Hoshino Hidehiko
BUCK-TICK

profile & information
Born on June 16, 1966. Blood type A. Guitarist in the band BUCK-TICK which was formed in 1985. Other members of the band are vocalist Sakurai Atsushi, guitarist Imai Hisashi, bassist Higuchi Yutaka, and drummer Yagami Toll. The band will be performing the final show of their tour, BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan at the Nippon Budokan on Thursday, December 29.
buck-tick.com

35th anniv.

Interview/Text ◎ Yuka Okubo
Photography ◎ Yosuke Komatsu (ODD JOB LTD.), Seitaro Tanaka

 

Since BUCK-TICK is right in the midst of celebrating the 35th anniversary of their major debut, we interviewed Yagami Toll back in issue 102, and this time around, we have guitarist Hoshino Hidehiko. Hinan GO-GO, BUCK-TICK’s forerunner wasHoshino first experience of forming a band, and it’s been said that the band’s first original song was written by Hoshino himself. Since then, we’ve had songs like JUPITER, LOVE PARADE, Sayonara Shelter and many more Hoshino compositions that have proven to be key to the band’s success at various points in time. In this interview, BUCK-TICK’s 35-year journey gets summarised from the Hoshino perspective, along with mentions of his impressions of his four fellow bandmates.

 

More than my desire to do this or that,
I think my hope to constantly keep going for a long time is stronger.

――Today, I’d like for us to look at Hoshino-san’s and BUCK-TICK’s past 35 years with Hoshino-san’s music in focus. Before we go into that, you recently held your show, BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~ at Yokohama Arena on September 23 and 24 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the band’s major debut. In retrospect, what do you think of the show? With the staging and all, I got the feeling that I was watching a whole new BUCK-TICK again rather than the festive mood that typically comes with anniversary events.

Hoshino (H): While it’s true that we’ve celebrated our 20th, 25th, and 30th anniversaries in a few different ways, this time around, we have a 5-CD best-of compilation and it felt as if we used that to put the show together. That’s why we ended up with a selection of songs that is a little bit different than whatever we had before. On the staging and the performance, the stage director in charge was someone we started working with only recently, and at the same time, I think it was largely Sakurai-san’s initiative that led to the production turning out the way it did.

――Concerts that are based on a best-of collection would normally celebrate a band’s history but the fact that BUCK-TICK’s doesn’t seem like that at all makes it interesting.

H: We do have our best-of collection, but rather than focusing on our first*, second* and third* album releases, a good number of the songs featured are more recent works so I guess it’s only of course that this is how the show turned out to be. We also ended up performing Sayonara Shelter, our new song that was released in this best-of collection so this also contributed to it, right.

――This event marked the first live performance of Sayonara Shelter.

H: In this show, there’s a segment where we perform Rakuen*, REVOLVER*, and Guernica no Yoru* before Sayonara Shelter and I think this ended up being the essence [of the show].  The songs we performed in this central portion remained the same on both days of the show, though.

――By “essence”, do you mean the message of the show?

H: That’s right. I think the setlist of songs from our best-of collection were probably arranged in a way that had them linked to each other more in this Yokohama Arena show.

――I think the messages here are largely related to Sakurai-san’s lyrics, but does Hoshino-san also get influenced by the sentiment of the world and the atmosphere around you when you’re composing music? I believe Sayonara Shelter, for example, is about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and more broadly, thoughts and feelings about war in general, right?H: I guess we can’t deny that there is some of that in the song, right? We might’ve had such songs before, but Sayonara Shelter came about without any deliberate intention to write  such a song. I’ve always left the lyrics entirely up to [Sakurai], but I’ve always had the liberty to do whatever I want in terms of music too, and it could just be that those lyrics were written for this song because the music called for it. I already take it as a message from Sakurai-san, though.

This question gets asked at every significant anniversary year but ultimately, these are simply passing waypoints to me.
When you mention “35 years” on its own, it sounds like a really long time, but I personally don’t pay any attention to this (lol).

――This performance officially marks the start of your 35th anniversary year. Once again, could you share any thoughts you’ve had regarding having been actively making music for 35 years?

H: This question gets asked at every significant anniversary year but ultimately, these are simply passing waypoints to me. When you mention “35 years” on its own, it sounds like a really long time, but I personally don’t feel like all that long a time has passed at all. I personally don’t pay any attention to this (lol).

――I see. For Hoshino-san, your first experience of forming a band was with Hinan GO-GO, the precursor to BUCK-TICK, right? How did it feel when you were exposed to music in that band for the first time?

H: There was a magazine named “Let’s start a band [バンドやろうぜ / Bando Yarouze]” (a music magazine that was this magazine publication’s predecessor), but that’s the vibe we started off with, so I think it really felt like we were half doing this just for the fun of it.

――Did Hoshino-san at the time have ambitions like wanting to make a living through music, or wanting to become a professional musician?

H: I didn’t even think about thinking like that. Besides, I was a kid who had never touched a musical instrument before. There might’ve been some band master who thought about those things (lol), but for me, personally, I just went into it with nothing more than the thought of giving it a bit of a try.

――Are you saying that you’ve come this far because your very first impression of doing this was fun?

H: I suppose that’s how things turned out in the end.

――It’s said that the first person who wrote an original song for the band was in fact Hoshino-san.

H: I’m not too sure about that, I guess that could’ve been the case (lol). But it wasn’t released to the public in the end.

――Is it possible for a kid who had never touched an instrument to write a song so soon after starting? Or was it something you came up with by mimicking what others did?

H: I guess that might’ve been it. There was a point of time when I felt that it was about time for us to make our own original music, and I think I actually did compose something back then, though. It was pre~tty dark though.

――Is that so? Then, does Hoshino-san’s music, a.k.a the Hoshino Melody originate from somewhere?

H: Not at all (lol). Absolutely zero.

――I’m very interested in the “pre~tty dark song” that Hoshino-san just mentioned (lol). Your indies releases up until your first major album release (SEXUAL×××××!) were mostly made of Imai-san’s songs. What thoughts did you have about the music he composed  back then?

H: The level of completeness has always been very high even back then. Although there were also songs that were shaped by the band as a whole, things like the arrangement and the core aspects of the songs mostly came from Imai-san, so I guess you could say that made the compositions very easy to grasp.

――Meaning, it was easy to grasp the idea of what the final version should be?

H: Part of it is indeed how clearly we could envision the final product, and there were other parts, like the modulation of the song, the melody, that have always been made very clear even since back then. These areas were what made his compositions easy to grasp.

――Did Hoshino-san also continue to write music at the time?

H: Nope, I think I wasn’t writing anything by then. I just left it to him.

――I see. Was there any sort of change in terms of your mindset when you went from being an indie band to being signed with a major label?

H: I think there was definitely that feeling of having decided on doing this well when we went major. But it really felt like we suddenly dropped into a world we knew nothing about so it also felt like we were at the mercy of others, just going with the flow and doing a lot of things.

――You mentioned in the beginning that you originally had no ambitions to go pro, so what would you have done if you didn’t sign with a major label at that point in time? You did go to culinary school and attained a chef’s licence, right?

H: That resulted from what was originally an excuse for moving to Tokyo, but we managed to sign with a major label much earlier than we expected so maybe I felt like I had the time or maybe the mental capacity [to do that]. Even if we didn’t sign at that point in time, I think I might still continue to make music for a few more years.

――I really liked this story I read in an old article about the time the certified chef Hoshino-san burnt a frozen croquette black in the blink of an eye (lol).

H: That legendary story (lol). I probably misunderstood something somewhere. Maybe I didn’t have the [cooking] sense even though I had the licence? I’m good at slicing and dicing but I think I don’t have any instinct when it comes to flavouring (lol).

――In the chaotic days following your major debut, your second album, SEVENTH HEAVEN, included one song written by Hoshino-san, DESPERATE GIRL. What led you to start writing music again?

H: I probably just got the feeling of “maybe I should try composing something”. It wasn’t that I was forced to do it. I think I just changed my mind about it. I remember doing a lot of things in the midst of that jam packed schedule, so I guess that might’ve fueled my motivation to write something.

――And soon after that, you went to London to record TABOO. What was the experience of recording in London like for Hoshino-san?

H: To start, the one biggest difference between that and our previous experiences at the time was that we had a producer to work with. Also, the feeling of recording while overseas was super fresh; it was a valuable experience. There were also all sorts of changes going on in the music industry. Being in London right at the scene of it all, seeing and hearing about all these things might’ve also inflicted some change within me too.

――Hoshino-san’s song, FEAST OF DEMORALIZATION also featured lyrics written by Yagami-san for the first time, and that was really fresh too.

H: That’s true. That’s just now things naturally turned out. There was a momentum that inspired everyone to try and participate more in songwriting at the time.

――There was a half year before Aku no Hana* when activities were paused. How did Hoshino-san spend that time?

H: There wasn’t anything to do during that period of time so I holed myself up at home and wrote music. It was around that time when I got more equipment and made changes to my environment too. Because back then, I only had very basic equipment. And I had time anyway, right? (Lol)

――Could it be that this led to the bigger moves that you made towards doing more in terms of songwriting? Among the three songs written by Hoshino-san in Aku no Hana, you even wrote the lyrics for one song, PLEASURE LAND, right?

H: That I did because I felt like trying it out.

――How did you feel after giving writing lyrics a go?

H: Hm~ how did I feel (lol). That I’m better suited to composing music? (Lol)

――That’s a quick conclusion (lol). And your next album, Kurutta Taiyou* was a turning point for the band in terms of sound.

H: I think it was a rather fulfilling series of events to round off our experience of recording in London for TABOO and then working on Aku no Hana* with the release of Kurutta Taiyou. Also, I think getting to know (recording engineer) Hiruma (Hitoshi)-san was also a significant point for us.

――In that time, JUPITER* also became Hoshino-san’s first song that was titled a single. It felt like the world’s impression of BUCK-TICK transformed a little with the release of this single. Like a sudden realisation that BUCK-TICK also has such songs.

H: I think that was yet another turning point. M・A・D* was what we released before that, so I think it was good that we got to drastically shake up our image. On top of a bunch of other things, I think I overcame something here that led to a significant change in me.

I really challenged myself without the knowledge of fear in the past. In a good way,
I worked with anything and everything with the feeling to “just do it”.

――In the next single, Dress*, both the title song and the B-side, Rokugatsu no Okinawa* were composed by Hoshino-san. What was Hoshino-san’s state of mind at the time? Was it a period when you felt energised to challenge yourself in different ways? You even played the keyboard when performing Dress while on tour*.

H: I played the keyboard?

――Yes…… Wait⁉ You did, right?

H: I’m kidding, I’m kidding (lol). I did play the keyboard. I think I might have been really raring to try out all sorts of things when it came to composing back then. The part of me that wanted to challenge myself with all these different things emerged, now that you mention it. I had the idea that it might be interesting to compose Dress with the keyboard instead of a guitar. There was even a period of time when I asked the vocal training teacher to teach me when they’re free.

――You learned how to play the keyboard from a vocal training teacher?

H: That’s right. That happened, and then I started getting the feeling that maybe I should try composing something with the keyboard. For JUPITER, I experimented composing with a 12-string acoustic guitar, but anyway, that was a period of time when I decided to try all sorts of new things.

――We use the phrase “Hoshino Melody” these days, but when I listen to Hoshino-san’s compositions in order of when they were written, I get the impression that this Hoshino Melody wasn’t yet established in your songs from the 90s. Instead, these songs were the scatterings of the different parts of Hoshino-san’s quintessence that gradually began to crystallise in the 2000s.

H: That’s true. While trying out all these different things, I also felt as if I was searching for something.

――By searching, are you referring to something that is unique to Hoshino-san?

H: Maybe. Imai-san’s in the band too, so it could also be something that strikes a balance with him. I thought about these things too. Along with balancing the concept of each album and a bunch of other aspects, it felt like I was experimenting with all these different things.

――Has Hoshino-san ever found yourself in a slump or a deadend when you were composing in the past?

H: Rather than a slump…… I feel like I had more freedom back then. I realised that there were things I could do without giving it much though, and maybe that’s better on the contrary, but now, this might sound weird but I feel a bit stuck. I really feel like I could create with more freedom in the past. Part of it is the feeling that I somehow managed to pull off everything because I had no knowledge fear, but as I grew older, I also feel like that gradually became more of the notion that things just happened to work out well.

――Rokugatsu no Okinawa incorporated reggae, and Chocolate, the B-side to Candy* was also inspiring.

H: It feels like I really challenged myself, right? In a good way, that was a period of time when I worked with anything and everything with the feeling to “just do it”.

――There was a period of time when the band underwent huge environmental changs; before the release of your album, COSMOS*, the band started its own independent office and after COSMOS was released, you parted ways with Victor. What did Hoshino-san think of this?

H: While there was insecurity because of these big environmental changes, there was also aspiration. I would think that was exhibited in our work too, so that kind of a big change happened as well.

――Was the insecurity present in your music?

H: Not the insecurity, but more of the aspiration, I believe. That kind of evolution probably happened. I’d say it was the same in SEXY STREAM LINER* too, which we released after we changed labels. There was an environmental change, and you could probably tell from that album that yet another challenge has begun and that we’re headed somewhere new. I think that album had strong indications of those feelings. It might’ve been in that period of time when I grew an awareness of “what I’m good at”. Although whether it’s the Hoshino Melody or not, I’m not sure.

――How would you describe exactly what this “what I’m good at” refers to?

H: I guess it’s melodies that belong to me, or things that are unique to me. It might be a little different from the likes of JUPITER or Dress, but I think that’s the part of me that I grew aware of.

――In terms of songs, would you say it’s stuff like Megami from ONE LIFE ONE DEATH*, or the B-side to 21st Cherry Boy*, Barairo no Hibi?

H: Ah~, that’s it.

――I have the impression that the beautiful melodies Hoshino-san composed became more established in that time. Were you also influenced by your activities in dropz, your solo project which formed 2004 and saw an album release* in 2007?

H: It just so happened that everyone had their own solo activities right around 2004, and although it wasn’t able to be publicly active at the time, it was something that I had been personally working on. I was thinking that I’d want to do it if I could work with vocalist Kelli Ali and that actually became reality. I was running a little behind everyone in terms of time though (lol). That was when I started working with Cube Juice-kun and I think getting to know Cube-kun also influenced my style of working on things to some extent. He only started to work on BUCK-TICK’s production from RAZZLE DAZZLE* though.

――I wondered whether dropz influenced you in some way for the band’s next release, Tenshi no Revolver with songs like La vie en Rose and CREAM SODA. They were more eccentric than anything you’ve done before that.

H: It’s true that there was a feeling of disparity during the time of Tenshi no Revolver, even within myself too. Likewise with CREAM SODA, when that came from me, I was surprised too. I had no idea such a song existed within me even though I wrote it myself. There’s stuff that just comes out of nowhere though. ur next work, memento mori* was conceptually a simple rock album so I worked along those lines, but it feels like the guitar parts became the emphasis.

――Going by albums, I’d say that I started to sense what we call the Hoshino Melody more strongly starting around the time Arui wa Anarchy* was released. Were you referring to this period of time when you mentioned earlier that you were starting to feel stuck?

H: That’s right. Despite the fact that I wanted to do a number of different things, you know? It’s kind of like, because there exists the part of me that now knows all kinds of techniques, I find myself simply sticking to what I already know. I really really want to break through this part, but there’s also the fact that I can see clearly how I can achieve what I want. This certainly makes it easy for me to compose, but at the same time, I’m unable to see other paths to my goals even though I really want to. That’s more or less the kind of feeling I’m getting now.

――Even when you’re right in the midst of putting together a new album?

H: There are different styles in it, but I still want to break through this feeling even more.

――What should you do to break past this?

H: I don’t know either. Maybe I have to bring in my old self who didn’t know anything and drop him into my seat.

――That sounds difficult to do now that you’ve gained so much experience.

H: That’s definitely true though. But that’s something I’ve only started to feel very recently.

――Really? On the other hand, regarding your performance in concerts, I have the impression that from some point onwards, there was a huge change in Hoshino-san’s expressions and gestures. Was that deliberate?

H: Ah, I suppose it was to some extent. There might also be some part of me that got inspired when I went to watch some foreign artist’s concert, for example.

――I believe you did attend some other artists’ concerts in the past too, but was there some sort of change in mentality?

H: I guess I found that I really enjoyed communicating with our fans or something. Like, I came to feel that it’s a good thing. I guess it’s a natural progression from there.

――When did you start thinking like this?

H: Probably after “darkness”.

――What darkness⁉

H: Like the period when we did 13-kai wa Gekkou* (lol). The concerts we held on that tour didn’t allow for communication, did they?

――That’s true. Now that you said it, if we go further back in time, Kurutta Taiyou and darker than darkness -style 93-* were obviously also periods of darkness, right? (Lol)

H: Right, that’s right.

――There was also a period of time when there were barely any MC segments.

H: I went to watch Bruno Mars in concert the other day. His genre is completely different from ours but it was a really good show. When I see such a performance, it somehow turns into inspiration for me too, you know?

――The Tokoy Dome show, right? Are you saying that we’ll get to see Hoshino-san’s Bruno Mars-influenced stage performance?

H: I won’t dance (lol). I meant it in an emotional aspect.

――But I also want to see Hoshino-san’s Bruno Mars-inspired dancing (lol). Anyway, you’re now right in the midst of your 35th year of activity, and in the middle of a national tour* too (Interview was in early November). You composed LOVE PARADE during your 25th anniversary year for the movie* back then and it’s now become a song we can’t go without. Even now, during this tour, Sakurai-san would say, “The parade will go on even if we’re gone,” and it really strikes a chord in our hearts. It feels melancholy to think about these things, but does Hoshino-san mentally count down or think about how much more time you have?

H: I do think about it, especially in recent times. Although I just want to keep going for as long as I can. Because we can’t do this anymore the moment any one of us leaves, you know?

Rather than big ambitions, I guess you could say I just have ordinary hopes. I don’t have big dreams.
But I’ll do my best to be able to perform LOVE PARADE again on our anniversaries.

――BUCK-TICK has always been churning out new releases at a consistent pace, and I don’t think there are many bands that have continued to release new work to this extent over the course of their careers. Do you feel like you’ll never run out of motivation when it comes to producing?

H: Somehow it feels more natural to keep creating. I guess that’s just what BUCK-TICK is like because that’s what we’ve always been capable of. Maybe that’s the definition of BUCK-TICK?

――Next, will you share what you think of your fellow band mates at this juncture? Let’s start with Sakurai-san who expressed himself through Hoshino-san’s composition. How do you see him as a vocalist?

H: Just like his lyrical world, he’s really an open and honest person. That’s something that shows in his lyrical world, and I think it’s also something that makes him very relatable. Plus, his ability to express himself on stage is also incredible. All in all, a great vocalist.

――What about Imai-san? When I look at the stage, there are times when Imai-san and Hoshino-san’s movements seem to synchronise naturally. Seeing that makes me think that it’s probably because you’ve performed together for all these years. I’d be watching and thinking, “Ah, so nice〜.”

H: Really (lol)? He’s someone who possesses much that I don’t, so I feel like I rely on him entirely in all those areas. He’s dependable. Also, he’s playing (his guitar) properly recently, isn’t he (lol)? So please feel at ease.

――Imai-san previously said that Hoshino-san’s sound was cut off in the middle of a concert before (lol).

H: That happens a lot (lol). My head goes blank, you know, if I relax too much. Like, “Huh? What’s the next chord again?” It happens a lot.

――Is it a skill honed over many years to feel nothing over this?

H: Yeah, that’s right (lol). The “Ah~, I did it again” type of things happen quite a bit too (lol).

――The fact that it’s two people coming together to create the riff as double guitars is also one of the highlights of BUCK-TICK”s music.

H: That’s right. Creating one part by the combined effort of us two is something that we’ve always done so that’s also a forte of ours.

――Speaking of fortes, I think chorus melodies composed by Hoshino-san are pretty much a forte too.

H: Is that so (lol).

――I’m always hoping for the day when you release a song that features double vocals by Hoshino-san and Sakurai-san though.

H: That would be nice if we could pull that off well, though. I’ll think about it.

――So what do you think of Higuchi-san?

H: Yuta (Higuchi Yutaka) is also a perfectionist, I think. When it comes to performing, he’s got it down to a T. Although he’s got his “huh?” moments too, I’ve got the same problem anyway (lol). It’s something that happens to all of us normally. In terms of performance style, I think Yuta’s probably changed the most.

――That’s true. What about Yagami-san?

H: Anii (Yagami Toll) is just like Yuta, a perfectionist. In the past, when he didn’t use clickers and the sort, he really gave off this feeling of being The Drummer, but these days, he’s using clickers which means that he has to drum along with them, so that part of him really gives off the perfectionist vibe, but at the same time, he’s still got this groove that reminds me of The Drummer. It’s a really exquisite flavouring that he has, and I think that’s great.

――Right now, work on the new album that you’re releasing this coming spring is progressing alongside this tour, but looking at its present stage, what kind of album do you think it will turn out to be?

H: There’s actually a lot that I can’t talk about in specifics, but it’ll be another one that’s full of variety and there are also parts of it that you could say signify yet another new BUCK-TICK. I hope that people are looking forward to it.

――Now in your 35th anniversary year, is there anything you’re hoping for or anything you want to do in future?

H: More than my desire to do this or that, I think my hope to constantly keep going for a long time is stronger.

――As long as you can in your present state.

H: Yeah, that’s right. On top of that, there’s a bunch of other age-related things, and there’s probably a lot of other aspects like physical ability that we have to pay special attention to though. Rather than big ambitions, I guess you could say I just have ordinary hopes. That’s probably it.

――It’s true that there have been recent occasions when you had to stop activities due to injury and illness.

H: Exactly, that’s what I’m talking about.

――But does Hoshino-san have any dreams of your own?

H: The biggest one is to keep going but, other that that? Things like performing at Tokyo Dome like Anii (lol), I don’t have any big dreams like those in particular. But I’ll do my best to be able to perform LOVE PARADE again on our anniversaries.

 

 

  • 5-CD best-of compilation=Their 35th anniversary concept best-of album CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. which was released in September.
  • First, second, and thirdSEXUALxxxxx! released in November 1987, SEVENTH HEAVEN released in June 1988, TABOO released in January 1989.
  • Rakuen=B-side of their 9th single, Kodou, released in April 1995.
  • REVOLVER=A track from their 15th studio album, Tenshi no Revolver, released in September 2007.
  • Guernica no Yoru=A track from their 21st studio album, No.0, released in March 2018.
  • Aku no Hana=Their 4th studio album, released in February 1990.
  • Kurutta Taiyou=Their 5th studio album, released in February 1991.
  • JUPITER=Their 5th single, released in October 1991.
  • M・A・D=Their 4th single, released in June 1991.
  • Dress=Their 6th single, released in May 1993.
  • Tour=“darker than darkness -style93-”, held between May to November 1933.
  • Candy=Their 11th single, released May 1996.
  • COSMOS=Their 9th studio album, released in June 1996.
  • SEXY STREAM LINER=Their 10th studio album, released in December 1997.
  • ONE LIFE,ONE DEATH=Their 11th studio album, released in September 2000.
  • 21st Cherry Boy=Their 18th single, released in November 2001.
  • Album releaseSWEET OBLIVION, an album by dropz, released in April 2007.
  • RAZZLE DAZZLE=Their 17th studio album, released October 2010.
  • memento mori =Their 16th studio album, released February 2009
  • Arui wa Anarchy=Their 19th studio album, released June 2014.
  • 13-kai wa Gekkou=Their 14th studio album, released April 2005.
  • Tour=‘’13th FLOOR WITH MOONSHINE”, held between April to July 2005.
  • darker than darkness -style 93-=Their 7th studio album, released June 1993.
  • National tour=“BUCK-TiCK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv.” which started on 13 October. The tour final will be held on 29 December as “BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan”。
  • MovieThe Buck-Tick Syndrome I and The BUCK-TICK Syndrome II which premiered across the country in June 2013.

 

 

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BUCK-TICK 2022
“THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~

special live report

Text ◎ Koji Yoshida
Photos ◎ Tanaka Seitaro

 

In celebration of the 35th anniversary of their major debut, BUCK-TICK held BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~” for two days at Yokohama Arena. This was their first major anniversary live concert in five years since 2017, and also their first indoor anniversary event. This report covers the first day of the event, “FLY SIDE”.

“We’re still moving forward. Wishing blessings upon everyone too.”

The first song of the first day was, surprisingly, ICONOCLASM. Recorded as part of their third album, TABOO which was released in 1989, and also featured as the first song of the first disc in their concept best-of album CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv., which was released this year on 21 September to mark the start of the 35th anniversary year of their major debut, this is a sensuous industrial song that continues to be performed live even now. Adding to that was the LED screen left drawn over the front of the stage after the opening video ended. Giving no clear view of the band, this conversely adds to a feeling of taboo.

Then, red lights glared from behind and images of steeples emerged on the screen. Slowly, with grace, the screen went up as if the Tower of Babel was being built high as the band led into BABEL, a gothic song from 2017.

Imai Hisashi wore a neon-coloured outfit. Hoshino Hidehiko had on a black vest. Higuchi Yutaka wore a black jacket over a red shirt. Yagami Toll was in a plaid suit. And Sakurai Atsushi exuded kinky sex appeal with lips bright red with rouge as he wore a black jacket and a wrap-around skirt over a pair of shorts.

When they made their major debut in 1987, I don’t think anyone could’ve imagined that a Japanese rock band in their 50s (Yagami is 60) could look so glamorous and hold arena-sized concerts to boot. Likewise with their sound too. It’s definitely not an exaggeration to say that a rock band like BUCK-TICK, who continues to bring excitement even in their 35th year of activities lets the younger generation of bands hope and dream for themselves.

Next, the moveable screens were put to full use with images that could be mistaken for three-dimensional spaces as the band started to play the groovy 1995 release, Uta, followed by 2010’s alternative folk-sounding Gekka Reijin, delivering a setlist through the ages.

Speaking in a tone that transcends gender, Sakurai said, “Welcome. Do enjoy yourself.” And with that began Maimu Mime off their latest album ABRACADABRA which was released in 2020. Seated on a chair, Sakurai crossed and recrossed his legs, flashing his thighs seductively as he played out the fetishistic exchange between the man and woman in the song.

Smiles began to appear on the faces of the band members when they started playing psychedelic surf rock song Kyoki no Dead Heat. Imai, Hoshino, and Higuchi went all the way down the left and right stage extensions and interacted with the fans.

The following segment was simply incredible. 

In Kinjirareta Asobi -ADULT CHILDREN-, numerous silhouettes of an actual ballerina danced on screen until the very end when they fell headfirst to the ground. In Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari (2022MIX), Sakurai was absent from the stage but he participated in this song through a collage video as Imai sang “Let’s meet at the city of hope (edge of hell) [Saa, kibou no minato (jigoku no hate) de aou]” over and over like a chant. Next, the exotic-sounding Rakuen saw depravity unfold before repeated calls of “Shoot it!” brought us into REVOLVER. Songs with unsettling worldviews came one after another.

After that, the screen in the back turned into a starry night sky for the slow waltz, Guernica no Yoru. Even as he sang “Please forgive me, dear god (Yurushite kudasai ne kami-sama)” from the devastation unfolding before his eyes, he tells us that it was all just a dream at the end. The performance, videos, music, lighting, sound effects, and staging all came together in a masterpiece.

Then came the first ever unveiling of their new song Sayonara Shelter which can be found in their concept best-of album. Even as the lyrics sing about how crazy this world is, the melody is contrastingly gentle. As he sings, “Wait for me in that shelter,”  his words felt like a kindly push of encouragement.

Sakurai had a tambourine in his hand for the performance of their latest single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN. Fueled by the love of their fans, the B-T train took off in this high-tempo dance groove. Following this, Sakurai introduced the band with Yagami, Higuchi, Hoshino, and Imai playing music with each of their introductions.

Towering flames then shot up, leading into the Okinawan-sounding memento mori. “Remember to die”, “Let’s love and die”――. By loving death who visits anyone and everyone, we celebrate life. That was the kind of spellbinding party this song brought to the venue.

And right when the party was reaching its peak, it was the last song of the main set, New World. It was a techno-style 4-beat song, but its gentle melody warmly envelopes you as it leads from darkness to light.

During the encore, they performed Django!!!-Genwaku no Django-, followed by the 1990 song which marked the start of their gothic image, Aku no Hana. After that, Sakurai said, “We’ve been doing  this for 35 years. And we’ll do this tomorrow again.” before launching into the ballad song, ILLUSION from their debut album, SEXUAL×××××! 35 years ago. The gentle, tearful UK rock-sounding song fills the venue with euphoria while drawing in the signature neo acoustic elements of its release era.

In the second encore, they performed the nostalgic Koi, and then the romantic Yume Miru Uchuu. Following that, Sakurai began, “We’re currently in the midst of recording something absolutely delightful. There’s no time for sentimentality.” He then added, “On our 35th anniversary, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you; thank you. If you ever have a chance again someday, I hope that we can enjoy a concert together again, with everyone in good health. We’re still moving forward. Wishing blessings upon everyone too.”

The final song they performed for “FLY SIDE” was the folky, acoustic guitar song, Solaris. “Dear god a dream please let me dream even if it’s just a  fantasy”――. Those words sounded like a message saying that no matter how much a person suffers, they can still dream.

Life and death, love and hate, beauty and ugliness, micro and macro. We walk into the future while taking in all that is reality. Dreams and hope, and cosmic love are the things that the rock band BUCK-TICK continues to convey. I honestly believe that they are the universe and the champions of love. While these aren’t the exact lyrics to Eureka, they truly embody LOVE!with YEAH!and PEACE!.

 

FLY SIDE

2022.09.23
01 ICONOCLASM 
02 BABEL 
03 唄 [Uta]
04 月下麗人 [Gekka Reijin]
05 舞夢マイム [Maimu Mime]
06 狂気のデッドヒート [Kyouki no Deadheat]
07 禁じられた遊び -ADULT CHILDREN- [Kinjirareta Asobi -ADULT CHILDREN-]
08 相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマりがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり(2022MIX)[Aikawarazu no “Are” no Karamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari]
09 楽園 [Rakuen]
10 REVOLVER 
11 ゲルニカの夜 [Guernica no Yoru]
12 さよならシェルター [Sayonara Shelter]
13 Go-Go B-T TRAIN 
14 Memento mori 
15 New World

ENCORE01 
01 Django!!! -眩惑のジャンゴ- [Django!!! -Genwaku no Django-]
02 悪の華 [Aku no Hana]
03 ILLUSION 

ENCORE02 
01 恋 [Koi]
02 夢見る宇宙 [Yume Miru Uchuu]
03 Solaris

 

HIGH SIDE

2022.09.24
01 エリーゼのために [Elise no Tame no]
02 BABEL 
03 Tight Rope 
04 見えない物を見ようとする誤解 全て誤解だ [Mienaimono wo Miyou to Suru Gokai Subete Gokai da]
05 MOONLIGHT ESCAPE 
06 ダンス天国 [Dance Tengoku]
07 BOY septem peccata mortalia 
08 相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマりがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり(2022MIX)[Aikawarazu no “Are” no Karamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari]
09 楽園 [Rakuen]
10 REVOLVER 
11 ゲルニカの夜 [Guernica no Yoru]
12 さよならシェルター [Sayonara Shelter]
13 Go-Go B-T TRAIN 
14 ROMANCE 
15 New World

ENCORE01 
01 ANGELIC CONVERSATION 
02 悪の華 [Aku no Hana]
03 HEAVEN 

ENCORE02 
01 忘却 [Boukyaku]
02 夢見る宇宙 [Yume Miru Uchuu]
03 鼓動(2022MIX) [Kodou]

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Pictures: Yoshiyuki

35th Anniversary Feature

PHY Vol. 22
November 2022

I do sense that some sort of change has happened. Within myself
In any case, my desire to focus on music has grown stronger
— Sakurai Atsushi

BUCK-TICK celebrates their 35th debut anniversary on September 21. In all this time, the band has kept the same original member line-up while making all kinds of music in different themes with inspiration from a wide variety of genres and also touring at a consistent pace.

CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. is the concept album they’re releasing in this period. Although its voluminous 80 tracks breaks the mould of the idea of a “best of” (lol), the selected songs have been split into five  concepts that perfectly embody the essence of the band that is BUCK-TICK and their journey thus far. Then again, it’s more of an impossibility to attempt to summarise the band’s 35-year history within one mere CD.

However, the mood of the band right now is definitely not entirely celebratory ahead of their anniversary. Rather, I think it seems a little gloomy. What is the reason behind this?

A best-of album, a new song, COVID-19, growing older, and concerts.

This special feature explores where BUCK-TICK currently stands on a variety of topics. September 21 is the day when BUCK-TICK will see a new beginning. Incidentally, due to the many happenings in the recent period, these interviews have been arranged in chronological order, according to when they happened.

 

 

 

 

BUCK-TICK Solo Interviews

_______________________

Sakurai Atsushi

Text by: Ishii Eriko

How each person thinks has also changed over time. Everyone is growing more and more uncertain about the future
I’ve had periods when I’m feeling uneasy about my health and I’ve had COVID-19. But I think everyone’s feeling the same way

――Since your 30th year anniversary, both BUCK-TICK and the world have had some hectic times. There’s COVID-19, members of the band have fallen sick and sustained injuries. Thinking about it, quite a lot has happened.

Sakurai (S): Yes. And separate from music, there’s been other frustrations in the recent few years. Including the question of how many more years I can keep at this; on account of my age and my level of motivation too. I really feel that I can’t tell what might happen anymore after all these experiences I’ve had.

――Are you able to share more in this regard?

S: You hear about it all the time. Take Kanemitsu-san, for example. I believe it’s similar to what he goes through as editor-in-chief. There’s all sorts of difficulties that come with becoming a director or manager or chief of something.

――That’s true. So it’s the kind of problems that come to those who lead?

S: Things I can’t really talk about. A bunch has happened…… Right? (smiles at the editor-in-chief)

――This is rare. We’ve never really heard you talk about these things until now.

S: Well, how each person thinks has also changed over time, you know? I believe that anyone and everyone is growing more and more uncertain about the future. I’ve had periods when I’m feeling uneasy about my health and things like that, and I’ve had COVID-19 too. But this doesn’t apply to me exclusively, I think everyone’s feeling the same way, right? In the past few years, I believe there were those whose lives changed dramatically ever since COVID-19 came about, and even the cities have changed, right? I believe it’s been both difficult and scary for everyone. Not only me, but our fans as well, and their families too. We’re all experiencing invisible pressures and encroaching terrors too.

――Yes. I think we’ve all had to make all kinds of tough decisions in the confusion.

S: Indeed. In reality, we couldn’t even hold concerts. Not only us, but I think everyone including our staff, those in the stage play and entertainment industry, the actors, the whole world felt it. That this situation was not something that anyone could even have dreamt would’ve happened. But history has taught us that such things actually do happen.

――So what did you do with all the free time that resulted from your schedule being emptied out?

S: Uh…… I rode my bicycle.

――Hahahahahaha! Really?

S: Fufufu. Yes. Well, I’d go along and do things I wouldn’t normally do…… like cycling all the way to the park on my bike.

――Has cycling always been one of your hobbies?

S: Yes. Quite so. Although I’ve been riding on the same one for about 10 years now.

――The ones that go fast, right…… In other words, a road bike?

S: Yes. The not-city bike¹ (lol). The ones with elevated seats.

――How surprising.

S: That’s what everyone says, but it’s fun. I can go here and there unlike driving a car, and obviously it’s faster than walking too. I made all sorts of discoveries. Apart from that, though, I haven’t done anything particularly productive.

――Oh, really (lol).

S: I say that but I’ve been approached by a lot of people, asking me whether I’d like to participate in this and that. One of them was a broadcast. And right about 2 years ago, our fan club-exclusive tour was put on hold but there was also a conversation about going on NHK with Hiroshi-san (for the dialogue program) at the time. Normally I’d hate the idea of going on TV to talk, but I felt it would be good since it was a way for fans to see me. I actually had a really good time. I’m extremely thankful to Hiroshi-san.

――It was very intriguing. Aside from that, you also had a dialogue with author Tono Haruka-san, right?

S: Ah, that’s right.

―― Was it also something you felt was good to do at that juncture?

S: Well, honestly speaking…… Mr Tono came to our concert before he was awarded the Akutagawa Prize. My ex-wife and I had a mutual acquaintance, Mari-chan from Kumamoto who was a man who identified as a woman, who passed away suddenly. It’s one of those things that proves you never know when something will happen out of nowhere. After that happened, I received a letter asking, “May I come and watch your concert?” That was the Makuhari Messe show. You could say that was our first meeting after 29 years…… Well, it was as good as a “Pleased to meet you for the first time.” The next time we met was after the concert at Yoyogi Gymnasium. That was when he said, “I’ll be an Akutagawa Prize-winning author when we next meet,” and I was like, “Oh~”. And after that, he really won it. I thought it was amazing.

――Ohh. That’s impressive.

S: I saw the press conference that came after the award ceremony, and there was a reporter who seemed to be incessantly trying to dig up information about his father from him. I got the impression that this person probably knew [the truth] and wanted [Tono] to say it on his own. Then, a representative from Bungei approached me with, “Mr Sakurai, would you like to do a dialogue [with him]? Because I believe a lot of people are going to turn their curiosity [towards him] later on.” I declined at first, though.

――Is that so?

S: Because I felt that I don’t have any right to show up now, at that point of time and say that I’m the father of an Akutagawa Prize-winning author. But after that, Mr Tono himself told me that, “I would like to talk with you.” So. Since that’s the case…… I also thought that this might be the one thing I could do for him in my life as a parent, so I agreed to it.

――I think it ultimately turned out to be something beautiful. Far more so than a scoop in a gossip magazine.

S: You’re right. Honestly…… I felt vindicated by the words Mr Tono said to me. For these few decades.

――It never left your mind?

S: It really was my cross to bear. Because I sincerely felt that I caused their family a lot of unpleasant feelings. Not that I could do anything if they hated and resented me though. But contrary to that, he actually said things like, “[I appreciate that] I could study all the way to college”…… I’m really grateful.

――I’m glad to hear that. Truly.

S: It’s probably convenient for me to say this, but I was definitely a little happy too that he won the prize. Really, even though I felt apologetic that I couldn’t do anything for him.

――I’m a parent myself so I understand where you’re coming from. These days, I find more joy in the youth and children’s hardwork and success than my own. Maybe that’s actually a form of hope in itself.

S: Exactly. It also feels like a weight has finally been lifted from my shoulders. And it really dawns on you that this small child has grown up and matured into their own person. That they’ve grown into a stronger person than you had expected…… It really gets me feeling, “Ah, you’re living your life well.”

――It’s something truly wonderful. 

S: You can’t really judge people by their appearances these days considering that there are so many of the younger generation who have things figured out better than the adults. That’s why there are things we can’t give up on in the world. Of course, there are parts of it that are rotten too, right? In my recent MCs, I’ve been saying “The world is rotten-” and things like that, and it’s something that I blurt out without much thought. But there definitely are things that we can’t give up on in the world, you know? Hope still exists.

――Yes. Now, about the band; with your 35th anniversary right around the corner, any thoughts about this number?

S: Hmmm? …… Huun…… Long.

――Hahaha! I got careless with phrasing my question (lol).

S: People often say, “Isn’t it amazing that you’ve played together for 35 years now.” But it doesn’t really strike us like that. I recall all sorts of things in fragments but…… I can’t quite describe it. Because it’s not as if we’re doing the same things day in and day out.

――Is it that feeling you get when you’re doing something you enjoy while time is just passing by?

S: There’s some of that too, but personally, I still feel like there’s room for growth in terms of my singing and my lyrics, if I do say so myself. In the end, that desire for more is still in me so I suppose I’m unable to be satisfied with myself.

――Right.

S: Also, this is referring to what we spoke about earlier, but recently, I’ve started to be mindful of what I do in the sense that I don’t want to disgrace Mr Tono. Like releasing work that an Akutagawa Prize-winning author wouldn’t be embarrassed of, and when I think about how many more times I can do all this…… I’d figure that it’s now or never.

――It’s sobering, isn’t it?

S: In that sense, I think that somehow or rather, when I read Mr Tono’s work, I get inspired.

――Over and over, you’ve all said things like “This might be the last”, or “I wonder how many more [albums] we can produce”, but does such a topic normally surface among the members?

S: No, no. Not at all. It doesn’t happen, but…… Who knows, right? I don’t know what everyone thinks about it though.

――It’s significant to the band when members get injured or fall sick, right?

S: That’s right. In itself, it can’t be helped that such incidents occur, but I do sense that some sort of change has happened. Within myself. In any case, my desire to focus on music has grown stronger.

――So you didn’t sink [into despair] together with it all?

S: Ah, no. I did.

――Oh, my bad. But it sounds like you never thought about stopping.

S: Yes. That I have creative work to do saved me. It’s like I’m here because there’s something I can do my best and immerse myself in. Since the start of the year, it’s been song after song and I’ve been sitting in front of the computer almost every day hemming and hawing, making time to focus purely on creating stories.

――When it comes to lyrics, do the words come to you all at once and you just write everything down? Or is the process more like a patient waiting game for the words to appear in your mind?

S: Ah, it depends on the song, but oftentimes [the lyrics] come in a steady stream stemming from my first impressions. Of course, after that, there’s still a long road to completion though. With the tiny details that only I would be bothered by. Like, “僕は (boku wa)” or “僕が (boku ga)”²……… which should I use? Although there’s also the part of me that bursts out with, “Any of them will do!” But I just can’t help but obsess over those kinds of details. Fufufu.

――I actually thought this might’ve been a tough time but based on your tone of voice, it sounds like you’ve found enjoyment too.

S: That’s…… true. Because somehow, I keep getting strong desires of “I want to write this plot!” As long as I still have time to work on it, I’d keep thinking about things like whether or not there’s a better word or phrase I can use. It is during this time when I can have fun with creating the story.

――Your desire to sing a good song and your desire to write such a certain story; are these separate from each other?

S: Ah…… When you put it like this, I’d say yes, you’re right. Although, initially, when the plot gets ahead, I’d suddenly realise that, “Ah, oh, right. I’m singing this.” Of course, there’s also the melody and the rhythm to consider. That’s why the very last stage involves fitting them all together and turning it into a viable song.

――Have you ever considered, for example, writing short stories or something like that?

S: No, no, no. I think that’s tough.

――Since the plot is the first thing that comes to mind, then, Sakurai-san, don’t you think it’s feasible?

S: …… I don’t

――Fufufu.

S: I mean, those authors, novelists, even the literary greats of the past, they’re all unwell, aren’t they? Even I’m not well and I’m just writing these lyrics. Even if they’re well respected and people think they’re amazing…… I just wonder, “Are they okay?” Because they’re already consumed by their stories, right? It’s bad for health, honestly.

――I would want to read it though, a short story written by Sakurai-san.

S: Really? Then…… Shall I start with something erotic?

――By all means. Please feel free to be nasty (lol).

S: Hahahaha!

――That was a joke, but in the end, what you really want to do is song and music, right?

 

S: That’s right. I wonder what makes the difference for me. Well, maybe I just like singing in itself.

――Right. So, your 35th anniversary concert at Yokohama Arena. What can we expect to see?

S: For the stage, we intend to suggest doing something we’ve never done before, so I’m not too sure how we’ll capture it on screen. As for songs, we’ll be performing our popular songs through these years and maybe also our new song Sayonara Shelter, if possible.

――Got it. I look forward to it.

S: And what else? I do want to pick a few songs myself, though. Because for July’s fan club tour, I couldn’t quite readjust my focus so the other members of the band decided on the set list for me. I don’t really know what meaning I would like [the songs] to hold at this point in time though. I wonder if I should make people think about the current world situation, and about September? Of course, the songs I would like to perform are also likely different from the songs people want to hear, so there’s also some giving and taking to do. It’s like the coexistence of my own cynicism and solace. I think it would be nice if we could show the audience something like that.

――Is there a festive atmosphere right now? Although, I feel like there was more of a celebratory mood during your 30th anniversary.

S: …… Somehow it feels like we can’t really get into that mood, right? With the way things are now. Of course, we do want everyone to enjoy themselves though. But this isn’t about me personally, so I think we can achieve a good balance when we put everyone’s influence together.

――Understood. And lastly, may I ask you a particularly difficult question?

S: Haa.

――Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow band members who you’ve been walking, and sometimes running together with for the past 35 years?

S: (Immediately) Thanks for all your hard work.

――Hahahahaha! …… Is that all?

S: That’s all. …… What? You want more? Were you expecting a good answer?

――Fufufu. I just thought it’d be beautiful if there was a “thank you” or something like that.

S: Nope. None. They know without me saying it.

――Alright. Thank you!

 

 

Notes:

¹ Bicycles with a basket in front, a.k.a., the mama-chari.

² While technically interchangeable, there’s actually the slightest of differences between “僕は (boku wa)” and “僕が (boku ga)”; one places emphasis on the subject that comes before, the other places emphasis on what comes after.

 

 

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_______________________

Hoshino Hidehiko

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

There’s a lot that is different than how it used to be, but we’ve always found a way to make it through
So my wish for our 35th anniversary is for the band to keep going on together

――Shows for the fan club and mobile members-exclusive tour have been postponed following Sakurai-san testing positive for COVID-19.

Hoshino (H): I was surprised but it can’t be helped, can it? Because it’s now something that can happen to anyone and everyone. I just hope for Sakurai-san to rest well, make a full recovery, and return in the best of health.

――It was your first tour in a while so did it feel refreshing to travel around the country again?

H: All kinds of memories sprung up like reminiscing about what it felt like and so on. Since it’s really been quite a while since I travelled with the band. Also, the thought of how we took the way things were for granted three years ago and how we’re now in a not-normal world hit me again.

――That’s for sure.

H: Those were the kind of things on my mind while touring.

――Next, BUCK-TICK will be celebrating your 35th anniversary together on 21 September.

H: Well it feels like things have been the same as always, though. But each one of the days are special days in their respective ways.

――Speaking of which, doesn’t you think a person can really sense the weight of these 35 years through your best-of concept album?

H: That’s true. A set of 5 CDs, and…… about 80 songs?

――Exactly 80 songs.

H: We’ve released quite a few best-of albums so far, haven’t we? Starting with our very first best-of album, we had the band’s selection of songs, a collection of single A-sides that were released with the label we were signed with at the time, and even one that was of songs requested and voted for by fans.

――You have to put some thought into it every time you release one.

H: They’re all good in their own ways. But although there are indeed a lot of songs in this iteration of our best-of’s, the songs have been split very conceptually and I think that’s what makes it rather interesting.

――But I’d think that song selection was tough.

H: Our staff separated our songs into the major categories for us before we all had a look at it and gave our own opinions on which songs we’d like to see where, but since CDs have limited capacity, we ended up in the situation where we had to sacrifice a song if we wanted to add another. It was quite agonising after all. And we had to think about the flow of the tracks too.

――The five titles of each category were written in Esperanto, which translates to “rebellion”, “gothic”, “electric”, “fantasy”, and “hope”. It’s easy to tell that the band has brought all kinds of songs to life whether thematically or musically.

H: We’ve really got a wide range, don’t we?

――Hoshino compositions are also a category of their own in a way so I think it’d be nice if they were all compiled into one release too, though.

H: Although I don’t think “Hoshino” can be written in Esperanto (lol).

――Hahahahaha. There’s also a new song included in this best-of album; Sayonara Shelter. The lyrics were written by Sakurai-san, while Hoshino-san composed the music, right?

H: We didn’t initially intend to release it here, but Director Tanaka-san said, “Don’t you think this song needs to be released now, rather than with the album scheduled for next spring?” I thought that was certainly true. And after having a meeting with the band, we came to the decision to include it in the best-of concept album.

――Did you think this way because of what was being sung?

H: Yeah, that’s right.

――The lyrics bring a gentle gaze upon the current situation in society. More specifically, the war between Russia and Ukraine, and the “innocent children” who are victims of it.

H: I guess Sakurai-san seemed to want to zoom in on that situation and he was a bit hesitant but it’s a message that we have always been sending all this time, so I suppose he felt that it would be okay to include it in the best-of album. I think so too anyway.

――The lyrics are very typical of Sakurai-san, aren’t they?

H: Yeah. It’s a gentle perspective, isn’t it? With the way he sings about something like seeing salvation in such a terrible situation. We can’t really keep silent when something like that happens. I could really sense how much he wanted to send this message out.

――Exactly.

H: And it was happening right when we were recording vocals too. Around March, I believe. Ukraine was being bombed by air strikes and there was a video being broadcast in the news on TV of a girl singing Frozen’s theme song (Let It Go) in the shelters where civilians took refuge, right?

――I saw that. It’s the video that went around of a girl about seven years old singing and encouraging the evacuees, right?

H: I have a daughter about the same age too. It really made my heart ache. That was the kind of scenario we were recording in so I really felt each and every word very keenly.

――It’s really sad that we live in a time that makes Sakurai-san write and sing such lyrics. I would think that this is one such scene that he actually doesn’t want to sing about.

H: Yeah. I think the music to this song could’ve been suitable for just about anything too. It could’ve been a love song, or one that inspires wondrous scenery. But I suppose here and now, these are the lyrics for it.

――Hoshino-san’s music was completed before the lyrics?

H: That’s right. Because in BUCK-TICK, the music tends to come first.

――So, that means you didn’t actually think that these lyrics would be written, right?

H: For Sayonara Shelter, it was timely so I guess I had a bit of a hunch too that these would be the type of lyrics that he might very well write for it.

――It turned out to be a sound and melody that fit Sakurai-san’s current emotions.

H: Yeah. It’s a mid-tempo song but it feels a little bit different from what we’ve done so far. A progression that stuck with the mid-tempo beat would work too, but I wanted a bit of change. Like trying a rhythm change in the middle of it. Besides, I’d think that the attachment of such lyrics to such a melody is most probably a result of Sakurai-san’s feelings naturally flowing into his writing.

――I think so too.

H: Also, I believe the version that will be in next spring’s album will be a little bit different, so do look forward to that too. I’m not working on it though.

――What did Hoshino-san focus on for this song?

H: Hm… Rhythm, but also the melody, I think. But the melody for the chorus came easy, and I really liked Sakurai-san’s lyrics for that part. It really moved me.

――This gets me thinking that this is where lies the goodness and the strength of a band who has been together for such a long time.

H: You’re probably right.

――Along with this new song, I heard that you’ve started recording your next album and have already made quite a bit of progress, so what kind of album do you think it’ll turn out to be?

H: Hasty (lol). But I think we managed to do some really great things here. Like you said, we’ve made quite a bit of progress with recording work. We’re pretty much done with recording the guitar parts for all the songs that we have now and they’re now in the mixing stage. Since the fan club & mobile members-only live tour has begun, we’re pausing recording work for the time being so I don’t have a clear idea of how things would turn out in the end though.

――All members of the band have said that you’re making good stuff, but no one would give me any specifics (lol).

H: This upcoming album is made based on an idea from our staff and a particular concept.  That’s why I think it’ll be in a style that has never been seen from BUCK-TICK before. Although even I don’t know how it would end up (lol). In terms of music, I think you’d probably get to hear all types of music in the songs.

――…… I’m even more confused now (lol).

H: Anyway, do look forward to it. Because after our show at Yokohama Arena or halfway through our national tour, I think we’ll have new song(s) again so we’d have to record.  Imai-san also said he’s working on a few more songs anyway.

――What about Hoshino-san?

H: I’ve delivered three songs, including Sayonara Shelter and I’m pretty much done with recording already. I guess we’ll see how things go afterwards. For now, I do plan to compose one more song though.

――As usual, you’re the one bringing the balance (lol).

H: I think it’ll turn out great. But we’re going to get pretty busy from here on out, aren’t we? It’s about time for us to start thinking about what we’re going to do for our Yokohama Arena show and prepare for rehearsals. And a month after that, we’re going on a national tour, right? When on earth will he find the time to record? (Lol)

――That’s his problem (lol). And Anii will be celebrating his 60th soon.

H: That’s right. Anii is turning 60 and reaching the next stage in life ahead of us. We’re all going to follow after him in the coming years, but looking at Anii now, I can imagine myself still playing guitar in BUCK-TICK when I’m 60.

――That’s only another 4 years.

H: In the blink of an eye (lol). You’re right. Although there are two seniors ahead of me.

――You can see what’s ahead.

H: But thus far, we’ve constantly released new work and gone on nationwide tours with the new releases just about every year. We’ve been living very blessed days but things like this time’s COVID-19 could happen in our lives. Although, well, I think we’re headed in a good direction from here on out.

――Going forward, what does the ideal way of life look like to Hoshino-san?

H: I’m no Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones), but it’d be nice if I could become a cool grandpa like him and continue to play guitar on stage with all that flair.

――Wouldn’t that mean changing your image (lol)?

H: Well I guess we’re of different types (lol) but we all get more and more wrinkles as we age anyway. But I want to stay cool, you know? I want to keep playing music too.

――As a part of BUCK-TICK?

H: Of course, I’d like for us to keep going. It’s only natural to think so when we’ve come this far. I can’t really imagine what it’d be like otherwise. But as long as one person can’t do it anymore, this band won’t be able to continue on. That’s what I feel.

――That strong bond is beautiful yet ephemeral at the same time.

H: I suppose. So, there’s a lot that is now different than how it used to be in the past, but even in such situations. We’re same five people who have always found a way to make it through. And that’s why, my wish for our 35th anniversary is for the band to keep going on together.

――Did these thoughts come about as a result of Hoshino-san’s father passing away, and your hair loss and health problems due to the immune disorder?

H: I think there’s definitely some influence. Because in recent times, I’m feeling more and more strongly that anything could happen at any moment. I’ve grown to be mentally prepared.

――Rock bands tend to have more impulsivity or anger or things like that in their youth, but now, all the members of BUCK-TICK seem to possess that kind of preparedness in some form. Yet at the same time, I can really sense the band’s desire to go for it.

H: You’re right. I think everyone’s got that vibe. Because I think everyone’s had their own respective experiences. Not as a band, but as people.

――I think the fact that you can’t cover up your humanity is linked to what attracts people to the band that is BUCK-TICK.

H: Really? But thinking about it, I feel really blessed that we still have enough fans now that we can still perform a 2-day show at Yokohama Arena. We’re also getting a lot of letters and emails saying things like, “I recently came back [to being a fan]. Thank you for being active for so long.” Of course, I’m thankful for all the people who have watched over us through all this time, but it really makes me happy to hear that someone has come back as a fan after, for example, leaving to focus on raising their children.

――I think it means that you’ve cultivated a good relationship with your fans.

H: That’s true. When I fall sick and get discouraged, I would remember all the letters I’ve received from everyone who were battling illnesses like cancer and all that, and I’d tell myself, “No, no, I can’t.”

――That it’s not the time for you to be weak.

H: Rather than me encouraging our fans, I’m the one who’s being encouraged and motivated by them. That’s why I think our 35th anniversary is just a checkpoint. I still want to continue deepening the bond with everyone and maintaining the good relationship we have. COVID-19 is still a thing so it’s frustrating that we can’t really have concrete plans, but I hope that the timing of our 35th anniversary can serve as a start to all of that.

――Can you already envision your future 40th anniversary and all that?

H: Five years later…… I’ll be 61. I don’t really want to think about it but (lol), we’ll probably keep going. Like I said at the very beginning, I want to cherish every passing day as if they’re all special respective days.

 

 

 

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Higuchi yutaka

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

I don’t want us to be nothing but carried away by the voices and the atmosphere of the times
Because this is a band that was started by the five of us

――Here we go.

Yutaka (Y): We ended up doing this remotely again (lol).

――We have to be very careful since you’re preparing to resume touring.

Y: We’re shocked too.

――Were all the members of the band already in Nagoya by the time Sakurai-san tested positive for COVID-19?

Y: Yes. It seems like Acchan’s health took a sudden turn for the worse the previous evening. Acchan’s got a throat condition too, so he was the most careful one out of all of us, and yet this still happened.

――Right? Sakurai-san was quite cautious, wasn’t he?

Y: All of us, the whole band, when we’re on tour, we’d eat our lunch boxes in our own rooms starting from the day before we travel. On concert days, we’ll book out a whole restaurant and eat in small groups. But since he still caught it anyway, we can only say that it is what it is.

――I hope you get to resume your tour. Although you had to postpone a few shows, how do you feel about being on tour for the first time in a while?

Y: It feels refreshing to be somewhere other than Tokyo. I even thought, how many years has it been since I last rode the bullet train (lol). Mount Fuji, the sea, being able to watch all that scenery passing my window was super emotional. I felt like I gained a new sense of appreciation for all the things I used to take for granted before.

――Does that mean, Yuta-san, for about three years, you haven’t gone……

Y: Out of Tokyo, no. I couldn’t even visit my hometown. That’s why when I head out, I feel happy and grateful for it. And also thankful that everyone waited for us. The shows we’re playing for this tour are standing shows. The audience numbers have been kept to a limit and to prevent overcrowding, they’ve been given designated spots to stand in, but at least, when I look down from the stage, it doesn’t look like the number of people in attendance has been reduced by that much. I feel like I’m also getting back that sense of what performing a live concert feels like.

――I see.

Y: And the audience can’t vocalise, right? It’s very a real pity but my heart feels so full when I see everyone cooperating with the rule. They’ve all come together as one to make the concert a success. That’s why, while still taking into account the situation at hand, I felt it’s important to create a space where people can enjoy a live concert without holding back, and also to live up to the expectations of those who want to watch us perform live and help us succeed in this despite the situation.

――Compared to other shows, the audience at BUCK-TICK’s concerts really do their best to abide by the rules.

Y: I feel like they’re trying to convey something to us with that. That’s why even without their voices, everyone feels more united than ever. And for us, there’s that sense of that return to normal life when we travel and tour. I don’t think we’ll be able to go back to what things were like before COVID-19 and I believe we’ll have to think about new ways to do things too, but the more shows we play, the more we all can start to feel that things will be okay. Everyone is coming together to make it work, that’s the kind of tour it is.

――After that, BUCK-TICK has a 2-day anniversary concert at Yokohama Arena coming up, followed by a national tour that begins in October.

Y: I’m looking forward to it!

――Do you have a clear idea of what you’re going or intending to do at this point in time?

Y: It’s a tour that comes after the release of our best-of album, so it’s not one that specially has to follow one album’s concept. In other words, it doesn’t have a clear concept, but I guess that also means that there’s a lot we can do. I think it’ll be good if we can first celebrate with everyone at Yokohama Arena, then head into our national tour with that excitement.

――So you’ll celebrate your 35th anniversary at Yokohama Arena with a bang.

Y: And after that, we’re going to travel the country, not to give thanks, but to have a good time together with everyone.

――I see.

Y: Since it’s our anniversary, I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. Rather than put on a celebration and then end it with a huge fireworks display, I think we’re hoping to put on a show that signals that we’re just getting started. I’m looking forward to it.

――Also, do you feel any differently when you see the words “35 years since debut”?

Y: I wonder…… But things are clearly different than how they were, right? We had the pandemic and we couldn’t really perform any shows as much as we wanted to, could we? That’s sort of ongoing, so I guess I don’t really feel the carefree joy like “It’s our 35th anniversary~!”

――I see.

Y: I said it earlier too, but it’s like I’m carefully chewing and digesting how precious activities like recording and performing live that we’ve taken for granted till now, are to me. The world has changed, war has broken out, and a lot of things won’t work out the same way they used to, right?

――We can’t stay the same.

Y: You can really sense the changing of the times. Amidst that, I’ve been thinking more and more about what we can do, what I can do. In the end, I definitely want the five of us to keep going forever, so I don’t want us to be nothing but carried away by the voices and the atmosphere of the times.

――You’ve got a point.

Y: Because this is a band that was started by the five of us.

――Is there anything you think you can do in such times?

Y: The only thing we can do is bring joy to people through music, so I guess we can only feel those emotions while doing what we do.

――That’s why the band has come this far, and why it’s important for it to keep going?

Y: That’s definitely true, but what has kept us going is the results too. There’s no checkpoint. Because we’ve always tackled each and every thing we do seriously, and none of this is a given, right? Because I don’t think we could’ve gotten here if the five of us didn’t put in effort. We have to take things seriously. We can’t let ourselves take our present status for granted. That’s something I feel particularly strongly about recently. That’s why I want to take on more new challenges, and I hope that people will enjoy seeing us do that.

――For such a 35th anniversary. You’re firstly releasing a hefty volume of a best-of album featuring five CDs and 80 songs.

Y: Having been at it for 35 years, the number of albums and songs we’ve released has grown pretty large. Even just counting our best-of albums, there’s quite a number already, isn’t there?

――For the official best-of albums with “CATALOGUE” in their titles, there are already five.

Y: That’s why this time, since we have so many different types of songs, the idea to release a best-of album that splits them into these concepts came up. Rather than lining all our singles up in sequence of their release date or having us band members select the songs, we felt that the fact that we could create this format of a best-of album is interesting, and very BUCK-TICK, isn’t it? Although the song selection was tough (lol).

――There’s one new song among them.

Y: Sayonara Shelter, right? This is, we’re currently in the midst of super-secret recording work though……

――Since when did anyone ever call it super-secret (lol).

Y: Since before summer, in absolute secrecy (lol), we’ve been going into the studio whenever we have time. Not to record a few songs at a go, but one at a time. This is for the album we plan to release next spring, just as announced, but there are some songs that are already complete. Then the suggestion to include one of the songs in this best-of album came up.

――Sakurai-san’s lyrics paint a realistic depiction of the current situation of the world, don’t they?

Y: Yeah. It’s steeped strongly with a sense of these times, so I guess that might be why even our staff thought it was better to release it now.

――Indeed.

Y: Also, we thought it would be better if we showed the next step the band was also taking instead of only looking back on our past. The songs that we’re recording now, all of them have gotten pretty good responses, but this song by Hide is also really good too.

――In terms of playing this song, was there anything that Yuta-san was especially particular with?

Y: Hide’s music is melodious, so it won’t work unless my bass sounds like you can sing along with it. If my bass notes don’t make much movement, the song won’t come together nicely so I guess that’s what I paid attention to.

――I see.

Y: Hide said to me, “I shaped it to some extent, but feel free to change it.” Even so, it’s quite difficult to make any changes (lol).

――It’s an unyielding Hoshino melody, right?

Y: But it turned into a good song. Recently, Acchan’s been saying, “We’re in unpleasant times but……” But despite that, I think it would be nice if a song like this could rip away the unpleasantness of unpleasant times and tear us a way into a new world.

――But it’s a very meaningful album that really allows us to appreciate the diversity of what BUCK-TICK has done in your 35 years of band activity, isn’t it?

Y: That’s true. I think it’s a catalogue that is unique to us because of how we’ve done so many different things over the years.

――Isn’t it tough for you as a musician to play this many genres of music?

Y: In the past, it was though. The typical flow of events when we debuted would see situations like Imai-kun suddenly turning something he wrote into a 16-beat rhythm but here I am, incapable of playing something like that (lol).

――It’s a bit too late for me to say this but you’ve done well to keep up with that.

Y: Because it was fun to play together with everyone. I didn’t want to leave it. That unity. When I couldn’t play something well, I practised like hell with a rough idea of what it should sound and feel like, and that was how the five of us experimented and figured things out. I guess you could say that was enjoyable.

――That’s true.

Y: When you spend a long time doing one thing, you’d tend to get flickers of ego, like wanting to become better or wanting to polish up techniques, but that doesn’t happen with us, you know? It’s obvious when you listen to this best-of album, but while part of the reason is that there’s no time or place for ego (lol) with so many genres, more than that, I think our desire to bring something new to our fans, to let them hear something interesting is just far stronger. For better or worse, it feels like [our music] is becoming something that belongs to us less and less.

――I see.

Y: Besides, [achieving our] 35th anniversary isn’t something that we could’ve done on our own. Now, more than ever, I feel that this is all only possible because we had everyone’s help and support. I know first hand how important this all is precisely because we weren’t able to meet during the pandemic.

――It sounds like that’s why this band is so particular about releasing an album every year and going on a thorough national tour.

Y: Well, that’s of course. It’s also because our bodies would get easily fatigued if we don’t play music on a consistent basis. Because we no longer have bodies that will do whatever we want like when we were young (lol).

――That’s what happens when we age.

Y: Also, I’m remembering incidents from the past more and more. We recently played a show at Sendai for the first time in a while, but on our very first tour of the Tohoku area, our first show was in Sendai too. We had such a hard time. The background music played for the first song and suddenly Imai-kun’s guitar wouldn’t make a sound (lol).

――Memories of problems (lol).

Y: I think that was at Yamaha Hall. That venue’s probably already gone. On this tour, lots of these memories of the past kept coming to me. Our band also has a very long working relationship with the staff. Like the regional promoters, if I’m not mistaken, the same people have been coming to greet us at the station for about 30 years. It sort of feels like we’re there to visit our relative or our uncle at their home (lol).

――Hahahaha.

Y: I’ve been thinking a lot about these people who have watched us grow and have built up the band together with us. That’s why, I’m really looking forward to travelling around the country after our Yokohama Arena show. I hope to go into it fully prepared.

――Getting ready to make sure you’ll be able to perform while also taking care of your health.

Y: And that’s why we’re doing a remote interview like this (lol).

――You don’t think the end of your super-secret recording work is close yet?

Y: I don’t. It looks like it’ll be going on for a while yet. I think we’ll probably be recording between tours after we’re done with Yokohama Arena.

――I guess that means whatever you feel during the show will again influence your music.

Y: Yeah. I think Imai-kun might very well be looking for something like that.

――You’ve got quite a number of songs recorded, don’t you?

Y: See, it’s super-secret (lol).

――Yokohama Arena, a best-of album, recording work, a national tour; pretty busy days are ahead.

Y: Yeah. But we were completely unable to perform live these few years too. So I’m grateful for all the things we can do. And we’ll have to take care of our health too (lol).

 

 

 

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Imai Hisashi

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

It’s not difficult to do whatever we want to do
Isn’t it as simple as not doing do what you don’t want to do

――Yesterday was Yagami-san’s 60th birthday celebration concert. How was it?

Imai (I): Unlike a regular concert or tour, there was the aspect of celebrating Anii so, how do I say it…… I guess it was fun (lol).

――Please put a bit more effort in your word choice (lol).

I: Hahhahhahha. I enjoyed it in many ways so it was great.

――Your setlist included Itoshi no Rock Star and SEXUAL×××××! too. That created a different impression from the tour.

I: Yeah. Also because we only performed a few songs, right? Anii invited ISSAY-san (Der Zibet) to perform Itoshi no Rock Star because he wanted to do that one, and the other songs that he wanted to perform, in terms of the lyrical content too, were songs that everyone could enjoy. It was fun.

――And 3 years later, it’ll be Imai-san’s turn.

I: What is…………… Ah, me? 60th birthday celebration? No frikkin’ way I’m doing that (lol).

――Even if you don’t want it, you’ll probably end up doing it, right (lol). And this time, Sakurai-san tested positive for COVID-19 so you had to postpone shows in three locations; Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Toyosu for your fan club and mobile members-only tour, right?

I: It’s not as if we can do anything about that anyway. Not only Sakurai-san, but there’s recently been an increase in the number of infections among the people close to me too. It’s no longer surprising for it to happen to anyone. I think we just have to be mentally prepared for that when we decide to perform live.

――But how do you feel? Touring around the country for the first time in a while?

I: Given the present situation, everyone’s wearing masks wherever we go, and they can’t vocalise, right? But I can really feel their enthusiasm, the vibe that they’re hyped up. From where we stand, we can only see their eyes, but it’s like their emotions really come through.

――I see.

I: The intensity of everyone’s gaze is strong (lol). Also, I noticed Acchan was being unusually extra talkative, but since the audience can’t vocalise, I guess he was talking more on stage than usual to make up for that.

――He’s very kind, isn’t he? It’d be a burden on Sakurai-san if he was the only one to do it, so let’s have Yuta-san talk next time.

I: It’s better if Yuta doesn’t speak (lol).

――How’s the song selection for this tour?

I: Just like Anii’s event, we decided to pick songs that people can enjoy. But even as I say that, I don’t mean exclusively songs that get the audience excited, I mean songs that can be enjoyed in many other ways too.

――Like songs that you haven’t performed in a while, and those that are kind of nostalgic.

I: Yes, exactly. All five of us chose songs that we wanted to play. What did I pick…… Boukyaku and Hamushi no You ni. And also Aikawarazu〜 (Aikwarazu no “Are” no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari), I think.

――And right after this, you’ll first have a special concert at Yokohama Arena.

I: It’s a 2-day show, so as you’d expect, the number of songs we’ll perform is going to be significant. We intend to make sure that everything is well prepared, from staging to band cohesion and all.

――We’re calling it a special show, but do you think there’ll be a strong festive mood?

I: Well, I’m just thinking of making it a good show as we always do. Every year’s an anniversary of some kind anyway (lol). And it just so happens that this year, it’s our 35th debut anniversary, right? I wouldn’t really think of anything special for this. I just think that it’s always special so we should have fun wherever it is we play.

 

――That’s true.

I: Although, 35 years together…… is the same age as JoJo, that’s what I thought (lol). [Note: This year marks 35 years since JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure began serialisation.]

――I didn’t know that!

I: When you think about how we’ve got the same number of years of activity as JoJo, it’s kind of emotional, isn’t it (lol).

――But it’s also amazing for a band to to achieve 35 years together (lol). You’ll be going on a national tour,  BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. in October, but will it be more focused on your best-of album……

I: It’s got 80 songs in it so there’s nothing to focus on, right (lol).

――Well, that’s true though.

I: We haven’t come up with anything for that yet, but I think we’ll be doing something interesting, something different from Yokohama Arena. In any case, right now, we just feel very strongly about wanting to go about it properly.

――Without being swung around by COVID-19, right? And this CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. best-of collection. As mentioned earlier, it’s being called a best-of album, but the number of songs here is huge.

I: Well, that’s because we divided 35 years’ worth of BUCK-TICK songs into five themes and then selected the best songs of each theme. Besides, I think it’s more interesting to apply this sort of limitation to them.

――The names of these five themes are written in Esperanto. Were they named by Imai-san?

I: I wanted a sense of unity. If we made each one sound like album titles then they’d all have some form of meaning to them, and that would make it feel overcrowded in a way. So I wanted them to sound symbolic, sort of like what “CATALOGUE” is. Esperanto has some similarity to English, so it gives the feeling that you understand what the words are and yet, not really. I thought that would be kind of interesting.

――In other words, you didn’t want the titles to hold strong, concrete meanings.

I: Yeah. Besides, I think those who want to understand what it really means would look it up anyway. Most of all, I just think the way the words look is interesting. Although, you’d more or less get what ELEKTRIZO means.

――Who picked the songs?

I: In the beginning, our staff roughly divided our songs into these lists. We then laid those out for discussion to let those who have favoured songs to suggest which would be better to include and make adjustments accordingly. I think I mentioned one or two songs but…… which songs were they? I completely forgot (lol).

 ――But there isn’t any other band who’s made so many different types of songs.

I: This is just how things turned out after 35 years of making whatever music we want, though.

――Well, that’s probably true, but there’s a rather small number of bands who can actually do that.

I: I’ve never felt as if we’re being forced to be a band who does this anyway, and I think we’d hate doing what we do if we felt like that. But since we want to do this, that’s all we can do, right?

――Is it not difficult to do whatever you want to do?

I: It’s not, is it?

――Really?

I: Probably. Just don’t do what you don’t want to do. Even so, maybe in the past we might’ve thought about whether or not a particular song was suitable for the era or for us but those kinds of considerations gradually stopped applying to us.

――There’s a new song, Sayonara Shelter that was included in this best-of album. This was recorded while you were working on the album that’s still in development, right?

I: That’s right. We finished recording this track to include in the album that we’re releasing next year, but Director Tanaka-san said, “Don’t you think it might be better for this song to be released in the best-of album?”

――Just this one song?

I: That’s right. It’s composed by Hide but there are parts of Sakurai-san’s lyrics that were influenced by the current social situation so I think the idea was to send a message by releasing this song at this particular time.

――It’s certain that the war has cast quite the shadow on Sayonara Shelter.

I: But that’s because of the lyrics, right? It’s only of course when such events are being described in the lyrics. Besides, rock bands are inseparable from society. If we were to put it in clear context, then it would take on a slightly different meaning, but this is Sakurai-san’s lyrics we’re talking about. I think it’s fine as it is. We can leave the rest to the listener.

――Also, there are quite a few songs in this best-of album that have been remixed, right?

I: I guess it just so happened that we chose songs we wanted to do that with. The programming for Aikawarazu~ was redone based on the arrangement we created for Locus Solus [Note: Locus Solus no Kemonotachi, the May 2019 show held at Makuhari Messe]. That’s why it ended up with quite the industrial vibe. For ANGELIC CONVERSATION, I’ve been wanting to change its mix since a while ago, but it just so happened [we picked it here] (lol).

――The categorisation here doesn’t have names attached to them, but after 35 continuous years of working with the same people in the same band and writing this many songs, the unique characteristics of the song writers Sakurai, Imai, and Hoshino are bound to appear.

I: That’s true. Naturally.

――And it’s easy to tell that Imai-san is a person who tends towards hope and light after all.

I: But isn’t that normal? Humans want to have hope, right? Because I don’t think there’s anyone who will be okay with letting it be regardless of how rock bottom things get. I might’ve said this before, but if I write about negative things, I feel like I’d get pulled in that direction and I don’t like that feeling. That’s why I project these things into my music and lyrics as much as possible.

 

――I think we’re in need of such music since we’re living in times when it’s difficult to stay positive.

I: Well…… I’ll do my best (lol).

――And you’re not taking your 35th anniversary as a milestone.

I: Not as anything in particular. I said this earlier, but that’s because it’s always an anniversary. Next year will be our 36th, and the year after, it’ll be our 37th (lol). Although, seeing these numbers, I do start to think about how a band I started when I was about 17 years old has now made it this far, and how much we’ve aged since.

――Doesn’t it scare you?

I: Not really (lol). I don’t really think about my age. As long as I don’t tire of music, I can keep going endlessly. Besides, since I haven’t grown tired of it after 35 years, I don’t think that will happen hereafter, and even now, songs I want to make keep coming to me. I’m not sick of recording work at all either. Maybe it’s because it feels like a search rather than thinking about the music. Like, “Ah, so this part of me exists.” That’s why it’s fun. Although it’s a bit tiring now since we’re holding concerts at the same time too.

――But having shows to play means you’ll be able to get yet another form of inspiration……

I: There’s definitely that. There are times when that naturally comes after we’ve been performing live for a while. That’s why I’m looking forward to finding out how I’ll react when we travel the country again after this.

――Is recording work going well?

I: Well, it’s pretty cool. But I want to add a little bit more to it and bring out more polish. More refined…… in a way. You’ll get it when you hear it. I can’t explain it very well, but I think you’ll be able to tell that it’s a little different from what we’ve done so far. It’s exciting stuff. You’d be like, “Whaaat, they turned this song into something like this!”

――Speaking of which, Imai-san, about 10 years ago you used to use more concrete words like “gothic” or “band music” to say what the next album’s theme is before recording.

I: Ah, back then, yes.

――That doesn’t seem to be the case these days.

I: That’s because even if I say it’s digital, or gothic, or band music, they’re already things that BUCK-TICK would naturally incorporate.

――Ah, I see.

I: So even if I say those things now, it doesn’t really mean anything, does it? It can’t be helped even if we do the same things. When we had our meeting in the beginning, we said we’d roughy be segregating digital and live music…… and things like that, but we don’t particularly focus on those concepts while we’re working on it. Taking out all hints of live music entirely, or eliminating all programming music, or doing the opposite of those, things like that do sometimes happen, but in the end, the main idea is to create something good, right?

――Do you think the band has even more potential?

I: It does. Because bands are interesting. There’s the intrigue that has been coming for 35 years continuously. On the other hand, there’s also the kind of fun that comes from starting anew. What’s interesting is when a person presents something they possess. So I don’t think I could’ve kept going if I did this alone.

――I see. By the way, how’s your leg?

I: Pretty much healed. There’s no more pain or anything like that. I can move around a lot on stage too. But the axis of my body is still weird. It feels like my balance is off and I’d get tired standing.

――What do you mean?

I: I don’t know how I stood before I broke my bone. Even when I stand when I go shopping, I’d feel like this wasn’t how I used to stand. Maybe the length of my leg changed or something. That’s why I need to walk instead of going for rehabilitation, and go for physical therapy to gradually get back to normal.

――Doesn’t that mean it’s tough being on stage too?

I: Well, I guess. When I tried moving like I used to, there are times when it hurts quite a bit, and I’d be like,  “Ah, I still can’t do this.” But, well, I’m not all that bothered by it. Because I just have to do a different move then. It’s just a matter of changing things up.

――After significant events like breaking a bone and COVID-19, has the world around Imai-san changed?

I: I don’t think it really changed…… No, it has changed, I think. Although I don’t think it’s anything to be worried about. Even if things aren’t the way they used to be, we’ll be alright as long as we can think of new ways of doing things. That’s what we’ve been doing for a long time anyway.

 

 

 

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_______________________

Yagami Toll

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

Even for ordinary people, if they live long enough, they’ll be able to experience that which geniuses have never seen
It’s not all good things only, but I don’t think it’s bad either way

――This is belated, but happy 60th birthday.

Yagami (Y): Thank you. We had a big celebration at CLUB CITTA’ Kawasaki just the other day. But at this age, I’m reminded of my father more and more.

――You spoke about it in your autobiography too.

Y: Well, my father was a cheerful man full of vitality too, but had a stroke right when he hit 60. And for the next 10 years, he lived the rest of his life like that. I just think about how I’m at this age now too.

――No, no. Even during your birthday concert, you were banging on the drums all day, weren’t you? You’ve still got a long way to retiring due to age.

Y: Well, it’ll be Acchan and Imai’s turn in three years’ time anyway (lol). I think we’ll definitely make a big celebration out of  it. But turning 60, it used to be treated as a turning point in a person’s life in the past, like a sense of how it’s almost your time while giving thanks for having lived this long. It used to hold that kind of meaning though. But humans now live longer than ever, and everyone is being told to work more these days, so you don’t feel the same way about it at all now.

――That you can tell just from looking at the stage.

Y: You saw ISSAY-kun (Der Zibet) singing with Acchan, right? I thought that it would make everyone happy if they performed Itoshi no Rock Star together, so I directly gave him a call and asked if he would make an appearance, and this guy, he’s the most good looking person in Japan who’s the same age as me (lol). Being 60 isn’t a phrase that fits him at all.

――Truly. How was it performing as Blue Sky?

Y: We were able to do some interesting things. It gets me wanting to make another album. Although it’s a pity that SHIME couldn’t be around. I always invited him to join us as a guest singer for my birthday shows.

――He passed away this year, didn’t he?

Y: He’s just a year older than me. One of the people who I thought was an amazing singer. There’s no one who can cover English songs better than him. On his behalf…… well, not exactly, but I’d like to continue Blue Sky and play together a few times a year.

――He was a close friend, wasn’t he? What about BUCK-TICK’s performance, then?

Y: Maybe it’s because of everyone’s strong desire to celebrate, but the drum stand was too high up (lol). I’m grateful for their intentions, but it’s difficult to maintain contact with the other members of the band like that. Slight deviations and mistakes would occur. Even though it’s a celebration, I want to say that my drums aren’t like this! (Lol). The next time we do this, please put my drumset on the ground because even if I can’t be seen, that doesn’t matter to me..

――I’ll look forward to your 70th birthday celebration in 10 years’ time (lol). Also, there was also the fan club and mobile site members-only tour in that same period.

Y: Seems like it’s the first in 3 years. It certainly is fresh to play shows in the local areas, and even if we can’t go out and wander around, it was fun to be on tour for the first time in a while. It’s just that good things really are always followed by the bad.

――Sakurai-san testing positive for COVID-19.

Y: Seriously, these things happen when we’re having a good time. But even though it’s been a while, I wasn’t nervous at all when I was on stage. I even thought I should be a little more nervous instead. But I don’t need to be as nervous as I was in the past, though.

――That’s what it was like when I started reporting on your shows, right? Right after you switched labels to Ariola.

Y: The period when I just entered my 40s, yes. The stage scared me so badly that I seriously considered retiring. As you’d expect, I could drum during rehearsals but I’d make mistakes when it came to the actual performance, and that made Yuta super duper angry (lol).

――How strict of him (lol).

Y: Because he’s a person who’s serious and gives his all in whatever he does. At the time, my body couldn’t keep up with the way I used to drum in the past. So I changed my drumming methods, went to the gym, and I guess you  could say I finally understood how to handle drums. I’m pretty sure god gave me the time to do that before I turn 60. Because John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) got it before he hit 20, he passed away early at 32. It took me almost 20 years to sort of get it (lol). That’s why I can keep drumming until my 60th.

――So that’s what you think.

Y: That’s the difference between an ordinary person and a genius (lol). But even for ordinary people, if they live long enough, they’ll be able to experience that which geniuses have never seen. It’s not all good things only, but I don’t think it’s bad either way.

――Up next is your special concert at Yokohama Arena. How does Yagami-san perceive this 35th anniversary of yours?

Y: I’m just out to carry out my mission (lol). For BUCK-TICK’s performances, it’s good as long as we can bring joy to our fans, so I’ll make that happen without getting carried away.

――And you’ll be releasing a “CATALOGUE”-titled best-of album.

Y: It’s a primer…… meaning, it’s got a lot of songs (lol). But I think it’s interesting that they’ve been divided up by concept.

――With so many genres, the way you drum and your tuning have to be completely different, don’t they?

Y: They are different. I did my own tuning up until Aku no Hana too…… Come to think of it, this has nothing to do with the best-of album, but we have a song called PLEASURE LAND, right? Back then, we recorded at VICTOR STUDIO and in came Ponta-san (Murakami “Ponta” Shuichi) from another studio, and he started tuning my drums for me without asking. When he was done, he had this smug look on his face as he left, saying, “Toll, how’s this?” (Lol). I was too scared to change it so I just drummed with those settings for that song. Ponta-san’s name isn’t in the credits though (lol).

――This CATALOGUE~ is a reminder of just how many types of songs this band has, but do you actually feel like you’ve drummed in such a variety of styles?

Y: I sure do. I had to get used to that in the past, so Yuta and I, just the two of us, the rhythm team used to rehearse together often. It’s just that if we did that too much, we’d be too perfect and that would be no good. In the end, it’s a human being who’s drumming anyway so something somewhere would get worn out. It wouldn’t ever be perfect. And that’s good. Even a perfectly clean rhythm created with programming would become a little off when it gets recreated through human efforts. That’s the beauty of music created by humans.

――Because the humanity of it comes through with a little bit of a gap.

Y: We record drums last these days, so I’m basically matching a rhythm that has been made complete, but even then, there will be slight discrepancies and it wouldn’t be a perfect match. That’s good. You’ll understand when you listen to this best-of album. Because the songs where drums and bass were recorded together have a very tight rhythm.

――I see.

Y: Also, I don’t think anyone realised, but in the new version of ANGELIC CONVERSATION,  we’ve replaced the guitars and the singing, but the fundamentals of it remains the same. It’s the same take from 1988’s recording in London. What’s different is the break that comes in at the middle; the first one and the second one are different. The second one runs a little faster (lol). But the producer, Owen Paul really liked it and we’re now using it here.

――The faster one?

Y: Exactly. We didn’t fix it. Owen was a singer-songwriter to begin with, a person who hit number 3 on the UK charts, yet such a person praised us, saying, “It’s such a good song that I’d want to sing it and release it as my own.” (Lol)

――Please mention that when we’re interviewing you for the autobiography (lol).

Y: I remember things from the past well, but there are just so many things to bring up that I’d just forget some (lol). On the other hand, I’ve got zero memory of my 40s when I drowned myself in drinks (lol).

――And you’ve also got a new song, Sayonara Shelter, in there.

Y: It’s a good song, isn’t it? Acchan has put into words the emotions that everyone feels in this era. I would think that people would get a strong anti-war impression, but I feel Acchan’s kindness just as much. It’s characteristic of him, isn’t it…… Ah, of course, the music is good too. I have to praise Hide sometimes too (lol).

――Hahahaha! Also, I heard that you’re already in the midst of recording work.

Y: We’re pretty much done with recording the songs that we have at this time. But we have a national tour after Yokohama Arena, so we might start recording again halfway too. It’s been a while since we could go on an actual tour, so I think Acchan and Imai might feel something there and want to turn it into a song. 

――Seems like it’ll turn out to be a rather substantial anniversary leading up to your release next spring.

Y: Good things are followed by bad (lol) so we’ll be cautious. Besides, the band can’t come  to an end here, so we’ll be giving it our all. I think we can do it without taking a break. Everyone, including myself is already at an age where our bodies won’t be able to catch back up if we rest. We’ll lose our edge, or rather, we’d very quickly go into decline. This is especially true for drummers. Part of it is a physical challenge, so we have to drum regularly or we won’t be able to anymore. That’s why, I want to keep going consistently even after we’re done with our anniversary.

――I hope for that too.

Y: Well I’ve also got the wilfulness that comes with being a drummer anyway (lol). That’s why all drummers diligently continue to practise on their own even when their bands are taking time off. Even so, if they’re not in a band, then there’s something different about them. Because it’s important for us to figure out how to work with the sound pressure that guitars, bass, and singers produce. If you do this alone, you’ll definitely end up drumming in a subdued manner.  But when you play with a band, you’ll be creating raw sound pressure, so the desire to not lose out to everyone else comes up.

――And that’s why you’d like BUCK-TICK to continue without taking a break for as long as possible.

Y: But I do think we’re getting old. For the record, retrogression is also progression anyway. Besides, there’s no way we’re the same in our 20s and in our 60s, right? The way I drum is completely different too. I think it applies to everyone no matter their occupation, but if you feel that you can longer do what you’ve always been doing thus far, then you’d start to think about what approach you should take to tackle your  work, right? There might be those who decide to quit their jobs if they can’t do it anymore, but that’s only because they don’t really like it. If your presence is required where you’re at, then you have to think about what you can do to be a valuable person here while also accepting the fact that you’re in decline.

――That’s true.

Y: I thought of quitting and retiring when I entered my 40s, but as I grew older, this is what I’ve gradually come to understand. Since we’re releasing such a best-of album, I thought it was a good chance for me to listen to our old songs, and they’re hilariously fast. Ridiculously fast (lol). Acchan’s singing also sped up along with it. If I were to drum that with a clicker, it’ll feel like a rush no matter what, so to prevent feeling like that, I end up drumming even faster. It’s the pride of youth. All I thought about was drumming in a cool way that satisfies myself.

――I see.

Y: Now I think about the groove more when I drum. Also, it would become difficult for Acchan to sing if I play it with too much detail. I keep that in mind and try to keep it simple when I drum so that he can sing as smoothly as possible (lol).

――I guess you could say that in a good way, things like your ego faded away in the course of drumming all these years.

Y: Ah, I don’t have any of that anymore. As a drummer, all I have is a desire to make good music rather than hold onto pride and ego. To put it in extreme terms, I don’t need my drums to be heard. As long as the song is viable. You have to be prepared for that to be a drummer. Because it’s not the quintessence of a drummer to be loud and noisy or drum with intensity. It’s about how you control the sound you make to turn it into a songs’ complimentary seasoning. Everyone should try drumming for Yoshida Minako-san at least once in their life. Because she’d get angry if you’re noisy.

――Hahahahaha!

Y: Because a drummer shouldn’t have a sound of their own. The sound they make has to be according to what the venue or the people need. That’s what Ponta-san has always done, and what I understand very well now at this age.

――I get the feeling that your understanding is probably thanks in part to the friendships that Yagami-san has, and also the diversity of sounds that BUCK-TICK has as a band, as proven by this best-of album project.

Y: That’s probably true. Musicians…… especially drummers, I think, will all feel uneasy. I’m always worried about things like if I were to change to this style of drumming, won’t I lose my identity? Or will my skill decline? Things like that. Additionally, as I grow older, I can really feel my physical ability dropping, like, I’d find myself realising that I can no longer do what I could 10 years ago.

――I see.

Y: But in BUCK-TICK, Imai and Hide would bring in all kinds of ideas without any concern for genre, and all five of us would figure out how to make it happen together. We’d shape things based on what we’re capable of doing. I guess that’s why I came to think this way as a drummer, and also why I’m still with the members of this band when I’m 60.

――Just like your mentor Ponta-san, there appears to be a part of Yagami-san that considers your occupation to be a drummer, yet more than that, your occupation is also being a member of this band, right?

Y: Because in the end, what I enjoy the most is still being part of an ensemble, you know? Also, since we’ve been doing this together for 35 years, everyone has improved their skills in their own way…… Ah, except for Imai (lol).

――Hahahahahaha.

Y: There’s no nuance that he’s undeniably good from that guy’s guitar playing (lol). But that’s why it’s good. Even though things could usually sound smoother, it wouldn’t. It’s like he approaches something simple with twists and turns and from the opposite end, then gives it shape (lol).

――That’s how Imai’s melodies come about (lol).

Y: Indeed. Imai actually wanted to look at instructional books and DVDs for guitar playing in the past. But I said, “Instructional books? It’ll be the end if you read those.” (Lol)

――He should just live with those sensibilities (lol).

Y: Exactly (lol). Also, there was once when we joined a drinking session with a voice training instructor in the past and her husband was a famous guitarist. When Imai asked, “How do you play the blues scale?”, I said, “Sir, please don’t teach him!” (Lol)

――And the accumulation of these efforts has resulted in the completion of Imai Hisashi.

Y: Nah, that guy’s not complete and that’s fine. When I went to his home, there were what looked like instructional books in his bookshelf, but I guess he didn’t refer to them (lol).

 

 

 

 

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Editor’s File 1:
If this is the last time ever, if my weak self were to raise my voice
What should I really be singing about now? That resolution is the one thing that struck deep into my heart.

Text by: Ishii Eriko

When it comes to anniversary releases, an exceptionally substantial all-time best-of album was released in the year of their 30th anniversary. It’s been 5 years since, during which they couldn’t keep moving at full capacity for two and a half years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so a similar collection of masterpieces would not make much sense.

In that case, BUCK-TICK, whose musicality has always been described with words like “overwhelmingly original” and “ever-changing and fantastical”, has taken the plunge to attempt to divide their indescribable world into five different concepts. This idea, which originated from their staff, once again highlights the band’s miraculous balance.

Balance. To this, I would like to bring up the 80-20 Pareto (パレート / pareeto) principle. Or perhaps, if we were to play around and B-T stylise this, we could call it the Parade (パレード / pareedo) principle. 

80% of the song are composed by Imai, while the remaining 20% is by Hoshino. 80% of the song lyrics are written by Sakurai, while the remaining 20% is by Imai. It somehow feels like this, but is it really true? The following are the results of a tally of all the songs on this occasion.

The percentage of Hoshino Hidehiko songs are: 13% in DISC 1 <RIBELO>, 20% in DISC 2 <GOTIKA>, a low 5% in DISC 3 <ELEKTRIZO> and DISC 5 <ESPERO>, while just under 30% in DISC 4 <FANTAZIO>. The underlying 20% isn’t wrong, but it would seem that his personality get to stretch its wings especially in the area of <fantasy>.

The interesting thing about DISC 4 <FANTAZIO> is that 100% of the songs lyrics were written by Sakurai Atsushi; it is made complete with nothing but Sakurai’s world. He holds monopoly over the concepts of love and death and jet-black decadance. In other words, one might’ve thought that DISC 2 <GOTIKA> would be Sakurai’s domain, but there are in fact 3 songs with lyrics written by Imai. In terms of percentage, another perspective comes in a little less than 20% of the time.

With stories from different writers and a majestic rhythm brought into this word by the hands of Higuchi Yutaka and Yagami Toll, the band’s gothic lens grows evermore robust. One of the discoveries to be made here is that Sakurai is not the only gothic denizen here. And that lyrical balance in the other three albums was surprisingly not 8-2 at all.

Imai Hisashi is remarkably eloquent. If we were to include lyrics that he co-wrote with Sakurai into the count, he would account for 50% of the songs in DISC 1 and DISC 3, and 60% of the songs, a comfortable majority in DISC 5.

This isn’t a competition, so there are no winners or losers here, but Imai first comes up with the words (mainly one word phrases like <反逆 / hangyaku=RIBELO> and <希望 / kibou =ESPERO>), then hauls in the sounds (<工レクトロ / electro = ELEKTRIZO>to signify the use of the latest equipment and eccentric, exotic-sounding dance tunes) to endlessly expand BUCK-TICK’s horizons.

Imai, the pioneer and adventurer. The abilities of each member of the band to take in these unprecedented ideas and turn them into reality without fail. The Parade principle of 20% input to create 80% movement applies here, but it is never by any means a one-man system.

There is Hoshino’s music that bears a casual universality regardless of theme, and Sakurai’s singing prowess that brings polish to a solid worldview with a single vibrato and exhale. All these elements have always brought inspiration to the band, energising everything as a whole. They bring balance and maintain order. 

Now, having spoken about the beauties of this band that has remained unchanged for 35 years, let’s move on to the new song.

DISC 3 <ELEKTRIZO> refers to their musicality, while DISC 5 <ESPERO> can easily be said to be entertainment in its own right. So what does DISC 1 <RIBELO> point at? What is the reason behind the inclusion of their one and only new song, Sayonara Shelter here?

Composed by Hoshino, this song begins with a beautiful arpeggio and the line, “Ephemeral candle   Dance, dancing in the basement (儚いキャンドル 地下室でダンスダンス / Hakanai kyandoru   Chikashitsu de dansu dansu)”. Such an enchanting touch no doubt creates a fantastical mood that deserves a place in DISC 4. But this song carries a realism from the next verse on which mercilessly severs away the ballroom party.

BUCK-TICK’s <rebellion>. Their middle fingers have always been pointed at the ominous forces who come to take away our freedom. 

As mentioned above, half of the songs on DISC 1 were written by Imai. It is his role to present a strong one-liner first. The words <destruction> and <soldier> were initially cynical metaphors that were used since Muchi no Namida to replace concrete language against the absurdities of the world, terrorism and conflict. Sakurai probably took these words that Imai put forward and turned them into a story of his own. At this juncture, I can’t quite tell whether Imai had hoped for that level of embodiment.

Sadly, or rather, foolishly, itis difficult for events that break Sakurai’s heart to disappear from this world. Guernica no Yoru vividly intermingles his personal memories with a past tragedy, but this time the Ukraine invasion has turned into the ultimately realistic story in Sayonara Shelter.

<Someone is coming to kill us (誰かが僕らを殺しに来るよ / Dare ka ga bokura wo koroshi ni  kuruyo)>
<Am I going out to kill someone (わたしは誰かを殺しに行くの / Watashi wa dare ka wo koroshi ni iku no) >

The brushwork leading up to this point can no longer be contained within <FANTAZIO=fantasy>. The Demon King who was thought to frolick with fantasies in a jet-black world is now waving the banner of <RIBELO= rebellion>with a resolve stronger than anyone else. I don’t think that actually wanted to hold such a position. But if this is the last time ever, if my weak self were to raise my voice, what should I really be singing about now? That resolution is the one thing that struck deep into my heart.

Balance and order has been maintained. As much as that fact is true, the balance has changed so much that now, BUCK-TICK cannot say that things are stable as per normal. There is no disputing that the whole world is in a state of pestilence and war. Between both nations and individuals, everyone has no stability in this day and age. 

And despite it all, BUCK-TICK presses on. There is no question that the moments from here on out are crucial as they approach the conclusion of their 35th anniversary celebrations.

 

 

 

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Editor’s File 2:
This one verse from Sayonara Shelter may very well have been about that little girl
Or a message to each and every one of their fans
Or additionally aimed at themselves back in those days when they just started the band

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi

First of all, let’s put things in perspective.

BUCK-TICK celebrates their 35th debut anniversary on September 21. With no change in member line-up, they have been releasing new work on a consistent basis and tours almost every two years, travelling all over the country. There’s no shortage of bands that have been around for a long time with the same members, but no other band can match their pace of releases and shows.

If we define touring as ‘going to five or more venues outside of Tokyo and Osaka’, we can say that roughly speaking, BUCK-TICK has had about 35 tours in the past 35 years. In other words, we can count them to have held a national hall tour at least once a year. Furthermore, this doesn’t include the annual December 29 show at Nippon Budokan, special arena shows, festivals, events and fan club-only shows.

In addition, there has not been a tour in the last three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of performances they’ve held to date probably numbers at 1000 strong. Some big names like THE ALFEE and Stardust Revue can boast this extraordinary a number of shows, but it’s likely the only other rock bands to have done so are B’z and GLAY. 

Such a band is now in its 35th year of ongoing activities. The average age of the five members, including the one member who hit 60 recently, is 57. They are beasts whose physical capabilities and visual presentations remain undiminished.

An anniversary of such a band. Anyone would like to celebrate it with a big fireworks display as a fan, but the atmosphere isn’t like that at all. The members of the band themselves seem to have an aversion to such an act to begin with.

On September 21, the day of their anniversary, they’ll be releasing their 80-track best-of concept album CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv., but although it might be a good idea to promote it a little along with the inclusion of their new song Sayonara Shelter, there are newspaper advertisements and posters in Tokyo’s train stations but there’s barely any promotional work being done by the band members themselves.

While they are busy recording their new album slated for release next spring and preparing for the forthcoming shows, it’s a little too quiet a way to kick start their 35th anniversary year.

However, it does appear that there are several reasons for this.

Firstly, the world hasn’t yet returned to normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, it is impossible to expect that we will be able to live life like we did before COVID-19, and we’re still exploring ways to make all entertainment events, including live performances, happen. Business is slowly getting back to normal, but everyone is still required to wear masks, and no one can vocalise. There’s also a limit placed on audience capacity.

In such a situation, they might feel they probably don’t want to, or don’t feel very good at announcing their anniversary celebrations to the outside world. Even Higuchi said, “ I don’t really feel the carefree joy.” 

That lack of desire could be due to being sick and tired of the way they were being treated as something to be consumed when they got thrust into the public eye right after their debut. And because they refused to let their careers get controlled by others, they failed to gain as much popularity as they might’ve potentially had. Yet at the same time, these actions have undoubtedly created a strong trust and bond with their fans. And now, they cherish that bond more than anything.

And, another thing.

Perhaps they feel a sense of <insecurity> somewhere unbeknownst to them.

That comes from the feelings of loathing and the division in society. Of course, the war too. It is the grief and bitterness depicted in Sayonara Shelter. Even as we sense beauty and hope from the song of a young girl, it is also filled with helplessness and an inability to do anything about her situation.

And that comes from how their activities as a band came to an almost complete stop because of COVID-19, how they don’t have all that much time left in themselves, and in addition, how the band just wouldn’t be BUCK-TICK if it were missing just one of them. Faced with the fact that they are bound together by a common destiny, they were made anxious about their own futures. You would think that would be superfluous, since the band has been so consistently active. Even more so when life is no longer just about the band.

Yet they have been running 35 years together with this<insecurity> in one hand, and <hope> in the other. That’s why BUCK-TICK’s songs are believable and in no way frivolous. It is likely that they gained this <hope> by continuing to tour. And at present, they are unable to achieve this balance because they can’t perform consistently right now.

Yet somehow, even though the five of them seem to feel as if they are being shrouded heavily in darkness and anxiety, light and hope awaits ahead of them. The start of that will probably come with their shows at Yokohama Arena on September 23 and 24. They will likely generate more of that together with their fans again at each venue they play on their national tour which starts in October.

After COVID-19 happened, Sakurai has become even more sensitive to the changes in his surroundings, and events like his own illness and the passing of Hoshino’s father seem to have led him to believe that anything could happen at any time. Everyone can feel somewhere that things are not the same as they used to be anymore. Both with COVID-19 and the environments we find ourselves in.

Nevertheless, now that Yagami has reached the age of 60, he now sees degeneration as evolution, and Higuchi has said that  he wants to avoid being confused by extraneous voices and not be carried away by the prevailing mood of the times. At the same time, Imai understands the realities of ageing and an uncertain future in society, but his absolute faith in the band and music has not wavered. He is, after all, the driving force that leads the band towards the light.

Tonight   sleep peacefully   I’ll come and meet you   for sure
(今夜 静かに眠る あなたに会いに行く 必ず / Kon ya   shizuka ni nemuru   Anata ni ai ni iku   kanarazu)

Wait for me in that shelter
(あのシェルターで待っていて / Ano sherutaa de matteite)

This one verse from Sayonara Shelter may very well have been about the little girl who was Let It Go in that bomb shelter in Ukraine. At the same time, it can be thought to be a message to each and every one of their fans who they have not been able to meet for a long while because of the pandemic.

Furthermore, as Higuchi said, “This is a band that was started by the five of us.” These lines may also have been aimed at themselves back in those days when they just started the band. What their 35-year footprint tells us is that nothing but hope lies ahead for those who continue to walk into the future with these five who have continued like this all this while.

 

 

 

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AFTERSHOW

2022.08.21 BUCK-TICK

The cover shoot was postponed once due to Sakurai’s medical treatment and other reasons, but now, on this sunny day, the cover shoot was finally taking place. First to arrive at the studio were Anii and Yuta-san, the sibling team. With the day’s edition of the Daily Sports paper in one hand, Yuta-san talks endlessly about the Tigers with editor-in-chief Kanemitsu after he finishes his make-up. Listening from the side, Giants fan Anii teased, “You go on and on about them in your columns every month and it still isn’t enough for you, is it!”

After that, Sakurai-san breezed into the studio sashaying. He looked like he lost some weight, but he appeared energetic, giving us all a sense of relief. We first started off by shooting the solo shots. The photographer in charge of this shoot was Tanaka-san, who was also in charge of the Okinawa photos for the extended and revised Simply Life ~Life goes on~. As if this shoot was an extension of that,  Hide-san also appeared relaxed in front of the camera. Seeing this, Kanemitsu looked like he wanted to escape from reality as he said, “Aah, I want to go to Okinawa again……” (Lol) Incidentally, we bought a copy of the dancyu magazine and placed it in the waiting room because we expected Imai-san to read it, but while he was waiting, Imai-san’s eyes never left his phone. Maybe he was playing Pokémon……

This was all usual behaviour from the members of BUCK-TICK but it felt like it’s been a long time since we’ve seen all five of them somewhere other than the stage, so that was the best part of it all.

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

The Essence of
Beautiful Music

~eternally beautiful music~

Sakurai Atsushi ✕ Imai Hisashi
BUCK-TICK

Showa 45-nen Onna
November 2022

Interview: Takahashi Eriko
Photography: Komatsu Yosuke (ODD JOB)
Hair/makeup: Tanizaki Takayuki/Yamaji Chihiro (Fats Berry)
Stylist: Shimizu Ken’ichi
Outfits: kiryuyrik ✆03-5728-4048 | LAD MUSICIAN SHINJUKU ✆03-6457-7957 | AUI NITE ✆050-1564-2462

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the “Beautiful Music” special feature is a theme that was made for BUCK-TICK. In this issue, we bring a long, wholehearted interview with Sakurai Atsushi and Imai Hisashi that gives us a look behind what inspires the band’s consistently beautiful visuals and their absolute worldview which comes second to none as they celebrate the 35th anniversary of their major debut.

 

 

Major Debut 35 Years

It’s been 35 years since the band first debuted with a major label. In that time, BUCK-TICK has remained at the forefront of their peers without a single change in band members or a member departure. Furthermore, their range of musical styles is so broad that they cannot be so easily described as a mere “rock band”.

At present, they have released 40 singles and 22 albums with major labels, all of which have achieved chart topping sales and records. Listening to the large number of songs they have produced is enough to engulf you in their immersive world while introducing you to all kinds of genres. In many ways, there is no other like them——

1st major-release single
「JUST ONE MORE KISS」
Released 26 October 1988

Buck-Tick – Just One More Kiss (1988, CD) - Discogs

They had already released two albums prior to this but their first single came from the album, TABOO. This song might very well be the song that made  BUCK-TICK known to the world when it was used as the commercial song for the CD radio-cassette player called CDian. It’s a song with a nuance of transience in it’s catchy tune.

First chart entry at no. 1
『TABOO』
Released 18 January 1989

Buck-Tick - Taboo - Reviews - Album of The Year

The band’s 3rd album which was their first charting release, and also their first album to reach number one. The production of this album saw BUCK-TICK traveling overseas to record and work with a non-Japanese producer in the UK for the first time. It turned out to be an album which leaves a dark impression that leans strongly towards the new wave genre. Just as titled, the album TABOO had a number of songs that contained controversial content which were, however, tastefully presented.

 

 

 

Upon hearing the words “beautiful music”, BUCK-TICK will be the first rock band that comes to the minds of the women who were born in the 70s… At least, that’s what I think. Their image is undoubtedly beautiful, but even their music, their live performance style, everything about them is so beautiful that no other band even comes close. The subculture known as Visual-Kei grew to prominence in the 90s, but they still exist in a distinctly different sphere from it.

In other words, there was no BUCK-TICK before BUCK-TICK came to be, and there is no BUCK-TICK that came after BUCK-TICK’s formation. Even now, there are few bands who can boast a decades-long career,  but there is almost no band who can say that they have not experienced a single member change or departure in the 35 years since they made their major debut in 1987. That alone is enough to make the band one-of-a-kind.

Among the members are singer Sakurai Atsushi and guitarist Imai Hisashi who are the faces of the band and the driving forces behind their concepts. First, we asked these two about the aesthetics they value and the considerations they keep in mind when creating the BUCK-TICK lens.

I don’t think along the lines of “I’ll keep this in mind”. Or rather, I think I would prefer not to constrain myself. That’s why, even with music,  if I think that what I came up with is going to be cool, then what I’d do is keep digging deeper and work on it until it takes shape. But although that’s my thought process when I’m creating, in the end, I’d still find myself with something that is “still the BUCK-TICK sound after all”. This reason alone is why I feel that “being unconstrained” is also a personal motivation for me

— Imai

I come up with my own lyrics so rather than a focus on beauty, it’s actually more that I cannot stand it if refinement is lacking in any area (lol). That’s why I’d pay a little more attention to that when I’m composing. I’d be glad if others also felt that what I created was “beautiful”, but that’s something that is decided upon by each audience’s respective sensibilities as they listen and watch. And I think that’s okay too, because people are free to feel any way they want, right?

— Sakurai

I was surprised when I heard what Sakurai-san said. That’s right, he mentioned “refinement”! That’s what is found in Sakurai-san’s lyrics. While there certainly exists venom within them too, there is always “refinement” to be found, so we can’t help but sense its beauty alongside its venom.

I’m glad you feel that way. We often say this in reference to pretty flowers, but this “refinement” is also hidden in the shadows of the venom that is sprinkled all around; something that we can catch faint glimpses at times. I think that much is good enough.

— Sakurai

Adding on, it is not only beautiful but, like what Imai said earlier about “being unconstrained”,  there are also many challenging areas in BUCK-TICK’s music. In fact, they present a different variety of musical styles with every album they release. It’s a process of scrapping and building where they break down their image with their own hands and then reconstruct a new face again. Their conviction towards keep moving on without stopping is truly gloriously beautiful.

The moment I find a melody I want to try, I’d want to start composing for us to play it ourselves. As result, the band’s musical style had a debut-era flair, and part-way took on a groovy vibe and turned a kind of dancey, and we’ve dabbled in electronic music, techno and even genres that lean towards ambient sounds too. I guess that’s because of “the unsettled feeling of not doing something” (lol). But if we were to become a band that specialises in ambient music when we make ambient music, or industrial music if we’re making industrial music, that doesn’t feel quite right to me. That said, I don’t think I’d quite like it if we were to become a band that has everything like some kind of family restaurant¹ (lol). So I think it’s good as long as BUCK-TICK’s colours show up well no matter what musical style we’re doing.

— Imai

Whatever the genre, BUCK-TICK’s colours are undoubtedly present. That is exactly what the five members of the band have cultivated in their almost 40 years together.

It’s probably obvious, but the way the five of us play our instruments and make music is what makes BUCK-TICK’s colours. And of course, I think Sakurai-san’s voice and style of singing is a big part of that. Because a voice is something only that one person owns, right? It’s me singing with my voice at the sample stage, but once we go into the recording studio and change it to Sakurai-san’s singing, the song really changes completely. I’d feel that it now exudes the BUCK-TICK vibes.

— Imai

 

Having an awareness of “performing” when on stage

Sakurai’s voice full of depth and mystery is truly one-of-a-kind. These days, singers whose voices become indistinguishable when you listen to them just a little can be found here and there, but Sakurai is special. His voice leaves such a strong impression that you can’t help but turn your attention to him the moment you hear him. To maintain that voice, Sakurai himself pays particular attention to a number of things.

I become very nervous about the condition of my throat before a concert or recording session. Recording sessions and concerts are respectively different too, but after a concert, I’ll be tired and I’ll avoid speaking and eating spicy food. Even so, I’d still drink though (lol). Because I’ll get stressed out if I quit (lol).

— Sakurai

Why he became so cautious is because of the mistakes he made in his youth.

I couldn’t even fully utilise my voice when I was young, and I didn’t consider pacing myself either. Because of that, I destroyed by voice during a tour when we had three consecutive days of livehouse performances. That made me reflect on myself. I realised I can’t only think of myself because it’s an insult to the audience who took the time and effort to come and see us. I became rather anxious after that. When you hear a professional vocalist or a professional stage actor speak, you can immediately tell that they take care of their voices, so that’s something that I felt I should learn from them. The idea that “it doesn’t matter since we’re rockers” isn’t quite right to me.

— Sakurai

Sakurai’s silhouette on stage is also exceedingly beautiful. This is easy to grasp when you watch their most recent concert video release, Misemono-goya ga Kureta kara -SHOW AFTER DARK- in Nippon Budokan. The brilliance of his posturing and gestures is so captivating it lays hold on your heart. How he grew to become so meticulous in “putting on a show” was answered in this section of the column, where he talks about the influence of his admired and respected industry seniors.

Of course, the thing I cherish the most is singing, but there are many other elements apart from music and singing that makes a concert. There’s lighting and the stage sets, stage transitions and all that which are crucial in putting a concert together, so we take all these different things into consideration when we put on a show. And in all of that, I especially am the person who performs as the characters who feature in the songs’ narratives. That’s something I’ve come to keep in mind.

— Sakurai

That’s right. The world that BUCK-TICK creates on stage is not of this world. Because of how it’s neither closely relatable nor similar to daily life, it mesmerises the audience and immerses them in it. I would think that this isn’t anything like “empathising”. However, the beauty of these stories make our hearts flutter and kindle emotions from the depths our hearts. Perhaps this, too, is another power that entertainment possesses.

When we were young, we let the staff take charge of the stage. But gradually, the desire that asks, “How does the audience perceive us? How do we want them to perceive us?” grew. So bit by bit, we began to talk with staff who work the stage. For example, when I want the spotlight to shine over my head at this point in time, or when we want more smoke for a particular song. And after we started using videos too, depending on the song, we’d be making requests like, “Please make a video like this.” Or, “Please use the video as lighting.” In recent years, we’ve grown able to materialise the worlds that we want to present to our audience. But I’m just saying things (lol), so it feels like people are making things for me.

— Sakurai

When it comes to the stage, we basically use what our frontman Sakurai-san comes up with as a foundation. Then the rest of us will see what other ideas we have with regards to it, and that’s more or less how we’re doing it now in recent years.     After all, I think that the one with the ideas should propose them first anyway, and when we have meetings, Sakurai-san would a whole bunch of things like videos and photo collections, illustrated books and all those things too. So it’s like we’re expanding on the idea from there.

— Imai

In the end, nothing beats performing with an audience right in front of you

For a time, the chances of getting to watch a concert in person fell drastically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. BUCK-TICK, too, was affected. The aforementioned concert at Nippon Budokan was their one and only concert with a live audience in 2021. Live streamed concerts are certainly convenient. But without getting to feel the heat and the atmosphere in the hall, it is definitely not enough for those of our era who grew up going to live concerts in person. When you feel at a live concert what you can’t get from a CD, it will naturally bring tears to your eyes. Because it’s these experiences that enrich our lives. And to the artists, as well, concerts are undoubtedly a special space and time when they get to meet their fans in person.

We were also unable to stage concerts throughout that time, but last year, we finally got to do our show at Budokan. When I came face to face with our audience after such a long time, that feeling of “Ahh, this is as nice as I remembered,” came over me. We did a bunch of trial and error with streaming and what we could do with it, but in the end, nothing beats performing with an audience right in front of you. I really felt in my bones that this really was the best of all.

— Imai

Entertainment was said to be non-essential and as a result of that trend, entertainment disappeared entirely for a time. But when that happened, we realised that it was actually the opposite; entertainment enriches our lives and it is something we cannot live without.

We kicked off our fanclub & mobile membership-exclusive concert tour the other day, and it’s already been three years since we did the last one. For three years we couldn’t perform in livehouses. Even now, the audience has to keep their masks on and we can only see their  eyes, but even so, I could sense very strongly that they were really looking forward to this. Because there were also audience members who cried. Even though the situation is  uncompromising, seeing that makes me feel that it’s a good thing that we’re doing this.

— Sakurai

When a band has been around for as long as BUCK-TICK has, “We’ll be able to spot teenaged audience members and sometimes much older folk too” — Sakurai. Not two, but three generations of a family. It’s rare that we ever find a rock band who has been loved for such a long time, but there is no question that this is because they bring us a world which comes second to none, which only they can create. 

After this, they will prepare for their national tour for CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv., and in addition, they also have in the works something that “puts what I’m feeling now into song” — Sakurai. To the women of the 70s who continue to derive joy from BUCK-TICK’s music, here’s a message from them to close things off.

Anyway, being able to enjoy yourself every day, I think that’s all that matters. Don’t need to try too hard. I think it’s enough to use just half of your whole effort.

— Imai

Gloomy news is everywhere right now, but I think it’d be good if you can find just one thing that you like, or one thing that makes you feel at ease despite it all. I hope that by doing that, you’ll be able to brighten up your life and enjoy it to its fullest.

— Sakurai

 

Sakurai’s Roots

Conscious down to his fingertips by the teachings of his seniors in aesthetics

The roots of Sakurai’s “aesthetics” all come from artists with their own unique perspectives. “In terms of foreign artists, it’s David Bowie. Japanese, it’s ISSAY-san from Der Zibet, DEAD END’s MORRIE-san too possesses a very strong sense of aesthetic too, I think. Among them, I’ve received instruction from ISSAY-san who also does pantomime. Ever since then, I became interested in the art of “putting on a show” and have grown conscious [of how I present myself] down to my fingertips.

Imai’s Roots

Incorporating fashion, hairstyles in the 80s when the macabre was popular

Unbound by stereotypes, Imai’s roots are wide and varied. “YMO and RC Succession, The Stalin, of course, BOØWY too, but generally, 80s punk and new wave and techno. I started out with those types of Japanese music before moving towards Western music. I wasn’t only influenced by the music, but also by their fashion and hairstyles, makeup too. The macabre was relatively popular in the 80s, and I thought that was interesting so I incorporated that too

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

HIROSHI & BUCK-TICK

HIROSHI talks about how his fascination with BUCK-TICK changed his life
From nostalgic songs to the behind-the-scenes of his conversation with Sakurai Atsushi

Real Sound
20 September 2022

Interview/Text = Imai Tomoko, Photos = Takahashi Keisuke

BUCK-TICK is celebrating their 35th anniversary They have released 22 original albums since debuting with a major label. The beautiful worldview they construct by uniquely sublimating influences from punk, new wave, and popular songs, along with the bewitching and solid aura they exude as a rock band continue to attract many listeners while the power of their songwriting and live performances shows no sign of abating.

On 21 September, they will be releasing both CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv., a consolidation of their 35-year career in a 5-disc best-of album collection, and the concert film production Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜 in Nippon Budokan. One would assume that both releases are no doubt considered as must-haves with new discoveries to be made for both long-time fans and new listeners who are just getting into BUCK-TICK.

Here on Real Sound, we have started a project where we invite celebrities to talk about BUCK-TICK’s charms. In this installment, we have HIROSHI, who gained popularity as a comedian with his “I’m HIROSHI” skits and has recently garnered attention for his solo camping video uploads to talk about his love for BUCK-TICK.

BUCK-TICK left an impact on HIROSHI when he first came across them in high school and in the 35 years since then, BUCK-TICK has continued to be part of his life. With a youthful twinkle in his eyes and sometimes emotional tears, HIROSHI talks about how he still continues to look up to them today.

We hope you’ll enjoy this BUCK-TICK-filled conversation that covers topics from how HIROSHI first came across them, to his favourite songs, and of course, behind-the-scenes stories from his conversation with Sakurai Atsushi on NHK Educational TV’s SWITCH Interview Tatsujin-tachi. (Editorial department) 

 

Debut 35th Anniversary Concept Best Album『CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.』Preview Trailer

 

 

BUCK-TICK shocked me with their dyed hair standing high

ーーFirst, start by telling us about how you came across BUCK-TICK.

HIROSHI (H): I was already a child who was very fascinated by bands ever since I was in elementary school to begin with. The very first band I saw [playing live] was a cover band of high schoolers from a neighbouring town who was performing THE MODS’ Hageshii Ame ga at an outdoor event. That got me thinking, “Bands are so cool!” I became very focused on being popular in my later years of elementary school but I always thought that bands were the equivalent of popularity, so when I started middle school, I tried to start my own band. But it didn’t go very well. I had no money, and there were no cheap second-hand music stores like what we have now, so acquiring instruments itself was an uphill battle. Nevertheless, I did manage to start a band in high school.

ーーWhat part of the band did you play?H: Bass. At the time when I started the band, music like heavy metal and hard rock were popular among the band-playing people so we initially decided to cover EARTHSHAKER, but it didn’t really fit fashion-wise. Then BOØWY appeared and I intuitively thought, “They’re cool!” Probably because I loved how they wore their hair up. In BUCK-TICK’s case, they made their hair stand high and they even dyed it, so that really shocked me the first time I saw them. But while reflecting on why I seemed attracted by hair styled like that, along the way, I came to the realisation that I liked punk music. When I told those around me who only wanted to play hard rock that I wanted to play punk music though, I was immediately shot down.

ーーDo you remember the first BUCK-TICK song you ever heard?

H: At this point, I’m not sure what was the actual first song, but I still remember watching their performance of FUTURE FOR FUTURE on TV like it was yesterday (※probably their performance on the January 1987 broadcast of the NHK music program Young Studio 101). I recorded that on VHS and watched it numerous times over. It’d be weird to say that it felt like they were giving their all, but there was this very strong spirit like, “We’re the coolest!”, “Watch us make our way to the top”. Sakurai (Atsushi)-san never stopped moving anyway. I think at the time, he was at war with the pressure from the idea that he had to stand out and that there’s no backing out for him since he was the person who asked to be given the position of vocalist. It’s as if all of that was being conveyed through the screen. Another one I remember very clearly was their performance of …IN HEAVEN… on a white stage set with BUCK-TICK written on it (※probably their performance on the January 1989 broadcast of the NHK music program Just Pop Up).

ーーWhat was the first BUCK-TICK thing HIROSHI-san bought?

H: The period when I started listening to BUCK-TICK was right when we were transitioning from vinyl records to CDs. I’m the type of person who feels sad that we were moving towards the CD format, so even though they released CD versions, I listened to BUCK-TICK on vinyl records. I was really broke, so that was already quite the hurdle to purchase the vinyls I wanted, but even if I went to the local rental stores in my area, all they had stocked were pop music so vinyl records for rock music were hard to find. Being in the suburbs meant that information was hard to come by too, so I felt that the only way for me to listen to them was to buy their records which led me to ordering them at record stores for purchase. I only bought a few records, but they consisted of BUCK-TICK and BOØWY, and also Honda Minako-san’s along with an idol by the name of CoCo. I bought BUCK-TICK’s SEXUAL×××××! (1987) and ROMANESQUE (1988). They came with stickers that were pre-order gifts. My friends would ask me to give it to them, but I would never.

BUCK-TICK has too many famous songs!

ーーWhat songs do you particularly love?

H: Off the top of my head, HEARTS (from ROMANESQUE). When it comes to “songs”, you take the liberty to relate it to your own life when you listen to it, right? At the time, I was a freshman in high school and I was thinking to myself, “I absolutely must become popular when I’m in high school,” so I spent the whole of that time looking like a delinquent. Even though I really am not one at all. And when I did that, I became super popular, a pretty girl from school confessed to me in school and we even hung out for a few days, but the truth is, I’m not that kind of person so I was soon busted as a fraud and got dumped. That girl came to mind when I heard HEARTS and that got me feeling heartbroken.

ーーAh, youth. Are there other songs that evoke such memories?

H: There are lots, but I definitely started to dream of becoming an entertainer the moment I heard FUTURE FOR FUTURE. The lyrics “The TV screen captivated my mind on some day / Making me feel my thoughts running wild just as they are¹” were definitely something that gave me the push as someone who admired the world of entertainers and television.

ーーSo, the power you felt from their music and performances along with their aforementioned hairstyles and fashion sense were all rolled into one big influence on HIROSHI.

H: Yes. Sakurai-san was touching Imai (Hisashi)-san’s butt on the back of the ROMANESQUE jacket that had the five of them posing and all I thought was, “So sexy!!! So stylish!!!”

ーーBecause punk/new wave bands like BUCK-TICK were more neutral sounding as compared to hard rock and heavy metal bands, right?

H: Right, and that’s what I admired. What I thought was really amazing was how their vibe changed starting around their Aku no Hana (1990) period, right? Honestly speaking, I did think that they changed a little too much (lol) but when I went back and listened to it again as an adult, there was a kind of realisation, like, “Now I get it, this is great!” I’m gradually getting the idea that [some of their songs are] as good as pop on occasion, but even then, they still end up sounding like BUCK-TICK, don’t they? A recent song I love, Maimu Mime (ABRACADABRA) sounds like popular music from the Showa era, doesn’t it? But there is no doubt that it belongs in BUCK-TICK’s world view. I love those types of songs too. When I got my chance to speak with Sakurai-san on SWITCH Interview Tatsujin-tachi, he had mentioned that the roots of his music came from Yamamoto Linda-san too, so I guessed BUCK-TICK might have also been influenced by pop music too.

BUCK-TICK/Maimu Mime (TOUR2020 ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN)

ーーOther than Showa-era pop songs, BUCK-TICK also incorporates influences from other genres like jazz and chanson. In addition to that, Sakurai-san also sings with his unique perspective, doesn’t he? That’s a big part of what makes them unique, and also what attracts HIROSHI-san to them, right?

H: Yes, that’s right. I rarely get to attend their concerts, but I’ve watched all their DVDs and videos, and [what I find is] BUCK-TICK’s stage sets would’ve been considered cringey if other bands used them, but when it’s them, it’s cool. Also, Imai-san plays his guitar in an oddly strange way, in a good sense. And because he plays left-handed, he pairs well with Hoshino (Hidehiko)-san in concert, doesn’t it? That’s another really cool aspect to me.

ーーImai-san’s music and arrangement, Sakurai-san’s lyrics and singing, and Hoshino-san’s music respectively have different shades. And the way the band members perform creates yet another unique shade, doesn’t it?

H: Honestly, they just have too many famous songs, don’t they? They’re releasing a 5-disc best-of album collection for their 35th anniversary this time around, and when I looked at the track list, I was shocked that FUTURE FOR FUTURE and SILENT NIGHT weren’t in any of the lists. Like, even with five best-of discs, we’ve got so many famous songs that are missing. BUCK-TICK has far too many famous songs!

ーー35 years, that’s how many years HIROSHI-san has spent with BUCK-TICK in your thoughts.

H: I’m now 50 years old, but BUCK-TICK has been active since I was a freshman in high school. I’ve also formed duos and trios [for comedy] before, and obviously I’ve formed a band before too, so I think it’s really amazing that they have been able to keep at it with the same band members for 35 years and that they’re still a leading band who draws a solid crowd for concerts. I can’t imagine doing anything like that because I’ve fought and broken up with my partners even with just two or three people in a duo or trio.

Intense admiration for Sakurai Atsushi; “I want to meet him, but I don’t want to!”

ーーDo you listen to BUCK-TICK as a form of inspiration or emotional support for yourself?

H: That happens a lot. Because I probably wouldn’t have thought of becoming an entertainer if I didn’t hear FUTURE FOR FUTURE. I’m someone with average grades who doesn’t have any talents like, I’m bad at sports too, and yet I wanted to become an entertainer anyway. That’s when I heard FUTURE FOR FUTURE and felt motivated. That’s where it all started. Even now, I’d listen to it from time to time and I’d be reminded of the feelings I had back then.

ーーAfter you had a breakthrough with your “I’m HIROSHI” skits and you published your first book (I’m HIROSHI. 1 [ヒロシです。1]), I believe you made “HIROSHI Phenomenon (ヒロシ現象 / HIROSHI Genshou)” stickers reminiscent of the “BUCK-TICK Phenomenon (バクチク現象 / BUCK-TICK Genshou)” ones.

H: That’s right! We have to talk about that! When I published my first book, we had a discussion about putting stickers in the appendix so I got to include “HIROSHI Phenomenon” with the stickers that came with my story. And just like you said, I copied that from “BUCK-TICK Phenomenon”.

ーーThis came up in our earlier conversation, but you managed to have a conversation with Sakurai-san on a program, right?

H: As an entertainer, I often get work revolving around promoting local businesses so I actually happened to bump into the band when we were travelling on the same bullet train just a short period before we went on the program. I was like, “Whoaa!” and I wanted to talk to them out of excitement, but I didn’t want them to think I was just some poseur, so I bit my tongue and didn’t talk in the end. Then on yet another day, I bumped into them again at another airport.

ーーYou might’ve been travelling the same route as BUCK-TICK’s tour.

H: Maybe that’s why. With these coming one after another, I started thinking, “Could it be a sign that something’s about to happen!?” And then, I received an offer from NHK about this dialogue program and they asked me, “Is there anyone you’re interested in meeting?” …… If that’s what you’re asking, then Sakurai-san is who I want to meet! But I admire him so much that I wouldn’t know what to say if I actually do meet him, so I decided to hold on giving them a reply. But then, my manager knew that I loved BUCK-TICK because I kept listening to them on the car, and he sent NHK the reply, “I believe HIROSHI wants to meet BUCK-TICK’s Sakurai-san” without my knowledge. And they surprisingly said OK, but it wasn’t until the schedule had been set that I first came to know that this had been decided. Seriously, at that point, I was all, “Aaaaargh!!” I was all nervous on the day of the event like, “I want to meet him, but I don’t want to. God help me!”

ーーYou showed us how flustered you were right at the start of the program (lol), but it was very interesting to see both of your personalities and the similarities you share. It’s so rare to see Sakurai-san laughing like that, so I think he really enjoyed talking to HIROSHI-san.

H: …… Hearing that makes me feel like crying. There were two days of filming and he shared a whole lot of interesting things in the parts that weren’t broadcast too. I’m also an entertainer so I do make a distinction between enjoyable and boring conversations, and whatever Sakurai-san says is really so interesting that I’m like, “Ahh, he’s actually such an interesting person.” The first day was at Sakurai-san’s go-to bar while the second day saw us filming while camping outdoors. I initially thought, “Wait, I shouldn’t make Sakurai-san go outside,” but he gave the OK despite that…… I honestly wondered whether it was really okay. We talked about all sorts of things there and he’s really charming as a person too so you really just can’t help but end up falling for him. After our 2 days of filming ended, I started thinking that I’d probably never get the chance to meet him again and I was overcome with this incredibly deep hollow sense of loss. It was the exact same feeling I’d get from breaking up with a girl I loved and it was the first time that this feeling dragged out for about two to three months.

ーー Is that the loss of Sakurai Atsushi?

H: Precisely. Also, Sakurai-san is a cat lover, isn’t he? Now I’m also considering owning a cat so I’m looking around.

Band musicians and entertainers aren’t the same, but BUCK-TICK is “the ideal image of adulthood”

ーーSince you’ve spent two days together, didn’t you exchange contact details or anything?

H: I can’t do that! If I suggested exchanging contact details to Sakurai-san, he would say yes, but I just can’t bring myself to say it! Even if I did manage to exchange details with him, Sakurai-san is someone who enjoys spending time alone so I think I probably won’t be able to bring myself to contact him anyway. But one day, I saw that I received a “like” from Imai-san on one of my posts on  Instagram. I was like, “Oh shit!” Since then, he’s sent me their new releases and tour tees when they could, so I can comfort myself with the idea that I’m kind of with BUCK-TICK like that. I don’t really have anything I can gift them, so even if I think they probably find it useless, I’d just send them camping cups anyway.

ーー (Lol) So what do you think of how BUCK-TICK is like these days?

H: Sakurai-san and Imai-san often get mentioned when we talk about BUCK-TICK, but everyone’s still cool even now. Hoshino-san is super cool too, and personally, I think that’s especially the case for the big brother on drums (Yagami Toll). He still styles his hair up evne now, doesn’t he! For bands who do that when they were young, the day will always come when they decide not to style their hair like that anymore, but he’s kept that hair for decades and honestly, I think it’s probably troublesome to do that. Because hairspray doesn’t come off easily even when you shampoo your hair. But the fact that he’s carried on with it all this time is just so cool. Furthermore, the whole band putting their hair up will ruin the vibe of them being a mature band, but with only one of them doing it like a representative of sorts…… Do you understand how great this is!?

ーーYes. It becomes obvious where BUCK-TICK’s origin is, right?

H: That’s right〜. And I played the bass too, so the coolest of them all is definitely U-TA-san (Higuchi Yutaka) for me. His image changed when he let his hair down and he seems even younger than before. In the past, rock bands have the image of being cool by being taciturn and stoic, but U-TA-san plays the bass with a big smile on his face. This balance he creates is great.

ーーAnd lastly, what is BUCK-TICK to HIROSHI-san?

H: I’d say, probably “the ideal image of adulthood”. I’m a middle-aged man through and through, and the members of BUCK-TICK are no longer young either. But they’re the specimen of how cool you can be as an adult. The things that band musicians and celebrities do aren’t the same at all, but I’m definitely still hopeful. Even as they age, their image remains cool and they’re still producing masterpieces one after another. I’ll always admire and look up to them.

In truth, I’ve been thinking that I want to play in a band again and in recent times, I’ve started moving towards that. Maybe I’ll let my hair grow out long and I’ll make myself look like what Sakurai-san did in the past. Having turned 50, I think I’ve experienced all the things I want to do to a certain extent, but I think the one thing I want to do is to play in a band. But I think I would need stamina when the time comes to actually do it, so I started running. And then I thought I’ll need to be a little more popular, so I started doing sit ups and all that to reduce my belly. Whether or not this comes to fruition, life is enriched by aspiration, isn’t it? That’s why I think it’s something to treasure.

HIROSHI’s official YouTube Channel “HIROSHI CHANNEL”

 

 

■ Releases info — 1

『CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.』

『CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.』

BUCK-TICK Debut 35th Anniversary Concept Best Album
『CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.』

Releases Wednesday, 21 September 2022

・Special edition (5SHM-CD+BD)
¥11,000 (w/ tax)

・Regular edition (5SHM-CD)
¥6,600 (w/ tax)

・Limited quantity edition (5SHM-CD+BD+GOODS)
¥15,400 (w/ tax)
※Exclusive to VICTOR ONLINE STORE

 

  • DISC1 : RIBELO

1. ICONOCLASM 2. NATIONAL MEDIA BOYS  (2015MIX) 3. ANGELIC CONVERSATION  (2022MIX)
4. 唄 5. 楽園 6. 見えない物を見ようとする誤解 全て誤解だ
7. 相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマリがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり  (21022MIX) 8. 無知の涙 9. CHECK UP
10. 極東より愛を込めて 11. BUSTER  12. 天使は誰だ
13. エリーゼのために 14. REVOLVER 15. ゲルニカの夜 16. さよならシェルター
Mastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound  (USA)

  • DISC2 : GOTIKA

1. BABEL 2. Mr.Darkness & Mrs.Moonlight 3. masQue 4. 月蝕 5. SABBAT  (2015MIX) 6. MISTY BLUE 7. 誘惑 8. Lullaby-III
9. ROMANCE 10. 凍える 11. 月下麗人 12. Django!!! -眩惑のジャンゴ- 13. Alice in Wonder Underground 14. DIABOLO 15. 夢魔 -The Nightmare 16. 愛の葬列
Mastered by John Davis at Metropolis Studios  (UK) 

  • DISC3 : ELEKTRIZO

1. DADA DISCO -G J T H B K H T D- 2. ケセラセラ エレジー 3. GUSTAVE 4. Baby, I want you. 5. Devil’N Angel 6. BOY septem peccata mortalia
7. 美 NEO Universe 8. メランコリア -ELECTRIA- 9. Villain 10. 獣たちの夜 YOW-ROW ver. 11. 独壇場Beauty -R.I.P.- 12. 羽虫のように
13. 光の帝国 14. 狂気のデッドヒート 15. PINOA ICCHIO -躍るアトム- 16. MY FUCKIN’ VALENTINE 17. BRAN-NEW LOVER 18. タナトス
Mastered by Clemens Schleiwies at SCHLEIWIES STUDIO  (Germany) 

  • DISC4 : FANTAZIO

1. JUPITER 2. ドレス 3. 密室 4. さくら 5. Long Distance Call
6. 無題 7. 形而上 流星 8. RAIN9. 禁じられた遊び -ADULT CHILDREN- 10. Moon さよならを教えて
11. 舞夢マイム 12. Cuba Libre 13. LOVE PARADE 14. 夢見る宇宙 -cosmix- 15. 忘却
Mastered by Alexis Bardinet at GLOBE AUDIO MASTERING  (France) 

  • DISC5 : ESPERO

1. 疾風のブレードランナー 2. RENDEZVOUS 〜ランデヴー〜 3. 鼓動  (2022MIX) 4. 世界は闇で満ちている 5. GIRL
6. 幻想の花 7. RHAPSODY 8. Memento mori 9. FUTURE SONG -未来が通る- 10. STEPPERS -PARADE-
11. セレナーデ -愛しのアンブレラ- 12. JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver. 2021 13. ONCE UPON A TIME 14. ユリイカ 15. New World
Mastered by Takahiro Uchida at FLAIR MASTERING WORKS  (Japan) 

  • DISC6 : VIDA<Blu-ray>

1. JUST ONE MORE KISS 2. 惡の華 3. スピード 4. M・A・D 5. JUPITER 6. ドレス 7. die 8. 唄
9. 鼓動 10. 見えない物を見ようとする誤解 全て誤解だ 11. キャンディ 12. ヒロイン 13. 囁き 14. 月世界 15. BRAN-NEW LOVER
16. ミウ 17. GLAMOROUS 18. 21st Cherry Boy 19. 極東より愛を込めて 20. 残骸 21. 幻想の花 22. ROMANCE
23. 蜉蝣 -かげろう- 24. RENDEZVOUS 〜ランデヴー〜 25. Alice in Wonder Underground 26. HEAVEN 27. GALAXY
28. 独壇場Beauty 29. くちづけ 30. エリーゼのために 31. MISS TAKE 〜僕はミス・テイク〜 32. 形而上 流星 33. New World
34. BABEL 35. Moon さよならを教えて 36. 獣たちの夜 37. RONDO 38. 堕天使 39. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE 40. 凍える 41. Go-Go B-T TRAIN

 

Official review of the Best-Of Album Collection: https://www.jvcmusic.co.jp/linguasounda/b-t35th/disc_review.html

 

■ Releases info — 2

Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara 〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜 in Nippon Budokan
BUCK-TICK LIVE Blu-ray&DVD
Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara 〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜 in Nippon Budokan

Releases Wednesday, 21 September 2022

・Special edition Blu-ray (BD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK)
¥12,100 (w/ tax)

・Special edition DVD (2DVD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK)
¥12,100 (w/ tax)

※LIVE TRACKS CD (2-set) ・Includes 64-page photobook, special packaging

・Regular edition Blu-ray (BD)
¥7,700 (w/ tax)

・Regular edition DVD (2DVD)
¥7,700 (w/ tax)

 

<Blu-ray Track List>

SE. THE DUSK 〜start〜 01. DIABOLO 02. 夢魔 -The Nightmare 03. 楽園 04. 謝肉祭 -カーニバル- 05. Lullaby-III 06. 絶界 07. Living on the Net -Acoustic Ver.- 08. 光の帝国 09. ユリイカ 10. 忘却 11. BABEL 12. 獣たちの夜 13. 堕天使 YOW-ROW ver. 14. Villain 15. 舞夢マイム 16. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE 17. 形而上 流星 -Acoustic Ver.- 18. JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021 19. 唄 Ver.2021 20. ICONOCLASM Ver.2021 21. Alice in Wonder Underground 22. 恋 23. Go-Go B-T TRAIN 24. 独壇場Beauty -R.I.P.-

<DVD Track List>

DISC1

SE. THE DUSK 〜start〜 01. DIABOLO 02. 夢魔 -The Nightmare 03. 楽園 04. 謝肉祭 -カーニバル- 05. Lullaby-III 06. 絶界 07. Living on the Net -Acoustic Ver.- 08. 光の帝国 09. ユリイカ 10. 忘却

DISC2

1. BABEL 02. 獣たちの夜 03. 堕天使 YOW-ROW ver. 04. Villain 05. 舞夢マイム 06. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE 07. 形而上 流星 -Acoustic Ver.- 08. JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021 09. 唄 Ver.2021 10. ICONOCLASM Ver.2021 11. Alice in Wonder Underground 12. 恋 13. Go-Go B-T TRAIN 14. 独壇場Beauty -R.I.P.-

 

■Concert information

BUCK-TICK Debut 35th Anniversary LIVE
『BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE”〜35th anniversary〜』
Kanagawa: Yokohama Arena

『BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE”〜35th anniversary〜 FLY SIDE』
23 September 2022 (Fri / PH) Doors open: 17:00, show starts:18:00

『BUCK-TICK 2022“THE PARADE”〜35th anniversary〜 HIGH SIDE』
24 September 2022 (Sat) Doors open: 16:00, show starts: 17:00

Ticket price: All designated seats ¥12,000 (w/ tax)
Special website: https://buck-tick.com/feature/specialsite_2022parade

 

『BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv.』

13 October (Thu) Tokyo: Tachikawa Stage Garden
Doors open: 17:30 , show starts: 18:30

15 October (Sat) Kanagawa: Pacifico Yokohama — National Convention Hall
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

18 October (Tue) Saitama: Kawaguchi Sogo Bunka Center — Lilia Main Hall
Doors open: 17:30 , show starts: 18:30

21 October (Fri) Nagamo: Hokuto Culture Hall — Large Hall
Doors open: 17:30 , show starts: 18:30

22 October (Sat) Ishikawa: Hondanomori Hall
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

29 October (Sat) Hyogo: Kobe Kokusai Kaikankokusai Hall
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

30 October(Sun) Okayama: Kurashiki City Auditorium
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

4 November (Fri) Tokyo: Tokyo International Forum — Hall A
Doors open: 17:30 , show starts: 18: 30

6 November (Sun) Gunma: Takasaki City Theatre — Grand Theatre
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

12 November (Sat) Hokkaido: Sapporo Kanamoto Hall
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

19 November (Sat) Miyagi: Sendai Sunplaza Hall
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

20 November (Sun) Tochigi: Utsunomiya City Cultural Center — Large Hall
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

26 November (Sat) Hiroshima: Ueno Gakuen Hall (Hiroshima Prefectural Culture & Arts Hall)
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

27 November (Sun) Fukuoka: Fukuoka Sun Palace Hotel & Hall
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

3 December (Sat) Kyoto: ROHM Theatre Kyoto — Main Hall
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

4 December (Sun) Kagawa: Rexxam Hall — Large Hall (Kagawa Prefectural Hall)
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

10 December (Sat) Aichi: NTK Hall — Forest
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

11 December (Sun) Shizuoka: Shizuoka Culture Hall — Large Hall
Doors open: 17:00 , show starts: 18: 00

15 December (Thu) Chiba:  Chiba Prefecture Cultural Hall — Large Hall
Doors open: 17:30 , show starts: 18: 30

19 December (Mon) Osaka:  Osaka Festival Hall
Doors open: 17:30 , show starts: 18: 30

20 December (Tue) Osaka:  Osaka Festival Hall
Doors open: 17:30 , show starts: 18: 30

Ticket price: ¥9,900 (w/ tax)

General ticketing sales: Starts 10AM, Saturday, 24 September 2022

 

BUCK-TICK Debut 35th Anniversary SITE

 

 

Notes:

¹ テレビの画面に いつかの心を奪われて/高鳴る想いは そのまま 感じたままで
Terebi no gamen ni itsuka no kokoro wo ubararete / takanaru omoi wa sono mama kanjita mama de

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Real Sound

 

 

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

35/60
Interview with Yagami Toll

ROCK AND READ
September 2022

Interview/Text Okubo Yuka

In Russian

 

I never thought I’d be making music with them for 35 years, much less imagine that I’d still be drumming into my 60s. If I were a working adult I’d already be retiring from the workforce (lol).

BUCK-TICK, who had their major debut in 1987 will be celebrating their 35th anniversary this year on 21st September.

And Yagami Toll, the big brother who was half-forced, half-dragged into the band by Higuchi Yutaka, his biological younger brother, will be celebrating his 60th birthday this year on 19th August.

Stories from BUCK-TICK’s 35 years together and Yagami Toll’s 60 years of life like how he joined the band, what he thinks of his fellow bandmates, the 2 times he wanted to quit, the pros of the drums coming last in the recording process, his current perspective of the instrument, and even about his solo project Blue Sky are all squeezed into this 12,000-character summary of an interview.

 

Yagami Toll

BUCK-TICK

profile & information

Born on 19 August 1962. Blood type A. Drummer of BUCK-TICK which was formed in 1985. Other members of the band are Sakurai Atsushi on vocals, Imai Hisashi on guitar, Hoshino Hidehiko on guitar, and Higuchi Yutaka on bass. They will be releasing both their 35th anniversary special best-of concept album CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. and the Blu-ray & DVD of Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜 in Nippon Budokan on the same day, 21st September. They will be performing at Yokohama Arena on Friday, the 23rd and Saturday, the 24th of September at their BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE”~35th anniversary~ concert. Additionally, they will also be celebrating Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday on Friday, 19th August with the show Yagami Toll~60th Birthday Live~IT’S A NOW ! 2022 at CLUB CITTA’ KAWASAKI.

buck-tick.com

 

 

 

―― Since this year marks the 35th anniversary of BUCK-TICK’s major debut and Yagami-san will be celebrating your 60th birthday this year too, let’s have a look back at the journey so far. Yagami-san was the last person to join BUCK-TICK and is also the eldest, so I wonder if there’s some part of you that sees the band and your band mates from an outside perspective.

Toll (T): That’s true. Because I was in a different band, and I’ve been watching over them since the days of Hinan GO-GO (lol).

―― The band before what eventually became BUCK-TICK, right. What kind of impression did you have of Hinan GO-GO?

T: Imai (Hisashi) stripped the colour from his hair with hydrogen peroxide or something so his hair had always been brown since high school, so I thought he was kind of different. Basically they came across as quiet and reserved people to me. I think I got to know Imai when he was in his third year of high school. I suppose it was around that time when they formed the band. The lead guitarist of the competition band that I was in was one grade Acchan (Sakurai Atsushi) and Imai’s senior. At Fujioka High. That person taught Imai and Hide (Hoshino Hidehiko) how to play the guitar, and the bassist of that same band taught Yuta (Higuchi Yutaka) bass guitar while I taught Acchan the drums. We were in the countryside, so we practised in my home. We still got complaints though (lol). And I think there were times when Hinan GO-GO practised at my place too.

―― While all that was going on, Yagami-san got forcefully dragged into joining BUCK-TICK. What was that actually like?

T: I didn’t like that (lol). Because I liked Gunma. My competition band split up in October of 1985, and about a month after that, Yuta said to me, “We changed our member lineup and we have no drummer so join us.” I told him, “I’m all burnt out and I’m not joking so no thanks.” I turned him down 5 or 6 times over the phone. But then Yuta travelled back to Gunma from Tokyo and started packing my things without asking me. So it felt like there wasn’t anything I could do about it so I’ll just help them out anyway. Even though I was living in a huge house back home with my parents, he suddenly took me to an apartment in Asagayakita that didn’t even have a bathroom and I was all, “What the hell is this, give me a break.” (Lol). After we had our first rehearsal, I said I’ll help them for 3 years and if there’s no reaction whatsoever, it could be a deal to debut as an indie band or just anything, if there’s nothing, I’m going back to Gunma. That was the limit that I decided for myself and that’s what I told them. In the end, after about a year and a half, we ended up getting offers from major labels to sign with them.

―― Would you have quit music altogether if you didn’t get the calls from Yuta-san?

T: Even if I continued, I would maybe just play with amateur bands? Because there aren’t many drummers around, are there? That’s why if someone asked me to help, I’d probably do it. I was originally a rebar worker in the first place so I was thinking of going back to that.

―― It sounds like you never even imagined what BUCK-TICK’s future could be at the time.

T: More than that, we were a bunch of people who had only started playing these instruments for 2-3 years. That’s why it’s actually amazing, isn’t it? That we managed to make our debut at the time. We were criticised for how bad we were at music when we debuted, but that’s of course, isn’t it (lol). They said my drumming was just about decent, but that’s also of course. It’s just that the band was aware of our own level and I believe that’s tied to our improvement in skill, you know?

BUCK-TICK isn’t a band that was already perfect at debut;
we’re a band who debuted and then subsequently made steady progress since.

―― This is a famous story, but it’s been said that not involving other musicians in your recordings was one of BUCK-TICK’s conditions for signing with a major label.

T: Correct. Those were the days of the band boom and people who did that were earning big bucks. But when we thought about it logically, that’s as good as strangling ourselves with our own hands. Even if we sound good on CD, anyone who comes to watch us live would end up going, “Huh?” But if a bunch of amateurs work on the recording, the CD would sound bad too so there would be no gap in expectations there. Because it’s exactly what you heard on CD in a way (lol).

―― And because you’ve always presented yourselves as you are all this time……

T: It’s like a live documentary to our fans, isn’t it? We’re actually evolving. BUCK-TICK isn’t a band that was already perfect at debut; we’re a band who debuted and then subsequently made steady progress since. That is sort of what makes us special. Thanks to everyone who patiently watched over us and supported us (lol).

―― When you transitioned from being an indies band to being signed with a major label, did anything change? Perhaps, musically or other conscious decisions?

T: Rather what we changed, I think the more significant difference was that professional engineers were now there for us to work and record properly with. That was something we could enjoy. Also, another thing I remember very well was after we made the decision to debut with Victor, all of us were brought to Victor Studio for a tour. There was a recording session going on for THE ROCK BAND, formerly ANARCHY, and since we belonged to the same production department, they let us watch them work. To us, we’re a generation who grew up listening to ANARCHY and when we actually got to see how they recorded their music, it somehow felt more like an after-school club activity. I think at the time, it’s been about seven years since they first made their debut and they were probably old friends too. Seeing those casual exchanges between them, I was like, “So it’s okay to be like this!” (lol). I do wonder if we were somehow influenced by seeing these people we looked up to work together in such a friendly manner back then.

―― In the four years since then, I believe you had some pretty tough days with recording work and tours and interviews day after day. And during that time, going to London to record your ⁎TABOO album was an experience which left quite an impact on Yagami-san’s sound design work, right?

T: The thing I remember the most about our recording in London was how the food just didn’t taste good at all. I was also shocked that the beer was warm when it came out of the taps in the pubs. I thought the best tasting thing in London was the Big Mac. But I guess that’s got the same standardised quality wherever you go.

―― I intended to ask you about the recording itself (lol).

T: Ah, about drums? (Lol). When we went to the studio for the first time and I did the tuning on my own, the producer stopped me right there and said, “You don’t know this studio.” The producer then proceeded to do all the tuning on his own. I was surprised because his way of doing it was completely different from mine. And another thing that struck me as a huge difference from what things were like in Japan was the voltage. Their voltage was high there so the speed at which they captured sound was quick. That was something I only understood after having been there. The reason behind why Ringo Starr sounded off tune even despite low tuning in the later part of The Beatles’ career.

―― It was a trip that brought new discoveries, wasn’t it? Are what you learnt still relevant even now?

T: I don’t know about that. But that was quite the training, for everyone. Because ⁎ICONOCLASM was the one and only song that was OK in one take, while every other song I drummed like hell. Because my rhythm was apparently off. Imai and Hide didn’t have it easy either. He could tell when they weren’t pressing the frets properly with this finger and that finger just from how the sound wavers, and their hands got all beat up (lol). Then again, it’s because he was already angry with us from the very beginning. The moment we first arrived at the studio, he was all, “You guys were supposed to practise beforehand.”

―― While going through those hectic days, you got struck with an incident out of the blue and ended up with a half year long probation. Yagami-san said before that this period of time allowed you to take a long, hard look at your time with the band.

T: To put it bluntly, it felt like I was under house arrest for three months. Because photographers from the press were everywhere outside. We spoke about this too at the time, but honestly, being there left me all weird on the inside. Because I couldn’t practise at all. During this house arrest was the first time I thought about retiring.

―― Because you couldn’t practise?

T: Exactly. I was on the decline because I couldn’t drum. At the time, I had just entered my late 20s and realising that I couldn’t produce the same impact and speed after just half a year of not drumming… That’s why I was quite worried. I never expected that six months of doing nothing would result in such a big change.

―― I see. Was there something that changed your mind after this period of abstinence?

T: I think Hiruma (Hitoshi)-san’s involvement in ⁎Kurutta Taiyou’s production as our recording engineer played a big part. I’ve known Hiruma-san before that. He even visited our bathroom-less apartment in Asagayakita before. It just so happened that ⁎HURRY UP MODE had just been released when he visited back then, and when he listened to it on the crappy stereo we had, he said, “Hm~m, there are no lows, huh.” (Lol)

―― Even though they subsequently called it, “An explosively deep heavy bass (重低音がBUCK-TICKする/ juu teion ga bakuchiku suru)” (lol).

T: Yes, exactly. There was no deep heavy bass at all (lol). Hiruma-san was originally a drummer, the sound of drums is huge [to him]. And that’s why, when he did the remastering, he dropped the tone of the drums even lower than the original. That makes me very happy as a drummer though.

I did actually say that I wanted to retire back then, but they wouldn’t let me.
Their reaction was, “What nonsense are you saying?”

―― Because of your work with Hiruma-san, the band began to explore your sound more deeply which resulted in the release of rather experimental works like ⁎darker than darkness -style 93- and ⁎Six/Nine. What is Yagami-san’s view on how things turned out during this time?

T: That we were steadily moving towards becoming more and more niche during a time when all our juniors were putting out million-dollar releases (lol)?

―― Yes (lol).

T: I don’t remember exactly what thoughts I had, but I guess that’s just how we wanted to do music.

―― For Yagami-san, did you personally change the way you drummed together with the changes in the band’s music direction?

T: It just so happened that around the time we worked on Kurutta Taiyou and ⁎Koroshi no Shirabe This is NOT Greatest Hits, I changed the brand of the drums that I use. I had always been using Pearl, a local brand, then I switched to the American brand Ludwig. And since then, I kept wanting to change my drums a lot. It turns out that the brands have tones specific to them. Almost all of the Western music I listened to as a child used Ludwig’s drums. That was something I was aware of. And until that point in time [when I changed brands], I kept trying to recreate that sound with Pearl drums but I could never do it. One day, when I was reading (Rhythm &) Drums Magazine, I saw an orthodox snare that John Bonham and Cozy Powell and everyone used. And I don’t know why but it was on sale, 50% off so I asked our staff to buy one for me. I still remember very clearly that I took it out of the box, set it up without any adjustments, and the moment I hit it, the sound I had been pursuing resounded. Right there and then, I knew that, “Ah, this is it.” That my idea of trying to create this sound using Japanese-made drums was wrong. I realised that it’s about the brand-specific tones. Since then, I have been buying more and more pieces. Instead of going for current productions, I’d go on buying sprees for vintages like models from the 70s and all that.

 

―― The band continued to evolve with the establishment of your independent management firm in 1996 where Yagami-san was appointed as CEO. Some time ago, D’ERLANGER’s Tetsu-san spoke to Yagami-san when he took on the role of CEO of his own firm, and he said that you told him, “Being president means being the one who protects the band.” Those words really struck a chord.

T: Isn’t that exactly what it is? The captain of a sinking ship is the last one to leave it, right? After he saves everyone. If the ship is going to sink, he’s got no choice but to sink with it. That’s the idea. Back then, I felt that I had to be responsible for everything. Except that I had the same equal share earnings as everyone (lol).

―― In that same year, you also broke away from Victor, your debut label. Looking at BUCK-TICK’s history of events, your activities gradually decreased and there was even a time when you had to postpone a tour because Sakurai-san suddenly fell ill. That was an exceptionally difficult time, wasn’t it?

T: Well, there was nothing we could do, was there? I quite enjoyed the work of negotiation on each occasion though. Deep down, I’m the kind of person who would continue to be defiant even when I’m down on my knees. But I can’t let Sakurai take on those things, can I? My father was a CEO so I’ve always been looking at someone who’s a CEO as an example to take after. There’s this TV show, a pretty old one, where Hana Hajime says to Ueki Hitoshi, “You’re fired!” Seeing that, I commented to my father, “Must be nice to fire whoever whenever.” And he scolded me, “You fool! Firing someone at a whim is dismissal without cause. I’ll get sued!” I was only an elementary school student at the time, but I really got the sense that it’s not easy being a CEO (lol).

―― So after your Mercury era, you switched labels to BMG Funhouse in 2000 where things started to slowly pick up again. Yagami-san was around 40 at the time. You’ve mentioned before that you considered retirement during this period of time because it  was physically demanding for you.

T: That’s right. There was a change in CEO at the time too, to Acchan. There’s a reason for that. It’s written in my autobiography, but I got divorced around that time. That was really tough to handle and my mental state was in ruins. Speaking of my physical form, interestingly, when a person is mentally unstable, they lose their motivation too, don’t they? That’s exactly how I felt back then. And that’s also why I kept making mistakes on stage. Even though rehearsals went perfectly well. It felt like I dug my own grave and went into it myself because of the pressure. That’s why Yuta was raging mad at me quite a lot. Like, “Why does Anii (Yagami) only make mistakes during the actual concert?” Back then, I was also nicknamed “Rehearsal King (Riha King / リハキング)”. To say that I’m only good at rehearsals. That’s how bad things got. That’s why I really was afraid of going up on stage. I didn’t want to be on stage. Because I’d keep thinking about whether I will make a mistake, whether I will fail, and all those kinds of things. Even though I’ve never once thought like that when we debuted, you know? Because, weirdly enough, I was so full of confidence (lol).

―― I suppose Yuta-san threw his honest opinion straight at you because he’s your biological sibling, but how did your other band mates treat Yagami-san in that situation?

T: Everyone knew what was going on so I guess they understood. I think that’s why they suggested Acchan take over as CEO, probably.

―― So that’s what happened. When your mental health is in jeopardy, it’s pretty difficult to break out of it, isn’t it?

T: It’s easier to give up, isn’t it? That’s for sure. I did actually say that I wanted to retire back then, but they wouldn’t let me. If, back then, they said, “Sure, go ahead,” then I’d probably have quit. I would’ve retired.

―― How did they react back then?

T: “What nonsense are you saying?”

―― Thank goodness your band mates are like that. How long did this difficult situation go on for?

T: Probably about 2, 3 years? That’s when I started going to the gym. To build up strength and to improve my mental health. What I train at the gym honestly isn’t the muscles that I use for drumming. But when I exercise, it’s like I forget about everything for a while. It helps to relieve me of all my different stresses.

―― Then, in 2004, individual members of the band started their own solo activities. Yagami-san also formed Blue Sky in which you play music by your musical inspirations. Did that turn out to be an emotional turning point for you?

T: In a way. BUCK-TICK might be as good as a business, but there’s a part of Blue Sky that you could say is a pursuit of amateurism. Even if we mess up, we just laugh it off. Something like that. Our bassist KANAME-san is a veteran too, while Harada Kenta-kun is someone I’ve known for a long time, and our guitarists Yagi (Masato)-san is someone I became acquainted with through Minato (Masafumi)-kun’s introduction, but I’ve known everyone for quite a while already so that’s what made it good. 

―― So the second retirement threat was avoided through fitness.

T: That’s right. First, right before ⁎Aku no Hana, and then before and after I turned 40. Exactly around the time of my climacteric years.

I just hope that we’ll be able to work together for a long time to come. But I’m just taking things a year at a time.
All I want is to make sure that I won’t have any regrets regardless of when my game is over.

―― Since then, it looks to me that the condition of the band and your activities have been soaring to where we are now at this point in time. Although, on the side of recording production, the band changed up its order of recording around the time of ⁎Yume Miru Uchuu to recording the drums last. How did this change affect Yagami-san?

T: Being the first to be recorded, I can’t predict Imai’s effector sounds that would come in later, can I? At best, I could base my guesses off the sample recordings and follow that, but then I’d end up tuning my drums according to a guitar part that isn’t complete yet. If I do this, there is a possibility that the drums could end up getting buried when Imai decides to make a lot of noise at certain parts later on. To this end, recording my part after getting the full complete data means that I can take all of that into consideration, and I can do my tuning and all that better too. So I actually thought that it’s good in that sense. And in fact, this was something that Murakami “Ponta” Shuichi-san did for Izumiya Shigeru’s recording back around 1990. When I went to the studio back when we started doing this, Ponta-san was there and he asked, “What happened?” So I told him, “I’m the last one to record.” When he heard that, he was surprised though. Ponta-san then said this was something they used to do way back in the day. But according to him, it’s not about the tuning but, “It’s good because you get a sense of what the song is supposed to feel like.” Maybe that’s something studio musicians have to think about there and then. So that’s probably why he finds that it’s better for the drum part to come in later after the arrangement is set in place.

―― September’s upcoming best-of concept album ⁎CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv. is a collection of songs from your discography categorised into 5 genres that shows us once again how varied BUCK-TICK’s sound can be. While there’s an electronic era, there’s also an era when you went all out with an organic band sound. Was there anything that Yagami-san paid attention to through all the changes in BUCK-TICK’s music?

T: You know what’s funny? We wanted to do all sorts of things in our 20s and 30s. But now, instead, we’re not really doing anything (lol). Those periods come and go, don’t they? Wanting to bury something, but on the contrary, there’s no need to right now. Things like that. In the context of drums, I’ve started wondering about things like, if I hit the cymbals once, is it enough or not? Then there’s the dynamics. How strong or weak it should be. I wouldn’t consider these things in the past and I’d just be satisfied with drumming all out. Maybe I grew tired of that type of cadence or…… I’ve finally become emotionally stable. Because I used to be emotionally unstable (lol). When I had a dialogue session with Tsunoda☆Hiro-san, we spoke a little bit about this. There are people who drum as if they’re angry even though it’s a ballad. That’s because of emotional instability. You’ll gradually learn how to prepare yourself for it and drum. Simply put, with songs like ballads, just drum as if it’s okay for the drums to be inaudible. But it takes time for drummers to get their emotions to that stage, doesn’t it? What I think is that it’s important to learn control because the drum is an instrument that makes loud sounds. Frankly speaking, it’s a noisy instrument to begin with. Because it’s something you hit to play. It’s important to figure out how to make something like that sound musical. That’s all I think about these days. I can’t just focus on using a drum set that sounds good, or picking a cymbal that sounds nice. If Imai tells me, “I want a kind of cheap-sounding cymbal like in Misemono-goya,” then I’d deliberately use a cracked cymbal too.

―― BUCK-TICK’s sound has consistently been revolutionary, and I think that in playing the role of supporting its base, Yagami-san creates a unique groove as someone who emphasises the importance of basics.

T: Although we’re making music in all kinds of different styles, all of it still comes from the same human beings so no matter what we do, it’ll turn into BUCK-TICK in the end. Although, there are definitely times when I don’t have the energy as a drummer, so now, I just want to keep doing my best consistently so that I don’t become a burden. Because symptoms of ageing are bound to come up.  I don’t know how many more years I can keep doing this though.

―― Also, being the eldest in the band, I’ve always thought that your respect for your other band mates is something we can all learn from. I believe that one or two years’ difference in age when you’re younger would’ve been a big difference, but was there a point in time when your attitude towards your band mates changed?

T: This is basically something that has always been. Nothing happened, nothing changed. Besides, I’ve always felt like I’m sort of like a supporting musician (lol). That’s something I often joke about (lol). But it’s nice, isn’t’ it? We’re like the Soul Brothers. Staying together in that sense. I never thought I’d be making music with them for 35 years, much less imagine that I’d still be drumming into my 60s. If I were a working adult I’d already be retiring from the workforce (lol).

―― That’s true.

T: I wanted to be building model figurines of ships at home (lol).

―― Heading towards the band’s 35th anniversary, what do you think about your band mates?

T: I just hope that we’ll be able to work together for a long time to come. Staff members and fans have been telling me, “Please keep going until you’re 70!” But I don’t know about that, right? That’s 10 years later. Having come to this age, I’m just taking things a year at a time. All I want is to make sure that I won’t have any regrets regardless of when my game is over. Because I really don’t know when that will happen.

―― I won’t say “Please keep going until you’re 70!”, or anything specific like that, but I would very much like for Yagami-san to keep on drumming for as long as you enjoy it.

T: A song that Imawano Kiyoshiro-san sang comes to mind. Titled, “I want to be happy but I don’t want to work for it (幸せになりたいけど 頑張りたくない / Shiawase ni naritai kedo ganbaritakunai) (lol). Such a song existed.

―― “Let’s take it easy (ラクに行こうぜ / raku ni ikou ze)”, right?

T: I want to be happy but I don’t want to work for it. The essence of my personality is pretty much an unmotivated person. Or a lazy person. I’m someone who wants to live a life of fun and that’s how I’ve always been since I was a child. If I could, I’d hire someone who looks exactly like me and control them from home. Or maybe we should make a robot that looks exactly like me (lol).

―― No, no, no, anyway, you’re still keeping up with practice even now, playing jazz, expanding the breadth of your studies, right?

T: That’s because I’ve always enjoyed jazz. At one point, I kept buying a stupid amount of drum instructional videos and I watched them a lot. Seeing that, Yuta said, “Looks like Anii has a fetish for techniques.” (Lol) They’re professionals, so it’d be a good thing to remember their techniques, right? He’s just the kind of guy to say those kinds of things. Fetish for techniques. Really makes you wonder what he’s really trying to say to his big brother.

―― (Lol) Everyone, including Anii, has such great posture  when we see you on stage. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why you all still seem youthful to us.

T: It’s not been the same recently. There are some things I’ve noticed. Like, I’m good with BUCK-TICK’s characteristic four-on-the-floor beats, but when we move to faster songs, I start to hunch a little. What I refer to is a boxing methodology. It’s easier to throw punches when slouching your back. That’s what I noticed when I watched boxing matches, and Yamaki (Hideo) has that same, sort of similar kind of hunched posture. That’s something I’ve recently put into application.

―― You’re definitely enthusiastic about research and study. Have you ever thought about what’s next for BUCK-TICK? I recall that you’ve casually mentioned before that it would be better for BUCK-TICK to revisit the organic band sound.

T: Recording is all about creating something, isn’t it? Maybe I’ve been influenced by Blue Sky too. Because Blue Sky gets everything done in one go, more or less. When we record it all in one take, it’s as good as a studio concert, isn’t it? If that’s how it happens, I’d have to practice again, and I’d expect that these sorts of problems would crop up, but I think it’s also good to have songs that have that sense of approximation and ruggedness. It’s not a bad thing to include songs that were recorded in one take in the album. It’s just that…… I don’t think we [BUCK-TICK] would do that (lol). That’s how bands used to do it, right? There wouldn’t be any dubbing done after words. Everyone would just come together and start playing with a “5, 6, 7, 8!” Although, I think that’s only possible because everyone’s really really good at what they do. When I talk to the people I look up to, I think they’re all amazing. Because those people who have hit legend status are all superhuman to me.

―― I would think that Yagami-san is also in that sphere from the perspective of young drummers. Leaving aside whether or not BUCK-TICK is Visual-Kei, I think it’s an inspiration for up and coming musicians to see someone in this scene celebrating their 60th birthday.

T: We often joke about it though, right? That we’re “the pioneering Visual-Kei” (lol). There was no such categorisation in the past, but once it was coined, there were times when I saw our CDs in the Visual-Kei section when I visited record stores and those sorts of places. Whenever I see that, I’d remove them and move them back into the “Ha (ハ)” section¹.

―― I see (lol). Are you against being categorised there?

T: More than that, it’s because we’re not a “kei (系 / genre)”. When BUCK-TICK first debuted, people from Victor’s music production department came to us, and the film department said, “We want to market you as a visual artist.” ‘VIsual’ here refers to film and video. That’s why we made our debut through film, with music videos for not only our singles but also a number of other songs too.

―― Like how all the songs in Aku no Hana and Six/Nine had music videos.

T: Yes, exactly. That was because of our work with the film department. That’s why we’re not a “kei”, we’re a Visual Artist (lol). That’s how Victor’s film department referred to us.

―― There are many of your drummer seniors who are still active in the industry, but does Yagami-san have your own ideal vision?

T: It would certainly be nice if I can continue doing this for a long time to come and finish the race.

―― As a band? Or as a drummer?

T: Band, because that’s fundamental to me. Be it BUCK-TICK or Blue Sky, being able to keep any one of them going would make me happy anyway. Wanting to continue with this for a long time to come is essentially my hope. If I were to do this until I’m 70, as mentioned earlier, then that’s another 10 years. There are times when I wonder whether I can, though. I joke about this a lot, but my drumsticks are getting lighter and lighter, you know? So I keep wondering whether they’d end up becoming as light as serving chopsticks at some point (lol). We’re really doing anything and everything to make things easier.  That said, amazing seniors like Takahashi Makoto-san and ARB’s KEITH-san have never changed the weight of their drumsticks from whatever they used in their 20s. Remarkable people like them are still going strong, so I’ll be doing my best and learning from them too.

 

 

Notes:

『TABOO』= Released January 1989. Their 3rd album.

「ICONOCLASM」= A track from TABOO.

『狂った太陽』= Kurutta Taiyou. Released February 1991. Their 5th album

『HURRY UP MODE』= Released April 1987. Their indies album.

A remixed version, HURRY UP MODE(1990MIX) was made and released as a major record label version in Febuary 1990.

『darker than darkness -styIe 93-』= Released June 1993. Their 7th album.

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

『殺シノ調べ This Is NOT Greatest HIts』= Released March 1992. A self-cover album.

『悪の華』= Aku no Hana. Released February 1990. Their 4th album.

『夢見る宇宙』= Yume Miru Uchuu. Released September 2012. Their 18th album.

『CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.』= To be released 21 September 2022. Their best-of concept album in celebration of their 35th anniversary.

 

¹ 90% of the CDs in music and record stores would be categorised based on the Japanese alphabetical order. In this case, as BUCK-TICK is バクチク (bakuchiku) when written in Japanese, they will belong to the ハ (ha) alphabet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

Feature: What are your favourite things?

Après-guerre Reissue Vol.1
December 2015

 

Der Zibet celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. As the vocalist of the band, ISSAY’s presence is inimitable. With this issue’s theme surrounding our interviewees’ “favourite things”, we take a deep dive into his mind and catch a glimpse of a surprising side of him through conversation.

Der Zibet、KA.F.KA、ISSAY meets DOLLY

ISSAY

PROFILE
Active with Der Zibet,  KA.F.KA, ISSAY meets DOLLY among a wide variety of activities, ISSAY’s is ultimately a vocalist with an unwavering character whose presence radiates through his performances which incorporate pantomime and, of course, his singing.

INFORMATION 
ISSAY OFFICIAL H.P.: 
http://homepage2.nifty.com/issay/

Der Zibet OFFICIAL H.P.:
http://derzibet.com/

 

 

New album, Bessekai

―― Releasing an album this year, in the year of your 30th anniversary, did you take any special notice of things like milestones or turning points during production?

ISSAY (I): I think I’d be lying if I said no, but it’s not as if we paid all that much attention to it either. It was sometime around the end of last year when the band had drinks together while talking about the concept of the album. After that, we only decided on the album’s name after the start of this year. First came the concept, then came the name. And only afterwards did we start to put the music together.

―― Does it mean that everyone has the common idea of another world that isn’t the one we live in?

I: To start, when we were discussing the concept, we decided that we won’t do anything that would get classified as indie, or too niche, or anything like that. Der Zibet has always been a band that is said to be “too niche” to begin with anyway, but we’ve released a few albums since our reunion, and we’re of course satisfied with them, but we feel that we’ve producing them in a friendly manner. And thought, isn’t it about time that we made something that featured our quirks in the limelight? Those were the sentiments that came first. Once we had that down, we started thinking about what exactly were Der Zibet’s quirks, and things like MONDE MOVIE and MONDE FILM and MONDE MUSIC started coming to mind. Which led us to wondering, what’s the definition of MONDE in the first place? Cutting to the chase, it’s something like another world (bessekai / 別世界). As we started talking about how it seems to imply something that isn’t of this world but rather of another, we started to get the idea that Bessekai might be a good idea for an album title.

―― Hearing that gives me the impression that you’re only talking about going back to being “too niche” because this is for your 30th anniversary.

I: I don’t think the other band members feel this way, but for me, personally, I see our situation as a band from 1985, who made the type of music we did back then, thinking about what we want to create in the year 2015. Obviously, 30 years have passed, times have changed and even we have changed in our ways of working and all that, so all things considered, what are we going to do in 2015? What are we going to do now with the same underlying feelings that we had when we first started the band? That’s what I personally kept thinking about.

―― Apart from going in the niche or indie direction, does [this album] have any other tangible differences from your other recent works?

I: Rather than some strong, pointed intention to bring things towards this direction, we simply freed ourselves from our shackles. [Normally,] if I think that something might be difficult to grasp, I’d make small changes to it, right? So that’s something I decided to stop doing this time around. Even when we have [jam] sessions among ourselves as a band, we’d usually try our best to eliminate the thinking that certain parts of our music should be made more easily acceptable. No matter how niche we are, or how much people say we’re indie or whatever, we’re a band who’s attuned to pop, so no matter what, I think our melodies are pop-ish. That’s why we felt that it’s not possible for us to do anything ridiculously outlandish.

―― I also have the impression that as a band, Der Zibet is pop, but this album-

I: Is easy listening? (Lol)

―― -was somehow overwhelming to me from the second track onwards, when METRO was followed by Mr.Bad Trip and then Toki no Boumeisha (時の亡命者).

I: Because that’s the kind of flow we intended with the track order. If we wanted [the album] to sound like pop, we wouldn’t do this (dry laugh).

―― That’s true. So how do you feel about the work resulting from freeing yourself of the shackles of making yourselves easy to understand?

I: There’s quite a big difference when it comes to the lyrics. How do I explain this simply. Say, for example, there’s a second character in the lyrics. In previous albums, I think this second character would be given form and made visible. I’d write “you” and write it all down so the listener would know what kind of person this second character is. But this time, we completely ignored all of that. And we additionally also did our best to refrain from writing typical love songs. Love songs are easy to make sense of. Very easy. That’s what we wanted to rid ourselves of as much as possible. We just want to make the world we envision even more blatantly visible the way it is, you know? And, you can see it, can’t you? You just can’t help it (lol).

―― Because you show us the worlds that could be seen and felt with each song just as they are.

I: Exactly. That’s what it is in a nutshell. That’s why you can no longer describe it with the words ‘pop music’, right? But from each and every one of the songs, you can probably see different worlds in them. I think you’ll be able to see them clearly. But I don’t think there’s anything more to it than simply giving us a view of the worlds that the protagonist steps into. That’s the kind of work it is.

―― Going back to what you initially said about the concept, does this mean that MONDE MOVIE is one of the keys to this album?

I: No, not particularly. It’s just that when we were discussing Bessekai’s concept, the music that HIKARU presented was an instrumental piece. I thought it might be interesting to put lyrics to it, so I did that without anyone asking. That also happened to be the moment in time when I was trying to figure out what kind of lyrics I should write, so this ended up being the very first set of lyrics that I wrote for this album. And once this was done, I was easily able to compose the lyrics to the rest of the songs. For me, there’s this tunnel when I’m writing lyrics and if I don’t go through it, I won’t be able to write. The tunnel this time around wasn’t all that long, but I wrote the very first set of lyrics which were for MONDE MOVIE, without any thought at all and after that, it got easier and easier for me to write. It’s not that I want to do it all in this manner, but I just think it was a really good thing that this was how it started.

―― How did the recording go?

I: Smoothly. I used a hand mic to record my singing this time. I mentioned that there’s one mic that I really favour because I really like how it I sound recorded when I sing into it, and HIKARU said okay, sure. Then, let’s record with you singing into the the mic in your hand. It’s just so comfortable to sing with a hand mic, you know? The last time I sang into a hand mic was when we recorded our second album (dry laugh). Isn’t it nice to not have to worry about how and where you’re standing?

―― It’s the kind of album that makes me think of entering a world while you’re standing still and singing though.

I: Because there’s no song to sing unless I immerse myself in that world.

―― Not that. I was thinking of a more physical sort of world.

I: Like darkening the room? Personally, I generally do keep it darkened but not so much recently, I think. Because I want to make it relaxing, you know? If it’s set up ahead of time, I think it’ll just turn into something that makes my stomach hurt more. Anyway, I just didn’t want to be bothered by unnecessary things any more. I wanted to lose the tension in my shoulders. Does that make it easier to understand? Besides, don’t we use hand mics for live performances too anyway?

―― I just can’t imagine what kind of a live performance this album will yield. Although, I’d expect that there’s some form of live show unique to this album.

I: Well, it isn’t exactly an album with much leeway, is it?

―― Now that the album is complete and you’ve released it, do you think it’s turned out to be what you had imagined when you initially decided on the concept?

I: What we thought of in the beginning was in no way defined. It was something more ambiguous. That’s why it’d be wrong of me to say that we’ve created exactly what we envisioned. We are satisfied with how we executed it; the way it’s turned out with the kind of album name and concept it has. It’s a very experimental album for us from that perspective.

―― So you’re satisfied with the results of your experiment. What do you like about this fulfilling work of yours?

I: I guess I’m satisfied with the fact that it’s got quite a hefty presence as an album. I’m not talking about how it’d turn out in a live performance, but just the way it is as an album. I’m happy with it.

Going home

―― When you talk about going home, you’re referring to returning to your actual hometown where you grew up, right?

I: Literally what it generally means. I go back a few times a year. Although that includes occasions when I go back because I need to attend to something on this day and that day, regardless of my personal intentions.

―― Do you feel more relaxed or liberated when you go back?

I: I don’t. I think when I was about 27 or 28, before then, it felt like the city was telling me ‘Welcome home’ every time I got off the train and stood in the station. But after a certain point, it stopped saying that. It was then when I realised, “Ah, I don’t belong to this city anymore.”

―― What do you do when you go home?

I: I check.

―― Check what?

I: My own pain, for example. It’s a city where a river flows. When I go there, I can check on the pain that I felt from back then. Whatever the time, whether midnight or midday, I’d go to the beach and zone out while staring at the sea, and check on my past self who used to watch the sea like this too. I check and make sure that the person I was back then is still in this body of mine.

―― Is that because you want to stay the way you are?

I: Yeah.

―― I’m getting the impression that this is connected to your being a performer.

I: There’s no doubt that it is related. I need to drop by home, make my rounds and visit each key spot, and check how this sea looks to me at this point in time.

Rose garden

―― Do you like rose gardens?

I: I’ll go once or twice a year. Usually, I’d visit one in Tokyo.

―― I’m definitely very much into the idea of ISSAY-san with roses, but why rose gardens?

I: It’s fun, for some reason (smiles). It feels like I’m on a leisure trip. But I haven’t been able to see the spring or autumn roses. But when I was in Kamakura for business the other day, I went to the Kamakura Museum of Literature and there happened to be a rose garden there so I took photos (smiles).

―― Do roses mean something special to ISSAY-san?

I: That never crossed my mind. But don’t they make you feel, like “whoa” when they’re in full bloom? It makes me feel as if le spectre de la rose from that ballet might be in there somewhere. Like they inspire dreamy fantasies. Although, the same goes for cherry blossoms too. Because I feel a thrill in my blood when I go to places where cherry blossoms are blooming all over, you know? It’s embedded in Japanese DNA. I go cherry blossom viewing too.

―― You’re surprisingly fond of taking leisure trips.

I: I love them. I just don’t think of taking them often. I actually like man-made places and sights. Like places where buildings are all lined up together. I feel like the city is breathing when I see the buildings’ rooftop lights shine and flicker. I love it.

―― And in all of that, you just happen to adore roses.

I: Yes. I’d go and look at the sea. I adore roses. And cherry blossoms. Those are the kinds of things I love.

 

Roses in full bloom (Taken by ISSAY)
Roses in full bloom (Taken by ISSAY)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

 

 

The Poem of June ──
Interview with Hoshino Hidehiko

Ongaku to Hito
July 2021

Text=Kanemitsu Hifumi
Photos=Sasahara Kiyoaki_L Management

 

On his 55th June

Every year, our magazine will have an interview with this person in his birthday month of June without fail. The fans of BUCK-TICK have probably come to see this interview conducted by Ongaku to Hito with Hoshino Hidehiko as their seasonal Haiku of June. And this year, for the 21st iteration, we took a boat ride on Senzoku Pond (lol).

We had an idyllic time there, but the world has not changed; the COVID-19 pandemic continues and things are no different than one year ago. The interview was also done remotely. I suppose the words from this man who hasn’t changed throughout the past 21 years feel reassuring precisely because we’re In such a time when we can see the exit right there but just can’t seem to reach it. BUCK-TICK is also slowly but surely starting to move off with the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release of last year’s film concert and a re-edited version of the stream that was broadcast on 21 September. Adding on, they are also planning a live stream concert with an approach unlike anything they’ve ever done before. Hope is the promise of something in the future. That is something I can feel from this interview despite its usual leisurely vibe. Until the day we cross the big milestone, this annual event will continue on.

 

 

 

Before we know it, everyone is dealing with stress and worry. I think we should figure out how we can turn it into something positive

ーー Continuing our trend from last year, we’re having this interview remotely again…… (Dog barking) Sorry. My dog is responding (lol).

Hoshino (H): You have a dog? Show me, show me!

ーー (Brings it to the PC) Look, this is Hide-san~.

H: Ah, how cu~te. Chihuahua?

ーー Long-coat Chihuahua.

H: Me too, probably some time after last year’s interview. I got one. A Chihuahua and Poodle mix.

ーー Ah, really? Will we make it a tradition to have Mr Editor-in-Chief name the dogs of the Hoshino household?

H: I’ll have to politely decline (lol). It already has a name anyway.

ーー Do you go on walks?

H: It’s a toy breed, so just a bit. Around the park behind my house. But it’s therapeutic.

ーー Alright, then. It’s the day of our annual check-in with Hoshino-san but due to COVID-19 sticking around longer than we expected, we had to abort last year’s plan for an overseas shoot.

H: I didn’t believe it was going to happen anyway (lol). But the weather’s good, and it was nice to go outside. And it’s been a while since I got on a boat.

ーー To think you’d refuse the swan boat……

H: Isn’t that of course (lol).

ーー Hahahahaha. Anyway, even though you managed to produce an album and release it in the past year, you had to stop our tour and turn it into a film concert format, and the only in-person live concert you could hold was our annual Nippon Budokan show at reduced capacity. The type of activities you can do as a band has changed.

H: That’s true. We had this interview at home, remotely, like this too, but neither of us expected that it’d still be the same a year later, right? Because back then, I think we more or less had the idea that things would probably go back to normal by the next year.

ーー It’s just been dragging on, hasn’t it? Since we were spending so much time at home last year, did you do any decluttering?

H: I’ve done all the decluttering I can do, there’s nothing else I can throw away (lol). But although I assume everyone experiences some level of stress and worry, it seems like we’re all getting used to it. Before we know it, we’re already dealing with it. And I think the real challenge here is figuring out how we can turn it into something positive. 

ーー What exactly did you do?

H: I tried to take care of my body as much as I could. And I also barely drank any alcohol.

ーー Hide-san stopped drinking!

H: Besides, there’s nowhere to drink outside anyway. No one’s asking me out either, and after filming our streams and the Budokan performance, we definitely can’t hold an afterparty so I went straight home.

ーー And you’re being mindful of your health.

H: Yeah. I’ve gone running everyday, and today, I went to the dentist. When I feel uneasy about something with my body, It’s easy to get carried away by that and let the anxiousness grow. I guess I’m careful because I don’t want that to happen. In the past, I used to drink without thinking as if I’m bathing in alcohol so I’ll probably have to pay my dues soon anyway.

ーー Then, what do you do at home?

H: I’d only compose something on occasion. Apart from that, I guess it’s prep work for streaming. What else is there to do?

ーー Don’t ask me (lol).

H: Watching TV is depressing. Sometimes I watch movies on Netflix, or I’ll just leave some music from a subscription service playing in the living room.

 

It would be nice we’d come to live in a world that understands that live concerts are something that everyone needs for their hearts and minds

 

ーー Any music you’re particularly into recently?

H: I don’t think I’ve got any like that. I kind of prefer listening to smooth music rather than heavy music, so I’d put on playlists like “Western pop to listen to in spring” and the sort (lol). That’s what I’ve got playing all the time.

ーー Hahahahaha. I never expected such pedestrianism from one of BUCK-TICK’s guitarists!

H: I’ll be cooking lunch or something while picking something like that depending on the mood.

ーー As expected of a guitarist with a chef licence.

H: Although, it’s lunch so I’d often default to pasta or noodles.

ーー Let’s rent a kitchen studio and do some cooking next year.

H: What happened to going overseas for a shoot (lol).

ーー Ah, right (lol). Where would you like to visit the most overseas?

H: You know…… The…… What was it (lol).

ーー This happens a lot in your 50s (wry laugh).

H: Ah, Insta. Insta, Insta!

ーー Ahahahahaha!

H: I often see videos of overseas resorts on Insta. And videos that bring you around World Heritage Sites. We can’t go now, so it’s nice to watch those. And dog videos too (lol).

ーー Hahahaha. Don’t you have somewhere specific you want to visit?

H: Oh, right. Last year, before the state of emergency declaration, I went to Miyako Island¹. It’s super nice there. We stayed in a villa instead of a hotel. We frolicked on the beach and before we knew it, a day had come and gone (lol). I’d like to go there again. I recommend it.

ーー I assume you’ve been watching more music events through streaming too.

H: That’s right. Friends send a lot of them to me so I guess I do watch quite a bit. Recently, I’ve been watching the concert streams that were produced by each individual member of GLAY too. And I also got an email from (Kawamura) Ryu-chan² and watched the concert that he held at home. I get to watch these kinds of shows by people who I hadn’t otherwise seen performing before, so I guess I can’t deny that it’s certainly convenient (lol).

ーー Well, it’s become easy to get access to watch.

H: But in the end, I find myself thinking again that it’s definitely not the same as the concerts that we’re familiar with. I ultimately still want to create and experience that atmosphere. That’s why, with our announcement of the upcoming autumn tour, I’m hoping that we can hold a proper ABRACADABRA concert and let the audience experience a live concert.

ーー It’s been a year since its release, but you want to wrap things up properly with an album tour.

H: Yeah, I definitely feel that we have to. Otherwise, it’ll feel like we can’t move on to the next thing. Because our flow has always been to produce an album, go on tour, feel the response, then decide on what we’re doing next.

ーー So, BUCK-TICK will be putting last year’s ABRACADABRA LIVE ON THE NET and TOUR2020 ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN together and releasing them as a Blu-ray/DVD,

H: That’s right. When we did that last year, it was partly because it was the only option for us, but also, we went into it with the intention of producing a very good show on video. And as a result, we felt that we managed to create something really great. I did say earlier that the best option of all would be to give our audience a live concert experience, but it turned out to have such a high degree of perfection and presence, that we’d like people to watch it at home too. Because that could very well be stage footage that can only come into existence in this era.

ーー That’s true. Also, tell us more about the second phase of your live stream concert.

H: Right. That one is a little bit thematic. There aren’t any new songs, and we thought we could just try switching up the set list for the stream, so initially, we were talking about making it an unplugged session. From there, the discussion developed and we thought it’d be boring if that’s all we did, so I guess we decided to add other elements. I think this will turn out to be a little unlike anything we’ve done thus far.

ーー That’s something else to look forward to. We don’t know how things will go, but it would be nice if you could carry out band activities properly this year.

H: It sure would. We had an in-person live concert last year at Budokan, but along those lines, right? I don’t know what it’ll be like this year, but it’s still a question as to whether or not we can hold a live concert in a shared space with our audience, so. But I’d like to, though.

 

ーー And let’s hope that next year, we’ll be able to properly check on how much we’ve both aged like this while chatting on a Southern island.

H: I’ll wait for that chance without getting my hopes up. Also, I’m turning 55 this year, alright? Don’t get that wrong (lol). Come to think of it, I’ve started wondering “How old am I again?” ever since I crossed the age of 50.

ーー That, I’m very familiar with (lol). Oh, right… If we round that off you’d hit the next milestone (60).

H: Don’t say that (lol). It’s got a ring to it, doesn’t it? 55 years old.

ーー Well, shall we have you wear the red birthday vest 5 years later for this interview?

H: Anii (Yagami Toll / drums) is the one who should doing that first (lol). It’s next year [for him], right?

ーー Oh, yeah! Then I guess you’ll be busy with Anii’s birthday plans next year.

H: We definitely want to give him a good celebration. Now, I just really want concerts. I really hope we’ll be able to turn this autumn through year-end’s tour into reality. But this is really one of those things that aren’t entirely in our control no matter how much we say we want to do it…… It would be nice if we’d come to live in a world that understands that live concerts are something that everyone needs for their hearts and minds and will let everyone enjoy it.

ーー I’m looking forward to new songs too.

H: We’re taking our time with that, though. Maybe you could listen to it one of these days.

ーー Oh!

H: Anyway, look forward to it (lol).

ーー I will. Say hi to your puppy for me.

H: Got it…… Ah, shall I bring it along for next year’s shoot (lol)?

ーー Good idea!

H: I thought of bringing it with me this time too, but I realised we’ll be getting in a boat and during that time, someone will have to look after it for me…… so I decided against it (lol).

ーー Come together next year!

H: I’ll think about it (lol).

 

 

Notes:

¹ In Okinawa.

² The name stated was (河村)隆ちゃん. I’m assuming this is likely Luna Sea’s Ryuichi. I’m not sure what was held in early or mid 2021 that could have been the concert Hide watched though.

 

 

 

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AFTERSHOW

2021.05.15 Hoshino Hidehiko BUCK-TICK

Hide-san casually appeared at the Senzoku Pond boat ramps on the day of a national holiday. The very first thing he said with a grin was, “I don’t really want the swan.” It was as if he saw right through us (lol). He got into a row boat with the photographer and had the photoshoot with just the two of them present. It’s a mystery as to what the surrounding families might be thinking about seeing these two good-looking middle-aged (sorry) men boarding a boat together with all smiles, but Hide-san looked like he enjoyed himself from start to end. We’ll try our luck again at the swan boats with Yuta next month (seriously⁉).

 

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: hoeshinos

The Poem of June ──
Interview with Hoshino Hidehiko

Ongaku to Hito
July 2022

Text=Kanemitsu Hifumi
Photos=Sasahara Kiyoaki_L Management

In Russian

 

Crossroads of Life

The 16th of June saw the 56th birthday of Hoshino Hidehiko, BUCK-TICK’s guitarist. This is the 22nd iteration of Ongaku to Hito’s crazy plan to conduct an interview with him in his birthday month to ask about his recent situation regardless of activity schedule!

Just like how BUCK-TICK is celebrating their 35th anniversary this year, I’m always reminded of how good it is to continue this program; like a reflection of his “warm laid-back” character, the interviews we’ve had since the beginning have always consisted of relaxed, largely free-form conversations. But this time, although his tone remains the same, I sympathise with him on the things that had been happening around him. It’s only natural that with age comes change in both ourselves and our environments. That is the inescapable reality. And although this is just part and parcel of life, it still shocks me to hear it coming from him. Yet at the same time, seeing this side of him makes it obvious that he is a strong person in essence, reminding us that we should all live our lives without regrets too.

 

 

 

Just the other day, my father passed away. He’s been hospitalised a lot so I was prepared for it
but I can really feel in my bones that these things are bound to happen now that I’ve come to this age

 

―― Happy 56th birthday.

Hoshino (H): 56, huh…… How old was I when we did the very first of these interviews?

―― We’ve been doing this every year with no skips since 2001 so……34?

H: So, mid-30s (lol). I sure was young (feeling it). Well, a lot has happened, hasn’t it?

―― Has it?

H: Yeah. All kinds of things are coming at me in my 50s. Especially in the past two years; haven’t we been unable to go about business as usual because of COVID-19? Everyone’s in the same boat with our lives becoming highly regulated, being unable to go anywhere, and it really feels like such a waste, doesn’t it? It feels like I lost 10 years of my youth.

―― Because time flies by faster, right?

H: It sure does. A whole variety of unexpected things have been happening too. This isn’t a particularly cheerful topic, but just the other day, my father passed away.

―― What!

H: He was 86. He’s been hospitalised a lot so I was prepared for it and I also felt some weight lifting from my shoulders, but I can really feel in my bones that these things are bound to happen now that I’ve come to this age.

―― Once you pass your mid-50s, such things start turning into reality.

H: Exactly. Even though he was bed-ridden and staying in the hospital all the time. He was suffering, saying his back hurt all the time so although it’s sad, I also feel that more importantly, he’s probably having a much easier time now. It’s a strange feeling.

―― I understand how you feel.

H: But I’m really grateful [to him]. Because he gave me a lot of freedom. He let me come to Tokyo because I said I was going for a chef’s license…… Although, I did get it unlike the rest of the band.

―― He probably had an inkling you wanted to play in the band.

H: You’re right. Because after that, he didn’t really say anything in particular and just let me do whatever I wanted throughout. I hope I can do that for my kids too.

―― Is the Hoshino family’s way of bringing up children just like the father; laissez-faire?

H: Not to that extent (lol). They have exams and all that too. But also, school isn’t everything. And it’s also better if they have more options to choose from, so isn’t it fine to let them do whatever they want to after they leave school? Because when I told [my father] a few years after being in Tokyo that I wanted to focus my efforts on playing in a band, he told me, “Well, if it doesn’t work out in a few years, you can come back.”

―― That’s a parent’s love.

H: And the oldest is already in university too. We still have junior high and elementary school schedules going, though. I guess this time, it’s my turn as a father to pass on to my children what my parents gave me. That’s what I’ve been thinking about recently since the private funeral concluded.

―― And through all of that, it would seem that the band has also been recording recently.

H: That’s right. Rather than “continuously”, we’re just working on a little bit here and there depending on our staff’s schedule…… Wait a minute. Didn’t you come to the studio recently?

―― Yuta-san (Higuchi Yutaka / Bassist) invited me to watch a Hanshin game at Jingu Stadium and he designated the recording studio as our meeting point (lol)

H: I was surprised because you appeared out of the blue.

―― Maybe he felt awkward leaving the two of you who were still working even though his part was done, so he wanted me to come and get him (lol).

H: You’re being used as an excuse (lol). But things are going smoothly anyway, so it’s perfectly fine either way.

―― Besides, you’ve still got ample time since your album release is only planned for next year, right?

H: We’re more or less just recording as much as we can when we’re able to. Also, our fanclub and mobile club members-exclusive tour is going to start in July, so we’re going to get pretty busy rather soon.
―― How many songs has Hide-san presented [for the album]?

H: Right now, three. I’m still wondering what I should do with another one…… but it’s got a different format than my usual, so I’m still thinking about it. We’re still some way away from our release [date], so we’re flexible with a bunch of things.

Although they may look no different than usual, I’m sure that everyone
Is fighting their own battle without showing it on the outside. So, “Fight on, everyone¹!”

―― How do you feel about your tour starting soon?

H: We haven’t gone on one in more than 2 years so I’m a little…… uneasy (lol).

―― About whether your muscle memory is there or not?

H: Yeah (lol). And also whether each audience member is safe with that distance between them, whether they can even attend our shows to begin with, and so on. But we’re now able to have face-to-face interviews like this, and there are more people walking about in the streets now than before, so I suppose things are getting better than they used to, bit by bit.

―― That’s true. You can see it with our Poem of June too; in the past two years, we could only do short photoshoots and the interview had to be held remotely from home too.

H: We want to stay healthy so we stay at home quietly. Now that you mention it, I myself haven’t really been doing all that well since last year.

―― What happened?

H: I got sick with a sort of embarrassing kind of immune disorder. It wasn’t so severe that I had to be hospitalised or anything like that, but for example, I was losing hair from the back of my head. At one point, I think I lost about a third of it.

―― Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat.

H: Seriously (lol). Now it’s more or less all grown back though. I can’t explain it very well, but it’s like my immune system was wreaking havoc in my body. It might be the kind of thing that sticks with you for the rest of your life so. If I start to wear hats, you guessed it (lol).

―― That’s shocking.

H: I was shocked too. Because I never thought that I’d get such a disease. It really feels like I’m being attacked by all sorts of happenings everyday as I age and I  have to deal with these things one by one (lol). I’ve been thinking recently that I guess I have no choice but to face these things too. That’s why I’m very uneasy.

―― Every year, we’ve been getting relaxing life updates from you in these interviews but to think that we’re now talking about this……

H: I wouldn’t have expected it either (lol). But that’s part of growing older, isn’t it? On the other hand, it’s reality. A lot of those who read this would likely be a little younger than me, but I’m sure that it’s the same for everyone; although they may look no different than usual, they’re definitely fighting their own battle somewhere without showing it on the outside. So, “Fight on, everyone¹!”

―― Indeed.

H: Ah, just for the record, I’m definitely not saying that I can’t stay with the band anymore, or that I can’t play guitar anymore, alright? (Lol). Besides, we’re still recording as per normal in our 35th anniversary year, and we’re going on tour too. We even have plans for next year.

―― When I came to get Yuta-san from the studio, Imai-san and Hide-san and an exhausted Yoko-chan (Yokoyama Kazutoshi / manipulator) were there but (lol), that was a nice vibe, wasn’t it?

H: Chill?

―― It’s the kind of chill that is often said to only come from a long marriage (lol).

H: It’s always been like this since way back. But it’s been a long while since we could be in the studio with different members like that. Because last year, we had to do our best to make sure that there was no group gathering so the composing member and the recording member would be in the studio, and after his recording was done, he’d leave and another member would come in at a different time.

―― The audience still can’t cheer at concerts and can’t really dance either because it’d result in crowding. And livehouses had to have seats or create some distancing too.

H: That was how it went with last year’s show at Budokan, but even though they can’t cheer, we have songs that everyone can perform some sort of action to, right? I believe we selected some songs with that in mind. Like ICONOCLASM and LOVE ME.

―― Ah, I see.

H: Because it creates a sense of togetherness even if they can’t cheer. But I do want to hear cheers and calls from the audience soon.

―― So your recording work is going well too.

H: That’s right. We’re taking our time.

―― And the other thing is health, your health.

H: That’s right. And as for fun recent developments, we’ve got another puppy so the family has grown.

―― Ah, so you’ve got two now?

H: Yeah. This new one is a dark brown Poodle. Although the first was a Chihuahua and Poodle mix, a Chi-Poo². It doesn’t recognise the toilet yet so it’s a challenge. Because we’re cleaning up daily, you know?

―― There’s always a constant stream of pets in the Hoshino family (lol).

H: Since forever. Dogs and cats too. Things have gotten pretty lively since there are also children around now. There’s no place for me though (lol). I can only hide in the studio.

―― A grievance shared by fathers all around the world (lol).

H: I’m getting a taste of it (lol).

―― Although I’m surprised by your talk of illness, I’m still glad that we managed to conduct this annual interview like this.

H: Yeah, agreed. I had some distressing times with a bunch happening last year and being unable to do any concerts, but this year, we’ve got releases and a tour going on. I can see what’s ahead. I hope that it’ll be good. See, we’ve got the fanclub and mobile members-exclusive livehouse tour, and Anii’s 60th birthday celebration at Club Citta. Our anniversary concert at Yokohama Arena. A national tour for our 35th anniversary that will start in autumn…… There’s a lot going on. I guess you could say that in some ways, it’s like a summarisation of the past two years (lol).

―― That’s true (lol). In any case, please take care of yourself.

H: I will. Imai-san can walk normally without any aid now too, so I think we’ll be able to perform in tip top condition.

―― I’m looking forward to it.

H: Certainly do (lol).

 

 

Notes:

¹ He actually said, “みんな頑張れ!” (minna ganbare), that can be translated into any sort of motivational exclamation, so feel free to take it as you’d prefer.

² Known as チワプー (chiwapuu) in Japanese.

 

 

 

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AFTERSHOW

2022.05.17 Hoshino Hidehiko BUCK-TICK

A year after the swanboat suggestion, we were putting out all sorts of suggestions like the warm laid-back man relaxing in a retro coffeeshop, or an urban setting in a city hotel with him a snappy suit…… but, this year, we settled on soaking it in on a veranda by a Japanese garden; a shoot with a Japanese vibe. The setting was the garden of an old Japanese house in Iriya which had been converted into a guesthouse. Watching the proceedings of the shoot, editor-in-chief Kanemitsu thought to himself, “Ah… This really suits Hide-san. If only we had him dressed in a traditional outfit too.” After the interview ended, it was discovered that the caretaker of the guesthouse used to be in a BUCK-TICK tribute band. And after Hide-san left, they agonised, “He’s so cool…”

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

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/