Somewhere Nowhere 1995 Live Report

Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
July 1995

Photography by Inoue Seiichi
Text by Oshibe Keiko

 

At long last, “Six/Niɴe” begins!!
Breaking report!! 2 Days’ Concert at Budokan

The curtains have finally been raised on BUCK-TICK’s tour, Somewhere Nowhere 1995 with their 2 days of opening concerts at Budokan on May 16th and 17th. Their sound becomes ever more experimental with each new release. But even as their staging becomes less appealing to the general masses, the band’s collective power remains unparalleled. Now, we’ll tell you all about what the concert was like, ahead of everyone else in this ultra breaking report that made our printing company cry.

 

 

Their continual search for sonic innovation while maintaining a pop presence is even more poignant

BUCK-TICK’s long-awaited album, Six/Niɴe was released on May 15th. They kicked off their tour, “Somewhere Nowhere 1995” with 2 days of opening concerts at Budokan on May 16th and 17th.

This tour will go on for a period of approximately 2 months, ending with their final 2 days at Osaka Koseinenkin Hall¹ on August 2nd. As this magazine will go on sale when the tour is still in its first leg, I will do my best to refrain from spoiling the setlist in this report.

Two days before the start of the tour, the band played at Shinjuku LIQUIDROOM².

Compared to an auditorium, the ambience of a live house makes it easier to bring out a sense of euphoria and a particular communal sense of unity. And I frankly think that more often than not, the closer you are [to the performers], the more tangibly thoughts and feelings can be conveyed.

However, after watching these two shows, I realised that in the case of BUCK-TICK, it was easier for them to get their message across when there’s a certain amount of distance between them and the audience.

Because their show isn’t the type where the energy gets amplified by getting the audience involved. Instead, I feel that it draws you in with a deliberately constructed overall mood on top of an increasingly unique ambience in terms of sound. Coming too close will contrarily make it difficult for them to convey this ambience, as if in a bid to create some kind of distance.

For example, in a live house, Sakurai’s lines in Somewhere Nowhere or even his screams sound like a script from an avant-garde play with a rawness that left me at a loss as to how to react, but in Budokan, it came across with a poignant effect instead.

If musicians innovated without losing their inquisitive spirit with each new work they put out, just like BUCK-TICK, then oftentimes, the range of audiences they can reach narrows. That is to say in other words, the factors of the greatest common denominator, or their mass appeal, diminishes.

But BUCK-TICK’s audience have always been flexible in accepting whatever they release. I think that is in part a result of giving typically-passive audiences a sense of autonomy through the process of them evolving their sound all while compellingly drawing in listeners. Because of that, even songs like Uta can be classified as pop as long as it is being performed by BUCK-TICK.

Personally, it’s BUCK-TICK’s band power of randomly shifting values that intrigues me.

This new album appears to be an attempt to rebuild using new elements after demolishing a certain level of mastery they had attained in their last. It is exceptionally proper of them as artists to disregard the pursuit of any sort of “likeness” or anything like that amidst the pre-established harmony. This stance along with their consistent ability to draw in an audience makes for a simply gratifying tale.

But how does the audience view this present album? While there is an increased sense of “better conveyed from a distance” in their pursuit of innovation, I also got the feeling that there was diminished connectedness with the audience. Watching the arena from the second floor, I could see that although the audience understood the band’s stance, they yearned for moments when they could somehow connect with the men on stage somewhere.

Like the tune hummed after the Uta’s break, or Sakurai’s short emcee. In those moments when it felt like there was some way to connect with the stage, the audience felt as if they were groping around trying to find it.

The main set comprised only songs from the new album, arranged such that it would bring the singular flow to a close at the end.

Caught up in such a flow, I think the audience felt that it was easiest to eke out those “moments” during the song from Kurutta Taiyou, which the band played in the encore. But that connection was severed all too soon the moment the song ended and the auditorium light up. While there might be those who simply enjoy this set up or who get some sort of masochistic pleasure from this, I’m sure there are also those who were left feeling like there’s unfinished business.

However, this concert was held the day following the release of the album which also means that not everyone was familiar with the music yet.

Taking that into consideration, at this point in time, it is still a mystery as to whether the uncertainty exhibited by the audience was because of that, or due to the confusion around the band’s direction in the new album.

It will be interesting to see what the mood in the various tour venues will be like as [the audience] soaks in the album.

At the same time, it is as Yagami Toll said during his interview for the new album; the band’s principal stance is to disregard their audience and do whatever they want.

How “pop” of an existence will this piquantly self-seeking band who hurtles headlong into going their own way continue to be for their audience from now on? Will their sound evolve as they figure out how to keep up their centripetal force so strong that it transforms their worth?  Looking at the way they’re going recently, I personally feel that there’s a lot we can expect from them in this respect.

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ Now known as Orix Theater.

² First opened in July 1994 before shutting in January 2004. Later that year in July, they moved to Shibuya and reopened.

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Endless Dei (@DeiEndless on Twitter)

 

Related articles:

[Jun 1995] Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll: Six/Niɴe Feature — Double-Edged BUCK-TICK

[Jul 1995]  Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll: Outpouring from the heart — Part 2 of Sakurai Atsushi’s interview in the Six/Niɴe Feature

 

[Live Report] 魅世物小屋が暮れてから〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜

Pia
18 July 2021

Text = Okubo Yuka
Photos = Tanaka Seitaro, Watanabe Reina

 

 

This Depraved Dream World BUCK-TICK Invited Us Into

At 21:00 on July 17 was when BUCK-TICK began their streamed concert Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara 〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜. This is its official report.

This show is BUCK-TICK’s first concert in 2021 and their second concert stream without an in-person audience. At last September’s ABRACADABRA LIVE ON THE NET, they performed the songs from their latest album ABRACADABRA according to the CD track order on the day of the album’s release. It was a straightforward livestream that delivered the band’s zeal but this time around, as the title suggests, a conceptual set that brought their audience into a salaciously beautiful world of mellifluous intoxication unfolded.

9 p.m. is usually the time we expect for a usual concert to end. In this day and age where we joke about “shady dealings” and the sort which comes alive after 8 p.m., there lies a tent that quietly puts on a light. It is time for BUCK-TICK’s streamed concert Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara 〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜 to commence.

Enticed by an introduction that invokes a sense of guilty pleasure, we dive in deep, going through the curtains and continuing until a circular stage lit up by strings of electric lights appears before our eyes. Dressed in outfits oozing with personality, the band looked like a troupe belonging to this “Circus of Oddities”. Giving the audience no time to mentally prepare themselves, they immediately began their song. It was a familiar melody but with a completely different groove. This new sensation brings about the awareness that we have stepped into a whole other world.

Today’s show was split into two parts; the first being an acoustic set, and the second, the band set. In the first half, the acoustic set not only consisted of already existing acoustic songs, but also songs which have been specially given newly arranged acoustic versions just for this show.

Highlights among those are Uta which had transformed from garage rock to swing, and JUST ONE MORE KISS which had turned into a refreshing mid-tempo song. The simplicity of this ensemble elevated the songs, making them stand out even more and letting them convey each of their individual “fragrances” through the screen.

In addition, the cabaret box seats set up by the stage, the flames surrounding the stage, the lighting, the camerawork and all that were unlike what you would see in large productions on a big stage. All these minute staging details were what vividly reflected the storytelling of this particular stage.

The band set in the second part was their conventional concert setup, but even here, they’ve added songs with new arrangements that continue to surprise. They’ve said from the very beginning that the setlist for this show was specially selected to match the atmosphere of this stage which looks like a “Circus of Oddities”. And it feels especially so in this second half with a setlist steeped deeply in a world of depravity and fantasy.

In our daily lives where all kinds of exhausting news keep flying at us, this moment alone allows us to forget that reality. It’s like they’re granting us a dazzling, or perhaps a soothing dream to dream. I believe that this is precisely the true value of entertainment.

Their persistence with the concept of putting on a performance of mesmerising songs without speaking even once so as to not dispel this dream for the audience truly left an impression. Yet in spite of this, the message that the band wanted to convey through all of this was clearly told through the show.

Throughout both the first and second parts, Sakurai Atsushi (vocals) crossed his index and middle fingers time and again, displaying the hand sign for “Good Luck”. For those who will be enjoying the archive, do certainly pay attention and look out for this.

It had been showtime that will make us want to keep coming back for more even after the curtains have been drawn. The archive period for this stream will end on Friday, 23 July at 23:59. There is no doubt that you will most certainly get to meet a whole new BUCK-TICK in this show.

Yesterday, after the stream concluded, BUCK-TICK announced that they will be releasing a new single titled Go-Go B-T TRAIN on Wednesday, 22 September. They also announced that they will be going on a national tour starting Monday, 3 October along with the tour schedule.

I suppose the audience who have been immersed in the afterglow of this “Circus of Oddities” must have also been talking about the title of the single which appears to hold the destructive power to break down the image of BUCK-TICK that we’ve held thus far. Next year, in 2022, BUCK-TICK will be celebrating the 35th anniversary of their career since their major debut and yet they are still on the attack. It is truly admirable. Let our hearts swell with the anticipation of looking forward to what kind of new world will be the next one that BUCK-TICK shows us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Pia

[Live Report] The Day In Question 2020

Pia
31 December 2020

Text = Okubo Yuka
Photos = Seitaro Tanaka

 

 

The parade of hope starts again with BUCK-TICK at Nippon Budokan
“Let’s go! Into the future”

【LIVE REPORT】
BUCK-TICK〈ABRACADABRA THE DAY IN QUESTION 2020〉
2020.12.29 at Nippon Budokan

 

 

 

BUCK-TICK conducted their annual December 29 performance at Nippon Budokan, Tokyo. Because they shifted venues to Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium in 2019 in light of renovation works, this was their first performance in Nippon Budokan in 2 years. This is also the 21st time in a row that they have performed on this particular date. Nippon Budokan is most certainly the most fitting venue for this “annual” event to keep going.

This show was entitled “ABRACADABRA THE DAY IN QUESTION 2020”; a sign that this was to be a one-night-only special event where fans can enjoy both the world view of ABRACADABRA, their latest album which was released in September, and the special feeling that the annual year-end THE DAY IN QUESTION brings.

“Let’s go! Into the future. Let’s go!” Sakurai Atsushi’s (vocals) powerful declarations came after he sang the second song of the second encore, LOVE PARADE which was reminiscent of the closing of a show, and right before their last number, New World.

After BUCK-TICK released their album, ABRACADABRA, they were supposed to go on a national tour, but after taking the COVID-19 crisis into consideration, they held the film concert tour “TOUR2020 ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN” and added more dates to their original tour schedule. This tour was an experiment like no other. Although it is a film concert, the same sound systems and lighting as an actual live show were used to create a sense of realism for the audience. That along with the spirited performance by the band and an audience who kept up the applause as if it was an actual concert fulfilled the holy trinity that makes a live show, but despite it all, there was, inevitably, a loneliness that couldn’t be dispelled.

Following in the footsteps of “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”, this Nippon Budokan performance was to be the last in-audience show of the year 2020 with thorough COVID-19 prevention measures taken including the introduction of a face recognition system for entry, temperature checks, disinfection, and limiting the audience to about 5,000 people; half of the usual capacity. The event was also streamed live on the internet, responding to the wishes of fans around the world who could not make it to the venue.

This performance is the culmination of the band’s activities with the album, ABRACADABRA in 2020 which kicked off with their online no-audience live broadcast performance “ABRACADABRA ON THE NET”. I had thought that this show is the one that would be where the parade ends, but that thought was kicked to the curb by Sakurai’s earlier words. The band was welcoming everyone to this Budokan show, saying, “The parade goes on. Come, let’s go!” And at the same time, they pointed to the future which lay just beyond our outstretched hands. After the performance ended, the band announced a national tour for  fall of 2021 plus the next December 29 show at Nippon Budokan. In a world that has yet to see light, they have once again brought us shining hope.

Peace signs held up, voiceless excitement turning to conveyed zeal

A little past the scheduled start time, a clip of the world of ABRACADABRA’s album jacket played, with a blue butterfly fluttering above crystals and diamonds, on the screen in front of the stage to a new arrangement of the SE, THEME OF B-T. When the tour title turned to dust and scattered away, Tsuki no Sabaku began. Visuals of a desert unfolded in front of the band, linking their performance with the oriental music. The clear tones which rang out with Sakurai’s occasional ringing of the tingsha bells felt as if they cleansed the air of the venue.

When the screen fell away to reveal the band members during the intro of the next song, Que Sera Sera Elegy, I could feel the excitement in the hall rise two to three times higher. The band truly was standing before our eyes. The voiceless excitement turned into an zeal which we managed to communicate to the band. Kemonotachi no Yoru YOW-ROW ver. was truly thrilling with an edgy, cutting beat and the union of Sakurai’s singing with Imai Hisashi’s (guitar) playing. And on the imposing beat set by Higuchi Yutaka (bass) and Yagami Toll (drums) in SOPHIA DREAM rode Sakurai and Imai’s free-floating twin vocals, leading the audience into a psychedelic world.

As if acting out the worlds of each song, the singing Sakurai’s performances were brilliant. The sight of him lying down on the floor lit in red during URAHARA-JUKU was breathtakingly beautiful, while the way he folded his arms, as if cradling a child while he swayed to the chilling intro plucked by Hoshino Hidehiko (guitar) was filled with compassion. Right after applying red lipstick himself, he began to sing Maimu Mime, dividing his performance between the man and woman characters with facial expressions and deliberate hand gestures in the backdrop of a drinking district scattered with titles of BUCK-TICK’s old songs on the signboards.

During the techno number, Villain performed with the twin vocals of Sakurai and Imai, the audience’s clapping became part of the rhythm, creating a sense of unity. The four-on-the-floor dance tune Datenshi YOW-ROW ver. evolved into an even more solid performance and turned Budokan into a dance hall, pumping up the intensity with Dance Tengoku which followed.

Imai’s solo performance of gentle harmonies led into MOONLIGHT ESCAPE. Sakurai’s unconstrained vocals sounded almost like a prayer. Then, they continued into the lively 8-beat song, Eureka. The audience held up peace signs together with Imai and Hoshino whenever they did it. This was the one scene that I wanted to see the most on the ABRACADABRA album tour. Sakurai walked from the right side of the stage to the left, watching this scene before him. And to culminate it all, Boukyaku. This ensemble of equal parts painful sorrow and kindly warmth along with the emotionally charged singing permeated deeply into my heart. Leaving these emotions lingering deep in the audience, the main set came to an end.

The most impressive thing in this show’s live re-enactment of a setlist which was pretty much the same as that of “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN” was loud, thunderous round of endless applause which started up everytime a song ended. This was the audience conveying their feelings to the band in this situation where voices could not be used.

The reason why there were uncharacteristically long breaks between songs must be because the band members wanted to take in those feelings with their whole being. This reciprocal interaction between the performers and the audience is something that we only feel more acutely after having experienced no-audience live shows. A live show is built up on the enthusiasm and passion from these two sides. I believe the audience’s zeal must have been well conveyed to the band. Whenever a song ended, Sakurai would say, “Thank you.”

Sharing the desire to protect others, a space filled with kindness

After 15 minutes of intermission, the “THE DAY IN QUESTION” part of the show title begins. Welcomed by the impatiently-waiting applause that had started up 5 minutes before intermission ended, the band arrived on stage. It was at this moment that we found out that the words on the back of Yagami’s jacket said, “FUCK OFF!! COVID-19”.

During the future-illuminating FUTURE SONG-Mirai ga Tooru- and Luna Park, and even the mid-tempo Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru sung against a starry sky, the band brought power and healing to the hearts that have become a little exhausted by the unstable situation. During ROMANCE, we were intoxicated by Sakurai’s dramatic performance from the start when he lit up the candles of a candelabra, to the end when he pierced his chest with his stick.

And before their next song, LOVE ME, this was what he said:
“The next song is about how you’ll be able to cherish the people you love when you cherish yourself. I would like to dedicate this to the medical professionals.”

The sight of the members putting their utmost respect into the song and music along with the audience waving their arms from side to side as best they could for those who couldn’t make it to the brightly lit hall is seared into my memory. Come to think of it, during the typically bustling pre-show wait and even enroute from the nearest train station to Budokan, the attendees observed good manners; they were quiet. Everyone shared the notion of thinking for and protecting others. This was a space that was filled with such kindness.

The second encore started on a high note with Alice in Wonder Underground. Receiving the neverending applause after LOVE PARADE, Sakurai spoke words of gratitude for the staff who helped to make this show a success and to the fans, he also thanked them saying, “Thank you for all your applause today. Your hands must be sore, aren’t they?”

There was also a moment when he eased the atmosphere in the hall by mumbling to himself, “I guess it must be boring to hear me talk only about serious matters. Shall I tell a dirty joke……”

“May the next year be a good one. I wish you all happiness,” he said with a deep bow, as if in prayer. Afterwhich, he said, “And now, let’s go! Into the future. Let’s go!”, leading into the last number, New World. “Cut through this infinite darkness and head into the future.” The powerful message that is embedded in this song turned into a light of hope and rained down on the audience.

Thank you for tonight
It was an unforgettable night
May the new year bring
much happiness to everyone
I hope you have a Happy New Year With love
BUCK-TICK

It is said that since ancient times, firecrackers (爆竹 / bakuchiku), which are read the same way as BUCK-TICK (バクチク / bakuchiku), were set off to dispel plagues and evil spirits while ushering in good luck. ABRACADABRA, which BUCK-TICK played with great pomp and splendor at the end of the year to close of 2020 is a spell to ward off the plague. Therefore, we can say that BUCK-TICK’s existence is as good as hope itself.

When they announced that they would be holding a tour in autumn of 2021 along with a Nippon Budokan performance at the end of the show, the audience broke into another huge round applause. BUCK-TICK’s parade has started off once again from here as we head into 2021. I can’t help but hope for a future where we can all shout “PEACE” together in high spirits.

 

 

 

 

Setlist
1. 月の砂漠 (Tsuki no Sabaku)
2. ケセラセラ エレジー (Que Sera Sera Elegy)
3. 獣たちの夜 YOW-ROW ver. (Kemonotachi no Yoru)
4. SOPHIA DREAM
5. URAHARA-JUKU
6. 凍える (Kogoeru)
7. 舞夢マイム (Maimu Mime)
8. Villain
9. 堕天使 YOW-ROW ver. (Datenshi)
10. ダンス天国 (Dance Tengoku)
11. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
12. ユリイカ (Eureka)
13. 忘却 (Boukyaku)

Encore
1. FUTURE SONG – 未来が通る – (FUTURE SONG -Mirai ga Tooru-)
2. Luna Park
3. 世界は闇で満ちている (Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru)
4. ROMANCE
5. LOVE ME

1. Alice in Wonder Underground
2. LOVE PARADE
3. New World

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Pia

【Interview】BUCK-TICK’s 22nd Album, ABRACADABRA

BARKS.jp
18 September 2020

Interview/text: Tae Omae

 

 

Acceptance and affirmation for everything in life, for everyone who wishes to live as they are

BUCK-TICK will be releasing their 22nd album ABRACADABRA on Monday, September 21; the 33rd anniversary of their career. Eureka, the vibrant rock and roll number which was released ahead of time is an anthem which repeatedly calls out “LOVE!” in celebration of life. That alone has more than powerful enough to open up a wind tunnel in these melancholy times, but the true magnificence of BUCK-TICK is found in the jet black parade of Boukyaku (忘却 / Oblivion) which closes off the world of this album. This is an all-encompassing affirmation and acceptance of every facet of life; not just the hopes and delights and thrills and joys, but also the nightmares and pain and sadness and remorse. So, how did they create this album, which seems like an amulet for all those who wish to live as they are to keep close to?   This we ask vocalist Sakurai Atsushi and guitarist Imai Hisashi.

 

 

■ “A slightly deviant vibe” or something edgy
■ I thought of aiming for the essence of something like that

 

―― Listening to ABRACADABRA, the album was beautiful and it felt like something I would use as an omamori¹ in dark and depressing times; like a safety net for the heart. When did you start work on this album? And how did it progress?

Imai Hisashi (I): Probably last Autumn?   I started writing music around spring, and that’s when it started, I suppose.

―― Was that around the time when COVID-19 brought about the mood of voluntary restraint?   Or earlier than that?

I: Earlier than that.

―― Did you already have a general concept or vision for the album at the time?

I: When I was composing, I personally had something in mind. Like, “a slightly deviant vibe“. For some reason I kept coming back to the thought of aiming for the essence of something that’s kind of edgy, or something along those lines. But even if that’s what I’m aiming for, it doesn’t mean that I want to force my way there no matter what. It’s fine to stray away from it a little too. Well, but it wasn’t all that much of a concept anyway.

―― I feel that for over 30 years, everyone in BUCK-TICK has always deviated from the norm in the sense that you’ve always created works that do not fit the mold. So were you thinking of something different this time too?

I: I’m pretty sure I did because otherwise, I wouldn’t get the feeling myself that “I want to try and put that into words”.

―― This vision of “something deviant”, how exactly was it reflected in your work?   Were there any aspects of songwriting that were considered out of the ordinary for you?

I: No, there was none of that in particular. Simply put, deviant refers to things like “no pandering”, and the like. Although, now I’m wondering whether I’ve mentioned that side of things before.

―― Do you mean that you won’t consider doing things that are derived from the consideration of what the general audience would like, and these sorts of ‘services’?

I: That’s right. Basically, as long as we think it’s good, we’d go ahead with it as it is. I feel that the initial spark came from those really small things and it eventually grew into my motivation.

『ABRACADABRA』【First Press Limited Edition】

―― This vision that Imai-san held from the very beginning, at what stage was it first shared with Sakurai-san?

Sakurai Atsushi (S): No, he didn’t at all.

I: I didn’t say anything.

S: …… I didn’t ask (smiles).

―― (Smiles). So, you were sort of just watching the music get written?

S: That’s right.

―― When did you start aligning your awareness with each other?

I: I think it’s better if we don’t have to say things to each other like, “Like this.” Once it’s said, the other party would get stuck there and even if he thought that something isn’t quite right with doing it “like this”, he wouldn’t tell me that. Though, well, he usually doesn’t really say anything to me anyway.

―― I see. Aside from the previously released singles², what was the first song that was written for the album?

I: The first ones were probably MOONLIGHT ESCAPE and Datenshi.

―― Those became singles in the end and for Datenshi, you have another version recorded, right?

I: That’s right.

Imai Hisashi

―― In the beginning [of the album], you start with the sound effects (SE) track PEACE, followed by Que Sera Sera Elegy, URAHARA-JUKU, and SOPHIA DREAM; a group of psychedelically textured songs with a strong electronic-feeling and a crisp audio impression comes one after another, but did those come about much later?

I: That’s right. After we made MOONLIGHT ESCAPE and Datenshi, those 3 are the songs that were composed right after I entered yet another creative period.

―― How did this album’s production and recording schedule get affected by COVID-19?

I: Recording was suspended. For about a month?

―― How did you feel during that period?

I: I guess, as you’d expect, you could say that things gradually grew dark. Because I was in such a bad mood, it was then when I wrote Eureka.

―― That’s the song which was released ahead of time, right? Was that unconditional strength and bright energy linked to your own desire to break past that stifling situation?

I: Yeah, I think so. Actually, I wrote a song with a much heavier guitar riff during that period, but I gradually grew sick of that gloomy feeling. And I thought, “It’s been a while since I wrote a song like Eureka. Maybe I should try that?”

―― Eureka’s lyrics even have the word ABRACADABRA, the album’s title. Did this word appear in Imai-san’s mind at the stage of this song’s creation?   Or did that come from Sakurai-san?

I: That’s right. It was from Sakurai-san that the word appeared in the lyrics.

―― Well, then, I’ll direct the question about how the word “ABRACADABRA” came about to Sakurai-san. But first, can you tell us how you felt about the situation where you had to suspend your work as a result of COVID-19?

S: For me, I had the lyrics of 1 or 2 songs to write so I was focused on that. Well, with the feeling that there’s no other option but to behave myself. While still not really understanding why…… It still applies even now, but without exaggerating it, [I had a sense of] “we should protect each other’s lives first”. Because no matter what, the studio was going to be sealed off anyway, and it’s [a place where it’s] difficult to get ventilation too. And after the state of emergency was announced, it’s like everyone stayed home to “protect themselves”.

―― How did you feel at the time?

S: I was a bit scared. Because there was this realisation slowly dawning on me that “this doesn’t only affect other people.” My mood was also definitely…… Well, then again, I’m always depressed³ to begin with (smiles).

I: (Smiles).

Sakurai Atsushi

―― (Smiles). So, it felt like [the situation] just made it worse?

S: Yes, I was depressed³ (smiles).

―― So, how did the word “ABRACADABRA” catch your eye in that situation?

S: When we had to stop recording, I was left with the lyrics to Eureka to write, and I had a lot of time to do that, about a month, so that’s what I did in that period of time. Right at the start, Imai-san had decided that the chorus was to be in English, so I had to think about whether there was any way to ride on that well while still making it “me”. I went to read various books and widened my horizons, and watched movies and all that too. While doing all that, when I opened up the web for some reason to have a look, it felt as if [the word] just came towards me.

―― Huh!   So, you just grabbed it like, “This is the one!” and reeled in it?

S: That’s right. So, while I was doing that legwork, I meant to increase the reach of my antenna to capture a wider variety of things, so that was how the word approached me.

―― For Imai-san’s part of the lyrics where you shout “LOVE!” over and over, did it reflect your mood at the time just like the music?

I: Yes, that’s right. It naturally turned out like that when I composed it so I thought it’d be fine to just leave the chorus as it is.

―― It’s very strong, isn’t it? This loving ode to life. I was overwhelmed by the inexplicable energy. Was it in part to fire yourself up?

I: When I was composing it, I did find myself thinking that this was what I wanted right now. It really just flowed naturally. After all, I did get the sense that I was feeling low. There was also anger over the suspension of recording, but honestly, I also felt reluctant about going to the studio. I didn’t really want to go.

―― There’s also the worry that you’d get infected and all of that, right?

I: Yeah. All those various things built on each other and it was with that drift that this song came about.

―― Aside from the pause in production affecting this album in reality, I wanted to ask how much of it was also influenced by the climate of these present times, but can I assume that it is quite strongly reflected in this album?

I: I think there more or less has an influence, as per usual. Because all these things are happening here and in reality.

―― What about Sakurai-san?   How much does the mood or climate of these times influence your lyrics, or perhaps, your singing?

S: I guess you could say that from the time I started working on the single last year, I didn’t want to let COVID-19 get in the way of our work until recording got suspended. So, I’d at least be careful in real life, but the album is, after all, something that I work on in my room and my own time and in my own head, and because I didn’t want something so incomprehensible to interrupt me to that extent, I purely wrote what I wanted to write. It’s a bit different for Eureka, though.

―― So, rather than writing about the goings-on in society, you dug into what was within you to try and write at your usual pace?

S: Much of it used to come from the imaginings in my head in the past, but in comparison to that, this time, [what I wrote] before COVID-19, say for example, MOONLIGHT ESCAPE  was about child abuse, and so on. With regards to those topics, I would write about a way out, or say something like, “It’s okay to run away.” Then, in Villain, it’s about the darkness of humanity. Like those who are usually all smiles but once they go online, they get all egoistical⁴ and repeatedly slander others anonymously. But [what this song is saying is], “I know all about that side of you!”. Also, the song where suicide turned into it’s subject…… (Kogoeru). It happened to overlap to the period of time when there was a report on TV about those who took their own lives, but I wrote it way before that. It makes me feel sorry about that for some reason, though……

―― But it was a coincidence.

S: Yes. But at the same time, one of those things which I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time now is “the fact that such a way of life exists in reality”.

―― No matter the subject matter in Sakurai-san’s lyrics, there’s always an open-minded take towards the idea that “it’s okay to run away”. I think it’s very kind of you to not at all put any blame on those who come to that decision.

S: No, not at all. I’m just being kind to myself (smiles).

―― But I think that this is exactly why [your music] becomes a safety net for those who have fallen into a state where their thoughts consume them, right? Do you also wish that [it’s alright to choose to run away]?

S: Yes. Because I, too, couldn’t run away no matter how much I wanted to. There are a lot of people who were in that situation in their childhood too. While we keep getting told to, “Be a man,” or “Think positive”, I believe there are definitely people who aren’t good at those things. To those people, [I want to say] something like, “It’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to be whatever feels natural to you.” That’s why there’s also a part [of me that hopes] that maybe [this] can bring a small breath of relief to those who have negative thoughts.

―― Rather than small, I’d think it’ll be a huge relief to them. I do feel that society is filled with an atmosphere which suggests that weakness and darkness is unacceptable, and to add to that, we live in an era where the attacks are all aimed at those who are just hurting, like how you’ve depicted it in Villain. I feel that [this album] is an omamori¹ for them.

S: I’m glad to hear that.

 

■ My obsession with life is very strong, perhaps even twice as strong as a regular person’s
■ It is because we have that greed that we grow tired

 

―― Going back to the topic of the order of songwriting, MOONLIGHT ESCAPE and Datenshi were written, and following those, was Eureka the next one to be composed?

I: This time, Eureka was the last of all to be written.

―― Look at the album on the whole, I could sense the meaning behind the narrative of it with how you raised the curtains with Que Sera Sera Elegy’s “This is the start of an illusion” ⁵, and ended with Eureka’s “I’ll get rid of everything and make it all disappear” ⁶. The message I got from it is that everything in life is all an illusion, and that’s precisely why we should enjoy it as we please. But  Boukyaku (Oblivion / 忘却) comes in at the very end, bringing with it an air of indescribable impermanence. Although it was surprising that the album did not end with Eureka, it was satisfying. Did this song order come about naturally?

I: Nope. When it came to the song order, we were stuck on which of those 2 songs was better for us to end the album with and there were a lot of different opinions about it. But I do think that this form [that we’ve decided on] is really beautiful.

―― Which song did Imai-san back?

I: In the beginning, I backed Boukyaku but at the end, I was like, “As expected……”. Should I speak for the notion of making Eureka the last song?   That thought crossed my mind. I did feel that it’s definitely this one after all, though.

―― How about Sakurai-san?

S: We managed to decide on the song order with director Tanaka (Junichi)’s input as well, but Tanaka-san helped us take a good look at all of it from a bird’s-eye view so he gave us the idea for the first song when he said, “What about Que Sera Sera Elegy?”. He was like an eye-opener; as if he was removing the scales from our eyes. So, when we were trying to decide between Eureka or Boukyaku for the last song, he decided to betray Imai-san, you know? He said something like, “Put Eureka last” (smiles).

I: (Smiles).

『ABRACADABRA』【Limited Edition Vinyl】

―― Were you at it until the very last minute?

S: Yes (smiles). Imai-san and our manipulator Yokoyama (Kazutoshi)-kun planned to put Eureka last and have it link back to the first SE track Peace. But me and U-ta (Higuchi Yutaka / bassist) kept whining, “But this is better~”.

I: But I wanted you both to convince me too (smiles). Like, say, “This is better!”

S: Ahaha!

―― (Smiles). So, everyone was insidiously pestered by Sakurai-san and U-ta-san and eventually this is how it turned out.

S: Yeah. All while saying, “You traitor!” (smiles).

I: Towards U-ta, too, I kept thinking, “Tell us more firmly!” But it felt like U-ta couldn’t say it at all (smiles).

S: Exactly. Because he has no support (smiles).

Higuchi Yutaka

―― You actually wanted him to explain the reasoning behind his recommendation, right (smiles). But even though he didn’t have the words for it, he decided to make you change your mind with his passion.

I: That’s right. But, well, I really feel that this was the better choice (lol).

S: Ahaha!

―― Sakurai-san is laughing at you…… (smiles).

I: For me, I’m just the kind of person who has those very complicated feelings (smiles), but I guess I wanted to mention again the feeling of linking [the final song] back to SE Peace. Because the track Peace itself is a song that was made from the deconstruction of Eureka.

―― Oh, is that so!

I: That’s why I’d think, “Doesn’t it fit nicely?”

―― Making the album end brightly and then cycle back to the beginning. That’s one possible form in itself too, isn’t it? But I feel that the darkness, the rainy mood, and the afterglow of Boukyaku wonderfully turns the overall flow into one that says, “This is the BUCK-TICK World!” With regards to the lyrics of Boukyaku, when did you write them and what thoughts did you have in mind?

S: I think it just so happened that we finished the vocal recording for this song a mere couple of days before the state of emergency was declared. So, I guess it was definitely during a time when I, too, felt that atmosphere around us where the world and even Japan was gradually getting invaded by anxiety. But I’ve always had the notion that, “I want to write about this feeling.” Although, I don’t really know myself whether this came about because I was being influenced by the vibes around me or if it was just a coincidence. Well, I guess it’s a bit of both. Everyone, and myself included, of course, have had a lot of different encounters and experienced many other farewells too. But while those bring both joys and sadness in their own ways, it’s just how things naturally go, isn’t it? At least, that’s how I hope I’ll be able to think one day. That’s the kind of topic I wanted to write about.

―― Is this coming from an observer’s point of view? Or the perspective of your future self looking back on the current you in this time period?

S: Hm…… Perhaps. It’s one of my usual themes, though. Like, returning to the earth⁷ or returning to the womb⁷. We get born into this world, but there’s a sense of, “So many things have happened, haven’t they? And now you’re tired, aren’t you? Well, then, let’s go home.” I just think it’d be nice if that’s the kind of story I can tell.

―― In track 5, Tsuki no Sabaku (Moon Desert), you’ve written “Until we turn to bones   Until we turn to ashes” ⁸; a description which appears to make us think about our afterlife even after we’ve decomposed. Isn’t there something similar to an attachment to life implied in there?

S: No, it’s quite strong there. On the other hand, it is because we have that greed [for life] that we grow tired. I guess, maybe my obsession with life is very strong, perhaps even twice as strong as a regular person’s.

―― So, is that why when you feel “pain” while living your life, you’d accept that you’d feel “tired” or want to run away or take a rest and allow yourself to feel down?

S: Yeah. It’s like I’m telling myself that. Although I think that it’d be nice if everyone would have a listen and feel it in different ways.

―― I see…… It permeates every word [you write]. Boukyaku is a beautiful, wistful, melancholic ballad, but it’s something special to Imai-san too, right?

I: That’s right. When I was composing it, I felt that I’ve written a good one.

―― Only Imai-san can write this melody line, right?

I: That’s not true, though (smiles).

―― When you were writing this song, did Imai-san have any scenes in mind?

I: I wonder…… I didn’t have any of that in particular. Instead, I was thinking of writing a gentle song, or something like that.

―― Next, I’d like to ask about two other songs which upon the song title announcement had me excited and wondering what they would be like. Maimu Mime (Dancing Dreaming Mime / 舞夢マイム)  and Dance Tengoku (Dance Heaven / ダンス天国).  How did this series of “dance” songs come about?

I: For Maimu Mime, I had the notion of wanting to create something that sounds like a popular song from the past. When it was done, I thought, “Ah, this is already perfect for Sakurai-san’s signature worldview.” (Smiles). I got the feeling that this is where the song came from.

―― A song where one person plays the roles of both the man and the woman at the same time. It’s an explosion of Sakurai-san’s world, isn’t it?

I: No, I didn’t know exactly how it was going to turn out, though (smiles). I was looking forward to seeing what lyrics he’d come up with for this song.

―― When Sakurai-san first heard Maimu Mime, what impression did you get, and what kind of lyrics did it make you think of writing?

S: It felt like “a popular Showa-era song” and at first impression, I already decided, “Let’s keep it that way.” A lot of different scenes came to mind, like the sloppy conversations between men and women at a karaoke (smiles), and the atmosphere of Shinjuku, and so on.

―― It certainly creates the mood of an obscene and degenerate city, doesn’t it?

S: I wanted to make it a song that sounded as if it was born of Shinjuku, as if it came from that sort of world. Such a world has sorrow, the stylish backs of nihilistic men, the men and women who grow tougher and tougher…… I thought it would be good if I could build such a world from top to bottom.

―― When you’re writing song lyrics from the perspective of both a man and a woman, does Sakurai-san have certain characters in mind to draw from?   For example, someone around this age, or someone with this attribute, and so on.

S: That I do have.

―― So, the profiles of these two in the lyrics…… Ah, but it might be rude to ask.

S: I think it’d be more fun to let people imagine that part for themselves after all. Rather than having me reveal, “they’re between their late 20s and late 30s…” and so on and so forth, it’s better if [listeners] create these characters for themselves (smiles).

―― My heart skipped a beat when they said these terrible things like, “Shall we try dying” ⁹ so carelessly.

S: It sure gives the song a touch of Showa-era dramaturgy, doesn’t it (smiles).

―― Dance Tengoku is Hoshino (Hidehiko)-san’s song. What did you think about this song?

S: This song is one that Hide (Hoshino Hidehiko) wanted to do with a kind of “Here’s me knowing about avant garde too!” and that’s also evident here (smiles). I thought maybe it’d be good for the lyrics to ride on that too. This one belongs to the Showa world too.

―― This doesn’t sound like it’s Shinjuku, is it?

S: Well, this is [set] in Mishima Yukio’s Confessions of a Mask¹⁰. Like, in the final scene, the male protagonist becomes euphoric at the sight of a rugged man’s body.

―― I see. There’s a phrase that goes “Be it woman   Be it man   It doesn’t matter” ¹¹ which gives me the feeling that it’s a free world which breaks down traditional values, but in the case of Confessions of a Mask……

S: Yeah. This is a modern-day…… How should I say this?   There are all kinds of men and women so rather than discriminating them, I was hoping that [this song] would give them a sort of upbeat feeling, like “It doesn’t matter whichever way you go. Let’s just dance and have fun!”

―― This is an up-to-date LGBT perspective, isn’t it? Completely different from the gender view in Maimu Mime.

S: That’s right.

Hoshino Hidehiko

 

―― And the methods of depiction in Que Sera Sera Elegy, URAHARA-JUKU, and SOPHIA DREAM are all different but I’m getting the impression that the common motif present in all of them is the hallucinatory experience. I had all sorts interpretations, for example, was SOPHIA DREAM part of the world of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (The beatles)? And so on. Imai-san wrote the lyrics to Que Sera Sera Elegy and SOPHIA DREAM so what did you think of?

I: For SOPHIA DREAM, right from the start I already had the intention of making sure the words “SOPHIA DREAM” alone would make up the crux of the song. So, that’s where I started [the lyric writing process] to somehow make the whole thing feel fictional while looking down on this world from up above.

―― A young girl looking down from the sky; is that image similar to the album jacket’s artwork?

I: Yeah, probably. That’s the kind of picture or rather, image I had in mind.

―― What about Que Sera Sera Elegy?

I: For this song, words which matched the the melody somehow come to me at the same time while I was composing it so I decided, “I’ll compose and write at the same time as far as I can.” That’s how I ended up writing it and this is what it turned into in the end.

―― Is it rare that both the music and the lyrics come to you at the same time?

I: That in itself isn’t all that rare, though. Also, I guess you could say that the A-melody was more like a rap so, I suppose it’d be quite the hurdle for Sakurai-san to “put words to this” rhythm even if I asked him to after all.

―― So this is because you felt that it’d be difficult.

I: Yeah. Because I also felt that it might feel unnatural no matter what other words were applied to it. That’s why I thought of doing it myself right from the start.

―― When it comes to such a song, you won’t let Sakurai-san listen to it until it’s done?

I: No, not really. Even when I get to a point when I’m wondering, “What should I do with the lyrics?”, in the end, I might decide, “I should ask him to write it after all,” but there are also times when I’d decide, “I think I’ll write it after all.”

―― So, it depends case by case. URAHARA-JUKU’s lyrics are by Sakurai-san, so how did those come about?   These lyrics bring up scenes of youths put in danger, though.

Yagami Toll

S: For this song, I’ve moved from Shinjuku to Harajuku (smiles). It’s a poppy and glittery place for the kids but I think it’s dangerous to yearn for such places blindly. This came from the impulsive anger that I, too, felt when a young girl’s abduction and captivity was being reported in the news. I wanted to tell the story of a girl who does various things…… even selling her body. Ultimately, the song is saying, “But you should be careful.” Only you can protect yourself.

―― A warning.

S: That’s right. In the end, the girl pushes the bad guy away in Omotesando. To let him get struck by a car.

―― She fights back properly.

S: But it’s like, “You go home and sleep. I’ll take the rap” (smiles). That’s the kind of story it is.

―― This time, you’ve included different versions of a few previously- released songs. There is Cube Juice-san’s Kogoeru Crystal CUBE ver. (Kogoeru is the B-side to the previously released single, MOONLIGHT ESCAPE) where he handled the manipulations, and Kemonotachi no Yoru YOW-ROW ver. and Datenshi YOW-ROW ver. Only these songs had names attached to their titles, but I thought it was unusual. I think it would’ve been fine for them to be recorded as album versions without any additional notes, but why did you choose to name them like this?

I: I guess…… I thought it’d be complicated if we were to just bring the titles across like that. Like, if we do that, it’ll give people all sorts of impressions [based on the title alone].

―― Do you mean that naming the songs with an adjective like, “〇〇~ Electria ver.” would limit their imaginations?

I: Exactly. That’s why, even if we were to name it in a way that says, “This is what it is,” and highlight it, for example, simply stating that what YOW-ROW made is YOW-ROW’s arrangement, there will also be those who say, “Is his name enough?” And also it’s honestly a pain in the ass to think about every single track as a mix or something like that (smiles).

―― (Smiles). Because that person’s arrangement is something unique too, and it doesn’t need any other adjectives to describe it, right? It also got me wondering if you’re treating them like family because it was quite impactful to look at the list of songs and see names aside from the band members’.

I: Ahh, that’s because we’ve been enjoying having them work on a variety of things for us over the past few years.

―― So there were no qualms about putting their names there?

I: Yes, that’s right.

 

■ Although it’s probably impossible create a “tour mood” with the film concert
■ I’m happy if it gives them an excuse to come all dressed up, and make it as unordinary¹⁴ as possible

 

―― I was surprised by your unusual decision to release this album in all formats available. You’ll be releasing your first vinyl record in about 22 years and your first cassette tape in about 28 years in addition to a CD, high-resolution streaming, and even download/streaming services. What are your thoughts regarding this?

S: I didn’t think anything of it in the beginning (smiles). I thought we were going to release it normally in CD format. Regarding the vinyl record, it came about because designer Akita (Kazvnori)¹² who thought of expressing [the design] with a large jacket. To date, there were a few times when he has given us LP-sized photographs when we didn’t have anything of that size, and there was once when he helped us out when we did. But this time, too, he gave it to us in this form.

―― We can enjoy it in high-resolution sound quality and yet at the same time, there’s a cassette tape version too. It sure is nice for the recipients to freely choose whether they want to enjoy [the album] through state-of-the-art technology or through a nostalgic item.

S: It was Imai-san who said he wanted to release a cassette tape. Cassette tape specialty shops are gradually growing in number these days, and record stores are still around too, right? I think that these are things that those who still love such items can enjoy after all. But I don’t have a player that can play this time’s LP, though (smiles).

―― And this is where the BUCK-TICK portable vinyl player comes in, right (smiles). And it’s still getting a flood of pre-orders. Is Imai-san particular when it comes to cassette tapes?

I: On occasion, I catch word that cassettes are becoming a serious fad. I think kids these days know nothing about cassettes. But I guess it’s fun to have it as an item anyway, and they look like they’re having fun to me. That’s how it really was in the beginning, right? That’s why during the meeting, I thought, “I guess I’ll just mention it.” (Smiles).

―― As the main composer, how does Imai-san feel about the high-resolution versions?

I: When I had the chance to listen to it in the studio, I thought that it was really great in terms of sound quality.

―― There is a lot of audio information in BUCK-TICK’s works in recent years so there’s always a discovery where I notice that there’s another sound after listening to it a number of times. I’ve had the opportunity to listen and compare, and I thought that being able to listen in high resolution suits both the characteristics of the music and the needs of the listener.

I: Yeah, I think so too.

『ABRACADABRA』【Limited Edition Cassette Tape】

 

<BUCK-TICK Portable Vinyl Player>
<BUCK-TICK Portable Cassette Tape Player>

―― And it appears that the orders are flooding in for pre-orders of the BUCK-TICK vinyl record player and cassette tape player which were also designed by Akita-san. Those are attractive items that definitely get people thinking, “I definitely want it!”

I: That’s right. I want them myself (lol).

―― Although there are enthusiasts, this is an attempt to create an attachment to the music players of the previous era which are generally getting used less and less. There’s a trend in the world where everything is becoming more and more data-driven, and I think this is a wonderful antithesis to that.

I: Indeed, I think that’s true.

―― I’m wondering whether this is fundamentally linked to your holding of the film concert tour. How did it come about? This form of pre-recording a live and then screening them in various concert halls around the country?

I: We first found ourselves in a situation where we could no longer go on tour and we started wondering, “What should we do?” Since it’s no longer possible for humans to to actually travel to each location at that stage, this was the only option we had. We just decided that we’d do our best and hold a tour the best way we can.

―― I think you could’ve chosen to not to do a tour that uses live venues but instead, for example, held a live with everyone in Tokyo with everyone and then streamed it, or something like that. I wanted to ask what was your main reason for not doing so, and what you had in mind [when coming to this decision].

I: That’s, that, isn’t it?   Grown-up problems¹³…… (smiles).

―― So, basically, it’s too late to cancel it (smiles). That’s a given, and it can’t be helped after all. In a worst case scenario, if an artist only performs and talks alone in their own room  to stream, it would be difficult for them to continue their activities, right? I suppose it could be said that even if it’s just in the form of a recording, giving people the opportunity to go to a live show and actually go to live venues at each location also creates jobs for the staff and other related persons. I had the feeling that perhaps the decision to do this film concert tour isn’t only about yourselves, but also considers the future of the team on the whole. What do you think?

I: I think in terms of how we’re going to do it in future, I guess you could say that this is one way or something like that. Of course, you could say that live broadcasts can reach everyone without barrier, and it can reach everywhere all in one go. But this tour came about because we’re in this situation, and I guess we want to try out a variety of methods. I guess that’s what it is, I think.

―― What about Sakurai-san? What do you think about your tour taking this film concert tour type of shape?

S: We heard about the event organisers’ situation from them, and when we asked, “What is the best way for us to go about this?”, what they suggested to us was this film concert tour. In the end, it’s certainly not possible for us to travel to each location, so at the very least, we’ll let our staff work but with sufficient measures to prevent infection, of course. And we also provided information to encourage visitors to the venues to take extra care. I think we were able to do it in a better form, as close to best as possible. Although it might be a little impossible to let everyone who is coming to the venue feel the “tour mood”, they can still come to the venue all dressed up. I’ll be glad if we can make it as unordinary¹⁴ as possible for them.

―― Preparing for the day ahead of time, leaving home to go to the venue and meet your friends, talking about the live show on the way home…… All of these have become difficult to do now, but all the time spent going through this series of these unordinary¹⁴ events is part of the joys of going to a live show, isn’t it?

S: That’s right. I’d like to let them have a taste of that feeling even if just a little. Although it’s a little frustrating for us that we can’t go to each location.

―― Is there only one recording for this film concert tour?

I: Yes, we’re already done. With a setlist made for the film concert.

―― On Monday, September 21, the anniversary of your debut, you will be holding your first no-audience, live online broadcast concert called ABRACADABRA LIVE ON THE NET. Is the content for this completely different from the film concert?

I: We’re performing the new songs for both events, but everything else is completely different.

―― I believe this no-audience, live online broadcast concert was decided because the members had a strong desire to do this. How did you come to this decision?

I: When everyone gathered for a meeting regarding the film concert, we already had the desire to do a live broadcast, so we suggested it there and then.

―― I see. So you’ve been thinking about the two sides of this and the film concert from the very beginning.

I: Yes. We solidified it from there.

―― What does Sakurai-san think about the no-audience, live online broadcast concert?

S: If there are people who tell us, “We want to see it,” then there’s no reason for us to not do it any more, is there? Even for the recording of the film concert, I thought, “I don’t know if I’d be able to muster up this much energy when there’s no audience……”. I just feel that I receive a lot of energy from the audience when we do concerts with an audience.

―― It made you notice the irony of it.

S: That’s right. The cheers and the applause and the eye contact. I was reminded that these were what inspired me to get up on stage.

―― Speaking of no-audience live concerts, you had experience in it with SATELLITE CIRCUIT in 1991, right?   A groundbreaking experiment in the early days of satellite broadcasting, it was held as a centerpiece event to commemorate the inauguration of WOWOW, and was broadcast live across the country.

I: That’s right, yes.

―― Do you still remember how you felt at the time when you took on this challenge? And how you felt watching it after it ended?

I: Personally, I had fun doing it. That’s why I wonder if that feeling will resurface again this time.   That said, honestly…… I did find myself wondering which [camera] is it (smiles).

―― What does Sakurai-san remember about it?

S: Uhh…… Sorry, I thought, “That’s bland.” (Smiles).

―― (Smiles). Something’s missing if you’re not standing before an audience?

S: That’s definitely it. Where to look, what to say…… I was even wondering whether an MC was even necessary. But even now I’m being told that the MC I gave back then was out of context (smiles).

I: (Smiles).

―― It was a legendary MC, wasn’t it (smiles). Do you come prepared in advance for what you were going to talk about?

S: No, even now I still don’t prepare anything when it comes to the MC.

―― Most of us decide on what to say dependnig on the atmosphere in the venue. Is Sakurai-san that type of person?

S: That’s right. That’s why I end up talking about unnecessary things too (smiles).

―― Well, then I guess we still don’t know what you’re going to say on Monday, September.

S: …… Maybe nothing (smiles)?

―― Please say something (smiles). I do want to sigh and say, “When will be able to go back to the good old style of live concerts?”, but what does BUCK-TICK envision the future format of live performances to be?   I suppose you’re going to see how it goes with this attempt first.

I: That’s right. With regards to live streams, I guess the good thing about them comes through because of this present situation that we’re in. If this isn’t the case, I don’t think we’d do that.

―― BUCK-TICK is also very popular abroad, and it’s big that those fans who can’t really attend live shows usually are able to watch now, right?

I: That’s very true. Given that, I do wonder how it’d turn out since there are no capacity limits at all too. I also wonder about whether there will be more different ways to do this in future.

―― We’re in a situation where COVID-19 has not only affected live shows, but also questions the very existence of music and puts the arts and entertainment industry in jeopardy. Considering all of this, was there any part that made you re-examine your feelings towards music?

I: I feel that in this situation, the form with which we bring [our work] to our fans and music lovers is gradually changing and refreshing itself.

―― This was also a period when we keenly felt that even though we’re feeling down, music is definitely something that gives us a lot of support. In that sense, did your trust in music as a medium or personal feelings of, “That’s what we’re creating,” grow stronger?

I: I think it did grow stronger, and there were more opportunities for me to think especially about those things.

―― What about Sakurai-san?   As new methods to distribute music come about, was there any part of you that reconsidered the significance of the existence of music, or renewed your feelings about it?

S: I think everyone did have those thoughts, but I only imagine that things will get better. That’s why we take measures to step up towards that end, and so on. I think the most wholesome thing for us is really to interact with the audience at concerts with our music, though. Until we can return to that, we can only bear with it because COVID-19 infections are life-threatening. I hope to someday meet everyone again on a concert tour. Also, for me, music is something that has been saving me since I was a child. So, this isn’t part of our earlier conversation, but [music] was also a place where I can escape to. And that’s why I hope that each person’s method of listening and enjoying music remains the same. I’d be happy if that’s the kind of existence [that music] can have.

―― Looking back, at the time of 9.11, you you depicted your wish for a peaceful world with Kyokutou yori Ai wo Komete, and after the Great East Japan Earthquake, you released the album Yumemiru Uchuu to be close to those who have been hurt by the disaster. Considering the state of the world now, who are the people you’re hoping to support and help the most with this album?

S: Ah, no, that’s…… We’re not being presumptuous here thinking that we can do something about things from where we are. We have something that we’ve created ourselves here, and we just think that it’d be nice if various people happen to to feel that, “This really resonates with me now.” This is something that belongs to the listeners and if we happen to cross paths, then that’s good in itself too. Like, if they encounter our music and think, “How poignant,” and things like that…… I really think that’s enough. Because we can’t actually be close to them or anything like that, right? That’s why I think that as long as there are people who enjoy our music and like it, it’s enough.

―― Does Imai-san feel this way too?

I: I do. I mean, I don’t think about it that much, though.

―― Looking back on this album again, were there any discoveries you made following its completion?   Things that unintentionally turned out a certain way, and the sort.

I: Since we had to suspend activities, and had our recording progress in various ways we’ve never done before, there was a part of me that, although sure that we’d complete the album, also had no idea about what kind of album it would turn out to be. I think that conversely made it an album that I looked forward to.

―― What about Sakurai-san?

S: The stories I wrote, definitely…… Or rather, it’s most certainly not positive or forward-looking either. There isn’t even a message that says anything like, “Let’s cheer up”, though. How appropriate it would be to say, a negative multiplied by another negative makes a positive (smiles).

―― No, it’s definitely appropriate. It’s lovely.

S: My energy leans towards the negative, but when it is multiplied with those who feel a little down, we’d be like, “Oh, yeah! Let’s go!” Well, if only it’s like this (smiles). If only I could generate affirmative courage, even if just a little. Like what you said today, the way you called [the album] an omamori…… That’s a good one (smiles). It’ll make me happy if those people can listen to this album like an omamori.

―― Aside from “Make everything disappear!”, the chant “Abracadabra” appears to have a variety of different interpretations, even one that says it dispels plagues. Don’t you feel that this can be taken in many different ways?

S: That’s right. You could say that for me, I simply mean to say, “This is just a verbal spell, but this is all I can do. My apologies.” Like, if many different people cast many different spells, that should do something, right? (Smiles).

―― But words are important, aren’t they? I feel that words and music have a soul. We’re still not sure about how the annual year-end live concert will turn out, but when I hear Sakurai-san’s “Have a happy new year” and Imai-san’s guitar phrase when he leaves the stage, I feel like I’ve received a lovely gift (smiles).

S/I: (Smiles).

―― Lastly, regarding this album’s artwork, what were the keywords that the band shared with Akita-san?

I: No, well, we had a meeting with designer Akita-san, and he told us the idea with which he wanted to proceed. At the time, we had a few different ideas floating around, but among all of that, we felt that this one’s good.

―― It’s a very bright jacket, which is an oddity among your works which have been mostly dark, isn’t it?

I: That’s also something I mentioned to Akita-san in the beginning. I thought it’d be nice if we had a rainbow in there.

―― It’s beautiful and it feels fresh. How does Sakurai-san feel about this?

S: I think that it’s a good thing that it isn’t dark. For this time (smiles).

―― Why do you think so?

S: Like the lyrics that Imai-san wrote, it is “hopeful”, and it’s also related to my lyric of “like a rainbow” in Boukyaku. In this way, I can convey the things that I’m embarrassed about through Akita-san’s art work.

―― What a wonderful collaborative effort.

S: It sure is. It’s because I already trust him.

―― Well then, we’ll first look forward to the album’s release and the no-audience, live online broadcast concert on Monday, September 21. Thank you!

S/I: Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

* Do note that any lyric translations featured here are subject to change.

¹ Omamori (御守 or お守り) are Japanese amulets commonly sold at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, dedicated to particular Shinto kami as well as Buddhist figures, and are said to provide various forms of luck or protection.

² I believe the interviewer was referring to Kemonotachi no Yoru/RONDO.

³ The word used here was 沈んで (shizunde), used to refer to something sinking.

⁴ The phrase used here is 鬼の首を取った (oni no kubi wo totta), literally, to have chopped a demon’s head off. It’s a saying that typically refers to a person boasting, or being overly prideful or triumphant over inconsequential things.

⁵ A line from Que Sera Sera Elegy: 幻想の始まりだ (gensou no hajimari da).

⁶ A line from Eureka: 全て消えて失せろ (subete kiete usero).

⁷ “Returning to the earth” as in the cycle of life and how people all decompose and effectively return to the earth. “Returning to the womb” as in 胎内回帰 (tainai kaiki) the unbirthing thing.

⁸ A line from Tsuki no Sabaku: 骨になるまで 灰になるまで (hone ni naru made   hai ni naru made).

⁹ A lie from Maimu Mime: 死んでみるか (shinde miru ka).
n
¹⁰ Mishima Yukio was a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, model, film director, nationalist, and founder of the Tatenokai. Mishima is considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century.
Confessions of a Mask is his second novel. First published in 1949, it launched him to national fame even though he was only in his early twenties.

¹¹ A line from Dance Tengoku: 女でも 男でも どっちでもいいのさ (onna de mo   otoko de mo   docchi demo ii no sa).

¹² Kazunori Akita or Kazvnori Akita have worked on BUCK-TICK’s album and single covers for a long time now. You can see all his works here: https://www.instagram.com/kazvnoriakita/

¹³ The actual phrase was 大人の事情 (otona no jijou), which is an excuse for not explaining something (lol). It can be translated as “adult matters”, “grown-up business”, or basically, “none of your business”.

¹⁴ Meaning to imply, not an ordinary day.

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: https://www.barks.jp/news/?id=1000189126

[Live Report] The Day In Question 2019

Ongaku to Hito
31 December 2019

Text = Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Photos = Tanaka Seitaro (★), Tatewaki Taku (▲), Watanabe Reina (■) (Tanaka Seitaro Photo Office)

 

 

Even though the dream will end sometime, it is for certain that here, they have friends and everyone who loves them.

【Live Report translation】
BUCK-TICK THE DAY IN QUESTION 2019
29 December 2019 at Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium

 

 

「No matter how lovely my dreams    When I wake up, I’m always alone*」

The lyrics of their last song, LOVE ME, resonated in my heart. This was a song that they have always sung, but for some reason, on this day, it was especially significant.

This year, BUCK-TICK’s THE DAY IN QUESTION 2019 was held as a tour, making stops in Takasaki, Osaka, Nagoya, before playing the final show here in Tokyo. For almost 20 years, they have been performing in Tokyo on 29 December at the Nippon Budokan every year, but this year, the Budokan was undergoing refurbishments and could not be used, so their venue was shifted to Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium.

I remember this same day last year. After they postponed a few (4) performances when Sakurai Atsushi fell ill, the place where he made his comeback was the Nippon Budokan. It has been one year since that day when, in an instant, we realised that nothing lasts forever and were made to feel that we should treasure our present moments more than ever.

This year, aside from performing the rescheduled concerts for the postponed lives, Locus Solus no Kemonotachi at Makuhari Messe, and after that, this tour, the rest of their time was spent in production. The number of lives they performed was few. Because of that, it felt as if there was an especially strong desire for the band.

The setlist remained more or less the same for all 4 venues. With a keen awareness, they opened with Muma 〜The Nightmare, and until the last song of their first encore, Mudai, the performance felt like a quixotic circus of darkness. It was as if we had been dragged into someone’s nightmare. As a spirit dressed in burial garb, the Fool follows. Until the very end, this worldview held fast.

Until the end of the first encore, the songs they played were mostly from their days following the move to BMG Funhouse (now known as Ariola Japan) with the exception of Uta, SILENT NIGHT, and Speed. Considering the fact that a snowy performance created a flow which led from Snow White to SILENT NIGHT, it was, in essence, two songs.

This is because the members acknowledge the worldview that BUCK-TICK possesses, and I believe that it was during the time of their move when they dared recognise it and let it take shape. As a result, the songs that were selected is close to the tone of their world and in line with for THE DAY IN QUESTION’s concept of “performing nostalgic songs which won’t be played during a regular tour”.

The only change for the main set was that the first day’s New World had been switched for Dokudanjou Beauty-R.I.P.-. On the other hand, with the second encore, they switched around between a total of six songs including the four listed below and two others; MISS TAKE -boku wa miss take- and GLAMOROUS.

Within such a set, they performed their new song Datenshi in the encore. This song, which started with a glam rock-like guitar which sounds like something you would’ve heard somewhere before, feels like a rock-and-roll song with a simple beat, but something about it leaves behind a strange sense of discomfort. Imai talks about it in the headline feature interview of the next issue of Ongaku to Hito, but perhaps that comes from the composition of the song.

We were once again surprised by the avant-garde ideas of the inscrutable Imai, but no matter what song it is, (it works because) once these five play together, they possess an implicit value that makes anything become BUCK-TICK’s. And because of this, Imai is allowed to write unabashedly strange, “anything goes” type of songs. And this trust didn’t come about just because they have been playing together for 30 years or have been friends since their high school days, but it is something that exists because the five of them have been working hard and thinking about the band every day.

Many call this band a miracle, but that is not what they are. These five have been working hard every day to make sure that this band continues to thrive. This tough band vibe that can be felt from the stage is the gift that comes from their ongoing devotion to betterment.

 

The main set of this show followed the setlist of “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”. With the exception of Luna Park, which was performed in the encore rather than the main set, the song order did not change and their outfits were the exact same too. This is the ABRACADABRA album tour part of today’s show and it let the audience feel their will to make the show feel as if it was their usual tour final. Doing nothing special and going about with things as per normal might just be the biggest show of rebellion in these present times. And that attitude was what accompanied the thoughts of the fans who attended “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN” which ran 26 shows in 23 locations all over Japan.

「We’ll meet again, for sure」

After Sakurai said those words, he sang LOVE ME. When it was first written 30 years ago, they may have woven the words and melody without thinking too much into it, but the footprints that they have left behind through this time has turned those words into something heartfelt. And they knew that although a person is always alone, that’s not the case in a band. Even though everyone is on their own, even though the dream will end sometime, it is for certain that here, they have friends and also, everyone who loves them.

In the summer of 2020, they will release an album and after that, they will go on a national tour. Furthermore, they have also announced THE DAY IN QUESTION on 29 December to be held at the Nippon Budokan. Such promises made ahead of time become hopes for the future. It was a great concert.

 

 

 

 

【SET LIST】

01 Muma -The Nightmare
02 Uta
03 Kemonotachi no Yoru
04 Jonathan Jet-Coaster
05 Hamushi no You ni
06 Zekkai
07 Cyborg Dolly: Sora-Mimi: PHANTOM
08 PINOA ICCHIO -Odoru Atomu-
09 Gekka Reijin
10 Snow white
11 SILENT NIGHT
12 Alice in Wonder Underground
13 Speed
14 Dokudanjou Beauty -R.I.P.-
15 FLAME

ENCORE 01
01 Datenshi
02 RONDO
03 Mudai

ENCORE 02
01 Coyote
02 Dress
03 Aku no Hana
04 LOVE ME

 

* All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site.

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Ongaku to Hito

[Live Report] The Day In Question 2020

Ongaku to Hito
31 December 2020

Text = Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Photos = Tanaka Seitaro (★), Watanabe Reina (▲) (Tanaka Seitaro Photo Office)

 

 

BUCK-TICK’s annual December 29 live show at Nippon Budokan.
This day’s promise is the light of hope

【LIVE REPORT】
BUCK-TICK〈ABRACADABRA THE DAY IN QUESTION 2020〉
2020.12.29 at Nippon Budokan

 

 

 

Making a promise.
That is to believe in that promise, and fulfill it. That is what gives us the light of hope.

For BUCK-TICK, this is the 21st time they’re playing a show on December 29. The venue for last year’s show had been moved to Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium because of refurbishment, but ever since 2000, they have always held a show at Nippon Budokan on this very date. Under normal circumstances, they would have traveled around the country, going on tour for their latest album ABRACADABRA which was released in September, and would likely make this annual show the final date of that tour.

However, because of the spread of COVID-19 infections, they turned that into a film concert and called the tour “TOUR2020 ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”. The announcement that they would be holding this particular December 29 show only came out one month prior too. It was apparent that they had been negotiating and planning for measures to the very last minute, and eventually, it was decided that the event was to be held with an audience after reducing the seating to half the usual capacity and including various preventive measures.

Looking at the seating arrangement in the arena and the stands, seating had been considerably reduced and it was clear that they had put social distancing into consideration. Also, they would normally have many close friends and acquaintances in attendance on this day, but there were no guests invited at all. I could feel that they wanted to increase the fans’ chances as much as possible to give them an opportunity to watch the show.

The main set of this show followed the setlist of “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”. With the exception of Luna Park, which was performed in the encore rather than the main set, the song order did not change and their outfits were the exact same too. This is the ABRACADABRA album tour part of today’s show and it let the audience feel their will to make the show feel as if it was their usual tour final. Doing nothing special and going about with things as per normal might just be the biggest show of rebellion in these present times. And that attitude was what accompanied the thoughts of the fans who attended “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN” which ran 26 shows in 23 locations all over Japan.

Release an album, tour a lot, feel the fans’ reactions, and build up the worldview while heading towards the final show; that’s the band’s usual style but now, live shows can’t even be held in their usual formats. Majority of them are one-night-only, special shows in light of the COVID-19 crisis. It felt to me that this show was an attempt by them to go back to normal life where tours are a regular occurrence.

Ironically, the show’s title was the incantation of ABRACADABRA. In the unrest caused by COVID-19, they’re holding a concert with the audience at less than half capacity but even that is in danger of becoming an impossible situation in these circumstances. Is it okay to hold a concert? Is it alright to go and watch the show? While this conflict goes on somewhere in both the performers and the audience’s hearts, that show title and the way they handled the show had the power to dispel that unease. In this situation where the audience are not allowed to raise their voices, the endless applause from the audience between songs were a manifestation of their feelings.

Also, upon performing ABRACADABRA before an audience, the true essence of this album became apparent. Without any strict theme, a sound unbound by anything rang free. The “deviant vibe” which Imai expressed was a daring digression from sort of format which aimed for something alternative. But no matter how avant garde it gets, Sakurai’s vocals and his worldview inevitably bring in a touch of humanity. His awareness for not only the in-person audience but also those invisible ones beyond the cameras only enhances his expressiveness.

That is why Eureka, the one song on the album which Imai wrote to relieve himself of the frustration with this COVID-19 crisis had an overwhelming destructive power on this day. Everyone’s desire to repaint this dark, depressing atmosphere with hope became one. The audience swayed with “PEACE!” signs. I am sure that this sight must have been one that he had been visualising and longing for since the recording of this song. Smiles were everywhere. This band understands well that nothing comes of anger or hatred or despair alone.

And the last song of their main set, Boukyaku. It is never peaceful, because there will always be this sort of ineradicable feeling somewhere in us. That is also something that exists, for sure. The fact that they sing about this makes their music real. Nothing in this word is perfect; everything has its own cracks and distortions. And it is from there that light shines through. That’s why we love and cherish them.

A number of songs in the encore had been changed in comparison to “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”. Most of them were songs which appear to spread hope and shine a light on the future. Between those songs, Sakurai said this:

“The next song is about how you’ll be able to cherish the people you love when you cherish yourself.  I would like to dedicate it to the medical professionals.”

Those words included a message addressing the delicate situation surrounding infection cases. However, at the same time, there is also a sense of realisation coming from him, who had been in denial of hurting himself, of all people. And the song which they performed was LOVE ME. Last year, there was the joy of being able to perform as a band and the feeling of being loved in performing this song. While this year, they’re singing about how everything, including in this global situation we’re in, can only be solved by how we think about things in the end.

“And now, let’s go! Into the future!”

Right after Sakurai’s signal, we were led into their last song for the night, New World. We will cut through this infinite darkness. The light that can be seen ahead is hope. Embracing it, we will live on.

After the members have left the stage, they announced on the screens that there will be a national tour in autumn of 2021, and that on December 29, on this same date, there will be a show at Nippon Budokan. In all honesty, we have no idea what the virus situation will be like, how the audience capacities will be set, whether we can hear the cheers of the crowds, or whether things will be good enough for a live show to be held in teh first place. There is no doubt that it is all still an unknown. However, this promise gives us hope, and allows us look forward in life. And most importantly, it becomes a promise that has been and will continue to be kept between them and us over 20 years.
This show was one that was filled with such hope and love. And everyone of us is hoping very much that we will be able to meet here again next year, in 2021.

Thank you for tonight
It was an unforgettable night
May the new year bring
much happiness to everyone
I hope you have a Happy New Year With love
BUCK-TICK

 

 

【SET LIST】
SE
01 月の砂漠 (Tsuki no Sabaku)
02 ケセラセラ エレジー (Que Sera Sera Elegy)
03 獣たちの夜 YOW-ROW ver (Kemonotachi no Yoru)
04 SOPHIA DREAM
05 URAHARA-JUKU
06 凍える (Kogoeru)
07 舞夢マイム(Maimu Mime)
08 Villain
09 堕天使 YOW-ROW ver. (Datenshi)
10 ダンス天国 (Dance Tengoku)
11 MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
12 ユリイカ (Eureka)
13 忘却 (Boukyaku)

ENCORE
01 FUTURE SONG – 未来が通る – (FUTURE SONG – Mirai ga Tooru –)
02 Luna Park
03 世界は闇で満ちている (Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru)
04 ROMANCE
05 LOVE ME

ENCORE 2
01 Alice in Wonder Underground
02 LOVE PARADE
03 New World

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Ongaku to Hito