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

The origin of “ISSAY”

Thank you for All -vol.004-
July 2012

Interview text by Masubuchi Kimiko (増渕公子)
Photography by Saori Tsuji [Blue Ash]

 

 

Profile

ISSAY (Issei): Born on the 6th of July in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. A vocalist. After working on the band ISSAY and SUICIDES and his own solo projects, DER ZIBET was formed in 1984. It was around the same time when he appeared in the movie The Legend of the Stardust Brothers and got acquainted with mastermind and showrunner Chikada Haruo. This meeting led to DER ZIBET’s major debut in 1985 with the single Matsu Uta under the label SIXTY RECORDS. Between switching labels to COLUMBIA TRIAD and then BMG Victor ariola later on, the band released a dozen albums before eventually going on an indefinite hiatus in 1996. In that same period, electronic music group HAMLET MACHINE was formed in 1991 and remained active alongside ISSAY’s DER ZIBET activities. He then formed ϕ (Phi) in 1998 with guitarist Hirose “JIMMY” Satoshi (ex. 44MAGNUM) and a few others but it was later disbanded in the year 2000. ISSAY meets DOLLY was then formed in 2002 (active irregularly), along with Lynx in 2005 with HEATH (X JAPAN). His musical career continued through these bands alone until 2006, when DER ZIBET came together again with all 5 original members of the band following the catalyst of HAL’s accident (although it was around 2007 when the band officially regrouped). 2009 saw the release of their first album since reformation, PRIMITIVE and their solo liveshow celebrating their 25th anniversary. They have remained very active since and in 2012, they have announced the release of two full albums, ROMANOID Ⅰ and ROMANOID Ⅱ and will be performing solo live shows in Tokyo and Osaka too. All while racing on towards their 30th anniversary.

 

 

There was no doubt that both my father and mother doted on me.
It’s just that…… I think my father was bad at showing love.

ーー This photoshoot and setting were selected based on ISSAY-san’s image. That said, ISSAY-san, do you often visit the rose garden?

ISSAY (I): During this season (May), I really do feel like going to the rose garden but the moment I thought about how crowded it would get, I had to give up on that idea for this shoot (lol).

ーー Would you visit every year?

 I: More or less every year in this past decade. If I don’t go in May or June, I’d go in October, during the autumn rose season. Y’know, some years ago, I’d even go with our drummer MAYUMI too. And this old Western-style building we had our shoot in, I love those types of buildings. I’d love to live in one (lol).

ーー (Lol). So, to start, I’d like to ask about your childhood. You were born in Shizuoka?

I: Right, Numazu City in Shizuoka Prefecture. Although it’s a coastal town, there are mountains too. It’s a place that’s sandwiched between both the mountains and the sea, but I’m better acquainted with the sea.

ーー Was the sea within walking distance?

I: I kept moving around Numazu City from time to time so it depended on where I lived at that period, y’know? From where the present house is, it’s not impossible to walk [to the sea] if I wanted to, I think.

ーー What do you mean by ‘moving around Numazu City’?

I: My parents were divorced. When I finished kindergarten, my younger brother and I, us two were taken in by our mother, but after that, I was then taken in by my father when I started 4th grade in elementary school. I started living with my father’s new wife, my present mother. And shortly after that, my present mother had a child with my father so I have a brother who’s 10 years younger than me.

ーー How did young ISSAY-san take such a situation?

I: Simply speaking, I hated it. I was a momma’s boy, so since I was being separated from my mother, it’s obvious that I would hate it.

ーー And it was right at the time when you’d miss your mother.

I: Exactly.

ーー I do wonder, what type of child were you when you were young?

I: What type… I’d be a whole other person from one period to the next, but I think I generally tended towards the quiet category. Like, I don’t think I was the type who would create that big a fuss over things. I was certainly often alone. But that’s also because my schooling district changed when I was taken into my father’s house. I went to school in a different district from where I lived, so I didn’t have a single friend near home. That is to say, because of that, I played alone at home. My younger brother was still a baby anyway, and besides, even if I went somewhere nearby to play, I won’t find any friends who went to the same school as I did. Whether I stayed at home or went outside, I was always playing with my own imagination. Like if I went to the river near my house, I’d try walking along the banks while imagining things like, “This river might be a river that leads to 〇〇”. Even when I played at home, in my head, the house would become a jungle or a secret base in space, yeah. Speaking of secret bases, I often dug holes in the garden when I still lived with my birth mother, you know. Using a shovel. Because it was my dream to build an underground kingdom (lol). But no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t dig any deeper than my knees, because the ground gets so hard (lol).

ーー (Lol). Did she get angry with you for digging a huge hole?

I: In the beginning, when I dug out a big hole, my mother said, “Perfect, let’s throw our rubbish in this hole.” Then, when I started digging the next hole, she got angry with me and said, “It’s still too early.” What’s too early?    I had no idea what she meant (lol).

ーー That it was still too early to dig the next hole for trash (lol). Actually, I imagined ISSAY-san to be the quiet type at home.

I: I was like that too. When I was in kindergarten, I wrote letters to the Hakata dolls¹ at home.

ーー Were you in love with the Hakata dolls?

I: No, it’s nothing like that. Day after day, I’d write letters about what happened today and things like that and then put them into the glass display with the Hakata dolls. But since they were words written by a kindergartner, even if my parents did see them, they were indecipherable (lol).

ーー (Lol). It sounded like you were lonely… Did you spend time with your [birth] mother?

I: The family ran a business right next to the family home, so my mother often worked there, but whenever I missed her, I’d go to where my mother was in the company and draw or something so that I wouldn’t get in the way of her work. That’s why, at the time, I didn’t feel lonely, though. I understood that my father and my mother weren’t getting along.

ーー You could hear their marital discord.

I: That, and my father was an eccentric person. There was a bit of a violent side to him too so I was afraid [of him]. Despite that, I think there was no doubt that such a father of mine, and of course, my mother too, doted on me. It’s just that… I think my father was bad at showing love, now that I think about it (wry smile). I’ve only come to think so after growing up, but when I was a child, I couldn’t understand him at all. That’s why, when it was just the three of us; me, my mother, and my younger brother living together, it was a very carefree time for me. Sometimes, my father would get drunk and come to where the three of us lived… There were also times when he scared me very badly, though.

ーー I see…

I: My mother spoiled me, so I do also think that perhaps my father might’ve had his reservations about her parenting style².

ーー That the eldest son and successor has to be brought up strong.

I: I guess that was it.   So, although that was the kind of father he was, he doted on me anyway. You know~ One thing that I remember really well even now is, since both of my parents worked and neither of them would be at home, at the time, my father would buy me open reel tapes~~

ーー Open reel tapes!

I: Because that was a time before cassettes existed (lol). On those tapes, he would record himself reading picture books for me and I, as a kindergartner, would work the open reel tapes on my own and read my picture books while listening to them.

ーー I think the only ones who are capable of doing that now are radio station directors (lol).

I: You won’t get to touch those any more these days, though (lol). I’m grateful for that. Book after book, he made recordings for all of the books we had at home… Maybe he recorded them for me after he came home from work and had dinner or something. He loved alcohol, but it wasn’t as if he drank all the time either. I guess in that sense, he loved me.

ーー Contrary to his scary side, he has a gentle side too, doesn’t he?

I: To say that he was gentle, he wasn’t all that gentle a person, though. But that man’s moods, they’re far too intense. He’s a hundred times more of a rocker than I am (lol).

ーー Speaking of rockers, what kind of exposure to music did you have when you were young?

I: Just a bit of piano, the organ. Now I can’t play them at all (lol). If only I took it a little bit more seriously…

ーー Was it because piano is a girls’ thing?

I: I don’t have such impressions. It’s simply because I didn’t think it was fun. When it comes to music, I just watched those singing programs that they used to broadcast a lot on TV back then. So, you could say that it wasn’t as if I was all that into music. Ah, but I liked him, Ozaki Kiyohiko-san³. And because I liked him, my mother bought the EP⁴ of Mata Au Hi Made for my younger brother and I, and we listened to it on a portable player. That’s why, I was kind of happy when I got to act alongside Ozaki Kiyohiko-san in the movie, The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (lol).

ーー It’s unfortunate that he passed away just recently… But he was a wonderful person, wasn’t he?

I: He was wonderful, he was superb at singing since way back, and when I actually got to meet him, he was a person with an amazing aura about him. Also… I guess that’s pretty much what I liked. It wasn’t as if I was particularly into music anyway.

ーー Nothing about enjoying singing and things like that?

I: I hated it.

ーー Huh!?   Why?

I: Because it’s embarrassing. Standing in front of people to sing and all that, I get too embarrassed to do it. When I attended my father’s company dinners with him, I wouldn’t sing even if everyone was singing. He’d tell me, “Sing!” and I’d say, “No way, I don’t wanna sing,” and I’d end up getting beaten by him, though (lol). Even then, I wouldn’t sing.

ーー Basically, you’d absolutely never do something you didn’t want to do.

I: If I don’t like it, I don’t like it. But, you see, I didn’t understand what was the point of singing anyway.

ーー Mm… Why are you a vocalist now…

I: We’ll get to that afterwards (lol).

ーー It sounds like you often ended up joining your father for events where adults were gathered for drinks because he was running the business.

I: There were year-end parties, new year parties, company recreational trips, and all that. He ran an architecture and design firm, so there were designers, architects, site supervisors, and when there were banquets, the subcontractor carpenters and construction workers and painters would attend too. A lot of adults were nice to me, since, you know, I’m the CEO’s son (lol). But despite what it may sound like, it wasn’t as if we were super duper rich. In my opinion, it’s just that we weren’t poor.

 

I’d keep staring out the window during class while listening to the teacher teach.
Even such a school life was more peaceful than staying at home.

ーー Based on what you’ve told me so far, it sounds like you’ve always been the type to be picky about things since young?   Like when it comes to the clothes you wear, or food, or something.

I: I don’t think I was all that… Ah, I was (lol). I said it to my mother before, things like, “I won’t wear it unless my clothes are of this colour.” The things I was particular about would change from time to time, though. For example, there’d be a period when I’d say, “I don’t want to wear pants that aren’t black,” or, “I don’t want to wear any vest that isn’t burgundy in colour.” I think I used to say such things. But that was also something that only went on until I was about 9 years old; during the time when it was just me, my [biological] mother and my younger brother living together.

ーー Like, if you wore what you liked, you’d look better, or feel better.

I: Yeah, I think that’s what I had in mind. Because I wouldn’t wear clothes⁵ that I didn’t like (lol).

ーー (Lol) You were a fashionista, weren’t you? So, you know how boys, when they’re growing up, tend to have this period in their childhood when they develop an interest towards makeup? Did ISSAY-san have that phase?

I: I did. That was exactly what my interest towards my mother’s makeup products was. For each item, I’d ask, “What does this do?” I think she probably applied lipstick or something on me before. And she’d sometimes tie my hair up for me too (lol).

ーー Was this interest because of the feeling of becoming another you when she ties your hair up or something?

I: What I felt wasn’t that either, but I had fun doing it.

ーー What were you like in school?   Personally, I’ve got this impression that you were a clever child, though.

I: Nah, I wasn’t like that. I was a very very ordinary and quiet student. I think I became part of the class committee because of that, but I tried it, and thought, “Ah, I don’t like this,” and I never did it again, or something (lol). Besides,  I’m not particularly good at things which require me to put myself in the spotlight (lol). My switching between times when I wanted to put myself out there and times when I didn’t was wild, probably. For example, I’d be full of motivation in the first semester of fourth grade in elementary school, but by the second semester, I don’t want to do it anymore. If you looked at my report cards from back then, you’d see me being described as “restless” in the first semester, yet in the second semester, “too quiet, keeps looking outside during class” would be written (lol). The ups and downs were probably extreme.

ーー Were you aware of it?

I: Not at all. It’s only when people tell me about it that I realise it does seem that way. It’s just that there are things I’d be thinking about from one period to the next, and if I’m troubled by something, I’d end up becoming quiet. My personality would change. That’s why, my teacher would get worried and say things like, “You’ve suddenly turned quiet since the start of the 2nd semester, did something happen over summer break?” (lol). I didn’t think that I changed, though. But on the whole, what I’ve often heard them say was that I was often staring out the window while listening to the teacher teach.

ーー Because classes were boring?

I: I enjoyed them when they were about things I was interested in. I’d get very motivated about the things I was interested in, but when I have no interest in it, there’s none of that at all (lol). In terms of subjects, I hated Kanji in Japanese language classes. I didn’t see the point in memorising. If anything, I preferred science and mathematics related subjects. For social sciences, I liked history but I didn’t understand a lick of geography. When it was the term when we studied geography, my grades would be horrendous, but when it was history, I’d get very good grades.

ーー When you have an interest in it, you’d get increasingly absorbed in it.

I: And if I’m not interested in it, I wouldn’t have the slightest shred of interest at all.

ーー What about sports?

I: My motor skills were alright, so I’m usually fast at running. But I’m very bad at throwing balls (lol). I liked high jump, long jump, short distance sprints, but I’m extremely bad at middle-distance runs and throwing. For example, I didn’t like dodgeball because it hurts if you sprain your finger while playing it, but on the other hand, I liked basketball, things like that (lol).

ーー Huh, why is that? I don’t understand the determinant factor (lol).

 I: I guess, maybe I thought it was fun getting the ball into the net for basketball. I can get myself involved if it makes me think, “Ah, this seems like fun,” but otherwise, I wouldn’t want to do it at all. My report card was horrible too. While I’d get a 5⁶ sometimes, there are other times when I’d get 2⁶. That was something that changed between semesters (lol).

ーー How did your parents react when they looked at it?

I: My father was a person who was strict when it came to education so I got beaten to a pulp. He’d say, “It’s because you don’t concentrate!” (lol). My mother never really said much. My father was a noisy person anyway, so maybe that made my mother not want to say anything too harsh.

ーー It seems to me that you were very particular about things, but what was the criteria for these preferences?   Like, did you want to only do things that were cool to you, or something like that?

I: I care to consider whether something was cool or not, but if I was going to be late for school, I wouldn’t want to go. I’d just think, well, since I wouldn’t make it in time even if I went to school today, I want to rest. But this decision isn’t based on whether it’s a cool thing to do or not. School lunches were a pain too. I, basically, can’t eat much, so, why is everyone capable of eating so much? I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

ーー So your appetite has always been small.

I: Also, I’ve always had this thing where I can’t eat much if I’m eating in a place where lots of people are around. I think I didn’t like the idea of everyone being fed the same way. And it simply didn’t taste good either (lol).

ーー There were times when the school lunch menus were awful back in the day, weren’t there? (Lol). Considering this, I guess school wasn’t a very happy place for you, was it?

I: It was better than being at home. I didn’t want to stay at home. Because as a child, I hated my father.

ーー So, it was more peaceful in school.

I: That’s right, it was peaceful.

ーー I see… So, when did ISSAY-san start getting into music?

I: Since the end of elementary school or around the time when I was in junior high school, I was listening to movie soundtracks. I’d buy omnibus cassette tapes of old movie soundtracks of films like Purple Noon⁷. Speaking of which, I think it would be classified as a rock song in today’s terms but I liked Tubular Bells, the theme song of the movie Exorcist⁸ and similar music. I definitely did buy a radio-cassette player when I entered junior high school and listened to these in my own room. Although, there was a stereo at home but it was too old so it couldn’t be used. At the same time, I didn’t want to listen using it because that would mean that I’d have to listen in a place where the rest of my family was. In any case, I’ve always been the type who’d stay in my room and never leave (lol). So the music that I listened to on the cassette player in my own room was pretty much just movie soundtracks. I also more or less listened to the rock and pop music broadcast on radio, but I wasn’t really into it.

ーー What about borrowing from your friends?

I: Well, I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my friends. Because my home was far [away from school] so I didn’t normally have friends to hang out with. Things remained that way when I was in junior high school too.

I didn’t want to be controlled so I didn’t belong to any group. But for some reason, I was favoured by delinquents. They’d say to me, “I’ll treat you to coffee jelly.”

ーー After-school activities?

I: Kendo club. I joined because it seemed like fun, and I was even properly present for club activities. I reached first-dan⁹ in high school, so, I attended two different high schools, but in my second high school, they made it compulsory for me to join a club or something. That was when I joined the kendo club and achieved dan⁹ level.

ーー lSSAY-san practicing kendo… I didn’t expect that (lol).

I: And, you know, the armour was huge. Because when I first started junior high, I was so small that I was positioned second from the front¹⁰. Then, in those three years of junior high, I grew about 26cm taller and after that, I grew another 10cm taller.

ーー Did things change as a result of your growth spurt? Like suddenly becoming popular with the girls?   Or getting more chocolates on Valentines’ Day?

I: In those days, obligatory chocolates and all that didn’t exist which meant that you got anything, it was for real. So I remember receiving only one when I was a 6th grader in elementary school and feeling all troubled, like, “Ah, this is serious.” Though, I think that might’ve been a junior who was with me as part of the library committee.

ーー So, you were on the library committee.

I: Because I loved books. You see… If I’m alone in my room, the only thing I can do is read books, right?

ーー Ah, that’s true. Those were the days when the only TV in the house was in the living room too.

I: Yeah, and I hated going to the living room where my father was. So I’d just hole myself up in my room and read Edogawa Ranpo¹¹, mystery, fantasy, stories about ghouls and fairies. You could only borrow one book a day from the library, you see. Since that was the case, I decided that on weekdays, I’d borrow an easy book and finish it within the day. On Saturdays, I’d borrow a thick book and read it on Saturday and Sunday, over two days.

ーー So, 6 books a week.

I: Yeah.

ーー That’s a ton of reading!

I: But you see, that includes random books that I could finish in a day.

ーー What kind of student were you in junior high?

I: I might’ve been considered to be a bit of a delinquent (lol), but it wasn’t anything like doing this or that with my uniform. You know how there’d somehow always be those friends or seniors who are bad company?   I was favoured by those people, though I really don’t know why. So, I had to go through town to get home. And when I meet those slightly delinquent fellow classmates while walking down the shopping district, they’d call out to me saying things like, “I’ll treat you to coffee jelly at the coffee shop.”

ーー Were they looking for something in return?

I: Nope, not particularly. I wonder why. Maybe it’s because I was aimlessly wandering around.

ーー Were they thinking of getting ISSAY-san into their own group since you didn’t belong to any?

I: But even if they did invite me, I still won’t belong to any particular group anyway. Somehow, I don’t like the idea of my actions being controlled. But I was hiding in my room because of that, so there’s also the question of whether that’s freedom or not though.

ーー But there must’ve been a reason why they took such notice of you. Maybe it was something you weren’t aware of.

I: I guess… For example, wasn’t there a trend of piercing a hole in your ear with a safety pin?

ーー Ah, was there?

I: It was right around the time when punk appeared. So, I happened to be there right when the delinquents were going about whether to put a hole in their ear or not. And they asked me, “Hey, can you pierce a hole?” and I said, “I can,” and straight up stuck the safety pin in and pierced a hole myself. 

ーー Without numbing it with ice first?

I: Uhhuh. That hurt (lol). Contrarily, to pierce your ear, it wasn’t particularly realistic for students in the countryside to do, you know? And we didn’t have any concept of having piercings either. So that was just a matter of whether you can pierce a hole here or not (lol).

ーー Like, touch this thing to see whether it’s hot or not?

I: I wouldn’t have liked it hot, though (lol), but well, it was something like, I guess it’s fine to pierce a hole since it could turn into a fashion statement too? (lol).

ーー Because you had an interest in rock and punk fashion anyway?

I: I suppose, in a roundabout way, but I wasn’t all that interested in rock itself.

ーー So, when you did that, they just said, “Good on you”?

I: I don’t think there was anything like that either. Probably just a, “Huh, that guy really pierced his ear” (lol).

ーー So you made nothing but losses from piercing your ear (lol).

I: (Lol).

ーー Did you put a stud or something into that hole?

I: No, no, I didn’t. We only had safety pins there. So, I just made a hole and removed the pin… Wait, isn’t that self-harm! (Lol)

ーー Thank you for playing along (lol).

I: I didn’t even think of that. So, I didn’t do anything particularly bad in those days; that was the kind of junior high life I had.

 

 

At the boarding high school it was study, study, study everyday. It was so uncomfortable there that I couldn’t take it and snuck out of the dormitory every Saturday night. Right then, that incident happened……

ーー What about your high school entrance exams?

I: Well, I went to a preparatory school, but by that time, I had already lost interest in studying for school and my grades were steadily dropping, so I attended cram school for a time during summer break of my third year in junior high. Though, when I skipped those classes too and got caught for it, I was badly beaten for it. To a point where I felt like my life was in danger, really.

ーー From your father.

I: Yea. So, I decided that I’d just study anyway, and when I did, my grades came back, but you know… My transcripts¹² weren’t good, were they? Since they consisted of all 3 years starting from my first year in junior high. So I entered a barely-acceptable high school that didn’t really care about those things, but. That place was the worst.

ーー The worst?

I: It was a private boarding school where we were split into classes based on our grades. It was awful. Absolutely awful. Like after dinner, we weren’t allowed to go into other students’ rooms after 7 p.m., and we had to stay up until 11 p.m. at night to study. Then, we had 7 hours of classes in school which were then followed by another 2 hours of class in the prep school next to the dormitories which were run by the high school.

ーー Cram and cram and cram.

I: Yeah. It was extremely strict and they’ll post everyone’s grades up so there’s bullying in that sense too. Because I couldn’t tolerate that sort of thing.

ーー And there’s nowhere to escape to because it’s a boarding school…

I: But. It was better than going home. When I snuck out of the dormitory, I went drinking. We targeted Saturday nights when surveillance wasn’t as strict. Whenever I went to our usual bar, someone would always buy me a drink. So, I’d only drink there every week. Though, it wasn’t as if I understood or appreciated the taste of alcohol, it just looked cool, you know? Well, at a different place, an incident which involved more than half of the dormitory occurred when I was in my second year of high school. Juniors somehow got caught but all of the blame was placed on me.

ーー Because it involved alcohol?

I: Well, that’s what it was though. That incident, although there was no such thing as a mastermind or anything like that, all of it was blamed on me. I guess, maybe the school sort of knew about what I was doing and they were just looking for a chance. But even though this incident involved more than half the students in the dormitory, all of the blame was pinned on me and I was the only one who was made to drop out… Because of that, I became sick and tired of everything. I dropped out around autumn of my second year in high school, but since my father had some level of reputation, I couldn’t be at home, could I? Because other people would find out about this if I was in my hometown. And so, I was sent to Yotsuya¹³ where I was a live-in newspaper delivery boy.

ーー Huh, your parents made that decision?

I: Yeah. They say that newspaper delivery is tough, but once you’ve gotten used to it, it’s fine. To the high schooler that I was, that was better than being at home anyway. Actually, they also raised the possibility of transferring me into a high school in Tokyo, but no matter the school, they had no reason to take in a kid who wanted to transfer at such an awkward time in the school year for some unknown reason. I was also at the point when I didn’t want to go to school, so…… In any case, I was angry at the backstabbing by the juniors in that high school I was expelled from, at the school for trying to cover up the incident which involved more than half the dormitory by blaming it on me alone, and at all my classmates who said nothing against it. Because that happened, I believed that people couldn’t be trusted anymore.

ーー Not a single person told the truth… That must’ve been quite a blow.

I: Yeah. So while delivering newspapers in Yotsuya, I got acquainted with people from a particular left-wing group, and my parents caught wind of me hanging out there so I got taken back into their home (lol). In the end, I was only in Yotsuya for 2 or 3 months before they brought me back. And because they said, “You’re not allowed to go anywhere,” I was essentially under house arrest. I had no money at 17, so I couldn’t go out and have fun anyway, right? There was nowhere for me to go. At home, my parents would keep saying all sorts of things to me whenever we met. Also, I’d be subjected to forced labour at my father’s construction sites on occasion. He’d say, “Understand what it means to work!” Aside from that, I’d be in my room all the time, reading the books I have there. It was around that time when I started writing. Starting from a diary, and gradually into poetry. Every evening, I’d say I’m going out for a walk and go towards the sea to take a breather. I’d spend about an hour there by the seaside, passing time before going back into my room to listen to music. Actually, it was at my first high school where I first encountered rock music.

ーー What was rock at the time?

I: I think the very first one was David Bowie. A classmate had me listen to Station to Station¹⁴. When I heard it, I thought, “Ah, so rock can be expressed in this manner too.” I didn’t like rock at all at the time, but after that, I loved it. I think that one was released in 1976. When David Bowie slicked his hair back.

ーー Was it after you encountered David Bowie that you got inspired to start a band?

I: When you hear such complex music you won’t get the urge to do music, yeah. I just listened to it, thinking that it’s amazing. It was after that when I started to listen to rock and all sorts of music, though. At the time, Japan¹⁵ came about, so I listened to Japan. Then there was Gary Numan¹⁶ and Public Image¹⁷… That was the kind of music I was listening to. I even took my radio-cassette player with me when I was living in Yotsuya.

ーー So, for how long did that confinement in your parents’ home continue?

I: Around February of my supposed second year in high school, I thought, this is bad, I can’t keep going on like this. I wanted to talk to people in my age group. So, I said I wanted to go to school and got myself enrolled into my second high school. I had to drop a grade from high school year 2, which meant that while I should have been in year 3 [at my age], I transferred into year 2 at a high school with more freedom (lol). But as you’d expect, I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone in the beginning. That untrusting period went on for quite a while. But with a change of environment, I, too, gained the ability to change myself. I doubted and suspected and couldn’t trust, didn’t trust, wouldn’t trust until at the very end, I ultimately decided to try and trust these people who made me feel like I could trust them. And so, during my time in my second high school, I managed to make friends with people who I could call my best friends¹⁸.

ーー Through rock?

I: We did talk about rock too. It was during that time, when I was borrowing all sorts of music from friends to listen to that I found T-REX¹⁹ and Sex Pistols²⁰. And it was then when I made the big mistake of thinking that I might be able to pull it off if I were to make music like theirs (lol). Like, I could probably do it if it was this sort of simple rock’n’roll. If it was that somewhat aloof sort of singing, rather than the high-toned shouting kind of music I hated, maybe I could do it too. You see, I thought that this was the fastest shortcut. Although I had started writing poetry, it wasn’t as if I did it because I thought I was talented anyway. I just did it by following the methodology without the idea that I had the talent for poetry. So, that’s how I felt, yeah. That, maybe I could do it, singing… Although I’ve never sung in front of anyone before (lol).

 

I have to drink, or I can’t sing!   I just get so incredibly embarrassed. Despite that, we believed that we’d go pro, even though we were such a fraud of a band (lol).

ーー Were you in an actual band even in high school?

I: Nope, because I haven’t decided to start a band at the time. When I became a year 3 student, among the graduating students; students the same age as me but one school year ahead of me, were those who I would eventually start a band with and some of them were headed towards Tokyo, so I sent them off with the words, “I’ll be heading there next year too, so if you’re going there and want to start a band, keep practicing, yeah?” And a year later, I went to Tokyo too.

ーー You studied crazy hard and took the university entrance exams.

I: Well, I didn’t study. Any university was fine. As long as I could get in.

ーー As long as you could get into university, you could live in Tokyo, away from your parents.

I: Exactly. And I got into the university’s economics faculty. I actually wanted to join the literature faculty but I got asked, “What’s the point of that?” I didn’t really want to argue about it so I just said, “I’ll go for economics then.”

ーー Was living in Tokyo like paradise, a fresh new start?

I: It wasn’t exactly paradise there. Anyway, the only thing I had decided on was what I was going to do. That I would, in any case, make music.

ーー So you started a band with those who came to Tokyo first?

I: The guitarist and bassist were my hometown friends, but we only lacked a drummer so I tricked a drummer at my university (lol) into joining the band and named it ISSAY and SUICIDES (SUICIDES). We already composed an original even before we had our first studio session. I went to the guitarist’s place, had him put chords to the melody I came up with and composed it together. I then wrote the lyrics later.

ーー What was your first studio session like?

I: I couldn’t do it unless I drank.

ーー Hah?

I: But, you see, I can’t sing in front of people when I’m sober. I just get so incredibly embarrassed. That’s why  I don’t even know whether what I did at the time can even be called singing though. But the fact that we thought that we’d go ahead and perform live with that, and that none of us thought that we couldn’t do a live show… Even though we were such a, fraud of a band (lol).

ーー Calling yourselves a fraud of a band (lol).

I: Really, now that I think about it, we were an awful band (lol). No matter how you look at it, we were such a hoax that I’m wondering how we ever thought that band could go pro.

ーー Where did you perform your show?

I: The first was at a tiny live house in Koenji. It’s not there anymore but, hm… I think it was called Red House²¹. It was a strange live house; there’s a bar counter, and a performance space in the back, and for some reason, there was a seating area floored with tatami mats next to it. That was where we performed live. I was 20 when I first took to the stage, you know. So, shortly after we started performing shows, our audience also gradually grew.

ーー Because you did some sort of advertising?

I: So, before we played our first show, at the time, an acquaintance made a recommendation for me to JUNE²² (ジュネ) and ALLAN²³ (アラン), which were what you’d now refer to as BL²⁴ magazines. They then published a few pages worth of photos of me so people who read those magazines were the ones who came to our performances. From the first or second show.

ーー So that’s how it happened. Um… Did you know what kind of magazines they were before you agreed to appear in them?

I: I did. They posted information for me numerous times after too, and I even had a feature in JUNE. Don’t misunderstand me, but ever since high school, I’ve been going to those establishments to drink.

ーー So you’re immune.

I: Not at all. Rather, I’m comfortable. It’s not… Anyway, it’s like, say, I thought it was fine either way (lol).

ーー Mm~ Freedom (lol). It appears that you were also modelling while being in a band?

I: Modelling, that just happened by chance.

ーー Ah, was it also around this period when you started pantomime?

I: Just before I turned 21, yes. So, there’s a beauty salon back in my hometown that I used to go to when I was a high schooler, and the people there took a liking to me so they asked me to be a hair model. It was there where I met my pantomime teacher, just by chance. At the time, we only greeted each other, but a year later, we happened to meet again at the same beauty salon. Because even after I turned 20 and moved to Tokyo, I still go to that beauty salon on occasion to cut or dye my hair.

ーー The both of you came from the same hometown?

I: Yeah, it just so happened. So, we exchanged greetings and my teacher left the beauty salon, but right after that, he made a phone call to the beauty salon. “It’s ISSAY-kun’s call,” the staff said, right before adding, “It’s the pantomime guy from earlier. He said that he’d be performing his next show in [unknown month], and asked if you’d perform?” He asked whether I would perform, but I’ve never done anything like that before, and besides, I didn’t know whether I was capable of it or not, so I said, “I don’t think I can,” and declined, but then, he said, “No, don’t worry, I’ll only let you do things within your ability.” I thought, if that’s the case, then it wouldn’t hurt to try. And after 2 months of special training, I performed in that show.

ーー Did you have fun?

I: I was nervous. But pantomime was interesting. Actually, rather than pantomime itself being interesting, it was the many things that my teacher taught me about, things which I never knew prior. The way we think about things, music, the arts… There was so much to know and learn from my teacher that it felt as if my world expanded all at once. That was really interesting, you know? And it’s still going on even now, though.

ーー The band and pantomime, you were absorbed in these two activities, so school…?

I: I barely went.

ーー Because you were engrossed in having fun.

I: Mm… Regarding the band, rather than it being something I did because I enjoyed it, to me, it was more of a thing that I felt I absolutely had to do. It’s definitely not something I was doing just because it’s fun. Because I felt that I couldn’t go without doing it.

ーー Because the version of you who writes lyrics and performs on stage is the real you?

I: Yeah, because I really strongly felt that I’d be nothing if I didn’t do this. You know, I’ve rarely ever thought that being in a band was fun.

ーー But were you happy when your audience grew?

I: Well, that. See, the magazines were posting news about our band as usual too. And because that was the new wave era, the ones with the ideas were the ones who would win. It was a time when it was fine for things like technique to come later. Generally speaking, whether you’re faking it musically or whatever, you’d come out on top as long as you could make the audience think what you wanted them to think. And for some reason, I had nothing but confidence for that, you know.

ーー You were particular with your image too, and even dyed your hair. 

I: Every month, my hair would turn a different colour. I’d go to an acquaintance’s beauty salon every month and change colours… Because I get tired of things easily (lol). I was blond before, made it resemble the colour of wakame²⁵ where it looks black at a glance but when the sun shines on my hair, it turns green (lol).

ーー Wakame-coloured (lol). So that you could attract people’s attention with your stage style.

I: Yeah, that was my intention. Although our audience grew bit by bit as we performed as a band, musically, we weren’t quite anywhere… So, I think it was either in 1982 or 1983, SUICIDES disbanded. Because I decided that I wanted things to be a little more solid musically. I started up my own solo project anew, and HAL, the bassist who I’m still performing with even now, was in it, you know. SUICIDES’ guitarist said he had a friend who was a great bassist, and introduced him to me. Also, by that time, it became absolutely essential to have a keyboardist in your band, so Morioka Ken-kun²⁶ (ex. SOFT BALLET²⁷) joined me for a time. Basically, the innocent high schooler Morioka Ken was tricked (lol) and pulled in. I actually think Morioka-kun’s very first time on stage was as a part of my band. So the guitarist and drummer positions were filled by the remnants of SUICIDES but once Morioka-kun quit, the band members kept getting replaced time and time again… You know, around 1984, we actually found ourselves in a situation where we didn’t know who was going to be part of the lineup for our next show. Besides, I don’t really listen to what people say (lol). After all, when it comes to working together, if it wasn’t with you clicked with, you’d definitely soon come to hate each other.

ーー Since you’re in a band with HAL-san even now, does it mean that you clicked?

I: We did. All the other band members came and went, but HAL had always been with me. So, since we had to look for new members again, we went everywhere approaching people and auditioning. And the members who we gathered back then are the present band members of DER ZIBET. When this current group of band members came together and made music together for the first time, I thought, it might be better if I didn’t do this under my solo project any more, we should start a band. We called it DER ZIBET.

 

DER ZIBET debuted one year after its formation. When I got to the point where I was going to put my all into music, my controlling father never said anything again.

ーー Wasn’t that right about the same time when you appeared in the movie, The Legend of the Stardust Brothers?

I: A little bit before that. At the end of my solo work.

ーー So, why were you in the movie?

I: This is a true story that sounds like a lie, but when I was looking for band members to join my solo project, there was someone who was bringing my profile around to do that for me. And it just so happened that this person was involved in that movie too. So, they were at a point where they couldn’t find someone they liked to play the role I was eventually given in The Legend of the Stardust Brothers, and what I heard was, they had a meeting to evaluate if there were any more candidates. During that meeting, the person who was helping me with the band member search said, “I’ve got something else to handle, so if you’ll excuse me,” and he was about to leave the room when my information slipped out. The others saw it and asked, “Who’s this?” That person had been caught with something unrelated to work, so he started panicking and said, “Please pretend that you didn’t see this,” but they decided, “It’s fine, call this kid over,” and that’s how I got the call.

ーー To think such a drama-like string of events actually happened.

I: Yeah. And from what they told me, although it was a movie, it was also a rock music, and Macoto Tezuka²⁸ was the director while Chikada Haruo²⁹ was the one behind the original idea and the mastermind of the production. I thought it all sounded like it could get very interesting.

ーー Chikada Haruo-san, as in, Vibrastone’s³⁰?

I: That’s right. At the time, I had a manager who was more of a theatre person than a music person so I took part without having much of a full picture of what was going on… Really, I’m so ashamed for doing that (wry smile).

ーー But your meeting Chikada Haruo-san had a lot to do with what was to come for DER ZIBET, right?

I: You’re right. I met Chikada-san, did the movie, and when the movie was done, my band became DER ZIBET. So, DER ZIBET was asked to perform at the live event before the movie preview. Other famous indie artists at the time, like Kubota Shingo³¹ and Takagi Kan³² and a bunch of others performed too. Chikada Haruo-san was watching that event and it was then when he took an interest in DER ZIBET. Soon after, he brought the president of an upcoming record label to our show and asked us if we were interested in being his label’s first artist. That label was Sixty Records.

ーー Didn’t things move extremely quickly? From the time of your formation to your debut?

I: It was. Besides, it was only about a year after DER ZIBET’s formation that we debuted.

ーー Fast (lol). Sounds exciting for the band members too.

I: We were aloofly excited, right.

ーー Aloofly excited (lol). Blood type doesn’t say everything, but I’m guessing that the number of blood type ABs in DER ZIBET must be high (lol).

I: HAL and HIKARU and I are blood type AB (lol).

ーー How unusual (lol). Were there a lot of different elements in your music from that time?

I: Yeah. Because we’re a gathering of musicians with different backgrounds. You know,  “french pop is interesting” and “movie soundtracks are interesting” were the only things that all of us agreed on (lol).

ーー Vague (lol).

I: See, MAHITO was originally a bassist but switched to being a keyboardist halfway through. I believe he’s been playing the keyboard since he was a child so he can even play classical music, but I think the genre he was into at the time was techno. I liked Roxy Music³³ so that was where we got along. MAYUMI was a mysterious guy who played unbelievable drums (lol). He’d have a ridiculous number of tom toms set up too. I think he probably liked the drummer Terry Bozzio³⁴ so he might’ve been influenced by him. So, you know, I think he probably listened to Frank Zappa³⁵, for sure, and Missing Persons³⁶ and the sort of pop genre music. Him and HAL, they liked progressive rock so they talked a lot in that area. And, then there’s HIKARU who listened to a wide range of music; anything from jazz to punk to hard rock and everything in between.

ーー Even your music preferences were all over the place; they don’t really come together (lol).

I: But you see, that’s because it was the new wave era; the time when techniques of combining musical genres were established. As my words suggest, we mix a bunch of things together to acquire new techniques which we then try to apply to old music to create something new altogether. From this perspective, I think that DER ZIBET’s experimental nature fit right into that era. That was the strategy of our record label back then; to put that sort of DER ZIBET out just as we were to make it look a little more upscale, y’know?

ーー Did you ever produce any demo tapes prior to your debut?

I: We did. We had actually been scouted by another record label and we worked with that label to the point of recording a demo tape, but for one reason or another, all of us, the band members felt that it would probably take us quite some time before we could actually debut if we stuck with that label. So we took the demo tape we recorded there and brought it to Sixty Records (lol). Aren’t we such an ungrateful bunch (lol).

ーー (Lol). Was the very first release of DER ZIBET’s debut like the culmination of everything you’ve been doing up till then?

I: Yeah.

ーー Did the relationship between ISSAY-san and your family change at that time?

I: Once I said, “Well, I’m going to have my debut,” they gave up, y’know. Up until that point, they kept saying all sorts of things like, “Music is just a thing you’re doing as a hobby,” or that they wouldn’t send me any allowance if I didn’t go back during the summer vacations, and all that. So that’s why no one had anything to say when I managed to make my debut in the middle of my university education.

ーー It’s great that your debut went without a hitch.

I: Or rather, it was probably more like a form of recognition that I’m finally making my move. Ever since that incident in high school, the way I looked at things had changed drastically, and that’s why I think that my life only truly started at age 17. The person I was prior to that and after that are… How should I put this…… I guess you could say that to me, there’s a severance between them. Everything changed when I was 17. How I thought about things, the way I looked at them, everything. At the same time, that was also when I established my own view of my life, things like my reason for living, you know. And that’s why, even now, the very first question I’d ask myself when considering something is, “What would I think about this if I were my 17-year-old self?” Because to me, that incident which happened when I was 17 was my personal test of faith³⁷.

 

My parents secretly came to watch my show. I think this father of mine who I so feared had been supporting me in the shadows until the end of his life.

ーー Hmn. So how were things after going pro?

I: It was uncharted grounds, but while we didn’t know anything, I think we had some sort of unfounded confidence (lol). Because I hadn’t really watched all that many people performing live before at the time. And besides, even music, I started doing it only because of my own wilful idea that it was something I could do if I did it that particular way. So it was only of course that prior to debuting, I didn’t even know what it entailed. Neither did I have any background knowledge at all. If, back then, I knew that this is the kind of music that would be popular in today’s world, that Japan’s music industry would end up in this state… If I knew these sorts of things, I would’ve probably chosen not to do music. You know, I think I could do it only because I didn’t know things.

ーー But even if you didn’t know, wasn’t it huge to ISSAY-san that you got to a place where you could make music you wanted to make?

I: Yeah. Because I thought I’d probably die if I couldn’t do music.

ーー Huh!?

I: Because even if I couldn’t make music for a living and had to earn money and feed myself with part-time jobs or whatever, it was fine with me. Above all, I felt that if I ever got myself into a situation where I couldn’t put all of myself into music, I’d be as good as gone.

ーー You believed so strongly that music was all you had.

I: Yeah.

ーー That you wanted to give your life to what you love.

I: Is it something I love? That’s something I ask myself even now… Although, there must be something about it that suits my personality if someone as fickle as I am has kept at it for as long as I have (lol). But have I been doing this because I love it?   On this point, I said that I didn’t particularly enjoy singing by nature. And that I absolutely hated singing in front of people.

ーー Mm… If that’s the case, then it makes me wonder all the more, why music?

I: I suppose, maybe it’s because the first time I stood on stage was the very first time in my life when I was called “cool” instead of “gross”.

ーー You were called words like gross?

I: Well, it’s gross, isn’t it, for a male to wear makeup on the regular. Back in those days.

ーー Huh, you wore makeup regularly?

I: Yeah, in high school. Although, as you might expect, I didn’t wear it all the time in my high school days. Since, you know, my parents could see me.

ーー What led to that?

I: It wasn’t that I wanted to be a woman, or that I wanted to be perceived as a woman so much that I started wearing makeup or anything like that. I forgot what started it, but I got into an argument with a friend when I was in junior high. And it was then when he said, “You queer bastard³⁸!” But I didn’t understand the reason behind why he called me that. Like, on what basis was he calling me that? So I asked him back, “What do you mean by that?” and he said, “You’re so much like a girl that it’s gross!” All I thought was, oh, I see. That turned into a preoccupation of mine for the longest time. So after that, sometime after I started high school, a thought crossed my mind, y’know, that, “If I really am that feminine, then I’d probably look good with makeup. And since that’s the case, then I should wear makeup. No one’s going to have anything to complain about if I wear makeup anyway.” And so, I started wearing makeup similar to how it is now. I have been ever since I was a high schooler.

ーー Even when you went to school?

I: That’s right. They thought I had mental problems at the time (lol), so my teachers didn’t say anything either. When we were doing push-ups during phys ed, the teacher saw my nails and asked, “What’s this?” so I answered, “Manicure,” and to that, he said, “You’re into that sort of thing?” It’d be too troublesome for me to explain properly right there and then, so I just replied with, “Yes.” And he said, “I see.” And that was it (lol).

ーー (Lol).

I: After that, the phys ed teacher called my friend, like, “Hey, come here,” and then asked him, “That kid’s a little different, isn’t he?   Doesn’t he seem a bit like That (gay)?” And I think my friend answered with, “Yeah, he does. He seems to be kind of That.” (Lol).

ーー You weren’t bothered by the reactions of the people around you?

I: People who walk past would often do a double-take, but (lol) I thought that compared to forcing myself to hunch and walk around like a guy in a sorry state, this was far better, wearing makeup and walking tall with my chest out.

ーー It’s cooler to wear makeup the way you like it and walk around proudly.

I: I didn’t exactly wear makeup because I liked it, though… Ah, I guess I did like it (lol).

ーー I don’t think you’d wear makeup you didn’t like (lol).

I: Yeah, I wouldn’t (lol). But really, getting called a queer bastard really shocked me.

ーー I wonder if it’s because you were mild-mannered?   Like sticking out your pinky finger?

I: No, no (lol). But, well, with the way my face looks and how my body is shaped like this.

ーー To ISSAY-san back then, wasn’t that the highest form of insult in the limited vocabulary of a junior high schooler?

I: Probably. Well, but when we look at the generations who came later, I think I’m the one who won, though (lol). Now, even if high school boys wear makeup, people would think that they’re trying to look cool and that’s the end of it, right? (Lol). 

ーー That’s true.

I: So, going back to the topic at hand, this me who seems to be like That (lol) was called cool for the first time when I stood on stage just the way I was, and that’s why I thought, music is what I should be doing. Things happened as usual in my daily life, though. During DER ZIBET’s Kyushu tour, I crashed³⁹ at a relative’s house for a night and went drinking with my uncle when his friends saw me looking the way I was. It turned out those people mistook me for my uncle’s paramour (lol). Because at the time, I was blond and the locks at my nape were long. That was a story I heard at my father’s funeral.

ーー Your father, he’d passed away?

I: Right around HOMO DEMENS (1990). He was a father I feared but he never said anything more after I made my debut, y’know, since I’m earning my own money and feeding myself. And it was only later on that I also heard that he apparently snuck over to watch my show (lol). They said he secretly came to my show at Shibuya Public Hall⁴⁰, him and my mother, together.

ーー I guess it’s because of your father’s pride that he did it in secret.

I: Perhaps…   Although, he did say, “That was amazing. It was so loud it felt like my insides were getting torn out.” (Lol). Then when I asked my mother, “Did you come and watch?”, she said, “I certainly did.” (Lol). Our family’s really quite formal and reserved with each other so that’s about it. I’m going a little off topic, but my alcohol-loving father got affected with liver disease so he stopped drinking ever since I was in high school. But we didn’t think he was going to die yet at the time, y’know. So, one day when I was in my final year of high school, my father called me to his room. I was apprehensive, thinking in the back of my mind, “What could it be?   Is he going to get angry and hit me again?” but instead, he said, “There’s a liquor called 〇〇〇〇 on the first floor. Bring it here.” After I went and brought it back, he said, “Fill this glass,” so I did, and then he said, “Drink,” so I drank. Then he said, “This is expensive stuff so taste it and drink,” so I drank it bit by bit, but then he said, “How would you know the taste of the liquor when you sip like that!!”, so I downed it all in one gulp and slammed the glass on the table. Then he said, “Good, you, me and your mother will finish this bottle today.” The bottle I just opened was brandy, so I drank, thinking I’ll be fine since both my parents will be drinking too, but before I knew it, my father was drinking shochu and my mother was drinking whiskey (lol). In the end, I emptied that bottle of brandy on my own, in one night (lol).

ーー Strong (lol). It sounded as if there was something your father wanted to say.

I: Maybe he wanted to drink with me at least once because he knew that he’d never be able to drink with me again for the rest of his life…… was what I only realised later. Because it never happened before and never happened again, so that was the one and only time…

ーー Ah…

I: Even after that, there were times when my father had to go to Tokyo for get-togethers⁴¹ because of work. On those occasions, he’d tell me, “Come pick me up,” and I would go and pick him up, though. Just so that he could use the excuse, “I have to go because my son has come to pick me up”. But it doesn’t make sense that someone looking like this picks him up, right? My father’s friends all made a huge fuss, y’know (lol). Like, “What’s up with you?” (lol).

ーー I’d expect that (lol). Could it be that he wanted to show off a little bit too?

I: Nah, there’s nothing to be proud of, is there? A guy like me.

ーー No way, you’ve made your debut, released CDs, performed live shows; even if he didn’t say it directly, I’m very sure he was proud of you.

I: Who knows, really?   Although, I do think that he was supportive of me. With those circumstances, I was prepared to watch this person who I so feared as a child grow weaker and weaker so…… I didn’t feel anything special but… Mmm…… I didn’t see him die, y’know. When I got home and turned on my answering machine, message after message after message was recorded from the moment he fell into critical condition until he passed and I rushed back to my parents’ home as fast as I could but…… I think there were 2 times when I cried. Once was when I visited him in the hospital and I saw him struggling desperately, trying to get up even though he couldn’t. I guess my father wanted to show his dignity… That manly spirit⁴² made me cry, and after that was when my father died, and I arrived at my parents’ home and saw my father’s corpse. When I went back into my room, the tears came. Why did I cry?   I have absolutely no clue, though. During the funeral, I had a lot of trouble because I had extensions in my hair which made it so long that it reached my ankles, y’know. Even though my mother was already peeved when I visited my father at the hospital with that hair, I still showed up at his funeral with it so she was half-mad with rage, scolding me, “I can’t believe you dare show up with that head.” She gave me the silent treatment for a good half year after that (lol). But it wasn’t as if I could do anything about it, you know? It took 2 people 20 hours a day over more than 3 days to do that, I couldn’t take it off just like that. My mother was angry at me the whole time, saying things like, “Look at you, coming home dressed like that altar⁴³,” but when my father’s magnificent-looking altar was brought to the house, she turned to the craftsman, pointed at my head and said, “My, that’s splendid. Gold leaf pasted on black lacquer, just the way my son likes it, don’t you think?   Look at this head of his.” (Lol). Though, as you’d expect, that struck a nerve at the time (lol).

ーー (Lol).

I: That’s how my mother was, but a year after my father passed away, I began sending my mother flowers every year on her birthday. It’s like, part of it is letting her know that I love her. Because, although she’s my stepmother, I’ve been with her longer than with my biological mother. I think that she really took care of me and brought me up well. So I really have to take my hat off to her for that, y’know.

ーー From a mother’s standpoint, I think you’d have been considered as a difficult child. You were sensitive and a bit of an oddball.

I: And to top it off, my feelings of being victimised were all out on full display (lol). I guess she probably had a really hard time. Furthermore, she hadn’t had any kids yet when she became my mother too. So considering that she suddenly had to become a mother to a 9 or 10 year-old boy, I think it’s understandable that she wouldn’t have any idea how to raise a child. There was once when she got mad angry at me when I went home after playing in mud near the house (lol). So, I thought, “Ah, I can’t play in the mud if I’m living with this person,” and since then, I never played with mud ever again.

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ーー You were thoughtful even as a child.

I: Well, that’s of course. Because, you see, she’s looking out for me too from her end. But, you know, we get along well now. Sometimes, when I take my mother out for a meal or something, the madam⁴⁴ there would even say, “Why, you look just like your mother.⁴⁵” It appears that somehow, we give off similar vibes.

ーー Do you look alike too?

I: Our facial features are similar too, in the sense that there’s this air of some unknown foreign ancestry or something like that (lol). I’ve been to that place together with my younger brother and my mother too, but on that occasion, the madam commented, “The younger brother looks like the father, but the older brother looks exactly like the mother, doesn’t he?” and both of us could only laugh helplessly  with troubled expressions (lol).

ーー Could it be that your mother’s facial features were your father’s type?

I: You know, that’s what I thought in the beginning too. But if my mother’s face was my father’s type, then it begs the most disturbing question of, “Does that mean my face, which resembles my mothers’, is also my father’s type?” (Lol). But after giving it a lot of thought, and comparing my biological mother and my stepmother, they don’t look much like each other though (lol).

 

I used to quarrel with HIKARU a lot, though, now we joke about it.
I guess we couldn’t understand or accept each other when we were young.

ーー (Lol). Going back to what you said, it sounds difficult to live with extensions so long that they reach your ankles.

I: It was super hard to deal with in daily life. I had to be extremely cautious because it’s dangerous when I board taxis or get on escalators and elevators. Because if my hair gets caught between the doors, it’s the end. You know, I’ve even been chased by elementary schoolers when I’m walking along the streets (lol). They’d be yelling, “What’s that?   Look at that guy!” and come running towards me from 20 meters away, and when I realise it and turn around, they’d all stop (lol). It’s like, are we playing “Red light, Green light⁴⁶”? (Lol). Also, when I went to a friend’s house, their kitten kept playing with it so excitedly, y’know. When I said, “Right, I’m going home,” and stood up to leave, there was this weight pulling at my head and when I turned to see what it was, I found the kitten dangling from my hair (lol).

ーー (Lol). Right at the time when you had those extensions for that album HOMO DEMENS, it caused quite a stir in the editorial department I worked in back then. That picture on the album cover where you looked like you were breaking out of a shell made a huge impression.

I: That husk of mine (lol) was made by pouring resin in a mould of me which took a day to make and cast from my head to my toes so it was a lot of work. You know, I think the person who made it didn’t think that they were doing something bizarre though. The idea got presented, and it sounded interesting so we just did it. Although, I wonder what the other band members thought of it…? (Lol).

ーー I suppose the members’ reactions were rather dry?

I: Yeah, quite. Logically they understand that this is how I naturally am, but… Maybe that’s precisely it? You know, I do think there are times when I don’t really feel like wearing makeup, things like that. Back then, if you look at us as a whole, everyone was absurdly dressed, so (lol).

 

ーー Absurdly dressed (lol). HOMO DEMENS was an album you released when you were still with Columbia, but you changed labels after that, right?

I: We debuted with Sixty in 1985, then moved to Columbia Triad, and then to BMG Victor over our 11 active years since debut.

ーー Ah, before that, MAHITO-san left the band right before your major debut, didn’t he? Did something happen?

I: Before we started recording prior to our debut, MAHITO said, “There’s a lot I want to do and it’d be tough for me to only focus on DER ZIBET. I want to do things from a position with more freedom,” and left the band. Although, that topic just came up recently and he teased with, “What a prick you were.” (Lol). Well, I understood how MAHITO felt, and besides, he continued to help out for quite a while after he quit, and even after that, he often came to watch our shows and showed up at our after-parties to drink with us anyway. We’ve always had a good relationship. Actually, he said the same thing as I thought; his leaving DER ZIBET was a good decision because of how he’s now turned out to be in really great form.  Because he got to see and experience all types of bands during that time, y’know. So after MAHITO stopped playing with us, there was a period of time when other supporting keyboardists joined us, and there was even a time when we had a horn section, but the band was mainly made up of the 4 of us.

ーー While the 4 of you continued to maintain a certain level of distance between each other.

I: That’s right. Even now, when HIKARU gets drunk, just for kicks, he’d often say, “Me and ISSAY were on bad terms, though.“ (Lol). Although, just recently, we spoke about that on an internet TV thing, and I said, “But you see, about that, it wasn’t that me and you were on bad terms, we just weren’t on good terms.” (Lol).

ーー You can joke about it now (lol). Were the 2 of you at loggerheads back then?

I: That, and we couldn’t accept each other; as you’d expect, we both had that “I am who I am” attitude when we were young. The biggest problem we had might’ve been that we couldn’t understand each other, I think. Like, when we spoke, I didn’t try to express myself properly and neither did he express himself properly, and that’s when our opinions would clash. And the one who would always get caught in the middle in distress was HAL-chan (lol). Because HAL’s like the one thing that kept the band together, yeah. Whether I quarreled with MAYUMI, or I quarreled with HIKARU, or HIKARU and MAYUMI quarreled, he was always the one coming between us. Because HAL-chan’s the mother figure of our band.

ーー That’s very typical of a bassist.

I: That’s really how it felt. Less of a jack-of-all-trades⁴⁷ than the glue that binds⁴⁷.  He’s the kind of person who brings together those who are far apart. Even if we’re all on different wavelengths and our rhythms don’t match, HAL-chan will make it work, something like that.

ーー For such an invaluable person to have met with an accident…

I: After DER ZIBET went on hiatus in 1996, HAL and I and guitarist Jimmy (Hirose Satoshi, ex. 44MAGNUM) and drummer MINORU started the band Φ (PhI) in 1997 or 1998. That band broke up after 2 or 3 years of activity, and after that, I called on HAL-chan to do ISSAY meets DOLLY with me. It was in the middle of that when he had an accident.

ーー I heard that it was quite a serious one.

I: So much so that I thought that was it for him. It was so bad that I wasn’t sure that he would survive, or even if they managed to save him, that he would probably become a vegetable. That’s why, at that time, I couldn’t even think about going up on stage or doing anything like that.

ーー I see…

I: I did visit him in the hospital every now and then, though. Even after he regained consciousness, he had a long period of hospitalisation, going through rehabilitation as he slowly recovered. Eventually he got discharged to recuperate at home, and not even six months after, he called me. He left a message on my answering machine: “It’s HAL. Call me.” So, wondering what happened, I called HAL’s parents’ home, and he said, “Well, I wanna play in a band. So, you know, I’d be really happy if ISSAY would sing for me.” And I was like, “Ooh, let’s do this. So, who are the other members?” I asked him that, and he said, “MAHITO.” So I said, “Then shall I come to HAL’s home with MAHITO next time? We’ll compose something and figure out who’ll make up the rest of the members.” And when I dropped by HAL’s place, he was already holding his bass guitar and playing it. Then, he said, “HIKARU will be the guitarist.” As for drums, he said MAYUMI got admitted into hospital because he wasn’t doing well, so shall we ask MINORU? But by the time all of us entered the studio, MAYUMI had been discharged, y’know. Knowing that, MINORU said, “MAYUMI-san can drum now, so I’ll step aside. Please go ahead and play as DER ZIBET.”

ーー In the end, DER ZIBET’s reunion was again the hard work of the glue that binds HAL-san.

I: It really was. That was probably around 2006. I was shocked when HAL came into the studio and played his bass because he did it so solidly, y’know. Like, I didn’t expect that humans really had such an amazing hidden recovery ability. At the same time, I also thought that the power of music was truly astounding. People often talk about music therapy, but HAL proved its effects to me with his own body, y’know.

ーー Truly. So after that, you started performing live too.

I: Yeah. It’s just that in the beginning, we’d be worried for HAL’s body, right? Say, for example, even if we were to do a show about 40 minutes long, we’d be worried about whether he’d be able to bear the whole 40 minutes too. There was a chance that we might have to cut the show short too and we felt that we shouldn’t say that it’s a DER ZIBET show because of that, so we decided to perform a live show under a band name that would only make people think of DER ZIBET when they looked at it. This name was “RED BITEZ”. It was advertised with the words, “ISSAY will be the vocalist of this band.” No matter how you looked at that name, it was obviously an anagram of DER ZlBET anyway, and people may not know who the other band members were going to be, but I suppose they’d have speculated that I’d probably sing at least a DER ZIBET song or two.

ーー I’d assume that the relationship between the members of DER ZIBET wasn’t great when the band first went on hiatus, but what was it like when all 5 of you gathered again after that much time had passed?

I: Though, y’know, there was one more cushion between that time and our reunion. I was in the band LYNX since 2005 with HEATH⁴⁸ (X JAPAN) on bass, SAY→ICHIRO on guitar, and Matarow (廣嶋-HIROSHIMA-) on drums, right?   So, during the period of that band’s activity, the other members proposed, “We want to celebrate ISSAY-san’s 20th debut anniversary, so let’s perform DER ZIBET songs.” I declined, saying I didn’t want to. But y’know, it was partly also because I was thinking, how was DER ZIBET going to sound like with HEATH playing bass?   Would it really be okay?   But they asked, “What if we did it in a livehouse in Numazu instead of Tokyo?” and I thought, maybe it would be alright if we were doing this somewhere outside of Tokyo. Because I didn’t like the idea of people coming to watch us just for fun on a whim⁴⁹, and I figured that if we held it in Numazu, only those who really wanted to come and watch us would make their way there. Then, they said, “Since we’re doing this, and it’s been such a long while, why not try asking HIKARU-san too,” and coincidentally, I met HIKARU at the wedding celebration of our manager’s at the time, so, y’know, I asked, “Actually, you know, it’s gonna be my 20th debut anniversary, and LYNX wants to hold a DER ZIBET songs-only show, so I was wondering if it’s a good idea?” He said, “Yeah.” So, going along with the flow of that conversation, I asked, “So, would HIKARU join too?” and to that, he said, “Tch… I suppose it’s ‘cuz DER ZIBET’s songs are tough.” His reaction wasn’t as bad as I thought, you know? So, in the end, he agreed to perform with us. I guess it was after that time when I started to think that maybe it would be possible for me and HIKARU to play together in a band again. It could also be that we became mellower too after HAL-chan’s accident happened. Because we understood HAL-chan’s desire to play in a band together again.

ーー In other words, the Numazu show brought about the resumption of DER ZIBET?

I: Mm… Well, I suppose one of the initiators, the fact that HIKARU and I were doing something together again. Because, you see, I think HIKARU didn’t say no when HAL-chan said he wanted us to play in a band together again because this had happened. Though, well, I suppose he mightn’t have turned HAL-chan down even if that Numazu show didn’t happen… Hm. That’s why, although people are calling this recent period a reunion boom, it wasn’t as if we came back together because we specifically wanted to, y’know? It’s just that we ended up coming back together before we knew it (lol). It just so happened that the members turned out to be DER ZIBET again when HAL gathered the people he most wanted to play in the band with. I guess that’s probably because in the end, what he wanted to do the most was play as DER ZIBET again.

ーー That does sound like it. It seems like a number of miracles happened behind the scenes to let DER ZIBET restart activities despite the uncertainties and now hold solo one-man concerts like its business as usual.

I: Right? Because no one would’ve imagined that [HAL] would recover like that.

 

We only reunited because we felt that we could do something new among the 5 of us. Besides, we’re living in the present.

ーー Did it feel different to stand on stage with all the original members of DER ZIBET?

I: No, actually, y’know, the moment that moved me the most was when all of us made music in the studio, more so than when we performed on stage. Watching a scene that I knew so very well unfolding before my eyes… It was moving. Besides, HAL-chan hadn’t yet fully recovered from his injuries and MAYUMI had been living a life away from music too, so we definitely weren’t at our best, but there was nothing more moving than having the 5 of us make music together, y’know.

ーー Then, in 2009, you held your 25th anniversary show, and still continued your activities after that. And now, this year, you’re releasing two original, full albums, ROMANOID Ⅰ and ROMANOID Ⅱ!   You sure are working tirelessly.

I: Ah, well, I don’t really know why we ended up working so hard this time (lol). Although, HIKARU’s laughing at this, like, “We’ve made a reckless plan, huh.” (Lol). But you know, I suppose it’s because our relationship is really at its best right now, between all of us in the band. Besides, it’s also fun to discover new things about each other being in a band together again after a little over 27 years. Like this time, it also just struck me that, “Ah, so HIKARU writes this type of songs too.” I do think HIKARU thinks the same of me in HIKARU’s own way, though.

ーー I wonder if that was how he felt when he received lyrics from you?

I: Perhaps. I can really feel the reflections of how each of us spent our time during those 11 years of inactivity.

ーー That all of you were definitely not the same person that you were at the start of your hiatus 11 years ago.

I: I think if we remained the same as we were back then, we definitely wouldn’t do this. Because, you see, there’s no point, is there? We only reunited because we felt that we could do something new among the 5 of us. It’s not that we don’t enjoy making our fans happy by playing old songs, but what’s more important than that is the possibility of doing something new again with these band members. Besides, DER ZIBET isn’t an oldies band. We’re living in the present.

ーー Do you feel that unlike before, you’re now doing music a little more comfortably?

I: I do think so, especially between me and HIKARU, we two who fought the most fiercely (lol). Well, the one who was most on edge was probably me, though (lol). Because in the later half of those years, for a good few years until we went on a break, music was the only reason we ever spoke to each other, y’know. That said, in the first place, DER ZIBET wasn’t a band that came about because a group of friends came together anyway. “If I work with this guy, we might be able to come up with something interesting.” That was what we thought of each other, and that was why we became a band. So, we weren’t friends or anything. Although, somehow, we’ve most definitely become friends now (lol).

ーー (Lol). In all your years being in bands, is this now the most enjoyable, or the best state things have ever been?

I: Yeah. It’d be even better if MAYUMI recovers⁵¹. I think he’s really eager to come back, and we’ll wait for him, no rush.

ーー And 2 years later, it’ll be the 30th anniversary of the band’s formation.

I: In 3 years, it’ll be our 30th debut anniversary. It’s soon, isn’t it? Since we’re releasing 2 albums this year, shall we not release anything until the anniversary? (Lol).

ーー Please don’t idle (lol).

I: For real (lol).

ーー Because there are lots of people, from your fans to the many musicians, who support DER ZIBET’s activities and admire the band and each individual member. This was before, but I started listening to DER ZIBET because BUCK-TICK’s Sakurai Atsushi-san took part in DER ZIBET and ISSAY-san’s album for duets and because he said that he was a fan of ISSAY-san.

I: It makes me so happy to hear that he said that. You know, in the very beginning, the first time we met was at the recording session for a live TV program. The broadcast was meant for another week, but the recordings were done all in one go, so we ended up backstage together at Meguro Rokumeikan where the recording was being done. That was where we spoke for the first time. He said, “I like DER ZIBET and I’ve been to see your show,” and I said, “Ahh, thank you!” (Lol). They’re very polite people, aren’t they? So, we continued to keep in touch even after that. There was also the time when it just so happened that BUCK-TICK and DER ZIBET went to London for recording in the same period. He told me that they were going to do a show in London, so I went to watch with HIKARU too. I was there for about a month, but you know, throughout that time, the only live performance that I watched in London was BUCK-TICK’s (lol).

ーー (Lol). But there are also many other people apart from the aforementioned Sakurai-san who admire both ISSAY-san and DER ZIBET so––.

I: Oh, is that so?   But I don’t do anything.

ーー Then what have you been doing for almost 30 years (lol). 

I: I’ve only been singing (lol).

ーー And that’s precisely what’s been drawing people in.

I: If that’s true then I’m glad. There’s a payoff to my efforts. But I think the biggest reason why we can continue like this is because we got the feeling that it’d be fun to work with each other. Take, for example, during the production of this ROMANOID Ⅰ and ROMANOID Ⅱ, we were just writing songs but we ended up coming up with lots of interesting compositions. Just when we decided, “Since we’ve come up with such an amount, we might as well release 2 mini albums,” the number of songs grew again and we ended up with 2 full albums, y’know.

ーー They were just overflowing and spilling over, these songs.

I: Because we kept making discovery after discovery, like, “We can do something like this,”, “We can do something like that too.” There are a lot of these cases, right? Where bands or groups form because they like The Rolling Stones⁵⁰ or something. In DER ZIBET’s case, we’re just a band of individuals with scattered influences who came together to make music, so we’re always experimenting, y’know. It gets really bad when things don’t work out well, but right now, we can really pull off a huge variety of things in interesting ways, so I think we’re in exceptional shape, y’know. All that’s left is for MAYUMI to come back.⁵¹

ーー That’s true. I think that’s what everyone is hoping for. Um–– This is a bit of a vague question, may I ask, what’s the most important aspect in ISSAY-san’s life thus far?

I: Well, y’know…… I think my life changed the moment I called myself “ISSAY”, probably. Or maybe, rather than ‘changed’, I let myself change. In my opinion, I believe my greatest creation to be this “ISSAY” who looks like this, sings songs about those things, sets up such a stage, and sings like that. Because I feel that the invention of “ISSAY” by Fujisaki Issei, who was so frightfully afraid of everything, who was so filled with feelings of having been victimised, was what liberated me from my life up until that point.

ーー When did this begin?   Your use of “ISSAY” as your name.

I: When I started to write a poem of sorts in high school, I signed that off with “ISSAY”. That was the first time. 

ーー Did you feel like you’ve turned into another you when you did that?

I: Nope, to me, that was the moment when I showed my core self to other people. So, I guess you could say that “ISSAY” is the transmission apparatus I use to show the essence of who I am. There’d most certainly be a lot of things in my regular life that aren’t “ISSAY”, right? But when I digest all of that and bring out the most important part of me which resides deep within myself, that, I feel, is when I become “ISSAY”. I can’t really explain it well, though. Basically, performing “ISSAY” is the heart of who I am. And that is why understanding the pain, the sorrow, and the sadness I felt when I was 17, and the question of whether these feelings still remain are the most important things to “ISSAY”. Because of this, I want to continue to protect and keep this perspective of, “How would ISSAY view this?”.

ーー Because that’s the very origin of ISSAY-san.

I: Yeah. That’s why, whenever I return to my parents’ home, I’d always, without fail, go to the beach that I used to visit when I was 17 and I’d ask “ISSAY”, y’know. “Do you, now, still understand the sadness and pain I felt back then?” The friction between my father and I as a child, the friction I had with my friends because of that incident… At the age of 17, I had to bid farewell to the person I had been up until then and take a look at all 17 years’ worth of events in retrospect. Because to me, to “ISSAY”, that incident in my adolescence which led to all of that is important. So much so that in 1991, it culminated in the release of the 2-part album Shishunki (思春期 / Adolescence) by DER ZIBET, y’know.

ーー Yeah.

I: For those same reasons, even now, I feel deeply indebted to my homeroom teacher from my 2nd high school who encouraged me to write. I actually made a promise with my father when I entered the second high school, that this time, if I messed up in any way, he’d withdraw me from school. One day, I got into a huge fight with my father and I ran away from home, y’know. Just like that, I didn’t go home for around two days and in that time, my father submitted a withdrawal letter to the school. Well, I made a promise so it couldn’t be helped, right? But my homeroom teacher stopped my withdrawal from school for me. They convinced my father for me, saying, “If you make him quit school here and now, it will spell the end for that child, so I can’t let you do this. Because his talent for writing compositions like these will play a part in his future in some form. And if you make him drop out from school now, he would definitely give up on writing. So please, don’t withdraw him from school.” Then, to me, he said, “If you want to run away from home, then please do it legally by going to university. Because then, you’ll be kept fed for a good while without trouble.” I wasn’t sure about going to university and furthering my studies, but with that, he talked me into it.

ーー Your teacher understood, down to ISSAY-san’s character.

I: They really understood me well.

ーー I’m sure that’s because you were especially outstanding in class?

I: I think I stuck out like a sore thumb because I was an especially problematic student, though (lol). I think it’s thanks to that teacher that I managed to graduate from my second high school without incident. When we met again after I graduated, he laughed and said, “The only withdrawal letter I’ve ever rejected before or since was yours.” (Lol).

ーー And you’re still grateful for that even now.

I: That’s the only teacher I feel deeply indebted to, even now. Of course, there’s a ton of other people I’d like to thank too. Because my life is built on all these numerous coincidences upon coincidences. And among them, I want to thank my mother who spent a longer time bringing me up and raising me than my biological mother. That, and… Now, at this point of time in my life, to the father I once so hated and feared, I can also genuinely say thank you. For the love and kindness he had for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ Hakata dolls are traditional Japanese clay dolls that originated from Fukuoka. Read more here.

² The actual text said “教育方針” (kyouiku houshin) which directly translates into “educational policy”. I don’t think it fits quite well in the context so I changed it to “parenting style”.

³ Ozaki Kiyohiko was a Japanese singer from Kanagawa prefecture who released his greatest hit Mata Au Hi Made in 1971. It sold over a million copies and won the Japan Record Award at the 13th Japan Record Awards as well as the Japan Music Award. He passed away on 30 May 2012 at the age of 69.

⁴ He actually called the EP a “ドーナツ盤 (doonatsu ban)”, which literally translates into “doughnut disc”. In short, this was one of the many names that vinyl records were called.

⁵ I think it bears mentioning that he specifically said “洋服 (youfuku)”, which refers explicitly to Western-style clothing.

⁶ I looked up the academic grading system in Japan and there were a few, but the only one which fit into this context was the 5-scale grading system where a 5 is the equivalent of an ‘A’, and a 2 is the equivalent of a ‘D’. Reference

⁷ Purple Noon (French: Plein soleil; Italian: Delitto in pieno sole; Japanese: 太陽がいっぱい / Taiyou ga Ippai; also known as Full Sun, Blazing Sun, Lust for Evil, Talented Mr. Ripley) is a 1960 crime thriller film directed by René Clément, loosely based on the 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. 

⁸ The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin and produced and written for the screen by William Peter Blatty, based on the 1971 novel of the same name by Blatty. The film had famously courted controversy in the US where it had supposedly provoked fainting, vomiting and heart attacks in cinemas.

⁹ Technical achievement in kendo is measured by advancement in grade, rank or level. The kyū (級) and dan (段) grading system is used to indicate one’s proficiency in kendo. There are usually six grades below first-dan, known as kyu. The kyu numbering is in reverse order, with first kyu (一級, ikkyū) being the grade immediately below first dan, and sixth kyu (六級, rokkyū) being the lowest grade. In Japan, kyu ranks are generally held by children up to age 13. The exam for 1st kyu (ikkyū) is often their first exam and grade. Adults generally will do their 1st dan (shodan) as their first exam. In most other countries outside of Japan, kendoka go through every kyu rank before being eligible for dan ranks.

¹⁰ Just for clarity, students were arranged according to height.

 ¹¹ Taro Hirai was a well-known Japanese writer better known by his pen name, Edogawa Ranpo. His works played a huge role in developing mystery fiction in Japan and several of his novels include Kogoro Akechi, a character who was a detective. In later books, Akechi became the leader of the Shonen Tantei Dan, which translated to “Boy Detectives Club,” a group of boy detectives.

¹² Junior high school students in Japan are ranked by their school reports/transcripts which shows a student’s grades and includes comments on their conduct. This affects them when they go to high school.

¹³ Yotsuya is a neighborhood in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. It is a former ward in the now-defunct Tokyo City. In 1947, when the 35 wards of Tokyo were reorganized into 23, it was merged with Ushigome ward of Tokyo City and Yodobashi suburban ward of Tokyo-fu to form the modern Shinjuku ward.

¹⁴ Station to Station is the 10th studio album by English musician David Bowie, released on 23 January 1976 by RCA Records. Commonly regarded as one of his most significant works, Station to Station was the vehicle for his performance persona, the Thin White Duke. Listen to the full album. 

¹⁵ That English new wave band with David Sylvian. The band achieved success in the late 1970s and early 1980s but split in December 1982, just as they were beginning to experience commercial success in the UK and abroad.

¹⁶ Gary Numan is an English musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and record producer. He entered the music industry as the frontman of the new wave band Tubeway Army. Numan is considered a pioneer of electronic music, with his signature sound consisting of heavy synthesiser hooks fed through guitar effects pedals. He is also known for his distinctive voice and androgynous “android” persona.

¹⁷ As in Public Image Ltd, the English post-punk band formed by singer John Lydon following his departure from the Sex Pistols in 1978.

¹⁸ Throughout this whole bit, he never specified if it was just one person or a group of people, but let’s just go with plurals.

¹⁹ T. Rex were an English rock band, formed in 1967 by singer-songwriter and guitarist Marc Bolan. The band was initially called Tyrannosaurus Rex, and released four psychedelic folk albums under this name.

²⁰ The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years, they are regarded as one of the most groundbreaking acts in the history of popular music.

²¹ He’s right (of course). Although, I can only find one mention of it here. Must’ve been gone for a very long time already.

²² JUNE (ジュネ) was the earliest yaoi magazine, which began in 1978 as a response to the success of commercially published manga. Other factors that influenced the founding of June were the rising popularity of depictions of bishonen (pretty boys) in the dōjinshi (self-published print works, such as magazines, manga, and novels) market and ambiguous musicians such as David Bowie and Queen. JUNE was meant to have an underground, “cultish, guerilla-style” feeling – most of its manga artists were new talent.

²³ ALLAN (アラン, or 阿蘭) is the sister magazine of Gekkan OUT (月刊OUT; OUT Monthly — anime magazine). ALLAN was published by Minori Shobo and focused on the theme of shonen ai (questionable-age-gap relationships between men).

²⁴ BL, boys’ love a.k.a. Yaoi is a genre of fictional media originating in Japan that features homoerotic relationships between male characters. Of course, these days, it’s not just a genre in Japanese media anymore. The 2010s saw an increase in the popularity of BL-influenced media in China and Thailand in the form of web novels, live-action films, and live-action television dramas. The growth in streaming service providers in the 2010s is regarded as a driving force behind the production of BL dramas across Asia, as online distribution provides a platform for media containing LGBT material, which is frequently not permitted on broadcast television.

²⁵ Wakame is a species of kelp native to cold, temperate coasts of the northwest Pacific Ocean. As an edible seaweed, it has a subtly sweet, but distinctive and strong flavour and texture. It is most often served in soups and salads.

²⁶ Morioka Ken was an iconic electronic musician that first got his break as a member of the groundbreaking electro trio Soft Ballet. He was also particularly known for his flamboyant image and atmospheric musical style. He remained active in the Japanese electronic music scene, having also worked as a session musician and producer for Issay, Tomayasu Hotei, Mell, and Demon Kogure among others, and produced the soundtrack for the anime “KAIKAN Phrase”. His activities continued for over three decades until his untimely passing in 2016 from heart failure. He was only 49 years old. 

²⁷ Soft Ballet was a Japanese electronic group formed in 1986. The group consisted of three members, Maki Fujii, Ken Morioka, and Ryoichi Endo, though they employed extra support members for live shows. While Soft Ballet weren’t necessarily chart toppers, they had a strong cult following and were considered pioneers of modern electronic music in Japan in the 1990s. Soft Ballet released 6 studio albums before disbanding in 1995. The group briefly reunited from 2002 to 2003, releasing 2 more albums and touring extensively before splitting once more.

²⁸ Makoto Tezuka, officially romanized as Macoto Tezka, is a Japanese film and anime director, born in Tokyo. He fashions himself as a visualist and is involved in the creation of moving images beyond film and animation. He partially owns Tezuka Productions and helped in releasing the posthumous works of his father, Osamu Tezuka.

²⁹ Chikada Haruo is a Japanese musician, composer, music producer, music critic and TV personality. From the time he was a student at Keio University, he worked as a keyboard player in Yuya Uchida’s backing band, and in 1972 he formed “Haruo Chikada & Harwophone”. In parallel with his musical activities, he wrote the legendary column “THE Utagyoku” for the magazine “POPEYE” from 1978 to 1984. In 1979, he released a solo album, “Natural Beauty”, which featured the Yellow Magic Orchestra, which he had just formed, as arrangers and performers. In 1981 he formed “Haruo Chikada & The Vibratones” and released one album and one mini album. In 1985, he began to focus on funk and rap music, working under the name BPM. In 1987, he formed the Vibratones with the concept of “hip-hop in a band format”.

³⁰ VIBRASTONE was a Japanese hip hop band formed in 1987. The band was formed by Haruo Chikada, who had been pursuing the possibilities of hip-hop in Japanese, and initially performed under the name “Haruo Chikada & Vibrastone”. They released their first album “Vibra is Back” in December 1989, and made their major label debut with “ENTROPY PRODUCTIONS” in July 1991. They ceased activities in 1996.

³¹ Kubota Shingo is a Japanese vocalist active from 1978 to present. In 1985 he starred alongside Takagi Kan in Macoto Tezuka’s rock musical The Legend of the Stardust Brothers, and also appeared in the sequel film The New Legend of the Stardust Brothers, released in 2016. Since 2006, he has been working as an 11-member music group under the band name “Kousei to Gansaku”. As of 2015, they are working with a 10-piece band under the name “Sunny Kubota and the Old Lucky Boys”, and their first album was released on 15 November 2015, and their second album “One from Sunny’s Heart” on 1 June 2017.

³² Takagi Kan is a Japanese DJ and producer. Influenced by the London punk scene of the 1970s, he made his debut with the band Tokyo Bravo, and began his career as a DJ and writer in the 1980s.  After forming “Tiny Punks” with Hiroshi Fujiwara, he made a splash by sharing hip-hop with Seiko Ito and others. He also founded the club music label MAJOR FORCE, which produced artists such as SUCHADARAPER, and was active as a solo artist in the 1990s. He continues to be of great influence as a pioneer of hip-hop in Japan.

³³ Roxy Music were an English rock band formed in 1970 by Bryan Ferry, who became the band’s lead vocalist and chief songwriter, and bassist Graham Simpson. Although the band took a break from group activities in 1976 and again in 1983, they reunited for a concert tour in 2001, and toured together intermittently between that time and their break-up in 2011. Ferry frequently enlisted members of Roxy Music as session musicians for his solo releases.

³⁴ Terry John Bozzio is an American drummer best known for his work with Missing Persons and Frank Zappa. He has been featured on nine solo or collaborative albums, 26 albums with Zappa and seven albums with Missing Persons.

³⁵ Frank Zappa was an American singer-songwriter, innovative rock guitarist, modernist composer, multi-instrumentalist, satirist, film-maker, and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and satire of American culture.

³⁶ Missing Persons is a Californian New Wave band, formed in 1980. They were known for songs such as Walking In L.A., Words & Destination Unknown.

³⁷ The word he used was 踏み絵 (fumi-e) which, back in the Edo period, was a tablet with the image of Christ or the Virgin Mary. Suspected Chiristians were ordered to tread on it to prove themselves non-Christians and it was carried out back then to discover hidden Christians in order to extinguish Christianity in Japan. This days, 踏み絵 alludes to a ‘test of loyalty or allegiance” and is used to describe a thing or situation. (E.g. how loyal an employee is to their company etc.)

³⁸ The actual phrase here is オカマ野郎 (okama yarou). I think with enough exposure to Japanese media, you’d have heard 野郎 being used a lot and it’s a general insult. Fucker, bastard, asshole, it all works. Attaching 野郎 to anything basically gives the thing a derogatory implication. オカマ generally means gay, as in gay person. But it is also often used on its own by straights in a derogatory manner. Context matters for this word. In this interview’s context though, it’s clear enough to deduce that Issay was essentially being called “f*ggot”.

³⁹ Where I said “crashed”, the word he used was 前乗り (zen nori) which was interesting to me because it appears to have originated from local surfer slang where 前乗り means to deliberately get in the way of someone riding a wave.

⁴⁰ Shibuya Public Hall (渋谷公会堂) is also known as 渋公 (shibu kou) for short. It is a theatre located in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. Completed in 1964 to host the weightlifting events in the 1964 Summer Olympics, the theatre was sponsored by Dentsu and Suntory, which paid ¥80 million to rename it C.C. Lemon Hall from 2006 to 2011. As of 2021, it is named LINE CUBE SHIBUYA.

⁴¹ To note, the get-togethers were 飲み会 (nomikai), i.e. drinking parties. The direct translation sounded decidedly unnatural (not something you’d say in regular English), so I went with “get-togethers”.

⁴² The phrase he actually used here was 男気 (otokogi), which directly translates into “manliness” or “manly spirit”. But it mostly encompasses the qualities of valour, chivalry, and dauntlessness, which is traditionally attributed to men.

⁴³ To be precise, its 仏壇 (butsudan), a Buddhist altar. Smaller ones are usually kept at home and meant for their deceased family members or ancestors.

⁴⁴ Madam here refers to the lady owner or boss of the establishment, which can either be a restaurant or a hotel. The word in Japanese is 女将, which can be read in a few ways; okami, nyoshou, joshou. Direct translations are “proprietress (of a traditional Japanese inn or restaurant); landlady; hostess; mistress”.

⁴⁵ The quote from the “madam” actually included her addressing ISSAY as お兄ちゃん (oniichan). It literally means big brother/elder brother/older brother, but it could also simply be a polite address, like “young man”. Note, calling someone brother or sister or even uncle or aunty in Asian culture is often merely a form of polite address, not a literal relation.

⁴⁶ That game where one person is the target who stands with their back to all the other players, while everyone tries to get to the target and tap them. If the target turns around everyone has to freeze. In Japan, it’s called だるまさんが転んだ (Daruma-sama ga Koronda), i.e. Mr. Daruma has fallen over.

⁴⁷ Original phrase was 三河屋さんならぬ膠屋さん (mikawa-ya san naranu nikawa-ya san). 三河屋 (mikawa-ya) is a trade name or shop name, often used as a slang term for a retail shop selling brewed foods such as sake, miso, soy sauce, vinegar, and related products and was used mainly from the Edo period to the Showa period. For this name, I turned it into the phrase, jack-of-all-trades to keep the implied meaning of “having” a bunch of generally useful things for sustenance because they used to be the grocery stores or convenience stores of that era.
The pun here is where ISSAY turns mi into ni, i.e. mikawa-ya becomes nikawa-ya. There’s actually no such thing as 膠屋 (nikawa-ya), or that I could find. On the other hand, 膠 (nikawa) means glue, which makes 膠屋 “glue shop”. 
屋 (ya) add to the back of a noun is like saying noun shop. But in reference to a person, it’s like saying this particular thing or trait is characteristic of the person. In other words, HAL is like the “glue which binds” the band. 

⁴⁸ Hiroshi Morie, known exclusively by his stage name Heath, is a Japanese musician and singer-songwriter. He is the bass guitarist of the rock band X Japan. He joined the group in 1992 a few months after the ex-bassist Taiji Sawada left the band.

⁴⁹ The phrase here was 物見遊山 (monomiyusan) which is directly translated as “a pleasure trip”. The implied meaning here is that someone is doing something or going somewhere just for fun.

⁵⁰ The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. Diverging from the pop rock of the early-1960s, the Rolling Stones pioneered the gritty, heavier-driven sound that came to define hard rock.

⁵¹ MAYUMI was away on a mental health break at the time of this interview as addressed here in this blog post: http://derzibet.com/blog/?p=799. He made his comeback soon after this interview was published.

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Text pages – Yoshiyuki / Pictures – Devalmy

 

 

Datenshi, PARADE Ⅲ Feature

PHY Vol. 15
February 2020

text by Ishli Eriko (imai, higuchi), Kanemitsu Hlrofumi (sakurai, hoshino, yagami)
photographs by CHITO
hair&make-up by Tanizaki Takayuki, Yamaji Chihiro (FAT’S BERRY)
styling by Shimizu Kenichi

costume by
kiryuyrik 03-5728-4048
DIET BUTCHER SLIM SKIN 03-5728-4765
原宿VILLAGE 03-3405-8528
UK EXTRA 03-3311-1992
JULIUS TOKYO STORE 03-5728-4900

 

I feel that the one who has to shoulder that burden is me
Because singing about it saves me

You’ll understand as soon as you listen to their new single, Datenshi; that BUCK-TICK has entered a new mode, and that unchanging strength and resolve of theirs. Two years ago, they released their album No.0 in which they incorporated their imagination and message to the fullest. It was a work they stuffed to the brim with the diversity of worldviews which the band possesses, but this single, which brings us a sign of what to expect from this band in 2020, has shown us the complete opposite; a powerful sound which is full of gaps. That makes it a simple yet distinctive sound. From this, originality which can only be produced by these 5 musicians can be heard. That is also the forte of a band which is heading towards their 35th anniversary, and, at the same time, it is also a resolve which stems from the unavoidable awareness that an end will come sometime.

In this special feature, we will explore the present and future BUCK-TICK from various perspectives. Through personal interviews with the members based on their new song, Datenshi, and, celebrating their tribute album PARADE III ~RESPECTIVE TRACKS OF BUCK-TICK~, which will be released at the same time as their single, there will also be a dialogue between Higuchi Yutaka and TOSHI-LOW (BRAHMAN), along with an interview with ISSAY (DER ZIBET) who will talk about the draw of BUCK-TICK and Sakurai Atsushi.

 

 

 

 

 

Individual Interviews

_______________________

Sakurai Atsushi

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

Knowing that everyone is watching us with all these thoughts and emotions
It makes me want to get my act together, like, I have to do my best

―― I’d like to hear about your thoughts regarding THE DAY IN QUESTION which concluded last year-end.

S: I’m relieved. Because although there was only one new song while the rest were familiar tunes, I’m constantly plagued by worries about my throat. But I somehow managed to do it.

―― It’s an annual affair on 29 December, but having had to perform at Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium rather than at Nippon Budokan, how did you find it?

S: The first thing that came to mind when I entered the venue was, “The audience is rather far away…… I feel bad.” It was difficult for the audience in the back to see, wasn’t it? I hate to say it, but Budokan is where I find it easiest to get the audience into it and that makes it great, though.

―― Well, you’ll be back at Budokan on this year’s 29 December anyway.

S: I don’t think it’s all that great to perform in large venues, and I think for us, we don’t have to aim for that any more, do we? (Lol). Big venues, they’re not suitable for us. Not really.

―― No, no (lol). The last song, LOVE ME, was just wonderful.

S: That song, I think it was Yuta who said that he wanted to perform it. He felt that it might be nice if we shared a sense of unity with everyone at the end.

―― That’s true.

S: The lyrics are quite messed up, though (lol). But since these people have made it here to watch us perform, I’m happy that it can bring us all together and excite them (even if) that’s the kind of song it is.

―― That was a great end to the year, wasn’t it?

S: It was. Last year, I had quite a lot going on in my private life too and I was in the hospital again, and quite a few ups and downs…… It got me thinking, “Just get it over with!” (lol). (At the end of the year) I got that sense of “Is it finally over?”. Though, it’s not as if (going into the new year) changes anything in particular.

―― And among all of that, Datenshi was produced.

S: That’s right. There’s one other song which was a candidate too. That’s another really nice one. We more or less already decided that we’d go with that one, but then Imai Hisashi pulled out another song. Which was the one which turned into Datenshi. The other song which we had decided on was a very nice medium-tempo song, but we felt that (it would be better) if this could turn into something that was edgy and aggressive even to us…… So, we were able to really venture into Datenshi. 

―― Why did you want it to be aggressive?

S: The first two songs that we completed were very gentle songs. Unlike their finished version, Luna Park, too, initially had a very relaxed tempo. If we lined up those two songs together, (the single) will leave the impression that it’s like an extended version of Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete. Then, just as we were thinking, “Hm… I’m not sure if this is a good idea,” Datenshi came along, so, that was a lifesaver. (With the determination that) I’ll torment myself as badly as I can with this.

―― What do you mean by tormenting yourself?

S: To say,  “You’re no good guy, are you?” (Lol).

―― It’s okay to be a little nicer to yourself, though.

S: That may be true, but I end up feeling that if I torment myself, the real me will emerge from that, you know? It’s funny, but it was the first day of work at the office yesterday, and we (found out that we) received hundreds of mail from the fans since the end of last year (lol). As I read them one by one, I was once again reminded that I had to firmly stand true to what I really feel.

―― Meaning?

S: You see, everyone comes to our concerts with different emotions in them. There are those who are parent and child travelling from far away to come and watch us, and there are also those whose loved ones have passed away. Knowing everyone is watching us from the back of Yoyogi with all these thoughts and emotions, it makes me want to get my act together. Like, I have to do my best.

―― But on the other hand, I believe that there are those who also feel, “You don’t have to shoulder all that burden, though……”.

S: Rather than a burden, it’s an encouragement, you see. It’s the reason why I would want to stand (on stage). To exaggerate, it’s because to me, “to do my best” is as good as a battle with myself.

―― So, you’re saying that it’s necessary for Sakurai Atsushi to be like this and face himself.

S: But it’s just for those few hours. On stage, that would be 2 hours, and during recording, I won’t show my face (to an audience) but (the final product is) something that we’ve worked hard on and condensed into an album for people to hear, so if I do this right…… That’s really how it is, but I guess, maybe it helps a little. Because I usually am a really hopeless man. And today, I’ve made this much of a mess of my face too (lol).

―― (Lol) Haven’t you ever thought that it would be nice if you could get all of that done while being a little more relaxed?

S: As long as the fans enjoy it, I don’t care if people write or say bad things about me. I’m not bitter about it. But it’s not easy (for me) to deal with myself…… Well, I’ve said it hundreds of times, but it’s a matter of what’s learned in the cradle being carried to the grave. And now, I’m the same age as my father. It’s getting more and more ingrained in me, isn’t it?

―― This is something we’ve been talking about for decades now.

S: Yeah, having known Kanemitsu-san for decades, there were times when I wondered when I’ll ever feel better*, but it doesn’t look like that will ever happen (lol).

―― Is it the fear that you might be just like that father of yours?

S: After all, the same blood flows in my veins. The misery and the hate are always…… there, you know? Our blood types are the same, and even our birthdays are the same. That’s a 1 in 365 chance! Can you believe that?   Our faces are exactly the same too. And now, we’re the same age.

―― You definitely can’t help but feel something.

S: I get the feeling that something’s pulling me. Like, come here…… I’m just kidding, though (lol).

―― I don’t want to hear about it even if it’s a joke!

S: I guess so. My elder brother said to me, “Hang in there until you turn 54,” but…… We’re back on this topic again, huh (sigh). Let’s stop.

―― Well, because it’s like a routine (to talk about it)**, isn’t it?

S: Shall we talk about Valentines’ Day or something?

―― Wahahahaha, why so sudden!

S: Maybe we can make a guess of how much chocolate we’d receive or something (lol).

―― Why would I even enjoy competing with Sakurai Atsushi over how much chocolate I’d receive (lol).

S: No, no, no, I mean, a ton (of chocolate) would arrive in the editorial department, right?

―― They don’t (lol). But I have to give my age a little bit of consideration too.

S: Well, age is one thing, but this personality is really…… something that I’ve come to realise I can’t get run away from. I thought I was prepared (to do that), but I guess I really can’t escape from it, can I? I’ve also spoken about this numerous times, but in present-day terms, we’d say that my father committed DV***, right? Domestic violence. My father beat my mother on a daily basis. That memory has always stuck with me, always frightened…… Well, it’s the usual story, though.

―― Apart from that memory, have you ever wondered how far you can go from this point on?

S: I have. Although I’m aware that I have to take it easy and live life following my experiences of getting hospitalised and so on, at the same time, I also wonder how long I can keep doing that. I’m doing what I love so I can somehow discipline and inspire myself, but if I get sick, then, it’s as if my father’s calling me……

―― So we’re going back to that topic.

S: We are (lol). That’s why I want to turn 54 as soon as possible. But I’ve been blessed in the sense that I get to do what I want to do, and recently, I’ve been getting a really strong feeling that I’m doing it right, so when I can find it in myself to say that I’m happy, I am happy.

 

I may make people wonder, “Is he alright……”, but I’m happy. I am.

―― In what areas do you get the feeling that you’re doing things right?

S: When I’m satisfied with our own work. When we put out works that I feel good about. When there’s even a little bit of that although it may not be 100%. It’s because we have music and songs like that that I can say, “Ah, well, I suppose it’s alright.”

―― And also, because you have band members who understand such a Sakurai-san, right?

S: That’s the best part, isn’t it? Though, we don’t usually talk much anymore (lol).

―― Hahahahaha.

S: There are times when I’d spend a couple of days with Imai-san and Hide but we don’t talk at all. It’s just that when we finally realise, we didn’t talk about anything at all (lol). But they consider things from a vocalist’s perspective; there is this invisible care for me. Simply because we’ve known each other for 35 years now. We no longer have to say anything for us to fully understand the other party, and when I’m as tense as I am now, they’ll just let me be too.

―― Perhaps it’s because you’re working with these people that you can express yourself.

S: Perhaps. If we’re talking about the stage, though, Imai-san will come and interrupt my singing (lol). At points when I’m like, “But I wanted to sing it well here!” (Lol). But performing while having such thoughts is something else that is interesting in a band. Like, “Ah, just now, Anii made a mistake,” and so on (lol).

―― Ahahahahaha.

S: As long as I’m on stage, I’m enjoying myself even when I start thinking, “Ah, that just now was off. I definitely went out of tune…… Ah, I’m never getting over it.”  That’s why it’s fun to be in a band, isn’t it? It’s because the other members are around that I’m given the ability to do what I love.

―― Do you have aspirations of wanting to become a certain way or something like that now, at 54?

S: Uh, like perform at Tokyo Dome and the like? (Lol)

―― That’s what Anii spoke of when we went drinking (lol). He said, “I’ll play at Tokyo Dome for my 60th birthday!”

S: He says the complete opposite of what I say (lol).

―― Hahahahahaha, indeed.

S: Anywhere’s fine as long as we can hold a concert. Well, I’d love to if I could, though…… But first, the immediate future; I’d like to ask for our next song as soon as possible (lol).

―― Imai-sa~n, Imai Hisashi sa~n (lol).

S: Ahahahahaha. But the fact that he mentioned his “60th” with “Tokyo Dome”, I have to say Anii’s rough plan is really great (lol). I think that’s also something that has been helping me, you know? It encourages me and makes me aware of things I haven’t thought of, things that I couldn’t have done alone.

―― So, what kind of dreams does Sakurai-san personally have?

S: Ah, well…… I don’t have any. You know this very well, don’t you? (Lol) I’m incapable of doing anything if I’m left to my own devices, and I’d probably be a man who won’t even leave his bed (lol). Though, going to a snowy mountain and freezing to death without anyone finding out about it…… I think it’s just so beautiful, that’ll be nice, I guess.

―― Please stop that (lol). Didn’t you say before that you’d like to live deep in the mountains in the middle of nowhere and spend your life making pottery?

S: But now, I think it’ll be troublesome to learn how to make pottery or even spin the potter’s wheel (lol).

―― You’re getting worse!

S: Because I’m a klutz (lol). Before (this interview), I happened to catch a glimpse of the footage on WOWOW (note: 29 December’s performance at Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium) and I thought,  “You’re an idiot, man.” (lol).

―― Ahahahahaha. Was it the MC?

S: Yes (lol).

―― When you tripped on your words, and then had your embarrassed face show up on all the screens (lol).

S: Don’t you think that’s so stupid?

―― Nope. It’s cute.

S: Hahahahahaha.

―― Don’t everyone in the audience love this Sakurai-san?

S: I’m grateful for it. Although, I feel like I have to do my best and become something like that rockstar who everyone admires……

―― No, I don’t believe that everyone expects Sakurai Atsushi to be cool all the time.

S: I’ll try my best.

―― So what do you hope for this year?

S: I don’t think there’s anything (going on this year) that will bring in interview requests. I’d like for myself to remain healthy, both physically and mentally. Since I’ll feel down when I get sick, I just want to stay healthy as much as possible (lol).

―― You’ve announced that you’ll be releasing a new album this summer. I’d expect that you don’t have all the songs yet, but what do you hope for this album to be?

S: Earlier, I mentioned Imai-san’s song which was a candidate for the single, which wasn’t Datenshi. That was a really great song. It’s Imai Hisashi and Sakurai Atsushi’s music, and lyrics, and song. This might just be the best we’ve ever had…… That said, if we raise the bar too high, that might just be terrible (for the future) (lol).

―― No, no, no, it’s good!

S: I feel that it’s turned out to be a really great song. I think that it was a good thing that Datenshi was made this single, but we really had problems with deciding to the point that we were debating until the very very last minute so…… That’s why I want people to listen to it first as soon as possible.

―― What are the lyrics like for that song?

S: Ahh. You’d probably think, “This again?” (Lol). But although I do feel that I’m talking about the same things, I think there’s nothing I can do about that anymore. Because even if I try to twist things, I’d end up feeling that it isn’t me. It’s not that big a deal, but I do feel that the one who has to shoulder that burden is me. Because singing about it saves me.

―― In other words, it’s something that will never change no matter what happens, like your earliest childhood memory, something you learnt as a child that you’ll bring to the grave.

S: That’s right. I can’t force it. Even if I borrow a concept from somewhere else and decide to perform that, all the things I like are going to be similar anyway, so I can’t run away from it. I can’t be a professional (if I do that). But that does, indeed, appear to be my place. On the contrary, I don’t really know where I belong in everyday life (lol).

―― What do you mean?

S: If I’m working, I know for sure that my dressing room, the centre stage mic, and standing on stage with the other members to sing is where I belong, but when we revert to our regular lives, there are times when I don’t really know where I should go…… I’m pretty sure I come across as a serious man like this.

―― I know (lol).

S: When it comes to work, too, I’ve been late, but I really give my all, you know? (Lol). That’s why it ends up taking a toll on other areas, like family^, and so on.

―― Ah, I see. You’re trying too hard to be BUCK-TICK’s Sakurai Atsushi. 

S: I’m normally as good as an invalid (lol).

―― Hahahahahaha. But it’d be distressing if it disappears, wouldn’t it? Your place of belonging.

S: That’s why I feel that I have to cherish it, whether I’m in my on- or off-mode. Because I’m thankful that there is a mic being placed centre stage for me, and that there’s even a light being shone on me.

―― For this person that you are (lol).

S: Yes. I’m happy.

―― And that is what everyone seeks. We feel that all is well if Sakurai-san is happy.

S: Thank you. I may make people wonder, “Is he alright……”, but I’m happy. I am.

 

Notes:

* The phrase used here was “晴れる (hareru)”, which is usually used to describe sunny weather.

** The original phrase is “業みたいなもの” but the problem here is, I can’t tell if “業” is being read as “gou” or “gyou”. If read as “gou”, then it would mean “Karma”. While as “gyou”, the more common reading, it would generally mean “work” along with all other similar connotations. I’ve gone with “gyou” to say that it’s “routine”, as in something that is done/brought up on a regular basis – like work. Because I honestly don’t think Sakurai is being plagued by this out of some Karmic reasoning.

*** That’s apparently the abbreviation used in Japan.

^ Family here doesn’t literally mean familial relationships. “家庭 (katei)” rather than “家族 (kazoku)” was used, which refers to general nuance of having/starting a family.

 

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Imai Hisashi

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

While I was figuring that out, somehow, what came out from inside of me was something that had been sort of sticking out like this which gave off a somewhat deviant feeling
Kind of like the enjoyment of things which fall outside of the rules. Somehow, that was the kind of image that came to mind

―― To start, how did you feel about the 5-show nationwide tour for THE DAY IN QUESTION?

I: Good. I thought it was good.

―― I got to watch your performance in Tokyo too. It felt strange seeing that it wasn’t in Budokan.

I: About that, since it was our first time performing there, I couldn’t really get a proper feel of the sound either. And I was performing without in-ear monitors.

―― Huh, you were?

I: Me and Hide, us two guitarists didn’t use them. That’s why I wondered how the sound would turn out in this case. Budokan is the venue that we’re most used to performing at after all, and while there’s a certain enjoyment in playing at Yoyogi, there was also a bit of unease. But after we gave it a shot, there was nothing to worry about, I guess.

―― Is there a reason why you performed without in-ear monitors? I’d assume that it’s more natural to use them when there’s that much noise being made and being played at the same time, though.

I: No, well, I’ve kind of always…… not used them (lol). I think it depends on the song, but if I’m wearing them, I feel that I can’t quite grasp the atmosphere around me, and I’d be hearing clicks in them…… Like, that’s not very fun is it?

―― Hahahaha!   So rather than (wearing the in-ear monitors), your synchrony with the band and feeling the atmosphere in the venue is more important.

I: Yeah. So, well, I’d just do as much as I can anyway, until I have to ad lib. But, well, then…… I’d start wondering about whether in-ear monitors are really that essential or not, though.

―― Because it seems like it isn’t since you can go that far (lol).

I: But during Locus Solus at Makuhari, there was a point when I went all the way to the front without wearing in-ear monitors. I had to play based on intuition then.

―― Intuition. It’s amazing that you didn’t play out of time.

I: Naaah, I think I did?   The others had quite a few things to say to me, though (wry smile).

―― Also, the setlist which you had for THE DAY IN QUESTION gave me the impression that it was the opposite of the setlist for Locus Solus.

I: Ahh, I guess you may be right. But it’s not as if we deliberately aimed to do that. THE DAY IN QUESTION doesn’t have any particular concept either. The closest (thing we have to a concept) is, “Let’s have fun every year.”

―― Or, “Let’s come together every year-end.”

I: Exactly. Although, that’s why there are also occasions when we’ll bring out lightly thematic stuff moment by moment. Also, we generally tend towards darker (themes) while at the same time leaning towards more upbeat (music). It feels as if we have everything, doesn’t it?

―― Yes. Well then, moving on to the topic of production, you’ve been composing since around last summer?

I: Yeah. Well, relatively early. I started composing at the stage when I started thinking that maybe it was about time for me to make preparations.

―― For Imai-san, do you compose only when you decide to? Or is it an accumulation (of compositions) regardless of when they come to you?

I: Nah, I don’t do accumulations. Although I do occasionally go into my workroom and write a memo or do something like that on a whim.

―― What kind of themes or hints came to mind when you decided to compose?

I: Mm…… There wasn’t really any in particular, but, well, I thought that as long as I started working on it, something might come up. So, while I was figuring that out, somehow, what came out from inside of me was something that had been sort of sticking out like this which gave off a somewhat deviant feeling. Kind of like the enjoyment of things which fall outside of the rules. Somehow, that was the kind of image that came to mind. Even now, I can’t quite put it into words though.

―― At the same time, “deviant” is, in other words, pretty much “the usual BUCK-TICK”, isn’t it?

I: That’s right. And that’s why the more I say it, the more I end up getting the feeling that we just keep going round and around the same things. When I talk about this feeling in this particular circumstance…… it feels like, “This isn’t all that much of a concept, though” (lol). That’s why I’d first start with an album that we had already made, and then take it somewhere different. To somewhere where (I can find) interesting elements.

―― So you’ll be taking No.0 somewhere different.

I: Yeah. I’ve been thinking that I want to do something interesting. We have 2 guitarists, a vocalist, and a drummer and a bassist. And I’m wondering if we can do something interesting with that structure, the way the sounds overlap and so on. Something like a slightly different kind of band sound than our usual. Whether or not that’s possible, I’m still figuring it out.

―― Are you talking about (looking for) something that is yet unknown from within your band’s style?

 

I: Yeah. Like, “is there still anything that’s kind of amazing, and intriguing (in here)?”

―― That’s a very interesting sense. And that’s despite that we’re in an era where bands as a structure is most certainly said to be, “Something old, a thing of the past”.

I: That’s true. But it’s also something that’s normally considered as cool; the sense that something which is cool, is cool. But if you’re too consumed by that and only that, then it’s like, getting your priorities wrong, like, you’d find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what the hell you’re doing (lol). That’s the feeling I have now. Maybe I’d go in a more electronic direction, or maybe I won’t even have guitars in (the music). Nothing has solidified yet, at all.

―― If we’re talking about Datenshi, it’s based on rock n’ roll, right?

I: Ahh. Well, because that very first riff is a riff that came from somewhere.

―― A riff from somewhere (lol).

I: You know, that’s a very simple riff, and it’s not as if I started composing the song because I thought, “Ah, this riff is cool.” It really is something that can already be found somewhere.

 

I think that if we do things in accordance to a demo, we won’t be able to go above and beyond. We can’t just follow what’s there
Instead, I think we need to break it down a little or take a little out and loosen up so that we will be able to do even bigger things

―― Though, it’s true that for a moment it sounded as if it bordered on becoming a parody. Like, (a parody of) T. Rex or something similar.

I: Exactly. It’s a very simple rock riff, like a representative of that. I’m really glad that it turned out like that. And from (that riff) came the image of (a song that’s) a slightly peculiar kind of pop which includes (elements which are) somewhat radical and cutting, and noisy and disquieting.

―― And that’s also a deviation from the image itself, isn’t it? This is a very extreme example, but Imai-san, have you ever thought of being in a band similar to Ramones?

I: Mm…… Well, I’ve released 2 albums with the band Lucy, though. For those, well, I ended up adding a variety of sounds into it once I started working on it, but it was originally a band which started out being tied to a simple rock n’ roll concept, you see. That’s why I got the idea that it might be interesting to go all out (with the concept). After all, there’s also beauty in being able to do nothing but that.

―― It’s the same with SCHAFT, too, right? It was tied to the industrial genre. Is no such thing in BUCK-TICK at all?

I: Yep. None. If anything, I guess you could say that these types of rock n’ roll and industrial genre music that you just mentioned, these old-school styles (of music) is not what (BUCK-TICK) goes for.

―― You don’t go for old-school styles (lol). To seriously and thoroughly pursue one particular genre is an engaging route to take too, but I suppose you’re not very interested in that?

I: Mm…………… Nah, I don’t really think about it.

―― Hahaha.

I: I just go for whatever happens to catch my interest at that point in time. Because I think that’s how it naturally works. And the whole band comes together for a meeting before we start recording, but we don’t talk about things like, “This time, we’re doing this and this with that concept,” y’know? Though we always do it here.

―― Ah, in this room in Victor Studio?

I: Yeah. We talk here, and if we happen to have demo songs on hand, we’d listen to it, then we’d go for dinner…… That’s when the conversation gets serious, though (lol).

―― Yuta-san said this previously, that Imai-san’s demos are quite vague or something.

I: Recently. It depends on the song, but if it’s, let’s say, a song with a four-on-the-floor dance beat, I’d usually play the bass (first) with the root note. (Then I’d tell Yuta) something like, “I probably don’t have to say this but you’ll play something that hits hard, right?”

―― So you leave that to the band members.

I: Yeah. I think it’d still turn out to be an okay song even if I don’t go that far. Because I suppose they can already do it without needing me to fill in every single detail.

―― So, it’ll always turn into something with a BUCK-TICK flavour no matter what you do. But is this something that’s only came about recently?

I: It’s recent. It was like this with Kemonotachi no Yoru, and also, this new single. Before these, I’d put in a lot of effort to elaborate on things down to rather minute details, but it’s not quite…… Even I started to get the feeling that (being so particular) makes things kind of boring. It’s like, there were moments when I thought that maybe things would be more interesting if they were not done exclusively to my preferences. That’s why, when Yuta asks me, “What do you think about this?” I’d say, “I don’t really like it but it’s fine.”

―― Must you say that (lol)? But it seems to me that people who don’t get those notions can’t be in a band. Since there are also people who will create entire tracks on their own and think, “If I can play everything on my own I’d be my own band, though.”

I: Such people definitely don’t (belong in a band) (lol). But really, in the beginning, I was that sort of person too. I’d start composing the demo, put everything together on the computer, decide on how every melody should sound and say, “This part must not, cannot be changed.” That’s all I was like. I was really like that even up to just a few compositions ago, but gradually, I started to get moments that made me think that perhaps it would be more interesting if I loosened up a bit on that area. Also, when, for example, Anii gets a drum phrase wrong, I’d be like, “Ah, maybe sounds better that way,” and so on.

―― So, the singing changes a lot too? Compared to the demos?

I: It happens. Because Sakurai-san would mostly change what was initially sung in English into Japanese. When he does that, the vibe would definitely change, and when Sakurai-san picks up the notes in his own unique way, when he covers it the way only a vocalist can, he gets me saying, “Ah, it’s better like this.” I think, after all, a demo tape is just a demo and if we really do things in accordance to it, we won’t be able to go above and beyond. I guess we can’t just follow what’s there. Instead, I think we need to break it down a little or take a little out and loosen up so that we will be able to do even bigger things.

―― That’s also a kind of deviation, isn’t it? This might sound like a simplistic question, but why does Imai-san hate rules and lines* so much?

I: Nah, I don’t hate them. It’s more that I prefer to remove them. Because I sometimes do think that it can be interesting to be tied down by those and go along with it. That’s why I think, in the end, I guess what I’ve decided to do is to just ignore the rules.

―― What’s the best part of that, I wonder? I suppose it might be an exaggeration to compare it with the discovery of a new world, but I guess it’s the feeling of wanting to find something that has not yet been found by anyone else?

I: Ah, that, there is.

―― Or is it that you have a spirit that simply hates following a format and just wants to destroy that?

I: Ah. …… Nah, I think it’s even simpler than that. It’s just the desire to create something good, something cool. But it includes a feeling just like that “discovery of a new world” you mentioned which gets me wondering about whether I will find anything interesting. It’s vague, but that’s a thought I have all the time.

―― Right.

I: So I guess I do actually get that feeling. Of excavating something that has always been there and feeling like, “Ahh, I’ve found it.” It won’t be anything that I’ve come up with on my own. Rather, it’ll be something that was originally already there, and I’d occasionally manage to excavate it. Something like that. There are times when it feels like that.

―― So, you don’t come up with (music) in your own head?

I: Ah, of course, there are songs like that too. Songs which are shaped through my messing about. But also I think that there is a method of song composition which isn’t done like that; which is (done by) finding something or occasionally excavating something.

―― That’s the continuing adventure that the 5 of you are on.

I: That’s right. Also, while there are, of course, things that we need to spit out, we’re all making things, aren’t we? As creators. I think that every one of us have the mindset that we’re creating music as composers. I believe we’d stop if the thought of, “Ahh, this is troublesome, I don’t want to do it anymore” wins, but generally, we’re consciously writing music and lyrics, you know?

―― Everyone?

I: I think so. The other band members too, and Sakurai-san too. Everyone’s composing. Not that it comes naturally or automatically.

―― Even for Yuta-san and Anii-san who don’t compose music?

I: Yeah. Those two would first listen to what we give them and then they’d go into the studio and practice. Then, after they’re able to play or drum (their parts), they’d say, “What do you think about this phrase?”. And that’s when they compose. That’s how I think they keep creating. I also get the feeling that this probably wouldn’t happen if I was in a band with other people instead.

―― It’s because it’s the 5 of you that things are like this.

I: Yeah. Exactly, that.

―― It’s amazing that even now, this creative drive hasn’t stopped. When I heard that the band was going to take some time off after Locus Solus, I thought for a moment that you might start some other project or maybe Lucy would make a comeback.

I: Ahー, I didn’t think about that. Or rather, I didn’t actually consider taking time off at all.

―― Ah, I see. I thought maybe you got yourself refreshed in some way.

I: Nope…… Not really. Not in particular.

―― It’s just that when I consider the simplicity of Datenshi’s riffs, I thought, maybe, at the very least, darkness and weightiness isn’t what you seek now, is it? Less is better.

I: Ah, yeah. That’s right. That isn’t rock or anything close to rock, but (if we were to classify it) it’s more towards pop. I think I paid more attention to music that classify as pop songs (when composing), and even the lyrics too, they have a lightness unique to Sakurai-san. In the sense that I think that’s the sort of thing that he managed to put into them.

―― By the way, I heard that Sakurai-san was pretty depressed last year, though.

I: Ahh. Well…… There was a period when I thought that he kept silent for the longest time, though. But, well, not particularly. Around him, we just…… let him be.

―― Right (lol). But it indeed does sound like there’s a strong pop flavour in the song too. Especially at parts like the “Ah ha”.

I: Yes. Exactly.

―― Considering the melody of Luna Park too, can we say that “pop” is a hint of what your next release will sound like?

I: Well, I suppose. Yes. I believe we can deliver something really interesting.

 

 

Notes:

* The loan word “レール” (rail) was used rather than line but I used line because it doesn’t quite make sense in English to say “rules and rails”.

 

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Hoshino Hidehiko

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

I guess, maybe I felt a sense of liberation within myself when I composed Luna Park?
It was a little before this, but I suppose I wanted to compose something that felt far out

―― Now, it’s just before the show at Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium (note: this interview was held on 26 December), but to start, tell us about the response you’ve had so far for this THE DAY IN QUESTION tour.

H: It’s our year-end live show that we’ve consistently held for 20 years, even as a tour too. It’s something we’ve been doing consistently so I think we’ve been able to make it unique to this year too.

―― Rather than simply being chock full of nostalgic songs, I was left with a middle era impression. Or rather, that there were a lot of songs from your BMG Funhouse* days.

H: It wasn’t intentional but that’s certainly true. When we band members picked the songs, lined up our choices and then sorted them out, that’s how it turned out. In the beginning…… I think it was probably Yuta who suggested that we start with Muma-The Nightmare. He said, “We’ve never done that before so don’t you think it would be interesting?” We then made our selection based on that and this is sort of the kind of setlist we settled on.

―― What songs did Hoshino-san request for?

H: None in particular (lol). But Dokudanjou Beauty -R.I.P.- wasn’t part of the initial song selection, so I guess I suggested that. Also, I wanted to perform Snow white but Yuta also brought that up so it’s not as if I made any particular appeal for it (lol).

―― Even though it’s Hoshino-san’s song (lol). How was the year 2019 for you?

H: Well, it wasn’t a year when we were constantly on the move due to live shows, so it was sort of a year when our flow got switched up. In the first half, there were a few rescheduled shows we had to do, but after we were done with Locus Solus no Kemonotachi at Makuhari, it felt like a grand closure to the flow which we kept up until then. It had the impression of, “Alright, off to whatever’s next.” But, well, going on such a trajectory is something that we’ve imagined and scheduled since some years ago, right?

―― So, in other words, it was a year of actively working on production.

H: Well, I can’t really say that either (lol). 2 songs were presented for the single this time around, but both of them were songs which had been sleeping in my PC (lol). We decided for Datenshi to be the single so we were looking for a song which would couple well, and we thought that this one was suitable.

―― Do you have a lot of those stock music?

H: Nope (lol). Though I’ve got some riffs and bits and pieces of stuff in there.

―― Well, then what kind of impression did Datenshi leave on you?

H: I guess it gave off a bit of a new wave vibe. It’s not exactly pumping rock music but neither is it light. That part is what reminds me of new wave. Also, it doesn’t feel as if it’s being filled up (with sounds), but there’s a stronger nuance that (if there was just a little less) it would break apart.

―― Imai-san used the word “deviant” (to describe it). In the sense that this song excludes bass lines where one would expect it.

H: Yeah.

―― I suppose that means he’s looking for intrigue that cannot be found by following (music) theory but have you heard about anything like this prior to recording?

H: He didn’t say anything in particular when we were previewing the demos, but maybe that topic came up while we were having drinks after that?   In No.0, both the music and the worldview were built rigidly and it was a work that we can no longer add anything more to, so he wanted to do something a little more broken down next…… At least, I think that’s what he said. Probably. I can’t really remember (lol).

―― Why’s your memory fuzzy (lol).

H: Because we were drinking (lol). But because of that, this time around, we pulled back a little on the guitar bits too where we would normally go rugged on the riffs.

―― Meaning?

H: For example, during the interval, we raised the guitar bits up higher than usual around the middle to create a spaced out feeling and things like that. I think that these particularities which we applied in our production will only increase as we move towards the next album. Besides, Imai-san bought a weird effector and has been messing around with it too (lol).

―― Do you think that doing this will bring about something like a change within the band?

H: I do think so. I’m guessing that if we keep each of these areas in mind, we’ll be able to apply this to different songs so this might affect the album a lot. Whatever it is, we’re headed in that direction. I think it’s going to feel like everyone’s in step with each other.

―― But there’s also a completely unbreakable Hide melody in contrast to that, like in Luna Park.

H: You brought up the melody, but we didn’t have plans to include that song in the album, to begin with, because it was just a song that we thought would work well as a coupling. As something which matched Datenshi.   

―― Ah, so it was a song that you put out for the sake of balance.

H: Yeah. I guess, maybe I felt a sense of liberation within myself when I composed Luna Park?   It was a little before this, but I suppose I wanted to compose something that felt far out.

―― I see.

H: But before I put this song out, I had another that I had made a demo of up to its interlude, and I thought of going with that one but it felt too mid-tempo, you know? I figured that it wouldn’t match well as a coupling song so I pulled back on it and then brought Luna Park which had been sleeping in my PC.

―― Ah, you made that decision to reel it back yourself?

H: If I wasn’t told, I think it might’ve just gone out as it is (lol).

―― It’s just a balancer after all (lol).

H: But isn’t it of course that we want to do things well as a band?   Although, we do intend to release a bigger variety of songs on the album.

―― But it’s true that in BUCK-TICK, you don’t eliminate songs or remove (ideas) from your heads just because it’s “wrong”. You basically give it a try anyway.

H: You’re right. We don’t really…… do that, I think. Everyone thinks rather positively with the notion that it’ll probably get better when we try it out. So the responsibility placed on me is greater in that sense, but all I’ve ever experienced is the result of my songs turning out better than I expected. That’s why no one denies (any ideas). (There’s this sense that) if we do it as a band, it’ll probably turn into something interesting.

―― So, that’s why if you think that it doesn’t work, you’ll pull the idea back yourself.

H: Yes, exactly. Also, I’ve recently been around Cube-kun (Cube Juice) and Yoko-chan (Yokoyama Kazutoshi) and YOW-ROW-kun (GARI). So there are now more people around me who do manipulator work for us. Each of their musical flavour is different, so we don’t really get the same things from them, and there’s also a part of me that looks forward to the changes (to the songs) which come from them. There’s a lot of that chemistry these days.

―― Are you saying that in other words, you’d throw them something that will serve as a sort of base and they’ll do a bit of arrangement with it, put in the music and return it to you, following which you’d get inspired by it and that will give shape to the song?

H: That’s right. I guess you could say that’s the recent trend. It’s something I really look forward to.

―― Both of these two songs involved Cube Juice, right?

H: Yeah, it just so happens. Perhaps it was Cube-kun who wanted songs, though.

―― I see. This special issue will be published in 2020, but I’m getting the feeling that you more or less know your direction for this (2020) year.

H: Well, there’s also a large possibility that there’ll be a 180-degree change, though (lol).

―― Hahahahaha. But you’ll be doing lots of things this year, right?

H: Yeah. We plan to produce the album and go on tours too. I think it’d be nice if we could announce that at Yoyogi, though (note: they announced the album’s projected summer release and a national hall tour in autumn).

―― Definitely. And in your upcoming 3rd tribute album, it’s given me the impression that you’ve gathered an even more unique and interesting lineup than ever before.

H: You’re right. It’s the most varied one we’ve had so far, isn’t it?   There are quite a few female artists too, so that will probably bring about an impression unlike anything thus far. And there’s a wide range of genres too.

 

When I see the smiling or crying faces of our audience from the stage, I get reminded that this is why I do music
I get to see that this presence that is BUCK-TICK is so sought after by everyone

―― Are there any memorable songs for you?

H: Ringo-san’s Uta is amazing, isn’t it? People won’t normally go with such an approach; singing (our songs) in English and arranging it like that. It surprised me. Also, Fujimaki-san’s** song was nice too.

―― This also came up in my conversation with Imai-san too (note: the interview published in the February issue of Ongaku to Hito), but he said that there are 2 Fujimaki-san’s in this tribute album (lol).

H: Aah (lol). That’s true. Fujimaki-kun’s*** song was nice too, of course, but I’m talking about Fujimaki-san** who did Konayuki (lol). It’s only on occasion, but we meet for soccer so I thought I’d talk to him about this next time, but it feels as if the strength of that song comes through because he was singing while playing the guitar. I believe it’s something that one can’t do unless they have confidence in performing with that style.

―― This is an insight coming from BUCK-TICK’s acoustic master, huh (lol).

H: I thought it was really good. All the other participants carried it out in such unique ways and we wanted them to make the songs their way, so I’d say the album turned out really well. Listening to this made me feel once again that the merits of our band’s songs really stood out too.

―― That’s true. And you’ve also commenced recording work for your album.

H: Early, isn’t it? 2020 is an Olympic year too.

―― Are you going to watch the Olympics? (Lol).

H: I don’t think I can (lol). I’d assume that there’ll be a lot of people around during that period and I won’t be able to get around much, so I’d probably hole myself up and work in the basement. I think we might be going on tour after that too.

―― You won’t be able to go to the southern islands too.

H: I won’t be able to during that period, so I guess I’ll go after recording is done (lol).

―― You’re going? (Lol) But I believe you’re thinking of making this another solid year of activities for BUCK-TICK, right?

H: Yeah, for the second half.

―― I wondered if all of the band members might start getting the desire to do something that is different than the vibe they’d get from being in a band following the success of creating an album with as high a level of completion as No.0, but I’m getting the feeling that this isn’t the case.

H: Well, I don’t know about that. I would suppose that each of us has different thoughts, although it is true after all that we’d feel a sense of accomplishment after producing No.0 and performing our live shows. But I don’t think that this would be reason enough for us to feel like we want to try something outside of BUCK-TICK?

―― I do wonder why that is.

H: Hmmm, I wonder why.   Based on what I personally feel, that (lack of desire for something else) is the reason why we’ve been performing live shows like THE DAY IN QUESTION  for 20 years, and when I see the smiling or crying faces of our audience from the stage, I get reminded that this is why I do music. That is, in the past, whether we’re writing music or performing shows, it was mostly for ourselves. We would mostly do whatever we wanted to do at that point in time, so I suppose we were pretty egoistical, though. But seeing the audiences’ faces, realising that this presence that is BUCK-TICK is so sought after by everyone makes me want to share that space more and enjoy it with them.

―― I see.

H: My awareness of the band might’ve been slightly different in the past than now, but I will never ever get tired of this.

―― Those are strong words. I suppose we can say that whatever you’ve built up with the fans has become a strong motivation for you.

H: Yes, yes, exactly. Personally, I guess I want to see the faces of people who come and watch us. I’ve somehow come to feel that way, you know. Like, “Ah, I want to see them again. That was fun.” I feel that this is the kind of relationship that we have right now.

―― That’s a great story.

H: And that’s the moving tale that I’ve come up with (lol).

―― Don’t be shy, now (lol). Well then, I guess it looks like there won’t be a Hoshino Hidehiko solo anytime soon.

H: There’s no chance of that anymore.

―― Y-you made a vow (lol).

H: I didn’t, right? Surely (lol). I don’t feel any motivation towards that. And I think that’s the same for everyone now.

―― Indeed. I can feel that the unifying force within this band of 5 has grown even stronger after No.0. Like a strengthened resolve that you 5 will make things work no matter what happens.

H: That sums it all up. I don’t think there’s anything else aside from this, and I guess this alone is enough to keep us all filled. I suppose it’s important to direct our energies outwards too, but I’m getting a little old for that, you know. Didn’t both Sakurai-san and I fall ill in 2019?   When I think about that, I feel that I’d rather give my all to working on what we already have and do the best I can. After all, I don’t know when I won’t be able to play as BUCK-TICK ever again.

―― I assume there’s a sort of a flipside to that.

H: There is. Well, it would be great if I had the energy to direct outwards too, though. Those who will leave us will leave us anyway (lol), but right now, I want to make sure that I do right by the band.

―― I can understand that. No one knows how long it can go on for, and that’s why you’re now exuding the desire to do whatever you can now while you can.

H: I think that’s precisely how everyone feels now. I’m not looking to confirm that this feeling exists, but I can sort of sense that everyone probably has that on their minds. The kind of sense you get from knowing each other for years (lol).

 

 

Notes:

* BUCK-TICK was signed to BMG Japan between 2000 and 2010, which changed its name in 2009 to Ariola Japan. BMG Funhouse is a subsidiary of BMG Japan.

** Referring to Ryota Fujimaki who covered Just One More Kiss. He covered Konayuki (粉雪) with ToshI (X Japan) in December 2019’s edition of FNS Music Festival. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nipXhWb_Gs

*** Referring to Maki Fujii of minus(-), Soft Ballet. He worked on the cover of Keijijou Ryuusei with Chiai Fujikawa.

 

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_______________________

Higuchi yutaka

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

I personally feel that there’s still a lot more we can do when it comes to creating music among the five of us
This feeling that there is still a lot we can show off is very much alive in me

―― We’ll start by looking back on last year. So, Locus Solus no Kemonotachi happened in the first half.

Y: Yes. Locus Solus wasn’t an album tour and neither was it our usual THE DAY IN QUESTION, so we started by coming up with a different title before we brainstormed. We also got to perform our new songs, so I think it was a great show.

―― There were some firsts too, weren’t there? Like performing your encore set at the centre stage, and that unbelievable pro-wrestling style entrance.

Y: Pro-wrestling style entrance (lol). That stage extension was pretty long, wasn’t it? And playing in the middle with everyone was fun too. Gathering there and squeezing together, we were even closer to each other than we’d usually be in our rehearsal studio (lol). We really haven’t performed together in such a small space in decades, so it was somehow nice in a way.

―― That space was probably as small as the studio you used in your early days, right? Do you remember those days?

Y: Ahー, Koenji’s…… I wonder if it’s still there?   PAL Studio*. But I also think it’d be nice if we could do new things like these going forward.

―― Though, I’d expect that it can be stressful to do something for the first time or challenge new things.

Y: Yeah, well, but I want to do more of what we’re capable of. Because even I can feel that there’s still a lot that the five of us can do together, and that our live performances are only getting better and better. That’s why I want us to do more and more together.

―― You’ve come to realise that for yourself and can proudly say it here too. This is nice.

Y: After all, we’ve come all this way without stopping. Especially considering that I started out having only played bass for a year or two by the time we debuted. Keeping at it, I more or less grew to understand how to play well, but that’s not the focus of what I’m saying. Now, when the five of us come together and make music, I can distinctly feel that we’ve gotten good. That’s why I feel that we’ll only get even better. Yeah…… Although, it certainly is weird for me to say that myself (lol).

―― No, that’s a good thing. Doesn’t it often happen that it becomes difficult to see how else you can grow after doing the same thing for so many years? And instead, (rather than that,) you’d be thinking about your physical limitations first.

Y: No, well, it’s because I personally feel that there’s still a lot more we can do, you know? In terms of expressing something or creating music with the five of us involved. This feeling that we still have a lot we can show off to the people who are always waiting for us is very much alive in me.

―― You’re putting emphasis on “the five of us”, aren’t you?

Y: Yes. Isn’t BUCK-TICK made up of five people anyway? (Lol). Of course, we do have the support of our staff, but it’s always been the five of us going through all sorts of experiences together. The laughs…… Well, there weren’t many tears, but there were a lot of fun times. Even during our tours or rehearsals, we still get that same feeling when the sounds made by the five of us come together for the very first time. It’s not (the kind of feeling that) gets us grinning, but there’s a comfortable tension.

―― Is it something similar to the moment when high school students enter a studio and sound their instruments?

Y: Yeah. (It happens whenever) we do something together or play together. Would it be weird to say that this in itself brings me joy?   I really enjoy it. I can’t quite explain it well, though.

―― It’s amazing that this hasn’t turned into a monotonous routine to you. Such feelings don’t last that long between a married couple, for example.

Y: As you’d expect, it’s because our composer Imai-kun has a lot to offer. And usually, there’d be things that I have to study up on too. That’s why, although it might be dependent on the song, the thought that something is a bore has never crossed my mind.

―― So, for this single’s Datenshi, what did you think of it when it first came up?

Y: A rock-flavoured song. In the demo tape stage, Imai-kun filled in the vocals so that (version) had quite a strong rock-flavour to it. And I thought it’d turn into something pretty good once Acchan sings it.

―― I heard that the initial candidate for the single was something different.

Y: Yes. It’s a slightly milder song, but when it came to deciding which we should release first, we went with Datenshi. Well, although Hide wrote a song too, (we went with this decision because this song is one where) Imai-kun wrote the music while Acchan wrote the lyrics. I believe, after all, that’s the image which the songwriter and the lyricist have when they think about what it is they want to put out at this point in time. So, I suppose in a way, (we’re making the decisions) according to that.

 

―― By the way, how do you see Imai-san as a composer?

Y: ……Vague.

―― Vague (lol).

Y: He always says, “Like this,” but he’s only got a skeleton of things like the bassline done, so when I change a certain part some way I like, he’d say, “Okay, okay.” He doesn’t really push for things to be done according to the demo he made himself. Maybe rather than that, it’s more about (composing) it together and expanding it to him. That’s why I say he’s vague.

―― I see. I haven’t asked everyone but the original demo is rather different than what goes on air, right?

Y: Exactly. Basically, the impression it leaves is different. After all, the bass is the part which gets recorded first, so with every song, I’m always wondering, “How will this song end up sounding?” This single’s Luna Park was (initially) completely different too. In the beginning, it was a British-sounding demo tape. Once the vocals and music were added in, the image of the song changed a lot and brightened up a lot.

―― Ahh, that electropop programming wasn’t there in the beginning, was it?

Y: It wasn’t there at the start. I think Hide probably did that through a manipulator’s mastery, but I really thought that it became very pop.

―― Does such a thing often happen?

Y: Yeah. It’s also because Imai-kun would steadily make changes along the way. Even though he’s the one making the demo tapes, he’d more often than not add in something completely different midway. It might sound strange when I say it like this, but this is why it feels as if the song gains its soul the very moment Acchan sings it. At that moment, I’d get that sense of “…… Ohh!”

―― I’ve got a weird question, but, have you ever thought, “What an awesome band I’m in”?

Y: Mn!   That’s…… Nope, I respect them, but “awesome” has never crossed my mind.

―― But I think that a tag team like Imai-san and Sakurai-san isn’t something that can be found in just any other band, and there’s really something quite miraculous about it.

Y: Hmm. But we’ve been together since we were in high school, and I was even their junior too (lol). I don’t really think about those things. From then until now, nothing has changed. For example, back in high school, Imai-kun would tell me, “I’ve got this sorta music, I’ve got that sorta record,” and he’d let me listen to indies stuff that could only be procured in Tokyo in those days. I guess you could say that’s something which still goes on even now. It feels as if he’s a~lways telling me, “I’ve got something good.”

―― And that’s something which still interests Yuta-san even now.

Y: That’s right. And I’d be like, “Whoa, that’s amazing!” That’s why things haven’t really changed between then and now.

―― Though, now, I can’t quite imagine what Imai-san was like in his high school days.

Y: He was someone who didn’t talk much. Although, I guess all of us are the same in terms of not talking much. Hide isn’t the type to be all loud and rowdy anyway, and Acchan is even quieter than either of them.

―― When the five of you came together as a band, did a chemical reaction occur right off the bat?

Y: That’s right. Good vibes. Well, that was after we moved to Tokyo, though. After Acchan became our vocalist, the vibe changed. Ever since then, we’ve been performing with that same vibe, so I guess that’s why I enjoy it.

―― But that feeling that you’re getting better and better, I suppose that’s probably something that everyone feels too.

Y: Yes. Probably. We won’t say it out loud, though. But I think that those who’ve been watching us all this while probably think so too. Our band has definitely become better than we were before, and we want to be even better. Because we have so many people supporting us and coming to our shows, it makes us want to make it even more powerful and have everyone enjoy themselves even more.

―― I get this feeling that the ‘circus’ image is what you’ve firmly settled on in recent years.

Y: Kind of like a show; something that entertains, right? But that’s why it’s not simply about getting the audience into it. I guess as artists, we have a lot of songs and there are many different approaches (we can choose from), but in the end, (the response) we want to hear in the end is, “That was fun.” And also, things like, “That got me thinking.” I can’t really express it well in words, though.

―― Because it’s not just about entertainment that brings a smile, right? In the end, you want everyone to truly enjoy this world (of yours).

Y: Exactly. After all, we five members definitely have this desire to entertain.

 

If I was asked, ‘how far can you go?’ some decades ago, I’d be able to respond with ‘forever’ but
The older we get, the more it makes us think about things…… But I’d like to keep doing this for as long as I can

―― And among everyone, the one who smiles the most during shows is Yuta-san.

Y: That’s right. Because I think that if you feel great during the performance, you should feel free to smile. I think everyone naturally shows what they personally feel. Of course, I can’t laugh frivolously when it’s a surreal tune, though (lol). That’ll just make me a nuisance, so I’ll try to interpret it in my own way.

―― I think Yuta-san who has a wide range of connections across various genres and has done a serialised publication in support of Hanshin** has been actively doing things that are uncharacteristic of BUCK-TICK’s image.

Y: No, no, I’m actively being asked to do all of this (lol). Editor-in-chief Kanemitsu*** is making me do this. Although, I’m also (thinking, I’ll do it) to at least represent BUCK-TICK.

―― “At least”, you say (lol). But BUCK-TICK is completely detached, and you don’t have any obvious followers too. That’s why I feel this makes Yuta-san’s existence a cheerful window (into the band).

Y: Ahh~. If you say that, you’re (heaping) responsibility (onto me).

―― It’ll be fine since you have this smile of yours. It looks contrived anyway if everyone (in the band) has the kind of face that makes it feel you’re all in the demon world.

Y: Ahh, well, we had made those faces when we debuted. Glaring as if saying, “No laughing at us, don’t take us lightly!” But I think as we went along, we began to find our own style that is unique to us.

―― When did that start to change?

Y: Probably just a little bit before 2000. It just gradually changed within us. Maybe it was around the time of “ONE LIFE~”, just as we entered our Ariola (era). It’s not as if there was any particular event which made us change, but we got the sense that we can do what we want to do. That we should have more fun doing this.

―― Would you say that things became easier?

Y: Probably. Rather than easier, you could say we began to feel that we can express (what we want to) without creating (that sort of impression). Although, we don’t really do that much anymore anyway.

―― That’s true. When I think of the past, I get this image that makes it seem like no one (in the band) eats or uses the bathroom at all.

Y: …… If we don’t eat, we’ll die (lol).

―― At the very least, I couldn’t imagine you living a normal life at all.

Y: Ahh, we’re normal, though, right? Well, if you compare (us) with normal bands, there are those who (make their hair stand up) like this too, and there are also those who are always silent (lol). But I think that’s simply because a lot of us are shy and quiet people.

―― But can shy and quiet people endure on that stage?

Y: Mm, it feels like a switch gets turned on and I think this goes for us too, though. Although, it’s not as if we’d be in the wings going, “Let’s do this!” or, “Yeay!” and all that.

―― Hahaha. If you did, that’d be scary.

Y: We’re relaxed, though. But the moment we go up on stage, everyone suddenly snaps into gear with a “Bang!” I think that’s how it is for all 5 of us. Because this has already become the norm for us.

―― And you’ve been doing this for more than 30 years. It’s stunning.

Y: Mm… But you could say our 30th anniversary was more like a checkpoint. Like, it’s something that we’ll definitely get to as long as we keep at it. That’s why we’ve been thinking about what’s next and what comes after that since the year of our 30th anniversary. It’s quite common, isn’t it? Situations where a band’s members’ emotions which hit a climax on their anniversary and then start to wane after that, ending up with them doing nothing.

―― The typical anniversary waning (lol).

Y: Exactly. I’m also trying to avoid that personally. Which is why we did Locus Solus and also held the DAY IN QUESTION tour last year, and I thought that it was great that we didn’t slacken off. It’s like the feeling that if we keep this up, we’ll be able to carry these feelings over into the new year.

―― Although…… You only released one single in 2019, didn’t you?

Y: Oh, that’s right. It’s true. That’s why I’m thinking that in 2020, I want to first make our album something great and then go all around Japan to where fans are waiting for us. We didn’t do that many shows last year anyway. And besides, I believe it’s such a joy (for fans) when the band comes to the city where you live, isn’t it?

―― How’s the current stage of production?

Y: We’re at the stage where… our manager is asking us to please save up songs for the album.

―― Hahahaha.

Y: Imai-kun says things like, “They’re always on my mind.” Although, we always ask, “Where?” Like, are they in his Mac, or are they not in there yet…… I’ve no clue about that (lol).

―― I’ll be looking forward to your summer album. Also, I assume this is something that you’d have been asked numerous times in recent years, but do you think about how long you can do this and how far you can go?

Y: I don’t know, though. …… But if I was asked something like this some decades ago I’d be able to respond with ‘forever’, but you know, the older we get, the more it makes us think about things, so although I want to say forever, I also know that it’ll all end if (I) die after all. But I’d like to keep doing this for as long as I can.

―― Is it scary to think about the end?

Y: Mm, well, it’s almost as good as asking, “Are you afraid of death?”, isn’t it? But (if we’re afraid of the end), the band might end up becoming strained and all that, you know. Yet, like I said earlier, I know there’s still more to come going forward, so as long as I still feel like that, I want to keep going on.

―― Do you have an ideal ending?

Y: Ideal?   ……… Uh…… I guess, it’s to end without disbanding.

―― Disband…… Are you going to do that now?!

Y: It gets people thinking, “…… What?” Doesn’t it? (Lol).

―― More like, “What the hell are you saying?”

Y: Or rather, “Huh, why make such an announcement when you could’ve just kept quiet?” For sure (lol).

 

 

Notes:

* PAL Music Studio in Koenji, Shinjuku.
Source: https://duck-walk.blog.ss-blog.jp/2008-09-15
image

** Hanshin Tigers; baseball team. 

*** The interviewer.

 

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_______________________

Yagami Toll

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

No matter what type of song we play, it’s always being described as uniquely a BUCK-TICK song
But this is because of the honest work that the band members have put in throughout the years without growing conceited

―― The year-end THE DAY IN QUESTION has concluded. How was it, holding your final at Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium for the first time?

T: Shall I make this clear?   It was the first time in a while that I messed up so much. Even I was shocked. Like, “Whoa!   I’m so tense!”

―― Was that because it was your first time performing there?

T: Yeah. That venue was a first for us, and the pressure from the audience was incredible too.

―― Because the ones right at the back were pretty far away from the stage, weren’t they?

T: I’d guess it was difficult for them to see us too. The acoustics too, it’s pretty tough (to get right) since (the venue) was long sideways. But the condition of Acchan’s voice sounded great, didn’t it? I could tell with the in-ear monitors on. It’s the usual balance, but when he started singing, he could push his voice pretty low. In fact, when he did that, I thought, “Oh, he’s doing well”.

―― What concept did you have in mind when you were selecting the songs for the setlist?

T: This time, for me, I picked Aku no Hana and Jonathan Jet-Coaster. I figured we should play those kinds of fast-tempo songs while I still can (lol).

―― As a drummer, you mean?

T: Yeah. We put them into the setlist and I’ll practice to confirm that I can still perform them. When you watch old footage of songs like Aku no Hana, I didn’t use click tracks for any of the songs back then so the tempo was fast.

―― Now you’d use click tracks no matter the song, right?

T: The only exception would be Speed. Because it seems as if Imai would get uncomfortable if I drum that song too proper. For Aku no Hana’s final outro too, if I drum according to the click track, we’d go out of sync. That’s why I’d listen to Imai’s guitar and drum just for that last part. The nuances from those days have been ingrained into both of our bodies.

―― I see. But that was a great live show.

T: It was, wasn’t it? Despite my messing up (lol).

―― You seemed to be the liveliest one at the after-party too (lol).

T: I don’t really remember it, though. It appeared that we drank until 10 a.m. (lol). I get an adrenaline rush from performing live, so when it’s over and it’s all been released, I’d look like an idiot. And besides, since it’s the year-end, there’s an added sense of closure too (lol).

―― So how was the year 2019 for you?

T: There weren’t many live shows, but I’ve more or less practised consistently. I had my own solo activities too, and we started recording after September, so I didn’t really have time to waste. That in itself was good.

―― For drummers, you won’t be able to play well unless you drum every day, right?

T: Yeah. I mentioned this before in my autobiography too, but in the past, there was a period of time when the band was being suspended and we had no activities. Plus I couldn’t go out because there were tons of paparazzi so I didn’t get to drum for about half a year and (my drumming ability) ended up declining badly. A small percentage of geniuses may be fine even if they didn’t drum every day, but for someone like me, an average drummer, I have to work hard to make sure that this doesn’t happen. I’d ask for advice too. Kamiryou-kun (Kamiryou Wataru*) taught me some and that’s when I changed my drumming style to this present one.

―― Considering that you’re the senior bowing your head to a junior to ask for direction, doesn’t pride get in the way?

T: Not at all. Because to ask may be a moment’s shame, but not to ask and to remain ignorant is an everlasting shame. There’s also Bunta from TOTALFAT who’s about 30 years my junior but he bangs out ninelets without a problem, so I asked him to teach me with the V-Drums I have at home. I just stared and watched his drumming form (lol). Basically, if I’d like to take it in if I can absorb it.

―― That kind of effort is crucial, isn’t it?

T: That’s how it is for us all in this band. Although there are aliens like Imai too (lol).

―― Hahahaha. Well, then what did you think of your new song, Datenshi when you first heard it?

T: When I heard the initial demo, I thought that it sounded very Western. With the simple beat. But while listening to it, it felt as if there was something weird about it.

―― Because the bass was put in areas where it normally wouldn’t be, and at times it’d be removed.

T: I thought that approach was interesting. Although such a hollow feeling could turn out badly if there wasn’t a good (music) sense behind it, Imai can do it just fine, so it’s alright. Once again, this round’s demo for Datenshi made me think, “This guy definitely ain’t no regular person.” The music may sound empty but impactful phrases will hit you.

―― And that beat is very fresh, isn’t it?

T: For me, as a drummer, it was great. Luna Park was actually more difficult. It’s subtle, so I had to use a snare which was made in 1910. And made of real leather too.

―― A vintage you own.

T: In the past, I used it for Tight Rope and I broke it on the first hit. Since it’s made of real leather, it doesn’t last too long before it breaks. So I had to drum gingerly, very carefully (lol).

―― Did you get the impression that Imai-san was doing something new with Datenshi?

T: Rather than that, Imai’s demo sounded like a Western song in the first place so I couldn’t really tell (lol). (It was only after) Acchan sang, then I got the sense of, “So that’s how it goes. It got better.”

―― I see.

T: There’s a good balance. We even recorded 3 songs this time though; Datenshi, another nice mid-tempo song, and Luna Park. So it’s good because we have Hide’s songs too. Age-wise he’s younger (than Imai), so there were no clashes nor any obstinacy (with regards to switching his song for Imai’s Datenshi). I do wonder if things would be different if Hide and Imai were classmates, though. But (based on) his character, he isn’t the type to be driven by ego anyway.

―― That’s true. I guess you could say that he’s suited to writing songs for the band.

T: You see, no matter what type of song we play, it’s always being described as uniquely a BUCK-TICK song, but this is because of the honest work that the band members have put in throughout the years without growing conceited. If not for that, I don’t believe we could have found ourselves here.

―― What does Yagami-san personally think is the reason that you have been able to keep going without growing conceited?

T: Because those around us don’t let us (lol). If we get cocky** we’d get smacked.

―― So, if you stick your nose up too high, they’ll break it*** (lol).

T: I think there was a time when I was on the verge of becoming like that, though. But when I was in my slump, I could feel the members’ feelings and how they put up with me and supported me, so after that experience, there was no way I could become conceited. In my case, there was a period when a lot of things were going on in my private life and that dealt a huge blow to me mentally. It wasn’t that I was lacking in physical strength or anything, but I was mentally worthless. I think it must’ve been really tough for all those who stuck by me during those times.

―― In other words, you were unable to have a positive outlook about the band.

T: Yeah, I couldn’t. I had no motivation, I wasn’t at all happy with the way I drummed, and I even felt that it might be better if I wasn’t a part of the band. For real, from my early to mid-40s, I was afraid of being on stage. I was really terrified.

―― So this was around the time of Mona Lisa OVERDRIVE?

T: Exactly. It was awful back then. I kept thinking maybe it was time for me to quit, that it was a good time for me to go. Our manager and Yuta kept nagging (lol) at me for that, so I started going to the gym, changed my form, changed my drum sticks too. I tried out all sorts of things. Whatever I could easily do in my 20s and 30s I could no longer after I turned 40. It even got me feeling that maybe bad years^ really do exist (lol).

―― But you were able to shake it off and reset your emotions.

T: Yeah. The members waited for me with the feeling that (the band) can’t do it unless it’s me, so those bitter thoughts gradually went away. I guess it’s the same with age. As in, since we’re nearing the end, there’s no point in grumbling about the trivial things (lol).

 

I’m turning 58 this year, so every single moment, be it our live shows or our recording sessions, becomes precious
I’d only think about what I have to do to keep playing in the band, what should I do to bring joy

―― Come to think of it, I noticed that your drum solo, too, has gradually changed.

T: That’s right. I believe anyone can tell if they look back on our film releases or something, but in the past, I wouldn’t hit the cymbals with my bare hands. Because, you see, I felt that it’s tacky if I were to do exactly what John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) did. In a sort of not-daring-to-do-it-because-I-like-it sense. But I thought about it, and I came to feel that since I was influenced by him, it’s probably better to show (that influence). Like, if I was the audience, I think I would prefer to see me do it as it is instead of accommodating to my strange particularities. And that’s why I do it with this present style that I have. Besides, it’s probably weird for me to close things off without showing (that influence) at all.

―― Similarly, I’m also getting the feeling that all 5 members of your band can sense somewhere that the end is nigh and when everyone performs with that awareness, your bond grows stronger, doesn’t it?

T: That’s bound to happen when we grow old (lol). My father passed away at the age of 70 and taking that into consideration, I’m turning 58 this year, so that means that I’ve only got 12 years left. When I count backwards like this, every single moment, be it our live shows or our recording sessions, becomes precious. And rather than fretting about the details, I’d only think about what I have to do to keep playing in the band, what should I show (our audience), what should I do to bring joy.

―― Although Sakurai-san had a slightly different view of it, he spoke about something similar with regards to age, didn’t it?

T: I think everyone thinks the same, but I think if any one of us can no longer perform, this band can’t go on anymore.

―― So, more like Led Zeppelin after all than the Who.

T:  Because BUCK-TICK isn’t a business, is it? (Lol). Although, I think something similar to Zeppelin’s Coda^^, a release which sort of says, “Everyone, this is goodbye,” can be done even if any one of us isn’t around.

―― I see.

T: Because in rock bands, it’s not a matter of whether you’re good or not at singing or playing an instrument, is it? I say this a lot, but we’re the ultimate amateurs, you see. And this nuance of ours can’t be brought out any more if we’re missing even just one of our members. Look, there’s no other guitar player like Imai anywhere else, is there?

―― I don’t suppose so (lol).

T: They say this about him often, don’t they? Even though Imai actually belongs in the “poor” category of guitar players, don’t you wonder why people call him a genius? It’s because he’s one of a kind. It’s because he has a uniqueness that cannot be replicated by anyone.

―― Because this is the only place where that uniqueness comes into play.

T: There are loads of people who can play in time with the metronome properly. But (he’s the one who goes), timing? What’s that? (Lol). And that’s BUCK-TICK’s groove. I mentioned it earlier, didn’t I?   That nuance in Speed and Aku no Hana isn’t something that can be produced if it isn’t Imai and these band members playing it. This is something that I’ve only understood now. I’m glad I didn’t quit (lol).

―― Please say this to all the distressed band members (lol).

T: You’re prohibited against quitting your band! (Lol). Anyway, the punk genre has always been a gathering of people who aren’t good at anything from the very beginning. So if you keep at it, that’ll become your unique characteristic!

―― Compelling (lol).

T: It doesn’t only apply to bands, but to everything too, right? Theory is boring anyway.

―― Well, these days, the main platform (for music) to be listened to is YouTube or some sort of subscription service, so the theory is that you won’t be able to sell well unless your intro before the song is short and you cut out the guitar solo.

T: Even if that were true, it then begs the question of, “You may sell well, but are you having fun doing that?”

―― Indeed.

T: You may call it a gut feeling, but I think that no matter what you’re doing, what matters the most is your motivation, your complex, and who you’re doing it with. Because that’s how it is for us. We wanted to do this with these 5 people even though we were criticised mercilessly when we first debuted. (It also worked out) because the band members waited for me even when I wasn’t sure if I could do it any more. And thanks to that, I learnt humility and didn’t become conceited.

―― That’s true. When I listened to the tribute album, it was clear that (BUCK-TICK is) band unlike any other. Including what you’ve just said.

T: For me, I genuinely want (the participating artists) to take apart (our songs). I’m already grateful for their participation in the first place, but if I were to say what I really desire, it’s for them to destroy it all and turn it into a form of contradictory respect. Because that will become references for us. You see, back in the day, when we did karaoke, we didn’t use recorded playbacks. Instead, we had people playing (the music). Studio musicians would be playing the drums. I’d listen to those nuances and steal from them instead (lol).

―― And that’s humility, isn’t it? Because you won’t deny (their versions) and say that it’s wrong.

T: On the contrary, isn’t it one way to learn and realise that there’s another way to play something too? This is the style that BUCK-TICK’s music production has developed, so I felt that it’d be weird if there’s no quirkiness in this band’s drummer after all.

―― What does Yagami-san want to do in BUCK-TICK in future? Or, what would you like the band to become?

T: I want us to become sharp old men. 

―― Sharp old men (lol).

T: The type who gets noticed by the youngins (lol). I want people to say, “They’re amazing,” even though we’re old men.

―― And for that to happen, health comes first.

T: Come to think of it, I haven’t gone for any health checkup recently (lol).

―― Please go!

T: But I haven’t had any symptoms (of illnesses) at all, see (lol). Look, I’m even drinking until 10 in the morning.

―― That’s not the point.

T: Yeah, yeah (lol).

 

 

Notes:

* Support drummer originally of GRASS VALLEY and then SOFT BALLET. Other notable associated acts he has been involved with are P-MODEL, Kikkawa Koji, cali≠gari.

** The actual phrase is “天狗になったら” (tengu ni nattara). Literally: “If (we) turn into Tengu”. Tengu are long-nosed goblins in Japanese folklore.

*** This time I used a literal translation that references the English language of “sticking one’s nose up in the air”, which is a figure of speech to describe haughty behaviour. The “break(ing)” part of the translation also alludes to the Tengu imagery from the phrase Toll used in the last line. On the whole, the phrase “鼻を折る” (hana wo oru / lit. break a nose) basically means to humble a person’s pride.

^ “厄年” (yakudoshi) loosely translates into “bad/unlucky year”. It is generally known as the ages of calamity differ according to gender; 25 and 42 for men, and 19 and 33 for women.

^^ Coda is a rarities compilation album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It is a collection of unused tracks from various sessions during Led Zeppelin’s twelve-year career. It was released in 1982, two years after the group had officially disbanded following the death of drummer John Bonham. The word coda, meaning a passage that ends a musical piece following the main body, was therefore chosen as the title. (Wikipedia)

 

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PARADE III ~RESPECTIVE TRACKS OF BUCK-TICK~

 

TALK SESSION:
Higuchi Yutaka (BUCK-TICK) ✕ TOSHI-LOW (BRAHMAN)

text by Ishii Eriko
photographs by Sasahara Kiyoaki (L MANAGEMENT)

 

For real, all the bands who stand out from the rest
possess the resolution that, “If we’re going to do this, we’ll be number one at it.”
I think that in the end, this is what truly makes a band (Higuchi)

With the utmost respect for the band known as BUCK-TICK, BRAHMAN have fed listeners an intense counterpunch with a cover done their way. Out of this comes a peculiar conversation between TOSHI-LOW, the frontman with the nickname “Oni*” and bassist Yutaka Higuchi. What brings them together despite being completely different in terms of character, generation, and the music scene they grew up in?

 

Although the bassline remained the same, they managed to come up with something so different
This just says that the power this band possesses is very real (Higuchi)

―― Yuta-san’s, “I want to meet TOSHI-LOW-kun,” led to the planning of this interview. Was the first time you met at 2017’s Arabaki**?

Yuta (Y): Yes.

TOSHI-LOW (TL): No…… The actual (first encounter) was about 25 years ago.

Y: Eh?

TL: You know, at Shelter***, when THE POGO’s Ryota had just started JIGHEAD*** in their early days. That was BRAHMAN’s first live show. 

Y: …… Wha――at!

TL: That was the summer of 1995, so it really was BRAHMAN’s very first show. Of course, you weren’t there to see (BRAHMAN), but we were at the afterparty.

Y: ……… Whoa, that gave me goosebumps (lol). Amazing. I remember that. Ryota-kun was there.

TL: JIGHEAD went bass-less a while after that, but back then, the bassist was around, some flashy guy wearing a sun visor. That person going involved with a woman or something and a huge fight started but it was stopped with the casual, “Stop it, stop doing that.” (Lol).

Y: Hahahaha!   But I can clearly recall talking to Ryota-kun. We debuted with POGO in the same period and also performed at Shinjuku Loft and so on together.

TL: I’ve thought since then that (Yuta) was such a nice guy. I think I was someone who didn’t trust anyone at the time so I was very mean to everyone I came into contact with, though. But (Yuta) was suーper nice. Let me say this first; I’m glad (for that).

Y: …… That gave me chills (lol).

―― I’m sure you knew about BUCK-TICK’s existence since your early days.

TL: Of course. Although, their early days’ JUST ONE MORE KISS and Aku no Hana, and Speed was as far as that knowledge went. But that’s because my interests drastically shifted away after that. Though, RONZI (drums) liked them a lot. I always thought that we have no connection with each other and going from that perspective to now having this bring us together makes me nervous. You see, when talk about the tribute album reached me, I even thought, “They definitely made a mistake when choosing artists, right?” (Lol).

Y: Nah, but I run a blog too, and I often receive emails but (upon the release of the news), I had a ton of comments along the lines of, “I’m so happy that BRAHMAN is on board.”

TL: Ah, thank goodness. But on our end, we really had a lot of seesawing back and forth, though. It was first RONZI who decided that our song choice would be ICONOCLASM. “For sure,” he said. But it wasn’t a song I knew so I listened to it again and this song…… This song is a very difficult one to play, isn’t it (lol). We can’t do anything with the arrangement, right? This vibe goes on and on, and that dispassionate detachment is where its appeal lies, so if we mess with that, the song will be destroyed. And to add to that, RONZI said that he didn’t want the bassline to change and MAKOTO (bassist) agreed as well. We tried our best to do this cover while keeping the bassline intact, but it only resulted in our song sounding like a mere copy. So, at that point, I decided to give Yuutan a call.

Y: Heh heh heh heh heh heh.

TL: Yuutan gave me his LINE. I think it was around October of last year. He said something like, “I’m really looking forward to it!” And when I showed (his message) to RONZI, RONZI said, “Oh shit…… We’ll have to rearrange it and do it all over again……”. So, then we started back from square one again. We also figured that if you’re inviting us to take part in this, you’re expecting us to present something that’s been done our way.

―― Ah, so in the beginning, you just read the lines out quietly as they were?

TL: I just read it monotonously, without intonations. I decided to risk doing it with a mechanical sounding voice, but then it all changed from there. I figured that if this was our own song, we wouldn’t be doing it like this, so we tried bringing in more heat into the song. But it was difficult after all. Because only Acchan can produce those vocals, right? And even after we sent our song over, I didn’t receive any reply from Yuutan for the loooongest time. I was freaking out (lol).

Y: No, but it’s not what you think! I already wanted to send my reply upon receiving the sound source, but I thought it might probably be better to do that after the mastering has been properly done. So I just kept resisting the urge (to reply). And once mastering was completed, I immediately sent the message.

TL: And I was just so anxious throughout that period. Like, “Ahh… Did we get the arrangement wrong after all…?!”

Y: No, no, no. To that, all of my band members and I were in total agreement that, “This will definitely be the first track!”

―― It sounds like you ended up experiencing a hit and split rather than getting to quit while you’re ahead (lol).

TL: I was dying here!   Because in fact, we worked harder on this than normal. Also, while we were working on the arrangement, I took the liberty to try and find some common ground (between our bands), but there are contrasts even within the band, aren’t there? For example, the music is pop although it may be dark, and even though it may come across as exclusionary, it’s actually very human. Because such front sides and undersides exist, it made me feel that it would be possible to execute this song with our kind of passion, and that’s what I put my belief in.

Y: Yeah. It was wonderful. Like you said earlier, the bassline remained the same, didn’t it? But despite that, they managed to come up with something so different. This just says that the power this band possesses is very real. Everyone (in BUCK-TICK) remarked that (the cover) was cool too.

TL: …… Thank goodness~.

Y: For real. I think this is the number one (example of what we’re hoping for) when we ask others to do this (with our music). It’s the same for all the bands who stand out from the rest. They all possess this one (resolution) that, “If we’re going to do this, we’ll be number one at it.” And I think that in the end, this is what truly makes a band.

TL: That’s what a band is all about. The music that is created by people who want to do music, those definitely have some sort of format, don’t they?

Y: Yes, yes.

TL: I listened to a lot of past recordings upon this time’s participation, but I found it very intriguing that somehow, what we sought was originality and novelty for ourselves rather than musicality. We’re better described as people who want to play in a band, rather than people who want to dabble in music. And that’s where my affinity (with BUCK-TICK) lies. We, too, don’t (create music) with the intention of writing good or sellable songs but instead, we want to find music that only we, only we 4 (BRAHMAN) can make.

Y: I understand that. There’s 5 of us (in BUCK-TICK), but that feeling of becoming one when all 5 of us come together is so very important. And also, not getting too personal with each other. That’s why I’d also go exploring for song arrangements myself.

TL: But it’s not as if you’re all disparate individuals. I felt that at the Arabaki afterparty too. You’re a band that’s been around for over 30 years, but it’s the after-afterparty and it’s already morning, you know?   But all the band members are there?   It went up little by little but in the end, the only ones left were me and the whole of BUCK-TICK. That was quite the sight (lol).

Y: That was fun. It was the first time in a long while that I was going home by bullet train, and I’m going home drunk too (lol).

 

Being in a band is already the goal and the ultimate form
That is what I can see in BUCK-TICK (TOSHI-LOW)

TL: But everyone (in BUCK-TICK) stayed all the way until morning, and you can see the relationship between the members from that, right?   I’ve always thought that we don’t really have any role models or textbook examples to go by, but I felt that there were things that we could learn from BUCK-TICK. Somehow, it’s as if the band is not a mere means (to an end), but instead, the band itself gives me a very happy feeling, and it makes things super cosy. So I ended up getting so plastered and at the very end I even got to kiss Acchan――.

―― They’re gonna kill you, TOSHI-LOW-kun.

Y: Hahaha. We really had fun drinking.

TL: Well, but Imai Hisashi slept the whoーle time.

Y: These days he falls asleep fast, you know. He’d even fall asleep when we’re eating (lol).

TL: But what I thought was most amazing was when we woke him up and told him we’re leaving, he said, “Already?” with the straightest of faces. He had been sleeping for 2 hours (lol). If we’d known each other a little longer I think I would’ve teased him with an, “Oy!” But everyone ignores it. I thought that was some amazing teamwork. No matter the angle you consider them from, they’re a great band.

―― And that’s not just because of the existence of a drummer, bassist, guitarist(s), and a vocalist, right? This “great band” that TOSHI-LOW-kun speaks of.

TL: Putting it simply, it’s where being in a band on its own is already the goal and the ultimate form. That is what I can see in BUCK-TICK. And even within this, there’s always something they’re pursuing. Their goal isn’t to use music to become rich or famous. I believe that’s why they’re capable of doing something groundbreaking every time and why they aren’t afraid of change. But that said, they’ve always cherished their past and the way things have always been since the beginning. I mean, (your band’s story) starts from your hometown, right?   From your stories in Gunma.

Y: Yeah. Talk about (our days in) Gunma tends to come up in conversation (lol). Since we’ve always been together since way back when, we’d be like, “That guy did this back then,” and, “Nah, that was decades ago.”

TL: The fact that you can still talk about your high school days even now is seriously amazing.

―― Also, in terms of common ground, the starting point (of both bands) is actually punk. BUCK-TICK originally started out as a cover band of THE STALIN^, right?

Y: Yes, that’s right. Imai-kun had (one of) their records. I think it was STOP JAP?   He told me, “This is good stuff,” and I said, “So cool!  A cover^^!” It was just right after I got my hands on a bass, but I figured, well, I can play that with just one finger, right (lol). You know, songs like Tempura (天プラ) and the like. And to that, everyone was like, “Let’s do this!”

TL: I bet Michiro-san was real happy about that.

Y: Michiro-san attended an event of ours’ during our 20th anniversary. And back then, we went on tour together in Kyushu too. We had a lot of fun, and he said he loved ramen, so we decided to go to a ramen stand^^^ to celebrate. And Michiro-san was so happy. In our band, all of us drink alcohol, right? So Michiro-san, he drank with us back then.

TL: I’ve never seen him drink before.

Y: Later on, we asked him, “Michiro-san, you usually don’t drink, though?” But he said, “Just one glass,“ and drank with us.

TL: …… So that’s what brought about his early passing…

Y: Ehhhhhhhhhhh!

TL: Like, you’d wonder, what if he didn’t drink back then (lol). There’s no way it would’ve made a difference, though. But that’s so nice. There’s that punk aura, isn’t there? I’m the one who didn’t go through the positive punk [goth] genre, but doing this cover, I understood that both our bands’ roots were never far from each other’s, to begin with.

 

Even back when you had to stop band activities, all your band members, everyone waited, didn’t they?
I think that this is what friendship is supposed to be
That’s why they’re a role model for these times
(TOSHI-LOW)

―― There’s also another common ground, which doesn’t really mean much, where the bassists of both bands are Hanshin⁰ fans.

TL: Yeah, that’s right. He goes all the time. If there’s a free day while we’re on tour, MAKOTO would definitely go to a Hanshin game. I think you two must’ve definitely passed each other by before.

Y: TOSHI-LOW-kun, you don’t like baseball?

TL: Not at all for me.

Y: But somehow, when Oh⁰⁰ and Nagashima’s⁰⁰ names show up in Oniben¹, don’t they? 

TL: Well, it’s just that I said if I were to make a character bento, I’d want to use aonori¹¹ to make Nagashima’s stubble. And that I’d use the number 3 to form the eyes (lol).

Y: When I read that, I wondered if you were a Giants fan. But I really enjoyed reading Oniben. For me, my father had aーlways made bentos for me. He’s already passed away, though.

TL: If it was back in the day, it’s really rare for a father to prepare bentos for his children, isn’t it?

Y: It might’ve been because Anii didn’t really get bentos made for him much. Maybe he made them for me because he thought that it would be difficult for me, or maybe he felt sorry for me. When I was in elementary school, the lunchroom got closed for construction, so ever since then, he’s been preparing it for me from 4th grade in elementary school until my 3rd year in high school.

TL: What?   Amazing!   Isn’t that obviously because Yuutan was more adorable than Anii?

Y: Eehhhhhhh (lol).

TL: I think from a father’s perspective, the youngest child is the cutest since they’re the smallest of all. But for him to have done that for such a long time, there’s gotta be some sort of love behind it, I’m sure. Otherwise, he wouldn’t do it. Hearing that from you now, it gave me feels. To prepare bentos occasionally is still easy, but doing it every day is really tough. I think your father probably had something in his heart he wanted to convey to Yuutan, and that he decided he would see through this.

Y: Ahh…… But I’ve never thought about what my father could’ve had in mind while preparing that until I read Oniben. Because back then, I thought it was only to be expected. So when I read it, I suddenly realised that my father must’ve been thinking about a bunch while preparing the bentos. But you’re amazing, you know, TOSHI-LOW-kun. BRAHMAN too; you’re all amazing. Your band has been putting out releases one after another, so I can’t really pose as your senior any more.

TL: No, no, no, I had such a great time listening to all your old stories you shared at Arabaki. Like recollections of your early days playing at Loft² and all that, I felt like I could listen to them until morning comes. In terms of era, I’m from the band-boom period, so it may be casual small talk to you all, but to me, all of it is precious. Imai Hisashi, too, he can be one of those opinionated characters now, can’t he? Like the sort to say, “Didn’t I say before that’s off limits!”²² on a gossip talk show. 

―― Hahahahahahaha.

TL: Even back when you had to stop band activities, the fact that you weren’t a band that broke up because of that is wonderful, isn’t it? Of course, I believe it was tough for the members, though. Come to think of it, that was during your first career peak, wasn’t it?

Y: We were really beyond busy at the time. Like, we were constantly in a situation where we would be producing our new album while still going on tour for our previous release.

TL: Wow.

Y: Our heads were already getting all messed up. With our hair put up, there’s no time to even let it down, so we’d sleep on high pillows³ for a little like warriors of the old days and then head straight out right after (lol). That’s why, although that incident wasn’t a good thing, I just think that our band was definitely headed in a bad direction. On the contrary, I guess you could say that making us stop once allowed us to properly shift back to normal.

TL: And all your band members, everyone waited, didn’t they? That’s the strength of a team.

Y: Instead, back then, we were worried, y’know, about Imai-kun. When we met him for the first time (since all of that happened,) he just clapped everyone on our shoulders going, “Mh, mh.” And I think there was even a part of it which turned into a sort of drive (which motivated us to get back up). Because we were in a situation where only our names were out there but we couldn’t appear in any form of media, and our promotional videos and all of that couldn’t be broadcast.

TL: I think that this is what friendship is supposed to be. Of course, things you shouldn’t do, you shouldn’t do, but (the band) didn’t simply cut that person off. Instead, you used (the incident) as a springboard and to move forward together once again. In that sense, BUCK-TICK is a role model for these times, aren’t they? That isn’t how things go at all nowadays. (The offending party) simply gets beaten up and discarded and that’s the end of it. Maybe it’s a sign of the times?   My generation and those a little older than us, I think, definitely have a stronger sense of camaraderie. For better or for worse, there’s some “biker gang” left in us, so we’re people who will never do something like sacrificing one person while everyone else runs away scot-free. I think that’s how it should be even now.

Y: Because we’re all from the Showa era, right? And really, we grew up watching Showa era bands too. We’re of the generation who happened to get to watch Japan’s rock scene getting cooler and cooler. So I think that’s the root of it all for us.

TL: But even with that foundation there, you still keep bringing in new things, don’t you?   If even your foundation changes, then you’d be simply going with the times, but say, for example, if you were to try playing The Stalin’s music with present-day equipment, or if you did it with music programming to see how it would turn out, or something like that, I get this really strong “BUCK-TICK” feeling. That’s why (you make) outlandish music, right? But there are a lot of eccentric parts, and although it’s experimental, it’s also music that is universal.

―― On the other hand, what does BRAHMAN’s music sound like to Yuta-san?

Y: It definitely leaves the impression of heavy rock and punk music. I’ve been invited (to their live show) once. Actor Katsumura (Masanobu) -san asked me to go and watch a BRAHMAN show with him and Sugimoto Tetta-san³³.

TL: Ahh, come, do come.

Y: Actually, I did ask him along too. But I couldn’t go because of work. Even now I feel like I’ve missed out. I definitely want to go to your show next time.

―― To add to that, by all means, please do perform together next time.

TL: For me, anytime. I really want to perform with you together in a band. But…… I guess I might end up showing the fans hell again (wry smile). Because we’ve done that before at Lunatic Fest, y’know.

Y: Did you mess up or something?

TL: Nah, it’s more like the discomfort, on the whole, was overwhelming.

―― Probably because you rudely stepped on the SLAVES⁴ (lol). Now, during BRAHMAN’s shows, TOSHI-LOW-kun leaps into the audience and stands up with his feet set apart on people.

Y: I know, I know. When I saw the pictures and the videos, I thought, “This…… What’s going on here?” Are you standing on their shoulders with that post?

TL: Uh, nope, anywhere will do.

Y: Anywhere (lol). You’re standing in a sea of people, right?

TL: Yeah. I wonder if I could do that and piggyback Acchan. I guess it might work if I can piggyback him.

―― Everyone will be supporting that, with all their might (lol).

TL: Indeed. Both of us are creatures of the underworld, but I’m of a lower rank (lol). Because our statuses are different, you know. An “Oni” is definitely ranked lower than the Demon King, right?

Y: But I most definitely want to perform with you too.

TL: Also, I might be pushing it with this but I’d be glad if you’d come to New Aco⁴⁴ too.

―― Ahh. Have the acoustic BUCK-TICK take part in New Acoustic Camp⁴⁴. That sounds great. I’d like to see that someday.

TL: Their melodies have always been elegant, and they’re really universal and beautiful. So I think their music would really sound great acoustic.

Y: When we previously performed (some songs) acoustically, it was really great. We normally have a variety of synchronicity, but (for that performance) it really felt like all 5 of us was breathing in sync. Also, I could really feel the audience’s breathing too. Yeah, I like that. If there’s any opportunity, I’d like to do that again.

 

Notes:

* I thought of translating “鬼” (oni) into ogre or demon, but I think it works better if I just leave it as “Oni”.

** BUCK-TICK only performed at Arabaki Rock Fest in 2018 so maybe they attended the 2017 one on their own as an audience.

*** Ryota Ogawara is the frontman and guitarist of the mojo punk band JIGHEAD (formed 1995), and before that, rock band THE POGOS (formed 1985, disbanded 1933).
“Shelter” is the shortened name for Shimokitazawa SHELTER (下北沢SHELTER) where JIGHEAD and BRAHMAN played their first live shows.
http://jighead.info/livepast.htm

^ Fronted by the late Michiro Endo, The Stalin were an influential Japanese punk rock band that formed in June 1980 and disbanded in February 1985. BUCK-TICK has previously taken part in a tribute album to The Stalin called Romanticist ~The Stalin/Endo Michiro Tribute Album~ (ロマンチスト〜The Stalin・遠藤ミチロウTribute Album〜). In it, they covered the song Omae No Inu Ni Naru (おまえの犬になる / I Wanna Be Your Dog).
Lyrics and trivia can be found here: http://www.bucktickzone.com/lyrics/uncategorized/omae-no-inu-ni-naru/ 
Listen to the cover here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOZXxjL9Ezo 

^^ Yuta literally said “カバーだ!” (It’s a cover!) so I’ve got no idea exactly what he’s saying beyond this.

^^^ Either something like this or this.

⁰ As in, the baseball team the Hanshin Tigers.

⁰⁰ Sadaharu Oh, also known as Wang Chen-chih, and Shigeo Nagashima are prominent names in Japanese baseball. Both of them played for the Yomiuri Giants. Notably, Oh holds the world lifetime home run record, having hit 868 home runs during his professional

¹ Oniben (鬼弁) is a book of TOSHI-LOW’s bento-making adventures for his eldest son which was released in 2019. Available here.

¹¹ A type of seaweed. Also known as green laver or just dried seaweed.

² The live house, Shinjuku LOFT.

²² The actual statement is, “一回でアウトとか言ってんじゃないよ!”
I honestly have no idea what it could mean but I suppose it’s some kind of common outburst or phrase on those shows.

³ Google “高い枕” for examples. There are other variations but I would assume he’s talking about this.

³³ Also an actor.

⁴ What LUNA SEA fans are called.

⁴⁴ New Acoustic Camp is a sort of not-really music festival which incorporates both the mountains and camping into the events. It is a local Gunma event.
Tokyo Weekender’s posting for the 2019 edition: https://www.tokyoweekender.com/events/new-acoustic-camp-2019-gunma/ 

 

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_______________________

SPECIAL TALK:
ISSAY (Der Zibet)

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photo&design by MISAKI JUN

In Russian

Even among the many artists who participated in PARADE Ⅲ ~ RESPECTIVE TRACKS OF BUCK-TICK ~, Der Zibet’s Ai no Souretsu stands out from the crowd. It is, after all, because this band understands more than anyone else the one core that BUCK-TICK possesses and has tributed this song to them with love. To understand this band is to know the essence of BUCK-TICK.


That feeling of being at a loss, a vast, empty landscape came to mind
And I thought, ‘ah, I know this landscape very well’

―― Sakurai-san said, “Ai no Souretsu suits ISSAY-san better……”, and I also agree that in this tribute album, Der Zibet was the band who made (BUCK-TICK’s song) most like your own.

ISSAY (I): It’s very nice of you to say that. When I was told about the tribute album, I immediately replied with “I’ll do it!”, but it was such a terrible struggle.

―― The song selection?

I: Exactly. When I thought of picking a song, I guess, since they’re a band who has been constantly active for over 30 years, it’s expected that they’ve got a vast variety of options……

―― That’s true (lol).

I: I listened for days, but there were so many good songs that I found myself thinking, “Ah, this one’s good too. But that one’s good too. This is a problem……” so I texted Atsushi-kun (lol).

―― Hahahahahaha.

I: I said, “I’m in a bind.” (Lol). And he replied, “You can do it this way too, and there’s this other way to help you make your choice.”

―― So there’s that kind of advice too!

I: There is, but in the end, I ignored it (lol).

―― Hahahahahaha!

I: First, I decided that I’d stop trying to decide on a song by pinpointing it out. So I selected a few and then discussed with HIKARU (Yoshida Hikaru / Guitar) which from that list would be interesting for us to do as a band. As to how I chose, I picked 2 to 3 songs that I’d like to sing as a part of Der Zibet, and another song that I’d like to sing if I were doing this solo.

―― By the way, what song is it?

I: It’s an absolute secret!

―― Hahahahahahaha!

I: I won’t ever tell Atsushi-kun either (lol). So I sent those songs to HIKARU, and he replied, “I think either one of these two would be good.” And out of those two, the song which grabbed first place was Ai no Souretsu. Actually, I did think that it’d be interesting to do this song with Der Zibet and I did want to try singing it so that’s why I chose it. I suppose what I was thinking of was pretty close to what HIKARU felt.

―― So what exactly were you thinking of?

I: The imagery which Ai no Souretsu has, you know? That isolation and loneliness that is also present in the lyrics. And the romanticism which he possesses. This, I thought, was very similar to our worldview. Also, I think it was 3 years ago? I watched him perform this song at Budokan and it left such a deep impression on me that it’s unforgettable. I was sure that if this was the song we were to do, we would definitely be able to perform it with Der Zibet’s sound without changing the fundamentals of BUCK-TICK’s expression.

―― What did you think of Ai no Souretsu the first time you heard it?

I: I thought it was very Atsushi-kun. That feeling of being at a loss…… A vast, empty landscape comes to mind, doesn’t it? This world view that he has painted, I thought, was extremely close to my own. The way we deal with this feeling of loneliness it brings is probably different, but I feel that I know this landscape very well.

―― What is ISSAY-san’s method of coping with it?

I: Instead of coping, I suppose it’s more accurate to say that in my case, such a landscape basically already exists. And rather than confronting it, I’d just acknowledge that this is something that will always be in me and not do anything about it. It is there as a given.

―― That’s not the case for Sakurai-san?

I: No, I believe it probably exists inside him too. Because (the imagery) wouldn’t have come out like that if it didn’t. However, I feel that the way his heart wavers, or the way it moves when he sees it, that behavioural pattern of his is different than mine.

―― What’s the difference?

I: Atsushi-kun is…… This is simply what I feel, but the first time he lays his eyes on that situation, his heart will be shaken by, for example, surprise and bewilderment. Then he would wonder what this emotional turmoil is about and endlessly pursue (an answer). I think that emotional capacity of his is interesting.

―― I see. So although he feels sad, he’d wonder about the reason behind his sadness or loneliness and get to the bottom of it, right?

I: Exactly. Also, I get the feeling that there’s always a question mark somewhere in his emotional turmoil.

―― A question mark?

I: Yeah. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this (lol).

―― That’s exactly what we’re looking for (lol).

I: Everyone has their own interpretation, and those aren’t answers, but the question I speak of is not about how things should be, rather, it’s a question mark pertaining to the question of what am “I” when in turmoil.

―― So, it’s about confronting one’s self.

I: I’m the type of person who acts out songs, to begin with, but he sincerely faces (himself) when on stage. There’s a slight difference (between the two of us) there, but since this is a landscape that is very familiar to me, it was easy for me to immerse myself in it.

―― I see.

I: But in these last few years, I can really feel his strength.

―― Strength?

I: I immensely feel the strength that comes from him standing tall and firm on his two feet.

―― How were things in terms of sound production?

I: The final track-down took quite some time, but I think the fundamental areas went relatively smoothly. (We worked on it) while keeping in mind the romanticism and loneliness, and also that isolation which I spoke of earlier, and at the same time, remaining conscious of how much bleaker we can make it sound. Don’t you think that’s where HIKARU’s musical sense came through nicely?

―― That’s true.

I: Don’t you think that if we simply went ahead with taking the same approach to this song, it’ll become nothing more than a simple cover precisely because it’s a song with a world view close to mine? That’s why we went with a tango…… Then again, it’s more like a pseudo-tango, though (lol). Well, HIKARU came up with that idea and suggested, why not take it in that direction. And I was very sold on that, you know. It gives off the sense of an alternate zeitgeist too. I was just allowed to sing freely in that sound (lol).

―― Freely (lol).

I: Yes. I was able to see the scenery very clearly this time, so I decided to sing the lyrics naturally; without a single gratuitous gimmick in the song, nor any weird vibrato (lol). When I was thrown into it, I decided that I’d stand up straight and sing it.

―― Have you heard any response from BUCK-TICK about the song?

I: We spoke about it the other day when we were drinking after Yoyogi. I was pretty drunk (lol) but Atsushi-kun gave me a compliment; he said, “It was great.” At the time, he asked me, “This song…… was it difficult to sing?” (lol). And when I answered, “It was,” he said, “It’s difficult after all, isn’t it, this song?”

―― Hahahahaha.

I: Our lyrical approaches are different, you see. In this song, Atsushi-kun put phrases with symbolic and impactful words in the chorus. I don’t really use that approach, but as a singer working with such lyrics, it’s very difficult. I could feel how amazing he is as a vocalist. So…… I can’t lose! (Lol).

―― But it’s already turned into ISSAY-san’s, or rather, Der Zibet’s song.

I: I’m glad you think so. Since it’s a favourite song of mine, I was even thinking of perhaps singing this song as my own in future live shows. As a vocalist, I’d be very happy if I could, one day, sing this song with Atsushi-kun be it in this arrangement or the original.

―― I would love to hear it. Also, aside from your world views being similar, it’s also filled with love, isn’t it?

I: When involved in a tribute, isn’t it truly frightful if you ended up doing it wrong?   Because we’re essentially different, to begin with. But I think that it’ll turn out to be something really interesting as long as my love for the work and the musician(s) doesn’t go in the wrong direction. We’re not the same person, but it’s important to acknowledge one another, and as a vocalist, I thought a lot about how to put our differences into play.

―― It’s turned out to be a lovely tribute.

I: Because I sang it with all my love for the band BUCK-TICK, and Atsushi-kun (lol).

 

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Contributor Article

A One-Of-A-Kind Polyphony

by Okada Iku

 

Today I surrender to the “polyphony” that melts together into one
I chant the answer without a question, “Only BUCK-TICK is BUCK-TICK”

In 2019, when Ringo Shiina and Sakurai Atsushi performed Elopers on a music show, viewers who saw Sakurai’s performance for the first time screamed in delight on social media one after the other, causing a huge commotion. I, on the other hand, was reminded of the proverb “a borrowed cat¹” when I watched him take a step back for Ringo Shiina in the middle of the song. Because, after all, she did borrow him briefly for that little while.

Elopers is, simply put, very much a BUCK-TICK-styled song. The showy lyricist harmonises with Sakurai Atsushi, no, performs a unison where their voices do not intermingle. It’s an outstanding piece of work that could have been inadvertently inserted right after PINOA ICCHIO -Odoru Atom- as the 3rd track of Atom Miraiha No.9. But such a thing will never happen, because this is, after all, an external collaboration and “not” BUCK-TICK.

But if that’s the case, then what “is” BUCK-TICK on the other hand?   It’s actually surprisingly difficult to define their musicality and answer this question. I find myself laughing at the contradiction that no sooner were they praised as “having remained the same for over 30 years,” than were they described as, “constantly evolving.” Although I have been listening to them for 27 years, even now, I’m always finding fresh surprises whenever I put all their songs on shuffle.

Nevertheless, if you arrange it all properly and trace the changes, there is one major factor that points to linear time and that is the voice of Imai Hisashi. Sakurai and Imai stand side by side and harmonise, no, perform a unison where their voices do not intermingle. Those moments are the instances when my auditory nerves take unparalleled pleasure in acknowledging, “This! This is BUCK-TICK!”

When I first listened to Kurutta Taiyou, I was amazed at Sakurai’s ability to express himself in a variety of different ways, starting with the opening track Speed. More than that, Imai’s “Open it onto Evolution Mode” in the B-side, Brain, Whisper, Head, Hate is noise was even more impressive. Imai Hisashi’s vocals are primitive; it’s a noise that strikes a chord with listeners. He descends suddenly like a deus ex machina, forcibly taking away the gaze that tends to be focused on frontman Sakurai and giving the audience a bird’s eye view of the whole performance. This looks like a monologue, not a solo act. It is not an ensemble of five people, but one Lingua Sounda. This was the “heavenly voice” which opened up the metaperspective to the lost lambs and allowed them to decipher the entirety of the band’s sound.

Also, Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari and Sid Vicious ON THE BEACH, where Imai performs as the main vocalist, are “foreign bodies” which were cleverly mixed in to prevent the balance and harmony of their respective albums from being boring. On the other hand, listening to Deep Slow, Madman Blues ~Minashigo no Yuu’utsu~, Living on the Net, and other songs of the like now leave the strong impression that they are masterpieces of “the lead actor of the BUCK-TICK theatre Sakurai Atsushi who has an intimate knowledge playwright Imai Hisashi’s direction.” Songs of Sakurai’s vocals give off the sense that if times were different, this might’ve been a stage performance with Imai as the main star.

The chorus work and banter in MY FUCKIN’ VALENTINE, Cyborg Dolly: Sora-Mimi: PHANTOM, 21st Cherry Boy, LADY SKELETON, and, of course, Memento mori also get the crowd excited at their live shows. A similar, but not identical, approach was taken in BUSTER and Les Enfants Terribles, where the same tunes are being repeated by different voices. With Sakurai going before and Imai going after, it is impossible to perform these songs without one or the other. Or, perhaps, they are a two-headed beast that rears its sickle-neck. From this point, the playwright gets in as a cameo in the signatory actor’s solo performance, establishing it as a fabulous two-man show.

During the interlude of Alice in Wonder Underground, Imai’s voice continues to sing DIABOLO -Lucifer- from their previous work 13th Kai wa Gekkou. In Tenshi wa Dare da, the same words which were previously sung by Imai are again pursued by Sakurai with a different melody. As we move onto the days of Tango Swanka, it’s no longer a simple relationship of Sakurai being the main star and Imai being the guest. And by the time we lead up to DADA DISCO -GJTHBKHTD-, the whole song is composed of dialogue between Imai and Sakurai. It is as extravagant as breaking two perfect, beautiful bowls into pieces on purpose and then putting them together once again by kintsugi². Surely the line in Elopers which reads “pH stays at seven as we bind each other up” is a homage to this?   Ringo may not have said anything in relation to this, but I understand how Ringo feels. Because, I, too, love this.

Like a large flower blooming open from a bud, the presence of the polyphony of the BUCK-TICK theatre is only growing. Most noteworthy in their latest album, No.0, was the flow from Nostalgia -Vita Mechanicalis- to IGNITER. From “Open it onto Evolution Mode”, these double vocals have grown and built up over the years, overlapping to a point where rather than no longer getting surprised when they come up in various tracks, we are bathed in an amalgamation of sounds that makes it impossible to even tell where the five-man band is coming from.

In 1993, I watched Dress at some point which led me to check out all the old scores from the local ward library. As a 13-year-old who grew up with YMO as a lullaby but still couldn’t quite find music which hits the spot even after listening to any number of great rock albums, I was immediately hooked on them. The very first thing which moved my heart was, above all, the beauty of the melody woven by Hoshino Hidehiko, then, thanks to the “danceable” groove which Yagami Toll and Higuchi Yutaka created under the skin of a rock band, I can still listen to them without getting tired of them. And finally, my desire to spend the rest of my life watching the one who always craves for the “next one” to death no matter how satisfied he is with their new work; Imai Hisashi and Sakurai Atsushi side by side with each other.

Still, it’s a little late to be wondering what kind of planetary alignment occurred to draw me towards Hoshino’s aria, to peek into this band where Sakurai’s aesthetics coexist with Imai’s noises and the rhythm brothers Higuchi and Yagami. Where the scales and rhythms and festivities of all world music on earth are incorporated in an unadulterated and elaborate manner, primitive yet mechanical, letting you stand and headbang and shake your head side to side, and feel the groove moving you, swaying your hips as you dance with alternating steps. It’s hard to describe its musicality in one word. But today I surrender to the “polyphony” that melts together into one, and I chant the answer without a question, “Only BUCK-TICK is BUCK-TICK”.

 

Okada Iku●
Writer. Born in Tokyo and lives in New York. After working for a publishing company, she began penning essays. Author of Haji no Oi Jinsei, Yome e Iku Tsumori Jyanakatta, Tengoku Meshi to Jigoku Mimi, 40-sai Made ni Kore wo Yameru, and co-author with Nimura Hitoshi and Kaneda Junko for Otoko no Karada wa Kimochi Ii.

 

Notes:

Lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site.

¹ 借りてきた猫 (karite kita neko) literally means a borrowed cat. It refers to a person-for-hire, or a person who appears meek and quiet, as if like a reserved cat in an unfamiliar environment.

² Kintsugi, also known as kintsukuroi, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: spanielonthemoon on Tumblr

Razzle Dazzle Feature

PHY
November 2010

Photography: Ikeda Tomohide
Interview: Ishii Eriko, Kanemitsu Hirofumi, Takahashi Miho
Hair & Makeup: Tanizaki Takayuki (FatsBerry)
Styling: Shimizu Kenichi

 

I suppose I’ve always liked music and lyrics that are detached from reality
Anyway, fun things somehow soon come to an end

This album, RAZZLE DAZZLE, is something that slightly shifted the course of BUCK-TICK’s direction thus far. With Juusankai wa Gekkou (十三階は月光 / 13th Floor With Moonshine), Tenshi no Revolver (天使のリボルバー / Angel’s Revolver), and their most recent preceding work memento mori, they have been emphasising on their “band sound”, turning it into the reigning theme on their albums. There are subtle differences between their interpretations of the world, but memento mori, which bears that theme in its nucleus, has turned out to be a masterpiece.

And as they head into producing their new work, the band once again began their search for something new. This is evidence that they do not feel that there is any meaning against overwriting their present state. This voracious attitude that they display despite this being their 25th year in the industry is a flipside to the inferiority complex that they’ve experienced themselves during this time.

How does each member feel about their new album of dazzling pleasure? The interview content is split up into individual dialogues with each of the 5 members, but there is one certain thing that they have kept in these long 25 years that they have been active for. It is the confidence that comes from possessing something that is firmly unshakeable. With the individual member interviews, RAZZLE DAZZLE song commentaries, a dialogue between ISSAY (Der Zibet) and Sakurai Atsushi, and even an interview with Aquirax Uno who designed the album jacket, we shall unravel RAZZLE DAZZLE.

 

 

 

 

Individual Interviews

_______________________

Sakurai Atsushi

As a person, I possess quite an evil darkness……
But I do think that it’s the same for everyone
I’ve gradually come to understand that
its human to possess such dark facets

Interview by Ishii Eriko

What catches my ear when I listen to their new work, RAZZLE DAZZLE is Sakurai Atsushi’s skill as a singer to use different vocal tonalities for each track. Steeped in the world of each song, his performance ability spirits listeners away into another word. His ability is far from decline. Instead, it continues to grow without limits. However, on the other hand, there is something that remains consistent as well; his gothic lyrical world that has fallen into darkness, his aesthetical spirit that breathes romanticism into blood and the scent of death. And so, we draw closer to the origin of this immutable soul.

 

   


ーー So, it appears that Imai-san brought up the keywords “something new” for this album.

Yeah. But it’s just that it’s an external term or a phrase that he used to explain it simply for an interview. Within us five, there really was no occurrence of a conversation that was that concrete, or rather, that constructive that went on. “Something new”, well, it’s always like this anyway (smiles).

ーー It is indeed vague, isn’t it? Were there any other phrases that hinted at how things were to turn out?

Ah, I believe there were a number of those. Though it was more like asking what we made of those. For example, things like “Acchan, have you watched this movie?”, and so on.

ーー Uh-huh. Incidentally, what are they?

A variety. For example, there was Chicago*, a musical. Well, he’s watched quite a lot of movies just by picking out random ones himself without relation to the album. He’s asked me, “Have you seen this movie? What about this one?”, but…… I’ve not watched a single one (smiles).

ーー Hahaha. But it does, in fact, have a musical-like ambience and a groove similar to that of 80’s disco as well. Especially after you go through the first half.

That’s true.

ーー I’ve wondered if it’s okay to jump in, but in Kyouki no Deadheat (狂気のデッドヒート / Crazy Deadheat)’s lyrics, the “What!?” and “No way!!” are……

Fufufu. I suppose you can say that up till here, it’s the feeling of being bewitched. Like, ‘who knew that something like this existed within me too’. This song has been intensely positive since the demo tape stage, so that’s why I seriously considered the idea of trying to do this with a comical singing style. If I decided to do that, I’d want to make sure I’m thorough with it too.

ーー Setting such an amplitude and a new stage, it’s all mainly due to Imai-san, isn’t it? Sakurai-san will, of course, cope with it but within your own lyrics, your usual elements are, as expected, in there.

Ah…… I guess they are indeed there.

ーー If I may make these comparisons, in Dokudanjou Beauty (独壇場Beauty / Beauty the Stage is Yours), Imai-san writes “Our life is in the moment / At the end, just eat it all / Makes me laugh to see it”. While in Sakuran Baby (錯乱Baby / Lunatic Baby)”, Sakurai-san writes “Drink it, drink it / Last drop, last drop, drink it down / This life, this life / Might make me laugh”. I believe that these two sets of lyrics probably refer to the same things.

Yes, that’s right.

ーー However, before and after these words, Imai-san sprinkles “Yeah Yeah” and “Go Go”,  while Sakurai-san uses “blood so red so red” and “Angel of Death”. This difference is very intriguing.

Ah. When you think about it like this it might sound childish but…… But I guess I like it. Be it “Blood” or “Death” or so on, somehow, whenever I have free time, it comes up.

ーー (Smiles) What kind of free time is that?

I guess it’s times when I feel “I’m bored, isn’t there anything to do~” (smiles). I suppose spirited words like “Go Go” are understood, so there’s an intuition that it can be used. That’s why I think it’s identical. “Yeah Yeah” and “Go Go” and “blood and death”.

ーー Is it identical? Hahahahahahaha!

…… I said it a little too vaguely (smiles).

ーー Do you perhaps mean that they’re like keywords that switch you on or get you high?

…… Perhaps. Maybe. It might be that I already have such words prepared when I first start from the point where things are different than reality. Music and lyrics that are detached from reality. I guess those are what I like. Since a long time ago.

ーー It was in your teens when you decided on your values, wasn’t it? To the Sakurai-san of those days, was reality something that he wanted to run away from?

That’s right. I’ve already said this numerous times but…… As far back as I can remember, until in my teens, or perhaps my early 20s. Until then, I lived with an impression like ‘ah, whatever, it doesn’t matter’, so.

ーー Why do you think that was the case?

Fun things somehow soon come to an end anyway. Yeah……^ Like, I didn’t know what I was living for. Somehow, people who say similar things are damaged and were interesting though. (While flipping through the pages of the Ongaku to Hito sample) My father’s……^ Ah, this person. I had a father who was a vicious drunk, like this person. As far back as I can remember, that kind of……^ It repeated before my eyes every day. And that went on until my father’s death so, that was when I was 18. When you’re being shown that every single day…… I suppose it feels as if merriment and the sort are contrived. No matter what I did, I had no enthusiasm at all. I didn’t play outside, and all I did was read manga or watch TV, or play with figurines on my own the whole time.

ーー Did you never feel like you had fun even when you were with friends from school or around the area?

Well, since I was still a kid, I did think that it seemed fun when I saw everyone making a ruckus together though. But there was always hell at home. So I did let loose and have fun, but I’d soon wake up from that. But I didn’t want to, you know? I hated that person that I was but…… That’s just how it was. After all, I was young.

ーー Children are powerless, aren’t they?

Yeah. That’s why, until now, that, I wouldn’t say that it’s bred in my bones, but I think that it still remains in me though.

ーー At that point, did you run along with impulses to do something, like for example, getting obsessed with punk culture or running away from home?

Ah…… I should have gone in those healthy directions though. Well, when I was in junior high, I started feeling sexual attraction, and I did enjoy music on my own too though. But there was this domestic reality that would ruin all of these things. It was the feeling of “that guy will……”^, you know? I would even think, “If I ran away from home, my mother would be…”^. Because she seemed to be someone who had nothing but her children.

ーー Ah, like an anchor?

Yeah. Something to cling to. So, naively, I just stayed at home being angry the whole time. I had anger in me, but I couldn’t vent it in a healthy manner. That’s why I was a really unpleasant child. I thought that everyone should be unhappy. Though I still do say that as a joke (smiles), like ‘it would be nice if it rained’, or ‘I hope the typhoon arrives early’. It’s because that was how I thought as a child.

ーー You mentioned feeling sexual attraction in junior high, so doesn’t that mean that you were exposed to the world of having a girlfriend and having sex as well? Did you get completely absorbed in it?

Well, about that, things like getting together with someone I like or my first time, well, like everyone else, I did have those experiences though. However, the values that were instilled in me, I suppose, that happiness is contrived, or that things like ‘I like you’ or ‘I love you’ are……^ Something like that, I guess. I’ve always felt like that.

ーー But Sakurai-san, don’t girls flock to you even if you were left alone?

(Bitter smile)

ーー It’s difficult to say “That’s right” to this point, isn’t it?

Hahaha. But when it comes to puberty, isn’t it useless if it isn’t healthy after all? I’m very introverted, so…… I couldn’t show off that ability.

ーー Hahahahahahaha.

Then again, it becomes a question of what ability am I talking about when I mention ability (smiles). But isn’t the focus normally on the popular people in class or something? I’d look at them with an attitude, like “hmph”, and think that they’re nasty kids, you know.

ーー I see. Well, I understand the escapism from reality and the household, but when it comes to loving or the warmth of sex, even those seem to disappear like illusions in Sakurai-san’s lyrics, don’t they? It makes me wonder why you’re running away from loving others too.

…… It was cowardice, very much so. Well, even now, I’m still afraid though. Being absorbed in something or getting obsessed with something is scary. Therein also lies self-restraint, or perhaps a conditioned reflex of rejection. Like, if I were to become obsessed with this, I won’t be able to turn back later. That’s how I’d end up thinking. And that’s why I was afraid of being deeply involved, be it with people or with music. Well, for music, I’ve come to be deeply absorbed in it, but there was an initial phase of self-restraint in the beginning too.

ーー Considering that history, wouldn’t you say that forming the band BUCK-TICK and becoming its vocalist is nothing short of a miraculous dynamism?

That’s right. Somehow, a miracle happened. Initially, I participated in the band with an ‘I don’t quite care, I guess I’ll just play the drums’ attitude. I was of the sentiment that I’ll just keep up with it anyway. Then all of a sudden, just like that, I was around 19 or 20 at the time, but when I watched the singers and bands that appeared on TV and looked at them in magazines…… Something came to mind, you know. That notion that even though I liked using my body with the drums, I wanted to do something that could get the audience more excited and more riled up in a more direct, more dedicated manner.

ーー Was that the first time in your life that you spontaneously made a straightforward expression of your desires?

That’s right. After my father died, well, my mother gently told me “You should do what you want to”. I came to Tokyo feeling like I took advantage of those words. Somehow, it’s not like a reaction to the present, but I suppose it’s something like wanting to burn hotter. It was the first time that such a desire came out of me. And I believe I’ve always had the habit of holding back in this area, but at that point in time, it’s like I forced my way into becoming the vocalist with an attitude of “I want to it”.

ーー But it seemed that perhaps BUCK-TICK was unorthodox right from the start because of the fact that Sakurai-san was the frontman. It was novel to be raising fists in a rock band while calling ‘Yay’s and ‘Woo’s and that sort of enthusiasm while not singing at all. Perhaps it could be said that you were theatrical from the get-go.

Ah…… As expected, I’m bad with those kinds of positive things. I have a very strong adverse reaction to being made to seek approval or come in with a ruckus. In my personal world, like how I used to play with figurines alone when I was a child, I suppose I naturally choose things that lie along that same line. The world that I like is now socially acceptable in different ways, but back then, there were people who would really think “How dark!”. Like, “Is this music?” (smiles). But I’m attracted to those kinds of things.

ーー The word ‘gothic’ was not part of the general public’s vocabulary, was it? Even if it was, it was something that belonged to niche enthusiasts.

That’s right. It’s not adjectival, but personally, that’s the kind of thing that I like. Halfway through, I’ve even said to Imai-san, “I want to do something dark”.

ーー Ah, so that was a suggestion that came from Sakurai-san.

Yeah. Since then, it was similar to how things are now. I thought that it felt like something BUCK-TICK-ish was beginning. It was around the time of our 3rd album TABOO when I was found something that made me think ‘this feels more comfortable’ (smiles). After that, it felt like I can no longer turn back.

ーー Did you feel like you were besottedly digging into the darkness? Not because you had a goal as something to aim for.

That’s right. I didn’t have any particular groundwork, because I didn’t know anything, you see. It’s just that the people from the record company kept telling us all sorts of things. Like, we have to do things that would sell otherwise it’s pointless, and so on. Though it felt like things like that are naturally the case, that they go without saying. I kind of hated appearing on TV, and in our 20s, we were often asked “What do you usually do?” or “How do you make your hair stand?” and so on. …… It made me want to say “I don’t know!” (smiles). Well, now it’s just indulgent talk. Though I do think that perhaps it’s because those things happened that I could end up doing whatever I liked.

ーー Now that you mention it, I think “what do you usually do?” has become one of the questions that can’t be asked now.

Ah……… Do I answer?

ーー No, it’s alright (smiles). To that extent, the world of BUCK-TICK has become something that no one can imitate even if they were to plunge in. Although there are youngsters who were influenced by you and got themselves tied up in Visual-Kei, BUCK-TICK cannot be defined by those words. Thinking about it, you really do stand apart.

Ah…… It’s true that now, there is the sense that we naturally stand in that space. But even so, I can’t look at it with a bird’s-eye view so…… On the contrary, I’d like to ask you this. Has that image of ours really remained the same?

ーー I think that it hasn’t changed.

I suppose that…… those things from when I was 3, what was bred in my bones are always here after all, aren’t they?   That’s the only way I can think of saying this though.

ーー Do you, to this day, still think that everyone should be unhappy?

Hm…… As you’d expect, I don’t have the same impressions as I did back then though. It’s just that when I look at my surroundings and happen to think that things are a little odd to me, that disturbed heart comes out. I might’ve grown stubborn as I grow older, but I think that things like natures and dispositions might come forth more clearly. Even at work and in other areas, as a person, I possess quite an evil darkness too. But I do think that it’s the same for everyone. I’ve gradually come to understand that it is human to possess such dark facets. But, well…… I think I’ve changed quite a fair bit after all.

ーー I think what changed is that you’ve probably come to accept happiness and reality. This is an odd question, but is it fun to sing with BUCK-TICK now?

Fufufu. That’s right, singing songs is more or less fun too. I suppose, being in BUCK-TICK with all 5 of us, being given the opportunity to sing and being able to sing till now…… It makes me feel very happy.

ーー Yes.

Fun…… The word fun comes across a little differently though (smiles). Because if anything, those times are tough. But it’s fun when I look back on it, I guess that’s the kind of feeling it gives me. Of course, I don’t think that everything will always be smooth sailing going forward though. But no matter what happens, well, I think that it would be nice to do it until I die.

ーー Until death. Those are some strong words.

Is that so?    I spoke without thinking much about it though (smiles). But it’s already been over 20 years, hasn’t it? …… 25 years? I don’t know how much longer I have left anyway. But, yes. Unless something unexpected happens, I definitely want to continue at it, yup.

 

 

Notes:

All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site

* Chicago is American musical crime comedy-drama film based on the stage musical of the same name. It was released in 2002.

^ In the original text, there were insinuations that hinted at Sakurai stopping himself from speaking before he puts negative thoughts into spoken words.

 

 

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_______________________

Imai Hisashi

For both Sakurai-san and myself…… at this age,
if we simply let go and let the words come out naturally without giving it much thought
our lyrics end up being about life, or the cycle of life and death,
or how there is no eternity and how things are fleeting

Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi

Needless to say, Imai Hisashi is the one who holds the key to the band’s direction and their sound. In their new work RAZZLE DAZZLE, he, who has made the previous 3 albums with the theme of a human-powered ‘band sound’, has headed towards ‘something new’; different from what they have done thus far, towards a slightly bizarre, out-of-the-ordinary party. What does he seek in there that he has yet to obtain till now? Perhaps it is something that Imai hopes to get this time through rock and roll. That particularity, along with his hairstyle, is what we will be looking at this time.

 

   


ーー Imai-san spoke about quite a variety of things in last month’s Ongaku to Hito (OtH) too, didn’t you?

And that’s why I’m wondering what we’re supposed to talk about today……

ーー Shall we start with talking about your hairstyle?

H-hairstyle?

ーー It reminds me of the Portrait of Reiko*, and it has an impact that feels like it’s something appears in my dreams.

Fuhahaha (smiles). If you feel that it’s out-of-the-ordinary and that it’s something that’s different from what you’ve seen so far, that I suppose that it’s a success.

ーー That you’re not imitating anyone else, right?

I’m not…… I think (smiles).

ーー Well, I think that’s the aim. In that sense, asking Uno Akira-san to work on the album jacket is also an emphasis on the fact that this work is one that is different from the previous ones, isn’t it?

That’s not the reason why, but if that’s how it seems, then that’s the case.

ーー How did you first meet Uno-san?

I initially had a mutual acquaintance with Uno-san. And that person was selling works by various artists at an art gallery or something…… Ah, I take photos of my own personal belongings so I’ve brought them……

ーー Oh!    Are these displayed in your home? (Note: Refer to November issue of OtH)

Yeah. This was dealt by that acquaintance. So then, this time, he said that Uno-san is holding a little gathering and he invited me to his house. Like he said, “So why don’t you come and join us?”. Following that flow of events, I met him, and I thought that it would be nice if he would draw for our new album.

ーー I see. So that was the trigger.

But since he’s an amazing person, I thought that it might be better for me to meet him myself and talk about it instead of going through the office to make the request, and I received that opportunity. It was only for a brief period of time, but I got to speak to him. And then he said, “I basically do not turn down work”. Whaaaaat? (smiles)

ーー Hahahaha, just as you thought that he was a more obstinate and unapproachable person than that!

He’s an exceptionally affable person. Our conversation progressed swimmingly. I thought, “this even though I had the image that he would be someone who would willfully make decisions”.

ーー Did you talk about RAZZLE DAZZLE’s image?

I conveyed the keywords to him. Like an out-of-the-ordinary feeling, and a hedonic sense, and “scattered”, those kinds of words were what I told him. Since Uno-san himself has different types of drawings as well, I also told him things like how I wanted the jacket’s flavour to possess the eroticism of the 60s or 70s, and that it’s that kind of feeling that I’m looking for from the illustration.

ーー I saw the colour proof just now, and it looked exactly like what RAZZLE DAZZLE would feel like, it was very nice, wasn’t it?

It’s nice, isn’t it? Having it put on a poster feels nice too. Though instead of a rounded poster, having it on one that is crumpled in the middle, that feels nice too.

ーー Because it fits the worldview.

That’s right. Yeah, it looks good.

ーー I believe that being able to see the jacket like this makes it feel like that image has finally been embodied, but this time around, this RAZZLE DAZZLE possesses the connotations of ―hedonic and dazzling― but why did such an image come to mind?

Because I already had it before we even entered the composition period; since around spring, I believe. If I’m not mistaken, it was sometime before that when a vague image actually appeared.

ーー What kind of image was that?

Like a… secret meeting…… where strange, dodgy artists gather, something like that. But the very first image that I had was probably something out-of-the-ordinary that deviates from reality.

ーー Ah, does the first track, the instrumental RAZZLE DAZZLE FRAGILE, have the image of such a meeting being held?

It feels like chamber music, doesn’t it?

ーー When you say ‘reality’, are you referring a state similar to that of wandering around in this world?

Yeah. Something like “that’s what everyone seeks in the end”.

ーー When you say ‘that’, are you referring to the extraordinary?

That’s right. That’s why I think that’s the direction I’m approaching from. In the sense of ‘I wonder what constitutes as extraordinary’. I suppose we don’t know the reason for that, do we?

ーー The extraordinary is fun too, isn’t it?

I wonder…… Doesn’t it seem like more fun than our present reality?

ーー I don’t know if these match the keyword ‘extraordinary’, but I could strongly feel that ephemera of things, be it life or death, in the songs Dokudanjou Beauty (独壇場Beauty / Beauty the Stage is Yours), Hamushi no You ni (羽虫のように / Like the Tiny Insects), and BOLERO.

I wonder. Dokudanjou~… well, look, it was a song that we wrote quite some time ago. Though adding R.I.P to it made it clear that it leaned more towards that side. Besides, although we requested RAZZLE DAZZLE to be put together as an album with a hedonistic, out-of-the-ordinary image, it’s not like we worked on each song to make sure that all of them fit into that concept anyway.

ーー I see.

That’s why, personally, I have the impression that it is something that is filled with a lot of variety.

ーー Ah, that’s indeed true.

I guess… I suppose the content of the lyrics already encompasses things like life and death. With the music, it’s not that I wanted to it to be rich in variety, but it just ended up like this when I composed it. I think it was the same for Hide but I suppose this time, there was a greater awareness of wanting to do something that is different than our previous work after all. As composers, you know. I do think that in Hide’s case, he composed the 4 songs Kyouki no Deadheat (狂気のデッドヒート / Crazy Deadheat), PIXY, Mugen (夢幻 / Reverie), and Yougetsu (妖月‐ようげつ‐ / Mystery Moon) with that awareness. I guess that’s why, when it was completed, it feels as if we’ve created a new band sound for BUCK-TICK.

ーー A new band sound!

That’s right. That’s why it was kind of like not wanting to drag out the feel of our previous work, memento mori. We didn’t have any intention of completely cutting things off, but the level of completion for that album was high, so it felt like if we didn’t destroy it, we wouldn’t be able to move to the next one, and even if we did continue on with that feel, how things would turn out becomes a real question mark so…… Those were the kind of thoughts that we had. But whichever it is, becoming too comfortable in it felt like something that isn’t us. As a band.

ーー So you’re saying that it’s not as if you’re creating a new music genre to break free of feeling that exceptional novelty.

Yeah. I think that’s why we came to want to do this strange rock and roll, or rather, this new band sound. The second track, RAZZLE DAZZLE, is the very first song that was composed with that awareness in mind. Like, something’s beginning.

ーー Something like giving this strange rock and roll a form?

That’s right.

ーー And that’s why you went with this hairstyle, why you even had Uno Akira-san to work on the album jacket to bring out that “strangeness”, right? A kind of bizarre, out-of-the-ordinary……

Also, an unhealthy feeling.

ーー Unhealthy?

Yeah. A completely nocturnal one (smiles).

ーー If that’s the case, then this is a meeting of strange and dodgy artists at night, isn’t it?

Yeah. The image that everyone can’t quite blend into society (smiles).

ーー But the lyrics are exceptionally real, or should I say, the feeling that I get when I hear it is strikingly more raw or vivid than fantastical.

Ah…… Because I want to bring out that part of a human more now. And that’s why, even after we add in Sakurai-san’s vocals, it doesn’t feel as if the song is being delivered to the listener from someone of a higher position. Rather, it’s like we’re on the same level as the listener, I guess. There’s a part of me that seeks that kind of ambience.

ーー That’s why I think that it’s not all that sublime, nor does it feel like it comes from above. It’s closer, and the emotions and vividness of a human come through. It was especially so for the last track, solaris.

Yeah.

ーー Like the emptiness of death, and the feelings that one must not forget. I think these things appear in the lyrics and the song and the melody, in all of those parts.

After all, now, for both Sakurai-san and myself…… I think everyone probably feels like this, but at this age, I think that if we simply let go and let the words come out naturally without giving it much thought, our lyrics end up being about life, or the cycle of life and death, or how there is no eternity and how things are fleeting.

ーー Well, because it is indeed true that even if innocent dreams and hopes come from the present BUCK-TICK, there’s no reality in it, right? As compared to when you were in your teens.

Aside from that, if you consider the story on your own, for example, I think that it will turn into lyrics about a well-constructed world. But now, I guess you could say that lyrics which go in that direction don’t really excite me.

ーー I see.

And that’s why I think what that is now is giving a form to whatever happens to spring up from my mind without setting any themes to abide by.

ーー I feel that although externally, the theme is very clearly shown with a very unambiguous image, be it on the album jacket or in the visuals provided, when we dig into the lyrics of each song, be it Imai-san’s or Sakurai-san’s, there are many songs which are of the type where your own sentiments just come through naturally without being too conscious of what is being sung.

Yean. But letting go like in Django!!!, writing, thinking, and attempting to consciously head towards the fantastical is fun too. As well as doing things that way.

ーー The Latin beat was fresh too and casting a spell to a conga rhythm with “BIBBIDI-BOBBIDI-BOO” (smiles).

And that’s why, I guess there’s this feeling that within myself, as much as possible, I’ve lost the dividing line between what there is and what there isn’t. Though there is a part that naturally made the title of the previous album, memento mori, a huge theme.

ーー Because it means to live while being conscious of death, right?

Yeah. I think that I’ve become a little freer in a number of areas this time.

ーー With this being your 18th, I think that this has turned out to be an album that is bursting with freedom, mixing a variety of elements and is similar to your present selves.

Eh, the album?

ーー With this work, you’ve produced your 18th original album.

Ah…… But it still feels likes like that……

ーー Hahahahahaha. But, well, I believe that you’ve always been told this though. The existence of BUCK-TICK has already become that of a special band that doesn’t fit anywhere, hasn’t it?

I wonder…… I suppose it’s calling a misunderstanding a misunderstanding.

ーー Hahahahaha. A misunderstanding!

I wonder what is it…… It’s because we’re making songs that don’t feel normal, right?

ーー You knew! (smiles)

When I realise it (smiles). Even if I think ‘isn’t this normal?’, it’s not all that normal at all anyway. Because what the world considers to be normal is even much more superbly normal, right?

ーー You’re saying that your band’s standard is not aligned with the general perception of it (smiles).

Rather than saying it’s not aligned…… Right, it’s a misunderstanding. The general public’s misunderstanding! (smiles)

ーー So that’s why you do things that are different from what others do.

But people don’t really show off their eccentricity and create weird works, do they? Like going ahead with a song even though it’s very weird, or not particularly aiming for such a thing on the whole even though it exists, and so on. Well, I do think that things might end up having a slightly peculiar feeling though.

ーー That peculiar feeling is……

When an outsider looks at it and thinks it’s extremely peculiar?

ーー Hahahahaha. Well, although I suppose that births originality.

I’ve never really thought much about it though.

ーー But have you ever had the thought of wanting to be of another level?

I’ve used such a term before in the past, but even if I say that I don’t think that I want to be a part of that, you know. Because I’ve always thought of it as the opposite. Because wanting to be of another level is like saying that your songs and such have parts that cannot be imitated by anyone after all. I suppose I don’t think things like, ‘I don’t want to be understood’.

ーー But you’ve often been labelled as alternative, right?

Yeah. You see, a point like that is saying that we want to be people who have our own genre, well, in the past I said that without anything to back it up to sound cool, but I think, somehow, by continuing on like this, I guess it just took shape as we went on.

ーー I think that is something that you get for continuing activities for such a long time after all.

Right? …… Well, having come this far, there are others who have disappeared along the way though, right? During the course of 25 years? And despite letting people think that they’re gone, they pop up again, don’t they? Hey, look, these days its the norm!    They just turn up as if nothing happened.

ーー Wahahahaha. But doing things like that, there is, again, a different value that you have compared to those who just come back as if nothing happened. Those who last long have value.

And that’s a good album.

 

 

Notes:

All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site

* Portrait of Reiko is the work of Kishida Ryusei, a Japanese painter in the Taisho and Showa period. He was best known for Western-style painting (Youga), and notable works of his include portraits of his daughter Reiko.

 

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_______________________

Hoshino Hidehiko

I get the feeling that it comes down to believing in myself and the work that I produce
I think that everyone possesses such a core, and perhaps that’s why we don’t go astray

Interview by Takahashi Miho

Together with Imai Hisashi, sharing the responsibility of composing for BUCK-TICK is Hoshino Hidehiko. In this album, he worked on the 4 songs Kyouki no Deadheat (狂気のデッドヒート / Crazy Deadheat), Yougetsu (妖月‐ようげつ‐ / Mystery Moon), PIXY, and Mugen (夢幻 / Reverie). He has said himself that “a rare pop-like melody has come out from me”, but in this brilliantly coloured album, much of the tunes seem to turn into a sweet essence. As we look into the reason behind this, words like ‘spontaneity’ and ‘freedom’ pop up a lot. Perhaps such a door has opened because he has been freed from concept. I believe that this is a major factor that lets us feel this album’s theme of ‘freshness’ that comes from a different direction than Imai’s tunes.

 

   


ーー First off, will you please share your honest opinion about the completed album?

Hmm…… Something like, I guess we’ve made another interesting album (smiles). Frankly, that’s what it feels like.

ーー In the interview with Imai-san that will be published in this issue of Ongaku to Hito (OtH), he said that the theme was ‘something new that is different from everything else thus far’, so how did Hoshino-san interpret this ‘something new’?

Hmm, well…… We had a meeting before we composed the album, but it wasn’t that concrete, or rather…… we weren’t able to have a deep discussion. And so, this ‘something new’ was not that…… At that point in time, we simply only had the understanding that we’re going to do our usual ‘something new’.

ーー So, did Hoshino-san lay out some kind of theme over the songs that you composed?

This time, it could be said that there it doesn’t feel like [we were producing a] concept album, so I didn’t think with such a precise feeling. That’s why, when composing, most of it spontaneously came to be. There is the sense that it gradually changed during the course of recording from there.

ーー How did the changes come about?

I made a demo tape as usual, and at that point in time, it already had new elements in it, but it feels rougher…… That’s also the same as usual, but there’s that part of playing around after we start recording too, so I guess there were more trials and errors this time around.

ーー Is that an area that is different from previous cases for Hoshino-san?

That’s right. This is in recent times, but I guess I played around more. In the past, I composed with the idea that it has to be this certain way, but recently, within myself, I’ve grown accepting of others’ opinions and so on. I guess you could say that I’ve become capable of thinking “Ah, this is good”, or “I guess we’ll try it in this way”, or “Let’s turn that into a composition” while all kinds of ideas are being tossed around.

ーー In the past, would you already have a firm image during the demo stage and have no intention of bending over even in the band?

It was unexpectedly so. I’d have drawn up the phrasings and the tonalities in my mind, and you could say that I’d hate it if things weren’t done that way. It was that way for the timbres of the instruments, and the same for the notes as well, if it’s jutting out from inside of me in an odd manner, there would be times when I’d grudgingly fix it too, but recently, those feelings have disappeared.

ーー Why do you think that happened?

Mm…… I wonder why (smiles). Maybe I opened up more, I don’t know (smiles).

ーー (Smiles) There’s also a part where the way you enjoy music and the way you look at it has changed, right?

That’s right, I noticed that I’ve found a form of enjoyment in new discoveries or being able to see a new side of a tune though.

ーー That is also one of the triggers that led to the birth of what Imai-san called ‘something new’, right?

That’s right. Though it’s psychological (smiles).

ーー Were you influenced by Imai-san’s compositions when you were inspired to make changes at the demo stage?

Mm…… I did consider the balance [between our songs] though. Originally, if we’re talking about the keyword that came in the very beginning of things, it would be “danceable”, and there would be an issue with the rhythm and all too, but the basic idea of it was captured, so that wasn’t changed. That’s why there is a uniformity though. Perhaps, you could say that in other words, it was the surface elements that were changed.

ーー What do you think of Imai-san’s approach this time around?

I think he said it himself that when we started composing, we didn’t know what the image of this album was. For some reason, we didn’t really think too deeply about it, huh, even when asked about it, yeah. It’s something like this.

ーー But ‘danceable’ was there as a subject, wasn’t it?

During our very first meeting…… we had it over drinks as usual, but such a keyword was brought up there and then. I think that’s where Dokudanjou Beauty (独壇場Beauty / Beauty the Stage is Yours) and other such songs came from though.

ーー And that is also reflected in Hoshino-san’s compositions.

That’s right. I composed them while being conscious of making them such that you’ll spontaneously get into the groove of it, or it’ll move your body [when you listen to it] without needing to pay much attention to it.

ーー That’s something different from the sound creation that is wholly devoted to the recent band sound, right?

That’s right, the sounds of these two albums were focused on the band, and I did wonder if it’s about time that we were done with this, or maybe we should change, but it’s not about those restrictions, neither is it just the band. We’ve added in a variety of sounds and so on…… We played around quite a bit anyway, this time.

ーー Between having restrictions or having the ability to play around, in terms of a Hoshino composition, is there a preference?

Well, I guess you could say whichever is fine. I feel like I can work with both either way (smiles). After all, if there are restrictions, it’ll be easy to get into it and start composing, but on the other hand, I do like having the freedom to create as well.

ーー BUCK-TICK has been active for so long too, but instead of taking the same route, I often feel that sense of wanting change.

Hmm…… That’s natural because that’s how we’ve made it our way here. I believe that having played our band sound this whole way, it’s super fun in itself and I suppose there’s that way of doing things too anyway, since that’s how we’ve been since the very beginning (smiles).

ーー There’s also the method of making the same homogeneous-sounding music all the time, isn’t there? But BUCK-TICK doesn’t do that. Though it feels as if you’ve chosen a difficult path to take.

Uhhuh. Although there are the throes of creation. But I guess we unexpectedly crossed that mountain. Though it feels like it really wasn’t as bad as I expected (smiles).

ーー Is it that this suffering has become something that naturally comes as a part of producing?

Mm…… But this time around, personally, I don’t think it’s that bad, though [it’s correct] in that sense (smiles). I end up feeling like I did it with a lot of freedom.

ーー So that’s how it was. For Hoshino-san, when is music created?

Ah well, when I decide to compose. Most times it’s me shutting myself in the room, thinking “I guess I’ll compose”, and then starting it.

ーー It’s more of focusing and creating than having something suddenly drop in on you at random times then.

That’s right. I’ll get into the mood of “well, let’s compose today”, and then get fired up about it (smiles).

ーー Though I’d think that without restrictions, it’ll reflect your preferences and mood at that point in time.

I do think that it does come out more than I’d expect. Rather than preferences, I guess I’d say that it’s really feeling free because [the sounds] that make me think that it’s something I’m looking for comes out while I’m just playing around with the guitar as per normal.

ーー I think that doing it like that and regularly coming up with new things, be it in terms of the band or yourself, is amazing though.

Mm…… Well, perhaps it’s a habit, but it comes out every time, doesn’t it? No matter what I do that human-ness will come through, and it’s good in its own way, and the melody is like that too, but I guess it happens that when it comes to the instruments and such, various changes will be made to those.

ーー Isn’t that because the desire to evolve exists within you, both personally and in the band after all?

It does exist after all. It’s especially so for the band, isn’t it? I do have that in myself too but…… I suppose for the band, the expectations that others have of us is huge and I guess everyone would probably hate it if we did the same thing again (smiles), so perhaps there is the burden of having to come up with new forms all the time.

ーー So it’s the feeling that there are expectations of you after all?

(Smiles) Well, I guess so, there are times when I do feel it. When I hear such words, I’ll feel happy, and it gives me energy too.

ーー More than pressure, you feel happiness?

That’s right. Simply put, I guess I’m happy when getting critiqued, and then next time I compose again, unexpectedly, I end up being able to do it (smiles). I’m naturally like that, so there is no such uneasiness.

ーー Even when I listen to this work, I think that you’ve met that expectation (smiles). BUCK-TICK is, after all, always of another level, no matter the era, or rather it leaves the impression of an existence unlike any other.

Ah…… Indeed, though recently, I haven’t really had much opportunity to hear what the younger generation has produced, but in that sense, there is that feeling of another level, isn’t there? I do listen to the music that is played on TV though……

ーー Do you ever think of contrasting yourself or BUCK-TICK with the world when composing?

Nope, I don’t. Almost never. I might’ve had that intent in the past, but in recent years, I’ve come to barely even consider it. I get the feeling that it comes down to believing in myself and the work that I produce.

ーー That might be the reason why you’ve established an inimitable position. But since the past, you’ve always had this image of being unaffected by the world, right?

I think that everyone possesses such a core, and perhaps that’s why we don’t go astray, neither does that part of us ever change.

ーー Simply put, aren’t there all kinds of things in the world? Were there ever moments when you get confused by those things and feel like you would go astray?

Hmm…… I wonder. I suppose I don’t think so deeply about it though (smiles), since it’s just a spontaneous flow.

ーー Have you ever thought about the position of your band?

What is it? I wonder.    On the contrary, I’d like to ask about that (smiles).

ーー Is that so (smiles).

But, I do wonder, how are we captured?    I’m curious. On occasion, when we take part in fests and so on, I do wonder, how do they see us?    When people who don’t know us look at us, when people who only know us by name but don’t really know us as people look at us, what do they think?    I do wonder about that though.

ーー By the way, is there a fixed distribution in song composing responsibility between Imai-san and Hoshino-san?

Nope, there basically isn’t one, but we don’t have meetings about such things either, and it’s something that just happens spontaneously as it is anyway. But we both have our strengths and weaknesses, so I get the feeling that it comes together with a nice balance.

ーー How was it this time?

Well, but this time, I submitted songs first, so. Usually, there’d be times when I’ll compose a song because I think that there isn’t enough of that type in the album too, but this time, there’s a part where I didn’t think too much about things and just did it. The result, well, it depends on the arrangement, but I felt that it was arranged well. This time, Imai-san was… slow…… Simply put, that’s that though (smiles). So [it was like that] from the start.

ーー There was an urgency to the overall flow, right?

That’s right, and even deciding on the track order, it was quite difficult but in the end, we all did it together while drinking, just sluggishly deciding with a sense of “I wonder if this is okay”, but the result came out well (smiles).

ーー Did you work overnight to decide on it?

That’s right. At a rather late time.

ーー You made the decision while drunk? (smiles)

Exactly (smiles). We were drawing close to the submission day for all our content, so that’s how it felt (smiles).

ーー What is it normally like?

Hmm, we normally have more time, so we’d come up with our own track orders and we’d ask everyone about it, but this time, we didn’t have time. Everyone brought the track orders that they’ve thought of beforehand, cut up [a piece of paper with the song titles], and decided on it while changing and replacing songs here and there like ‘this isn’t it’, ‘that isn’t it’.

ーー I wonder why you didn’t have enough time.

What was the reason…… come to think of it.

Staff: There were signs that you’ve been pressed for recording time. Observing from the side.

As they said (smiles).

ーー Not that you were stuck or something?

Yes, it wasn’t that. Before I knew it, the number of songs grew, and recording too……

ーー There are a lot of songs, aren’t there?

That’s right. There are many.

ーー This voluminous feeling too……

It’s just how things turned out (smiles).

ーー I see (smiles). Simply put, did this happen because you did the songs you wanted to do?

Well, that’s what happened, isn’t it? But while recording, we didn’t reject anything, so for us, if we were to record a song, we treat it as something that will be used in the album, and we ended up with 15 songs like that.

ーー This album will make it the 18th that you have released, and looking at the number again, it’s amazing, isn’t it? Despite that, considering that it has 15 tracks, it’s turned out to be something voluminous in content.

You’re right. If we just think about the number of songs, how many do we have…… about 200?

ーー And repeating the process of evolution and change in all of that is a truly great feat, after all, that’s what I think.

That is…… right (smiles).

ーー No, really (smiles). I’m sure you’re looking forward to the listeners’ reactions too. Though I believe that they’d be surprised again.

You’re right. I’d be pleased if they are.

 

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_______________________

Higuchi yutaka

There are a lot of people who kind of misunderstand……
But we get along well, you know. We do get along well, but……
Perhaps I should say that it’s very harsh as a performing musician
On the contrary, I think that it’s harsher [here] than any other band.

Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi

Higuchi Yutaka, the youngest member in the band, is an eternally much-loved character in BUCK-TICK (smiles). Even after years have passed, he is still being addressed as “Yuta”. Having such a character in the band could be, in a good way, part of the reason why they have not changed even after 25 years, but like Imai, with RAZZLE DAZZLE, Higuchi too was driven by the impulse that he had to change as well. This will be an interview were we get a glimpse of both Yuta’s kindness and harshness, along with how he looks at the band with solemnity.

 

  


ーー First off, your thoughts about RAZZLE DAZZLE.

I think this is the usual, but as always, it has a variety of songs. Also, it’s also the first time in a while since I heard Imai-kun saying “I still want to compose more”  “But I’m still coming up with songs” (smiles).

ーー Wahahahahaha.

Thanks to that, it felt like our recording period stretched out a lot..

ーー So the songs just sprang up?

They did, but I was like, “Imai-kun…… This is great but we’ve already started recording though” (smiles).

ーー That’s just like “slow starter” Imai, huh? Did things progress smoothly after that , despite him getting a broken bone?

We’ve been in recording mode the all the way ever since we released Dokudanjou Beauty (独壇場Beauty / Beauty the Stage is Yours) before year end. That’s why I have to admit that even though we didn’t really have all that much time for recording, it felt like, “Ah… This is going on for so long…”. We recorded Dokudanjou~, had our Budokan live, bade goodbye to each other saying ‘Well, see you for recording next year~”, and then just as the year began, an injury occurred (smiles). I think that’s why Imai-kun was so very motivated. [He] probably also had the intention of “I’m gonna redeem myself!”.

ーー That grasshopper* guy!?

Well, because he had a clear goal, you know?

ーー Come to think of it, the other day, in interview with Ongaku to Hito (OtH), Imai-san did say that the bassist was exceptionally happy and energetic though.

No no no (shy). That’s simply because the headphones were slightly loose! How embarrassing. I’m going to buy new headphones (smiles).

ーー And I heard that Imai-san said “We’ll be doing something new” before recording began for this album.

I don’t know what the rest thought about it though……

ーー No no, this is a personal interview anyway!

Usually, I’d feel like an album’s world view is only complete after we’ve made the album, gone on tour, and performed in front of our audience, but during memento mori, even I felt a sense of achievement that I haven’t felt in these past few years.

ーー Like, “this is what we wanted to express with the album!”?

Exactly. We had an immediate response, and the songs that I was unsure of how they would sound live turned out surprisingly well too. I thought, “we’d have to show the audience something even better than this when the next live comes around”. And that’s why I got the sense that it wouldn’t be good if we did the same thing next time.

ーー I see.

Imai-kun has said this too, but this is why I, too, thought that I’d definitely have to change something too as we move forward.

ーー So you’re saying that even though it’s vague, when the direction of “doing something new” came up, Yuta-san thought the same too.

That’s because when Imai-kun brought up the topic of ‘doing something new’ and ‘doing something that is different from what we’ve done so far’, I understood that very well.

ーー Then the question becomes, ‘so what is it?’.

Personally, I thought that there are more songs where the melody touches you emotionally, as per both our singles Dokudanjou~ and Kuchizuke (くちづけ / Kiss), instead of songs where the riffs aggressively attack you. Don’t you think that there are more of such songs in this album? Songs where the melody is strong but the groove comes through as well. The ambience is completely different too.

ーー What were you mindful of as a performing musician?

I placed more emphasis on the groove than before. There were a lot of songs with the four-on-the-floor beat this time, and it may seem like it’s the easiest kind to get into the groove to, but for a performing musician, it’s surprisingly difficult. And also with regards to the sound production, like how it has to be simple and so on. But while doing that, certain idea like how it might be interesting if it was tangled up with the melody a little more did cross my mind. After all, it’s a human who’s playing it.

ーー I see.

Otherwise it’ll turn mechanical, won’t it? It’s not a bad thing, but I think that it’ll head towards a weird direction. There’s quite a lot of danceability to it, but I did think about how add my own human flavour into it. Though calling something human yet danceable is a weird way of putting it.

ーー Understood. That is despite that you’re driving it in manually.

I thought that it would be nice if i could bring that feeling into it. Because that’s found in the melodies that Imai-kun and Hide composed. Also, I’ll know from there just how much human flavour there is [in the songs], and I’d want to make more use of it.

ーー Like, “let’s bring out that part even more prominently”.

Yeah. Spontaneously speaking. It’s not that we try to avoid going there, but it just naturally turns out like that. The more we create, the more we started getting the idea that perhaps it might be better if we don’t do things conventionally. Simply put, in a band, we shouldn’t be asserting ourselves on producing the sounds, instead it should be on how we convey the sounds; that’s what I believe we’ve come to understand the more we do this. Without a doubt. Well, for myself, I’m not the one who should be asserting myself anyway.

ーー Hahahaha, I understand.

That’s why I think that it would be good if we placed a little more emphasis on things like emotional communication too. Doing so is not to say that my own sound will be compromised, but it has turned out to be that my role in the band is to create an environment that makes it easy for Acchan to sing.

ーー You’re saying the exact same thing as Ani did when we interviewed him the other day.

Ah, can’t fight what’s in our blood after all (smiles).

ーー Hahahahaha.

But our roots have not changed one bit though. The idea that we should perform comfortably has grown stronger. I guess that, too, came after we went on tour for memento mori. Occurrences of Acchan saying “Let’s have fun” or “Let’s party” has increased too.

ーー I see.

I suppose, memento mori became a turning point for a number of reasons after all. I guess you could say it was something like a new evolution. I think everyone had confidence in different areas. Being able to do something new, something unknown with this confidence is one amazing thing about this band.

ーー The meaning of the title, RAZZLE DAZZLE, includes the hedonistic, and it gives the feeling of dazzling merriment, but was that something that was a conscious focus of the album on the whole?

Well, yes. It was the same for Acchan as well, but I guess we stuck on a hell lot of inflections (smiles). I believe there were a variety of singing styles too, and each of our incoherent speech patterns are weird, but it felt like we wanted to try all sorts of things, or to just do what we wanted to do.

ーー So you’re saying that’s what you put out?

Uhhuh. But no matter how incoherent it gets, we’d somehow set it straight eventually. I think that it’s because Acchan’s vocal ability is amazing, and at the same time, I believe that Imai-kun and Hide would somehow find a natural balance in some marginal area. Since we’ve been doing this for 25 years anyway.

ーー It’s been a long while, hasn’t it?

Even if it gets to a point where we decide that it’s okay to do whatever we like or something new, no matter how new this something is, I believe that our BUCK-TICK-ness will be ingrained in it. But I think that those possibilities are impressively broad.

ーー BUCK-TICK’s framework isn’t based on the perspective of genres or types of sounds, is it?

Because, you see, when it comes to our orientation, even if I were to try and explain it, I don’t really understand it myself.

ーー Hahahahaha.

It’s embarrassing! (smiles) But maybe that’s why we can do the things that we really truly like without being affected as long as it has us thinking  that it’s cool. It’s the same with regards to things I come up with myself too. Even if I’m not sure about whether doing it a particular way would work or not, I don’t really come up with something that would get criticised. Because I’d just get told “Sounds good, doesn’t it?” (smiles).

ーー I believe that parts of the band has changed, including your sound, but during this past 25 years, have you ever encountered occasions that make you think “This isn’t quite suitable”?

Things like that don’t really come up. However, we’re always changing with regards to our music.

ーー Because BUCK-TICK doesn’t really have a specific kind of music that you’d call your backbone, right?

We don’t really have that, but I guess there’s something a little more complex too. And maybe that’s why we keep changing and keep on rolling.

ーー I see.

But there are parts of us that don’t change as well. Maybe we’re looking for the parts of us that don’t change even as we keep changing (smiles). I guess it’s because playing music together is still enjoyable after all. When we come into the studio to rehearse for our lives, I’d definitely start grinning the moment all our sounds come together for the very first time. This can’t be put into wooooooords (smiles).

ーー Like,’ this is great’.

Yeah. When Acchan gets that delighted look on his face, it just makes me so happy.

ーー Hahahahaha, is that something that has not changed in 25 years?

Indeed, that hasn’t changed. Well, I guess my body more or less gets tired quicker though (smiles).

ーー (Wry smile) Well, that’s age-appropriate, isn’t it? 25 years has passed since you came together, but have you ever thought that you would be able to continue like this?

We didn’t think of anything when we debuted (smiles). Though, more than that, I did wonder why there was alcohol even though we were supposedly just eating out.

ーー Wahahahahaha. How innocent!

But every time we stepped out, we solely thought of doing our best and performing a good one so it’s a feeling of “Oh, hey. By the time I noticed it, we’ve already come this far”. I didn’t really think along the lines of “10 years later, I want to play with this bass style……” or anything of the like (smiles).

ーー Hahahahahaha. So you simply focused on doing the things that were right in front of you well.

Yes.

ーー Does that mean that instead of having ideas of doing something really big or being ambitious, you were diligently thinking of wanting to be better than you were before?

That’s right. That I wanted to be better than I was, and that I wanted to let everyone hear good music.

ーー It feels like an accumulation of those simple parts. Though I do think that this is the origin of how your unique existence came to be, by simply continuing on like this.

Unique (smiles).

ーー Isn’t it? For sure. Because, you see, there is no other existence like yours, is there? Being band that has been active all this while that once again produces a new album with a different approach.

I suppose you’re right. I don’t really have any confidence in myself, but when the five of us stand on stage together, I do find myself feeling something like “Now, this is it!”.

ーー Hahahahaha. How about if you were on your own?

Let’s see. If I were to do it on my own………… Yeaaah.

ーー What do you mean “yeaaah” (smiles).

Somehow, the more I do it, the more I feel like I want to cherish the parts that have clustered together. I wonder how the others feel. After having done this for 25 years, I guess instead of growing confident, I find that I don’t know what to do if I were alone (smiles).

ーー Wahahahaha. But that’s what it means to be a band member, isn’t it?

That’s how I feel, personally. Because while I feel pride in it, there’s also self-confidence.

ーー Do you think that it’s important to do things step by step after all?

Yes. I want to create something good every year, piece by piece.

ーー Were you already this type of person when you were a child?

That’s right. My position was a right fielder** too, and I was number 2 as well (smiles).

ーー The type to unflaggingly lead things to the next properly, right? Not only Yuta, but everyone in the band, too, gives off that kind of feeling somewhere, somehow, right?

I guess you’re right. I think that’s why it feels like we simply gather each of the sounds that we make. I guess, as a performing musician, a strong point is in respecting each person. Because the composers write the songs to a certain extent, but after that, it’s up to the performing musicians. It’s a no-touch*** until there, that’s what it feels like.

ーー So you’re saying that it’s something that you’ve created yourselves from that point on.

Yeah. So, there are a lot of people who kind of misunderstand, but we get along well, you know?    We get along well, but…… Perhaps I should say that it’s very harsh as a performing musician. I think that it’s harsher [here] than any other band. On the contrary.

ーー I see.

When we’ve constructed the sound and things have solidified, I’d oftentimes find myself understanding, like “Oh, I see!”. When that happens, each of our individual egoes don’t really show, but on the other hand, there are instead a lot of things that we have to do.

ーー From Yuta-san’s point of view, have those pieces of individuality never shown up before?

I’ve really never thought of things like “I want to do something like this” or anything along those lines.

ーー Personally speaking, right?

Mhmm. Earlier, I mentioned ‘clusters’, and somehow, I like being a part of a group. So there’s no reason for me to want to veer away from what they want to do. Because, for example, even when I start think “I want to lengthen the phrase” or something like that, it’s not that I’d hate it, but I’ll be able to come to the conclusion of “Ah, I see. This is nice”.

ーー I see. So you’re saying that this is why you won’t go off course, neither will you be dissatisfied.

Yeah. Wanting to create something with the 5 of us together, that’s what I’ve always felt strongly about.

 

Notes:

All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site

* Calling someone a ‘grasshopper’ is in reference to one of Aesop’s Fables, The Ant and The Grasshopper, where the grasshopper is depicted as an idling, improvident character in contrast to the hardworking, forward-planning ant.

** In reference to baseball.

*** No-touch as in where “a fielder with a ball can not touch a runner or base”. (Yuta, you killing me with your baseball references)

 

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_______________________

Yagami Toll

Everyone knew nothing
That’s why we aimed for something over a timeframe as long as 25 years
Things would’ve been completely different if we had even one proper musical elite among us

Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi

No matter how you look at him, Ani is a respectable man and band member through and through. Perhaps that is why he has a spot that makes it seem as if he looks over BUCK-TICK. Talking about RAZZLE DAZZLE and hearing his answers regarding why they repeat their musical changes to this extent and how they’ve managed to stay together thus far without breaking up, I am struck with the thought, “Now I see!”. Them getting along well is not the sole reason for this. It is the complex that the five of them have carried with them all this while, along with rigour and the resolution that comes from more than a close relationship. Everyone knows it somewhere, somehow. Ah, bands sure are interesting.

 

   


ーー RAZZLE DAZZLE is a pivotal work, isn’t it?

When I heard the completed version, I felt like we’ve created something great (smiles). Ultimately, my position is that of a performing musician, so I didn’t really feel anything in particular when we were recording the drums, but when I heard the final rough mix with Acchan’s singing via the stereo of Yuta’s car, I ended up blurting, “Whoa, this is amazing!”. We were in the area of the outer gardens, right outside from here (Note: the recording company) (smiles).

ーー Kukuku. Did you not talk to the other members about the theme or the direction?

I heard that we were going to do something new but I guess it wasn’t as if it wasn’t already decided that this was what we were going to do. I even thought, “Aren’t we already doing new things all the time?!”, and even after playing together for 25 years, whatever is inside Imai’s head soon stops making sense to me anyway (smiles).

ーー Hahahahaha. In other words, Ani is a thorough drummer belonging to the performing musician side.

Yeah. Even when tuning the drums, if Imai listens to it and says “this isn’t right”, I’d redo it from the top again. Because when it comes to the sound of the drums, the final judge is the composer. Each of our preferences are different I can change the playing method anyway. For example, Kyouki no Deadheat (狂気のデッドヒート / Crazy Deadheat) is Hide’s song, but we initially did a rough recording using the snare that was provided. After hearing that, if he said that it would be better if the pitch was higher, then I’d raise the pitch. If it was the other way around, I’d switch it lower. Because that’s my role.

ーー As a performing musician on that end, do you think that you’ve changed while playing in a band for such a long time?

The way we recorded in the past was different, wasn’t it? Before the time of our 2nd album, you’d dub the singing and the guitar solos while everyone plays together and records everything in one shot. Anyway, now, the norm is to take the sounds of each part and overlap them together.

ーー And the band sound has been the theme in these past three works or so, but do you think that it’s a little different this time around?

As a performing musician, I don’t really feel any difference. I’m playing with the same faces so I don’t feel all that uncomfortable, and eventually, once Acchan sings, it’ll become BUCK-TICK-like anyway. I suppose you could say that I didn’t feel worried about anything at all. Acchan, you can tell that he gets better with each year.

ーー I see. Well then, from Yagami-san’s point of view, what’s the evolving image of the band in these past few years?

Ahh…… Yeah… For me, the band changed around the time of 13th Floor With Moonshine and left me the impression that we’ve become really good. Even while we were playing it ourselves. I guess it’s something like… we’re finally able to come close to the music that we envisioned. The ensemble, the way the sounds came together, it was all good. We didn’t go off course. I suppose it’s like each and every one of the sounds came through very well.

ーー It was right during the period of time when Imai-san clearly expressed the direction of the band’s sound, wasn’t it?

Yeah. The moment that I felt it the most was when we did the trackdown for Alice in Wonder Underground (note: single from 2007). I was listening to it. I thought, ‘this is impressive’. And, ‘I guess we’ve gone past the choppy waves’, in terms of the band. Everyone is now capable of playing stably. This is really recent, y’know? The fact that they’ve finally become pro-ish (smiles).

ーー Ahahahahaha!

Because we did have really awful days in the past, y’know. After a live ends, we’d get really depressed and think, “This is no good…… Oh well, let’s drink!”. And we’ve been repeating this for the past 25 years (smiles).

ーー But finally, after playing for 25 years, you’ve recently come to understand things?

I only began to think “I’m starting to get a good feeling about this” after about 20 years have passed (smiles). But the more we do this, the more knowledgeable we get. The things that I can do as a performing musician is infinite, so I do think about how I can utilise the band.

ーー I see.

If I were a ceramic artist, perhaps it would be similar to me thinking, ‘I finally managed to fire it up nicely’, and beginning to puff my chest out a little and feel proud of myself (smiles).

ーー Hahahaha.

We’re still in training. Recently, when we took part in an event in Osaka, I saw Ukadan* and char-san’s** performances and I thought, “I guess we’re still rookies!” (smiles).

ーー Ahahahaha. But as the years pass, you’ll have more and more juniors, and I’m sure that at times you’ll sense how much you’ve influenced them, right?

Well, I suppose there are juniors that we get along well with who were influenced by us when they were in junior high and high school though. Recently, some of them and Dir en Grey’s Shinya-kun celebrated my birthday with me the day before he went to America (smiles).

ーーDo you feel that such adoration is the result of what you’ve achieved so far?

Not really. After all, I’m an active musician. And if they come into the same arena as me, that means they’re all professional musicians and that we’re all playing together in the same arena. I’d also want to be influenced by my juniors, and I’d want them to think that we’re a band who does interesting music. When thinking about that, in the end, I think that we really were lucky (wry smile).

ーー And what luck is that?

When we first came together, weren’t we a band who really didn’t know left from right? We didn’t know music theory, neither did we have anyone who was academically inclined. If Imai graduated from Berkeley (note: famous American music school), then things would’ve been different, but he’s just a brat from a corner tobacco store, right (smiles)?

ーー Ahahahaha. With everyone coming from the rural Gunma (smiles).

Because it’s a band that Acchan from that side of Gunma put together, isn’t it (smiles). But in a good way, everyone knew nothing. That’s why we aimed for something over a timeframe as long as 25 years. Perhaps, fundamentally speaking, our driving force for that is our complex, isn’t it? Something like a negative power. That’s why I think that things would’ve been completely different if we had even one proper musical elite among us.

ーー So you’re saying that this complex has stayed with you all the way, even until now?

Because, you see, when we debuted, the critique that we got were terrible. And they were saying things like how we’re just a band with looks and zero musicality (wry smile). I was like, “Just you wait and see, you bastard writer!”.

ーー Hahahahaha!

The first thing that writer who came to interview us said to us was, “I don’t acknowledge you guys as a rock band”. I got pissed and went home. That guy’s name. I still remember it (smiles).

ーー Those are some deep-seated feelings.

Because we were seen as unorthodox when we debuted. There was an article that wrote about us, saying “That band definitely stands at the station platform eating standing soba with their hair up like that”. “Don’t write things that aren’t true, you fucking bastard!” (smiles).

ーー  But on the other hand, while being spoken of and written off like that is vexatious, it’s because your own musicality definitely wasn’t something to be proud of at that point in time that now, you’ve also found self-confidence that came from having struggled before, right?

But you see, it’s because we were a band that all those people in mass media evaluated as having zero musicality (smiles).

ーー How persistent (smiles).

We sure are. But around 15 years ago, I was completely absorbed for a period of time. I loved watching drumming instructional videos, so I ended up collecting quite a number of them. When I watch musicians from our father’s era like jazz drummer Inomata Takeshi-san*** playing, I’d get immersed, thinking “Ah… How wonderful”.

ーー Was there a lot for you to learn from there?

A hell lot. Isn’t he still energetically drumming at 70? Like, how does that even add up (smiles). In the end, it’s all about technique. It’s because he has technique that he can still drum at 70.

ーー Having spent 25 years like this, has Yagami-san’s playstyle changed as well?

It’s completely different now. After all, in my 20s, I was putting in excess energy and all. Because all I had was enthusiasm. That’s why blisters naturally formed, and when we debuted, I often had tape on my hands to drum but now, blisters don’t form anymore. Because I’m not gripping too tightly.

ーー I see.

And gripping tightly leads to your drums getting muted in the end. And it’ll stop your sound too. That’s why when your grip is light and you hit your drums with a ‘bang!’, it’ll turn out differently. That’s what seniors like Takahashi Makoto-san^ and (Murakami) Ponta-san^^ taught me among other things.

ーー And you found your own style as you did all of that?

That’s right. Gradually.

ーー When I watch recent BUCK-TICK lives, there are times when I do think that you’ve changed the way you drum. Like, it’s exceptionally simple, or something.

That’s because I realised that there’s no need for me to do anything extra. In the first place, BUCK-TICK is a song-based band; we have a vocalist, so we’re a band that focuses on how we make him stand out and how comfortably he can sing. No matter how much our overall theme changes, that’s what we are in the end.

ーー Ah, like what you said in the beginning; it’s because you’re a band that comes to life with Sakurai-san’s singing.

Drummers are funny people; we have an urge to drum on whatever’s here.

ーー Ah. Things that are right in front of you?

Yeah. But in reality, as long as the people who are listening to us think that it’s sufficient even if we don’t hit everything that’s before us, then there’s no need to do that. So, an ultimate theme for me is to play the hi-hat once with a <chicchi>, end the drumming with that, and have everyone feel satisfied. That’s my ideal drummer form.

ーー In other words, you’re saying that even if you don’t show off your ego and things like that, it’s all good as long as you’re able to ride on the song and come to life as a band.

Yeah. I often say this to my juniors, but in Carpenters’ “(They Long To Be) Close to You”, only the tom-toms, the hi-hat, and the cymbals are used; the snare does not once make a sound. But when you listen to it normally, you won’t notice that at all, would you?

ーー But even without that, the song itself comes to life, doesn’t it?

Exactly. That’s why I was shocked when I first heard it. But this song is nice, isn’t it? That’s the point; it’s exactly what I’m aiming for.

ーー The way you think has changed quite a lot.

It has. The song SILENT NIGHT from TABOO, it’s drumless, right? When we did that song, they initially told me, “I want to do a song that doesn’t have drums”, and I retorted, “Oh, really now? I guess you don’t need me then”. I got peeved and started sulking (smiles).

ーー You were still a kid (smiles).

But when I think about it, that’s something like ego. Because if the song turns out well, there’s no need for drums or bass then. Singing with a guitar is good too. That’s why it’s not a must for all 5 of us to be playing all at once. What’s important is that Acchan delivers a good song. That’s why I’d like to tell Imai and Hide, “Continue writing those good songs”.

ーー Wahahahaha.

To Acchan, I’d say, “Keep writing good lyrics”. I wrote lyrics in the past too, but I only wrote it to reduce the burden on Acchan since we were so terribly busy. Because, you see, when we were producing TABOO, we were still on tour for SEVENTH HEAVEN. Like, we won an award, then we took the trophy we got from the awards ceremony and went straight into recording and rehearsals. Like, “this doesn’t make sense!” That’s the kind of era it was.

ーー Ah, what about your younger brother?

Yuta is…… a good person so, I’d say, “Assert yourself more!” (smiles).

ーー Hahahahaha. But I feel like I’m beginning to see the origin of the main reason behind your band’s endurance through time and how your musicality changes in different ways.

I suppose. If we’re a band that was highly acclaimed for our musicality since our debut, I think that there might be a possibility that we wouldn’t have stuck together for over 20 years (smiles). Because I think that excuses would’ve been made from that area of “musicality”. Like we might say things like “This is wrong” and chuck things right out.

ーー You’d say you’ve done all you could, right? So this is where you started having the notion of wanting to make things cool because things felt dull and your musicality wasn’t all that strong……

Exactly. Because we were being given 0 points, we worked hard to try and get 100 points. It’s the same even now. You know, I hated being told, “Look, those bands that make their hair stand up, they’ve all disappeared in the end, haven’t they?”.

ーー Ah, could it be that your hairstyle too……

That’s right. Back then, I kept being told “You’re making your hair stand like that just to attract attention” “If you’ve got so much time on your hands to do that, then go practice” and stuff like that, so this is also my obstinacy. I thought, “I’ll definitely make my hair stand like this even 10 years later”. Like, “If I go bald I’ll wear a wig and make it stand” (smiles). Maybe it’s thanks to that indignation that this has been settled without me going bald though (smiles).

ーー Kukuku. I feel like I now understand why this band continues changing and is still evolving even now. That’s because something like an easily comprehensible image of BUCK-TICK has not been set, right?

We’ve come this far, haven’t we? That reminds me, a senior drummer said this to me. He said, “Ah, come to think of it!    It’s weird for BUCK-TICK to do blues. Do blues next, blues!” (smiles).

 

 

Notes:

All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site

* Ukadan (憂歌団) is a Japanese blues band that was formed in 1975 by Kimura Atsuki, Uchida Kantaro, Hanaoka Kenji, and Shimada Kazuo.

** Char is a Japanese musician who is known for being a guitarist, singer-songwriter, and music producer. He was part of the Japanese rock band PINK CLOUD, and is also the father of JESSE from RIZE.

*** Inomata Takeshi is a Japanese jazz drummer and bandleader who played in played in the Six Joses and the West Liners until he moved to the United States early in the 1960s, where he studied with Alan Dawson. Following his return to Japan, he founded a jazz education program called Rhythm Clinic Center.

^ Takahashi Makoto was BOØWY’s drummer. Following BOØWY’s disbanding, he joined Chu-ya as part of the band De-LAX. He has also been involved with other acts like AUTO-MOD, GEENA, and THE AURIS (SUPER) BAND.

^^ Murakami “Ponta” Shuichi is a Japanese jazz drummer and session musician who worked extensively as a sideman on jazz sessions in the 1970s and 1980s, and later founded the group Ponta Box which recorded three albums for JVC Victor and appeared at the 1995 Montreux Jazz Festival. He also has recorded several albums under his own name.

 

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Special Talk Session: ISSAY X Sakurai Atsushi

 

The fallen aristocrat type of decadence is what I like. Someone so rotten that as long as they are around, their surroundings will be corrupted by them as well, that in itself is good, isn’t it
ーISSAY

When epicureanism is mentioned, there’s a feeling of European flair, but in my case, it’s like I’ve been corrupted by an archaic Japanese darkness
ーSakurai Atsushi

 

Der Zibet’s latest release, 懐古的未来~NOSTALGIC FUTURE (Kaikoteki Mirai~Nostalgic Future), is a collection of self-covers, newly recorded versions of their classics thus far. Among them is “Masquerade”, a song from 思春期 II-Downer Side- (Shishunki II-Downer Side-), in which Sakurai Atsushi was invited to participate in as a guest vocalist 19 years ago. This time, Sakurai has once again been asked to take part for the re-recording. The version from 19 years ago was tense, while the new version tenderly disintegrates. And 19 years ago, both of their voices resonated with a similar silhouette, like shadows overlapping each other, but now, their intertwined figures rise to the surface even as they contend with each of their own shadows in tow. As close kindred spirits, words are not needed to convey their disposition regarding this re-recording and their friendly rivalry.

We trace back to the time when the two of them first met when BUCK-TICK debuted. Der Zibet fan Sakurai’s greeting to ISSAY was the start of it all. It goes without saying that they sensed how similar they were to each other and grew closer over time. Putting it into words, one might say it is solitude and debauchery, but the chassis of the hearts that hold onto that appear to resonate to each other. What transpired here was a decadent overnight discussion between what must be the top two people in Japanese rock’s decadent scene, as they talk over glass after glass of alcohol.

 

When it comes to ISSAY-san, it’s dangerous to look at him, isn’t it. He’s the real thing, and it’s like he has a magnetism that pulls people in strongly
(Sakurai)

 

ーー The both of you performed a duet in the self-cover song, “Masquerade”, off Der Zibet’s 懐古的未来~NOSTALGIC FUTURE (Kaikoteki Mirai~Nostalgic Future). So how was this experience of recording and performing this song together again, considering that it was last released in Der Zibet’s 1991 album 思春期 II-Downer Side- (Shishunki II-Downer Side-)?

ISSAY (I): Y’know, this was a conspiracy by HIKARU (smiles). We originally spoke of releasing a self-cover album and decided on it last year though. I went to BUCK-TICK’s year end Budokan live with HIKARU last year, then as we were drinking and discussing, I think the idea somehow came up. And he was asked right there and then, like “Atsushi-kun, will you do it?”.

ーー As the one being asked, how did Sakurai-san feel?

Sakurai (S): Well, you know, I was honoured. For them to say to me “If you don’t mind, shall we”, at this point in time when Der Zibet is restarting their activities again after this much time has passed, I was truly honoured. I’m happy that such a place has been offered to me. I always have it in my iPod too, and I listen to it when I’m sad (smiles).

ーー When you’re sad, huh (smiles).

S: Well, but, I do listen to it as I’m drinking too, even now.

ーー (Smiles) 19 years ago, after the album was released, you performed this song together at Der Zibet’s live at Kudan Kaikan in December as well. To add to that, the audience got to watch a passionate love scene.

I: I was organising Der Zibet-related things from the past when I happened to find the video from Kudan Kaikan. I thought, “Ahhh, come to think of it, this is what it was like”. It’s not something that has been released so I was enjoying it on my own.

S: Back then, ISSAY-san has already been switched on, you see. Just as I began to wonder, “What should I do with this tension”, he came from behind and my arms were bound (smiles). It was something like, since we probably were already being frowned upon or something, I’ll just keep singing as we were. And so I was forcibly hugged (smiles).

I: When it comes to Atsushi-kun, he’s a person who has a unique energy when he’s on stage, you see. That clash between both our energies feels wonderful, truly. It’s like a case where you would be swept off your feet if you lost focus for even just a moment. Because that was just how much tension there was. And as such, there was a kind of overwhelming compulsion that I had to extend my energy out or else.

S: Rather than saying that the energy was high, I think it was more like getting nervous from the tension. Also, it was like ISSAY-san said, I inherently have this concept of “I’ll show you” inside of me. And it’s not only just me, even ISSAY-san feels like it’s make or break (smiles). The best situation is when the audience watching us have their mouths agape as they stare blankly.

ーー So it’s a question of how far you can exceed the expectations and imaginations of those watching?

S: That time at Kudan Kaikan, was it a complete secret?

I: I think we probably didn’t announce your name up front.

S: If that’s the case, I guess everyone would’ve been surprised. And then we did one hell of a thing (smiles).

ーー After that, ISSAY-san too appeared on BUCK-TICK’s stage. And your close relationship, different than that between simple friends or band members, continued on, didn’t it.

S: In my case, one-sidedly, I was a fan anyway. Der Zibet had already debuted before we had our own debut. An acquaintance left behind a Der Zibet cassette at the house that I lived at back then. That was their first album, VIOLETTER BALL. I casually gave it a listen but I found myself very much drawn to it. After that, I happened to pass by the outside of Shibuya’s Eggman when I saw “Der Zibet Live” written there. I thought, “Do coincidences like these actually happen?”. So I went in and they were in the middle of a live but I watched them. And there was a masked man singing on stage.

I: Ahahahaha.

S: I thought, “Whoa, that’s a homerun!” (smiles). Ever since then, one-sidedly, I’ve been listening to their work like their number one listener or number one fan, something like that.

ーー Have BUCK-TICK’s activities already begun back then?

S: It’s when we just grew capable of performing our own one-man shows in live houses. Around the time when we were about to release a record.

I: There was a live program recording at Rokumeikan. That was when we first met.

S: There, he spoke to us. We had just debuted so we were super nervous, the group of us. Because Der Zibet was like the rock band of rock bands. To us, who were amateurs at the time, there was this air of “This is what a rock band should be”. We thought that even if we greeted them, they’d probably just turn their noses up at us. But such an amiable smiles were given in return…… I was very happy.

I: And after that we bumped into each other at a highway service stop.

S: Somehow the coincidences just lined up. After that, was it London where we met next?

I: Yup. The name “BACK & TICK” showed up at TIME OUT (smiles).

ーー Did you choose to perform under a different name on purpose?

S: Hmm, I think it was carelessly written (smiles)?

I: The only band that me and HIKARU saw in London was BUCK-TICK, y’know.

S: That also occurred by chance, didn’t it. The day of that live performance was on your only off day though. And aside from that day, you were recording all the time, weren’t you. But I really didn’t expect that you’d come to that live. That gave me courage, you know. It’s that feeling that I belonged after all. That I have someone I know from Japan there. It really gave me a lot of power.

ーー An unusual aura from the audience area?

S: Yeah, there was that.

I: That which indicated the presence of a weird Asian (smiles)?

ーー (Smiles) How was the BUCK-TICK live that you saw in London?

I: At the end of it, they handled it aggressively. This I mean in a good way. Like they really belonged. But they were amazingly powerful. Because even with the groove of the music, there was this vigour that made it feel as if that they were doing as they pleased. At the end of it, the pulled the audience in. As I was watching, I thought it was amazing. The energy was amazing. After all, isn’t this the part that defines rock? I don’t quite like this phrase but, they had fighting spirit, like a challenge of how high they can bring the energy and how long they can sustain it. That was the beautiful visage that I got to see.

ーー To be able to hear the words “fighting spirit” from ISSAY-san’s mouth (smiles). Anyway, back to our original topic, hasn’t it been a long time since Sakurai-san being involved in a production as a guest?

S: That’s right…… It was in 1998 when I took part in Tsuchiya Masami-san’s* work so…… It’s been 12 years, hasn’t it? Other people don’t really call on me……

I: Isn’t that most probably because they’re in awe of you though?    But perhaps it’s also because vocalists aren’t often being called on. If we’re talking about “Masquerade”, it’s like “This is obviously decadence so let’s call Atsushi-kun” (smiles).

ーー Let’s say, for example, if we were to have a dedecance themed event, who else would you call aside from BUCK-TICK?    I would expect Chu-ya-san (LOOPUS, De+LAX), and Genet-san (AUTO-MOD), and anyone else?

I: I do think that Genet-san and Chu-ya-san emanate a strong aura of decadence but. The decadence that I have in mind is a little different from that, y’know.

ーー Different in what sense?

I: The fallen aristocrat type of decadence is what I like, you see. Epicureal, yet flaunting nobility, something like that. Along with the air that as long as this person is around, their surroundings will be corrupted by them as well. Someone that rotten is good though, isn’t it.

S: That was exactly what drew me to him. Because when it comes to ISSAY-san, it’s dangerous to look at him, isn’t it. He’s the real thing, because it feels like he’s really going to enter his coffin (smiles). That part of him is so strong~~~~.

I: The scent of decay?

S: Fufufufufu. I’d say it’s more like you have a magnetism that pulls people in strongly.

I: Oh, I see. But I don’t want Atsushi-kun to be the one telling me that~ (smiles).

S: No, no, no.

Even though they make a wide variety of music, it’s still BUCK-TICK, and it’s his voice that is found in the centre of it all. I think that presence is something amazing
(ISSAY)

 

ーー What’s sad about Sakurai-san (smiles), is that he has unfortunately entered this decadent world, isn’t it?

I: She said it’s saaaaaad.

ーー (Smiles) Weren’t you originally a rambunctious biker boy?

I: Is that so?

S: No, I wasn’t rambunctious. That was the only place I could say I belonged to. Normally waking up to friends and music, getting to ride bikes with them. Then my relations with those friends ended because of a certain incident. And as I was wondering “Well then, what should I do now”, I found myself going to Imai Hisashi’s home.

ーー The tobacco shop in front of the station.

S: That’s right. Like, I guess I’ll go since there’ll be cigarettes and coffee (smiles). No matter what, I give off a gloomy feeling, don’t I? And at that time, I wasn’t as promiscuous** as to go for girls yet, you see. So I guess you can say that this was a step forward into music.

ーー It became a kind of catharsis for you, didn’t it?

S: That’s right. And back then, BOØWY was a big thing. We started talking about something like “They’re from Gunma too, whoa!” and then eventually we were all fiddling around with instruments. Back then, the epicurean aura was something that we only ever saw in fashion. However, gradually, it grew more and more comfortable to me.

ーー Like you were drawing close to this decadent world.

S: Well… I entered through various fronts. I thought of becoming a vocalist because I became envious of the cool, good-lookers and the divergent people. So, if you asked me what were the kinds of people I was envious of…… At that time, I was still in my early 20s so I don’t really know for sure, but people with a darkness in them…… a black lustre, something like that.

I: But Japan’s rock scene in those days felt like a place where the sun shone. Like BOØWY has begun selling well, and the sun has started shining down on us.

S: Ahh. It’s true that around the period of time when we just debuted with our first two releases, it indeed felt like we were headed towards sunny days. But my preferences were established by then. It might’ve just been a vocal style but wouldn’t a person want to emulate what they like after all? To understand why it’s beautiful?    Like a precariousness on the flip side of that beauty.

I: Or a rot (smiles).

S: (smiles) If I were to do that, I might be capable of it up to a certain extent, but unless I am truly corrupted, I’ll never achieve authencity, and I won’t be able to keep things up for long. I suppose I’ll just die away. And so, I got more and more attracted to it. Attracted to that voice, and I suppose it’s ‘pop’ despite the fact that the music itself is dark. Actually, I don’t know whether ‘pop’ is the right word for this…… It’s like it just went straight into me. Since then, I collected everything Bauhaus with what little money I had (smiles). Now I wonder why.

I: But dark passions like those do exist, right. I wonder what that’s about.    That dark ardor.

ーー Is it the kind of feeling where it doesn’t matter even if no one else understands you, since this is where your own world exists?

I: That’s right. You see, it’s something that is far removed from common communication. I think that music is a form of communication in itself, but I guess that kind of music gives the feeling that it seeks dis-communication instead. I have a part of me that’s very close to that as well but I think that this dark passion is something that doesn’t connect at all..

ーー Paradoxically speaking, you’re using that to communicate.

S: Because of this, that’s what Der Zibet was to me. When I listened to “沈みたい (I want to sink*** / Shizumitai)”, it makes me feel like I really do want to sink~~ (smiles). But I also think that because “Shizumitai” exists, I narrowly escaped from truly sinking away. If I had never encountered “Shizumitai”, I might have already gone under.

I: Really? I’m so glad.

S: When epicureanism is mentioned, there’s a feeling of European flair, but in my case, it’s because I’m coming from the position that’s something like an old-fashioned, Japanese, parent-child relationship, like this depravity was brought out from inside to corrupt. And that’s why, when asked about the root of my decadence, I simply have to start the conversation from there in the end (smiles). That’s why I definitely don’t have that sense of flair of nobility, like what ISSAY-san has.

I: Uh… But I don’t even have all that much of flair though.

ーー You wore makeup to school, right?

I: Yup. When I was in high school.

ーー When speaking of decadence, it comes with a flair but in the end, isn’t it something that comes from the darkness that’s inside of you? And I think that it’s something that everyone has.

S: So, you see, when that music touches your heartstrings, you’ll feel like “Ahh, I’ve been saved”, right?

ーー The both of you attend each other’s lives but do you have exchanges with each other in your personal lives?

I: Private exchanges…… not so much. I guess it’s more like we have meetings and drink and chat.

S: If there’s nothing like that to start it off, I’m too embarrassed to after all (smiles). Although, if there something really amusing that I want to talk about, then I’ll be able to ask him out, like “How about going for a drink today”.

I: Then ask me out~. Though in these past 10 years or so, I’ve often gone for BUCK-TICK’s year end Budokan lives. There’s also something that leads to that. Around 4 or 5 in the morning, I think?    All of a sudden, my phone would ring. And then I’d wonder, “Who’s calling at such a time?”, and it turns out to be a call from Atsushi-kun. “I have a live todaaay,” he’d say (smiles). “If you like, please do come,” he’d tell me, so I’d say, “Yes, I’ll go”.

ーー 5 in the morning at that. It feels like he probably drank quite a bit.

S: It does seem like it, doesn’t it (wry smile). I felt that I’d definitely need the courage.

ーー Isn’t it wonderful that your relationship has continued for so long because you understand each other?

S: I’m bad at it though, socialising. It’s unusual that I’ve been with ISSAY-san for so long.

ーー Like a good senpai?

S: Mmh…… Putting it like that, it’s difficult to say but. Fufufu. The Japanese form of a senpai/kouhai relationship is…… if I can call it a nuisance, that’s what I’d say it is, you know. But I have a lot of respect and admiration for him. He’s authentic. Beautiful. Furthermore, he has the substance to back it up. That’s what I’ve loved from the very beginning. And I think I was blessed to have been acquainted with someone like that in my 20s.

ーー It made you feel like you’ve found a brethren?

S: Instead of brethren, it’s more like a back to rely on, something like that (smiles).

I: I apologise for having such a small and narrow back.

S: No no no. It’s broad to me!

I: How flattering (smiles).

S: But I think that the Western society’s idea of it is really great, don’t you? Whether you’re the senpai or the kouhai, you address each other by name and they go straight to the point. But in Japan, this is just how our cultural background is, so it can’t be helped though. Speaking in the format of “OO-san, aren’t you so and so”, and things like that. But there are also people who get offended if you don’t do these things properly, so you’d have to be careful.

I: But for us, once we get drunk, our relationship becomes that of “Acchan” and “Icchama”.

S: (Shy smile)

I: Well~ I rather like being called Icchama. It’s cute, somehow.

S: Is it the, butchering, of -sama****…… (smiles). In the first place, I’m no good with going out with friends for a casual drink and things like that. Because I have absolutely no idea what the recent trending topics. But the conversations that I have with ISSAY-san, which are mostly of few words, are very delightful to me. But ISSAY-san is sociable, right?

I: Well, compared to Atsushi-kun, I guess. But whether you can really call me sociable…… (smiles).

S: Fufufu, that’s true.

I: You know, Atsushi-kun came and watched Der Zibet’s live last March. And when we were drinking after that, he said to me, “To have such a man with such an air singing “Der Rhein”! There’s nothing more compelling than that”. That gave me a lot of confidence. Like, ah, I’m on the right track.

S: No no no no. It’s the same for me. As I was watching that live, I too…… I guess you can say that I was again, reassured, that “this person is the real deal”. But well, I don’t know if this is the right way to put it but he stood proper on stage with ringlet curls, you know. There’s no chance of beating that, you know.

ーー Ringlet curls, as in, hairstyle (smiles)?

S: He just has this strong sense of self. Like it doesn’t matter how the people around him thinks of him. Seriously, it’s that part of him that I’ve always admired from the start. Because he is so sure of himself. Well, the ringlet curls were just a metaphor though (lol).

I: Ahahahahaha.

S: Since the time I saw him singing with a mask on Eggman’s stage, his principles have never changed. It’s important to have a sense of self after all. And that’s a part of him that I really admire a lot.

ーー But isn’t Sakurai-san on par too?

S: No way, I don’t know myself, you see.

I: No no, you’re a person who’s very clear with what you like and what you don’t. When I look at you on stage, y’know.

S: Um, well… In the sense that…… I don’t really change my mind about what I like, I guess?

I: Even if you do change your mind, you know yourself quite well, so you’re capable of making the choice of what’s necessary for yourself, right? Whenever I watch BUCK-TICK as a band, new music gets incorporated each time, but I can strongly feel the part where you earnestly stick to your own aesthetic sensibilities. I suppose that’s why I’ve never felt tired of them even if I attend their Budokan lives every year end. It’s like “So this is the mode they’re in now. But it’s still BUCK-TICK after all”. I think that it’s amazing. This part of them where even if they make a wide variety of music, it’s still BUCK-TICK. And his voice is found in the centre of it all. I think that it’s an amazingly wonderful voice, and his presence is amazing.

S: Ah…… I’d say the same to you.

I: Thank you!

ーー Well, what a beautiful relationship (smiles). Is there any possibility of performing together again?

I: If the timing’s right, I’d definitely want to do it together again though.

 

 

Notes:

* Sakurai took part in Tsuchiya’s Forest People (森の人 / Mori no Hito) in 1998, providing lyrics and vocals for the song A Midsummer Night’s Forest (真夏の夜の森の人 / Manatsu no Yo no Mori no Hito). The song can be heard on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ2A_s_zNzY

** The term Sakurai used was ふしだら (fushidara), which quite literally means “slut/slutty”.

*** The base form of 沈みたい (shizumitai) is 沈む (shizumu), which can be simply translated as “to sink”. But it should be noted that this term also comes with the connotations of “to go under”, “to submerge”, or “to feel depressed”. It also comes with the nuance of drowning. This reflects strongly in the next statement where Sakurai talks about himself “sinking”.

**** Basically the “chama” in “Icchama” is like a baby-talk version of the “sama” suffix. I suppose you could say Sakurai uwu’s ISSAY

 

Interview with Aquirax Uno

Not by drawing an object realistically, but by deviating from the norm
I like giving a sequence a makeover, turning it into something fantastical
I sensed that kind of sentiment from BUCK-TICK too

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

This time, Akira Uno was tasked to work on RAZZLE DAZZLE’s album jacket. Uno, who is 76 this year, is the representative graphic designer of Showa period Japan and a genius who collaborated with Shūji Terayama and his experimental theatre. In this interview, we spoke to Uno about how he captured BUCK-TICK, the band after listening to this album.

ーー Uno-san was put in charge of creating the jacket for RAZZLE DAZZLE this time around, but what image did you initially have of BUCK-TICK?

Their name, of course, I have heard of a long time ago. But for me, I don’t really attend Japanese rock concerts nor watch them. That is despite the fact that I have worked on album jackets for bands like MERRY and SHAKALABBITS before. That’s why my initial impression of them was that they’re amazing because of how they’re still making music like this.

ーー What do you think of when you’re turning their music into an art piece given that this is how you see it?

I’ve been doing this for over 50 years, so the first thing I have to do is to find what captures my interest. For example, my perspective in the 60s, in the 80s, and now, they all vary in different areas. So it’s a question of where and what I’m looking for as a tangent. While listening to their music and reading the lyrics, I also do try and find out whether there are shared motifs. If they were to tell me their preferences; like whether they wanted it to be excessively decorative, or whether they wanted something aesthetically pleasing, or whether they wanted something grotesque, I’d listen to all of that while relating with the motifs in the lyrics that capture my interest to myself before drawing.

ーー What are those areas when we speak of BUCK-TICK’s album?

First off, in the beginning, I had a discussion with Imai-san, Sakurai-san, and the designer. That person is the same designer who was involved in MERRY’s project too. So, let’s take for example the theatre work that I did in the 70s. It doesn’t only have one theme, instead, it has a number of themes. It’s like what they said at the time; something psychedelic, or akin to a nightmare…… Furthermore, when you put them decoratively yet in parallel to one another, I’ll end up with a few motifs. These are what I got because of the kind of theme that I was headed towards.

ーー So you’re saying that there is, to a certain extent, a shared image that materialised as the album jacket while you picked up on the image of the band’s sound at the same time.

Yeah. There definitely was a tangent that existed and that I relied on too. And I suppose to them, on the other hand, there was something in me that caught their interest. That’s what I found out when we met and spoke. I’m not conscious of this, but personally speaking, the phenomenon of me proactively drawing includes, to a certain extent, the process of making something. This may sound like an odd way of putting it, but my line of work revolves around shaping themes that are derived from other parties. It is a phenomenon where two different predispositions; of starting masochistically while ending sadistically and aggressively, are experienced in one piece of work. That’s why, during the process of delineating the motif here, when I catch that sense of ‘This would feel good like this’ or ‘I can draw this’, I’m not in a state where I’m doing this according to what was ordered. It’s a time when a kind of sadistic joy has been found. Such periods of time did emerge when I was working on this jacket too.

ーー I see. Was that meeting with Imai-san the only conversation you had with the band members for your work on this album?

I think I met Imai-san around 3 times. There was also one night when we stayed up drinking. Though I think we couldn’t help but end up talking about the 70s and things like that.

ーー I heard that Uno-san, too, dabbled in music in the past as well.

About that, it was between Yokoo Tadanori*, me, and Yoko Ono’s ex-husband, composer Ichiyanagi Toshi**. The three of us talked about starting a band and I had no confidence in that at all but we all gathered at Harajuku Central Apartment where I worked out of. An instrument known as the Indian Sitar was left at my workplace for a while. Though I didn’t even know how to play it (smiles). Ichiyanagi-san brought a Doors*** record over and we spoke about how we wanted it to sound like that but in the end, the project ended without a single sound produced (smiles).

ーー The expression of drawing an illustration, of course, involves a different method than the expression of producing music but the intention to do it doesn’t change, right?

Hm, I wonder. I made a Pink Floyd poster in the past but…… I’m deviating from the topic a bit, but Dark Ducks^ were the opening act.

ーー Eh is that so! (smiles).

Yeah. And the DJ Goro Itoi appeared on stage to be the emcee. Perhaps they didn’t understand Pink Floyd at all. Anyway, that was the kind of era it was (smiles). But back to our topic, I thought that even if one didn’t know how to play an instrument, it would be possible to produce things like effects and creating surrealism for the ears. Well…… I don’t really like to say that something can be ‘conveyed’ though.

ーー Meaning?

For example, in the past, when I heard Joan Baez sing, I thought, “A woman like her is pleasant; someone who’s slender and sentimental”. Yet when I read translations of her songs, I felt that she’s quite contentious.

ーー Because she sings protest songs, right?

People can convey things not because you speak well or make people laugh or tell someone something. Instead, no matter what sound you use, well, be it an animalistic scream, or perhaps even a conveyance in the form of a Floyd-like theatrical sound would work, but somewhere in there is a level of abstraction and what I like about it is the will or emotion that exists within. I can’t deal with types who convey that through words.

ーー So it’s better that the sound evokes an image.

That’s right. I prefer music of that nature.

ーー Do you find it enjoyable to create works that are reminiscent of fantastical things and fictional worlds?

It is enjoyable. I draw a variety of things but, take for example, if I were to draw a realistic apple, or if I were to draw a cucumber that looks like a cucumber, well, it’d be fun in its own way but I prefer to ideas that deviate from the norm, like using a rotting apple as a motif or something. Like, if that was one of the themes that were given to me. For example, I wouldn’t draw vegetables as they would look on the sign of a greengrocer’s. I would add some kind of image to it, like making them rot, or speak, or turning them into something fantastical. I very much enjoy giving a sequence a makeover.

ーー That over simply drawing a certain theme as it is.

Yeah. If it was left as it is, it wouldn’t be eye-catching and I feel that my job is to capture people’s attention. I suppose it might be the same for music as well. Though I assume that there are many who don’t think so (smiles). There may be people who are indifferent to the act of drawing an apple, but when I am being asked for something romantic, I’d want to do something out of the ordinary, like a girl living in the apple or something like that. We’re talking about BUCK-TICK this time, but I sensed that kind of sentiment from them.

ーー Does Uno-san keep in mind the era and consider how to incorporate that into your illustrations and graphic designs?

I think there was a time when I did, but now, not at all. At this age, I don’t think about using the younger generations’ sensibilities nor ideas (in my work) any more. Instead, I try to use as little effort as possible. For example, if I’m drawing a girl, I don’t analytically observe what the recent trend in skirt length is, or how high that should end from the knee, and such things any more. I place importance on whether a girl is in the art piece, whether she’s pretty, what part of the feeling that it exudes will remain in me, and things like that. It feels better to leave it to my feelings.

ーー Having had such a long career as a graphic designer and illustrator, what kinds of expressions have you continued to use or alienated?

Ah, on the contrary, I’ve never had the feeling of alienation. In other words, what I want to do aren’t unexpected to me. I’m already at this age anyway, and this is something that I’ve been doing all my life so saying that this is enjoyable…… I more or less agree. The enjoyable thing about being requested for something is basically that whatever is being asked of me can still be found within me; it has common ground with society and it is not something to be discarded. I think that I’d be a painter if I became someone who simply draws whatever I wanted to. So I get asked for something because there’s something in me that is needed or because I am being relied on to imagine something. You can say that there’s nothing that makes me happier than this.

ーー Are you saying that, in other words, there is gratification in being sought after?

That’s right. For example, I’ve said that I’d like to spontaneously draw a piece of historical drama art and I’ve done such work before. I’ve been asked to draw for picture books too, and even for Oniroku Dan’s^^ SM too. The editors ask this of me because they sense more potential in me than I do, so I’d be thinking, ‘Does such an element exist?’ while I’m drawing. If it’s a painter who’s doing this, then they will have the direction of deciding on things based on their own ideas, but in my case, the motifs are presented to me. And finding the potential in it when I’m working on it is the most interesting phenomenon of all.

ーー I saw the jacket for this album and it made me wonder what was the image that you formed for this album.

They had an image that is reminiscent of going to a place that is sort of like a kind of crazy club. In other words, it’s out of the ordinary. It’s like going a kind of snobbish place, a place with an image that is far too absurd to be found in daily life, and the debauchery and disarrayment found there. That’s the kind of mood that I drew.

ーー Yes, I think that’s exactly what is shown on the jacket artwork.

I draw the illustration, then I leave the rest to the designer you see. After all, it isn’t just masochism. It’s because I want to let them do things the way they want to. Though I don’t really go and take a look at what the result of that is. But I’ve seen a number of presentations and it seems like things are turning out to be rather interesting. Having a folded poster included in it, that’s nice, isn’t it?

ーー It is. I felt that it was exceptionally fitting for the music industry.

But we’ve worked hard, haven’t we? These people too. Them asking me to draw a piece for them, it’s definitely because there is a sentiment of…… ‘I want to change’, or something like that. I’ve often heard that we’re now in an era when CDs don’t really sell, but if you release something that is overcalculated on the basis of whether it sells, it doesn’t feel very good, does it? You have to feel that you’re doing it because you want to

 

Akira Uno a.k.a Aquirax Uno

Born on 13 March 1934 in Nagoya. The representative illustrator and graphic designer of Showa Era Japan. Major works by him include “AQUIRAX UNO POSTERS 1959−1975”, “MONO AQUIRAX+”, “A letter from a girl”, picture book “Ano Ko [あの子] (Text: Imae Yoshitomo)”, “Fruits of Passion (Text: Terayama Shuji)” and more. As mentioned during the interview, the jacket artworks for MERRY’s single, “Komorebi ga Boku wo Sagashiteru…”, and the first press limited edition of their album “M.E.R.R.Y.” was created by him. He also worked on the jacket of SHAKALABBITS’s Dazzling Soup / Silk.

 

 

Notes:

*Yokoo Tadanori is a graphic designer, illustrator, printmaker and painter whose work is influenced by Surrealism, American Pop Art, contemporary Japanese culture, and ukiyo-e prints. His recent works can be found here.

**Ichiyanagi Toshi is a composer and pianist who is the recipient of the 33rd Suntory Music Award (2001) and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts John Cage Award (2018).

*** Referring to the American rock band The Doors.

^ Dark Ducks are a male Japanese vocal group who were characterized by strikingly close harmony and middle-of-the-road smoothness that match their gentlemanship. They were active from 1951 to 2016.

^^ Oniroku Dan was a celebrated novelist and maker of eiga-pinku and Sadomasochism films in Japan. He was also called “the most celebrated writer of popular SM novels in Japan”.

 

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Band’s comments on Album Tracks

Interview by: Ishii Eriko, Kanemitsu Hirofumi, Takahashi Miho

Brief comments by the band members about all 15 tracks of RAZZLE DAZZLE has been captured! As you listen to the album, read their comments and visualise their impressions of these songs.

 

1. RAZZLE DAZZLE FRAGILE

Sakurai (S): Our manipulator, Yokoyama-san put his heart into all the SE (sound effects). Well, this one feels like an embodiment of something like Imai-san’s theme.

Imai (I): The image of chamber music that plays at a dodgy meeting. Music like this will be playing in the hall.

Hoshino (H): I suppose it gives the feeling of “And so, it begins”.

Higuchi (Y): I knew that they said: “We’re composing a SE”, but our manager suddenly sent the data to me out of nowhere. I had no idea what this was at first (lol).

Yagami (T): I didn’t know that there was such a SE at all (lol). Before I knew it, Imai made this. I was surprised when I first heard it on the track down.

 

2. RAZZLE DAZZLE

S: Past the middle stage of recording, Imai’s world surged forth and this is one of those songs. I was rather pumped up when I sang it.

I: This is the first song that I wrote with the album in mind. Like, “ah, I guess it’s something like this”, and the music aptly came to me. With “Action!”, this fictional world or something begins.

H: I think this was probably the first song that came from Imai-san but I suppose (it all started) from an energetic song like this without knowing at that point in time that it was going to become the title song.

Y: I had the feeling that this was going to be the first track. I think once we play it live, a clearer image will steadily come up.

T: The image of a super flashy fancy-dress party where all hell breaks loose. I somehow think that’s the kind of set that our live will have.

 

3. Kyouki no Deadheat (狂気のデッドヒート / Crazy Deadheat)

S: You could say that I sang in an enraptured manner. I suppose something like this exists in me as well. I think I gradually found the initiative to want to try and sing in a manner that’s both serious yet comical.

I: A Hide-like song. I thought that it was rough when I head the demo, but there was nothing at all electronic about it in the beginning. Once we did that, it’s ska but it turned out very cool.

H: In the demo, the guitar was distorted in a rock-sounding manner but with a voluble, rhythmic dance beat that feels playful.

Y: When I heard it with Acchan’s words added to the music, for the first time in ages, I thought, “What great lyrics” (lol). But it’s well balanced with the other songs, so it’s interesting.

T: When I first heard the demo, it felt like 80s pop and I matched the tuning of my drums to that and elevated that a little more.

 

4. Dokudanjou Beauty -R.I.P.- (独壇場Beauty -R.I.P.- / Beauty the Stage is Yours -R.I.P.-)

S: Because of the high-spirited melody, the recording session concluded in the blink of an eye.

I: R.I.P. (was added) because I thought that it would be better to make it clear. Adding Lucy-chan’s (LAZY guns BRISKY) chorus made it younger, didn’t it (lol).

H: He (Imai) said that it’s got a sparkly image, and perhaps with an 80s dance beat, and I was like, “I got it”, and I played it (lol).

Y: Even though it’s melodious, the riff comes through. There aren’t many songs like this. This time, we played it for the first time at a summer event but if it’s a live, it’ll pump the audience up.

T: It starts off sounding Ramones-ish but when the tune comes in it sounds disco-ish. That development is interesting. The chorus is nice too, isn’t it? It’s youthful (lol).

 

5. Hamushi no You ni (羽虫のように / Like the Tiny Insects)

S: We’ve always had the pop-like and melodious elements, but I think that in this song, we made it very simple and managed to put the melody at the forefront

I: I thought that it would be nice if winged insects could represent fragility or something like the brevity of life. Since what I wanted to express was clear, the lyrics came to me in a snap.

H: It feels like it tugs at your heart, doesn’t it (lol). The lyrics are unique too.

Y: I initially had the impression that it was quite techno-like but again, when Acchan’s vocals are added in, the image really changes, doesn’t it?

T: When I played the drums, it reminded me of “Baby, I want you”. Imai said that he wanted me to make it sound ‘man-made’. I basically drive it in, but since I’m drumming fill-ins, it’s more human.

 

6. Yougetsu (妖月‐ようげつ‐ / Mystery Moon)

S: It was coupled with a single that we wrote as an anime theme song, so the world view in this song also aligns with that. It’s a personal favourite.

I: This song’s arrangement was also changed from that of its single version. It’s become noisy in a good way (lol).

H: The arrangement was adjusted for it to be in the album. We had CUBE JUICE-kun working on the rhythm and all that for us. We casually added a CUBE-like melody(lol). It’s turned out nicely.

Y: The tag team between Acchan and Hide results in this brilliantly addictive song. Compared to the single, I think the arrangement here draws us closer to the image of the song.

T: Drums that were drummed my way. The image behind it is Ringo Starr (lol). I’m influenced by him, so that comes out no matter what when the song is a ballad like this.

 

7. BOLERO

S: At first, the image of singing while playing the guitar comes to mind. Till now, I think we’ve boldly broken down and destroyed (things), but stopping that is also one of our new aspects.

I: This song always possessed the image of ‘Bolero’ since it’s working title. As if it represents a heartbeat.

H: I suppose you could say it’s very an Imai-like melody, though the song feels like something people, in general, would like. The lyrics seem deep too, don’t they?

Y: Initially Imai-kun sang for the scratch track but once Acchan’s voice comes in, it changed. Or rather, I guess Imai-kun understands Acchan well (lol).

T: When I heard it during rhythm rehearsals, I thought that this song sounded fun. I initially made it feel like I’m drumming with tom-toms but halfway through, I made it rhythmic.

 

8. Django!!! –Genwaku no Django- (Django!!! -幻惑のジャンゴ- / Django!!! –Django the Dazzler–)

S: I sang it with a suspicious light-heartedness (lol). It’s Latin. I like it.

I: A Latin-like image; think of the rhythmic pattern of conga or something. Initially, I thought, “We’ve never done something like this before so I suppose this might be difficult” (lol).

H: It’s something that we’ve never done before, isn’t it? Considering the rhythm and whatnot. I suppose it’s a very difficult song but personally, I like it, the groove.

Y: This is the first time we’ve done a Latin beat so playing the bassline was fun. It’s been a delight to play it too since I heard the demo.

T: I suppose this is a first for Imai too. Going with a latin beat and all that. I enjoyed it. I kept in mind the sense of fusion that master (Murakami) Ponta-san had (lol).

 

9. Sakuran Baby (錯乱Baby / Lunatic Baby)

S: This is probably the most similar to what we’ve been doing all this while. Regarding the lyrics, I wrote them nonsensical, with a nicely incoherent story.

I: ‘Life is fleeting’, or I suppose it’s the usual consistent theme that Sakurai-san always sings about. It’s that kind of song, isn’t it?

H: I guess it’s comparatively similar to our previous work, or you could say that it’s similar to rock. That imagery is strong, in terms of the music. The riff too, actually.

Y: In the beginning, I wondered if it’s alright for the bass to be this distorted, but it’s quite a curt song, so the distorted bass fits perfectly.

T: It makes me think, ‘Acchan’s lyrics sure are great’. At one time, it felt like it was kept inside of him but recently, it feels like it’s being brought out instead. It’s raw in a good way.

 

10. PIXY

S: This time, the melody stands out quite a bit in Hide’s songs as well. This melody determines the world of the lyrics, so that comes all the way through to the end.

I: I really understood Hide’s thoughts about wanting to do something that is different from what was done previously. Things like the rhythm, the composition of the guitar riffs, they were all clearly different from previous works.

H: I had the idea that putting psychedelia in 4/4 time together might be interesting, and I suppose that clicked well with the rhythm.

Y: The bass was unexpectedly difficult for this song. There’s an expressionless feeling to it. There are many songs among Hide’s that are bouncy, but despite that, it’s difficult to drop the expressions and play it.

T: This is a song that came about after we made a variety of revisions to its rhythm when Hide joined our rhythm rehearsal and us 3 rehearsed together.

 

11. Kuchizuke -SERIAL THRILL KILLER- (くちづけ -SERIAL THRILL KILLER- / Kiss -SERIAL THRILL KILLER-)

S: This is a single that was written as an anime theme song. We normally play music like this but in the context of this album, it might instead come off as something unusual.

I: I suppose we changed the arrangement of the synth and increased how electronic it sounded. We went towards the direction of techno. We pretty much left it to (him*) though.

H: It feels spirited, even though it’s dark (lol), and this is also an album-exclusive version, so I think it can be enjoyed differently.

Y: When I heard this song in the beginning, I thought, “I see, I guess the album will turn out to be something like this”, but (my expectations) were betrayed in a good way (lol).

T: This is a song that Imai wrote based on the anime (Shiki) during the time when the full picture of the album was still completely invisible to us. But it’s been nicely absorbed into the album, hasn’t it?

 

12. Gekka Reijin (月下麗人 / Lady of the Moonlight)

S: It was initially a danceable song, but gradually, it’s turned into a song that feels like it’s saying ‘(we’re) tired, so please rest and listen to this’ (lol). It’s a dreamy, fairy-tale-like song.

I: It’s a sombre ~ song (lol). This album has quite a variety of songs in it but having one like this wraps it all up, doesn’t it?

H: This is the most profound one, isn’t it? But I think that it’s fundamentally something that (Imai) possesses. I like it too though.

Y: With this song too, the impression that it gives changes drastically when Acchan’s vocals come in. The expression with Imai-kun’s vocals was great too though.

T: Seriously, Acchan’s nihilistic singing really gets you, doesn’t it? It’s because this is his absolute strongest area, isn’t it? It feels like he’s saying ‘I am Sakurai!’ (lol).

 

13. Mugen (夢幻 / Reverie)

S: If I remember correctly, I think this song was a candidate for a single since the time of Dokudanjou~. Because of that, it’s quite pop-ish, isn’t it?

I: If I’m not wrong, this is a song that Hide had brewing since early on. He probably changed the arrangement a number of times too. It’s always been a candidate for a single.

H: It gives the image of lifting up your emotions at the chorus. It’s unusual that I came up with a pop melody, isn’t it? I do it on occasion though (lol).

Y: I somehow thought that it wasn’t a Hide-like song in the beginning. I thought that perhaps he started to think of something that was new to him.

T: This song was initially esoterically programmed with a Hide-like progression. When I heard it, I remember asking him, “Wouldn’t this be difficult for Acchan to sing?”, and then adjusting the rhythm after that.

 

14. TANGO Swanka

S: It’s got nothing to do with tango at all (lol). This laidback style of singing, perhaps I’d have done it with more precision in the past. I guess such an ability has grown in depth too.

I: I wanted to do something noisy yet simple. It’s a song that united that with lyrics that didn’t have a set theme.

H: The Imai world has exploded (lol). Though I think it’s normal to have songs like this coming to the forefront.

Y: It’s a song with a good rhythm that naturally makes you move your body. I think that will definitely be a song with a good feel when played live so I’d like you to look forward to it.

T: In the beginning, a CDR where Imai sang all the parts was distributed to me. And I kept listening to it…… and I remember getting nervous and thinking, “It can’t be that Imai intends to sing all of it, right?” (lol).

 

15. Solaris

S: Dream, forever.

I: When I told our manipulator, Yoko-chan that the way the bass should entwine with the synth is like a solitary street light in a park in the middle of the night or a highway lamp on the freeway in the middle of the night, he got super confused (lol).

H: You could say that it’s a royal road-type of song, and deliberately putting TANGO Swanka before this song brings you back to life, doesn’t it?

Y: This is the song where I dropped my headphones. I got into the groove of this ballad and it somehow fell off (lol). But with the intonation used in it, it really raises your spirits.

T: Acchan’s voice is nice and vivid. When the flow of the music was decided, I considered it carefully and I thought that I’d definitely make this song the last track. It’s a song that closes off the album. It’s great that this brought about the denouement.

 

 

Notes:

All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site

* I assume he’s referring to CUBE JUICE

 

Return to Top

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: morgianasama on LiveJournal

 

 

ISSAY Personal Interview

BUCK-TICK Club #29
1995

 

 

ISSAY has taken part in the song, “Itoshi no Rock Star (愛しのロック・スター / My Favorite Rock Star)” from BUCK-TICK’s new album Six/Nine. His sudden guest appearance at Liquid Room on 14 May roused the audience and their eyes were glued to the bewitching performance on stage.

This particular interview was recorded before his performance at Nippon Budokan on 17 May and we were once again spellbound by their perfectly synchronised staging later on.

 

 

 

ーー What led to your participation as guest vocals this album of BUCK-TICK’s?

I got a call from Atsushi-kun (smiles).

ーー (Smiles). He personally… said he wanted you to do it?

Mmhm. There was a call which went something like, ‘I wonder if you’ll do it~”.

ーー Wasn’t that a time when you still didn’t know anything about the lyrics and all that!?

Before I knew anything about it… I said I’d do it, but since I haven’t heard what kind of song it is, I did say that I’d like to hear it once though.

ーー Have there been incidents when you decided “I apologise but I can’t do this after all” because of the lyrics?

If the lyrics are by Atsushi-kun that’s impossible though. … But Atsushi-kun was particularly concerned about that. Like I got a call where he said, “Maybe you might find the lyrics disagreeable”, and I said, “Anyway, if you show me the lyrics I’d be able to answer that for you, so”. Then, when he showed it to me, they were really great lyrics, aren’t they? Whatever Atsushi-kun wants to sing about now is being directly expressed and I thought that they were good lyrics. I was glad that he’d let me sing such wonderful lyrics too, you know. I immediately called him and told him that I’d be more than pleased to do it.

ーー During recording, did you think about how you wanted to sing it and things like that?

We didn’t think about anything at all in the beginning. Anyway, I was also really troubled over how we should sing it but… Atsushi-kun was also being thoughtful for me and he said “Please take it easy”, so… I thought, well, I’d take it easy too then. We did it a number of times, trying different singing styles, but… We thought of doing it in a very straightforward manner, and we recorded 2, 3 takes of singing in that straight manner… And then we gave that an OK. After that, they were combining those 2, 3 takes together, so I went to the bar room with Atsushi-kun and chatted with him while drinking, but just then, he said to me that he really liked the song “Itoshi no MAX” which I released as a single. He didn’t say much about that, so I asked, “Could it be that Atsushi-kun wanted to sing like I did in ‘Itoshi no MAX’?”, and he said, “It’s nice, isn’t it, that song” (smiles). So I said, “Well, let’s try doing that once then”. I told him, “We have the edited version anyway, so we can just give it a try and if it doesn’t work, just toss it out”. So we went back into the studio once more and I said, “Well, let’s sing now”. … The singing style for “Itoshi no MAX” is quite a playful one, so when we sang like that, it went well, we liked it, and we got an OK in one take. So those that we did before this one got rejected. Like, what? If he said so right from the start it would’ve been good (smiles).

ーー (Smiles). So I see. You appeared for a guest performance on 14 May at Liquid Room, but how did you feel looking at the B-T fans’ reactions from the moment ISSAY-san came on stage until you left? Did you feel discomfort or anything like that?

Nope, they were very friendly people, so I felt like I was welcomed there. The atmosphere just flowed along like that from the moment when Atsushi-kun introduced me, so it was really easy for me to step out… It was really fun. I thought that they were an audience who possessed a nice power.

ーー I see. Well then, a word or a message to Sakurai-san…

I’m very honoured and happy that you’d have me participate in this manner this time around and… I think that it’d be nice if we could have these kinds of back-and-forths with each other with more ease. Appearing on BUCK-TICK’s lives have been exceptionally stimulating too, and since we came to stand together on stage without any prior arrangements, we sang while looking into each other’s eyes, while watching to see what each other’s next move would be… We both performed with an extraordinary amount of emotional strength. I think that there are only a scarce few vocalists who possess a tension like that… I was really happy, and I’d like to perform such an enjoyable live again, so let us continue our relations.

ーー A word or a message to the members of BUCK-TICK’s fan club…

I’ve said this earlier as well, but I do think that the power of the audience when I performed at Liquid Room was wonderful. … Which is why I think that it’d be great if the audience took pride in that as an audience. And I think that BUCK-TICK, which has brought together such an audience, is a wonderful band. If there are any other opportunities [for us to meet] in future, please treat me well (smiles). And please listen to DER ZIBET too (smiles).

ーー (Smiles). And your thoughts on BUCK-TICK’s current album…

I think that this time’s album is one where a nice madness coexists with the spirit of rock. For them to do this with surging power and for the album to have something like that as a major release in this point of time, I think that it’s amazing and… I really like it.

ーー What about ISSAY-san’s activities going forward?

Our 11th album was released and the tour which followed has just concluded so… If there’s anything coming up… I hope you’d listen to it. … I think it’s a great album. After this, DER ZIBET will probably start recording for our next album, so I think that our next album will be released early next year. When that happens, again, please do listen to it.

ーー Will do. Thank you very much for today.

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: kamen of the BUCK-TICK Discord

 

 

Explosive Conversations Paradise

Newsmaker #56
June 1993

Structure/Text: Michishita Yoshiyuki (道下善之)
Photographer: Horoshi Maruyama

 

 

Monthly Explosion Dialogue Paradise Under the Rock’n Roll Sky. Artist lively Talks go on “Like it” or “Not,” Let’s start up with extra-super line-ups for this month! 

 

“Speaking of subways, I love seeing my face reflected in the glass.” (Lovin)
“Narcissistic bastard! …… But I get what you mean.” (Issay)

 

Teasing each other even as they agree, this month’s “Explosive Conversations Paradise” has become a mentor-mentee showdown (?). The very thing which led to this was the announcement that ISSAY was going to be a guest on the radio show MIDNIGHT ROCK CITY (airing on Friday, 16 April at 27:00-29:00 on FM NACK5!) which is hosted by LOVIN!

 

 

 

LOVIN (L): DER ZIBET had a bugler in the past, right?

ISSAY (I): Yeah, there was one, yes.

L: Inspired by David Bowie looks too…… I don’t suppose there were any other bands like yours which had a bugler back then, were there?

I: That’s right.

L: That’s what makes it so hard for me to wrap my head around it. Because it also feels like the song lyrics were made up of nothing else but “Baby I want you”.

I: Are you sure it’s allowed?  Saying such things (lol).

L: (Lol) No, it’s not like that. …… But, you know, I guess you could say that as someone from the Heavy Metal Kids¹ era, I was surprised to see that.

I: Humm, I see. …… On the other hand, the first time I saw The Yellow Monkey was, that song you did on TV, was it Uta no Tenkiyohou (歌の天気予報)? (Lol) I knew that you debuted from TRIAD² so I watched  until the very end, but I think my very first impression was, “They’re not as glam [rock] as everyone says they are.”

L: Mm-hmm. …… But when we actually met, I was relieved because you were like the nice, friendly older brother who’s easy to talk to (lol).

I: Kukkukku, a friendly older brother, huh (lol). I’m a self-conscious person, so I thought, “Ah, he’s probably a guy with a big personality.” About you.

L: Ahh, I guess I can sort of see that in you.

I: By the way, have you heard my new music?

L: I did, I did. The first track in particular made me laugh. …… Because, look, just when I thought that your sound would change with your changing of record companies, a distorted voice sudden goes,  “Waa~” (lol). I was just so impressed with how stubborn you are.

I: Ah, well, you know, the older you get, the more hard headed you become, yeah.

L: Uhya~, should you be saying that about yourself? (Lol) …… What do you think about my (album)?

I: Yes, well…… I think it was the first track of your first album?   The moment I heard it, I thought, “This person sure is brimming with the spirit of parodying” (lol). …… And that carries over into your second album in some areas too, but if that comical style is being performed by someone who overthinks it, it’d just turn into something unseemly, right?   So it got me thinking that you’re someone who gets into it well.

L: Actually, I think we’re very close to the concept of pop. As in, The Yellow Monkey and Der Zibet. …… Or, maybe not.

I: No, I think you’re right. …… There’s definitely some concept of pop that can’t quite be appreciated by the general public (lol).

L: So, you know, I’m even thinking that this image of pop that we have that is just a tiny bit mismatched with this era we’re in might just be something that people can’t appreciate until maybe, 20 years later.

I: 20 years!?   …… No way, I’d hate that (lol).

L: But then again, it’s not as if we’re deliberately making music that ignores these times, are we?   I guess you could say that’s just something that I’m never quite satisfied with no matter what……

I: But, you know, doesn’t that just make it music that makes people smile?   After all, it’s meaningless to make music that’s neither poison or medicine. …… Right?

L: Aren’t there certain songs that are making waves on the charts recently?   The ones that imitate rock music. Don’t they make you wonder whether or not that sort of music can really be considered as rock?   Since, I guess you’d be considered as a fan of rock music as long as you’re playing in a rock band.

I: You don’t say (lol).

L: They do the whole outfit too, like, aren’t there those who dress up like Marc Bolan³ and straight up imitate him?   It’s as if they get a pass just because it’s something Marc Bolan wears…… Then again, I’m the one who’s doing the imitation anyway (lol).

I: What are you doing, digging your own grave (lol).   …… But, look, you’ve got your own genre of rock music that you’re familiar with, right?   So, I think it’s good enough for you to believe in that and just do it, for sure. Besides, I’ve recently been answering my interviews with, “Der Zibet is turning our backs on the world head on!”

L: Very nice, that expression.   I like that (lol).

L: How many years has it been since you left Shizuoka for Tokyo?

I: Hm~……   I guess it’s been about a decade.

L: So, you know, I’ve always felt that the culture shock which Issay-san experienced when you moved to Tokyo really influenced Der Zibet’s lyrics. …… Like, the kind of feeling that you liked your younger self yet hated it?   And that’s probably the reason why you sing songs about “adolescence”.

I: Right.   …… I also think that they’ve got a “Shizuoka flavour” (lol). Like something that comes from having grown up looking at the sea. …… But, see, don’t you think that Shizuoka locals are big-hearted although we tell harsh or cruel jokes?

L: That makes sense. …… When I was a kid, I did live in Shizuoka for a few years, and I’d often find frog carcasses on places like the paths by the rice fields……

I: Were there? Things like that (lol)?

L: It’s not that they were there because it’s Shizuoka, but they were certainly there (lol). …… I think the lyrics I write come from digesting the vivid memories of “frog carcasses” and “fish floating on the sea” which I saw in my youth.

I: …… You sure are weird, aren’t you (lol).

L: Am I?   …… But, you know, after I moved to Tokyo from Shizuoka, my personality didn’t change but my music tastes changed quite a lot.

I: Rea~lly. …… So, you’re saying that when you were in Shizuoka, you listened to American rock because you lived in a seaside town?

L: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

I: I was listening to Gary Numan⁴ when I lived in Shizuoka, though.

L: Ah, that’s nice, very Issay-san (lol).

I: But I was delighted when first I came to Tokyo.   There are all sorts of live houses, aren’t there?   It felt like I could gorge myself anywhere.

L: That’s true.

I: And another thing I was really impressed by, the subway!   That’s one thing I still love to this day.

L: It’s really cool, isn’t it, the subway (lol). I like it too.

I: That sense of isolation is absolutely irresistible, and don’t you just love that feeling you get when you’re going underground?

L: Yeah, exactly. …… Also, for me, I love it when I see my face reflected in the glass.

I: There it is, that narcissistic bastard!   …… But I think I can understand that (lol).

L: Again, it’s about existing underground and never going outside (lol).

I: It certainly is underground, the subway (lol).

L: What about JR?

I: I hate it. …… Whenever I take that, it feels as if I’m going on some sort of journey or something.

L: Kukkukku, a journey, huh (lol).   …… But you also prefer bars that are situated underground, and you simply love that hole too.

I: Stop saying it like that (lol). …… But, speaking of holes, I have memories of digging holes in the garden and going inside them as a child. …… I’ve also got memories of going into wardrobes…

L: I did that too. It’d be a~ll dark, and I’d often listen to the radio or something. …… And the [radio] show was All Night Nippon or something, though (lol).

I: Gyahahahaha. Yes, yes (lol).

L: Ah, right, so. I think it’s related to that, but I’m a mama’s boy⁵. …… What about Issay-san?

I: I’m also a mama’s boy.

L: Right. …… I like that sort of headspace you’d get with a mother complex. I’m sure you think of your mom, right?

I: I suppose so.

L: I wonder if there are many musicians who have this complex. …… Say, for example, both John Lennon and Lenny Kravitz wrote songs about “mothers”, right?   I think that’s a clear sign of being a mama’s boy.

I: If that’s the case, then doesn’t it mean that the preference for small, dark spaces that we were talking about, along with this mother complex are simply signs of us being brilliantly influenced by our music?   So, this is the correct way to be a musician.

L: You can say that again (lol).

I: …… Do you go out a lot?

L: Nu-uh, not really.

I: I see. Well, me neither, actually.

L: But didn’t you say, “I recently went to the beach,” when we were at the Marc Bolan memorial show?

I: Yeah. That was a rare occasion. …… It was the first time in roughly 15, no, 20 years that I went to the beach to swim.

L: I can’t imagine you doing that at all, being under the blazing sun.

I: I guess. …… It’s probably unexpected but I actually like summer and all that, you know. Because, you see, the contrast between the two sides [of that season] is obvious, isn’t it?   Like, the plants are all vibrant and brimming with life, but they’d soon wither away. That sort of thing. …… But, I guess if we look at it that way, [summer] might be considered as a frigid season in that sense.

L: Because it has that sense of loneliness that comes when something comes to an end all too soon, right?

I: On the other hand, there’s also this one-of-a-kind air of frustration, isn’t there? Especially in the evenings…… Like, high schoolers and the sort would loiter around for no reason.   I think it’s definitely something that gets your blood pumping, for sure (lol).

L: For students, summer holidays are long, right?   Going out with the girl you like during that period…… That was nice too. And because of that frustration, it’d get me thinking, “Should I do it?” ⁶, you know?   Furthermore, in Shizuoka dialect (lol).

 I: Kukkukku, what a horrible guy (lol).

L: …………

I: …………

L: …… Hey. Were you good at sports?

I: Nope, I guess I was average.

L: You know, for the hundred metre sprint, I did 20 seconds.

I: Isn’t that super slow? (Lol) I don’t remember [my exact timing], but I wasn’t that slow. …… But, you know, I’m just gonna say it, but actually, I, used to do Kendo.

L: Gyahahahaha!   That’s not like you at all (lol). …… By the way, Issay-san, you know what?

I: What?

L: Actually, I, used to do Judo……

I: Gyahahahaha!   Who are you to judge (lol).

L: Furthermore, for 8 years.

I: Kukkukku, my goodness (lol). But I guess it’s better if we don’t fight. Let’s play nice and get along going forward (lol).

L: (Lol) But don’t you think that the shared element of “understated yet agressive” of two disciplines also comes through in both of our music too?

I: Ah, yes, I do think so.

L: Right, right?! …… Al~righty, so we’ll do our next photoshoot in our Kendo and Judo uniforms!

I: With makeup properly done (lol).

 

 

 

LOVIN
(The Yellow Monkey)

Yoshii “LOVIN” Kazuya   Born 8 October 1966 in Tokyo. Blood type, A. The Yellow Monkey’s vocalist. They will be performing at Nippon Seinenkan for the first time on 19 June. Their second album Experience Movie is currently on sale!

■ LOVES: ① Home / ② Parents’ home / ③ Shinjuku-Dori / ④ La.mama /⑤ Columbia head office⁷ /⑥ BOWINMAN (agency office) / ⑦ Hokkaido / ⑧ Shizuoka / ⑨ 上条五丁目 (Kita-ku, Tokyo)⁸ / ⑩ Ferry

■ HATES: ① Koiwa Station⁹ / ② Azabu¹⁰ / ③ Shizuoka / ④ Roppongi / ⑤ Rokumeikan /⑥ Juliana’s¹¹ / ⑦ Asagaya Station¹² /⑧ Shibuya Center Gai¹³ /⑨ Soap / ⑩ Kitchen

 

ISSAY
(Der Zibet)

ISSAY   Born 6 July 1962 in Shizuoka Prefecture. Blood type, AB. Der Zibet’s vocalist. Trash Land, their first album since their switching of labels to BMG Victor was just released last month.

■ LOVES: ① Songs / ② Mime / ③ Life with death right by its side / ④ Summer / ⑤ Good lies / ⑥ Sea /⑦ Boys / ⑧ Girls / ⑨ In bed / ⑩ Solitude

■ HATES: ① Women / ② Men / ③ Boredom / ④ Collusion / ⑤ Time / ⑥ This body that can’t live without food / ⑦ Illness / ⑧ Boarding planes (scary) / ⑨ Bad lies / ⑩ Me, when I’m irritated

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

⁰ That’s the line of broken English that was printed on the magazine page.

¹ The Heavy Metal Kids are a British glam rock band who formed in 1973 from the merger of Heaven and Biggles.

² TRIAD is a rock label established within Nippon Columbia in May 1981, with the aim of creating a free and individualistic production group by actively recruiting talented production staff from outside the record company.

³ Marc Bolan was an English singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, and poet. He was the lead singer of the band T. Rex and was one of the pioneers of the glam rock movement of the 1970s.

⁴ Gary Anthony James Webb, better known as Gary Numan, is an English musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and record producer. He entered the music industry as the frontman of the new wave band Tubeway Army.

⁵ Literally, ‘mother complex’.

⁶ Sexual context 😉

⁷ I think he means Nippon Columbia, the record label, not Columbia Sports, the fashion label. 

⁸ Probably where he was born and where he grew up until he moved to Shizuoka.

⁹ Koiwa Station is a railway station on the Sōbu Main Line in Edogawa, Tokyo, Japan, operated by the East Japan Railway Company.

¹⁰ Azabu is a cosmopolitan area that encompasses 9 residential districts, including Roppongi, with its art museums and flashy dance clubs.

¹¹ Juliana’s, also known as Juliana’s Tokyo, was a Japanese discothèque that operated in Shibaura, Minato, Tokyo from May 15, 1991 till August 31, 1994. It was famous for its dance platforms, on which office ladies dressed in “bodycon” clubwear would congregate, as amateur go-go dancers.

¹² Asagaya Station is a railway station on the Chūō Main Line in Suginami, Tokyo, Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company.

¹³ Center Gai is a narrow street in Udagawachō, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. It is a popular area for youths as it has a variety of popular brand name stores, fast food outlets and nightclubs. Its name is meant to signify how it is the “center” of Shibuya. It can be reached from Shibuya Station.

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: morgianasama on LJ

 

 

Shousetsu JUNE 20th Anniversary Talk

月刊 小説June
October 1998

Interview = Miyake Yuu
Photos = Kajiki Norio

 

As ISSAY-san smokes his Gitanes cigarettes, and Atsushi-san drinks his preferred full-bodied Italian red wine, the two men look like they’ve come from a scene out of a movie. 3 days before this interview, they met backstage where ISSAY-san performed his mime but did not have the time to talk much. As such, this will be the first time in half a year that they will be chatting over drinks like this, and in this conversation, we will be hearing about a variety of stories from them, beginning with the moment when they first met.

 

Profiles

ISSAY
Born on 6th July 1962, blood type AB. Vocalist of DER ZIBET, he debuted in 1985 with “待つ歌 (Matsu Uta)” and has since influenced many Visual-Kei bands. This 26th August, he will be releasing the debut album of his new group Φ (PhI).

Sakurai Atsushi
Born on 7th March 1966, blood type O. BUCK-TICK’s latest release is “SWEET STRANGE LIVE”, which was recorded on 8th and 9th May during their Budokan live. Both the disc (CD) and the film (video) are currently on sale. The film is their first live recording in 6 years, while the disc is their first live album.

 

As I listened to it, somehow, I had a feeling of “liking” it」- Sakurai
Just as I thought that they might be scary, they turned out to be really nice people (laughs)」 – ISSAY

ーー Since this is the magazine’s commemorative interview for our 20th Anniversary issue, I’d like to talk about memorable moments that you’ve had with each other, be it from when you first met, when you collaborated on each others’ albums, or on other occasions. First, can you tell me about how you first met?

ISSAY (I): On TV or something…

Atsushi (A): That was the first time we met?

I: That was probably the first time we properly greeted each other. In the basement of Rokumeikan (鹿鳴館). I’ve known of your band prior to that though. … That’s a long time ago, isn’t it.

A: It sure is a long time ago. Around 10 or 11 years ago.

I: Say, it was a live performance for a TV recording or something in Rokumeikan… So, I think we were in the same dressing room together.

ーー So that small dressing room was the place where you first met.

A: Before that, I think, back when we were still an amateur band, I happened to pass by DER ZIBET’s live at Shibuya’s Eggman… My friend forgot their dubbed tape of DER ZIBET’s first album at home, so that was the very first encounter (smiles). As I listened to it, somehow, I had a feeling of “liking” it. Following that I memorised the name, and by chance, as I was walking around in the streets of Shibuya, the words “Performing today DER ZIBET” appeared, so going in on a whim was that first time. At least for me, one-sidedly.

ーー How long ago was this from your meeting in Rokumeikan?

A: Maybe 3 years before that? Or was it 2 years?

I: Probably around 2 years.

A: You performed “FLOWERS”…

I: When we released our second album?

A: One-sidedly, I’ve been deeply in love since then (laughs).

ーー So does that mean that when you met at Rokumeikan, you mentioned that you saw his live at Eggman or…

A: No, I think we didn’t go there.

I: We greeted each other, and since I also knew of BUCK-TICK the band, I thought, “Ah, perhaps they’re them?”. Just as I thought that they might be scary, they turned out to be really nice people (laughs).

A: Weren’t you so tense that you could only greet? Somehow, looking at it from my perspective.

I: Because of how shy I am, when we first met we only greeted each other, didn’t we. Like “nice to meet you” or something (laughs).

ーー What made you start talking to each other more?

I: What made us really grow close was definitely London, wasn’t it. But even before that we did kind of talk on the phone. What was it… … Somehow, it could be when we suddenly bumped into each other when we went to watch Peter Murphy’s live, or when we suddenly met during our tours.

A: You’re right (laughs).

I: When we were going back from the outskirts…

A: It was a parking area on the Tomei expressway. We spoke about that time with writer Imai Tomoko-san too (laughs).

I: I think, that was the second time that we met, wasn’t it. At the Tomei expressway parking area.

ーー Were the both of you going in the same direction? Or did you happen to pass each other when going in opposite directions?

A: We were going in the same direction.

I: You were heading home from Nagoya or something, I think, and I was also on the way home from Nagoya or Osaka.

A: It really was a coincidence, wasn’t it.

I: Unexpectedly. At first, Yuta-kun or someone came to me. I couldn’t tell who it was because his hair was put down (laughs). After that, Peter Murphy was probably the 3rd time or something.

A: Wouldn’t that be the time at Iggy Pop?

I: Ah, that might be Iggy. We might’ve met at Iggy’s live.

ーー So be it Peter Murphy or Iggy Pop, it was at one of their concerts that you met by chance again, right?

I: It was at Nakano Sun Plaza or something, wasn’t it. We exchanged numbers at some point in time. So, I think how we grew closer following that was when the both of us were going to London for recording in the same period of time and a message along the lines of “it would be nice if we could meet” came into my answering machine. And I heard that there was a live, so since it was near the studio, I went to watch it with my band members.

ーー Was that when you were recording in a studio around Kings Road?

I: We were at Fullham Broadway.

ーー Was the live house in the vicinity of Kings Road’s Antiques Market?

A: I’ve forgotten the name (laughs).

I: I don’t think it was Kings Road, was it.

A: Though I think it was in an area that isn’t as prominent.

ーー So, you even managed to meet again in London.

A: In the dressing room. Though it was as if ISSAY-san was there and not there at the same time (laughs).

I: No way, really? Was I being out of it? (laughs)

A: No, you made me think “ah, how nice” (laughs)

I: It was like something took over me right. As if I was possessed by something (laughs). But Acchan, weren’t you swept away after that live?

A: Was I? (laughs)

I: Weren’t you blanking out? Your eyes. I thought, “ah, I guess you can’t talk much”.

A: In London… that was by chance too, wasn’t it, our recording periods overlapping.

ーー Following that time on the Tomei expressway, that was the 2nd coincidental meeting?

A: No, that coincidence was the 3rd or 4th…

I: There were tons of coincidences.

 

「I remember feeling extremely relieved. Being in a foreign land…」- Sakurai
「A weirdo I know has come (laughs)」- ISSAY

ーー As you mentioned earlier, you’ve put in a message on your answering machine saying something like ‘it would be nice if you could meet’, but in reality, did you contact each other before the event to agree that you’d both go then?

I: I did call, asking if he could go… … And he said, “Ah, I can go”, so I said, “All right, let’s go”.

A: I remember feeling extremely relieved. Being in a foreign land…

I: A weirdo I know has come (laughs).

A: Being able to meet ISSAY-san.

ーー Back then, was there time for the both of you to go drinking together or anything like that?

I: We didn’t go drinking or anything of the sort, did we.

A: Yes. If anything, I’m not very good at asking others out for drinks. It’s like, isn’t there a kind of audacity in that?

I: That’s not true (laughs).

A: No, it’s there (laughs). I’m not good at making calls to people in the first place, so because of that, I only ever feel prepared to make calls around once or twice a year.

ーー What about showing up in the dressing rooms when either of you have lives…

A: I have been asked to go. Though I don’t do it very often. If anything, I’m not good at dealing with such things as well so… But I wanted to go as much as possible so I did drop by a few times at Power Station, along with some other places.

ーー I believe that there will be many people during after-parties and backstage so I assume that there weren’t many chances for you to have casual conversations, right?

A: Back then, there was no time at all. Because I’ll already be feeling like “Oh no…” (laughs).

ーー When did you start getting that “Oh no” feeling…

A: Because we were given the opportunity to talk on occasion through magazines like this, since then, I’ve felt it a few times.

I: And also, I basically won’t call someone up and ask them out for drinks, you see. I think Acchan is somewhat like that too though.

ーー Did the thought of taking part in each other’s albums come up while you were having a conversation?

I: No, between us, we had a common friend, and when I casually uttered something like, “Ah, how happy it’ll make me if Acchan would work with me~”, he conveyed it over (laughs). From that came his (Sakurai’s) participation in DER ZIBET’s “思春期(Shishunki)”.

ーー How did Sakurai-san feel when you heard of this through someone else?

A: The moment I heard about it I got nervous (laughs). But I was very happy. Truly.

ーー What memories do you have from his participation in your album?

I: The song was written within DER ZIBET so HIKARU brought the motif of a particular song, and there was a song that made him say “I think this is the one”, and then he (Sakurai) came over to our studio right? Once? Right then, I asked, “This is the song but… is it a no?” and he said he liked it and he sang for me.

ーー During recording, was it also done in a state of nervousness? Or were you able to participate without the nerves?

A: No, there was nothing but nervousness. But ISSAY-san, and HIKARU-san and the others urged me to relax. At the time, though, I was given the opportunity to work with ISSAY-san in a song, a duet. I was initially nervous but later on, I found myself getting chills. Because we were somewhat the same.

I: ”Somewhat” the same, right (laughs). When it was finished, everyone said “Your voices are so similar that I can’t tell who’s who”, didn’t they.  I was like “is that so?”.

ーー Following that, ISSAY-san, in turn, took part in BUCK-TICK’s recording too.

I: Well, after that, he took part in my solo work as well. I thought it would be terribly amusing if two men were to sing this (laughs). But I did wonder, what if he hates it. And then, surprisingly, he understood what I was getting at in the laughable parts, the serious parts, and all that. Atsushi-kun’s key is lower than mine, right. My key is higher but, at that time, conversely, we used an atypical technique where I sang the lower parts and Atsushi-kun sang the higher parts, but somehow that felt great.

 

「(Their) stage is very stimulating. It’s an heirloom, isn’t it」- Sakurai
「I thought that (he has) an amazing presence when I stood on stage with him」- ISSAY

ーー Was there a reason for that?

I: No, I don’t think I’ve sung in this key much, and I don’t think that Atsushi-kun reaches this key often either.

A: Before that, when you invited me to the Shishunki live and asked me to go up on stage, that came first, right.

I: The live that came after we released our single, I think it was at Kudan Kaikan (九段会館). At that time, when I requested him to come, he willingly did. Back then, the tour came first, and the last one was at Kudan Kaikan. And it’s lonely to sing alone in the district, isn’t it? Like, why am I singing alone (laughs).

A: It was the same for “Rockstar” too, wasn’t it?

I: That song, singing it alone even though it’s a song for two to sing together, isn’t that lonely.

A: (DER ZIBET’s) stage is very stimulating. It’s an heirloom, isn’t it (laughs)

I: I thought that (Sakurai-kun has) an amazing presence when I stood on stage with him.

ーーOn the other hand, how does it feel when Sakurai-san’s on stage with ISSAY-san?

A: Well, I guess, you could say he makes me feel very excited… There were no meetings, nor were there staging decisions made in advance, he gave me the freedom to do it however I wanted to but it was very, how should I say this, like a feeling of acceptance… I was very nervous but giving me such freedom to do things, accepting me, and responding back in the same way, maybe for me, maybe on his own accord… it was a very high-tension space. I thought that something like that was a first.

I: The tension was very high for me too. Not only have I never split an original song between two people to perform, but I’ve never done that on stage before either. Since it’s my first time doing this, the tension on my end was raised as well. A song is a song, so we created extra tension, didn’t we (laughs), since it wasn’t a cheerful song.

ーー The chances of something like that, which is like a dream come true, happening again… Is it close to zero?

A: No, I don’t think that’s how it is.

I: About 3 years ago? Or has it already been 4 years? Since you called on me. Has it already been 4 years since then? When Atsushi-kun contacted me, asking me if I would like to be a part of BUCK-TICK’s recording, I was so happy I said “Eh, really? Are you sure?” (laughs)

A: I had nothing to lose… at that time.

I: Is that so? I was so very happy. Because that was another great song, with great lyrics.

ーー I do believe that everyone is eagerly looking forward to the next such opportunity.

I: When we were recording that, it was interesting, wasn’t it? At the start, we sang seriously, finished it, then decided “well then, let’s have a drink”, and while drinking, the conversation got to my solo album and he said, “That song’s nice, isn’t it”, and when I asked “Acchan, could it be that perhaps you want to sing in that way”, he said “Kind of…”, so I said, “Alright, let’s sing it again” (laughs). Initially, we took quite a lot of time to record it but when we re-sang it since he wanted to sing in that way, surprisingly, we were able to record a lot better (laughs)

A: There’s a part in me that thought that something like ISSAY-san’s is really nice, how should I put it…

I: That’s not true, it just ends up going the orthodox way, for me, probably.

A: That’s not a problem at all, but I wanted to bring out more of ISSAY-san’s nasty side.

ーー So you’re saying that the initial recording resulted in an orthodox one but when you re-recorded, ISSAY-san’s harshness came out.

A: Something ideal did.

I: Something nasty did (laughs).

A: It’s not my song, and it’s not my recording either, so I thought that there was a sense of having to give in. To cut away that restriction and be free like this, it’s like that ero-guro (erotic grotesque) kind of feeling of eking things out, asking to do it one more time when the song is already complete (laughs)

I: But thanks to that, I’ve become confident in that harsh part of me, very much so (laughs). Like, ah, so this is okay. Thanks to that, my attitude towards singing might have also somewhat changed. Because something like that doesn’t really come up, y’know.

ーー Even to ISSAY-san, it’s as if something that you weren’t aware of yourself was drawn out.

I: I knew that that part of me existed but there was the question of “Is this okay?”, and singing this way is fine too. Following that you called on me to your lives 4 times, right? Twice in Tokyo, then Okinawa and Osaka. That tour sure was interesting. To start, everyone who watched that live thought that we coordinated our movements and had planned for it beforehand. None of that was done, none at all. But the tension was brought so high, the way that each of us moves looks like it was planned.

ーー It’s like both of your movements were naturally in unison?

I: No, the movements weren’t the same. Each of our movements was like an ensemble, there were very interesting parts, and the song too, we were instigating each other when performing it, weren’t we? Having two singers instigate each other, you don’t really see that, do you? Especially in the current state of Japan’s rock scene. If it was some kind of a session, like one where everyone is taking turns and singing a similar song together, that’s enjoyable in its own way. But such a serious contest like this…

A: Because of that, there was a glamorous feeling to it, wasn’t there?

I: Yeah, a very glamorous feeling.

A: Until then, to meet ISSAY-san anywhere else other than Tokyo…

I: That rarely happens.

A: That rarely happens so I never expected that he would come to Osaka or even Okinawa, but (he also slot it in between schedules) that coincided with his friend’s magazine interview. Travelling to the scorching hot island.

I: I went to the scorching hot Okinawa wearing a 3-piece suit. I even brought along a cane (laughs)

A: That made me happy, yes.

I: I simply just didn’t know the circumstances in Okinawa well (laughs). Since it’s also in Japan, it’s in the same country, I thought along those lines, but that was quite dreadful.

A: Ah, no, but I was happy (laughs). I was wondering what am I going to do if you come dressed in a T-shirt.

I: That friend of mine said to me, “What’s with that outfit even though you’re going to Okinawa” and I said, “It’s a summer suit though…” (laughs)

ーー What did Sakurai-san wear at the time?

A: I was wearing my stage outfit, the one that’s jet black, so it completely absorbs the sun rays… (laughs)

I: And for around 20 minutes, we were on the boat, under the scorching hot sun, having a photoshoot while headed to the island of Okinawa, I felt like dying. Furthermore, it was in the afternoon, we met at 12. Both of us don’t even wake up at that time. I thought I was already melting (laughs). Like, I’m dying…

A: It makes you think that it’s bad for your health, right?

I: I’ll never forget the line that Atsushi-kun said at that time. While being stunned, you said, “To be whittled down like this, to this extent…” (laughs). He sounds like such a littérateur. I thought, I love this person’s choice of words and expression, like, what a poet (laughs).

A: I might’ve been insusceptible to the sun.

I: You’d run away, wouldn’t you, if I asked you to say that again.

ーー What about visiting a cold region next time?

I: Yet, that place is alright, isn’t it, since there’s a lot of sunshine, really. It’s amazing. It was beautiful but I can’t go unless I brace myself first. Like, you wouldn’t have expected the sun to be that powerful. Apollo is incredible (laughs).

A: That was in the middle of summer, wasn’t it? I think it was June or July.

I: It was the end of June.

ーー It’s exceptionally hot, isn’t it? Okinawa.

 

「I wonder if you can call that dramatic?」- ISSAY
「From my perspective, it’s quite so though (laughs)」- Sakurai
「The red string of fate can be seen」- ISSAY

ーー You’ve had all those experiences leading up to your present relationship, but how do you get in touch and go out these days?

I: Going out and all, we don’t really do that, do we. Even though we say things like, “let’s go, let’s go”.

A: That said, we don’t get in touch either.

I: Not really.

A: Maybe it’s my personality, I guess I end up thinking too much… or perhaps a large percentage of the time, when you invite someone out, you’ll end up playing the role of the host, and I’d end up thinking that I don’t have the ability to do that, so… On the other hand, being asked out and having someone’s attention on me is also very… I’d end up thinking about it and I’ll just decide that it would still be best if we could meet naturally, spontaneously.

I: Like meeting up together when I happen to be drinking and I hear that you’re drinking somewhere nearby too. Say, if we’re having an after-party following a DER ZIBET live and we’re drinking in Roppongi, and if I asked “Shall we go?” you’d say “I’m coming”, and all of the members of BUCK-TICK will come on board at some random izakaya in Shibuya (laughs).

ーー Some random izakaya in Shibuya? (laughs)

I: A normal izakaya where anyone can visit, one where even university students can visit without it being weird.

A: Because everyone drinks at those places. Though, even now, we still go to these places.

ーー Right now, ISSAY-san doesn’t have one but, since there are mobile phones or PHS, you can easily get in touch, right?

I: Atsushi-kun, do you have one?

A: No, I don’t.

I: Those things, they’re no good, are they? It’s like putting a bell around your neck, I don’t like that. No matter what, I just can’t get into that.

ーー Perhaps dramatic coincidences like those times on the Toumei expressway, or in London, will happen again.

I: I wonder if you can call that dramatic.

A: From my perspective, it’s quite so though (laughs).

I: The red string of fate can be seen.

A: Because that’s how it’s been right from the start, right? My friend left behind a tape that has been stretched out (laughs). Though in those days there were records, weren’t there, I suppose much of the rotations were different.

I: The condition was pretty bad, wasn’t it.

ーー It could be that your friend listened to it over and over until it stretched out.

A: That is probably so.

ーー And after that, at Eggman.

A: And that’s the first coincidence.

I: Come to think of it, I’m going back to the previous topic but when I made an appearance during BUCK-TICK’s live, before I went up on stage, you sang a phrase “Shizumitai (沈みたい; I want to sink)” in acapella, didn’t you? And I thought, “Huh? That sounds like a song I’ve heard before”. For a moment I kept wondering what song it was. And just as I was told that I’m going up on stage, it suddenly hit me, like, “This, I’ve heard this before, what was it, ah, it’s my own song, it’s ‘Shizumitai’”.

A: For a moment you couldn’t figure it out, right?

I: You sang with such a sweet voice again.

A: What are you saying (laughs)

I: No, but, I really love that voice. Because you sang for me with a sweet and sensual voice. Won’t this man sing for me, the whole song?

A: Hey, wait a minute now (laughs)

ーー The both of you have been committed to aesthetics since before there was what is now known as Visual-Kei, but did you expect that Visual-Kei would grow to what it is now?

I: Not at all. Although I thought that it’s interesting how it has turned out like this. Because, you see, when we came out, we were being bashed.

A: Yeah, a hell lot.

I: We were being attacked a lot, weren’t we?

A: Though, it made you think, ‘ah, so this is how it is’, didn’t it?

ーー With the way that it has turned out to be now, do you think that it has become interesting? Or is it interesting in a different way than what you expected…

I: For me, personally, I think that there are pros and cons. It does have rather interesting aspects in it, but, for example, if it turns out to be a mere facade, that’s boring. But fundamentally speaking, I don’t hate them, people like that. Because it’s easy for me to understand, like ‘ah, I suppose they want to do it this way’, or this is their kind of aesthetic, and so on.

ーー Does Sakurai-san find it interesting?

A: I’m relatively unconcerned but… It’s a passive feeling, isn’t it? Though there are times when by chance, on TV, or when someone tells me about someone else, they’d leave an impression on me where I’m thinking “that’s nice”. It’s a feeling that hits me from the opposite direction.

ーー So you’re saying that there are bands that hit you with an impression that makes you think “that’s nice”.

A: Of course there are.

 

For the readers, well…… Thank you for your continued support for the both of us (laughs)」- Sakurai
Even though we’re both such people (laughs). Us two who don’t change」- ISSAY

 

ーー Since it’s been awhile that you’ve spoken to each other, is there anything you’d like to say to each other?

A: So, coming from me. Recently, (at space Zero), it was the first time that you’ve shown me your pantomime but, how should I say this, the feeling that I got from that, basically it is no different from what I felt the first time I saw you at Eggman, and I thought that you were very flexible. Very flexible, in a good way. But fundamentally, he can’t bend, he gives you the feeling that he’s not willing to bend, you can see that. At Eggman, I thought that was great. This masked man (laughs). Right from the very first impression, I’ve always thought in my mind that there’s something amazing.

ーー Was it like a reminiscent feeling of that “wowー” that you got when you saw him at Eggman over 10 years ago?

A: That’s right, though I wanted to watch in closer proximity, this time’s mime.

ーー Where were you seated?

A: My seat was towards the back though.

ーー Because the space in that venue is quite big, right?

I: I don’t normally perform in a space that large though, for my mimes. Like a place that would already be full with 180 people in it.

A: ……How do I say this, though, there are places that cannot be expressed in words.

I: They can’t be described, right (laughs)

A: Though, where I watched from was in the back, so I had the the urge of wanting to go closer to the front to see each person’s expressions, to see more. But it was fantastic, very much so. I wanted to become even more immersed in it but no matter what, there was always a distance keeping us apart after all. But that was wonderful. I’ve not seen many performances like that but it was similar to when such theatrics visited my elementary school’s auditorium or something when I was still a child, and from there came an emotion that’s akin to feeling a little frightened, where you’re afraid but yet you want to go into it, little by little.

ーー Instead of an intrusive fear, is it more like a fear that you can’t look away from?

A: Yes, because it felt like the strings would snap there and then if I took my eyes off them, there was that kind of precarious feeling there, and at the same time, there was a lot to enjoy, wasn’t there? The music was exceptional too.

ーー Are there any scenes that left an impression on you?

A: Scenes?

ーー Or maybe actions, as well.

A: Well, there were a lot of different elements that came together, so it’s definitely the ambience… The ambience in the start was so good.

I: The start?

A: …「I love you」. I thought, ‘whoa, how nice’ (laughs).

I: Nah, it’s important to do that unabashedly, saying ‘I love you’.

A: At that moment, I thought that it would be great if I was seated a little closer to the front (laughs).

I: You thought so? You did?

A: At the least around 2 rows away, diagonally behind from where ISSAY-san stood.

ーー Even if the seat was empty, it would be difficult to move there, wouldn’t it? Since there will be a distinctive tension in the air when it’s dark.

A: Even in a concert, if you go from sitting in front to sitting in the back of the second floor, the atmosphere changes a little. Seeing becomes spectating.

ーー Even when the stage is being filmed, there’s an objectivity where you’d want to capture the audience’s excitement when you aim towards the back, but when you’re filming from off stage, in the audience, the mood is like what you’d feel as a fan, perhaps, where you directly feel the moment that makes you think that the person on stage is cool, and that, again, is something completely different, isn’t it?

A: Ah, but that was wonderful. It gave me the feeling that he’s definitely an expressionist after all.

I: Thank you.

ーー May we have a comment from you for the readers of the magazine?

A: For the readers, well… Thank you for your continued support for the both of us (laughs).

I: (laughs) We’ve known each other for a long time though, in a good way. Really, as artists, there were parts that have changed through the years, and what’s the absolute most important point, it’s close to what we’ve talked about earlier, but, it’s to be constant, unchanging. I think that this is a very important factor, isn’t it? I really love that unchanging characteristic of his. That the most important thing of all, for humans, is to have the intention to never change what they love and what’s important to them. And because he comes across to me as someone who shows that very clearly, that part of him, it was as expected that when I went for BUCK-TICK’s live late last year, I found myself thinking that when it comes to this person, once you’ve watched him, you’ll definitely become a fan. Because he was just so attractive. It makes me think that, as it is, even if he were to change the way he does things, I’d want him to go with being “unchanging”. I think that this is probably the Atsushi-kun that I love. Even his eyes, they’ve never changed from the moment when we first met until now. I want him to stay like this because there aren’t many people like him, honestly. Right now, I think that he’s an invaluable person even within Japan’s rock scene. Just like this, steadily, even while he changes, I’d wish that he continues to be invariant. With regards to the readers, it really is as Atsushi-kun said, isn’t it. Even though we’re both such people (laughs). Us two who don’t change. For me, this is the only thing that I can do. To be truly grateful for the support.

ーー For our magazine as well, we’ve gone through a lot during these past 20 years, but in future, perhaps for the 25th anniversary or the 30th anniversary, or maybe if we cheat a little and go with the 22nd anniversary or something (laughs), if there’s another opportunity, we’ll definitely be looking forward to having you here again. Thank you very much for today.

 

 

 

Outtakes

They got excited over talking about games and both agreed that the visuals in “Biohazard (a.k.a. Resident Evil)” were interesting.

A: I’d end up shooting the gun without thinking

I: I’d be so deeply absorbed in the game’s world that, for example, when I see a dog when I’m walking down the street, I’d be thinking things like “I can defeat this with a gun” (laughs)

When they were asked to sign autographs on paper as a gift for readers:

I: Acchan, which side do you sign on?

A: For us (the band) we have 5 people so I’m always in the middle

I: That’s hard to balance out with 2 people, isn’t it (laughs)  Your signature, it’s in English?

A: I actually love Kanji, but writing so many strokes became a pain (laughs)  The number of strokes left me defeated (laughs)

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Ameblo

 

Drinking Diary/Afterparty (Extract)

Ongaku to Hito
September 1995

Text = Ichikawa Tetsushi

 

In Russian

 

Ichikawa Tetsushi’s Drinking Diary – #61

 

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Monday, 26 June. Naha / Ryūkyūan* restaurant → The usual Soul Bar (first “endless drinking” in a long time).

I flew to Okinawa with ISSAY to wait for B-T. The way Sakurai broke into a wide grin as soon as he sees ISSAY’s face said, “Ahh, it’s a good thing I forced myself to move this tired body and come ♡” …… Ooooor maybe I’m just imagining things. At around 5 a.m., I and ISSAY made our escape first, and because ISSAY is around, I was able to leave by force and Imai, who couldn’t stop me from doing so, glared with hatred in his eyes. Ohh, this time, I have a good weapon with me!

 

Tuesday, 27 June. Naha / Sushi restaurant → Cabaret club that’s actually a lingerie pub** → Soul bar (“endless drinking” 2).

I drank a lot of Sake with Anii at a sushi restaurant and then got abducted by the local event organiser to a lingerie pub. Refer to the “Afterparty” for details of this “Lingerie Pub Tragedy”.

 

Wednesday, 28 June. Naha / Steak restaurant → The same club → The same soul bar (“endless drinking” 3).

When we went to our second destination, the club, the ladies who I met 2 years ago at another club were there. That frightening coincidence killed me. Also, Sakurai was being teased and called a Shisa***. We drank until 5:30 a.m. again today, and just as I thought of seizing the opportunity to flee now that Imai was turning into a Jizo statue, Imai surprised me by waking up all of a sudden as if by some animalistic instinct. This guy… I wonder if he will keep drinking even if his head gets cut off?

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end.

 

 

 

 

This Month’s Afterparty

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Tuesday, 27 June

1 p.m., Sakurai Atsushi + ISSAY’s “Decadent Conversation in Midsummer” at the far-flung Okinawa. They were to have their photoshoot at Kudaka Island, one of the Islands of God which was a 30-minute ferry ride from the main Okinawa Island, but as usual, Sakurai hasn’t appeared. Ichikawa goaded Imai Hisashi at last night’s drinking session.

“Tomorrow, we’ll be going to the island in the afternoon for a photoshoot but don’t you think it’s the absolute best to spend the middle of summer drinking co~ld beer?    Imai, come join us at 1 p.m. tomorrow, come, come!”

“Uh…… I’ll go if I can wake up.”

“Ah, you don’t have to force yourself.”

“I’ll go!”

No one trusted him to, but Imai arrived at the lobby at 12:30 p.m. wearing a jersey and he asked the staff, “Am I still in time?”

“We’re gathering at 1.”

“Thank goodnessー.”

Imai, who hastily got changed, has arrived earlier than Sakurai!

“It was late when I woke up and I thought, ‘Oh shit,’ and panicked.”

Even Imai will turn^.

Without being beaten by the absurd amount of bobbing on the boat, we landed on the 34°C island at 2:30 p.m. Our return ferry would leave at 4 p.m. and that was the only one, so the photoshoot went at high speed. The two men posed on the rocky coral embankment heavily decked out in their European flair ―― while perspiration trickled down. Also, in the meantime, the group got scared by long-legged starfish coming out of holes, gigantic woodlice running around on the rocks, and moray eels swimming in the shallows. Ah, Imai turned pale. He~y, drink your beer ―― But as depicted, Imai made a full recovery.

It bears noting that in the picture on page 126 (the last picture featured here), the scoundrel looking upon the happy couple of  “balmy Showa seas decadence” from the shadows of the rocks, ready to tear their relationship apart is, of course, Imai.

And next, what the weary Ichikawa troupe had been waiting for; the lingerie pub, “Dorikamu” which was also touched upon in the Drinking Diary! In this establishment, it’s to be expected that the lingerie-clad ladies will sit next to patrons, and every 30 minutes, Dorikamu’s famous Talk Time will take place, where the ladies will sit on a patron’s lap to talk to him and at the end, she will dance with her crotch gyrating 5cm away from the patron’s face. To add to this, of all men, the one who got picked was he who was the most indifferent to such behaviour; ISSAY. ISSAY’s eyes were wide open and his body absolutely rigid ―― Yuta, who was seated far away, ran up to him, “ISSAY-san, are you okay?”. Now that it had ended, ISSAY reasoned, “I thought I might die but I’m alright. Since I’ve been holding Atsushi’s hand throughout.”

Uh… huh.

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end.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

* Cuisine native to Okinawa.

** Basically a bar where all the hostesses wear lingerie.

*** A Shisa is an Okinawan lion dog statue usually placed on rooftops to protect against evil spirits. Also known as an Okinawan guardian lion.

^ The phrase used here was based on a Japanese saying (一寸の虫にも五分の魂) but here, the 虫 (bug) has been switched to 今井 instead. The English equivalent of this saying is, “Even a worm will turn”, meaning that even the meekest or most docile of creatures will retaliate or seek revenge if pushed too far.

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki

 

Related articles:

[Sep 1995] Ongaku to Hito: Let’s rethink B-T SPECIAL, part 2 of 2
A Decadent Conversation Even Under The Sun with Sakurai Atsushi X ISSAY

 

Let’s rethink B-T SPECIAL, part 2 of 2

Ongaku to Hito
September 1995

Interview = Ichikawa Tetsushi
Photos = Koij Kayano

 

Following last issue’s major feature of Hisashi Imai + J’s Passionate Fanboy Declaration Dialogue from Takamatsu, this month’s second part of the B-T Review SPECIAL comes to you from Okinawa.

BUCK-TICK’s first live show in 3 weeks which was held on June 28 at Naha Civic Hall was presented the same way as their first few shows of this tour; their main set comprised entirely of songs from their latest album Six/Nine. Without a doubt, rather than the “spirit of fanservice” which we get when they perform BT classics like “Speed” or “ICONOCLASM” midway, I far prefer this present strong structure which bravely sticks to only their new songs. I like them, and the way they unhesitatingly declare their conviction of “being a liberal band unbound by the currents and trends of the market” gets me excited about the future of this one-of-kind presence.

Of course, this conviction was fully reflected in how good their live show was. What should have been a very “elaborate” set of songs was brought to life by a superb band ensemble that created an unusually groovy atmosphere. Sakurai’s cul-de-sac aesthetic was on full display as he his jacket around his head and writhed wildly, danced around crazily like Bryan Ferry, and “broke” rather intensely. OK OK. The highlight of it all was probably his agonisingly decadent duet of “Itoshi no Rock Star” with their guest ISSAY, who he last performed with on May 17 at Nippon Budokan. With all the passionate kisses exchanged, the performance felt like a true demonstration of latent potential of the Japan’s aesthetic rock.

In fact, ISSAY’s guest appearance was in response to Sakurai’s fervent request for a second interview (← The first was published in our May 1994 issue) and next to making that happen this time in Okinawa, it went on to his appearance at their live show too. Well then, time to read about this decadent duo who have burst out of their unlocked basements and into the mid-summer beach.

 

Atsushi Sakurai (BUCK-TICK)+ISSAY (Der Zibet)

A decadent conversation even under the sun

 

 

 

ーー I suppose the two of you have never been under direct sunlight this strong together before (smiles).

Sakurai (S): Mm, it’s been a while.

ISSAY (I): (Smiles) It has the power to make anything and everything grovel before it, doesn’t it? Sun rays.

ーー Right then, this came about from Sakurai’s ardent imploring during recording to “have another interview”.

I: While we were having drinks together I had said to Atsushi that “it would be fun if we performed together again”, you see.

ーー Whether it’s for recording or for live performances, ISSAY’s involvement is the first time that B-T had an outsider joining in, but Sakurai’s recent ardent yearning and reliance and love for ISSAY is really something.

S: Mm…… Um…… It’s in return**.

I: Hahahaha.

S: He’s invited me to join him as a guest numerous times as well (← Guest appearance on the track “Masquerade” from Der Zibet’s album, Shishunki Ⅱ and their live at Kudan Kaikan + Guest vocals on the track “Koi no Hallelujah” from ISSAY’s solo album, FLOWERS).

ーー The decision to have him take part as a guest on this album’s “Itoshi no Rock Star (My Favorite Rock Star*)” came from Sakurai yourself, right?

S: Yeah. Mm…… On impulse (smiles).

I: Impulses are important, you know (smiles).

S: ISSAY-san’s the only one, right? For that song (smiles).

I: A kind of super dark voice left a message on my answering machine, asking, “…… Are you free” (smiles). So I thought, well, anyway, I’ll have him show me the lyrics, and when I read it, the sentiments that Atsushi now possesses were laid out right there as they were, and I thought that they were really great lyrics. Furthermore, the music goes straight into [the territory of] pop too.

ーー But that was a song that Sakurai was particularly troubled over “whether singing about such a thing is okay”.

I: Perhaps he was worried about something (smiles). Even though there’s nothing to be all that worried over.

S: After all, it was a time when the words made me…… exceptionally nervous, so, this feeling that…… I’d hate to feel the pain of people listening to the song and thinking, “He didn’t have to take things that far”, I had that.

ーー Because that song was a cynical one for fans about yourself as a rockstar, and the industry that you’re in, wasn’t it? But since it actually became this album’s most popular song among the fans, it’s hilarious, isn’t it (smiles).

S: Ahahahahahaha.

I: You see, those lyrics weren’t [written] with the intention to attack anyone. They’re lyrics that are pointed in the direction of the person singing them, so it’s about whether or not you’re capable of confidently singing it in a pop setting, isn’t it? That’s why I was really happy that you’d have me sing such a song though.

ーー Ooh, ain’t he reassuring backup.

S: Yeah, or more like a powerful ally (smiles).

I: Hyahahaha.

ーー How did the recording itself go then?

I: You know, the singing— We sang it a number of times quite seriously before we finally made an okay take, but after that, anyway, in celebration of a job well done, we went for drinks and while we were chatting about this and that, it got to a point in the conversation where he said, “I like ‘Itoshi no Macks’”, and he went in a roundabout way to say something like, “That style of singing is great”, you know (smiles).

ーー Wahahahahaha.

I: If Atsushi said, “I want to sing like [you did] in ‘Itoshi no Macks’”, I’d just be like, “Something like that…… might be good” (smiles). Then I’d think, ‘Ah, is that so!’, and then, “Well, then we’ll try that ludic singing style from ‘Itoshi no Macks’ and if they fire at us then so be it” (smiles). So, we sang it only once through and it was given the OK, and though I asked, “Is this reeally okay?”, I was kind of pleased (smiles).

ーー Please properly state what you’re hoping for right from the start.

S: Yes (smiles). It’s because I wanted ISSAY to bring out that part of him. Isn’t it to be expected that you’d be nervous when recording with someone? If he has the impression that (he) can’t step out of the box, I wanted him to be able to do it comfortably so…….

ーー But it took you an hour to beat about the bush and then say it, didn’t it? What an unmanly guy (smiles).

S: But, y’knowー♡ (smiles).

 

ISSAY「“Aniki***” (Smiles)」Sakurai「That’s dangerous, strangely (smiles)」

ーー This is a song where Sakurai can finally sing about his own dilemma that he’s always held between his rockstar self and his regular self but he was able to demonstrate it with help fueled by compassion deeper than the sea from this “aniki” known as ISSAY.

I: “Aniki” (smiles).

S: There’s something dangerous in saying “aniki”, strangely (smiles).

ーー No, no, the “aniki” type of relationship fits you both.

I: “Aniki” is like those pachinko machines, you know those?

S: Reallyー? (Smiles)

I: (There was one) that had macho aniki’s on the board, like those drawn by Hisashi Eguchi^, doing synchronised swimming and getting flogged and all that (smiles).

S: Dangerous (smiles).

I: I’ve only played pachinko 5 times before in my life, but I’d definitely like to try playing that machine.

ーー (Smiles) You’ve performed together at lives in Tokyo twice, and undoubtedly, it was as if the world of these “aniki” unfolded on stage.

I: Performing that song was so much fun, you know, with [an uncertainty regarding] how the other appear would appear (smiles). Which is why there was a staggering amount of tension, y’know, the both of us (smiles). And we were watching each other closely to decide on how we’d move on our own― Doing that, we ended up getting questions from fans like ‘Was it choreographed?’ and things like that, didn’t we (smiles)?

ーー If you choreographed that, you both will become slaves to lust at every rehearsal (smiles).

S: Hahahaha. That’d be nice (smiles).

I: Ichikawa-kun didn’t see the Budokan performance, but Budokan’s was an evolved form of Liquid Room’s.

ーー What do you mean by “evolved form”?

I: It became more intense (smiles).

ーー Is it maturation or degradation? But B-T fans also welcomed you enthusiastically, so that was great.

I: Ah, but I was thinking about what I should do if they were dead silent when I get called (smiles).

ーー I understand that feeling.

I: Then, you know, our HAL-chan (bassist of DZ) came to Budokan to watch and I was suuper happy (smiles). Furthermore, before I was introduced, Atsushi suddenly sang “Shizumitai (←Der Zibet’s little known masterpiece that heralded the dawn of Japan’s decadence (lol))” in acapella.

ーー You did that?

S: Did I ♡ (smiles).

I: Initially, I was still thinking, “This is DZ’s song but what was itー” (smiles). Then HAL-chan was touched that it struck home for him and it was added into current DZ’s tour setlist, you know (smiles).

S: Wonderful一 (smiles).

I: Though I was happy that everyone welcomed me so warmly this time (smiles).

S: There was a vigour. Like “It’s a warm welcome!!” (smiles).

ーー Probably yours (smiles). But this was the first time that B-T has invited a guest to their live, right?

S: Yeah. I guess, in terms of reliability or something― ISSAY-san is reliable. And being able to feel that our own band members are reliable too, for some reason.

ーー What do you mean by your members being reliable?

S: I suppose it’s probably dependent on the different atmospheres that we take in.

I: A different kind of tension; that might be the case.

S: The feeling that our breathing is perfectly in sync.

ーー On the other hand, what’s “Itoshi no Rock Star” like during the tour when ISSAY isn’t around?

S: It’s lonelyー (smiles).

ーー So this means that you’re happy about the last-minute, first-in-a-long-while duet that will be coming true tomorrow at Naha Civil Hall.

S: Yes (smiles).

ーー (Smiles) But I do wonder what the B-T fans think about Sakurai’s yearning for ISSAY.

S: Ahh…… I don’t really know. I guess they think (of him) as “aniki” (smiles).

I: Hahahaha. “Aniki” (smiles).

S: (Smiles) But after all, in terms of type, I suppose…… At a glance, you’d be able to tell, right? That ISSAY-san is like this and Sakurai Atsushi is like that. We’re definitely not the exact same type, but that part that draws people in so well is convincing too, isn’t it?

 

 

ISSAY「Me, I’ve only got one artistic style」

 

ーー But some years ago, when B-T was about to debut, when X was about to debut, when LUNA SEA was about to debut, you thought nothing of them at all, didn’t you? It was something like vainglory [on your part].

I: Uhhuh.

ーー And even though Sakurai performed with a stance that said “Other bands don’t concern us!”, isn’t it exceptionally interesting that this state at this point in time is one where such people are the only tangent point between you both?

(Both burst out laughing).

S: We also spoke about this yesterday when we were drinking but…… I suppose there’s something I longed for after all. Not the wet kind (smiles).

ーー What’s that, this “wet longing” (smiles).

I: Issit a dry longing!? (smiles).

S: No, it’s not dry. I guess it’s wet after all (smiles).

I: Amazing. I ask him what’s a dry longing and next thing he tells me it’s a wet longing (smiles).

ーー Wahahahaha.

S: (Smiles) That…… flexibility, or something, ISSAY-san has it. So, the flexibility and stoic-ness that I feel are― qualities that I’ll never possess, and I’ve seen it in Der Zibet since the very beginning. Furthermore, the strength of that suppleness, that core, I suppose has never changed.

ーー So you’re saying that ISSAY hasn’t changed since 10 years ago.

I: I haven’t changed (smiles). Me, I’ve only got one artistic style! (smiles).

S: (Smiles) Your attitude, I suppose.

ーー On the other hand, what about Sakurai from ISSAY’s point of view?

I: You see, I think he’s cool. So, during this time’s live, I was watching Atsushi on the monitor until it was time for me to go on stage and― In that sense, Atsushi is far more flexible than I am too. And when he’s stoic, he’s tremendously stoic, and that’s the kind of thing that I really love, you know? And more than before, much much more, it’s this… there is this sense of scale now.

ーー Ah, he was still young back then, right?

I: No, it’s not that, because I’ve happened to watch BUCK-TICK’s live in London, in the past (smiles).

ーー During the recording of ‘TABOO’.

I: But for me, ever since B-T came out, I liked their 1st and 2nd [albums] so, yeah. And these two albums that followed― ‘darker than darkness’ and ‘Six/NiNe’, I really love them both, again, for different reasons. It’s definitely…… the way they’re evolving yet there’s a nature that doesn’t change? After all, I get the feeling that all of it steadily boils down to become one thing, and that attitude…… it holds a tremendous amount of good vibes too, I like it.

ーー The point is that― You’re only capable of doing this one same thing since back thenー.

I: Kukukuku.

S: Hey, that’s mean! (Smiles).

ーー And being all alone―, and obstinacy being the common denominator that connects you two together, I suppose.

I: Ahahaha. Ah, but these 3 points are huge, you know. These three points might be crucial.

S: A strong spring, that’s what it is (smiles).

I: Because when it comes to artists, I love those people who possess a ton of those, you see (smiles).

ーー But, y’know, I think that being able to do only one thing is a good thing, isn’t it? You can’t [do] rock if you don’t lack skill, right?

I: Yeah. And on the other hand, with Atsushi, no matter what form things come in, he’s able to do it because he has that one thing, doesn’t he? Because, even though I think that he’s only able to do things in that style, he possesses his own flavour. Der Zibet is also like that, but things like the musicality of the band and so on has now changed, hasn’t it?    But Atsushi has always done things with one single methodology in such areas, so no matter what music is being presented to him, no matter what style it becomes, I feel that he will be undaunted.

ーー Yes, exactly. Be it DZ or B-T, both bands do things their own way, as they like, and the unreasonable role burdened with the responsibility of “Write the lyrics, sing the song and make it sound like B-T, alright? Make it sound like DZ, alright?” is being delegated to you both (smiles).

S: Hahahaha.

I: Kukukukuku!

ーー But aren’t there a lot of songs that you don’t know what to do with when they get passed to you?

I: Yeah (smiles). That’s absolutely right, that happens (smiles).

ーー Because both HIKARU and Imai are pretty similar, aren’t they? They simply do whatever they feel like doing and then say, “I think this is cool so I’ll leave whatever comes after to you!” (smiles).

I: It will be left to me, so it’s just like that. You see, he’d just tell me to sing it my way (smiles).

S: That’s true. But once I’ve digested it, it’s like it’s already there.

ーー Even so, outrageous songs that you can’t put lyrics to will have their lyrics written by Imai and at the same time, he’d sing it too (smiles).

S: (Smiles) No no, because that’s simply what Imai wants to express―.

ーー But I believe you’ve only become attentive to such areas recently, right?

S: Mm…… In that sense, I suppose I’ve got a little room to breathe, recently. Something like having ISSAY-san join us…… Like the leeway [within the] band.

 

Sakurai「Successor? I’ve no idea at all」

 

ーー (Smiles) Well, even then, this decadent ballad tag-team has already happened for 3 previous songs, but when I listen to the CD, your voices are like two peas in a pod, I can’t tell the difference between the both of you.

I: That’s absolutely right. I’ve often been asked myself.

S: Right?

I: But our speaking voices are different, aren’t they?    DZ and BUCK-TICK sing on different keys so I guess when we’re on the same key, it sounds similar.

S: Hahahaha.

I: And a lady writer/reporter who came to watch the Budokan performance said, “Ah, so this is the separation between your two voices” like she understood it for the first time (smiles).

ーー If that’s the case, it might even be a good idea for the two of you to try coming together as a duo. The aniki version of Karyudo^^ or something like that (smiles).

I: Gyahahaha. Kukuku.

S: Hahahahaha.

ーー If you tried doing that, I think you’d feel something similar to that stubbornness and one-trick-pony lack of skill.

I: I do think that there’s a closeness for such a case of [vocal] separation and the stances with which each of us performs is different. But yet, in terms of our way of being as artists and the way things are encapsulated, I think that there’s a part of us that is close to aestheticism.

ーー What does Sakurai think about this?

S: …… P-Presumptuous (smiles).

ーー Do you conversely have a wish of “wanting to only change this part” or something like that?

S: No, not at all (immediate answer).

I: Hahaha. Oh, really?

S: Not at all (immediate answer)². Since way back I’ve aーlways been watching, but this person is just filled with the convincing “I should stay in such a place” kind of quality.

ーー I wonder, what will you do if either one of you changed in future?

I: Breakup? (smiles).

S: With one phone call (smiles). “Thank you for all these years”. Really, we can’t speak anymo一re (smiles).

I: (Smiles) That’s cold.

S: But for me, it was a turning point to be attracted to ISSAY-san’s aesthetic and go and watch his live― [He’s] a boy who has his own garden and plays in it. At that time, I didn’t have a garden in my home yet, but ISSAY-san had a place where he’s the only interesting aspect (smiles).

I: Uhahaha. Doesn’t that make me nothing more than a self-indulgent guy!

ーー Ain’t that simply the description of an unsociable guy.

I: You talkin’bout me? (smiles). But I can really understand what he’s trying to say. I think that’s something that I’ve aーlways desperately defended after all. That’s why I’m really happy that he was able to see that from me.

ーー I suppose that’s how the younger ones view the present Sakurai too. You two are of the self-revolving cul-de-sac style, and it’s a credo that only applies to the two of you.

S: Hahahaha. That’s right, that’s right.

I: But, you know, being able to ceremoniously do something like that in the overground scene was impossible before BUCK-TICK debuted, wasn’t it? That’s why, when I look at them, I think that they’re really cool, reliable. I think it’s really significant that they’re living with confidence.

S: The one who’s reassuring is this one [ISSAY]. It’s very much so whenever I’m doing something and I think, “Ah, there’s someone who continues to hold on to a style that’s similar to ISSAY-san’s”.

ーー Ain’t that just lovely. Has no successor shown up?

S: I’ve no idea at all (smiles).

ーー Argh, it’d be boring if this perishes after two generations.

I: I’d hate for [it to end in] two generations! (smiles). Have it go down to posterity.

S: Hahahahahaha.

 

 

 

 

Notes:

* BUCK-TICK song title translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site

** Here, he used the phrase お返しを込めて (okaeshi wo komete). I’ve never seen such a phrase myself, so I’d say that it’s not a standard phrase per se, but a mix of two.
お返し, in general, is used in contexts when you’re talking about returning something, like a book (think library) or a favour, or getting back at someone for something, i.e. revenge. You could say that it’s rather obvious that Sakurai’s phrase belongs to the former rather than the latter.
を込めて tends to be used with 愛 (love), 感謝 (gratitude) or 心 (heart) and varying grammar particles to result in phrases which are the equivalent of “with love”, “with thanks”, or “with all my heart”.
From his statement following this line of dialogue, it can be implied that he meant お返しを込めて with regards to his appreciation for being asked by Der Zibet /ISSAY to take part in their activities. Thus, in a way, this is sort of him “returning the favour”. Or so he says ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

*** I decided not to translate 兄貴 (aniki), which is basically a slang version of the more standard お兄さん (oniisan), or in English, big/elder brother. In gay circles, it is also used to address an older gay man who is masculine in spirit and appearance. Although do note that if he is masculine in both spirit and appearance, he can also be addressed as a “nee-san” (elder sister) depending on his words and actions.

^ Hisashi Eguchi is a manga artist who debuted in Shonen Jump in 1977 with Susume!! Pirates. Other works of his includes include Stop!! Hibari-kun!, and Charamono.

^^ Karyudo (狩人) was a singing duo consisting of brothers Takamichi Kato and Kunihiko Kato. They originally disbanded in 2006 to focus on solo activities but have since reformed in 2012.

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: yasromance

 

Related articles:

[Sep 1995]  Ongaku to Hito: Drinking Diary/Afterparty Columns (Extract)