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

CAMPFIRE aomori_quarter
April 2022

 

 

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

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

Their comments are as follows below:

 

 

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

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

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

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

This place made us feel very comfortable too

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

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

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

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

With a photo album from my youth to accompany the drinks

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

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

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

 

 

Sakurai Atsushi(BUCK-TICK)

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve played here tons of times,

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

 

Fun memories…

 

And it’s a place to share music‼️ 

 

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

 

So to keep them going 🙌

 

Let’s do our best👊We are strong🌈

 

 

Imai Hisashi (BUCK-TICK)

 

 

Aomori immediately brings to mind 1/3

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

BUCK-TICK is rooting for them too!

Everyone, please lend them your support as well!

 

 

Hoshino Hidehiko(BUCK-TICK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

which marked BUCK-TICK’s beginnings in Aomori.

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

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

 

Higuchi Yutaka(BUCK-TICK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Your help is truly appreciated.

 

 

Yagami Toll(BUCK-TICK)

 

 

 

 

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

9

Go-Go B-T Train Feature

PHY Vol. 19
September 2021

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

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

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

pictures from
Komatsu Yosuke (Imai)

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

BUCK-TICK Solo Interviews

_______________________

Sakurai Atsushi

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Hahahahaha, go ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Hahahahahaha!

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

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

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

―― So where do you think your virtues lie?

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

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

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

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

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

―― Hahahaha, by seeing you camping?

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

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

S: Hahahahaha!   That’s right.

 

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

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

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

―― It certainly is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S: Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Well, I suppose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Hahahaha.

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

―― Ahahahahaha!

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

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

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

 

Notes:

¹ Tokyo Disneyland’s Space Mountain ride.

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

³ The JAL 123 crash.

 

 

Return to Top

_______________________

Imai Hisashi

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

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

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

Imai (I): Uh…… Normal (lol).

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

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

―― Have you had surgery?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Whaaaaaaaaaaat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

―― Like, a group of renegades?

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

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

I: Exactly…… isn’t that nice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― But you have a vague idea.

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

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

I: I forgot.

―― Hahahaha, please remember!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I: Right. How old was he?

―― 80, I believe.

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

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

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

―― You feel certain of it.

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

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

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

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

I: Hahahahahaha.

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

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

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

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

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

I: Not something I expected either (lol).

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

I: I heard about that from others too.

―― I wonder why.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Done with what?

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

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

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

―― Hahahahaha. It’s okay.

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

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

I: Hahahahahaha!   Good then (lol).

 

 

Notes:

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

 

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Hoshino Hidehiko

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

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

 

―― Thank you for joining me on Zoom today.

Hoshino (H): My pleasure.

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

 

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

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

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

―― What did he say?

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

―― How did you respond?

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

―― How composed (lol).

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

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

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

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

H: Ahh, yes.

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

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

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

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

―― When did you write this song?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H: Ah, really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Next, what about Go-Go B-T TRAIN?

H: The title’s pretty bold (lol).

―― Well, I thought so too (lol).

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

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

H: Hahahahaha, that’s true.

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

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

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

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

―― What do you think about the lyrics?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Like SANE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Agreed.

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

―― Indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Higuchi yutaka

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― It was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Meaning?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

―― Right (lol).

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

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

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

―― Indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― So, Koi written by Hoshino-san.

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

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

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

―― Right?

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

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

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

―― A start in many ways.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― Indeed.

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

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

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

 

 

Notes:

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

 

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_______________________

Yagami Toll

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

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

―― A photoshoot without Imai-san.

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

―― That’s bound to be a shock.

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

―― Hahahahahaha.

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

―― Indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

―― Hahahahaha!

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

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

T: What about it?

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

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

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

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

―― Hahahahaha!

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

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

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

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

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

―― It does indeed align.

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

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

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

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

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

―― Stop it (lol).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

―― That’s not the point (lol).

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

―― That’s right.

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

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

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

―― It’s still quite there, is it?

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

―― Please stay healthy!

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

―― And that’s why you recovered quickly.

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

―― Because the train is still running.

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

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

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

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

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

―― That’s true.

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

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

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

―― I see.

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

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

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

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

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

―― Indeed.

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

―― I see.

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi

“Huh……? Ah, oh, right.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Notes:

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

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

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

 

 

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

[Tracklist]

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

 

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

 

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

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

◎Special packaging

 

 

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AFTERSHOW

2021.08.17 BUCK-TICK

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

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

 

 

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

Chanting the guardian mantra in the midst of a pandemic

VROCK HK Vol.13
December 2020

 

Interview with vocalist Sakurai Atsushi and guitarist Imai Hisashi

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S: Hong Kong Disneyland?

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

I: Naturally out of living and experiencing daily life.

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

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

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

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

―― What are your goals for the coming year?

I: To create cool songs.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Endless Dei
Source: VROCK HK Vol.13

 

On Their First Album
《Fantome † Noir》

ROCK JET Vol.62
August 2015

Interviewer = Fujitake Toshiya

 

・Interview・


KA.F.KA
Tsuchiya Masami
ISSAY

 

Leaving a legacy

―― Congratulations on KA.F.KA’s first album, Fantome † Noir being released. To start, please tell us about how the band came to be.

Tsuchiya (T): Touching on that will result in a large amount of printing to do (lol).

―― That’s okay (lol).

T: The very condensed version of it starts with my obsession with trip-hop back in the 90s and how I almost lost the desire to create and express myself during these past 10-plus years. I questioned the way music was being dominated by the internet and this situation where music itself was being turned towards that direction.
Expression is something that can only become material when there’s an audience and the level of those who are looking to make that happen have dropped so much that I felt like there was nothing I could do but sit and stare. Also, it dawned on me that I haven’t created anything worthy of a legacy.
I know that things will someday get better. But I figured that it’ll probably take quite a while before that happens. Because people themselves have become stupid enough that it’d take them a long time to realise that something isn’t right about this.
So, it was during the period when those thoughts occupied my head that I met ISSAY-kun. About 4 years ago, I was given a reserved seat at a BUCK-TICK concert and it just so happened that ISSAY-kun was seated next to me. I knew of him but I never had the chance to have a proper chat with him.
There, I spoke about the same topic that we’re on right now, and when I asked whether he’s left some sort of legacy, he said there’s nothing, so I said if that’s the case, maybe we should have something to leave behind. To leave a legacy, in this sense, would mean to make music.

―― So he asked you, out of the blue, whether you’re leaving a legacy.

ISSAY (I): That’s right. He started by asking me whether I’m leaving a legacy. I answered, “I’m not leaving anything.” And that’s where it ended then. The next time we met, I was thinking of doing something that involves making this kind of music when he asked, “Shall we work together?” Tsuchiya-san is someone I respected as a musician, and when I watched him play guitar at Kawamura Ryuichi-san’s¹ concert, I thought he was an amazing guitarist and if I ever had the chance, I’d like to work with him.
Having someone like that reach out to me, I readily replied, “Yes, let’s work together,” without a second thought. I was beyond happy. I only realised the gravity of the situation when the band started work.

T: It just so happened that at the time; that was 2013, by the way, Kaneko Mari-san² asked me if I would perform something at a Kyoto live house. In my head, the thought of creating something like this [KA.F.KA] had already formed but I was still undecided about when it would happen and what shape it would take. At that point in time, there was no band, nothing, except for the conversation I had with ISSAY-kun about ‘leaving a legacy’. But the words, “Let’s leave something behind” became a sort of motivator and I replied [Mari], “Well, then I’ll perform in a band.”

―― Out of nowhere.

T: That’s the time when things get done, right? So in any case, I started with ISSAY-kun, so Morioka Ken (ex-SOFT BALLET) will certainly be within reach. I saw drummer MOTOKATSU-kun playing at SUGIZO’s concert and I thought he was a great drummer so I reached out to him. As for our bassist, I asked KenKen, who’s also Mari-san’s son.
At that event, we performed as a band named KA.F.KA. It was wonderful. And the best part was the superb tension. We started our journey without any songs, wrote them within a few weeks and got in rehearsals too. It wouldn’t have worked if it weren’t for this sustained tension. We could spare no effort or time. But those nerves brought wonderful expression to life.
It’s been about 10 years since I did any sort of attention-grabbing musical endeavour by then, so I created my own record label and released my solo album Swan Dive first. I had ISSAY-kun sing 3 songs in that album. The song Last Shadow was obviously a KA.F.KA song, but I felt that it was needed in Swan Dive so I put it in. When I was making that album, I told the band members that the next album I’m making would be for this band. And so here we are now.

―― I see. So you’ve already started on this present album when you were producing Swan Dive which was released in 2013.

T: Swan Dive consists of 6 songs. KA.F.KA’s Fantome † Noir also has 6 songs. These two works put together are equal to one album. In other words, I’d prefer it if you’ll take them as one 12-song album. The A- and B-side; the front and the back of a vinyl record. They are to be listened to one after another. 
When Coyote, the last song on Fantome † Noir ends, it goes back to the first song of Swan Dive, Swan Dive Part-1. That’s the way it’s designed.
It would’ve been difficult to make a 12-song album all of a sudden, wouldn’t it? While I do have my own record label, it was difficult to match schedules with the members of the band. Especially with KenKen who was so very busy that we had to ask Ueno Kouji-kun³ to play bass for KA.F.KA.

―― What made Tsuchiya-san reach out to ISSAY-san?

T: It’s because he’s the most striking person by far. Is there anyone else who cuts as conspicuous a figure as him among rock vocalists? I can’t think of any. And in my mind, I don’t see e ISSAY-kun as just a vocalist. Instead, he’s more like an avant-garde performing artist…… Actually, it’s probably more accurate to describe him as an avant-garde dancer. That’s the image I have of him.
There are many vocalists who unwittingly flirt with their audience. Of course, this isn’t possible unless there’s someone at the receiving end of it, though. There are all kinds of rock bands, and there’s a lot of difference between the way each vocalist carries themselves. Whether they’re flirtatious or not. It’s important to share the emotion but I don’t believe there’s such a thing in rock music where we ask [the audience] to “please listen” or “please sing along”. That may be a thing in other musical genres. But I have clear standards when it comes to this area.
There aren’t many vocalists who have an aesthetic sensibility in being unflirtatious. And because of that, ISSAY-kun is the cream of the crop in the rock genre. His stage presence, his choice of language, his lyrics; all of this make the sum of ISSAY-kun’s attractiveness.

―― It is indeed true that flirting [with the audience] in rock music is unseemly.

T: I’ve instructed ISSAY-kun against chatting on stage. ISSAY-kun is a good person. And his goodness comes through once he speaks (lol). We can’t show that. If people know that ISSAY-kun’s a nice person, even my own performance will become flirtatious to the audience (lol).

――  ISSAY-san’s an angel, isn’t he (lol).

T: We absolutely cannot let people know about that (lol). Ultimately, I want him to exude the presence of a scary, aloof person for KA.F.KA’s performances.

Phantom of darkness⁴

 

―― KA.F.KA’s worldview also comes through in the lyrics but the music comes first, then ISSAY-san listens to it and writes the lyrics for it, right?

I: That’s right.

―― What were your thoughts when Tsuchiya-san handed the music to you?

I: The worldview is very well thought out. That was my impression. But honestly, the very first thing that came to mind when I heard it was how complicated and bizarre it was. All parts were necessary no matter what angle you consider them from. The chord progression, the melody line, all of them appeared to be necessary. But the feeling of the guitar and all that, they were so unconventional and complex. Like, ah… I’m supposed to write lyrics for this song…… (lol).

―― Do you mean it was difficult?

I: No, because the worldview was concrete. I first listened, then grasped it with my own image of it, and after that went to check whether there were any keywords or anything like that via email, then did I come to understand what Tsuchiya-san intended through a word or two. I was able to get into the music’s world easily.

―― Is it different than when you’re writing lyrics for your own band?

I: I’ve never made that comparison, but when I’m writing lyrics, I have to make my way through a dark tunnel once. The tunnel for KA.F.KA’s lyrics has a deep darkness to it but I get through it unusually fast, so it’s short. That’s what it feels like.

T: My concept is to be “difficult to comprehend”. That’s what makes it different from my solo album. When it comes to my solo work, it’s musically kind to my listeners but that shouldn’t be the case for KA.F.KA. That’s the very thing I asked ISSAY-kun to pay attention to. His good nature has a tendency to show in his lyrics after all, and we can’t let that happen.

I: That, I’ve been told quite sternly (lol).

―― Don’t flirt with the audience, make it hard to understand.

T: But because of this, the universe of the songs also get to grow through the listeners’ imagination. I was surprised when I received the lyrics to Coyote. It got me thinking, “Oh, this is it!” And, just as expected, Coyote is well received. As to what brought about this response, I’m inclined to believe it’s the lyrics.
Be it film or music, all of it is actually an art of memory. The key to it is the amount of memories the performer has made and how much they have experienced. The more original the performer can be with their unique and strange experiences that only they have ever had, the better. In Coyote, it’s enjoyable if both the listeners and the composer possess memories of similar experiences, and even if that isn’t the case, the [audience’s] relationship with the song begins if they think it’s a circus song.
How moved you are [by the song] increases if it’s linked to a memory. That’s my ideal. And it’s the one thing I won’t compromise on.

―― Is the band’s name is inspired by Franz Kafka?

T: Precisely so.

―― Please tell me more about the album’s title.

T: After forming KA.F.KA, we held 3 shows in the form of an event which we called Fantome † Noir, meaning phantom of darkness⁴. It can’t be done with a person who doesn’t live in darkness. It’s not feasible with someone who’s cheerful and energetic or someone who comes alive in the summer. 

―― So, what you want is to illustrate the world of those who belong in darkness when it comes to KA.F.KA.

T: That’s my theme too. I like rainy days more than sunny days. I’d rather a dimly lit room than a brightly lit one. Instead of standing up, I’ll sit on the floor, hugging my knees. Those are the clear ideals I have.
Back to the topic of the album title, I already had in mind to name the album《Fantome † Noir》since the event started. 
I really don’t want to make an album in a rush when it comes to leaving something behind as a legacy. And that’s why there was no going around and asking “What should the title be?” or “What should the cover look like?” at all. Because I’ve been spending a long time asking myself questions to come up with the concept. So all of it had already taken shape when the time comes.

―― Does ISSAY-san like Franz Kafka?

I:  I read his work when I was in high school. Actually, there’s a song Kafka from Tsuchiya-san’s solo album RICE MUSIC, and I’ve once done a reading of Kafka’s Metamorphosis on stage with that song in the background. So while we were talking about these topics, I started discussing Metamorphosis with Tsuchiya-san and it suddenly drew out the very feeling that I got when I first read it, like, “It’s like this, right?!” I was surprised. That made my spine tingle.

―― That was the feeling of being understood, right?

I: Yes. It made me realise that there’s a house in my heart, and there was, surprisingly, a door in such a place. And this wasn’t pointed out to me in the, “It’s there, isn’t it?” way. It was more like a feeling of being given something to think about and as I thought about it, I noticed the door’s existence. And that I’ve opened that door before in the past. That’s how I’ve been feeling this whole time ever since KA.F.KA began. 

―― You’re not adding something new, but rather, you’re recalling a long-forgotten thing that exists within you. This is connected to the concept that art is based on your memories, right?

I: A door I’ve forgotten. And there’s also a door within me that I wasn’t aware of. I came to realise it with a, “Ah, so something like this exists in such an area.”

T: That’s right. ISSAY-kun is without a doubt an exceptionally rare person. His interests also lie in strange places. But it wasn’t my intention to draw anything out from within him. All we did was have a regular conversation and something like that happened. Isn’t it fascinating?  It’d be ideal if one could make something with that and turn it into a profession. A profession is a calling, work that lives. That’s why it’s not about putting up with something for the sake of doing what you want; that would make it a job. If you consider this from a Western perspective, it’d be called ego though. I really love the phrase, “This is what I was made to do.⁵” 
An occupation is something you say you are, right? It’s especially the case for musicians and all too. That’s why I’m thinking that someday, I want to write “poet” in my occupational field.

I: That’s so cool. I wanna write that too.

T: You’d just want to, right?

―― How wonderful it is that the both of you met. It’s as if it happened because you were meant to come together.

T: I strongly feel that. When I started making music, I had my period fo popularity and saleability too, but the seniors i met at the time said to me, “The real fun comes much, much later.” They also said, “When it’s time to die, it’ll happen in an instant so it’s okay.”

―― Really?

T: They were pretty easy going about that. And that was what I was told about 30 years ago. I noticed that meeting someone isn’t something that suddenly happens out of nowhere; it’s something that was years in the making.
Recently, I met Chuya-kun from the band Allergy for the first time, I felt the same way with him too. He’s been working with someone I’m very close to for a long time. The person who inspired me to become a musician had recorded with Chuya-kun before. Of course. I did know about the band Allergy since the 1980s, but I was surprised when I watched them perform for the first time after they reformed. They were just too cool. It’s like I witnessed first-hand someone who performs with the same awareness as us. ‘This is no ordinary person’, I thought, ‘I should talk to him’, and when I did, ‘I knew it’. He’s very similar to ISSAY-kun too. 

―― You’ll meet the people you’re meant to meet. And when that happens, you’ll be able to portray what you’re meant to portray.

T: It’s also important not to resist things and to let things go.

―― This is inspiring.

T: That’s what it is, right? Life. Because people are living things. Other people won’t know what makes a person happy. I did wonder before why do lazy people exist, but that’s precisely a case of what I just said.

―― There’s more to life than just living, right?

T: But [the answer to that] isn’t quite ‘the future’. I’m not optimistic about the future.

―― Are you saying that you’re not optimistic about what society will be like in the future?

T: That’s right. But society itself is a personalised thing, so if someone is under the impression that it doesn’t exist, then it doesn’t exist. 
The existence of people implies that there’s a universe that exists within each one of us and the moment the universe inhabits the body is the moment when the person is acknowledged by the universe. This appears to be similar to puberty. The awakening of the mind in that period is very similar to it. This is apparently when one’s personal values are determined. I believe it is during this period when the unnoticed door is formed. And that’s why boys and girls have a hard time when they enter puberty. Everyone has a door. But if you think you don’t have it, you don’t. If you think you do have it, you do. It makes me feel better to think this way.

I: Things will be quite tough until you arrive at this perspective.

T: That’s the kind of song The Prisoner is. And in the end, both the perpetrator and the victim are 15 years old. If an incident like this happens, if this song turns into reality, I’d be shocked though.

Joy Division and The Doors

―― Is there some basis behind the idea to form such a band?

T: As I said before, it’s the desire to leave something behind. Also, Joy Division’s a big part of it, right? I absolutely loved their 1978 release, Unknown Pleasures back when it first went on sale, but personally, I somehow feel that what we now call post-punk was still in its adolescence at that point in time, so I enjoyed it without truly understanding what it was. No, rather, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. I only understood it from a technical perspective. Time went by before I finally realised, “Ah, so that’s what it’s about.”
In the end, it took me about 30 years [to get to that point]. 30 years is the equivalent of one cycle. In my case, it’s coming around for the second time. In my youth, I had my first adolescence, then I turned 30 and that was when I experienced another adolescence since becoming an adult, and now, another 30 years have passed and I’m once again gaining the ability to look at it all objectively.
Back then, I couldn’t explain what it was to others and more than that, I’ve come to understand that I overlooked the most important parts of it. Don’t you think this happens a lot? People who realise this probably get to live happy lives. Of course, even if you don’t realise it, it’s alright. Because it’s that person’s life to live. But it’s fun to find out.

―― So Joy Division is what started it.

T: That’s right. I realised it after discovering them once again. One day, I took their CD out of my cabinet for no particular reason to listen to them and found myself astounded. Listening to them now, their playing sounds exceptionally crude from a technical standpoint but that wasn’t what got me.
It was the question of why they decided to make something like this at such a time. And they weren’t the only ones, this was happening on a global scale back then. Something was changing and we could move towards it. People who saw things as they were held that belief. But I don’t have any proof of that. Which is what makes it cool.
That’s what we’re lacking the most these days, right? If you’re asking me whether people can be moved by blind faith or unquestioning conviction, I think they no longer can be. That’s the reason why things are no longer interesting.
The beginning of the 20th century, the 1910s were interesting. That was the age of German Expressionism. People came to think that it’s beautiful to destroy whatever came before. But there’s no proof at all that it’s truly the case. But it got to a point where they decided to destroy what they’ve created since it’s right in front of them. Then they questioned how they should destroy things. Which led to the pursuit of the beauty of destruction.
When punk came to an end, a mountain of things that had been broken was left before us and we found ourselves wondering how we were supposed to rebuild it all. We stood upon a mountain of rubble. We had Surrealism and Dadaism as our foundations. So, how do we rebuild it?
There is an appeal in that. How we chose to build differed from band to band. Among them, it was YMO who brought in technology.
Where do we go after Dadaism? It required a lot of energy for us to build the roads into the future too.
It couldn’t have been done unless you were driven. If you weren’t standing at the precipice, you wouldn’t have the energy for it. You wouldn’t even have enough to tell yourself, “I’m going to do my best.” Flailing and struggling in the sweeping trends, you’ll push to your very limits and there, you start to wonder, is there something I can do…… That is the point of time when a mysterious energy rises up.
But you must first tear things down. Because the lovely thing about humans is how they won’t understand unless they get to see first-hand the state of destruction.

―― Does this mean that Tsuchiya-san doesn’t align with Dadaism?

T: I do, after destruction. But that’s contemporary history or contemporary art that’s yet to be established. We haven’t arrived at its conclusion yet.
Joy Division and Factory Records were born out of Manchester, where the Industrial Revolution occurred. Therein lies a big hint. And as to what comes next, think about it yourself. It’s most definitely no coincidence.
What happened in Germany also happened in due course of history.

―― I see. I’m starting to understand why you named the band KA.F.KA.

T: It’s a courtesy, isn’t it? It’s a flow with proper etiquette. What’s important isn’t that the style of expression is new. If you have Shakespeare in your foundation, what you say will for some reason come across as beautiful even if you’re saying something harsh in your words. There’s not much point in being straight-up aggressive, neither is it attractive. Kafka wrote, “Our salvation is death, but not this one.”⁶ It’s brilliant, isn’t it? What does “this” refer to?

―― Right (lol).

T: Because a universe exists within each one of us. And in the end, that’s what it comes down to.
Our salvation is death. But what “this” refers to differs. That’s why we’re alive.
Kafka is just brilliant.

―― Like the eternally unobtainable in The Castle. But that’s why it’s good, right?

T: That’s right. Ultimately, where is the destination? You might have already gone past it.
There are those who say that the terminus for civilised society was 50 or 60 years ago. When we achieved a good balance. But after that, we’ve just been carrying out wasteful activities. There are also those who say that it all ended after the atomic bomb was created. That we’re just making things we don’t need.

―― Where does music stand in this?

T: This is the reason why music is important. Because it has to be made with care. To use it for the sole purpose of making money out of it is blasphemy. That’s not what music is.

―― I’d like to ask you about understanding people. For example, Miyazawa Kenji for years polished the story of Night on the Galactic Railroad⁷ while rewriting it for years, and in the end, he passed away without it ever being released to the world so what we’re now reading is the incomplete manuscript he held onto the whole time. Naturally, it was never read by anyone before his death. Not only that story, but all of Miyazawa Kenji’s works and his genius wasn’t understood in his lifetime.

T: This is because, the greater the excellence of a work, the longer it will take to understand it. But I think Miyazawa Kenji was very happy when he wrote Night on the Galactic Railroad. Because he created such a work of art. However, the level of those around him was too low for them to understand him sufficiently. And that is the misfortune of those who were not Miyazawa Kenji.
Van Gogh was put in the same situation. His wonderful works of art weren’t understood when he was alive. But I believe he spent an immense amount of energy painting those works, and he must’ve been absolutely thrilled with them. He must have been at the height of joy when he completed his paintings. Be it Miyazawa Kenji or Van Gogh, they were only understood by a few people like their siblings in their lives.
But now, Van Gogh’s paintings go for billions of yen. Something is fundamentally wrong. And that is the sad reality of our present era. You’re celebrated if you sell so many copies [of music] that it becomes a trending song, or if you generate lots of sales. But there’s probably nothing we can do about it because it’s a system that’s created in line with the society we live in.

―― KA.F.KA’s an amazing band. When the time came, Tsuchiya-san made your move and ISSAY-san joined in to create such great music.

T: It might be amazing to people like us, but I’d suppose society would consider this as no big deal. But we’re Miyazawa Kenji in this case, so that’s fine anyway (lol).

―― I see (lol).

T: I don’t expect what we’re making to be that easily understandable. Because even for me, I took 30 years to understand Joy Division.

―― ISSAY-san likes Joy Division too, right?

T: There aren’t many who can listen and feel Joy Division above a certain level. In ISSAY-kun’s case, I believe The Doors came existed before [Joy Division]. He has a good sense of etiquette.
I went to see the Dolly project that ISSAY-kun is working on and there, I watched him perform Kurt Weill’s Alabama Song from Bertolt Brecht’s play, The Threepenny Opera. I have never seen a performance that did Kurt Weill’s song justice. The version he performed was The Doors’. And that he performed it quietly in a blue room was great. [He made it] a place where revered art is born.
N
ow, The Threepenny Opera is recognised for its outstanding artistry, but when it first premiered, it was thought to be a very strange thing. Probably because it looked like a miscreation in theatre.
Joy Division’s Ian Curtis admired David Bowie and was said to have become the kind of singer that he was. And as to why David Bowie was thought to be attractive, it’s because The Doors existed. Like Hayakawa Yoshio’s album, To Think Being Cool Is This Uncool (かっこいいことはなんてかっこ悪いんだろう / Kakkoii Koto wa Nante Kakko Waruindarou), that’s exactly what The Doors have achieved.
As a band, The Doors existed in the era when all the different facets of rock music were being established so in other words, they were thoroughly worn out. As a rock band, they gave off such a fatigued feeling, it really was Hayakawa Yoshio’s To Think Being Cool Is This Uncool. But that’s a good thing.
This To Think Being Cool Is This Uncool also applies to Joy Division. If we show a DVD of their concert footage to young ladies who don’t understand rock music, I think 100 out of 100 of them will say that Ian Curtis is gross and that will be the end of it (lol). But that’s a natural reaction. How could they understand? It’s not something that is easily understood.
Both The Doors and Joy Division truly gave their all in what they did. But it was crude. They were all out crude. But they had the courage to continue fighting in that state, and that’s what rock music is to me. It’s not something that’s smart or achieved by fixing the sounds with a computer.
It doesn’t matter to me if people call [us] gross and leave it at that. I’m not even that interested in getting people to understand us. As to why, it’s simply because we’re all different.
I’m categorised as part of the Beatles generation but this is no joke. When I was in middle school, there were only one or two people talking about the Beatles in school. And yet, now, those who were kids when the band came to Japan to perform are calling themselves the Beatles generation, and those who get called that think they are in this group too.

―― Was Tsuchiya-san listening to the Beatles in middle school?

T: I lived in the suburbs, but I was lucky in the sense that my older sister was exchanging letters with an American for her English language studies and her pen pal sent us Meet The Beatles!. That’s why I started listening to them very early on. Their harmonies were the very first thing that struck me. And that was when my musical journey began.

―― Where did ISSAY-san’s musical journey begin?

I: For me, I was rowdy as rowdy could be when I was young, so there was no time for music. But I was introduced to David Bowie and T. Rex and Sex Pistols, and that was when I started to listen actively. It felt like music said “Yes” to me.

T: Where from did you get this present disposition of yours? These exceptionally gentlemanly aspects and the like.

I: Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

T: Maybe family lineage.  Were your ancestors perchance samurai?

I: Yes, I do have samurai ancestry.

T: They must’ve been rowdy yet classy people as well (lol). I was born in Fuji-shi, and he, in Numazu. We’re both from Shizuoka.

I: When I was a teenager, I was so rowdy that I wasn’t allowed to stay in that city (lol).

―― Well then, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours (lol).

 

 

 

KA.F.KA will be performing! 
WORLD HAPPINESS 2015 
23 August 2015 (Sun)
Doors open 11:00 / Show starts 12:30 (Performance scheduled to end 20:00)
Yumenoshima Athletic Stadium, Tokyo
info: http://www.world-happiness.com/

  _______________________

《Fantome † Noir》
KA.F.KA

MBRC-9901 
Mazzy Bunny Records 
2000 yen (excl. tax)

  1. Jack The Midnight 
  2. The Prisoner 
  3. 夜明け前 ~Before the Dawn~ [Yoake Mae ~Before the Dawn~]
  4. Labiera Beladen 
  5. Silent Party 
  6. Coyote

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ Luna Sea’s vocalist.

² Kaneko Mari is a singer whose career began in the 1970s and took off with Smoky Medicine, the band she formed with Char. Her two sons are KenKen and Kaneko Nobuaki of RIZE.

³ Ueno Kouji was the bassist of THEE MICHELLE GUN ELEPHANT. He’s currently in the band the HIATUS.

⁴ 暗闇の怪人 (kurayami no kaijin) is the actual phrase used, rather different from the direct translation of Fantome Noir, i.e. black ghost. The reason why I went with “phantom” for 怪人 is actually because Phantom of the Opera in Japanese also uses 怪人 in its title (オペラ座の怪人 / Opera-za no Kaijin).

⁵ This might not be the most accurate translation of “それを生業とする” but I think it most closely conveys what Tsuchiya is talking about here. A more literal translation of this phrase is, “This is what I do for a living.”

⁶ I think that’s the quote he’s referring to. If it’s wrong, please let me know.
The line in Japanese reads: 死は確かに救いだ。ただ君が考えているそれとは違う。

⁷ 銀河鉄道の夜 (Ginga Tetsudō no Yoru), sometimes translated as Milky Way Railroad, Night Train to the Stars or Fantasy Railroad in the Stars, is a classic Japanese fantasy novel by Miyazawa Kenji written around 1927.

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Pics: Yoshiyuki

 

SNIPER IN ‘88

Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
March 1988

Photos by Sashi Motoko (佐志素子)
Text by Editorial department

 

The first time I came into contact with their concerts was in a live house in Shinjuku. On behalf of rock magazines, I’ve been to a few live houses but watching children being absorbed in their “kids’ meal” level of inferiority left me, in all honesty, sick of it.

On this night, the venue was packed with girls dressed up in black outfits. And for some reason, the live house was filled with an overwhelmingly charged atmosphere. On this night, DER ZIBET put on a show so manic and savage that it was more than plenty; that shook me to my core. In terms of the show itself, I did get a sense of inexperience from the structural problems and issues with the live house but in an instant, I understood what they were trying to do, and I found myself believing in them. These guys were serious, although they were also testy with impatience. 

“YOU MEET THE ROCK PARTY” is a project where we introduce rock bands we’ve selected to the readers of Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll. And kicking things off as our first band, we have DER ZIBET. We wanted to share with as many people as possible the joy and the fever that everyone gets to experience at their concerts that exemplify the “wild and danceable”. This interview with them was held after their two hall shows at Osaka’s Banana Hall and Nagoya’s HeartLand.

 

 

―― First, let’s hear about what you think of “YOU MEET THE ROCK PARTY”.

Hikaru (H): It was fun. This is just the first event but I think this is something that [people] can look forward to in future too. But I got the feeling that our reputation hasn’t quite built up yet. First-timers at our show were also starting to enjoy themselves in the second half, weren’t they? 

Issei (I): To perform an actual concert of what’s so far been spreading in print and then having the magazine make us known all over the country, it’s [a] groundbreaking [project], isn’t it? It always feels like this when DER ZIBET performs at a place we’ve never been to before. Although we’ve performed at this venue many times before, there were probably a lot of people who were seeing us for the first time, right? I was glad to see them gradually start dancing despite the case. Because things never turn out the way we expect it to.

HAL (HA): The audience weren’t our fans but a recon team, or something… They’re like people who’re here to see what kind of band we are.

Mayumi (M): It’s an honour to be the first (lol). I think this magazine has been satisfying the hearts of the audience these days (lol), so yeah, maybe it’s a good thing to bring on a little more party atmosphere.

―― Hey, wasn’t there a video? (Before the show started, a film was being screened by 4 projectors onto walls and such. Captured in it were things that each band member liked) Tell us about what you picked for that and why.

I: So, for me, my house is full of junk, y’know. I just can’t get myself to throw all these things and they pile up so much that I don’t even have space to sleep. [The things I picked for the video are] the things I see most often within that pile. A broken alarm clock. A music box. A book. A Lindsay Kemp¹ photobook. Things like that.

H: I focused on what’s in my bag. Like my driving license, my wallet, an ero-guro picture from the early Showa period.

HA: Boots, hat, beard, a Chinese doll from China atop my bass guitar. The cover of a Mingus² album. At the very end, my eye appears…… This is meant to represent an “eyeball”.

M: Ingenious (lol). As to what I chose, you know how in university there’s a library and a research lab, right? I borrowed a whole variety of books for the purpose of research and just like that, I dropped out (lol). So, those are fancy books that can never be bought with pocket change. Books about music, the arts, theatre, and so on. I picked a few out of them [for the video]. Aside from those, there’s also a Dalí³ brochure a fan gave me and things like that.

―― All your strange hobbies are being shown (lol). Right, so you’re releasing your LP soon but will your live concerts change after it’s out?

H: Yeah. Now that we’ve got this far, it feels like we can go anywhere. We’re not leaving anything behind, and besides, from this album on, we’ve included elements that make people feel and want to listen to our music in a way that’s different than before. Our live shows will probably end up with a mixed [format]…… Not only will it have a strong groove, but the flow on the whole also won’t change too, something like that.

I: I think the scale [of our shows] will grow bigger. Until now, our shows have been structured to make people go to their limits. You could say that our shows are like an hour’s sprint at full speed…… But this time, I think we’ll have a kind of tempo.

H: You know, in the past, we split [our shows] into two portions, and for the first, the audience can’t stand. We’d insist that they sit. …… Then suddenly we’d come out with oil lamps in our hands (rofl).

M: Sounds stupid, doesn’t it?

HA: We even had a street lamp erected on stage.

M: Wasn’t that around the same period? Next to the street lamp was the oil lamp, right? We did that a lot. But it wasn’t a bad thing. It’s just that, I guess it was embarrassing or something (lol).

―― Did you do that too after your debut?

I: We did at Kudan Kaikan, didn’t we? The [audience’s] reaction, wasn’t all that great (lol).

M: We did so many different things that I get exhausted thinking about it. I guess it’s sad, because we can’t get to the next level if we don’t do all this.

I: We were seriously theatrical. Yes, so theatrical that it’s nauseating. Maybe that’s the kind of nuance that comes through.

M: I think we can do it if we look at it as a form of entertainment. We’ve matured a little more now too……

HA: I want to make something like the progressive music that’s come after new wave.

―― That’ll leave an impression. In a past interview, you’ve said that what you want to do is more like a “tear [your shirt] buttons off” rather than a “undo [your shirt] buttons”.

HA: I guess in comparison, this time, we’re asking people to go off the beaten track, something like that.

 

I: Won’t putting it into words narrow [the possibilities] down? But well, yes, it’s like a state of nothingness. Or a state where there’s nothing but yourself. There are many ways to get there, and rock happens to have the essential element of aggression. Steadily stripping things down…… I guess you could say that even we are facing our true selves when we perform…… It’d be wonderful if we could turn our shows into spaces where everyone listening could do the same, don’t you think?
A while ago, I went to look at paintings…… You know, while I was viewing the art, I felt something that brought me to the verge of tears for the first time. That, in the end, is seeing the artist who drew it, right? And I could also see myself looking at it. It’s the most basic thing of all. Being able to see yourself as a human being.

―― Stripped down to the bare essentials, right?

I: The trouble with performing live is when people start to think, you know. I feel that it’s not about the words saying this or that. Rather, it should be [a sense of] “Ah, I get this.” If each and every person would feel like that, wouldn’t that be great?

―― So it’s not about persuading them.

I: When you listen to rock, [the most important thing is] that sensation of the very first thing you felt, right? That feeling of being forced to strip naked. The way it’s so unexpected. Making you wonder how it got you like this. That’s the one powerful thing rock music has. Rather than persuading you, it strips you naked and leaves you outside. That’s why, it makes you feel what you want to do instead of making you think about it.

―― You know, these days, pop songs that have always been so popular are now on the decline. Recently, I read the data that an advertising agency released and there’s one part in it that said we’re moving from the era of expressing “something similar to the heart” to expressing “the heart itself”. It has to be real if it’s going to work. How composed are you? How serious are you? There’s a stereotype, and people are no longer looking at the sweet. That’s the kind of era it’s going to be. Isn’t it amazing? Well, you could of course say it’s no surprise. That’s just the conclusion this advertising agency came to after studying the trends.

M: We want to become the leaders in that sense, though. For the kids 40 years in the future to be good people and follow the rules and keep their acts together…… Spiritually speaking, everyone ends up the same in the end, right? But the truth is that every single person is different. Although no two people are alike, we’re all really one human race. So to what extent can we express ourselves?   Socially speaking, it’s not accepted much, is it? But with music, we’re free. I think more and more people are starting to feel that way. [With music,] we can show ourselves off in a civil manner, not physically or violently. This way, it’s peaceful, we’re making music, right? For us, we were born in the mid-1950s, so I think we’re the first generation to realise what the younger generation thinks these days. Those older than us don’t really matter. Because they can do whatever they like and they’ll die first. It’s the younger generation.

I: They somehow believe things too carelessly, don’t they?

HA: But, you know, haven’t we always been cynical ever since we were kids? Then we’d brush it all off as a joke…… Come to think of it, that makes it difficult to tell what’s actually real.

I: You can’t really tell who’s friend or foe.

H: Because words like “That’s rank” and “Tragic” and all that were always on our lips. If something’s really moving to you, you’d say it’s rank⁴. Now we’re past that, right? We don’t use these words so lightly now. It’s exaggerated, right?

M: I guess it’s like the old days.

I: We just hope that the era where people are convinced they’re safe would end. From the perspective that everyone should take things seriously, you know?

H: But that we think that we can do that through music and lyrics. We want to think about it, but we don’t want to put it out there directly.

M: Because doing that is authoritarian⁵, right……

I: Ultimately, just one field is enough……⁶

―― Have you decided on the title of your LP?

I: DER ZIBET.

―― That’s straightforward. Why?

I: To say that this is “DER ZIBET”.

H: We could’ve come up with a one-word title or something, but we feel that there are still many people who don’t know us so…… We figured that this would be the most straightforward way to get that across.

M: This is our company (lol).

HA: With a capital C.

―― What does DER ZIBET mean though?

H: What it means is, well, the word “ZIBET” is what the civet cat is called in both English⁷ and German, but the “DER” that comes before it is a definite article in German that has been altered to an English reading. Germans wouldn’t know this word (lol).

―― So what about the single you’re releasing on 21 March?

I: It’s Only “You”, Only “Love”.

―― Why did you choose to make this the first cut?

I: Because it’s got good energy (lol). We really hope people will listen to it.

 

 

DER ZIBET is a band that has now just started to have a voice. Because they have finally broken out of their societal situation; of being too manic an artist. And also, because their self-titled album DER ZIBET will also be released on 21 March. The experimental approach that they have taken so far will probably continue in future too. But this attitude of ensuring satisfaction before moving on is, I believe, also one of the purest forms of rock ‘n’ roll history. I hope they will keep rocking forever with this purity. And also, that their live shows and albums will knock us clean out.

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ Lindsay Keith Kemp was a British dancer, actor, teacher, mime artist, and choreographer. He was probably best known for his 1974 flagship production of Flowers, a mime and music show based on Jean Genet’s novel Our Lady of the Flowers, in which he played the lead role of ‘Divine’. Owing to its homosexual themes and perceived decadence, reviews were sometimes hostile, but it was widely considered a theatrical and sensory sensation, and it toured globally for many years. He was also a mentor to David Bowie and Kate Bush.

² As in Charles Mingus, an American jazz double bassist, pianist, composer, and bandleader. A major proponent of collective improvisation, he is considered to be one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers in history, with a career spanning three decades and collaborations with other jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Herbie Hancock.

³ Salvador Dalí.

⁴ The original word here is クサイ (kusai) which is normally a descriptor for something that smells, or just to say that something stinks. But in this context, they’re obviously referring to some old slang interpretation of クサイ which no longer exists. I can’t think of any similar sort of slang/trend phrase in English, so I picked the rather questionable option of “rank”.

⁵ The word Mayumi used was “fascism (ファシズム)”. I didn’t use that direct translation because the implied meaning of it has probably evolved over the years to possess different connotations than it probably did back in the late 80s.

⁶ I don’t really know what he’s referring to but here’s the original text for your consideration:
あくまで、ひとつのフィー ルドでいいと……

⁷ Since this is an English translation, we know that’s not true lol. I believe he’s definitely talking about the word “Civet” but is just a little mixed up with the pronunciation of it.

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: morgianasama on LJ

X cross talking

J-rock Magazine
July 1996

Interviewed by Hiroshi Ishida
Photographer Akihito Takagi

 

Once the music is released, it’s not a personal possession any more

In March, the more than a decade long career of DER ZIBET was packed into a best-of album Ari which they released alongside their 12th full album Kirigirisu. They were supposed to go on their promotional tour for these two albums, Ari to Kirigirisu¹ but the tour was unfortunately put on hold when a band member suddenly took ill. You can imagine the shock of the fans who have been looking forward to their first tour in almost a year, but the band probably feels the same way too. How does ISSAY, for whom live performances are like an anxiolytic, feel about this? Let’s hear it from the man himself in his own words.

 

 

Be it pantomime or music
You can’t do either without the soul of a poet

―― How’s the general reaction to Ari and Kirigirisu?

ISSAY (I): … I don’t know.

―― Don’t the music reviews in magazines interest you?

I: It’s not as if I don’t care for them at all though. I do think it’s good to just read and see what that person feels about it. In the end I just feel distant from that kind of thing.

―― Because these reviews are subjective.

I: Besides, if they weren’t, the writer’s existence is moot. Even if it makes me think, “That’s not quite right though,” once the music is released, it’s not my personal possession any more. That’s why I just take [these reviews] as a matter of “Ah, so this person feels this way.” But if it sounds like “This guy isn’t listening,” it makes me want to beat them to death (lol). Like, “How dare you write something like this when you weren’t even listening enough,” or something (lol).

―― When I was listening to your latest album Kirigirisu and your best-of album Ari, I was really intrigued by ISSAY-san as an expressionist though. Like, with your lyrics, it feels as if a particular part of you is being brought out.

 

I: I suppose, first and foremost, it’s the sense of loneliness that’s always there, right? The sense of loneliness, alienation; those are the kinds of things that I want to bring out in a positive light. Because we humans are alone when we’re born and we’d be on our own ever since. I always want to put that positively. That, and the “swaying”, I guess. There are periods when our emotions get swayed, right? There are loads of these instances like In our adolescence, or when we fall in love, and I think it’d be great if I can bring that across.

―― Guitarist HIKARU-san said that, ‘ISSAY is picky with words but he’s pretty flexible when it comes to lyrics.’ But what does ISSAY-san think about this?

I: Right, I suppose that might especially be so in recent years. Because it’s a problem if you end up with the wrong impression of a particular word when writing lyrics. Even if someone suggests to me that it’s better to change a certain word, I’d say something like, “I don’t think it can be replaced.” To me, if I see the word “孤独 (kodoku / solitude)”, it’s neither negative nor positive. Because I see it as nothing more than a state of being. But if you change that to the word “寂しい (sabishii / lonely)”, it turns into something else entirely, so I’m very particular when it comes to things like that. But not when it comes to the order in which the words come. I’m not too bothered by the minor details as long as the song makes proper sense in the big picture.

―― As Der Zibet’s vocalist? Do you see it like this precisely because you’re one of four members of a band who each have strong personalities?

I: I don’t think that I’m just one quarter of the band. Besides, I think the one singing is the greatest of them all (lol). And once I start writing lyrics, it’s already out of my hands. How I’m going to sing it on stage next time is up to the future me who will be performing it so it’s about expressing how I feel about that particular piece of work, y’know?

―― Even though it’s something that originally came from inside of you?

I: But you see, it’s turned into something that is no longer the same thing as what was initially conceived, so if I were to keep holding on to the energy that I had in the beginning, [the song] would become too subjective and that’s not good. In the end, I’d be taking on a different stance when I perform. That’s something that I’ve been doing in recent years, especially since I released my solo album.

―― So, what’s Hamlet Machine, this other unit that you’re doing away from Der Zibet with Mizunaga-san?

I: Mm… Spite, I suppose (lol). I guess it’s unfettered spite and aggression. I’d say it’s something that is even more aggressive and abrasive than Der Zibet. An abrasive solitude, spitefulness; that’s the kind of thing we’re doing.

―― Der Zibet is a flesh and blood band but Hamlet Machine uses programming which gets me thinking that your method of expression would also change, so when you say that it gets aggressive, is that because of the background music being programming after all?

I: If we’re using programming, the background music will still be perfect even if we’re doing something crazy. That’s why I can always let loose with a piece of mind (lol). Because in the case of Hamlet Machine, at the music composition stage, we’re already assuming that the music will be played by a machine, you know?

―― Since ISSAY-san also does pantomime, do you think that you’re performing with a different side of yourself when you’re doing that as compared to music?

I: No, I think of it as the same. In the end, you can’t do pantomime if you don’t sing, you know? Because I think of it as a song without sound or a voice, so, be it pantomime or music, you can’t do either without the soul of a poet, y’know? That’s why, although the parts of me used in performance are different, in the end, I’m doing the same thing. But the pantomimes that I do are only those where I perform with my master, so since they’re not created by me, it’s probably more enjoyable (lol).

―― Come to think of it, what made you start pantomime?

I: I just happened to bump into my present master (Mochizuki Akira / 望月章) (lol). He suddenly asked me, “Won’t you perform in my next show?”, and I said, “I’ve never done it before so, I won’t,” but he said, “I’ll only let you do things within your ability,” so I said, “If that’s the case, then I guess I’ll give it a go.” More than 10 years have passed since…

―― You got hooked (lol). Is it because you were influenced by your master’s performances after all?

I: No, I was already performing before I saw his work. It’s because I liked that person.

―― Were you drawn by his character?

I: Saying it’s his character is weird but, yeah, I suppose it’s his character in a way.

―― I’d assume your master is one of them too, but aren’t there quite a number of artists who influenced you, ISSAY-san?

I: There are lots. I think that [the music] I’ve listened to all this while has definitely all influenced me. Besides, there are quite a number of musicians who inspired me to start listening to rock music. Like there’s David Bowie and Lou Reed and The Doors who [influenced me] in that sense of it, but I only decided to make music after I listened to T. Rex. I ended up with a huge misconception when I heard T. Rex… I thought, “If [this is rock], then even I can do it, right?” (lol). I think that was a serious misconception, but that’s what made me start music, you know (lol).

―― (Lol) But you’re here today because you thought that way.

I: Exactly, yes. Cocky, isn’t it? (Lol). I got this far in life by being cocky. Through misconceptions and cockiness.

Because making music, writing lyrics,
these are things I have no choice but to do

―― What made you decide to start writing lyrics?

I: It’s because I originally liked reading. I used to read Mishima Yukio and all that. So, one day, I found Tanikawa Shuntaro-san’s poetry collection in a second-hand bookstore, and that got me thinking maybe I should write lyrics..

―― Again, why?

I: I wonder… It made me want to try.

―― Not because you thought, “Even I can do it.” (Lol)

I: I think the idea that “Even I can do it” probably did cross my mind (lol). Since my life is just one of hubris (lol). Lyrics written with such simple vocabulary were fresh, weren’t they?

―― Even now, do you still remember the lyrics you wrote when you just started out?

I: (Lol) Because I have them. At home.

―― You still have some left?

I: I keep them. You know, I made small changes to the lyrics I wrote when I was in high school and turned it into our debut song Matsu Uta (lol).

―― Such lyrics you’ve written back in your high school days probably seem fresh when you read them today.

I: They do. They’re amateurish but I didn’t write them particularly because I absolutely had to come up with something, so it was really interesting because my emotions were in dire straits.

―― You didn’t have deadlines either back then, right?

I: Nope, none at all. And I never even had the mind to sing or anything like that back then, so it really was just me and my need to write, you know? Now, it’s me and my need to stand on stage, but at the time, I had to write lyrics no matter what. So much so that I found myself at the precipice of my… How do I say this, [these lyrics are] unpolished because they were written based on the unstable parts of my psyche, but they’re about things that we all understand very well, right?

―― I’m sure you felt a sense of release after you vented that out.

I: Probably, right? Then again, that much is still the same even now though (lol).

―― I heard that ISSAY-san had your own solo activities prior to the formation of Der Zibet, so what did it sound like?

I: I guess it was something that feels like a mix of punk and glam and electric pop.

―― So how did you go from that to deciding to form Der Zibet?

I: I was a one-man act so the members (of my backing band) weren’t fixed. It’d be a different lineup every month too. So I got sick of such an uncertain set up and was thinking about forming a band and giving that a go when I got acquainted with my present band members, and I thought, “Ah, this is it.” The moment I met this group, I decided that I’d formally form a band with them and make music with them.

―― And just like that, you’ve been together for 10 years. It’s amazing.

I: Yeah, in the end… I suppose it just goes to show how appealing this band is, right?

―― Come to think of it, ISSAY-san once acted in a movie too, right?

I: (Lol) I did.

―― So, why didn’t you continue down that path but chose to pursue music instead?

I: Rather, it’s because I had no choice but to do it. For me, making music, writing lyrics, these are things I have no choice but to do, you know? This isn’t a case of, “I’ll make it if I’m capable of it.” Even if I’m not, “I have no choice but to do it”, that’s how I felt, so… It’s still the same even now. Like, when I act in a movie, I’m not doing it because “I have no choice but to do it”. Back then, I only did it because of the people I met and because I thought it seemed like it would be fun. It was indeed fun in reality though.

―― From the perspective of such an expressionist like yourself, are there any recent artists of note to ISSAY-san?

I: There a~ren’t, are there, at all (lol). Even Western music hasn’t been interesting these recent few years. There’s good music, but I guess I just can’t get into it. … But I really like allnude’s present album² a lot though.

―― (Lol) I feel like I understand that.

I: Until I listened to that album, there were no artists that I liked recently at all, and there weren’t any artists who could get me emotionally invested like in the past, so I started to wonder whether it’s me who changed. If that were true, it’d be sad, but you know, when I heard allnude’s present album, I thought, “So I’m not wrong after all.” (Lol) I realised it’s just that there wasn’t anything like this until now.

―― When I listened to that album of allnude’s, I thought, “Ah, it’s Der Zibet.”

I: (Lol) We sound completely different, but we have things in common, don’t we?

――Somehow, there are similarities between Mizunaga-san’s lyrical universe and ISSAY-san’s.

I: That’s because we’re twins, me and that guy (lol).

―― (Lol) Then what about your little brother Sakurai Atsushi-san?

I: (Lol) I think he’s definitely putting out great work with his band BUCK-TICK. Because I also really like that last album³ that I participated in.

―― BUCK-TICK’s another band with a strong personality, aren’t they?

I: It’s nice to see them do things the way they want like that, isn’t it? When I went on a radio show recently, they played BUCK-TICK’s upcoming single and that was interesting too. It was a very good song. No, it really was good. Noisy (lol). The melody was pop, though, right?

 

Without concerts to hold
it feels like I’m going to lose it

―― It couldn’t be helped that your bassist HAL-san suddenly took ill, but it truly was unfortunate that your tour had to be put on hold considering that your show at Osaka was going to be the first in about a year…

I: I believe the band feels that more than anyone else. Including HAL. Because, you see, we’re useless human beings, right? (Lol) We have to get on a stage or we’re useless. That’s why [situations like] these are very frustrating. The number of shows Der Zibet had in these few years are too few so we want to play more but (lol).

―― (Lol) How is HAL-san?

I: He’s slowly getting better.

―― So I guess your tour will be confirmed as soon as he recovers.

I: That’s right. We feel that he shouldn’t force himself and that we should wait until he’s in good shape though. But looking at how he’s doing now, I think [the tour] probably isn’t going to be something that far off in the future. So we’re getting ready to charge when it happens (lol). And when it does, we’ll be having a ton of concerts. Without shows to play, it feels like I’m going to lose it. I really can’t take it (lol).

―― So once your next show is confirmed, the energy will be…

I: Through the roof (lol).

―― Considering how much you love being on stage, do you still remember the first time you went up there?

I: I was a real mess, y’know. I was so nervous. Because I did it despite being a person who’s always been bad at putting myself out there in front of a crowd (lol). I downed a pocket bottle of whiskey before going on stage. I was plastered drunk on stage, y’know. The first few years I had to drink because I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t go out (lol).

―― So why do you go on stage despite that?

I: Because I had no choice but to go on stage. If I don’t [do this], I’d get thrown off balance on the inside. If a person’s balance is thrown off, their mania⁴ would go out of hand and all that. So in the end, I have no choice but to do it, right? Even now, right before I go up on stage, I have the desire to go home (lol).

―― (Lol) No one would ever get that idea when they see you perform though.

I: It changes the moment I step out, y’know. Until then, I can’t do it. As long as I can get out there, I’ll be fine though…

―― The expression on ISSAY-san’s face when you’re singing live looks really happy.

I: I am happy, that’s for sure. Up on stage is where I’m most comfortable. I guess [on stage,] I can be anyone; I can feel very free. 

―― That’s the kind of place a live show is, right? Not only the ones on stage, but even the audience can escape reality…

I: Rather than calling it an escape, I think it’s more that [this particular space] is made up of only the innermost part of you. For example, there are lots of times when you can’t directly express that, “This is it!” even though that’s what you really think, right? And [live shows are] spaces where those barriers don’t exist at all. Since whatever you find in that space is really your innermost core self and that’s really what constitutes a live show, I think it’s truly a place of freedom

―― We touched on this earlier too, but HIKARU-san and HAL-san both have active solo careers. So, on that, does ISSAY-san have any plans for a 2nd solo album or anything like that?

I: I’m not particularly interested in making another solo album. Even with my last solo project, I didn’t release an album because I just wanted to release one, you know? It just happened because I wanted to do a cover album, I did it, and it turned into a solo project. And that’s nothing I couldn’t have done in Der Zibet, right? It’s more or less just me doing what I want to do. Maybe [I might start another solo project] if I find something that I can’t do with Der Zibet like how that cover album turned out, but unless that happens, I don’t have even the slightest intention of going solo.

―― Since that’s the case, what do you think about HIKARU-san’s PUGS⁵ and all the other solo activities of your bandmates?

I: That’s not really HIKARU’s solo band work, right, just him joining in. “He’s doing interesting stuff,” is what I think but… (lol). I think he understands that too, but I suppose he might be doing it with the idea that it’s his solo work though.

―― With all your bandmates all dabbling in their own activities outside of Der Zibet, does that reflect in your album and  your music?

I: I think it does, y’know. Because with this present album, HAL, for some reason, said, “I want to bring out the good elements of ISSAY’s solo album [in this album].” I suppose when each of us head out, or leave home, you know, we see the goodness of home (lol). Because you’d get an outsider’s perspective and you’ll be able to see things with fresh eyes. Furthermore, we get stimulated differently when we work with other people, so that can also be brought back into the band, right?

―― It appears that the reason why the lyric work came first for Kirigirisu is also a result of HIKARU being influenced by his participation in Sasano Michiru⁶ recording work.

I: Because he is always picking up and bringing back those kinds of new things and techniques. I think I do that too, of course. Also, I think that’s the source of Der Zibet’s power to keep changing though.

―― Maybe [he] does things with the mind that, “This might be interesting to do with Der Zibet.”

I: Maybe the thought that, “This method might suit ISSAY,” passes his mind, right?

―― For an album packed with all those things, it requires quite some time between the end of your recording sessions to the release date, right? During that period, do you start thinking things like, “It might be good if we did that for this particular part.”?

I: No, no. The sample CD will be done some weeks before we release it, right? Until then, I can’t look at it objectively. Because I’d become objective for the first time only after that sample is done and I listen to it.

―― Until then, you’ll be immersed in the accomplishment of completing an album.

I: Because I’m still in the midst of that album, y’know? But when the disk is done and I listen to it objectively, I’d think, “Well, isn’t this cool,” (lol) and when the album tour is over, that’s when I can truly be objective. I guess it’s because I can’t flesh it out unless I perform it on stage after all.

―― The tour’s been halted, but are there any songs from this album that you’re dying to perform?

I: I want to do them all (lol). Although we did do Garasu-goshi no Sekai (ガラス越しの世界 / The World Through A Glass) in that gig we did last year end. I think songs like Gokuraku Ressha (極楽列車 / Paradise Train) and Dr. Real Love will probably be lots of fun.

―― For,  I’m hoping to hear Kirigirisu wo Koroshita no wa Dare? (キリギリスを殺したのは誰? / Who Killed The Grasshopper?) live though.

I: I actually think it’ll turn out to be something amazing (lol).

―― Especially that part in the chorus, when the noisy guitar whines and groans right after ISSAY-sings.

I: Y’know, when it gets too noisy, I can’t sing, right (lol). It was difficult when we were recording too. I’m like, “Scary. This guitar feedback, tone it down~~. I can’t sing~~.” (Lol)

―― Will it be okay live (lol).

I: We’ll make it work somehow. Because we’re professionals (lol).

―― You’re getting more and more excited for the tour.

I: It’s not that far off, so do look forward to it.

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ In reference to Aesop’s fable

² Taking the date of this interview into account, the album in question is allnude’s Children Of The Evolution. Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAimKiv6WCQ

³ That will be Six/Nine. ISSAY provides vocals for 愛しのロック・スター (Itoshi no Rock Star).

⁴ The word I translated as “mania” is 躁鬱 (sou-utsu), which is a word specifically used to refer to bipolar disorder or manic depression.

⁵ PUGS was formed in 1994 with HONEY★K, Hoppy Kamiyama, Okano Hajime, Steve Eto. Other musicians would join in to play with them typically as a band of six. There’s a short English article about the time they played as a second stage act on the Lollapalooza 1997 festival tour. https://wc.arizona.edu/papers/90/166/11_2_m.html

⁶ Michiru Sasano, is a Japanese pop singer and songwriter who debuted in 1988 with Japanese pop band Tokyo Shōnen where she was the band’s songwriter and vocalist. After the band broke up in 1993, she became a solo artist

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Morgianasama on LiveJournal

 

 

2nd FOREVER MY WORSHIP
The search for a musician’s everlasting idol!

Fool’s Mate
February 1992

Text=ISSAY
Photos=Saori Tsuji

 

Following the well-received first of this series, today, we have Der Zibet’s ISSAY penning his thoughts about Jim Morrison, the vocalist of The Doors who dominated the late 60s and early 70s with their intense stage presence and visionary sound.

 

 

JIM MORRISON
(The Doors)

One night, when I was still in high school, a strange melody from an organ that I heard on the radio echoed in my ears. After the intro, my nerves were wrung by a voice that sounded wide awake on the surface and, at the same time, as if it was smouldering underwater.

That moment did me in.

Come on, baby, light my fire / Come on, baby, light my fire / Try to set the night on fire 

(Light My Fire)

This was my first encounter with The Doors.

 

As I recall at the time, their song The End was also the theme song of the movie Apocalypse Now, so it was a period when [my interest in] The Doors got rekindled for the umpteenth time. At the same time, I believe their songs were being played on the radio too.

Anyway, a few days later, I ran to the record store and bought the one and only copy of a compilation album, The Doors’ Greatest Hits.

This album which starts with the song Hello, I Love You, which Der Zibet also covered before, was perfectly made for newbies. At first glance, it looks like a pop album, but their characteristic acrimony was more than enough to intoxicate a tender high schooler. Having fallen for a deep dark world where a raspy voice like that of a teenager whose voice just broke floats in the repetitive flair of the keyboard, I decided that I would collect their original albums, but for all it was worth, I lived in a rural town by the sea where even the record stores didn’t bring in The Doors or anything like them. In the end, I could only keep borrowing whatever I could from friends and seniors at school. It feels like it was only quite recently that I really managed to collect their albums.

 

Now, here’s a simple list of their discography for those who aren’t too familiar with The Doors.

 

January 1967  “THE DOORS”
October 1967  “STRANGE DAYS”
July 1968  “WAITING FOR THE SUN”
July 1969  “SOFT PARADE”
February 1970  “MORRISON HOTEL”
July 1970  “ABSOLUTELY LIVE”
April 1971  “L.A. WOMAN”

Looking at it now, written like this, it really hit me that this was all in the span of a mere 5 years. They’re a band who within the mere 5 years of the late 60s, made 7 albums and came to an end right after the sudden death of their vocalist Jim Morrison. They’ve actually released a few other albums after that, but I do not acknowledge The Doors without Jim Morrison. Because to me, Jim Morrison is The Doors.

The man who claims that the spirit of a Native Indian who died in a car accident he witnessed as a child jumped into his soul. The man who got so drunk and drugged that he stood on the road and suddenly screamed, “I am the lizard king! I can do anything!” The man who sang, “Father, I want to kill you. Mother, I want to fuck you!” and got fired from a live music club. The man who emptied fire extinguishers inside a studio because he thought a fire might start if things got too heated among the band during recording. So on and so forth. Now, stories about Jim Morrison have even spawned numerous books in Japan, and even a movie. In a way, he’s one of the legendary rock musicians.

The Jim Morrison you’d see in concert on video is one whose eyes are wide open, clinging to the mic stand as he talks along with the music, as if singing (This is the aptest way to describe that man’s song). Then, in an instant, he twists and turns with a desperate shout, tensing up as he brings that tension to a peak.

In one interview, drummer John Densmore said, “On stage we (the members of The Doors) could get into a rhythm with Jim and let him do what he wanted, but we couldn’t get into a rhythm with his personal life.” But I suppose that’s the kind of person he had always been, Jim Morrison.

Standing between dream and reality, between real life and fantasy. While he had been traversing back and forth between the two, he had been sinking deeper into the depths of himself.  That is why he could sing such amazing songs. That is why his shouts were always directed inwards.

In the mid to late 60s. When the world was experiencing the height of the hippie movement. It was a time when anyone and everyone was dreaming of going to San Francisco. In the midst of it all, in Los Angeles, The Doors’ existence was like an overpowering shadow to the sun-kissed hippies (flower children).

At a time when everyone believed in being thoughtless and carefree and lauded doing things hand in hand as if they were under a spell, The Doors peered at their (own) inner selves.

Break on through to the other side / Break on through to the other side, yeah

 (Break On Through)

This is the powerful refrain of the very first song of their 1st album. Everything that The Doors are began here, and in the end, it feels as if it ended here too.

The image I harbour of The Doors is that of an eternal summer. The sounds and smells of flora and fauna in the early morning filled with the inexplicable exhilaration of youth and, the fleeting moment of eternity pierced by blinding white light.

And in a little less than 5 years, The Doors had gone on into that eternity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Morgianasama on LiveJournal

 

 

DER ZIBET

Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
October 1987

 

 

DER ZIBET’s concerts blow you away. They understand what it means to entertain the audience. Through repeated experimentation and destruction, they crept ever closer to their true form. —— But first impressions are important. They’ve been too straightforward with expressing their superabundance of energy that they’re being heavily misunderstood. Will this 3rd album that they’re working on be the answer? We’ll find out in this interview with Issei¹ and Hikaru¹.

 

 

DER ZIBET, also known as Derujibe (デルジべ). I think they’re a band dogged by the problem of having an awfully vague image. The kind that has you thinking you know them but at the same time, you don’t. Sandwiched between misconceptions and being misunderstood, they look out of place for some reason. Perhaps they have truly arrived in a situation where they have to be serious about their image and the preconceived notions that are at the forefront of what creates a fair representation of themselves.

“I’m confident that if they listen to our music, if they watch our concerts, people will understand who we are, but I’m not sure how to make them listen to us. Like those people who don’t know anything about us at all, those whose idea of us is still that same image of decadence, all of them.”

“Besides, it’s not as if we’re a closed-in band, you know?”

Hikaru and Issei are a bit irritated.

But that is, I dare say, a positive frustration.  Because they’re so strongly confident of who they are as a band, they exceedingly detest the idea of being classified by their image. On one hand, it’s been said that their music had changed a lot between the 1st and the 2nd album, but at the same time, there are few who understand the current DER ZIBET.

Keeping that in mind, they are now as good as a new band who just made their debut. That much makes sense when we consider that in the three years since the formation of this band, the number of concerts they have played is the most concentrated in the past year.

The progression of this band that seems to be riding the wave of their “Alright, here we go” momentum is undoubtedly fast. Now that they have finally started their engines, where could they possibly be headed?

That being said.

I’ve never heard their 1st album and I’m a typical human being who judges based on first impressions. When you mention DZ, Issay² immediately comes to mind, and when you mention Issay², I’d immediately associate him with being the pantomiming oniisan…… I am ignorant to the point of having such an impressively simple thought process, if I do say so myself. That’s why I was thrown off when I saw the Baby, I Want You music video. It was a form of culture shock. It was a lively song of the sort that gets you dancing up a sweat. But it was such a big change that I definitely wondered, “What happened?   Who are these people?” Sometimes, equating a band’s evolution with growth confuses people. This is especially so for a band like theirs where there is an extreme “suddenness” in their transition “from stillness into motion”.

“I don’t have a problem with it, but I don’t get it.”

Without quite knowing what to think of it all, I hesitantly went ahead with the interview.

 

―― What do you think about how you used to be?

Hikaru (H): I think we didn’t have as much power as we do now, but it’s basically no different than what we’re doing now.

Issei (I): Yeah. I don’t think the essence of it has changed, but the musical style and the appearances of what we put out have certainly changed.

―― You’ve probably been asked before, but how did this happen?

H: Things just naturally turned out like this while we were going around on tour, though.

I: I guess you could say, it was since about the time of the Revenge of Electric Moon tour that we turned our focus to dance, or rather, made [our music] easier to grasp.

H: Because we enjoyed it when we actually got down to doing it, you know?

I: Something about it just makes your body move on its own, right? I guess it’s that sensation that makes a seated audience get up and start dancing.

―― So, recently, dance beat bands have been garnering a lot of attention…… Is that why you’re…?

I: But we’re not making disco music. You see, we’re making dance music that falls in the genre of rock. Besides, I think even punk music can become dance music, so I think we can make dance music that comes from such a stance. But there aren’t any such bands in Japan, so I guess that’s where it’s easy for people to get misconceptions of us. If we’re talking about dance bands in Japan, I suppose it’d just be TM³, right?

H: They’re not a rock band, though. That’s why I feel that it’s hard to label us as a dance band.

―― But I listened to your 2nd album and as far as that is concerned, I thought it wouldn’t have been odd to call you a dance band, or rather, in a way, that’s how it turned out……

I: Yeah, I suppose it might seem complete if you’re looking at it from a dance perspective, but we wanted to become more powerful. More rock-sounding, or rather, more wild, I suppose. Also, there are some parts in our second album that seem sophisticated, so instead of that, we wanted to make music that’s more stripped-down, the kind that’s fierce and comes right at you.

H: Besides, there’s no point in making rock music sophisticated.

I: Exactly. You might as well do something else.

―― There’s also the way you all look. Like, Issei’s silhouette looks very thin compared to the other 3 members. And no matter how much you try, that just doesn’t tie in with rock music terms like ‘wild’, does it? So even if I do know what ‘wild & danceable’ is in my head, you won’t come across as a clear definition of it.

H: And that’s what we call a weapon. I believe there are a lot of rock bands that are made up of 4 big-boned members who 4 charge right into you. We may be slight, but you could say that we’re leaning towards being on the fine-edged side of things. In that sense, we’re not just a band that plays 8-beat music, but also 16-beat.
Besides, performing live is what we’re most confident in right now, so I think the impression that we give now is might be a far more brazen one that before. What’s rock-like about us is the parts of our performance that aren’t decided; the improvisation that we do so in any case, I’d like people to come and watch us play.

―― Another thing about DER ZIBET that hampers is the lyrics that Issei writes. It’s pretty much abstract poetry, isn’t it?

I: Basically, I think it’s straightforward, but I realise that what feels like everyday life to me is far removed from what everyday life generally is. Like when there’s a lot of imaginary elements, I’ve been told that it’s cold. That’s why I figured that I need to come up with things that are more relatable to everyday life. I think it might be a good idea for me to a little further forward too. With lyrics where you can see that there’s a second party, where you can tell there’s a “you” involved. And writing write lyrics that are obviously being sung to a particular someone. I think that’s how we’re going to do our 3rd album.

―― Why?

I: I suppose that’s what you’d call broadening our horizons, right? Because no matter how simple we make our rock and roll music, if no one understands the lyrics, then it gets us nowhere, right? So that’s why we have, or rather, want to diversify.

H: That’s why I think our 3rd album will bring across an even clearer message that “This is DER ZIBET.”

―― Finally, please share what’s the outlook for your 3rd album.

H: We plan to release it next year; either in January or February, and the concept for it is pop. What we intend to do is to make rock music that encompasses what we think is pop and those danceable elements as well. In short, we want to make use of our band members’ experimental spirit and expand our horizons so we don’t want to make things too rigid. And this time, it’ll be almost as if we’re working on 2 projects because we’ve asked Okano-san⁴ from Pink⁵ and Kisaki-san⁶ to produce for us.

I: We’re really taking on this challenge, you know. For people like Okano-san and Kisaki-san, if we don’t get involved, [the music] will definitely end up getting steeped in their signature styles, right? So we’re going to get into this like we would a fight. We have to drink without getting drunk. The outcome of this fight will probably be in our 3rd album.

H: In that sense, it feels like we’re bringing in new blood. Really, I can’t understand Kisaski-san. I do get the musicians he brought up (Sawada Kenji, Kikkawa, etc.) though. I’m looking forward to this.

I: It’s more distinct with bands, isn’t it? Because I think [their sounds] aren’t really audible among the music that the 4 band members are already making. Although I suppose they’d add depth to our sound by adding a horn section or keyboardist, right?

H: I get a dilemma, you know. When I have to express sounds using words. But you see, it’s because we don’t pander to everything. We make the music we want to make and  we want them to understand that we want to be accepted for that.

I: Depending on the band, I suppose there are those whose style is to stick to one thing and go all the way with it, but that’s not the kind of band we are. I think we’re a band who changes as we go along, and I think we’re capable of making all kinds of music too.

H: That said, it’s not like we’re throwing away our past. It’ll always be kept somewhere in the back of our minds so we can bring it back out whenever we want. And right now, I guess you could say that we have confidence in ourselves when it comes to rock music for a number of reasons.

I: I guess we’ve been tumbling around, and we’ve finally learnt how to roll so that’s why we’re so confident in that.

H: When we were doing negatively, we didn’t know what to do if accidents were to happen, but now, we’ll be okay no matter what happens. We’d think that we can probably pull it off. That is something that each one of us can confirm, and it really feels like we’ve got our groundwork laid. Because of that, we’re also attracting attention in the streets now…… This is still the starting line. And we’re always in search of words and themes.

 

Contrary to their appearance and their image, there was a blunt and rugged rock band under the surface. What on earth had I been baffled and confused by…… In one sitting, I felt like an idiot. “I’m happiest when our fans happily come back and say that they enjoyed it even if they don’t really understand it,” said Issei. “It’s the same as making a woman climax. Captivate [them] in that moment (lol),” said Hikaru.

Those blatantly rocker statements blow away all the silly prejudices. What the hell, they’re a rock band, that’s all — This is no longer a question of “know, or don’t know”. DER ZIBET is DER ZIBET, and that is self-explanatory enough.

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ The interviewer wrote their names in Katakana as イッセイ (issei) and ヒカル (hikaru). I’ll be spelling their names as written.

² Yet here the interviewer chose to use “Issay”. I suppose this is a deliberate distinguisher between the person and the stage persona.

³ Referring to TM Network, a Japanese rock/new wave/pop band that formed in 1983 and made their major debut in 1984.

⁴ Okano Hajime was a bassist in the band Pink. He is also a keyboardist, composer, arranger & producer working with Japanese rock bands like 44 Magnum, D, Asagi, Dead End, L’Arc~en~Ciel and many more. View his credits here.

⁵ Pink was a late 1980s new wave band from Japan. They formed in 1983 as a collaboration between Vibratones member Fukuoka Yutaka and Hero member Kamiyama Hoppy. Each member of the band was an established musician in their own right and they continued to work on solo projects while involved with Pink until they finally disbanded in 1989, ending the production of new material.

⁶ Kisaki Kenji (木崎賢治) is a Japanese record producer.

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: morgianasama on LJ

Outpouring from the heart

Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
July 1995

photography Hitoshi Iwakiri (岩切等)
hair & makeup Takayuki Tanizaki (谷崎隆幸)
styling Tomoharu Yagi (八木智晴)

 

The last issue featured a special segment for BUCK-TICK’s latest album Six/Niɴe, but due to space constraints, we could only publish half of the interview with Atsushi Sakurai, even though he made the effort to share his true feelings with us. And so, this time around, it’s the continuation. Through this interview, I hope you’d uncover the key to the change they displayed in the contentious Six/Niɴe.

 

Read part 1 here

 

 

And so, here is the second half of Atsushi Sakurai’s interview. It’s a continuation from last month’s issue, so please give that a read too.

 

In the end, (music) is just entertainment, isn’t it?
I’m just very happy that I can simply entertain.

 

S (Sakurai): It’s all sorts of things. Like…… Hmm…… Someone who says they like me? For example…… It’s like…… In the end, it’s entertainment, isn’t it? Like, I’m just very happy that I can simply entertain, and things like that.

―― So, even if you’re not doing anything that doesn’t satisfy the world, you’d be happy as long as you can feed yourself.

S: Yes.

―― I suppose that’s for sure. I guess you could also say that it doesn’t matter at all whether everyone here (the artists, the manager, the journalist, the writers, etc.) are here or not.……

S: I wouldn’t go as far as to say that, though (lol). Well, I guess you could say that it’s the first time I felt like this.

―― Feeling grateful for that kind of happiness?

S: That…… what do you call it? You know how people often say, “First of all, I want to thank God,” or something like that when they receive some sort of an award? That sounds textbook, but there are times when you feel like that’s all just a lie. Somehow, the more someone says it, the more fake it sounds.

―― You mentioned someone who said they like you. Do you mean like a girlfriend or something?

S: Could be a girlfriend, or, well, fans or siblings, yeah. Someone important. Well, it could be people you work with, or you date. It’s just the people you’re together with, like, close friends and the like.

―― Hm. But that’s a very big change of heart, isn’t it?

S: That’s true.

―― In the past, you definitely gave off a stronger sense of “I’m alone”, right?

S: Well, that I’m alone, I think that was how I presented myself.

―― How you presented yourself.

S: Like, drawing sympathy [to myself], like begging for it.

―― So, that’s what you called theatrics earlier on, like a false pretense.

S: And all that other…… My apologies to others who are doing similar things, please don’t misunderstand, but if I was begging [for it], then I must be thankful, or rather, I want to be grateful [for what I received]. Or something like that.

―― And that state of mind has influenced your lyrics?

S: I suppose that’s where it seems to have started for me, personally.

―― But considering all those feelings, that actually makes it feel heavy on the whole, doesn’t it?

S: The sound?

―― Sound, lyrics. They certainly don’t have that bright, letting-go feeling.

S: I guess, isn’t that some sort of simplicity? Living and dying, likes and hates.

―― What artists have you been listening to lately?

S: All kinds of things inspire me. Records do, and movies, and manga, and so on. In this album, ISSAY-san (DER ZIBET) participated as a guest vocalist and I got to have a nice chat with him about his approach, the way he works and all that. So, you could say that I was influenced in that manner too. Having read the books and manga that were recommended to me, those he said he liked quite a lot, that also really influenced me significantly. It’s like that with movies too. Just, anything. Like a snatch thief, because I’m hungry [for more]. Even people watching in a place like this (the pub where this interview is being held) can inspire me.

―― And doing this makes you come out of your shell more and more until those false pretenses fade away along with the negative parts of you. So, do you get the desire to try and create something where you’re in complete control of everything just so that you can show 100% of who you are as you gradually revert to being your natural self?

S: That’s plain troublesome.

―― (Lol) That’s the only thing that doesn’t change, is it? For you. Since the beginning.

S: That sort of thing, working the musical instruments, it’s such a pain that I just can’t.

―― But you don’t have to play the instruments. You can just give instructions, right?

S: Mmm…… But I don’t think I can convey [my ideas]. Because I don’t know them. The technical terms. Not one bit. I don’t even know the processing for voice effects and all that. But I want to change that. A bunch of things.

―― Like?

S: Limitations like being required to finish producing an album by a particular date, things like that. Like, promotional strategies. If these things can be changed, I’d like to do it myself. For about a year or so.

―― Album production. Well, certainly it’s probably good if you could spend more on it.

S: We can’t do that.

―― But with BUCK-TICK’s present position, the mixed-media portion of your promotional strategy has grown to comprise quite a large percentage of it, right?

S: Yes.

―― Do you understand those things?

S: Yeah, I do.

―― It makes me wonder if you truly feel that it doesn’t matter whether or not your album sells. Even if you do say that, wouldn’t you still question in the back of your mind whether it’s good or not if it won’t sell?

S: No, I don’t really feel that way. It’s just that, even if it’s unpopular, we won’t have the time [to dwell on it] anyway.

―― I spoke to Imai-kun just now, and he said that it’s ultimately the buyers who judge your releases. So, this can only mean that the indication of their verdict will depend on how well your records sell. That is what was said, but does Sakurai-kun really feel that way?

S: But even if you like a particular song a lot, doesn’t the opinion change from person to person? Even if you’ve made a very good something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be popular. For me, I really love ambient music that doesn’t have singing voices. But even though they make me think, “This is so good!”, it doesn’t sell very well.

―― Ah, that’s about music other than your own, though.

S: You’re talking about my own music? Ahh. I’m not particularly interested in those kinds of things. This’ll probably make me sound like I’m just being cool but the number one thing [for me] is to like what I make. Well, it’s even better if it sells well too. I’d think everyone feels the same way.

―― But frankly speaking, BUCK-TICK does sell. If you’re someone who’s living from hand to mouth, you’d probably have a desperate desire for [your music] to sell. Depending on the person.

S: Right. I suppose so.

―― For a musician, I’d assume that you’d keenly hope that if you release a record, you’d want to sell enough to at least fund your next work, or enough that you don’t have to work extra jobs. So, saying that you’re not concerned [with sales numbers] is.

S: Mm, the privilege of those who do sell well.

―― But there’s also the fact that because you’re someone whose records sell well, you must produce things that you like.

S: I think we’re doing that.

―― Right. Listening to this album, I felt that it’s an album that makes you want to listen to the next one as soon as possible.

S: Ah, really?

―― Somehow, this one gives me the feeling that you’ve yet to decide on what you’re going to do next.

S: I suppose that’s because it’s volatile, this album.

―― Probably, yes.

S: So, you want to listen to something stable?

―― Rather, your last album and even the one before made me want to take a careful good look at this world, but this time, in comparison, left me restless instead.

S: Oh, yes. I get it. But I think Imai wanted to demolish that expectation that you can listen and feel at ease.

―― Ah, there’s that too.

S: Whatever we’ve done so far has always been for ourselves.

―― Yes. But this changing direction somehow feels like a result of all the members going down different routes. That’s why I’d find myself wanting to listen to the next release as soon as possible where, hopefully, all the members would have settled on one direction and gone with it.

S: I don’t know whether we can (lol). I’d expect that we wouldn’t communicate enough again anyway.

―― But haven’t you learnt your lesson?

S: Buーut, I don’t think we ever will.

―― Hmm, based on my earlier conversation with Imai-kun, it’s not very……

S: He hasn’t leant, has he?

―― But it’s not right for me to be the one telling him that it’s not good for him to be slow with the song composition.

S: But you should’ve said it.

―― No way (lol).

S: Please tell him, it’s not fair (lol).

 

Aesthetics of Invariance

Ongaku to Hito #087
April 2001

Text: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Photos: Ogishima Minoru (荻島稔)
Hair & Makeup: Tanizaki Takayuki, Yamaji Chihiro (Fats Berry)

 

Last year, BUCK-TICK went on a hall tour, then a livehouse tour, and finally an auditorium¹ tour following the release of their first album in two and a half years. It was a sprightly burst of activity that is very much like them (lol) but who could complain about that. The 21st century has turned out to be a little bit different for these guys who would’ve normally gone back underground after all that activity.

On 28 March, the band will be releasing ONE LIFE, ONE DEATH CUT UP, the live CD, VHS, and DVD of the performance that they gave at Nippon Budokan. In addition to that, Schwein, the Japanese-German-British coalition that Sakurai and Imai have joined will soon commence with a tour also in the works. So this month, we’ll be talking about Schwein…… or so I hoped, but they haven’t made their music yet (lol). Hence, we’ll be talking about Sakurai Atsushi’s year 2000 and his band philosophy. And then, it’ll be Schwein in the next issue…… probably.

 

 

What is it…… This wasn’t our aim, but I guess we’ve succeeded in achieving versatility

 

―― This issue is going to be published in March so it might be a little late for this, but what do you think about your tour?

Sakurai (S): Mm…… It was the first time that we divided our shows between the hall venues and the livehouses but having tried it out, I came to realise the benefits and enjoyment of performing in the two different types of venues. It was especially so with the livehouses, though. I’ve never really given it much thought until now, but I think we are more suited to [livehouses] after all. Because we’ve never really made that kind of a distinction between the two until [last year].

―― Of course, because you’re closer to the audience. There’s a sort of unity, an atmosphere about it, or something.

S: You’re right…… Mm… This is something I only realised after we’ve split our shows into these two styles, but you could say our audience hold themselves back or something when they stick exactly to where their designated seats are…… It’s like they sit and stay still (dry laugh). And that’s certainly quite, well, I don’t need to say it again, but being able to move and act however they wish…… When I get to see that from the stage, I’d sincerely feel that it was a good thing that we decided to do this. Part of it is because we’re closer, yes, and us as performers also get to feel the liberation from a regulated world that live concerts are too. Also, for us, we won’t feel like we’re putting on a performance with a formal sense of “showing” something but rather, we can leave it as unpolished.

―― So, let’s look back at your activities in 2000 again.

S: Of course, broadly speaking we changed record labels and all that, and thinking about the time when we were recording, we’ve started working on our music so we didn’t really have much time to spare, but I could definitely sense that everyone was feeling positive with the fresh start.

―― And that wasn’t like, a sense of urgency or anything like that.

S: It sure wasn’t. If we did feel anything like that, it’d be more likely that 2 or 3 years ago, we’d already be feeling, “So, anyway, we’ve released a single,” then started to wonder, “Which company should we go to?”.

―― How did the band fare during those uncertain times?

S: Mm, the pace and stance of the band itself didn’t really change from our usual, but as you’d expect, if you’re asking about things that aren’t related to music, we can’t really…… How should I put this…… We can’t really do anything on our own. I guess I can’t help saying childish things like that (dry laugh), but in the end, I’d rather leave those things to people I trust to handle, so.

―― It could be said that the band still stands in that unstable situation, or rather, you don’t even budge an inch, right?

S: That’s definitely because it’s me and the other 4…… For example, I’ve often been asked whether I’d like to go solo or anything like that, but there are a lot of good and bad points to consider and all that…… But anyway, it’s definitely because when I look around me, I see the same faces I’ve always known and they’re all feigning ignorance as if they don’t know anything.

―― Fufufu, feigning ignorance (lol).

S: Well, it’s me wondering whether they know that I’m getting offers or not (lol). Then, I’d suddenly feel at home, in a way. I can’t do anything even if they felt bothered by it, but I don’t really worry or feel negatively about it. It’s not some kind of weird confidence or anything like that but it’s just, I feel that whether they cut our contract or whatever they do to us, whatever happens we’ll somehow make things work, or rather, no matter what happens, it’ll turn out alright. My thoughts don’t really go in a negative direction. But…… Well, there are times when I’d feel uneasy, just personally speaking. Like when I’m working on the singing, or the lyrics, or the staging, or I get stuck while working on an album and I’m feeling like, “I have nothing more to offer!!”…… Those insecurities sometimes come out of nowhere, but when it really comes down to it, I can visualise in my head what I’d do for that piece of music, or the staging and all of those things on my own. As a result, I’d get so absorbed in it that I’d get into a bit of a high. You could say, that’s why my frustration disappears completely.

―― So you’ve just about never given any conscious thought to the possibility of the band breaking up?

S: …… Conscious thought…… Mm… Well, I’ve thought about those types of situations to kill time (lol).

―― And?

S: I think it sounds like a pain in the ass (lol). No matter what happens, there’s no chance we’ll ever talk about “divorce”! (Emphasis added)

―― Ahahahaha! Sounds just like what a woman would say.

S: Yeaah, I got reminded of a bunch of past experiences (dry laugh).

―― I see (lol). But, say, for example, if you wanted to “depict life and death”,  or “sing love songs”, if you had themes like that, you don’t necessarily have to stick to being in a band to do that, right? I just wonder where your motivation to make music in a band comes from.

S: Mm………… I guess it might be because it’s easy (lol). Working hard, words like, “You can’t buy hard work,” and all that, I absolutely haaate those, you know (dry laugh). And…… Mmm…… This is a band that we’ve built together from scratch after all. People keep telling me, “Go solo,” but, mm…… It’s troublesome, and I don’t really like leaving my house empty, you know?

―― What fatherly comments (lol). I guess you want to protect your family.

S: Noo, I don’t like that sort of clinginess (dry laugh). I don’t like being cheated on too though, but…… I’m happy that I’m being asked (to go solo and things like that), but I suppose, in the end, essentially, what I want to be is the vocalist of a band, you know. Besides, there’s also the fact that the other members will possess whatever I’m lacking in. And if we’re talking about someone who was a solo artist to begin with and then later decided to start a band, they’d already know the lightness of moving along freely too. I might be saying too much, but lots of bands change their lineups, and there are those who had members go solo, or start other bands, but…… the original is still the best, or something (dry laugh). There are certainly cases where things are different, and there are lots of people who do great as solo artists, but somehow that power is…… With the focus on their personal power, even if they’re performing in the form of a band, in the end, they’re still not a band, are they? It’d just look like that [solo artist] person is the only one giving his all (dry laugh).

―― Speaking of which, you’ve recently started a unit in the form of Schwein. I was hoping you could tell us more about how it came to be.

S: Hmmm…… I really don’t know! (Squarely)

―― Hahahahaha! It happened before you realised it? (Lol)

S: No, it’s not quite that but…… I think it was last year, around the time when we were doing our recording? That this topic came up. It’s not the kind of thing that just comes to mind, you know? I’m not agile, and if I’m giving my all working on one thing, anything else turns into a pain in the ass. So, I think Raymond (Watts / PIG) had given it a lot of thought, but it was only around the end of last year when things finally became reality in the form of a “unit”…… Although, even now, I still don’t know what it’ll be like (lol). Of course, as you already know, it started from SCHAFT and we did gigs together two years ago, went on tour together too. We’ve also contributed music to each others’ CDs and took part as guests too. We’ve always had that kind of relationship. Although somehow, I don’t really know why he’s so interested in us (lol), but he’d call us whenever something comes up. For Raymond, he’s got PIG to work on and perform in America too, so he didn’t actually have to go through all that trouble to deliberately invite Asians to do this (dry laugh). That was the very first thing I thought, anyway. I don’t think we’ve talked about it before. That’s why I can’t really go into detail. We don’t even have songs yet (dry laugh).

―― Ahaha. Then, is there anything that Sakurai-san personally keeps in mind for what you’ll do in Schwein? Perhaps, like wanting to do something different here, as compared to what you usually do in BUCK-TICK.

S: Mm… Personally, I’d say it’s basically the same, I think. But, although I’m doing this with Imai, both the music and environment will change completely, so I think that would change me too. That’s something to look forward to as well.

―― When we look at this combination of Raymond of PIG, Sascha of MDFMK, and Imai Hisashi, you can’t help but get the feeling that sound will be prioritised over words, so what is it that Sakurai-san thinks should be expressed in that?

S: Well, you know, as a Japanese…… Fufufu. The, what do you call it, the feeling that there’s no difference between a British and a German, I get that feeling, but there’s a nuance that only the Japanese have when it comes to song and…… I guess that’s pretty much it, though. I’m just thinking that I should just do what I need to do. My best, or maybe, un-best (lol).

―― Fuhahaha! So, I guess we’ll talk more about Schwein next month.

S: Please contact Raymond for a proper story (lol). Work on the tracking for our video(s) and all that are still going on, right, so I can’t quite transition away from BUCK-TICK.

―― Is there a need for you to switchover?

S: Yeah. Although, I don’t really think it’s particularly necessary for me to switch from the BUCK-TICK version of me to the Schwein version or something. This is more about switching from the work of “making it even better” during the tracking to the creative work in composing. Because I always start from the surface of it (dry laugh). I would want to set up my own world nicely and do things properly inside of it (lol). When it comes to composing, I would want to get into that mode and work on it all in one go, but I can’t really do that well.

―― Like thinking about things while listening to PHYSICAL NEUROSE or what (lol).

S: Fuhahahaha.

―― But anyway, why did you decide to perform that song live?

S: Ah, well, Imai was…… Initially, well, it’s how we’ve always done things but we’d brainstorm about which songs from the album and our back catalogue would be good to perform. I’d often mull over the setlist and things like that, but everyone leaves it to me, so. At that point, I’d say, “Everyone disregard the line-up and structure and tell me what songs you want to play.” Then Imai slides in and mentions that song. Although, it was a great help to me that he said it without thinking too much about it, you know. Everyone’s restraint…… Well, by now there’s no such thing as holding back or mincing our words, though (lol). They’d just tell me things like, “I’ll leave it to you.” Then, when it’s all up to me, I’d be stuck in a dilemma (dry laugh).

ーー Ahaha! I guess they just want you to decide.

S: But I’m biased, you see. I’d end up picking all the daa~rk and gloomy songs (dry laugh). We also performed LOVE ME, SPEED, and ICONOCLASM, right? Just when I was wondering what should we do with those 3 songs towards the end, that song was raised. It was actually brought up during our first tour, the hall tour, but I wasn’t quite convinced. It made me think, “It’s kind oーf, mm, I don’t know if it’ll workー?” So, it was only after we were pretty much done with the hall and livehouse shows that…… this inconceivable song came around so I’m really relieved that it did, like, “Ahh, thank goodness.”

―― Your “ultimate weapon” (lol).

S: Mhahaha! Although, I think there are quite a number of people who don’t know that song.

―― Right? But when it comes to performing such an old song, won’t you somehow…… get that sense of “incompatibility”? Looking at it now.

S: I do. Especially when I start singing, I feel it very strongly. I don’t think [the others] would get much of a sense of that since [they’re] playing instruments, though. I even found myself thinking, “Ah, how embarrassing… These words, I don’t really want to say them now.” (Dry laugh).

―― Although, it really felt like a breakthrough for you to suddenly do PHYSICAL NEUROSE right there and then, didn’t it?

S: That’s true. It would’ve never been a thing before, but what is it…… this wasn’t our aim, but I guess we’ve succeeded in achieving that sort of versatility. It’s not like we can rely on hit songs forever (lol)…… It’s probably phrased badly, but it’s something that makes me feel, “If we play this song, it’ll probably make things interesting.”

―― Like a breaking ball²?

S: Right, something like that. If we played JUST ONE MORE KISS or something at that point of the show, you can already guess that the audience will probably get all hyped but (visualising)…… Mmー I guess it’s a good thing sometimes, though (bright smile).

―― Oh! (Lol) Well, I suppose I can expect a little more from your next tour (lol).

S: Mmmー (lol).

―― Mhahaha! So, you might’ve been asked about this before, but does BUCK-TICK have a strong desire to constantly stay up to date as a band?

S: Nope, we don’t. There are probably people who like doing that, but we don’t want to burden ourselves with that kind of weight and force ourselves to carry it. I think we’re capable of accepting anything and everything if the time is right for us, but since the very beginning, we never wanted to be at the forefront of that.

―― What about when it comes to language?

S: It’s the same with language too. As long as they are words and phrases that I understand well and are fresh to me [I’d use them]. Whether they’re outdated or recent slangs, I don’t know. But if they’re fresh and I can grasp it, then anything goes.

―― I can’t really imagine Sakurai-san using words like “you’re bugging me [uzaa~i³]” anyway (lol).

S: Ahh, I hate that kind of language (dry laugh). Like, “for sure [zettee⁴]” and those kinds, right?

―― Ahaha. Chew on those words and digest them properly. 

S: If I can digest them…… I still don’t think I can make use of them after all (lol).

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ This “auditorium” actually refers to the venues of TOUR ONE LIFE, ONE DEATH which was held in large convention centre venues, namely Orix Theatre in Osaka, Nagoya Congress Center, and Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan.

² In baseball, a breaking ball is a pitch that does not travel straight as it approaches the batter. It isn’t a specific pitch by that name, but is any pitch that “breaks”, such as a curveball, slider, or screwball.

³ ウザイ (uzai) is basically the Japanese slang version of describing something as annoying or irritating. It’s a very casual/informal form.

⁴ ぜってぇ (zettee) is very casual/informal kind of slang-ish version of 絶対 (zettai). It means the same thing, which is “definitely/for sure”, or something along those lines.

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans:  tigerpal from LJ