BUCK-TICK’s 異空 -IZORA- Tour Final,
a magnificent show complete

Ongaku to Hito
23 July 2023

text by Ishii Eriko
photos by Seitaro Tanaka

 

【LIVE REPORT】
〈BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-〉
2023.7.23 at Tokyo Garden Theatre

 

 

I watched the closing show of the masterpiece tour, BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-. The previous time I saw them was on 19 April, at their Hachioji show so in short, of this19-show tour which visits a total of 17 locations, I’m only watching the first and last concert dates. I don’t know what happened along the way, what trials and errors and adjustments they made. But what I know for sure is that the first show and the last looked very different from each other. And that’s despite no changes with the videos and graphics projected on the screen, and the set list being more or less the same.

If I had to say, it’s so different that it’s as good as “a concert unveiling of a new show” versus “a theatre show”. If the purpose of a tour is to play their new songs live, then I think that’s something they have perfectly executed since day one. The 14-track long 異空 -IZORA- album underwent a reinterpretation in the two-hour-long concert.

They connected new songs to old; lining up the intense Showa-era flavoured song, THE SEASIDE STORY next to the distinctive city-pop song Mugen LOOP -LEAP-, and bringing in Jonathan Jet-Coaster right before the highlight of the main show Taiyou to Icarus with both songs sharing a similar theme. As written in my report of the first day, the band is capable of showcasing their work in this format precisely because they’ve kept going for 35 years and innovating throughout this time.

On top of that, what else changed to turn a “concert” into “theatre”? The issue of familiarity is of course one; the five members breathing as one, their bodies gradually growing more and more accustomed to the new songs. But what stood out above all of that was Sakurai Atsushi’s power of expression and performance.

Like Sayonara Shelter in the first half. This song was born from the imaginings of present-day Ukraine, and with each iteration on this tour, the performance of it turned into theatre. Sakurai cradles a small child, escapes to a safe place, dodging bullets as they fly past before returning fire himself with a gun in hand; these scenes captivate the audience as he sings.

Unlike a choreographed performance, he had, in short, fully immersed himself in it. The fear that one day the mic stand he holds at the end would look like an actual rifle seeps in. With the way the performance is executed, the pale moonlight shining from the screen in the back becomes more than a mere visual effect and somehow turns into an essential backdrop. Therein lies the difference between a simple performance and a dramatisation.

The next song which followed was Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni, and coming right before it was a short monologue where he said, “Father, mother, it’s going to rain tonight again. Sparkly gold rain is……” His words bring forth the image of bombs flying between Ukraine and Russia. Would the audience have been just as taken aback and drawn to the scenes on stage if he instead said, “With love from the far east, please listen to this song.”? 

He performs wholeheartedly, turning one reality into a beautiful dream, swallowing both fact and fiction to turn them into one story. The singer who has surpassed the song ruled over the stage.

And there was Boogie Woogie in the midst of it all. On the first day of the tour, in the MC right before the song which sums up their pre-debut life, Sakurai said they’re “recreating a story from 35 years ago”. But now, on this final day of their tour, he changed his words to the following.

“How long can we keep going…… I wonder, how long can we keep going? Until death? No, even after death. We will do this even when we turn into ghosts. They are waiting! They are waiting!”

That was the moment a nostalgic song of the past became a song of the neverending future. Because no matter how far they run, no matter the city they head for, we (= they) who eagerly await them will never disappear. “Boogie woogie! Shoo-be-doo-ba!” These symbolic lyrics resound like an important chant.

This irreplaceable worldview will remain and persist even after the physical body has disappeared and turned into a soul. A man, who in an interview immediately after the album’s completion, said that he was still struggling, that it was hard to live, and that he was as depressed as ever, was the one to make such a powerful declaration.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that this tour is what made Sakurai talk about the future. There were a number of instances when I wondered whether the album, 異空 -IZORA- was really that positive a creation to begin with. Even though there are songs about loneliness and war, the beauty and sacredness of what they have accomplished are carried forth through his sombre and earnest performances. I believe catharsis would also come about amidst this.

The highlight of the main show was Taiyou to Icarus, where the protagonist rushes through to face death head-on. During this performance, Sakurai faced the radiant screen with outstretched arms. The sanctity of his silhouette remains unforgettable even now.

Four songs were played in the encore with old songs interspersed, once again leading us into the world of 異空 -IZORA-. Even though he’s only putting on makeup and dressing the way he likes, the faceless people all around are laughing. Even if such is the confession of the protagonist Hizumi who has no way out, it all slowly gets cleansed away at the end with Na mo Naki Watashi.

A single stalk of a white flower on screen. Midway through, it quietly starts to sway. The moment Sakurai pulls his outfit across his shoulder with a big swish, a blizzard of brightly coloured flowers rained down on the stage. Come to think of it, this move was not present in the first show. With this so-called visual effect showing perfect synchrony with the performer’s gestures, the magnificent show was made complete. It’s so beautiful that it left me speechless. This is the difference between the start and the goal. The difference between a “concert” and a “show”.

And just like this, they continued their way through their 35th anniversary year. The closing day is finally approaching. According to the extra news pamphlet which was distributed after the concert, BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO will be held at Gunma Music Centre on 17 and 18 September.

The world of their new album evolved so much in the course of just one tour. While BUCK-TICK still continues to evolve on stage even now. I can only wonder what their final form will look like.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

NEW ALBUM『異空 -IZORA-』
2023.04.12 RELEASE

■ Limited Edition Version A / B (Blu-ray / DVD)
■ Regular Edition
■ Limited Edition LP Version
■ Limited Edition Cassette Tape

Album cover of 異空 -IZORA-, BUCK-TICK
異空 -IZORA- | Album

〈CD〉※Same for both Limited and Regular editions
01 QUANTUM Ⅰ
02 SCARECROW
03 Warukyuure no Kikou
04 Sayonara Shelter ー destroy and regenerate-Mix
05 Ai no Harem
06 Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni
07 THE FALLING DOWN
08 Taiyou to Icarus
09 Boogie Woogie
10 Mugen LOOP -IZORA-
11 Noraneko Blue
12 Hizumi
13 Na mo Naki Watashi
14 QUANTUM Ⅱ

〈Blu-ray/DVD〉 ※Limited edition only
Taiyou to Icarus MUSIC VIDEO
Mugen LOOP MUSIC VIDEO

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

〈BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-〉

Friday, 1 September 2023 — Nippon Tokushu Tougyou Shimin Kaikan, Forest Hall (ex. Nagoya Civil Hall) ※Substitute

 

〈BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO〉

Sunday, 17 September 2023 — Gunma Music Center
Monday (holiday), 18 September 2023 — Gunma Music Center

 

〈BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- ALTERNATIVE SUN〉

Friday, 20 October 2023 — KT Zepp Yokohama
Thursday, 26 October 2023 — Zepp Nagoya
Saturday, 28 October 2023 — Zepp Fukuoka
Saturday, 4 November 2023 — Zepp Osaka Bayside
Sunday, 12 November 2023 — Zepp Sapporo
Sunday, 19 November 2023 — ToyosuPIT
Saturday, 2 December 2023 — Sendai GIGS
Saturday, 9 December 2023 — Zepp Haneda

 

BUCK-TICK Official Website

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Ongaku to Hito

 

BUCK-TICK’s 異空-IZORA- Album Tour Begins
An optimistic vitality on opening day

Ongaku to Hito
25 April 2023

text by Ishii Eriko
photos by Seitaro Tanaka

 

【LIVE REPORT】
〈BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-〉
2023.04.19 at J:COM Hall Hachioji

 

 

 

“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-”. I got to watch the first day of this simply titled journey. From start to the very end, it truly was the world of 異空 -IZORA-.

It might be obvious. For 35 years, the band has continued to enchant us with a worldview based off their latest album whenever they release one. It’s not unusual that they would perform all of their new songs, including the instrumental pieces. But I was shocked to find that they stick to the typical style of doing all of that in the main part of the show and then bring on a bit of a festive mood with some past favourites in the encore. It was the world of 異空 -IZORA- through and through, from start to end. I was once again reminded of their confidence and commitment to this masterpiece.

It would be misleading to simply describe it as “dark” but 異空 -IZORA- is an album made heavy by reality. That’s mainly due to Sakurai Atsushi’s mental state which gets redirected into a variety of stories telling of narratives like war, children being sacrificed, even the band’s personal presentiment of an end looming over them, the feeling of being trapped with nowhere to run, and other similar themes. When these are the things that get verbalised in all the songs, it is probably inevitable that [the album would] steadily grow heavier, more serious. But despite this, the concert depicting the world of 異空 -IZORA- was definitely not a sombre one at all.

I have to refrain from naming specific songs, but new songs were connected to old songs to bring out a different nuance from the album. The magic of such song selection was truly magnificent. Their single, Mugen LOOP -LEAP- was paired with a fantastical love song from recent years to create the atmosphere of popular Showa-era songs which transcends time and space. Similarly, their other single, Taiyou to Icarus was sandwiched between a rock’n’roll track we haven’t heard in a while and a nostalgic song that was released in the 90s, starting up yet another different story to tell. Singing of imminent death in Taiyou to Icarus, Sakurai does not break that storyline but instead continues it by depicting the healing, comforting, and salvation of souls in the afterward.

Past experiences complement the present; I believe Boogie Woogie makes for the best example of that. This rock song which Sakurai describes as “a story from over 35 years ago recreated using the latest technology” takes us on a journey looking back at BUCK-TICK’s history of moving from city to city and stepping up on stage once night fell.

The five members of the band are usually all over the place [in terms of dressing], but on this day, Imai Hisashi and Hoshino Hidehiko wore somewhat similar outfits, creating a kind of symmetry with Sakurai in the middle which looked great. The brothers Yagami & Higuchi standing firm in the back, the two guitarists with different music styles, and the charismatic vocalist. It’s late for me to realise now, but this is what harmony looks like.

Imai now stands on stage without the need of a cane, kicking his legs everywhere without restraint. As we headed towards the end, what I really wanted to remember and take note of was the glory of Sakurai’s story-telling ability as he blooms madly in profusion alongside Imai’s guitar solo warping space and time.

This is the power of a band who has kept going and renewing themselves throughout this time. The same members have the same shared times together and kept creating with a trajectory towards the latest album. The overall structure remains intact even when songs from 30 years ago are lined up alongside their latest tracks. Or rather, whatever they’ve done thus far appears to complement the present, so much so that it makes me feel as if the old songs might’ve been put there to make the new songs shine even brighter.

There is no doubt that the heaviness in 異空 -IZORA- is definitely something that came about from facing reality, but thanks to past songs and their level of experience, they managed to maintain the balance even now, without letting things get too serious. There were a number of instances where it looked as if the members of the band themselves were aware of this too.

What made such a show even more exciting was the voice of the audience. Masks are still mandatory. But cheering is now allowed and we could see from the member’s expressions how much morale it gives them. Thunderous applause, everyone singing along to the melody of the chorus, the various calls of “Accha~n!” “Imai-sa~n!” that could be heard between songs. In the past, this could’ve been thought of as something that would ruin their pitch-black world, but hearing this for the first time in three years, I now realise that it is really a reassuring courage, or rather, nothing but a show of support for the band.

I believe the reason why they are capable of so unapologetically releasing an album like 異空 -IZORA- is because of their past of continuity, and in a similar sense, because they have so many fans. War, death, trauma, distortions…… With these words, it sounds like an album close to despair, but these were turned into works of art, stories that could only become a form of entertainment because they have fans who are capable of digesting it. Maybe that is something they came to realise because COVID-19 happened. Even as we tremble at the prospect of an imminent end, nevertheless, BUCK-TICK continues on with certainty. An optimistic, forward-looking vitality. This was the only thing I felt with the start of this tour.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

〈BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-〉

Saturday, 13 May 2023 — High Staff Hall, large hall (Kanonji City Meeting Hall)

Sunday, 14 May 2023 — Kurashiki City Auditorium

Saturday, 20 May 2023 — ROHM Theatre Kyoto, main hall

Sunday, 21 May 2023 — Kobe Kokusai Kaikan Kokusai Hall

Saturday, 27 May 2023 — Pacifico Yokohama National Convention Hall

Saturday, 3 June 2023 — Japan Special Ceramic Industry Civic Center, Forest Hall (ex. Nagoya Civic Hall)

Saturday, 10 June 2023 — Hondanomori Hall

Sunday, 11 June 2023 — Nagano City Arts Center, main hall

Saturday, 17 June 2023 — Orix Theater (ex. Osaka Welfare Pension Hall)

Sunday, 18 June 2023 — Orix Theater (ex. Osaka Welfare Pension Hall)

Saturday, 24 June 2023 — Ueno Gakuen Hall (Hiroshima Prefectural Culture and Arts Hall)

Sunday, 25 June 2023 — Fukuoka Sunpalace Hotel & Hall

Saturday, 1 July 2023 — Sapporo Kanamoto Hall (Sapporo Civic Hall)

Sunday, 9 July 2023 — Sendai Sun Plaza Hall

Saturday, 15 July 2023 — Takasaki City Theatre, large theatre

Monday (holiday), 17 July 2023 — Shizuoka City Culture Hall, large hall

Saturday, 22 July 2023 — Tokyo Garden Theatre

Sunday, 23 July 2023 — Tokyo Garden Theatre

 

BUCK-TICK Official Website

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Ongaku to Hito

 

BUCK-TICK leads into the future
at their concert in hometown, Gunma

Ongaku to Hito
22 September 2023

text by Ishii Eriko
photos by Yamauchi Hiroe, Aoki Sayaka

 

【LIVE REPORT】
〈BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO〉
2023.09.17 at Gunma Music Center

 

 

 

The closing of their 35th anniversary year. Held in a retro two thousand people-capacity hall at the Gunma Music Center in Takasaki with a relatively small stage and sound system that one could hardly call the best. This is also a venue that BUCK-TICK hasn’t utilised in a  while.

I recall the gathering of twelve thousand people in Yokohama Arena one year ago where state-of-the-art LED screens were used. That marked the start of their momentous 35th anniversary of the band’s debut. In terms of the scale of the fireworks launched, it was by far the most spectacular and flamboyant stage. The weight of what they carry was also another factor which added to it. In the year since then, I’ve constantly felt like something was weighing me down

Frankly speaking, it’s the pandemic and the war. We have entered a time where things which we’ve always had without question, like good health and peace and children’s laughter are increasingly under threat. No in-person concerts could be held for their previous album, ABRACADABRA and the subsequent tours which came about afterwards had shows that they had no choice but to forgo due to members of the band getting injured or catching COVID-19.

Perhaps they could’ve made the choice to use this opportunity to take a break, but with the thought of their remaining time counting down in the back of their heads, none of the members of the band bring themselves to do so. There is no time to waste. Anniversary campaigns came one after another, a new album which they originally wanted to release as two CDs, a tour schedule that had already been set……

The words we hear right at the start of 異空 -IZORA-, “Can’t run away There’s nowhere for me anymore”, sounded as if they could’ve been Sakurai Atsushi’s true feelings just before the celebration of their 35th anniversary year; beyond grateful that they can celebrate with everyone. But at the time, the audience weren’t allowed to make even a sound. We couldn’t follow their lead to celebrate at all. Watching their performance of Aikawarazu no Are~ on that stage left such an impression on me that it felt like a horror movie I could never forget, and the one and only new song they performed, Sayonara Shelter, brought the reality of Ukraine in front of our eyes. The celebratory mood was nowhere to be found.

The number of war-related songs only increased in their new album. Like Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (花束を君に / A Bouquet for You) and Taiyou to Icarus (太陽とイカロス / The Sun and Icarus). Furthermore, the despair of no escape evolved through concrete characters in Warukyuure no Kikou (ワルキューレの騎行 / Ride of the Valkyries) and Hizumi (ヒズミ). What I saw during TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- which ran from April to July was Sakurai’s incredible performance with the way he wholeheartedly engulfs himself in the narratives. The band, pressed by an imminent reality, is applying this to the stage, showing us how they turn it into entertainment through radical performances. I believe that it is in this foundation where the anxiety of “Can’t run away There’s nowhere for me anymore” exists as a constant.

The final chapter and, at the same time, the end of their 35th anniversary year. A concert which marks two ends is a little different than the usual. The selection of songs did take into consideration the flow of the tour, but with the inclusion of songs like ICONOCLASM and Ningyo -mermaid-, which were not in the original lineup added to the momentum and added a festive joy back into the show. Even more striking was the removal of Jonathan Jet-Coaster, a song thematically similar to Taiyou to Icarus from the setlist. In short, the sense of confrontation against war had been eased just a little bit.

They’re not telling us to forget all the bad things. They’re also not a band who’s all-smiles, always saying that things are alright. But with the weight of reality carved into a number of songs which they perform in earnest on a near daily basis, perhaps the stage is where they can find a break from reality. The band continues even after the anniversary year concludes. In that case, what will the five of them start going forward? Unlike Takasaki City Theatre, unlike Takasaki Arena, it is the cosy Gunma Music Center that is the closest possible stage to the band’s starting point.

The first time BUCK-TICK took the stage here was in 1988 for their SEVENTH HEAVEN tour. The very next year, they suspended activities due to Imai’s scandal and it was on this very stage that they made their come-back. For all their tours up until 1993, they held the final two days of concerts at this venue so there’s no doubt that this is a closing location filled with precious memories. Digressing, during the encore, Imai took a 360-degree video of the audience floor and the stage with his smartphone. That video also includes a heartwarming scene of Yuta dashing in to try and get in the shot. Whether it was during their performance, in their expressions, or for the MC, the five members of the band seemed comfortable and relaxed.

The encore. Sakurai begins his self-introduction as the transgender lady, Hizumi-chan. Beginning with the words, “Father, mother, I love you, good bye……”, the way we all got sucked deep into the bog of Hizumi is the greatest masterpiece, the nightmarish highlight that grew out of TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-. Singing the words, “The traffic lights turn red” “If it’s going to be this way”, what she has her eyes stuck on is a reality where it’s all too late. Merciless is the pen of lyric composer Sakurai where “rampaging” takes the place of “approaching” in the final line of the song; alluding that the future which should’ve continued as planned is about to get a sudden shake up and lose all equilibrium. I would even say that it is too cruel, too disturbing to write something like this.

But Hizumi-chan has grown through the tour and now, she refuses to sing that aloud. After singing “The next train is…”, Sakurai goes silent and at the end of the chorus sings, “Ah〜”. But it is intentional enough as it is. Just like that, the curtains close with Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし / I, Nameless) and the show ends with QUANTUM II. Thus far, everything goes on as per normal, but on this day, the band heads backstage. And then, the second encore starts again.

Sakurai sounded happy delivering his MC. With a “Thank You!”, New World’s sparkly melody which made it feel like we could just about see the little droplets of sound began. This radiance was a true lifesaver. That something which had hung on since their Yokohama Arena show. That rainy gloom which never seemed to clear. Of course, neither COVID-19 nor the war has gone away. Even so, BUCK-TICK heads into a new world. The memories of one year ago which felt like an unforgettable horror dissipated in the white light. “Cut through this infinite darkness”. After a long time, we could finally catch a glimpse of BUCK-TICK inviting us into the future.

 

【SETLIST】

SE. QUANTUM I
1. SCARECROW
2. Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries)
3. ICONOCLASM
4. Zangai (残骸)
5. Ai no Harem (Harem of Love)
6. Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix
7. Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (A Bouquet For You)
8. THE SEASIDE STORY
9. 人魚 -mermaid-
10. Mugen LOOP -LEAP-
11. Boogie Woogie
12. Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue)
13. THE FALLING DOWN
14. Tenshi wa Dare da (天使は誰だ)
15. Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus)
16. die

ENCORE 01

17. CLIMAX TOGETHER
18. Cuba Libre
19. Coyote
20. Hizumi (ヒズミ)
21. Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし)

ENCORE 02

22. New World
SE. QUANTUM II

 

【Concert archive information】

BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO
18 September 2023 (Mon/Holiday), Gunma Music Center

For more details on the performance or archived streaming, please visit
https://buck-tick.com/feature/specialsite_2023tour_finalo

_____________________________________________________________________________

LIVE Blu-ray & DVD
『TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan』
2023.12.13 RELEASE

■Limited Edition Blu-ray(BD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK)
■Limited Edition DVD(DVD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK)
■Standard Edition Blu-ray(BD)
■Standard Edition DVD(DVD)

<Tracklist>
SE. THEME OF B-T
01. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
02. Alice in Wonder Underground
03. GUSTAVE
04. FUTURE SONG -未来が通る-
05. Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete
06. Melancholia -ELECTRIA–
07. Villain
08. Maimu Mime
09. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
10. Dance Tengoku
11. Eureka
12. Sayonara Shelter
13. RAIN
14. ROMANCE
15. Muma -The Nightmare
16. JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021
17. JUPITER
18. Memento mori
19. Dokudanjo Beauty -R.I.P.-
20. LOVE PARADE
21. Yume Miru Uchuu (夢見る宇宙)
22. Kodou (2022MIX)

[Limited Edition bonus (applicable to both Blu-ray and DVD versions)]
・LIVE CD [x2 ] included
・64-page photobook included
・Comes in special packaging

Order from Amazon Japan

Order from TOWER RECORDS

Order from HMV

_____________________________________________________________________________

〈THE DAY IN QUESTION 2023〉

Friday, 29 December 2023 at Nippon Budokan, Tokyo
Doors open 17:30, show starts 18:30
Designated seating; ¥11,000 (w/ tax)

Special Website

BUCK-TICK Official Website

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: Ongaku to Hito

 

BUCK-TICK concludes 35th debut anniversary in hometown Gunma
Gunma Music Center’s Official Concert Report

SPICE
22 September 2023

Text=Yuka Okubo
Photos=Yamauchi Hiroe, Aoki Sayaka

 

Kicking off the celebration of the 35th anniversary of their major debut in September 2022, BUCK-TICK embarked on a national tour named BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- following the release of their latest album, 異空 -IZORA- in April. For their final stop of the tour, they returned under the skies of their hometown, Gunma on 17 and 18 September, additional shows named BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO, which were intended to conclude this celebratory anniversary year. The news of these shows meant something special to their fans when it popped up at the end of their concert held in July at Tokyo Garden Theatre.

Alighting at the JR Takasaki Station on 17 September, you will be greeted by posters created for this two-day event. As you breathe in the air of their hometown, you walk down the path leading from the station to Gunma Music Center. The skies over Takasaki are clear on this day. Once you arrive at the front of the venue, you find five life-size standees, one for each member of the band on display. Your excitement can only grow with this second greeting.

Ever since their SEVENTH HEAVEN TOUR in 1988, the band has played numerous times at Gunma Music Center which was established in 1961, a year before the band’s drummer, Yagami Toll was born. That modern structure seemed to suit the world of 異空 -IZORA-.

The story encased in their album 異空 -IZORA- reflects the unsettling state of the world, the strain behind a diverse society, and  the actions and emotions of the people living in these settings. The narrative only grows in depth with each BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- show they perform, and it was thought that it had come to a close following the overpowering performance they staged on the last day of their Tokyo Garden Theatre dates.

In BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO, the songs kept their album placements while older songs were changed or added into the set list, leaving the audience with different feel and impression than before.

As the instrumental track, QUANTUM Ⅰ played, a rousing applause accompanied by cheers rose up as from the left side of the stage entered Imai Hisashi (guitarist) first, followed by Yagami, Higuchi Yutaka (bassist), and Hoshino Hidehiko (guitarist). The moment the four of them took their positions with their instruments in hand, the audience were unable to contain their high spirits and the applause turned to rhythmic clapping. When the music came to its climax, Sakurai Atsushi (vocalist) appeared in the centre of the stage with a black hat and black feather boa while dressed in a black outfit which left his thighs uncovered.

The first song, SCARECROW sounded synchronised with the silhouette of a scarecrow which was projected in the background and even featured the crow which attacks the scarecrow in the lyrics. The four members who played instruments were all dressed in white, making them look especially uniform. The increasing panic and distress at the reality of having nowhere to run grows from the chorus as they up the tempo and push it to the very edge.

That tension carries into the industrial track, Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries / ワルキューレの騎行) and after it fades away, the band leads into ICONOCLASM as Imai  scratches the strings of his guitar in tandem with the familiar “klang klang kla-klang”. Cheers erupted for this song which was not part of this tour’s original setlist. The excitement in the hall heated up even more when in the middle, Sakurai changed the lyrics of the line “Five for Japanese Babies” to “Five for Takasaki Babies”.

The next song, Zangai was also another track which was making its first appearance in the setlist of this tour. It felt as if this rock tune about a powerful lifeforce blazing aflame while living alongside death had something in common with the worldview of 異空 -IZORA-.

Flames of torches danced and the atmosphere changed to the sound of exotic percussion music as Ai no Harem (Harem of Love / 愛のハレム) played. With tingsha bells swaying in his right hand, Sakurai’s melancholic voice sang full of emotion in the sweet luscious music.

Sakurai’s performance of conflicted, gun-wielding soldier sending his child to a safe house in Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix has always had the audience rapt, but on this day, the most impactful moment was seeing him gently place the mic stand, which he always held like a gun, on the floor. During the tour, I’ve seen his performance of throwing it away numerous times, but seeing him convey his emotions of this moment with such a performance on this day was intriguing.

“Father, Mother, here’s a bouquet of flowers for you,” said Sakurai before jumping into the catchy melody of Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (A Bouquet For You / 花束を君に) where he sings about the graphic nature of war from the perspective of a child. Following two mermaid songs, THE SEASIDE STORY and Ningyo -mermaid-, a samba rhythm took over the beachy atmosphere as Mugen LOOP -LEAP- brought about a fantastical soundscape. After that, a short MC.

Perhaps the audience’s expectations of something special happening because this is a concert in their hometown had been impressed upon Sakurai. Say, for example, like how he once introduced the members in reference to Jomo Karuta in a previous show. But instead, Sakurai dodged their expectations with, “People tend to speculate that there’s always something (special) happening in Takasaki (shows)…… There isn’t.” Then, he added, “The members of our band managed to meet each other in our hometown. I suppose that’s about it.”

Moving on, he said, “That girl’s been waiting for us. That’s why we got on stage.” And they continued the show with Boogie Woogie, a song filled with lyrics referencing the band’s early days, and the bluesy Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue / 野良猫ブルー). The shuffle beat song, THE FALLING DOWN was followed by Tenshi wa Dare da (天使は誰だ), both of which reference the Book of Genesis. After that, we finally arrive at the climax of the main show. 

First, Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus / 太陽とイカロス), a lighthearted melody that accompanies the heavy theme of war. When Sakurai sang, “Kanashiku wa nai Kore de jiyuu da”, he spread his arms out, moving them like flapping wings with a bright red sun in the background. The sight could only be described as beautiful, yet sad. Then came die, a song that led us into the spiritual which comes after. Huge spider lilies came on screen to the immersive sounds. Under a light that seems to envelop the whole space, I felt a certain kind of ecstasy.

The encore started with Yagami Toll’s drum solo and turned the heat up with the high tempo CLIMAX TOGETHER where Sakurai sang the line, “WE LOVE ALL   dakishimetai” with all his hopes from this 35th anniversary. They then continued with Spanish-inspired songs, Cuba Libre and Coyote, followed by Hizumi.

Centrestage was a candle lit aflame and a chair. When Sakurai sat down and started his monologue, both Sakurai’s expressions and the atmosphere of the room changed. Next to Sakurai who sang with piercing eyes and a forlorn expression was Imai who hopped and skipped around dancing Jenkka. The imbalance of the performance only added to the melancholy of it all.

During Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし) which sings of life coming into bloom, the sight of petals dancing in the air seemed to expand from the stage to include the whole hall where paper petals float down. While the clear ensemble and powerful vocals brought about a sense of euphoria, they also led towards catharsis.

There was no double encore during the tour so New World was not originally performed during the tour. On this day, the band closed off their 35th anniversary year shining brightly at their future with this track which was filled with a light befitting of BUCK-TICK as they sped into a new chapter. At the same time, it begs a question; will the protagonist from Taiyou to Icarus who pointed at the sun while riding in an aircraft really call our “present” world that has been entrusted to us beautiful? Would our future become something we can be proud of?

Along with the lingering memories of the concert, that question remains in my mind even a few days after the event. The things that connect from past to present and to future. The things we want to protect. I think the message that 異空 -IZORA- carries has been thoroughly conveyed into my heart through this tour.

After the performance, a pleasant surprise was waiting outside for the exiting audience. Using projection mapping, messages from the band members and “thank you” in languages from all over the world were projected onto the exterior of the venue. What great hospitality! Voices of appreciation for this thoughtful display were all around.

The live-streamed performance on the next day, the 18th was a special one that was closed to external parties so that the band got to share a fulfilling time with their fans. I hope that you’ll enjoy this show in the archived stream that will remain available until 23:59 on Tuesday, 26 September (or 23:59 on Monday, 25 September for certain streaming platforms).

In a printed extra that was distributed after this performance, the future of BUCK-TICK was written; they announced that they will be holding THE DAY IN QUESTION 2023 on Friday, 29 December at Nippon Budokan, along with the production of a movie commemorating their 35th debut anniversary year. We eagerly await the completion of this film to see how it will portray the band who ran through the anniversary year without a break.

 

 

SETLIST
BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO
2023.9.17-18 
Gunma Music Center

SE. QUANTUM I
1. SCARECROW
2. Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries)
3. ICONOCLASM
4. Zangai (残骸)
5. Ai no Harem (Harem of Love)
6. Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix
7. Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (A Bouquet For You)
8. THE SEASIDE STORY
9. 人魚 -mermaid-
10. Mugen LOOP -LEAP-
11. Boogie Woogie
12. Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue)
13. THE FALLING DOWN
14. Tenshi wa Dare da (天使は誰だ)
15. Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus)
16. die

<ENCORE1>

17. CLIMAX TOGETHER
18. Cuba Libre
19. Coyote
20. Hizumi (ヒズミ)
21. Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし)

<ENCORE2>

22. New World
SE. QUANTUM II

 

 

Upcoming Releases
LIVE Blu-ray&DVD
『TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan』

Limited Edition Blu-ray(BD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK) VIZL-2252 / ¥12,100 (w/ tax)
Limited Edition DVD(DVD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK) VIZL-2253 / ¥11,000 (w/ tax)
Standard Edition Blu-ray(BD) VIXL-426 / ¥7,700 (w/ tax)
Standard Edition DVD(DVD) VIBL-1110 / ¥6,600 (w/ tax)

<Tracklist>
SE. THEME OF B-T
01. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
02. Alice in Wonder Underground
03. GUSTAVE
04. FUTURE SONG -未来が通る-
05. Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete
06. Melancholia -ELECTRIA–
07. Villain
08. Maimu Mime
09. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
10. Dance Tengoku
11. Eureka
12. Sayonara Shelter
13. RAIN
14. ROMANCE
15. Muma -The Nightmare
16. JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021
17. JUPITER
18. Memento mori
19. Dokudanjo Beauty -R.I.P.-
20. LOVE PARADE
21. Yume Miru Uchuu (夢見る宇宙)
22. Kodou (2022MIX)

[Limited Edition bonus (applicable to both Blu-ray and DVD versions)]
・LIVE CD [x2 ] included
・64-page photobook included
・Comes in special packaging

Pre-order here:
Limited Edition Blu-ray (BD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK)
https://www.jvcmusic.co.jp/-/Linkall/VIZL-2252.html
Limited Edition DVD (DVD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK)
https://www.jvcmusic.co.jp/-/Linkall/VIZL-2253.html
Regular Edition Blu-ray (BD)
https://www.jvcmusic.co.jp/-/Linkall/VIXL-426.html
Regular Edition DVD (DVD)
https://www.jvcmusic.co.jp/-/Linkall/VIBL-1110.html

 

Upcoming Concerts

BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- ALTERNATIVE SUN

Friday, 20 October 2023 — Kanagawa: KT Zepp Yokohama
Thursday, 26 October 2023 — Aichi: Zepp Nagoya
Saturday, 28 October 2023 — Fukuoka: Zepp Fukuoka
Saturday, 14 November 2023 — Osaka: Zepp Osaka Bayside
Sunday, 12 November 2023 — Hokkaido: Zepp Sapporo
Sunday, 19 November 2023 — Tokyo: Toyosu PIT
Saturday, 2 December 2023 — Miyagi: Sendai GIGS
Saturday, 9 December 2023 — Tokyo: Zepp Haneda

Tickets on sale now

_____________________________________________________________________________

THE DAY IN QUESTION 2023
Friday, 29 December 2023 @ Nippon Budokan, Tokyo

Doors open 17:30, show starts 18:30
All seats designated, ¥11,000 (w/tax)
(Inquiries) SOGO TOKYO 03-3405-9999
General ticket sales starts: Saturday, 25 November 2023

 

Streaming information
【Concert archive information】

Event day: 18 September 2023 (Mon/Holiday)
Event name: BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO
Venue: Gunma Music Center
For more details on archived streaming, please visit the
Official Website: https://buck-tick.com/feature/specialsite_2023tour_finalo

 

Upcoming Screenings

Release date: TBC
Title: TBC

[BUCK-TICK Movie Official Website]
https://bt-movie.love

 

 

*Duplicate images have different sizes

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: SPICE , Victor Music tweets (1, 2)

 

9

異空 -IZORA- Feature

PHY Vol. 24
April 2023

I thought having fun playing music in a band like that was enough
Except, I gradually started to wonder, “So, what am I going to do next?”…… I guess you could say that I finally woke up from a dream
—Sakurai

photographs by Sasahara Kiyoaki_L management
hair & make-up by Tanizaki Takayuki, Yamaji Chihiro_Fat’s Berry
styling by Shimizu Kenichi

clothes from
kiryuyrik 03-5728-4048
SERIALIZE 03-3499-6002
UK EXTRA http://uk-extra.com

 

Everyone wants to see spectacular lies and made-up stories, to let themselves be deceived
If calling it a “lie” isn’t appropriate…… then perhaps, a “dream”
—Sakurai

After two years and seven months, the band has released their 23rd original album, 異空 -IZORA-.

This album is all over the place, in a good way. In the beginning, they intended to release the songs in two discs so they began composing a diversity of songs, but in the end, they decided to release just one disc and this is what came of it. Yet in here is a realism that conveys the band’s current vibe. Concerts were no longer ordinary occasions and the band had been unable to carry out their activities like they used to due to COVID-19. This led to a slight change in their shared values because they couldn’t see the singularity.

Yet interestingly enough, if you read these interviews, if you listen to their music, you can sense that they all wish to feel the same emotions they felt when they first came together to form the band. Because there was no theme, no direction to follow, each member’s personal thoughts came flowing out. These are the feelings that came through this album.

A moon floating in a strange sky (異空/izora). It turns full with the wishes of these five band members. That’s right. 35 years after their debut, this is an album which shows us their new beginnings.

 

 

 

 

BUCK-TICK Solo Interviews

_______________________

Sakurai Atsushi

Interview by: Ishil Eriko

Because dreams are dreams so they aren’t actually reality, or rather, it’s something you create yourself and enchant yourself with
Besides, I also perform and enchant myself with a version of me who isn’t exactly me, right?

――This came up in an earlier interview too, but surprisingly, Sakurai-san, you visit the park, don’t you?

Sakurai (S): Yeah. To space out in the day. If I have nothing going on that day, I would go with a drink in hand, listen to music, read a book, watch grandpas and grandmas play their sports…… That’s pretty much how I spend my time relaxing. I’m not there because I want to meet people, but it’s just that sometimes it feels like I have to go get some sunlight and photosynthesise or it’ll be bad for me.

――But if it’s raining outside, like today, then it’s not possible, is it?

S: Well, if it rains, it rains so…… I think it’s nice that everyone gets a little troubled just like me.

――Hahahaha! Actually, the word “rain (雨/ame)” often came up in the lyrics to the songs of your most recent album. If we exclude the instrumental tracks, it shows up in seven of the twelve songs.

S: Oh~? Is that so? Even I didn’t quite notice that myself.

――What does rain symbolise to you?

S: I wonder. Just now, I jokingly said, “It’s nice that everyone gets a little troubled,” but everyone dreads rain equally and everyone would say things like, “Damn, it’s raining?”, wouldn’t they? It’s annoying, it dampens moods, it makes people lonely. Opening up an umbrella creates a space that only allows for yourself. That’s the imagery that I get from rain.

――Are there times when you enjoy it?

S: Originally, I really didn’t hate it. The area of my hometown, Gunma Prefecture’s Fujioka City, was famous for how you’d hear thunder almost everyday in summer. I think the weather conditions have changed a little bit now, but I would really hear angry-sounding thunder and see pretty scary lightning in the daytime just about everyday when it’s summer. I was scared but somehow, at the same time, I guess you could say, in awe. I remember seeing beautiful lightning turning the sky a pure white and feeling scared yet finding it equally beautiful.

――That’s something I would like to see.

S: Yeah. Although I believe there’s certainly nothing better than a clear sunny day. But I like this too, the dark grey skies we have today. I also imagine that the vegetation will be very happy with the rain too. They would shine and sparkle in green, and the flowers would soak up the water. I think it’s just as important as the sun for life.

――Yes. The next word which stood out to me is “lie (嘘/uso)”. It shows up in Warukyuure no Kikou (ワルキューレの騎行/Ride of the Valkyries) in the line “I don’t care if it’s a lie (嘘で構わない/Uso de kamawanai)”. But the world at large tells us that we can’t lie, though.

S: Hmm… but the truth is, we tell lies to comfort people or children. Lies like, “Monsters will come and get you if you don’t sleep soon.” We do tell lies to reassure children and protect them, don’t we? I feel that’s the perspective that the lyrics are making use of. A specific example would be how we won’t say, “Missiles are flying overhead,” but instead, we’ll say something like, “It’s raining so we can’t go out.”

――This is something ISSAY-san (Der Zibet/vocals) said, but in his words, “People seek out concerts, movies, and theatre for the sake of seeing a beautiful lie.”

S: Ahh……… That’s my elder sister¹ for you; it’s a whole other manner of speech!

――Elder sister (lol).

S: I see. But that’s nice, isn’t it?

――Yeah. I think one of BUCK-TICK’s jobs is to enchant with beautiful lies.

S: Mhm, although it might give people the wrong ideas, fufufuh. But that’s correct. Everyone wants to see spectacular lies and made-up stories. Everyone wants to let themselves be deceived.

――If the word “lie” isn’t appropriate, what other word would you use?

S: Well…… Perhaps it would be “dream”. Kind of cheesy, though. But I think “dream” is the closest synonym. Because dreams are dreams so they aren’t actually reality, or rather, it’s something you create yourself and enchant yourself with. Besides, I also perform and enchant myself with a version of me who isn’t exactly me, right? Reality is painful, it’s heavy, it’s too cruel. So I think that makes lies pretty effective too.

 

What you find in this Hizumi is also my own personal Hizumi²
Twisted thoughts when it comes to my own mother and father

――Speaking of whether something is real or fictional, in this album, I felt for the first time that the “papa, mama” that Sakurai-san penned has changed.

S: Ah, really? Hm… Maybe because there’s a broader perspective here. In the past, it would be about myself, and my own father and mother. That part might’ve come across exceptionally strongly but if the focus is more on what’s going on in the story, I guess it becomes…… a reference to the fathers and mothers of children in general?

――Indeed. It’s just that I believe your actual parents are an enduring part of Sakurai-san’s roots and also a form of energy that feeds your performance.

S: That’s true. …… I always question myself about it, like, “Isn’t that enough already?” Isn’t it as good as bragging about my hardships (wry smile)? I always think, “Let’s stop doing that”, “I should let go of my parents for my own sake.” But eventually, I always end up feeling that I have to revisit those events before I can start over again. Even so, when I see and hear about what’s going on in the world, there are all kinds of mothers and fathers and families. I guess I came to feel that it might be a good thing for me to sing more about these things, even in relation to myself. And also that it would be nice if I could remain as pure and innocent as a child. Perhaps this naive wish made its way there.

――The “father, mother” who appears in Hizumi; are these figures closer to Sakurai-san’s own parents or that of the character in the story?

S: Hm…… I would say it’s my own father and mother. I have these kinds of emotions in me. I think people will be able to understand all these things that are seeping out of me, though. Mm…… That’s why, what you find in this Hizumi is also my own personal Hizumi². Twisted thoughts when it comes to my own mother and father.

――Where there is murderous hatred, but also the desire to say you love them.

S: That’s right. Apologies for getting depressing, but ever since I was old enough to remember, my mother has been subjected to violence and I spent everyday trembling with my older brother. I only wondered, “Why’s my home like this?” and harboured a fear of my father, and hatred. Why does he put my mother through this? I honestly wanted to kill him too. Towards my mother, I felt pity, and wondered why she sacrificed herself…… There was a time when I told her, “You can just leave with big brother. You don’t have to stay in this house and put up with it.” And she said something like, “Why are you saying such things!” There’s a part of her that believes this is the only place where she belongs, it’s very…… frustrating, I guess. It was a situation that cannot be handled by children.

――It must’ve been incredibly difficult. However, this is unfortunately a special story that is unique to Sakurai-san. It’s not something you’d hear anywhere else.

S:Yeah. That’s true. I believe there are a lot of children who were born into far worse environments and brought up in it. It’s really unimaginable simply because it doesn’t make the news…… There really are a lot of children who matured surprisingly well and avoided becoming criminals.

――I hope this music helps people.

S: Yeah…… That would be nice.

――Yes. Next, I’d like to ask about the word “dream”. Sakurai-san has also sung about all types of dreams in in the past, but it’s rare that you would pen a phrase like, “chasing things like dreams (夢なんて追いかけて/yume nante oikakete)”.

S: Right, we started the band together but for some reason, I myself didn’t really have any goals. I was going along without specific goals like knowing what we wanted to become, or wanting to perform at a particular venue. Just happy to be able to transiently enjoy each day, firing up the audience even with shitty performances. There was a negligent and carefree part of me that didn’t care about the future as long as I could spend another night like that. I guess I genuinely thought having fun playing music in a band like that was enough. Except, I gradually started to wonder, “So, what am I going to do next?”…… I guess you could say that I finally woke up from a dream (lol).

――Hahahaha.

S: I just suddenly started to wonder, “So what do I want to do?” You know? I thought, if my first phase was me voicing my desire to be a vocalist then I have to move on to the second phase. And that’s my personal desire when it comes to our releases. That kept on sprouting and growing. And I guess I just couldn’t convince myself with the surface-level thing anymore. Wondering, “What should I myself sing about going forward?” That’s when I felt like I finally woke up from my dream.

――Right now, does Sakurai-san have a dream of your own?

S: Huh? …………… Perhaps a peaceful retirement.

――Hahahahaha! Will that lifestyle involve band activities?

S: Ah, well, perhaps within the realm of “Oh, the weather looks good today, shall we give it a go?” as an elderly man.

――Depending on the weather!

S: Hahahahah. Saying things like, “My leg hurts.’ (Lol) This isn’t something that would make headlines, but I would like to attain happiness as a person.

――Yes. One more thing I would like to bring up is the imagery of “flowers” that come up in the songs Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless), Ai no Harem (Harem of Love), and Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Campanella  A Bouquet For You). It’s something that appears to symbolise life and peace, and also love.

S: Yes. I, as a man who’s over 50 years of age, actually like flowers a lot.

――I think that’s a very lovely sentiment.

S: Fuhahahah. Um, well, it’s because my mother loved flowers a ton. She used to always bring me along to the horticulture corner of the DYI stores to buy cheap potted plants. We were somehow a household which always had flowers in the garden. And when I started performing concerts, I started asking for flowers in the dressing room. I thought it was nice to have flowers around in a dressing room filled with disorderly men. While admiring them, I’d end up thinking, “What a waste. I’ll bring them home.” Even now, I’ll have flowers that I receive on my birthday in my room. So I have always loved flowers. I like receiving them and giving them very much too.

――That’s even lovelier.

S: It’s a life after all. A life that doesn’t speak. Just like the sun, the wind, the rain, insects. Of course, the grass and the trees are also part of all these lives that are connected. And I think it’s all simply amazing. These lives that exist without saying a word.

――Do you have a favourite flower?

S: Do I? Ah, I’m not sure if they count, but I like baby’s breath.

――That’s adorable (lol).

S: Even though I’m an old man (lol). But I like all flowers in general. The ones I have in my room now are probably callas, lilies? They’re flamboyant. You know, people somehow tend to associate roses and the sort with me, but I really love the more simple varieties too. Also…… I just recalled something while we were talking.

――What is it?

S: I’ll occasionally visit my hometown. It’s been more than 30 years since my mother passed, but when I visit her grave, there will already be quite a lot of flowers laid. On her death anniversary and even other regular days too. It seems to me that there are a number of people who would always leave flowers for her these past decades.

――Huh? Even now?

S: Yeah. I am just humbled. In the past, I wasn’t very good at dealing with fans who came all the way to my parents’ home. But my mother always took very good care of them. I told her, “You don’t have to let them into the house,” but she would chastise me, saying things like, “They made the effort to come all the way here!” (Lol) And that fan would assertively add, “I’m Sakurai-san’s fan but I’m first and foremost your mother’s fan.” At that point I could only feel apologetic (lol).

――To think there are some who are that dedicated…… That’s amazing.

S: It’s already been more than 30 years too. While I only visit when the thought of it occurs to me. My older brother visits her grave every year on her death anniversary, and he would tell me, “There’s a load of flowers here again.” I’m really very grateful.

――I’ve got a question for you that might feel rather inappropriate considering the flow of our conversation, but what kind of flowers do you hope to receive when it’s your time?

S: Mm……

――I’m sorry, it’s really inappropriate.

S: No, no. It’s good, isn’t it? To think about these things. Normally the subdued chrysanthemums would be the main flower and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with the standard being the standard. But the flowers that currently show up on my mother’s grave are very flamboyant, not the usual types for a memorial. So, really, something like that. Flowers other than white chrysanthemums. Flamboyant would be nice.

――Then, a gorgeous, romantic bouquet.

S: I look forward to it. Fufufuh.

 

 

Notes:

¹ He referred to ISSAY as お姐様 (onee-sama), “elder sister” in a more respectful manner of speech. The word can also be used to refer to a lady boss.

² I’ve probably mentioned it somewhere before but ヒズミ (hizumi) is essentially this word, 歪み written in Katakana. Because it’s written in Katakana, ヒズミ can also be interpreted as a person’s name. At the same time, the 歪み word is essentially defined as “a distorted or warped shape, or a bad result of something”.
Here, Sakurai could be saying that Hizumi, the character also exists within him, or that there are parts of him that are also twisted in the parallel to what the song describes.

 

 

Return to Top

_______________________

Imai Hisashi

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

I think it was nice to be able to work freely without a theme. It feels like the way it used to be in the past
But we faced difficulty in coordinating our schedules

――Your new song Sayonara Shelter was included in last September’s release of your best-of album, CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.. Recording work for 異空 -IZORA- started long before that, didn’t it?

Imai (I): That’s right. After we released ABRACADABRA, we couldn’t tour because of COVID-19 and after that…… Well, a bunch happened (lol).

――Sure did (lol). So you can’t use the excuse that you couldn’t make music because there was no time.

I: I’m not making excuses here— (lol). So we started recording work around April of last year but before that, we had a discussion with our staff. That’s where the conversation about how it would be interesting if we were to release two discs with a one or two week interval between them. I was thinking that it would be too.

――Sure is.

I: But I guess I gradually started getting the feeling that it wasn’t very coherent. In the beginning, we only thought about recording but then we had to get ready for the fan club and mobile members exclusive tour and our 35th anniversary show at Yokohama Arena so things started getting busy and we started feeling more and more things overlapping together.

――At the start of 2022, you mentioned that the idea was to release two discs with all types of songs at the same time.

I: At the start, right? That’s why I thought, we’re going to need a whole lot of songs, and when that happened, I thought it was going to be pretty interesting with the variety of songs that will be in it. But in the end, I guess you could say that I started to want a good reason for us to split the songs into two CDs.

――Not simply because you have a lot of songs and a wide variety of them?

I: Exactly. I also figured that I hate that recording takes a long time when there are a lot of songs. It’s like, I might get sick of it if we split them up properly but didn’t find any meaning in doing so.

――Between light and dark, something like that?

I: As an example. At first, we didn’t make any conclusion on that end and decided that we would just start composing music and move ahead with the recording. I guess we didn’t have a real final destination in sight in terms of what would eventually happen with our work.

――So where did the idea of releasing two CDs come from?

I: I think the person who came up with that idea in the very beginning was probably Tanaka-san (director). He said, since it would be our first original release in a significant while following ABRACADABRA, doing this would leave a stronger impact and it would also bring across something like the polyphagous nature of this band. And I concurred that it does sound like an interesting approach.

――When ABRACADABRA was released, Imai-san mentioned that you had the theme of “escape (逸脱/itsudatsu)” in mind, but is there nothing like that [this time]?

I: There isn’t. I thought it might be interesting to produce an album for our 35th anniversary without a clear theme or concept, or anything concrete in that sense.

――How was songwriting without a theme?

I: I think it was nice to be able to work freely. Somehow, it feels like the way it used to be in the past. But with the added difficulty we faced in coordinating our schedules along with the fact that we were going to the studio while technically being on tour, it was pretty tough.

――I would’ve thought so.

I: But as recording progressed, we had demo tapes for about 20 songs lined up. We were working towards releasing two discs so we did sort of finish it in that sense, but then the whole band started wondering whether this was really such a good idea after all.

――There was still work to do on the song lyrics while you were on tour too.

I: Exactly. Music notwithstanding, Sakurai-san still had to write the lyrics and sing his parts. Based on arrangement and demo tapes, we completed the twelve tracks that went into this album release. I think the recording work for three or so has been completed up to the bass stage; they still lack guitars and drums and that got us thinking that maybe we should sit down and reconsider this.

――So it was around the end of last year and the start of this year when you made the decision.

I: Yeah. We decided that we would attach the very first and very last instrumental tracks with the twelve complete songs and call it a day.

――I think because there was no theme to speak of, it has resulted in a collection of songs that represent the current BUCK-TICK with a lot of freedom.

I: That’s right. It wasn’t our goal to do this but on the other hand, it naturally shows what we’re like now in our 35th year together. I guess that’s the interesting thing about it.

 

――How would you describe the current BUCK-TICK in more specific terms?

I: Something like this (lol).

――You just can’t add a few more words in there, can you (lol).

I: Don’t think so!

――Hahahaha!

I: Well, I guess it’s the idea that our band can also play such music. We haven’t had the chance to play together yet so we don’t know how it’ll sound live and I think that’s something we can all look forward to as well.

――The first and final tracks are instrumental tracks with QUANTUM in the title.

I: I thought it would be nice for us to come on stage to those tracks in concert. I wanted to include these tracks in the album and do a bit of world-building before we go on tour.

――It’s defined as a very small unit of energy.

I: But that doesn’t mean anything here. I guess maybe something more like a prayer or a wish.

――You said you had around twenty songs?

I: Eighteen in total, I think. And from those we picked twelve for the album. Apart from that, there are three more songs that I composed but they don’t have anything done, not even guitars.

――Did you want to release two discs?

I: Nah, even if we did manage to record them all, I don’t know whether we’d actually go ahead with it. There may also be some areas that feel kind of wrong although we don’t really have those. Rather, I would prefer to execute things a little more neatly.

――You mean, with a clearer theme?

I: Yeah. We tried putting things together at a point when we prioritised the number of songs over having a theme, and as I mentioned earlier, we ended up with the unintentional effect of bringing out what our band’s current vibe is. And that’s good, but if we were to release two discs like this without any good reason to, it’s a bit…… you know.

――And that’s why this album has such a variety of music.

I: I mean, well, it’s also because when we started talking about composing a ton of songs to release in two discs, that’s exactly what we thought would happen. But [the variety] wasn’t intentional. It might feel that there are more shuffle songs and groovy music than usual, but that’s about it. The rest is our usual. We just want people to have fun when they listen to this album.

This time, I didn’t think about trying all sorts of experimental music, or incorporating this and that
I guess I was more of playing around with whatever came to mind and shaping it

――Imai-san came up with the title, 異空 -IZORA-, right?

I: Mugen LOOP (無限 LOOP/Infinity LOOP)’s working title was originally izora. That stuck with me the whole time so I made it the album title.

――Where did you get it from?

I: I like the works that artist Uchibayashi Takeshi-san creates, and he has a particular one called Ikuu e no Madou (異空への窓/Window to Another Sky). I think it’s normally read as ikuu instead of izora and he also said the same thing to me, but I thought it might be intriguing to read it as izora. And I thought it’d be nice if I could use it somewhere.

――Where did you see this artwork?

I: I bought it myself. I went to Uchibayashi-san’s exhibition and he also let me drop by his atelier for a bit, though.

――What drew you to that piece of art?

I: The homesickness. I like it.

――I saw the piece, the crescent moon is a nice touch, isn’t it?

I: Yeah. And the telephone pole at dusk, and the silhouette of a home. It’s not just the homesick feeling I like, though. I like the way [the art pieces] brings it out.

――So you made that the album title.

I: Yeah. But the purpose isn’t to make nostalgic homesickness the theme. It’s more about what kind of feeling we get when we see “different skies (異空)” like “blue skies (青空)” or “cloudy skies (曇り空)” and all that.

――Were there any changes in the way you composed your music?

I: None in particular. But this time, I didn’t think about trying all sorts of experimental music, or incorporating this and that. I guess I was more of playing around with whatever came to mind and shaping it. There wasn’t anything like a focused aim with a concept.

――Is there a chance that something like that would come around again?

I: I wonder. Wouldn’t that be based on timing or whether there are inspiration triggers? This is a slightly different topic but when I did SCHAFT in the past, we didn’t want to make something similar to the first album which was more industrial and gritty. Instead, we wanted to make music that felt less formal and allowed listeners to enjoy the live-band style music more.

――So that’s why Fujii-san (Fujii Maki) was so confused at the start (lol).

I: Because we were focused on more rock band-styled music, right? The genre is different, but I guess that’s similar to what we have now.

――Which is of more interest to you now?

I: Dunno. I enjoy them both. I guess it feels like a boom.

――Also, this time, you have YOW-ROW-kun (GARI) and Yoko-chan (Yokoyama Kazutoshi) participating in the album for manipulation and remixing too. Their work seems to sound kind of similar but I would think they’re present here as two different types.

I: YOW-ROW is the type to make use of all kinds of things without much hesitation.  When he was working on the remix of Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless), he came over to my home and we came up with a lot of concrete ideas like how the chord progression would go, this and that. YOW-ROW did the arrangement and adjustments after that. If I’m working with Yoko-chan, all I’d probably say is, “Make it major.” (Lol)

――Hahahaha.

I: But I did tell him right from the beginning that I wanted to turn it instrumental. There’s a set direction.

――Your tour is starting for this album that has quite a focus on performing the songs live, but have you thought about how you’d like the shows to turn out?

I: COVID-19 has subsided and now [the audience] can get loud and noisy in concerts, right? That’s definitely one thing I’m looking forward to, but I also wonder what it’s going to be like. Because I kind of forgot after these past few years. So I’m actually looking forward to that. And what kind of music I would make after experiencing it.

――Already talking about the next thing (lol).

I: Because I always get ideas and that creative urge without fail when we’re on tour. That’s exciting, isn’t it?

――We’ve known each other for decades and even now I still ask you about these things, but you never fail to get ideas about what you’ll do next, do you?

I: They’ll come to me, somehow someway. I’ve never had nothing at all. This is the way it’s been throughout these 35 years, so I’m sure the next thing will happen the same way. Once we hold concerts, I’ll start getting ideas of what might be interesting to do next, and we’ll build everything from scratch again together after reducing what was finally consolidated at the end of it to zero. That’s not a thing you’ll get tired of doing.

――That’s true.

I: Because I think there’s still more to create.

――I think the confidence in these words has become the backbone of the band. Now that your 35th anniversary has concluded, we now look towards your 40thーー

I: Because there’s still our 36th, 37th, 38th, and 39th anniversary, right (lol).

 

 

 

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Hoshino Hidehiko

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

I think it’s an album we managed to put together after having experienced a bunch of things
Everyone thinks so. That we made something good isn’t the only thing we feel.

――With your new album, I get the sense that while it isn’t strongly thematic, it really lets people feel the breadth of this band’s musicality.

Hoshino (H): That’s right. At first, the idea to release two discs was raised and we subsequently started recording. In what way, we haven’t decided though, like whether it’s releasing two discs at the same time or with a short delay between them.

――You were already recording before the release of your best-of concept album last September, right?

H: That’s right. I feel like the whole of last year was spent recording. That’s why we got started early. Even though we couldn’t envision what was next. How many songs we should release, how many tracks to record, what type of songs we need; we knew nothing at all. That’s why we sort of went about it with the mindset that we really were going to release two discs or so.

――What do you mean by “type of songs”?

H: For a period, there was this sense that we were going to have two different themes for each of the discs. Like, light and dark, or something. It’s vague though. And if we wrote our music fixed on that, we’d end up restricting ourselves so I gave my music a flexibility that made it possible to change things up depending on the final arrangement. I figured that it was probably better to have more patterns so I expanded the range. Personally.

――Is that the reason behind the wide range of musicality we got in this album?

H: That’s true. In the end, the songs went into one CD, so maybe it feels like it leans very much that way.

――Roughly how many songs were initially in your demo tape?

H: In the beginning were the three songs we have now. Sayonara Shelter and Ai no Harem (Harem of Love). And Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus). These songs were already there even before September’s Yokohama Arena event. And after that, we still kept on continuing with recording between tour dates. From my own compositions, there’s one more song that’s already got guitars recorded for it (lol).。

――So it wasn’t included because you’re only releasing one disc this time and you already had enough songs.

H: For now, it’s put on hold (lol). It’s an interesting song so I don’t want to toss it away though.

――Taiyou to Icarus is a fresh one coming from Hoshino-san. Probably because of the major chord feeling.

H: That was originally composed specifically for the album. With “light” as the focus. I think that’s where the major feeling comes from. I didn’t intend for it to be a single, though. That only happened because everyone came to the consensus that it’s kinda good while we were recording it. When Sakurai-san’s lyrics and singing came in, director Tanaka also said, “This, it’s fit for a single, isn’t it?”

――I think it’s a really good song.

H: So this time, among the four songs recorded, the cheerful ones were Taiyou to Icarus and the song on hold. While the dark ones were Sayonara Shelter and Ai no Harem.

――No matter the circumstance, you’re someone who really strikes a balance (lol).

H: Right? If we were releasing two discs, I thought having two songs in each would be just right, and if we released just one, then we can take our pick.

――What did you envision when you created Ai no Harem?

H: I just wanted something with a “dark” vibe. Probably something with a sort of thick, muddy feeling. The rhythm I went with kind of resembles dub, so I wanted the song to end with that slushy dub.

――If you had the time to, do you think releasing two discs would’ve made for something interesting?

H: We actually had more than enough time here too (lol). But we’ve never released two discs of entirely new music, right? If it does happen, it would probably be interesting, but I really wonder how it would work. Our listeners might just find that they’re only listening to one or the other (lol).

――Hahahaha.

H: If they really really think hard about it. Well, in hindsight, I get the feeling that maybe it was a good thing we decided to do it like this.

――What do you personally think about how the album turned out?

H: Hm… I dare say that it’s an album that naturally reflects the current times we live in and our present stance.

――What’s the stance?

H: All sorts of things are happening in the world now. We often see footage of war and demonstrations on TV but there’s a lot going on in those people’s lives there. Even though a lot is going on, we take it in and continue with our lives. By thinking like this, maybe we’ll be able to become forward-thinking?

――I see.

H: I think it’s an album we managed to put together after having experienced a bunch of things. I believe that’s something not only me, but the other members of the band think as well. That we made something good isn’t the only thing we feel. There are times when that’s enough, but things were completely different ten or twenty years ago. Not that there’s anything bad about it.

――Are you saying that each of these lives have affected the band?

H: Well, I suppose so. As you’d expect, coming to this age, everyone has their own thing going on. There are people who think completely differently from how I think, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have shared experiences. But once we start going on tour and get on stage, things become the same as they were 35 years ago. It’s really strange, though.

――It is.

H: That’s definitely how it is, emotionally. This somehow feels like an album which looks back on those times, doesn’t it? It lacks a concept or a theme as a result, but we were naturally able to come up with songs that fit the way the band is now.

Looking at each era, we’ve always made music honestly according to what’s in our hearts at the time
I feel like that naturally grew to become our aim

――Going back to the album, was there anything different for Hoshino-san with the sound work?

H: Nothing changed at all in recent times. Equipment’s still the same, I guess I only added one more SG to my guitars. But aside from that, there was nothing in particular that changed so our recording methods also remained the same, staff is still made up of the same people (lol). That’s not where any change would be found. But in those areas, including the melodies, I generally always have a desire to destroy it.

――When we talk about Hoshino Hidehiko, the phrase “Hide melody” often comes  up so that’s also a typecast in a good sense of it, though.

H: But I want to do something novel.

――In the 35th year of your career!

H: I’m thinking that this time’s Taiyou to Icarus might be a good starting point. Everyone calls it pop but personally, I think it’s tearful.

――A tearful melody?

H: Exactly. Especially the chorus and thereabouts. I’m playing the right side guitar but when that part matched the melody, that’s when it was finally complete. I kept thinking about it throughout that time. I really thought that the song can’t be released unless these two parts align (lol).

――The alignment of the tearful melody and the guitars.

H: Right, and that’s why it’s not just a simple pop song to me. Because I kept on thinking and thinking and thinking about that guitar (lol).

――The left side guitar plays the chords with strokes, right?

H: Yeah. That’s the main backing. It was hard to figure out guitars that meshed with the song’s melody.

――It’s no surprise considering you’re a guy who wouldn’t release a song unless it’s properly completed (lol).

H: Nah, there’s none of that recently (lol). There are parts that I’m particular about, but everything else is relatively flexible. Because [the song] can grow further when the impressions of the other band members and the manipulators come in. I’ve grown more flexible in that sense.

――But no matter the band member, they all said Hide is stubborn when it comes to song production.

H: I’ve grown more flexible. Although maybe it’s just that I find some things troublesome (lol).

――Brutally frank (lol). But doing that allows ideas from more people to come into the mix and develop it more.

H: Right, right. Exactly.

――Thoughts on Imai-san’s songs on this album?

H: The feel of it is probably the same, isn’t it? The light and dark feeling. And yet the range of it is wide. So while there’s certainly a variety of styles, it’s also the same as usual. I guess he simply decided to have a wider perspective and look at different things because he was focused on the original idea of releasing two discs.

――That, along with the songs that seem to say “I want to go somewhere different” really stand out too.

H: It’s very Sakurai-san. Those words probably call for a melody, don’t they? But I always leave the lyrics entirely up to him, so at this stage, I’m no longer surprised by whatever comes (lol).

――Hahahahahaha. So whether it’s a cat which comes, or whatever else, it’s all okay.

H: Cat (lol). But this album’s Taiyou to Icarus can be interpreted in a number of ways, don’t you think? I won’t say much more though.

――Please say more (lol).

H: No, I mean (lol). When you see the lyrics, right, you might be able to guess what some of it references, but on the other hand, I think, it can be interpreted in this other way, or seen from yet another perspective too. I’d say it’s well expressed.

――Present emotions.

H: That, and because you want to protect someone, you…… It could be interpreted in that manner too.

――And live concerts. Things haven’t entirely reverted to the way they were before COVID-19, though.

H: Seems like it.

――I know it’s still too soon, but have you thought about what you want to do next?

H: Ah, right. I think I still want to produce an album. The song put on hold is still waiting, after all (lol).

――Ultimately, you want to get into band activities ASAP?

H: Yeah. I definitely have the motivation to work on whatever’s next (lol). I want to hurry up and reamp the guitars. Because I stopped at a point where I was thinking about changing the sound if that particular sound isn’t what I wanted.

――Once again, how does it feel to keep going like this throughout all this time?

H: How indeed. Looking at each era, I guess you can tell that we’ve always made music honestly, according to what’s in our hearts at the time. I feel like that naturally grew to become our aim.

――Yes. Now, this is a completely different topic, but when I looked at Boo-san’s (VJ) Instagram page, I found out that the Starfield (星 – star/野 – field) New Year Party is still going on (lol).

H: They posted the photos, right? The Starfield party was originally a family gathering though. My eldest son is going overseas to study in the UK so this also doubles as a farewell party.

――Ahh, so with the families of your friends and everyone.

H: Yes, that’s right. Everyone came together with the intention of this being a farewell party.

――I see. Has he already gone away for studies?

H: He has.

――Are you sad, lonely?

H: Not that much. He just looks like he’s having so much fun that I envy him. It sounds like he’s in a really great place. Because he’s already made friends there and he said that he was going to travel to Spain for a vacation with those friends next week.

――It does sound like he’s having fun.

H: He said everyday’s something new.

――Don’t you feel envious when you see him like that?

H: I do. Everything is fascinating, everything is brand new. No matter what he does, it’ll be his first time with it so I guess it makes sense that he’s having so much fun.

――And yourself?

H: I wonder. I doubt I can do anything like that even if I start now, though. But that’s because I was intrigued by different things back when I was around his age, I think.

――But after you graduated high school, you went to vocational school and soon after started a band, so you’ve actually been doing that and living in this world of just the five of you for 35 years.

H: That’s true. Personally, I feel that I’ve lived my life in my own way but I’ve been so busy that I could only live in this small world. So I think those experiences were most definitely good. I want us all to be able to enjoy our lives in our own way. I guess that’s the only thing I have in mind now. That he doesn’t have any regrets. That said, I did enjoy myself though.

――Agreed (lol). [We hope that they] would enjoy life too.

H: Yes, exactly. I’m still enjoying my life in my own way too.

 

 

 

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_______________________

Higuchi yutaka

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

There’s a change in our day-to-day relationship with how we no longer revolve our lives solely around BUCK-TICK
But on stage, we see the same band members we’ve always known, unchanged. I think that’s probably the same for all of us

――This turned out to be a great album featuring a variety of shades of the band.

Yutaka (Y): I guess we managed to make songs of various forms. Acchan’s lyrics too are what he could write precisely because of the times we’re in. I think we managed to produce an album that leaves more impact than ever.

――I would think that the reason why there’s a variety of music is largely because you spent quite a long time recording and your original plan to release two discs in the beginning, right?

Y: That’s right. We had no theme either so it felt like we decided to start with this vague goal and try going in different directions.

――Did anything change in your style of recording?

Y: Mm. But it went smoothly and it wasn’t bad. [Normally,] if we have twelve songs, my part would conclude after a few days of bass recording. After that, it’s just the wait for the engineers to do the mixing. That’s our usual style but this time, they would consolidate about three songs or so together and those songs would have some extent of singing already recorded so it’s easy for me to see how it would eventually turn out. That would also change the way I tackle the next song. It’s good that I can get a clear view of the full picture. Because before, there were a lot of instances of songs where I [hear the final version and] think, “So this is what that demo tape turned into.” (Lol)

――Sayonara Shelter was released in the best-of concept album too, but was it the first song you recorded?

Y: Nope, the first were probably Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Campanella  A Bouquet For You) and Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries). I think Sayonara Shelter was right after that.

――How was it dealing with such a rich diversity of songs as a musician?

Y: It was interesting as a bassist. Because it’s a line-up of songs that allows me to bring out a variety of grooves. If you focus on listening to the bass, you wouldn’t think that they all came from the same band (lol). But once the songs are complete, they turn into tracks that can only be attributed to BUCK-TICK. They’ll become one. That’s something that always amazes me.

――Has there never been an occasion where someone will say, “We don’t do this,” and reject it?

Y: Never. Although, when we debuted, the director person would say, “Stop that, we don’t do this.” And we had to stop halfway.

――I see.

Y: Ultimately, this band didn’t come about because we wanted to do just one thing, but instead with the intention of creating what is interesting to the five of us in a cool way.

――Not to make music, but to make what’s BUCK-TICK.

Y: Yeah. The fact that this is how we started is big. That’s why I think we can do anything. I would think that our fans probably never have thought “This isn’t BUCK-TICK” when they listen to our music.

――Right.

Y: That’s why we have fun no matter what we do. We don’t really have any deliberate consciousness of wanting to make music in a particular genre, like techno or grunge, goth. No matter what we do, it’ll become BUCK-TICK. Everyone knows that.

――The biggest factor which contributes to that is probably because you’ve grown to think about how a song can be executed with all five members of the band.

Y: That’s right. And that’s something we’ve been doing throughout these 35 years.

――Everyone’s got their own lives too, but can you all walk it the same way?

Y: I’m not sure about that. Well, we don’t really have the same amount of energy that we used to have back when we would mess around together until morning comes (lol).

――Hahahaha!

Y: I think it’s better to get a good night’s sleep for tomorrow’s concert anyway (lol). Strangely enough, although I believe that there certainly is a change in our day-to-day relationship with how we no longer revolve our lives solely around BUCK-TICK, but on the other hand, the moment we get on stage, we get that same vibe that we’ve always felt since way back and we become BUCK-TICK. There, we see the same band members we’ve always known, unchanged. I think that’s probably the same for all of us.

When we see scenes of war on TV, it makes you wonder what’s wrong with the world but it’s just reality
I think “異空” is a word that gives off a very strong sense of discomfort

 

――What do you think about the album’s title?

Y: The working title of Mugen LOOP (Infinity LOOP) was izora. I thought it was perfect for this album and this era. COVID-19 caused a pandemic, war broke out in Ukraine. In our lives, we’ve also had the Vietnam war and the war between Iran and Iraq, but we never got to see the bombings and scenes of people evacuating, or the moment of someone’s death. It makes you wonder what’s wrong with the world but it’s just reality.

――That’s true.

Y: I think “異空” is a word that gives off a very strong sense of discomfort…… That said, Imai-kun would probably say that’s “completely wrong” though (lol).

――But you’ve got a point.

Y: With all these things going on in the world, we’re releasing an album like this and going on a national tour again. I feel nothing but grateful. We can visit everyone in their cities for concerts. Things like this was something we thought would never go away and it did. That’s something we learnt from the past three years.

――That’s true.

Y: That’s why, if there’s anything we should do in this gloomy world, I think it’s to do things that bring joy to everyone. Instead of putting together a huge set and putting on a flashy performance in Tokyo, I would rather go around visiting performance halls in each district with the same kind of fervour.

――In one of the song’s lyrics that Sakurai-san wrote for this album, there’s a nostalgic story related to going on tour in a car back then.

Y: You’re talking about Boogie Woogie, right? When I saw the lyrics, I got the feeling that we had all been thinking about the same thing. When we went on tour together riding in that broken-down van, there was a time when we ran out of gas, just like in the lyrics. We ran out of gas on the highway and we pushed the vehicle to get ourselves to a rest stop (lol).

――That’s a good story (lol).

Y: It was such a hard time! I get the feeling that Acchan wrote about those memories because we talked about recalling what we did together as a band in the very beginning, what we had fun doing. It’s like a search to find out what’s at our very core.

――The five of you going on tour together, visiting the cities where your fans away, then heading to the next city.

Y: There’s something precious [to us] in that.

――So for the first time in a while, let’s have the five of you get on board a Hiace……

Y: I’ll die (lol). But the COVID-19 pandemic got me thinking about things even more. It made me aware of the fact that people were waiting for us when we lost the ability to do the things we took for granted.

――Like realising that you’re doing these things for those people?

Y: I’m more than satisfied if that relationship exists. We’ve come this far sharing that among the five of us. Because we aren’t a band where the loudest gets his way. All of us would take each person’s feelings and ideas into consideration as we think about how we can best do something while making sure everyone is happy too. And that’s the way we have always done things.

――Which song did you have a hard time recording this time around?

Y: Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni was difficult. It’s got a simple bass line but I found myself thinking really hard about how I should work the groove to fit it into the song’s vibe.

――What about Sakurai-san’s lyrics?

Y: I know very well that Acchan is processing the air of our times in his own unique way. He can’t pretend he doesn’t know what’s going on and write about something else, I believe. He’s a magnificent poet.

――He really can’t run away from these things. Also, because the original intention was to release two discs, both Imai-san and Hoshino-san put out quite a wide range of music, didn’t they?

Y: Those two probably flipped the switch and got really motivated about it (lol). Both composers’ music are really good. Maybe it was made possible because of the era we’re in.

――If you did end up releasing two discs at the same time, what kind of work do you think it’ll turn out to be?

Y: Probably something intriguing and very very rich in variety. But we couldn’t make it in time, right? (Lol)

――Recording while you’re on tour is a strain after all.

Y: Because we ultimately would prefer to focus. Especially for Acchan because he only writes the lyrics at the very end after the music has gotten the OK. And that’s tough.

――Then it certainly makes it unreasonable to expect it all to be done in between schedules.

 

Y: That’s why we had to draw the line somewhere. I think what we have here is a good enough job done for this round. Maybe the next step would be to come up with yet another thing to focus on.

――Does Yuta-san hold any expectations towards BUCK-TICK like wanting to do a specific thing or wanting to produce a particular type of album?

Y: Don’t think so. It’s good enough for me to work with these band members. That’s my number one wish above all else, and if there’s only one thing I can ever do again, it’ll be that. Ah, but there’s this thing we’ve been doing recently; the five of us taking our old songs and making them new again. That is fun. I’d like to do this more. Not just make new songs.

――Why?

Y: As we work on that, I can sense how much we’ve changed and grown. And it brings me joy knowing that even now, we’re playing the same song with the same band members.

――What is one thing that has changed in you?

Y: Songs with 8th notes, I guess.

――Meaning, bouncy songs.

Y: The ones that go ton-ton-ton-ton-ton-ton-ton-ton. I’m starting to understand what it should feel like. It’s impossible for me to elaborate further, though (lol).

――Hahahahahaha.

Y: It’s hard! But after doing this for 35 years, I feel like I might have finally grasped it.

――Even a veteran like Yuta-san has his ‘finally’s.

Y: Mm. And that’s definitely because we’re a band of five playing together. If I’m playing alone at home, I’d think wherever I am is good enough but when we’re playing in a band of five, everyone has their own interpretations so instead, I’d find myself wondering whether I really am good enough. And that might lead towards something even better, turning it into reality. That’s why I can’t help but find this all so enjoyable.

――Ultimately, it’s about the five of you working together.

Y: That’s the most important thing of all. There was a time when I worked with Okuno-san (Okuno Atsushi who he formed Wild Wise Apes with in 2004), right? While I was doing that, I really felt like, “Ah… this is completely unlike our band”, “I’ve been spoiled”. Okuno-san is a senior who I get along very well with, but even so, there will be no progress unless we discuss. Like, “How’s this?” “Nah, don’t you think this is better?”  But among the five of us, that doesn’t happen and we move on naturally. As we go, we’d be like, “Ah, yes, yes, that.”

――I see.

Y: But even though it’s difficult, there’s still quite an energy. Because it’s not a familiarity that comes from simply having known each other for a long time. In terms of live performances, although factors like the song list and all that are set, but it’s not as if changes or the unexpected won’t happen. And because we do what we do while maintaining that intensity, things can grow within one tour. Like on the first day or something, I was just keenly watching Imai-kun struggle to decide whether or not he wants to have guitar playing before a song or not. Because he wouldn’t even tell me something like that (lol).

――Hahahahahaha.

Y: Our lighting guy was there too and he also said it would be easier on them if he just told them [his plan] (lol). But he plays those things by ear so we always end up with something different on each instance. It’s also like when I move towards the front of the stage, I just do it when I get the feeling I should.

――That’s what makes touring such a precious experience.

Y: It’s a joy. That’s why I would like it if people come and watch us if they happen to have the time. I want to keep doing this for as long as I can. I’ve started thinking more and more often that it wouldn’t be forever, but that’s why I want to keep going for as long as I can, and also why I want to show everyone what our favourite band is like right now.

 

 

 

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_______________________

Yagami Toll

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

It’s not like back then when we didn’t know anyone else. Now everyone has their own life
That’s why I don’t want to forget what it feels like when we’re all on stage together

――Thank you for your time.

Toll (T): What shall we talk about today?

――The new album, and how Yagami-san’s doing lately (lol).

T: We made good music so please give it a listen. That’s all! Yagami Toll, out! (Lol)

――Let’s expand a bit on that (lol). So, shall we start by talking about last year’s tour?

T: Due to my advanced age, I cannot remember anything at all (lol).

――Stop it (lol). But I think it was a really good tour where with each show your performance was increasingly perfected.

T: Yeah. We postponed a few shows because of COVID-19, but I agree that it was a good tour. Maybe performing shows in areas other than Tokyo and Osaka might be old-fashioned (lol), but it’s definitely something to cherish, isn’t it? My body will scream but I want to travel around and perform more if I can. Because although the audience still can’t cheer and make sounds, I can feel very keenly that we’re bringing joy to everyone.

――Because the only way to really see your fans’ reactions is in a live concert.

T: There’s a lot I noticed for the first time. I forgot where but at one of our standing shows, I noticed two girls in the audience area somewhere between Hide and Acchan. I think one probably brought her friend with her for the show, but one was crying her eyes out while the other was admiring the stage (lol). Seeing that, I got the feeling that she was probably here to see BUCK-TICK for the first time. It made me really happy to know that people still react like that to us and fans like them come to see us.

――I see. Also, album recording was going on during the tour, wasn’t it?

T: That’s right. I think it might’ve begun at the start of spring, last year. At first, we envisioned that we would release an album with two discs, so I think we were working at a pace that was somehow faster than our usual. Our recording process was different too.

――In what way?

T: We always start by recording the bass parts for all the songs first, then guitars and drums come next as we build it up, but this time, we mostly worked on one song at a time and only after each track is complete, Acchan writes the lyrics and records his singing. Then we start recording the next song again. That’s the process this time. But drums get recorded last so [by the time it’s my turn] all the other instruments are already done. That’s why there were times when I even recorded three songs in the span of a day (lol).

――Sounds tough (lol).

T: The elderly wants to be given more work (lol). But that also meant that I could take my time and rehearse properly before recording so that’s something I’m grateful for. It takes time to decide on the sound specifications in the studio, but once that is confirmed, we’ll be done with the track very soon after. I think it would need three takes, at most. In the past, recording would start with bass and drums at the same time, so we’d try out various phrases and discuss it with the other members of the band, but since how I’m going to drum has already been decided ahead of recording [it takes less time].

――What’s your impression of the songs in this album?

T: I couldn’t see the end so I was confused at first. Like, how many more songs do we have to record before we’re done? Then, at year end, it was announced that we’ll just release one CD so we’re all good (lol) and suddenly, we were done. There are probably three more songs that already have bass and guitars recorded and done, though. All that’s left are drums and vocals. I guess those would go into our next release.

――I believe there was no theme to follow in terms of sound, was there? This album has quite a few different types of songs in it.

T: I had to think about the image of the song before drumming for each and every track. There isn’t quite a sense of unity but I guess that, on the other hand, is what makes it interesting. Besides, I think that’s what things were originally like in the past anyway.

――Do you have a song you like as a drummer?

T: Ever since it’s demo stage, I already got the feeling that Mugen LOOP (無限 LOOP/Infinity LOOP) sounds like a city pop song. And I really love Yoshida Minako-san, who Ponta-san (Murakami “Ponta” Shuichi) drummed for, and Matsutoya Yumi-san when Hayashi Tatsuo-san worked with her. So I really enjoyed it.

――The riff in Boogie Woogie sounds like Yagami-san at your best.

T: Because I thought the riff sounded like [a] Zeppelin [song] (lol). That’s the feeling I got when I heard the demo tape. That’s why I took it as a message from Imai to go all out and drum with Bonzo (John Bonham) in mind (lol).

――This is your first original album release in two years and seven months. How do you feel about having this long a gap in between?

T: Personally, I would prefer to release [an album] once every two years. That period’s just about right. Although we had COVID-19 happening in between, we’re a band who’s always going on tour, so this is still a comfortable gap.

――I expect it’s tough on you if you can’t drum regularly?

T: Exactly. It’s bad if I don’t get to play around with them much because then I’d lose my touch and get rusty. Drumming isn’t something you memorise in your head. It’s something that you immerse your body in, right? The shows that were postponed for that tour are also nearing, so yesterday, I was rehearsing on my own but that alone was enough to make the muscles in my ass ache (lol). So if I don’t start with my own detailed personal rehearsals to do alongside the overall tour, it’ll get difficult in the later stages.

――But having watched your recent shows, I think they’re very stable.

T: Because it’s not about being good or bad at what we do anymore. Physical fitness is all that counts. Because I no longer have a body that’s just starting puberty (lol). In the past, I would think of trying to steal some techniques, or perhaps trying some new styles, but now it’s about being better than yesterday’s me.

――That’s a good line.

T: It’s a line borrowed from Misora Hibari-san but I like it. It basically means that we should grow a little more tomorrow from what we are today, but like I said before, I think living to see the age of 60 just means that I’m an ordinary person. Neither Hibari-san nor Yuujiro-san (Ishihara Yujiro) reached 60. And even the esteemed John Bonham passed away at 32. Those who possess something special tend to go to heaven early like that. I’m still being asked to continue doing what I do, so I have to do my best in this world. I think that’s also why I can savour the joy of continuing activities as a band.

――That’s true.

T: In my teens, I dreamt of playing in a band and drumming as a member of a band. And now at 60, I can still see my dreams. I’d probably get bad karma if I were to call this a pain (lol). Things were not all fun and games, and there were lots of trying times too, but I’m simply very thankful. I have nothing but gratitude. Because I’ve seen a lot of people who really wanted this but couldn’t do it. That’s why I’d feel guilty if the future me doesn’t grow even a little beyond my present self.

My life is all about not quitting. I think it might be a good thing to affirm that.
Because I’m proud of it. And because the ones who allowed me to do so are my band members and all our fans.

――How’s the band after celebrating your 35th year?

T: Same as usual. Then again, everyone has their own lives so it’s impossible for us to always be together, thinking the same things, drinking until morning like the way we used to. But when we get on stage, everything’s the same as always. So much so that it’s intriguing. Come to think of it…… (he starts rummaging in his bag).

――What is it?

T: I was thinking of printing an old photo of us on the outfits for our next tour so I was looking for a few of those…… Look, like these (he spreads out the photos that were in an envelope).

――Whoa, you’re all so young!

T: This is a picture of all five of us in London. It says 1988 here so…… I was 26. This was in the plane but…… at the time we could still smoke in the plane cabins. The guy in the steakhouse with the kingly beard is Hide (lol). This is Hide making a face at Acchan in the old equipment vehicle we had.

――Hoshino-san is a complete jokester (lol).

T: I was thinking it would look nice if I had these printed in monochrome on my outfit so I wanted to discuss this with Yagi-san who always makes our costumes. In the past, I’ve seen shirts printed with pictures like these in fashion shows.

――I think it’s really great!

T: It’s like going back to our roots (lol). I actually don’t really like looking at old photos. Because we were so damned busy that I only have harrowing memories of those times. The moment we arrived in London, for example, the producer got all angry at us and scolded us for not rehearsing beforehand. But it was just impossible! Because we had such a ridiculous schedule (lol). But now, I’m thinking it’s not so bad to look back on those times together with everyone.

――So that’s why you picked funny photos like those instead of the cool ones.

T: Yeah. Like I said, it’s impossible for us to do these things anymore, isn’t it? Because it’s no longer like back then when we left Gunma for Tokyo and all five of us didn’t know any one else. Everyone has their own life now too. That’s why I’m thinking that I don’t want to forget that this is what it feels like when we’re all on stage together.

――I see.

T: And we’re not the only ones involved when it comes to being on stage, right? There’s of course our staff and all our fans who have created this space together with us throughout these 35 years. I just think it might be nice to express how those emotions still remain this way.

――That even after your 60th, your emotions from those days haven’t changed.

T: 60 or not, I’m just a drummer boy for as long as I live. Just recently, I went to a music store with Tetsu (DERLANGER/drums) and I ended up buying a snare. There was an adorable store staff who said they bought it for me and when I tried drumming it, it was pretty good so I took it home. My family’s grown bigger again (lol).

――Hahahahahaha.

T: But it was a type of snare that I didn’t have. It’s a Raddick snare from the 70s and it’s a rim-clamp (note: rim-clamp refers to the snappy being clamped to the rim, while modern snare models has the snappy being attached by strings on opposite ends. The two models create different sounds due to variations in how the sound vibrations are transmitted). The one I have now is a modern model, but now that I think about it, the snare I had at the time we debuted was a rim-clamp from Pearl. I either bought it in my third year of middle school or as a freshman in high school, but I just kept using it throughout that time. I even used it in the recording of Sexual XXXXX!, but I started using a different snare after that. Like what I said about the outfits earlier too. In a similar way, maybe I’m harbouring a desire to go back to my roots.

――In a way, these things are taking you back to those days.

T: Being a band member is a blessed thing, isn’t it? Despite ageing, we can easily revisit those days. And on top of that, we’ve been with the same band members throughout all this time too. Growing older while still staying the same. It’s not half bad.

――But you’re really an older brother who everyone can lean on as a drummer.

T: But there are still so many other seniors around (lol). There’s Hayashi Tatsuo-san and Yamaki-san (Yamaki Hideo). Everyone’s still actively performing in their 70s too. Makoto-san (Takahashi Makoto) who’s 68 is still full of life. I guess it’s all about looking ahead and drumming all out while we’re still alive (lol).

――As a drummer, what thoughts do you have about your own style of drumming that you’ve had all this time?

T: I really looked up to session musicians and studio musicians. Because no matter how you look at it, their level of skill is just sky high. Impossible for me. I really think it’s true. That’s why I formed a band, I was brought in via Yuta’s invitation, and here I am, drumming all this way. That’s my life. But I think it’s a good life. Even when I’m distressed, when I wanted to quit, and when I said I wanted to retire, no one listened to me anyway (lol).

――It’s a famous story (lol).

T: I don’t know whether it’s good or bad, but my life is all about not quitting. I think it might be a good thing to affirm that. Because I’m proud of it. And because the ones who allowed me to do so are my band members and all our fans.

 

 

 

 

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AFTERSHOW

2023.03.16 BUCK-TICK

The photoshoot happened in a studio at Kameari, a city that has a statue of KochiKame’s Ryotsu Kankichi outside the train station. The first to come were Yuta & Anii. The brothers enter the studio arriving in a car driven by Yuta-san. Having difficulty navigating the narrow space, Yuta-san handed the wheel to their manager. Then arrived Hide-san, Imai-san, and Sakurai-san one after another. They took their turns to get ready, and after make-up and a change of clothes the shoot started with solo shots of the members. Actually, there was also the filming of a video scheduled to happen at the same time onthis day. So both the band members and the studio staff were all busy running around. After 3 to 4 hours, the solo shoots and the film recording concluded. Everyone then went to the studio on the first floor for the group shots and the cover shoot. In the midst of a set change, Sakurai-san and Yuta-san left the studio and stood in the parking area talking cars. A heartwarming conversation unfolded: “Is this car Yuta’s?” “Yeah, it’s rather compact compared to Acchan’s car, isn’t it?” “It’s nice, looks like Yuta.” “Just say it’s small!”

And by the time the group photoshoot was done, it was already well into the evening. Now we can all it a day…… Or so they thought. Right then, Kanemitsu was spirited away by Ueda Takeshi (AA=) who came to Kameari for the dialogue with Imai-san that would be published in the main issue. Alas.

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

異空 -IZORA- Feature

ROCK AND READ 106
April 2023

Photos ◎ Miyawaki Susumu (PROGRESS-M) [Sakurai and Imai shoot]
Hair, make-up ◎ Tanizaki Takayuki, Yamazi Chihiro (both from Fats Berry)
Styling ◎ Shimizu Kenichi

 

BUCK-TICK

profile & information
Formed in 1985, they had their major debut in 1987. Members of the band are Sakurai Atsushi on vocals, Imai Hisashi on guitar, Hoshino Hidehiko on guitar, Higuchi Yutaka on bass, and Yagami Toll on drums.
They released their 41st single Taiyou to Icarus on March 8, followed by their 42nd single Mugen LOOP on March, and finally, their 23rd album 異空 ‐IZORA- on April 12.
They will kick off “BUCK‐TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA-” on Wednesday, April 19 at J:COM Hachioji. The tour will conclude with the final shows on Saturday and Sunday, July 22 and 23 at Tokyo Garden Theatre.
buck-tick.com

 

It’s been about two and a half years since the release of their last album, ABRACADABRA which was produced right in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and named as such to act as a spell to drive the plague away. 

BUCK-TICK’s 23rd original album, 異空 -IZORA- is the latest to be released on April 12, the same day as the publishing of this magazine.

This new chapter of BUCK-TICK comes after their 35 major debut anniversary commemorative best-of concept album and performances at Yokohama Arena, and their first national tour with a live audience since the COVID-19 pandemic. How will it turn out?

Including the first and last instrumental tracks, the album consists of 14 songs with Sakurai composing lyrics for 11, Imai composing lyrics for one and music for 11, and Hoshino composing music for three.

We hear from each of the five band members their thoughts on all the songs of this album and their behind-the-scenes stories of the production process.

 

23rd album『異空 -IZORA-』on sale 12 April 2023

 

  1. QUANTUM Ⅰ [Music: Imai Hisashi]
  2. SCARECROW [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  3. Warukyuure no Kikou (ワルキューレの騎行 / Ride of Valkyries) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  4. Sayonara Shelter (さよならシェルター) destroy and regenerate-Mix [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Hoshino Hidehiko]
  5. Ai no Haremu (愛のハレム / Harem of Love) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Hoshino Hidehiko]
  6. Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni ( Campanella 花束を君に / A Bouquet for You) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  7. THE FALLING DOWN [Lyrics: Imai Hisashi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  8. Taiyou to Icarus (太陽とイカロス / The Sun and Icarus) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Hoshino Hidehiko]
  9. Boogie Woogie [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  10. Mugen LOOP -IZORA- (無限 / Infinity LOOP -IZORA-) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  11. Noraneko Blue (野良猫ブルー / Stray Cat Blue) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  12. Hizumi (ヒズミ) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  13. Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし / I, Nameless) [Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi / Music: Imai Hisashi]
  14. QUANTUM Ⅱ [Music: Imai Hisashi]

 

 

Part 1

_______________________

Sakurai Atsushi

Everyone gets shone upon by the sun
and hit by the rain, equally.
This is enough.
It is enough to bloom and exist.

profile & information
Born 7 March 1966. Blood type: O. Vocalist of BUCK-TICK which formed in 1985 and had its major debut in 1987.
buck-tick.com

Interview & Text ◎ Okubo Yuka

 

Excluding the instrumental tracks at the start and end, the album 異空 -IZORA- consists of twelve tracks, all of which Sakurai wrote lyrics for with the exception of THE FALLING DOWN which also features Imai as a vocalist. We present Sakurai’s commentary on his own writing.

The number one thing I fear the most is losing myself. I think it’s best when I have works like this album to cling to, because I get sick in a healthy sense of it.

――Before we start talking about the album¹, I would like for us to take a look back on your 35th anniversary year. As I was listening to you perform ILLUSION² during the encore of the first day of your concert at Yokohama Arena³ last September, I suddenly wondered whether the young men standing on the rooftop of a building in the music video from those days had ever imagined that they would be performing this song at Yokohama Arena 35 years later like this.

Sakurai (S): Looking back now, it really feels as if we didn’t even know left from right or front from back in those days 35 years ago. For better or for worse, we’ve really grown, haven’t we?

――There’s a big difference between your present image to what it was back during ILLUSION so that’s probably why that particular period came to mind. The image change was no doubt partly due to changes in preferences, but I wonder whether it’s a prominent show of how you’re in charge of your own production, like what you wanted to express, or what you wanted to show your audience, things like that.

S: When we first debuted, our naive intentions were to look cool and make ourselves stand out as much as possible visually. That gradually led to people saying that we wouldn’t be us unless we looked like that. And we started to feel that they were not considering our music separate from our image and at the same time, very restricted by a thing that we only started doing because we enjoyed it. That got me thinking that there was something wrong with this and I guess when I found what I really wanted to do on my own free will, that was probably a few years after debuting…… And it also applies even now, actually.

――Is there something you continue to feel the same about even now?

S: Definitely that it’s all about the music. These are seeds that we have sown ourselves, but the fact that we styled our hair up, that people thought we were Visual-Kei, that we looked the way we did will things that will always follow us around.

――Performing with your hair sprayed up the way it used to be might also create a visual mismatch if you were singing Moon  Sayonara wo Oshiete⁴ which has lyrics written from a woman’s perspective, or Maimu Mime⁵ where the song is split between the male character and the female character. In that sense, you’ve changed with the times and the music you write.

S: I’ve grown to think about things on my own better, I believe. As a vocalist, I sing songs,and I sing stories so with all these different types of music and stories around me, I think there would be some mismatch if I’m not featureless* [as a performer]. For example, if I’m singing a ballad with a bit of a romantic story yet I’m wearing some eccentric outlandish outfit, the song would become nothing but empty words. That’s why I’m now always most comfortable keeping my hair short and black.

――So your current image is because of your desire to be featureless*. I think the change in your approach towards music is also reflected in your lyrics, but can you tell us what that looks like in chronological terms? Your 20s, for example, would encompass the period from your debut to the release of your album, Six/Nine⁶, right?

S: When we debuted in my 20s, it was as I described earlier; we didn’t know left from right. We simply had vague notions that we should probably sing love songs or something. After that, my life took a 180-degree turn when I experienced loss with my mother’s passing when I was 24. It was so bad that I can’t remember a thing about the tour we were on at the time, but I made sense of it my own way based on the idea that with her life, perhaps my mother was guiding me towards the direction of what I should sing about. My 20s was really a time when I knew nothing and was trying to figure out what it is I’m meant to do. It was a period which really left an impact on my mentality.

――It was an important period in the shaping of your originality. Your 30s started off with the single Candy⁷ and the album COSMOS⁸. That was also the period which saw the release of the album 13-kai wa Gekkou (十三階は月光)⁹.

S: I may be wording this badly, but I think the band was also lost during that period. Our arrangements were ahead of the times, we were adding all sorts of trendy elements in our music. If I really look back carefully and listen to what we did, that was an era of trial and error with songs we never even released and I think it was probably around that time when there were a bunch of changes going on with our record companies. So I believe that was probably a period of struggle that we needed for us to get out of our rut.

――It was a period of big changes, wasn’t it? 13-kai wa Gekkou also left a strong impression being such a conceptual work which leans towards the gothic.

S: That’s true. In my 20s, Kurutta Taiyou¹⁰ would be the clear highlight of that decade, and following that would be Six/Nine and then 13-kai wa Gekkou in chronological order. I would think those periods were when our energies were most condensed.

――Your 40s began with the release of the single Kagerou (蜉蝣 -かげろう-)¹¹, the album Arui wa ANARCHY (或いはアナーキー)¹² and then the start of THE MORTAL (Sakurai’s solo project).

S: Personally, to me, although THE MORTAL only ever released one album¹³, it really was a period of time that allowed me to do as I pleased. I think it was in all our 40s when the other members of BUCK-TICK also had some leeway to go and do whatever they wanted.

――That’s true. And now, your 50s started off with the single New World¹⁴, leading up to this new album, 異空 -IZORA-.

 S: This is probably strange to say as an adult, but I think a lot of my thought processes have become more complicated. For example, feeling contrition, getting feelings of guilt. I keep looking back at all the things that have happened to me up until my 50s, but I also think that there’s nothing else I can do except look to the future. In a strange sense, I’ve grown up though.

――In the process of producing the album, Sayonara Shelter was released ahead of time¹⁵ and performed at your 35th anniversary concert. All these might’ve factored into how the song left this strong particular impression, but on the whole, 異空 -IZORA- also appears to be a reflection of the current social climate. What kind of mindset did Sakurai-san work on 異空 -IZORA- with?

S: I’m already past my mid-50s, so at this age, both my physical condition and my emotional stability aren’t as good as they used to be. But recently, I started getting the feeling, wondering whether this album will be our last. Although, I have been saying the same about our recent releases. What I’ve really been thinking is to make sure I finish things to the degree that leaves me with no regrets …… Even as I say that, I would speculate, hold back with my words, and there are things unrelated to music that get in the way, but this time around, I could really really focus in response against all those things. It’s like, I could do what I really wanted to do without thinking about other things because I could focus as a result of these extra elements.

――Were there times when you felt afraid with the ability to go all out and straight up do you want?

S: There’s my own thoughts. Like, will they obliterate me if I say these things? It’s a bit of an exaggeration, though (lol). But more than that, the number one thing I fear the most is losing myself. It’s scarier if I have to, for example, create things of no interest to me or unrelated to myself. I think it’s best when I have works like this album to cling to, because I get sick in a healthy sense of it.

Loneliness is something that has been gradually bloating up within me. Considering that this is the first song with lyrics, I thought it would be good if I could take it to the point where everything feels hopelessly beyond saving.

――I see. There’s debate on musicians speaking out about war and politics and yet in BUCK-TICK’s 35th anniversary tour¹⁶, we would see you speak your mind about the war. Sakurai-san had also said before, “There might be people [in the audience] who don’t want to hear about these topics when we finally have the chance to hold concerts.” But how have things been on that end?

S: I really think our fans, those who listen to our music should be free. I think they should have the freedom, because I believe in the freedom of speech. Of course, people may feel upset over being subjected to talk of war when you’re just looking forward to enjoying a concert, and I think that’s only natural. While there’s a giving end, there will be a receiving end. So that’s where each party has to make their own choices based on what they like. While I can’t help feeling bothered by the criticisms even if it’s just one versus ten words of praise, I think I’m too old for that already so I should just do whatever I like.

――Yes, and I think that’s definitely the kind of song and music that we want to hear from Sakurai-san and BUCK-TICK.

S: I want to do things that don’t stray from what I think and feel, so it would be nice if there are people who like what I do and think it’s good music, or a good vibe, or that it feels nice and all. And I really think that should be left up to personal enjoyment. But the conversation again changes if we’re talking about insulting or ostracising others. It’s fine if you don’t like the things you don’t like. Just enjoy what you do enjoy. Whether its art or concerts or music or novels, isn’t it fine to take it as it is? We might be too much for some in terms of how we make them feel or the things we say, but this is where I would like people to make their own decisions on what suits them.

――That’s true. Now, let’s get into the specifics of this album’s production. You’ve spent about a year since last year working on album production in parallel with touring. Did you originally have some specific concept or direction you wanted to go in?

S: This was quite a while ago but…… At first, our director, Tanaka (Junichi)-san proposed the idea of two releases and we began discussions. We started off with the general idea that we don’t know how many songs we’d have unless we try this out, but we had rough ideas. A simple example would be producing one CD with a cheery vibe and the other with a dark vibe. So I suppose that was the rough idea we started with in regards to how we wanted things to turn out.

――And that ended up as one single disc with a mix of songs that swing between the extremities of the light and dark spectrum.

S: I believe our two songwriters (Imai, Hoshino) considered that balance as they did their work. Among the songs which didn’t make the cut this time, there are a number that are very cheerful. I think they would’ve brought some balance [into this album], but we were already out of time (lol).

――So, in the end, the album turned out darker (lol). But what’s interesting in this album is how there are some songs that sound cheerful based on the music but when we look at the lyrics, they really aren’t. There are a lot of songs that can’t really be described as entirely positive or negative, like, the crux of it isn’t so simple. I would like us to talk about this area in relation to each of the songs. So, let’s start with QUANTUM I and QUANTUM II, the instrumental tracks from Imai-san which come at the very start and the very end of the album.

S: I believe Imai-san’s story lives there.

――Indeed. After the opening comes the second track, SCARECROW. Listeners who heard your two singles, Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus)¹⁷ and Mugen LOOP (Infinity LOOP)¹⁸, and embraced the “bright” or “refreshing” impressions they gave might’ve felt like this song threw them right back onto the ground (lol).

S: That’s true. So much so that it might even get people wondering whether they got the wrong artist. It’s really the entrance to hell (lol).

――Because scarecrows cannot move and they’re stuck where they are. There is this really overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, being cornered, trapped.

S: Recently, loneliness is something that has been gradually bloating up within me. I’m not trying to reverse its effects on me through defiance, but I decided that I would apply it in a straightforward manner in the scenery, the vibe and all. Considering that this is the first song on the album with lyrics, I thought it would be good if I could take it to the point where everything feels hopelessly beyond saving.

――That loneliness is also adrift in the next track, Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries).

S: That’s true. I wonder how this happened. It’s a release of pent up emotions, isn’t it?

――With all these thoughts and feelings flowing out, I did wonder whether it was something you wrote in the middle of the night.

S: Because my days and nights really are as good as reversed. Since I can’t sleep at night.

――Speaking of this song title, Ride of the Valkyries is a name that also comes up in the opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen. Additionally, writings by Nietzsche and from the Old Testament about Adam and Eve are also featured. There are quite a lot of references scattered here, aren’t there?

S: It’s the idea that like every last one of us, including myself, are idiots (lol). This protagonist is a rowdy and violent one.

――The album version of Sayonara Shelter sees it getting the subtitle destroy and regenerate-Mix attached to it.

S: We had violins included this time around. Tanaka-san also had the idea to feature the voices of a youth choir too. We didn’t have enough time so we couldn’t bring that to life, but this subtitle was also Tanaka-san’s idea. I believe Tanaka-san feels quite strongly about the present state of the world too, so it would seem that he’s quite invested in this song as well.

――The inclusion of the violin makes the song feel more organic; it brings to mind green shoots sprouting from the ground. It really makes me hope that things would come to that stage soon. It’s a really wonderful arrangement.

S: I see, that greenery. That’s good, isn’t it? The image it brought to my mind was that of light raining down. Greenery and skylight…… it would be nice if that were to come true, wouldn’t it?

――When Sayonara Shelter was played on tour, Sakurai-san was the father holding his young child, then on the other hand, the soldier with a gun in hand during your performance. It was heartwarming but at the same time, so tragic and that really left an impression.

S: It would be nice if I could execute it a little better, though. I did it impromptu, but I just thought it would be nice if I could convey something through this.

――You did, and I think it’s a song that evolved a lot through the tour. A setting filled with an exotic atmosphere unfolds in Ai no Harem (Harem of Love), but what kind of impression did you get from Hoshino-san’s music?

S: The impression it gave me was of beautiful Islamic patterns, scenery at a bazaar. It’s a bustling scene but within it, there’s a stranger, someone who doesn’t belong and I guess you could say that the story revolves around the loneliness they feel.

――I definitely feel the loneliness in this song too. There’s a part in the second half where you sing it almost like a chanson. Was this intended from the start?

S: It was. We actually wanted this last part to sound even closer to chanson, but it felt like we’re overdoing it, so we used the very first take. Tanaka-san also said, “The first take sounds the best.” There’s a melody but at the same time, it sounds spoken and then it leans more and more towards spoken word, so there’s a course correction there.

――That part also has whispers going on and on. It adds to the unsettling feeling.

S: I always have fun trying out different things with Tanaka-san when we’re working on the chorus but those whispers were not meant to match the main vocal lines so I did it in a way that, kind of feels crazy.

――That part gave me a scare.

S: I wanted to scare our listeners (lol).

Because there’s a story in me that I want to tell.
I’m not being defiant, but what’s wrong with beautifying things (lol).

――The intro to Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Bouquet for you) gives it a standard American pop type of sound and chorus, it’s a song that really hits you in the gut when you realise exactly what this song is about.

S: Our only understanding of the current war is through the news, but when we look at the situation in Ukraine, we see the mixed feelings that the mothers have about the soldiers in the tanks, we see civilians handing bouquets of flowers to the soldiers. It gets me wondering who these innate messages are supposed to go to. Would be nice if it did get through, though. Like what I said earlier, this song is really one of those which give the false impression that a cheerful song is finally here (lol). It’s got a gentle touch on the surface precisely because the music is cheerful. I think it’s good if the song gradually starts to sink into those who listen to the words.

――A lot of the songs in this album are very memorable with how the music really stands out and how simple the words in the lyrics are. I would say this song included. And these words alone are so strong and impactful that you open up a whole world with them. The chorus in this song is only made up of eight words, yet they’re very thought-provoking to me.

S: That’s right. This time, instead of writing an essay, I shaved and cut down the words. The idea is that since I can’t fit an essay here, as long as I can convey my message, it’s good enough for me.

――Next, THE FALLING DOWN is a song with both music and lyrics composed by Imai-san but Adam and Eve show up here again. It got me wondering whether there’s some part of it that is synchronised with Sakurai-san’s lyrics.

S: Imai-san’s lyrics usually come after mine are done, so maybe there are certain elements here and there that caught onto him. Who knows?

――We have a duet here with Imai-san singing in the first half, and then Sakurai-san in the chorus.

S: That’s Imai-san’s standard operating procedure. My part really just has me mostly screaming, though.

――The sound as well, I think this song will be a real hook in concert. Taiyou to Icarus appearing at this part of the album makes it sound like the first song to be played on the B-side of a cassette tape. You previously mentioned that your first impression of the demo version of this track was that of “a song that a young Visual-Kei band might write”, but what is this story you’ve written for such a speedy and exhilarating tune?

S: It’s a very pop-like, catchy melody to begin with, so YOW-ROW-kun did his arrangement work on it before bringing out this fast-paced feeling by weaving together a number of different rhythm elements. Even if this was the kind of impression [the music] gives, I’m not very good at writing a story that’s wholly positive, so I started looking around for ideas when I came across the myth of Icarus.

――In the brightness of this song, I could also sense tragedy in it. Like the complex emotions related to the current state of the world being told alongside the adaptation of Icarus’ myth. The brighter the light shines, the darker the shadows deepen.

S: Ultimately, I didn’t want to stray from the fact that this is a story and piece of a music, but I just can’t understand why people are afraid of being honest and saying that they’re anti-war. I think there’s something weird about this, and at the same time, there’s a story in me that I want to tell, so people might accuse me of beautifying things but simply using the veil of entertainment to cloak it.

――We have never had the experience of going to war, so the only thing we can do is try and imagine the emotions and the circumstances in that scenario. I might be digressing, but as I was listening to Taiyou to Icarus, I was suddenly reminded of anime like Space Battleship Yamato and Cyborg 009. Very Showa era titles (lol). Where we see heroes fighting to defend humankind and protect the earth. So although people may call this beautification, like Sakurai-san said earlier, all of these are also forms of entertainment. When we watch [these shows], we feel emotional, we cry, we feel heartache. The strength and brilliance that these characters possessed, along with their underlying melancholy could all be felt in this Taiyou to Icarus.

S: Maybe I’m personally also someone who’s immersed in those sentimental Showa era emotions. Not that I can do anything about it. I’m not being defiant, but what’s wrong with beautifying things (lol).

――On the other hand, I think the vibe of how this song sounds kind of goes against the image that BUCK-TICK has had all this while.

S: That’s the beginnings of a trap. Where we sound like we make pop music, and then we quickly drag them down in quicksand.

――Indeed (lol). In Boogie Woogie, I feel like I’m looking at the band when it first started out. 

S: I guess the things that happened around us during our 35th anniversary had a hand in bringing out memories of us messing around and starting the band in our 20s. It’s like a throwback in time.

――The words “junk-heap of a van (オンボロ車 / onborosha)” appear in the lyrics, but who would’ve thought BUCK-TICK really had such an experience.

S: Indeed. This is based on the true story of the time before we made our debut, we were on a Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka tour and on our way home, we were on the Tomei Expressway when we ran out of gas and everyone had to push the equipment vehicle together.

――Next, Mugen LOOP -IZORA- is different from the single version of the song, but I think this city pop vibe really leaves an impression.

S: We lived through the 80s and 90s so I think Imai-san also possesses this sense of pop within him.

――Starting the song with the words “A southerly wind (南風 / minami kaze)” was impactful in its own way, but if we think a little deeper about a “LOOP” that goes on into “infinity (無限 / mugen)”, it’s kind of eerie. Even though the music sounds so refreshing.

S: In short, it’s a dream you see in a coma. A dream where you never know when it’s ending, nor whether it’ll ever conclude. It’s like seeing the same dream over and over again without knowing when you’ll wake up.

――So this “infinity” is also a “dreamworld”.

S: That’s right.

I also had periods when I struggled and fumbled in it, but in the end
I’ve now come to believe that this is probably the only thing that gives me affirmation.

――Sakurai-san’s rather high notes in the chorus were really impressive too. Would you call Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue) a jazz blues song?

S: Sounds bluesy, doesn’t it? Exactly as written in the title, though. I just thought we just had to have cats featured in at least one song on the album.

――You’re rolling your r’s with this sort of languid style of vocals. It’s really cool.

S: Thank you. If we’re using a Showa era word to describe this song, I guess it’ll be “nihilistic”.

――The part where the piano and vocals are in unison is also really nice.

S: The piano was played by Yoko-chan (Yokoyama Kazutoshi). It’s sophisticated, creates a nice atmosphere. And the setting that comes to mind can only be Shinjuku, right? Not Shibuya or Harajuku, or Roppongi but Shinjuku. The song title kind of sounds like a Showa era movie title too, doesn’t it?

――It does. It sounds a little bit cheeky too (lol). Hizumi felt like we were in one of Sakurai-san’s nightmares.

S: That’s exactly what it is. If I go to bed without drinking, I really will get nightmares so this is what I spit out for my own benefit. It turned out that this was kind of like giving myself therapy. Mm, it’s therapy. I’m sick, copacetically.

――I don’t know whether it’s a good thing to describe it as “copacetically” (lol)…… I’m deviating from our topic again, but there’s this character in one of the dramas I watch in the morning who makes their debut as a  poet. When the editor looks at the new tanka they wrote for their first book publishing, the editor says something like, “You have to change your perspective. You need to grow more.” A fan who heard about this disagreed, saying that the character is fine as they are and that their perspective of the world is splendid. But to this, the editor said, “That’s ego. It’s as good as telling a boy not to grow up because he sings a beautiful soprano.” Upon hearing that, I feel that the worldview of songs like Hizumi and one of your past releases, Mudai¹⁹ which were born of Sakurai-san’s circumstances are assets to BUCK-TICK, but I started to think that maybe it could be very cruel for you too.

S: That is something I’m very familiar with. That editor’s statement on growing up. Numerous times, and in this album too, I’ve challenged myself to part ways with the words of my mother and father who were like that editor but…… When we talk about growing up, the soprano analogy makes it very easy to understand, doesn’t it? Applying it to myself. I said this in the beginning too, but ultimately, I just wonder casually about whether people will let me write what I want to and take it all in stride. Even though people may call me defiant, you know. I also had periods when I struggled and fumbled in it, but in the end, I’ve now come to believe that this is probably the only thing that gives me affirmation.

――Finally, Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless) has a very gentle point of view. I feel like it carries a message which encourages everyone living here and now.

S: It’s about how I’m really just a single stalk of flower getting shone upon by the sun and hit by the rain just like everyone else, equally. There will be all kinds of encounters and farewells in between; bees and bugs will visit, the gentle breeze of the wind will move us. I’m not trying to stand on a pedestal and give people affirmation, but I’m just trying to say that this is enough. It is enough to bloom and exist as you are.

――So what’s your impression of the album name, 異空 -IZORA-?

S: That was originally the working title of Mugen LOOP, but it was written in English alphabets so I couldn’t tell what it was supposed to mean at the time. After that, it became two kanji characters and I guessed it probably meant something like how we live under the same sky but the sky that each one of us sees is different.

――How do you feel about the way 異空 -IZORA- turned out as an album?

S: Personally I think I’m a gloomy person, if I do say so myself, but this really turned out to be a form of self-therapy and I especially like the second half [of the album]. I guess I can say that I’m glad I could create a world I like while staying true to myself. After that, it will belong to everyone who listens [to the album], so I hope they enjoy it.

 

 

Notes:

¹ Album=Their 23rd album, 異空 -IZORA-. Released 12 April.

² ILLUSION=Recorded in their first album, SEXUALxxxxx!. Released November 1987.

³ Yokohama Arena=Where “BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~” was held on 23〜24 September 2022.

Moon  Sayonara wo Oshiete=Their 36th single. Released February 2018.

Maimu Mime=Recorded in their 22nd album ABRACADABRA. Released September 2020.

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

Caady=Their 11th single. Released May 1996.

COSMOS=Their 9th album. Released June 1996.

13-kai wa Gekkou=Their 14th album. Released April 2005.

¹⁰ Kurutta Taiyou =Their 5th album. Released February 1991.

¹¹ Kagerou=Their 23rd single. Released August 2006.

¹² Arui wa ANARCHY=Their 19th album. Released June 2014.

¹³ One album=THE MORTAL’s first album, I AM MORTAL. Released November 2015.

¹⁴ New World=Their 34th single. Released September 2016.

¹⁵ Ahead of time=Earlier released in their best-of concept album, CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.. Released September 2022.

¹⁶ 35th anniversary tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-” which commences on 19 April.

¹⁷ Taiyou to Icarus=Their 41st single. Released on 8 March.

¹⁸ Mugen LOOP=Their 42nd single. Released 22 March.

¹⁹ Mudai=Recorded in their 19th album, Arui wa ANARCHY (或いはアナーキー).

* The word they used here in Japanese was フラット (furatto), literally “flat”.

 

 

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_______________________

Imai Hisashi

You could also say that we’ve been able
to do it for fun, and we still enjoy doing it
without ever getting tired of it.
That’s all there is to it.

profile & information
Born 21 October 1964. Blood type: O. Guitarist of BUCK-TICK which formed in 1985 and had its major debut in 1987.
buck-tick.com

Interview & Text ◎ Fuyu Showgun

 

Among the 14 tracks recorded on 異空 -IZORA-, Imai has composed music for 11 of them, and wrote lyrics for plus sang on THE FALLING DOWN. Here, we bring you commentary from Imai’s perspective on all the tracks of the album, along with his preferred sound tendencies and more.

Not even the impression that we’re creating a culmination of us because it’s our 35th anniversary or something.
I think that’s just how it is because we are who we are. Whenever we try doing something, it just turns out like this.

――I managed to catch your shows at Yokohama Arena¹ and Nippon Budokan² last year. The shows had “35th anniversary” in their names, but they not only looked back at  BUCK-TICK’s past, they also showcased the band’s present day progress. They were wonderful to watch.

Imai (I): In short, the decision was not to take the approach of performing a best-of selection of songs for our anniversary shows. We didn’t decide on any particular theme; we simply listed the songs we wanted to perform and towards the end, we usually have Sakurai-san compile and put them all together for us. What you saw is just the result of that, so I guess we did good.

――Having been active for such a long time, fans would likely ask that you perform old songs and make similar requests, but BUCK-TICK doesn’t limit yourselves to that, do you?

I: Because there are many among our fans who also enjoy the new songs and want to hear them live. So I think it’s okay that we perform our shows without songs like Aku no Hana³ or JUST ONE MORE KISS⁴.

――I would believe that’s largely because of how BUCK-TICK continued your musical exploration throughout all these years.

I: You could also say that we’ve been able to do it for fun, and we still enjoy doing it without ever getting tired of it. That’s all there is to it.

――It’s great that the band is capable of staying active without losing motivation. So let’s talk about the fruits of that labour, your new album 異空 -IZORA-⁵. Although, I believe you originally intended to release the album in two CDs?

I: In the beginning, before we even made a single song, we did think of trying that out. Ten songs in each disc going on with no pause. So we actually started work with the feeling that we’re heading in the theme of that direction. As it went on with our anniversary schedule, as we performed our existing songs on tour⁶ while also going into the studio to work on new songs, it’s as if I got more and more obstinate. But despite our tight schedule, we eventually managed to get the right number of songs. So we actually could’ve released two discs if we wanted to but then we started wondering, “Why are we dividing the songs into two discs?” Then, we thought that it might be better to choose songs out of these almost 20 tracks and release them as one solid work. through this, we came to understand that we really needed quite an amount of time if we were to release two discs.

――So the idea of releasing two discs was a rough one to begin with.

I: Simply because it would have quite the impact and it might be interesting to carry out such a project. That’s all we had in mind in the beginning. And we did make the move to decide on themes and concepts for these two discs, but when we were done with the songs we made, we also found that they turned out a little differently than expected. So that’s why we decided that we’ll release one CD with 12 or 13 songs in it.

――Were you able to envision the theme of the album when you came to the stage of selecting the songs for release?

I: Nothing specific came to mind at all. Not even the impression that we’re creating a culmination of us because it’s our 35th anniversary or something. But, well, I think that’s just how it is because we are who we are.

――In terms of my impression of the album as a whole, I found the gaps in sound and space, the intervals of each instrument all very cool. It’s like I got to experience the beauty of not playing the guitar, for example.

I: You could say that I tried to remove guitar solo-sounding guitar solos as much as possible. We’re naturally heading in this direction but I guess I can only say that whenever we try doing something, it just turns out like this. And the length of the songs. They’re short, in general. Even though I didn’t have any such discussion with Hide (Hoshino), we always end up with things that are similar in vibe, you know? The song compositions. This time around, there are quite a few songs that don’t even reach 4 minutes. I remember the time when I easily wrote 6〜7-minute long songs and Hide also wrote music of that length. We will find that our compositions and song structures are very similar. That’s another thing I find interesting when we work.

――I would think that this is a result of having worked together for so many years. Another thing I noticed is how distinctive the bass sounds in this album. It sounds soft and comfortable to hear, and yet it also has a strong presence. I get the impression that this enigmatic soundscape straight up turns into the atmosphere that fills the world of this album.

I: This time, we asked a German mastering engineer (Clemens Schleiwies) to work on the album. He was also involved in our previous best-of (DISC: 3 ELEKTRIZO from CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.⁷) release, and that’s why we wanted to try working with him on this album. He might’ve been the reason behind that bass range.

I thought SCARECROW might work well as a single when I composed it.
But when it got its lyrics, it turned super dark, so I thought, “This can’t be a single.”

――You have the word “QUANTUM” in the titles of the first and last instrumental tracks of the album. Both “I” and “II” share the same main melody but the way the melody is played and the arpeggios are different. Is this to create a thematic stance for the album?

I: We start our concerts with an instrumental track, so I thought maybe we could include something like that in our album too. The concert version would be a little longer, but that’s already done. So I guess the instrumental tracks are [here to show listeners the album’s] theme and world view.

――Then comes SCARECROW, the first actual track with lyrics. I believe this unique darkness is at the root of BUCK-TICK, but was this a conscious decision?

I: Nope, didn’t think of it. This was actually the very first song we composed for the album.

――Does it mean that this song became the benchmark for the album?

I: Not exactly, but I personally thought it might work well as a single when I first composed it. But later on came Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless) and Mugen LOOP (Infinity LOOP), and then we felt that these two were better choices. Also, when [SCARECROW] got its lyrics, it turned super dark, so I thought, “This can’t be a single.” But when we had a meeting, Sakurai-san voted for this song to be a single. I was like, “Huh. So it’s a valid choice.”

――(Lol). I thought that starting the album with that darkness was very BUCK-TICK. I believe other bands would have typically chosen to make the first track Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries).

I: That wasn’t a decision that was made solely by me. When we were talking about track order, Sakurai-san also raised the idea of making SCARECROW come first, alongside myself.

――Warukyuure no Kikou has pipe organs in its intro and at the end of the interlude, there’s an orchestra too. The gorgeous sounds are just lovely. 

I: Those were ideas that came from our manipulator YOW-ROW. “To bring out the valkyrie mood,” he said. When I told him not to worry about how many sounds we have in this song, he really didn’t hold back and added a whole ton of stuff. For this song, I also kind of let him have his way with it from the start to see what would come out of it.

――You don’t sound particularly opposed to including such sounds that don’t originate from yourselves.

I: That depends on the song. But I guess I’m not against it recently. But even if I say that he can do whatever he wants with it, if I listen to what he made and said, “This part isn’t necessary,” he would still remove it anyway. If I have a concrete idea in mind, I’d tell him before he starts work, so we generally play by ear.

――I thought the chamber music-inspired strings arrangement by Kokushoku Sumire’s Sachi-chan in the next track, Sayonara Shelter -destroy and regenerate-Mix brought a really nice touch of grandeur to the song too.

I: I think Hide mentioned it…… That’s how it pretty much turned out.

――If you were the same imai-san from the past, I think you’d probably say something like, “I want to play the guitar for this.”

I: That’s true. But, well, if we’re in the 90s, like 1993 or something, I think we could’ve done it with a guitar synthesiser or something.

――Does that mean the way you think about the guitar as an instrument has changed since then?

I: Nope, I don’t think so. Besides, guitar synthesisers and actual violins are completely different things. While it’s true that it’s possible to do this with a guitar synthesiser too, well, whether or not we actually do it this way depends on the situation.

――Earlier you mentioned the lack of guitar solos. Do you think that’s the frame of mind you’re currently in?

I: Yeah. But, take Na mo Naki Watashi for example, I played that solo-sounding melody and had it included because we felt that it was necessary. Because we kind of wanted a guitar solo, or rather an interlude of sorts. Call it a bridge or something, but we’ll change things slightly depending on the situation. Having a guitar solo as part of the song’s structure isn’t quite the same thing.

――Next, we have Ai no Harem (Harem of Love), Hoshino-san’s song. The way the two guitars play the chords such that they sound like one was impressive.

I: Feels like Hide made it out of Hide’s, doesn’t it? The composer has always been the arranger of their own songs since the very beginning so it’s all him.

――Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Bouquet for you) is a cheerful song, but when you compose dark-sounding music, do you feel the urge to make your next composition a bright one?

I: As I go, I do think, “This will be next, followed by this.” As to which I want to work on first, I tend to just follow the order I’ve come up with. Sometimes, I also feel, “This song looks like it would be troublesome, I want to get it over and done with first.” Other times, “I’ll just start with whatever I can do,” and then work on more than one at the same time. That’s all just the work I do at home anyway. But I also have fun working on all these. 

――Speaking of which, do you get something like a build-up routine to motivate you to compose?

I: I do. Like, wanting to clean up the room before I start or something.

――There’s something like a filter thing going on with the bass in Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni, right?

I: That’s because we wanted the bass to sound a little different than usual. Rather than the usual nice sound, we were going for something that kind of draws attention to it, so I think we applied some sort of effector.

――It’s kind of weird in a good way, and the feeling of mismatch with the fresh tune is conversely pleasant.

I: That’s what we were going for.

――Kind of like a synth bass approach. I believe that’s something you appreciate too, but is there anything you’d particularly take note about?

I: Yes, it’s true but also, it depends on the song. And even if we do use a synth bass, it’ll still be played by an actual bass. I guess you could say it’s more about how it sounds when these two come together. That’s probably another thing. It’s part of the arrangement work.

――You’re also involved as a vocalist for THE FALLING DOWN, but did you compose the melody with the intention of singing it already?

I: It wasn’t already decided from the start with THE FALLING DOWN. It’s just that as I worked on it, I started thinking, “Ah, I kind of want to sing the verses myself.” Whether it’s the groove, or the rhythm, those were all done with no restrictions.

――Be it the rhythm or the phrasing, I think therein lies Imai-san’s own original melody and word choices. Would you label those as part of your flair? Or do you regularly keep these aside as ideas, or something like that?

I: Nothing was specially kept aside, not in this case. Nuances are important too, but there’s also the fact that it just wouldn’t work if the words don’t sit well with the rhythm or groove too, so I guess I was a little bit picky with my words there.

――On the other hand, it feels like the melody that Sakurai-san sings focuses more on how the musical notes work. There appears to be more mid-tempo songs in this album too. But that’s not deliberate, is it? It’s just how the current vibe is?

I: That’s right.

――Next, the refrain that plays right from the start in Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus) and it sounds like it comes from a keyboard, yet at the same time, a guitar. It’s kind of curious.

I: I don’t know. This is also another one of Hide’s songs, so it might’ve been YOW-ROW but I don’t really know whether they did something or what they did exactly. In any case, I’m playing my guitar too, though.

――The riff in Boogie Woogie sounds like it comes from a mixture or hard rock band of yesteryear too. The sounds used and the bouncy rhythm and the fun yet kind of unusual riff; all of this makes it an unlikely rock song, doesn’t it?

I: About that, I spoke to YOW-ROW, telling him, “I haven’t really heard any song recently that’s got the same feel as the monophonic riff that Uta⁸ had. Makes you want to hear one, doesn’t it?” Maybe that was the cause, maybe it gave him an idea. As I played a bit here and there, I somehow got a vague image of the vibe for this riff. His idea was to add some kind of shuffle vibe to it or some bouncy feels instead of leaving it as it was.

――I see. I think the riff in Uta is wholly a show of Imai-san’s own unique employment of sound. I don’t think it’s deliberate on your part but this is something that deviates a little from the popular musical theories applied to rock guitar.

I: I wonder. I don’t really know, though.

There’s a part of me that feels the guitar is the number one thing that makes [a sound] un-electronic.
That’s why I want to try composing a song that doesn’t sound like it’s got guitars in it at all.

――Next, Mugen LOOP -IZORA- (Infinity LOOP). I heard that the album title, 異空 -IZORA- was originally the working title for this song. This song is another that carries a flavour never before seen from BUCK-TICK.

I: It’s a chord progression that we’ve never played before, and I quite like it too. In the beginning, I had that synth riff, that melody and I was wondering whether there was a chord progression that could allow it to keep repeating from start to end. Starting out from there got us here.

――So it’s a song that came about from that synth melody.

I: That synth melody was the only thing there was at the start, and I considered trying to make it a kind of experimental song which doesn’t include guitars. Then, as I was playing around with the chords, it turned into something completely different than my original idea, but I think it’s better than that. So it grew on me.

――Is it even possible to have a song with no guitars for BUCK-TICK?

I: I just think it would be interesting. When playing something electronic, there’s a part of me that feels the guitar is the number one thing that makes [a sound] un-electronic. That’s why I envision that if I were to go all the way with [electronic music], I wouldn’t include the guitar. I started [working on this song] with that idea to try composing something that thorough[ly electronic], but that didn’t happen in the end anyway. I do want to try a bunch of things after this, though. But I also wonder how that would work live if I did make such a song.

――And that’s why ever since the beginning, you didn’t only use guitars but also other instruments like the Ztar. I believe BUCK-TICK has always looked at studio work and live performances as two separate things. And you have a lot of songs which leave different impressions when they’re played live.

I: That’s just something that happens naturally. It’s not as if we think about recreating the studio versions live.

――On the other hand, Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue) sounds like a studio session within the band. I really like how the bluesy and loose kind of tension makes it very band-like.

I: I had fun bringing out that vibe too. It’s the first time I’ve ever tried something like this and I quite like it a lot. But it wasn’t as if we recorded it in a jam session or anything like that though.

――During the chorus, or rather, the climax of the song where he sings “Hey, Blue (ねぇブルー / nee buruu), there’s this intense analogue synth-sounding tone that’s going on in the back. Is that a guitar?

I: That’s an effector that’s of a less-controlled distortion transmission. It’s from Jack White’s brand.

――From Third Man Records.

I: I think so, something like that.

――Are you always looking for these effectors and equipment?

I: When we’re recording, I would bring a whole variety of compact effectors to the studio and then I’d mess around with them on a small amp when I’m free. If I like it, I’ll then use it or purchase it.

――To me, the distortion and fuzz with those kinds of effectors is characteristic of Imai-san’s guitar sound but is there anything in particular you pay attention to in those areas?

I: I just create whatever I hear or imagine in my head. If I think that something sounds good on the spot, I’ll start working on it in the studio.

――So it’s important to envision it first.

I: But also, there are different situations like, I could create it at home, like it, but just cannot recreate it as it is in the studio. It’s as if there’s something good added by working on it at home. Call it the cheap feeling, or something. Because when we do things in the studio, it will always get this richness and depth no matter what, and it’ll sound well-rounded. When I’m trying to get something other than that, there will be times when I have to take the data from the demo tape and treat it a little.

――What really stuck out to me in Hizumi was this melody that was created through your combined effort with Hoshino-san.

I: That’s pretty much it. We already decided to do this when we started work on arrangement.

――That’s something I wouldn’t have thought I would see in the past. Because you’d tend to do everything on your own.

I: But nothing has changed between then and now. Because whether it’s the guitar part or the arrangement, the decisions lie with the composer. Especially this one when the arrangement calls for both guitars to be tightly knit. Like two guitars playing one riff.

――I just have this very strong impression of how the two of you would always play completely different melodies. There’s this one line that I remember from an interview Imai-san did in the 90s when you said, “I’d leave the difficult parts to Hide. I’ll just have fun playing the good bits.”

I: That hasn’t changed even now, actually.

――(Lol) And the last track with lyrics is Na mo Naki Watashi. It was the B-side to the preceding single⁹ Taiyou to Icarus where YOW-ROW-san was involved in creating the Kachoufuugetsu REMIX (花鳥風月REMIX). Was there something you wanted to achieve in releasing the remix before the original?

I: Rather than achieve, it was actually a candidate for the single. When we decided to release it, we thought to as YOW-ROW to work on it. We wanted to make it more major-sounding than the original and groovier, and we also had the idea of possibly changing the chords. So I called YOW-ROW, talked about it with him through the night, like, “Chords are this and that,” and gave him as detailed a a list of requests as I could. Then in typical YOW-ROW fashion, he proposed the ideas like chords with various tensions, and I thought it was interesting so we went ahead with it. That’s why I can’t say I had anything in mind with releasing the remix ahed of the original. Since we made something good, I just wanted people to hear it as soon as possible and let them experience something completely different from the album version and enjoy the original in another way. 

――YOW-ROW-san also mentioned it on social media, but what did you think about the autotune part?

I: He DM-ed me, asking, “Can I do this?” I though it was nice, and pretty interesting.

――Until now, you’ve applied distortion and spatial effects to vocals, but not any effects that alter the voice this boldly.

I: For some reason or other, I don’t really like for the vocals to be withdrawn to the background. It depends on the song, but there are times when it’s better that the voice sounds dry, or when I want to distort it, things like that. There are also times when I want to make it stand out even more with a delay.

――Your tour¹⁰ starts on 19 April. You earlier said that you aren’t thinking about recreating the studio recordings live, but I also think that part of this album’s songs would become more prominent this way.

I: I think we’ll change things up as we decide to, maybe, increase how much we feature the guitars, or compose live arrangements, things like that. But more on a personal level than a over all band level. We would also think about how we’ll perform certain songs, whether or not we’ll start with SCARECROW, all that.

――Once again, as you celebrate your 35th anniversary, do you think about what lies ahead?

I: Same as usual. Because, well, it’s going to be our 36th anniversary soon.

 

 

Notes:

¹ Yokohama Arena=Where “BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~” was held on 23〜24 September 2022.

² Nippon Budokan=Where  “BUCK-TICK 2022 TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan” was held on 29 December 2022.

³ Aku no Hana=Their second single. Released January 1990.

JUST ONE MORE KISS=Their first single. Released October 1988.

異空 -IZORA-=Their 23rd album. Released 12 April.

Tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv.” which was held between October and December 2022 (some shows postponed).

CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.=Their best-of concept album. Released September 2022.

Uta=Their 8th single. Released March 1995.

Single=Their 41st single, Taiyou to Icarus. Released in March.

¹⁰ Tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-” which commences on 19 April.

 

 

 

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_______________________

Hoshino Hidehiko

This album is quite
rich in variety too,
so I also imagine each
(track) with different skies.

profile & information
Born 16 June 1966. Blood type: A. Guitarist of BUCK-TICK which formed in 1985 and had its major debut in 1987.
buck-tick.com

Interview & Text ◎ Okubo Yuka

 

Within 異空 -IZORA-, there are three songs that were composed by him; the album version of Sayonara Shelter which was also included in the band’s best-of compilation, Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus) which was a preceding single, and Ai no Harem (Harem of Love). In this interview, he shares his perspective on all the songs of the album, with a focus on his own three songs.

I believe there were people who became fans with songs like JUPITER and Dress,
and I think that Taiyou to Icarus would probably have the same effect.

――When the band was deciding on the singles that would precede the album 異空 -IZORA-¹, I heard that Hoshino-san who normally doesn’t have any strong opinions surprisingly pushed for Taiyou to Icarus² to be one of them. In the interview you had with us back in December’s release of the 104th issue of this magazine, you also mentioned that in recent years, you’re “a little bit stiff, so (I) want to break through that” when it comes to your own compositions. I’m getting the feeling that Hoshino-san has made some sort of  breakthrough somewhere within yourself, so what do you say?

Hoshino (H): Part of it is because our director, Tanaka (Jun’ichi)-san really pushed for it too, but during the process of producing this song, as the guitar parts were added, the vocals were added, [my insistence] stemmed from this point when I started thinking, “This is good, this song.” Even based on my own style, this [song] can be classified as pop, but I personally think there’s a very sad element to it too. And I think that element really came through when it matches with the lyrics. Because I didn’t want it to be a simple pop song that’s nothing but rainbows and butterflies. And we were really able to bring this across, so I think that’s probably what made [other people] feel that this song will definitely do well and inspired them to push for it as a single.

――How did the other members of the band react at the time?

H: We were all having a hard time trying to decide on which songs to pick, so I thought I’d just go for it, you know?

――For Hoshino-san, has this song always been in the running to become a single right from the start when you first composed it?

H: No, not at all. Because I composed it with the intention of making it one of the tracks in the album. We originally intended to produce two CDs. Broadly speaking, we were aiming for something like a light versus dark version, and this song was just one of those that was going to be included.

――Specifically, in the light category, right?

H: In the light category. It might lean towards the dark category because of its lyrics but in any case, I thought it was more suitable in the light category. In the beginning.

――Once Sakurai-san’s lyrics came in, it had the potential to be a song that could fit either category, right?

H: That’s right. I think the lyrics to Taiyou to Icarus has been written in such a fashion that it can be interpreted in a number of ways. Those who listen to the song without looking at the lyric booklet would probably conclude, “Ah, a pop song.” But if someone looks at the booklet and starts thinking about it, I think their perspective on it or the way they hear it might change too. I think it’s fine for people to experience it in their own way, though.

  ――I had the impression that this could turn out to be a song that changes the general public’s impression of BUCK-TICK. Just like JUPITER³ for example.

H: I had a strong feeling about that too. With songs like JUPITER and Dress⁴, I believe there were people who weren’t fans but have been listening to BUCK-TICK that actually said that they liked it, and I think that Taiyou to Icarus would probably have the same effect. It would be nice if people started listening to our music because of this, though.

――I’ve heard that Hoshino-san is super strict with your recording direction when it comes to your compositions, so how did things progress with this song?

H: I’m not that strict these days. Nowhere near to the past (lol).

――Is that because you had some sort of change in mentality?

H: It’s been this way these past few years, but I’ve come to think that it’s probably better to hear a variety of opinions. I’ve grown up, haven’t I? (Lol)

――I see. I guess that means you also paid attention to various opinions this time.

H: Yeah. I no longer stubbornly say things like, “I’ll hate it all unless it’s like this!” (Lol)

――Is that so? (Lol) So during recording, was there anything you specifically wanted from the rhythm musicians Yagami-san and (Higuchi) Yuta-san?

H: They do have the demo tapes so I just asked them to play based on what they hear there. I didn’t say anything too complicated to them.

――What about the feel of the sound?

H: With the sound, I always listen to a bunch of stuff on site and then make a judgement on which would work. Things basically went smoothly without any disagreements.

――Is there a particular type of sound that you were going for?

H: It’s the same as the decisions we make for drums, but I basically want it a little tight, with resonance. That’s pretty much it. We have (our engineer) Hiruma (Hitoshi)-san to work on a bunch of other things after that anyway. It was a generally, “Oh, that’s nice,” kind of vibe. I don’t think I had much to say. Hiruma-san also listened to the demo tape and he didn’t deviate too far from that anyway. He’s got years of experience on that end so it’s alright.

――In terms of first impressions of this song, Sakurai-san expressed that he felt “it’s a song that a young visual-kei band might make” when he first heard it. How do you think the song has changed [from its demo version] to the final version?

H: That demo tape didn’t have much synth stuff going on. In other words, it was mainly guitars. I think that’s where he got that impression of a young band.

――I see. What was your approach to composing the guitars?

H: For guitars, it’s the same thing I do with recording it. Recently, I’ve increased my guitar arsenal by one more SG (Gibson), but I haven’t changed what I use much in recent years. I always do this for recording, but I’ll note where I’m supposed to press on a score sheet and then I’ll double check it with Imai-san as I record, so this has never changed this whole time. With Taiyou to Icarus, it’s a case where I’m the one teaching Imai-kun, so I’d go to the studio and refer to the sheet while telling him to press here and there.

This is actually the version of Sayonara Shelter that we originally wanted to release.
We had always wanted to include violins in it.

――What about Sakurai-san’s singing?

H: He wrote and rewrote the lyrics for this song a number of times. Like adding in katakana and making these kinds of cosmetic changes to the words. He was very particular about those tiny details so I think he changed the lyrics quite a few times.

――You engaged YOW-ROW-san to be the manipulator for this song. What specifications did ask of him?

H: After discussing with Tanaka-san, we decided that we wanted him to bring in his “YOW-ROW style”.

――And how would you describe that?

H: At the very first stage, he would always add in a lot of sound elements. And after that, he would usually take things out as he goes, but recently, he doesn’t do that either. He would do all the adding and hit the mark with a bang, so with Taiyou to Icarus, the hooks in the areas of YOW-ROW-kun’s speciality we just so good. In short, if the main sound was the guitar, then, like what we said earlier, that would make the song sound like it belongs to a younger band. But when we bring YOW-ROW-kun’s sounds into the spotlight, then this is how the song would sound. You could say that’s what I was looking for, or rather, much of the reason why I asked him to work on it was because I was hoping for him to do that.

――Like the sparkly feeling in the intro.

H: Yes, exactly, those kinds of vibes. I think this time I’m really into YOW-ROW-kun’s melodies.

――The album version of Sayonara Shelter includes the subtitle destroy and regenerate-Mix. The biggest change that we hear in this version is the featuring of violins here.

H: Sayonara Shelter was included in our best-of release⁵ but this is actually the version that we originally wanted to release. Because we had always wanted to include violins in it.

――Did that come before this title and the lyrics came about?

H: Yes. I could already hear the violins from the very beginning so I wanted to include it. But since we made the decision to include the song in our 35th anniversary album, I was like, hold up. We can’t just throw it in there because I wanted to use it just for the album. So we then agreed to sleep on the violin thing for a bit and meanwhile, release the band-only version.

――Kokushoku Sumire’s Sachi-chan was in charge of playing the violin here, so what kind of discussions did you have?

H: I basically started by telling her that I’d like the violins in the chorus, the interlude, and the outro. She came up with a few versions herself and recorded them for me to hear. Then I would feedback on which sounded good, and which I would like her to play. Also, it was Sachi-chan’s idea to feature the violin right in the beginning with the intro too. She suggested, “I’d like to play this at the start, if you don’t mind.” And I told her to go right ahead. That’s more or less how it went.

――It’s nice how that intro carried this sense of nostalgia.

H: I think the impression it gives is different depending on whether or not [the violin] is there.

――Who was the manipulator in charge of Sayonara Shelter?

H: Same person we had for the best-of version, Cube Juice-kun. Because there were no changes. But when the violin was added, it felt like he suppressed the synth a bit.

――The organic sounds of the violin along with the word “regenerate” in the subtitle really gives me the feeling of a hopeful future. It’s nice like this.

H: That makes me glad to hear because I hoped that [the song] would bring our listeners a warmth that bears hope.

――What concepts were Ai no Harem (Harem of Love) based on?

H: I think this song probably sprouted from a concept close to dub or ska music. I didn’t play it on guitar but I played a ska rhythm on keyboards for this. That’s where it started and towards the end I mixed in some dub elements with the vocals and all that to finish up. I had a kind of thick, gooey image of it in mind.

――That progression in the second half does have that effect.

H: That’s really just how it naturally turned out. Because it just happened that we got that dub-like ending without even a guitar solo. Naturally.

――The part of the second half that sounds almost narrative, like chanson, was interesting too.

H: That part of the song, the melody or something already existed in my head. There’s an even more spoken version, but we chose to use the very first take that went along with the melody I thought of.

――Was the percussive sounding part in the intro originally there?

H: The keyboard part was originally there but the percussive part you mentioned was a mix of a bunch of sounds that Cube-kun put together.

――It might be a bit late ask now, but the role that manipulators play in BUCK-TICK’s music is really significant compared to other bands. I believe that Hoshino-san and Imai-san have very strong opinions when it comes to your music and that you’re people who will work on things to the very end to achieve the perfection you’re looking for. And yet you leave part of the production to the manipulators. Why is that?

H: That’s, well, the way we’ve generally been doing things in recent years. I can add synth and programming on my own too, but ultimately, I don’t have it in me when it comes to those things. There’s also the fact that the song can grow further if another brings in something extra. And I’m not very used to working with programming, so it already takes me extra time just to create the demo tapes. For example, it’s easy enough to decide on the melody, but it just takes me too much time to choose the tone, the type of sound…… It’s a real problem for me, choosing the tone. Because there are just so many options and I have to listen to each of them one by one. I’d put in the melody that I can enter and right from the get-go, it should feel like this. Then there’s the looping rhythm, and the rhythm itself is detailed so once I start working on it, I’ll be spending quite a while there. That’s why I’m of the mind that maybe it’s just better to leave this to [the manipulators].

――I thought it might be quicker if you did things on your own instead of spending time going back and forth with someone, but it sounds like there’s a strong case for entrusting it to someone else too. Although I believe the relationship of trust you have with them is why you can leave the work to them with a peace of mind.

H: That’s right, we have a very strong relationship in that sense. Because not only do the people who work with us understand what BUCK-TICK’s colours are, they even understand the colours that each respective song should have. I believe that’s because of this relationship of trust, and also it makes it easy to get things done.

――This also applies to the overall feel of the album, but Hoshino-san’s three songs in this work definitely feels a little bit different from this perspective compared to the “Hoshino melody” we’ve always known. Does Hoshino-san have any thoughts about this?

H: Hmm…… I think I’m not there yet. I kind of feel like there might be something that I managed to make a breakthrough on, but I also feel like I can still do even more. But I would say that in the end, Taiyou to Icarus and these songs did turn out to be something I didn’t do before. Maybe part of it, yes, but I get the feeling that I might’ve managed to get a close up on these areas.

――Whichever way it is, I think it’s awesome.

H: Thank goodness (lol). Let’s leave it at that, then.

There are a lot of songs left that weren’t recorded for this album
and not yet finished, so I hope we can unveil those too.

――Next, I would like us to touch on Imai-san’s music too. Let’s start with QUANTUM I and QUANTUM II, the instrumental tracks at the start and the end of the album. What kind of effect do you think they had on the album?

H: It feels like they’re creating a world. There’s also the feeling of that world expanding. It creates this sense of unity that I think would also happen in the live concerts.

――The first SE track feels like it opened the doors to a new chapter, but the bleak despair in the next track, SCARECROW, is overwhelming.

H: The difference is huge, isn’t it? (Lol) The intro starts with an arpeggio…… It was probably the very first song we completed. I remember thinking, “Ah, so this is the vibe.” And that the world of the lyrics’ is pretty dark.

――Solitude also oozes from the next song, Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries), doesn’t it?

H: I thought this song was just so cool. Imai’s style really comes through the guitar riffs too. The guitars themselves sound super solid or something. It doesn’t quite feel entirely bulky though. We’re getting more of that recently. This solid finish.

――There is such a disparity between the musical and lyrical impression of Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Bouquet for you) and that makes it very impactful.

H: This song…… I think i just played it casually so I don’t have much impression of it (lol). When we were deciding on the track order, it was lined up next to Sayonara Shelter. Now I’m recalling that we debated whether or not to keep it like that. In the end, we decided to put other songs between these two tracks.

――Since both of these songs were inspired by war, putting them together one after another would deepen the overtones, right?

H: That’s right. Just like Sayonara Shelter, I’m also looking forward to seeing how this will be presented in concert.

――Will Hoshino-san also sing choruses in the live concerts?

H: We might play songs during the concert that will need me to sing but…… Speaking of which, I didn’t sing in any part in this new album. I wasn’t asked to. But I guess it would’ve been nice.

――Next, the only song in this album that has lyrics written by Imai-san, THE FALLING DOWN.

H: It’s got Imai’s signature style of riff, doesn’t it? It sounds a lot like Western music, and it seems like the main [sound] here is programming, based on the finishing. We’ve also got Sakurai-san and Imai-san’s duet going on here so this is another song I’m looking forward to play live.

――Looking solely at the lyrics to Boogie Woogie leaves the impression that it’s a cheerful song, but the sound is relatively heavy, isn’t it?

H: But if it’s a question of whether we should categorise it as “light” or “dark”, I’m inclined to categorise it as “light”. This song also revolves around the riff. I kind of remember finding the rhythm surprisingly difficult

――The lyrics are also a highlight of this song since it gives us a glimpse at the band in your youth.

H: With subjects like the junk-heap of a van (オンボロ車 / onborosha), right? It all feels familiar, but (lol). Then I realise it happened over 30-odd years ago. It was probably around the time we made our debut when we were driving around in that old, broken vehicle. I’m looking forward to playing this song live too.

――I can hear echoes of city pop in Mugen LOOP -IZORA- (Infinity LOOP), and the resort vibe it gives is quite fresh..

H: In terms of our past songs, there’s a touch of songs like GIRL⁶. The same loop goes on and on in it, and I heard that was what this song is apparently based on and composed upon. We don’t really have songs like this one, so it feels fresh, doesn’t it? The guitar feels nice and clean too with the single coil.

――The music video has a storyline too, and that’s certainly a highlight.

H: It’s the first time in quite a while that it’s being set in a hotel, but the looping concept was the director’s idea. It’s an unusual vibe, isn’t it?

――It was funny seeing the whole band squished in the elevator together too.

H: That was funny. Imai-san was designated the role of pressing the elevator button and we had so many NGs (lol). I think he just happened to stand near that area and then got thrown the responsibility of button pressing and he ended up having to do it over and over again. We had to make sure that the door closed just right before Sakurai-san comes in or right after he enters, but he just couldn’t get the timing right. He was probably thinking, “Why me?” (Lol)

――What a story from behind the scenes (lol). Next, we have the bluesy Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue).

H: This is another song that makes it feel like you’ll easily slip into its world.

――The unison of the vocals and the piano is outstanding.

H: It is. For guitars, the main thing we play is the arpeggio, but I didn’t do anything particularly difficult with it. With the bluesy vibe, I get the feeling that this would be fun to perform live.

――While Hizumi is a relatively dark song.

H: Since it’s entitled Hizumi (distort/warp) too. But you could say that it’s an addictive song. I don’t think we’ve ever had such a song in BUCK-TICK. I paid particular attention to the bouncy beat.

――Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless) is a beautifully ephemeral mid-tempo track.

H: This is also a song that grew out of an arpeggio, and quite fitting to close off the album as the last track. It feels like it’s connected to the final SE, doesn’t it? The last boss.

――What do you imagine when you look at the album title, 異空 -IZORA-, which Imai-san came up with?

H: I think it’s some sort of a symbolic descriptoinof this album. Considering the historic times we live in and so many other things, maybe he felt that this word is the one that fits this album best. I think it’s a perfect fit. This album is quite rich in variety too, so I also imagine each (track) with different skies.

――On the whole, how do you think this album has turned out?

H: Although we originally intended to release two CDs, we went with one instead and I feel that it was ultimately a good thing we made this change. Because if we were to release two CDs, the songs may end up leaning towards one side or another but having only one CD turns it into a versatile-sounding album and I feel that’s good too.

――You’ve celebrated your 35th anniversary and finished your new album. Is there anything you want to do next?

H: There are a lot of songs left that weren’t recorded for this album and not yet finished, so I want to finish them. It would be nice if we could start work on the next one a little earlier, though (lol). There are songs that have the guitar parts recorded already, so I hope we can unveil those too.

 

 

Notes:

¹ 異空 -IZORA-=Their 23rd album. Released 12 April.

² Taiyou to Icarus=Their 41st single. Released in March.

³ JUPITER=Their 5th single. Released October 1991.

Dress=Their 6th single. Released May 1993.

Best-of release=Earlier released in their best-of concept album, CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.. Released September 2022.

GIRL=Recorded in their 20th single, Zangai. Released January.

 

 

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_______________________

Higuchi yutaka

It feels like we got here while being
in a constant state of “here and now”.
Honestly, I feel that it’d be nice if we
could keep going for as long as we can.

profile & information
Born 24 January 1967. Blood type: A. Bassist of BUCK-TICK which formed in 1985 and had its major debut in 1987.
buck-tick.com

Interview & Text ◎ Yoshida Koji

 

Here is Higuchi Yutaka’s version of song reviews for the band’s latest album 異空 -IZORA-, released 35 years after their major debut where he shares key points of his bass playing and his interpretation of each song from the Higuchi perspective.

I knew that it was going to be a great album for sure.
Everyone’s unconventional, so that expands our range too.

――Considering that last year was the 35th anniversary of the band’s major debut, did you ever think 35 years ago that this band would still be around 35 years later?

Yuta (Y): No, I don’t think such an idea even crossed my mind. It feels like we got here while being in a constant state of “here and now”.

――On the other hand, do you currently think about things like whether you’ll still be doing this in ten years and all that?

Y: I guess it would surprise no one that there is a bit of that recently. This is an odd topic, but that’s probably because I’m seeing my friends passing away more and more these days. But honestly, I personally feel that it’d be nice if we could keep going for as long as we can.

――I suppose that’s why this is one thing that hasn’t changed. Thinking about the future isn’t something you did when young, and it still isn’t something you do now.

Y: Yeah. I think it’s probably still the same sentiment. Because our vector always goes in the same direction, like how we release now and the next thing we look forward to is going on tour.

――So what’s the one thing in these 35 years that left the biggest impression on you?

Y: It’s got to be the period of time right after we debuted. We were up to our eyeballs in work while being utterly clueless about things. Work, as in, there were other things that we had to do even though all we had ever done [prior to debuting] was perform at livehouses with our instruments. There were interviews like this, appearances to do at record stores, meetings with sales staff, and all that.

――I recall the record company had branch offices in each major city back then.

Y: And it’s ultimately the idea that adults sell products. Well, although this is music we’re talking about. When we see everyone doing their best, we’d feel like we have to do our best too but then we have Production telling us, “Make music.” And Publicity telling us, “Go advertise.” And Sales telling us, “Go organise fan events.” We had people telling us to do all these kinds of things. Everyone would compete with each other to book times on our schedules so we couldn’t rest at all. Only on days when we were stuck travelling could we rest (lol). Those experiences I can never forget.

――Yagami-san said the same thing too. That they wanted to treat your travel time as off days.

Y: He said that? (Lol) But looking back at it now, I guess we were able to experience a whole lot of things because we went through that. Even though I just turned 20 at the time. It’s a good thing that happened at the time it did. If we were to go through that in our 30s, we’d probably start feeling like we don’t want to do this any more (lol). Because we didn’t know anything at the time so we thought our experiences were normal.

――This particular incident was also featured in the lyrics of Boogie Woogie in your new album, but it seems that in the middle of a tour, you all had to push a vehicle that ran out of fuel to move?

Y: On the Tomei Expressway, right? That was probably during our very first or second tour.

――You can still remember even now.

Y: I guess it’s because of how impactful it was. Our vehicle broke down because it ran out of fuel and we had to find a way to get it to the next parking area. I’m pretty sure we were in an area where Mount Fuji was visible too. So we just kept pushi—ng. And you know how parking areas are on a bit of a slope? When we got there, we were like, “Yes!  We did it!” and still pushing and it all went groon! (Lol)

――It sounds very much like youth.

Y: I guess you could say that it became a very significant part of our roots. Being able to go to each city to perform, seeing how [fans] have been waiting for us; that was when I feel a sense of fulfilment. I think it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this feeling is also connected to the present .

――If your car actually ran out of fuel, that probably means you were broke.

Y: That’s right. We’d pump just barely enough fuel for the road.

――Getting your major debut in such a situation, did it motivate you to want your music to be sellable?

Y: Rather than that, what I wanted more was to get feedback because we’re doing what we do.Because, for example, we could clearly tell that the people at the record company, these adults around us were happy for us. Everyone was all smiles. I feel like that’s not something that can be encapsulated in “wanting to sell well”.

――I’m going to change the subject here, but back in 2020, you were no longer able to hold concerts the same way you always have because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following that, you managed to hold shows at Yokohama Arena¹ last year, and even your first tour² since the pandemic.

Y: The first thing that came to mind was definitely how every band was probably going through the same thing because of COVID-19, and being unable to do anything was probably the most excruciating thing of all. So when the moment came that we could go on tour, I really felt like I finally understood how blessed we are to be able to do all these things we used to take for granted like touring, seeing everyone again. Also because when we started touring last year, there were still some people who were still worried and didn’t want to come. That’s why I’m sincerely grateful to those who did attend our concerts in the midst of that.

――In other words, it’s times like these when you appreciate your fans more than ever. Next, I’d like to move on to talking about your album³. To start, when did Higuchi-san switch to album production mode?

Y: I would’ve already gotten into that mode once I started recording, actually.

――I heard that it was last April when recording commenced. Back then, did you already have some expectation of how this album would turn out?

Y: That only came to me when I was about halfway through, in terms of the number of songs. But I knew that it was going to be a great album for sure. Each song could hold its own. Although I guess you could say that we know how to do this very well since the same could be said for quite a number of our songs. Everyone’s unconventional [in their own way], so that expands our range too.

――Back when ABRACADABRA⁴ was being released, one thing I remember very clearly from Higuchi-san’s interviewwas how you mentioned the band would avoid recording with each other, avoid having meals together, and head straight home right after you were done recording your parts. So it sounds like you’re saying that this time, it’s a complete opposite and things went pretty smoothly.

Y: That’s right. We didn’t have to go that far this time around.

――Does this mean you were able to talk about this and that and make changes during your recording sessions?

Y: That’s right. Because Imai-kun, Hide (Hoshino), the song composers would come too when I’m recording. Myself, I’d change certain things from the demo tapes I received, so I’d tell them how I’m going to do it and we’ll discuss things like that.

In extreme terms, I think this falls within the grounds of not playing anything (lol).
Because I really think that as long as I can enhance the song and the melody, it’s good enough.

――Did you encounter any new challenges when it came to bass recording this time around?

Y: Almost never happens? But I used an upright bass for Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue) and Hizumi. I also felt pretty satisfied with how it turned out.

――Any new equipment?

Y: Nope, not really, I think.

――On the other hand, is there a bass guitar that you always use for recording? Or one that you’ve consistently used in these 35 years?

Y: None to that extent.

――So what is your main go-to when you’re recording?

Y: I mostly use the Zemaitis, the Precision Bass (Fender), or the Ricken (Backer). Surprisingly, I’ve used the Ricken for quite along time. Since Speed⁶, I believe.

――So Higuchi-san isn’t the type to keep changing up the equipment that you use.

Y: Because when it comes to the bass, I feel that its neck is everything. That’s why I use necks that I’m fond of. The Fender Precision Bass, it’s probably made in 1968 so the neck was super warped. And I actually commissioned them to make the exact same neck for me again. Down to its weight. They made that for me and then changed the parts too.

――In short, that just shows how much you like it. The comfort level when you play this bass.

Y: Yeah. It’s not as if the guitar can’t be played anymore without the original parts, but it just feels kind of weird if I switch to playing it high.

――But I think that’s also a reflection of Higuchi-san’s play style. Right, then. Let’s hear about the [album] tracks from you. Excluding the instrumental tracks at the start and at the end, the first song we have on the album is SCARECROW.

Y: For this song, I used a 5-string for the first time in a while. The demo tape didn’t originally feature a 5-string, but I thought it might be a good idea anyway.

―Even though you wouldn’t use the low B?

Y: No, I used the 5-string because I wanted to hit lower. Imai-kun’s original version in the demo tape played the bassline with the higher strings of a regular 4-string, but I wanted to bring it lower. I thought it might be better to bring out that bleakness according to the image of this song.

――Which 5-string bass did you use?

Y: One from Greco. Although, if I were to drop tune for a concert, I would use a 4-string Music Man to do that.

――I feel that Higuchi-san’s bass playing has a very human touch to it. What is something you keep in mind when playing?

Y: It’s got to be the melody. I feel like I used to focus more on the rhythm but now I’ve come to tend towards focusing more on the melody. Something like a form which accentuates the melody.

――The melody of the vocals?

Y: There are occasions when the bass itself becomes the melody too, but it’s meant to enhance the melody. But doing that would also mean I’ll gradually stop playing the bass (lol). I guess that’s comfortable to me now, on the contrary. Because in the past, I would’ve headed towards trying to bury it but now I don’t really want to.

――Would you say that your style of bass playing changed drastically in that aspect?

Y: A lot has changed, but the period that gets these comments the most has got to be darker than darkness -style93- ⁷.

――In other words, back in 1993.

Y: Because that’s when I switched from playing on beat to playing by groove. And another period when I sensed things changing bit by bit was around memento mori⁸.

――So, per your words earlier, you find yourself simplifying things as much as possible to enhance the melody itself.

Y: Yes.

――What are your thoughts on SCARECROW?

Y: I definitely thought that it changed a lot once the lyrics came in. That he’s really amazing, Acchan (Sakurai). Things like that. 

――Next, Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries).

Y: This, I thought, whoa, Imai-kun, amazing (lol). It’s what you probably call a guitar-based composition, right? The arrangement of this song.

――How did you play your bass?

Y: This was done really simple. It’s so simple that we could probably cut and paste it but they wouldn’t let me (lol). Although that’s what made it interesting too, on the other hand.

――It’s a pretty heavy groove, though.

Y: But even though it’s heavy, how do I explain this… It’s got that uncomfortable, disturbing feeling that Western music had towards the end of the 80s and the start of the 90s (lol).

――Did you use a 4-string for this?

Y: 4-string, yes. I only used the 5-string in SCARECROW.

――Next, we have the album version of Sayonara Shelter.

Y: Our director had the same idea about this song, that it’s absolutely better that we release this song first. Given the historical times we live in. And that’s pretty much why it was released ahead of time.

――You have already decided to include it in the album, but it was included in your 35th anniversary best-of concept album⁹ and shown to the world ahead of the album first.

Y: Yeah. Because we felt that was the most appropriate time.

――In the album, the suffix destroy and regenerate-Mix has been attached to the song and you’ve invited Sachi-san from Kokushoku Sumire to play the violin here. What do you think about the album version of this song?

Y:  I think it’s great. They probably invited her to participate with the thought that it would definitely make the song more interesting if they changed it a little after releasing it like that.

――Next, Ai no Harem (Harem of Love). It sounds like Hoshino-san’s song has turned into a good hook for this album again.

Y: Yeah. It’s really as if something like an interlocking between the composers exists. And when that becomes a part of the album, it makes the whole even better, doesn’t it?

――I believe long tones and muting were crucial in playing the bass for this song.

Y: I originally wanted to try playing it almost the exact same way as what was in Hide’s demo tape, but I ended up changing a few patterns in it. Like taking it out or not.

――So, subtractions. In terms of fingers?

Y: Fingers, yes.

――Next, Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Bouquet for you). A cheerful song finally arrives at this point but…

Y: Personally, this song was the most difficult one of all.

――What made it difficult

Y: The groove. Because I somehow couldn’t quite get into the groove in a good way. But, well, it turned out nicely in the end anyway.

――Putting it another way, I guess we could say that that made the song one you played with purpose.

Y: Yeah. That’s what makes me look forward to playing songs like this one on tour more than others.

We produce the album and then complete it during the tour.
I look forward to touring. We get to find out how [the songs] will evolve.

――Next, THE FALLING DOWN. Was there anything in particular you kept in mind when producing such a bouncy rock ‘n’roll groove?

Y: We already made the decision to make this one sound crunchy. Even though it’s bouncy, it sounds crunchy, so it’s really got this “bzt, bzt” feeling. The song’s got a really straightforward vibe so I figured it would be better to play this one without too much thinking.

――How do you feel about the bounciness? 

Y: Surprisingly, I like it. Somehow, I realise I’m becoming bouncier and bouncier on the whole, as I grow older.

――I understand that feeling. You get this bounce that doesn’t translate to musical notation even for a regular 8-beat song, right?

Y: That’s why I also find myself finally understanding recently what an 8-beat is probably supposed to sound like.

――It’s your own 8-beat groove that’s slightly bouncy, and not the precise 8-beat that comes from a music score.

Y: Yes. I don’t want it flat.

――Your thoughts on Imai-san’s vocals? Although, there are already quite a number of songs with his singing now.

Y: But I definitely think that we’re able to show a lot of different sides of ourselves because these songs exist.

――So, one day, we’ll hear Higuchi-san too.

Y: Nah, that’s never going to happen (lol).

――Next, Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus). What did you think when the song first came to you?

Y: I had the impression that it’s a cheerful song. And that it would be in the running to become a single. Rather, that it would probably reach that stage.

――So it wasn’t a song that was recommended for a single release from the outset.

Y: That’s right. Because that’s something we rarely do.

――Anything you took note of when playing bass for it?

 Y: I go up and down for this song. So properly, and carefully.

――You wanted to play carefully

Y: Or rather, personally, I think that going up and down makes things messy. Because playing it like that is similar to strokes on a guitar. I’m more careful with the down strokes here. So I play carefully to make sure it doesn’t end up sounding messy. It might just be me, but when I first received the demo tape, I felt like I was listening to a song by The Jam.

――A rock band from the early era.

Y: Yeah. I thought that’s the kind of song it was, that’s why I decided to play up-down like that, though.

――Next, Boogie Woogie. Literally, a boogie song.

Y: Don’t you think it’s the newest frontier for BUCK-TICK in this whole album? We don’t really have songs like this one, do we? Because, although the acoustic version of Uta¹⁰ had this vibe, we almost never bring out such a blatantly energetic vibe. I’m looking forward to bringing such an energy to our live performances.

――Next, Mugen LOOP -IZORA- (Infinity LOOP). 

Y: This was another song I thought was definitely in the running to become a single though.

――And it did actually become a single¹¹. A 16-beat melody basically makes it what people call city pop, though.

Y: Yeah. That’s why for the bass in this song, it might be weird to describe it as taking it in and out, but the groove I brought in was like that. This song is pretty interesting, isn’t it?

――It is. Although it’s city pop, there’s no doubt that it still has that wonky rock groove unique to BUCK-TICK.

Y: That is also what makes it a personal favourite for me too. Also, I think it was pretty well done.

――Next, Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue).

Y: This is another song where I immediately decided I would use an upright bass for the moment I received it. It’s kind of hard to describe; because it’s not exactly jazzy but it’s got that vibe. I do want to try playing this with a real wood bass too, though. But it won’t be suitable for musicians like us since we perform in halls. The sound would get screwed up and all that.

――Because it’s just not the same as performing in livehouses like rockabilly and jazz musicians.

Y: And also because I don’t do those kinds of slaps. I won’t really get to do that playing normal basslines. I could do it if we performed in the quiet settings that jazz musicians have, but since we have music going on, the whole soundscape would have to come to a sudden standstill [if I were to do that].

――Does that mean your touch and other factors would change when you use an electric upright bass?

Y: It will. I think…… I can’t really stray too far from the original pitch, but I guess bit by bit, I’m starting to understand lately that even if I do shift away from it, there’s some flavour that I’ll bring in. It’s like I’ll sound more like the real thing if I stray off instead (lol).

――Do you enjoy playing the upright?

Y: I actually quite like it.

――Next, Hizumi.

Y: This one features an upright too. The vibe here somehow feels kind of like a Tom Waits song; that’s what I thought when I received the demo tape.

――I get what you mean. That apathetic jazzy feeling befitting of an American bar.

Y: I got the vibe of Tom Waits’ slightly darker songs, so I thought the upright bass might be just the fit for it.

――And finally, the last song on the album which has lyrics, Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless).

Y: I also thought this had the potential to become a single.

――Really?

Y: Really, I thought it was a great song ever since I heard the demo tape. So, with our recording process, the guitars and all that comes first, right? After that, when Acchan’s part came in, I again thought, “Ah, what an amazing song it’s become.”

――What did you focus on when playing the bass here?

Y: For this song, it’s the same as the melody thing I mentioned earlier. Trying not to play more than necessary and all that. Dum……da-da-da…… Like that.

――That’s what we often call “restrained playing” though. Something within those grounds.

Y: Nah, in extreme terms, I think this falls within the grounds of not playing anything (lol). As good as plain dango without toppings. But it’s also because I really think that as long as I can enhance the song and the melody, it’s good enough. To the extent where I think it’s okay for me to sit out (lol).

――Playing in a way that is as good as “not playing” somehow sounds like some kind of zen answer.

Y: The bass in this song is really like that, isn’t it?

――Zen bass playing (lol). I’m sure this is another song that you would like people to hear live.

Y: But I really think it applies to the whole song, though. I say this every time, but for us, it’s definitely a case of producing the album and then completing it during the tour. When we try playing [a song] together, I’d get light bulb moments like, “Ah, so this song makes the listener feels like that.” That’s why I look forward to touring. Because we get to find out how [the songs] will evolve.

――Especially since this tour¹² is really one that is meant to carry the album. Looking forward to it is all there is.

Y: Yes. This being a tour during our 35th anniversary year firstly means that we get to see everyone again. And this time, I guess you could say that this time, we could go back to how things were. The rules on cheering have been relaxed too. It wouldn’t be immediate, but it would be nice if we could hold concerts the way we used to again.

 

 

Notes:

¹ Yokohama Arena=Where “BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~” was held on 23〜24 September 2022.

² Tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv.” which was held between October and December 2022 (some shows postponed).

³ Album=Their 23rd album, 異空 -IZORA-. Released 12 April.

ABRACADABRA=Their 22nd album. Released September 2020.

Interview=Published in this magazine’s 91st issue, released September 2020.

Speed=Their 3rd single. Released January 1991.

darker than darkness -style93-=Their 7th album. Released July 1993.

memento mori=Their 16th album. Released February 2009.

Best-of concept=Their best-of concept album, CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.. Released September 2022.

¹⁰ Acoustic version of UtaUta Ver.2021 (唄 Ver.2021) which was recorded on their 40th single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN. Released September 2021.

¹¹ SingleMugen LOOP (無限 LOOP), their 42nd single. Released 22 March.¹² This tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-” which commences on 19 April.

 

 

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_______________________

Yagami Toll

I recently bought snares,
the supers sensitive type. To start with, I was using
a full-face when we debuted, so
I’m going back to my roots at 60.

profile & information
Born 19 August 1962. Blood type: A. Drummer of BUCK-TICK which formed in 1985 and had its major debut in 1987.
buck-tick.com

Interview & Text ◎ Yoshida Koji

 

BUCK-TICK’s style of recording music basically sees the drummer entering the studio last for recording among the members. The person who gets a bird’s eye view of the band, Yagami Toll, a.k.a. Anii tells us about the key notes regarding the drum groove in this album. And shares priceless stories from 35 years ago!

I want to re-record SEXUAL xxxxx! with my current level of skill.
But I won’t be able to pull it off the same way, for sure. You won’t get that recklessly-rushing-forward kind of feeling.

――You turned 60 last August, so, did anything change?

Toll (T): I don’t really pay it much attention. Because it’s just the passing of another year, isn’t it?

――How’s your back?

T: It’s alright. Since I do my stretches and all that before getting down to it.

――I assume that’s one of the methods you’ve cultivated over more than 35 years to ensure you can keep going, right?

T: That’s because I was, how old was it, in my late 40s? When I changed, right. I started going to the gym, changed my drumming form too. In short, everything underwent change. I don’t think anyone else knows, but I even changed my drumsticks to lighter ones, and my drumming range of movement. I used longer sticks in the past.

――You’re saying you used to rely on centrifugal force to drum?

T: I could do that when I was young, because I was flexible. If I do that now, I’d be gone, so I guess I can’t anymore (lol). And recently, I’ve started wearing gloves. With gloves on, it’s made things even more comfortable.

――But I thought that Yagami-san’s posture has always been great, even 35 years ago. You’ve always kept your back so straight. You don’t do that on purpose?

T: I don’t, not at all. Because it’s one of those things I’ve just carried on doing since my amateur days. It’s as simple as a matter of, “I’ll drum like this since this is the type of song we’re performing”. Being in my 20s back then, I didn’t really care about form and all those things. Although, maybe [my posture is] because I was a steelworker when I was young. When I was 18 up until I was 21, I was working with steel bars at construction sites and we really had to take care of our backs.

――You’ve got a strong back to begin with.

T: That’s why I understand the purpose of gloves, ever since my steelworking days. My seniors would tell me. Compared to doing things barehanded, people would ultimately only exert more strength when they’re protected. You’d often find jars that you can’t open because they’re stuck tight, right? You’ll be able to open them right up the moment you put on gloves. But you won’t be able to barehanded. As to why, it’s because you’re not going all out. Or rather, you can’t go all out. Because if you did, you’d get injured and all that. That’s why, now, wearing gloves…… I’m weighing it, all the time. Like on my right, [the drumstick feels] about 5 grams lighter and on the left, it feels about 5 grams heavier, but somehow, it all feels lighter when I’m wearing gloves as opposed to holding them barehand.

――There’s a left side and a right side even though they should be the same sticks, right?

T: But generally, what I heard from a lot of people and among my drummer friends too is that the left definitely feels heavier. In the end, I think it’s just the non-dominant arm making up the weight. There was a time when I also used a knocker type stick on this (left) side.

――The tipless type.

T: And on this (right) side, I used the regular tipped ones. That probably happened around the time we released Aku no Hana¹ and Kurutta Taiyou². Doing that would somehow make it more difficult to notice shot irregularities, something like that.

――So what’s the one thing you’ve got on your mind as you look back at the past 35 years?

T: Ahh, I want to re-record SEXUAL xxxxx!³ with my current level of skill. Ahahahaha! But I won’t be able to pull it off the same way, for sure. You won’t get that recklessly-rushing-forward kind of feeling.

Probably because I read How to be BIG (成りあがり) in high school.
That’s why I’d have the desire to perform at the Budokan and all that.

――But that’s good, isn’t it? By the way, it comes up in the lyrics of Boogie Woogie too, but it appears that you had the experience of your car breaking down on the Tomei Expressway in the past and everyone had to push it forward together.

T: Yeah. All manner of things happened. I think that might’ve happened on the Great Seto Bridge too. Since we were broke, we’d try and save money by refueling with the bare minimum of what we’d need, right? So even though we’re saying, we’re still good, we’re still good, that’s how we ran out of gas in the end. It’s hilarious, isn’t it? That’s just how broke we were. Myself, when I was steelworking, I weighed 60kg at my peak. Then when I was around 21, I started playing in a contest band, and then I joined BUCK-TICK at 23. Which means in those 2 years or so, I actually lost 10kg.

――Because you were broke.

T: Exactly. Living the broke life in Asagaya. (At the time, I was living with) Yuta (Higuchi) and he told me, we’re going to live on Baby Star Ramen for the next three days. I was all, that’s not a good joke. Like, give me a break. Don’t make me live like this. And you know how the water supply is considered as a life line, right? The water supply is the last one to get cut off, right? Ours did get cut.

――First goes gas, then electricity, and finally water.

T: Even our life line got cut (lol). When we made our debut, I only weighed 48kg. I went from 60kg to 48kg. I was living on the real poor man’s diet.

――But it’s a funny story now when you look back on it. Back then, did you honestly ever think you’d come this far?

T: I don’t know, but I had goals and the sort. Probably because I read How to be BIG (成りあがり / Nari Agari) in high school. The book by Yazawa (Eikichi)-san. That’s why I’d have the desire to perform at the Budokan. And Korakuen Stadium, although it doesn’t exist anymore. But I also wanted to perform at Tokyo Dome⁴. And Seibu Stadium⁵. When we first got to perform at the Budokan and Tokyo Dome, I was around the same age as Yazawa-san when he first did too, though.

――That’s the Yagami style of How to be BIG. Then, I assume you did want your music to sell well.

T: Rather, when we debut, I didn’t feel that joy you’re supposed to get by debuting. Partly because I felt that we’d be let go if we didn’t at least achieve a certain amount of sales. I thought, if we didn’t at least show some amount of success, we’re doomed. Because, you see, the goal isn’t simply to debut.

――In other words, it wasn’t paradise simply because you managed a major debut.

T: You’d eventually be expected to chart when you release your debut work, right? And SEXUAL xxxxx! was in thirty-something place. That was like, oh, shit. Because it felt like you have to minimally reach top ten or you’ll be dropped. But also, seriously, at the time, we were already running a crazy packed schedule. It was so awful that we really didn’t even have time to sleep or anything. I still remember our manager at the time going back and forth with the promotion people from Victor about our schedule. They opened up our schedule book and said, “It’s empty here.” And he said something like, that’s the day we’re travelling back or something. Then [the Victor staff] wanted to count that day we’re travelling back from tour as a day off. And he was arguing, that’s no day off! (Lol)

――I used to often hold interviews in the bullet train too back then.

T: That’s why it honestly felt like we barely got to rest in the first two, three years after we debuted.

――And you even had to style your hair up.

T: That too. If I had to do it from scratch, working on it on my own would probably take me about two hours, right? But we didn’t even have that kind of time. So I’d just sleep on my side with my hair still styled and take about thirty minutes to an hour to fix it before getting back to work. That’s why I’d only get to leave my hair down around two or three days a week. Because it’s faster to just fix it. It just so happened that the band members of PERSONZ were coming over to my home on one of those days off and I went to pick them up from the station. [When they saw me] they asked, “Huh, Anii, do you style your hair up like this all the time?” And I told them, “It’s only because I have work the day after tomorrow.” (Lol)

――Ahahaha. We’re going to change the subject here, but last year, following your show at Yokohama Arena⁶, you also went on your first tour⁷ since the COVID-19 pandemic started. How did you feel being on stage?

T: Really glad that we could make it happen, you know? Since it’s been such a long while. But no one could vocalise, they could only clap. I didn’t know whether to say it’s hilarious or not because of how much their response changed (lol). Because the cheers that we get are quite something, aren’t they? It’s already pretty hysterical back when we debuted (lol).

――How was the Yokohama Arena show?

T: I might’ve been more nervous for that one than Budokan. It somehow felt really huge. And it’s got quite a bit of length to it, right? That’s why I remember feeling a bit nervous.

――To think even Yagami-san would feel nervous.

T: Yeah. A bit (lol).

At worst, I recorded three songs in one day. It’s normal for me to record two songs within a day anyway.
It’s like Imai gives me a push and I roll (lol).

――And while you’re doing all that, you’ve also been working on the production of this new album⁹. How long were you in recording mode for?

T: I started recording around April of last year.

――One year ago. That’s quite a long time.

T: We initially planned to release two albums. That’s why we were working on it with a much more hurried pace than usual. At worst, I recorded three songs in one day. It’s like Imai gives me a push and I roll (lol). It’s normal for me to record two songs within a day anyway. It’s just that I have to rehearse a lot. Because the situation was such that when I [entered the studio], it’s purely for recording purposes. Which means I’d drum [a song] about only five times and only spend time deciding on what kind of sound we’re going for [in the studio]. And since way back I’ve never liked drumming like that very much (lol). Didn’t we release a 25th anniversary box¹⁰ for Aku no Hana? There’s an LP in there and it was my idea to have copies of the que sheet that was with the vinyl record. When you look at it, you’ll know exactly how many takes we took. Majority of the time I only needed one take and it would be good enough to be used for the record. That’s why it really feels as if I barely drummed. Ultimately I feel the most motivated when I do [the first take] so that probably made people feel that it was good to use.

――But doesn’t Yagami-san feel uneasy like this?

T: Precisely because I rehearsed that much ahead of time. In a way, I feel myself becoming more and more comfortable as I go.

――BUCK-TICK’s current style of recording means that drums are recorded last, but back when you did Aku no Hana, drums actually came first, right?

T: When we used to record drums first, it basically would mean that drums and bass and (Hoshino) Hide’s rhythm guitar are more or less recorded together. When we worked on SEXUAL xxxxx!, it was literally these three parts recording simultaneously. That’s why we were done quick. See, we took two to three weeks to finish SEXUAL xxxxx!. While HURRY UP MODE¹¹ only took us around ten days, including mixing. Because we really did it like, “One, two, and~”. We’d just fix the singing and the guitar solos a little bit after that. That’s why albums like SEXUAL xxxxx!, HURRY UP MODE were pretty much live studio sessions where we recorded together.

――And then it got more and more experimental. Like Six/Nine¹².

T: That was never-ending though. And multiple things were going on at the same time already. Like, there was a studio for rhythm players to record, another studio for the mixing. It felt like the early stages of production were going on simultaneously with the late stages.

――For this album, did Yagami-san have any expectation of how it would turn out?

T: Nope. It’s always the case where I can’t really tell when it’s Imai or Hide filling in the vocals first. It’s only after Acchan (Sakurai) has written and sung the lyrics when I’ll feel, “Ah, this is good,” for the first time. Because the song would somehow sound like a song by some UK indie band with Imai’s substitute singing (lol).

――I get the feeling that would sound cool too, though (lol). So here, I’d like to have Yagami-san comment on each song [on the new album]. Skipping the instrumental track in the beginning, let’s start with the first actual song on the album, SCARECROW.

T: There’s this kind of half-time feeling and then at the chorus or something it turns into an 8-beat, doesn’t it? Both share the same tempo but we’ve deliberately changed the nuance of it. During the half-time beat I drummed as heavily as possible, and when things speed up, I tried to make it feel like we’re charging all the way to the very edge. I used a clicker so the tempo is actually the same. That’s why I say that it’s just the nuance that changed.

――Next, Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries). How did you bring out heaviness when you drum?

T: In short, by holding the sticks in reverse and getting the rimshot in deep. And also changing the drumming position. If I want to keep things light, I can just hit the edge anyway.

――So that means you drummed soft for the next song, Sayonara Shelter -destroy and regenerate-Mix.

T: That’s right, I didn’t use a lot of strength.

――The album version includes violins. What are your thoughts on that?

T: She’s good, isn’t she? Sacchan (Sachi) from Kokushoku (Sumire). Genius Sacchan. It’s just amazing, her ability to improvise.

――[The melody] wasn’t written out on a score, right?

T: I believe not.

――Next, Ai no Harem (Harem of Love).

T: It’s a song by Hide, but the rap bit in the middle of it was interesting. Because that’s exactly how he sung it in the demo tape, as a substitute.

――Ahh. So you can hear Hoshino-san rapping in the demo tape.

T: That’s right. And I think I might’ve used real leather for this song. Cow. That’s often the case with Hide’s songs. There’s a song, Luna Park¹³ previously where I used real leather too.

――Aren’t snare heads usually made of plastic?

T: Not actually. Using real leather would make a rounder sound. I heard there used to be tons of varieties. Like pigskin, sheepskin. That’s what I learnt when I had that dialogue with Inomata Takeshi-san. I asked him what kinds there were, and he said cowhide was the most expensive, but when they didn’t have the money for it, they’d buy horse or sheep. But pigskin has porse so the moment a brush or something gets in, it would rip in an instant. That’s why they try to avoid pigskin but he still would if he didn’t have enough money. Then he’d have to deal with it breaking a lot.

――Such a topic feels like you shared the secret behind the sound of the drums in this song. Because I think it has a unique warmth to it. Next, Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Bouquet for you). The tune here kind of lightens things up here.

T: But I bet no one ever thought that such a tune would carry words like “machine gun” and “missile” in its lyrics (lol).

――It’s not something you’d expect when you hear the music.

T: That’s why I had fun drumming it (lol).

――With the way these lyrics would surprise people (lol). Next, THE FALLING DOWN. Isn’t it difficult to drum such a bouncy rock groove?

T:  But it’s my own way of bouncy. It differs from person to person, doesn’t it? The nuance. This is my style.

――So you just had to bring in your own groove.

T: Or rather, it’s the only thing I can do. When it comes to this kind of a groove, the only way I can execute it is with my own nuance, right?

――Man, I think it’s a really cool groove, though. Up next, Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus).

T: This, I decided to drum like I’m in a really good mood (lol). The melody feels like that, high spirited. The kind of feeling that makes me want to try and drum hard.

――Next, Boogie Woogie, an unexpected boogie rock song, but is this also the same style of groove that Yagami-san spoke about?

T: The riff kind of reminded me of (Led) Zeppelin though. That was how they played it with programming but I tweaked it into something I could easily drum. This is another song I thought had interesting lyrics.

――We also touched on it earlier, how it’s got true stories thrown in as well. Next, Mugen LOOP -IZORA- (Infinity LOOP). BUCK-TICK’s style of city pop.

T: Isn’t it great? I really like songs like these.

――Yagami-san enjoys city pop too?

T: I do. Think about it, I like artists like Yuming right from the start. I even liked (Yamashita) Tatsuro-san too. So when I was performing with the Carol cover band, I was covering Yuming and Tatsuro-san and all these other artists after everyone went home.

――So while drumming 8-beat songs, you were drumming 16-beat songs too.

T: That’s right. The very first album I bought by Tatsuro-san was MOONGLOW, and in it was a song called RAINY WALK. The drums on that song were by (Takahashi) Yukihiro-san. He just kept going “Zut-ta, su-tzu-tzu-tzu……” It was like torture. On and on and on. That was the kind of thing I practised.

――Repeating the same thing over and over; in other words, drumming developed through endurance. That was during your teens, right? Have you never had the thought that it’s boring while doing that?

T: I never did. I guess it’s ultimately because hearing studio musicians like them drum inspires me.

――I feel like I managed to glimpse the starting point of the Yagami groove. By the way, what do you think about Yokoyama Kazutoshi-san’s remix¹⁴ of Mugen LOOP for the single?

T: I received a message from the staff asking, “How’s it?” and after I gave it a listen, I replied, “Tell Yoko-chan that I said it’s excellent.”

――Sounds very Yagami-san (lol). Next, Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue).

T: I thought it sounds kind of like reggae, in the beginning. With Imai’s singing.

――The jazz 4-beat you drummed sounds so sophisticated, it’s really cool.

T: I really had to work in the ambience for this one.

――It doesn’t sound muted.

T: Actually, I generally don’t do muting all that much. Like maybe this tom drum or that, no, I don’t really [mute anything].

――Next, we have Hizumi.

T: For this song, in terms of nuance, it’s like a “Come, come on, come have a look” kind of vibe. I suppose that’s why I tried to go with a rather bleary feel. For the drum.

――Deliberately cheapening the feel.

T: I went into a tiny little booth, enclosed the bass drum and made it super dead.

――On top of that, you also made sure that the bass drum was tight, right?

T: That’s right. And that there’s no interference. There’s actually quite a bit of that. Like I’d use the one that won’t make the cymbals sound.

――And, excluding the last instrumental track, the final song on the album is Na mo Naki Watashi (I, Nameless).

T: It’s got the Okinawan scale, right? The tuning I did for this song was pretty close to what I use in live performances.

――I could really see this song being performed live and I suppose one of the reasons for that might have to do with the drum tuning you mentioned. By the way, do you change the way you think about how you drum depending on whether it’s a live show or a recording session?

T: I don’t. Because in our case, we aim to recreate the songs. So it’s like making all the right sounds in sequence.

――Don’t you seek the rhythmic swings that come from the roller coaster of emotions that can only come from live performances?

T: Instead, I actually can’t. Because now, I’m listening to click tracks for all the songs. And the lighting is also coordinated too. It’s really become a whole show. That’s why I’m more than happy to listen to it. The clicks. Since I’ve grown used to it recently (lol).

――That can’t be. I’m sure you used clicks even 35 years ago, right?

T: Using clicks, the first time was around the time we released Dress¹⁵.

――You have an upcoming tour¹⁶ for this album, and for this tour, Yagami-san’s priority is to focus recreating the source music, right?

T: That’s right. I want to execute it well, though. Right now, I’m thinking about what I should use, but I recently bought snares. Again. The super sensitive rim-clamped ones*.

――The Ludwig ones? The type of snare where the snare wires protrude from the head.

T: Yeah. From the 1970s. You know Drum City? I went there, and somehow, they told me that they procured it for me. So I bought it from them, can’t be helped, right? (Lol)

――It’s nice that you’re excited about having bought a new snare even at 60.

T: The first super sensitive I got was a gift that came with the Vistalite drum set that I bought. The rim-clamped one. But I’m not very familiar with the Vistalite, its nuance, you know? Just as I was thinking about buying a proper one, it so happened that I went to the store and it was there, I thought, “Ah, they said they procured this for me.” To start with, I was using Pearl’s full-face snare when we debuted. That’s why I feel great drumming on a rim-clamped snare for the first time in years. I’m going back to my roots at 60, ahahaha!

 

 

Notes:

¹ Aku no Hana = Their 4th album. Released February 1990.

² Kurutta Taiyou =Their 5th album. Released February 1991.

³ SEXUAL xxxxx! =Their first major album. Released November 1987.

Tokyo Dome=Where “BUCK-TICK Phenomenon (バクチク現象 / BUCK-TICK Genshou)” was held on 29 December 1989.

Seibu Stadium =Where “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was held on 2 August 1990. Now named Belluna Dome.

Yokohama Arena =Where “BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” ~35th anniversary~” was held on 23〜24 September 2022.

Tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv.” which was held between October and December 2022 (some shows postponed).

Budokan=Where  “BUCK-TICK 2022 TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan” was held on 29 December 2022.

New album=Their 23rd album, 異空 -IZORA-. Released 12 April.

¹⁰ 25th anniversary boxAku no Hana -Completeworks- which was released in February 2015.

¹¹ HURRY UP  MODE=Their indie album. Released April 1987.

¹² Six/Nine=Their 8th album. Released May 1995.

¹³ Luna Park=Recorded on their 38th single, Datenshi. Released January 2020.

¹⁴ RemixMugen LOOP -LEAP- which was recorded on their 42nd single, Mugen LOOP. released 22 March.

¹⁵ Dress=Their 6th single. Released May 1993.

¹⁶ Tour=“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-” which commences on 19 April.

* I actually have a really hard time trying to explain/translate what the Japanese call 全面当たり (zenmen atari – full-faced/rim-clamped?) which is the specific type Toll said he bought.
全面当たり refers to setting up the snare wires such that the snare wires protrude from the bottom head of the snare. This is mostly used for classic models.
内面当たり (naimen atari) is refers to setting up snare wires such that the whole length of it fits within the diameter of the snare drum. It’s the popular setting these days. 
Apparently there is no differentiating term for these two set-ups in English. 内面当たり appears to be the standard assumption.
For a visual representation of the difference between the two, click here. (Left is 内面当たり, right is 全面当たり)

 

 

 

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Part 2

_______________________

Full『異空 -IZORA-』Song Review

異空 -IZORA- has 14 songs including the two opening and ending instrumental tracks.
To complement the interviews with each of the five members of the band, do read these commentaries for each of the tracks as well.

Text ◎ Okubo Yuka

  1. QUANTUM Ⅰ

An opening sound effect track that  sounds like the opening to the doors of a new chapter following the band’s 35 debut anniversary. A strong vitality can be felt from the power of each particle of sound.

 

  1. SCARECROW

Listeners who approach this album with the impression of “light” that the preceding singles, Taiyou to Icarus and Mugen LOOP carried would feel like this dark song has suddenly shoved them into the gloom. Lodged in the ground and unable to run away, the scarecrow sings of loneliness and despair. From the very beginning, the guitar arpeggio appears at key points in the song, evoking melancholy while the heavily reverberating bass resonates with despair.

 

  1. ワルキューレの騎行 [Warukyuure no Kikou / Ride of Valkyries]

A solemn and theatrical track. In old Norse mythology, valkyries are “maidens who select slain warriors”. Be it life or death, good or evil, only a fine line draws the distinction between each side. Lyrics that seem to flounder and struggle against absurdity leave a deep impression. The brisk, steady rhythm of the bass drum sounds like the regimented advance of calvary footsteps. The scale that the orchestra brings in the middle of the song is also nothing short of emotional.

 

  1. さよならシェルター destroy and regenerate-Mix [Sayonara Shelter]

The album version of Sayonara Shelter which was first released in September 2022 through the band’s 35th anniversary commemorative best-of concept album “CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.”. The addition of violins played by Kokushoku Sumire’s Sachi brings a sense of greenery and the feeling of light raining down to the song, adding the nuance of hope to the subtitle “destroy and regenerate”.

 

  1. 愛のハレム [Ai no Haremu / Harem of Love]

A mid-tempo track with its foundations in dub. The exotic rhythm which continues from the intro, and words like “Casablanca” and “Marrakesh” all hint towards the setting of this tale; Morocco. The second half of the song is the very heart of this track which creates an aura of indescribable foreboding with its narrative-style vocals and whispers chasing after it.

 

  1. Campanella 花束を君に [Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni / A Bouquet for You]

A traditional pop song that starts with scat and a jaunty guitar riff. Lyrics which spell war through the eyes of an innocent young boy have been stripped of superfluous words and are frankly simple. With its startlingly straightforward words sung in the manner of a sprightly young child along to a cheerful melody, this is one song that depicts the times we live in.

 

  1. THE FALLING DOWN

The only song in this album with both music and lyrics composed by Imai Hisashi, it’s got a bold, heavy guitar riff playing to a shuffle beat. It’s got a simple structure made out of a verse and a chorus sung by an angel falling from grace. With Imai’s rap-style singing in the verses and Sakurai singing as if he were almost shouting, this is a track that is bound to shine live.

 

  1. 太陽とイカロス [Taiyou to Icarus / The Sun and Icarus]

Sparkly sounding synth sounds and a catchy melody filled with momentum, this track sounds so fresh that it could almost rewrite the image that BUCK-TICK has had all this time. Yet at the same time, it tugs at your heartstrings because of how fleeting this optimism is. Inspired by the myth of Icarus, the lyrics are nothing short of excellence with the way it intricately describes the wavering emotions of the protagonist as he flies for the heavens with destiny weighing on his shoulders. I hope that listeners will pay close attention to the lyrics which place focus on each and every notation in this song.

 

  1. Boogie Woogie

Born from a striking guitar riff, this song is as its title suggests; a boogie track. The effective sound scape and theremin-enhanced interludes were impressive too. Lyrics which incorporate truths like stories from the band’s early days and the name of a bar the members frequented make the song all the more fun and dramatic.

 

  1. 無限 LOOP -IZORA- [Mugen LOOP / Infinity LOOP]

The album version feels lighter compared to the version of this song that was released in the preceding single. It begins with just one small bar of a synth riff and that riff loops on from the start of the song to the very end. The refreshing music inspires a resort-like atmosphere and is accompanied by singing that sounds beautiful yet somewhat haunting, like something delusive. Sakurai’s high-pitched chorus is another highlight to look out for.

 

  1. 野良猫ブルー [Noraneko Blue / Stray Cat Blue]

A jazzy, bluesy number that effectively employs swinging drums and the timbres of a piano and a double bass. The story of a man reeling at a stray cat living its life freely somehow gives off the atmosphere of some backwater suburb in the Showa era. The desperation of the trilling vocals mixed with the raucous wild piano that comes in towards the end is especially delicious.

 

  1. ヒズミ [Hizumi]

A riff that came from the intertwining of two guitars and a double bass tinged in melancholy has created an unsettling and dismal worldview. The complicated emotions and distressed cries of a protagonist who has had no choice but to distort themself are sung along to a tune that moves on with indifference. The outro is heartrending too, with the distortion of the guitars in the outro sounding like an explosion of suppressed emotions.

 

  1. 名も無きわたし [Na mo Naki Watashi / I, Nameless]

A ballad with a gorgeous Japanese melody. The arpeggio that goes on throughout the strong  sounds ephemerally beautiful, like dancing flower petals fluttering down and scattering. A single, nameless stalk of flower is the main character here telling of its small joys in everyday life, its encounters and farewells. Despite its short life, it lives with no regret, blooming as wildly as it can to the best of its ability. It is such a message which resounds in our hearts, quietly encouraging us.

 

  1. QUANTUM Ⅱ

The ending sound effect track that closes off this album. “QUANTUM” is defined as “an integer multiple of a unit quantity” but the keyboards which enter in the middle to play the single-note melody also invokes the “Quantum Prayer”, bringing the message of a “wish” with it.

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Images: Yoshiyuki

BUCK-TICK
TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv.
2022.11.06 Takasaki City Theatre

PHY Vol.23
January 2023

The parade will go on forever. As long as everyone is here, from city to city. Always

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photographs by Masa

 

To them, the 35th anniversary year of their major debut was looking like it would be one that appears to be less about congratulations or thanksgiving, and more of a serious self-reflection. However, once they concluded their Yokohama Arena event and embarked on their first national tour in a while, we began to see them start to regain something. Here is a concert report documenting their performance on 6 November at Takasaki City Theatre, in the band’s hometown.

Now that the band is returning to their usual routine of touring
They’re enjoying focusing on performing concerts without worrying about anything else except the band

The concert held at the band’s hometown of Takasaki, Gunma is the 9th stop of the tour.

Being in their hometown seemed to have brought them some sense of security with how the concert performance, the staging, and the atmosphere from the stage felt relaxed for some reason. The band’s performance felt like it was all coming together too, and in the encore, with a charming smile, Sakurai (Sakurai Atsushi / Vocalist) introduced the members of the band by reading Jomo Karuta cards, something that’s etched into the DNA of Gunmanians.

The day when this becomes the new style of introducing band members when performing in Gunma might be close, although Junretsu would perform their concert in this same hall the next day (lol). And being able to do this is probably proof that they’re enjoying that now that the band is now returning to their usual routine of touring, they can focus on performing concerts without worrying about anything else except the band itself. Every day they’re on tour is a fulfilling one; something that makes them more than happy.

But in the first place, far too many things happened in the time leading to the year of their 35th major debut anniversary. Tours being put on hold in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, no-audience live-streamed concerts, film concerts, the stopping of a national tour when Imai (Imai Hisashi / Guitarist) broke a bone. In a situation where they as a band could barely go back to their usual routine, until this year’s fan club tour kicked off, the only shows they have managed to put on with a live audience present since 2020 were their two annual concerts at Nippon Budokan. 

Having lost their usual routine of concerts like this, I get the feeling that there is a subtle shift in each of the band members’ closeness to the band and the direction they look towards without their knowledge. I’m left with the impression that the five of them, who had been wildly enthusiastic for the longest time, have suddenly turned calm, relooking at their relationship with the band.

On top of it all, there was the sudden Russian invasion of Ukraine that happened this February. Tragic sights were thrown at us by the press on a daily basis. Scenes of children crying. This cast a heavy shadow over the band, especially on Sakurai’s psyche, rendering them unable to celebrate their 35th anniversary year with nothing but “congratulations and thanksgiving”. Here is where the forthright spirit of Sakurai Atsushi, something that we all love, shone through. This, combined with the memories of his past, turned it all into an ever deeper self-reflection. 

The unabating darkness in his heart shows through the perspective of the vulnerable that is presented in Sayonara Shelter, the band’s new song which was released in their best-of concept album CATALOGUE THE BEST 35th anniv.. A month before this tour, the〈THE PARADE ~35th anniversary~〉show held at Yokohama Arena to commemorate their 35th debut anniversary had been structured in such a way that reflected Sakurai’s state of mind as it was. The show carried some kind of tension in the air, rather than a celebratory or grateful mood. I suppose it could also be a result of the situation the band was in.

The parade will go on. As long as everyone is here, forever——
That includes each and every one of us, as well as the members of the band

The tour began a month after those two days. Titled〈THE BEST 35th anniv.〉, it isn’t to say that the band would play a selection of songs well known to fans over the 35-year history of BUCK-TICK on this tour. Instead, it meant that the band would show what represents BUCK-TICK best, along with their dream of〈THE BEST〉. I thought that this would be an extension of what we saw at Yokohama Arena which drew on the social climate of these times and the band’s present state.

But that was not the case at all. Instead, once the tour began, the band dramatically recovered their identity.

I was able to watch their first performance at Tachikawa Stage Garden and this day’s show at Takasaki City Theatre. What shocked me was how the set list only had a few songs that were also performed at Yokohama Arena a month ago. Including the encore, the set list for this tour was made up of 20 songs. The two day event at Yokohama Arena a month back had a total of 42 songs, but only 6 songs from this tour’s set list, including their new song Sayonara Shelter were present there too.

This is the gift that came out of 35 years of constant album releases and at the same time, a forethought for the fans. Yet despite how different a set list this was, the overall tone of the concert remained unchanged. It just goes to show that no matter how much time has passed, something deeply ingrained in their hearts cannot be so easily cast aside.

But the impression it left was rather different. The show opened with a rock ‘n’ roll track revolving around phrases like “let’s go now”, “hop on board”. Up next was a song that invited us into a dark fantasy. Then, a song where a cute cat takes over Sakurai (you probably know what it is from this line alone even if you don’t want to) was followed by Imai’s song which envelops darkness with light and projects hope into our future. Where did the tension and uneasiness I felt at Yokohama go?

The band presented a strong stance calling upon everyone to enjoy the concert and have fun despite the real pressure and urgency tacked to it. In the first concert, a sad ballad was interspersed between these songs, but the set list had changed by this show. This time, I could catch glimpses of a conscious effort by the band to give the audience a more uplifting experience from the very start of the concert.

But this is where we see〈THE BEST〉; their true worth. As to where we are at this point, a bottomless world of darkness. One that relates to the emptiness in our hearts and the present climate of these occluded times. But that has been channeled into entertainment. That’s where the concert deviates greatly from Yokohama’s.

Among these songs, the most symbolic of all was their new song Sayonara Shelter. A little girl sang Let It Go in a bomb shelter in Kyiv as if embracing the hearts of the wounded; this was the video that inspired BUCK-TICK’s song but above its strong message, it is a song that had evolved into one of kindness and hope. This may well be something that resulted from the band’s current situation too. 

The other songs they performed were like this too. Even though they performed songs that we’re familiar with, these songs had weight but also carried with them a sense of hope and tenderness. Because the band is moving forward with firm resolution.

Again, the shows are on different scales so it’s hard to make a general comparison, but having switched from Yokohama Arena’s staging-oriented set up to this simpler stage where there is nothing in the space between the band and the audience, the cohesiveness of the 5 of them as a band along with how well they worked the audience were more than obvious. Even if they weren’t performing in their hometown, the expressions on the band members’ faces showed that they were clearly enjoying themselves. I was once again reminded how good it was that touring has returned to being a regular routine. 

And another big highlight was that we finally got to watch them perform a track from their latest original album, ABRACADABRA, which they could not perform in concert in the past couple of years, live on stage. The “prayer” that was in that album will finally come true. And we may have very well been witnessing that moment right before our eyes.

“How long will the parade last? I’d think it’ll go on forever. As long as everyone is here, from city to city. Always and forever.”

This was the message that came from Sakurai’s lips right before the last song of the night. On the first day of their tour at Tachikawa, he said, “I don’t know how long it’ll last, but the parade will go on.” Words which carried a measure of uncertainty, but at some point in time, he began to say, “It will go on forever.”

This is yet another sign that the band is getting back to their usual routine. Now, they can say this to their fans confidently and with certainty. The parade will go on. As long as everyone is here, forever. An “everyone” which includes each and every one of us, as well as the members of the band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Pictures: Yoshiyuki

 

Hoshino Hidehiko
BUCK-TICK

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

35th anniv.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H: I played the keyboard?

――Yes…… Wait⁉ You did, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――Was the insecurity present in your music?

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

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

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

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

H: Ah~, that’s it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――What should you do to break past this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――When did you start thinking like this?

H: Probably after “darkness”.

――What darkness⁉

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

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

H: Right, that’s right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H: Is that so (lol).

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

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

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

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

――That’s true. What about Yagami-san?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

special live report

Text ◎ Koji Yoshida
Photos ◎ Tanaka Seitaro

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following segment was simply incredible. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FLY SIDE

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

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

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

 

HIGH SIDE

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

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

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

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Pictures: Yoshiyuki

BUCK-TICK
BUCK-TICK 2022 at YOKOHAMA ARENA

Ongaku to Hito
November 2022

A Parade Headed For The Future

text by Ishii Eriko
photographs by Seitaro Tanaka (tanaka seitaro photo office)

“THE PARADE” -35th Anniversary-
FLY SIDE / HIGH SIDE

Instead of the celebratory mood on this 35th debut anniversary, the production and staging of this live concert were strongly influenced by the atmosphere of the current deadlocked times and the reality that dreams and ideals alone are not enough to live on. Yet, the band’s stance of choosing to face this head on instead of running away was most characteristic of them. Part of it was probably a reaffirmation of what’s most important of all to the five of them. The significance of living in the now, despite the non-existence of forever. This is an in-depth report on two days that held out such hope for tomorrow.

 

What we’ve thought of as routine until now has, at some point, rapidly become less so. Time again, this is what ongoing historic events show us.
I always thought that BUCK-TICK was a separate entity, that they’re special, but is this really true?

The weather held out on the first day right up until it was time for me to leave home. It was a rainy day, as per the weather forecast. It rained on the morning of the second day and continued throughout the day too. Memories of〈THE PARADE~30th anniversary~〉from five years ago came to me. It was held at Odaiba’s special outdoor stage under clear autumn skies and there were lively food stalls selling beer and takoyaki and other snacks all around. All of it feels like an unexpectedly distant memory.

When we become adults, time doesn’t flow as precisely as it does in an hourglass. More often than not, we would say that something that happened approximately three years ago happened “just the other day”. And we can remember what happened around 10 years ago “like it was yesterday”.

But five years ago with BUCK-TICK feels quite distant. To list what happened since that event, they completed production of an album and went on tour, during which Sakurai Atsushi got hospitalised due to an emergency and then made a full recovery and comeback at their Nippon Budokan show. The COVID-19 pandemic came when they started work on their next album and they could only hold concerts through the screen. Furthermore, they had to stop a tour because Imai Hisashi broke a bone, so on and so forth.

The turbulence didn’t end. Just as they started going on tours with their fan club & mobile site members-exclusive tour, Sakurai was tested positive for COVID-19 and some of the shows had to be postponed. It’s truly been a step forward and a step back at the same time, with good news coinciding with a heartbreaking event. When you think they’re finally making progress, something unexpected puts a stop to it.

There’s no one to blame, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. All there is to do is hope and pray. That BUCK-TICK stays safe and sound. That BUCK-TICK will be able to continue being BUCK-TICK.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a crisis. It just gets me thinking that there’s a real sense of urgency, that what we’ve thought of as routine until now has, at some point, rapidly become less so. Time again, this is what ongoing historic events show us. I always thought that BUCK-TICK was a separate entity, that they’re special, but is this really true?

Despite an appearance that tens of thousands have hailed as unchanged since debut, anyone who lays eyes on post-recovery Sakurai will be able to tell that in reality, (I don’t really want to say this either but) some signs of deterioration were evident and he looked worn out. Imai can already stand on stage without a cane, but should he be running around in 10 cm heels? Don’t push yourself?

Even as I consider their actual age in this manner, I remember a pleasant feeling, similar to being patted on the head that, no, it’s precisely because they go this far that they’re BUCK-TICK. Did anyone ever think that they were an ordinary band? One you could find anywhere? One that takes the easy way out of everything? If that were the case, I wouldn’t have followed them for so long. They wouldn’t have been able to bring us here.

Yagami Toll’s hair, slicked up towards the heavens even as he celebrates his 60th birthday, seems to hold the band’s willpower in it. What emerged at the band’s 35th anniversary was less of a joyous celebration and more of an immense determination to get through it all.

Let’s first look at the set list. The number of songs that were performed on both days is surprisingly high. Five years ago, 〈THE PARADE〉had boldly varied selections of songs between the two days where only four songs were played on both days. Also, if you try to look for songs that were performed back then and also on this year’s two days, you’d realise that there are only two; New World and Aku no Hana.

If anyone were to ask whether the set lists were reinforced by their most popular songs, like their debut releases and singles that are well-known to all, I can already imagine them replying to this with a straight face and another question: Why should they have to?

Surprisingly, or rather, unlike what you’d normally expect, BUCK-TICK’s anniversary doesn’t involve a line-up of hit songs made up by their all-time bests. By performing extreme once-in-a-lifetime setlists, they mean to say that their best is being delivered by their present selves.

May this beautiful lie light up your life
Band activities that continued in this way were eventually called “the Parade”

Extreme setlists. They were brilliant from the very first day. The curtains rose to the tune of unsettling guitar sounds with ICONOCLASM, but the performance that transported us into a futuristic sci-fi city was the most impressive thing I’ve seen in relation to this song, more so than when it was first released and anytime in the 10 or 20 years since. My head was spinning from the advances in technology. 

Different images were projected on the screen in front of the stage (you’d think it was a silk screen, but it’s a movable LED screen!) and in the back. Watching the stage from the front, the two overlap to create a more semantic, three-dimensional other world. The five performing band members were separately projected on screens on either side of the stage, but I don’t feel like smiling despite the band looking well. It’s the chilling sensation of being drawn into something dangerous to any extent, of an overwhelming unknown taking everything away from you. And this is only the start of the show.

Next, images of what looked like an ancient Roman temple appeared on the screens. At the same time, the screen in front of the stage rises, finally giving us a full view of the Great Devil King with his arms outstretched in the centre of the stage. This is the majestic BABEL. It was a little heartbreaking for me to see the contrast between his dazzling makeup and his sunken cheeks which betray his recent illness.

Furthermore, a line like〈Collapsing and yet/We are BABEL (頽れて尚/我はBABEL | Kuzuorete naoWare wa BABEL)〉carries a reality it has never had before. He was probably standing here with the same determination to go all the way to the very edge with his performances too. Despite such a presence, his eyes said it was all or nothing. There was no room for playing around. Gothic entertainment in the form of love, death, and life at stake was already complete with these two songs at the start.

On top of perfection, there was future elaboration on the finer details. I never could have imagined how much production and stage settings were involved. Scenery of sleazy entertainment districts that had retro trams running across them was featured during Maimu Mime, which appears to be a favourite in recent years.

Both music and vocals were monopolised by Imai in Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari~, but the bright red front screen had hands groping around as if seeking something through the glass while the back screen had an oversized close-up collage of Sakurai’s various facial expressions. The two together created a picture quality that of a horror film that the audience will never forget. 

Making a complete 180° in Rakuen, beautiful mosaics with Islamic patterns were all around, turning the whole screen into a gorgeous palace. Sakurai sang with a veil over his head, looking like a beautiful Arabian queen. I could almost see camels nearby.

The performances on the second day were also superb. Horses running through a thick forest of trees and mists rolling in with a full moon illuminating the dark night in all its realism were presented to us in MOONLIGHT ESCAPE, which was positioned as a contrast to the previous day’s Maimu Mime.

And in Dance Tengoku, a brilliantly coloured heart (not a lovely heart, but an illustration of an actual organ that looks like it came out of a science textbook!) bounced around chaotically, while in BOY Septem peccata mortalia, Sakurai got down on all fours on his own and flashed his thighs and knee-high stocking repeatedly during the depraved erotic song. Thrilling as it was, I kept wondering in the back of my mind whether it was pleasure from male or female genitalia he desires, no, I have no idea what we’re being shown anymore. Every song had an extraordinarily high level of entertainment taken to the extreme.

Roman temples and trams and an Arabian queen. Alternatively, moonlight and hearts and the all-too-erotic knee-highs…… Looking at this with a calm mind, you might laugh at what I’m saying here. At what a mess it all sounds like. The performance of each song is clearly beyond the realm of simple backgrounds in X style. 

Countless lights transform the stage into an aurora borealis or a starry sky, and Sakurai reigns over the stage, transcending gender. It’s all a fascinating concoction, but you get goosebumps from the pride and experience of the performers who don’t give you a chance to think that these are all mere props. Their spirit is conveyed through each tone of voice and each movement of a finger.

May this beautiful lie light up your life. Band activities that continued in this way were eventually called “the Parade”. All that is left for them to do is carry on al the way to the end with whatever time they have left. As long as there is still life left in them, they will perform to the end.

That’s the stage I thought they were at. But——

At the end, there was an outpouring of feelings that could make a person cry
I believe that is what we call
the forward-looking, hopeful love

Reality was steadily encroaching on their flawlessly constructed fictional world. This was brought to life in the second half. They performed the same setlist here on both days. REVOLVER, Guernica no Yoru, and Sayonara Shelter; the trilogy of anti-war songs that concluded DISC 1 of their best-of concept album.

Of course, no one thought to label them with such a word at first. REVOLVER can be enojoyed as a flamboyant and suggestive dance tune on its own. But Sakurai’s personal memories are part of Guernica no Yoru and the soliloquising line “What about me?   What shall I do?   I sing of love, of romance (僕はどうだい どうすればいい 愛とか恋だとか歌っている / Boku wa doudai   Dousureba ii   Ai toka koi da toka utatteiru)” that comes in the second half is something that goes completely beyond fiction. My heart ached with an inexplicable conflict. The gunshots in the music sounded louder than ever. My vision clouded over time and again. Even though the music was ever so beautiful.

The performance of their new song, Sayonara Shelter was also unforgettable even though it featured no stage effects or props of any kind. It was just the band lit by blue lights. There was no need for any explanation. Lyrics that were written from the perspective of someone experiencing the happenings of Ukraine pierce with a rawness that cannot be dismissed as a mere fantasy. This is how far they’ve come with their composition. This is how far they had to sing their song. This one song with lyrics written by Sakurai as a result of these impending times very clearly tells us where BUCK-TICK stands now.

To put it bluntly, things like their 35th anniversary and whatever they’ve done in the past don’t matter at this point. The two-day setlist eloquently states that this is what needs to be communicated now. This is, without a doubt, the highlight. BUCK-TICK’s best probably lies in showing us the truth. As if out of concern and to provide some relief from the painful reality, Sakurai wore a mask and blew kisses numerous times. This was an expression of love, or perhaps, an expression of farewells.

After making us think so much, suddenly, we’re thrust into Go-Go B-T TRAIN. This was tremendous fun, like the sudden high-pitched laugh echoing through the hall. Impending reality flips into a half-defiant positivity. Pink tulips bloom madly everywhere. A broadly-grinning Higuchi Yutaka. Imai Hisashi shaking his hips with the groove. Hoshino Hidehiko looked cool but there was some hint of joy on his face. Yagami Toll watched over  them all from above with the gaze of a father watching over his energetic children.

In reality, all the members of the band are in their late 60s, but it was a moment that reaffirmed that the youthful energy that came with their rock ‘n’ roll tracks was still intact. It can’t be said that they’re eternal and unchanging. Physical ability diminishes with age. But even so, Sakurai Atsushi slaps his tambourine hard, calling upon everyone to go as far as they can. The audience claps in response.

〈Let your love burn   Run B-T TRAIN (愛を燃やせ 走れB-T TRAIN / Ai wo moyase   Hashire BT-TRAIN)〉. The decadent and ridiculously powered song resonates as a theme song for the energised BUCK-TICK and their fans. At the end, there was already an outpouring of feelings between both parties that could make a person cry. I believe that is undoubtedly what we call the forward-looking, hopeful love.

The encore followed with a ballad for the first time in a long while. On the first day, Sakurai had an air of formality about him as he said, “Now, recording is underway to great feedback. There’s no time for sentimentality.” But on the second day, we saw him giving a cheeky pep talk to his fellow band members.

He said, “Good thing is, we have a lot to do. Starting tomorrow, Anii and Yuta will begin rehearsing for the tour. Imai-san and Hide will write new songs. They’ll get started at daybreak.” Adding on to that, he said, “And I, will sleep.” Hearing him speak with such a chuckle-inducing tone of voice was exceptionally rare. Even though they were running on a tough schedule, they certainly seemed more relaxed between these two days of concerts.

Lastly, Imai threw a peace sign as he spoke into the mic, “Thank you, this was awesome.” Yuta, and even Hide and Anii also added to it with ‘Thank you’s of their own. When we exited the venue, the rain that stopped in the evening had completely dried up and a pleasant breeze was blowing.

As written earlier, I don’t think it was a happy-go-lucky celebration. But despite that, the fireworks shot in the ending video were beautiful. Before this all began, I came with a beseeching feeling, but by the end of these two days, I’m smiling with this thought in mind:  May BUCK-TICK go on and continue as BUCK-TICK, always.

 

FLY SIDE

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

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

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

 

HIGH SIDE

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Pictures: Yoshiyuki

35th Anniversary Feature

PHY Vol. 22
November 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

BUCK-TICK Solo Interviews

_______________________

Sakurai Atsushi

Text by: Ishii Eriko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S: Uh…… I rode my bicycle.

――Hahahahahaha! Really?

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

――Has cycling always been one of your hobbies?

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

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

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

――How surprising.

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

――Oh, really (lol).

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

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

S: Ah, that’s right.

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

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

――Ohh. That’s impressive.

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

――Is that so?

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

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

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

――It never left your mind?

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

――I’m glad to hear that. Truly.

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

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

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

――It’s something truly wonderful. 

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

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

S: Hmmm? …… Huun…… Long.

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

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

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

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

――Right.

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

――It’s sobering, isn’t it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

S: Ah, no. I did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S: No, no, no. I think that’s tough.

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

S: …… I don’t

――Fufufu.

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

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

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

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

S: Hahahaha!

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

 

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

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

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

――Got it. I look forward to it.

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

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

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

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

S: Haa.

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

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

――Hahahahaha! …… Is that all?

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

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

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

――Alright. Thank you!

 

 

Notes:

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

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

 

 

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_______________________

Hoshino Hidehiko

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

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

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

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

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

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

――That’s for sure.

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

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

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

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

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

――Exactly 80 songs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H: Yeah, that’s right.

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

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

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

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

――Exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――I think so too.

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

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

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

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

H: You’re probably right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

――What about Hoshino-san?

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

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

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

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

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

――That’s only another 4 years.

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

――You can see what’s ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

――As a part of BUCK-TICK?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Higuchi yutaka

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

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

――Here we go.

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

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

Y: We’re shocked too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――I see.

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

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

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

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

Y: I’m looking forward to it!

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

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

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

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

――I see.

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

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

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

――I see.

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

――We can’t stay the same.

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

――You’ve got a point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――There’s one new song among them.

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

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

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

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

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

――Indeed.

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

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

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

――I see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――That’s true.

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

――I see.

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

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

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

――That’s what happens when we age.

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

――Memories of problems (lol).

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

――Hahahaha.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Y: See, it’s super-secret (lol).

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

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

 

 

 

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Imai Hisashi

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――I see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

――That’s true.

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

――I didn’t know that!

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

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

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

――Well, that’s true though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――Who picked the songs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I: It’s not, is it?

――Really?

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

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

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

――Just this one song?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I: That’s true. Naturally.

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

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

 

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

I: Well…… I’ll do my best (lol).

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

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

――Doesn’t it scare you?

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

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

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

――Is recording work going well?

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

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

I: Ah, back then, yes.

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

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

――Ah, I see.

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

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

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

――I see. By the way, how’s your leg?

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

――What do you mean?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Yagami Toll

Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi

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

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

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

――You spoke about it in your autobiography too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――How strict of him (lol).

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

――So that’s what you think.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

――I see.

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