Ongaku to Hito
November 2023

Imai Hisashi
AFTERSHOWS

Cut through this Endless Darkness¹
Interview with Imai Hisashi

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photos by Yamauchi Hiroe, Aoki Hayaka

 

The final performances of BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA- happened over two days, on the 17th and the 18th of September at Gunma Music Center. There’s a lot of significance behind concluding their tour and closing off their 35th anniversary year which started with a 2-day event at Yokohama Arena last year in this hometown venue where the band used to often perform; it’s a preface indicating that this is not an “ending” but a “beginning”.

And three days after the final show was the 21st of September. That’s right, on this very anniversary day marking the band’s debut, I interviewed guitarist Imai Hisashi. Rather than fixate on the concluded tour, he’s already looking ahead, feeling his way to his next vision. This is precisely why the last song of their final show had to be New World. The 異空 -IZORA- that Imai speaks of, the tour, and also a formidable hope towards something new; these are what he shared with us in great detail.

 

I couldn’t wrap my head around what kind of album this is
But I just knew that it was nothing like anything we’ve done before
Then we started touring and I started to get a feel of the response

ーーIt just occurred to me that today is the 21st of September. That’s BUCK-TICK’s debut anniversary day, right!

Imai (I): Ah, huh…… Congrats.

ーーThat’s my line (lol). While there’s still one rescheduled Nagoya show left, for now, the 異空 -IZORA- tour has come to an end. I think the concerts were exquisitely executed and they really showed us the album’s world, but I’d like to hear Imai-san’s perspective on it.

I: I composed a bunch of different things myself and, you know, in the beginning, I couldn’t wrap my head around what kind of album this is at all. But I just knew that it was nothing like anything we’ve done before. Then we started touring and I started to get a feel of the [audience’s] response, and I guess you could say, the more shows we played, the more I got into it?…… Yeah. I just felt really strongly that it’s an album like nothing we’ve done before.

ーーAs you mentioned in [past] interviews, the concert was structured to start with the first track of the album, QUANTUM Ⅰ and end with the last track, QUANTUM Ⅱ. Your first show at Hachioji barely had any MC segments, neither was there member introductions or a drum solo.

I: Ah, right, that’s what the very first one was like? Not doing the drum solo was most likely an idea that came from Sakurai-san (vocalist Sakurai Atsushi), probably. This time, it was Sakurai-san who posed the suggestion that since we’ll basically do away with member introductions, we should start the encore with a drum solo.

ーーI see. But I felt that structure coupled with the content made this concert a thorough approach to bringing the world of the album to life.

I: That, definitely. But it’s also because we gradually got a better grasp of it as time went on. When the first show concluded, I thought, this is unlike anything we’ve done before. I wasn’t sure what it would turn into but as the shows went on, things got more and more interesting. And the [audience’s] reception was good too, right?

ーーIn it, the character “Hizumi-chan” takes over Sakurai-san and starts taking on a life of its own. There’s no arguing that was the highlight of this tour.

I: It didn’t feel like that in the beginning though. But it really is amazing that Sakurai-san gets up on stage and puts on such a performance on his own volition as a vocalist, isn’t it?

ーーThat’s one of the things everyone goes along with as long as it’s what Sakurai-san wants to do, right?

I: Yeah. I don’t [say] I want him to do something in particular or anything like that. I never have.

ーーI think the timing of this tour happens right when the COVID-19 pandemic has settled and the audience can cheer, when concerts are going back to normal. How has the response been?

I: As expected, I got the feeling that people haven’t quite gotten used to it or something in the beginning, but they were reserved, you know? I guess everyone was watching us with the vibe that they weren’t too sure what they should do. Things haven’t completely gone back to the way they were originally but we’re slowly getting there.

ーーAnd the final shows of this tour were held in BUCK-TICK’s home town, at Gunma Music Centre.

I: Those two days were really fun. At the very end, it finally sank in that this is how everything ended up. It was an album that was nothing like what we had done, but I didn’t foresee that this is what it would become either. As I said earlier, I couldn’t grasp what it would become, up until the very end.

ーーI wonder why.

I: Not because it was influenced by something else but while composing the songs, first, my PC broke.

ーーAh, right (lol).

I: So my music composing environment at home changed, you see? I wasn’t familiar with the new system and I couldn’t use the workspace I set up for my work PC, so I ended up having to compose in a really really inconvenient space (lol).

ーーNot at the basement work den where your PC was set up?

I: Not there, but at a low table near the sofa at the back (lol). I set the system up there but since it’s on a low table, it was a bit of a stoop while working so I had to hunch while programming (lol).

ーーHahahahahahaha.

I: It was sooo uncomfortable (lol). Then, we initially wanted to release two CDs so our original goal was something else entirely too. That’s why I say that 異空 -IZORA- is [an album] that didn’t have anything; not a plan nor a theme nor even a concept. And we just went along with the idea that we’ll keep recording whatever we made. Then halfway through came the decision to make it one CD so even I couldn’t really make sense of what kind of work this would be after we put all the songs we recorded together.

ーーSo starting with QUANTUM Ⅰ and ending with QUANTUM Ⅱ was how you gave it some coherence.

I: Yeah. And while we were performing, I guess I found myself understanding better what [the album] was supposed to be.

ーーThat’s really how it went, right? Also, going a little off topic, since you dropped the idea of releasing two CDs, what happened to the unreleased songs and the half-recorded songs that didn’t make the cut?

I: With those, we’d probably have another look at them or redo them, I think.

ーーA relook!

I: If they were already recorded in full, I might think they’re OK as they are, but there are only a few tracks that has Yuta’s (Higuchi Yutaka) bass and Hide’s (Hoshino Hidehiko) guitar recorded, and don’t have my guitar or Sakurai-san’s voice recorded yet. So I’m thinking I could incorporate the ideas that I’m getting now and the things I want to try in these songs.

At first, we planned to end the same way we did with the tour shows
But I thought, we always play New World at the end of these milestone shows

ーーI see. So, was it always part of the plan to celebrate the final at Gunma Music Centre?

I: You could say we wanted some sort of closure after all. And if we were to do that, then our hometown’s the place, I suppose. There were a number of different venues in the running, but Gunma Music Centre is one where we will almost always play whenever we go on tour anyway. Since it’s getting older and people are saying that soon it wouldn’t be able to host concerts anymore, we decided that it was probably a good idea to do this here and now. Besides, it’s also our anniversary.

ーーI see.

I: Back in my high school days, I went there to watch something for a school event. So that’s exactly how long it’s been around. The changing rooms are small, and it gets really really cold in winter (lol). But it’s nice to perform there after once in a while.

ーーYou’ve also switched out quite a few songs from the tour’s regular setlist.

I: I think we put in more songs that weren’t from this album.

ーーAmong them was New World which came at the very end of the encore. I think that made a huge impact.

I: It wasn’t in the original setlist, was it? Everyone brought up the songs they wanted to perform, we picked a few to change things up, and we planned to end the show with Na mo Naki Watashi, same as the tour. But we always play New World at the end of these milestone shows though…… that’s what I felt. So I requested this song and ICONOCLASM, and said, why don’t we play New World at the end.

ーーHaving New World at the end not only wraps up 異空 -IZORA-, but it also creates the sense that the band is start up again from that point on, doesn’t it?

I: I just thought that it’d be so good. When you think about it, even the venue is a place in our hometown that we’ve always played at since ages ago too. It’s great, isn’t it?

ーーThe way it brings out memories of how the five of you felt 35 years ago?

I: Yeah…… Maybe that’s the feeling.

ーーSo the tour has ended, it’s been announced that there’s a documentary movie in production and that the annual Nippon Budokan show will be happening, but do you, Imai-san, have a vision of what you’re going to do next already?

I: I’m really getting heaps of the “I want to create something” feeling.

ーーActually, I want to hear about the contents of the “heaps” (lol).

I: I don’t know exactly what they are but I’m thinking it’d be great if we could do something new again that feels different. Like, I think I can create something like that again.

ーーWith BUCK-TICK?

I: Yeah.

ーーI always say this but that’s the amazing thing [about you guys]. If you wanted to do something that feels different, you’d more likely work with different musicians instead of the same band members, which I think would make it easier to get a hold of that change though.

I: Nah, if we can do it, I want to give it a try with this and that. Right when we just started going on tour, Raymond (Raymond Watts / PIG) came to Japan and together with Sakurai-san, we met up, went for food and drinks, and got buzzed with talk about doing SCHWEIN again. At the time we didn’t really have the time and energy to think about doing that properly yet so we stopped the conversion there and told him to wait a bit until we wrapped up the tour.

ーーWhat did Raymond say?

I: He said, “Let’s do a SCHWEIN US tour.” (Lol)

ーーBefore the album was released, SCHAFT also came up in conversation when we were having drinks after the dialogue interview with Takeshi-kun (Ueda Takeshi / AA=).

I: Right. So, you see, I’ve always harboured the desire to continue activities with SCHAFT and SCHWEIN and Lucy. But it’s all about timing with all of them. At the same time, I want to do whatever I can do while I can. But I hate being so busy that I’m pressed for time, and more than that, the band I want to work on the most is BUCK-TICK, you see.

ーーI really wonder why you feel so strongly about BUCK-TICK’s activities.

I: Hurhur. I forgot (lol).

ーーBut obviously things aren’t the same as they were 35 years ago. Oddly enough, even though everyone’s grown older and even started their own families, everyone’s still dedicated to the one same goal. And that’s really difficult to have, I think.

I: But our roots have never changed. I don’t think it’s something that can be changed all that easily.

ーーWhen I reflect on myself, I feel like a lot has changed. I realise that I can’t dedicate a hundred percent of myself to magazine work because other than that, I still have to deal with my family and children, the company, and management of it too.

I: Isn’t that an occupational difference? It’s probably not the same.

ーーSo what’s different for a band?

I: We’re more selfish² (lol). We do of course take into consideration things like we can and cannot do, our families. We do that, but we have freedom, you know? There’s no rigidity. Because what a band needs are things like artistic qualities and creativity. Things like these, you can’t really use force to squeeze something out or we’d end up getting constrained and stifled, you know?

ーーI see.

I: All’s good as long as we can enjoy ourselves. Probably because there are many different ways to have fun. Because it’s not about how long we spend, but the quality [of what we do].

ーーThat’s true.

I: That’s why I want to have fun as a band. While we can and are doing it. Because I don’t want to find myself one day going, “Ahー I should’ve done that,” and regret.

ーーDo you feel distant within the band? Did that change?

I: Of course it changed. Because it’s no longer just the band [in our lives]. But when it comes to the band, what hasn’t changed is our dedication to creating.

ーーAny interest in doing concerts that recreate albums, or re-recording stuff?

I: Hm…… Like?

ーーLike a concert where the main segment is made up of only songs from Six/Nine or something like that. That kind of an approach.

I: Why would we do that?

ーーThere are a lot of bands who have been at it for a long time and aren’t there people saying that they want to hear the vibe of this album [from the past] or hear you do songs that you rarely play? Or even doing this just to generate some buzz. Things like that?

I: Huーm……… Boring.

ーーHahahahahahaha.

I: Although it might be interesting if we went with the approach of going all out to change the arrangement [of our songs] like what we did with Koroshi no Shirabe (This is NOT Greatest Hits) (note: their self-cover album released in 1992). But I did try to envision such a concert before. For example, what would it be like if we did a concert in the world of 13-Kai wa Gekkou and did it like that throughout? I gave it some thought but…… I think I’d really hate it.

ーーHahahahahahaha!

I: Like, it’d make me gloomy, I think. Because that would definitely make me want to do something new.

ーーAfter being in the same band for so long, others tend to do those reprisal concerts or do re-recordings to find some change in perspective or a breath of fresh air, but that’s not how it works [for you], right?

I: I think our old songs are things that belong to those days so that’s  enough. Even if one day I find myself thinking we should try recreating things, it wouldn’t be a direct reproduction and in the end, I feel like it’d just end up becoming all tied up in gothic nuances.

ーーSo instead of doing that, you’d rather go with the approach of doing whatever catches your fancy.

I: New things are always more fun.

ーーThat’s why you want to create something new.

I: That’s right. Which is why after this, we still have the live house tour and all but I want to start on the next thing already. And when I think about that, the ones that can bring it to life are BUCK-TICK after all.

ーーI would think so.

I: We’ll soon start creating next year so.

ーーHave you spoken to the band?

I: Not yet (lol). But we’ll definitely create.

 

 

Notes:

¹ Lyrics from New World: 無限の闇 切り裂いてゆけ (Mugen no yami kiri saite yuke)

² More than just “selfish”, 勝手 (katte) also carries the nuance of “doing whatever one pleases” and a certain degree of “freedom”.

 

 

 

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AFTERSHOWS

2023.09.21
Imai Hisashi BUCK-TICK

Since you’ve wrapped up your tour, let’s do an interview — that was the suggestion. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of conducting an interview over drinks when it comes to BUCK-TICK has recently been lost. But just when we thought that this tradition had come to an end, Imai raised the request, “…… Let’s go drink!”. We even went to the ramen place that we often frequented in the middle of the night back then, and before we knew it, seven hours had gone by. That’s right. This is how interviews with Imai go…… But without [Imai] even turning into a Jizo statue* halfway, the party ended before the last train. To Kanemitsu, this might just be a [sign of] significant improvement [on Imai’s part], or perhaps, something entirely revolutionary? Could this mean that next time, [Imai would hold up] until the last train before leaving too!?

 

 

Notes:

* Oftentimes, Imai would space out and fall asleep pretty early on during drinking parties. When he spaces out, people say he’s a Jizo statue.

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki

In Memoriam — Sakurai Atsushi

Ongaku to Hito
December 2023

Text=Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Photo=Nakano Hirohisa

See you later, Acchan

I knew this day would someday come.

Because nothing lasts forever.

Yet, having witnessed the effort and the miracle of how you stayed in a band with the same members for 35 years, there were times when I started to believe that maybe something like this could last forever.

But suddenly, that day arrived.

Now, I can dream no longer. The sadness is too great.

You were kind. You always considered how others felt before yourself. Especially when it came to your fans. The person who was Sakurai Atsushi left deep impressions in each and everyone’s hearts; never turning his gaze away from what supports life, he always faced it head on, and never betrayed these feelings. This sincerity is something that no one could ever imitate. And I believe there were many fans who had also been saved by him.

At the same time, the innocent demeanour he showed on occasion was loved by all. Instead of playing the role of BUCK-TICK’s vocalist, that was probably the closest to him being his normal self. In the past, when I used to drink with just the band until daybreak, I often got to see the gentle smile that he would only ever show the people he could trust.

But he could never wipe away the hurt that he carried with him since childhood. He had a heart as fragile as glass. He was plagued by anxiety over death and endings. He piled all of this into a world that represented him, where we saw his struggles. But it is precisely because he understood such emotions that his song could touch the hearts of those fraught with scars. And somewhere in there existed an intense hope.

A person who lived a moment as if it were eternity. Whose story curtains suddenly descended upon. On stage, under the watch of his fellow bandmates. Such an ending was not something anyone could’ve imagined nor wanted. But if we were to say farewell one day, we were saved by the fact that the four people who spent 35 years with us are here…… That’s all I think.

 

He said that he liked parting with the words, “See you later.”

We don’t know whether we’ll meet again. We might not be able to see each other, and promising such a future is sad. But we can live on because there’s that possibility.

The words we should say to this person he was isn’t “goodbye”. Neither is it “thank you”, or “you’ve done well”.

 

See you later, Acchan.

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki

 

 

Concert report of Yagami Toll’s 61st birthday celebration

Ongaku to Hito
October 2023

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi, photographs by Shibata Eri

Medal of a 61-year old

Yagami Toll’s annual birthday live was held at Shimokitazawa Shangri-La. Participating artists were originally announced as “Yagami Toll & His Merry Friends” (lol) but the drum session and band performance with these friends of his made for an interesting combination of blessings and insight into Anii’s history.

 

 

The connections that Yagami Toll forged was shown through music in this show
I hope we’ll always get to see his shy smile as he drums

 

The annual birthday live held on August 19, Yagami Toll’s birthday. Just like 2021, this year’s event was held at Shimokitazawa Shangri-La.

The show was divided into two parts. The first part was a competitive jam session which gave us a stripped down look at “Yagami Toll, the drummer”. Interspersed with some words by the emcee, the first to come on stage was Tetsu (D’ ERLANGER) who looks up to Yagami as his aniki. As they performed Sayonara Shelter without drums in the backing music and Yagami Toll & Blue Sky’s Oh!My God!, we could see the unique characteristics in each drummer’s drumming style through their double performance. In this, we could also get a sense of the history of how they changed over the years to match each band’s sound. Even so, just stepping on the bass drum emits a thunderous “don!” which shakes up the atmosphere in the hall and gets the audience abuzz. Rarely do we get the chance to experience drumming in such an enclosed space.

Next to come on stage was Minato Masafumi, known to be Yagami’s sworn brother and part of the “Led Zeppelin Symposium” with whom he would always end up talking about John Bonham when drinking together. It needs no saying that the song to play was Mune Ippai no Ai wo (胸いっぱいの愛を). Blue Sky’s KANAME and Yagi Masato joined them. But unlike Tetsu’s who came earlier, this was a session where they competed against each other to prove who loved Bonzo more through the drums, rather than giving and taking because of  seniority.

And last for the first part was Higuchi Yutaka. Every year, Higuchi would make an appearance as the birthday boy bearing the cake but today, he came on stage as a bassist. He was shy when he spoke but playing to the bass-less and drum-less backing tracks of Mugen LOOP and Taiyou to Icarus, his rhythm was steady. Seeing this, it was clear to me that Yagami’s drumming was rooted in Led Zeppelin and Japan’s old-school rock music; a world apart from BUCK-TICK’s type of music. In other words, it was only after he was dragged out to Tokyo by Higuchi and became a member of BUCK-TICK that he started to drum in BUCK-TICK’s unique style.

Then came the second half. This started with a performance by Yagami Toll & Blue Sky. Joining them on keyboards was Nakayama Tsutomu, the very same producer who worked with BUCK-TICK in their early days (and a person Yagami labelled, “someone who could help if I ever needed a hand” (lol)), and guitarist Yonezawa Seiichirou. This painted a beautiful story that could only be told on this day, connecting past and present. At the same time, Suzuki Momoko (COSA NOSTRA), Kiyama Yusaku, and Tago Kunio’s involvement in Blue Sky was also a result of that “fate”. Suzuki provided the lyrics to the song Blow Wind which was recorded in their 2019 album, WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder&CoId wind-, and band member KANAME was also a part of COSA NOSTRA. Their biggest hit song, home was sung by Kiyama and produced by Tago, and Tago runs TAGO STUDIO TAKASAKI in Gunma, where Yagami recorded his own album.

The connections that Yagami Toll forged was shown through music in this show. In the encore, Yagami himself sings Carol’s Funky Monkey Baby in a grand finale. Next year, he will hold his 62nd birthday’s show. I hope we’ll always get to see his shy smile as he drums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki

 

 

Dedicated to Sakurai Atsushi—
The forever five, believing in the future of BUCK-TICK

Rockin’ On Japan
January 2024

Text = Tae Omae

 

This manuscript was written on the 19th of November. Exactly a month ago, I was shocked by the news that Sakurai Atsushi had to be rushed to the hospital after performing the third song on the stage of a fan club-exclusive show. I prayed for his recovery. But the sad news reached me a few days later. Even now, I’m having difficulty accepting the fact that Sakurai-san’s body is no longer in this world.

As the vocalist who spun the lyrics to more than half of BUCK-TICK’s songs, death was a recurring theme in his work and although he sometimes looked like he was toeing a dangerously thin line at the edge of a precipice, he would always return to the realm of the living without fail. While he peered into the abyss of death, his desire to live was stronger than anyone’s. Perhaps the energy and friction of this continued attachment [to both life and death] is the true nature [of his] which birthed that immeasurable darkness and beauty.

A person’s soul is immortal. The life that each and everyone of us lives in a physical body is precious. Sakurai Atsushi was an artist unlike any other who believed in both of these sentiments equally.

 

Nicknamed the “Demon King”, he had darkness-tinged, beautiful good looks which were breathtaking, but he was untouched by narcissism. Whenever I asked him about music recording work during interviews, he would search for the right words with an almost naive sincerity, and then a shy, gentle smile appears on his face before he answers. 

The band celebrated their 35th debut anniversary in 2022. During their national tour for their latest album, 異空 – IZORA – which was released this year, he displayed depth of a whole other league as a performer with his phantasmagorical singing, his poetic narratives between songs, and his eloquent miming with the use of eye contact and even the very tips of his fingers. 

Life is love and death (Vita est amor et mors / 人生は愛と死).  Death is not that which separates but rather, an extension of life. Everyone should be free to themselves, to live the way they want. Watching his performance of Sayonara Shelter alone and the way it embodies the sadness, pain, joys and love, senselessness and magnanimousness, resignation and hope of war in their entirety, the heights to which he brings his performance gives me shivers. The peerlessly handsome man who was as good as the incarnation of Eros had transcended gender and anything and everything to exude the compassion and mercy of the Virgin Mary.

 

On the 14th of November came a news flash; on the 29th of December, the originally announced annual concert at the Nippon Budokan being cancelled and in place, a concert named “バクチク現象-2023- (BakuChiku Genshou / BUCK-TICK Phenomenon)” will be held. バクチク現象 is a special concept that was applied to shows like the commemorative concert that was held in 1987 for the release of their album, HURRY UP MODE, and their comeback concert at the Tokyo Dome in 1989.

The October 2012 edition of this magazine featured BUCK-TICK who were celebrating their 25th anniversary at the time. Group interviews and photo sessions were held for it. Varied in appearance and demeanour, the five of them were tied together by a red string…… Or rather, there seemed to be hints that they were all holding on tightly to the red string, each with their own willpower.

There’s no way to predict the specifics of バクチク現象, but I cannot forget the words that Sakurai-san said in recent concerts. “The Parade goes on until we die. [And] even when we die it continues.” Whatever shape the future which the five of them envisioned takes, I believe they intend to see it though.

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki

ROCK AND READ 108
August 2023

 

 

BUCK-TICK
TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA-

Text◎Koji Yoshida
Photography◎Seitaro Tanaka

 

The tour for their 23rd album, 異空 -IZORA-. There’s still a postponed show in Aichi and the grand finale in Gunma, but it could be said that the 2-day show in Tokyo marks the end of a chapter. This piece is a report on the first Tokyo show.


The venue was a large, eight thousand-seat capacity hall, but the stage setup was very simple. There were no large screens to show the band on, neither were there decorative elements. In this setting, the opening instrumental QUANTUM Ⅰ started playing and a psychedelic video played on the LED screen in the back of the stage. As the words “異空 (izora)” appear, the members of the band come on stage and Hoshino Hidehiko plays an arpeggio, Sakurai starts to softly sing, “Nigerarenai, Nigerarenai, Ore wa mou doko e mo (逃げられない 逃げられない 俺はもう何処へも)”. Keeping in line with the flow of the album, the first song was SCARECROW. Hoshino and Imai Hisashi’s guitar ensemble seem to toe the line between harmony and dissonance alongside the precise drumming of Yagami Toll and Higuchi Yutaka’s calm and collected bass. And there’s Sakurai, singing melancholically with his face hidden under a hat. Shown on the screen was a scarecrow, or perhaps, a crucifix. Whether they wanted to or not, from the very beginning the audience was sucked into the relentless story that BUCK-TICK had woven in 異空 -IZORA-.

Warukyuure no Kikou starts with pipe organ music. Grossly distorted guitar sounds playing to a steady drumbeat and bass groove reminiscent of a marching procession made for an unsettling atmosphere. Removing his hat, Sakurai sang passionately, as if possessed. In short, this second song continued to give me chills like the first.

It wasn’t a bombardment of songs which came afterwards; there was a short pause after each song as the show progressed. Whether it was to let the audience’s cheers rain down on them with the ban lifted, to take some time to shift focus for the next song, or simply for a change of guitars, this was different from the typical rock concerts which attack vigorously. At the same time, it all felt very solemn.

Imai and Sakurai’s duet, IGNITER featured kanji sync-ed with the lyrics swirling on the screen. Sakurai shone a light in the audience area while singing Uta. And then, the first MC.

“Hello darling? Hello baby? Do have fun~.”

Sakurai whispered with a voice which transcends gender and age. Before I knew it, there he was wearing knee-high stockings and garter belts……

A torch lit up in the back of the stage and I thought he was about to give an erotic performance of Ai no Harem but instead, he performed a glimmer of hope in a disastrous situation to violin music under a screen of a star-filled sky with Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix, followed by Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni which felt like the breaking of dawn. Although dressed in a basic jet black, Sakurai’s ability to express himself in red, white, light blue and yellow was simply overwhelming.

Sandwiched between Imai’s surf music playing before and after was THE SEASIDE STORY, followed by the BUCK-TICK-flavoured city pop song Mugen LOOP -LEAP-. After that, Sakurai said, “Thank you for all your cheers. Everyone can now make a little more noise again, there’s even some part of me that isn’t sure what I should do…… But, anyway, let’s have fun. With that, the band moved into Boogie Woogie. Then, towards the end of the Showa-era jazz flavoured Noraneko Blue, Sakurai crouched and hissed like a cat.

I’ve said this before, but Sakurai really looked as if he was possessed by something. Transcending attributes like gender and age, and even human or cat, it was amazing how he changed completely with each song he delves into. Even during Taiyou to Icarus which came after THE FALLING DOWN, Jonathan Jet-Coaster, Sakurai looked like he really became a bird, or perhaps an angel soaring through the skies as his figure merged with images of the cosmos on the screen.

Just as he said, “Thank you for today,” in a friendly voice, Sakurai started to whisper in repeat, “I want to die… I want to live…”. Hoshino’s gentle acoustic guitar, Imai’s spacey noise, Yagami’s cool beats, and Higuchi’s solid groove; the heavenly universe named BUCK-TICK grows, ever-expanding. When the screen turns a blank white at the end, Sakurai turns and walks in its direction, disappearing into the halation. After that, only feedback noise remains as the other members of the band also leave the stage in the backlight of the screen. It was as if they were each going back into the BUCK-TICK universe.

The stage reopens with a drum solo by Yagami. The other members then came on stage and after Imai and Higuchi’s usual habit of taking photos and videos of the audience from the stage, the second part of this concert, the encore began with the beautiful ballad Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru.

After CLIMAX TOGETHER, ONCE UPON A TIME, and Kogoeru, Sakurai said, “My name is Hizumi. Correct, I’m sad. I wear my favourite dresses, put on pretty makeup; I’m just living my life. But everyone laughs at this. Even though I’m just living…… Father, Mother, I love you…… Thank you…… Goodbye……”. Then starts the amazing Hizumi. It’s BUCK-TICK’s style of a lullaby. Coupled with Imai playing his guitar while dancing the hopscotch-like jenkka, the twisted worldview which seemed to be tickled by childish wonder left me with breathless surprise.

“Thank you very much for [coming] tonight. We appreciate it. Thank you.” With that, they proceeded into the final song, Na mo Naki Watashi. A single stalk of a white flower appeared on screen. Whether it gets blown by the wind, gets rained on, or has countless flower petals flying around it, the flower doesn’t fall. In Sakurai’s interview which was published in issue 106, he spoke about this song, saying, “It is enough to bloom and exist as you are.” Each and everyone of us live differently under different skies. There will likely be tough or agonising days. But it’s okay, because the fact that you are here is more than enough――That’s the kind of message the song seemed to send. Then, the ending instrumental QUANTUM Ⅱ played and the curtains closed on the concert.

Despite the contrast between the main show and the encore, it was a complete story. What kind of sky did you see here? There were likely those who got a painful reminder of reality too. Yet it’s likely not an exaggeration to say that there were likely others who felt some sense of hope for life. But it goes without saying that all these different thoughts and emotions are all precious in their own way.

 

TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA
2023.7.22-23 Tokyo Garden Theatre

1. QUANTUM I
2. SCARECROW
3. Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries)
4. IGNITER
5. Uta
6. Ai no Harem (Harem of Love)
7. Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix
8. Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (A Bouquet For You)
9. THE SEASIDE STORY
10. Mugen LOOP -LEAP-
11. Boogie Woogie
12. Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue)
13. THE FALLING DOWN
14. Jonathan Jet-Coaster
15. Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus)
16. Die

―encore―
1. Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru
2. CLIMAX TOGETHER
3. ONCE UPON A TIME (22nd)/MISTY ZONE (23rd)
4. Kogoeru
5. Hizumi
6. Na mo Naki Watashi
SE QUANTUM II

 

profile & information
Formed in 1985. Members of the band are vocalist Sakurai Atsushi, guitarist Imai Hisashi, guitarist Hoshino Hidehiko, bassist Higuchi Yutaka, and drummer Yagami Toll. “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO” will be held on Sunday, the 17th and Monday, the 18th of September at Gunma Music Center. Following, the livehouse tour “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- ALTERNATIVE SUN” will start on Friday, the 20th of October.
buck-tick.com

※An interview with Higuchi Yutaka which was conducted prior to this concert comes next.

 

 

 

 

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Higuchi Yutaka
BUCK-TICK

Text◎Okubo Yuka
Photography◎MASA (Alegre), Yamauchi Hiroe (PROGRESS-M)

 

profile & information
Born 24 January 1967. Blood type A. Bassist of BUCK-TICK which was formed in 1985. Other members of the band are vocalist Sakurai Atsushi, guitarist Imai Hisashi, guitarist Hoshino Hidehiko, and drummer Yagami Toll.
buck-tick.com

 

To all our fans

BUCK-TICK will wrap up the tour for their 23rd album, 異空 -IZORA- in July with the shows at Tokyo Garden Theatre before concluding the 35th anniversary year of their major debut with two shows on 17 and 18 September in their hometown of Gunma.

In this issue, we spoke to bassist Higuchi Yutaka about his journey with BUCK-TICK. From details about their first show at Shinjuku JAM to the real reason behind holding their comeback concert at Tokyo Dome, some things are being talked about for the first time in this interview but he would also constantly mention their gratitude to the fans who would wait for them no matter when.

And now, BUCK-TICK steadily heads towards their 36th year together.


I want for us to keep going for as long as we can. Because there are people who will wait for us.
That’s why I really want to cherish this, all of this.

——Following the release of the album, 異空 -IZORA-¹ we’re now in the midst of your national tour “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA”². At the juncture of this interview (mid-July), you’re left with five more shows to go. How do you feel about this?

Yutaka (Y): I think we pulled it off really well, it also feels like it’s all gone by really fast.

——With this tour spanning 20 shows, it’s not exactly a short tour, though.

Y: Maybe it’s because we had a lot of weekend shows, but I find myself thinking, “It’s already ending?” I gradually got comfortable as we went along, so maybe that’s all the more why I feel like this.

——The 異空 -IZORA- album encapsulates the currents and atmosphere of this era. Is there anything you feel even more strongly about now that you’ve brought this perspective all around the country?

Y: It’s definitely impossible to pretend I don’t know, right? The current state of society. But something I’ve felt from the very beginning is that it might be better not to hold on too tightly to that. There are some songs that touch on it, but we don’t have to keep bringing it up across the whole show. And I think we managed to do this.

——I assume that’s coming from the consideration about how your audience would feel. There’s a storyline in the setlist for this tour, so I thought it was meant to make it easier to bring a message across.

Y: That’s right. We kept deliberating about whether we should make the main part of the show the story or include the encore as well and turn the whole concert into one big story though. We didn’t really split it into two parts, but we decided not to do a double encore and instead perform 異空 -IZORA- properly with just the main show and one encore.

——I see. I think it became even richer when you mixed in past songs.

Y: Also, the audience is now allowed to cheer starting this tour, so I think the way people enjoy the concert has also changed bit by bit.

——Cheering definitely adds to the atmosphere.

Y: And we can still hear everyone even wearing the ear monitors. I felt all, “Ah~, this is what it felt like.”

——Your 35th debut anniversary year also comes to an end in September. Looking back on this past year, how do you feel?

Y: First of all is that we have a lot to be grateful for. Because there was a lot we couldn’t do during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even last September’s show at Yokohama Arena³ feels like it happened three years ago. These are things to be happy about, definitely. Like being able to see our fans, like the way the whole country waited for us. All that.

——For this 35th anniversary year, ROCK AND READ first had Yagami-san⁴ tell us about the band’s 35-year history. Then, Hoshino-san⁴ looked back on these 35 years with a focus on the music he wrote. This time, with Higuchi-san, I’d like to focus on the stage from your perspective and how the view from your position has changed. Do you remember the first time you got on stage?

Y: The first time was as a member of BUCK-TICK’s predecessor band (Hinan GO-GO), when we performed at a music store in Gunma. At the time, we were covering songs by THE STALIN, but I didn’t feel nervous or anything like that. Before I knew it, we were done (lol). That was during the band boom back then and Mentai rock and bands like THE MODS were popular so it felt as if everyone was covering those. At that gig, cover bands who covered THE MODS or HOUND DOG and all those were there too. So, right after the HOUND DOG cover band sang Namida no Birthday, you’d have us performing THE STALIN’s Tenpura. It really was quite the event (lol). The audience were somehow mistaken for punks too because it looked like they were entirely made up of Keganin (怪我人, lit. injured person).

——That event sounds like a blast. What are Keganin?

Y: They’re guys wrapped up in bandages and stuff. A misinterpretation of punk. Just Keganin (lol). This wasn’t a school event but there were a lot of kids from other schools who came too.

——So after the band becomes BUCK-TICK, which venue comes to mind?

Y: In our early days, I’d say it’s definitely Shinjuku JAM. It’s the very first venue we performed at in Tokyo, and when Acchan (Sakurai Atsushi) became our vocalist with Anii (Yagami Toll) playing drums, our first show⁵ was at JAM too. At first, there were chairs lined up on the audience floor. The stage at JAM was low so if the audience stands, their view barely changes. We also often performed at Shibuya’s YANEURA and Shinjuku ABC Hall. In the beginning, all we had was a tiny stage so when we performed, it was like we were all squished together in a packed train carriage. So close together that the necks of our guitars would clash (lol). We step on pedals to tune without making any sound, but it was so cramped that there were times when (the front row audience would) keep stepping on them too.

——How did you increase the audience turnout?

Y: When Acchan became our vocalist, we’ve been in Tokyo for a while now and we made friends with all kinds of people. As we got invited to perform in joint gig shows, our audience numbers also steadily grew, something like that. …… I think we probably never held one-man shows. We certainly didn’t at YANEURA, and I’m of the feeling that we didn’t at JAM either. The one-man show we did at LOFT only happened after we debuted anyway.

——Does that mean you received an offer from a major label before you even did a one-man show?

Y: I guess we got into the habit of doing events or joint-gigs. When we released HURRY UP MODE⁶ under an indie label, we did a show at Toshima Civic Center⁷ but there were a few other bands who performed then too. It’s just that we were the main act. Then just before we debuted, we did that one-man show at Shibuya LIVE INN⁸.

We started with fifteen people or so (in the audience), then a hundred months later, and then two hundred the next time.
Seeing our audience grow every time we go, that was when I thought, “Maybe this’ll work out?”

——While seeing your audience grow, around when did Higuchi-san start feeling convinced that this band could make it?

Y: That’s got to be some time right after we made our debut. Especially because we started travelling to other regions. Because people wouldn’t come at all in the very beginning, you know? We’d do joint-gigs with those who are locally popular and steadily build our audience. After debuting, I had the impression that the regional areas were more peculiar than Tokyo.

——Peculiar in what way?

Y: For example, so, we often toured the Tohoku area. Back then, Tohoku had the most rock music lovers in Japan so it was pretty exciting. There were huge festivals, and we even participated in a live tour called Tohoku Rock Circuit⁹. There weren’t many regional TV stations so I remember very well that we made a guest appearance on one of Iwate’s TV programs which was broadcast on Fridays at 7 p.m.. Even though we just made our debut, we were making a guest appearance at prime time (lol).

——I want to see that (lol).

Y: I think we got quite the viewership numbers (lol). Going on tour right after we debuted, Tohoko was the one region where we held one-man shows right from the get go. We started with only fifteen people or so in the audience but when we went back months later, that grew to about a hundred, and the next time we went again, it became two hundred. Seeing our audience grow everytime we go, that was when I thought, “Maybe this’ll work out?” Because there were probably more in the audience than in other areas like Osaka or Nagoya too.

——So, the flame of BUCK-TICK was first lit in Tohoku.

Y: It’s actually the same even now. What makes me happiest is seeing people come together to see us when we go somewhere we don’t know about or we’ve never been to. It energises us, in a way. This is about the first time we went to Sendai for a show at Yamaha Hall¹⁰ at the start of the tour, but when the instrumental track started playing we couldn’t make a single sound right from the start (lol).

——That’s something you’ll certainly remember clearly (lol).

Y: Yeah, it’s like, “Problems right from the beginning!” (Lol) These things happened quite a lot too.

We didn’t want to make it such that people who wanted to get in couldn’t.
That’s why I remember we said that we wanted to perform where everyone could enter.

——In the midst of it all, just a year after debut, you stood in the Nippon Budokan for the first time¹² for the final show of your SEVENTH HEAVEN¹¹ tour.

Y: We actually weren’t all that emotional about it. Maybe it’s because we didn’t really have much of an impression of the Nippon Budokan as a venue. The reason for that is because the bands we like didn’t play at the Nippon Budokan anyway. Maybe the only one who did was BOØWY.

——So it wasn’t exactly a venue you’d aim to perform at back then

Y: Comparatively, I felt more when we played at Shibuya Public Hall for the first time¹³, like, “We’re really performing in a hall.” I think that was for the SEVENTH HEAVEN tour too. Besides, BOØWY had also performed there before, along with ARB and musicians of the like.

——Speaking of Shibuya Public Hall, that’s where BOØWY announced their split, wasn’t it?

Y: I went and saw BOØWY performing there too. Back then, the audience would crowd at the front of the entrance. I remember seeing band members of ROGUE and PERSONZ there too.

——How was the performance at Tokyo Dome¹⁴ for your comeback?

Y: It felt like it ended pretty quickly, actually. There was no concept at the time, but we said that we didn’t want to make it such that people who wanted to get in couldn’t. Since we had to go on hiatus just before that, we didn’t want to let down anyone who wanted to come. That’s why I remember we said that we wanted to perform where everyone could enter.

——I see. In the past, I think someone said something along the lines of, “The adults (record company) had helped clinch [the venue] for us”, but I didn’t know that everyone in the band held such a hope.

Y: I believe that’s what it was. And also…… Tokyo Dome had only been open for about a year at the time, and I have a strong memory of how bad the sound system was (lol). In ROMANESQUE¹⁵, there’s a break after the “dan”, but the sound was reverberating and it turned into a “dandada~n” so there was no break at all (lol). It’s a venue that wasn’t originally made for concerts, so the sound engineer had to figure things out along the way too.

——I want to hear ROMANESQUE being played by the present BUCK-TICK too.

Y: Eh? Because it’s quite the song, isn’t it? And the hi-hat can’t be hit for that break. It makes you wonder how it all fits together (lol).

——So what happened in Tokyo Dome?

Y: I think the hi-hat was put in at Tokyo Dome. The ROMANESQUE we did in our amateur era had no hi-hat but we released a mini album, didn’t we? That was when we started including the hi-hat, I believe. It turned into something impossible (lol).

――It gets more difficult as the venue grows bigger, doesn’t it?Y: Because we all had our eyes on Anii back then (lol).

――BUCK-TICK tends to stage elaborate performances too. I’ve even heard that once something new can be utilised, it’ll very likely be employed in BUCK-TICK’s shows.

Y: That’s right. When the opportunity presents itself, our stage planner would want to try doing something interesting. One of our shows, there was spider silk, right? Where it flys out together with tape streamers. That was something our stage planner came up with. I heard that it would be out of this world if he owned the rights to that one. Apparently he got the idea when he went to watch a kabuki performance, he saw that white spider silk flying through the air and started wondering whether there was a way he could somehow employ that effectively. That started from BUCK-TICK’s stage. After that, he thought projectiles were really fun to work with, so next, he sent Cyalume (glow-in-the-dark materials) flying. He wanted to make Cyalume-filled pill capsules that were slightly bigger than medicinal ones fly with special effects, but they shot out [of the cannons] so quickly that there were no [visual] effects at all (lol). There wasn’t enough light intensity so they all fell to the ground before they could even start glowing.

――To think there were such failures too (lol).

Y: We also had artificial roses falling. Since they were artificial, they were heavy so they just dropped to the ground with a thud. He wondered if there was something he could do about it but, since they had already been made, we decided to just go ahead with it and let them drop down on us. I had them fall on my head and get stuck too (lol). Basically, if the stage was small, the flowers would drop above me too. I guess the correct solution to that might’ve probably been to lay them out on the floor.

――Appearing on stage from the inside of a giant balloon, rain falling down only on Sakurai-san’s head in a live house; you had a lot of jaw dropping stage productions.

Y: That was during our live house tour¹⁶, right. Depending on the venue, sometimes we could use that equipment and sometimes we couldn’t, yeah.

――The stage production in recent years seems to give the impression that you’re using the power and beauty of images and videos to further expand the world of the songs.

Y: The stage planner who worked with us throughout all this time thinking about all kinds of production had passed away so there’s now a new person in-charge which could’ve been the reason why there’s a slight change in the atmosphere of our recent concerts. And also that the resolution had gone up in the past three to four years which allows us to create particularly beautiful videos.

――Concert production has evolved considerably alongside the technological advances made in LED visuals.

Y: That’s right. Even for music videos; we had always recorded them on film and when we suddenly switched to filming digitally, everything was captured so clearly. It somehow felt unpleasant so we would make those sharp images a little bit grainier.

――Around when was that?

Y: Probably 21st Cherry Boy¹⁷. It was around that time when we suddenly went digital. I remember feeling like it’s a TV.

――Being in business for 35 years, you’ve been directly affected by the shift from analogue to digital, and later on, the further advancements of digital recording. What do you think about this present era we’re in where people can listen to music for free?

Y: We are still releasing CDs even now, but we’re definitely trending in that direction, aren’t we? Like David Bowie said, in the end, music itself is going to become like running water or electricity.

――How does Higuchi-san usually listen to music?

Y: I import CDs into my PC to listen to them.

――What kind of music do you listen to in your own time?

Y: Instead of new releases, I more often dig up old music to listen to these days.

――When you go back as an adult to listen to the music you used to listen to, you’d sometimes come across new discoveries, right? Like meanings in the lyrics.

Y: And that happens with the music we make too. Something would be playing and just when I think that this particular track sounds pretty cool, I’d realise, “Huh? Is this BUCK-TICK?” (Lol) There and then I’d become aware that a particular song had been arranged in a particular way, or something.

――And you’ve got an impressive catalogue too.

Y: That’s why I’m doing my best to listen to our own music now (lol). I have to get it all in, don’t I? Since last September’s shows at Yokohama Arena, we’ve been performing throughout this whole time and if I don’t take something out, nothing can go in (lol).  That’s why whenever we start touring, I’ll try my best not to listen to other music. I’ll listen to the songs that we’re performing for the tour, but I won’t listen to anything else. Even Anii says, “Don’t listen.” (Lol)

――You’re focused (lol). There’s a lot that makes me think that BUCK-TICK’s really amazing, like how you keep revamping yourselves with calling each release “the newest is the best”, but looking at your 35-year history, things weren’t always looking up and there even were times when your audience numbers dropped. I’m hoping that you could touch on that a little.

Y: We definitely felt it, back then. Since we weren’t making many appearances on TV and broadcast, suburbs won’t receive much information. I think music magazines were having their best days during that period, though. People living in the suburbs would probably get their information through magazines even if there’s no TV, but that was gradually on the decline which meant that information wasn’t getting to them and so started the situation of our drop in audience numbers.

――Were you anxious or anything like that at the time?

Y: Nope, we weren’t. Because it’s not as if there’s zero people. If we had zero then I think we’d definitely have to start thinking about things though (lol). What we were doing in Tokyo worked here [in Tokyo] so we said we would create this sort of a stage set to travel around the country with, but if we picked smaller venues in the suburbs because of a smaller turnout, the set wouldn’t be able to fit. Since we had to perform in venues that could fit the set, we didn’t have much of a choice except to go with the larger halls. Doing that is what led to empty seats.

――I see, so that’s the situation. How did you stay motivated then?

Y: Hmm… It’s more like, we weren’t all that disheartened (lol). We just continued business as usual. On the contrary, even in such a situation, we just feel happy that we were doing what we’re doing, all of us.

――While most bands would go on hiatus or disband because they couldn’t quite overcome such a period, BUCK-TICK made a comeback and have continued to see success since. That’s another part of BUCK-TICK that amazes me.

Y: You could say that our good points can be seen precisely because we’ve been at this for a long time. I don’t think that we’re all growing together. Let’s say, when everyone runs out at the  “Get ready, and start!” call, you could start out great but wither away towards the midpoint, and one by one, everyone would pull out or something. At the same time, there’s no way that everyone can always stay on the same page, is there? Even if you’re all, “Alright, let’s get going!!”, there are times when you’d realise that, “Huh? I’m the only one who went?” Right? When that happens, you’d tend to stop whatever you’re doing once you realise that something isn’t quite right, wouldn’t you? Then starts the blame game and all that.

――There’s none of that in BUCK-TICK.

Y: That’s right. Also because we left our [then] management and had the resolution that we’ll be giving our all going forward.

――Right, it was around that same period of time, wasn’t it?

Y: It was. We left that office and completely changed the way we did things.

――Perhaps it was good that you did a full reboot or something at that time. When I spoke to Yagami-san, he said that he had thought of quitting twice thus far, but has Higuchi-san ever had the desire to quit in the past?

Y: Nope, I’ve never thought of quitting. Although I have felt that things were a struggle, or rather, that it was difficult to raise my own spirits. There were times when I was having difficulties with my playing, or have found myself at a loss as to what to do, but I also feel that since the five of us have made it this far together, this is something I should cherish. I think Anii has never been better than now. Because everyone’s doing well, you know? Although, we can’t really push ourselves too much (lol).

Because we were kids when we debuted. Like elementary school kids feeling like, “I wouldn’t die even if I got run over by a truck”, “I’m invincible!” (lol)

――Has Higuchi-san ever experienced a change in your on-stage mindset?

Y: My personal turning point is around the time of 13-Kai wa Gekkou¹⁸; that’s when the change happened.

――How so?

Y: I started feeling like maybe it’s better if I don’t put on an act. That maybe, it might be a good idea to be my own usual self. Putting on an act as in, I’m all cheerful backstage but I have to put on a sullen face on stage, something like that. I guess that’s the kind of change that happened to me.

――That it’s okay to show your smile.

Y: That’s right. You could say we started communicating with each other. From another perspective, I guess it could also mean that I could see better now, the audience side. Before then, I might’ve been too preoccupied with my side of things alone.

――I’d say that’s a sign that you’ve grown more relaxed on stage. Because Higuchi-san and Imai-san coming out during the encore to take photos and videos from the stage was another thing that never happened in the past.

Y: We started doing that some years ago, but it was an initiative that came about from the idea that it would be nice if we could convey the atmosphere in the concert venue to those who weren’t able to come. Obviously, if we took photos of the stage set, there would those who feel like [the surprise has been] spoiled for them if they’re attending the next day or sometime in the near future, so we decided to take shots of the audience instead.

――How considerate (lol). But it’s true that the overall atmosphere of the concert changed. Like how you held huge festivals¹⁹ during your 20th and 25th anniversaries. Did such an experience influence you in any way?

Y: Ah, it did, yes. The more we went on with it, it really sank in that we’re not alone [in this].

――To close off your current 35th anniversary year, you’ll be putting on a show on the 17th and 18th of September at Gunma Music Center²⁰ in your hometown. Celebrating the end of the 35th anniversary year in your hometown; did this decision come from the whole band’s feelings?

Y: Didn’t we do a collaboration with Fujioka-shi²¹ this year too? While thinking about what would be a good way for us to head into our 36th year, we came to the conclusion that this was probably the best.

――Gunma Music Center is also a place of many fond memories for you too, isn’t it?

Y: That’s right. Because Gunma only had the Music Center back in the day. When we got to perform there²², it was definitely a very emotional experience. Despite the fact that it’s small, right. Both backstage and the stage itself. I hope we’ll be able to do something interesting there.

――After that, your live house tour²³, “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA- ALTERNATIVE SUN” will start.

Y: I’m looking forward to the live houses. Specifically, how we’ll present this 異空 -IZORA- vibe. I really wonder how we’ll portray in an environment without videos, especially because we could use videos for the hall tour.

――That’s true. I’m looking forward to it. The fact that you’ve continued to be forerunners as a rock band for 35 years is amazing in itself, but what does Higuchi-san hope for the band to achieve going forward?

Y: I want for us to keep going for as long as we can. Acchan also said the same thing in this tour’s MC, but essentially, we do our thing, we do our best  because there are people who will wait for us. Having been doing this for 35 years, I get emails, right, saying things like, “I came (to your shows) again because my children have all grown up and I have more time to myself now.” As long as these people stick around for us, I want to keep going, you know?

――Because there are people who will wait for you…… That’s exactly what’s written in the lyrics to Boogie Woogie²⁴.

Y: Exactly. I believe that too.

――Where you are now at this time in your life, would you say that this state of affairs is a dream come true for the whole band?

Y: That’s right. Besides, we started this all with the desire to have fun with lots of people in a concert.

――I think this not only applies to BUCK-TICK but to other long-running bands too, but while it’s true that the members of the band are fulfilling their own dreams, at the same time, I believe they’re also making someone else’s dreams come true. Like the dreams of not only musicians, but anyone who dreams of working with BUCK-TICK someday and works hard to forge their path to it. Because if the band ceases to exist, those hopes will never come true.

Y: Previously, when we went to a radio or TV station in Osaka, there were staff members there who said that to us too. They said, “I’m a long-time fan. Keep up the good work (これからも頑張ってください).” And their boss who was listening in on the side said, “You work hard (お前が頑張れ).” That made me laugh (lol).

――What a story (lol). Wasn’t there some controversy going on in the comedian industry about half-hearted generational baton-passing just a while ago? In the music industry, there are other bands from the genre-less BUCK-TICK’s generation who are still very active. I kind of wondered whether some band members of the younger generation might’ve sympathised with this controversy (lol).

Y: You mean bitching about other people? Don’t even think about it (lol).

――It’s just that there’s something about BUCK-TICK that doesn’t allow people to say such things, right? Even teenagers think you’re cool when they look at you. Everyone will still kowtow to [BUCK-TICK’s brand of] beauty. Do you have some sort of secret behind it?

Y: Maybe it’s because we don’t really want to get old? On the contrary, I think there are probably musicians in our generation who actually want to grow old. Because you’d give off this cultured vibe, and that’s attractive or something. There are people who think this way, right?

――Do you wonder how many more times you’ll be able to do this, things like that?

Y: I’ve started feeling like this isn’t forever. I didn’t think that about these things when we debuted, neither did I think that we’d find ourselves here, now. Because we were kids, weren’t we? Like elementary school kids feeling like I wouldn’t die even if I got run over by a truck (lol).

――That was certainly a thing at that age (lol).

Y: Like, “I’m invincible!” And yet [the kids would] start crying the moment they fell over (lol). I think that’s what it felt like, when we debuted. I guess you could say that we were so busy that we couldn’t really think that far ahead. But as the years pass, you’d sooner or later start to think about these things, right? Looking at the bands who came before us, there are those who have passed on too. That’s why I really want to cherish this, all of this.

 

 

Notes:

¹ 異空 -IZORA- = Their 23rd album which was released in April.

² “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA” = Their tour named, “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA” which ran from April to July, 2023.

³ show at Yokohama Arena = The show named, “BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” 〜35th anniversary〜” which was held on 23rd and 24th of September, 2022.

Yagami-san, Hoshino-san = Their respective interviews were featured in issue #102, published August 2022 and issue #104, published December, 2022.

our first show = Their performance, “BEAT FOR BEAT FOR BEAT Vol.2” which was held at Shinjuku JAM on 4th of December, 1985.

HURRY UP MODE = Their indie album which was released in January, 1987 (and later re-released with a major label as a remix version, HURRY UP MODE(1990 MIX) in February).

Toshima Civic Center = “BUCK-TICK現象 (BUCK-TICK Genshou)” which was held on 1st of April, 1987; the day HURRY UP MODE was released.

Shibuya LIVE INN = “BUCK-TICK 現象 Ⅱ at LIVE INN” which was held on 16th of June, 1987.

Tohoku Rock Circuit = An event tour which was held in March and April of 1988.

¹⁰ Yamaha Hall = Their performance in Sendai for the “BUCK-TICK 現象 TOUR” which was held on the 22nd of September, 1987.

¹¹ SEVENTH HEAVEN = Their 2nd album which was released in June, 1988.

¹² in the Nippon Budokan for the first time = Two days of shows which where held on the 19th and 20th of January, 1989 as the final of their “SEVENTH HEAVEN TOUR” which started in October, 1988.

¹³ Shibuya Public Hall for the first time = Their performance in Tokyo for the “SEVENTH HEAVEN TOUR” which was held on 13th of October, 1988.

¹⁴ Tokyo Dome = “バクチク現象 (Baku-chiku Genshou)” which was held on 29th December, 1989.

¹⁵ ROMANESQUE = A track recorded on their mini album, ROMANESQUE which was released in March, 1988.

¹⁶ live house tour = Their tour named, “TOUR2013 COSMIC DREAMER” which ran from January to March, 2013.

¹⁷ 21st Cherry Boy = Their 18th single which was released in November, 2001.

¹⁸ 13-Kai wa Gekkou = Their 14th album which was released in April, 2005.

¹⁹ festivals = “BUCK-TICK FEST 2012 ON PARADE” was held at Chiba Port Park on 22nd and 23rd of September, 2012. “BUCK-TICK 2017 “THE PARADE” ~30th anniversary~” was held at Odaiba Yagai Tokusetsu Kaijo J Chiku on 23rd and 24th of September, 2017.

²⁰ Gunma Music Center = For “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA- FINALO” which will be held on the 17th and 18th of September, 2023.

²¹ a collaboration with Fujioka-shi =A BUCK-TICK-themed flowerbed and more were featured in Haru no Fujioka Hana Meguri (Flower Tour in Springtime Fujioka / 春の藤岡花めぐり), a special event that was held between March to May, 2023.

²² got to perform there = Their first performance there was the Gunma show for their “SEVENTH HEAVEN TOUR” which happened on the 15th of October, 1988.

²³ live house tour = Their tour, “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA- ALTERNATIVE SUN” which will run from October to December, 2023.

²⁴ Boogie Woogie = A track recorded on the album, 異空 -IZORA-.

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki

BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- Concert Report

JVC Music
5 January 2024

Text = Okubo Yuka
Photos = Seitaro Tanaka

 

【LIVE REPORT】
BUCK-TICK “BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023-” (BUCK-TICK Phenomenon 2023 / バクチク現象-2023-)
2023.12.29 at the Nippon Budokan

 

 

Come, let’s get started──

When 29 December’s BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- at the Nippon Budokan was announced with those words, it felt as if they lifted our gaze which had been downcast for so long. This was three weeks after the news came on 24 October that their vocalist, Sakurai Atsushi had passed on.

This was a period when everyone quietly watched and waited to see what BUCK-TICK would do going forward after being hit by the greatest sadness in their history. Honestly speaking, that announcement was such a bright light that I subconsciously wanted to look away. Given that no details were announced about the show itself, I believe there were many who felt worried too about how it would turn out.

But it’s easy for us to imagine the extraordinary determination the band members had put into this show title. BUCK-TICK Genshou (BUCK-TICK Phenomenon / バクチク現象) is a title that they also used in 1987 for gigs they played around the time of their major debut, and for the first show they played after a six-month hiatus on 29 December 1989 at the Tokyo Dome. In other words, this term represents turning points for them.

Imai Hisashi (guitarist) appeared on the BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- stage with the same bright red hair he had 34 years ago at their show in Tokyo Dome. The moment I saw him, my anxieties were blown away despite tears welling up in my eyes.

As the hall turned dark, powerful clapping sounded in time to the SE which played; THEME OF B-T. Higuchi Yutaka (bassist), Yagami Toll (drummer), Hoshino Hidehiko (gutarist), and Imai Hisashi came on stage in that order. After the words reading “バクチク現象 (BUCK-TICK Genshou)” came up on the crimson red screen, Sakurai’s silhouette appeared on the centre platform where he always stood.

“Come let’s get started, we’re BUCK-TICK!” With Imai’s shout, the first song started; Shippuu no Blade Runner. Instead of a mic stand in the centre of the stage, a few spotlights came together to shine down. Perhaps it’s because there’s no mic there, but it felt as if Sakurai’s singing came down upon us from the skies above.

Like a ray of light in the midst of despair, the glittering rock melody sings, “Tonight  (I) bring to you  a treasure  a promise (今夜 お前に届けよう 宝物だ 約束だ)”; a perfect description of this show. It felt as if they handed “hope” to us in the palm of their hands. A string of up-beat songs were played Dokudanjo Beauty-R.I.P.-, Go-Go B-T TRAIN, GUSTAVE, telling the audience to raise their heads and look up even if they are tearful.

Both Imai and Hoshino fired up the stage with more aggressive performances than usual. The energy in the hall went up every time Imai said a few words, like “Don’t miss the ride!” during Go-Go B-T TRAIN, and “Miaows. Hope you all have a good time today.” during GUSTAVE. During FUTURE SONG -Mirai ga Tooru- which features Sakurai and Imai’s duet, Higuchi tried imitating Sakurai’s movements, and Hoshino also sang, overlapping with Sakurai’s voice.

Most unexpected of all was when I realised during Boogie Woogie and Yagami’s powerful up-beat drumming that at some point my tears had rescinded and I was genuinely enjoying the show. I have nothing but admiration for the band and their ability to fire up the audience like this even though they all must have been in deep sadness at the beginning of the show.

The atmosphere took a turn in the mid-section of the show, reflecting vividly and sadly Sakurai’s absence by beginning with Itoshi no Rock Star where he sang alongside ISSAY (DER ZIBET) who passed away last August. During Itoshi no Rock Star, unbearable sobbing in the audience grew louder as we watched concert footage of the two of them on that day on screen.

Next was Sakura which started with an oriental-sounding instrumental by Imai. In this song, the screen and even the ceiling of the Budokan was filled with cherry blossoms dancing in the air; a sight so beautiful yet it added to the sadness. Adding on, Lullaby-Ⅲ and ROMANCE came after that like a sort of funeral march, letting us listen to the songs which strongly accentuated Sakurai’s aesthetic perspective one after another.

This show did not feature Sakurai’s footage throughout. Rather, there were a few songs where we could only feel Sakurai’s presence with his voice. Especially towards the end when they put together songs during which you could almost see him singing right in front of you.

Like the Latin-style dance track Django!!! -Genwaku no Django-, Taiyou to Icarus where he flies freely through the sky with arms spread wide, and during Memento mori where the audience actually had lights shining on them as if in sync with Sakurai’s movements in the video footage.

Smoke carpeted the stage floor in Muma -The Nightmare and the audience raised their arms into the air as if he reigned before our eyes, while during DIABOLO, the four members of the band looked like a circus troupe elevating Sakurai as the ringmaster. It was a moment when they distinctly carved out his profile as a vocalist precisely because he’s not around.

The encore started with Yagami’s drum solo and after the first song, STEPPERS -PARADE- was played, the band members who have yet to make any public statement thus far began to talk about their present feelings one by one.

Choking on his tears, Higuchi said, “BUCK-TICK is a live band so I believe we grew through our live shows. And it’s also something that’s created together with everyone. Although Acchan has gone to heaven, BUCK-TICK will always be five. I don’t know what kind of future it will be, but one thing I know for sure is that we’ll continue as BUCK-TICK with everyone.”

Yagami eased the air when he commented, “I never thought my delinquent younger brother would say such admirable things.” Then, he added, “You could say it’s unprecedented, the situation it’s turned out to be. Should we continue, or is it better to stop? We gave it a lot of thought. But given that we have all of you fans like this… we would like to keep going as BUCK-TICK.”

“We managed to take a new step forward today. My sincere thanks to all of you for making your way to the Budokan despite the uncertainty. You were worried, weren’t you? Everyone was worried. But the Parade will still continue from here on out. I’ll say again:

The Parade goes on,” said Hoshino.

After him was Imai. “Life sure is unforgiving, huh? So dramatic it’s almost hilarious. But it isn’t funny. Hell, you really died. Huh? It’s okay, because we can go on. We’ll go together,” he said to a loud round of applause. “Acchan’s died but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a fact of life. So we may be sad, we may cry, but don’t agonise over it. Rather than focus on his death, that he’s not here anymore, instead cherish the fact that he lived, that he existed with us in the same space,” he went on. “Next year, BUCK-TICK will make new music, and a new album. It’ll be the newest, bestest BUCK-TICK so please look forward to it. But please be prepared. Next, we’ll be three. But even then, the Parade continues. Then it’ll be two, then one, I think I’ll probably be the last one standing. And even then, we can keep going, so I want to take everyone along,” finished Imai with this powerful statement.

After that, they moved on to flying the words “LOVE” and “PEACE” high in Eureka before going into LOVE ME which began with Sakurai’s MC where he said, “Everyone, let’s love ourselves.” It was here when a hiccup happened for the first time where Sakurai’s singing and the video footage differed from the four members’ live playing. The band looked determined to find some way to turn this around. It was the most human expression I had ever seen on them.

Coincidentally, Sakurai in the video also seemed to have a bit of a bitter smile on his face. Even though anxious, the audience also tried their best to help by singing the chorus with all their strength. When the singing ended, the playing did too in perfect timing, and we saw Sakurai off the stage as he waved, saying, “See you soon. We’ll meet again. For sure.”

The last two songs were COSMOS and Na mo Naki Watashi; what seemed to be a deliberate choice of two songs which massively filled the hall with messages from Sakurai. And the second encore, started with Sakurai’s words of “Let’s go! Into the future!” as the band leapt into New World. The light from countless mirror balls spread throughout the venue and the powerful light of the five’s performance brightly illuminated a future yet to be seen.

After the show, past music videos were shown on the screen, followed by an announcement that they will be holding a concert at the Nippon Budokan on Sunday, 29 December 2024. I believe every single promise like this one would become the hope which leads into the future going forward. BUCK-TICK has walked into unprecedented territory. I hope to continue enjoying the Parade led by this band who has decided to continue forward as five. Because it’s always BUCK-TICK who stirs our hearts with surprise and emotion.

Although we can wipe away the tears
we will never be able to wipe away the loneliness, so
let’s go and see BUCK-TICK again
in a place where we can share our sorrows and joys
let’s go and see BUCK-TICK again

 

BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023-
Date/Time: Friday, 29 December 2023  Doors open 17:30, show starts 18:30
Venue: Nippon Budokan

【SET LIST】

SE. THEME OF B-T

1. Shippuu no Blade Runner
2. Dokudanjou Beauty-R.I.P.-
3. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
4. GUSTAVE
5. FUTURE SONG – Mirai ga tooru
6. Boogie Woogie
7. Itoshi no Rock Star
8. Sakura
9. Lullaby-III
10. ROMANCE
11. Django!!! – Genwaku no Django
12. Taiyou to Icarus
13. Memento mori
14. Muma -The Nightmare
15. DIABOLO

<EN1>

1. STEPPERS -PARADE-
2. Eureka
3. LOVE ME
4. COSMOS
5. Na mo Naki Watashi

<EN2>

1. New World

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: JVC Music

 

 “BUCK-TICK will always be we five.”
A Declaration of the Parade’s Continuance

Ongaku to Hito
5 January 2024

Text = Ishii Eriko
Photos = Seitaro Tanaka

 

【LIVE REPORT】
BUCK-TICK “BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023-” (BUCK-TICK Phenomenon 2023 / バクチク現象-2023-)
2023.12.29 at the Nippon Budokan

 

 

“My sincere thanks to all of you for making your way to the Budokan despite the uncertainty. …… You were worried, weren’t you?”

These words which came from Hoshino Hidehiko during the encore resonated tremendously with me. Ah, I see. We’ve all been worried up until this day.

The annual year-end Nippon Budokan show THE DAY IN QUESTION 2023 was suspended and in its place, the concert BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- was announced. The strong words “Come, let’s get started一一 (さあ、始めよう一一)” danced on the event’s dedicated website but it wasn’t clear exactly what on earth was starting. Do we really want to see a BUCK-TICK with no Sakurai Atsushi? Is it better for things to end like this? Or would someone stand on stage as another vocalist? Questions which no one can say a definitive “yes” to constitute this worry.

An unprecedented concert. At first, everything felt rigid. Cheers didn’t sound when the lights turned down. Instead, breathless voices could be heard all throughout the venue. Even when Imai Hisashi hollered, “Come let’s get started, we’re BUCK-TICK!”, it was clear to me that he was tense and a little over-anxious. Sakurai’s singing echoed in synchrony with the live music. Much of it was live singing including MCs and hyping the audience up. The screen showed footage of only Sakurai in past concerts in colour, and at the same time, the current stage was shown in monochrome; a contrast between the flamboyant demon king and reality in mourning. In all honesty, I don’t know whether I should be enjoying myself. Was that the purpose of this day?

It was in the fifth song, FUTURE SONG -未来が通る- when I noticed something different. It starts with Imai’s part, then during Sakurai’s part, Hoshino joins in too. Sakurai’s footage doesn’t appear in this song where the two guitarists sing, “Don’t be hold back, do not fear Forward! It’s the future (hiku na hirumu na susume mirai da / 引くな怯むな 進め 未来だ)”. For a moment, I thought they might be headed in a direction similar to how the remaining members of Joy Division regrouped as New Order following the death of Ian Curtis. But again, that doesn’t seem to be the main subject of the day.

Suddenly, an old music video from the time when they styled their hair standing up came up towards the middle of the show. It was Itoshi on Rockstar. It’s hard to imagine why the band selected this 1995 song which was sung alongside DER ZIBET’s ISSAY. Just before Sakurai left us, almost as if to follow ISSAY who also suddenly passed last summer, I wanted to ask him if he looked back fondly on this song which he once sang so self-deprecatingly. Of course, that is now a question we’ll never get the answer to.

Instead, what we have is an extensive record. Just what we needed was footage from Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday celebration event. I couldn’t help but laugh dryly at how in love they were as I watched Sakurai exchange mushy gazes with ISSAY while they performed that song together for the first time in 27 years. Everyone loved the way their two souls resonated with each other. Even if the both of them have coincidentally gone to heaven together, it’s oddly touching. As those thoughts crossed my mind, I suddenly caught on that we should hold a proper farewell. There was a memorial event for Sakurai himself, but I wondered how many times could we hold appreciation events for our favourite “beloved rockstar (Itoshi no Rockstar)” with all the videos and lights and music? I suppose the very first of these is happening right here, now.

The lead into the next song, Sakura was perfect too. The song which Sakurai dedicated to his dearest mother is now being dedicated to Sakurai by the band. The performance was as elegant as it could’ve been. The light cherry blossoms framing the monochrome screen, the pale pink colour of the Budokan’s white ceiling, and the image of the moon slowly filling up as the song progressed to become a gentle full moon at the end; all of it illustrated the depth of love in the production. Adding on, during Imai’s improv, Sakurai’s often-used candelabra was lit before they continued into Lullaby-III, followed by an exquisite transition into ROMANCE.

ROMANCE; a popular song which BUCK-TICK had often performed since it’s release in 2005, is one of the songs in their discography which BUCK-TICK most strongly demonstrates “the alluring colours of Sakurai”. The perfection in this song lies in the blend of goth and romance. Holding a candelabra in one hand while dancing with flickering flames in the tantalising dream that is performance footage from over a decade ago. Watching it again in the Budokan gives me the feeling that his existence is probably not the be-all and end-all. Because we have something so beautiful that has been left behind for us [to enjoy] even now. Isn’t this miracle alone sufficient?

The split second in the brilliantly-lit Taiyou to Icarus video which showed Sakurai’s silhouette with his arms spread wide was as vibrant as the 異空-IZORA- tour; so dazzling that you could’ve thought it was a “festival”. In addition, Memento Mori with flames bursting out always sounds like blood-pumping festival music. The screen is divided into three sections, with past footage of Sakurai in the centre and real-time footage of the four members of the band on either side. But the difference between presence and absence, which was initially divided between monochrome and colour, is no longer there at this point. The refrain of “Life is love and death (jinsei wa ai to shi / 人生は愛と死)” strikes our hearts deep now. If these are our only options, we’ll take them both. Before I knew it, I even started to feel a desire to laugh out loud in defiance.

The band spoke about how they currently felt during the encore. While each of their words were different, the summary of it was that BUCK-TICK will always be five people even if Sakurai is no longer physically around, that they wanted to keep going as long as there are fans around, and that although they don’t know how it’ll turn out, next year, they will start recording something new as the second phase of B-T. Hoshino even twice declared, “The Parade goes on.” And even as Imai bit back curses with words like, he said, “We may be sad, we may cry, but don’t agonise over it.” I hadn’t thought about it, but maybe that’s what I wanted to hear the most. He’s always been the person who throws one-liners like these out of nowhere. On a whim, I recalled something Sakurai once said with a straight face: “It’s possible because Imai’s like that.”

If Imai-san says so, then it will go on. BUCK-TICK will go on with Sakurai’s afterimage. This was a night that convinced me that’s fine and good. The announcement that came at the very end was good tidings for the future. On 29 December 2024, a BUCK-TICK concert at the Nippon Budokan will happen一一

【SET LIST】

SE. THEME OF B-T

1. Shippuu no Blade Runner
2. Dokudanjou Beauty-R.I.P.-
3. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
4. GUSTAVE
5. FUTURE SONG – Mirai ga tooru
6. Boogie Woogie
7. Itoshi no Rock Star
8. Sakura
9. Lullaby-III
10. ROMANCE
11. Django!!! – Genwaku no Django
12. Taiyou to Icarus
13. Memento mori
14. Muma -The Nightmare
15. DIABOLO

ENCORE01

1. STEPPERS -PARADE-
2. Eureka
3. LOVE ME
4. COSMOS
5. Na mo Naki Watashi

ENCORE02

1. New World

_____________________________________________________________________________

LIVE INFORMATION
Sunday, 29 December 2024 Nippon Budokan
Doors open 17:00 / Show starts18:00
Designated seating: ¥11,000 (w/ tax)
(Inquiries) SOGO TOKYO 03-3405-9999

〈Advance Ticketing Information〉
■W-members advance ticketing applications
Application period: 22:00, Friday, 29 December 2023 ~ 14:00, Monday, 22 January 2024
※Applicants must be registered as a member of both the official fan club [FISH TANK] and the official mobile website [LOVE & MEDIA PORTABLE].
※Registering companions must also be W-members

■Fan club members advance ticketing applications
Application period: 12:00, Monday, 29 January 2024 ~ 14:00, Tuesday, 13 February 2024
※Registering companions do not need to be members

■Mobile members advance ticketing applications
Application period: 12:00, Monday, 19 February 2024 ~ 14:00, Tuesday, 5 March 2024
※Registering companions do not need to be members

 

Event Website
BUCK-TICK Official Website

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Ongaku to Hito Online

 

BUCK-TICK “will always be five”

Sports Hochi
29 December 2023

text by Kamo Shintaro

first live show since Sakurai Atsushi’s sudden death
10,000 people crying at the annual Budokan show

 

Rock band BUCK-TICK whose vocalist, Sakurai Atsushi (aged 57) passed away from a brainstem haemorrhage on 19 October held their first show, also their annual year-end solo concert at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on the 29th. They performed 21 songs “in memoriam” during the two and a half hour show.

71 days after his sudden passing, scenes from days when Sakurai was around were put up on the big screen. A spotlight lit up his “usual spot” in the centre of the stage as Imai Hisashi, Hoshino Hidehiko, Higuchi Yutaka, and Yagami Toll played the melodies while feeling the presence of their friend with each memory.

After the death of Sakurai-san, all their scheduled concerts were cancelled but after much consultation between the staff and the members of the band, it was decided in November that they will hold only one show at the Nippon Budokan. The concert name was changed from the traditional THE DAY IN QUESTION to BUCK-TICK Gensho (バクチク現象 / BUCK-TICK Phenomenon), a name which is usually used to mark a turning point for the band.

“Come, let’s get started. We’re BUCK-TICK!” The show kicked off with a declaration from Imai. They used live footage from past shows for the singing. A wide variety of 21 songs spanning tracks from their early days like LOVE ME and Sakura to tracks from their those album like Taiyou to Icarus and Na mo Naki Watashi was performed. All the tickets, including standing spaces, were completely sold out.

After the encore, the four members spoke about how they were feeling. Imai said, “Rather than focus on his death, that he’s not here anymore, instead cherish the fact that he lived, that he existed with us in the same space.” And Higuchi promised, “Although Acchan has gone to heaven, BUCK-TICK will always be five.”

When the concert ended, they announced that they would hold a show on 29 December next year at the Nippon Budokan. They will certainly continue in Sakurai-san’s spirit and keep moving forward. (Kamo Shintaro)

 

【Comments from the members after the encore】

Higuchi Yutaka, bassist:
Thank you for gathering here today in such large numbers. Thank you to all our fans from around the country who couldn’t make it today. Thank you to all the staff who made such a (wonderful) show possible despite the limited time. After making our debut, we managed to tour and enjoy concerts with many of you. BUCK-TICK is a live band so I believe we grew through our live shows. And it’s also something that’s created together with everyone of you. Although Acchan has gone to heave, BUCK-TICK will always be five. I don’t know what kind of future it will be, but one thing I know for sure is that we’ll continue as BUCK-TICK with everyone. Going forward, let’s continue to build upon the BUCK-TICK that everyone has always cherished throughout this time together… We’re counting on you.

Yagami Toll, drummer:
You could say it’s unprecedented, the situation it’s turned out to be. Should we continue, or is it better to stop? We gave it a lot of thought. Given that we have all of you fans like this… we would like to keep going. There’s no telling how things will turn out, but I believe we’ll start recording a new album next year. I think there are still thousands of melodies and ideas sleeping in the brains of Imai and Hoshino HIdehiko. Please look forward to it. From here on, we’ll continue to rely on your support for this second phase of BUCK-TICK.

Hoshino Hidehiko, guitarist:
We managed to take a new step forward today. My sincere thanks to all of you for making your way to the Budokan despite the uncertainty. You were worried, weren’t you? Everyone was worried. But I’ll say again: the Parade (i.e. concerts) will still continue from here on out. The Parade goes on.

Imai Hisashi, guitarist:
Life sure is unforgiving, huh? So dramatic it’s almost hilarious. But it isn’t funny. It’s death, after all. It’s okay. Because (the band) can go on, right? We’ll go together. Acchan’s died but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a fact of life. So we may be sad, we may cry, but don’t agonise over it. Rather than focus on his death, that he’s not here anymore, instead cheris the fact that he lived, that he existed with us in the same space. Acchan hasn’t yet gone to heaven. He’s still here. I believe he’ll always be together with us. Next year, BUCK-TICK will make new music, and a new album. It’ll be the newest, bestest BUCK-TICK so please look forward to it. (In future, even if our numbers dwindle) the Parade can keep going. I’ll probably be the last one standing. And even then, we can keep going, so I want to take everyone along. The 29th of December is a special day for BUCK-TICK. It’s a day to toast to. Shall we have a toast? Cheers! Thank you. Everyone, have a toast on your way home too and talk about BUCK-TICK, about Acchan.

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Sports Hochi

 

BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-
2023.07.15 Takasaki City Theatre

Ongaku to Hito
September 2023

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photographs by MASA

Your distortion; my love

Their national album tour has ended for now. In this tour, we got to see the band find themselves again and their revitalisation along with the perfection of their live concert. The final part examines what 異空-IZORA- was about from a live performance in their hometown, Takasaki.

 

 

On that stage was the immensity of Sakurai as a performer, the conviction of the true-to-life message
and a band who has recovered what’s precious to them

“My name is Hizumi
It’s Hizumi
All I do is wear my favourite clothes put on my favourite makeup
But everyone laughs at me Even though I’m just living my life
Father, mother I love you
Thank you I love you Goodbye”

Hizumi; you could say it’s the highlight of the concert. The excitement sparked by MISTY ZONE was cooled in an instant by Kogoeru before leading into this song. Then, the world was overcast by Izora (異空). 

Possessed by “Hizumi-chan”, Sakurai began his monologue which sounded like words from a suicide note. And after a moment of silence, the song would start but on this day, the silence went on for a particularly long time. A minute, or no, an even longer stretch of stillness dominated the hall. It was only later that I found out that the delay was caused by equipment issues, but for those few minutes of silence, the audience waited with bated breath, without even the slightest of stirrings. At the same time, the motionless, crouched over Hizumi and the four other members of the band waited statue-like for their chance to start the song.

Those few minutes felt like an eternity. Therein lay the immensity of Sakurai as a performer, and the conviction of the true-to-life message. And also, a band who has recovered what’s precious to them in this tour.

BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- started on 19 April. Their first show at Hachioji was stunning. In an interview, Imai said, “I composed QUANTUM Ⅰ because I thought  it’d be a good idea to start the concert with it.” This alone told me that they already had a solid vision since the beginning of the album’s production, and that the concert was bound to be something highly conceptual. 

The set up which spearheaded this did indeed begin with the curtains raising to QUANTUM Ⅰ and after the encore, the curtains were drawn to QUANTUM Ⅱ. And although there was a simple member introduction segment, there was as good as no MC. There wasn’t even a drum solo by Yagami on this day. This is a band I have watched live for many years, but this is the very first time they’re putting on a show in this style.

In an interview, Sakurai also revealed the existence of the protagonist known as “Hizumi-chan”, but whether it’s because it was the first day of the tour or because his intention was not quite clearly conveyed, there were members of the audience who even laughed. However, this conversely amplifies the loneliness of Hizumi, who has nowhere to belong, and comes across as a more realistic expression. It was a masterpiece. And since the whole thing is still disjointed, the impression each song leaves is even stronger.

Among those was die. Released 30 years ago, the inclusion of this track in the Izora tour as the last song of the main show connects it to all that BUCK-TICK has done thus far. It is proof that they have always been true to themselves on stage. I had nothing but great anticipation for how Izora would be performed and how it would grow in this tour.

So, the first half of the tour. They appeared to try out a format which had the drum solo followed by member introductions in their second show at Utsunomiya, but the show I caught in Kyoto only had a drum solo. Member introductions had been removed. The MC was also kept to a minimum. I suppose they took the approach of removing even the parts of the show that were typical of a concert in order to delve deep into the world of Izora.

Neither the setlist nor the pace changed. The only change which occurred was MISTY ZONE being replaced by ONCE UPON A TIME in the encore of the shows they played during their two days in Osaka, one day in Tokyo, and at Nagano and Hiroshima.

The choice of songs around Icarus was a stroke of genius. Also, the words, “I wonder what it was we were looking for/at the end of it all,” really hit home; they felt like an answer from Imai to the song Boogie Woogie, which looks back at the days when they used to tour from  one unfamiliar city to the next in a broken down vehicle. No matter how old they turn, or how much fewer words they exchange, their collective direction remains the same.

It’s obvious that a major theme of this tour was for the young girl living in a war from Sayonara Shelter and the despair that the LGBT community experiences à la Hizumi to overlap with Sakurai’s own inescapable emotional torment, and for it all to be presented on the stage that is Izora

Yet, at the same time, I got the feeling that with how the COVID-19 pandemic halted tours and even after tours came back, activities could not resume as smoothly as they should have due to restricted vocalisation, and also how the five members of the band couldn’t spend as much time together and were unable to do things the way they usual would during that period, it was important for the band to get back into their usual daily routine. It was a despair akin to that of the resignation in SCARECROW which sings about having nowhere to run; similar to how they were all stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Making us, as those living in the present, look to the future
By connecting this era of deprivation with the darkness in Sakurai’s heart
That’s the kind of album 異空 -IZORA- was

Perhaps it was this distant feeling that gave the Izora album its tension and fresh presentation. But also, perhaps, somewhere in there, they were looking for hope, for the band to come back together.

That’s exactly what defined the song Boogie Woogie, and I believe that Yagami’s decision to decorate his concert outfit with old, personal photos of the band members and their carefree smiles was also a sign of these feelings.

When Yagami stepped on stage for the encore on this day, he turned around and struck a pose with his back to the audience to show them the back of his shirt. As if to say that he carried the band’s feelings on his back. Just the five of them spending time together while touring around the country like they used to probably got him feeling that way.

Also, playing a show in their hometown of Takasaki might’ve also brought up all kinds of memories for them. After their Tokyo shows, they announced that they will be playing two shows at Gunma Music Centre to close off their 35th debut anniversary year. But although the audience capacity isn’t all that large, they probably chose this not-very-well-equipped-venue to close off their anniversary year, which started at Yokohama Arena last year, because it brings up memories of the band’s beginnings and their bond. That’s what I think.

And the inescapable despair of Hizumi versus the hope of Na mo Naki Watashi. A hope, no, perhaps a future. That’s right. Once again, like I wrote earlier, it made me feel that this Izora album makes us, as those living in the present, look to the future through connecting and channelling this era’s reality of deprivation with the darkness in Sakurai’s heart which was represented by Sayonara Shelter and Hizumi, as well as SCARECROW in this album.

By being in this band, he could find light in the darkness. That is exactly what he showed us in Taiyou to Icarus and CLIMAX TOGETHER. And this is a sight that we could’ve never seen if they didn’t go on tour. I believe the ones who probably feel this most strongly are the members of the band. Without a doubt.

 

I saw the band’s future. That’s the kind of show it was.

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

 

【Concert Report】
the Opening Day of BUCK-TICK’s latest album’s National Tour

BARKS
24 April 2023

text by Okubo Yuka
photos by Seitaro Tanaka

 

BUCK-TICK held a concert at J:COM Hall Hachioji in Tokyo, kicking off the national tour BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- for their latest album on 19 April. Here’s what happened.

 

 

On 12 April, when the flowers were in full bloom, BUCK-TICK released their new album 異空 -IZORA- which thrilled fans as their “latest and best” update. With this latest release, their nation-wide tour BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- started on 19 April, at J:COM Hall Hachioji in Tokyo.

As the lights turned down and the first instrumental track of the album QUANTUM played, drummer Yagami Toll, bassist Higuchi Yutaka, guitarist Hoshino Hidehiko and guitarist Imai Hisashi came on stage one by one to the cheers and applause of the audience. Although the audience remained masked, this was to be the first tour in about 3 years and 4 months where the ban on audience vocalisations was lifted. When vocalist Sakurai Atsushi appeared centrestage, completing the band, the cheers grew ever louder. This is the moment everyone had been waiting for.

Showered in claps and cheers, the band performed freely like fish to water. With their white costumes and matching equipment, guitarists Imai and Hoshino who usually create a beautiful symmetry on stage looked like a pair of wings. Their two guitars would intertwine to sound one single heavy riff, or take light steps in pleasant unison. On the other hand, the  rhythm team of Yagami and Higuchi were dressed in black as they accompanied the songs with both soft, warm bass notes and emotional heavy rhythms.

And there was Sakurai who took many forms whenever he spread his arms; a scarecrow; an angel; an aircraft. What is it he wishes for with open arms? Is it forgiveness for holding a beloved child in gun-toting hands? Is it the acceptance of diversity? Is it LOVE&PEACE? All the protagonists depicted in 異空 -IZORA-’s songs are so intense that they take hold of Sakurai the moment the song’s intro begins. Every gesture and movement is filled with the power of each character’s emotions in each song; so beautiful, so raw.

This performance consisted mainly of songs from the 異空 -IZORA- album like Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix which had warmth added to it with the gorgeously articulated violin, Mugen LOOP -LEAP- which had an intro which sounded like a gathering of beautiful fragile bubbles of sound, and Boogie Woogie which Sakurai introduced as  “a story from over 35 years ago recreated using the latest technology”. 

As earlier described, all the songs were intense. I was curious to find out what older songs would be incorporated in here, and the final result was beyond anything I could’ve imagined. They create indescribable stories by fleshing out the 異空 -IZORA- songs and adding backstories to them. It was especially so after Taiyou to Icarus; a painful, tragic, gentle, yet beautiful world which seemed to encompass everything awaited.

As I watched the show, Sakura, a poem by Ibaraki Noriko, a poet who lived during the war suddenly came to mind. It describes the fragility and preciousness of human life by comparing it to that of a flower. BUCK-TICK sings: Together with life, “Now bloom in exuberance”. As I held dear this moment where I am enjoying their show, I wonder how many more times can I watch a BUCK-TICK concert, like how the poem asks how many times can we see cherry blossoms bloom in one lifetime.

The tour has just begun. How will the songs of 異空 -IZORA- grow in depth as this tour goes on from late spring to early and eventually mid-summer? And what kind of sky will each and every audience member find in their hearts by the time the final performance arrives on 23 July? This is a show that draws people to watch it again and again to find out how the story of this production will change. I hope to enjoy these shifting skies to the fullest.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

Concert/Event Information
<BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA->

Wednesday, 19 April 2023 — Tokyo: J:COM Hall Hachioji
Sunday, 23 April 2023 — Tochigi: Utsunomiya City Cultural Center, Large Hall
Saturday, 13 May 2023 — Kagawa: High Staff Hall, large hall (Kanonji City Meeting Hall)
Sunday, 14 May 2023 — Okayama: Kurashiki City Auditorium
Saturday, 20 May 2023 — Kyoto: ROHM Theatre Kyoto, main hall
Sunday, 21 May 2023 — Hyogo: Kobe Kokusai Kaikan Kokusai Hall
Saturday, 27 May 2023 — Kanagawa: Pacifico Yokohama National Convention Hall
Saturday, 3 June 2023 — Aichi: Japan Special Ceramic Industry Civic Center, Forest Hall (ex. Nagoya Civic Hall)
Saturday, 10 June 2023 — Ishikawa: Hondanomori Hall
Sunday, 11 June 2023 — Nagano: Nagano City Arts Center, main hall
Saturday, 17 June 2023 — Osaka: Orix Theater (ex. Osaka Welfare Pension Hall)
Sunday, 18 June 2023 — Osaka: Orix Theater (ex. Osaka Welfare Pension Hall)
Saturday, 24 June 2023 — Hiroshima: Ueno Gakuen Hall (Hiroshima Prefectural Culture and Arts Hall)
Sunday, 25 June 2023 — Fukuoka: Fukuoka Sunpalace Hotel & Hall
Saturday, 1 July 2023 — Hokkaido: Sapporo Kanamoto Hall (Sapporo Civic Hall)
Sunday, 9 July 2023 — Miyagi: Sendai Sun Plaza Hall
Saturday, 15 July 2023 — Gunma: Takasaki City Theatre, large theatre
Monday (holiday), 17 July 2023 — Shizuoka: Shizuoka City Culture Hall, large hall
Saturday, 22 July 2023 — Tokyo: Tokyo Garden Theatre
Sunday, 23 July 2023 — Tokyo: Tokyo Garden Theatre

Early bird tickets: 9,900 yen (w/ tax)
Tickets currently on sale

For more information, please visit the dedicated website:
https://buck-tick.com/feature/specialsite_2023tour

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: BARKS