to reach number one. The production of this album saw BUCK-TICK traveling overseas to record and work with a non-Japanese producer in the UK for the first time. It turned out to be an album which leaves a dark impression that leans strongly towards the new wave genre. Just as titled, the album TABOO had a number of songs that contained controversial content which were, however, tastefully presented.
Upon hearing the words “beautiful music”, BUCK-TICK will be the first rock band that comes to the minds of the women who were born in the 70s… At least, that’s what I think. Their image is undoubtedly beautiful, but even their music, their live performance style, everything about them is so beautiful that no other band even comes close. The subculture known as Visual-Kei grew to prominence in the 90s, but they still exist in a distinctly different sphere from it.
In other words, there was no BUCK-TICK before BUCK-TICK came to be, and there is no BUCK-TICK that came after BUCK-TICK’s formation. Even now, there are few bands who can boast a decades-long career, but there is almost no band who can say that they have not experienced a single member change or departure in the 35 years since they made their major debut in 1987. That alone is enough to make the band one-of-a-kind.
Among the members are singer Sakurai Atsushi and guitarist Imai Hisashi who are the faces of the band and the driving forces behind their concepts. First, we asked these two about the aesthetics they value and the considerations they keep in mind when creating the BUCK-TICK lens.
I don’t think along the lines of “I’ll keep this in mind”. Or rather, I think I would prefer not to constrain myself. That’s why, even with music, if I think that what I came up with is going to be cool, then what I’d do is keep digging deeper and work on it until it takes shape. But although that’s my thought process when I’m creating, in the end, I’d still find myself with something that is “still the BUCK-TICK sound after all”. This reason alone is why I feel that “being unconstrained” is also a personal motivation for me
I come up with my own lyrics so rather than a focus on beauty, it’s actually more that I cannot stand it if refinement is lacking in any area (lol). That’s why I’d pay a little more attention to that when I’m composing. I’d be glad if others also felt that what I created was “beautiful”, but that’s something that is decided upon by each audience’s respective sensibilities as they listen and watch. And I think that’s okay too, because people are free to feel any way they want, right?
I was surprised when I heard what Sakurai-san said. That’s right, he mentioned “refinement”! That’s what is found in Sakurai-san’s lyrics. While there certainly exists venom within them too, there is always “refinement” to be found, so we can’t help but sense its beauty alongside its venom.
I’m glad you feel that way. We often say this in reference to pretty flowers, but this “refinement” is also hidden in the shadows of the venom that is sprinkled all around; something that we can catch faint glimpses at times. I think that much is good enough.
Adding on, it is not only beautiful but, like what Imai said earlier about “being unconstrained”, there are also many challenging areas in BUCK-TICK’s music. In fact, they present a different variety of musical styles with every album they release. It’s a process of scrapping and building where they break down their image with their own hands and then reconstruct a new face again. Their conviction towards keep moving on without stopping is truly gloriously beautiful.
The moment I find a melody I want to try, I’d want to start composing for us to play it ourselves. As result, the band’s musical style had a debut-era flair, and part-way took on a groovy vibe and turned a kind of dancey, and we’ve dabbled in electronic music, techno and even genres that lean towards ambient sounds too. I guess that’s because of “the unsettled feeling of not doing something” (lol). But if we were to become a band that specialises in ambient music when we make ambient music, or industrial music if we’re making industrial music, that doesn’t feel quite right to me. That said, I don’t think I’d quite like it if we were to become a band that has everything like some kind of family restaurant¹ (lol). So I think it’s good as long as BUCK-TICK’s colours show up well no matter what musical style we’re doing.
Whatever the genre, BUCK-TICK’s colours are undoubtedly present. That is exactly what the five members of the band have cultivated in their almost 40 years together.
It’s probably obvious, but the way the five of us play our instruments and make music is what makes BUCK-TICK’s colours. And of course, I think Sakurai-san’s voice and style of singing is a big part of that. Because a voice is something only that one person owns, right? It’s me singing with my voice at the sample stage, but once we go into the recording studio and change it to Sakurai-san’s singing, the song really changes completely. I’d feel that it now exudes the BUCK-TICK vibes.
Having an awareness of “performing” when on stage
Sakurai’s voice full of depth and mystery is truly one-of-a-kind. These days, singers whose voices become indistinguishable when you listen to them just a little can be found here and there, but Sakurai is special. His voice leaves such a strong impression that you can’t help but turn your attention to him the moment you hear him. To maintain that voice, Sakurai himself pays particular attention to a number of things.
I become very nervous about the condition of my throat before a concert or recording session. Recording sessions and concerts are respectively different too, but after a concert, I’ll be tired and I’ll avoid speaking and eating spicy food. Even so, I’d still drink though (lol). Because I’ll get stressed out if I quit (lol).
Why he became so cautious is because of the mistakes he made in his youth.
I couldn’t even fully utilise my voice when I was young, and I didn’t consider pacing myself either. Because of that, I destroyed by voice during a tour when we had three consecutive days of livehouse performances. That made me reflect on myself. I realised I can’t only think of myself because it’s an insult to the audience who took the time and effort to come and see us. I became rather anxious after that. When you hear a professional vocalist or a professional stage actor speak, you can immediately tell that they take care of their voices, so that’s something that I felt I should learn from them. The idea that “it doesn’t matter since we’re rockers” isn’t quite right to me.
Sakurai’s silhouette on stage is also exceedingly beautiful. This is easy to grasp when you watch their most recent concert video release, Misemono-goya ga Kureta kara-SHOW AFTER DARK- in Nippon Budokan. The brilliance of his posturing and gestures is so captivating it lays hold on your heart. How he grew to become so meticulous in “putting on a show” was answered in this section of the column, where he talks about the influence of his admired and respected industry seniors.
Of course, the thing I cherish the most is singing, but there are many other elements apart from music and singing that makes a concert. There’s lighting and the stage sets, stage transitions and all that which are crucial in putting a concert together, so we take all these different things into consideration when we put on a show. And in all of that, I especially am the person who performs as the characters who feature in the songs’ narratives. That’s something I’ve come to keep in mind.
That’s right. The world that BUCK-TICK creates on stage is not of this world. Because of how it’s neither closely relatable nor similar to daily life, it mesmerises the audience and immerses them in it. I would think that this isn’t anything like “empathising”. However, the beauty of these stories make our hearts flutter and kindle emotions from the depths our hearts. Perhaps this, too, is another power that entertainment possesses.
When we were young, we let the staff take charge of the stage. But gradually, the desire that asks, “How does the audience perceive us? How do we want them to perceive us?” grew. So bit by bit, we began to talk with staff who work the stage. For example, when I want the spotlight to shine over my head at this point in time, or when we want more smoke for a particular song. And after we started using videos too, depending on the song, we’d be making requests like, “Please make a video like this.” Or, “Please use the video as lighting.” In recent years, we’ve grown able to materialise the worlds that we want to present to our audience. But I’m just saying things (lol), so it feels like people are making things for me.
When it comes to the stage, we basically use what our frontman Sakurai-san comes up with as a foundation. Then the rest of us will see what other ideas we have with regards to it, and that’s more or less how we’re doing it now in recent years. After all, I think that the one with the ideas should propose them first anyway, and when we have meetings, Sakurai-san would a whole bunch of things like videos and photo collections, illustrated books and all those things too. So it’s like we’re expanding on the idea from there.
In the end, nothing beats performing with an audience right in front of you
For a time, the chances of getting to watch a concert in person fell drastically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. BUCK-TICK, too, was affected. The aforementioned concert at Nippon Budokan was their one and only concert with a live audience in 2021. Live streamed concerts are certainly convenient. But without getting to feel the heat and the atmosphere in the hall, it is definitely not enough for those of our era who grew up going to live concerts in person. When you feel at a live concert what you can’t get from a CD, it will naturally bring tears to your eyes. Because it’s these experiences that enrich our lives. And to the artists, as well, concerts are undoubtedly a special space and time when they get to meet their fans in person.
We were also unable to stage concerts throughout that time, but last year, we finally got to do our show at Budokan. When I came face to face with our audience after such a long time, that feeling of “Ahh, this is as nice as I remembered,” came over me. We did a bunch of trial and error with streaming and what we could do with it, but in the end, nothing beats performing with an audience right in front of you. I really felt in my bones that this really was the best of all.
Entertainment was said to be non-essential and as a result of that trend, entertainment disappeared entirely for a time. But when that happened, we realised that it was actually the opposite; entertainment enriches our lives and it is something we cannot live without.
We kicked off our fanclub & mobile membership-exclusive concert tour the other day, and it’s already been three years since we did the last one. For three years we couldn’t perform in livehouses. Even now, the audience has to keep their masks on and we can only see their eyes, but even so, I could sense very strongly that they were really looking forward to this. Because there were also audience members who cried. Even though the situation is uncompromising, seeing that makes me feel that it’s a good thing that we’re doing this.
When a band has been around for as long as BUCK-TICK has, “We’ll be able to spot teenaged audience members and sometimes much older folk too” — Sakurai. Not two, but three generations of a family. It’s rare that we ever find a rock band who has been loved for such a long time, but there is no question that this is because they bring us a world which comes second to none, which only they can create.
After this, they will prepare for their national tour for CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv., and in addition, they also have in the works something that “puts what I’m feeling now into song” — Sakurai. To the women of the 70s who continue to derive joy from BUCK-TICK’s music, here’s a message from them to close things off.
Anyway, being able to enjoy yourself every day, I think that’s all that matters. Don’t need to try too hard. I think it’s enough to use just half of your whole effort.
Gloomy news is everywhere right now, but I think it’d be good if you can find just one thing that you like, or one thing that makes you feel at ease despite it all. I hope that by doing that, you’ll be able to brighten up your life and enjoy it to its fullest.
Conscious down to his fingertips by the teachings of his seniors in aesthetics
The roots of Sakurai’s “aesthetics” all come from artists with their own unique perspectives. “In terms of foreign artists, it’s David Bowie. Japanese, it’s ISSAY-san from Der Zibet, DEAD END’s MORRIE-san too possesses a very strong sense of aesthetic too, I think. Among them, I’ve received instruction from ISSAY-san who also does pantomime. Ever since then, I became interested in the art of “putting on a show” and have grown conscious [of how I present myself] down to my fingertips.
Incorporating fashion, hairstyles in the 80s when the macabre was popular
Unbound by stereotypes, Imai’s roots are wide and varied. “YMO and RC Succession, The Stalin, of course, BOØWY too, but generally, 80s punk and new wave and techno. I started out with those types of Japanese music before moving towards Western music. I wasn’t only influenced by the music, but also by their fashion and hairstyles, makeup too. The macabre was relatively popular in the 80s, and I thought that was interesting so I incorporated that too
BUCK-TICK’s 35th Debut Anniversary 2-Day Concert at Yokohama Arena
27 September 2022
We have received the official concert report of BUCK-TICK’s 35th debut anniversary concert, BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE”～35th anniversary～ which was held on two days on the Friday and Saturday, 23rd and 24th of September 2022 at Yokohama Arena.
BUCK-TICK celebrated their 35th debut anniversary with no change in member line-up on 21 September 2022. On the 23rd and 24th, the held their 35th debut anniversary concert, BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE” ～35th anniversary～ at Yokohama Arena in Kanagawa.
There were two main special characteristics for this 35th anniversary show.
The first was dynamic light and video production which made use of 12 lasers and a large LED screen. Past anniversary concerts, named “PARADE” which came before were all held on outdoor stage like the special outdoor stage created at Yokohama Minato Mirai Shinko Pier in 2007, at Chiba Port Park in 2012, and Odaiba Yagai Tokusetsu Kaijo in 2017, making this the first anniversary concert being held in an arena. At an outdoor venue, lighting and visual effects don’t come into play until the sun sets, so this time, the band was able to construct their world right from the very start.
There is one fixed screen on each side of the stage, plus one giant screen at the back of the stage and one more large screen in front of the stage. The screen in front of the stage could be moved which meant that while there were some sets there the screen remained in front of the stage like a faded filter over the band members, there were also sets when it would be raised up, removed to create a three-dimensional effect with the depth of the screen in the background.
If I were to pick the most impactful scene among the songs performed on both days as an example, it would be the second song they performed, BABEL, which has a story which pulls you in its euphoria and deep heavy groove. The Tower of Babel was shown against a bright red background on the screen behind, while the screen in front which previously concealed the band slowly rose up as if illustrating the disquieting building of the Tower of Babel.
What left a truly strong impression on me was the performance of Aikawarazu no `Are’ no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari(2022MIX) around the middle of the show that had a languid jungle beat and saw Imai Hisashi (on guitar) taking on the role of lead singer. The sight of Sakurai Atsushi’s (singer) face on the back screen coalescing with the numerous writhing hands on the bright red screen towards the front of the stage inspired the same creepiness you would get in a horror movie.
During the mid-tempo Guernica no Yoru which tells of the tragedies of war, we saw an amusement park under the stars, crumbling with the passage of time. At Aku no Hana during the encore, red, blue and green lasers were shot from the stage into the audience. During Yume Miru Uchuu in the second encore, the screen in front of the stage rose almost to the ceiling to combine with the back screen and create what felt like the endless void of outer space.
The visuals and lighting used to further develop the world of the songs sometimes drowned out or silhouetted the members, and if one were to say that live performances are about enjoying the playing style and facial expressions live, then this choice of production might have seemed rather bold. But when we consider the fact that BUCK-TICK made their video debut 35 years ago as “visual artists”, one can also say that this time, they were being conscious of their “origins” on stage.
And the second special characteristic was how the set list wasn’t comprehensive of their 35-year career or brimming with a festive mood even though these concerts were in celebration of their 35th anniversary.
This year, the first show was named “FLY SIDE” and the second was named “HIGH SIDE”, just like their shows at Odaiba in 2017. But while the Odaiba setlist looked back over their 30 years with a collection of songs that covers a relatively complete range of eras, from the indie era and early numbers such as Fly High, this year’s set list seemed to focus on where the band is now and where they’re headed towards in the future while incorporating the messages they want to convey at this point in time.
That said, BUCK-TICK thus far tends to decide on their set list based on the songs that each band member suggests. But the set list this time around appears to centre around CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv., their best-of album collection that was recently released on 21 September.
They also appear to have worked with the stage production team to focus it all around Sakurai too. As a result, the show’s content was saturated with his message. Which was especially conspicuous when they performed Rakuen, REVOLVER, Guernica no Yoru and, live for the first time, their new song Sayonara Shelter on both days.
Shrouded in a black veil from his head, Sakurai sounded the tingsha in his hands during Rakuen’s cutting narration of a war-torn country looking upon a conflagration on the opposite shore as an opportunity. During the highly aggressive and fast-paced REVOLVER, he puts his finger to his temple, shouting, “Shoot the child’s future!”¹. In the last part of Guernica no Yoru, a song where he sings from the perspective of a young protagonist about the devastation of air strikes, a brief respite came after he sang “After seeing such a dream, I woke up”². But brief it was, before they dove into a song inspired by the current state of the world, Sayonara Shelter which illustrates the madness of reality amidst a gentle melody.
Another thing I want to highlight is their performance of Kinjirareta Asobi -ADULT CHILDREN- on the first day. This song tells of traumatised grown-up children (adult children) who have closed themselves off going through the process of stepping outside and saying “I’m leaving of this room”³. During the performance, a large white wall appeared on the screen in front of the stage with a black, gaping exit painted right where Sakurai was standing and at the end of the song, Sakurai said, “This is dedicated to all the adult children.” All of it left a deep impression on me.
It would appear that Sakurai, who channels his thoughts and feelings into stories and puts them into his lyrical world, was very determined to strongly lay bare his message through this set list. For his gaze was sharp, his singing was strong and powerful, and filled with compassion too.
Of the 21 songs performed on each of the two days, ten of them, or half were fixed songs but the eleven alternated songs added to the set list provided different sides of the band.
The first day started with the industrial-sounding EDM track ICONOCLASM. Hard hammer beats, edgy guitar riffs and a deep mechanical-sounding voice are unleashed with lasers from behind a screen that remains down in front of the stage. The glorious BABEL came next, followed by Uta which started with Yagami Toll’s (on drums) tight drum intro that led into a robust groove which then flowed into the melancholic Gekka Reijin.
“Welcome. Do enjoy yourself,” was Sakurai’s short coquettish MC that served as a lead into MaimuMime. In a video which moves from a street which looks like Jiufen, Taiwan to a close-up shot in a room, Sakurai makes use of his black wide-brimmed hat, a chair, and glimpses of his thighs as puts on a one-man performance of the bewitching games between men and women.
During Kyoki no Dead Heat, which feels like running at hyper speed, cameramen with movie cameras went on stage to capture the aggressive members strutting up and down the stage extensions on both the left and right side.
To close off the main set were three songs brimming with hope. Go-Go B-T TRAIN’s performance was spectacular with light shining on the large mirror balls on either side of the stage. The colourful graphics reminiscent of CD jackets, smoke billowing like steam from a steam locomotive, and a lively ensemble that nimbly runs through the heavy, creaking locomotive adds to the electricity in the arena.
The stage lit up with flames for the next song, Memento Mori with tribal rhythms, Okinawan-sound scales, and shouts of “Wooha!” echoing. And finally, they ended with New World, leading us out of darkness and into a bright future.
The encore began with Django!!! -Genwaku no Django-. A rich groove was produced by Imai’s exotic guitar sounds coupled with Hoshino Hidehiko’s (on guitar) light acoustic guitar and the bass notes of Higuchi Yutaka (on bass), who came to the front of the stage during the bridge. As for Sakurai, he wore a silk hat on his head, had black feathers around his neck, and hot shorts and knee-high stockings, essentially dressing burlesque-style as he showed off his thighs and sways his hips as he sang.
Following the heaviness of Aku no Hana, Sakurai said, “Please have a listen to a nostalgic song from the album we debuted with 35 years ago.” With that, they proceeded into ILLUSION. The oldest of the songs performed over these two days, it evokes nostalgia with its lyrics that seem to bring up old memories.
In the second encore, they performed a graceful rendition of Koi, a requiem that combines fragility and strength. After that came Yume Miru Uchuu which was performed on a stage with the cosmos unfolding before it. Then, the big finale, Solaris. The macrocosmic cosmos and the microcosmic cells of a random person. The beautiful soundscapes created by the band and Sakurai’s enchanting falsetto, set to a moving visual image that evokes this connection, left a lasting impression.
Opening the second day the straight rock song Elise no Tame ni created a sense of unity from the start. The band was less tense with their singing and playing than the first day, and they looked relaxed on stage. With Sakurai’s slow swaying rope-crossing performance of TIGHT ROPE created a floating sensation, followed by the chunky bass riffs and the guitar’s rigid cutting in Mienai Mono wo Miyou to Suru Gokai Subete Gokai da, and finally MOONLIGHT ESCAPE’s singing so carefree that it feels like we’re flying over the moon, there was even an emotional moment where we saw Imai strumming his guitar while lying on the floor in the outro.
Sakurai seemed to mimic David Bowie’s voice as he said, “Let’s Dance〜” before they dove into Dance Tengoku. Then, starting with an interlude from Imai’s guitar was BOY septem peccata mortalia where the members of the band were freely roaming all over the stage, being chased by the camera crew or staring into a camera while crawling on stage; so much was going on that we could barely keep up with our eyes.
The stage was set aglow by the flames in ROMANCE, where we got to hear Sakurai’s beautiful falsetto and after that, came the last song, same as the first day’s; New World. Powerful vocals pushed forward with clean-toned riffs that seemed to burst with light and the powerful 4/4 rhythm. It’s a song fit to end the set for these five who are taking a new step forward.
The first encore featured the newly remixed ANGELIC CONVERSATION (2022MIX) from their best-of album, Aku no Hana, and the dramatic pop ballad HEAVEN. In the second encore were the heartfelt ballad Boukyaku, Yume Miru Uchuu, and finally, Kodou (2022MIX). BUCK-TICK’s magnificent paean to humanity, dedicated to all life was sung in high spirits, bringing the two-day festivities to a close.
Despite celebrating their 35th anniversary on the big stage, BUCK-TICK had already entered a new phase. Furthermore, it looks like they’re already headed in a certain direction.
“Since our 35th anniversary year has just begun, there’s a lot for us to do, and a lot for us to be happy about. After we’re done with today, Anii and Yuta will begin rehearsing for the tour tomorrow. And Imai-san and Hide will compose new songs. And I…… will sleep (smiles).”
While listening to this MC by Sakurai, I recalled a time in their early days of exhausting work where they were going on tour for their second album right after they concluded recording work for their third album. Finding out that there were some things that still haven’t changed since those days made me laugh a little.
I’ve been hearing that the new release slated for the coming spring will be based on a new, never-before-seen concept. Expectations are high for the future of BUCK-TICK, who continues to avariciously evolve even past their 35th anniversary.
■BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ～35th anniversary～ FLY SIDE Friday, 23 September 2022 | Yokohama Arena
SE. THEME OF B-T
M3. 唄 [Uta]
M4. 月下麗人 [Gekka Reijin]
M5. 舞夢マイム [Maimu Mime]
M6. 狂気のデッドヒート [Kyoki no Dead Heat]
M7. 禁じられた遊び -ADULT CHILDREN- [Kinjirareta Asobi -ADULT CHILDREN-]
M8. 相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマリがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり (2022MIX)
[Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari (2022MIX)]
M9. 楽園 [Rakuen]
M11. ゲルニカの夜 [Guernica no Yoru]
M12. さよならシェルター (新曲) [Sayonara Shelter (New song)]
M13. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
M14. Memento mori
M15. New World
EN1-1. Django!!!-眩惑のジャンゴ- [Django!!!-Genwaku no Django-]
EN1-2. 惡の華 [Aku no Hana]
EN2-1. 恋 [Koi]
EN2-2. 夢見る宇宙 [Yume Miru Uchuu]
■BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” 〜35th anniversary〜 HIGH SIDE Saturday, 24 September 2022 | Yokohama Arena
SE. THEME OF B-T
M1. エリーゼのために [Elise no Tame ni]
M3. Tight Rope
M4. 見えない物を見ようとする誤解 全て誤解だ [Mienai Mono wo Miyou to Suru Gokai Subete Gokai da]
M5. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
M6. ダンス天国 [Dance Tengoku]
M7. BOY septem peccata mortalia
M8. 相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマリがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり (2022MIX)
[Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari (2022MIX)]
M9. 楽園 [Rakuen]
M11. ゲルニカの夜 [Guernica no Yoru]
M12. さよならシェルター (新曲) [Sayonara Shelter (New song)]
M13. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
M15. New World
BUCK-TICK is celebrating their 35th anniversary They have released 22 original albums since debuting with a major label. The beautiful worldview they construct by uniquely sublimating influences from punk, new wave, and popular songs, along with the bewitching and solid aura they exude as a rock band continue to attract many listeners while the power of their songwriting and live performances shows no sign of abating.
On 21 September, they will be releasing both CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv., a consolidation of their 35-year career in a 5-disc best-of album collection, and the concert film production Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜 in Nippon Budokan. One would assume that both releases are no doubt considered as must-haves with new discoveries to be made for both long-time fans and new listeners who are just getting into BUCK-TICK.
Here on Real Sound, we have started a project where we invite celebrities to talk about BUCK-TICK’s charms. In this installment, we have HIROSHI, who gained popularity as a comedian with his “I’m HIROSHI” skits and has recently garnered attention for his solo camping video uploads to talk about his love for BUCK-TICK.
BUCK-TICK left an impact on HIROSHI when he first came across them in high school and in the 35 years since then, BUCK-TICK has continued to be part of his life. With a youthful twinkle in his eyes and sometimes emotional tears, HIROSHI talks about how he still continues to look up to them today.
We hope you’ll enjoy this BUCK-TICK-filled conversation that covers topics from how HIROSHI first came across them, to his favourite songs, and of course, behind-the-scenes stories from his conversation with Sakurai Atsushi on NHK Educational TV’s SWITCH Interview Tatsujin-tachi. (Editorial department)
Debut 35th Anniversary Concept Best Album『CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.』Preview Trailer
BUCK-TICK shocked me with their dyed hair standing high
ーーFirst, start by telling us about how you came across BUCK-TICK.
HIROSHI (H): I was already a child who was very fascinated by bands ever since I was in elementary school to begin with. The very first band I saw [playing live] was a cover band of high schoolers from a neighbouring town who was performing THE MODS’ Hageshii Ame ga at an outdoor event. That got me thinking, “Bands are so cool!” I became very focused on being popular in my later years of elementary school but I always thought that bands were the equivalent of popularity, so when I started middle school, I tried to start my own band. But it didn’t go very well. I had no money, and there were no cheap second-hand music stores like what we have now, so acquiring instruments itself was an uphill battle. Nevertheless, I did manage to start a band in high school.
ーーWhat part of the band did you play?H: Bass. At the time when I started the band, music like heavy metal and hard rock were popular among the band-playing people so we initially decided to cover EARTHSHAKER, but it didn’t really fit fashion-wise. Then BOØWY appeared and I intuitively thought, “They’re cool!” Probably because I loved how they wore their hair up. In BUCK-TICK’s case, they made their hair stand high and they even dyed it, so that really shocked me the first time I saw them. But while reflecting on why I seemed attracted by hair styled like that, along the way, I came to the realisation that I liked punk music. When I told those around me who only wanted to play hard rock that I wanted to play punk music though, I was immediately shot down.
ーーDo you remember the first BUCK-TICK song you ever heard?
H: At this point, I’m not sure what was the actual first song, but I still remember watching their performance of FUTURE FOR FUTURE on TV like it was yesterday (※probably their performance on the January 1987 broadcast of the NHK music program Young Studio 101). I recorded that on VHS and watched it numerous times over. It’d be weird to say that it felt like they were giving their all, but there was this very strong spirit like, “We’re the coolest!”, “Watch us make our way to the top”. Sakurai (Atsushi)-san never stopped moving anyway. I think at the time, he was at war with the pressure from the idea that he had to stand out and that there’s no backing out for him since he was the person who asked to be given the position of vocalist. It’s as if all of that was being conveyed through the screen. Another one I remember very clearly was their performance of …IN HEAVEN… on a white stage set with BUCK-TICK written on it (※probably their performance on the January 1989 broadcast of the NHK music program Just Pop Up).
ーーWhat was the first BUCK-TICK thing HIROSHI-san bought?
H: The period when I started listening to BUCK-TICK was right when we were transitioning from vinyl records to CDs. I’m the type of person who feels sad that we were moving towards the CD format, so even though they released CD versions, I listened to BUCK-TICK on vinyl records. I was really broke, so that was already quite the hurdle to purchase the vinyls I wanted, but even if I went to the local rental stores in my area, all they had stocked were pop music so vinyl records for rock music were hard to find. Being in the suburbs meant that information was hard to come by too, so I felt that the only way for me to listen to them was to buy their records which led me to ordering them at record stores for purchase. I only bought a few records, but they consisted of BUCK-TICK and BOØWY, and also Honda Minako-san’s along with an idol by the name of CoCo. I bought BUCK-TICK’s SEXUAL×××××! (1987) and ROMANESQUE (1988). They came with stickers that were pre-order gifts. My friends would ask me to give it to them, but I would never.
BUCK-TICK has too many famous songs!
ーーWhat songs do you particularly love?
H: Off the top of my head, HEARTS (from ROMANESQUE). When it comes to “songs”, you take the liberty to relate it to your own life when you listen to it, right? At the time, I was a freshman in high school and I was thinking to myself, “I absolutely must become popular when I’m in high school,” so I spent the whole of that time looking like a delinquent. Even though I really am not one at all. And when I did that, I became super popular, a pretty girl from school confessed to me in school and we even hung out for a few days, but the truth is, I’m not that kind of person so I was soon busted as a fraud and got dumped. That girl came to mind when I heard HEARTS and that got me feeling heartbroken.
ーーAh, youth. Are there other songs that evoke such memories?
H: There are lots, but I definitely started to dream of becoming an entertainer the moment I heard FUTURE FOR FUTURE. The lyrics “The TV screen captivated my mind on some day / Making me feel my thoughts running wild just as they are¹” were definitely something that gave me the push as someone who admired the world of entertainers and television.
ーーSo, the power you felt from their music and performances along with their aforementioned hairstyles and fashion sense were all rolled into one big influence on HIROSHI.
H: Yes. Sakurai-san was touching Imai (Hisashi)-san’s butt on the back of the ROMANESQUE jacket that had the five of them posing and all I thought was, “So sexy!!! So stylish!!!”
ーーBecause punk/new wave bands like BUCK-TICK were more neutral sounding as compared to hard rock and heavy metal bands, right?
H: Right, and that’s what I admired. What I thought was really amazing was how their vibe changed starting around their Aku no Hana (1990) period, right? Honestly speaking, I did think that they changed a little too much (lol) but when I went back and listened to it again as an adult, there was a kind of realisation, like, “Now I get it, this is great!” I’m gradually getting the idea that [some of their songs are] as good as pop on occasion, but even then, they still end up sounding like BUCK-TICK, don’t they? A recent song I love, Maimu Mime (ABRACADABRA) sounds like popular music from the Showa era, doesn’t it? But there is no doubt that it belongs in BUCK-TICK’s world view. I love those types of songs too. When I got my chance to speak with Sakurai-san on SWITCH Interview Tatsujin-tachi, he had mentioned that the roots of his music came from Yamamoto Linda-san too, so I guessed BUCK-TICK might have also been influenced by pop music too.
BUCK-TICK/Maimu Mime (TOUR2020 ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN)
ーーOther than Showa-era pop songs, BUCK-TICK also incorporates influences from other genres like jazz and chanson. In addition to that, Sakurai-san also sings with his unique perspective, doesn’t he? That’s a big part of what makes them unique, and also what attracts HIROSHI-san to them, right?
H: Yes, that’s right. I rarely get to attend their concerts, but I’ve watched all their DVDs and videos, and [what I find is] BUCK-TICK’s stage sets would’ve been considered cringey if other bands used them, but when it’s them, it’s cool. Also, Imai-san plays his guitar in an oddly strange way, in a good sense. And because he plays left-handed, he pairs well with Hoshino (Hidehiko)-san in concert, doesn’t it? That’s another really cool aspect to me.
ーーImai-san’s music and arrangement, Sakurai-san’s lyrics and singing, and Hoshino-san’s music respectively have different shades. And the way the band members perform creates yet another unique shade, doesn’t it?
H: Honestly, they just have too many famous songs, don’t they? They’re releasing a 5-disc best-of album collection for their 35th anniversary this time around, and when I looked at the track list, I was shocked that FUTURE FOR FUTURE and SILENT NIGHT weren’t in any of the lists. Like, even with five best-of discs, we’ve got so many famous songs that are missing. BUCK-TICK has far too many famous songs!
ーー35 years, that’s how many years HIROSHI-san has spent with BUCK-TICK in your thoughts.
H: I’m now 50 years old, but BUCK-TICK has been active since I was a freshman in high school. I’ve also formed duos and trios [for comedy] before, and obviously I’ve formed a band before too, so I think it’s really amazing that they have been able to keep at it with the same band members for 35 years and that they’re still a leading band who draws a solid crowd for concerts. I can’t imagine doing anything like that because I’ve fought and broken up with my partners even with just two or three people in a duo or trio.
Intense admiration for Sakurai Atsushi; “I want to meet him, but I don’t want to!”
ーーDo you listen to BUCK-TICK as a form of inspiration or emotional support for yourself?
H: That happens a lot. Because I probably wouldn’t have thought of becoming an entertainer if I didn’t hear FUTURE FOR FUTURE. I’m someone with average grades who doesn’t have any talents like, I’m bad at sports too, and yet I wanted to become an entertainer anyway. That’s when I heard FUTURE FOR FUTURE and felt motivated. That’s where it all started. Even now, I’d listen to it from time to time and I’d be reminded of the feelings I had back then.
ーーAfter you had a breakthrough with your “I’m HIROSHI” skits and you published your first book (I’m HIROSHI. 1 [ヒロシです。1]), I believe you made “HIROSHI Phenomenon (ヒロシ現象 / HIROSHI Genshou)” stickers reminiscent of the “BUCK-TICK Phenomenon (バクチク現象 / BUCK-TICK Genshou)” ones.
H: That’s right! We have to talk about that! When I published my first book, we had a discussion about putting stickers in the appendix so I got to include “HIROSHI Phenomenon” with the stickers that came with my story. And just like you said, I copied that from “BUCK-TICK Phenomenon”.
ーーThis came up in our earlier conversation, but you managed to have a conversation with Sakurai-san on a program, right?
H: As an entertainer, I often get work revolving around promoting local businesses so I actually happened to bump into the band when we were travelling on the same bullet train just a short period before we went on the program. I was like, “Whoaa!” and I wanted to talk to them out of excitement, but I didn’t want them to think I was just some poseur, so I bit my tongue and didn’t talk in the end. Then on yet another day, I bumped into them again at another airport.
ーーYou might’ve been travelling the same route as BUCK-TICK’s tour.
H: Maybe that’s why. With these coming one after another, I started thinking, “Could it be a sign that something’s about to happen!?” And then, I received an offer from NHK about this dialogue program and they asked me, “Is there anyone you’re interested in meeting?” …… If that’s what you’re asking, then Sakurai-san is who I want to meet! But I admire him so much that I wouldn’t know what to say if I actually do meet him, so I decided to hold on giving them a reply. But then, my manager knew that I loved BUCK-TICK because I kept listening to them on the car, and he sent NHK the reply, “I believe HIROSHI wants to meet BUCK-TICK’s Sakurai-san” without my knowledge. And they surprisingly said OK, but it wasn’t until the schedule had been set that I first came to know that this had been decided. Seriously, at that point, I was all, “Aaaaargh!!” I was all nervous on the day of the event like, “I want to meet him, but I don’t want to. God help me!”
ーーYou showed us how flustered you were right at the start of the program (lol), but it was very interesting to see both of your personalities and the similarities you share. It’s so rare to see Sakurai-san laughing like that, so I think he really enjoyed talking to HIROSHI-san.
H: …… Hearing that makes me feel like crying. There were two days of filming and he shared a whole lot of interesting things in the parts that weren’t broadcast too. I’m also an entertainer so I do make a distinction between enjoyable and boring conversations, and whatever Sakurai-san says is really so interesting that I’m like, “Ahh, he’s actually such an interesting person.” The first day was at Sakurai-san’s go-to bar while the second day saw us filming while camping outdoors. I initially thought, “Wait, I shouldn’t make Sakurai-san go outside,” but he gave the OK despite that…… I honestly wondered whether it was really okay. We talked about all sorts of things there and he’s really charming as a person too so you really just can’t help but end up falling for him. After our 2 days of filming ended, I started thinking that I’d probably never get the chance to meet him again and I was overcome with this incredibly deep hollow sense of loss. It was the exact same feeling I’d get from breaking up with a girl I loved and it was the first time that this feeling dragged out for about two to three months.
ーー Is that the loss of Sakurai Atsushi?
H: Precisely. Also, Sakurai-san is a cat lover, isn’t he? Now I’m also considering owning a cat so I’m looking around.
Band musicians and entertainers aren’t the same, but BUCK-TICK is “the ideal image of adulthood”
ーーSince you’ve spent two days together, didn’t you exchange contact details or anything?
H: I can’t do that! If I suggested exchanging contact details to Sakurai-san, he would say yes, but I just can’t bring myself to say it! Even if I did manage to exchange details with him, Sakurai-san is someone who enjoys spending time alone so I think I probably won’t be able to bring myself to contact him anyway. But one day, I saw that I received a “like” from Imai-san on one of my posts on Instagram. I was like, “Oh shit!” Since then, he’s sent me their new releases and tour tees when they could, so I can comfort myself with the idea that I’m kind of with BUCK-TICK like that. I don’t really have anything I can gift them, so even if I think they probably find it useless, I’d just send them camping cups anyway.
ーー (Lol) So what do you think of how BUCK-TICK is like these days?
H: Sakurai-san and Imai-san often get mentioned when we talk about BUCK-TICK, but everyone’s still cool even now. Hoshino-san is super cool too, and personally, I think that’s especially the case for the big brother on drums (Yagami Toll). He still styles his hair up evne now, doesn’t he! For bands who do that when they were young, the day will always come when they decide not to style their hair like that anymore, but he’s kept that hair for decades and honestly, I think it’s probably troublesome to do that. Because hairspray doesn’t come off easily even when you shampoo your hair. But the fact that he’s carried on with it all this time is just so cool. Furthermore, the whole band putting their hair up will ruin the vibe of them being a mature band, but with only one of them doing it like a representative of sorts…… Do you understand how great this is!?
ーーYes. It becomes obvious where BUCK-TICK’s origin is, right?
H: That’s right〜. And I played the bass too, so the coolest of them all is definitely U-TA-san (Higuchi Yutaka) for me. His image changed when he let his hair down and he seems even younger than before. In the past, rock bands have the image of being cool by being taciturn and stoic, but U-TA-san plays the bass with a big smile on his face. This balance he creates is great.
ーーAnd lastly, what is BUCK-TICK to HIROSHI-san?
H: I’d say, probably “the ideal image of adulthood”. I’m a middle-aged man through and through, and the members of BUCK-TICK are no longer young either. But they’re the specimen of how cool you can be as an adult. The things that band musicians and celebrities do aren’t the same at all, but I’m definitely still hopeful. Even as they age, their image remains cool and they’re still producing masterpieces one after another. I’ll always admire and look up to them.
In truth, I’ve been thinking that I want to play in a band again and in recent times, I’ve started moving towards that. Maybe I’ll let my hair grow out long and I’ll make myself look like what Sakurai-san did in the past. Having turned 50, I think I’ve experienced all the things I want to do to a certain extent, but I think the one thing I want to do is to play in a band. But I think I would need stamina when the time comes to actually do it, so I started running. And then I thought I’ll need to be a little more popular, so I started doing sit ups and all that to reduce my belly. Whether or not this comes to fruition, life is enriched by aspiration, isn’t it? That’s why I think it’s something to treasure.
BUCK-TICK Debut 35th Anniversary Concept Best Album 『CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.』
Releases Wednesday, 21 September 2022
・Special edition (5SHM-CD+BD)
￥11,000 (w/ tax)
・Regular edition (5SHM-CD)
￥6,600 (w/ tax)
・Limited quantity edition (5SHM-CD+BD+GOODS)
￥15,400 (w/ tax)
※Exclusive to VICTOR ONLINE STORE
DISC1 : RIBELO
1. ICONOCLASM 2. NATIONAL MEDIA BOYS (2015MIX) 3. ANGELIC CONVERSATION (2022MIX)
4. 唄 5. 楽園 6. 見えない物を見ようとする誤解 全て誤解だ
7. 相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマリがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり (21022MIX) 8. 無知の涙 9. CHECK UP
10. 極東より愛を込めて 11. BUSTER 12. 天使は誰だ
13. エリーゼのために 14. REVOLVER 15. ゲルニカの夜 16. さよならシェルター Mastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound (USA)
DISC2 : GOTIKA
1. BABEL 2. Mr.Darkness & Mrs.Moonlight 3. masQue 4. 月蝕 5. SABBAT (2015MIX) 6. MISTY BLUE 7. 誘惑 8. Lullaby-III
9. ROMANCE 10. 凍える 11. 月下麗人 12. Django!!! -眩惑のジャンゴ- 13. Alice in Wonder Underground 14. DIABOLO 15. 夢魔 -The Nightmare 16. 愛の葬列 Mastered by John Davis at Metropolis Studios (UK)
DISC3 : ELEKTRIZO
1. DADA DISCO -G J T H B K H T D- 2. ケセラセラ エレジー 3. GUSTAVE 4. Baby, I want you. 5. Devil’N Angel 6. BOY septem peccata mortalia
7. 美 NEO Universe 8. メランコリア -ELECTRIA- 9. Villain 10. 獣たちの夜 YOW-ROW ver. 11. 独壇場Beauty -R.I.P.- 12. 羽虫のように
13. 光の帝国 14. 狂気のデッドヒート 15. PINOA ICCHIO -躍るアトム- 16. MY FUCKIN’ VALENTINE 17. BRAN-NEW LOVER 18. タナトス Mastered by Clemens Schleiwies at SCHLEIWIES STUDIO (Germany)
DISC4 : FANTAZIO
1. JUPITER 2. ドレス 3. 密室 4. さくら 5. Long Distance Call
6. 無題 7. 形而上 流星 8. RAIN9. 禁じられた遊び -ADULT CHILDREN- 10. Moon さよならを教えて
11. 舞夢マイム 12. Cuba Libre 13. LOVE PARADE 14. 夢見る宇宙 -cosmix- 15. 忘却 Mastered by Alexis Bardinet at GLOBE AUDIO MASTERING (France)
DISC5 : ESPERO
1. 疾風のブレードランナー 2. RENDEZVOUS 〜ランデヴー〜 3. 鼓動 (2022MIX) 4. 世界は闇で満ちている 5. GIRL
6. 幻想の花 7. RHAPSODY 8. Memento mori 9. FUTURE SONG -未来が通る- 10. STEPPERS -PARADE-
11. セレナーデ -愛しのアンブレラ- 12. JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver. 2021 13. ONCE UPON A TIME 14. ユリイカ 15. New World Mastered by Takahiro Uchida at FLAIR MASTERING WORKS (Japan)
DISC6 : VIDA＜Blu-ray＞
1. JUST ONE MORE KISS 2. 惡の華 3. スピード 4. M・A・D 5. JUPITER 6. ドレス 7. die 8. 唄
9. 鼓動 10. 見えない物を見ようとする誤解 全て誤解だ 11. キャンディ 12. ヒロイン 13. 囁き 14. 月世界 15. BRAN-NEW LOVER
16. ミウ 17. GLAMOROUS 18. 21st Cherry Boy 19. 極東より愛を込めて 20. 残骸 21. 幻想の花 22. ROMANCE
23. 蜉蝣 -かげろう- 24. RENDEZVOUS 〜ランデヴー〜 25. Alice in Wonder Underground 26. HEAVEN 27. GALAXY
28. 独壇場Beauty 29. くちづけ 30. エリーゼのために 31. MISS TAKE 〜僕はミス・テイク〜 32. 形而上 流星 33. New World
34. BABEL 35. Moon さよならを教えて 36. 獣たちの夜 37. RONDO 38. 堕天使 39. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE 40. 凍える 41. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
BUCK-TICK Holds 35th Anniversary Concert
“We’re still moving forward. Wishing blessings upon everyone too.”
23 September 2022
5-piece rock band BUCK-TICK held their 35th major debut anniversary concert, The Parade on the 23rd at Yokohama Arena in Kanagawa.
They performed 21 songs like their signature Aku no Hana and for the first time, Sayonara Shelter, their new song that was included in their best-of collection CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. which was recently released on the 21st. They also mesmerised fans with light performances that made use of 12 laser machines, and a giant LED screen.
“We’ve been doing this for 35 years. I would like to express my gratitude to all of you; thank you. We have more new recordings too. We’re still moving forward. Wishing blessings upon everyone too,” thanked Sakurai Atsushi who wore beguiling outfits, like jet black shorts and black knee-high socks that show off his “absolute territory¹”.
They’ll perform on the 24th at the same venue too. They will then kick off their first national tour in 3 years on 13 October, starting with a show at Tachikawa Stage Garden in Tokyo to play a total off 21 shows in 20 locations. Sakurai rallied, “You all still can’t take your masks off and scream for us, but we hope you’ll come and join us on tour too in good health.”
¹ Absolute Territory (絶対領域 / zettai ryouiki) describes the amount of bare thigh skin between the shorts or skirt and stockings or socks.
BUCK-TICK 35th Major Debut Anniversary Concert
Sakurai Atsushi: “We’re still going!!”
23 September 2022
5-piece rock band BUCK-TICK who celebrated the 35th anniversary of their major debut on the 21st of September has begun their two consecutive nights of concerts at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama’s Kohoku Ward to celebrate this milestone on the 23rd.
This is the 9th time they are performing at Yokohama Arena and 6 years since their last. With a 12,000-strong audience in attendance, they started off the show with ICONOCLASM from their album TABOO which became their first number one ranking album on the Oricon Chart in 1989. Vocalist Sakurai Atsushi (56) greeted the crowd with a, “Welcome. Do enjoy yourself,” turning them into a bubbling pot of excitement.
It has been 35 years since they debut in 1987. Their ingenious brand of music which blends a variety of genres started the “BUCK-TICK Phenomenon”, and these five long-standing members of the band have been at the forefront of Japan’s rock music scene with successes like performances at Nippon Budokan and Tokyo Dome in 1989 to back them.
On tonight’s stage, they performed 21 songs from their entire career’s discography including their signature song Aku no Hana, their first number one on the Oricon singles chart in 1990, and for the first time, Sayonara Shelter, their new song that was included in their best-of collection CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. which was recently released on the 21st. They also delighted fans with flashy performances that saw 12 laser machines, and giant LED screens and lighting.
Their concert DVD of last year-end’s Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara～SHOW AFTER DARK～in Nippon Budokan was also released on the 21st. They will also be kicking off their first national tour (21-show run) in three years on 13 October.
Sakurai thanked the audience, saying, “We’ve been doing this for 35 years. I would like to express my gratitude to all of you; thank you.” Then, he declared, “We’ve got our tour in October, and another show tomorrow. There are still more new recordings to work on. We’re still going!!” Unstoppable is the momentum of legends who are celebrating their anniversary year.
text by Ishii Eriko
photographs by Nakano Hirohisa
hair & make-up by Yamaji Chihiro_Fat’s Berry
styling by Shimizu Kenichi
outfits by kiryuyrik_03-5728-4048 LAD MUSICIAN SHINJUKU_03-6457-7957
This armada gets moving once again ahead of their 35th anniversary year. It starts with the long-awaited fan-club exclusive tour kicking off in the beginning of summer, then Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday bash in August, and the release of their conceptual 5-CD best-of collection CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. this month. In this same period, they will also be holding their 2-day concert event THE PARADE at Yokohama Arena, followed by their first national tour in three years that starts next month.
Closing off the celebration of their anniversary year naturally brings us to an upcoming new album, but for now, we want to hear from Sakurai Atsushi ahead of it. Sayonara Shelter is the one and only new, unreleased song that has been included in the best-of collection. The way it captures an unfiltered reality with its straightforward language is filled with will-power and determination unlike any before. It was reported last month that he was tested positive for COVID-19 and had made a full recovery after the resulting quarantine, but this interview was held sometime in July, before any of that happened.
I thought it would be more strenuous initially
But I was surprisingly okay. I think the audience probably have it tougher than us
―― It’s late July now and you’re right in the middle of your fan club & mobile members-only tour.
Sakurai (S): That’s right. Well, finally…… I can breathe a sigh of relief. Because we haven’t been able to hold a concert, much less a fan club-exclusive one in about two years.
―― How did you deal with the physical and mental challenges from these concerts?
S: We’ve been busy with recording work for our new album. I had to wrap up all my work about three days ago, so the switch [from recording mode to concert mode] was difficult. Because I can’t effectively work on more than one thing at the same time. So because I was having a hard time with it, I left (song selection and all the other preparations) to everyone to handle. They were old songs so I didn’t have all that much difficulty there. Whatever else, I wouldn’t know until I’m standing on stage anyway. Since things will always be different in rehearsals.
―― My body’s undergone changes too after the past two years and when I attended concerts in recent times, I found myself wondering, “Is it really this tiring to stand for two hours straight?” (lol). How do you find it as a performer?
S: Ah…… I actually thought it would be more strenuous initially. But somehow, my body was surprisingly okay. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been keeping myself on my toes with recording work, and that’s kept my mind busy. It’s surprisingly taken a weight off my shoulders.
―― That’s a good thing then.
S: Yes. I did wonder whether or not I’d be able to do it okay before it started, but my voice sounded better than I expected. I just feel kind of bad for the audience, though. They have to keep their masks on throughout the event, and have to stand in designated spots, and can’t even respond with their voices. I know it can’t be helped because that’s the situation that we’re in now but…… I think the audience probably have it tougher than we performers do in all these different areas.
―― But being able to see you is enough of a something to be happy about.
S: That’s true. But because they can’t respond vocally. There’s this unnerving intensity. Since everyone’s wearing masks, there’s a superabundant, concentration from their eyes (lol).
―― Concentration from the eyes (lol). Are your band mates enjoying it too?
S: It allows us to vent out our energy in a setting completely different from recording after all, so everyone does seem to be enjoying themselves. Yeah.
―― Also, just confirming, you’ve already plunged into the actual recording work for the new album and it’s no longer in its conception stage, right?
S: That’s right. Yes.
―― So, although It was impossible for you to go on a proper national tour for ABRACADABRA, you’re already moving on to your next album.
S: Because first of all is our 35th anniversary celebration year. We’ve got our best-of collection, the fan club concert during [the anniversary year]. And later comes the release of our new album next year to end it. That’s the series of events we’ve got laid out.
―― In recent years, I believe you’ve generally followed the cycle of closing off an album’s chapter only after you’ve had a tour for it. But now that this has changed, did it affect anything? Like the songwriting vibe, or the themes that Imai-san comes up with?
S: Right…… While I was having a discussion with Director Tanaka, about things like, “Is this format going to work?”, though, well, I can’t really go into detail yet, but something like a vague, overarching theme resulted from that. Although…… I’m already doing whatever I want anyway.
―― Eh, what do you mean?
S: Well, in terms of general themes, hope, despair, that kind of a world. Although, that might just be a narrative I imposed on myself. But even then, anything else just goes in one ear and out the other for me, so. …… Despair is all I can write about!
S: That’s all I have to say.
―― Even so, do you feel fulfilled in your day-to-day life?
S: Yeah. I’m very much fulfilled with how I approach what I produce and what I do. With the exception of these, there are a lot of things I don’t want to think about so I make it such that I don’t. Now, I just want to hurry up and move on to recording my part for the next song.
――Excuse me for saying this, but you’re very motivated, aren’t you?
S: That’s right. Not in a desperate way, though. It’s strange, but it could be because I’ve been working at things as if it’ll be the last time ever.
In the past, I think I would play it cool, avoid being clear, kind of sidestep things and use another escape route though
I can’t bring myself to do that anymore these days. Because I’m not that eloquent in the first place.
―― I think I said this a year ago as well, around the time of Go-Go B-T TRAIN’s release, but I’m getting the impression that the present version of Sakurai-san has picked up a defiant stance, in a good way.
S: That’s right. I’ve been able to focus on music, the things I want to do. You could say that I don’t want to think about anything else.
―― Can you think of anything that might’ve caused this?
S: Hmーm, well, part of it is growing older, and that I’d start wondering vaguely about things like, “How many more years can I do this?” I’m not feeling pessimistic to that extent, though. But also, all the recent…… incidents, accidents, ah, well, frankly speaking, wars, and all that. Witnessing all of it, it’s like, I don’t feel like it’s just someone else’s problem. Who knows what will happen tomorrow. It might sound like an exaggeration, but I’ve come to feel that I wouldn’t even think it odd if tomorrow something happens to this Japan we live in. And since that’s the case, I feel that I can push ahead with whatever I can do and want to do.
―― A world in decline inspires Sakurai-san.
S: Right…… Putting it like that makes it sound shrewd, doesn’t it? As if I won’t do anything unless something like that happens. But in the end…… it seems like it’s in my character to turn these kinds of negative events into fuel. Anger and sadness, I’ve come to realise recently that these are sources of energy for me.
―― Actually, just 10 years ago we could never have imagined that things like epidemics and wars would actually be happening in such close proximity to us in the 21st century.
S: That’s definitely true. That’s really what it is. People might say that we can’t really help that infectious diseases occur and that may be so, but on the other hand, wars are essentially a man-made disaster, and I think it’s something that can be stopped if person A and B and C and D decide to say “stop”, right? Whenever I see the news, I find myself wondering how such a thing can happen in the 21st century…… It’s shocking. Just heart-wrenching, isn’t it? That all the children and ordinary people…… It just makes me wonder “why?”.
―― This exact frame of mind is depicted in Sayonara Shelter, the new song which you’ve included in DISC1 of your upcoming best-of collection, right?
S: That’s right, yes.
―― The music is quintessentially Hide-san, with how beautiful it is. Writing about such a concrete subject for this melody pulls your emotions right into it from the very beginning.
S: Yes. I think the past me would likely play it cool, avoid being clear [about the subject matter], kind of sidestep things and use another escape route though. I can’t bring myself to do that anymore these days. Because I’m not that eloquent in the first place. And the best thing I can now is to do things as I see them, as I feel them. No matter what, this…… When I’m shown videos of children and all those…… There’s no other outlet (for my emotions).
―― The lyrics are written in the perspective of both parties involved with the very first line going, “Someone is coming to kill us (誰かが僕らを殺しに来るよ)”, followed by the next, with, “Am I going out to kill someone (わたしは誰かを殺しに行くの)”.
S: That’s right. Like, what if it was you in that position and you can’t remain a bystander, what would you do? If those who fled to Poland were asked whether they could leave their families behind and go back to Ukraine…… If I was in their position, what would I do? That’s something I thought about too.
―― What would you do? Do you think you’d go back and take up arms?
S: Ah…… Well, if I wanted to sound cool, I’d probably say yes. But I don’t know what I’d actually do if that really happened to me.
―― No matter the choice, we’re all still human after all. And no matter the choice, I think you’ll always have people around you saying, “That’s it, that’s the right path.”
S: That’s true. Really…… because they’re going at each other, brandishing ideals, right? Actually, even now, I still can’t believe it, like, “Is this really happening?”
―― Was there any hint of reservations or expressions of bewilderment from your band mates at lyrics written in such a disambiguous manner?
S: None at all. Um…… I created an atmosphere that didn’t allow them to say anything. ―― When you say this with that look in your eyes, the only thing to do is to shut up (lol).
S: Fufufu. There actually were opinions for and against this within the band, but ultimately, the desire to make people listen to it won out. After I recorded my part for the song, even Director Tanaka-san said, “This is probably something that needs to be announced now.” And so, we decided to include it in the best-of collection.
I’m definitely one of the weak human beings
A helpless person who cowers in the dark
I’m just like the children shaking in fear in the basement
―― This might be a bit of a reach, but I think there will be cases where people hear this song and the first thing that comes to mind is, “Isn’t this an anti-war song?” How does Sakurai-san feel about that?
S: Ahh, I had that conversation with Victor’s staff and Tanaka-san about the order of the tracklist in DISC 1, the last three songs in it (REVOLVER, Guernica no Yoru, Sayonara Shelter). While we did think that people might not like for us to shine the focus on this area alone…… I think we should even if they hate it.
S: Because I feel that sooner or later, the day when we have to talk about these things will come. But…… I think it’s strange to use the word “anti-war”, isn’t it? Because I think war is not something that we need to begin with. Although, it would be good if people would just take it as, “I guess that’s what they’re doing,” when I put these things into song. But that’s not going to happen, is it? I expect that there will likely be people who will want to say, “You guys are hypocrites!”
ーー That’s precisely why most people avoid anything and everything related to topics on war or politics. I think it’s a sensitive thing for celebrities and artists alike.
S: That’s true. But I think that’s good too. To speak nothing of these things at all, to spend more time making people laugh and smile in other ways, to sing songs that inspire people to look forward to tomorrow. I think they’re awe-inspiring if someone is able to express themself like that. But that’s not something I’m capable of. I suppose that’s because I’m not mature enough as a person, though.
―― No, that’s not true.
S: Of course, I have all kinds of dilemmas. While I’d be concerned if people didn’t get the message at all [when they listen to the song], there are also times when I’d feel disappointed when I start to wonder whether we’d be able to make money with such music. But that said, it’s not as if there are all that many other things that inspire me anyway. It’s all now very unstable, isn’t it? Both the world at large, and for the individual person too. But the real problem is that proper adults are killing people. Simply put, they’re getting children all wrapped up in this as collateral damage. To that, I wanted to say, “Why?” from the children’s perspective. And I said it earlier too, but [other people] misrepresenting that, changing [some part of its meaning], implying [something else]…… “I can’t be bothered!” That’s how I feel.
―― Don’t you think that you’ll need to have crossed a certain boundary to be able to say this as the person who wrote these words and sings it?
S: Yes. That did happen. Well, you could also say it’s being mentally prepared on the inside. Sort of like a, “This was what you said at that time, right? Since that’s the case, you should turn what you felt into something that strikes other people even harder.” For me, whatever strikes my heart deeply gets turned into the flesh and blood that forms my words. Since this is the line of work I am in, as long as I have a choice, my first consideration wouldn’t be whether this is a good idea or not, but rather my desire to stir up strong emotions in other people. That’s the kind of premeditated transgression it’s come to. Because in these past few years, we’ve had war, and COVID-19, and in all of that, I’ve been wondering, “What should I sing about?”
―― So that’s what it’s been like for you.
S: Yeah. If I’m making my move, I might as well go all out and take the plunge. Kind of like the idea of kicking the spring board as hard as you can and flying off.
―― Signs of the times are certainly all around us, aren’t they? Ever since COVID-19, I would think that it’s difficult to write melancholic, despairing songs……
S: No? I’m doing that right now.
―― Ah, really (lol).
S: I’m getting critical acclaim for doing that. Somehow, I’m really excited about this. For my insidious ways!
S: Perhaps…… This might just be my life’s purpose.
―― Kukuku. Insidiousness and despair are what “Demon King¹ Sakurai” is really made of, right? But if that’s true, then I wonder what disposition and personality Sayonara Shelter’s Sakurai-san will be categorised under?
S: Mm…… But I’m definitely one of the weak human beings, you know? I’m really a helpless person who cowers in the dark. I always say this, but I’m just like the children shaking in fear in the basement.
―― You’ve portrayed the “shelter” in this song as a safe rendezvous, yet, where does the “farewell (sayonara)” in the song title come from?
S: Ah, that’s because I thought of working in a little drama. [The protagonist] won’t be able to come back anymore but…… Something like that. It’s the same with the “I’m going out to kill (殺しに行く / koroshi ni iku)” that comes in at the end; [the protagonist] is lying. In the song Andalusia ni Akogarete (アンダルシアに憧れて / Longing for Andalusia) by Maashii-san (Mashima Masatoshi), there’s that sense of waiting at station platform for [the protagonist] to come back. Although we won’t be able to see each other, wait for me. …… Ah, you don’t have to keep this in the interview.
―― It’s interesting, so I’ll publish it anyway (lol). But that would make this a song with a tragic ending, wouldn’t it?
S: That’s right. I think I was also writing [these lyrics] with the feeling of how soldiers like me who aren’t all that young, who haven’t even been trained would be the very first to go down. Although the hope that whatever we do helps the children who are waiting back home is of course there.
―― Hope and despair are intertwined. It’s just like what “shadow play” is; the one and only modest form of entertainment that one can create in a shelter that is lit up by only moon or candle light.
S: Yeah. It’s exactly as you said. I think everyone has seen the little girl singing Frozen songs in the underground shelter on the news. Even in these devastating circumstances, such a vibrant individuals and personalities exist. This hope…… If we don’t even have a single candle flame, it would be unbearable, wouldn’t it?
―― Did you feel a sense of clarity after you finished writing the lyrics to this song?
S: ……No, although I would feel relieved after it’s turned into a song and released as a work. The next step after that would include wondering about whether there’d be people who would get upset by this. Those who won’t get it won’t get it anyway. But that’s, well, the freedom of the listener anyway, so they can take it however they want, right? Hm…… And then, there’s also doubt revolving around whether it’s okay for me to earn money with something like this too. I think those are the kind of thoughts I’m always dwelling on in my head.
―― But you’ve never made the decision that you won’t release it.
S: That’s right. Because the story has already been written in my head. A number of such stories have also been written for other new songs that are going into our next album. At this point, I don’t think anyone can avoid it anymore.
―― The strength to step into this and not allow anyone to say otherwise about it. The Sakurai-san of today is truly incredible.
S: If I held back…… it’s the end of the road for me. That’s what it feels like. I’m a coward, you see. Besides, I’ve fallen very ill before and it’s not as if my family’s all that healthy either. I keep telling myself, “It’s time to take the plunge or it’s going to all be over for you.” Because I really don’t know if or when something will happen.
¹ We often see Sakurai being nicknamed 魔王 (maou), often translated as Demon King, or Prince of Darkness, or even Satan. But what I found interesting was the fact that Franz Schubert’s Erlkönig is called 魔王 in Japanese. The equivalent of Erlkönig in English appears to be Alder King, king of the elves.
Yagami Toll 60th Birthday Live IT’S A NOW 2022 2022.08.18 (FRI) CLUB CITTA’
text by Hirabayashi Michiko photographs by Tanaka Seitari (LIVE), Masa (BACKSTAGE)
Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday celebration. Numerous musicians who love and admire him congratulated him on this memorable day. Mentors, juniors, sworn friends, admirers, and his long-time band mates. Such is proof that his yet ongoing drumming career is a happy and blessed one. The 19th of August. This is the report of that one special day.
Romeo & Juliet
Oh! My God! (Yagami Toll & Blue Sky cover)
Yagami Toll & Blue Sky (1/2)
Mandom—Lovers Of The World
WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder & Cold wind- / with Miyako Keiichi
SODA ROCK!! / with Miyako Keiichi
Fire Girl / with Miyako Keiichi
ROCK’N ROLL STAR / with Miyako Keiichi
Oh! My God! / with Miyako Keiichi
Top Of The Mountain Bar (SHIME cover) / with Miyako Keiichi
Yagami Toll & Blue Sky (2/2)
8. Funky Monkey Baby (CAROL cover) / with Minato Masafumi
9. Good Old Rock’n’Roll (CAROL cover) / with Minato Masafumi
10. Slow Down (THE BEATLES cover) / with Takahashi Makoto
11. DREAMIN’ (BOØWY cover) / with Takahashi Makoto
12. 時よ [Toki yo] / with Miyako Keiichi & Yoshida Minako
13. 夢で逢えたら [Yume de Aetara] / with Miyako Keiichi & Yoshida Minako
14. Blow wind / with Miyako Keiichi
THEME OF B-T
Go-Go B-T TRAIN
Baby, I want you.
愛しのロック・スター [Itoshi no Rock Star] / with ISSAY
With his caring and loving personality, and his sincerity
Life as a loved and admired drummer is bound to continue on
Yagami Toll’s birthday concert IT’S A NOW! has become an annual event that happens every August since celebrating his 50th birthday at the very same CLUB CITTA’ Kawasaki in 2012. This special edition 60th anniversary show was a celebration filled with love and respect for Anii.
The first batter of the night, D’ERLANGER started the show with all four members facing each other as they began performing BABY. It was confusing to suddenly see the band with their backs to the audience with the exception of drummer Tetsu, but by choosing to start with this song in a way that focuses on the drummer shows their respect for Yagami. During their segment, Tetsu expressed his joy at being able to take part in this celebration with D’ERLANGER, and performed with more power and spirit than usual with their love for their respected senior.
Up next was 5-piece band Yagami Toll & Blue Sky taking the stage with familiar band members Kenta Harada, KANAME, Yagi Masato, and Miyako Keiichi (SOPHIA/rayflower) joining in as the guest keyboardist. A huge round of applause rose from the audience as Yagami, the star of the day, ascended the drum stage which was decorated with 60 bright red roses. The first half of the show which featured a series of songs from their 2019 mini-album had an intimate atmosphere, as if enjoying a performance with a group of friends who were at ease with each other. Closing off this first half, they covered songs by singer-songwriter SHIME who passed away this March, expressing in music their gratitude and condolences for his indispensable presence in IT’S A NOW!.
The second half was a special segment filled with guest performers. First was a twin drums session with ex-DEAD END drummer Minato Masafumi and ex-BOOWY drummer Takahashi Makoto. The powerful drumming in DREAMIN’ by one drummer celebrating his 60th birthday and the other who was nearing 70 was nothing short of astonishing. After that, Yoshida MInako, who Yagami had always admired, joined them on stage to perform Toki yo and Yume de Aetara at his request. Then, switching places with her were his younger brother Higuchi Yutaka carrying in a bright red silk hat-shaped cake and sworn brother Tetsu (D’ERLANGER) holding a bouquet of flowers on stage to congratulate and celebrate Yagami’s 60th birthday.
During the set change, congratulatory messages were shown on a screen. Familiar faces from the Ayanokoji Sho-led band Kishidan, Carol’s guitarist Uchiumi Toshikatsu who was a huge influence on Yagami’s life, to his junior drummers DIR EN GREY’s Shinya, Spitz’s Sakiyama Tatsuo, BRAHMAN and OAU’s RONZI, POLYSICS’ YANO and many others made comment videos for him, illustrating just how large Yagami’s circle of friends is.
Finally, given the honour of the closing set was, of course, BUCK-TICK. While the members who made up ～Blue Sky from earlier were friends to feel at ease with, BUCK-TICK is the group who will spend the rest of their lives with each other to Yagami. In other words, they are bound together by a common destiny. Today’s show starts with Go-Go B-T TRAIN.
“We are Yagami Toll and his trusted associates,” Sakurai greets. Following which, he says, “I’m straying into personal matters, but I fell sick with COVID-19.”
That’s right. Today happened to be the very first show that Sakurai Atsushi performed following his recuperation period, but throughout their set, Sakurai drew close to the drum stage numerous times to revere Anii and to reiterate that the star of today’s show was Yagami.
Then, midway, Sakurai announced, “Let’s call on our lovely guest,” ISSAY, who accepted an invitation from Yagami himself came onstage. Together with Sakurai, they performed Itoshi no Rock Star for the first time in 27 years! The sultry singing voices of the aristocrat of darkness and the Demon King. Just as Sakurai went behind ISSAY and put his hands on the other’s hips, ISSAY puts his arm around Sakurai’s shoulders and brings his face close. Faces were blank before this scene, playing dumb as if thinking, “Oh, goodness gracious, what on earth are they trying to show us here?”
Into the hall which had been enveloped in a bizarre exhilaration, the beautiful yearning melody that is Koi gently descended on us before leading into Eureka that had everyone shouting “LOVE” in their hearts and putting up peace signs.
Then, Sakurai began a humour-filled introduction, saying, “Upon request by our Anii-san from Tokyo.”
Yagami came after, declaring, “We’ll be performing the title track from our debut album!” and with the loud signal of a countdown, they jumped into SEXUAL xxxxx！ as the grand finale of the night.
When I first came across the band BUCK-TICK, I never could have imagined what people from my grandparents’ generation would have been like when they plated in a rock band. However, the band’s drummer stood on stage this day wearing a bright red outfit, still looking the same as the day I first saw him with his hair standing high, drumming a tight beat. Loved and adored by many for his caring, loving personality and sincere attitude as a musician, Yagami’s life as a drummer continues from here. With his caring and loving personality, and his sincerity as a musician, life as a drummer for Yagami who is loved and admired by many is nowhere near finished, and bound to continue on into the future.
After the cover and feature photoshoot for the special publication PHY Vol.22, this magazine’s photoshoot was done on the terrace of the same studio. Although we knew that we should refrain from putting too much pressure on Sakurai-san who had just recovered from illness, what we wanted in this shoot was Acchan’s smile. As I stood behind photographer Nakano-san who held the camera, I spoke about how my daughter was aspiring to be a YouTuber and how she was trying to come up with an opening introduction for her channel. And thus, we were graced by the presence of the smiling Demon King. Even though Sakurai said, “Kanemitsu-san, it’s not fair of you to talk about your daughter,” he was beaming all the way until the end of the shoot. By the way, PHY Vol.22 goes on sale on 21 September. The warm, laid-back Hide-san’s book (expanded and revised version) is also slated to be published on the same date. Look forward to it!
I never thought I’d be making music with them for 35 years, much less imagine that I’d still be drumming into my 60s. If I were a working adult I’d already be retiring from the workforce (lol).
BUCK-TICK, who had their major debut in 1987 will be celebrating their 35th anniversary this year on 21st September.
And Yagami Toll, the big brother who was half-forced, half-dragged into the band by Higuchi Yutaka, his biological younger brother, will be celebrating his 60th birthday this year on 19th August.
Stories from BUCK-TICK’s 35 years together and Yagami Toll’s 60 years of life like how he joined the band, what he thinks of his fellow bandmates, the 2 times he wanted to quit, the pros of the drums coming last in the recording process, his current perspective of the instrument, and even about his solo project Blue Sky are all squeezed into this 12,000-character summary of an interview.
profile & information
Born on 19 August 1962. Blood type A. Drummer of BUCK-TICK which was formed in 1985. Other members of the band are Sakurai Atsushi on vocals, Imai Hisashi on guitar, Hoshino Hidehiko on guitar, and Higuchi Yutaka on bass. They will be releasing both their 35th anniversary special best-of concept album CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. and the Blu-ray & DVD of Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜 in Nippon Budokan on the same day, 21st September. They will be performing at Yokohama Arena on Friday, the 23rd and Saturday, the 24th of September at their BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE”～35th anniversary～ concert. Additionally, they will also be celebrating Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday on Friday, 19th August with the show Yagami Toll～60th Birthday Live～IT’S A NOW ! 2022 at CLUB CITTA’ KAWASAKI.
―― Since this year marks the 35th anniversary of BUCK-TICK’s major debut and Yagami-san will be celebrating your 60th birthday this year too, let’s have a look back at the journey so far. Yagami-san was the last person to join BUCK-TICK and is also the eldest, so I wonder if there’s some part of you that sees the band and your band mates from an outside perspective.
Toll (T): That’s true. Because I was in a different band, and I’ve been watching over them since the days of Hinan GO-GO (lol).
―― The band before what eventually became BUCK-TICK, right. What kind of impression did you have of Hinan GO-GO?
T: Imai (Hisashi) stripped the colour from his hair with hydrogen peroxide or something so his hair had always been brown since high school, so I thought he was kind of different. Basically they came across as quiet and reserved people to me. I think I got to know Imai when he was in his third year of high school. I suppose it was around that time when they formed the band. The lead guitarist of the competition band that I was in was one grade Acchan (Sakurai Atsushi) and Imai’s senior. At Fujioka High. That person taught Imai and Hide (Hoshino Hidehiko) how to play the guitar, and the bassist of that same band taught Yuta (Higuchi Yutaka) bass guitar while I taught Acchan the drums. We were in the countryside, so we practised in my home. We still got complaints though (lol). And I think there were times when Hinan GO-GO practised at my place too.
―― While all that was going on, Yagami-san got forcefully dragged into joining BUCK-TICK. What was that actually like?
T: I didn’t like that (lol). Because I liked Gunma. My competition band split up in October of 1985, and about a month after that, Yuta said to me, “We changed our member lineup and we have no drummer so join us.” I told him, “I’m all burnt out and I’m not joking so no thanks.” I turned him down 5 or 6 times over the phone. But then Yuta travelled back to Gunma from Tokyo and started packing my things without asking me. So it felt like there wasn’t anything I could do about it so I’ll just help them out anyway. Even though I was living in a huge house back home with my parents, he suddenly took me to an apartment in Asagayakita that didn’t even have a bathroom and I was all, “What the hell is this, give me a break.” (Lol). After we had our first rehearsal, I said I’ll help them for 3 years and if there’s no reaction whatsoever, it could be a deal to debut as an indie band or just anything, if there’s nothing, I’m going back to Gunma. That was the limit that I decided for myself and that’s what I told them. In the end, after about a year and a half, we ended up getting offers from major labels to sign with them.
―― Would you have quit music altogether if you didn’t get the calls from Yuta-san?
T: Even if I continued, I would maybe just play with amateur bands? Because there aren’t many drummers around, are there? That’s why if someone asked me to help, I’d probably do it. I was originally a rebar worker in the first place so I was thinking of going back to that.
―― It sounds like you never even imagined what BUCK-TICK’s future could be at the time.
T: More than that, we were a bunch of people who had only started playing these instruments for 2-3 years. That’s why it’s actually amazing, isn’t it? That we managed to make our debut at the time. We were criticised for how bad we were at music when we debuted, but that’s of course, isn’t it (lol). They said my drumming was just about decent, but that’s also of course. It’s just that the band was aware of our own level and I believe that’s tied to our improvement in skill, you know?
BUCK-TICK isn’t a band that was already perfect at debut;
we’re a band who debuted and then subsequently made steady progress since.
―― This is a famous story, but it’s been said that not involving other musicians in your recordings was one of BUCK-TICK’s conditions for signing with a major label.
T: Correct. Those were the days of the band boom and people who did that were earning big bucks. But when we thought about it logically, that’s as good as strangling ourselves with our own hands. Even if we sound good on CD, anyone who comes to watch us live would end up going, “Huh?” But if a bunch of amateurs work on the recording, the CD would sound bad too so there would be no gap in expectations there. Because it’s exactly what you heard on CD in a way (lol).
―― And because you’ve always presented yourselves as you are all this time……
T: It’s like a live documentary to our fans, isn’t it? We’re actually evolving. BUCK-TICK isn’t a band that was already perfect at debut; we’re a band who debuted and then subsequently made steady progress since. That is sort of what makes us special. Thanks to everyone who patiently watched over us and supported us (lol).
―― When you transitioned from being an indies band to being signed with a major label, did anything change? Perhaps, musically or other conscious decisions?
T: Rather what we changed, I think the more significant difference was that professional engineers were now there for us to work and record properly with. That was something we could enjoy. Also, another thing I remember very well was after we made the decision to debut with Victor, all of us were brought to Victor Studio for a tour. There was a recording session going on for THE ROCK BAND, formerly ANARCHY, and since we belonged to the same production department, they let us watch them work. To us, we’re a generation who grew up listening to ANARCHY and when we actually got to see how they recorded their music, it somehow felt more like an after-school club activity. I think at the time, it’s been about seven years since they first made their debut and they were probably old friends too. Seeing those casual exchanges between them, I was like, “So it’s okay to be like this!” (lol). I do wonder if we were somehow influenced by seeing these people we looked up to work together in such a friendly manner back then.
―― In the four years since then, I believe you had some pretty tough days with recording work and tours and interviews day after day. And during that time, going to London to record your ⁎TABOO album was an experience which left quite an impact on Yagami-san’s sound design work, right?
T: The thing I remember the most about our recording in London was how the food just didn’t taste good at all. I was also shocked that the beer was warm when it came out of the taps in the pubs. I thought the best tasting thing in London was the Big Mac. But I guess that’s got the same standardised quality wherever you go.
―― I intended to ask you about the recording itself (lol).
T: Ah, about drums? (Lol). When we went to the studio for the first time and I did the tuning on my own, the producer stopped me right there and said, “You don’t know this studio.” The producer then proceeded to do all the tuning on his own. I was surprised because his way of doing it was completely different from mine. And another thing that struck me as a huge difference from what things were like in Japan was the voltage. Their voltage was high there so the speed at which they captured sound was quick. That was something I only understood after having been there. The reason behind why Ringo Starr sounded off tune even despite low tuning in the later part of The Beatles’ career.
―― It was a trip that brought new discoveries, wasn’t it? Are what you learnt still relevant even now?
T: I don’t know about that. But that was quite the training, for everyone. Because ⁎ICONOCLASM was the one and only song that was OK in one take, while every other song I drummed like hell. Because my rhythm was apparently off. Imai and Hide didn’t have it easy either. He could tell when they weren’t pressing the frets properly with this finger and that finger just from how the sound wavers, and their hands got all beat up (lol). Then again, it’s because he was already angry with us from the very beginning. The moment we first arrived at the studio, he was all, “You guys were supposed to practise beforehand.”
―― While going through those hectic days, you got struck with an incident out of the blue and ended up with a half year long probation. Yagami-san said before that this period of time allowed you to take a long, hard look at your time with the band.
T: To put it bluntly, it felt like I was under house arrest for three months. Because photographers from the press were everywhere outside. We spoke about this too at the time, but honestly, being there left me all weird on the inside. Because I couldn’t practise at all. During this house arrest was the first time I thought about retiring.
―― Because you couldn’t practise?
T: Exactly. I was on the decline because I couldn’t drum. At the time, I had just entered my late 20s and realising that I couldn’t produce the same impact and speed after just half a year of not drumming… That’s why I was quite worried. I never expected that six months of doing nothing would result in such a big change.
―― I see. Was there something that changed your mind after this period of abstinence?
T: I think Hiruma (Hitoshi)-san’s involvement in ⁎Kurutta Taiyou’s production as our recording engineer played a big part. I’ve known Hiruma-san before that. He even visited our bathroom-less apartment in Asagayakita before. It just so happened that ⁎HURRY UP MODE had just been released when he visited back then, and when he listened to it on the crappy stereo we had, he said, “Hm～m, there are no lows, huh.” (Lol)
―― Even though they subsequently called it, “An explosively deep heavy bass (重低音がBUCK-TICKする/ juu teion ga bakuchiku suru)” (lol).
T: Yes, exactly. There was no deep heavy bass at all (lol). Hiruma-san was originally a drummer, the sound of drums is huge [to him]. And that’s why, when he did the remastering, he dropped the tone of the drums even lower than the original. That makes me very happy as a drummer though.
I did actually say that I wanted to retire back then, but they wouldn’t let me.
Their reaction was, “What nonsense are you saying?”
―― Because of your work with Hiruma-san, the band began to explore your sound more deeply which resulted in the release of rather experimental works like ⁎darker than darkness -style 93- and ⁎Six/Nine. What is Yagami-san’s view on how things turned out during this time?
T: That we were steadily moving towards becoming more and more niche during a time when all our juniors were putting out million-dollar releases (lol)?
―― Yes (lol).
T: I don’t remember exactly what thoughts I had, but I guess that’s just how we wanted to do music.
―― For Yagami-san, did you personally change the way you drummed together with the changes in the band’s music direction?
T: It just so happened that around the time we worked on Kurutta Taiyou and ⁎Koroshi no Shirabe This is NOT Greatest Hits, I changed the brand of the drums that I use. I had always been using Pearl, a local brand, then I switched to the American brand Ludwig. And since then, I kept wanting to change my drums a lot. It turns out that the brands have tones specific to them. Almost all of the Western music I listened to as a child used Ludwig’s drums. That was something I was aware of. And until that point in time [when I changed brands], I kept trying to recreate that sound with Pearl drums but I could never do it. One day, when I was reading (Rhythm ＆) Drums Magazine, I saw an orthodox snare that John Bonham and Cozy Powell and everyone used. And I don’t know why but it was on sale, 50% off so I asked our staff to buy one for me. I still remember very clearly that I took it out of the box, set it up without any adjustments, and the moment I hit it, the sound I had been pursuing resounded. Right there and then, I knew that, “Ah, this is it.” That my idea of trying to create this sound using Japanese-made drums was wrong. I realised that it’s about the brand-specific tones. Since then, I have been buying more and more pieces. Instead of going for current productions, I’d go on buying sprees for vintages like models from the 70s and all that.
―― The band continued to evolve with the establishment of your independent management firm in 1996 where Yagami-san was appointed as CEO. Some time ago, D’ERLANGER’s Tetsu-san spoke to Yagami-san when he took on the role of CEO of his own firm, and he said that you told him, “Being president means being the one who protects the band.” Those words really struck a chord.
T: Isn’t that exactly what it is? The captain of a sinking ship is the last one to leave it, right? After he saves everyone. If the ship is going to sink, he’s got no choice but to sink with it. That’s the idea. Back then, I felt that I had to be responsible for everything. Except that I had the same equal share earnings as everyone (lol).
―― In that same year, you also broke away from Victor, your debut label. Looking at BUCK-TICK’s history of events, your activities gradually decreased and there was even a time when you had to postpone a tour because Sakurai-san suddenly fell ill. That was an exceptionally difficult time, wasn’t it?
T: Well, there was nothing we could do, was there? I quite enjoyed the work of negotiation on each occasion though. Deep down, I’m the kind of person who would continue to be defiant even when I’m down on my knees. But I can’t let Sakurai take on those things, can I? My father was a CEO so I’ve always been looking at someone who’s a CEO as an example to take after. There’s this TV show, a pretty old one, where Hana Hajime says to Ueki Hitoshi, “You’re fired!” Seeing that, I commented to my father, “Must be nice to fire whoever whenever.” And he scolded me, “You fool! Firing someone at a whim is dismissal without cause. I’ll get sued!” I was only an elementary school student at the time, but I really got the sense that it’s not easy being a CEO (lol).
―― So after your Mercury era, you switched labels to BMG Funhouse in 2000 where things started to slowly pick up again. Yagami-san was around 40 at the time. You’ve mentioned before that you considered retirement during this period of time because it was physically demanding for you.
T: That’s right. There was a change in CEO at the time too, to Acchan. There’s a reason for that. It’s written in my autobiography, but I got divorced around that time. That was really tough to handle and my mental state was in ruins. Speaking of my physical form, interestingly, when a person is mentally unstable, they lose their motivation too, don’t they? That’s exactly how I felt back then. And that’s also why I kept making mistakes on stage. Even though rehearsals went perfectly well. It felt like I dug my own grave and went into it myself because of the pressure. That’s why Yuta was raging mad at me quite a lot. Like, “Why does Anii (Yagami) only make mistakes during the actual concert?” Back then, I was also nicknamed “Rehearsal King (Riha King / リハキング)”. To say that I’m only good at rehearsals. That’s how bad things got. That’s why I really was afraid of going up on stage. I didn’t want to be on stage. Because I’d keep thinking about whether I will make a mistake, whether I will fail, and all those kinds of things. Even though I’ve never once thought like that when we debuted, you know? Because, weirdly enough, I was so full of confidence (lol).
―― I suppose Yuta-san threw his honest opinion straight at you because he’s your biological sibling, but how did your other band mates treat Yagami-san in that situation?
T: Everyone knew what was going on so I guess they understood. I think that’s why they suggested Acchan take over as CEO, probably.
―― So that’s what happened. When your mental health is in jeopardy, it’s pretty difficult to break out of it, isn’t it?
T: It’s easier to give up, isn’t it? That’s for sure. I did actually say that I wanted to retire back then, but they wouldn’t let me. If, back then, they said, “Sure, go ahead,” then I’d probably have quit. I would’ve retired.
―― How did they react back then?
T: “What nonsense are you saying?”
―― Thank goodness your band mates are like that. How long did this difficult situation go on for?
T: Probably about 2, 3 years? That’s when I started going to the gym. To build up strength and to improve my mental health. What I train at the gym honestly isn’t the muscles that I use for drumming. But when I exercise, it’s like I forget about everything for a while. It helps to relieve me of all my different stresses.
―― Then, in 2004, individual members of the band started their own solo activities. Yagami-san also formed Blue Sky in which you play music by your musical inspirations. Did that turn out to be an emotional turning point for you?
T: In a way. BUCK-TICK might be as good as a business, but there’s a part of Blue Sky that you could say is a pursuit of amateurism. Even if we mess up, we just laugh it off. Something like that. Our bassist KANAME-san is a veteran too, while Harada Kenta-kun is someone I’ve known for a long time, and our guitarists Yagi (Masato)-san is someone I became acquainted with through Minato (Masafumi)-kun’s introduction, but I’ve known everyone for quite a while already so that’s what made it good.
―― So the second retirement threat was avoided through fitness.
T: That’s right. First, right before ⁎Aku no Hana, and then before and after I turned 40. Exactly around the time of my climacteric years.
I just hope that we’ll be able to work together for a long time to come. But I’m just taking things a year at a time.
All I want is to make sure that I won’t have any regrets regardless of when my game is over.
―― Since then, it looks to me that the condition of the band and your activities have been soaring to where we are now at this point in time. Although, on the side of recording production, the band changed up its order of recording around the time of ⁎Yume Miru Uchuu to recording the drums last. How did this change affect Yagami-san?
T: Being the first to be recorded, I can’t predict Imai’s effector sounds that would come in later, can I? At best, I could base my guesses off the sample recordings and follow that, but then I’d end up tuning my drums according to a guitar part that isn’t complete yet. If I do this, there is a possibility that the drums could end up getting buried when Imai decides to make a lot of noise at certain parts later on. To this end, recording my part after getting the full complete data means that I can take all of that into consideration, and I can do my tuning and all that better too. So I actually thought that it’s good in that sense. And in fact, this was something that Murakami “Ponta” Shuichi-san did for Izumiya Shigeru’s recording back around 1990. When I went to the studio back when we started doing this, Ponta-san was there and he asked, “What happened?” So I told him, “I’m the last one to record.” When he heard that, he was surprised though. Ponta-san then said this was something they used to do way back in the day. But according to him, it’s not about the tuning but, “It’s good because you get a sense of what the song is supposed to feel like.” Maybe that’s something studio musicians have to think about there and then. So that’s probably why he finds that it’s better for the drum part to come in later after the arrangement is set in place.
―― September’s upcoming best-of concept album ⁎CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. is a collection of songs from your discography categorised into 5 genres that shows us once again how varied BUCK-TICK’s sound can be. While there’s an electronic era, there’s also an era when you went all out with an organic band sound. Was there anything that Yagami-san paid attention to through all the changes in BUCK-TICK’s music?
T: You know what’s funny? We wanted to do all sorts of things in our 20s and 30s. But now, instead, we’re not really doing anything (lol). Those periods come and go, don’t they? Wanting to bury something, but on the contrary, there’s no need to right now. Things like that. In the context of drums, I’ve started wondering about things like, if I hit the cymbals once, is it enough or not? Then there’s the dynamics. How strong or weak it should be. I wouldn’t consider these things in the past and I’d just be satisfied with drumming all out. Maybe I grew tired of that type of cadence or…… I’ve finally become emotionally stable. Because I used to be emotionally unstable (lol). When I had a dialogue session with Tsunoda☆Hiro-san, we spoke a little bit about this. There are people who drum as if they’re angry even though it’s a ballad. That’s because of emotional instability. You’ll gradually learn how to prepare yourself for it and drum. Simply put, with songs like ballads, just drum as if it’s okay for the drums to be inaudible. But it takes time for drummers to get their emotions to that stage, doesn’t it? What I think is that it’s important to learn control because the drum is an instrument that makes loud sounds. Frankly speaking, it’s a noisy instrument to begin with. Because it’s something you hit to play. It’s important to figure out how to make something like that sound musical. That’s all I think about these days. I can’t just focus on using a drum set that sounds good, or picking a cymbal that sounds nice. If Imai tells me, “I want a kind of cheap-sounding cymbal like in Misemono-goya,” then I’d deliberately use a cracked cymbal too.
―― BUCK-TICK’s sound has consistently been revolutionary, and I think that in playing the role of supporting its base, Yagami-san creates a unique groove as someone who emphasises the importance of basics.
T: Although we’re making music in all kinds of different styles, all of it still comes from the same human beings so no matter what we do, it’ll turn into BUCK-TICK in the end. Although, there are definitely times when I don’t have the energy as a drummer, so now, I just want to keep doing my best consistently so that I don’t become a burden. Because symptoms of ageing are bound to come up. I don’t know how many more years I can keep doing this though.
―― Also, being the eldest in the band, I’ve always thought that your respect for your other band mates is something we can all learn from. I believe that one or two years’ difference in age when you’re younger would’ve been a big difference, but was there a point in time when your attitude towards your band mates changed?
T: This is basically something that has always been. Nothing happened, nothing changed. Besides, I’ve always felt like I’m sort of like a supporting musician (lol). That’s something I often joke about (lol). But it’s nice, isn’t’ it? We’re like the Soul Brothers. Staying together in that sense. I never thought I’d be making music with them for 35 years, much less imagine that I’d still be drumming into my 60s. If I were a working adult I’d already be retiring from the workforce (lol).
―― That’s true.
T: I wanted to be building model figurines of ships at home (lol).
―― Heading towards the band’s 35th anniversary, what do you think about your band mates?
T: I just hope that we’ll be able to work together for a long time to come. Staff members and fans have been telling me, “Please keep going until you’re 70!” But I don’t know about that, right? That’s 10 years later. Having come to this age, I’m just taking things a year at a time. All I want is to make sure that I won’t have any regrets regardless of when my game is over. Because I really don’t know when that will happen.
―― I won’t say “Please keep going until you’re 70!”, or anything specific like that, but I would very much like for Yagami-san to keep on drumming for as long as you enjoy it.
T: A song that Imawano Kiyoshiro-san sang comes to mind. Titled, “I want to be happy but I don’t want to work for it (幸せになりたいけど 頑張りたくない / Shiawase ni naritai kedo ganbaritakunai) (lol). Such a song existed.
―― “Let’s take it easy (ラクに行こうぜ / raku ni ikou ze)”, right?
T: I want to be happy but I don’t want to work for it. The essence of my personality is pretty much an unmotivated person. Or a lazy person. I’m someone who wants to live a life of fun and that’s how I’ve always been since I was a child. If I could, I’d hire someone who looks exactly like me and control them from home. Or maybe we should make a robot that looks exactly like me (lol).
―― No, no, no, anyway, you’re still keeping up with practice even now, playing jazz, expanding the breadth of your studies, right?
T: That’s because I’ve always enjoyed jazz. At one point, I kept buying a stupid amount of drum instructional videos and I watched them a lot. Seeing that, Yuta said, “Looks like Anii has a fetish for techniques.” (Lol) They’re professionals, so it’d be a good thing to remember their techniques, right? He’s just the kind of guy to say those kinds of things. Fetish for techniques. Really makes you wonder what he’s really trying to say to his big brother.
―― (Lol) Everyone, including Anii, has such great posture when we see you on stage. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why you all still seem youthful to us.
T: It’s not been the same recently. There are some things I’ve noticed. Like, I’m good with BUCK-TICK’s characteristic four-on-the-floor beats, but when we move to faster songs, I start to hunch a little. What I refer to is a boxing methodology. It’s easier to throw punches when slouching your back. That’s what I noticed when I watched boxing matches, and Yamaki (Hideo) has that same, sort of similar kind of hunched posture. That’s something I’ve recently put into application.
―― You’re definitely enthusiastic about research and study. Have you ever thought about what’s next for BUCK-TICK? I recall that you’ve casually mentioned before that it would be better for BUCK-TICK to revisit the organic band sound.
T: Recording is all about creating something, isn’t it? Maybe I’ve been influenced by Blue Sky too. Because Blue Sky gets everything done in one go, more or less. When we record it all in one take, it’s as good as a studio concert, isn’t it? If that’s how it happens, I’d have to practice again, and I’d expect that these sorts of problems would crop up, but I think it’s also good to have songs that have that sense of approximation and ruggedness. It’s not a bad thing to include songs that were recorded in one take in the album. It’s just that…… I don’t think we [BUCK-TICK] would do that (lol). That’s how bands used to do it, right? There wouldn’t be any dubbing done after words. Everyone would just come together and start playing with a “5, 6, 7, 8!” Although, I think that’s only possible because everyone’s really really good at what they do. When I talk to the people I look up to, I think they’re all amazing. Because those people who have hit legend status are all superhuman to me.
―― I would think that Yagami-san is also in that sphere from the perspective of young drummers. Leaving aside whether or not BUCK-TICK is Visual-Kei, I think it’s an inspiration for up and coming musicians to see someone in this scene celebrating their 60th birthday.
T: We often joke about it though, right? That we’re “the pioneering Visual-Kei” (lol). There was no such categorisation in the past, but once it was coined, there were times when I saw our CDs in the Visual-Kei section when I visited record stores and those sorts of places. Whenever I see that, I’d remove them and move them back into the “Ha (ハ)” section¹.
―― I see (lol). Are you against being categorised there?
T: More than that, it’s because we’re not a “kei (系 / genre)”. When BUCK-TICK first debuted, people from Victor’s music production department came to us, and the film department said, “We want to market you as a visual artist.” ‘VIsual’ here refers to film and video. That’s why we made our debut through film, with music videos for not only our singles but also a number of other songs too.
―― Like how all the songs in Aku no Hana and Six/Nine had music videos.
T: Yes, exactly. That was because of our work with the film department. That’s why we’re not a “kei”, we’re a Visual Artist (lol). That’s how Victor’s film department referred to us.
―― There are many of your drummer seniors who are still active in the industry, but does Yagami-san have your own ideal vision?
T: It would certainly be nice if I can continue doing this for a long time to come and finish the race.
―― As a band? Or as a drummer?
T: Band, because that’s fundamental to me. Be it BUCK-TICK or Blue Sky, being able to keep any one of them going would make me happy anyway. Wanting to continue with this for a long time to come is essentially my hope. If I were to do this until I’m 70, as mentioned earlier, then that’s another 10 years. There are times when I wonder whether I can, though. I joke about this a lot, but my drumsticks are getting lighter and lighter, you know? So I keep wondering whether they’d end up becoming as light as serving chopsticks at some point (lol). We’re really doing anything and everything to make things easier. That said, amazing seniors like Takahashi Makoto-san and ARB’s KEITH-san have never changed the weight of their drumsticks from whatever they used in their 20s. Remarkable people like them are still going strong, so I’ll be doing my best and learning from them too.
『TABOO』＝ Released January 1989. Their 3rd album.
「ICONOCLASM」＝ A track from TABOO.
『狂った太陽』＝ Kurutta Taiyou. Released February 1991. Their 5th album
『HURRY UP MODE』＝ Released April 1987. Their indies album.
A remixed version, HURRY UP MODE（1990MIX） was made and released as a major record label version in Febuary 1990.
『darker than darkness -styIe 93-』＝ Released June 1993. Their 7th album.
『Six/Nine』＝ Released May 1995. Their 8th album.
『殺シノ調べ This Is NOT Greatest HIts』＝ Released March 1992. A self-cover album.
『悪の華』＝ Aku no Hana. Released February 1990. Their 4th album.
『夢見る宇宙』＝ Yume Miru Uchuu. Released September 2012. Their 18th album.
『CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.』＝ To be released 21 September 2022. Their best-of concept album in celebration of their 35th anniversary.
¹ 90% of the CDs in music and record stores would be categorised based on the Japanese alphabetical order. In this case, as BUCK-TICK is バクチク (bakuchiku) when written in Japanese, they will belong to the ハ (ha) alphabet.
Concert report of Yagami Toll’s (BUCK-TICK) star-studded 60th birthday celebration
20 August 2022
The report covering Yagami Toll ～60th Birthday Live～ IT’S A NOW！2022, the birthday concert celebrating Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday which was held at CLUB CITTA’ Kawasaki in Kanagawa on Friday, 19 August 2022 has arrived.
While Yagami Toll is drummer to the band BUCK-TICK, who will be celebrating 35 years together with no change in member line up in September later this year, he also carries out solo activities under the name Yagami Toll & Blue Sky and has released an EP, WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder & Cold wind- in 2019.
This event was in celebration of Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday, and was held on 19 August, the actual day of his birthday. Apart from the Yagami Toll-led band, Yagami Toll & Blue Sky, there also were performances by BUCK-TICK and D’ERLANGER, and he also shared a stage with guest musicians like his close friend Miyako Keiichi from SOPHIA/Rayflower, drummer Minato Masafumi, Der Zibet’s ISSAY, his mentor-figure Takahashi Makoto, and singer Yoshida Minako whom Yagami has admired since childhood.
On 19 August, stalwart drummer Yagami Toll of the band BUCK-TICK, who will be celebrating their 35th anniversary in September, celebrated his 60th birthday at CLUB CITTA’ Kawasaki in Kanagawa with the show, Yagami Toll ～60th Birthday Live～IT’S A NOW！2022.
This birthday concert has become an annual event ever since the 2012 show at the very same CLUB CITTA’ Kawasaki celebrating his 50th birthday. Subsequent shows were held at Shimokitazawa’s live house with the Yagami Toll-led Yagami Toll & Blue Sky as the main act performing their original compositions and covering Yagami’s favourite songs. But this year, they decided to throw a big celebration for Yagami hitting the big 60 and had performances by BUCK-TICK, D’ERLANGER, and special guests like Miyako Keiichi (SOPHIA/Rayflower), Takahashi Makoto, Minato Masafumi and Yoshida Minako joining Yagami Toll & Blue Sky, as well as ISSAY (Der Zibet) taking part in BUCK-TICK’s set.
During transitions between sets, congratulatory video messages from musicians of all genres of bands were shown too, a testament to just how large Yagami’s circle of friends is. Even the audience’s faces burst into smiles as they watched all the sincere comment videos from stand-out individuals and groups, like the 5 members of Kishidan exclaiming “We knew Anii would be a-okay even at 60!” together, Nishikawa Takanori, fellow Gunma-ite Kanagawa Macoto, his musician seniors Uchiumi Toshikatsu and Nakano Shigeru (亜無亜危異 / ANARCHY), his drummer senior Tsunoda☆Hiro, drummer junior Shinya of DIR EN GREY, Sakiyama Tatsuo from Spitz, and BRAHMAN’s RONZI, just to name a few.
Actor Kuroda Takaya was the backstage announcer for this event, calling in the first batter of the night, D’ERLANGER. As all four members faced each other, they kicked things off with BABY. And Angelic Poetry followed, flaunting the way each and every note could be heard clearly while coming together in the satisfying explosive sound that is unique to D’ERLANGER. Waves alternating between quiet and intensity came and went in Romeo＆Juliet, and after performing their hit songs LULLABY and CRAZY4YOU, drummer Tetsu who is Yagami’s close friend said, “I’m glad that we can throw a grand celebration for you in such a large venue today. May our friendship continue into tomorrow, and the day after, and even longer!”
Singer kyo then said, “To commemorate this day, we’ll be performing a song that everyone is familiar with.” Following that, they performed Oh! My God!; a rock’n’roll song from Yagami Toll & Blue Sky’s discography with lyrics written by Yagami himself. It was a surprise for Yagami too, and when the excitement in the hall was at its peak, the band performed SADISTIC EMOTION, a fiery song that perfectly led back to what kyo said in his very first MC: “Do allow me to properly warm up the stage.” And with that, they departed from the stage.
Up next was Yagami Toll & Blue Sky. The drum stand on the stage took on a special look with a display covered in deep red roses. Once Yagami, Harada Kenta (guitar & vocals), KANAME (bass & vocals), Yagi Masato (guitar), and Miyako Keiichi (keyboard) took the stage wearing red t-shirts, they started their session with the instrumental track WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder & Cold wind-. After drawing the audience in with the mellow performance, they got the crowd going with upbeat rock ‘n roll songs SODA ROCK!! and ROCK’N ROLL STAR.
There’s one more person who is integral to these IT’S A NOW！ birthday events and that is SHIME, who passed away in March this year. As a tribute to his memory, they covered SHIME’s own song, Top of The Mountain Bar. Footage of SHIME performing with the band was shown on screen, and at times, Yagami could be seen watching it as he drummed.
Next came a twin drums session where they were joined by guest drummer Minato Masafumi in performing CAROL’s Funky Monkey Baby and Good Old Rock’n’Roll, and then by Takahashi Makoto in their performance of Larry Williams’ SLOW DOWN which The Beatles once covered, and BOØWY’s DREAMIN’. Then, Yoshida Minako, who Yagami has professed to being a huge fan of, joined them on stage for a heartfelt rendition of Yagami’s song requests, Toki yo and Yume de Aetara.
While still immersed in the afterglow of her groovy singing, Yagami’s biological younger brother, Higuchi Yutaka (bassist/BUCK-TICK) brought cake onto the stage with Tetsu (D’ERLANGER) who carried a large bouquet. All at once, the hall switched into a festive mood. With the celebratory mood in the air, the band then closed off their set with the mid-tempo Blow Wind, the one and only song that the sharp-tongued SHIME ever praised.
SE THEME OF B-T resounded through the hall as the final act of the night, BUCK-TICK took the stage. We departed from the lull with Go-Go B-T TRAIN, the up-tempo number that was a combination of speed and force. With a whine from guitarist Imai Hisashi’s instrument imitating the pressure of steam blowing out, Higuchi rocked backwards, lifting the neck of his bass guitar up high. Guitarist Hoshino Hidehiko’s strumming was sharp and cutting too as the band went in hard and heavy from their very first song.
Vocalist Sakurai Atsushi causally introduced the band as, “Yagami Toll and his trusted associates,” and then continued his MC with, “I’m straying into personal matters on this happy day, but I fell sick with COVID-19 despite everyone’s cautioning to be careful. Zero powers of persuasion there.”
This day marks the very first show that Sakurai is having after his falling ill and recupertion last month. But not even a shred of evidence of that was left in his powerful yet delicate voice as the band went on to perform GUSTAVE and then, Baby, I want you..
“Let’s call on our lovely guest,” Sakurai said before singing, ♪‘Radio kara no Transmission〜’ from Der Zibet’s Shizumitai. A delightful scene followed when ISSAY came on stage singing the next part of the song. Then, Sakurai and ISSAY dueted in their first performance of Itoshi no Rock Star together after close to 27 years.
Following the emotional Koi and everyone throwing up peace signs in Eureka, Sakurai began a humorous introduction with, “This [next one] is on request by our Anii-san from Tokyo.”
Yagami then announced, “We’ll be performing the title track from our debut album!” which led into their last song for the night, SEXUAL×××××！. Just as they jumped into the intro to Yagami’s count, red and silver streamers flew into the air and the audience went wild from this surprise that felt like a return gift from Yagami; a fitting, euphoric end to the night.
After the performance concluded, Yagami remained on stage to tell the audience, “Thank you for coming to celebrate my 60th birthday today.” And finally, to the rest of his bandmates who will in turn hit 60 in future, he added, “I hope we’ll be able [to celebrate like this] three and four years later too.”
The audience gave a rousing applause throughout the performance, and showered love on Yagami, the star of the evening from start to end. The hairstyle that he has kept upright throughout BUCK-TICK’s 35 years of activities is like a symbol of the determination he has had since day one and his love for the fans.
What especially struck me was how quickly they changed the angles of the cymbals for Yagami Toll & Blue Sky’s set. As the drum stand was higher up than usual, the audience wouldn’t be able to see Yagami from where they stood if the cymbals were set at certain angles. For this reason, the cymbals were almost horizontal. Such attention to detail is probably one of the reasons he is so loved by many. I hope that to continue seeing his reliable self as the supporting backbone of BUCK-TICK not just three or four years from now, but far into the future too.
Romeo & Juliet
Oh! My God! (Yagami Toll & Blue Sky cover)
■Yagami Toll & Blue Sky
Mandom—Lovers Of The World
WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder & Cold wind- / with Miyako Keiichi
SODA ROCK!! / with Miyako Keiichi
Fire Girl / with Miyako Keiichi
ROCK’N ROLL STAR / with Miyako Keiichi
Oh! My God! / with Miyako Keiichi
Top Of The Mountain Bar (SHIME cover) / with Miyako Keiichi
Funky Monkey Baby (CAROL cover) / with Minato Masafumi
Good Old Rock’n’Roll (CAROL cover) / with Minato Masafumi
Slow Down (THE BEATLES cover) / with Takahashi Makoto
DREAMIN’ (BOØWY cover) / with Takahashi Makoto
時よ [Toki yo] / with Miyako Keiichi & Yoshida Minako
夢で逢えたら [Yume de Aetara] / with Miyako Keiichi & Yoshida Minako
Der Zibet celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. As the vocalist of the band, ISSAY’s presence is inimitable. With this issue’s theme surrounding our interviewees’ “favourite things”, we take a deep dive into his mind and catch a glimpse of a surprising side of him through conversation.
Der Zibet、KA.F.KA、ISSAY meets DOLLY
Active with Der Zibet, KA.F.KA, ISSAY meets DOLLY among a wide variety of activities, ISSAY’s is ultimately a vocalist with an unwavering character whose presence radiates through his performances which incorporate pantomime and, of course, his singing.
INFORMATION ISSAY OFFICIAL H.P.:
Der Zibet OFFICIAL H.P.:
New album, Bessekai
―― Releasing an album this year, in the year of your 30th anniversary, did you take any special notice of things like milestones or turning points during production?
ISSAY (I): I think I’d be lying if I said no, but it’s not as if we paid all that much attention to it either. It was sometime around the end of last year when the band had drinks together while talking about the concept of the album. After that, we only decided on the album’s name after the start of this year. First came the concept, then came the name. And only afterwards did we start to put the music together.
―― Does it mean that everyone has the common idea of another world that isn’t the one we live in?
I: To start, when we were discussing the concept, we decided that we won’t do anything that would get classified as indie, or too niche, or anything like that. Der Zibet has always been a band that is said to be “too niche” to begin with anyway, but we’ve released a few albums since our reunion, and we’re of course satisfied with them, but we feel that we’ve producing them in a friendly manner. And thought, isn’t it about time that we made something that featured our quirks in the limelight? Those were the sentiments that came first. Once we had that down, we started thinking about what exactly were Der Zibet’s quirks, and things like MONDE MOVIE and MONDE FILM and MONDE MUSIC started coming to mind. Which led us to wondering, what’s the definition of MONDE in the first place? Cutting to the chase, it’s something like another world (bessekai / 別世界). As we started talking about how it seems to imply something that isn’t of this world but rather of another, we started to get the idea that Bessekai might be a good idea for an album title.
―― Hearing that gives me the impression that you’re only talking about going back to being “too niche” because this is for your 30th anniversary.
I: I don’t think the other band members feel this way, but for me, personally, I see our situation as a band from 1985, who made the type of music we did back then, thinking about what we want to create in the year 2015. Obviously, 30 years have passed, times have changed and even we have changed in our ways of working and all that, so all things considered, what are we going to do in 2015? What are we going to do now with the same underlying feelings that we had when we first started the band? That’s what I personally kept thinking about.
―― Apart from going in the niche or indie direction, does [this album] have any other tangible differences from your other recent works?
I: Rather than some strong, pointed intention to bring things towards this direction, we simply freed ourselves from our shackles. [Normally,] if I think that something might be difficult to grasp, I’d make small changes to it, right? So that’s something I decided to stop doing this time around. Even when we have [jam] sessions among ourselves as a band, we’d usually try our best to eliminate the thinking that certain parts of our music should be made more easily acceptable. No matter how niche we are, or how much people say we’re indie or whatever, we’re a band who’s attuned to pop, so no matter what, I think our melodies are pop-ish. That’s why we felt that it’s not possible for us to do anything ridiculously outlandish.
―― I also have the impression that as a band, Der Zibet is pop, but this album-
I: Is easy listening? (Lol)
―― -was somehow overwhelming to me from the second track onwards, when METRO was followed by Mr.Bad Trip and then Toki no Boumeisha (時の亡命者).
I: Because that’s the kind of flow we intended with the track order. If we wanted [the album] to sound like pop, we wouldn’t do this (dry laugh).
―― That’s true. So how do you feel about the work resulting from freeing yourself of the shackles of making yourselves easy to understand?
I: There’s quite a big difference when it comes to the lyrics. How do I explain this simply. Say, for example, there’s a second character in the lyrics. In previous albums, I think this second character would be given form and made visible. I’d write “you” and write it all down so the listener would know what kind of person this second character is. But this time, we completely ignored all of that. And we additionally also did our best to refrain from writing typical love songs. Love songs are easy to make sense of. Very easy. That’s what we wanted to rid ourselves of as much as possible. We just want to make the world we envision even more blatantly visible the way it is, you know? And, you can see it, can’t you? You just can’t help it (lol).
―― Because you show us the worlds that could be seen and felt with each song just as they are.
I: Exactly. That’s what it is in a nutshell. That’s why you can no longer describe it with the words ‘pop music’, right? But from each and every one of the songs, you can probably see different worlds in them. I think you’ll be able to see them clearly. But I don’t think there’s anything more to it than simply giving us a view of the worlds that the protagonist steps into. That’s the kind of work it is.
―― Going back to what you initially said about the concept, does this mean that MONDE MOVIE is one of the keys to this album?
I: No, not particularly. It’s just that when we were discussing Bessekai’s concept, the music that HIKARU presented was an instrumental piece. I thought it might be interesting to put lyrics to it, so I did that without anyone asking. That also happened to be the moment in time when I was trying to figure out what kind of lyrics I should write, so this ended up being the very first set of lyrics that I wrote for this album. And once this was done, I was easily able to compose the lyrics to the rest of the songs. For me, there’s this tunnel when I’m writing lyrics and if I don’t go through it, I won’t be able to write. The tunnel this time around wasn’t all that long, but I wrote the very first set of lyrics which were for MONDE MOVIE, without any thought at all and after that, it got easier and easier for me to write. It’s not that I want to do it all in this manner, but I just think it was a really good thing that this was how it started.
―― How did the recording go?
I: Smoothly. I used a hand mic to record my singing this time. I mentioned that there’s one mic that I really favour because I really like how it I sound recorded when I sing into it, and HIKARU said okay, sure. Then, let’s record with you singing into the the mic in your hand. It’s just so comfortable to sing with a hand mic, you know? The last time I sang into a hand mic was when we recorded our second album (dry laugh). Isn’t it nice to not have to worry about how and where you’re standing?
―― It’s the kind of album that makes me think of entering a world while you’re standing still and singing though.
I: Because there’s no song to sing unless I immerse myself in that world.
―― Not that. I was thinking of a more physical sort of world.
I: Like darkening the room? Personally, I generally do keep it darkened but not so much recently, I think. Because I want to make it relaxing, you know? If it’s set up ahead of time, I think it’ll just turn into something that makes my stomach hurt more. Anyway, I just didn’t want to be bothered by unnecessary things any more. I wanted to lose the tension in my shoulders. Does that make it easier to understand? Besides, don’t we use hand mics for live performances too anyway?
―― I just can’t imagine what kind of a live performance this album will yield. Although, I’d expect that there’s some form of live show unique to this album.
I: Well, it isn’t exactly an album with much leeway, is it?
―― Now that the album is complete and you’ve released it, do you think it’s turned out to be what you had imagined when you initially decided on the concept?
I: What we thought of in the beginning was in no way defined. It was something more ambiguous. That’s why it’d be wrong of me to say that we’ve created exactly what we envisioned. We are satisfied with how we executed it; the way it’s turned out with the kind of album name and concept it has. It’s a very experimental album for us from that perspective.
―― So you’re satisfied with the results of your experiment. What do you like about this fulfilling work of yours?
I: I guess I’m satisfied with the fact that it’s got quite a hefty presence as an album. I’m not talking about how it’d turn out in a live performance, but just the way it is as an album. I’m happy with it.
―― When you talk about going home, you’re referring to returning to your actual hometown where you grew up, right?
I: Literally what it generally means. I go back a few times a year. Although that includes occasions when I go back because I need to attend to something on this day and that day, regardless of my personal intentions.
―― Do you feel more relaxed or liberated when you go back?
I: I don’t. I think when I was about 27 or 28, before then, it felt like the city was telling me ‘Welcome home’ every time I got off the train and stood in the station. But after a certain point, it stopped saying that. It was then when I realised, “Ah, I don’t belong to this city anymore.”
―― What do you do when you go home?
I: I check.
―― Check what?
I: My own pain, for example. It’s a city where a river flows. When I go there, I can check on the pain that I felt from back then. Whatever the time, whether midnight or midday, I’d go to the beach and zone out while staring at the sea, and check on my past self who used to watch the sea like this too. I check and make sure that the person I was back then is still in this body of mine.
―― Is that because you want to stay the way you are?
―― I’m getting the impression that this is connected to your being a performer.
I: There’s no doubt that it is related. I need to drop by home, make my rounds and visit each key spot, and check how this sea looks to me at this point in time.
―― Do you like rose gardens?
I: I’ll go once or twice a year. Usually, I’d visit one in Tokyo.
―― I’m definitely very much into the idea of ISSAY-san with roses, but why rose gardens?
I: It’s fun, for some reason (smiles). It feels like I’m on a leisure trip. But I haven’t been able to see the spring or autumn roses. But when I was in Kamakura for business the other day, I went to the Kamakura Museum of Literature and there happened to be a rose garden there so I took photos (smiles).
―― Do roses mean something special to ISSAY-san?
I: That never crossed my mind. But don’t they make you feel, like “whoa” when they’re in full bloom? It makes me feel as if le spectre de la rose from that ballet might be in there somewhere. Like they inspire dreamy fantasies. Although, the same goes for cherry blossoms too. Because I feel a thrill in my blood when I go to places where cherry blossoms are blooming all over, you know? It’s embedded in Japanese DNA. I go cherry blossom viewing too.
―― You’re surprisingly fond of taking leisure trips.
I: I love them. I just don’t think of taking them often. I actually like man-made places and sights. Like places where buildings are all lined up together. I feel like the city is breathing when I see the buildings’ rooftop lights shine and flicker. I love it.
―― And in all of that, you just happen to adore roses.
I: Yes. I’d go and look at the sea. I adore roses. And cherry blossoms. Those are the kinds of things I love.