2023.04.12 | Victor Entertainment
異空-IZORA

2023.03.08 | Victor Entertainment
太陽とイカロス

The Sun and Icarus

Words by Sakurai Atsushi

Music By Hoshino Hidehiko

Japanese

 

ああ 燃えている 水平線
ああ 燃えている ワタシハ飛ビ立ツ
暁 咲イタ 愛ト言フ¹機体³
翼 震ワセ
アナタニ会イニ行クヨ
天翔ケヨウ
太陽だ イカロス!
ギラギラ 突き刺さる
永遠だ 舞い上がれよ
ララララン²

青イ空ヲ 何処マデモ行コウ
鳥ニナッテ 風トナッテ
サア逝コウ
悲シクハ無イ コレデ自由ダ
涙ガ ボロボロ ボロ
零レ タ

ああ 燃えている 沈む夕陽
ああ 燃えている ワタシハ旅立ツ
紅 染マレ 傷付イタ機体³
魂 震ワセ
アナタニ会イニ行クヨ
天翔ケヨウ
太陽だ イカロス!
ギラギラ 突き抜けろ
祝祭だ 舞い踊れよ
ララララン

青イ空ヲ 何処マデモ行コウ
鳥ニナッテ 風トナッテ
サア逝コウ
悲シクハ無イ コレデ自由ダ
涙ガ ボロボロ ボロ
零レ タ
悲シイケド コレデ自由ダ
涙ガ ボロボロ ボロ
零レ タ

青イ空ヲ 何処マデモ行コウ
鳥ニナッテ 風トナッテ
サア逝コウ
悲シクハ無イ コレデ自由ダ
涙ガ ボロボロ ボロ
溢レ タ..

Romaji

By: Yoshiyuki

Aa moeteiru suiheisen
Aa moeteiru watashi wa tobitatsu
Akatsuki saita  Ai to ifu¹ karada³
Tsubasa furuwase
Anata ni ai ni iku yo
Amakake you
Taiyou da Ikarosu!
Giragira Tsuki sasaru
Eien da Mai agare yo
Rarararan²

Aoi sora wo Doko made mo yukou
Tori ni natte Kaze to natte
Saa yukou
Kanashiku wa nai Kore de jiyuu da
Namida ga boro boro boro
kobore-ta

Aa moeteiru shizumu yuuhi
Aa moeteiru watashi wa tabitatsu
Kurenai somare Kizutsuita karada³
Tamashii furuwase
Anata ni ai ni iku yo
Amakake you
Taiyou da Ikarosu!
Giragira Tsuki nukero
Shukusai da Mai odore yo
Rarararan

Aoi sora wo Doko made mo yukou
Tori ni natte Kaze to natte
Saa yukou
Kanashiku wa nai Kore de jiyuu da
Namida ga boro boro boro
kobore-ta
Kanashii kedo Kore de jiyuu da
Namida ga boro boro boro
kobore-ta

Aoi sora wo Doko made mo yukou
Tori ni natte Kaze ni natte
Saa yukou
Kanashiku wa nai Kore de jiyuu da
Namida ga boro boro boro
afure-ta..

 

English

By: Yoshiyuki

Ah, the horizon is burning
Ah, it’s burning I take flight
Dawn is blooming This body³ named love
Wings Trembling
I’m coming to see you
Let’s soar
That’s the sun, Icarus!
Glaring Piercing through
It’s eternity Soar up and away
La-la-la-lan²

The blue sky stretches into infinity
Become a bird, become one with the wind
Come, let’s go
There’s no need to be sad Now you’re free
Tears are tumbling rolling down
falling

Ah, the setting sun is burning
Ah, it’s burning I set off
Drenched crimson This wounded body³
This soul Trembling
I’m coming to see you
Let’s soar
That’s the sun, Icarus!
Glaring Break through
It’s a celebration Dance away
La-la-la-lan²

The blue sky stretches into infinity
Become a bird, become one with the wind
Come, let’s go
There’s no need to be sad Now you’re free
Tears are tumbling rolling down
falling
It’s sad but Now you’re free
Tears are tumbling rolling down
falling

The blue sky stretches into infinity
Become a bird, become one with the wind
Come, let’s go
There’s no need to be sad Now you’re free
Tears are tumbling rolling down
over..flowing

 

Notes:

¹ 言ふ (ifu) is an archaic way of saying 言う (iu). 

² This part is also a wordplay involving the word 爛々 (ranran) which is an adverb used to describe something as “flaming/fiery/blazing”.

³ 機体 is typically read kitai instead of karada which Sakurai has chosen here. 機体 is defined as “airframe” or the body of an aircraft, while karada is usually written with the singular kanji 体, meaning “body”, i.e. a person’s body. The wordplay here essentially equates the flight equipment to Icarus’ body.

 

From Toll’s interview in FT107, his cymbal stand broke during the filming of their MV because he stacks two cymbals together to reduce the noise he makes during filming but that means that the cymbals wouldn’t move as much as they usually should, so he has to hit them harder so that movement would captured for the MV. With the added weight and increased pressure from hitting, the stand eventually broke mid-shoot.

 

Album cover of 異空 -IZORA-, BUCK-TICK

2023.04.12 | Victor Entertainment
異空-IZORA

Harem of Love

Words by Sakurai Atsushi

Music By Hoshino Hidehiko

Japanese

 

炎 に  濡れた
愛のハレム
この世は 夢 ね
愛のハレム

路地裏 少年よ
楽園を知っているかい?
迷い込んだCorridor
わたし ただ étranger²
鏡の 向こう側
老婆が 手招く
酔いしれてLabyrinth
わたし ただ étranger
微かに麝香な香り
砂混じりあなたの影
タナトスの花をどうぞ
ベールを翻し 消えた
炎 に   濡れた
愛のハレム
この世は 夢 ね
愛のハレム

カサブランカ 南へ
マラケシュにひとり
市場を さ迷えば
わたし ただ étranger
おまえは何処から来た?
わたしは何処へ行くのだろう
さあおいで Carnavalへ
死者達と踊れ さあ踊れ
炎 に   濡れた
愛のハレム
この世は 夢 ね
愛のハレム

おまえはそうさ
夢や 幻
鏡よ 鏡
老婆が笑う
あたしもそうさ
夢や 幻
鏡よ 鏡
老婆が笑う よ
A ha ha.. A ha ha
笑う.. よ

Romaji

By: Yoshiyuki

Honoo ni  nureta
Ai no haremu
Kono yo wa yume  ne
Ai no haremu

Rojiura shounen yo
Rakuen wo shitteiru kai?
Mayoi konda Corridor
Watashi tada étranger²
Kagami no mukou gawa
Rouba ga te maneku
Yoishirete Labyrinth
Watashi tada étranger
Kasuka ni masukii¹ na kaori
Suna majiri anata no kage
Tanatosu no hana wo douzo
Beeru wo hirugaeshi kieta
Honoo ni  nureta
Ai no haremu
Kono yo wa yume  ne
Ai no haremu

Kasaburanka minami e
Marakeshu ni hitori
Ichiba wo samayoeba
Watashi tada étranger
Omae wa doko kara kita?
Watashi wa doko e yuku no darou
Saa oide Carnaval e
Shisha tachi to odore Saa odore
Honoo ni  nureta
Ai no haremu
Kono yo wa yume  ne
Ai no haremu

Omae wa sou sa
Yume ya maboroshi
Kagami yo Kagami
Rouba ga warau
Atashi mo sou sa
Yume ya maboroshi
Kagami yo Kagami
Rouba ga warau yo
A ha ha.. A ha ha
Warau.. yo

English

By: Yoshiyuki

Drenched in flames
Harem of love
This world is a dream
Harem of love

Hey, young boy in the alley
Do you know of paradise?
Wandering through a
Corridor I am just an outsider²
On the other side of a mirror
The old lady beckons
Intoxicated in a Labyrinth
I am just an outsider
A faint musky fragrance
Your shadow mingling with the sand
Take this flower of Thanatos
Disappearing with a turn of the veil
Drenched in flames
Harem of love
This world is a dream
Harem of love

To the south of Casablanca
alone, to Marrakesh
As I wander the marketplace
I am just an outsider
Where did you come from?
Where am I going?
Now come, to the Canaval
to dance with the dead, let’s dance
Drenched in flames
Harem of love
This world is a dream
Harem of love

That’s what you are
A dream, an illusion
Mirror, oh, mirror
The old lady laughs
That’s what I am too
A dream, an illusion
Mirror, oh, mirror
The old lady is laughing
A ha ha.. A ha ha
Laughing.. away

 

Notes:

¹The kanji is normally read as jakou, but it would seem that Sakurai decided to stylise it as masukii (musky) instead.

² French for stranger, typically used in legal contexts to refer to a foreigner (alien).

 

Album cover of 異空 -IZORA-, BUCK-TICK

2023.04.12 | Victor Entertainment
異空-IZORA

2022.09.21 | Victor Entertainment
CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.

Farewell Shelter

Words by Sakurai Atsushi

Music By Hoshino Hidehiko

Japanese

 

儚いキャンドル
地下室でダンスダンス
揺れている
魔法のランプ 瞳には炎

その手伸ばして
指先で Love Love
あと少し
影絵遊び
さあ  お姫様

止まんない雨 夢ならいいね
あなたを 抱き締めていたいけど
誰かが僕らを 殺しに来るよ
狂ってる。。 狂っているよ

今夜 静かに眠る
あなたに合いに行く 必ず
あの シェルターで  待っていて
今夜 地球はまるで
美しい流れ星 綺麗だ
あの シェルターで  待っていて

色を無くした 音も無い世界
愛の歌
震える声で あの子は歌う

冷たい雨 嘘ならいいね
あなたを 抱き締めていたいけど
わたしは誰かを 殺しに行くの
狂ってる。。 狂っているよ

今夜 静かに眠る
あなたに合いに行く 必ず
あの シェルターで 待っていて
今夜 地球はまるで
美しい流れ星 綺麗だ
あの シェルターで 待っていて。。

Romaji

By: Yoshiyuki

Hakanai kyandoru
Chika shitsu de dansu dansu
Yurete iru
Mahou no ranpu Hitomi ni wa honoo

Sono te nobashite
Yubisaki de Love Love
Ato sukoshi
Kage’e asobi
Saa ohime sama

Yamannai ame yume nara ii ne
Anata wo dakishimeteitai kedo
Dare ka ga bokura wo koroshi ni kuru yo
Kurutteru.. Kurutteiru yo

Konya shizuka ni nemuru
Anata ni ai ni yuku Kanarazu
Ano sherutaa de  matteite
Konya chikyuu wa maru de
utsukushii nagareboshi Kirei da
Ano sherutaa de  matteite

Iro wo nakushita Oto mo nai sekai
Ai no uta
Furueru koe de ano ko wa utau

Tsumetai ame uso nara ii ne
Anata wo dakishimeteitai kedo
Watashi wa dare ka wo koroshi ni iku no
Kurutteru.. Kurutteiru yo

Konya shizuka ni nemuru
Anata ni ai ni yuku Kanarazu
Ano sherutaa de matteite
Konya chikyuu wa maru de
utsukushii nagareboshi Kirei da
Ano sherutaa de matteite..

English

By: Yoshiyuki

Short-lived candle
Dance, dancing in the basement
Flickering
A magic lamp A flame in your eyes

Reach your hand out
Love Love at your fingertips
Just a while more
We’ll play with shadows
Shall we, my princess

Wouldn’t it be nice if the relentless rain was a dream
I want to keep you in my arms but
Someone is coming to kill us
Insane It’s insanity

Tonight, sleep tight
I’ll come meet you, that’s a promise
Waiting at that shelter
Tonight, the earth looks just like
a beautiful falling star It’s so pretty
Waiting at that shelter

In a colourless, soundless world
A song of love
Sung in that child’s trembling voice

Wouldn’t it be nice if the cold rain was a lie
I want to keep you in my arms but
I have to go and kill someone
Insane It’s insanity

Tonight, sleep tight
I’ll come meet you, that’s a promise
Waiting at that shelter
Tonight, the earth looks just like
a beautiful falling star It’s so pretty
Waiting at that shelter

 

 

 

The Poem of June ──
Interview with Hoshino Hidehiko

Ongaku to Hito
July 2023

Text=Kanemitsu Hifumi
Photos=
Minami Shinichiro

 

What has been regained

Hoshino Hidehiko turns 57 on June 16. The way he exudes the aura of a handsome, ageless  uncle remains the same as usual, but ever since he was 35, we’ve been having annual interviews with him every June, his birth month and this year marks the 23rd iteration. These interviews and his journey through life since birth were collected in his autobiography, Simply Life which had an expanded and revised edition published again last September. Following that, one would’ve thought that there will be no more interviews anymore. But the poem of June will go on forever.

At his own suggestion, this year’s photoshoot features him in a yukata in Kyoto, where the band is visiting for one of their shows in the BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA-. And the polish of the execution of this tour is exquisite. Not only have they chosen to construct the world of their album 異空 -IZORA- in a different manner than they used to, the band is gradually regaining what they have lost in the process of going on a proper tour with the lifted ban on audience cheers. It’s just wonderful to see such joy and confidence in a live show. It also leaves the impression that they’re probably looking to chase after tours again next month too.

 

 

 

After performing live in front of an audience, I’ve come to find that this album is actually well-balanced
What’s significant to us is definitely performing live and getting a real sense [of the music]

――I was shocked when I received a rare invitation from you asking, “Shall we hold the interview in Kyoto this year?”

Hoshino (H): Fufufu.

――Was this what you intended (lol).

H: This is (lol).

――We visited Kurumazaki Shrine located in the Saga area of Kyoto for today’s shoot, where the red tamagaki¹ (fence posts) in the shrine grounds made for an impressive sight. When was it that Hoshino-san offered² yours here?

H: To be specific, it’s in the Geino Shrine that’s within Kurumazaki Shrine, right? Last year, I went on a little sightseeing tour with a friend who’s a native Kyotoite and their spouse in between tours. So at the time, I heard that there was a shrine that people in the entertainment industry go to pray at and I grew curious so we went to have a look. That’s when I offered the tamagaki but I haven’t visited again since then. So this was actually the first time that I’m seeing my own tamagaki erected. It was early in the day, but it was quite crowded with people, wasn’t it?

――Seems like it’s become part of the tour route for school trips. We left the hotel at nine in the morning so as to not disrupt them. And now we’re backstage in the concert hall for this interview which was scheduled to start at eleven.

H: I generally wake up quite early so it’s fine (lol). It’s no bother at all. In fact, a schedule like this is easier on me.

――Alright, then. I got to watch the opening show for this tour last month. It’s a little bit different from the shows you’ve done so far, and there’s a strong concept that shows the audience the totality of it.

H: That’s quite true.

――What are Hoshino-san’s thoughts about this change?

H: I guess we could package the world of the 異空 -IZORA- album within the whole concert; from the opening to the last song in the encore. But even so, that’s not all there is. Because we managed to tie our older songs into this as well, I think they got updated too.

――There are still five more dates to go, but have you noticed any changes?

H: The drum solo now comes before the encore begins, but that’s probably about it. Surprisingly, nothing else. Maybe it’s because we’re very focused on getting the concept done right.

――It’s well-structured, isn’t it?

H: When we were completing the album, we forced what was meant for two separate CDs into one, so honestly speaking, I personally felt some sort of discomfort, or something like that about doing that. But now that the album is done and we have performed live in front of an audience like this, I’ve come to find that it’s actually well-balanced.

――I actually think it’s good that there’s no clear theme. At the same time, it also [shows] that this band has been making this wide a variety of music.

H: That’s BUCK-TICK for you. What’s significant to us is definitely performing live, getting a real sense [of the music], and growing that awareness of it. That’s what I understood after we started touring.

――Because it hits home when you have an MC or songs which reminisce about the old days.

H: We certainly do have those types of songs.

――By the way, how did you spend your Golden Week?

H: I couldn’t do anything. Well, the kids have grown up now so it’s not as if they’d ask me to take them somewhere. But more than that, they have classes and club activities even during the holidays so everyone’s schedules are all over the place. That’s why I just stayed at home and relaxed without doing anything.

――That’s good.

H: But, I told you last year that my father passed away, right? It just so happened that the memorial service for the first death anniversary fell during Golden Week, so I thought we should do a day trip and drove to Fujioka. But who knew, even though we left home early, it took us five and a half hours to get there because of a traffic jam made worse by the holidays and a traffic accident. There were even accidents that just happened.

――Normally it would only take you about an hour and a half, right?

H: Right. That really screwed things up. We couldn’t make it in time for the memorial, so in any case, we offered incense, visited his grave, spoke with family and relatives, and soon after made a U-turn home (lol).

――Did you manage to go see the flower beds at the former Fujioka High?
(Note: Flower beds in the image of BUCK-TICK have been planted in at their alma-mater, now Fujioka City Learning Center for a collaboration campaign with their hometown, Fujioka City)

H: Sounds like it was a hit, wasn’t it? Imai-san (Imai Hisashi / guitarist) and Yuta (Higuchi Yutaka / bassist) also went down, and Anii (Yagami Toll / drummer) visited just recently too, didn’t he? But it was so hectic that all our energy was spent, and I didn’t feel like I was in the mood for it at all so…… Unfortunately, I had to give it a miss this time.

 

Our 35th anniversary year technically ends in September
so I think it would be nice
if we could do something to wrap it up at the end

――Changing the topic, Sakurai-san (Sakurai Atsushi / vocalist) has released a ring as fan merch, hasn’t he?

H: Ah, so I heard.

ーーIt’s a romantic one with a design based on Sakurai-san’s vocal waves, but will Hoshino-san also release such a stylish thing?

H: Stylish things are nice but between [that and functional things], I lean towards releasing goods that can be used in daily life so there’s much more of that for me. So I have various considerations to think about.

ーーOnce the tour ends in July, what do you think BUCK-TICK will likely do next?

H: I wonder. Our 35th anniversary year technically ends in September, so I think it would be nice if we could do something to wrap it up at the end.

ーーOoh!

H: Not sure about what’s after that…… It wouldn’t be solo work (lol).

ーーI didn’t ask (lol).

H: I mentioned this earlier too but since we had the original idea of releasing two CDs, I actually have songs that were composed but just not recorded anyway. So I want to continue working on those, but we’ve already taken a break from that too. But, well, we each have our own ideas, anyway.

ーーBut now that you can resume touring in full force, and band activities and live concerts are back as a part of daily life, do you feel like you’ve regained something?

H: Right. Especially when we have a song like Boogie Woogie. The sense that it’s great being in a band…… Come to think of it, this has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but I heard that Ed Sheeran has started working on an album that should only be released after his death.

ーーWhen he’s only in his 30s?

H: I read about it somewhere. He’s still releasing albums but he started putting together a separate one for a posthumous release. Apparently he would add songs to it from time to time and state in his will that this would be released after his death.

ーーI guess he’s making preparations for his death despite his youth.

H: Who knows. But I sort of empathise that he doesn’t want to have any regrets. It makes me want to put some effort into turning those song fragments sitting in my PC into something proper.

ーーI heard that when Imai-san opens up his hard disk, he occasionally comes across song fragments like, “Huh, what was this?” (Lol)

H: It’s not organised, right? (Lol) But when I think about these things, I really want to keep making more music.

ーーAnd today, you even had a photoshoot in a yukata.

H: Yes, right. I thought, since we’re doing the shoot in a shrine, we might be able to enhance the atmosphere if I wore a yukata so I planned for this. What do you think?

ーーSimply awesome. If you’d actively propose such plans in future then we’ll release another revised and extended version of Simply Life in another 10 years.

H: I wonder who would buy a 67-year-old’s Simply Life (lol).

ーーPeople will (lol).

H: I get the feeling that the future topic for our chats wouldn’t be about my kids but about my grandkids (lol).

ーーThere is a possibility of that (lol). But I must say that I got a peace of mind when I had a look around the dressing rooms backstage and found that the other members of your band are generally relaxed.

H: Since the start I felt like we were doing this relatively well. Besides, this time, it’s generally simpler. Our stage setup includes film and video but there’s not much of a set, is there? Since it’s easy to see each others’ faces, I guess that also made  it easier for us to focus on playing the music.

ーーOn the other hand, the costumes were pretty fresh, weren’t they? Including the fact that [yours] looked symmetrical to Imai-san’s.

H: That was, it just so happened (lol). Because I’ve been thinking since a while ago that I wanted to go with a white scheme instead of black for this tour. And in the past, I wore that kind of skirt-like piece before so I decided to just make that white.

ーーIt was nice; like a prince from the Middle East.

H: Middle East (lol).

ーーAnd did you see Anii’s outfit?

H: Ahh. I didn’t look closely but it’s all our old photos, aren’t they? I didn’t get a proper look (lol).

ーーHe turned your funny faces into an outfit without letting you vet them (lol).

H: But I did know that he probably used that photo. When we debuted, our manager at the time would take photos anytime something happened. Whether we were on the move, or eating, or backstage, or overseas, or performing live…… and in all sorts of places. It was the era before data was accessible, so he would always make copies of them for the whole band and distribute them to us. That’s why I and the whole band probably have all the same photos at home.

ーー…… If you have such photos then bring them out and use them for your autobiography (lol).

H: They’re in some corner of the house, although I never tried looking for them (lol).

ーーThat’s not a good excuse, but anyway, there’s a part of this tour that feels somewhat nostalgic, isn’t there?

H: Since we have Boogie Woogie, right? That’s why I think this is a good tour.

ーーFinally, does Hide-san currently have a country or place, somewhere that you’d like to visit?

H: Let’s see…… It’s probably about time for me to visit the European region, isn’t it? Alright, once the tour ends. Shall I go scout ahead of the plans for 10 years later (another Simply Life)?

ーーNah. Europe is kind of…… (reluctant).

H: If that’s the case, how about Miyako-jima next? It’s been recommended to me anyway, it’s okay, really. Miyako-jima (lol).

 

 

Notes:

¹ A visual of the tamagaki at the shrine.

² The “offering” of a tamagaki is not exactly the literal act of bringing your own fence post with your name painted on it. It’s more like “buying” or “commissioning” one from the shrine to put up as a prayer offering. The proceeds are as good as a donation to the shrine.

 

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

AFTERSHOW

2023.05.20 Hoshino Hidehiko BUCK-TICK

The photoshoot took place at Kurumazaki Shrine in Kyoto. As mentioned in the interview, the shoot started early in the morning. After that, everyone moved to the concert venue and the interview was conducted in the dressing room backstage. After a while, the other members of the band start to arrive. On Yuta-san’s desk in the dressing room was a mountain of his autobiography books. They were to be autographed for sale at the concert venue, but he didn’t only sign them; Yuta-san would also draw illustrations associated with the local attractions of each city where the show is held. For Kyoto, he drew the Daimonji Festival, maiko, and the Heian-jingu Shrine but then, he asked, “Any fresh ideas?” So Kanemitsu suggested Tenka Ippin Ramen (headquartered in Kyoto).

After the interview concluded, we left the dressing room and were walking down the hallway when Sakurai the Demon King approached from the other end with a big smile on his face, saying, “Got interrogated recently, Kanemitsu-san?” It was last month that I got interrogated when I went to pick up Yuta-san for his column interview and Yuta-san took a photo of that happening while laughing so I don’t know whether he [Sakurai] saw what Yuta-san took or  whether he read the last magazine edition’s column. Regardless, he got a good laugh out of it. But it was great getting the chance to see the Demon King’s smile ♡

 

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

9

異空 -IZORA- Feature

PHY Vol. 24
April 2023

I thought having fun playing music in a band like that was enough
Except, I gradually started to wonder, “So, what am I going to do next?”…… I guess you could say that I finally woke up from a dream
—Sakurai

photographs by Sasahara Kiyoaki_L management
hair & make-up by Tanizaki Takayuki, Yamaji Chihiro_Fat’s Berry
styling by Shimizu Kenichi

clothes from
kiryuyrik 03-5728-4048
SERIALIZE 03-3499-6002
UK EXTRA http://uk-extra.com

 

Everyone wants to see spectacular lies and made-up stories, to let themselves be deceived
If calling it a “lie” isn’t appropriate…… then perhaps, a “dream”
—Sakurai

After two years and seven months, the band has released their 23rd original album, 異空 -IZORA-.

This album is all over the place, in a good way. In the beginning, they intended to release the songs in two discs so they began composing a diversity of songs, but in the end, they decided to release just one disc and this is what came of it. Yet in here is a realism that conveys the band’s current vibe. Concerts were no longer ordinary occasions and the band had been unable to carry out their activities like they used to due to COVID-19. This led to a slight change in their shared values because they couldn’t see the singularity.

Yet interestingly enough, if you read these interviews, if you listen to their music, you can sense that they all wish to feel the same emotions they felt when they first came together to form the band. Because there was no theme, no direction to follow, each member’s personal thoughts came flowing out. These are the feelings that came through this album.

A moon floating in a strange sky (異空/izora). It turns full with the wishes of these five band members. That’s right. 35 years after their debut, this is an album which shows us their new beginnings.

 

 

 

 

BUCK-TICK Solo Interviews

_______________________

Sakurai Atsushi

Interview by: Ishil Eriko

Because dreams are dreams so they aren’t actually reality, or rather, it’s something you create yourself and enchant yourself with
Besides, I also perform and enchant myself with a version of me who isn’t exactly me, right?

――This came up in an earlier interview too, but surprisingly, Sakurai-san, you visit the park, don’t you?

Sakurai (S): Yeah. To space out in the day. If I have nothing going on that day, I would go with a drink in hand, listen to music, read a book, watch grandpas and grandmas play their sports…… That’s pretty much how I spend my time relaxing. I’m not there because I want to meet people, but it’s just that sometimes it feels like I have to go get some sunlight and photosynthesise or it’ll be bad for me.

――But if it’s raining outside, like today, then it’s not possible, is it?

S: Well, if it rains, it rains so…… I think it’s nice that everyone gets a little troubled just like me.

――Hahahaha! Actually, the word “rain (雨/ame)” often came up in the lyrics to the songs of your most recent album. If we exclude the instrumental tracks, it shows up in seven of the twelve songs.

S: Oh~? Is that so? Even I didn’t quite notice that myself.

――What does rain symbolise to you?

S: I wonder. Just now, I jokingly said, “It’s nice that everyone gets a little troubled,” but everyone dreads rain equally and everyone would say things like, “Damn, it’s raining?”, wouldn’t they? It’s annoying, it dampens moods, it makes people lonely. Opening up an umbrella creates a space that only allows for yourself. That’s the imagery that I get from rain.

――Are there times when you enjoy it?

S: Originally, I really didn’t hate it. The area of my hometown, Gunma Prefecture’s Fujioka City, was famous for how you’d hear thunder almost everyday in summer. I think the weather conditions have changed a little bit now, but I would really hear angry-sounding thunder and see pretty scary lightning in the daytime just about everyday when it’s summer. I was scared but somehow, at the same time, I guess you could say, in awe. I remember seeing beautiful lightning turning the sky a pure white and feeling scared yet finding it equally beautiful.

――That’s something I would like to see.

S: Yeah. Although I believe there’s certainly nothing better than a clear sunny day. But I like this too, the dark grey skies we have today. I also imagine that the vegetation will be very happy with the rain too. They would shine and sparkle in green, and the flowers would soak up the water. I think it’s just as important as the sun for life.

――Yes. The next word which stood out to me is “lie (嘘/uso)”. It shows up in Warukyuure no Kikou (ワルキューレの騎行/Ride of the Valkyries) in the line “I don’t care if it’s a lie (嘘で構わない/Uso de kamawanai)”. But the world at large tells us that we can’t lie, though.

S: Hmm… but the truth is, we tell lies to comfort people or children. Lies like, “Monsters will come and get you if you don’t sleep soon.” We do tell lies to reassure children and protect them, don’t we? I feel that’s the perspective that the lyrics are making use of. A specific example would be how we won’t say, “Missiles are flying overhead,” but instead, we’ll say something like, “It’s raining so we can’t go out.”

――This is something ISSAY-san (Der Zibet/vocals) said, but in his words, “People seek out concerts, movies, and theatre for the sake of seeing a beautiful lie.”

S: Ahh……… That’s my elder sister¹ for you; it’s a whole other manner of speech!

――Elder sister (lol).

S: I see. But that’s nice, isn’t it?

――Yeah. I think one of BUCK-TICK’s jobs is to enchant with beautiful lies.

S: Mhm, although it might give people the wrong ideas, fufufuh. But that’s correct. Everyone wants to see spectacular lies and made-up stories. Everyone wants to let themselves be deceived.

――If the word “lie” isn’t appropriate, what other word would you use?

S: Well…… Perhaps it would be “dream”. Kind of cheesy, though. But I think “dream” is the closest synonym. Because dreams are dreams so they aren’t actually reality, or rather, it’s something you create yourself and enchant yourself with. Besides, I also perform and enchant myself with a version of me who isn’t exactly me, right? Reality is painful, it’s heavy, it’s too cruel. So I think that makes lies pretty effective too.

 

What you find in this Hizumi is also my own personal Hizumi²
Twisted thoughts when it comes to my own mother and father

――Speaking of whether something is real or fictional, in this album, I felt for the first time that the “papa, mama” that Sakurai-san penned has changed.

S: Ah, really? Hm… Maybe because there’s a broader perspective here. In the past, it would be about myself, and my own father and mother. That part might’ve come across exceptionally strongly but if the focus is more on what’s going on in the story, I guess it becomes…… a reference to the fathers and mothers of children in general?

――Indeed. It’s just that I believe your actual parents are an enduring part of Sakurai-san’s roots and also a form of energy that feeds your performance.

S: That’s true. …… I always question myself about it, like, “Isn’t that enough already?” Isn’t it as good as bragging about my hardships (wry smile)? I always think, “Let’s stop doing that”, “I should let go of my parents for my own sake.” But eventually, I always end up feeling that I have to revisit those events before I can start over again. Even so, when I see and hear about what’s going on in the world, there are all kinds of mothers and fathers and families. I guess I came to feel that it might be a good thing for me to sing more about these things, even in relation to myself. And also that it would be nice if I could remain as pure and innocent as a child. Perhaps this naive wish made its way there.

――The “father, mother” who appears in Hizumi; are these figures closer to Sakurai-san’s own parents or that of the character in the story?

S: Hm…… I would say it’s my own father and mother. I have these kinds of emotions in me. I think people will be able to understand all these things that are seeping out of me, though. Mm…… That’s why, what you find in this Hizumi is also my own personal Hizumi². Twisted thoughts when it comes to my own mother and father.

――Where there is murderous hatred, but also the desire to say you love them.

S: That’s right. Apologies for getting depressing, but ever since I was old enough to remember, my mother has been subjected to violence and I spent everyday trembling with my older brother. I only wondered, “Why’s my home like this?” and harboured a fear of my father, and hatred. Why does he put my mother through this? I honestly wanted to kill him too. Towards my mother, I felt pity, and wondered why she sacrificed herself…… There was a time when I told her, “You can just leave with big brother. You don’t have to stay in this house and put up with it.” And she said something like, “Why are you saying such things!” There’s a part of her that believes this is the only place where she belongs, it’s very…… frustrating, I guess. It was a situation that cannot be handled by children.

――It must’ve been incredibly difficult. However, this is unfortunately a special story that is unique to Sakurai-san. It’s not something you’d hear anywhere else.

S:Yeah. That’s true. I believe there are a lot of children who were born into far worse environments and brought up in it. It’s really unimaginable simply because it doesn’t make the news…… There really are a lot of children who matured surprisingly well and avoided becoming criminals.

――I hope this music helps people.

S: Yeah…… That would be nice.

――Yes. Next, I’d like to ask about the word “dream”. Sakurai-san has also sung about all types of dreams in in the past, but it’s rare that you would pen a phrase like, “chasing things like dreams (夢なんて追いかけて/yume nante oikakete)”.

S: Right, we started the band together but for some reason, I myself didn’t really have any goals. I was going along without specific goals like knowing what we wanted to become, or wanting to perform at a particular venue. Just happy to be able to transiently enjoy each day, firing up the audience even with shitty performances. There was a negligent and carefree part of me that didn’t care about the future as long as I could spend another night like that. I guess I genuinely thought having fun playing music in a band like that was enough. Except, I gradually started to wonder, “So, what am I going to do next?”…… I guess you could say that I finally woke up from a dream (lol).

――Hahahaha.

S: I just suddenly started to wonder, “So what do I want to do?” You know? I thought, if my first phase was me voicing my desire to be a vocalist then I have to move on to the second phase. And that’s my personal desire when it comes to our releases. That kept on sprouting and growing. And I guess I just couldn’t convince myself with the surface-level thing anymore. Wondering, “What should I myself sing about going forward?” That’s when I felt like I finally woke up from my dream.

――Right now, does Sakurai-san have a dream of your own?

S: Huh? …………… Perhaps a peaceful retirement.

――Hahahahaha! Will that lifestyle involve band activities?

S: Ah, well, perhaps within the realm of “Oh, the weather looks good today, shall we give it a go?” as an elderly man.

――Depending on the weather!

S: Hahahahah. Saying things like, “My leg hurts.’ (Lol) This isn’t something that would make headlines, but I would like to attain happiness as a person.

――Yes. One more thing I would like to bring up is the imagery of “flowers” that come up in the songs Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless), Ai no Harem (Harem of Love), and Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Campanella  A Bouquet For You). It’s something that appears to symbolise life and peace, and also love.

S: Yes. I, as a man who’s over 50 years of age, actually like flowers a lot.

――I think that’s a very lovely sentiment.

S: Fuhahahah. Um, well, it’s because my mother loved flowers a ton. She used to always bring me along to the horticulture corner of the DYI stores to buy cheap potted plants. We were somehow a household which always had flowers in the garden. And when I started performing concerts, I started asking for flowers in the dressing room. I thought it was nice to have flowers around in a dressing room filled with disorderly men. While admiring them, I’d end up thinking, “What a waste. I’ll bring them home.” Even now, I’ll have flowers that I receive on my birthday in my room. So I have always loved flowers. I like receiving them and giving them very much too.

――That’s even lovelier.

S: It’s a life after all. A life that doesn’t speak. Just like the sun, the wind, the rain, insects. Of course, the grass and the trees are also part of all these lives that are connected. And I think it’s all simply amazing. These lives that exist without saying a word.

――Do you have a favourite flower?

S: Do I? Ah, I’m not sure if they count, but I like baby’s breath.

――That’s adorable (lol).

S: Even though I’m an old man (lol). But I like all flowers in general. The ones I have in my room now are probably callas, lilies? They’re flamboyant. You know, people somehow tend to associate roses and the sort with me, but I really love the more simple varieties too. Also…… I just recalled something while we were talking.

――What is it?

S: I’ll occasionally visit my hometown. It’s been more than 30 years since my mother passed, but when I visit her grave, there will already be quite a lot of flowers laid. On her death anniversary and even other regular days too. It seems to me that there are a number of people who would always leave flowers for her these past decades.

――Huh? Even now?

S: Yeah. I am just humbled. In the past, I wasn’t very good at dealing with fans who came all the way to my parents’ home. But my mother always took very good care of them. I told her, “You don’t have to let them into the house,” but she would chastise me, saying things like, “They made the effort to come all the way here!” (Lol) And that fan would assertively add, “I’m Sakurai-san’s fan but I’m first and foremost your mother’s fan.” At that point I could only feel apologetic (lol).

――To think there are some who are that dedicated…… That’s amazing.

S: It’s already been more than 30 years too. While I only visit when the thought of it occurs to me. My older brother visits her grave every year on her death anniversary, and he would tell me, “There’s a load of flowers here again.” I’m really very grateful.

――I’ve got a question for you that might feel rather inappropriate considering the flow of our conversation, but what kind of flowers do you hope to receive when it’s your time?

S: Mm……

――I’m sorry, it’s really inappropriate.

S: No, no. It’s good, isn’t it? To think about these things. Normally the subdued chrysanthemums would be the main flower and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with the standard being the standard. But the flowers that currently show up on my mother’s grave are very flamboyant, not the usual types for a memorial. So, really, something like that. Flowers other than white chrysanthemums. Flamboyant would be nice.

――Then, a gorgeous, romantic bouquet.

S: I look forward to it. Fufufuh.

 

 

Notes:

¹ He referred to ISSAY as お姐様 (onee-sama), “elder sister” in a more respectful manner of speech. The word can also be used to refer to a lady boss.

² I’ve probably mentioned it somewhere before but ヒズミ (hizumi) is essentially this word, 歪み written in Katakana. Because it’s written in Katakana, ヒズミ can also be interpreted as a person’s name. At the same time, the 歪み word is essentially defined as “a distorted or warped shape, or a bad result of something”.
Here, Sakurai could be saying that Hizumi, the character also exists within him, or that there are parts of him that are also twisted in the parallel to what the song describes.

 

 

Return to Top

_______________________

Imai Hisashi

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

I think it was nice to be able to work freely without a theme. It feels like the way it used to be in the past
But we faced difficulty in coordinating our schedules

――Your new song Sayonara Shelter was included in last September’s release of your best-of album, CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.. Recording work for 異空 -IZORA- started long before that, didn’t it?

Imai (I): That’s right. After we released ABRACADABRA, we couldn’t tour because of COVID-19 and after that…… Well, a bunch happened (lol).

――Sure did (lol). So you can’t use the excuse that you couldn’t make music because there was no time.

I: I’m not making excuses here— (lol). So we started recording work around April of last year but before that, we had a discussion with our staff. That’s where the conversation about how it would be interesting if we were to release two discs with a one or two week interval between them. I was thinking that it would be too.

――Sure is.

I: But I guess I gradually started getting the feeling that it wasn’t very coherent. In the beginning, we only thought about recording but then we had to get ready for the fan club and mobile members exclusive tour and our 35th anniversary show at Yokohama Arena so things started getting busy and we started feeling more and more things overlapping together.

――At the start of 2022, you mentioned that the idea was to release two discs with all types of songs at the same time.

I: At the start, right? That’s why I thought, we’re going to need a whole lot of songs, and when that happened, I thought it was going to be pretty interesting with the variety of songs that will be in it. But in the end, I guess you could say that I started to want a good reason for us to split the songs into two CDs.

――Not simply because you have a lot of songs and a wide variety of them?

I: Exactly. I also figured that I hate that recording takes a long time when there are a lot of songs. It’s like, I might get sick of it if we split them up properly but didn’t find any meaning in doing so.

――Between light and dark, something like that?

I: As an example. At first, we didn’t make any conclusion on that end and decided that we would just start composing music and move ahead with the recording. I guess we didn’t have a real final destination in sight in terms of what would eventually happen with our work.

――So where did the idea of releasing two CDs come from?

I: I think the person who came up with that idea in the very beginning was probably Tanaka-san (director). He said, since it would be our first original release in a significant while following ABRACADABRA, doing this would leave a stronger impact and it would also bring across something like the polyphagous nature of this band. And I concurred that it does sound like an interesting approach.

――When ABRACADABRA was released, Imai-san mentioned that you had the theme of “escape (逸脱/itsudatsu)” in mind, but is there nothing like that [this time]?

I: There isn’t. I thought it might be interesting to produce an album for our 35th anniversary without a clear theme or concept, or anything concrete in that sense.

――How was songwriting without a theme?

I: I think it was nice to be able to work freely. Somehow, it feels like the way it used to be in the past. But with the added difficulty we faced in coordinating our schedules along with the fact that we were going to the studio while technically being on tour, it was pretty tough.

――I would’ve thought so.

I: But as recording progressed, we had demo tapes for about 20 songs lined up. We were working towards releasing two discs so we did sort of finish it in that sense, but then the whole band started wondering whether this was really such a good idea after all.

――There was still work to do on the song lyrics while you were on tour too.

I: Exactly. Music notwithstanding, Sakurai-san still had to write the lyrics and sing his parts. Based on arrangement and demo tapes, we completed the twelve tracks that went into this album release. I think the recording work for three or so has been completed up to the bass stage; they still lack guitars and drums and that got us thinking that maybe we should sit down and reconsider this.

――So it was around the end of last year and the start of this year when you made the decision.

I: Yeah. We decided that we would attach the very first and very last instrumental tracks with the twelve complete songs and call it a day.

――I think because there was no theme to speak of, it has resulted in a collection of songs that represent the current BUCK-TICK with a lot of freedom.

I: That’s right. It wasn’t our goal to do this but on the other hand, it naturally shows what we’re like now in our 35th year together. I guess that’s the interesting thing about it.

 

――How would you describe the current BUCK-TICK in more specific terms?

I: Something like this (lol).

――You just can’t add a few more words in there, can you (lol).

I: Don’t think so!

――Hahahaha!

I: Well, I guess it’s the idea that our band can also play such music. We haven’t had the chance to play together yet so we don’t know how it’ll sound live and I think that’s something we can all look forward to as well.

――The first and final tracks are instrumental tracks with QUANTUM in the title.

I: I thought it would be nice for us to come on stage to those tracks in concert. I wanted to include these tracks in the album and do a bit of world-building before we go on tour.

――It’s defined as a very small unit of energy.

I: But that doesn’t mean anything here. I guess maybe something more like a prayer or a wish.

――You said you had around twenty songs?

I: Eighteen in total, I think. And from those we picked twelve for the album. Apart from that, there are three more songs that I composed but they don’t have anything done, not even guitars.

――Did you want to release two discs?

I: Nah, even if we did manage to record them all, I don’t know whether we’d actually go ahead with it. There may also be some areas that feel kind of wrong although we don’t really have those. Rather, I would prefer to execute things a little more neatly.

――You mean, with a clearer theme?

I: Yeah. We tried putting things together at a point when we prioritised the number of songs over having a theme, and as I mentioned earlier, we ended up with the unintentional effect of bringing out what our band’s current vibe is. And that’s good, but if we were to release two discs like this without any good reason to, it’s a bit…… you know.

――And that’s why this album has such a variety of music.

I: I mean, well, it’s also because when we started talking about composing a ton of songs to release in two discs, that’s exactly what we thought would happen. But [the variety] wasn’t intentional. It might feel that there are more shuffle songs and groovy music than usual, but that’s about it. The rest is our usual. We just want people to have fun when they listen to this album.

This time, I didn’t think about trying all sorts of experimental music, or incorporating this and that
I guess I was more of playing around with whatever came to mind and shaping it

――Imai-san came up with the title, 異空 -IZORA-, right?

I: Mugen LOOP (無限 LOOP/Infinity LOOP)’s working title was originally izora. That stuck with me the whole time so I made it the album title.

――Where did you get it from?

I: I like the works that artist Uchibayashi Takeshi-san creates, and he has a particular one called Ikuu e no Madou (異空への窓/Window to Another Sky). I think it’s normally read as ikuu instead of izora and he also said the same thing to me, but I thought it might be intriguing to read it as izora. And I thought it’d be nice if I could use it somewhere.

――Where did you see this artwork?

I: I bought it myself. I went to Uchibayashi-san’s exhibition and he also let me drop by his atelier for a bit, though.

――What drew you to that piece of art?

I: The homesickness. I like it.

――I saw the piece, the crescent moon is a nice touch, isn’t it?

I: Yeah. And the telephone pole at dusk, and the silhouette of a home. It’s not just the homesick feeling I like, though. I like the way [the art pieces] brings it out.

――So you made that the album title.

I: Yeah. But the purpose isn’t to make nostalgic homesickness the theme. It’s more about what kind of feeling we get when we see “different skies (異空)” like “blue skies (青空)” or “cloudy skies (曇り空)” and all that.

――Were there any changes in the way you composed your music?

I: None in particular. But this time, I didn’t think about trying all sorts of experimental music, or incorporating this and that. I guess I was more of playing around with whatever came to mind and shaping it. There wasn’t anything like a focused aim with a concept.

――Is there a chance that something like that would come around again?

I: I wonder. Wouldn’t that be based on timing or whether there are inspiration triggers? This is a slightly different topic but when I did SCHAFT in the past, we didn’t want to make something similar to the first album which was more industrial and gritty. Instead, we wanted to make music that felt less formal and allowed listeners to enjoy the live-band style music more.

――So that’s why Fujii-san (Fujii Maki) was so confused at the start (lol).

I: Because we were focused on more rock band-styled music, right? The genre is different, but I guess that’s similar to what we have now.

――Which is of more interest to you now?

I: Dunno. I enjoy them both. I guess it feels like a boom.

――Also, this time, you have YOW-ROW-kun (GARI) and Yoko-chan (Yokoyama Kazutoshi) participating in the album for manipulation and remixing too. Their work seems to sound kind of similar but I would think they’re present here as two different types.

I: YOW-ROW is the type to make use of all kinds of things without much hesitation.  When he was working on the remix of Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless), he came over to my home and we came up with a lot of concrete ideas like how the chord progression would go, this and that. YOW-ROW did the arrangement and adjustments after that. If I’m working with Yoko-chan, all I’d probably say is, “Make it major.” (Lol)

――Hahahaha.

I: But I did tell him right from the beginning that I wanted to turn it instrumental. There’s a set direction.

――Your tour is starting for this album that has quite a focus on performing the songs live, but have you thought about how you’d like the shows to turn out?

I: COVID-19 has subsided and now [the audience] can get loud and noisy in concerts, right? That’s definitely one thing I’m looking forward to, but I also wonder what it’s going to be like. Because I kind of forgot after these past few years. So I’m actually looking forward to that. And what kind of music I would make after experiencing it.

――Already talking about the next thing (lol).

I: Because I always get ideas and that creative urge without fail when we’re on tour. That’s exciting, isn’t it?

――We’ve known each other for decades and even now I still ask you about these things, but you never fail to get ideas about what you’ll do next, do you?

I: They’ll come to me, somehow someway. I’ve never had nothing at all. This is the way it’s been throughout these 35 years, so I’m sure the next thing will happen the same way. Once we hold concerts, I’ll start getting ideas of what might be interesting to do next, and we’ll build everything from scratch again together after reducing what was finally consolidated at the end of it to zero. That’s not a thing you’ll get tired of doing.

――That’s true.

I: Because I think there’s still more to create.

――I think the confidence in these words has become the backbone of the band. Now that your 35th anniversary has concluded, we now look towards your 40thーー

I: Because there’s still our 36th, 37th, 38th, and 39th anniversary, right (lol).

 

 

 

Return to Top

_______________________

Hoshino Hidehiko

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

I think it’s an album we managed to put together after having experienced a bunch of things
Everyone thinks so. That we made something good isn’t the only thing we feel.

――With your new album, I get the sense that while it isn’t strongly thematic, it really lets people feel the breadth of this band’s musicality.

Hoshino (H): That’s right. At first, the idea to release two discs was raised and we subsequently started recording. In what way, we haven’t decided though, like whether it’s releasing two discs at the same time or with a short delay between them.

――You were already recording before the release of your best-of concept album last September, right?

H: That’s right. I feel like the whole of last year was spent recording. That’s why we got started early. Even though we couldn’t envision what was next. How many songs we should release, how many tracks to record, what type of songs we need; we knew nothing at all. That’s why we sort of went about it with the mindset that we really were going to release two discs or so.

――What do you mean by “type of songs”?

H: For a period, there was this sense that we were going to have two different themes for each of the discs. Like, light and dark, or something. It’s vague though. And if we wrote our music fixed on that, we’d end up restricting ourselves so I gave my music a flexibility that made it possible to change things up depending on the final arrangement. I figured that it was probably better to have more patterns so I expanded the range. Personally.

――Is that the reason behind the wide range of musicality we got in this album?

H: That’s true. In the end, the songs went into one CD, so maybe it feels like it leans very much that way.

――Roughly how many songs were initially in your demo tape?

H: In the beginning were the three songs we have now. Sayonara Shelter and Ai no Harem (Harem of Love). And Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus). These songs were already there even before September’s Yokohama Arena event. And after that, we still kept on continuing with recording between tour dates. From my own compositions, there’s one more song that’s already got guitars recorded for it (lol).。

――So it wasn’t included because you’re only releasing one disc this time and you already had enough songs.

H: For now, it’s put on hold (lol). It’s an interesting song so I don’t want to toss it away though.

――Taiyou to Icarus is a fresh one coming from Hoshino-san. Probably because of the major chord feeling.

H: That was originally composed specifically for the album. With “light” as the focus. I think that’s where the major feeling comes from. I didn’t intend for it to be a single, though. That only happened because everyone came to the consensus that it’s kinda good while we were recording it. When Sakurai-san’s lyrics and singing came in, director Tanaka also said, “This, it’s fit for a single, isn’t it?”

――I think it’s a really good song.

H: So this time, among the four songs recorded, the cheerful ones were Taiyou to Icarus and the song on hold. While the dark ones were Sayonara Shelter and Ai no Harem.

――No matter the circumstance, you’re someone who really strikes a balance (lol).

H: Right? If we were releasing two discs, I thought having two songs in each would be just right, and if we released just one, then we can take our pick.

――What did you envision when you created Ai no Harem?

H: I just wanted something with a “dark” vibe. Probably something with a sort of thick, muddy feeling. The rhythm I went with kind of resembles dub, so I wanted the song to end with that slushy dub.

――If you had the time to, do you think releasing two discs would’ve made for something interesting?

H: We actually had more than enough time here too (lol). But we’ve never released two discs of entirely new music, right? If it does happen, it would probably be interesting, but I really wonder how it would work. Our listeners might just find that they’re only listening to one or the other (lol).

――Hahahaha.

H: If they really really think hard about it. Well, in hindsight, I get the feeling that maybe it was a good thing we decided to do it like this.

――What do you personally think about how the album turned out?

H: Hm… I dare say that it’s an album that naturally reflects the current times we live in and our present stance.

――What’s the stance?

H: All sorts of things are happening in the world now. We often see footage of war and demonstrations on TV but there’s a lot going on in those people’s lives there. Even though a lot is going on, we take it in and continue with our lives. By thinking like this, maybe we’ll be able to become forward-thinking?

――I see.

H: I think it’s an album we managed to put together after having experienced a bunch of things. I believe that’s something not only me, but the other members of the band think as well. That we made something good isn’t the only thing we feel. There are times when that’s enough, but things were completely different ten or twenty years ago. Not that there’s anything bad about it.

――Are you saying that each of these lives have affected the band?

H: Well, I suppose so. As you’d expect, coming to this age, everyone has their own thing going on. There are people who think completely differently from how I think, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have shared experiences. But once we start going on tour and get on stage, things become the same as they were 35 years ago. It’s really strange, though.

――It is.

H: That’s definitely how it is, emotionally. This somehow feels like an album which looks back on those times, doesn’t it? It lacks a concept or a theme as a result, but we were naturally able to come up with songs that fit the way the band is now.

Looking at each era, we’ve always made music honestly according to what’s in our hearts at the time
I feel like that naturally grew to become our aim

――Going back to the album, was there anything different for Hoshino-san with the sound work?

H: Nothing changed at all in recent times. Equipment’s still the same, I guess I only added one more SG to my guitars. But aside from that, there was nothing in particular that changed so our recording methods also remained the same, staff is still made up of the same people (lol). That’s not where any change would be found. But in those areas, including the melodies, I generally always have a desire to destroy it.

――When we talk about Hoshino Hidehiko, the phrase “Hide melody” often comes  up so that’s also a typecast in a good sense of it, though.

H: But I want to do something novel.

――In the 35th year of your career!

H: I’m thinking that this time’s Taiyou to Icarus might be a good starting point. Everyone calls it pop but personally, I think it’s tearful.

――A tearful melody?

H: Exactly. Especially the chorus and thereabouts. I’m playing the right side guitar but when that part matched the melody, that’s when it was finally complete. I kept thinking about it throughout that time. I really thought that the song can’t be released unless these two parts align (lol).

――The alignment of the tearful melody and the guitars.

H: Right, and that’s why it’s not just a simple pop song to me. Because I kept on thinking and thinking and thinking about that guitar (lol).

――The left side guitar plays the chords with strokes, right?

H: Yeah. That’s the main backing. It was hard to figure out guitars that meshed with the song’s melody.

――It’s no surprise considering you’re a guy who wouldn’t release a song unless it’s properly completed (lol).

H: Nah, there’s none of that recently (lol). There are parts that I’m particular about, but everything else is relatively flexible. Because [the song] can grow further when the impressions of the other band members and the manipulators come in. I’ve grown more flexible in that sense.

――But no matter the band member, they all said Hide is stubborn when it comes to song production.

H: I’ve grown more flexible. Although maybe it’s just that I find some things troublesome (lol).

――Brutally frank (lol). But doing that allows ideas from more people to come into the mix and develop it more.

H: Right, right. Exactly.

――Thoughts on Imai-san’s songs on this album?

H: The feel of it is probably the same, isn’t it? The light and dark feeling. And yet the range of it is wide. So while there’s certainly a variety of styles, it’s also the same as usual. I guess he simply decided to have a wider perspective and look at different things because he was focused on the original idea of releasing two discs.

――That, along with the songs that seem to say “I want to go somewhere different” really stand out too.

H: It’s very Sakurai-san. Those words probably call for a melody, don’t they? But I always leave the lyrics entirely up to him, so at this stage, I’m no longer surprised by whatever comes (lol).

――Hahahahahaha. So whether it’s a cat which comes, or whatever else, it’s all okay.

H: Cat (lol). But this album’s Taiyou to Icarus can be interpreted in a number of ways, don’t you think? I won’t say much more though.

――Please say more (lol).

H: No, I mean (lol). When you see the lyrics, right, you might be able to guess what some of it references, but on the other hand, I think, it can be interpreted in this other way, or seen from yet another perspective too. I’d say it’s well expressed.

――Present emotions.

H: That, and because you want to protect someone, you…… It could be interpreted in that manner too.

――And live concerts. Things haven’t entirely reverted to the way they were before COVID-19, though.

H: Seems like it.

――I know it’s still too soon, but have you thought about what you want to do next?

H: Ah, right. I think I still want to produce an album. The song put on hold is still waiting, after all (lol).

――Ultimately, you want to get into band activities ASAP?

H: Yeah. I definitely have the motivation to work on whatever’s next (lol). I want to hurry up and reamp the guitars. Because I stopped at a point where I was thinking about changing the sound if that particular sound isn’t what I wanted.

――Once again, how does it feel to keep going like this throughout all this time?

H: How indeed. Looking at each era, I guess you can tell that we’ve always made music honestly, according to what’s in our hearts at the time. I feel like that naturally grew to become our aim.

――Yes. Now, this is a completely different topic, but when I looked at Boo-san’s (VJ) Instagram page, I found out that the Starfield (星 – star/野 – field) New Year Party is still going on (lol).

H: They posted the photos, right? The Starfield party was originally a family gathering though. My eldest son is going overseas to study in the UK so this also doubles as a farewell party.

――Ahh, so with the families of your friends and everyone.

H: Yes, that’s right. Everyone came together with the intention of this being a farewell party.

――I see. Has he already gone away for studies?

H: He has.

――Are you sad, lonely?

H: Not that much. He just looks like he’s having so much fun that I envy him. It sounds like he’s in a really great place. Because he’s already made friends there and he said that he was going to travel to Spain for a vacation with those friends next week.

――It does sound like he’s having fun.

H: He said everyday’s something new.

――Don’t you feel envious when you see him like that?

H: I do. Everything is fascinating, everything is brand new. No matter what he does, it’ll be his first time with it so I guess it makes sense that he’s having so much fun.

――And yourself?

H: I wonder. I doubt I can do anything like that even if I start now, though. But that’s because I was intrigued by different things back when I was around his age, I think.

――But after you graduated high school, you went to vocational school and soon after started a band, so you’ve actually been doing that and living in this world of just the five of you for 35 years.

H: That’s true. Personally, I feel that I’ve lived my life in my own way but I’ve been so busy that I could only live in this small world. So I think those experiences were most definitely good. I want us all to be able to enjoy our lives in our own way. I guess that’s the only thing I have in mind now. That he doesn’t have any regrets. That said, I did enjoy myself though.

――Agreed (lol). [We hope that they] would enjoy life too.

H: Yes, exactly. I’m still enjoying my life in my own way too.

 

 

 

Return to Top

_______________________

Higuchi yutaka

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

There’s a change in our day-to-day relationship with how we no longer revolve our lives solely around BUCK-TICK
But on stage, we see the same band members we’ve always known, unchanged. I think that’s probably the same for all of us

――This turned out to be a great album featuring a variety of shades of the band.

Yutaka (Y): I guess we managed to make songs of various forms. Acchan’s lyrics too are what he could write precisely because of the times we’re in. I think we managed to produce an album that leaves more impact than ever.

――I would think that the reason why there’s a variety of music is largely because you spent quite a long time recording and your original plan to release two discs in the beginning, right?

Y: That’s right. We had no theme either so it felt like we decided to start with this vague goal and try going in different directions.

――Did anything change in your style of recording?

Y: Mm. But it went smoothly and it wasn’t bad. [Normally,] if we have twelve songs, my part would conclude after a few days of bass recording. After that, it’s just the wait for the engineers to do the mixing. That’s our usual style but this time, they would consolidate about three songs or so together and those songs would have some extent of singing already recorded so it’s easy for me to see how it would eventually turn out. That would also change the way I tackle the next song. It’s good that I can get a clear view of the full picture. Because before, there were a lot of instances of songs where I [hear the final version and] think, “So this is what that demo tape turned into.” (Lol)

――Sayonara Shelter was released in the best-of concept album too, but was it the first song you recorded?

Y: Nope, the first were probably Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Campanella  A Bouquet For You) and Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries). I think Sayonara Shelter was right after that.

――How was it dealing with such a rich diversity of songs as a musician?

Y: It was interesting as a bassist. Because it’s a line-up of songs that allows me to bring out a variety of grooves. If you focus on listening to the bass, you wouldn’t think that they all came from the same band (lol). But once the songs are complete, they turn into tracks that can only be attributed to BUCK-TICK. They’ll become one. That’s something that always amazes me.

――Has there never been an occasion where someone will say, “We don’t do this,” and reject it?

Y: Never. Although, when we debuted, the director person would say, “Stop that, we don’t do this.” And we had to stop halfway.

――I see.

Y: Ultimately, this band didn’t come about because we wanted to do just one thing, but instead with the intention of creating what is interesting to the five of us in a cool way.

――Not to make music, but to make what’s BUCK-TICK.

Y: Yeah. The fact that this is how we started is big. That’s why I think we can do anything. I would think that our fans probably never have thought “This isn’t BUCK-TICK” when they listen to our music.

――Right.

Y: That’s why we have fun no matter what we do. We don’t really have any deliberate consciousness of wanting to make music in a particular genre, like techno or grunge, goth. No matter what we do, it’ll become BUCK-TICK. Everyone knows that.

――The biggest factor which contributes to that is probably because you’ve grown to think about how a song can be executed with all five members of the band.

Y: That’s right. And that’s something we’ve been doing throughout these 35 years.

――Everyone’s got their own lives too, but can you all walk it the same way?

Y: I’m not sure about that. Well, we don’t really have the same amount of energy that we used to have back when we would mess around together until morning comes (lol).

――Hahahaha!

Y: I think it’s better to get a good night’s sleep for tomorrow’s concert anyway (lol). Strangely enough, although I believe that there certainly is a change in our day-to-day relationship with how we no longer revolve our lives solely around BUCK-TICK, but on the other hand, the moment we get on stage, we get that same vibe that we’ve always felt since way back and we become BUCK-TICK. There, we see the same band members we’ve always known, unchanged. I think that’s probably the same for all of us.

When we see scenes of war on TV, it makes you wonder what’s wrong with the world but it’s just reality
I think “異空” is a word that gives off a very strong sense of discomfort

 

――What do you think about the album’s title?

Y: The working title of Mugen LOOP (Infinity LOOP) was izora. I thought it was perfect for this album and this era. COVID-19 caused a pandemic, war broke out in Ukraine. In our lives, we’ve also had the Vietnam war and the war between Iran and Iraq, but we never got to see the bombings and scenes of people evacuating, or the moment of someone’s death. It makes you wonder what’s wrong with the world but it’s just reality.

――That’s true.

Y: I think “異空” is a word that gives off a very strong sense of discomfort…… That said, Imai-kun would probably say that’s “completely wrong” though (lol).

――But you’ve got a point.

Y: With all these things going on in the world, we’re releasing an album like this and going on a national tour again. I feel nothing but grateful. We can visit everyone in their cities for concerts. Things like this was something we thought would never go away and it did. That’s something we learnt from the past three years.

――That’s true.

Y: That’s why, if there’s anything we should do in this gloomy world, I think it’s to do things that bring joy to everyone. Instead of putting together a huge set and putting on a flashy performance in Tokyo, I would rather go around visiting performance halls in each district with the same kind of fervour.

――In one of the song’s lyrics that Sakurai-san wrote for this album, there’s a nostalgic story related to going on tour in a car back then.

Y: You’re talking about Boogie Woogie, right? When I saw the lyrics, I got the feeling that we had all been thinking about the same thing. When we went on tour together riding in that broken-down van, there was a time when we ran out of gas, just like in the lyrics. We ran out of gas on the highway and we pushed the vehicle to get ourselves to a rest stop (lol).

――That’s a good story (lol).

Y: It was such a hard time! I get the feeling that Acchan wrote about those memories because we talked about recalling what we did together as a band in the very beginning, what we had fun doing. It’s like a search to find out what’s at our very core.

――The five of you going on tour together, visiting the cities where your fans away, then heading to the next city.

Y: There’s something precious [to us] in that.

――So for the first time in a while, let’s have the five of you get on board a Hiace……

Y: I’ll die (lol). But the COVID-19 pandemic got me thinking about things even more. It made me aware of the fact that people were waiting for us when we lost the ability to do the things we took for granted.

――Like realising that you’re doing these things for those people?

Y: I’m more than satisfied if that relationship exists. We’ve come this far sharing that among the five of us. Because we aren’t a band where the loudest gets his way. All of us would take each person’s feelings and ideas into consideration as we think about how we can best do something while making sure everyone is happy too. And that’s the way we have always done things.

――Which song did you have a hard time recording this time around?

Y: Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni was difficult. It’s got a simple bass line but I found myself thinking really hard about how I should work the groove to fit it into the song’s vibe.

――What about Sakurai-san’s lyrics?

Y: I know very well that Acchan is processing the air of our times in his own unique way. He can’t pretend he doesn’t know what’s going on and write about something else, I believe. He’s a magnificent poet.

――He really can’t run away from these things. Also, because the original intention was to release two discs, both Imai-san and Hoshino-san put out quite a wide range of music, didn’t they?

Y: Those two probably flipped the switch and got really motivated about it (lol). Both composers’ music are really good. Maybe it was made possible because of the era we’re in.

――If you did end up releasing two discs at the same time, what kind of work do you think it’ll turn out to be?

Y: Probably something intriguing and very very rich in variety. But we couldn’t make it in time, right? (Lol)

――Recording while you’re on tour is a strain after all.

Y: Because we ultimately would prefer to focus. Especially for Acchan because he only writes the lyrics at the very end after the music has gotten the OK. And that’s tough.

――Then it certainly makes it unreasonable to expect it all to be done in between schedules.

 

Y: That’s why we had to draw the line somewhere. I think what we have here is a good enough job done for this round. Maybe the next step would be to come up with yet another thing to focus on.

――Does Yuta-san hold any expectations towards BUCK-TICK like wanting to do a specific thing or wanting to produce a particular type of album?

Y: Don’t think so. It’s good enough for me to work with these band members. That’s my number one wish above all else, and if there’s only one thing I can ever do again, it’ll be that. Ah, but there’s this thing we’ve been doing recently; the five of us taking our old songs and making them new again. That is fun. I’d like to do this more. Not just make new songs.

――Why?

Y: As we work on that, I can sense how much we’ve changed and grown. And it brings me joy knowing that even now, we’re playing the same song with the same band members.

――What is one thing that has changed in you?

Y: Songs with 8th notes, I guess.

――Meaning, bouncy songs.

Y: The ones that go ton-ton-ton-ton-ton-ton-ton-ton. I’m starting to understand what it should feel like. It’s impossible for me to elaborate further, though (lol).

――Hahahahahaha.

Y: It’s hard! But after doing this for 35 years, I feel like I might have finally grasped it.

――Even a veteran like Yuta-san has his ‘finally’s.

Y: Mm. And that’s definitely because we’re a band of five playing together. If I’m playing alone at home, I’d think wherever I am is good enough but when we’re playing in a band of five, everyone has their own interpretations so instead, I’d find myself wondering whether I really am good enough. And that might lead towards something even better, turning it into reality. That’s why I can’t help but find this all so enjoyable.

――Ultimately, it’s about the five of you working together.

Y: That’s the most important thing of all. There was a time when I worked with Okuno-san (Okuno Atsushi who he formed Wild Wise Apes with in 2004), right? While I was doing that, I really felt like, “Ah… this is completely unlike our band”, “I’ve been spoiled”. Okuno-san is a senior who I get along very well with, but even so, there will be no progress unless we discuss. Like, “How’s this?” “Nah, don’t you think this is better?”  But among the five of us, that doesn’t happen and we move on naturally. As we go, we’d be like, “Ah, yes, yes, that.”

――I see.

Y: But even though it’s difficult, there’s still quite an energy. Because it’s not a familiarity that comes from simply having known each other for a long time. In terms of live performances, although factors like the song list and all that are set, but it’s not as if changes or the unexpected won’t happen. And because we do what we do while maintaining that intensity, things can grow within one tour. Like on the first day or something, I was just keenly watching Imai-kun struggle to decide whether or not he wants to have guitar playing before a song or not. Because he wouldn’t even tell me something like that (lol).

――Hahahahahaha.

Y: Our lighting guy was there too and he also said it would be easier on them if he just told them [his plan] (lol). But he plays those things by ear so we always end up with something different on each instance. It’s also like when I move towards the front of the stage, I just do it when I get the feeling I should.

――That’s what makes touring such a precious experience.

Y: It’s a joy. That’s why I would like it if people come and watch us if they happen to have the time. I want to keep doing this for as long as I can. I’ve started thinking more and more often that it wouldn’t be forever, but that’s why I want to keep going for as long as I can, and also why I want to show everyone what our favourite band is like right now.

 

 

 

Return to Top

_______________________

Yagami Toll

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

It’s not like back then when we didn’t know anyone else. Now everyone has their own life
That’s why I don’t want to forget what it feels like when we’re all on stage together

――Thank you for your time.

Toll (T): What shall we talk about today?

――The new album, and how Yagami-san’s doing lately (lol).

T: We made good music so please give it a listen. That’s all! Yagami Toll, out! (Lol)

――Let’s expand a bit on that (lol). So, shall we start by talking about last year’s tour?

T: Due to my advanced age, I cannot remember anything at all (lol).

――Stop it (lol). But I think it was a really good tour where with each show your performance was increasingly perfected.

T: Yeah. We postponed a few shows because of COVID-19, but I agree that it was a good tour. Maybe performing shows in areas other than Tokyo and Osaka might be old-fashioned (lol), but it’s definitely something to cherish, isn’t it? My body will scream but I want to travel around and perform more if I can. Because although the audience still can’t cheer and make sounds, I can feel very keenly that we’re bringing joy to everyone.

――Because the only way to really see your fans’ reactions is in a live concert.

T: There’s a lot I noticed for the first time. I forgot where but at one of our standing shows, I noticed two girls in the audience area somewhere between Hide and Acchan. I think one probably brought her friend with her for the show, but one was crying her eyes out while the other was admiring the stage (lol). Seeing that, I got the feeling that she was probably here to see BUCK-TICK for the first time. It made me really happy to know that people still react like that to us and fans like them come to see us.

――I see. Also, album recording was going on during the tour, wasn’t it?

T: That’s right. I think it might’ve begun at the start of spring, last year. At first, we envisioned that we would release an album with two discs, so I think we were working at a pace that was somehow faster than our usual. Our recording process was different too.

――In what way?

T: We always start by recording the bass parts for all the songs first, then guitars and drums come next as we build it up, but this time, we mostly worked on one song at a time and only after each track is complete, Acchan writes the lyrics and records his singing. Then we start recording the next song again. That’s the process this time. But drums get recorded last so [by the time it’s my turn] all the other instruments are already done. That’s why there were times when I even recorded three songs in the span of a day (lol).

――Sounds tough (lol).

T: The elderly wants to be given more work (lol). But that also meant that I could take my time and rehearse properly before recording so that’s something I’m grateful for. It takes time to decide on the sound specifications in the studio, but once that is confirmed, we’ll be done with the track very soon after. I think it would need three takes, at most. In the past, recording would start with bass and drums at the same time, so we’d try out various phrases and discuss it with the other members of the band, but since how I’m going to drum has already been decided ahead of recording [it takes less time].

――What’s your impression of the songs in this album?

T: I couldn’t see the end so I was confused at first. Like, how many more songs do we have to record before we’re done? Then, at year end, it was announced that we’ll just release one CD so we’re all good (lol) and suddenly, we were done. There are probably three more songs that already have bass and guitars recorded and done, though. All that’s left are drums and vocals. I guess those would go into our next release.

――I believe there was no theme to follow in terms of sound, was there? This album has quite a few different types of songs in it.

T: I had to think about the image of the song before drumming for each and every track. There isn’t quite a sense of unity but I guess that, on the other hand, is what makes it interesting. Besides, I think that’s what things were originally like in the past anyway.

――Do you have a song you like as a drummer?

T: Ever since it’s demo stage, I already got the feeling that Mugen LOOP (無限 LOOP/Infinity LOOP) sounds like a city pop song. And I really love Yoshida Minako-san, who Ponta-san (Murakami “Ponta” Shuichi) drummed for, and Matsutoya Yumi-san when Hayashi Tatsuo-san worked with her. So I really enjoyed it.

――The riff in Boogie Woogie sounds like Yagami-san at your best.

T: Because I thought the riff sounded like [a] Zeppelin [song] (lol). That’s the feeling I got when I heard the demo tape. That’s why I took it as a message from Imai to go all out and drum with Bonzo (John Bonham) in mind (lol).

――This is your first original album release in two years and seven months. How do you feel about having this long a gap in between?

T: Personally, I would prefer to release [an album] once every two years. That period’s just about right. Although we had COVID-19 happening in between, we’re a band who’s always going on tour, so this is still a comfortable gap.

――I expect it’s tough on you if you can’t drum regularly?

T: Exactly. It’s bad if I don’t get to play around with them much because then I’d lose my touch and get rusty. Drumming isn’t something you memorise in your head. It’s something that you immerse your body in, right? The shows that were postponed for that tour are also nearing, so yesterday, I was rehearsing on my own but that alone was enough to make the muscles in my ass ache (lol). So if I don’t start with my own detailed personal rehearsals to do alongside the overall tour, it’ll get difficult in the later stages.

――But having watched your recent shows, I think they’re very stable.

T: Because it’s not about being good or bad at what we do anymore. Physical fitness is all that counts. Because I no longer have a body that’s just starting puberty (lol). In the past, I would think of trying to steal some techniques, or perhaps trying some new styles, but now it’s about being better than yesterday’s me.

――That’s a good line.

T: It’s a line borrowed from Misora Hibari-san but I like it. It basically means that we should grow a little more tomorrow from what we are today, but like I said before, I think living to see the age of 60 just means that I’m an ordinary person. Neither Hibari-san nor Yuujiro-san (Ishihara Yujiro) reached 60. And even the esteemed John Bonham passed away at 32. Those who possess something special tend to go to heaven early like that. I’m still being asked to continue doing what I do, so I have to do my best in this world. I think that’s also why I can savour the joy of continuing activities as a band.

――That’s true.

T: In my teens, I dreamt of playing in a band and drumming as a member of a band. And now at 60, I can still see my dreams. I’d probably get bad karma if I were to call this a pain (lol). Things were not all fun and games, and there were lots of trying times too, but I’m simply very thankful. I have nothing but gratitude. Because I’ve seen a lot of people who really wanted this but couldn’t do it. That’s why I’d feel guilty if the future me doesn’t grow even a little beyond my present self.

My life is all about not quitting. I think it might be a good thing to affirm that.
Because I’m proud of it. And because the ones who allowed me to do so are my band members and all our fans.

――How’s the band after celebrating your 35th year?

T: Same as usual. Then again, everyone has their own lives so it’s impossible for us to always be together, thinking the same things, drinking until morning like the way we used to. But when we get on stage, everything’s the same as always. So much so that it’s intriguing. Come to think of it…… (he starts rummaging in his bag).

――What is it?

T: I was thinking of printing an old photo of us on the outfits for our next tour so I was looking for a few of those…… Look, like these (he spreads out the photos that were in an envelope).

――Whoa, you’re all so young!

T: This is a picture of all five of us in London. It says 1988 here so…… I was 26. This was in the plane but…… at the time we could still smoke in the plane cabins. The guy in the steakhouse with the kingly beard is Hide (lol). This is Hide making a face at Acchan in the old equipment vehicle we had.

――Hoshino-san is a complete jokester (lol).

T: I was thinking it would look nice if I had these printed in monochrome on my outfit so I wanted to discuss this with Yagi-san who always makes our costumes. In the past, I’ve seen shirts printed with pictures like these in fashion shows.

――I think it’s really great!

T: It’s like going back to our roots (lol). I actually don’t really like looking at old photos. Because we were so damned busy that I only have harrowing memories of those times. The moment we arrived in London, for example, the producer got all angry at us and scolded us for not rehearsing beforehand. But it was just impossible! Because we had such a ridiculous schedule (lol). But now, I’m thinking it’s not so bad to look back on those times together with everyone.

――So that’s why you picked funny photos like those instead of the cool ones.

T: Yeah. Like I said, it’s impossible for us to do these things anymore, isn’t it? Because it’s no longer like back then when we left Gunma for Tokyo and all five of us didn’t know any one else. Everyone has their own life now too. That’s why I’m thinking that I don’t want to forget that this is what it feels like when we’re all on stage together.

――I see.

T: And we’re not the only ones involved when it comes to being on stage, right? There’s of course our staff and all our fans who have created this space together with us throughout these 35 years. I just think it might be nice to express how those emotions still remain this way.

――That even after your 60th, your emotions from those days haven’t changed.

T: 60 or not, I’m just a drummer boy for as long as I live. Just recently, I went to a music store with Tetsu (DERLANGER/drums) and I ended up buying a snare. There was an adorable store staff who said they bought it for me and when I tried drumming it, it was pretty good so I took it home. My family’s grown bigger again (lol).

――Hahahahahaha.

T: But it was a type of snare that I didn’t have. It’s a Raddick snare from the 70s and it’s a rim-clamp (note: rim-clamp refers to the snappy being clamped to the rim, while modern snare models has the snappy being attached by strings on opposite ends. The two models create different sounds due to variations in how the sound vibrations are transmitted). The one I have now is a modern model, but now that I think about it, the snare I had at the time we debuted was a rim-clamp from Pearl. I either bought it in my third year of middle school or as a freshman in high school, but I just kept using it throughout that time. I even used it in the recording of Sexual XXXXX!, but I started using a different snare after that. Like what I said about the outfits earlier too. In a similar way, maybe I’m harbouring a desire to go back to my roots.

――In a way, these things are taking you back to those days.

T: Being a band member is a blessed thing, isn’t it? Despite ageing, we can easily revisit those days. And on top of that, we’ve been with the same band members throughout all this time too. Growing older while still staying the same. It’s not half bad.

――But you’re really an older brother who everyone can lean on as a drummer.

T: But there are still so many other seniors around (lol). There’s Hayashi Tatsuo-san and Yamaki-san (Yamaki Hideo). Everyone’s still actively performing in their 70s too. Makoto-san (Takahashi Makoto) who’s 68 is still full of life. I guess it’s all about looking ahead and drumming all out while we’re still alive (lol).

――As a drummer, what thoughts do you have about your own style of drumming that you’ve had all this time?

T: I really looked up to session musicians and studio musicians. Because no matter how you look at it, their level of skill is just sky high. Impossible for me. I really think it’s true. That’s why I formed a band, I was brought in via Yuta’s invitation, and here I am, drumming all this way. That’s my life. But I think it’s a good life. Even when I’m distressed, when I wanted to quit, and when I said I wanted to retire, no one listened to me anyway (lol).

――It’s a famous story (lol).

T: I don’t know whether it’s good or bad, but my life is all about not quitting. I think it might be a good thing to affirm that. Because I’m proud of it. And because the ones who allowed me to do so are my band members and all our fans.

 

 

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

AFTERSHOW

2023.03.16 BUCK-TICK

The photoshoot happened in a studio at Kameari, a city that has a statue of KochiKame’s Ryotsu Kankichi outside the train station. The first to come were Yuta & Anii. The brothers enter the studio arriving in a car driven by Yuta-san. Having difficulty navigating the narrow space, Yuta-san handed the wheel to their manager. Then arrived Hide-san, Imai-san, and Sakurai-san one after another. They took their turns to get ready, and after make-up and a change of clothes the shoot started with solo shots of the members. Actually, there was also the filming of a video scheduled to happen at the same time onthis day. So both the band members and the studio staff were all busy running around. After 3 to 4 hours, the solo shoots and the film recording concluded. Everyone then went to the studio on the first floor for the group shots and the cover shoot. In the midst of a set change, Sakurai-san and Yuta-san left the studio and stood in the parking area talking cars. A heartwarming conversation unfolded: “Is this car Yuta’s?” “Yeah, it’s rather compact compared to Acchan’s car, isn’t it?” “It’s nice, looks like Yuta.” “Just say it’s small!”

And by the time the group photoshoot was done, it was already well into the evening. Now we can all it a day…… Or so they thought. Right then, Kanemitsu was spirited away by Ueda Takeshi (AA=) who came to Kameari for the dialogue with Imai-san that would be published in the main issue. Alas.

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

異空 -IZORA- Feature

ROCK AND READ 106
April 2023

Photos ◎ Miyawaki Susumu (PROGRESS-M) [Sakurai and Imai shoot]
Hair, make-up ◎ Tanizaki Takayuki, Yamazi Chihiro (both from Fats Berry)
Styling ◎ Shimizu Kenichi

 

BUCK-TICK

profile & information
Formed in 1985, they had their major debut in 1987. Members of the band are Sakurai Atsushi on vocals, Imai Hisashi on guitar, Hoshino Hidehiko on guitar, Higuchi Yutaka on bass, and Yagami Toll on drums.
They released their 41st single Taiyou to Icarus on March 8, followed by their 42nd single Mugen LOOP on March, and finally, their 23rd album 異空 ‐IZORA- on April 12.
They will kick off “BUCK‐TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA-” on Wednesday, April 19 at J:COM Hachioji. The tour will conclude with the final shows on Saturday and Sunday, July 22 and 23 at Tokyo Garden Theatre.
buck-tick.com

 

It’s been about two and a half years since the release of their last album, ABRACADABRA which was produced right in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and named as such to act as a spell to drive the plague away. 

BUCK-TICK’s 23rd original album, 異空 -IZORA- is the latest to be released on April 12, the same day as the publishing of this magazine.

This new chapter of BUCK-TICK comes after their 35 major debut anniversary commemorative best-of concept album and performances at Yokohama Arena, and their first national tour with a live audience since the COVID-19 pandemic. How will it turn out?

Including the first and last instrumental tracks, the album consists of 14 songs with Sakurai composing lyrics for 11, Imai composing lyrics for one and music for 11, and Hoshino composing music for three.

We hear from each of the five band members their thoughts on all the songs of this album and their behind-the-scenes stories of the production process.

 

23rd album『異空 -IZORA-』on sale 12 April 2023

 

  1. QUANTUM Ⅰ [Music: Imai Hisashi]
  2. SCARECROW [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  3. Warukyuure no Kikou (ワルキューレの騎行 / Ride of Valkyries) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  4. Sayonara Shelter (さよならシェルター) destroy and regenerate-Mix [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Hoshino Hidehiko]
  5. Ai no Haremu (愛のハレム / Harem of Love) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Hoshino Hidehiko]
  6. Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni ( Campanella 花束を君に / A Bouquet for You) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  7. THE FALLING DOWN [Lyrics: Imai Hisashi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  8. Taiyou to Icarus (太陽とイカロス / The Sun and Icarus) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Hoshino Hidehiko]
  9. Boogie Woogie [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  10. Mugen LOOP -IZORA- (無限 / Infinity LOOP -IZORA-) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  11. Noraneko Blue (野良猫ブルー / Stray Cat Blue) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  12. Hizumi (ヒズミ) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  13. Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし / I, Nameless) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  14. QUANTUM Ⅱ [Music: Imai Hisashi]

 

 

Part 1

_______________________

Sakurai Atsushi

Everyone gets shone upon by the sun
and hit by the rain, equally.
This is enough.
It is enough to bloom and exist.

profile & information
Born 7 March 1966. Blood type: O. Vocalist of BUCK-TICK which formed in 1985 and had its major debut in 1987.
buck-tick.com

Interview & Text ◎ Okubo Yuka

 

Excluding the instrumental tracks at the start and end, the album 異空 -IZORA- consists of twelve tracks, all of which Sakurai wrote lyrics for with the exception of THE FALLING DOWN which also features Imai as a vocalist. We present Sakurai’s commentary on his own writing.

The number one thing I fear the most is losing myself. I think it’s best when I have works like this album to cling to, because I get sick in a healthy sense of it.

――Before we start talking about the album¹, I would like for us to take a look back on your 35th anniversary year. As I was listening to you perform ILLUSION² during the encore of the first day of your concert at Yokohama Arena³ last September, I suddenly wondered whether the young men standing on the rooftop of a building in the music video from those days had ever imagined that they would be performing this song at Yokohama Arena 35 years later like this.

Sakurai (S): Looking back now, it really feels as if we didn’t even know left from right or front from back in those days 35 years ago. For better or for worse, we’ve really grown, haven’t we?

――There’s a big difference between your present image to what it was back during ILLUSION so that’s probably why that particular period came to mind. The image change was no doubt partly due to changes in preferences, but I wonder whether it’s a prominent show of how you’re in charge of your own production, like what you wanted to express, or what you wanted to show your audience, things like that.

S: When we first debuted, our naive intentions were to look cool and make ourselves stand out as much as possible visually. That gradually led to people saying that we wouldn’t be us unless we looked like that. And we started to feel that they were not considering our music separate from our image and at the same time, very restricted by a thing that we only started doing because we enjoyed it. That got me thinking that there was something wrong with this and I guess when I found what I really wanted to do on my own free will, that was probably a few years after debuting…… And it also applies even now, actually.

――Is there something you continue to feel the same about even now?

S: Definitely that it’s all about the music. These are seeds that we have sown ourselves, but the fact that we styled our hair up, that people thought we were Visual-Kei, that we looked the way we did will things that will always follow us around.

――Performing with your hair sprayed up the way it used to be might also create a visual mismatch if you were singing Moon  Sayonara wo Oshiete⁴ which has lyrics written from a woman’s perspective, or Maimu Mime⁵ where the song is split between the male character and the female character. In that sense, you’ve changed with the times and the music you write.

S: I’ve grown to think about things on my own better, I believe. As a vocalist, I sing songs,and I sing stories so with all these different types of music and stories around me, I think there would be some mismatch if I’m not featureless* [as a performer]. For example, if I’m singing a ballad with a bit of a romantic story yet I’m wearing some eccentric outlandish outfit, the song would become nothing but empty words. That’s why I’m now always most comfortable keeping my hair short and black.

――So your current image is because of your desire to be featureless*. I think the change in your approach towards music is also reflected in your lyrics, but can you tell us what that looks like in chronological terms? Your 20s, for example, would encompass the period from your debut to the release of your album, Six/Nine⁶, right?

S: When we debuted in my 20s, it was as I described earlier; we didn’t know left from right. We simply had vague notions that we should probably sing love songs or something. After that, my life took a 180-degree turn when I experienced loss with my mother’s passing when I was 24. It was so bad that I can’t remember a thing about the tour we were on at the time, but I made sense of it my own way based on the idea that with her life, perhaps my mother was guiding me towards the direction of what I should sing about. My 20s was really a time when I knew nothing and was trying to figure out what it is I’m meant to do. It was a period which really left an impact on my mentality.

――It was an important period in the shaping of your originality. Your 30s started off with the single Candy⁷ and the album COSMOS⁸. That was also the period which saw the release of the album 13-kai wa Gekkou (十三階は月光)⁹.

S: I may be wording this badly, but I think the band was also lost during that period. Our arrangements were ahead of the times, we were adding all sorts of trendy elements in our music. If I really look back carefully and listen to what we did, that was an era of trial and error with songs we never even released and I think it was probably around that time when there were a bunch of changes going on with our record companies. So I believe that was probably a period of struggle that we needed for us to get out of our rut.

――It was a period of big changes, wasn’t it? 13-kai wa Gekkou also left a strong impression being such a conceptual work which leans towards the gothic.

S: That’s true. In my 20s, Kurutta Taiyou¹⁰ would be the clear highlight of that decade, and following that would be Six/Nine and then 13-kai wa Gekkou in chronological order. I would think those periods were when our energies were most condensed.

――Your 40s began with the release of the single Kagerou (蜉蝣 -かげろう-)¹¹, the album Arui wa ANARCHY (或いはアナーキー)¹² and then the start of THE MORTAL (Sakurai’s solo project).

S: Personally, to me, although THE MORTAL only ever released one album¹³, it really was a period of time that allowed me to do as I pleased. I think it was in all our 40s when the other members of BUCK-TICK also had some leeway to go and do whatever they wanted.

――That’s true. And now, your 50s started off with the single New World¹⁴, leading up to this new album, 異空 -IZORA-.

 S: This is probably strange to say as an adult, but I think a lot of my thought processes have become more complicated. For example, feeling contrition, getting feelings of guilt. I keep looking back at all the things that have happened to me up until my 50s, but I also think that there’s nothing else I can do except look to the future. In a strange sense, I’ve grown up though.

――In the process of producing the album, Sayonara Shelter was released ahead of time¹⁵ and performed at your 35th anniversary concert. All these might’ve factored into how the song left this strong particular impression, but on the whole, 異空 -IZORA- also appears to be a reflection of the current social climate. What kind of mindset did Sakurai-san work on 異空 -IZORA- with?

S: I’m already past my mid-50s, so at this age, both my physical condition and my emotional stability aren’t as good as they used to be. But recently, I started getting the feeling, wondering whether this album will be our last. Although, I have been saying the same about our recent releases. What I’ve really been thinking is to make sure I finish things to the degree that leaves me with no regrets …… Even as I say that, I would speculate, hold back with my words, and there are things unrelated to music that get in the way, but this time around, I could really really focus in response against all those things. It’s like, I could do what I really wanted to do without thinking about other things because I could focus as a result of these extra elements.

――Were there times when you felt afraid with the ability to go all out and straight up do you want?

S: There’s my own thoughts. Like, will they obliterate me if I say these things? It’s a bit of an exaggeration, though (lol). But more than that, the number one thing I fear the most is losing myself. It’s scarier if I have to, for example, create things of no interest to me or unrelated to myself. I think it’s best when I have works like this album to cling to, because I get sick in a healthy sense of it.

Loneliness is something that has been gradually bloating up within me. Considering that this is the first song with lyrics, I thought it would be good if I could take it to the point where everything feels hopelessly beyond saving.

――I see. There’s debate on musicians speaking out about war and politics and yet in BUCK-TICK’s 35th anniversary tour¹⁶, we would see you speak your mind about the war. Sakurai-san had also said before, “There might be people [in the audience] who don’t want to hear about these topics when we finally have the chance to hold concerts.” But how have things been on that end?

S: I really think our fans, those who listen to our music should be free. I think they should have the freedom, because I believe in the freedom of speech. Of course, people may feel upset over being subjected to talk of war when you’re just looking forward to enjoying a concert, and I think that’s only natural. While there’s a giving end, there will be a receiving end. So that’s where each party has to make their own choices based on what they like. While I can’t help feeling bothered by the criticisms even if it’s just one versus ten words of praise, I think I’m too old for that already so I should just do whatever I like.

――Yes, and I think that’s definitely the kind of song and music that we want to hear from Sakurai-san and BUCK-TICK.

S: I want to do things that don’t stray from what I think and feel, so it would be nice if there are people who like what I do and think it’s good music, or a good vibe, or that it feels nice and all. And I really think that should be left up to personal enjoyment. But the conversation again changes if we’re talking about insulting or ostracising others. It’s fine if you don’t like the things you don’t like. Just enjoy what you do enjoy. Whether its art or concerts or music or novels, isn’t it fine to take it as it is? We might be too much for some in terms of how we make them feel or the things we say, but this is where I would like people to make their own decisions on what suits them.

――That’s true. Now, let’s get into the specifics of this album’s production. You’ve spent about a year since last year working on album production in parallel with touring. Did you originally have some specific concept or direction you wanted to go in?

S: This was quite a while ago but…… At first, our director, Tanaka (Junichi)-san proposed the idea of two releases and we began discussions. We started off with the general idea that we don’t know how many songs we’d have unless we try this out, but we had rough ideas. A simple example would be producing one CD with a cheery vibe and the other with a dark vibe. So I suppose that was the rough idea we started with in regards to how we wanted things to turn out.

――And that ended up as one single disc with a mix of songs that swing between the extremities of the light and dark spectrum.

S: I believe our two songwriters (Imai, Hoshino) considered that balance as they did their work. Among the songs which didn’t make the cut this time, there are a number that are very cheerful. I think they would’ve brought some balance [into this album], but we were already out of time (lol).

――So, in the end, the album turned out darker (lol). But what’s interesting in this album is how there are some songs that sound cheerful based on the music but when we look at the lyrics, they really aren’t. There are a lot of songs that can’t really be described as entirely positive or negative, like, the crux of it isn’t so simple. I would like us to talk about this area in relation to each of the songs. So, let’s start with QUANTUM I and QUANTUM II, the instrumental tracks from Imai-san which come at the very start and the very end of the album.

S: I believe Imai-san’s story lives there.

――Indeed. After the opening comes the second track, SCARECROW. Listeners who heard your two singles, Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus)¹⁷ and Mugen LOOP (Infinity LOOP)¹⁸, and embraced the “bright” or “refreshing” impressions they gave might’ve felt like this song threw them right back onto the ground (lol).

S: That’s true. So much so that it might even get people wondering whether they got the wrong artist. It’s really the entrance to hell (lol).

――Because scarecrows cannot move and they’re stuck where they are. There is this really overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, being cornered, trapped.

S: Recently, loneliness is something that has been gradually bloating up within me. I’m not trying to reverse its effects on me through defiance, but I decided that I would apply it in a straightforward manner in the scenery, the vibe and all. Considering that this is the first song on the album with lyrics, I thought it would be good if I could take it to the point where everything feels hopelessly beyond saving.

――That loneliness is also adrift in the next track, Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries).

S: That’s true. I wonder how this happened. It’s a release of pent up emotions, isn’t it?

――With all these thoughts and feelings flowing out, I did wonder whether it was something you wrote in the middle of the night.

S: Because my days and nights really are as good as reversed. Since I can’t sleep at night.

――Speaking of this song title, Ride of the Valkyries is a name that also comes up in the opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen. Additionally, writings by Nietzsche and from the Old Testament about Adam and Eve are also featured. There are quite a lot of references scattered here, aren’t there?

S: It’s the idea that like every last one of us, including myself, are idiots (lol). This protagonist is a rowdy and violent one.

――The album version of Sayonara Shelter sees it getting the subtitle destroy and regenerate-Mix attached to it.

S: We had violins included this time around. Tanaka-san also had the idea to feature the voices of a youth choir too. We didn’t have enough time so we couldn’t bring that to life, but this subtitle was also Tanaka-san’s idea. I believe Tanaka-san feels quite strongly about the present state of the world too, so it would seem that he’s quite invested in this song as well.

――The inclusion of the violin makes the song feel more organic; it brings to mind green shoots sprouting from the ground. It really makes me hope that things would come to that stage soon. It’s a really wonderful arrangement.

S: I see, that greenery. That’s good, isn’t it? The image it brought to my mind was that of light raining down. Greenery and skylight…… it would be nice if that were to come true, wouldn’t it?

――When Sayonara Shelter was played on tour, Sakurai-san was the father holding his young child, then on the other hand, the soldier with a gun in hand during your performance. It was heartwarming but at the same time, so tragic and that really left an impression.

S: It would be nice if I could execute it a little better, though. I did it impromptu, but I just thought it would be nice if I could convey something through this.

――You did, and I think it’s a song that evolved a lot through the tour. A setting filled with an exotic atmosphere unfolds in Ai no Harem (Harem of Love), but what kind of impression did you get from Hoshino-san’s music?

S: The impression it gave me was of beautiful Islamic patterns, scenery at a bazaar. It’s a bustling scene but within it, there’s a stranger, someone who doesn’t belong and I guess you could say that the story revolves around the loneliness they feel.

――I definitely feel the loneliness in this song too. There’s a part in the second half where you sing it almost like a chanson. Was this intended from the start?

S: It was. We actually wanted this last part to sound even closer to chanson, but it felt like we’re overdoing it, so we used the very first take. Tanaka-san also said, “The first take sounds the best.” There’s a melody but at the same time, it sounds spoken and then it leans more and more towards spoken word, so there’s a course correction there.

――That part also has whispers going on and on. It adds to the unsettling feeling.

S: I always have fun trying out different things with Tanaka-san when we’re working on the chorus but those whispers were not meant to match the main vocal lines so I did it in a way that, kind of feels crazy.

――That part gave me a scare.

S: I wanted to scare our listeners (lol).

Because there’s a story in me that I want to tell.
I’m not being defiant, but what’s wrong with beautifying things (lol).

――The intro to Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Bouquet for you) gives it a standard American pop type of sound and chorus, it’s a song that really hits you in the gut when you realise exactly what this song is about.

S: Our only understanding of the current war is through the news, but when we look at the situation in Ukraine, we see the mixed feelings that the mothers have about the soldiers in the tanks, we see civilians handing bouquets of flowers to the soldiers. It gets me wondering who these innate messages are supposed to go to. Would be nice if it did get through, though. Like what I said earlier, this song is really one of those which give the false impression that a cheerful song is finally here (lol). It’s got a gentle touch on the surface precisely because the music is cheerful. I think it’s good if the song gradually starts to sink into those who listen to the words.

――A lot of the songs in this album are very memorable with how the music really stands out and how simple the words in the lyrics are. I would say this song included. And these words alone are so strong and impactful that you open up a whole world with them. The chorus in this song is only made up of eight words, yet they’re very thought-provoking to me.

S: That’s right. This time, instead of writing an essay, I shaved and cut down the words. The idea is that since I can’t fit an essay here, as long as I can convey my message, it’s good enough for me.

――Next, THE FALLING DOWN is a song with both music and lyrics composed by Imai-san but Adam and Eve show up here again. It got me wondering whether there’s some part of it that is synchronised with Sakurai-san’s lyrics.

S: Imai-san’s lyrics usually come after mine are done, so maybe there are certain elements here and there that caught onto him. Who knows?

――We have a duet here with Imai-san singing in the first half, and then Sakurai-san in the chorus.

S: That’s Imai-san’s standard operating procedure. My part really just has me mostly screaming, though.

――The sound as well, I think this song will be a real hook in concert. Taiyou to Icarus appearing at this part of the album makes it sound like the first song to be played on the B-side of a cassette tape. You previously mentioned that your first impression of the demo version of this track was that of “a song that a young Visual-Kei band might write”, but what is this story you’ve written for such a speedy and exhilarating tune?

S: It’s a very pop-like, catchy melody to begin with, so YOW-ROW-kun did his arrangement work on it before bringing out this fast-paced feeling by weaving together a number of different rhythm elements. Even if this was the kind of impression [the music] gives, I’m not very good at writing a story that’s wholly positive, so I started looking around for ideas when I came across the myth of Icarus.

――In the brightness of this song, I could also sense tragedy in it. Like the complex emotions related to the current state of the world being told alongside the adaptation of Icarus’ myth. The brighter the light shines, the darker the shadows deepen.

S: Ultimately, I didn’t want to stray from the fact that this is a story and piece of a music, but I just can’t understand why people are afraid of being honest and saying that they’re anti-war. I think there’s something weird about this, and at the same time, there’s a story in me that I want to tell, so people might accuse me of beautifying things but simply using the veil of entertainment to cloak it.

――We have never had the experience of going to war, so the only thing we can do is try and imagine the emotions and the circumstances in that scenario. I might be digressing, but as I was listening to Taiyou to Icarus, I was suddenly reminded of anime like Space Battleship Yamato and Cyborg 009. Very Showa era titles (lol). Where we see heroes fighting to defend humankind and protect the earth. So although people may call this beautification, like Sakurai-san said earlier, all of these are also forms of entertainment. When we watch [these shows], we feel emotional, we cry, we feel heartache. The strength and brilliance that these characters possessed, along with their underlying melancholy could all be felt in this Taiyou to Icarus.

S: Maybe I’m personally also someone who’s immersed in those sentimental Showa era emotions. Not that I can do anything about it. I’m not being defiant, but what’s wrong with beautifying things (lol).

――On the other hand, I think the vibe of how this song sounds kind of goes against the image that BUCK-TICK has had all this while.

S: That’s the beginnings of a trap. Where we sound like we make pop music, and then we quickly drag them down in quicksand.

――Indeed (lol). In Boogie Woogie, I feel like I’m looking at the band when it first started out. 

S: I guess the things that happened around us during our 35th anniversary had a hand in bringing out memories of us messing around and starting the band in our 20s. It’s like a throwback in time.

――The words “junk-heap of a van (オンボロ車 / onborosha)” appear in the lyrics, but who would’ve thought BUCK-TICK really had such an experience.

S: Indeed. This is based on the true story of the time before we made our debut, we were on a Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka tour and on our way home, we were on the Tomei Expressway when we ran out of gas and everyone had to push the equipment vehicle together.

――Next, Mugen LOOP -IZORA- is different from the single version of the song, but I think this city pop vibe really leaves an impression.

S: We lived through the 80s and 90s so I think Imai-san also possesses this sense of pop within him.

――Starting the song with the words “A southerly wind (南風 / minami kaze)” was impactful in its own way, but if we think a little deeper about a “LOOP” that goes on into “infinity (無限 / mugen)”, it’s kind of eerie. Even though the music sounds so refreshing.

S: In short, it’s a dream you see in a coma. A dream where you never know when it’s ending, nor whether it’ll ever conclude. It’s like seeing the same dream over and over again without knowing when you’ll wake up.

――So this “infinity” is also a “dreamworld”.

S: That’s right.

I also had periods when I struggled and fumbled in it, but in the end
I’ve now come to believe that this is probably the only thing that gives me affirmation.

――Sakurai-san’s rather high notes in the chorus were really impressive too. Would you call Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue) a jazz blues song?

S: Sounds bluesy, doesn’t it? Exactly as written in the title, though. I just thought we just had to have cats featured in at least one song on the album.

――You’re rolling your r’s with this sort of languid style of vocals. It’s really cool.

S: Thank you. If we’re using a Showa era word to describe this song, I guess it’ll be “nihilistic”.

――The part where the piano and vocals are in unison is also really nice.

S: The piano was played by Yoko-chan (Yokoyama Kazutoshi). It’s sophisticated, creates a nice atmosphere. And the setting that comes to mind can only be Shinjuku, right? Not Shibuya or Harajuku, or Roppongi but Shinjuku. The song title kind of sounds like a Showa era movie title too, doesn’t it?

――It does. It sounds a little bit cheeky too (lol). Hizumi felt like we were in one of Sakurai-san’s nightmares.

S: That’s exactly what it is. If I go to bed without drinking, I really will get nightmares so this is what I spit out for my own benefit. It turned out that this was kind of like giving myself therapy. Mm, it’s therapy. I’m sick, copacetically.

――I don’t know whether it’s a good thing to describe it as “copacetically” (lol)…… I’m deviating from our topic again, but there’s this character in one of the dramas I watch in the morning who makes their debut as a  poet. When the editor looks at the new tanka they wrote for their first book publishing, the editor says something like, “You have to change your perspective. You need to grow more.” A fan who heard about this disagreed, saying that the character is fine as they are and that their perspective of the world is splendid. But to this, the editor said, “That’s ego. It’s as good as telling a boy not to grow up because he sings a beautiful soprano.” Upon hearing that, I feel that the worldview of songs like Hizumi and one of your past releases, Mudai¹⁹ which were born of Sakurai-san’s circumstances are assets to BUCK-TICK, but I started to think that maybe it could be very cruel for you too.

S: That is something I’m very familiar with. That editor’s statement on growing up. Numerous times, and in this album too, I’ve challenged myself to part ways with the words of my mother and father who were like that editor but…… When we talk about growing up, the soprano analogy makes it very easy to understand, doesn’t it? Applying it to myself. I said this in the beginning too, but ultimately, I just wonder casually about whether people will let me write what I want to and take it all in stride. Even though people may call me defiant, you know. I also had periods when I struggled and fumbled in it, but in the end, I’ve now come to believe that this is probably the only thing that gives me affirmation.

――Finally, Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless) has a very gentle point of view. I feel like it carries a message which encourages everyone living here and now.

S: It’s about how I’m really just a single stalk of flower getting shone upon by the sun and hit by the rain just like everyone else, equally. There will be all kinds of encounters and farewells in between; bees and bugs will visit, the gentle breeze of the wind will move us. I’m not trying to stand on a pedestal and give people affirmation, but I’m just trying to say that this is enough. It is enough to bloom and exist as you are.

――So what’s your impression of the album name, 異空 -IZORA-?

S: That was originally the working title of Mugen LOOP, but it was written in English alphabets so I couldn’t tell what it was supposed to mean at the time. After that, it became two kanji characters and I guessed it probably meant something like how we live under the same sky but the sky that each one of us sees is different.

――How do you feel about the way 異空 -IZORA- turned out as an album?

S: Personally I think I’m a gloomy person, if I do say so myself, but this really turned out to be a form of self-therapy and I especially like the second half [of the album]. I guess I can say that I’m glad I could create a world I like while staying true to myself. After that, it will belong to everyone who listens [to the album], so I hope they enjoy it.

 

 

Notes:

¹ Album=Their 23rd album, 異空 -IZORA-. Released 12 April.

² ILLUSION=Recorded in their first album, SEXUALxxxxx!. Released November 1987.

³ Yokohama Arena=Where “BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~” was held on 23〜24 September 2022.

Moon  Sayonara wo Oshiete=Their 36th single. Released February 2018.

Maimu Mime=Recorded in their 22nd album ABRACADABRA. Released September 2020.

Six/Nine=Their 8th album. Released May 1995.

Caady=Their 11th single. Released May 1996.

COSMOS=Their 9th album. Released June 1996.

13-kai wa Gekkou=Their 14th album. Released April 2005.

¹⁰ Kurutta Taiyou =Their 5th album. Released February 1991.

¹¹ Kagerou=Their 23rd single. Released August 2006.

¹² Arui wa ANARCHY=Their 19th album. Released June 2014.

¹³ One album=THE MORTAL’s first album, I AM MORTAL. Released November 2015.

¹⁴ New World=Their 34th single. Released September 2016.

¹⁵ Ahead of time=Earlier released in their best-of concept album, CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.. Released September 2022.

¹⁶ 35th anniversary tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-” which commences on 19 April.

¹⁷ Taiyou to Icarus=Their 41st single. Released on 8 March.

¹⁸ Mugen LOOP=Their 42nd single. Released 22 March.

¹⁹ Mudai=Recorded in their 19th album, Arui wa ANARCHY (或いはアナーキー).

* The word they used here in Japanese was フラット (furatto), literally “flat”.

 

 

Return to Top

_______________________

Imai Hisashi

You could also say that we’ve been able
to do it for fun, and we still enjoy doing it
without ever getting tired of it.
That’s all there is to it.

profile & information
Born 21 October 1964. Blood type: O. Guitarist of BUCK-TICK which formed in 1985 and had its major debut in 1987.
buck-tick.com

Interview & Text ◎ Fuyu Showgun

 

Among the 14 tracks recorded on 異空 -IZORA-, Imai has composed music for 11 of them, and wrote lyrics for plus sang on THE FALLING DOWN. Here, we bring you commentary from Imai’s perspective on all the tracks of the album, along with his preferred sound tendencies and more.

Not even the impression that we’re creating a culmination of us because it’s our 35th anniversary or something.
I think that’s just how it is because we are who we are. Whenever we try doing something, it just turns out like this.

――I managed to catch your shows at Yokohama Arena¹ and Nippon Budokan² last year. The shows had “35th anniversary” in their names, but they not only looked back at  BUCK-TICK’s past, they also showcased the band’s present day progress. They were wonderful to watch.

Imai (I): In short, the decision was not to take the approach of performing a best-of selection of songs for our anniversary shows. We didn’t decide on any particular theme; we simply listed the songs we wanted to perform and towards the end, we usually have Sakurai-san compile and put them all together for us. What you saw is just the result of that, so I guess we did good.

――Having been active for such a long time, fans would likely ask that you perform old songs and make similar requests, but BUCK-TICK doesn’t limit yourselves to that, do you?

I: Because there are many among our fans who also enjoy the new songs and want to hear them live. So I think it’s okay that we perform our shows without songs like Aku no Hana³ or JUST ONE MORE KISS⁴.

――I would believe that’s largely because of how BUCK-TICK continued your musical exploration throughout all these years.

I: You could also say that we’ve been able to do it for fun, and we still enjoy doing it without ever getting tired of it. That’s all there is to it.

――It’s great that the band is capable of staying active without losing motivation. So let’s talk about the fruits of that labour, your new album 異空 -IZORA-⁵. Although, I believe you originally intended to release the album in two CDs?

I: In the beginning, before we even made a single song, we did think of trying that out. Ten songs in each disc going on with no pause. So we actually started work with the feeling that we’re heading in the theme of that direction. As it went on with our anniversary schedule, as we performed our existing songs on tour⁶ while also going into the studio to work on new songs, it’s as if I got more and more obstinate. But despite our tight schedule, we eventually managed to get the right number of songs. So we actually could’ve released two discs if we wanted to but then we started wondering, “Why are we dividing the songs into two discs?” Then, we thought that it might be better to choose songs out of these almost 20 tracks and release them as one solid work. through this, we came to understand that we really needed quite an amount of time if we were to release two discs.

――So the idea of releasing two discs was a rough one to begin with.

I: Simply because it would have quite the impact and it might be interesting to carry out such a project. That’s all we had in mind in the beginning. And we did make the move to decide on themes and concepts for these two discs, but when we were done with the songs we made, we also found that they turned out a little differently than expected. So that’s why we decided that we’ll release one CD with 12 or 13 songs in it.

――Were you able to envision the theme of the album when you came to the stage of selecting the songs for release?

I: Nothing specific came to mind at all. Not even the impression that we’re creating a culmination of us because it’s our 35th anniversary or something. But, well, I think that’s just how it is because we are who we are.

――In terms of my impression of the album as a whole, I found the gaps in sound and space, the intervals of each instrument all very cool. It’s like I got to experience the beauty of not playing the guitar, for example.

I: You could say that I tried to remove guitar solo-sounding guitar solos as much as possible. We’re naturally heading in this direction but I guess I can only say that whenever we try doing something, it just turns out like this. And the length of the songs. They’re short, in general. Even though I didn’t have any such discussion with Hide (Hoshino), we always end up with things that are similar in vibe, you know? The song compositions. This time around, there are quite a few songs that don’t even reach 4 minutes. I remember the time when I easily wrote 6〜7-minute long songs and Hide also wrote music of that length. We will find that our compositions and song structures are very similar. That’s another thing I find interesting when we work.

――I would think that this is a result of having worked together for so many years. Another thing I noticed is how distinctive the bass sounds in this album. It sounds soft and comfortable to hear, and yet it also has a strong presence. I get the impression that this enigmatic soundscape straight up turns into the atmosphere that fills the world of this album.

I: This time, we asked a German mastering engineer (Clemens Schleiwies) to work on the album. He was also involved in our previous best-of (DISC: 3 ELEKTRIZO from CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.⁷) release, and that’s why we wanted to try working with him on this album. He might’ve been the reason behind that bass range.

I thought SCARECROW might work well as a single when I composed it.
But when it got its lyrics, it turned super dark, so I thought, “This can’t be a single.”

――You have the word “QUANTUM” in the titles of the first and last instrumental tracks of the album. Both “I” and “II” share the same main melody but the way the melody is played and the arpeggios are different. Is this to create a thematic stance for the album?

I: We start our concerts with an instrumental track, so I thought maybe we could include something like that in our album too. The concert version would be a little longer, but that’s already done. So I guess the instrumental tracks are [here to show listeners the album’s] theme and world view.

――Then comes SCARECROW, the first actual track with lyrics. I believe this unique darkness is at the root of BUCK-TICK, but was this a conscious decision?

I: Nope, didn’t think of it. This was actually the very first song we composed for the album.

――Does it mean that this song became the benchmark for the album?

I: Not exactly, but I personally thought it might work well as a single when I first composed it. But later on came Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless) and Mugen LOOP (Infinity LOOP), and then we felt that these two were better choices. Also, when [SCARECROW] got its lyrics, it turned super dark, so I thought, “This can’t be a single.” But when we had a meeting, Sakurai-san voted for this song to be a single. I was like, “Huh. So it’s a valid choice.”

――(Lol). I thought that starting the album with that darkness was very BUCK-TICK. I believe other bands would have typically chosen to make the first track Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries).

I: That wasn’t a decision that was made solely by me. When we were talking about track order, Sakurai-san also raised the idea of making SCARECROW come first, alongside myself.

――Warukyuure no Kikou has pipe organs in its intro and at the end of the interlude, there’s an orchestra too. The gorgeous sounds are just lovely. 

I: Those were ideas that came from our manipulator YOW-ROW. “To bring out the valkyrie mood,” he said. When I told him not to worry about how many sounds we have in this song, he really didn’t hold back and added a whole ton of stuff. For this song, I also kind of let him have his way with it from the start to see what would come out of it.

――You don’t sound particularly opposed to including such sounds that don’t originate from yourselves.

I: That depends on the song. But I guess I’m not against it recently. But even if I say that he can do whatever he wants with it, if I listen to what he made and said, “This part isn’t necessary,” he would still remove it anyway. If I have a concrete idea in mind, I’d tell him before he starts work, so we generally play by ear.

――I thought the chamber music-inspired strings arrangement by Kokushoku Sumire’s Sachi-chan in the next track, Sayonara Shelter -destroy and regenerate-Mix brought a really nice touch of grandeur to the song too.

I: I think Hide mentioned it…… That’s how it pretty much turned out.

――If you were the same imai-san from the past, I think you’d probably say something like, “I want to play the guitar for this.”

I: That’s true. But, well, if we’re in the 90s, like 1993 or something, I think we could’ve done it with a guitar synthesiser or something.

――Does that mean the way you think about the guitar as an instrument has changed since then?

I: Nope, I don’t think so. Besides, guitar synthesisers and actual violins are completely different things. While it’s true that it’s possible to do this with a guitar synthesiser too, well, whether or not we actually do it this way depends on the situation.

――Earlier you mentioned the lack of guitar solos. Do you think that’s the frame of mind you’re currently in?

I: Yeah. But, take Na mo Naki Watashi for example, I played that solo-sounding melody and had it included because we felt that it was necessary. Because we kind of wanted a guitar solo, or rather an interlude of sorts. Call it a bridge or something, but we’ll change things slightly depending on the situation. Having a guitar solo as part of the song’s structure isn’t quite the same thing.

――Next, we have Ai no Harem (Harem of Love), Hoshino-san’s song. The way the two guitars play the chords such that they sound like one was impressive.

I: Feels like Hide made it out of Hide’s, doesn’t it? The composer has always been the arranger of their own songs since the very beginning so it’s all him.

――Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Bouquet for you) is a cheerful song, but when you compose dark-sounding music, do you feel the urge to make your next composition a bright one?

I: As I go, I do think, “This will be next, followed by this.” As to which I want to work on first, I tend to just follow the order I’ve come up with. Sometimes, I also feel, “This song looks like it would be troublesome, I want to get it over and done with first.” Other times, “I’ll just start with whatever I can do,” and then work on more than one at the same time. That’s all just the work I do at home anyway. But I also have fun working on all these. 

――Speaking of which, do you get something like a build-up routine to motivate you to compose?

I: I do. Like, wanting to clean up the room before I start or something.

――There’s something like a filter thing going on with the bass in Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni, right?

I: That’s because we wanted the bass to sound a little different than usual. Rather than the usual nice sound, we were going for something that kind of draws attention to it, so I think we applied some sort of effector.

――It’s kind of weird in a good way, and the feeling of mismatch with the fresh tune is conversely pleasant.

I: That’s what we were going for.

――Kind of like a synth bass approach. I believe that’s something you appreciate too, but is there anything you’d particularly take note about?

I: Yes, it’s true but also, it depends on the song. And even if we do use a synth bass, it’ll still be played by an actual bass. I guess you could say it’s more about how it sounds when these two come together. That’s probably another thing. It’s part of the arrangement work.

――You’re also involved as a vocalist for THE FALLING DOWN, but did you compose the melody with the intention of singing it already?

I: It wasn’t already decided from the start with THE FALLING DOWN. It’s just that as I worked on it, I started thinking, “Ah, I kind of want to sing the verses myself.” Whether it’s the groove, or the rhythm, those were all done with no restrictions.

――Be it the rhythm or the phrasing, I think therein lies Imai-san’s own original melody and word choices. Would you label those as part of your flair? Or do you regularly keep these aside as ideas, or something like that?

I: Nothing was specially kept aside, not in this case. Nuances are important too, but there’s also the fact that it just wouldn’t work if the words don’t sit well with the rhythm or groove too, so I guess I was a little bit picky with my words there.

――On the other hand, it feels like the melody that Sakurai-san sings focuses more on how the musical notes work. There appears to be more mid-tempo songs in this album too. But that’s not deliberate, is it? It’s just how the current vibe is?

I: That’s right.

――Next, the refrain that plays right from the start in Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus) and it sounds like it comes from a keyboard, yet at the same time, a guitar. It’s kind of curious.

I: I don’t know. This is also another one of Hide’s songs, so it might’ve been YOW-ROW but I don’t really know whether they did something or what they did exactly. In any case, I’m playing my guitar too, though.

――The riff in Boogie Woogie sounds like it comes from a mixture or hard rock band of yesteryear too. The sounds used and the bouncy rhythm and the fun yet kind of unusual riff; all of this makes it an unlikely rock song, doesn’t it?

I: About that, I spoke to YOW-ROW, telling him, “I haven’t really heard any song recently that’s got the same feel as the monophonic riff that Uta⁸ had. Makes you want to hear one, doesn’t it?” Maybe that was the cause, maybe it gave him an idea. As I played a bit here and there, I somehow got a vague image of the vibe for this riff. His idea was to add some kind of shuffle vibe to it or some bouncy feels instead of leaving it as it was.

――I see. I think the riff in Uta is wholly a show of Imai-san’s own unique employment of sound. I don’t think it’s deliberate on your part but this is something that deviates a little from the popular musical theories applied to rock guitar.

I: I wonder. I don’t really know, though.

There’s a part of me that feels the guitar is the number one thing that makes [a sound] un-electronic.
That’s why I want to try composing a song that doesn’t sound like it’s got guitars in it at all.

――Next, Mugen LOOP -IZORA- (Infinity LOOP). I heard that the album title, 異空 -IZORA- was originally the working title for this song. This song is another that carries a flavour never before seen from BUCK-TICK.

I: It’s a chord progression that we’ve never played before, and I quite like it too. In the beginning, I had that synth riff, that melody and I was wondering whether there was a chord progression that could allow it to keep repeating from start to end. Starting out from there got us here.

――So it’s a song that came about from that synth melody.

I: That synth melody was the only thing there was at the start, and I considered trying to make it a kind of experimental song which doesn’t include guitars. Then, as I was playing around with the chords, it turned into something completely different than my original idea, but I think it’s better than that. So it grew on me.

――Is it even possible to have a song with no guitars for BUCK-TICK?

I: I just think it would be interesting. When playing something electronic, there’s a part of me that feels the guitar is the number one thing that makes [a sound] un-electronic. That’s why I envision that if I were to go all the way with [electronic music], I wouldn’t include the guitar. I started [working on this song] with that idea to try composing something that thorough[ly electronic], but that didn’t happen in the end anyway. I do want to try a bunch of things after this, though. But I also wonder how that would work live if I did make such a song.

――And that’s why ever since the beginning, you didn’t only use guitars but also other instruments like the Ztar. I believe BUCK-TICK has always looked at studio work and live performances as two separate things. And you have a lot of songs which leave different impressions when they’re played live.

I: That’s just something that happens naturally. It’s not as if we think about recreating the studio versions live.

――On the other hand, Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue) sounds like a studio session within the band. I really like how the bluesy and loose kind of tension makes it very band-like.

I: I had fun bringing out that vibe too. It’s the first time I’ve ever tried something like this and I quite like it a lot. But it wasn’t as if we recorded it in a jam session or anything like that though.

――During the chorus, or rather, the climax of the song where he sings “Hey, Blue (ねぇブルー / nee buruu), there’s this intense analogue synth-sounding tone that’s going on in the back. Is that a guitar?

I: That’s an effector that’s of a less-controlled distortion transmission. It’s from Jack White’s brand.

――From Third Man Records.

I: I think so, something like that.

――Are you always looking for these effectors and equipment?

I: When we’re recording, I would bring a whole variety of compact effectors to the studio and then I’d mess around with them on a small amp when I’m free. If I like it, I’ll then use it or purchase it.

――To me, the distortion and fuzz with those kinds of effectors is characteristic of Imai-san’s guitar sound but is there anything in particular you pay attention to in those areas?

I: I just create whatever I hear or imagine in my head. If I think that something sounds good on the spot, I’ll start working on it in the studio.

――So it’s important to envision it first.

I: But also, there are different situations like, I could create it at home, like it, but just cannot recreate it as it is in the studio. It’s as if there’s something good added by working on it at home. Call it the cheap feeling, or something. Because when we do things in the studio, it will always get this richness and depth no matter what, and it’ll sound well-rounded. When I’m trying to get something other than that, there will be times when I have to take the data from the demo tape and treat it a little.

――What really stuck out to me in Hizumi was this melody that was created through your combined effort with Hoshino-san.

I: That’s pretty much it. We already decided to do this when we started work on arrangement.

――That’s something I wouldn’t have thought I would see in the past. Because you’d tend to do everything on your own.

I: But nothing has changed between then and now. Because whether it’s the guitar part or the arrangement, the decisions lie with the composer. Especially this one when the arrangement calls for both guitars to be tightly knit. Like two guitars playing one riff.

――I just have this very strong impression of how the two of you would always play completely different melodies. There’s this one line that I remember from an interview Imai-san did in the 90s when you said, “I’d leave the difficult parts to Hide. I’ll just have fun playing the good bits.”

I: That hasn’t changed even now, actually.

――(Lol) And the last track with lyrics is Na mo Naki Watashi. It was the B-side to the preceding single⁹ Taiyou to Icarus where YOW-ROW-san was involved in creating the Kachoufuugetsu REMIX (花鳥風月REMIX). Was there something you wanted to achieve in releasing the remix before the original?

I: Rather than achieve, it was actually a candidate for the single. When we decided to release it, we thought to as YOW-ROW to work on it. We wanted to make it more major-sounding than the original and groovier, and we also had the idea of possibly changing the chords. So I called YOW-ROW, talked about it with him through the night, like, “Chords are this and that,” and gave him as detailed a a list of requests as I could. Then in typical YOW-ROW fashion, he proposed the ideas like chords with various tensions, and I thought it was interesting so we went ahead with it. That’s why I can’t say I had anything in mind with releasing the remix ahed of the original. Since we made something good, I just wanted people to hear it as soon as possible and let them experience something completely different from the album version and enjoy the original in another way. 

――YOW-ROW-san also mentioned it on social media, but what did you think about the autotune part?

I: He DM-ed me, asking, “Can I do this?” I though it was nice, and pretty interesting.

――Until now, you’ve applied distortion and spatial effects to vocals, but not any effects that alter the voice this boldly.

I: For some reason or other, I don’t really like for the vocals to be withdrawn to the background. It depends on the song, but there are times when it’s better that the voice sounds dry, or when I want to distort it, things like that. There are also times when I want to make it stand out even more with a delay.

――Your tour¹⁰ starts on 19 April. You earlier said that you aren’t thinking about recreating the studio recordings live, but I also think that part of this album’s songs would become more prominent this way.

I: I think we’ll change things up as we decide to, maybe, increase how much we feature the guitars, or compose live arrangements, things like that. But more on a personal level than a over all band level. We would also think about how we’ll perform certain songs, whether or not we’ll start with SCARECROW, all that.

――Once again, as you celebrate your 35th anniversary, do you think about what lies ahead?

I: Same as usual. Because, well, it’s going to be our 36th anniversary soon.

 

 

Notes:

¹ Yokohama Arena=Where “BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~” was held on 23〜24 September 2022.

² Nippon Budokan=Where  “BUCK-TICK 2022 TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan” was held on 29 December 2022.

³ Aku no Hana=Their second single. Released January 1990.

JUST ONE MORE KISS=Their first single. Released October 1988.

異空 -IZORA-=Their 23rd album. Released 12 April.

Tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv.” which was held between October and December 2022 (some shows postponed).

CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.=Their best-of concept album. Released September 2022.

Uta=Their 8th single. Released March 1995.

Single=Their 41st single, Taiyou to Icarus. Released in March.

¹⁰ Tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-” which commences on 19 April.

 

 

 

Return to Top

_______________________

Hoshino Hidehiko

This album is quite
rich in variety too,
so I also imagine each
(track) with different skies.

profile & information
Born 16 June 1966. Blood type: A. Guitarist of BUCK-TICK which formed in 1985 and had its major debut in 1987.
buck-tick.com

Interview & Text ◎ Okubo Yuka

 

Within 異空 -IZORA-, there are three songs that were composed by him; the album version of Sayonara Shelter which was also included in the band’s best-of compilation, Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus) which was a preceding single, and Ai no Harem (Harem of Love). In this interview, he shares his perspective on all the songs of the album, with a focus on his own three songs.

I believe there were people who became fans with songs like JUPITER and Dress,
and I think that Taiyou to Icarus would probably have the same effect.

――When the band was deciding on the singles that would precede the album 異空 -IZORA-¹, I heard that Hoshino-san who normally doesn’t have any strong opinions surprisingly pushed for Taiyou to Icarus² to be one of them. In the interview you had with us back in December’s release of the 104th issue of this magazine, you also mentioned that in recent years, you’re “a little bit stiff, so (I) want to break through that” when it comes to your own compositions. I’m getting the feeling that Hoshino-san has made some sort of  breakthrough somewhere within yourself, so what do you say?

Hoshino (H): Part of it is because our director, Tanaka (Jun’ichi)-san really pushed for it too, but during the process of producing this song, as the guitar parts were added, the vocals were added, [my insistence] stemmed from this point when I started thinking, “This is good, this song.” Even based on my own style, this [song] can be classified as pop, but I personally think there’s a very sad element to it too. And I think that element really came through when it matches with the lyrics. Because I didn’t want it to be a simple pop song that’s nothing but rainbows and butterflies. And we were really able to bring this across, so I think that’s probably what made [other people] feel that this song will definitely do well and inspired them to push for it as a single.

――How did the other members of the band react at the time?

H: We were all having a hard time trying to decide on which songs to pick, so I thought I’d just go for it, you know?

――For Hoshino-san, has this song always been in the running to become a single right from the start when you first composed it?

H: No, not at all. Because I composed it with the intention of making it one of the tracks in the album. We originally intended to produce two CDs. Broadly speaking, we were aiming for something like a light versus dark version, and this song was just one of those that was going to be included.

――Specifically, in the light category, right?

H: In the light category. It might lean towards the dark category because of its lyrics but in any case, I thought it was more suitable in the light category. In the beginning.

――Once Sakurai-san’s lyrics came in, it had the potential to be a song that could fit either category, right?

H: That’s right. I think the lyrics to Taiyou to Icarus has been written in such a fashion that it can be interpreted in a number of ways. Those who listen to the song without looking at the lyric booklet would probably conclude, “Ah, a pop song.” But if someone looks at the booklet and starts thinking about it, I think their perspective on it or the way they hear it might change too. I think it’s fine for people to experience it in their own way, though.

  ――I had the impression that this could turn out to be a song that changes the general public’s impression of BUCK-TICK. Just like JUPITER³ for example.

H: I had a strong feeling about that too. With songs like JUPITER and Dress⁴, I believe there were people who weren’t fans but have been listening to BUCK-TICK that actually said that they liked it, and I think that Taiyou to Icarus would probably have the same effect. It would be nice if people started listening to our music because of this, though.

――I’ve heard that Hoshino-san is super strict with your recording direction when it comes to your compositions, so how did things progress with this song?

H: I’m not that strict these days. Nowhere near to the past (lol).

――Is that because you had some sort of change in mentality?

H: It’s been this way these past few years, but I’ve come to think that it’s probably better to hear a variety of opinions. I’ve grown up, haven’t I? (Lol)

――I see. I guess that means you also paid attention to various opinions this time.

H: Yeah. I no longer stubbornly say things like, “I’ll hate it all unless it’s like this!” (Lol)

――Is that so? (Lol) So during recording, was there anything you specifically wanted from the rhythm musicians Yagami-san and (Higuchi) Yuta-san?

H: They do have the demo tapes so I just asked them to play based on what they hear there. I didn’t say anything too complicated to them.

――What about the feel of the sound?

H: With the sound, I always listen to a bunch of stuff on site and then make a judgement on which would work. Things basically went smoothly without any disagreements.

――Is there a particular type of sound that you were going for?

H: It’s the same as the decisions we make for drums, but I basically want it a little tight, with resonance. That’s pretty much it. We have (our engineer) Hiruma (Hitoshi)-san to work on a bunch of other things after that anyway. It was a generally, “Oh, that’s nice,” kind of vibe. I don’t think I had much to say. Hiruma-san also listened to the demo tape and he didn’t deviate too far from that anyway. He’s got years of experience on that end so it’s alright.

――In terms of first impressions of this song, Sakurai-san expressed that he felt “it’s a song that a young visual-kei band might make” when he first heard it. How do you think the song has changed [from its demo version] to the final version?

H: That demo tape didn’t have much synth stuff going on. In other words, it was mainly guitars. I think that’s where he got that impression of a young band.

――I see. What was your approach to composing the guitars?

H: For guitars, it’s the same thing I do with recording it. Recently, I’ve increased my guitar arsenal by one more SG (Gibson), but I haven’t changed what I use much in recent years. I always do this for recording, but I’ll note where I’m supposed to press on a score sheet and then I’ll double check it with Imai-san as I record, so this has never changed this whole time. With Taiyou to Icarus, it’s a case where I’m the one teaching Imai-kun, so I’d go to the studio and refer to the sheet while telling him to press here and there.

This is actually the version of Sayonara Shelter that we originally wanted to release.
We had always wanted to include violins in it.

――What about Sakurai-san’s singing?

H: He wrote and rewrote the lyrics for this song a number of times. Like adding in katakana and making these kinds of cosmetic changes to the words. He was very particular about those tiny details so I think he changed the lyrics quite a few times.

――You engaged YOW-ROW-san to be the manipulator for this song. What specifications did ask of him?

H: After discussing with Tanaka-san, we decided that we wanted him to bring in his “YOW-ROW style”.

――And how would you describe that?

H: At the very first stage, he would always add in a lot of sound elements. And after that, he would usually take things out as he goes, but recently, he doesn’t do that either. He would do all the adding and hit the mark with a bang, so with Taiyou to Icarus, the hooks in the areas of YOW-ROW-kun’s speciality we just so good. In short, if the main sound was the guitar, then, like what we said earlier, that would make the song sound like it belongs to a younger band. But when we bring YOW-ROW-kun’s sounds into the spotlight, then this is how the song would sound. You could say that’s what I was looking for, or rather, much of the reason why I asked him to work on it was because I was hoping for him to do that.

――Like the sparkly feeling in the intro.

H: Yes, exactly, those kinds of vibes. I think this time I’m really into YOW-ROW-kun’s melodies.

――The album version of Sayonara Shelter includes the subtitle destroy and regenerate-Mix. The biggest change that we hear in this version is the featuring of violins here.

H: Sayonara Shelter was included in our best-of release⁵ but this is actually the version that we originally wanted to release. Because we had always wanted to include violins in it.

――Did that come before this title and the lyrics came about?

H: Yes. I could already hear the violins from the very beginning so I wanted to include it. But since we made the decision to include the song in our 35th anniversary album, I was like, hold up. We can’t just throw it in there because I wanted to use it just for the album. So we then agreed to sleep on the violin thing for a bit and meanwhile, release the band-only version.

――Kokushoku Sumire’s Sachi-chan was in charge of playing the violin here, so what kind of discussions did you have?

H: I basically started by telling her that I’d like the violins in the chorus, the interlude, and the outro. She came up with a few versions herself and recorded them for me to hear. Then I would feedback on which sounded good, and which I would like her to play. Also, it was Sachi-chan’s idea to feature the violin right in the beginning with the intro too. She suggested, “I’d like to play this at the start, if you don’t mind.” And I told her to go right ahead. That’s more or less how it went.

――It’s nice how that intro carried this sense of nostalgia.

H: I think the impression it gives is different depending on whether or not [the violin] is there.

――Who was the manipulator in charge of Sayonara Shelter?

H: Same person we had for the best-of version, Cube Juice-kun. Because there were no changes. But when the violin was added, it felt like he suppressed the synth a bit.

――The organic sounds of the violin along with the word “regenerate” in the subtitle really gives me the feeling of a hopeful future. It’s nice like this.

H: That makes me glad to hear because I hoped that [the song] would bring our listeners a warmth that bears hope.

――What concepts were Ai no Harem (Harem of Love) based on?

H: I think this song probably sprouted from a concept close to dub or ska music. I didn’t play it on guitar but I played a ska rhythm on keyboards for this. That’s where it started and towards the end I mixed in some dub elements with the vocals and all that to finish up. I had a kind of thick, gooey image of it in mind.

――That progression in the second half does have that effect.

H: That’s really just how it naturally turned out. Because it just happened that we got that dub-like ending without even a guitar solo. Naturally.

――The part of the second half that sounds almost narrative, like chanson, was interesting too.

H: That part of the song, the melody or something already existed in my head. There’s an even more spoken version, but we chose to use the very first take that went along with the melody I thought of.

――Was the percussive sounding part in the intro originally there?

H: The keyboard part was originally there but the percussive part you mentioned was a mix of a bunch of sounds that Cube-kun put together.

――It might be a bit late ask now, but the role that manipulators play in BUCK-TICK’s music is really significant compared to other bands. I believe that Hoshino-san and Imai-san have very strong opinions when it comes to your music and that you’re people who will work on things to the very end to achieve the perfection you’re looking for. And yet you leave part of the production to the manipulators. Why is that?

H: That’s, well, the way we’ve generally been doing things in recent years. I can add synth and programming on my own too, but ultimately, I don’t have it in me when it comes to those things. There’s also the fact that the song can grow further if another brings in something extra. And I’m not very used to working with programming, so it already takes me extra time just to create the demo tapes. For example, it’s easy enough to decide on the melody, but it just takes me too much time to choose the tone, the type of sound…… It’s a real problem for me, choosing the tone. Because there are just so many options and I have to listen to each of them one by one. I’d put in the melody that I can enter and right from the get-go, it should feel like this. Then there’s the looping rhythm, and the rhythm itself is detailed so once I start working on it, I’ll be spending quite a while there. That’s why I’m of the mind that maybe it’s just better to leave this to [the manipulators].

――I thought it might be quicker if you did things on your own instead of spending time going back and forth with someone, but it sounds like there’s a strong case for entrusting it to someone else too. Although I believe the relationship of trust you have with them is why you can leave the work to them with a peace of mind.

H: That’s right, we have a very strong relationship in that sense. Because not only do the people who work with us understand what BUCK-TICK’s colours are, they even understand the colours that each respective song should have. I believe that’s because of this relationship of trust, and also it makes it easy to get things done.

――This also applies to the overall feel of the album, but Hoshino-san’s three songs in this work definitely feels a little bit different from this perspective compared to the “Hoshino melody” we’ve always known. Does Hoshino-san have any thoughts about this?

H: Hmm…… I think I’m not there yet. I kind of feel like there might be something that I managed to make a breakthrough on, but I also feel like I can still do even more. But I would say that in the end, Taiyou to Icarus and these songs did turn out to be something I didn’t do before. Maybe part of it, yes, but I get the feeling that I might’ve managed to get a close up on these areas.

――Whichever way it is, I think it’s awesome.

H: Thank goodness (lol). Let’s leave it at that, then.

There are a lot of songs left that weren’t recorded for this album
and not yet finished, so I hope we can unveil those too.

――Next, I would like us to touch on Imai-san’s music too. Let’s start with QUANTUM I and QUANTUM II, the instrumental tracks at the start and the end of the album. What kind of effect do you think they had on the album?

H: It feels like they’re creating a world. There’s also the feeling of that world expanding. It creates this sense of unity that I think would also happen in the live concerts.

――The first SE track feels like it opened the doors to a new chapter, but the bleak despair in the next track, SCARECROW, is overwhelming.

H: The difference is huge, isn’t it? (Lol) The intro starts with an arpeggio…… It was probably the very first song we completed. I remember thinking, “Ah, so this is the vibe.” And that the world of the lyrics’ is pretty dark.

――Solitude also oozes from the next song, Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries), doesn’t it?

H: I thought this song was just so cool. Imai’s style really comes through the guitar riffs too. The guitars themselves sound super solid or something. It doesn’t quite feel entirely bulky though. We’re getting more of that recently. This solid finish.

――There is such a disparity between the musical and lyrical impression of Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Bouquet for you) and that makes it very impactful.

H: This song…… I think i just played it casually so I don’t have much impression of it (lol). When we were deciding on the track order, it was lined up next to Sayonara Shelter. Now I’m recalling that we debated whether or not to keep it like that. In the end, we decided to put other songs between these two tracks.

――Since both of these songs were inspired by war, putting them together one after another would deepen the overtones, right?

H: That’s right. Just like Sayonara Shelter, I’m also looking forward to seeing how this will be presented in concert.

――Will Hoshino-san also sing choruses in the live concerts?

H: We might play songs during the concert that will need me to sing but…… Speaking of which, I didn’t sing in any part in this new album. I wasn’t asked to. But I guess it would’ve been nice.

――Next, the only song in this album that has lyrics written by Imai-san, THE FALLING DOWN.

H: It’s got Imai’s signature style of riff, doesn’t it? It sounds a lot like Western music, and it seems like the main [sound] here is programming, based on the finishing. We’ve also got Sakurai-san and Imai-san’s duet going on here so this is another song I’m looking forward to play live.

――Looking solely at the lyrics to Boogie Woogie leaves the impression that it’s a cheerful song, but the sound is relatively heavy, isn’t it?

H: But if it’s a question of whether we should categorise it as “light” or “dark”, I’m inclined to categorise it as “light”. This song also revolves around the riff. I kind of remember finding the rhythm surprisingly difficult

――The lyrics are also a highlight of this song since it gives us a glimpse at the band in your youth.

H: With subjects like the junk-heap of a van (オンボロ車 / onborosha), right? It all feels familiar, but (lol). Then I realise it happened over 30-odd years ago. It was probably around the time we made our debut when we were driving around in that old, broken vehicle. I’m looking forward to playing this song live too.

――I can hear echoes of city pop in Mugen LOOP -IZORA- (Infinity LOOP), and the resort vibe it gives is quite fresh..

H: In terms of our past songs, there’s a touch of songs like GIRL⁶. The same loop goes on and on in it, and I heard that was what this song is apparently based on and composed upon. We don’t really have songs like this one, so it feels fresh, doesn’t it? The guitar feels nice and clean too with the single coil.

――The music video has a storyline too, and that’s certainly a highlight.

H: It’s the first time in quite a while that it’s being set in a hotel, but the looping concept was the director’s idea. It’s an unusual vibe, isn’t it?

――It was funny seeing the whole band squished in the elevator together too.

H: That was funny. Imai-san was designated the role of pressing the elevator button and we had so many NGs (lol). I think he just happened to stand near that area and then got thrown the responsibility of button pressing and he ended up having to do it over and over again. We had to make sure that the door closed just right before Sakurai-san comes in or right after he enters, but he just couldn’t get the timing right. He was probably thinking, “Why me?” (Lol)

――What a story from behind the scenes (lol). Next, we have the bluesy Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue).

H: This is another song that makes it feel like you’ll easily slip into its world.

――The unison of the vocals and the piano is outstanding.

H: It is. For guitars, the main thing we play is the arpeggio, but I didn’t do anything particularly difficult with it. With the bluesy vibe, I get the feeling that this would be fun to perform live.

――While Hizumi is a relatively dark song.

H: Since it’s entitled Hizumi (distort/warp) too. But you could say that it’s an addictive song. I don’t think we’ve ever had such a song in BUCK-TICK. I paid particular attention to the bouncy beat.

――Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless) is a beautifully ephemeral mid-tempo track.

H: This is also a song that grew out of an arpeggio, and quite fitting to close off the album as the last track. It feels like it’s connected to the final SE, doesn’t it? The last boss.

――What do you imagine when you look at the album title, 異空 -IZORA-, which Imai-san came up with?

H: I think it’s some sort of a symbolic descriptoinof this album. Considering the historic times we live in and so many other things, maybe he felt that this word is the one that fits this album best. I think it’s a perfect fit. This album is quite rich in variety too, so I also imagine each (track) with different skies.

――On the whole, how do you think this album has turned out?

H: Although we originally intended to release two CDs, we went with one instead and I feel that it was ultimately a good thing we made this change. Because if we were to release two CDs, the songs may end up leaning towards one side or another but having only one CD turns it into a versatile-sounding album and I feel that’s good too.

――You’ve celebrated your 35th anniversary and finished your new album. Is there anything you want to do next?

H: There are a lot of songs left that weren’t recorded for this album and not yet finished, so I want to finish them. It would be nice if we could start work on the next one a little earlier, though (lol). There are songs that have the guitar parts recorded already, so I hope we can unveil those too.

 

 

Notes:

¹ 異空 -IZORA-=Their 23rd album. Released 12 April.

² Taiyou to Icarus=Their 41st single. Released in March.

³ JUPITER=Their 5th single. Released October 1991.

Dress=Their 6th single. Released May 1993.

Best-of release=Earlier released in their best-of concept album, CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.. Released September 2022.

GIRL=Recorded in their 20th single, Zangai. Released January.

 

 

Return to Top

_______________________

Higuchi yutaka

It feels like we got here while being
in a constant state of “here and now”.
Honestly, I feel that it’d be nice if we
could keep going for as long as we can.

profile & information
Born 24 January 1967. Blood type: A. Bassist of BUCK-TICK which formed in 1985 and had its major debut in 1987.
buck-tick.com

Interview & Text ◎ Yoshida Koji

 

Here is Higuchi Yutaka’s version of song reviews for the band’s latest album 異空 -IZORA-, released 35 years after their major debut where he shares key points of his bass playing and his interpretation of each song from the Higuchi perspective.

I knew that it was going to be a great album for sure.
Everyone’s unconventional, so that expands our range too.

――Considering that last year was the 35th anniversary of the band’s major debut, did you ever think 35 years ago that this band would still be around 35 years later?

Yuta (Y): No, I don’t think such an idea even crossed my mind. It feels like we got here while being in a constant state of “here and now”.

――On the other hand, do you currently think about things like whether you’ll still be doing this in ten years and all that?

Y: I guess it would surprise no one that there is a bit of that recently. This is an odd topic, but that’s probably because I’m seeing my friends passing away more and more these days. But honestly, I personally feel that it’d be nice if we could keep going for as long as we can.

――I suppose that’s why this is one thing that hasn’t changed. Thinking about the future isn’t something you did when young, and it still isn’t something you do now.

Y: Yeah. I think it’s probably still the same sentiment. Because our vector always goes in the same direction, like how we release now and the next thing we look forward to is going on tour.

――So what’s the one thing in these 35 years that left the biggest impression on you?

Y: It’s got to be the period of time right after we debuted. We were up to our eyeballs in work while being utterly clueless about things. Work, as in, there were other things that we had to do even though all we had ever done [prior to debuting] was perform at livehouses with our instruments. There were interviews like this, appearances to do at record stores, meetings with sales staff, and all that.

――I recall the record company had branch offices in each major city back then.

Y: And it’s ultimately the idea that adults sell products. Well, although this is music we’re talking about. When we see everyone doing their best, we’d feel like we have to do our best too but then we have Production telling us, “Make music.” And Publicity telling us, “Go advertise.” And Sales telling us, “Go organise fan events.” We had people telling us to do all these kinds of things. Everyone would compete with each other to book times on our schedules so we couldn’t rest at all. Only on days when we were stuck travelling could we rest (lol). Those experiences I can never forget.

――Yagami-san said the same thing too. That they wanted to treat your travel time as off days.

Y: He said that? (Lol) But looking back at it now, I guess we were able to experience a whole lot of things because we went through that. Even though I just turned 20 at the time. It’s a good thing that happened at the time it did. If we were to go through that in our 30s, we’d probably start feeling like we don’t want to do this any more (lol). Because we didn’t know anything at the time so we thought our experiences were normal.

――This particular incident was also featured in the lyrics of Boogie Woogie in your new album, but it seems that in the middle of a tour, you all had to push a vehicle that ran out of fuel to move?

Y: On the Tomei Expressway, right? That was probably during our very first or second tour.

――You can still remember even now.

Y: I guess it’s because of how impactful it was. Our vehicle broke down because it ran out of fuel and we had to find a way to get it to the next parking area. I’m pretty sure we were in an area where Mount Fuji was visible too. So we just kept pushi—ng. And you know how parking areas are on a bit of a slope? When we got there, we were like, “Yes!  We did it!” and still pushing and it all went groon! (Lol)

――It sounds very much like youth.

Y: I guess you could say that it became a very significant part of our roots. Being able to go to each city to perform, seeing how [fans] have been waiting for us; that was when I feel a sense of fulfilment. I think it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this feeling is also connected to the present .

――If your car actually ran out of fuel, that probably means you were broke.

Y: That’s right. We’d pump just barely enough fuel for the road.

――Getting your major debut in such a situation, did it motivate you to want your music to be sellable?

Y: Rather than that, what I wanted more was to get feedback because we’re doing what we do.Because, for example, we could clearly tell that the people at the record company, these adults around us were happy for us. Everyone was all smiles. I feel like that’s not something that can be encapsulated in “wanting to sell well”.

――I’m going to change the subject here, but back in 2020, you were no longer able to hold concerts the same way you always have because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following that, you managed to hold shows at Yokohama Arena¹ last year, and even your first tour² since the pandemic.

Y: The first thing that came to mind was definitely how every band was probably going through the same thing because of COVID-19, and being unable to do anything was probably the most excruciating thing of all. So when the moment came that we could go on tour, I really felt like I finally understood how blessed we are to be able to do all these things we used to take for granted like touring, seeing everyone again. Also because when we started touring last year, there were still some people who were still worried and didn’t want to come. That’s why I’m sincerely grateful to those who did attend our concerts in the midst of that.

――In other words, it’s times like these when you appreciate your fans more than ever. Next, I’d like to move on to talking about your album³. To start, when did Higuchi-san switch to album production mode?

Y: I would’ve already gotten into that mode once I started recording, actually.

――I heard that it was last April when recording commenced. Back then, did you already have some expectation of how this album would turn out?

Y: That only came to me when I was about halfway through, in terms of the number of songs. But I knew that it was going to be a great album for sure. Each song could hold its own. Although I guess you could say that we know how to do this very well since the same could be said for quite a number of our songs. Everyone’s unconventional [in their own way], so that expands our range too.

――Back when ABRACADABRA⁴ was being released, one thing I remember very clearly from Higuchi-san’s interviewwas how you mentioned the band would avoid recording with each other, avoid having meals together, and head straight home right after you were done recording your parts. So it sounds like you’re saying that this time, it’s a complete opposite and things went pretty smoothly.

Y: That’s right. We didn’t have to go that far this time around.

――Does this mean you were able to talk about this and that and make changes during your recording sessions?

Y: That’s right. Because Imai-kun, Hide (Hoshino), the song composers would come too when I’m recording. Myself, I’d change certain things from the demo tapes I received, so I’d tell them how I’m going to do it and we’ll discuss things like that.

In extreme terms, I think this falls within the grounds of not playing anything (lol).
Because I really think that as long as I can enhance the song and the melody, it’s good enough.

――Did you encounter any new challenges when it came to bass recording this time around?

Y: Almost never happens? But I used an upright bass for Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue) and Hizumi. I also felt pretty satisfied with how it turned out.

――Any new equipment?

Y: Nope, not really, I think.

――On the other hand, is there a bass guitar that you always use for recording? Or one that you’ve consistently used in these 35 years?

Y: None to that extent.

――So what is your main go-to when you’re recording?

Y: I mostly use the Zemaitis, the Precision Bass (Fender), or the Ricken (Backer). Surprisingly, I’ve used the Ricken for quite along time. Since Speed⁶, I believe.

――So Higuchi-san isn’t the type to keep changing up the equipment that you use.

Y: Because when it comes to the bass, I feel that its neck is everything. That’s why I use necks that I’m fond of. The Fender Precision Bass, it’s probably made in 1968 so the neck was super warped. And I actually commissioned them to make the exact same neck for me again. Down to its weight. They made that for me and then changed the parts too.

――In short, that just shows how much you like it. The comfort level when you play this bass.

Y: Yeah. It’s not as if the guitar can’t be played anymore without the original parts, but it just feels kind of weird if I switch to playing it high.

――But I think that’s also a reflection of Higuchi-san’s play style. Right, then. Let’s hear about the [album] tracks from you. Excluding the instrumental tracks at the start and at the end, the first song we have on the album is SCARECROW.

Y: For this song, I used a 5-string for the first time in a while. The demo tape didn’t originally feature a 5-string, but I thought it might be a good idea anyway.

―Even though you wouldn’t use the low B?

Y: No, I used the 5-string because I wanted to hit lower. Imai-kun’s original version in the demo tape played the bassline with the higher strings of a regular 4-string, but I wanted to bring it lower. I thought it might be better to bring out that bleakness according to the image of this song.

――Which 5-string bass did you use?

Y: One from Greco. Although, if I were to drop tune for a concert, I would use a 4-string Music Man to do that.

――I feel that Higuchi-san’s bass playing has a very human touch to it. What is something you keep in mind when playing?

Y: It’s got to be the melody. I feel like I used to focus more on the rhythm but now I’ve come to tend towards focusing more on the melody. Something like a form which accentuates the melody.

――The melody of the vocals?

Y: There are occasions when the bass itself becomes the melody too, but it’s meant to enhance the melody. But doing that would also mean I’ll gradually stop playing the bass (lol). I guess that’s comfortable to me now, on the contrary. Because in the past, I would’ve headed towards trying to bury it but now I don’t really want to.

――Would you say that your style of bass playing changed drastically in that aspect?

Y: A lot has changed, but the period that gets these comments the most has got to be darker than darkness -style93- ⁷.

――In other words, back in 1993.

Y: Because that’s when I switched from playing on beat to playing by groove. And another period when I sensed things changing bit by bit was around memento mori⁸.

――So, per your words earlier, you find yourself simplifying things as much as possible to enhance the melody itself.

Y: Yes.

――What are your thoughts on SCARECROW?

Y: I definitely thought that it changed a lot once the lyrics came in. That he’s really amazing, Acchan (Sakurai). Things like that. 

――Next, Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries).

Y: This, I thought, whoa, Imai-kun, amazing (lol). It’s what you probably call a guitar-based composition, right? The arrangement of this song.

――How did you play your bass?

Y: This was done really simple. It’s so simple that we could probably cut and paste it but they wouldn’t let me (lol). Although that’s what made it interesting too, on the other hand.

――It’s a pretty heavy groove, though.

Y: But even though it’s heavy, how do I explain this… It’s got that uncomfortable, disturbing feeling that Western music had towards the end of the 80s and the start of the 90s (lol).

――Did you use a 4-string for this?

Y: 4-string, yes. I only used the 5-string in SCARECROW.

――Next, we have the album version of Sayonara Shelter.

Y: Our director had the same idea about this song, that it’s absolutely better that we release this song first. Given the historical times we live in. And that’s pretty much why it was released ahead of time.

――You have already decided to include it in the album, but it was included in your 35th anniversary best-of concept album⁹ and shown to the world ahead of the album first.

Y: Yeah. Because we felt that was the most appropriate time.

――In the album, the suffix destroy and regenerate-Mix has been attached to the song and you’ve invited Sachi-san from Kokushoku Sumire to play the violin here. What do you think about the album version of this song?

Y:  I think it’s great. They probably invited her to participate with the thought that it would definitely make the song more interesting if they changed it a little after releasing it like that.

――Next, Ai no Harem (Harem of Love). It sounds like Hoshino-san’s song has turned into a good hook for this album again.

Y: Yeah. It’s really as if something like an interlocking between the composers exists. And when that becomes a part of the album, it makes the whole even better, doesn’t it?

――I believe long tones and muting were crucial in playing the bass for this song.

Y: I originally wanted to try playing it almost the exact same way as what was in Hide’s demo tape, but I ended up changing a few patterns in it. Like taking it out or not.

――So, subtractions. In terms of fingers?

Y: Fingers, yes.

――Next, Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Bouquet for you). A cheerful song finally arrives at this point but…

Y: Personally, this song was the most difficult one of all.

――What made it difficult

Y: The groove. Because I somehow couldn’t quite get into the groove in a good way. But, well, it turned out nicely in the end anyway.

――Putting it another way, I guess we could say that that made the song one you played with purpose.

Y: Yeah. That’s what makes me look forward to playing songs like this one on tour more than others.

We produce the album and then complete it during the tour.
I look forward to touring. We get to find out how [the songs] will evolve.

――Next, THE FALLING DOWN. Was there anything in particular you kept in mind when producing such a bouncy rock ‘n’roll groove?

Y: We already made the decision to make this one sound crunchy. Even though it’s bouncy, it sounds crunchy, so it’s really got this “bzt, bzt” feeling. The song’s got a really straightforward vibe so I figured it would be better to play this one without too much thinking.

――How do you feel about the bounciness? 

Y: Surprisingly, I like it. Somehow, I realise I’m becoming bouncier and bouncier on the whole, as I grow older.

――I understand that feeling. You get this bounce that doesn’t translate to musical notation even for a regular 8-beat song, right?

Y: That’s why I also find myself finally understanding recently what an 8-beat is probably supposed to sound like.

――It’s your own 8-beat groove that’s slightly bouncy, and not the precise 8-beat that comes from a music score.

Y: Yes. I don’t want it flat.

――Your thoughts on Imai-san’s vocals? Although, there are already quite a number of songs with his singing now.

Y: But I definitely think that we’re able to show a lot of different sides of ourselves because these songs exist.

――So, one day, we’ll hear Higuchi-san too.

Y: Nah, that’s never going to happen (lol).

――Next, Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus). What did you think when the song first came to you?

Y: I had the impression that it’s a cheerful song. And that it would be in the running to become a single. Rather, that it would probably reach that stage.

――So it wasn’t a song that was recommended for a single release from the outset.

Y: That’s right. Because that’s something we rarely do.

――Anything you took note of when playing bass for it?

 Y: I go up and down for this song. So properly, and carefully.

――You wanted to play carefully

Y: Or rather, personally, I think that going up and down makes things messy. Because playing it like that is similar to strokes on a guitar. I’m more careful with the down strokes here. So I play carefully to make sure it doesn’t end up sounding messy. It might just be me, but when I first received the demo tape, I felt like I was listening to a song by The Jam.

――A rock band from the early era.

Y: Yeah. I thought that’s the kind of song it was, that’s why I decided to play up-down like that, though.

――Next, Boogie Woogie. Literally, a boogie song.

Y: Don’t you think it’s the newest frontier for BUCK-TICK in this whole album? We don’t really have songs like this one, do we? Because, although the acoustic version of Uta¹⁰ had this vibe, we almost never bring out such a blatantly energetic vibe. I’m looking forward to bringing such an energy to our live performances.

――Next, Mugen LOOP -IZORA- (Infinity LOOP). 

Y: This was another song I thought was definitely in the running to become a single though.

――And it did actually become a single¹¹. A 16-beat melody basically makes it what people call city pop, though.

Y: Yeah. That’s why for the bass in this song, it might be weird to describe it as taking it in and out, but the groove I brought in was like that. This song is pretty interesting, isn’t it?

――It is. Although it’s city pop, there’s no doubt that it still has that wonky rock groove unique to BUCK-TICK.

Y: That is also what makes it a personal favourite for me too. Also, I think it was pretty well done.

――Next, Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue).

Y: This is another song where I immediately decided I would use an upright bass for the moment I received it. It’s kind of hard to describe; because it’s not exactly jazzy but it’s got that vibe. I do want to try playing this with a real wood bass too, though. But it won’t be suitable for musicians like us since we perform in halls. The sound would get screwed up and all that.

――Because it’s just not the same as performing in livehouses like rockabilly and jazz musicians.

Y: And also because I don’t do those kinds of slaps. I won’t really get to do that playing normal basslines. I could do it if we performed in the quiet settings that jazz musicians have, but since we have music going on, the whole soundscape would have to come to a sudden standstill [if I were to do that].

――Does that mean your touch and other factors would change when you use an electric upright bass?

Y: It will. I think…… I can’t really stray too far from the original pitch, but I guess bit by bit, I’m starting to understand lately that even if I do shift away from it, there’s some flavour that I’ll bring in. It’s like I’ll sound more like the real thing if I stray off instead (lol).

――Do you enjoy playing the upright?

Y: I actually quite like it.

――Next, Hizumi.

Y: This one features an upright too. The vibe here somehow feels kind of like a Tom Waits song; that’s what I thought when I received the demo tape.

――I get what you mean. That apathetic jazzy feeling befitting of an American bar.

Y: I got the vibe of Tom Waits’ slightly darker songs, so I thought the upright bass might be just the fit for it.

――And finally, the last song on the album which has lyrics, Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless).

Y: I also thought this had the potential to become a single.

――Really?

Y: Really, I thought it was a great song ever since I heard the demo tape. So, with our recording process, the guitars and all that comes first, right? After that, when Acchan’s part came in, I again thought, “Ah, what an amazing song it’s become.”

――What did you focus on when playing the bass here?

Y: For this song, it’s the same as the melody thing I mentioned earlier. Trying not to play more than necessary and all that. Dum……da-da-da…… Like that.

――That’s what we often call “restrained playing” though. Something within those grounds.

Y: Nah, in extreme terms, I think this falls within the grounds of not playing anything (lol). As good as plain dango without toppings. But it’s also because I really think that as long as I can enhance the song and the melody, it’s good enough. To the extent where I think it’s okay for me to sit out (lol).

――Playing in a way that is as good as “not playing” somehow sounds like some kind of zen answer.

Y: The bass in this song is really like that, isn’t it?

――Zen bass playing (lol). I’m sure this is another song that you would like people to hear live.

Y: But I really think it applies to the whole song, though. I say this every time, but for us, it’s definitely a case of producing the album and then completing it during the tour. When we try playing [a song] together, I’d get light bulb moments like, “Ah, so this song makes the listener feels like that.” That’s why I look forward to touring. Because we get to find out how [the songs] will evolve.

――Especially since this tour¹² is really one that is meant to carry the album. Looking forward to it is all there is.

Y: Yes. This being a tour during our 35th anniversary year firstly means that we get to see everyone again. And this time, I guess you could say that this time, we could go back to how things were. The rules on cheering have been relaxed too. It wouldn’t be immediate, but it would be nice if we could hold concerts the way we used to again.

 

 

Notes:

¹ Yokohama Arena=Where “BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~” was held on 23〜24 September 2022.

² Tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv.” which was held between October and December 2022 (some shows postponed).

³ Album=Their 23rd album, 異空 -IZORA-. Released 12 April.

ABRACADABRA=Their 22nd album. Released September 2020.

Interview=Published in this magazine’s 91st issue, released September 2020.

Speed=Their 3rd single. Released January 1991.

darker than darkness -style93-=Their 7th album. Released July 1993.

memento mori=Their 16th album. Released February 2009.

Best-of concept=Their best-of concept album, CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.. Released September 2022.

¹⁰ Acoustic version of UtaUta Ver.2021 (唄 Ver.2021) which was recorded on their 40th single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN. Released September 2021.

¹¹ SingleMugen LOOP (無限 LOOP), their 42nd single. Released 22 March.¹² This tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-” which commences on 19 April.

 

 

Return to Top

_______________________

Yagami Toll

I recently bought snares,
the supers sensitive type. To start with, I was using
a full-face when we debuted, so
I’m going back to my roots at 60.

profile & information
Born 19 August 1962. Blood type: A. Drummer of BUCK-TICK which formed in 1985 and had its major debut in 1987.
buck-tick.com

Interview & Text ◎ Yoshida Koji

 

BUCK-TICK’s style of recording music basically sees the drummer entering the studio last for recording among the members. The person who gets a bird’s eye view of the band, Yagami Toll, a.k.a. Anii tells us about the key notes regarding the drum groove in this album. And shares priceless stories from 35 years ago!

I want to re-record SEXUAL xxxxx! with my current level of skill.
But I won’t be able to pull it off the same way, for sure. You won’t get that recklessly-rushing-forward kind of feeling.

――You turned 60 last August, so, did anything change?

Toll (T): I don’t really pay it much attention. Because it’s just the passing of another year, isn’t it?

――How’s your back?

T: It’s alright. Since I do my stretches and all that before getting down to it.

――I assume that’s one of the methods you’ve cultivated over more than 35 years to ensure you can keep going, right?

T: That’s because I was, how old was it, in my late 40s? When I changed, right. I started going to the gym, changed my drumming form too. In short, everything underwent change. I don’t think anyone else knows, but I even changed my drumsticks to lighter ones, and my drumming range of movement. I used longer sticks in the past.

――You’re saying you used to rely on centrifugal force to drum?

T: I could do that when I was young, because I was flexible. If I do that now, I’d be gone, so I guess I can’t anymore (lol). And recently, I’ve started wearing gloves. With gloves on, it’s made things even more comfortable.

――But I thought that Yagami-san’s posture has always been great, even 35 years ago. You’ve always kept your back so straight. You don’t do that on purpose?

T: I don’t, not at all. Because it’s one of those things I’ve just carried on doing since my amateur days. It’s as simple as a matter of, “I’ll drum like this since this is the type of song we’re performing”. Being in my 20s back then, I didn’t really care about form and all those things. Although, maybe [my posture is] because I was a steelworker when I was young. When I was 18 up until I was 21, I was working with steel bars at construction sites and we really had to take care of our backs.

――You’ve got a strong back to begin with.

T: That’s why I understand the purpose of gloves, ever since my steelworking days. My seniors would tell me. Compared to doing things barehanded, people would ultimately only exert more strength when they’re protected. You’d often find jars that you can’t open because they’re stuck tight, right? You’ll be able to open them right up the moment you put on gloves. But you won’t be able to barehanded. As to why, it’s because you’re not going all out. Or rather, you can’t go all out. Because if you did, you’d get injured and all that. That’s why, now, wearing gloves…… I’m weighing it, all the time. Like on my right, [the drumstick feels] about 5 grams lighter and on the left, it feels about 5 grams heavier, but somehow, it all feels lighter when I’m wearing gloves as opposed to holding them barehand.

――There’s a left side and a right side even though they should be the same sticks, right?

T: But generally, what I heard from a lot of people and among my drummer friends too is that the left definitely feels heavier. In the end, I think it’s just the non-dominant arm making up the weight. There was a time when I also used a knocker type stick on this (left) side.

――The tipless type.

T: And on this (right) side, I used the regular tipped ones. That probably happened around the time we released Aku no Hana¹ and Kurutta Taiyou². Doing that would somehow make it more difficult to notice shot irregularities, something like that.

――So what’s the one thing you’ve got on your mind as you look back at the past 35 years?

T: Ahh, I want to re-record SEXUAL xxxxx!³ with my current level of skill. Ahahahaha! But I won’t be able to pull it off the same way, for sure. You won’t get that recklessly-rushing-forward kind of feeling.

Probably because I read How to be BIG (成りあがり) in high school.
That’s why I’d have the desire to perform at the Budokan and all that.

――But that’s good, isn’t it? By the way, it comes up in the lyrics of Boogie Woogie too, but it appears that you had the experience of your car breaking down on the Tomei Expressway in the past and everyone had to push it forward together.

T: Yeah. All manner of things happened. I think that might’ve happened on the Great Seto Bridge too. Since we were broke, we’d try and save money by refueling with the bare minimum of what we’d need, right? So even though we’re saying, we’re still good, we’re still good, that’s how we ran out of gas in the end. It’s hilarious, isn’t it? That’s just how broke we were. Myself, when I was steelworking, I weighed 60kg at my peak. Then when I was around 21, I started playing in a contest band, and then I joined BUCK-TICK at 23. Which means in those 2 years or so, I actually lost 10kg.

――Because you were broke.

T: Exactly. Living the broke life in Asagaya. (At the time, I was living with) Yuta (Higuchi) and he told me, we’re going to live on Baby Star Ramen for the next three days. I was all, that’s not a good joke. Like, give me a break. Don’t make me live like this. And you know how the water supply is considered as a life line, right? The water supply is the last one to get cut off, right? Ours did get cut.

――First goes gas, then electricity, and finally water.

T: Even our life line got cut (lol). When we made our debut, I only weighed 48kg. I went from 60kg to 48kg. I was living on the real poor man’s diet.

――But it’s a funny story now when you look back on it. Back then, did you honestly ever think you’d come this far?

T: I don’t know, but I had goals and the sort. Probably because I read How to be BIG (成りあがり / Nari Agari) in high school. The book by Yazawa (Eikichi)-san. That’s why I’d have the desire to perform at the Budokan. And Korakuen Stadium, although it doesn’t exist anymore. But I also wanted to perform at Tokyo Dome⁴. And Seibu Stadium⁵. When we first got to perform at the Budokan and Tokyo Dome, I was around the same age as Yazawa-san when he first did too, though.

――That’s the Yagami style of How to be BIG. Then, I assume you did want your music to sell well.

T: Rather, when we debut, I didn’t feel that joy you’re supposed to get by debuting. Partly because I felt that we’d be let go if we didn’t at least achieve a certain amount of sales. I thought, if we didn’t at least show some amount of success, we’re doomed. Because, you see, the goal isn’t simply to debut.

――In other words, it wasn’t paradise simply because you managed a major debut.

T: You’d eventually be expected to chart when you release your debut work, right? And SEXUAL xxxxx! was in thirty-something place. That was like, oh, shit. Because it felt like you have to minimally reach top ten or you’ll be dropped. But also, seriously, at the time, we were already running a crazy packed schedule. It was so awful that we really didn’t even have time to sleep or anything. I still remember our manager at the time going back and forth with the promotion people from Victor about our schedule. They opened up our schedule book and said, “It’s empty here.” And he said something like, that’s the day we’re travelling back or something. Then [the Victor staff] wanted to count that day we’re travelling back from tour as a day off. And he was arguing, that’s no day off! (Lol)

――I used to often hold interviews in the bullet train too back then.

T: That’s why it honestly felt like we barely got to rest in the first two, three years after we debuted.

――And you even had to style your hair up.

T: That too. If I had to do it from scratch, working on it on my own would probably take me about two hours, right? But we didn’t even have that kind of time. So I’d just sleep on my side with my hair still styled and take about thirty minutes to an hour to fix it before getting back to work. That’s why I’d only get to leave my hair down around two or three days a week. Because it’s faster to just fix it. It just so happened that the band members of PERSONZ were coming over to my home on one of those days off and I went to pick them up from the station. [When they saw me] they asked, “Huh, Anii, do you style your hair up like this all the time?” And I told them, “It’s only because I have work the day after tomorrow.” (Lol)

――Ahahaha. We’re going to change the subject here, but last year, following your show at Yokohama Arena⁶, you also went on your first tour⁷ since the COVID-19 pandemic started. How did you feel being on stage?

T: Really glad that we could make it happen, you know? Since it’s been such a long while. But no one could vocalise, they could only clap. I didn’t know whether to say it’s hilarious or not because of how much their response changed (lol). Because the cheers that we get are quite something, aren’t they? It’s already pretty hysterical back when we debuted (lol).

――How was the Yokohama Arena show?

T: I might’ve been more nervous for that one than Budokan. It somehow felt really huge. And it’s got quite a bit of length to it, right? That’s why I remember feeling a bit nervous.

――To think even Yagami-san would feel nervous.

T: Yeah. A bit (lol).

At worst, I recorded three songs in one day. It’s normal for me to record two songs within a day anyway.
It’s like Imai gives me a push and I roll (lol).

――And while you’re doing all that, you’ve also been working on the production of this new album⁹. How long were you in recording mode for?

T: I started recording around April of last year.

――One year ago. That’s quite a long time.

T: We initially planned to release two albums. That’s why we were working on it with a much more hurried pace than usual. At worst, I recorded three songs in one day. It’s like Imai gives me a push and I roll (lol). It’s normal for me to record two songs within a day anyway. It’s just that I have to rehearse a lot. Because the situation was such that when I [entered the studio], it’s purely for recording purposes. Which means I’d drum [a song] about only five times and only spend time deciding on what kind of sound we’re going for [in the studio]. And since way back I’ve never liked drumming like that very much (lol). Didn’t we release a 25th anniversary box¹⁰ for Aku no Hana? There’s an LP in there and it was my idea to have copies of the que sheet that was with the vinyl record. When you look at it, you’ll know exactly how many takes we took. Majority of the time I only needed one take and it would be good enough to be used for the record. That’s why it really feels as if I barely drummed. Ultimately I feel the most motivated when I do [the first take] so that probably made people feel that it was good to use.

――But doesn’t Yagami-san feel uneasy like this?

T: Precisely because I rehearsed that much ahead of time. In a way, I feel myself becoming more and more comfortable as I go.

――BUCK-TICK’s current style of recording means that drums are recorded last, but back when you did Aku no Hana, drums actually came first, right?

T: When we used to record drums first, it basically would mean that drums and bass and (Hoshino) Hide’s rhythm guitar are more or less recorded together. When we worked on SEXUAL xxxxx!, it was literally these three parts recording simultaneously. That’s why we were done quick. See, we took two to three weeks to finish SEXUAL xxxxx!. While HURRY UP MODE¹¹ only took us around ten days, including mixing. Because we really did it like, “One, two, and~”. We’d just fix the singing and the guitar solos a little bit after that. That’s why albums like SEXUAL xxxxx!, HURRY UP MODE were pretty much live studio sessions where we recorded together.

――And then it got more and more experimental. Like Six/Nine¹².

T: That was never-ending though. And multiple things were going on at the same time already. Like, there was a studio for rhythm players to record, another studio for the mixing. It felt like the early stages of production were going on simultaneously with the late stages.

――For this album, did Yagami-san have any expectation of how it would turn out?

T: Nope. It’s always the case where I can’t really tell when it’s Imai or Hide filling in the vocals first. It’s only after Acchan (Sakurai) has written and sung the lyrics when I’ll feel, “Ah, this is good,” for the first time. Because the song would somehow sound like a song by some UK indie band with Imai’s substitute singing (lol).

――I get the feeling that would sound cool too, though (lol). So here, I’d like to have Yagami-san comment on each song [on the new album]. Skipping the instrumental track in the beginning, let’s start with the first actual song on the album, SCARECROW.

T: There’s this kind of half-time feeling and then at the chorus or something it turns into an 8-beat, doesn’t it? Both share the same tempo but we’ve deliberately changed the nuance of it. During the half-time beat I drummed as heavily as possible, and when things speed up, I tried to make it feel like we’re charging all the way to the very edge. I used a clicker so the tempo is actually the same. That’s why I say that it’s just the nuance that changed.

――Next, Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries). How did you bring out heaviness when you drum?

T: In short, by holding the sticks in reverse and getting the rimshot in deep. And also changing the drumming position. If I want to keep things light, I can just hit the edge anyway.

――So that means you drummed soft for the next song, Sayonara Shelter -destroy and regenerate-Mix.

T: That’s right, I didn’t use a lot of strength.

――The album version includes violins. What are your thoughts on that?

T: She’s good, isn’t she? Sacchan (Sachi) from Kokushoku (Sumire). Genius Sacchan. It’s just amazing, her ability to improvise.

――[The melody] wasn’t written out on a score, right?

T: I believe not.

――Next, Ai no Harem (Harem of Love).

T: It’s a song by Hide, but the rap bit in the middle of it was interesting. Because that’s exactly how he sung it in the demo tape, as a substitute.

――Ahh. So you can hear Hoshino-san rapping in the demo tape.

T: That’s right. And I think I might’ve used real leather for this song. Cow. That’s often the case with Hide’s songs. There’s a song, Luna Park¹³ previously where I used real leather too.

――Aren’t snare heads usually made of plastic?

T: Not actually. Using real leather would make a rounder sound. I heard there used to be tons of varieties. Like pigskin, sheepskin. That’s what I learnt when I had that dialogue with Inomata Takeshi-san. I asked him what kinds there were, and he said cowhide was the most expensive, but when they didn’t have the money for it, they’d buy horse or sheep. But pigskin has porse so the moment a brush or something gets in, it would rip in an instant. That’s why they try to avoid pigskin but he still would if he didn’t have enough money. Then he’d have to deal with it breaking a lot.

――Such a topic feels like you shared the secret behind the sound of the drums in this song. Because I think it has a unique warmth to it. Next, Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Bouquet for you). The tune here kind of lightens things up here.

T: But I bet no one ever thought that such a tune would carry words like “machine gun” and “missile” in its lyrics (lol).

――It’s not something you’d expect when you hear the music.

T: That’s why I had fun drumming it (lol).

――With the way these lyrics would surprise people (lol). Next, THE FALLING DOWN. Isn’t it difficult to drum such a bouncy rock groove?

T:  But it’s my own way of bouncy. It differs from person to person, doesn’t it? The nuance. This is my style.

――So you just had to bring in your own groove.

T: Or rather, it’s the only thing I can do. When it comes to this kind of a groove, the only way I can execute it is with my own nuance, right?

――Man, I think it’s a really cool groove, though. Up next, Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus).

T: This, I decided to drum like I’m in a really good mood (lol). The melody feels like that, high spirited. The kind of feeling that makes me want to try and drum hard.

――Next, Boogie Woogie, an unexpected boogie rock song, but is this also the same style of groove that Yagami-san spoke about?

T: The riff kind of reminded me of (Led) Zeppelin though. That was how they played it with programming but I tweaked it into something I could easily drum. This is another song I thought had interesting lyrics.

――We also touched on it earlier, how it’s got true stories thrown in as well. Next, Mugen LOOP -IZORA- (Infinity LOOP). BUCK-TICK’s style of city pop.

T: Isn’t it great? I really like songs like these.

――Yagami-san enjoys city pop too?

T: I do. Think about it, I like artists like Yuming right from the start. I even liked (Yamashita) Tatsuro-san too. So when I was performing with the Carol cover band, I was covering Yuming and Tatsuro-san and all these other artists after everyone went home.

――So while drumming 8-beat songs, you were drumming 16-beat songs too.

T: That’s right. The very first album I bought by Tatsuro-san was MOONGLOW, and in it was a song called RAINY WALK. The drums on that song were by (Takahashi) Yukihiro-san. He just kept going “Zut-ta, su-tzu-tzu-tzu……” It was like torture. On and on and on. That was the kind of thing I practised.

――Repeating the same thing over and over; in other words, drumming developed through endurance. That was during your teens, right? Have you never had the thought that it’s boring while doing that?

T: I never did. I guess it’s ultimately because hearing studio musicians like them drum inspires me.

――I feel like I managed to glimpse the starting point of the Yagami groove. By the way, what do you think about Yokoyama Kazutoshi-san’s remix¹⁴ of Mugen LOOP for the single?

T: I received a message from the staff asking, “How’s it?” and after I gave it a listen, I replied, “Tell Yoko-chan that I said it’s excellent.”

――Sounds very Yagami-san (lol). Next, Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue).

T: I thought it sounds kind of like reggae, in the beginning. With Imai’s singing.

――The jazz 4-beat you drummed sounds so sophisticated, it’s really cool.

T: I really had to work in the ambience for this one.

――It doesn’t sound muted.

T: Actually, I generally don’t do muting all that much. Like maybe this tom drum or that, no, I don’t really [mute anything].

――Next, we have Hizumi.

T: For this song, in terms of nuance, it’s like a “Come, come on, come have a look” kind of vibe. I suppose that’s why I tried to go with a rather bleary feel. For the drum.

――Deliberately cheapening the feel.

T: I went into a tiny little booth, enclosed the bass drum and made it super dead.

――On top of that, you also made sure that the bass drum was tight, right?

T: That’s right. And that there’s no interference. There’s actually quite a bit of that. Like I’d use the one that won’t make the cymbals sound.

――And, excluding the last instrumental track, the final song on the album is Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless).

T: It’s got the Okinawan scale, right? The tuning I did for this song was pretty close to what I use in live performances.

――I could really see this song being performed live and I suppose one of the reasons for that might have to do with the drum tuning you mentioned. By the way, do you change the way you think about how you drum depending on whether it’s a live show or a recording session?

T: I don’t. Because in our case, we aim to recreate the songs. So it’s like making all the right sounds in sequence.

――Don’t you seek the rhythmic swings that come from the roller coaster of emotions that can only come from live performances?

T: Instead, I actually can’t. Because now, I’m listening to click tracks for all the songs. And the lighting is also coordinated too. It’s really become a whole show. That’s why I’m more than happy to listen to it. The clicks. Since I’ve grown used to it recently (lol).

――That can’t be. I’m sure you used clicks even 35 years ago, right?

T: Using clicks, the first time was around the time we released Dress¹⁵.

――You have an upcoming tour¹⁶ for this album, and for this tour, Yagami-san’s priority is to focus recreating the source music, right?

T: That’s right. I want to execute it well, though. Right now, I’m thinking about what I should use, but I recently bought snares. Again. The super sensitive rim-clamped ones*.

――The Ludwig ones? The type of snare where the snare wires protrude from the head.

T: Yeah. From the 1970s. You know Drum City? I went there, and somehow, they told me that they procured it for me. So I bought it from them, can’t be helped, right? (Lol)

――It’s nice that you’re excited about having bought a new snare even at 60.

T: The first super sensitive I got was a gift that came with the Vistalite drum set that I bought. The rim-clamped one. But I’m not very familiar with the Vistalite, its nuance, you know? Just as I was thinking about buying a proper one, it so happened that I went to the store and it was there, I thought, “Ah, they said they procured this for me.” To start with, I was using Pearl’s full-face snare when we debuted. That’s why I feel great drumming on a rim-clamped snare for the first time in years. I’m going back to my roots at 60, ahahaha!

 

 

Notes:

¹ Aku no Hana = Their 4th album. Released February 1990.

² Kurutta Taiyou =Their 5th album. Released February 1991.

³ SEXUAL xxxxx! =Their first major album. Released November 1987.

Tokyo Dome=Where “BUCK-TICK Phenomenon (バクチク現象 / BUCK-TICK Genshou)” was held on 29 December 1989.

Seibu Stadium =Where “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was held on 2 August 1990. Now named Belluna Dome.

Yokohama Arena =Where “BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~” was held on 23〜24 September 2022.

Tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv.” which was held between October and December 2022 (some shows postponed).

Budokan=Where  “BUCK-TICK 2022 TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan” was held on 29 December 2022.

New album=Their 23rd album, 異空 -IZORA-. Released 12 April.

¹⁰ 25th anniversary boxAku no Hana -Completeworks- which was released in February 2015.

¹¹ HURRY UP  MODE=Their indie album. Released April 1987.

¹² Six/Nine=Their 8th album. Released May 1995.

¹³ Luna Park=Recorded on their 38th single, Datenshi. Released January 2020.

¹⁴ RemixMugen LOOP -LEAP- which was recorded on their 42nd single, Mugen LOOP. released 22 March.

¹⁵ Dress=Their 6th single. Released May 1993.

¹⁶ Tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-” which commences on 19 April.

* I actually have a really hard time trying to explain/translate what the Japanese call 全面当たり (zenmen atari – full-faced/rim-clamped?) which is the specific type Toll said he bought.
全面当たり refers to setting up the snare wires such that the snare wires protrude from the bottom head of the snare. This is mostly used for classic models.
内面当たり (naimen atari) is refers to setting up snare wires such that the whole length of it fits within the diameter of the snare drum. It’s the popular setting these days. 
Apparently there is no differentiating term for these two set-ups in English. 内面当たり appears to be the standard assumption.
For a visual representation of the difference between the two, click here. (Left is 内面当たり, right is 全面当たり)

 

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

Part 2

_______________________

Full『異空 -IZORA-』Song Review

異空 -IZORA- has 14 songs including the two opening and ending instrumental tracks.
To complement the interviews with each of the five members of the band, do read these commentaries for each of the tracks as well.

Text ◎ Okubo Yuka

  1. QUANTUM Ⅰ

An opening sound effect track that  sounds like the opening to the doors of a new chapter following the band’s 35 debut anniversary. A strong vitality can be felt from the power of each particle of sound.

 

  1. SCARECROW

Listeners who approach this album with the impression of “light” that the preceding singles, Taiyou to Icarus and Mugen LOOP carried would feel like this dark song has suddenly shoved them into the gloom. Lodged in the ground and unable to run away, the scarecrow sings of loneliness and despair. From the very beginning, the guitar arpeggio appears at key points in the song, evoking melancholy while the heavily reverberating bass resonates with despair.

 

  1. ワルキューレの騎行 [Warukyuure no Kikou / Ride of Valkyries]

A solemn and theatrical track. In old Norse mythology, valkyries are “maidens who select slain warriors”. Be it life or death, good or evil, only a fine line draws the distinction between each side. Lyrics that seem to flounder and struggle against absurdity leave a deep impression. The brisk, steady rhythm of the bass drum sounds like the regimented advance of calvary footsteps. The scale that the orchestra brings in the middle of the song is also nothing short of emotional.

 

  1. さよならシェルター destroy and regenerate-Mix [Sayonara Shelter]

The album version of Sayonara Shelter which was first released in September 2022 through the band’s 35th anniversary commemorative best-of concept album “CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.”. The addition of violins played by Kokushoku Sumire’s Sachi brings a sense of greenery and the feeling of light raining down to the song, adding the nuance of hope to the subtitle “destroy and regenerate”.

 

  1. 愛のハレム [Ai no Haremu / Harem of Love]

A mid-tempo track with its foundations in dub. The exotic rhythm which continues from the intro, and words like “Casablanca” and “Marrakesh” all hint towards the setting of this tale; Morocco. The second half of the song is the very heart of this track which creates an aura of indescribable foreboding with its narrative-style vocals and whispers chasing after it.

 

  1. Campanella 花束を君に [Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni / A Bouquet for You]

A traditional pop song that starts with scat and a jaunty guitar riff. Lyrics which spell war through the eyes of an innocent young boy have been stripped of superfluous words and are frankly simple. With its startlingly straightforward words sung in the manner of a sprightly young child along to a cheerful melody, this is one song that depicts the times we live in.

 

  1. THE FALLING DOWN

The only song in this album with both music and lyrics composed by Imai Hisashi, it’s got a bold, heavy guitar riff playing to a shuffle beat. It’s got a simple structure made out of a verse and a chorus sung by an angel falling from grace. With Imai’s rap-style singing in the verses and Sakurai singing as if he were almost shouting, this is a track that is bound to shine live.

 

  1. 太陽とイカロス [Taiyou to Icarus / The Sun and Icarus]

Sparkly sounding synth sounds and a catchy melody filled with momentum, this track sounds so fresh that it could almost rewrite the image that BUCK-TICK has had all this time. Yet at the same time, it tugs at your heartstrings because of how fleeting this optimism is. Inspired by the myth of Icarus, the lyrics are nothing short of excellence with the way it intricately describes the wavering emotions of the protagonist as he flies for the heavens with destiny weighing on his shoulders. I hope that listeners will pay close attention to the lyrics which place focus on each and every notation in this song.

 

  1. Boogie Woogie

Born from a striking guitar riff, this song is as its title suggests; a boogie track. The effective sound scape and theremin-enhanced interludes were impressive too. Lyrics which incorporate truths like stories from the band’s early days and the name of a bar the members frequented make the song all the more fun and dramatic.

 

  1. 無限 LOOP -IZORA- [Mugen LOOP / Infinity LOOP]

The album version feels lighter compared to the version of this song that was released in the preceding single. It begins with just one small bar of a synth riff and that riff loops on from the start of the song to the very end. The refreshing music inspires a resort-like atmosphere and is accompanied by singing that sounds beautiful yet somewhat haunting, like something delusive. Sakurai’s high-pitched chorus is another highlight to look out for.

 

  1. 野良猫ブルー [Noraneko Blue / Stray Cat Blue]

A jazzy, bluesy number that effectively employs swinging drums and the timbres of a piano and a double bass. The story of a man reeling at a stray cat living its life freely somehow gives off the atmosphere of some backwater suburb in the Showa era. The desperation of the trilling vocals mixed with the raucous wild piano that comes in towards the end is especially delicious.

 

  1. ヒズミ [Hizumi]

A riff that came from the intertwining of two guitars and a double bass tinged in melancholy has created an unsettling and dismal worldview. The complicated emotions and distressed cries of a protagonist who has had no choice but to distort themself are sung along to a tune that moves on with indifference. The outro is heartrending too, with the distortion of the guitars in the outro sounding like an explosion of suppressed emotions.

 

  1. 名も無きわたし [Na mo Naki Watashi / I, Nameless]

A ballad with a gorgeous Japanese melody. The arpeggio that goes on throughout the strong  sounds ephemerally beautiful, like dancing flower petals fluttering down and scattering. A single, nameless stalk of flower is the main character here telling of its small joys in everyday life, its encounters and farewells. Despite its short life, it lives with no regret, blooming as wildly as it can to the best of its ability. It is such a message which resounds in our hearts, quietly encouraging us.

 

  1. QUANTUM Ⅱ

The ending sound effect track that closes off this album. “QUANTUM” is defined as “an integer multiple of a unit quantity” but the keyboards which enter in the middle to play the single-note melody also invokes the “Quantum Prayer”, bringing the message of a “wish” with it.

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

Album cover of ABRACADABARA, BUCK-TICK

2020.09.21 | Victor Entertainment
ABRACADABRA

Dance Heaven

Words by Sakurai Atsushi

Music By Hoshino Hidehiko

Japanese

 

太陽踊ろう
ギラギラ踊ろう
燃え尽きてやろう
命の限り

汗が飛び散るキラめく
Ah ha Majority
生きている証だろう
Ah ha Minority

どうしようも無い
ギラギラね
腰を振ればそう
世界中ダンス天国
さあ踊ろう 禁断の実¹を
ほうら 頬張って

刹那的 衝動的
Ah ha 悪魔的
諸行無常² 色即是空³
Ah ha 有象無象

女でも 男でも
どっちでもいいのさ
世界中ダンス天国
アッハ?
あの子はどう? ギラギラね
腰を振ればそう
世界中ダンス天国
さあ踊ろう 禁断の実を
ほうら 口いっぱい

その調子 Shake It Shake Hip
踊りましょう
唇に マッシュポテト⁴
それ頂戴

いい感じ Shake It Shake Hip
続けましょう
指先に マッシュポテト
しゃぶりつけ

アッハ!
女でも 男でも
どっちでもいいのさ
世界中ダンス天国
プッフィ!
あの子はどう? ギラギラね
腰を振ればそう
世界中ダンス天国
さあ踊ろう 禁断の実を
ほうら 頬張って

Romaji

By: Yoshiyuki

Taiyou odorou
Giragira odorou
Moetsukite yarou
Inochi no kagiri

Ase ga tobichiru kirameku
Ah ha Majority
Ikiteiru shou darou
Ah ha Minority

Doushou mo nai
Gira gira ne
Koshi wo fureba sou
sekaijyuu dansu tengoku
Saa odorou Kindan no mi wo
Houra houbatte

Setsuna teki shoudou teki
Ah ha akuma teki
Shougyoumujou Sekisokuzekuu
Ah ha Uzoumuzou

Onna demo Otoko demo
Docchi demo ii no sa
Sekaijuu dansu tengoku
Ahha?
Ano ko wa dou? Giragira ne
Koshi wo fureba sou
sekaijyuu dansu tengoku
Saa odorou Kindan no mi wo
Houra kuchi ippai

Sono choushi Shake It Shake Hip
Odorimashou
Kuchibiru ni masshu poteto
Sore wo choudai

Ii kanji Shake It Shake Hip
Tsudzukemashou
Yubisaki ni masshu poteto
Shaburi tsuke

Ahha!
Onna demo Otoko demo
Docchi demo ii no sa
Sekaijuu dansu tengoku
Puffi!
Ano ko wa dou? Giragira ne
Koshi wo fureba sou
sekaijyuu dansu tengoku
Saa odorou Kindan no mi wo
Houra Houbatte

English

By: Yoshiyuki

Let’s dance, Sun
Let’s dance, dazzling
Let’s keep going till we burn out
Until our lives run out

Sweat dripping and flying, sparkling
Ah ha Majority
This is proof that we’re living
Ah ha Minority

It can’t be helped
We’re dazzling
When you swing your hips, that’s right
It’s Dance Heaven the world over
C’mon, let’s dance Here, stuff your cheeks
 with The Forbidden Fruit¹

Living in the moment Impulsively
Ah ha Devilishly
All is vanity² Form is emptiness³
Ah ha It’s a rabble

Whether woman Or man
It doesn’t really matter
It’s Dance Heaven the world over
Ahha?
How about that kid? They’re dazzling
When you swing your hips, that’s right
It’s Dance Heaven the world over
C’mon, let’s dance Here, take a mouthful
of The Forbidden Fruit

Just like that Shake It Shake Hip
Let’s dance
Mashed potatoes⁴ on these lips
Oh, give it to me, please

Feels so good Shake It Shake Hip
Let’s keep it up
Mashed potatoes on these fingers
Suck on them

Ahha!
Whether woman Or man
It doesn’t really matter
It’s Dance Heaven the world over
Poofy!
How about that kid? They’re dazzling
When you swing your hips, that’s right
It’s Dance Heaven the world over
C’mon, let’s dance Here, stuff your cheeks
with The Forbidden Fruit¹

 

Notes:

¹ The Forbidden Fruit of the Garden of Eden is known as 禁断の果実 (kindan no kajitsu) in Japanese. Here, the lack of 果 in the phrase doesn’t change the translation into “Forbidden Fruit” because Sakurai pronounces 実 as “mi” rather than “jitsu”. When pronounced as “mi”, 実 refers to fruit, or seed, or pieces of meat/vegetables/ingredients in broth, or content/substances. When pronounced as “jitsu”, 実 refers to truth or reality.

² 諸行無常 is actually a Buddhist concept that say all things must pass. Buddhism teaches that the world and everything in it is illusory. In other words, all worldly things are impermanent, ephemeral, transient.

³ Another Buddhist concept, 色即是空 comes from the Heart Sutra which is the distillation of all teachings on Emptiness. 色即是空 means that all things in this world do not have a permanent substance, but they exist by virtue of their origin. Emptiness in Buddhism refers not to nothingness, but to the opposite: the interdependence of all phenomena, both mental and physical.

⁴ Aside from the obvious food item, mashed potato is also a dance move that was popular during the early-1960s. It sounds a lot like obvious innuendo here though.

 

Album cover of ABRACADABARA, BUCK-TICK

2020.08.26 | Victor Entertainment
MOONLIGHT ESCAPE

2020.09.21 | Victor Entertainment
ABRACADABRA

Frozen²

Words by Sakurai Atsushi

Music By Hoshino Hidehiko

Japanese

 

死んでいる 生きてもいるか
うんざりする
もううんざり
外は闇 闇は宵闇
窓に映る
おまえは誰

凍える月が触れる
この手首にそっと
青白く震えている
泣き出す月が ああ

堕ちてゆく 夢現(ゆめうつつ)
沈みたい ただそれだけ
子守唄を聴かせて
良い子だと
罪だとは言わないで
眠りたい ただそれだけ
遠い 遠い夢の中
ねんねしな

凍える月が触れる
この手首にそっと
青白く震えている
泣き出す月が ああ

堕ちてゆく 夢現(ゆめうつつ)
沈みたい ただそれだけ
子守唄を聴かせて
良い子だと
罪だとは言わないで
眠りたい ただそれだけ
遠い 遠い夢の中
ねんねしな

さあ ララ ラララ
ねんねん ころりよ
さあ ララ ラララ
ねんねん おころりよ
さあ ララ ラララ
ねんねん ころりよ
さあ ララ ラララ
ねんねん おころりよ

Romaji

By: Yoshiyuki

Shindeiru Ikite mo iru ka
Unzarisuru
Mou unzari
Soto wa yami Yami wa yoiyami
Mado ni utsuru
Omae wa dare

Kogoeru tsuki ga fureru
kono tekubi ni sotto
Aojiroku furueteiru
Nakidasu tsuki ga aa

Ochite yuku yume utsutsu
Shizumitai tada sore dake
Komori uta wo kikasete
yoiko da to
Tsumi da to wa iwanai de
Nemuritai tada sore dake
Tooi tooi yume no naka
nenneshi na

Kogoeru tsuki ga fureru
kono tekubi ni sotto
Aojiroku furueteiru
Nakidasu tsuki ga aa

Ochite yuku yume utsutsu
Shizumitai tada sore dake
Komori uta wo kikasete
yoiko da to
Tsumi da to wa iwanai de
Nemuritai tada sore dake
Tooi tooi yume no naka
nenneshi na

Saa rara rarara
nennen korori yo
Saa rara rarara
nennen okorori yo
Saa rara rarara
nennen korori yo
Saa rara rarara
nennen okorori yo

English

By: Yoshiyuki

Am I dead Or am I still alive
I’m sick of this
Just so sick of this
It’s dark out there A darkness like dusk You in the window
Who are you

The chilling moon touches
my wrist so slightly
Pale blue and shaking
the crying moon is… Ah

Falling between dreams and reality
I wish to sink That’s all I want
Sing me a lullaby
Tell me I’ve been good
Don’t tell me it’s wrong
I wish to sleep That’s all I want
Far away In a distant dream
Hush, now, go to sleep

The numbing moon touches
my wrist so slightly
Pale blue and shaking
the crying moon is… Ah

Falling between dreams and reality
I wish to sink That’s all I want
Sing me a lullaby
Tell me I’ve been good
Don’t tell me it’s wrong
I wish to sleep That’s all I want
Far away In a distant dream
Hush, now, go to sleep

Sha lala lalala
Sleep, my dear, sleep¹
Sha lala lalala
Oh, my dear, sleep¹
Sha lala lalala
Sleep, my dear, sleep¹
Sha lala lalala
Oh, my dear, sleep¹

 

Notes:

¹ A reference to the first line of Edo Lullaby (江戸子守唄 / Edo komoriuta).

² I’ve used various words as a translation for 凍える (kogoeru). Its nuance can’t actually be entirely described with just any one word, like “frozen” or “chilled” since it’s actual definition includes “to be numbed by cold”, “to be chilled to the bone”, or “to freeze/chill”.

 

 

Album cover of ABRACADABARA, BUCK-TICK

2020.09.21 | Victor Entertainment
ABRACADABRA

Moon Desert

Words by Sakurai Atsushi

Music By Hoshino Hidehiko

Japanese

 

遥か遥か遠く
名も亡き孤独の王は
駱駝(らくだ)の背に揺られ
蜃気楼追いかけてゆく

俺は一粒の砂
ギラギラと熱に焼かれている
濡らしてくれ
燃える陽炎

月の砂漠を
遥々とゆくよ
骨になるまで
灰になるまで

金や銀の財宝
麗しい褐色の姫
焼けた肌に蠍(さそり)
季節は地獄だろう

おまえは一粒の砂
キラキラと風に舞い踊る
溶かしてくれ
揺れる陽炎

月の砂漠を
遥々とゆくよ
骨になるまで
灰になるまで

月の砂漠を
遥々とゆくよ
月の砂漠を
駱駝(らくだ)に揺られ

Romaji

By: Yoshiyuki

Haruka haruka tooku
Na mo naki kodoku no ou wa
Rakuda no se ni yurare
Shinkirou oikakete yuku

Ore wa hitotsubu no suna
Giragira to netsu ni yakarete iru
Nurashite kure
Moeru kagerou

Tsuki no sabaku wo
harubaru to yuku yo
Hone ni naru made
Hai ni naru made

Kin ya gin no zaihou
Uruwashii kasshoku no hime
Yaketa hada ni sasori
Kisetsu wa jigoku darou

Omae wa hitotsubu no suna
Kirakira to kaze ni mai odoru
Tokashite kure
Yureru kagerou

Tsuki no sabaku wo
harubaru to yuku yo
Hone ni naru made
Hai ni naru made

Tsuki no sabaku wo
harubaru to yuku yo
Tsuki no sabaku wo
rakuda ni yurare

English

By: Yoshiyuki

Somewhere far, far away
A nameless, solitary king
Sways on the back of a camel
as he chases after mirages

Oh, I’m but a mere grain of sand
Burning under the glare and the heat
Douse me
Blazing heat haze

Further and deeper we stray
into the Moon Desert
Until we turn to bones
Until we turn to ashes

Treasure of gold and silver
A beautiful brown-skinned princess
Scorpions on my burnt skin
This must be a season in hell

Oh, you’re but a mere grain of sand
Glittering as you dance in the wind
Melt me
Shimmering heat haze

Further and deeper we stray
into the Moon Desert
Until we turn to bones
Until we turn to ashes

Further and deeper we stray
into the Moon Desert
On camels we sway
into the Moon Desert

 

Comments:

Masao Kato was a leading lyrical artist from the Taisho era to the early Showa era who often interacted with his many female fans and was well versed in schoolgirl customs, such as hairstyles and clothing. In 1923, he published the nursery rhyme “月の沙漠 (Moon Desert)” which was inspired by the sandy shores of Onjuku beach in Chiba. Interestingly enough, to commemorate this, the Moon Desert Museum was established in the same location.
The lyrics of 月の沙漠 are very similar to that of Sakurai’s version, featuring camels, gold and silver, a princess, but rather than a king, like in Sakurai’s version, a prince.
https://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1110967601
— Yoshiyuki

 

 

Ongaku to Hito
April 2023

I fly away

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi, Ishii Eriko

 

With a release date slated for April 12, the title of their new album is 異空 -IZORA-. What kind of album will this be? Coming from a band who just celebrated their 35th anniversary while facing the challenges of the times and themselves. We’ll talk about that in detail in next month’s issue and the special publication PHY.

But this month, we’ll be talking to the composers of the two singles that precede the album’s release; guitarist Hoshino Hidehiko who composed Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus), releasing on the 8th, and guitarist Imai Hisashi who composed Mugen LOOP (Infinite LOOP), releasing on the 22nd. Although the songs sound completely different, you can tell that they’ve got the same direction when you listen to them.

They’ve spent quite a long time recording, starting work in the beginning of last year and even continuing between tours. So what happened to the songs that they originally said would be released in two discs? And what were they intending with the decision to split the singles like this? Let’s find out where BUCK-TICK is going.

 

 

Imai Hisashi

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi

 

IZORA was Mugen LOOP’s original working title
For some reason, that word continued to linger in my head, so I figured that it could be the album title instead

――You haven’t decided on the name of the album you’re releasing in April?

Imai (I): IZORA…… What? You didn’t know? (Lol)

――I wasn’t told what it’s called (lol). Izora, was it?

I: Yeah. Written in Kanji, it’s “異空”. It’s probably about time for us to announce it, right?

――I intend to ask you about the singles that will precede the album but first, last year’s tour. The closing show at Nippon Budokan was impressively executed and its overall worldview sharpened.

I: That was nice, wasn’t it? The tour…… Well, there were postponements because of COVID-19 and all that so it hasn’t exactly ended, but I’m satisfied despite all that has happened.

――The songs that you chose to perform for the THE BEST 35th anniv. tour were not the songs we’d call easily understood or songs that would get the crowd going. Instead, the set list was made up of what best represents the band BUCK-TICK of today and that was also really great.

I: That’s probably also the energy of the band as well. We members would suggest all the songs that we want to perform and at the end, Sakurai-san (Sakurai Atsushi / vocalist) would collect them up and fine tune the selection again. That’s how we usually decide on our set list, but I think that turned out well too.

――It’s also great that the execution just gets better and better with each performance. By the way, how’s your leg?

I: I got used to it (lol). It’s not what it used to be, but it’s not all that inconvenient [now]. Although, I kind of hate that I can’t run. That’s why I keep going for rehab sessions. I try to walk as much as I can, and today I walked here. I couldn’t [attend the sessions] at all while touring, but in any case, I move around the most when performing anyway. Maybe that in itself adds quite a lot of progress to rehabilitation.

――I heard that you’ve been recording throughout that tour too.

I: Right. That was pretty long. At first, I imagined that we’d release two [albums] with a short interval between them. The songs…… I think we probably had about 20 prepared. But then we gradually started to change our minds about it. We came to the conclusion that since we were going to divide the songs into two anyway, it would be more interesting if we split them into two more clearly defined themes for release. We wanted to do it better like that.

――So the division was a result of coincidence.

I: Right, exactly. Maybe, in future, I might think of working on a project based on such an idea. But this time, I think it’s probably better not to. Since the songs are more or less ready for release, we decided that this time, we’ll select some and make an album with them.

――Without any initial concept.

I: Yeah. Things got tight in terms of time too, so it wasn’t that we wouldn’t be able to pull it off. We just felt that we wouldn’t be able to pull it all off in time so we can only release this for now. It wouldn’t make sense anyway if we were to force it and squeeze out two albums, right? That’s why we came to this conclusion after a discussion among ourselves.

――Two different types of songs have been made into the two singles that you’re releasing ahead of the album; Mugen LOOP composed by Imai-san, and Taiyou to Icarus composed by Hoshino-san. Is this a remnant of your original concept?

I: It…… is?

――I wouldn’t know (lol).

I: Although, as a start, we began by generally grouping [the songs] into, say, those are performed by a physical band and those that are performed electronically. Oddly enough, while the songs were originally distinctly different, as we built on the songs, they eventually turned into the usual BUCK-TICK fare.

――Well, I guess that’s to be expected after how through these 35 years you’ve been making all kinds of music that don’t seem to come from the same band.

I: Because of that, I decided to try and create a song using synth and without guitars but it started to sound more and more like the usual BUCK-TICK song before we even got to the end. That’s why, if we were to do something conceptual, we have to make a conscious effort much earlier on.

――But I also think that this is proof that BUCK-TICK has been able to take in and incorporate all sorts of genres as a band.

I: Say, for example, if we compose a song that doesn’t feature guitars, it’ll be interesting to see how we would translate that into our live concerts performance-wise. That’s the kind of stuff I want to do.

――When you give yourself that kind of a restriction, what’s meant to stick out would stick out, so that’s certainly interesting to explore.

I: But, at that point in time, well, we’d then wonder what people think of it, right? I’m getting ahead here, but I’m thinking that it would be nice if we could try these things out and have fun recording after we’re done with this album’s tour.

――So, the new songs. Let’s start with Hoshino-san’s Taiyou to Icarus. It’s an unusual one considering that it’s a Hoshino composition.

I: Unusual, isn’t it? It sounds nothing like his usual style and that makes it interesting. There were about three other songs that we were considering, but while we were trying to decide which to pick and in what order we should arrange them, we settled on this.

――And when was Mugen LOOP completed?

I: Probably really early on. I can’t really remember exactly when, but I had the idea to try composing a song using only synth, so all I had in the beginning was a short synth melody. Then, I told Yoko-chan (Yokoyama Kazutoshi / manipulator), “I’m thinking of composing this with the synthesiser.” But all I had at the time was one short melody so when he listened to that, his eyes went blank like, “…… Huh?” (Lol)

――Hahahahaha!

I: He was all, “I never could’ve imagined that Imai-san would make me listen to this short of a synth segment.” (Lol)

 

――Just a short segment of an intro (lol).

I: It’s kind of boring with the usual chords on guitar anyway, so if we use a chord progression where this riff gets played over and over, it’ll end up feeling like that. I feel like I managed to do something interesting that I’ve never done before (lol).

――That synth comes right at the start. And even after the other instruments come in, it continues to loop in the background.

I: When all is said and done, it mainly gives the impression that it’s being the way guitar chords are, but I guess that’s good too.

――And about the title, Mugen LOOP.

I: That’s Sakurai-san. This song’s original working title was IZORA.

――Ah, and this became the album’s title.

I: That’s right. A different sky, a different place. Something like that. For some reason, that word continued to linger in my head even after the song was renamed to Mugen LOOP, so I figured that it could be the album title instead.

――Based on what you’ve shared, I get the sense that you’re actively employing never-before-used methods but is there more to it?

I: Is there more…… No, I think there is, but this time, my PC died when I was in the middle of composing (lol). Song data, stuff I’ve been working on, all of it has been wiped away from this earth. People might assume that I would know what I wrote, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t remember a thing (lol).

――Hahahahaha.

I: And there were warning signs. Sometimes it’d do things that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, and when it’s starting up, I’d find myself thinking, “What’s going on, why is it taking so long……?” (Lol) It’s like I was negotiating with a machine.  Like, “Please!” (Lol)

――Then you should’ve done something about it earlier (lol).

I: But I made it (lol).

――Right (lol). There’s no end to the list of things you find interesting and the things you want to do, is there?

I: Yeah. When we go on tour again or something I’ll definitely find something I want to do again, so it’s something else that I look forward to as well, I suppose. Additionally, I’ve now got more time to rethink the songs that didn’t get included this time around so I guess this is good too.

――You’ve been working on band activities while spending some periods of time stuck in limbo because of COVID-19, but cyclicly speaking, I’m thinking that it’s about the time when you tend to start thinking about solo activities or working on something else. Is Imai-san getting any itch of that sort right now?

I: I guess I don’t really think about it. I imagine that stuff like Lucy, for example, would be interesting to work on once in a while, but I also think that it’s good if I could do it with BUCK-TICK anyway.

――Are you feeling very motivated when it comes to BUCK-TICK?

I: Yeah. There’s still stuff I want to do so all’s good.

――And this time, both singles will have remixes of songs from the album.

I: That’s right. It hasn’t been decided for Mugen LOOP, but we asked YOW-ROW (GARI) to work on the remix for the song Namonaki Watashi from the Taiyou to Icarus single. As he does the chord programming we’d tell him what we want it to feel like.

――Ah, so you’re not leaving it all up to the remixers.

I: That’s right. We tell them what we envision. Half remix, half rearrangement, something like that.

――How many tracks will the album have?

I: I think 14. There are songs where I’m the vocalist but just about all the lyrics are written by Sakurai-san.

――Well, it looks like you were able to finish up the album smoothly, so please go buy a new PC, a good one.

I: I was thinking that spending that money once should keep me set for 20 years but……

――There’s no such PC (lol).

I: Hahahahahaha!

――Also, just recently, the esteemed Takahashi Yukihiro-san (YMO) passed away.

I: Yeah. I knew that he wasn’t doing too good but it was still a shock.

――There’s no doubt that he was one of your influences, but he also invited you to perform with him before, right?

I: That, well, it happened in the middle of a conversation we were having for a magazine feature. I guess Yukihiro-san thought I was interesting since I was not only a guitarist who was influenced by YMO, but also my hair was sprayed up vertical, looking like a youngsters who’s into what they these days call Visual-Kei. And it just so happened that Yukihiro-san had a tour in the works at the time, so he suddenly raised the topic, “Imai-kun, how about playing guitar [with us]?”

――Well, of course, you’d be surprised then.

I: We had just released Aku no Hana at the time, so that was only two years after our debut? I was shocked by how flexible Yukihiro-san was, but from my perspective…… more than being happy about being offered such an opportunity…… you could say it was an immense burden (lol).

――Hahahahahaha.

I: Because it was a time when even I wasn’t convinced that I was good enough. So I told him I didn’t think I could do it. If this happened after we released Kurutta Taiyou then maybe I’d feel excited about it, though.

――Imai-san, please take care of your health and live long.

I: Likewise (lol).

――Did you cut back on drinking alcohol too?

I: I don’t really drink at home anymore too. Somehow, I find it interesting that I’ve become like this too. I’ll drink when I meet people outside, but it’s no longer the way we used to with the “Hey, let’s drink until daybreak or until we’re dead drunk” intention.

――I guess it just means that all of us are at that age (lol).

I: Hahahaha.

――But based on what I’m sensing when I listen to the songs, it doesn’t feel very much like you’ve settled down, so that’s a relief.

I: Right. Because I’m thinking it’s better to have fun doing what I can do now.

 

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

Hoshino Hidehiko

text by Ishii Eriko

 

It’s not the kind of pop that’s simply refreshing or feels like you’re breaking through something.
Likewise with the lyrics where it’s a bit of a thought-provoking story.

――I’d like to start by looking back at last year. Firstly, September’s two-day event at Yokohama Arena was an immense achievement for the band, wasn’t it?

Hoshino (H): Mm. That’s right. Well, it was sort of our 35th……

――Not “sort of” (lol).

H: Not “sort of” (lol). So far, we’ve had events for our 20th, 25th, and 30th anniversaries, but performing in an arena for our 35th felt like the mark of the beginning of a milestone. So there was this very significant feeling, like a weight.

――Because of the scale of it, right? It’s only natural.

H: Exactly. It’s not something we could skip and we couldn’t excuse ourselves from it with a, “Sorry, we caught COVID-19!” The pressure was immense. And that was also the case with our year-end show at Budokan. On the morning of the event, I really felt this, “Ah! Thank goodness I feel great!” Like, “I don’t have a fever. Do I? Ah, thank goodness, I can do this!”

――You can really feel it.

H: Then, when I arrive at the concert venue, I’ll check whether everyone’s here. To that extent, I don’t think these shows feel like any we’ve done before.

――But when you think about it, that’s probably how all the staff members and the twelve thousand audience members felt on event days too.

H: Right? (Lol) That’s why, somehow…… I really feel like something close to a miracle has happened. And just how precious concert days are. The same goes for our Yokohama Arena show too, it’s just so great that we managed to properly carry out those two days without a hitch.

――It was an amazing show. The weight that you mentioned earlier, was that mainly in reference to the pressure you felt?

H: It’s the pressure. Because we have to deliver something good to our fans who took the time to come together for our 35th anniversary, and there’s also all these emotions around reaching this milestone. I guess that’s what made things feel heavy.

――I think the content of the show had some heavy feelings for the audience too when I think about the song choices and the performance direction. Especially the flow of it in the middle segment.

H: That was an idea from Sakurai-san. Well, it’s like he said himself, this 35th anniversary isn’t just about celebrations. We gave it a lot of thought with the intention to put on the Yokohama Arena show in a way that’s uniquely us, uniquely BUCK-TICK. Also, we released our new song, Sayonara Shelter as a part of our 35th anniversary best-of concept album, so there’s also the fact that we started our song selection by first deciding that we wanted to perform that song. That’s why it’s not your usual anniversary show, and why it gives the feeling that it’s a little different.

――Ever since I attended the show, wild thoughts seem to have started sprouting up in me. It’s as if my peaceful life had suddenly been shattered and I’ve begun to think about things like how even BUCK‐TⅠCK will one day come to a sudden end…… and so on. I’m semi-paranoid about it (dry laugh).

H: Ahahahaha. Even so, we can’t deny that possibility.

――Please don’t say such things. Even though I’m the one who brought it up, I was hoping that you’d laugh it off like it’s unfounded.

H: Hahahaha. Who knows? But my view towards death has changed since my father’s passing and it’s easy enough to say that it feels close by too. Sooner or later…… Sooner or later, it’s something that comes for everyone eventually though, right? There are age-related reasons, and we don’t know when we’ll fall ill too. These things I feel very keenly now at this age. I also feel the desire to keep living and take it all in. But honestly, I do sometimes think about how things might all end suddenly.

――Not with pessimism, right?

H: Not at all. Of course, I do want to keep doing this for as long as I can. But there’s also nothing I can do if something were to happen. Those are the kind of thoughts I’ve been having these days.

――Has the mood within the band changed in recent years?

H: …… Has it? Well, it does feel like something’s changed since COVID-19 happened though. It’s like it’s gotten hard to communicate. Like we couldn’t even have a meal together.

――When all of you have been drinking together so much throughout all this time.

H: Hahaha. But oddly enough, I’ve come to find that there are parts of this situation that I find particularly freeing. Like I can now watch my downloaded movies on Netflix at our tour destination hotels. I can also do that when we’re on the move though. I guess I’m realising how much free time I can get now. Instead of wasting time doing nothing except drinking (lol).

――I see. So after the shows at Yokohama Arena, your 35th anniversary national tour began. I have the impression that this was where the expressive performance of Sayonara Shelter really changed.

H: Mm, that’s right. Those lyrics have a very obvious contextual background to begin with…… And, well, the war is still going on even now. I guess you could say that Sakurai-san gradually honed his performance. I couldn’t really watch because I’m playing my guitar (lol), but I’m hearing comments like, “There’s something gut wrenching about Sakurai-san’s performance,” or, “Brings tears to my eyes,” from our acquaintances and fans. Somehow, hearing such remarks makes me feel glad that we wrote it. It’s a song that’s steadily growing so I do wonder whether it’s reached its furthest potential yet.

――By the way, how does Hoshino-san feel about Sakurai-san writing such raw lyrics reflecting the times and applying them to his own performance? Do you think it’s a given?

H: Mm. Although…… I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a given. In any case, he’s the one who composed the lyrics, and I know that he wants to make sure that he does a faithful depiction of that perspective, so I fully understand his desire to convey the song’s message on stage. It’s not like I’m against it in any way, and to me, as the composer of the music, it’s all good as long as the song comes to life. So I’m more of the mind that he should be free to do as he pleases.

――Understood. Next, let’s talk about the new songs. They’ll first be released in the two singles, and then later on, in the album.

H: Yes. We’ve been busy with production and recording work since last year and we decided rather early on that we would release two singles. As for the album…… we actually planned to release two. But as we went on with a bunch of other things, it eventually turned into one. Hahahah.

――Is it simply because there weren’t enough songs?

H: Nah, there are a number of factors (lol). That’s why we’ve still got quite a number of songs that are halfway done. Maybe they’ll one day see the light of day?

――The first single is Taiyou to Icarus. It’s been a surprisingly long time since Hoshino-san’s song got released as a single.

H: Yes. Previously was LOVE PARADE’s double A-side which was the opening and ending theme song of our movie. That’s…… already 10 years ago, I think? So it really feels like it’s been a long time since.

――How did you decide on which songs to release as a single?

H: Ah, I had the thought of [making it] one of the pop-ish songs on the album when I was composing it. But as we worked on it, it turned out surprisingly well. Director Tanaka-san also said it’s really good and pushed for it, and well, I thought, “Oh? This doesn’t sound like anything I’ve done before. It’s super fresh. Maybe this would be a good choice.” So I also pushed for it too. There were other candidates too, but it feels like we decided on this in the end.

――What part of it felt new to you?

H: I wonder. It’s not something that can be simply branded as pop. How should I put this…… It’s also got all kinds of emotions like warmth and tragedy mixed in. But it’s not the kind of pop that’s simply refreshing or feels like you’re breaking through something. Likewise with the lyrics where it’s a bit of a thought-provoking story.

――Indeed. How did you feel when you first saw these lyrics.

H: Ah, I thought they were really great. The perspective fits the song too. And there’s so much bittersweet in it.

――You weren’t initially taken aback?

H: I wasn’t taken aback. Well, it’s the usual…… Although, saying it like this is kind of (lol). When you say taken aback, in what way do you mean it?

――Well…… The perspective of this song comes from a person who’s headed towards their end or death, right? I never would’ve thought that such a pop-sounding song would have such a worldview.

H: Ahh. Nah, because that’s always the case [for us]. Hahahaha! I don’t mind it at all. I just leave it all up to him.

――Sakurai-san always weaves a profound story and immerses himself in it. But not everyone in BUCK-TICK would immerse themselves in the that same world, right? In a good way.

H: Mm. Uh…… It’ll become a problem if all five of us get stuck in there (lol). It’s probably something to do with our inherent dispositions, but there’s a natural balance there.

――Especially since Hoshino-san comes off as an amiable person who tries to be natural. Is this something you’re mindful of?

H: Nope, it isn’t. This is just my true nature. Hahahaha.

――You don’t really want to act?

H: Acting is, mm…… I’d probably say it’s not my forte. I guess I just prefer to go with what’s true to me. Of course, there are definitely times when I get carried away by a song as a performer though. I think I’ve gotten deep into playing my guitar more often than putting on a performance though. It’s just that in our recent shows and concerts, it kind of feels more effective for me to communicate with our fans with my true self. I feel that a lot.

――For example, by going closer to the audience?

H: No, I’ve moved around in the past too, but I think there’s quite a gap between us and the audience. It’s just that we didn’t have many songs that allowed for that in the past (lol).

――Hahahaha! But there aren’t that many of those even now.

H: Mm. There aren’t all that many more, but I also understand the stance that it’s better to enjoy a song together when it allows for it, and I’ve come to want to have fun with it too. Like when we play up-tempo songs and such. If the vibe of the song is right, it’ll feel very viable for me to enjoy interacting with our audience. Compared to the way things were in the past, it’s not all darkness now.

――It would seem that the pop vibe in Taiyou to Icarus also calls for a fun atmosphere during a concert.

H: That’s right. I think it would be nice if that’s the song it would become, though.

――Its B-side is Namonaki Watashi -Kachoufuugetsu REMIX-. This is a rare case where we get to hear the remix of a new song from the album ahead of its original version.

H: That’s right. Looks like that’s how it’s turned out.

――With the remix coming first, people listening to it would be trying to figure out what the original might sound like and how much of it was remixed.

H: Ahh. I think it’ll be fun to listen and compare too, once the original version is available. So do have fun until then.

――Yes. The other single is Mugen LOOP. It’s a song written by Imai-san, but what’s your impression of it?

H: Mugen LOOP is also…… yeah, a very unusual melody, I guess? Like city pop, or something. It’s somehow a kind of a strange song, but. This, well, also came from our shortlist of songs and was selected to be our second single. I feel like this is a song that people from all walks of life might be able to appreciate, though.

――I would think these preceding singles are hints towards what the album would be like. Was it more of a bold decision to create first impressions with these two songs, or more of an obvious decision?

H: Hmー……… Bold, I think? If I were to pick one. With the knowledge that, well, these two songs aren’t all there are. That’s all I’ll say. Fufufu.

――Because we’re not sensing all that much darkness from these two singles, right? It’s like, so…… what’s on the other side?

H: Yes, yes, yes (lol). You’ve got it.

――Fufuf. I don’t think it’s that simple.

H: Well, something like that, maybe. I would like everyone to look forward to it. With a little bit of, “It’s going to be something you won’t expect based on what you hear in these singles~.” There’s a variety of genres and likewise with each worldview in each song. Well, I hope everyone would give it a listen. I can’t say any more yet (lol).

 

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

AFTERSHOWS

2023.02.09 BUCK-TICK

The respective interviews with Hide-san and Imai-san were being held at the same time at the record company. After the interviews concluded, I mentioned that I’ll be going to Okinawa with Yuta-san in two days for his photoshoot and interviews, to which Imai-san quipped, “What’s that? You all are gonna watch baseball, aren’t you? Is that work? Do you call that work?” Then, Hoshino-san laughed, “That’s, you’re not going to shoot at the location where I did mine, are you?” I wonder what crossed their minds when they saw a red, sun-burnt Yuta-san back in Tokyo after that trip (lol). That aside, we took lots of great photos in Okinawa. Look forward to seeing them in Yuta-san’s upcoming book releasing on April 12!

 

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Pictures: Yoshiyuki