Official Report
BUCK-TICK’s 35th Debut Anniversary 2-Day Concert at Yokohama Arena

Spice
27 September 2022

Text=Yuka Okubo
Photos=Seitaro Tanaka

 

We have received the official concert report of BUCK-TICK’s 35th debut anniversary concert, BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE”~35th anniversary~ which was held on two days on the Friday and Saturday, 23rd and 24th of September 2022 at Yokohama Arena.

 

 

BUCK-TICK celebrated their 35th debut anniversary with no change in member line-up on 21 September 2022. On the 23rd and 24th, the held their 35th debut anniversary concert, BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~ at Yokohama Arena in Kanagawa.

There were two main special characteristics for this 35th anniversary show. 

The first was dynamic light and video production which made use of 12 lasers and a large LED screen. Past anniversary concerts, named “PARADE” which came before were all held on outdoor stage like the special outdoor stage created at Yokohama Minato Mirai Shinko Pier in 2007, at Chiba Port Park in 2012, and Odaiba Yagai Tokusetsu Kaijo in 2017, making this the first anniversary concert being held in an arena. At an outdoor venue, lighting and visual effects don’t come into play until the sun sets, so this time, the band was able to construct their world right from the very start.

There is one fixed screen on each side of the stage, plus one giant screen at the back of the stage and one more large screen in front of the stage. The screen in front of the stage could be moved which meant that while there were some sets there the screen remained in front of the stage like a faded filter over the band members, there were also sets when it would be raised up, removed to create a three-dimensional effect with the depth of the screen in the background. 

If I were to pick the most impactful scene among the songs performed on both days as an example, it would be the second song they performed, BABEL, which has a story which pulls you in its euphoria and deep heavy groove. The Tower of Babel was shown against a bright red background on the screen behind, while the screen in front which previously concealed the band slowly rose up as if illustrating the disquieting building of the Tower of Babel.

What left a truly strong impression on me was the performance of Aikawarazu no `Are’ no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari (2022MIX) around the middle of the show that had a languid jungle beat and saw Imai Hisashi (on guitar) taking on the role of lead singer. The sight of Sakurai Atsushi’s (singer) face on the back screen coalescing with the numerous writhing hands on the bright red screen towards the front of the stage inspired the same creepiness you would get in a horror movie.  

During the mid-tempo Guernica no Yoru which tells of the tragedies of war, we saw an amusement park under the stars, crumbling with the passage of time. At Aku no Hana during the encore, red, blue and green lasers were shot from the stage into the audience. During Yume Miru Uchuu in the second encore, the screen in front of the stage rose almost to the ceiling to combine with the back screen and create what felt like the endless void of outer space.

The visuals and lighting used to further develop the world of the songs sometimes drowned out or silhouetted the members, and if one were to say that live performances are about enjoying the playing style and facial expressions live, then this choice of production might have seemed rather bold. But when we consider the fact that BUCK-TICK made their video debut 35 years ago as “visual artists”, one can also say that this time, they were being conscious of their “origins” on stage.

And the second special characteristic was how the set list wasn’t comprehensive of their 35-year career or brimming with a festive mood even though these concerts were in celebration of their 35th anniversary. 

This year, the first show was named “FLY SIDE” and the second was named “HIGH SIDE”, just like their shows at Odaiba in 2017. But while the Odaiba setlist looked back over their 30 years with a collection of songs that covers a relatively complete range of eras, from the indie era and early numbers such as Fly High, this year’s set list seemed to focus on where the band is now and where they’re headed towards in the future while incorporating the messages they want to convey at this point in time. 

That said, BUCK-TICK thus far tends to decide on their set list based on the songs that each band member suggests. But the set list this time around appears to centre around CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv., their best-of album collection that was recently released on 21 September.

They also appear to have worked with the stage production team to focus it all around Sakurai too. As a result, the show’s content was saturated with his message. Which was especially conspicuous when they performed Rakuen, REVOLVER, Guernica no Yoru and, live for the first time, their new song Sayonara Shelter on both days.

Shrouded in a black veil from his head, Sakurai sounded the tingsha in his hands during Rakuen’s cutting narration of a war-torn country looking upon a conflagration on the opposite shore as an opportunity.  During the highly aggressive and fast-paced REVOLVER, he puts his finger to his temple, shouting, “Shoot the child’s future!”¹. In the last part of Guernica no Yoru, a song where he sings from the perspective of a young protagonist about the devastation of air strikes, a brief respite came after he sang “After seeing such a dream, I woke up”². But brief it was, before they dove into a song inspired by the current state of the world, Sayonara Shelter which illustrates the madness of reality amidst a gentle melody.

Another thing I want to highlight is their performance of Kinjirareta Asobi -ADULT CHILDREN- on the first day. This song tells of traumatised grown-up children (adult children) who have closed themselves off going through the process of stepping outside and saying “I’m leaving of this room”³. During the performance, a large white wall appeared on the screen in front of the stage with a black, gaping exit painted right where Sakurai was standing and at the end of the song, Sakurai said, “This is dedicated to all the adult children.” All of it left a deep impression on me. 

It would appear that Sakurai, who channels his thoughts and feelings into stories and puts them into his lyrical world, was very determined to strongly lay bare his message through this set list. For his gaze was sharp, his singing was strong and powerful, and filled with compassion too.

Of the 21 songs performed on each of the two days, ten of them, or half were fixed songs but the eleven alternated songs added to the set list provided different sides of the band.

The first day started with the industrial-sounding EDM track ICONOCLASM. Hard hammer beats, edgy guitar riffs and a deep mechanical-sounding voice are unleashed with lasers from behind a screen that remains down in front of the stage. The glorious BABEL came next, followed by Uta which started with Yagami Toll’s (on drums) tight drum intro that led into a robust groove which then flowed into the melancholic Gekka Reijin

“Welcome. Do enjoy yourself,” was Sakurai’s short coquettish MC that served as a lead into Maimu Mime. In a video which moves from a street which looks like Jiufen, Taiwan to a close-up shot in a room, Sakurai makes use of his black wide-brimmed hat, a chair, and glimpses of his thighs as puts on a one-man performance of the bewitching games between men and women. 

During Kyoki no Dead Heat, which feels like running at hyper speed, cameramen with movie cameras went on stage to capture the aggressive members strutting up and down the stage extensions on both the left and right side. 

To close off the main set were three songs brimming with hope. Go-Go B-T TRAIN’s performance was spectacular with light shining on the large mirror balls on either side of the stage. The colourful graphics reminiscent of CD jackets, smoke billowing like steam from a steam locomotive, and a lively ensemble that nimbly runs through the heavy, creaking locomotive adds to the electricity in the arena. 

The stage lit up with flames for the next song, Memento Mori with tribal rhythms, Okinawan-sound scales, and shouts of “Wooha!” echoing. And finally, they ended with New World, leading us out of darkness and into a bright future.

The encore began with Django!!! -Genwaku no Django-. A rich groove was produced by Imai’s exotic guitar sounds coupled with Hoshino Hidehiko’s (on guitar) light acoustic guitar and the bass notes of Higuchi Yutaka (on bass), who came to the front of the stage during the bridge. As for Sakurai, he wore a silk hat on his head, had black feathers around his neck, and hot shorts and knee-high stockings, essentially dressing burlesque-style as he showed off his thighs and sways his hips as he sang.

Following the heaviness of Aku no Hana, Sakurai said, “Please have a listen to a nostalgic song from the album we debuted with 35 years ago.” With that, they proceeded into ILLUSION. The oldest of the songs performed over these two days, it evokes nostalgia with its lyrics that seem to bring up old memories.

In the second encore, they performed a graceful rendition of Koi, a requiem that combines fragility and strength. After that came Yume Miru Uchuu which was performed on a stage with the cosmos unfolding before it. Then, the big finale, Solaris. The macrocosmic cosmos and the microcosmic cells of a random person. The beautiful soundscapes created by the band and Sakurai’s enchanting falsetto, set to a moving visual image that evokes this connection, left a lasting impression.

Opening the second day the straight rock song Elise no Tame ni created a sense of unity from the start. The band was less tense with their singing and playing than the first day, and they looked relaxed on stage. With Sakurai’s slow swaying rope-crossing performance of TIGHT ROPE created a floating sensation, followed by the chunky bass riffs and the guitar’s rigid cutting in Mienai Mono wo Miyou to Suru Gokai  Subete Gokai da, and finally MOONLIGHT ESCAPE’s singing so carefree that it feels like we’re flying over the moon, there was even an emotional moment where we saw Imai strumming his guitar while lying on the floor in the outro.

Sakurai seemed to mimic David Bowie’s voice as he said, “Let’s Dance〜” before they dove into Dance Tengoku. Then, starting with an interlude from Imai’s guitar was BOY septem peccata mortalia where the members of the band were freely roaming all over the stage, being chased by the camera crew or staring into a camera while crawling on stage; so much was going on that we could barely keep up with our eyes.

The stage was set aglow by the flames in ROMANCE, where we got to hear Sakurai’s beautiful falsetto and after that, came the last song, same as the first day’s; New World. Powerful vocals pushed forward with clean-toned riffs that seemed to burst with light and the powerful 4/4 rhythm. It’s a song fit to end the set for these five who are taking a new step forward.

The first encore featured the newly remixed ANGELIC CONVERSATION (2022MIX) from their best-of album, Aku no Hana, and the dramatic pop ballad HEAVEN. In the second encore were the heartfelt ballad Boukyaku, Yume Miru Uchuu, and finally, Kodou (2022MIX). BUCK-TICK’s magnificent paean to humanity, dedicated to all life was sung in high spirits, bringing the two-day festivities to a close.

Despite celebrating their 35th anniversary on the big stage, BUCK-TICK had already entered a new phase. Furthermore, it looks like they’re already headed in a certain direction. 

“Since our 35th anniversary year has just begun, there’s a lot for us to do, and a lot for us to be happy about. After we’re done with today, Anii and Yuta will begin rehearsing for the tour tomorrow. And Imai-san and Hide will compose new songs. And I…… will sleep (smiles).”

While listening to this MC by Sakurai, I recalled a time in their early days of exhausting work where they were going on tour for their second album right after they concluded recording work for their third album. Finding out that there were some things that still haven’t changed since those days made me laugh a little. 

I’ve been hearing that the new release slated for the coming spring will be based on a new, never-before-seen concept. Expectations are high for the future of BUCK-TICK, who continues to avariciously evolve even past their 35th anniversary.

<Set List>

■BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~ FLY SIDE
Friday, 23 September 2022 | Yokohama Arena

SE. THEME OF B-T

M1. ICONOCLASM
M2. BABEL
M3. 唄 [Uta]
M4. 月下麗人 [Gekka Reijin]
M5. 舞夢マイム [Maimu Mime]
M6. 狂気のデッドヒート [Kyoki no Dead Heat]
M7. 禁じられた遊び -ADULT CHILDREN- [Kinjirareta Asobi -ADULT CHILDREN-]
M8. 相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマリがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり (2022MIX)
[Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari (2022MIX)]
M9. 楽園 [Rakuen]
M10. REVOLVER
M11. ゲルニカの夜 [Guernica no Yoru]
M12. さよならシェルター (新曲) [Sayonara Shelter (New song)]
M13. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
M14. Memento mori
M15. New World

EN1-1. Django!!!-眩惑のジャンゴ- [Django!!!-Genwaku no Django-]
EN1-2. 惡の華 [Aku no Hana]
EN1-3. ILLUSION

EN2-1. 恋 [Koi]
EN2-2. 夢見る宇宙 [Yume Miru Uchuu]
EN2-3. Solaris

 

■BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” 〜35th anniversary〜 HIGH SIDE
Saturday, 24 September 2022 | Yokohama Arena

SE. THEME OF B-T

M1. エリーゼのために [Elise no Tame ni]
M2. BABEL
M3. Tight Rope
M4. 見えない物を見ようとする誤解 全て誤解だ [Mienai Mono wo Miyou to Suru Gokai  Subete Gokai da]
M5. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
M6. ダンス天国 [Dance Tengoku]
M7. BOY septem peccata mortalia
M8. 相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマリがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり (2022MIX)
[Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari (2022MIX)]
M9. 楽園 [Rakuen]
M10. REVOLVER
M11. ゲルニカの夜 [Guernica no Yoru]
M12. さよならシェルター (新曲) [Sayonara Shelter (New song)]
M13. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
M14. ROMANCE
M15. New World

EN1-1. ANGELIC CONVERSATION (2022MIX)
EN1-2. 惡の華 [Aku no Hana]
EN1-3. HEAVEN

EN2-1. 忘却 [Boukyaku]
EN2-2. 夢見る宇宙 [Yume Miru Uchuu]
EN2-3. 鼓動 (2022MIX) [Kodou (2022MIX)]

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ あの子の未来を  撃て / Ano ko no mirai wo   ute

² そんな夢見て  目覚めた / Sonna yume mite   mezameta

³ この部屋を  出て行くよ / Kono heya wo   dete iku yo

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Spice, JVC Music

 

 

BUCK-TICK Holds 35th Anniversary Concert
“We’re still moving forward. Wishing blessings upon everyone too.”

Sports Hochi
23 September 2022

 

 

 

5-piece rock band BUCK-TICK held their 35th major debut anniversary concert, The Parade on the 23rd at Yokohama Arena in Kanagawa.

They performed 21 songs like their signature Aku no Hana and for the first time, Sayonara Shelter, their new song that was included in their best-of collection CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. which was recently released on the 21st. They also mesmerised fans with light performances that made use of 12 laser machines, and a giant LED screen.

“We’ve been doing this for 35 years. I would like to express my gratitude to all of you; thank you. We have more new recordings too. We’re still moving forward. Wishing blessings upon everyone too,” thanked Sakurai Atsushi who wore beguiling outfits, like jet black shorts and black knee-high socks that show off his “absolute territory¹”.

They’ll perform on the 24th at the same venue too. They will then kick off their first national tour in 3 years on 13 October, starting with a show at Tachikawa Stage Garden in Tokyo to play a total off 21 shows in 20 locations. Sakurai rallied, “You all still can’t take your masks off and scream for us, but we hope you’ll come and join us on tour too in good health.”

 

 

Notes:

¹ Absolute Territory (絶対領域 / zettai ryouiki) describes the amount of bare thigh skin between the shorts or skirt and stockings or socks.

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Sports Hochi

 

 

BUCK-TICK 35th Major Debut Anniversary Concert
Sakurai Atsushi: “We’re still going!!”

Sanspo
23 September 2022

 

 

 

5-piece rock band BUCK-TICK who celebrated the 35th anniversary of their major debut on the 21st of September has begun their two consecutive nights of concerts at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama’s Kohoku Ward to celebrate this milestone on the 23rd.

This is the 9th time they are performing at Yokohama Arena and 6 years since their last. With a 12,000-strong audience in attendance, they started off the show with ICONOCLASM from their album TABOO which became their first number one ranking album on the Oricon Chart in 1989. Vocalist Sakurai Atsushi (56) greeted the crowd with a, “Welcome. Do enjoy yourself,” turning them into a bubbling pot of excitement.

It has been 35 years since they debut in 1987. Their ingenious brand of music which blends a variety of genres started the “BUCK-TICK Phenomenon”, and these five long-standing members of the band have been at the forefront of Japan’s rock music scene with successes like performances at Nippon Budokan and Tokyo Dome in 1989 to back them.

On tonight’s stage, they performed 21 songs from their entire career’s discography including their signature song Aku no Hana, their first number one on the Oricon singles chart in 1990, and for the first time, Sayonara Shelter, their new song that was included in their best-of collection CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. which was recently released on the 21st. They also delighted fans with flashy performances that saw 12 laser machines, and giant LED screens and lighting.

Their concert DVD of last year-end’s Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara~SHOW AFTER DARK~in Nippon Budokan was also released on the 21st. They will also be kicking off their first national tour (21-show run) in three years on 13 October.

Sakurai thanked the audience, saying, “We’ve been doing this for 35 years. I would like to express my gratitude to all of you; thank you.” Then, he declared, “We’ve got our tour in October, and another show tomorrow. There are still more new recordings to work on. We’re still going!!” Unstoppable is the momentum of legends who are celebrating their anniversary year.

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Sanspo

 

 

 

Sakurai Atsushi
BUCK-TICK

Of Timid Bravery

text by Ishii Eriko
photographs by Nakano Hirohisa
hair & make-up by Yamaji Chihiro_Fat’s Berry
styling by Shimizu Kenichi

outfits by
kiryuyrik_03-5728-4048
LAD MUSICIAN SHINJUKU_03-6457-7957

 

This armada gets moving once again ahead of their 35th anniversary year. It starts with the long-awaited fan-club exclusive tour kicking off in the beginning of summer, then Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday bash in August, and the release of their conceptual 5-CD best-of collection CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. this month. In this same period, they will also be holding their 2-day concert event THE PARADE at Yokohama Arena, followed by their first national tour in three years that starts next month.

Closing off the celebration of their anniversary year naturally brings us to an upcoming new album, but for now, we want to hear from Sakurai Atsushi ahead of it. Sayonara Shelter is the one and only new, unreleased song that has been included in the best-of collection. The way it captures an unfiltered reality with its straightforward language is filled with will-power and determination unlike any before. It was reported last month that he was tested positive for COVID-19 and had made a full recovery after the resulting quarantine, but this interview was held sometime in July, before any of that happened.

I thought it would be more strenuous initially
But I was surprisingly okay. I think the audience probably have it tougher than us

―― It’s late July now and you’re right in the middle of your fan club & mobile members-only tour.

Sakurai (S): That’s right. Well, finally…… I can breathe a sigh of relief. Because we haven’t been able to hold a concert, much less a fan club-exclusive one in about two years.

―― How did you deal with the physical and mental challenges from these concerts?

S: We’ve been busy with recording work for our new album. I had to wrap up all my work about three days ago, so the switch [from recording mode to concert mode] was difficult. Because I can’t effectively work on more than one thing at the same time. So because I was having a hard time with it, I left (song selection and all the other preparations) to everyone to handle. They were old songs so I didn’t have all that much difficulty there. Whatever else, I wouldn’t know until I’m standing on stage anyway. Since things will always be different in rehearsals.

―― My body’s undergone changes too after the past two years and when I attended concerts in recent times, I found myself wondering, “Is it really this tiring to stand for two hours straight?” (lol). How do you find it as a performer?

S: Ah…… I actually thought it would be more strenuous initially. But somehow, my body was surprisingly okay. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been keeping myself on my toes with recording work, and that’s kept my mind busy. It’s surprisingly taken a weight off my shoulders.

―― That’s a good thing then.

S: Yes. I did wonder whether or not I’d be able to do it okay before it started, but my voice sounded better than I expected. I just feel kind of bad for the audience, though. They have to keep their masks on throughout the event, and have to stand in designated spots, and can’t even respond with their voices. I know it can’t be helped because that’s the situation that we’re in now but…… I think the audience probably have it tougher than we performers do in all these different areas.

―― But being able to see you is enough of a something to be happy about.

S: That’s true. But because they can’t respond vocally. There’s this unnerving intensity. Since everyone’s wearing masks, there’s a superabundant, concentration from their eyes (lol).

―― Concentration from the eyes (lol). Are your band mates enjoying it too?

S: It allows us to vent out our energy in a setting completely different from recording after all, so everyone does seem to be enjoying themselves. Yeah.

―― Also, just confirming, you’ve already plunged into the actual recording work for the new album and it’s no longer in its conception stage, right?

S: That’s right. Yes.

―― So, although It was impossible for you to go on a proper national tour for ABRACADABRA, you’re already moving on to your next album.

S: Because first of all is our 35th anniversary celebration year. We’ve got our best-of collection, the fan club concert during [the anniversary year]. And later comes the release of our new album next year to end it. That’s the series of events we’ve got laid out.

―― In recent years, I believe you’ve generally followed the cycle of closing off an album’s chapter only after you’ve had a tour for it. But now that this has changed, did it affect anything? Like the songwriting vibe, or the themes that Imai-san comes up with?

S: Right…… While I was having a discussion with Director Tanaka, about things like, “Is this format going to work?”, though, well, I can’t really go into detail yet, but something like a vague, overarching theme resulted from that. Although…… I’m already doing whatever I want anyway.

―― Eh, what do you mean?

S: Well, in terms of general themes, hope, despair, that kind of a world. Although, that might just be a narrative I imposed on myself. But even then, anything else just goes in one ear and out the other for me, so. …… Despair is all I can write about!

―― Fuhahahahaha.

S: That’s all I have to say.

―― Even so, do you feel fulfilled in your day-to-day life?

S: Yeah. I’m very much fulfilled with how I approach what I produce and what I do. With the exception of these, there are a lot of things I don’t want to think about so I make it such that I don’t. Now, I just want to hurry up and move on to recording my part for the next song.

――Excuse me for saying this, but you’re very motivated, aren’t you?

S: That’s right. Not in a desperate way, though. It’s strange, but it could be because I’ve been working at things as if it’ll be the last time ever.

 

In the past, I think I would play it cool, avoid being clear, kind of sidestep things and use another escape route though
I can’t bring myself to do that anymore these days. Because I’m not that eloquent in the first place.

―― I think I said this a year ago as well, around the time of Go-Go B-T TRAIN’s release, but I’m getting the impression that the present version of Sakurai-san has picked up a defiant stance, in a good way.

S: That’s right. I’ve been able to focus on music, the things I want to do. You could say that I don’t want to think about anything else.

―― Can you think of anything that might’ve caused this?

S: Hmーm, well, part of it is growing older, and that I’d start wondering vaguely about things like, “How many more years can I do this?” I’m not feeling pessimistic to that extent, though. But also, all the recent…… incidents, accidents, ah, well, frankly speaking, wars, and all that. Witnessing all of it, it’s like, I don’t feel like it’s just someone else’s problem. Who knows what will happen tomorrow. It might sound like an exaggeration, but I’ve come to feel that I wouldn’t even think it odd if tomorrow something happens to this Japan we live in. And since that’s the case, I feel that I can push ahead with whatever I can do and want to do.

―― A world in decline inspires Sakurai-san.

S: Right…… Putting it like that makes it sound shrewd, doesn’t it? As if I won’t do anything unless something like that happens. But in the end…… it seems like it’s in my character to turn these kinds of negative events into fuel. Anger and sadness, I’ve come to realise recently that these are sources of energy for me.

―― Actually, just 10 years ago we could never have imagined that things like epidemics and wars would actually be happening in such close proximity to us in the 21st century.

S: That’s definitely true. That’s really what it is. People might say that we can’t really help that infectious diseases occur and that may be so, but on the other hand, wars are essentially a man-made disaster, and I think it’s something that can be stopped if person A and B and C and D decide to say “stop”, right? Whenever I see the news, I find myself wondering how such a thing can happen in the 21st century…… It’s shocking. Just heart-wrenching, isn’t it? That all the children and ordinary people…… It just makes me wonder “why?”.

―― This exact frame of mind is depicted in Sayonara Shelter, the new song which you’ve included in DISC1 of your upcoming best-of collection, right?

S: That’s right, yes.

―― The music is quintessentially Hide-san, with how beautiful it is. Writing about such a concrete subject for this melody pulls your emotions right into it from the very beginning.

S: Yes. I think the past me would likely play it cool, avoid being clear [about the subject matter], kind of sidestep things and use another escape route though. I can’t bring myself to do that anymore these days. Because I’m not that eloquent in the first place. And the best thing I can now is to do things as I see them, as I feel them. No matter what, this…… When I’m shown videos of children and all those…… There’s no other outlet (for my emotions).

―― The lyrics are written in the perspective of both parties involved with the very first line going, “Someone is coming to kill us (誰かが僕らを殺しに来るよ)”, followed by the next, with, “Am I going out to kill someone (わたしは誰かを殺しに行くの)”.

S: That’s right. Like, what if it was you in that position and you can’t remain a bystander, what would you do? If those who fled to Poland were asked whether they could leave their families behind and go back to Ukraine…… If I was in their position, what would I do? That’s something I thought about too.

―― What would you do? Do you think you’d go back and take up arms?

S: Ah…… Well, if I wanted to sound cool, I’d probably say yes. But I don’t know what I’d actually do if that really happened to me.

―― No matter the choice, we’re all still human after all. And no matter the choice, I think you’ll always have people around you saying, “That’s it, that’s the right path.”

S: That’s true. Really…… because they’re going at each other, brandishing ideals, right? Actually, even now, I still can’t believe it, like, “Is this really happening?”

―― Was there any hint of reservations or expressions of bewilderment from your band mates at lyrics written in such a disambiguous manner?

S: None at all. Um…… I created an atmosphere that didn’t allow them to say anything.
―― When you say this with that look in your eyes, the only thing to do is to shut up (lol).

S: Fufufu. There actually were opinions for and against this within the band, but ultimately, the desire to make people listen to it won out. After I recorded my part for the song, even Director Tanaka-san said, “This is probably something that needs to be announced now.” And so, we decided to include it in the best-of collection.

 

I’m definitely one of the weak human beings
A helpless person who cowers in the dark
I’m just like the children shaking in fear in the basement

―― This might be a bit of a reach, but I think there will be cases where people hear this song and the first thing that comes to mind is, “Isn’t this an anti-war song?” How does Sakurai-san feel about that?

S: Ahh, I had that conversation with Victor’s staff and Tanaka-san about the order of the tracklist in DISC 1, the last three songs in it (REVOLVER, Guernica no Yoru, Sayonara Shelter). While we did think that people might not like for us to shine the focus on this area alone…… I think we should even if they hate it.

ーー Fufufufu.

S: Because I feel that sooner or later, the day when we have to talk about these things will come. But…… I think it’s strange to use the word “anti-war”, isn’t it? Because I think war is not something that we need to begin with. Although, it would be good if people would just take it as, “I guess that’s what they’re doing,” when I put these things into song. But that’s not going to happen, is it? I expect that there will likely be people who will want to say, “You guys are hypocrites!”

ーー That’s precisely why most people avoid anything and everything related to topics on war or politics. I think it’s a sensitive thing for celebrities and artists alike.

S: That’s true. But I think that’s good too. To speak nothing of these things at all, to spend more time making people laugh and smile in other ways, to sing songs that inspire people to look forward to tomorrow. I think they’re awe-inspiring if someone is able to express themself like that. But that’s not something I’m capable of. I suppose that’s because I’m not mature enough as a person, though.

―― No, that’s not true.

S: Of course, I have all kinds of dilemmas. While I’d be concerned if people didn’t get the message at all [when they listen to the song], there are also times when I’d feel disappointed when I start to wonder whether we’d be able to make money with such music. But that said, it’s not as if there are all that many other things that inspire me anyway. It’s all now very unstable, isn’t it? Both the world at large, and for the individual person too. But the real problem is that proper adults are killing people. Simply put, they’re getting children all wrapped up in this as collateral damage. To that, I wanted to say, “Why?” from the children’s perspective. And I said it earlier too, but [other people] misrepresenting that, changing [some part of its meaning], implying [something else]…… “I can’t be bothered!” That’s how I feel.

―― Don’t you think that you’ll need to have crossed a certain boundary to be able to say this as the person who wrote these words and sings it?

S: Yes. That did happen. Well, you could also say it’s being mentally prepared on the inside. Sort of like a, “This was what you said at that time, right? Since that’s the case, you should turn what you felt into something that strikes other people even harder.” For me, whatever strikes my heart deeply gets turned into the flesh and blood that forms my words. Since this is the line of work I am in, as long as I have a choice, my first consideration wouldn’t be whether this is a good idea or not, but rather my desire to stir up strong emotions in other people. That’s the kind of premeditated transgression it’s come to. Because in these past few years, we’ve had war, and COVID-19, and in all of that, I’ve been wondering, “What should I sing about?”

―― So that’s what it’s been like for you.

S: Yeah. If I’m making my move, I might as well go all out and take the plunge. Kind of like the idea of kicking the spring board as hard as you can and flying off.

―― Signs of the times are certainly all around us, aren’t they? Ever since COVID-19, I would think that it’s difficult to write melancholic, despairing songs……

S: No? I’m doing that right now.

―― Ah, really (lol).

S: I’m getting critical acclaim for doing that. Somehow, I’m really excited about this. For my insidious ways!

―― Fuhahahahaha!

S: Perhaps…… This might just be my life’s purpose.

―― Kukuku. Insidiousness and despair are what “Demon King¹ Sakurai” is really made of, right? But if that’s true, then I wonder what disposition and personality Sayonara Shelter’s Sakurai-san will be categorised under?

S: Mm…… But I’m definitely one of the weak human beings, you know? I’m really a helpless person who cowers in the dark. I always say this, but I’m just like the children shaking in fear in the basement.

―― You’ve portrayed the “shelter” in this song as a safe rendezvous, yet, where does the “farewell (sayonara)” in the song title come from?

S: Ah, that’s because I thought of working in a little drama. [The protagonist] won’t be able to come back anymore but…… Something like that. It’s the same with the “I’m going out to kill (殺しに行く / koroshi ni iku)” that comes in at the end; [the protagonist] is lying. In the song Andalusia ni Akogarete (アンダルシアに憧れて / Longing for Andalusia) by Maashii-san (Mashima Masatoshi), there’s that sense of waiting at station platform for [the protagonist] to come back. Although we won’t be able to see each other, wait for me. …… Ah, you don’t have to keep this in the interview.

―― It’s interesting, so I’ll publish it anyway (lol). But that would make this a song with a tragic ending, wouldn’t it?

S: That’s right. I think I was also writing [these lyrics] with the feeling of how soldiers like me who aren’t all that young, who haven’t even been trained would be the very first to go down. Although the hope that whatever we do helps the children who are waiting back home is of course there.

―― Hope and despair are intertwined. It’s just like what “shadow play” is; the one and only modest form of entertainment that one can create in a shelter that is lit up by only moon or candle light.

S: Yeah. It’s exactly as you said. I think everyone has seen the little girl singing Frozen songs in the underground shelter on the news. Even in these devastating circumstances, such a vibrant individuals and personalities exist. This hope…… If we don’t even have a single candle flame, it would be unbearable, wouldn’t it?

―― Did you feel a sense of clarity after you finished writing the lyrics to this song?

S: ……No, although I would feel relieved after it’s turned into a song and released as a work. The next step after that would include wondering about whether there’d be people who would get upset by this. Those who won’t get it won’t get it anyway. But that’s, well, the freedom of the listener anyway, so they can take it however they want, right? Hm…… And then, there’s also doubt revolving around whether it’s okay for me to earn money with something like this too. I think those are the kind of thoughts I’m always dwelling on in my head.

―― But you’ve never made the decision that you won’t release it.

S: That’s right. Because the story has already been written  in my head. A number of such stories have also been written for other new songs that are going into our next album. At this point, I don’t think anyone can avoid it anymore.

―― The strength to step into this and not allow anyone to say otherwise about it. The Sakurai-san of today is truly incredible.

S: If I held back…… it’s the end of the road for me. That’s what it feels like. I’m a coward, you see. Besides, I’ve fallen very ill before and it’s not as if my family’s all that healthy either. I keep telling myself, “It’s time to take the plunge or it’s going to all be over for you.” Because I really don’t know if or when something will happen.

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ We often see Sakurai being nicknamed 魔王 (maou), often translated as Demon King, or Prince of Darkness, or even Satan. But what I found interesting was the fact that Franz Schubert’s Erlkönig is called 魔王 in Japanese. The equivalent of Erlkönig in English appears to be Alder King, king of the elves. 

 

 

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Anii’s 60th!

Yagami Toll 60th Birthday Live
IT’S A NOW 2022
2022.08.18 (FRI) CLUB CITTA’

text by Hirabayashi Michiko
photographs by Tanaka Seitari (LIVE), Masa (BACKSTAGE)

 

Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday celebration. Numerous musicians who love and admire him congratulated him on this memorable day. Mentors, juniors, sworn friends, admirers, and his long-time band mates. Such is proof that his yet ongoing drumming career is a happy and blessed one. The 19th of August. This is the report of that one special day.

D’ERLANGER

  1. BABY
  2. Angelic Poetry
  3. Romeo & Juliet
  4. LULLABY
  5. CRAZY4YOU
  6. Oh! My God! (Yagami Toll & Blue Sky cover)
  7. SADISTIC EMOTION

 

Yagami Toll & Blue Sky (1/2)

  1. Mandom—Lovers Of The World
  2. WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder & Cold wind- / with Miyako Keiichi
  3. SODA ROCK!! / with Miyako Keiichi
  4. Fire Girl / with Miyako Keiichi
  5. ROCK’N ROLL STAR / with Miyako Keiichi
  6. Oh! My God! / with Miyako Keiichi
  7. Top Of The Mountain Bar (SHIME cover) / with Miyako Keiichi

Yagami Toll & Blue Sky (2/2)

8. Funky Monkey Baby (CAROL cover) / with Minato Masafumi
9. Good Old Rock’n’Roll (CAROL cover) / with Minato Masafumi
10. Slow Down (THE BEATLES cover) / with Takahashi Makoto
11. DREAMIN’ (BOØWY cover) / with Takahashi Makoto
12. 時よ [Toki yo] / with Miyako Keiichi & Yoshida Minako
13. 夢で逢えたら [Yume de Aetara] / with Miyako Keiichi & Yoshida Minako
14. Blow wind  / with Miyako Keiichi

 

BUCK-TICK

  1. THEME OF B-T
  2. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
  3. GUSTAVE
  4. Baby, I want you.
  5. 愛しのロック・スター [Itoshi no Rock Star] / with ISSAY
  6. 恋 [Koi]
  7. ユリイカ [Eureka]
  8. SEXUAL×××××!

With his caring and loving personality, and his sincerity
Life as a loved and admired drummer is bound to continue on

Yagami Toll’s birthday concert IT’S A NOW! has become an annual event that happens every August since celebrating his 50th birthday at the very same CLUB CITTA’ Kawasaki in 2012. This special edition 60th anniversary show was a celebration filled with love and respect for Anii.

The first batter of the night, D’ERLANGER started the show with all four members facing each other as they began performing BABY. It was confusing to suddenly see the band with their backs to the audience with the exception of drummer Tetsu, but by choosing to start with this song in a way that focuses on the drummer shows their respect for Yagami. During their segment, Tetsu expressed his joy at being able to take part in this celebration with D’ERLANGER, and performed with more power and spirit than usual with their love for their respected senior.

Up next was 5-piece band Yagami Toll & Blue Sky taking the stage with familiar band members Kenta Harada, KANAME, Yagi Masato, and Miyako Keiichi (SOPHIA/rayflower) joining in as the guest keyboardist. A huge round of applause rose from the audience as Yagami, the star of the day, ascended the drum stage which was decorated with 60 bright red roses. The first half of the show which featured a series of songs from their 2019 mini-album had an intimate atmosphere, as if enjoying a performance with a group of friends who were at ease with each other. Closing off this first half, they covered songs by singer-songwriter SHIME who passed away this March, expressing in music their gratitude and condolences for his indispensable presence in IT’S A NOW!.

The second half was a special segment filled with guest performers. First was a twin drums session with ex-DEAD END drummer Minato Masafumi and ex-BOOWY drummer Takahashi Makoto. The powerful drumming in DREAMIN’ by one drummer celebrating his 60th birthday and the other who was nearing 70 was nothing short of astonishing. After that, Yoshida MInako, who Yagami had always admired, joined them on stage to perform Toki yo and Yume de Aetara at his request. Then, switching places with her were his younger brother Higuchi Yutaka carrying in a bright red silk hat-shaped cake and sworn brother Tetsu (D’ERLANGER) holding a bouquet of flowers on stage to congratulate and celebrate Yagami’s 60th birthday.

During the set change, congratulatory messages were shown on a screen. Familiar faces from the Ayanokoji Sho-led band Kishidan, Carol’s guitarist Uchiumi Toshikatsu who was a huge influence on Yagami’s life, to his junior drummers DIR EN GREY’s Shinya, Spitz’s Sakiyama Tatsuo, BRAHMAN and OAU’s RONZI, POLYSICS’ YANO and many others made comment videos for him, illustrating just how large Yagami’s circle of friends is.

Finally, given the honour of the closing set was, of course, BUCK-TICK. While the members who made up ~Blue Sky from earlier were friends to feel at ease with, BUCK-TICK is the group who will spend the rest of their lives with each other to Yagami. In other words, they are bound together by a common destiny. Today’s show starts with Go-Go B-T TRAIN

“We are Yagami Toll and his trusted associates,” Sakurai greets. Following which, he says, “I’m straying into personal matters, but I fell sick with COVID-19.”

That’s right. Today happened to be the very first show that Sakurai Atsushi performed following his recuperation period, but throughout their set, Sakurai drew close to the drum stage numerous times to revere Anii and to reiterate that the star of today’s show was Yagami.

Then, midway, Sakurai announced, “Let’s call on our lovely guest,” ISSAY, who accepted an invitation from Yagami himself came onstage. Together with Sakurai, they performed Itoshi no Rock Star for the first time in 27 years! The sultry singing voices of the aristocrat of darkness and the Demon King. Just as Sakurai went behind ISSAY and put his hands on the other’s hips, ISSAY puts his arm around Sakurai’s shoulders and brings his face close. Faces were blank before this scene, playing dumb as if thinking, “Oh, goodness gracious, what on earth are they trying to show us here?”

Into the hall which had been enveloped in a bizarre exhilaration, the beautiful yearning melody that is Koi gently descended on us before leading into Eureka that had everyone shouting “LOVE” in their hearts and putting up peace signs. 

Then, Sakurai began a humour-filled introduction, saying, “Upon request by our Anii-san from Tokyo.” 

Yagami came after, declaring, “We’ll be performing the title track from our debut album!” and with the loud signal of a countdown, they jumped into SEXUAL xxxxx! as the grand finale of the night.

When I first came across the band BUCK-TICK, I never could have imagined what people from my grandparents’ generation would have been like when they plated in a rock band. However, the band’s drummer stood on stage this day wearing a bright red outfit, still looking the same as the day I first saw him with his hair standing high, drumming a tight beat. Loved and adored by many for his caring, loving personality and sincere attitude as a musician, Yagami’s life as a drummer continues from here. With his caring and loving personality, and his sincerity as a musician, life as a drummer for Yagami who is loved and admired by many is nowhere near finished, and bound to continue on into the future.

 

 

 

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AFTERSHOW

2021.08.17 Sakurai Atsushi BUCK-TICK

After the cover and feature photoshoot for the special publication PHY Vol.22, this magazine’s photoshoot was done on the terrace of the same studio. Although we knew that we should refrain from putting too much pressure on Sakurai-san who had just recovered from illness, what we wanted in this shoot was Acchan’s smile.  As I stood behind photographer Nakano-san who held the camera, I spoke about how my daughter was aspiring to be a YouTuber and how she was trying to come up with an opening introduction for her channel. And thus, we were graced by the presence of the smiling Demon King. Even though Sakurai said, “Kanemitsu-san, it’s not fair of you to talk about your daughter,” he was beaming all the way until the end of the shoot. By the way, PHY Vol.22 goes on sale on 21 September. The warm, laid-back Hide-san’s book (expanded and revised version) is also slated to be published on the same date. Look forward to it!

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Pictures: Yoshiyuki

Concert report of Yagami Toll’s (BUCK-TICK) star-studded 60th birthday celebration

OKMusic
20 August 2022

Text=Yuka Okubo
Photos=Seitaro Tanaka

 

The report covering Yagami Toll ~60th Birthday Live~ IT’S A NOW!2022, the birthday concert celebrating Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday which was held at CLUB CITTA’ Kawasaki in Kanagawa on Friday, 19 August 2022 has arrived.

While Yagami Toll is drummer to the band BUCK-TICK, who will be celebrating 35 years together with no change in member line up in September later this year, he also carries out solo activities under the name Yagami Toll & Blue Sky and has released an EP, WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder & Cold wind- in 2019.

This event was in celebration of Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday, and was held on 19 August, the actual day of his birthday. Apart from the Yagami Toll-led band, Yagami Toll & Blue Sky, there also were performances by BUCK-TICK and D’ERLANGER, and he also shared a stage with guest musicians like his close friend Miyako Keiichi from SOPHIA/Rayflower, drummer Minato Masafumi, Der Zibet’s ISSAY, his mentor-figure Takahashi Makoto, and singer Yoshida Minako whom Yagami has admired since childhood.

 

 

On 19 August, stalwart drummer Yagami Toll of the band BUCK-TICK, who will be celebrating their 35th anniversary in September, celebrated his 60th birthday at CLUB CITTA’ Kawasaki in Kanagawa with the show, Yagami Toll ~60th Birthday Live~IT’S A NOW!2022.

This birthday concert has become an annual event ever since the 2012 show at the very same CLUB CITTA’ Kawasaki celebrating his 50th birthday. Subsequent shows were held at Shimokitazawa’s live house with the Yagami Toll-led Yagami Toll & Blue Sky as the main act performing their original compositions and covering Yagami’s favourite songs. But this year, they decided to throw a big celebration for Yagami hitting the big 60 and had performances by BUCK-TICK, D’ERLANGER, and special guests like Miyako Keiichi (SOPHIA/Rayflower), Takahashi Makoto, Minato Masafumi and Yoshida Minako joining Yagami Toll & Blue Sky, as well as ISSAY (Der Zibet) taking part in BUCK-TICK’s set. 

During transitions between sets, congratulatory video messages from musicians of all genres of bands were shown too, a testament to just how large Yagami’s circle of friends is. Even the audience’s faces burst into smiles as they watched all the sincere comment videos from stand-out individuals and groups, like the 5 members of Kishidan exclaiming “We knew Anii would be a-okay even at 60!” together, Nishikawa Takanori, fellow Gunma-ite Kanagawa Macoto, his musician seniors Uchiumi Toshikatsu and Nakano Shigeru (亜無亜危異 / ANARCHY), his drummer senior Tsunoda☆Hiro, drummer junior Shinya of DIR EN GREY, Sakiyama Tatsuo from Spitz, and BRAHMAN’s RONZI, just to name a few.

Actor Kuroda Takaya was the backstage announcer for this event, calling in the first batter of the night, D’ERLANGER. As all four members faced each other, they kicked things off with BABY. And Angelic Poetry followed, flaunting the way each and every note could be heard clearly while coming together in the satisfying explosive sound that is unique to D’ERLANGER. Waves alternating between quiet and intensity came and went in Romeo&Juliet, and after performing their hit songs LULLABY and CRAZY4YOU, drummer Tetsu who is Yagami’s close friend said, “I’m glad that we can throw a grand celebration for you in such a large venue today. May our friendship continue into tomorrow, and the day after, and even longer!” 

Singer kyo then said, “To commemorate this day, we’ll be performing a song that everyone is familiar with.” Following that, they performed Oh! My God!; a rock’n’roll song from Yagami Toll & Blue Sky’s discography with lyrics written by Yagami himself. It was a surprise for Yagami too, and when the excitement in the hall was at its peak, the band performed SADISTIC EMOTION, a fiery song that perfectly led back to what kyo said in his very first MC: “Do allow me to properly warm up the stage.” And with that, they departed from the stage.

Up next was Yagami Toll & Blue Sky. The drum stand on the stage took on a special look with a display covered in deep red roses. Once Yagami, Harada Kenta (guitar & vocals), KANAME (bass & vocals), Yagi Masato (guitar), and Miyako Keiichi (keyboard) took the stage wearing red t-shirts, they started their session with the instrumental track WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder & Cold wind-. After drawing the audience in with the mellow performance, they got the crowd going with upbeat rock ‘n roll songs SODA ROCK!! and ROCK’N ROLL STAR.

There’s one more person who is integral to these IT’S A NOW! birthday events and that is SHIME, who passed away in March this year. As a tribute to his memory, they covered SHIME’s own song, Top of The Mountain Bar. Footage of SHIME performing with the band was shown on screen, and at times, Yagami could be seen watching it as he drummed.

Next came a twin drums session where they were joined by guest drummer Minato Masafumi in performing CAROL’s Funky Monkey Baby and Good Old Rock’n’Roll, and then by Takahashi Makoto in their performance of Larry Williams’ SLOW DOWN which The Beatles once covered, and BOØWY’s DREAMIN’. Then, Yoshida Minako, who Yagami has professed to being a huge fan of, joined them on stage for a heartfelt rendition of Yagami’s song requests, Toki yo and Yume de Aetara

While still immersed in the afterglow of her groovy singing, Yagami’s biological younger brother, Higuchi Yutaka (bassist/BUCK-TICK) brought cake onto the stage with Tetsu (D’ERLANGER) who carried a large bouquet. All at once, the hall switched into a festive mood. With the celebratory mood in the air, the band then closed off their set with the mid-tempo Blow Wind, the one and only song that the sharp-tongued SHIME ever praised.

SE THEME OF B-T resounded through the hall as the final act of the night, BUCK-TICK took the stage. We departed from the lull with Go-Go B-T TRAIN, the up-tempo number that was a combination of speed and force. With a whine from guitarist Imai Hisashi’s instrument imitating the pressure of steam blowing out, Higuchi rocked backwards, lifting the neck of his bass guitar up high. Guitarist Hoshino Hidehiko’s strumming was sharp and cutting too as the band went in hard and heavy from their very first song.

Vocalist Sakurai Atsushi causally introduced the band as, “Yagami Toll and his trusted associates,” and then continued his MC with, “I’m straying into personal matters on this happy day, but I fell sick with COVID-19 despite everyone’s cautioning to be careful. Zero powers of persuasion there.” 

This day marks the very first show that Sakurai is having after his falling ill and recupertion last month. But not even a shred of evidence of that was left in his powerful yet delicate voice as the band went on to perform GUSTAVE and then, Baby, I want you.

“Let’s call on our lovely guest,” Sakurai said before singing, ♪‘Radio kara no Transmission〜’ from Der Zibet’s Shizumitai. A delightful scene followed when ISSAY came on stage singing the next part of the song. Then, Sakurai and ISSAY dueted in their first performance of Itoshi no Rock Star together after close to 27 years.

Following the emotional Koi and everyone throwing up peace signs in Eureka,  Sakurai began a humorous introduction with, “This [next one] is on request by our Anii-san from Tokyo.”

Yagami then announced, “We’ll be performing the title track from our debut album!” which led into their last song for the night, SEXUAL×××××!. Just as they jumped into the intro to Yagami’s count, red and silver streamers flew into the air and the audience went wild from this surprise that felt like a return gift from Yagami; a fitting, euphoric end to the night.

After the performance concluded, Yagami remained on stage to tell the audience, “Thank you for coming to celebrate my 60th birthday today.” And finally, to the rest of his bandmates who will in turn hit 60 in future, he added, “I hope we’ll be able [to celebrate like this] three and four years later too.”

The audience gave a rousing applause throughout the performance, and showered love on Yagami, the star of the evening from start to end. The hairstyle that he has kept upright throughout BUCK-TICK’s 35 years of activities is like a symbol of the determination he has had since day one and his love for the fans.

What especially struck me was how quickly they changed the angles of the cymbals for Yagami Toll & Blue Sky’s set. As the drum stand was higher up than usual, the audience wouldn’t be able to see Yagami from where they stood if the cymbals were set at certain angles. For this reason, the cymbals were almost horizontal. Such attention to detail is probably one of the reasons he is so loved by many. I hope that to continue seeing his reliable self as the supporting backbone of BUCK-TICK not just three or four years from now, but far into the future too.

 

<Set List>

■D’ERLANGER

  1. BABY
  2. Angelic Poetry
  3. Romeo & Juliet
  4. LULLABY
  5. CRAZY4YOU
  6. Oh! My God! (Yagami Toll & Blue Sky cover)
  7. SADISTIC EMOTION

■Yagami Toll & Blue Sky

  1. Mandom—Lovers Of The World
  2. WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder & Cold wind- / with Miyako Keiichi
  3. SODA ROCK!! / with Miyako Keiichi
  4. Fire Girl / with Miyako Keiichi
  5. ROCK’N ROLL STAR / with Miyako Keiichi
  6. Oh! My God! / with Miyako Keiichi
  7. Top Of The Mountain Bar (SHIME cover) / with Miyako Keiichi
  8. Funky Monkey Baby (CAROL cover) / with Minato Masafumi
  9. Good Old Rock’n’Roll (CAROL cover) / with Minato Masafumi
  10. Slow Down (THE BEATLES cover) / with Takahashi Makoto
  11. DREAMIN’ (BOØWY cover) / with Takahashi Makoto
  12. 時よ [Toki yo] / with Miyako Keiichi & Yoshida Minako
  13. 夢で逢えたら [Yume de Aetara] / with Miyako Keiichi & Yoshida Minako
  14. Blow wind  / with Miyako Keiichi

■BUCK-TICK

  1. THEME OF B-T
  2. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
  3. GUSTAVE
  4. Baby, I want you.
  5. 愛しのロック・スター [Itoshi no Rock Star] / with ISSAY
  6. 恋 [Koi]
  7. ユリイカ [Eureka]
  8. SEXUAL×××××!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: OKMusic, Lingua Sounda

 

 

A Special 35th Anniversary Commemorative BE@RBRICK

Release of Photo Tee and BE@RBRICK Featuring “BT-MM”,
Beloved Guitar of BUCK-TICK ‘s Guitarist Imai Hisashi a.k.a The Prodigious Lefty
MEDICOM TOY

OPENERS
10 July 2022

Text by SHINNO Kunihiko
Photographs by NAGAO Masashi
Edit by
TOMIYAMA Eizaburo

 

Imai Hisashi, BUCK-TICK’s guitarist who’s been a leader in the Japanese rock scene. His influence can not only be heard in music, but also seen visually in all types of creative media. It is from this man that came the commemorative BE@RBRICK which celebrates the 35th anniversary of BUCK-TICK’s major debut. In this interview, he shares with us the story behind this collaboration.

 

 

I wanted to play the BT-MM with a bow in performances

 

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of BUCK-TICK’s major debut, MEDICOM TOY and HIRAKAWA RENTAROU’s rock apparel brand “Amplifier” has released guitarist Imai Hisashi’s BE@RBRICK and a newly created photo t-shirt.

Both merchandise feature Imai’s beloved “BT-MM”, also known as “Maimai”, with the BE@RBRICK featuring striking illustrations of this same guitar that were drawn by Imai himself.

This will be Imai’s first return to OPENERS since 2019 (https://openers.jp/design/design_features/Hl8mX). This time, the spotlight is on “BT-MM”, known to fans as “the first guitar that comes to mind when you mention Imai Hisashi”. We speak to the man himself about it.

“We were still amateurs when I first started thinking about making my own original guitar. When I saw BOØWY’s Hotei Tomoyasu-san, who we look to as a senior we share a hometown with, painting his guitar, a white Telecaster (FERNANDES TEJ) with red and black paint.

It was only after our major debut when I got to create one starting from its shape (form). I had one made through consultations with a representative from Fernandes (guitar producer). The first guitar had a modified body cut in the shape of a diamond (FERNANDES TSUCHINOKO) but the final product was smaller than expected and it wasn’t very well balanced.

As for the second iteration of BT-MM, I wanted to play it with a bow in performances so I initially had the idea of creating a guitar with the form of a violin. I specified for the curling coiled up tips and the f-holes to be featured, and I thought the resulting design was pretty good. The first time it was used in public was at 1989’s Tokyo Dome show. The Fernandes representative came up with the BT-MM product code and the name Maimai on his own, and I pretty much figured, ‘oh well, so be it’ (lol).”

Imai, nicknamed “The Prodigious Lefty” composed most of BUCK-TICK’s music. Ingenious riffs and melodies produced by his left-hand playing have captivated countless people.

“When I write, I use my right hand and I also tend to use my right hand when I throw a baseball and all, but there’s just a certain few occasions where I favour my left. Like shuffling poker cards.

Back in elementary school,  I was given an acoustic guitar because my uncle was teaching me how to play, and from the very start, I’ve always felt more comfortable holding the neck in my right hand. Even when everyone told me, “Kiddo, it’s the wrong way around,” I wouldn’t understand what they meant. What’s the wrong way around?   And even after I finally figured it out, I just couldn’t hold it that way. No, it’s just impossible (lol).

I wasn’t all that interested in playing guitar at the time, so I left it alone for a good while, but in high school, when we started talking about starting a band, I thought, “Come to think of it……” and I recalled those times. Right versus left, what should I do?   It’d be trouble if I made the wrong choice at this stage (lol). But no matter what, it’s easier for me to play with my left hand. Maybe my body’s just used to it. My father and grandfather are both left-handed, so maybe, in a way, it’s in my blood.

I decided that I don’t need to think too much about it since both hands are used in playing a guitar anyway, and went looking for a left-handed guitar to buy. But left-handed guitars are more expensive than regular ones. At first, my parents looked into it and told me that “it’d cost around 100,000 yen”. But that’s something from a well-known brand. Then, I happened to come across an ad on a black and white page of a magazine that advertised a cheap 19,800 yen guitar, so I decided that one’s good enough and worked part-time to buy it. I still have that guitar with me. I thought it would be interesting to play guitars with both left- and right-handed types since I’m originally a right-handed, but I couldn’t do it at all (lol).”

Imai has not only captivated with sound, but also his hairstyles, makeup, and outfits too. To that, we also asked about where his unique aesthetic sense comes from.

“Artists Uno Akira-san (a.k.a. Aquirax Uno) and Yokoo Tadanori-san. Foreign influences are Salvador Dali and Giorgio de Chirico. Among manga artists, it’s Araki Hirohiko-san. He’s the author of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and I like the light touch he has in his art. Isn’t this year also the 35th anniversary of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (serialisation started in Weekly Shonen Jump 1987 #01)? Some years ago, a fan gifted me an issue of Shonen Jump from that era with JoJo on the front cover, and on the back cover was us featured in Victor’s CDian (※1) ad. I never expected that a fan would have something like this. That was interesting. It felt kind of fateful in a way.”

 

(※1)  In 1988, BUCK-TICK and JVC (old name for Victor) ran an advertising campaign with the catchphrase “An explosively deep heavy bass (重低音がバクチクする / juu teion ga bakuchiku suru)” for CDian, the true CD/cassette player with subwoofer. The two of them came together again in 2015 to promote high-resolution sound equipment with the new catchphrase “An explosively high resolution (ハイレゾがバクチクする / hairezo ga bakuchiku suru)”.
Artwork by leading Japanese illustrator and creative designer Uno Akira found in Imai Hisashi’s workroom. Uno illustrated the cover of BUCK-TICK’s 2010 album RAZZLE DAZZLE, while Imai composed the theme song of the 2012 stage play Tenshu Monogatari (天守物語) in which Uno was also involved for art and costuming.
Manga artist Araki Hirohiko, famous for his works JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan, and many more. Imai’s collection of pin badges and the Stone Mask are items coveted by fans.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the fusion of mechanical aspects with human, and when we were making the music video for Speed (their single released in 1991), we filmed a scene of the band performing with instruments attached with gears and hoses. It had a similar vibe to what is now known as steampunk.

Another manga artist I love is Nihei Tsutomu-san, the author of BLAME! and Knights of Sidonia. I really like the logo Nihei-san designed for our label (Lingua Sounda, BUCK-TICK’s private label).

I’m not the kind of person who goes out a lot to begin with, so nothing much has changed for me even after COVID-19 came around. In terms of movies, I quite liked  Disney’s Cruella (2021) last year.”

Ingenious creator Imai’s workroom is filled with all kinds of figurines.

This was something I doodled at home as an attempt to turn BT-MM into a sort of character

 

He had produced photo T-shirts and figurines with Amplifier before, but this BE@RBRICK release is a first.

“I’ve been to exhibitions held by MEDICOM TOY numerous times, and I have had the thought of one day trying my hand at designing a BE@RBRICK. So I was really happy when I was asked to do it.

The idea for this design was suggested to me by Amplifier’s Hirakawa-kun. This was something I doodled at home about 10 years ago as an attempt to turn BT-MM into a sort of mascot character. Furthermore, this was drawn in one go. I had the intention of using it on band merchandise too so I wanted to draw it one more time with more effort put in, but no matter how many times I tried, it wouldn’t turn out well. Somehow, I just didn’t like them, you know? It’s either the expression, or the shape, or something. In the end, the first one was the best, so that’s what we’ve been using all this time.

During the creation of this BE@RBRICK, I didn’t voice out any specifications, but the size of the guitar and the balance of the design that they came up with was just perfect; I really liked it. I also intend to display it in my basement workroom at home once it’s produced. And if this is well received, I’d definitely like to do this a second or third time.

But BE@RBRICK also adapts with the times, doesn’t it? When I went to the recent exhibition (BE@RBRICK WORLD WIDE TOUR 3, held from 4 to 9 December 2021 at Omotesando, Tokyo), what I found was new wasn’t a bear but something that was shaped like the Nike of Samothrace (Ancient Greek marble sculpture discovered on the island of Samothrace in 1863) which I thought was really cool.”

With 22 original albums and 40 singles under their belt, BUCK-TICK will be celebrating the 35 years of activity with the same band members in September 2022. On Wednesday, 21 September, they will be releasing both the Blu-ray & DVD release of Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ~SHOW AFTER DARK~ in Nippon Budokan and the CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv., a five-CD concept best album that deconstructs and recompiles their works released over their 35-year career. They will also be holding BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE”~35th anniversary~, a special concert on 23 and 24 September at Yokohama Arena to mark the start of their 35th anniversary year.

“A lot of fans have reached out to us, sharing how much they want to attend concerts even though they can’t. It’s also frustrating for us because we can’t put on a show for everyone although we want to. But the global situation is finally starting to change little by little, so I hope that we can all look forward to the 35th anniversary concert at Yokohama Arena.”

 

 

Debut 35th Anniversary LIVE

【BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE”~35th anniversary~】
@ Yokohama Arena

BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE”~35th anniversary~ FLY SIDE
Friday, 23 September 2022 (Holiday)
Doors open 17:00, show starts 18:00

BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE”~35th anniversary~ HIGH SIDE
Saturday, 24 September 2022
Doors open 16:00, show starts 17:00

https://buck-tick.com/feature/specialsite_2022parade

 

BE@RBRICK BUCK-TICK Imai Hisashi 100% & 400% / 1000%

Produced by|HIRAKAWA RENTAROU
Supervised by|Imai Hisashi
Size|Full height at approx. 70mm / 280mm / 700mm
Release date|Delivery and release in October 2022
Price|[100% & 400%]15,180 yen (w/ tax) /[1000%]63,800 yen (w/ tax)
To purchase|Pre-order at MCT TOKYO (https://mct.tokyo/) from 00:00, Friday, 24 June ~23:59, Monday, 18 July 2022. (Japan time)

※For more details, please visit the official MEDICOM TOY website
※Pictures of samples were shot under supervision. May have slight differences from those on sale.
©️BANKER L.T.D
BE@RBRICK TM & ©️ 2001-2022 MEDICOM TOY CORPORATION. All rights reserved.

 

 

Imai Hisashi Photo T-shirt
Amplifier “今井寿” TEE design G

The photo T-shirt Amplifier “今井寿” TEE design G will be released on Imai Hisashi’s birthday, 21 October. BE@RBRICK BUCK-TICK 今井寿 100% & 400% / 1000% is also slated for delivery and release in October. All of these are made-to-order items, so please access the websites and place your order during the order periods.

Produced by|HIRAKAWA RENTAROU
Photo bySHIBATA ERI
Supervised by|Imai Hisashi
Colour|White, Black
Size|S、M、L、XL
Release date|21 October 2022
Price|6,930 yen each (w/ tax)
To purchase|Pre-order at any MEDICOM TOY online stores from 17:00, Friday, 24 June ~ 23:59, Sunday, 31 July 2022. (Japan time)

©️BANKER L.T.D
©️SHIBATA ERI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki

Source: https://openers.jp/design/design_features/4JHgK

Amplifier shop: http://amplifier.tokyo/artists/imai_hisashi/

 

Artist comments for Ernie Ball strings
[Imai, Yuta, Hide]

KORG Import Division’s Instagram 
2 June 2022

 

 

🎸Artist Comment🎸

Here are some comments from artists who use Ernie Ball strings💁‍♀️

Imai Hisashi (BUCK-TICK)

 

“I think I’ve probably been using Ernie Ball strings for more than 30 years?

It’s easier and more stable for re-tuning after restringing

and it’s got a softer touch when I play so I think it’s easy to work with.

I like the way the sound comes through.”

 

⚡️Strings used: Regular Slinky ♯2221

Higuchi Yutaka (BUCK-TICK)

 

“The strings are smooth to the touch, aren’t they?

I do a lot of plucking, so these strings make it very easy to play because they’re not too stiff.

In terms of sound quality, they’re in the high range but I like the way the lows come through too.”

 

⚡️Strings used: Super Slinky Bass ♯2834

Hoshino Hidehiko (BUCK-TICK)

 

“I’ve been using them since around the time of our debut.

The string gauge of the regular Slinky goes from .010 to .046

so I think that makes the strings fully balanced with a rich mid-tone.

And that’s something that BUCK-TICK’s sound can’t do without.”

 

⚡️Strings used: Regular Slinky ♯2221

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: KORG Import Division (Imai post, Yuta post, Hide post)

BUCK-TICK comments for 2nd Livehouse Aomori Quarter Support Project

CAMPFIRE aomori_quarter
April 2022

 

 

Members of BUCK-TICK have left comments supporting the second fundraiser for Livehouse Aomori Quarter.

More information can be found on their fundraiser page here: https://camp-fire.jp/projects/view/364749

Their comments are as follows below:

 

 

Our first show at Aomori’s live house around 35 years ago was at 1/3.

You could count the number of people in the audience, but even today,

I still remember feeling very touched knowing that there were people here

waiting for us far away in this city we’d never been to.

This place made us feel very comfortable too

with the somewhat shy yet handsome Master and his beautiful wife.

We, too, have continued to make music hoping to come and play Master’s again.

When that happens, I hope you’ll let us drink until dawn again.

Mmー, maybe it’s impossible to stay up until daybreak now?

With a photo album from my youth to accompany the drinks

and Master’s smile to compliment them, let’s drink to our fill.

That’s right.. to make sure that can happen, everyone!

Please start helping by buying the merch. I’ll leave it in your capable hands.

 

 

Sakurai Atsushi(BUCK-TICK)

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve played here tons of times,

and when we weren’t here for a show, we’d come here to drink.

 

Fun memories…

 

And it’s a place to share music‼️ 

 

It’s a live house we can’t afford to lose♪

 

So to keep them going 🙌

 

Let’s do our best👊We are strong🌈

 

 

Imai Hisashi (BUCK-TICK)

 

 

Aomori immediately brings to mind 1/3

 

Over 30 years ago we toured Tohoku in a battered HIACE (BUCK-TICK),

and were warmly welcomed during our first time to Aomori back then,

by the audience who came to see us, and Master and all the staff.

 

We haven’t been able to perform lives in recent times, but around 4 years ago, we went to Bar space 1/3 for an after party

where master brought photos and our autographs from those days and we started reminiscing about the past over drinks.

 

Let’s protect this irreplaceable Aomori live house that is Quarter(1/3).

 

BUCK-TICK is rooting for them too!

Everyone, please lend them your support as well!

 

 

Hoshino Hidehiko(BUCK-TICK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first tour after our major debut in 1987 brought us to Tohoku.

We played a show at Aomori 「FREE LIVE SPASE1/3」 for the first time during that tour

which marked BUCK-TICK’s beginnings in Aomori.

The rise of rock in Tohoku in those days was amazing by national standards, and I believe it all originated from this live house.

I hope that everyone will join us to give our all in supporting everyone at Aomori Quarter, and make sure that Aomori’s precious flames of rock don’t get extinguished.

 

Higuchi Yutaka(BUCK-TICK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This live house really looked out for BUCK-TICK when we debuted.

It’s an important place for music-sharing in Aomori.

It’s now been put in a perilous situation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The future growth of music is in danger. Please lend them your support.

Your help is truly appreciated.

 

 

Yagami Toll(BUCK-TICK)

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: https://camp-fire.jp/projects/view/364749

9

Go-Go B-T Train Feature

PHY Vol. 19
September 2021

Although we can’t see where our final stop is, I hope that everyone will ride with us until the very end

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photographs by Chito Yoshida
hair & make-up by Tanizaki Takayuki (Yagami), Yamaji Chihiro (Sakurai, Hoshino, Higuchi)_Fat’s Berry
styling by Shimizu Kenichi

clothes from
kiryuyrik_03-5728-4048
LAD MUSICIAN HARAJUKU_03-3470-6760
SToL   fcp-online.com
UK-EXTRA   http://uk-extra.com

pictures from
Komatsu Yosuke (Imai)

 

A fixation on life emerged, and when I start obsessing about the future, I get lonely
That’s why, we have a song that says let’s run, let’s not think about anything else and just go

When it comes to music releases, BUCK-TICK’s latest single Go-Go B-T TRAIN is due to be released on September 22. It will be their first release in the one year since the release of their album ABRACADABRA. Last year, they held concerts in the form of a livestream and a film concert tour in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but only managed to hold one single concert with a live audience present at Nippon Budokan at year end.

After maintaining the constant of touring the country with the release of every album for nearly 35 years, there is no doubt that inimitable this band must have felt as if something cherished has been snatched away from them in the past year. We still can’t go back fully to what things were like in the past, but they have scheduled a national tour and they are finally going to get things started again. The single that they were releasing on the opening day of the tour included a song reaffirming the deep bonds we have with our loved ones and another leading us into tomorrow with gusto. At the same time, the band, who will be celebrating their 35th anniversary next year, would be showing their true emotions on stage. Part of the tour has been postponed to give Imai HIsashi (guitarist) two months to fully recover from a fracture, but it doesn’t change the fact that this single is a sign of beginnings. 

In this front cover special feature, we look into ours’ and BUCK-TICK’s future through these extended interviews with the members of the band, including Imai.

 

 

 

 

 

BUCK-TICK Solo Interviews

_______________________

Sakurai Atsushi

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

And we’re showing age in all sorts of ways but until we’re irreparable, the five of us will keep on running into the unknown
I thought it’d be nice to tell such a story

―― A terrible thing has happened around the departure timing for this train, hasn’t it?

Sakurai (S): Yes. We have to talk about that first, don’t we? We’ve inconvenienced a number of parties with Imai-san’s (Imai Hisashi, guitarist) fracture.

―― No, don’t say that. Although, when I look at Imai-san’s social media [Instagram], I can see that he’s living a healthy life in hospital. 

S: Ah, really? I’ve never looked at any of anyone’s media things. How does he look? Well?

―― Yes. Well, or it could be that he just doesn’t want us to worry.

S: Because there’s nothing else we can do except wait, right? It’s not as if he’d get better faster if we spank his butt and say, “Hisashi, what do you think you’re doing!” (Lol). We’d rather that he gets to fully recover without worrying about us.

―― So many things start to happen as we grow older.

S: A few times I’ve missed concerts myself due to illness, so it’s not as if I don’t understand how Imai-san feels right now. The hospital is a place that really makes you feel cut off from society, so there’s nothing to do but focus on getting well. Thankfully, it appears that he’s received a lot of warm well wishes from our fans. So that’s probably a relief for him.

―― Indeed. Now, about your single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN. The impact of this title is something else!

S: Everyone tells me that (lol). At first, we planned to kick off the concert for the members of our fan club on the September date of our debut, and then we started talking about coordinating to release our single on that date as well. So at the sample stage, Imai-san brought two songs while Hide brought one, but with Imai’s songs, both songs had a lot of momentum in them. The other song had the same speedy feeling that Eureka from ABRACADABRA had. Going in that direction was possible too, but personally, I felt that Go-Go B-T TRAIN left an impression unlike any other before. What I felt from the information I gleaned from the scant few bits of sounds in the sample tape was…… I’m going to start saying weird things again (lol).

―― Hahahahaha, go ahead.

S: It kind of reminded me of an attraction at an amusement park. You know how there are those roller coasters that look like a train?

―― That aren’t flashy and speedy like Space Mountain¹.

S: Exactly. The ones that feel more clickety-clack (lol). And get you wondering whether this train is really okay for riding. When children climb in for a ride, it’s a whole lot of noise and commotion and nail-biting thrills (lol). That’s the kind of atmosphere that comes to mind.

―― And that’s connected to the keyword ‘train’.

S: That’s right. Because even the bass progression felt like it was bumping and rumbling into me. It’s like, this ‘train’ is a metaphor for BUCK-TICK, and we’re saying that we’re going to keep going from here on out. And we’re showing age in all sorts of ways but until we’re irreparable, the five of us will keep on running into the unknown. I thought it’d be nice to tell such a story.

―― That the present BUCK-TICK is like a train rumbling as it goes.

S: Remember, there were certainly periods when we played it high-tech (lol). But I felt that doesn’t match what we’re like now.

―― That’s also the case when we look at your music, isn’t it? With simple compositions that have more emphasis on a human touch from the band rather than the electronic feeling that programming gives.

S: Eh…… I’m going to say something weird again, but (lol). Aren’t there lots of people who come across as electrical? (Lol)

―― Hahahahahaha!

S: No matter how cool or how great their sensibilities are, once the power goes out, once the plug gets pulled, you won’t even get the slightest response out of them (lol). Regardless of how attractive they are, they won’t be able to get their message across. I don’t think that’s what we’re like now. It’s like…… we’re powered differently? (Lol)

―― Like pedalling like hell on a bicycle instead of running a machine with the push of a button?

S: That’s right. That’s the manual, hands-on flavour I got from this song. Like we’re breaking a sweat to run in this era where it’s the default to go green and high-tech. Burning coal with blackened faces as we sweat it out in a manually-run steam locomotive. Seeing the bullet train overtake us in an instant on the side, even as we envy, we know that each mode has its own virtues. That’s the kind of train I’d like us to be.

―― So where do you think your virtues lie?

S: I think it’s got to be in our humanity where we’re alive and tinged with excitement. No matter how hot or cold it gets, our body temperature remains around 36.5 degrees celsius, and if we get injured, blood will flow. It’s obvious, but I guess you could say that we shouldn’t forget about these kinds of people and the things they do. Especially for me, because I sing and there’s a part of me that will let my heart out through my emotions and my psyche. And that’s something I have to cherish.

―― And why do you think it’s possible to do that with this band?

S: Because this band, to me, is my musical life. Because it is nothing more or less than what’s at the very root of me. I believe all the members feel the same way too. This is where I tried all sorts of things. Things that didn’t work out, we learned from them and now, we’re here. That’s also why we’re still not done yet.

―― Even if it’s tacky, it’s really great that you’ve chosen such an obnoxiously human theme and you’re singing about boarding the B-T TRAIN and heading off together in this era where people are becoming increasingly separated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

S: Yeah. It’s easy to be cynical and I’ve been like that before as well, but I don’t think I am right now. I just feel that people like us who make music can’t afford to be cynical. While some of our fans have been with us for decades, there are also those who only became fans after watching that recent dialogue program (lol).

―― Hahahaha, by seeing you camping?

S: That’s right (lol). Although we can’t see where our final stop is, I hope that all these people will stay on the ride with us until the very end.

―― Like, “I’m the train conductor” (lol).

S: Hahahahaha!   That’s right.

 

I guess what we want to bring across is, in the end,
the beauty of people which shows itself in many different forms

―― Now, it’s B-side, Koi (恋). The sound approach Hoshino-san took was fresh, but the tenderness portrayed in this song, and that sense of drawing level with sorrow is just wonderful.

S: Hide’s (Hoshino Hidehiko, guitarist) sample was really so simple. All it had were the music, the rhythm, the chords, and the vocal melody. What would decide the song’s direction from there would be dependent on the story and the lyrics I write, but recently, the frame of reference that I get from my first impression upon listening to the sample stays true until the song is complete. It happened with this song too. It’s relaxed, with that gentle rhythm and melody in medium tempo that Hide is so good at.

―― It certainly is.

S: So once I’ve decided on the story, I’ll write the lyrics to it, and while doing that, I just can’t help but be influenced by reality, like what’s happening around me at the time and events that have happened. During that period, there were a number of people in recent years who…… like people I worked closely with and close friends, or their family who passed away. When I heard that melody, I thought it’d be nice if I could turn this into a story of remembrance for them. I also felt strongly that it’s something I’d be able to execute better if I went with what I think I feel inspired to sing about the moment I listened to it, than go with something I prepared beforehand.

―― It sounds like somewhere in you was a feeling that you can’t do this unless it’s realistic to you.

S: I believe so. For example, when I use the words “Tengoku e no tobira wo tataite iru”², it feels very irresponsible if I just used them without any form of personal basis. Perhaps it feels rude to do that without expressing experiences and emotions that I actually went through. I wouldn’t even be able to convince myself, you know?

―― While it’s a requiem to the departed, it’s not just about them but also about the people who were left behind. I thought that was nice, and that it’s a perspective that’s quite typical Sakurai-san.

S: Yeah. Unintentionally, the perspective of both the departed and the bereaved were…… If I put it into words, it’s going to sound misleading, but the bereaved’s perspective came to me quite easily too.

―― That there are parts of yourself that can be replaced too, right? I guess you could say it’s the feeling of being left behind.

S: What I feel is definitely that helpless sense of loss. Waking up after a night of sleep and feeling, “Ah, I hope that it was all just a dream,” but then, it gets shattered. And it’s that feeling of, “So it wasn’t a dream……”

―― It’s accepting the reality that the person is no longer where they’ve always been.

S: It is. Putting it dryly, “All living things are bound to die”. So it’s a natural process, but the sense of loss that the ones left behind feel, of course, depends on the relationship between the bereaved and the departed, but if the bereaved was really close to the departed, then the pain is, I believe, indescribable. But as we keep cycling between, “It can’t be helped.” and “Just, why?”, we gradually arrive at resignation and acceptance. We’d come to think that it’s okay to forget. And it’s also okay to remember. But I’m just talking about going in circles now (lol).

―― But while they’re going in circles, we don’t know what we should say to the bereaved, and that’s what you’ve taken and put it into the form of this song.

S: That’s right. While dwelling and worrying about nothing. Isn’t this just about beautifying death and making myself feel better…… I’ve wondered about that, but in the end, I personally feel that perhaps it’s okay to leave it as a pretty story. That’s how I managed to find resolution.

―― You couldn’t say it directly but you wanted to convey something to these people so much that this is what came of it.

S: That’s right. Hm…… Different scenes will come to mind, and if there are those among our listeners who had experiences with goodbyes, I think it’d be good if they’d synchronise these scenes with the song and let their emotions overflow. So, I’m going to say something weird again, but whenever I catch the scent of summer, I just can’t help but wonder if this is the scent of death, and get the sense that souls are close by. Although, I remember watching my parents preparing for the first day of the Bon Festival when I was young.

―― On the first, we want them to come home quickly so we display a cucumber horse. And on the last day, we display an eggplant cow to let them go home slowly, right?

S: Yes, exactly. When I was young, I thought it was strange and I’d wonder what it’s about, but as time passed, I gradually came to understand that hanging paper lanterns, decorating the altar with Hozuki are the different things that tell us that our ancestors are coming from the nether world to visit us. That’s why summer, to me, is a season when we’re made to realise that death is close at hand. I don’t say this lightly, but it’s the same; bombs being dropped during the war, or when the war ended, or the Japan Airlines crash³. You’ll feel souls close by. And it overlapped with those dates too, this time’s production period.

―― I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think it’s just wonderful that you’re in touch with the feelings of the bereaved rather than just singing about how it’s sad.

S: Thank you.

―― The melody has Hoshino-san’s signature style, but the composition is so very simple and the cadence controlled. Such music is rare.

S: It is. The verses express the quiet feelings of the ones doing the sending off, then when we get to the chorus, composure is lost. And finally, in the end, serenity. I got the feeling that this series of development was probably there from the start.

―― So, part of your tour has been postponed but it’s been a while since you’ve gone on tour. About a year and a half?

S: That’s right. The film tour was just a screening, so it’ll be the first actual tour in a while. I’d be happy if we could really do this. Of course, we still have to do it in accordance with the rules, but I think we’ve been very physically and mentally restricted until now with all sorts of invisible constraints put in place, like not being allowed to go out, and limits on the number of people who can gather or meet in one place. So it’d be nice if we could relieve ourselves of it, even if just a little.

―― I suppose Sakurai-san, you also felt that lack of freedom and that’s why, in a bid to inspire yourself, you titled the song Go-Go B-T TRAIN, right?

S: I indeed felt that very strongly. By choosing such a title, I make myself feel like I have to go somewhere, I need to go. Honestly speaking, I did feel a little uncertain about whether it would work. But no matter how many times I thought it over, I kept coming back to this title in the end. I felt that this was the only one that would work now, at this point in time.

―― Although the words feel tacky at first glance, you felt that it’s better to bring across that power, or that message of “Let’s go!” strongly.

S: That’s right. Without playing it cool, without being condescending. We’re still going (lol), but it’s that we’re commencing our last spurt.

―― Do you feel like you’re running out of time?

S: For me, personally, both of my parents passed away early, I’ve ravaged my own body all this time, and I’ve even had some major illnesses so what I feel is more like, anything can happen at any time and it will be what it will be.

―― Well, I suppose.

S: Although, no one knows when something would happen, right? I just find myself thinking about these kinds of things a lot these days. Even though they’ve never happened before. There’s this particular desire to keep living, like a fixation that started to emerge from somewhere. And when I start obsessing about the future, I get lonely (lol).

―― I completely relate to that. You’re happy with what you have in front of you, but you start to have expectations for the future.

S: I think that’s why, we have a song like Go-Go B-T TRAIN that says let’s run, let’s not think about anything else and just go.

―― Indeed. Behind the notion of setting off without thinking is also the feeling of counteracting the worries and anxieties that may come, right?

S: Cancelling them out is one, but there’s also the sense of packing them all into your luggage and bringing them with you aboard this train.

―― Ah, that’s right. That train-like area is very characteristic to this band. 

S: Well, it’s because I’m the one responsible for those train-like areas.

―― Hahahaha.

S: The high-tech, high energy sensibilities we leave to Imai-san. I’ll just be chugging along…… Ah, right. Once, when I went to an amusement park, there was a parade with all the different character mascots and among them was a vehicle shaped like a turtle. And right in the middle of the parade, that turtle vehicle lost power so not only did the lights which decorated it go out, it couldn’t move at all (lol).

―― Ahahahahaha!

S: Then, as if to try and keep us unbeknownst to it, the staff started pushing the turtle vehicle themselves and kept the parade going. That impressed me. That amidst all the flashy, pretty mascots smiling at you, there were people giving their all to move that turtle vehicle that stopped moving. That contrast was just so beautiful. It really got me thinking that this is what being human is.

―― It’s so much like Sakurai-san to think of that as beautiful.

S: I guess what we want to bring across is, in the end, the beauty of people which shows itself in many different forms.

 

Notes:

¹ Tokyo Disneyland’s Space Mountain ride.

² A line from Koi’s chorus: 天国への扉を叩いている / I’m knocking on heaven’s door

³ The JAL 123 crash.

 

 

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Imai Hisashi

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

That’s how it always goes. This is the kind of song it becomes because we’re performing it as a band
Because the 5 of us are doing it together. That’s a good thing, and besides, that’s how we’ve always been doing things anyway.

―― It’s been a while. Although, I’m greeting you in your hospital bed through zoom. But how’s life in hospital?

Imai (I): Uh…… Normal (lol).

―― As far as I can tell from your social media posts, you’re having healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Looks like you’re living healthily every day.

I: Because there’s nothing else to do besides going for rehabilitation and eating, right?

―― Have you had surgery?

I: Long ago. Now it’s just rehabilitation training every day. I can tell that I’m gradually recovering. But even though I can’t move my leg, I’m in perfect health, so it’s kind of…… weird (lol).

―― It sounds like you’ve got lots of time to spare, so how are you spending it?

I: I read books, watch YouTube when I feel like it, listen to music. As to what I’m reading and consuming, I won’t tell you yet (lol).
―― Can’t play the guitar?

I: Not yet (lol). I’m thinking of asking them to bring me a silent guitar next time.

―― Alright then. This is the first interview with Imai-san since the release of ABRACADABRA, and in this past year, your only performance with a live audience present was the year-end one at Nippon Budokan. And it couldn’t even be carried out the way it used to.

I: There’s nothing we can do about that. Since COVID-19 is around. Although, not to say that it’s a good thing, but [because of it] we also got to do some interesting stuff with live streaming.

―― Like that day’s Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ~SHOW AFTER DARK~.

I: Yeah. I’m glad we got to do that. The point of doing a live stream, I think, is because we get to present things in a way that can only be done through that format. I think live streaming itself isn’t bad. Likewise with the film concert. But I’d say that it’s something completely different from a live concert.

―― So you’re saying that while it’s a valid format, it’s no replacement.

I: Yeah.

―― How did you feel when you got to perform before an audience at Budokan last year-end?

I: It really hit me. That it’s definitely different when we perform with an audience. It’s obvious, but it just feels different compared to performing with no audience.

―― Were you thinking that after the Budokan show, when the new year comes around, you’ll be able to tour with an audience attending your shows like they used to?

I: I don’t think I really did think like that. Because I don’t expect that we’re in a situation where we can soon say that we can hold concerts like we used to from this month and this day on. And besides, I’d think we’ll remain in this state of things for quite a while more.

―― This time around, you’ll be releasing Go-Go B-T TRAIN. Did you have some sort of plan, like, when the new year comes around we’ll compose something, or, we should go with this particular theme for our next release?

I: I think I probably did think about those things, but I can’t remember anymore (lol).

―― Whaaaaaaaaaaat.

I: I guess there was the idea of doing something new again.

―― So, rather than something that shows your overall direction as part of a [potential] album, Go-Go B-T TRAIN is just a new song to be released at this point in time.

I: That’s right. We started talking about how it’s about time to release a new single, so I started thinking about the music.

―― Like, since you’re going to tour from autumn through to winter, you should release something before that.

I: That might’ve been it. I thought I should just compose something anyway, and I had 2 songs done, but both of them were equally upbeat. I don’t know why, but I guess that’s just the kind of mode I was in.

―― It’s like the kind of rock melody that a youngster who just formed a band would write with that motivation.

I: Compared to the other song, Go-Go B-T TRAIN has the same riff repeating over and over, and a part of me thought such a song could be fun too.

―― I heard from Sakurai-san that Go-Go B-T TRAIN’s working title was rebels.

 

I: That was just a working title. No particular meaning behind. But I did wonder if Sakurai-san got some sort of idea from the working title.

―― Like, a group of renegades?

I: It doesn’t make sense though, does it? Hm. Hearing the song again with the lyrics, I thought it was nice.

―― That readiness to go somewhere with your trusted friends, running towards your dreams, yet there’s a moment that lingers somewhere in there?

I: Exactly…… isn’t that nice?

―― I also thought the carefree-feeling parts with the whistle added in were quite like Imai-san’s style.

I: The whistle was an idea that came from Tanaka-san (director). I thought it had a good feeling and I quite liked it.

―― When I asked Sakurai-san about his impression of the sample, he had his own interpretation of it and thinking about it, I’d guess that it’s the band that turned that into the song that it is now.

I: It is the band (lol). That’s how it always goes. This is the kind of song it becomes because we’re performing it as a band, because the 5 of us are doing it together. That’s a good thing, and besides, that’s how we’ve always been doing things anyway.

―― The simple, stripped-down band sound like that of this song appears to be the trend right now, so is this something that Imai-san is looking to do, or is this perhaps the theme going forward?

I: No, it’s nothing like that. As for an album…… Actually, I do currently have a rough idea of what might be good to do, but I can’t really explain it.

―― But you have a vague idea.

I: Yeah. But once I put it into words, it’ll just sound like the same thing as usual. But this, whatever I’m thinking of when I work on a single versus now, it’s completely different, I think

―― So what were you thinking of when you were working on the single?

I: I forgot.

―― Hahahaha, please remember!

I: Well, we spoke about producing a single. At the time, we weren’t thinking about what we should do or what kind of music we should make next at all. While wondering what could come out of such a situation, I picked up the guitar and came up with that riff, so I based [the next song] on that and kept the idea as it is, letting it take shape without getting too hung up on details.

―― And what about Hoshino-san’s song, Koi?

I: The song he composed is quite the opposite to mine, so I thought it’d be good to include that in the single as one of the songs.

―― Alongside these new songs, you’ve also included the newly rearranged Uta Ver. 2021 and JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver. 2021 which were unveiled during Misemono-goya~. First of all, what got you thinking about rearranging them like that and recording them again?

I: I don’t remember the details, but when we decided to do our second live stream, our staff were giving us suggestions about what venues would be good. From there, we began to get all kinds of ideas of what would make Misemono-goya~, like the staging and the costumes and the sort. We thought that performing half of the entire set acoustically would fit this image and that it would bring an interesting feel into this BUCK-TICK’s concert, like another new perspective or something. But it would be boring if we were to just perform acoustic versions, so I guess I probably thought that I should create new versions of the songs with new arrangements.

―― And since the response to Misemono-goya~ was great, you figured that this could work.

I: That’s right. When we started talking about producing the single, I said, “Then, maybe we should include those too?”

―― When it comes to BUCK-TICK, you’ve often had your songs remixed by other people, but looking back, it’s surprisingly rare for you to make bold rearrangements of existing songs.

I: That’s right. So, we did something like unplugged arrangements of our songs on a centre stage for an encore at Locus Solus no Kemono-tachi at Makuhari 2 years ago, right?

―― They were Suzumebachi, BOY septem peccata mortalia, and Keijijo Ryuusei, right?

I: Since then, I started to get the feeling that changing the arrangements of more past songs and recording them might be interesting too. Like, we executed that well, didn’t we?

―― Makuhari’s show was already 2 years ago, but you’ve never really approached things that way even though the band is in your 34th year of activity, right?

I: Ahh. But it’s not like we didn’t want to anyway. Look, there’s SANE.

―― Ah, that’s true (Note: They rearranged SANE from the 1996 album COSMOS and recorded it for their 2012 single, Elise no Tame ni as SANE ーtype Ⅱー). That’s rare though (lol). To the extent that I’m under the impression that new things attract you.

I: But I felt that doing stuff like this isn’t bad either. Besides, I do also like the arrangement of that ICONOCLASM that we didn’t record for the single. I think we’ll probably want to do it again at a different time in future.

 

Right now, in terms of things I want to do, it’s not as if tons and tons of this and that keep springing up
but I just feel like they’ll come to me from time to time. I’m pretty sure we’ll definitely be okay like this.

―― A few of your tour dates got postponed, but Imai-san, you’ve already got an idea of what you’re aiming for, right?

I: Yeah. I was looking forward to it. Besides, I’ve already told them the songs I want to perform.

―― You couldn’t conclude ABRACADABRA in the form of a tour, but do you on the inside feel like you’re ready to move on to whatever’s next?

I: Because although I want to wrap it up properly, that urge to compose new music is already welling up, you know? And this will be our first tour in quite a while too, so I’d expect that there are quite a number of songs that everyone wants to hear us play. Of course, we will perform songs from the ABRACADABRA album, but I don’t think we really thought to keep that as a focus of our setlist or anything like that.

―― And your recording process didn’t change at all?

I: Yeah. We didn’t change anything in particular. Since we’re recording in the middle of the pandemic, we’d do things like regularly ventilate the room and wouldn’t stay till late, or make sure that we don’t crowd in the studio or share the same mic, but we didn’t make any changes to the way we carry out our recording.

―― Got it. Although, the title Go-Go B-T TRAIN was rather surprising, wasn’t it?

I: [We went with it] because Sakurai-san said it’s the best one to go with given the kind of song we’re making. We had samples of all the songs and when we were deciding on which song to record, Sakurai-san voted for rebels and Hide’s song so I think he already had an image [of the final product] at that stage. That’s why I went along with it, like, “Alright, then let’s go with that.”

―― Like the lyrics “You should hop on too Come on The departure bell is ringing”¹, would Imai-san say that you’re also feeling rather strongly that sense of ‘we’re going to keep moving forward together’?

I: Of course. Besides, I believe that there’s still a lot that we want to do.

―― And as long as you do feel like that, you’ll be okay. Ah, but didn’t Charlie Watts (the Rolling Stones) pass away just the other day?

I: Right. How old was he?

―― 80, I believe.

I: Well, I guess I have another 30 years or so.

―― Right (lol). From that perspective, do you feel like you’ve still got time?

I: Yeah. But I don’t know for sure (lol). Right now, in terms of things I want to do, it’s not as if tons and tons of this and that keep springing up, but I just feel like they’ll come to me from time to time. I’m pretty sure we’ll definitely be okay like this.

―― You feel certain of it.

I: Yeah, I do. I don’t know why, though.

―― Maybe it’s because that’s how it’s always been all this while.

I: Yeah. I guess it’s also because I’m quite sure that I definitely won’t ever feel that I don’t ever want to do anything ever again. I might get like that if I worked alone and I fell ill, but not as long as I’m healthy.

―― The fact that you’re saying that from a hospital bed (lol).

I: Hahahahahaha.

―― Well, I suppose since you’re there, there’s no denying that you’ll get healthier(lol).

I: Yeah. Since I’m not drinking(lol). And I don’t feel like drinking at all anyway. Or rather, in the first place, I gave up on it.

―― What. I even thought to be mindful today and drank my beer from a mug.

I: It doesn’t matter (lol). It pisses me off more when people do things like that because of me!

―― My deepest apologies (lol). But I never thought the day would come when I’d be interviewing Imai-san through a screen.

I: Not something I expected either (lol).

―― Ah, come to think of it, Ishigaki-kun (Ishigaki Ai / guitarist) quit music, didn’t he?

I: I heard about that from others too.

―― I wonder why.

I: It’s because I have a band, right? That’s why I can keep going.

―― So are you saying that if you didn’t have a band, you’d probably be thinking that it’s about time to go home to take over the store?

I: I wouldn’t take over the store(lol), but the band’s existence is certainly a significant reason.

―― Is it because you feel that there are things you can do because you have your bandmates?

I: Yeah. Even when I think about everything we’ve done until now, they’re kind of impossible if I worked alone, aren’t they? Funny story, [if I were a solo artist,] I’d have to make all the decisions myself, the behind-the-scenes stuff, produce everything myself, right?   That’s impossible for me. Doing everything alone requires a whole lot of power.

―― Is that why you feel that the five of you working together like this brings a good balance of things?

I: In a band, if it’s made up of 5 people, everything gets cut down to a fifth, right?

―― Whether money, or time, or happiness and frustrations, or sorrows and joys; everything.

I: In a band, there’s a vast range of possibilities for things that I can’t do on my own. Besides, looking back, there were quite a few things that couldn’t have possibly been endured if I were working alone, you know?

―― I understand that well. Anyway, I suppose you’ll probably be hospitalised for a little longer.

I: I wonder. Because for me, I’d rather get discharged once I’m more or less done.

―― Done with what?

I: My leg. Rather than leaving the hospital halfway through (rehabilitation) and fumbling around while holding concerts, I’d prefer to properly recover.

―― Because that’s an issue that comes before concerts. Anyway, take your time to recuperate.

I: I’ll do my best (lol). Eh… Sorry to everyone for the inconvenience caused.

―― Hahahahaha. It’s okay.

I: The shoot; it was just the four of them?

―― It went without a hitch. Sakurai-san wrote ‘Imai Hisashi on the polaroid for the lucky draw (lol).

I: Hahahahahaha!   Good then (lol).

 

 

Notes:

¹ 2nd line of Go-Go B-T Train: 君も乗りなよ さあ 発車のベルが鳴る (Kimi mo nori na yo Saa Hassha no beru ga naru)

 

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Hoshino Hidehiko

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

I have fragments of other songs, but I didn’t finish all of them and just focused on this song.
A more minor-sounding song would work too. But for some reason, this was the most fitting one

 

―― Thank you for joining me on Zoom today.

Hoshino (H): My pleasure.

―― I’ve really grown accustomed to seeing Hoshino-san’s home studio on screen.

 

H: Nothing changes (lol). Ah, have you interviewed Imai-san?   How’s he?

―― He looks like he’s doing well. You haven’t spoken to him?

H: I haven’t. I got a missed call from him the day he got injured. That’s the only time we spoke, I think.

―― What did he say?

H: I thought he was calling to confirm something about the songs for the coming tour, but when I returned the call, he said, “Sorry…… I broke my leg.”

―― How did you respond?

H: I said, “What!   I see…… Take care.” (Lol)

―― How composed (lol).

H: I was shocked, though. At first, I thought he hurt his ankle or something because he simply said that he broke his leg, but after a while, I heard that it was actually his femur. That’s essentially a major joint of the leg, isn’t it?   That’s quite serious, isn’t it?

―― At a time when you’re about to release a single and have confirmed your concert tour, it’s quite tough, isn’t it?

H: Well, yeah. But when we think about what we can do, the only thing there is is to give him time. Him getting well is the most important (lol).

―― That’s true. Now, I’d like to start my conversation with Hoshino-san by talking about Koi, the song you wrote as the B-side to the single.

H: Ahh, yes.

―― This is the one that you mentioned during our annual Ongaku to Hito interview in June, where you said, “The new song is pretty good.”

H: How did it go…… I can’t remember (lol).

―― You spoke about it (lol). True to those words, it’s really very good, and it’s a bit of a new frontier for a Hoshino song too, I’d say.

H: I don’t have many major chord songs in the first place, so this one might be a slightly different type, I suppose.

―― When did you write this song?

H: This, I worked on at the start of this year. At first, we were talking about releasing a single on our debut anniversary and going on tour from autumn to year-end. So I thought, “Then I need to compose something.” And at the start of this year, I started putting together the sample track. I began how I always did, with my guitar first, but I gradually incorporated things like a synthesiser melody in the intro and so on. Then, in the plug-in (note: general term for additional instrumental sounds and effects installed as an add-on to desktop music/computer music), there was a nice programming tune that I thought was suitable for this song, so I decided to compose the song around that. It’s a song with quite a major-chord feel, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it at first.

―― Isn’t it okay anyway, even if it’s major sounding (lol)?

H: It’s okay but, you know (lol). But, see, there are colours within the band, right?   That’s why I was kind of agonising over it. Although, I thought it was pretty good when I was composing it, so I decided to continue with this direction.

―― Maybe it’s the synthesiser tune in the intro, but for the tone of the song to be brought to the forefront like this, I don’t recall that it’s something that happens a lot in Hoshino-san’s music.

H: I suppose you’re right. With this song, things around the synth music, the programming’s rhythm pattern and all that were pretty much done at the sample stage, so I decided to present it [to the band] just the way it sounded as a sample without replacing anything with my guitar. And that’s why the guitars are deliberately made to sound subdued.

―― I can tell that it’s quite elaborate. I had a feeling that it doesn’t stray far from the image that Hoshino-san had in the beginning when putting the sample together.

H: You’re right. I suppose it’s also true that it’s more elaborate than usual. I had Cube-kun (Cube Juice) work on the manipulation for me and he added a bunch of other things in too. That’s probably what gave the song it’s accentuation and added depth to the music.

―― Like the way Sakurai-san’s voice sounded unruffled until came in with a bang at the chorus.

H: That part was composed with the guitar in focus at the sample stage but I asked for it to be replaced by the synth melody and it worked out very well. In the end, that became the crux of the song. I suppose you’re probably right in that a song like this is fresh.

―― I’ve noticed a particular trend, especially in your singles but does Hoshino-san make a deliberate effort to write songs that contrast Imai-san’s?

H: Right. Although, these days, I start by thinking about what kind of melodies I want to compose then go ahead with that in mind. Because doing that brings out the songs in the album and makes them better. The assumption of making an album is based on the premise (of Imai-san’s songs).

―― Was Koi the only song Hoshino-san presented this time around at the sample stage?

H: This was the only one I let everyone hear. I have fragments of other songs, but I didn’t finish all of them and stopped working on them halfway to focus on this song. Of course I do have more minor-sounding songs, but for some reason, this song was the most fitting one.

―― This is very fresh even for a superfan of Hoshino’s songs like me!

H: Ah, really?

―― The tone or the impression of the synth melody in the intro is something that you’ve probably never done before.

H: Maybe, yeah. Because I wrote this song with the thought that perhaps it might be good to keep the guitars in the background.

―― So how do you feel about Sakurai-san naming this song Koi and writing the lyrics he did for it?

H: It’s a pretty good name, isn’t it? Koi. I kind of assumed that he would give it that thoughtful frame.

―― It sure is a compassionate song that looks at the feelings of those who have lost people close to them.

H: It’s a coincidence but don’t you think the music also exudes a similar ambience? I thought [the music] matched [the lyrics] surprisingly well. Even though I left the lyrical content entirely up to him.

―― Next, what about Go-Go B-T TRAIN?

H: The title’s pretty bold (lol).

―― Well, I thought so too (lol).

H: There’s quite some courage there. I also thought it’s quite like Sakurai-san to present it so upfront.

―― It’s like a song by a band who just found its members and went straight into a studio to write something with that enthusiasm (lol).

H: Hahahahaha, that’s true.

―― The sustaining riff leaves quite the impression despite its simple composition.

H: It is, because it’s something that’s Imai-san’s specialty and it’s got a good groove too. Normally I would think that the song would start at the chorus with a bang, but there wasn’t any of that. Brazenly running in yelling, “Hey hey hey!” comes across pretty nicely too, doesn’t it? (Lol)

―― I thought it’s pretty amazing that you’re releasing such a song in the band’s 34th year (lol).

H: Amazing, isn’t it (lol). Imai-san had a sample for another song and it’s also another up-tempo one. It’s not bad, but this turned out well, didn’t it?

―― What do you think about the lyrics?

H: It’s definitely a sort of a message to everyone in the midst of this pandemic. I suppose it’s only natural that these are the kind of lyrics that come about when musicians are agonising [over our situation].

―― Are you referring to the lyrics that inspire determination with words like, “Come on, this is where we begin, let’s go!”?

H: That’s right. Because we haven’t been able to meet our fans through concerts since our show at Nippon Budokan last year, so I’m sure that’s a feeling that’s been growing in everyone.

 

We’ll have to do this with less than half our usual audience, and our audience can’t cheer or shout or move about much, right?
And despite that, they’re willing to come and see us. I feel like we’ll be complementing each other with something more important, or rather building a deeper and stronger relationship with the other.

―― I’ve asked you before, but does such a reality trouble Hoshino-san?

H: Of course it does. It’s like there’s this…… unsettling feeling that drags on and on.

―― You want to hold concerts but you can’t really. Is that what causes it?

H: It’s also because that’s something we’ve been doing for over 30 years, right? We’re still recording and releasing quite a bit of music, but in the end, we pride ourselves on being a band who mostly does live shows. So we’re just bearing with the fact that we can’t do that now.

―― We’re still right in the midst of the pandemic, but do you think it’s possible to change the style of such activities?

H: Ah, well, who knows. I want to do whatever we can but that’s all there is, right? No matter how you look at it, it’s impossible for us to do nothing but live streams. And there’s no point in thinking about what we should do for a live stream unless we can use [the technology] well. Because it’s definitely not something that can replace live concerts.

―― Reason being it’s not good enough if all you can do is stream no-audience concerts, right?

H: Yeah.

―― Also, Go-Go B-T TRAIN feels manual, it gives me the impression that everyone is really putting their back into making the train move.

H: Right. This is my personal opinion, but this song might just become a significant juncture for the band, I think. It even reminds me of our early days.

―― Exactly. I’m really getting that from it but rather than a throwback, I feel like there’s also a sense of looking towards the end and preparing for it.

H: Since next year will also be the year of our 35th anniversary, I suppose there’s also some form of motivation to give our all as we approach it.

―― But to break a bone at such a time……

H: Perhaps that’s a sign from god. Whatever it is (lol). Well, but we can’t do anything about falling sick or getting injured, right (lol).

―― Because once we cross the age of 50, everyone starts getting all these problems like it’s the most normal thing (lol). Hoshino-san seems to be the most reliable one in the band, even down to your life plans (lol).

H: I don’t think so (lol). Look, look at this (note: he shows his finger on screen). It recently got caught in the door and bled internally, and now the nail’s turned all black.

―― That’s so risky! The idea of one guitarist fracturing his thigh bone while the other fractured his pinky finger, this is just bad.

H: It’s the first time my finger nail turned all black like this.

―― Please be careful. But really it’s because you’re in a band that things work out, isn’t it? For everyone.

H: I suppose we’ve got a good balance going (lol). But that’s because all of us, we don’t really know much about making music outside of this band. We don’t know how long we can keep going for, but I think we all want to keep on running for as long as we’re able to.

―― Yeah, and there’s whistling in these two songs too (lol).

H: It was originally in Koi’s sample. I thought of asking Sakurai-san to do that in the actual recording. Then, somehow, at some point, it also turned up in Go-Go B-T TRAIN (lol).

―― Hahahaha. Also, you’ve recorded anew Uta Ver. 2021 and JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver. 2021, which you performed on Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara 〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜 as B-sides to this single.

H: We’ve done acoustic arrangements of our own songs before but those arrangements that we did just for this time’s Misemono-goya〜, it was pretty enjoyable. Or you could say, interesting. So I think there’s a possibility that we’ll make use of them again on different occasions in future though.

―― I can’t really think of times when BUCK-TICK changed the arrangement of your songs and performed them. Performing an acoustic set was also a first for you at Makuhari.

H: Because we’ve never spoken about rearranging our songs before Makuhari happened. There were probably a few songs recorded, I think?

―― Like SANE.

H: I think there’s also My baby Japanese ーtype Ⅱー. But that performance at Makuhari really sparked it off.

―― Thinking about it, I really wonder why you’ve never done this until Makuhari.

H: BUCK-TICK without fail releases a new album every year or two and then goes on tour after that. This is the schedule we’ve established, so I think there’s just never been space for us to think about daring to change up the arrangements. If we did, we’ll be talking about making new music anyway. That’s why, I suppose this is a good place for us to start things off too, isn’t it?

―― I guess no matter the band, when they reach a standstill, when they can’t figure out what else they want to do, the’y d turn to doing acoustic versions or rearrangements of their songs.

H: Now that I think about it, I don’t think we’ve experienced that before. But I think it’s not a bad idea to try out such an approach from different points going forward.

―― Actually, how do you feel about it, after having done Uta, JUST ONE MORE KISS, and the unrecorded version of ICONOCLASM this way?

H: It really highlighted to me how great the melodies are. Even ICONOCLASM. It’s a song that revolves around that one riff, but I feel like I really got to know the most important aspects of this song.

―― Although the soundscapes for both Go Go~ and Koi are completely different, it’s true that their melodies are what stands out.

H: You’re right. BUCK-TICK’s approach to music production is varied and we do lots of things, but everything revolves around the melody. It’ll inevitably come through when we change the arrangement.

―― And your tour is about to start. Although, the first half has been postponed. Of course, the situation we’re living in in this day and age is indescribable, but it looks like you can perform with a live audience now, right?

H: In our present situation, yes. I think we plan to do it with half capacity, though.

―― How do you feel about getting to perform with a live audience again?

H: Happy yet uneasy, a mix of these two. It’s just that, because we don’t know what things will be like later on. While I think it’s a good idea to do this while we can, there’s a lot of uncertainty, you know?

―― You just can’t say that you’re feeling nothing but happy that you can perform again, right?

H: It’s not entirely a celebratory thing, is it? It’s difficult. But since we’re performing and people are coming to see us under these circumstances, I think both our fans and we, the band are willing to complement each other where the other falls short.

―― Agreed.

H: We’ll have to do this with less than half our usual audience, and our audience can’t cheer or shout or move about much, right?   And despite that, they’re willing to come and see us. I feel like we’ll be complementing each other with something more important, or rather building a deeper and stronger relationship with the other.

―― Indeed.

H: We just want to do this carefully, you know.

―― Another thing, it doesn’t look like songs from ABRACADABRA will be taking centre stage in this tour, does it?

H: We had a few ideas, but considering the current situation, we decided that we’ll be performing a variety of songs. While it’s true that we didn’t get to tour for ABRACADABRA, we managed to do a livestream, a film concert tour, and a Budokan show for it anyway. Although Budokan was the only live in-person show, there’s more or less the feeling that we’ve gotten a reaction to it. And also, it’s precisely because we’re in these circumstances that we feel like people will be more excited to hear a variety of songs instead.

―― I see. I assume that you’ll probably be looking towards your next release following the tour, but where do you see the band going?

H: I still don’t know regarding the music, but there’s a bunch of different influences showing up in the lyrics, don’t you think? Since Sakurai-san is a person who only writes about what he’s really experienced.

―― I suppose he would write about that. Since these are huge changes we’re going through.

H: That’s why I’m looking forward to it.

 

 

 

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Higuchi yutaka

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

It’d be great if people get the idea that this band is still going to do more
Because that’s how I feel too when I listen to this song

 

―― Thank you for your work on the photoshoot. (Note: This was the only interview which took place right after the photoshoot.)

Yutaka (Y): Yeah. But it feels so weird doing a shoot with just the four of us (lol). Like, “Huh……? Oh, right, four.”

―― Imai-san had surgery for that fracture he got in the trochanteric section of his left femur, right?

Y: Somehow, just the name of that diagnosis makes it sound very serious and I was really worried when I first caught wind of it.

―― Part of your tour got postponed. And you can’t even do a photoshoot with all five of you present now.

Y: I feel sorry towards everyone who has been looking forward to the concerts, but [we had to postpone them] because we want to do this with all five of us together in perfect shape. That’s why we wanted to make sure that Imai-kun could focus on getting well.

―― Let’s talk about your new single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN; what does Yuta-san think of it?

Y: Go-Go B-T TRAIN is a good song but the b-side that Hide wrote, Koi, was also wonderful, wasn’t it?

―― It was.

Y: Even the new arrangements in Uta Ver. 2021 and JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver. 2021, I thought they were interesting because they reflect our present. The world has started to feel a little dark since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but [these songs] feel like a motivational pat on the back, like a “How are you!”

―― BUCK-TICK= Theory of Antonio Inoki¹ (lol).

Y: Oh, stop it (lol). But I do think that’s the role they play. That it would be nice if they’re helpful towards helping someone be more optimistic, even if just a tiny bit.

―― So how did you arrive at the decision to record these 4 songs?

Y: To start, we planned to hold a fan club-only concert on 21 September at Toyosu PIT. Then a national tour that starts in October would follow. And since that date is the anniversary date for our major debut, we spoke about releasing a single on the same date too.

―― Nothing related to starting work on a new album?

Y: We didn’t go there. I thought that’ll probably be what we’re moving towards next after the tour concludes. Because when the new year came around, Imai-kun and Hide presented their samples, then Acchan wrote the lyrics and we recorded them in May. The two songs. And a little before that we had rehearsals for Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara 〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜. Around March, I believe. Using an image of the venue as a reference, we formed a clearer picture [of what we wanted to do] and found that everyone responded really well to the old songs that we rearranged for our show.

―― You’ve made bold new arrangements for quite a few songs in that stream, but setting Uta and ICONOCLASM to a shuffle and the melodious JUST ONE MORE KISS left a particularly strong impression.

Y: Yeah. And the band felt confident about those three songs too. After we were done with recording in April, the suggestion to include those arrangements into the single came up since we’ve worked those out anyway. Then we recorded those too. There’s more than enough swing with 2 songs sounding like that already so maybe we’ll keep ICONOCLASM for next time when the opportunity comes around.

―― That’s easy to grasp (lol). How does Yuta-san feel about the unplugged-style arrangements for Misemono-goya~?

Y: They were great. But in the beginning, I thought it might be difficult to keep that concert vibe going if we only did acoustic arrangements throughout. Yet, although we generally call it “acoustic”, we managed to do swing and a variety of other arrangements too. Also, I think it went well, having done it in a two-part format.

―― Indeed.

Y: But personally, I’ve always wanted to do acoustic versions since before. That was probably 2 years ago? When we did it for the first time on a substage during the encore at Makuhari?

―― Locus Solus no Kemonotachi at Makuhari Messe, right?

Y: It was so good, like, I could really feel that it was the five of us performing together. I mean, it’s always been the five of us on stage, but there are other sounds going on too, and we tend to be using in-ear monitors, so we can’t really get to feel the sounds and music that each one of us are making. But with acoustic arrangements, we can have an awareness of each other’s breathing as we perform. And that’s where its great.

―― You enjoyed it largely because you could sense that the five of you were playing together on stage, rather than showing the world what you could do.

Y: Yeah. That’s a sensation I hadn’t had in a while.

―― There’s some of that in Go-Go B-T TRAIN too, right? Of course, there are added sound effects and all, but there’s also a part of it that sounds like the kind of simplicity a band produces.

Y: That’s right. And it’d also be great if it gave people the idea that this band is still going to do more. Because that’s how I feel too when I listen to this song.

―― Meaning?

Y: Meaning there’s still a lot we can do, I suppose. That, although we’re a band who will be celebrating our 35th anniversary next year, we’re not tired of this at all, and there’s still much we’ve yet to try.

―― Conversely, we could also say that this is proof that this band has been able to do interesting things all these years without the need to switch up the member line-up or make all kinds of changes to your approach.

Y: That’s true. We never really gave much thought to whether acoustic versions or rearranging old songs to record them again would be of interest (lol).

―― Now, Go-Go B-T TRAIN. What was it called when Yuta started recording work on it?

Y: The name was yet decided. I think even the lyrics probably weren’t written yet. It’s a song with a riff that leaves a strong impression, so I didn’t really do much in the way of inputting my own ideas or trying to change up the bass line. I just held onto this 16-beat rhythm and kept playing. It was surprisingly difficult (lol).

―― Because it’s not like your bass is humming along with the momentum, right? You have to keep a tight hold on the rhythm behind the jangling guitar.

Y: Please write that although it looks simple, it’s actually really tough (lol).

―― Driving home the point, huーh (lol).

Y: Because, you see, the bass in this song plays far in the background so you unfortunately won’t really be able to hear the nuances at all, you know? That’s kinda sad for me (lol).

 

It’s great that we’ve all been able to dream together all this time.
That’s why I hope to continue dreaming, with everyone.

 

―― So what do you think about naming such a song Go-Go B-T TRAIN?

Y: I thought it was interesting. That Acchan probably felt a strong sense of, “Alright, everyone, let’s go!” I don’t think there are many who would use such a song title.

―― Right (lol).

Y: I suppose he wanted to convey that feeling no matter what others might think of it. That feeling of departing on a journey together.

―― It’s as if he wants to take us somewhere.

Y: Maybe to a world unlike the one we live in now. That inspires hope, and brings a sense of determination. We had a song called PARADE previously. This song is sort of like a different version of that. Although we’re a band who thrives on performing live through these decades, we’ve been unable to see anyone or go anywhere, and we know that it’s not going to be easy to go back to how things used to be. I believe that’s what we had no choice but to reckon with in this past year and a half of COVID-19.

―― Indeed.

Y: It took time, and circumstances are still not perfect but we finally scheduled a tour and will be heading to everyone’s cities, and I believe [the song is] Acchan’s feelings about this put into words. The whole band feels the same. Getting to perform live only once a year is as good as not breathing to us.

―― Because all of a sudden, you can’t carry out what’s as good as the regular life you’ve had in the 34 years since you’ve debuted, right?

Y: I even felt sad, you know? We want to visit everyone’s hometowns and breathe the same air with them but we can’t and that’s really just sad. There are some places we still can’t go in this tour, but we definitely have the intention to make it next time. Because we always make the promise that we’ll come back again every time we conclude shows in that place. So we have to [make good our promises].

―― Because that’s been the band’s principle all this time, right?

Y: Because [it’s important to us to] be in the same space with our fans. Because I also know how special it feels when a band [I like] comes to my city. The first concert I’ve ever watched  was Yazawa Eikichi’s show at Numata in Gunma, and yet I can still remember it all clearly. Since then, it’s now easier to go to Tokyo and all the different areas, but I still feel that it’s something special when a band visits the city I live in, you know?

―― So it’s like Yuta-san travelling to meet your younger self.

Y: That might just happen. It’s been decades but I don’t want anyone to feel left out or alone like I did. Feeling like [the band] will never come to my hometown again and things like that. Especially in this situation with the pandemic, there’s likely only a limited number of bands who are actually on tour so I very simply just want to bring them joy.

―― Just as described with Go-Go B-T TRAIN.

Y: From our perspective, it’s the kick-off declaration of, “Let’s go!”, telling everyone that we’ll be riding this B-T TRAIN into everyone’s cities. That’s all it is. I believe that’s the reason why the lyrics were written with simple words; to convey those feelings of Acchan’s.

―― So, Koi written by Hoshino-san.

Y: It’s a good song, isn’t it? It’s like the complete opposite of Go-Go B-T TRAIN.

―― It’s really good. A whole new world.

Y: Acchan’s kindness comes through the lyrics, doesn’t it? I feel like it really conveys Acchan’s open mindedness and his gentle nature that we personally know.

―― Right?

Y: The goodness of Hide’s mid-tempo music and Acchan’s lyrics really came together well. You can really sense the individual qualities of each song.

―― These two songs bundled with the newly arranged two really brings that across, and I think this single, on the whole, seems to reaffirm something while bringing hope in the midst of this situation where you’re performing concerts only once a year.

Y: I think so too. Although the tour has been postponed, I’m really happy. That we’ll be able to see [our fans]. It would be great if this could be a start.

―― A start in many ways.

Y: That’s right. But all we’ve got is hope. Although we can only hold concerts in halls at half capacity and the audience can’t cheer, this is a start.

―― I think all the bands had no choice but to reset themselves in a way during this pandemic, so this is like putting things back together again, isn’t it?

Y: I guess other artists are dealing with this too, aren’t they? I think in the end, we have to think of something, you know? While stopping tours and concerts is understandably part of infection control measures, it’s like death [to us]. And there are people who have been waiting for us [to return], so we want to somehow bring concerts to them and let them know that we haven’t forgotten about them. That’s all it is.

―― And so you had your very first live streamed concert, and film concert tour, and Misemono-goya〜 too, right?

Y: Holding concerts in those ways are valid but we’ll finally be able to do it in the way it’s meant to be done.

―― We all hope that Imai-san will make a full recovery and make a proper return with perfect performances on tour.

Y: I believe it’s going to be a wonderful tour. Because this is where it all begins.

―― But even in this situation, Yuta-san is always positive, aren’t you?

Y: Because what’s going to get done if we wallow in despair? If we don’t believe [that things will work out], all those who have been waiting for us can’t move forward either, can they? We’ve had to postpone the first few shows, but we want to make this tour a huge success. That’s the goal. Besides, compared to a band whose members are in their 20s, we’re obviously left with a limited amount of time where we can still do this.

―― Well, that’s an undeniable fact of growing older for myself included.

Y: That’s why rather than going backwards, I always think that there’s something that we can do. Which is why we want to put on as many concerts as we can now. Borrowing Kuroda’s (Kuroda Hiroki / Pitcher for Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Retired.) words, I don’t have all that many pitches left in me (Note: When Kuroda returned to his old club, Hiroshima, after being held back by Major League Baseball, he said, “I don’t think I have many pitches left, so (pitching for the Carps is more) fulfilling.”), but concerts are the most satisfying of times for me.

―― Such a band singing Go-Go B-T TRAIN is a good way to prepare for the worst.

Y: Because things are pretty harsh for us now, in these circumstances where we can’t really hold concerts the way we hope to. Every one show we do is very very precious to us. And that’s why, it’s always been this way to us but more than ever, it’s both our dream and our duty to cherish live concerts and carry that out to bring joy to everyone, even if just a little.

―― Indeed.

Y: It’s great that we’ve all been able to dream together all this time. With the members of the band, with all our fans. Besides, next year will be our band’s 35th anniversary. We want to continue going strong.

―― It certainly is wonderful. Hopefully, you’ll be able to throw a big celebration.

Y: Yeah. But I’m truly grateful, that’s all I can say. That’s why I hope to continue dreaming, with everyone.

 

 

Notes:

¹ Muhammad Hussain Inoki is a Japanese retired professional wrestler, martial artist, politician, and promoter of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. He is best known by the ring name Antonio Inoki, a homage to fellow professional wrestler Antonino Rocca. 
This particular line probably has something to do with Inoki’s personality and his impression on general society. There have been many parodies/impersonators when it comes to him so watching some of them might shed some light on the impression to be made here.

 

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Yagami Toll

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

We can’t really go back to the normal we used to live before, so I believe everyone’s feeling melancholy
I felt that it’s a good thing for us to be singing, “Let’s board the B-T train and move out!” like this.

―― A photoshoot without Imai-san.

Toll (T): I was shocked. I think it was right before the shoot? I received a call from Imai out of the blue too. He’s not usually a guy who calls, so I was fretting. I asked him, “What! What happened!” and he said, “Anii, I’m sorry…… I fractured a bone, in my leg. I think I probably won’t be able to do concerts.” (Lol).

―― That’s bound to be a shock.

T: Nah. I think receiving a call from Imai shocked me so much that all I thought of it was, “Huh, so it’s a fracture.” (Lol)

―― Hahahahahaha.

T: And it was his femur, wasn’t it? The first thing that came to mind was how he was supposed to live life normally. Concerts come after that. He could probably just stand there and play or sit in a chair and play, but he would probably need some time before he can go back to performing the way he usually does in live concerts. That, I’m a little worried about, though.

―― Indeed.

T: Well, the bone will eventually heal itself anyway (lol). So we just have to think about what we can now when the time comes and do it. Most important is that all five of us are doing it together.

―― All there is to do is wait. Anyway, Yagami-san, you held your annual birthday concert the other day. And you actually managed to get Yoshida Minako-san as a guest performer this year!

T: I was over the moon (lol). I invited Minako-san with nothing to lose, and initially, she apparently had another appointment scheduled on that date so I was rejected. But then that appointment was cancelled and like a miracle, she became available. I’ve been a fan of hers since I was in high school…… You know, I even asked her to autograph the FLAPPER LP (released 1976) that I bought over 40 years ago when it first came out. Look. Here, look (shows a photo of it in his phone).

―― You’re grinning like a middle schooler (lol).

T: I was absolutely delighted. I also requested to perform Yume de Aetara and Toki Yo, where I’d of course be the one playing backing drums but I was even more nervous [for this] than BUCK-TICK (lol).

―― Hahahahaha!

T: Those kinds of city pop songs are difficult. Drums for Yume de Aetara were played by Hayashi Tatsuo-san (Tin Pan Alley) and I wanted myself to stay true to that era so I drummed while listening to the clicks of the original tempo (lol). Ponta-san (Murakami “Ponta” Shuichi) drummed in Toki Yo and the tempo in this song was difficult too. It wouldn’t sound good unless I’m super laid back playing it, so that was a tough one.

―― Let’s hope we can make your 60th birthday concert next year a big one. Now, about your new song, Go-Go B-T TRAIN.

T: What about it?

―― To start, the song title is a surprise (lol).

T: I suppose so. Since this Go-Go here comes from Hinan GO-GO (lol).

―― Let’s pause the jokes here (lol) before we end up making those kinds of ideas sound credible. So, the song, it’s got a pretty simple rock and roll beat, doesn’t it?

T: The riff repeats a lot. And from a drummer’s perspective, there’s a lot of cymbals going on. I have to hit them about once per bar, and when I let Imai listen to hear his thoughts on it, he said, “Hmm…… Feels a little lacking.” (Lol). Then he asked me, “Anii, do you think you can hit the cymbals even more?” and I had to politely decline him with, “Apologies. That won’t be possible unless I have three arms.” (Lol)

―― Hahahahaha!

T: I suppose he probably wanted it to sound noisy. To replicate that noisy banging that comes with manual labour at work. That’s why he made such an impossible request for more than one hit of the cymbal per bar (lol).

―― How do you feel about this song sounding like it’s built on the enthusiasm of a newly-formed band?

T: I thought it was interesting. You could probably say it feels like Imai Hisashi’s restlessness. It’s great that there’s still a part of him that’s mischievous even as he grows older. Although he got too playful and ended up fracturing a bone (lol).

―― …… We shouldn’t be laughing at that (lol).

T: But you can see a healthy Imai in the MV (lol). Ah, right, that. This single’s MV was the first time in a good while that the whole band came together for a shoot. These days, we’ve been doing our shoots individually and then editing them later, but [this time] all of us gathered at the same place and filmed our performance shots. That felt great. In a way, it’s also connected to the band’s perspective of this song. Like a “whoa, everyone’s here” kind of vibe (lol).

―― It does indeed align.

T: I’d think that maybe our fans might’ve been looking forward to an MV where we’re all performing together.

―― With these lyrics that say invites everyone onto this train to ride into the future, although things may be tough. What did you think when you heard this coming from Sakurai-san?

T: When I first head the sample, I thought it’s been a while since we’ve got a song with such a good vibe, but I never expected that it would be named Go-Go B-T TRAIN so I was surprised by that. The first thing that came to mind was Hagiwara Kenichi’s SHOKEN TRAIN (lol).

―― Ah, that’s true. But the SHOKEN song is steeped in that dandy-ism that calls for everyone to follow him but here, it’s more of heading off together, isn’t it?

T: You’re right. There’s someone who’s missed the train though (lol).

―― Stop it (lol).

T: But, well, living in a pandemic like this, we can’t really go back to the normal we used to live before, so I believe everyone’s feeling melancholy. So I felt that it’s a good thing for us to be singing, “Let’s board the B-T train and move out!” like this.

―― And the B-side, Koi. What did you think of it?

T: It’s a good song. I never expected it to hit the way it does.

―― It really strikes a chord, doesn’t it?

T: He’s kind, isn’t he? Acchan. In recent times, we’ve lost a lot of people close to us. It’s only natural at this age and we can’t really do anything about it, but these are people who have been working with us all this time as concert staff and people around the country who we’ve grown close to…… After all this time, there are now more farewells than congratulations. Dedicating [this song] to all these close acquaintances who have passed, and the people who mourn their passing. It’s a nice gesture, isn’t it?

―― I’d say it’s very much like Sakurai-san to write the lyrics from that perspective.

T: Because that person is very sensitive, and that’s just the type of person he is. No matter what he pens, it all comes from his own experiences. And that’s what makes it good.

 

There are many joys that come with being in a band, but this I can say for sure
To keep doing this with the same group of friends. Nothing beats that.

―― How did recording go for your drums this time around?

T: It was quick. The drums were recorded last this time around too, but both songs were done in a day (lol).

―― You were recording in the midst of this pandemic, so all of you couldn’t be in the studio together at the same time when you started studio work, right?

T: We went in at different times. The composer would definitely be there, and if it’s my recording day, then he’d listen to how the drums sound for me, we’d discuss and decide on what’s good or what needs to be changed. We’d be switching up this and that, change the snare a few times. And in the end, we went back to the original setup because we figured that’s the one that worked best after all.

―― This time, you’ve also got Uta and JUST ONE MORE KISS recorded with their new arrangements. These came about because the band was doing Misemono-goya〜 and made the effort to fit the songs into its theme, but what’s Yagami-san’s perspective on rearranging old songs like this and recording them again?

T: I thought it was interesting, and besides, didn’t we have an acoustic set at Makuhari back when we did Locus Solus no Kemonotachi? After doing that, we had the feeling that [things like the songs in this single] might be interesting too.

―― Because it’s rare that there’s anything that you’ve never really done during this long a career, right?

T: I think all of us think the same way, but we’ve probably always felt that when a song is labelled done, that includes its arrangement. It’s like how you’d immediately know “It’s that song!” the moment the guitar intro starts playing. If you rearrange it, then no one would know, right? Maybe that’s why the topic of boldly messing around with a song never really came up.

―― And that idea only came about as a result of deciding to make the live thematic because you thought it’d be boring to do the same old for a livestream in a pandemic.

T: Maybe they began to feel that something like that could work too.

―― Yagami-san, you’ll be celebrating your 60th next year. Is there anything you’d like to do?

T: I’d want to do an unplugged kind of thing. It’s easier to execute live too (lol).

―― That’s not the point (lol).

T: But actually, I’ve been thinking about a few things. Didn’t the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts suddenly pass away just recently?

―― That’s right.

T: And it happened to Ponta-san too. Rather than just feeling sad, it’s a loss that such amazing people have left us. Because we can never hear those drums of theirs anymore. But people have a limited amount of time to live, so we can’t do anything about that. In Ponta-san’s case, I actually received an email from him in January with New Year greetings. In the email, he  said that his doctor had advised him to stop work for the time being but “I’m doing great!” along with the punching emoji. Then he passed on in March. I was shocked.

―― With both Charlie Watts and Ponta-san, from an outsider’s perspective, we’d feel like they’ve already done it all, but only they would know whether or not that’s true.

T: Because they’ve built an era, right? And we’re still in the midst of it. That is, until the B-T TRAIN departs.

―― It’s still quite there, is it?

T: But we don’t have forever, do we? I just said earlier that there doesn’t exist a person who won’t die. If anyone of us goes that way, we’d probably quit. But for some reason I’m the eldest one in the band and yet I’m the healthiest of all. I’ve never even been hospitalised before (lol).

―― Please stay healthy!

T: I’ve always been a paranoid person, so the moment I feel like my body’s a little weird, I’d immediately go and see a doctor. I think it was about 3 or 4 years ago when I cough influenza but I didn’t realise it at all (lol). In the beginning, I intended to visit my usual doctor to inquire about administering a garlic injection and when they did a flu test, I was told, “Yagami-san, you’ve caught Type A.” (Lol)

―― And that’s why you recovered quickly.

T: They gave me the prescription there and then and I did recover quickly. Also, I’m taking 4 types of supplements everyday. So I’m healthy. My knees aren’t deteriorating, and my bloodwork’s all perfect!

―― Because the train is still running.

T: But isn’t there a common saying? That it’s always calm before the storm. I also broke my pinky toe before, right in the middle of a tour. I was half-asleep, going to the bathroom half-asleep in the hotel when I busted it against a corner of the wash basin. It swelled up like hell. I thought that it was definitely broke but when I went to the doctor’s for a checkup, they apparently told me, “It won’t affect your concerts at all!” So I had a roadie tape up my pinky toe with the 4th. I think I did about 3 shows like that. Since then, I’ve always stuck sponge to the corners of the washbasin (lol).

―― But even with Charlie Watts’ passing, aren’t the Rolling Stones still going on tour with Steve Jordan as support?

T: I wonder about that. But in the end, the Rolling Stones are a business so there’s no way to end it, is there?

―― Well, I guess that’s more or less the case.

T: And in fact, even after Brian Jones died and Bill Wyman left, they’ve changed members a number of times. That’s the kind of history the Rolling Stones have. Even if the members of the band changes, the band itself still goes on and maybe that’s group’s creed. I think the Rolling Stones will continue on until Mick Jagger passes away. Even if Keith Richards dies, they’ll still keep going.

―― That’s true.

T: This is my own opinion, but in our case, it’s the end if anyone of us are no longer involved. I’d say it’s probably better that we stop too. Not a break up, but a cessation. I think that’s a better way to put it.

―― Because you’ve been together for 35 years ever since your major debut, right?

T: In my mind, I’m doing this in a way that will leave me no regrets no matter when it all ends. Say, if tomorrow, for some reason, anyone of us in BUCK-TICK can’t keep going anymore, then in that case, we wouldn’t want to keep things going with a member replacement…… That said, I believe everyone feels the same way. If we were to continue even if that happens, then I would probably quit.

―― I see.

T: Then I’ll finally go back to Gunma (lol).

―― Because that’s your dream retirement, right (lol).

T: It’s been 36 years since I was abducted by Yuta. I’ll soon be 60; it’s about time for me to build a house in Gunma and stay there. If I’m not in BUCK-TICK, then it’s even more likely that I’d have already done that (lol).

―― But doing this, believing so strongly that the band’s existence is tied to the 5 of you working together is the band’s resolve, like a sincere conviction soaked with ephemerality. I think all of those are connected.

T: Yeah. There are many joys that come with being in a band, like selling well, becoming popular, writing a good song, playing at large venues, but this I can say for sure. To keep doing this with the same group of friends. Nothing beats that. Having come this far, we’ve been through all sorts of things; like musical differences, reaching our limits as an instrumentalist, things related to our families, our views on life, but being able to keep this band going with the same members, to make music and perform concerts together is truly wonderful.

―― Indeed.

T: I think if we were more scheming, if we wanted to get rich and live in big houses, if those were the kinds of goals we had, we might be able to achieve them but we definitely won’t be happy. What makes me glad that I’m still in this band with these four also includes things apart from simply performing together. Time and again, I realised how big a deal this is to me.

―― I see.

T: They’re kind, all of them. Looking at it from another perspective, you could say that they’re not greedy. For the band as a whole, we might’ve become bigger if we did have that hunger, but I think it’s great that we’re able to celebrate our 35th anniversary like this.

―― Because the answer is that you’ve kept this going together.

T: You see, we’ve done a photoshoot with just four of us since Imai broke his leg, right? Somehow, the vibes are weird. Like, “Huh……? Ah, oh, right.” (Lol). We can’t be missing any one. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again; with my 60th just around the corner, I can’t be happier that I feel this way now.

 

 

 

 

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Editor’s Article:
We will keep hoping to never wake up from these dreams as we keep swaying in this chugging B-T TRAIN

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi

“Huh……? Ah, oh, right.”

Realising that someone is absent, that he isn’t there brings confusion to everyone on site. The ones standing in front of the camera lens looked uncomfortable, and on our end, we can’t quite decide where the members of the band should stand. A peculiar wrongness has a hold over this place where something that should normally be there is missing.

“Isn’t this the first time we’re doing a shoot with only four members?”

Someone said that. And it might just be true. Looking at the group photo of the four of them, the sense of absence comes through so strongly that you’d just know. Yet on the other hand, there is also the certainty that it’s just not them without all five members involved. The fact that the same members have kept it going for nearly 35 years gives it that strong impetus.

The unexpected accident that Imai got into right before the interview was a reminder that this band is neither rock solid nor stable, but rather a miraculous balance and a result of their individual efforts. This is something that could easily happen to any band. It might be too much of an exaggeration to say this, but this highlights a very important part of the band who is approaching their 35th anniversary.

It’s something that is close to what we can sense from their single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN. This song leaves quite the impact with the fine line that is the title, while its content holds the call to board the train named BUCK-TICK and venture into the uncertain future together. Twenty years ago, Imai wrote the line “Let’s speed through the springtime of youth”¹ in Shippuu no Blade Runner and this is similar to that. However, there is a difference between then and now; sincerity. While Sakurai and Imai’s contrasting perspectives still exist, they aren’t happenings of a far-off world. I dare say that Go-Go B-T Train has the aftertaste of resolution that follows hope. And as it rushes along with everyone’s dreams onboard, it’s a “a fabulous one-way-only TRIP”². That’s right, there’s no turning back. Bluntly speaking, it’s a song about a suicide pact painted in a positive light.

As to what birthed such a song, it’s the inescapable reality of the COVID-19 pandemic that is its’ backdrop. A world divided by COVID-19 with no sign of things returning to normal. Restrictions have been placed on band activities, reducing the amount of time a band gets to share with their fans through concerts to almost zero. Although it looks like it’ll take some time before things can revert fully to how they used to be, a national tour for a live audience is finally about to begin. That joy was, in a large part, a contributor to this song, announcing that they’re going to depart on a journey for the same dream with everyone who’s coming aboard the BUCK-TICK train.

But it is not all hopes and dreams there. It’s a ticket for a one-way trip. This is a final spurt towards the invisible goal that is the end. To the band, they’ve sung about life and death, making it their theme thus far and it’s drawing closer to reality, rather than simply existing as a concept. This song is steeped in this too. Furthermore, it reminds us that the dynamism of this almost-35 years old band where “It has to be these five members” and “It’s the end if anyone of us are no longer involved”, along with the love and trust for these five men are in the coming days.

―〈The dream continues Oh Baby Fiery flashing To the ends of the world〉―³

That’s right, BUCK-TICK is made up of these five’s and our dreams. And B-T TRAIN is the train that runs with these dreams. It’ll take on all forms of reality and everything that comes in its way to run endlessly. Its final destination is when the dream ends. When it’ll happen, no one knows. And that’s why we will keep hoping to never wake up from these dreams as we keep swaying in this chugging B-T TRAIN.

 

 

Notes:

¹ 共に青い春を駆け抜けよう / Tomo ni aoi haru wo kakenuke you

² Line from Go-Go B-T Train: 片道だけの素敵な TRIP / Kata michi dake no suteki na TRIP

³ Last line from Go-Go B-T Train: 夢は続くよ Baby ランランラン 何処までも / Yume wa tsudzuku yo Baby Ranranran Doko made mo

 

 

BUCK-TICK NOW ON SALE 
Go-Go B T TRAIN

[Tracklist]

  1. Go-Go B-T TRAIN [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi/Music: Imai Hisashi]
  2. 恋 (Koi)[Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi/Music: Hoshino Hidehiko] 
  3. 唄 Ver.2021 (Uta Ver.2021)
  4. JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021

 

[Included in both limited and regular editions]
Audio discs are SHM-CD format (superior quality CD fully compatible with all CD players).
Includes download card for easy playback of the SHM-CD recording on smartphones.
PlayPass® compatible (Valid until: 30 September 2022)

 

[Limited edition exclusives (for both type A and B)]
◎A: Blu-ray included/B: DVD included

  1. 「Go-Go B-T TRAIN」(MUSIC VIDEO) 
  2. 「唄 Ver.2021」(Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ~SHOW AFTER DARK~)
  3. 「JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021」(Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ~SHOW AFTER DARK~)

◎Special packaging

 

 

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AFTERSHOW

2021.08.17 BUCK-TICK

They had a photoshoot at Scott Hall, a historical auditorium in Waseda Hoshien. And my pure chance, in the same vicinity was AVACO STUDIO where BUCK_TICK recorded the first album they released with a major label. “Isn’t this where AVACO STUDIO is?” The moment the four of them entered the waiting room, they started to reminisce. The photoshoot started off with the two-shot featuring Anii and Yuta first. While checking the pictures that were taken, Anii burst out laughing, “Yuta, send this to mom!” Yuta-san responded with, “I wonder if this counts as being filial?” Ah, what a beautiful show of brotherly love. Then, Sakurai-san who was being photographed at a piano suddenly pressed the keys. It doesn’t form any particular melody, but it has a strange ambient feel to it. Perhaps editor-in-chief Kanemitsu recorded that sound on his phone and listens to it on occasion. After the shoot concluded, he autographed the polariod that would be the lucky draw gift to our readers. After a while, Yuta-san brought it over with a, “Acchan’s signed it!” When he showed it to us, a signature for “Imai Hisashi” who wasn’t here on this day was also there! “O-ho!” Kanemitsu’s cry of delight could be heard while the Devil King’s smile appeared on Acchan’s face with a grin.

Interviews were subsequently held. As printed, Imai-san’s was held from the his hospital room, while Sakurai-san and Hide-san had their interviews remotely conducted from home but both Sakurai & Hoshino were, for some reason, particularly talkative. Or rather, they chatted with a more relaxed vibe than usual. Perhaps being at home makes them drop their guard after all?

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Text images: Yoshiyuki
Photo images: meghararayanneh.sakurai on VK.com

Chanting the guardian mantra in the midst of a pandemic

VROCK HK Vol.13
December 2020

 

Interview with vocalist Sakurai Atsushi and guitarist Imai Hisashi

Riding on the wave of their 33rd anniversary this year, BUCK-TICK has released their 22nd album, “ABRACADABRA”, offering protection to people’s hearts and minds in the midst of the global pandemic with a musical spell that has traveled through one third of a century. After a year of trouble in the music industry, the band is finally coming back to the Nippon Budokan for their end-of-year performance. On the eve of this event, vocalist Sakurai Atsushi and guitarist Imai Hisashi were interviewed for the first time by Hong Kong media from across the ocean, communicating their message on the new album and their thoughts on the current moment.

 

 

―― BUCK-TICK is releasing a new album this year on the 33rd anniversary of your debut. The title of the new album is “ABRACADABRA”, which seems to have a deep meaning in this age. Could you tell us about the meaning behind this title?

Imai Hisashi (I): In the lyrics that Sakurai wrote for the song “Eureka”, there is the word “ABRACADABRA”, which I found very memorable. It also has the meaning of being a talisman in the pandemic disaster.

Sakurai Atsushi (S): There is nothing we can do except for chanting spells with music. It would be a blessing if this incantation could make someone somewhere smile.

―― During the process of making this new work, have you been affected or inspired in some ways by the pandemic?

S: In terms of the work itself, we did not want to be influenced by the pandemic , but just wanted to simply depict a story. Only “Eureka” sings of the mantra of love.

―― In the late 1980s and 1990s, BUCK-TICK’s works were released on cassette tapes and vinyl, and now, after a long gap, ABRACADABRA is released on vinyl LP and cassette tapes, as well as on CD, digital music, and streaming, which are music formats that span multiple eras. For BUCK-TICK, having witnessed the development of music technology at various stages, how does it feel to see the rise of cassette tapes and vinyl again?

S: When I was a child, I felt the moment of putting the needle down on a record player was like some kind of ritual. Each era has its own music, and there are different ways to appreciate them, so music will never disappear, which I find to be something wonderful.

I: Cassette tapes and LPs, etc., are all very interesting objects. LPs have huge covers, which is something that I really like.

―― Different media have their own different textures, so among the various formats released this time, which one has the sound that you like the most?

I: When I compared the sound in the studio, Hi-Res audio had the better sound, but in my heart I wanted to listen to it on LP. Since it’s not easy to skip tracks on LPs, it makes you feel you can listen very carefully.

―― This year, music performances are difficult to carry out, and it has become popular to perform with no live audience. In fact, as early as 1991, BUCK-TICK had its first-ever performance without a live audience titled “SATELLITE CIRCUIT” (a commemorative show for the opening of WOWOW TV). This year, BUCK-TICK also held a live, no-audience show called “ABRACADABRA LIVE ON THE NET”. After almost 30 years, how did you feel when you stepped on the stage without a live audience again?

I: Although there was no audience in the venue, I could sincerely feel that “people are watching” and played accordingly.

S: Even when I had entered my own world, I was also conscious that someone was watching from the other side of the camera. We also took challenges with things like the AR technology that could only be used in recorded footage.

―― The band also held a screening of “TOUR2020 ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN” this year, and even though it was also a performance strategy under the pandemic, the idea was very innovative!

S: It’s great to have a concert tour for fans all over the country to see. Although the members were really upset that they couldn’t play and the vocalist couldn’t sing, we’re really grateful to the performance and event staff who helped tour the country despite the danger of infection. Also, we’re grateful for all the fans who came to the venues.

―― The first and last performance of the year will be the end-of-year Budokan performance, which will also be broadcast live on the Internet. How does the band think of a performance via a livestream format as opposed to a regular performance?

I: There is no limit to the number of people who can watch the performance via livestream, and people can watch it overseas too, so I think it’s interesting as an approach.

S: It would be the best time to sing and dance together with the audience, but the most important thing now is to prevent infections, so I believe it is the best possible method. For those who want to go to the concert but can’t make it, especially for the medical practitioners who work hard every day, I hope everyone will have a chance to enjoy it. Please pre-record if possible, and in order to not forget, I will also record mine.

―― The livestream is also a way to give more overseas fans the opportunity to participate. In fact, many overseas fans have been coming to Japan to see BUCK-TICK every year. Has BUCK-TICK, one of Japan’s top bands, had any plans to go overseas?

I: I hope that we can be heard and seen by people all over the world.

S: Actually, I traveled privately to Hong Kong about 30 years ago. It was a very exciting city, and it would be great to have a chance to perform in Hong Kong in the future.

―― The band has already launched collaboration products such as headphones and embroidered jackets. Do you have any future collabs in mind outside of music?

S: Hong Kong Disneyland?

―― BUCK-TICK’s music has continued going on for over 33 years, and the band has strived tirelessly to release new works. Where are the motivation and the inspiration coming from?

I: Naturally out of living and experiencing daily life.

S: Anyways regardless of genre, loving music, loving singing, exposure to art such as novels and movies, and feeling the joy, sadness, and love of seemingly ordinary everyday life, can all give rise to various passions.

―― BUCK-TICK’s music has inspired many people over the years. Can you tell us what genres or musicians the band members have been listening to recently?

S: The young generation of Japanese musicians. “King Gnu” and “Fujii Kaze”.

I: I tend to listen to Ambient Music more often. Also Raymond Watts’ post-industrial project “Pig”.

―― What are your goals for the coming year?

I: To create cool songs.

S: In a word, “ABRACADABRA”, we will continue to move forward even while coexisting with the pandemic. I would like to sing, and I would like to hold concerts if possible. It would be nice to meet with everyone in Hong Kong and the rest of the world again through livestream or YouTube. I am grateful for the opportunity to be interviewed this time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Best wishes to Hong Kong.

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Endless Dei
Source: VROCK HK Vol.13