SNIPER IN ‘88
Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
Photos by Sashi Motoko (佐志素子)
Text by Editorial department
The first time I came into contact with their concerts was in a live house in Shinjuku. On behalf of rock magazines, I’ve been to a few live houses but watching children being absorbed in their “kids’ meal” level of inferiority left me, in all honesty, sick of it.
On this night, the venue was packed with girls dressed up in black outfits. And for some reason, the live house was filled with an overwhelmingly charged atmosphere. On this night, DER ZIBET put on a show so manic and savage that it was more than plenty; that shook me to my core. In terms of the show itself, I did get a sense of inexperience from the structural problems and issues with the live house but in an instant, I understood what they were trying to do, and I found myself believing in them. These guys were serious, although they were also testy with impatience.
“YOU MEET THE ROCK PARTY” is a project where we introduce rock bands we’ve selected to the readers of Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll. And kicking things off as our first band, we have DER ZIBET. We wanted to share with as many people as possible the joy and the fever that everyone gets to experience at their concerts that exemplify the “wild and danceable”. This interview with them was held after their two hall shows at Osaka’s Banana Hall and Nagoya’s HeartLand.
―― First, let’s hear about what you think of “YOU MEET THE ROCK PARTY”.
Hikaru (H): It was fun. This is just the first event but I think this is something that [people] can look forward to in future too. But I got the feeling that our reputation hasn’t quite built up yet. First-timers at our show were also starting to enjoy themselves in the second half, weren’t they?
Issei (I): To perform an actual concert of what’s so far been spreading in print and then having the magazine make us known all over the country, it’s [a] groundbreaking [project], isn’t it? It always feels like this when DER ZIBET performs at a place we’ve never been to before. Although we’ve performed at this venue many times before, there were probably a lot of people who were seeing us for the first time, right? I was glad to see them gradually start dancing despite the case. Because things never turn out the way we expect it to.
HAL (HA): The audience weren’t our fans but a recon team, or something… They’re like people who’re here to see what kind of band we are.
Mayumi (M): It’s an honour to be the first (lol). I think this magazine has been satisfying the hearts of the audience these days (lol), so yeah, maybe it’s a good thing to bring on a little more party atmosphere.
―― Hey, wasn’t there a video? (Before the show started, a film was being screened by 4 projectors onto walls and such. Captured in it were things that each band member liked) Tell us about what you picked for that and why.
I: So, for me, my house is full of junk, y’know. I just can’t get myself to throw all these things and they pile up so much that I don’t even have space to sleep. [The things I picked for the video are] the things I see most often within that pile. A broken alarm clock. A music box. A book. A Lindsay Kemp¹ photobook. Things like that.
H: I focused on what’s in my bag. Like my driving license, my wallet, an ero-guro picture from the early Showa period.
HA: Boots, hat, beard, a Chinese doll from China atop my bass guitar. The cover of a Mingus² album. At the very end, my eye appears…… This is meant to represent an “eyeball”.
M: Ingenious (lol). As to what I chose, you know how in university there’s a library and a research lab, right? I borrowed a whole variety of books for the purpose of research and just like that, I dropped out (lol). So, those are fancy books that can never be bought with pocket change. Books about music, the arts, theatre, and so on. I picked a few out of them [for the video]. Aside from those, there’s also a Dalí³ brochure a fan gave me and things like that.
―― All your strange hobbies are being shown (lol). Right, so you’re releasing your LP soon but will your live concerts change after it’s out?
H: Yeah. Now that we’ve got this far, it feels like we can go anywhere. We’re not leaving anything behind, and besides, from this album on, we’ve included elements that make people feel and want to listen to our music in a way that’s different than before. Our live shows will probably end up with a mixed [format]…… Not only will it have a strong groove, but the flow on the whole also won’t change too, something like that.
I: I think the scale [of our shows] will grow bigger. Until now, our shows have been structured to make people go to their limits. You could say that our shows are like an hour’s sprint at full speed…… But this time, I think we’ll have a kind of tempo.
H: You know, in the past, we split [our shows] into two portions, and for the first, the audience can’t stand. We’d insist that they sit. …… Then suddenly we’d come out with oil lamps in our hands (rofl).
M: Sounds stupid, doesn’t it?
HA: We even had a street lamp erected on stage.
M: Wasn’t that around the same period? Next to the street lamp was the oil lamp, right? We did that a lot. But it wasn’t a bad thing. It’s just that, I guess it was embarrassing or something (lol).
―― Did you do that too after your debut?
I: We did at Kudan Kaikan, didn’t we? The [audience’s] reaction, wasn’t all that great (lol).
M: We did so many different things that I get exhausted thinking about it. I guess it’s sad, because we can’t get to the next level if we don’t do all this.
I: We were seriously theatrical. Yes, so theatrical that it’s nauseating. Maybe that’s the kind of nuance that comes through.
M: I think we can do it if we look at it as a form of entertainment. We’ve matured a little more now too……
HA: I want to make something like the progressive music that’s come after new wave.
―― That’ll leave an impression. In a past interview, you’ve said that what you want to do is more like a “tear [your shirt] buttons off” rather than a “undo [your shirt] buttons”.
HA: I guess in comparison, this time, we’re asking people to go off the beaten track, something like that.
I: Won’t putting it into words narrow [the possibilities] down? But well, yes, it’s like a state of nothingness. Or a state where there’s nothing but yourself. There are many ways to get there, and rock happens to have the essential element of aggression. Steadily stripping things down…… I guess you could say that even we are facing our true selves when we perform…… It’d be wonderful if we could turn our shows into spaces where everyone listening could do the same, don’t you think?
A while ago, I went to look at paintings…… You know, while I was viewing the art, I felt something that brought me to the verge of tears for the first time. That, in the end, is seeing the artist who drew it, right? And I could also see myself looking at it. It’s the most basic thing of all. Being able to see yourself as a human being.
―― Stripped down to the bare essentials, right?
I: The trouble with performing live is when people start to think, you know. I feel that it’s not about the words saying this or that. Rather, it should be [a sense of] “Ah, I get this.” If each and every person would feel like that, wouldn’t that be great?
―― So it’s not about persuading them.
I: When you listen to rock, [the most important thing is] that sensation of the very first thing you felt, right? That feeling of being forced to strip naked. The way it’s so unexpected. Making you wonder how it got you like this. That’s the one powerful thing rock music has. Rather than persuading you, it strips you naked and leaves you outside. That’s why, it makes you feel what you want to do instead of making you think about it.
―― You know, these days, pop songs that have always been so popular are now on the decline. Recently, I read the data that an advertising agency released and there’s one part in it that said we’re moving from the era of expressing “something similar to the heart” to expressing “the heart itself”. It has to be real if it’s going to work. How composed are you? How serious are you? There’s a stereotype, and people are no longer looking at the sweet. That’s the kind of era it’s going to be. Isn’t it amazing? Well, you could of course say it’s no surprise. That’s just the conclusion this advertising agency came to after studying the trends.
M: We want to become the leaders in that sense, though. For the kids 40 years in the future to be good people and follow the rules and keep their acts together…… Spiritually speaking, everyone ends up the same in the end, right? But the truth is that every single person is different. Although no two people are alike, we’re all really one human race. So to what extent can we express ourselves? Socially speaking, it’s not accepted much, is it? But with music, we’re free. I think more and more people are starting to feel that way. [With music,] we can show ourselves off in a civil manner, not physically or violently. This way, it’s peaceful, we’re making music, right? For us, we were born in the mid-1950s, so I think we’re the first generation to realise what the younger generation thinks these days. Those older than us don’t really matter. Because they can do whatever they like and they’ll die first. It’s the younger generation.
I: They somehow believe things too carelessly, don’t they?
HA: But, you know, haven’t we always been cynical ever since we were kids? Then we’d brush it all off as a joke…… Come to think of it, that makes it difficult to tell what’s actually real.
I: You can’t really tell who’s friend or foe.
H: Because words like “That’s rank” and “Tragic” and all that were always on our lips. If something’s really moving to you, you’d say it’s rank⁴. Now we’re past that, right? We don’t use these words so lightly now. It’s exaggerated, right?
M: I guess it’s like the old days.
I: We just hope that the era where people are convinced they’re safe would end. From the perspective that everyone should take things seriously, you know?
H: But that we think that we can do that through music and lyrics. We want to think about it, but we don’t want to put it out there directly.
M: Because doing that is authoritarian⁵, right……
I: Ultimately, just one field is enough……⁶
―― Have you decided on the title of your LP?
I: DER ZIBET.
―― That’s straightforward. Why?
I: To say that this is “DER ZIBET”.
H: We could’ve come up with a one-word title or something, but we feel that there are still many people who don’t know us so…… We figured that this would be the most straightforward way to get that across.
M: This is our company (lol).
HA: With a capital C.
―― What does DER ZIBET mean though?
H: What it means is, well, the word “ZIBET” is what the civet cat is called in both English⁷ and German, but the “DER” that comes before it is a definite article in German that has been altered to an English reading. Germans wouldn’t know this word (lol).
―― So what about the single you’re releasing on 21 March?
I: It’s Only “You”, Only “Love”.
―― Why did you choose to make this the first cut?
I: Because it’s got good energy (lol). We really hope people will listen to it.
DER ZIBET is a band that has now just started to have a voice. Because they have finally broken out of their societal situation; of being too manic an artist. And also, because their self-titled album DER ZIBET will also be released on 21 March. The experimental approach that they have taken so far will probably continue in future too. But this attitude of ensuring satisfaction before moving on is, I believe, also one of the purest forms of rock ‘n’ roll history. I hope they will keep rocking forever with this purity. And also, that their live shows and albums will knock us clean out.
¹ Lindsay Keith Kemp was a British dancer, actor, teacher, mime artist, and choreographer. He was probably best known for his 1974 flagship production of Flowers, a mime and music show based on Jean Genet’s novel Our Lady of the Flowers, in which he played the lead role of ‘Divine’. Owing to its homosexual themes and perceived decadence, reviews were sometimes hostile, but it was widely considered a theatrical and sensory sensation, and it toured globally for many years. He was also a mentor to David Bowie and Kate Bush.
² As in Charles Mingus, an American jazz double bassist, pianist, composer, and bandleader. A major proponent of collective improvisation, he is considered to be one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers in history, with a career spanning three decades and collaborations with other jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Herbie Hancock.
³ Salvador Dalí.
⁴ The original word here is クサイ (kusai) which is normally a descriptor for something that smells, or just to say that something stinks. But in this context, they’re obviously referring to some old slang interpretation of クサイ which no longer exists. I can’t think of any similar sort of slang/trend phrase in English, so I picked the rather questionable option of “rank”.
⁵ The word Mayumi used was “fascism (ファシズム)”. I didn’t use that direct translation because the implied meaning of it has probably evolved over the years to possess different connotations than it probably did back in the late 80s.
⁶ I don’t really know what he’s referring to but here’s the original text for your consideration:
⁷ Since this is an English translation, we know that’s not true lol. I believe he’s definitely talking about the word “Civet” but is just a little mixed up with the pronunciation of it.
Scans: morgianasama on LJ