Datenshi, PARADE Ⅲ Feature
PHY Vol. 15
text by Ishli Eriko (imai, higuchi), Kanemitsu Hlrofumi (sakurai, hoshino, yagami)
photographs by CHITO
hair&make-up by Tanizaki Takayuki, Yamaji Chihiro (FAT’S BERRY)
styling by Shimizu Kenichi
DIET BUTCHER SLIM SKIN 03-5728-4765
UK EXTRA 03-3311-1992
JULIUS TOKYO STORE 03-5728-4900
I feel that the one who has to shoulder that burden is me
Because singing about it saves me
You’ll understand as soon as you listen to their new single, Datenshi; that BUCK-TICK has entered a new mode, and that unchanging strength and resolve of theirs. Two years ago, they released their album No.0 in which they incorporated their imagination and message to the fullest. It was a work they stuffed to the brim with the diversity of worldviews which the band possesses, but this single, which brings us a sign of what to expect from this band in 2020, has shown us the complete opposite; a powerful sound which is full of gaps. That makes it a simple yet distinctive sound. From this, originality which can only be produced by these 5 musicians can be heard. That is also the forte of a band which is heading towards their 35th anniversary, and, at the same time, it is also a resolve which stems from the unavoidable awareness that an end will come sometime.
In this special feature, we will explore the present and future BUCK-TICK from various perspectives. Through personal interviews with the members based on their new song, Datenshi, and, celebrating their tribute album PARADE III ～RESPECTIVE TRACKS OF BUCK-TICK～, which will be released at the same time as their single, there will also be a dialogue between Higuchi Yutaka and TOSHI-LOW (BRAHMAN), along with an interview with ISSAY (DER ZIBET) who will talk about the draw of BUCK-TICK and Sakurai Atsushi.
- PARADE Ⅲ: Higuchi Yutaka (BUCK-TICK) ✕ TOSHI-LOW (BRAHMAN)
- PARADE Ⅲ: ISSAY (Der Zibet)
- Contributor Article – A One-Of-A-Kind Polyphony by Okada Iku
Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Knowing that everyone is watching us with all these thoughts and emotions
It makes me want to get my act together, like, I have to do my best
―― I’d like to hear about your thoughts regarding THE DAY IN QUESTION which concluded last year-end.
S: I’m relieved. Because although there was only one new song while the rest were familiar tunes, I’m constantly plagued by worries about my throat. But I somehow managed to do it.
―― It’s an annual affair on 29 December, but having had to perform at Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium rather than at Nippon Budokan, how did you find it?
S: The first thing that came to mind when I entered the venue was, “The audience is rather far away…… I feel bad.” It was difficult for the audience in the back to see, wasn’t it? I hate to say it, but Budokan is where I find it easiest to get the audience into it and that makes it great, though.
―― Well, you’ll be back at Budokan on this year’s 29 December anyway.
S: I don’t think it’s all that great to perform in large venues, and I think for us, we don’t have to aim for that any more, do we? (Lol). Big venues, they’re not suitable for us. Not really.
―― No, no (lol). The last song, LOVE ME, was just wonderful.
S: That song, I think it was Yuta who said that he wanted to perform it. He felt that it might be nice if we shared a sense of unity with everyone at the end.
―― That’s true.
S: The lyrics are quite messed up, though (lol). But since these people have made it here to watch us perform, I’m happy that it can bring us all together and excite them (even if) that’s the kind of song it is.
―― That was a great end to the year, wasn’t it?
S: It was. Last year, I had quite a lot going on in my private life too and I was in the hospital again, and quite a few ups and downs…… It got me thinking, “Just get it over with!” (lol). (At the end of the year) I got that sense of “Is it finally over?”. Though, it’s not as if (going into the new year) changes anything in particular.
―― And among all of that, Datenshi was produced.
S: That’s right. There’s one other song which was a candidate too. That’s another really nice one. We more or less already decided that we’d go with that one, but then Imai Hisashi pulled out another song. Which was the one which turned into Datenshi. The other song which we had decided on was a very nice medium-tempo song, but we felt that (it would be better) if this could turn into something that was edgy and aggressive even to us…… So, we were able to really venture into Datenshi.
―― Why did you want it to be aggressive?
S: The first two songs that we completed were very gentle songs. Unlike their finished version, Luna Park, too, initially had a very relaxed tempo. If we lined up those two songs together, (the single) will leave the impression that it’s like an extended version of Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete. Then, just as we were thinking, “Hm… I’m not sure if this is a good idea,” Datenshi came along, so, that was a lifesaver. (With the determination that) I’ll torment myself as badly as I can with this.
―― What do you mean by tormenting yourself?
S: To say, “You’re no good guy, are you?” (Lol).
―― It’s okay to be a little nicer to yourself, though.
S: That may be true, but I end up feeling that if I torment myself, the real me will emerge from that, you know? It’s funny, but it was the first day of work at the office yesterday, and we (found out that we) received hundreds of mail from the fans since the end of last year (lol). As I read them one by one, I was once again reminded that I had to firmly stand true to what I really feel.
S: You see, everyone comes to our concerts with different emotions in them. There are those who are parent and child travelling from far away to come and watch us, and there are also those whose loved ones have passed away. Knowing everyone is watching us from the back of Yoyogi with all these thoughts and emotions, it makes me want to get my act together. Like, I have to do my best.
―― But on the other hand, I believe that there are those who also feel, “You don’t have to shoulder all that burden, though……”.
S: Rather than a burden, it’s an encouragement, you see. It’s the reason why I would want to stand (on stage). To exaggerate, it’s because to me, “to do my best” is as good as a battle with myself.
―― So, you’re saying that it’s necessary for Sakurai Atsushi to be like this and face himself.
S: But it’s just for those few hours. On stage, that would be 2 hours, and during recording, I won’t show my face (to an audience) but (the final product is) something that we’ve worked hard on and condensed into an album for people to hear, so if I do this right…… That’s really how it is, but I guess, maybe it helps a little. Because I usually am a really hopeless man. And today, I’ve made this much of a mess of my face too (lol).
―― (Lol) Haven’t you ever thought that it would be nice if you could get all of that done while being a little more relaxed?
S: As long as the fans enjoy it, I don’t care if people write or say bad things about me. I’m not bitter about it. But it’s not easy (for me) to deal with myself…… Well, I’ve said it hundreds of times, but it’s a matter of what’s learned in the cradle being carried to the grave. And now, I’m the same age as my father. It’s getting more and more ingrained in me, isn’t it?
―― This is something we’ve been talking about for decades now.
S: Yeah, having known Kanemitsu-san for decades, there were times when I wondered when I’ll ever feel better*, but it doesn’t look like that will ever happen (lol).
―― Is it the fear that you might be just like that father of yours?
S: After all, the same blood flows in my veins. The misery and the hate are always…… there, you know? Our blood types are the same, and even our birthdays are the same. That’s a 1 in 365 chance! Can you believe that? Our faces are exactly the same too. And now, we’re the same age.
―― You definitely can’t help but feel something.
S: I get the feeling that something’s pulling me. Like, come here…… I’m just kidding, though (lol).
―― I don’t want to hear about it even if it’s a joke!
S: I guess so. My elder brother said to me, “Hang in there until you turn 54,” but…… We’re back on this topic again, huh (sigh). Let’s stop.
―― Well, because it’s like a routine (to talk about it)**, isn’t it?
S: Shall we talk about Valentines’ Day or something?
―― Wahahahaha, why so sudden!
S: Maybe we can make a guess of how much chocolate we’d receive or something (lol).
―― Why would I even enjoy competing with Sakurai Atsushi over how much chocolate I’d receive (lol).
S: No, no, no, I mean, a ton (of chocolate) would arrive in the editorial department, right?
―― They don’t (lol). But I have to give my age a little bit of consideration too.
S: Well, age is one thing, but this personality is really…… something that I’ve come to realise I can’t get run away from. I thought I was prepared (to do that), but I guess I really can’t escape from it, can I? I’ve also spoken about this numerous times, but in present-day terms, we’d say that my father committed DV***, right? Domestic violence. My father beat my mother on a daily basis. That memory has always stuck with me, always frightened…… Well, it’s the usual story, though.
―― Apart from that memory, have you ever wondered how far you can go from this point on?
S: I have. Although I’m aware that I have to take it easy and live life following my experiences of getting hospitalised and so on, at the same time, I also wonder how long I can keep doing that. I’m doing what I love so I can somehow discipline and inspire myself, but if I get sick, then, it’s as if my father’s calling me……
―― So we’re going back to that topic.
S: We are (lol). That’s why I want to turn 54 as soon as possible. But I’ve been blessed in the sense that I get to do what I want to do, and recently, I’ve been getting a really strong feeling that I’m doing it right, so when I can find it in myself to say that I’m happy, I am happy.
I may make people wonder, “Is he alright……”, but I’m happy. I am.
―― In what areas do you get the feeling that you’re doing things right?
S: When I’m satisfied with our own work. When we put out works that I feel good about. When there’s even a little bit of that although it may not be 100%. It’s because we have music and songs like that that I can say, “Ah, well, I suppose it’s alright.”
―― And also, because you have band members who understand such a Sakurai-san, right?
S: That’s the best part, isn’t it? Though, we don’t usually talk much anymore (lol).
S: There are times when I’d spend a couple of days with Imai-san and Hide but we don’t talk at all. It’s just that when we finally realise, we didn’t talk about anything at all (lol). But they consider things from a vocalist’s perspective; there is this invisible care for me. Simply because we’ve known each other for 35 years now. We no longer have to say anything for us to fully understand the other party, and when I’m as tense as I am now, they’ll just let me be too.
―― Perhaps it’s because you’re working with these people that you can express yourself.
S: Perhaps. If we’re talking about the stage, though, Imai-san will come and interrupt my singing (lol). At points when I’m like, “But I wanted to sing it well here!” (Lol). But performing while having such thoughts is something else that is interesting in a band. Like, “Ah, just now, Anii made a mistake,” and so on (lol).
S: As long as I’m on stage, I’m enjoying myself even when I start thinking, “Ah, that just now was off. I definitely went out of tune…… Ah, I’m never getting over it.” That’s why it’s fun to be in a band, isn’t it? It’s because the other members are around that I’m given the ability to do what I love.
―― Do you have aspirations of wanting to become a certain way or something like that now, at 54?
S: Uh, like perform at Tokyo Dome and the like? (Lol)
―― That’s what Anii spoke of when we went drinking (lol). He said, “I’ll play at Tokyo Dome for my 60th birthday!”
S: He says the complete opposite of what I say (lol).
―― Hahahahahaha, indeed.
S: Anywhere’s fine as long as we can hold a concert. Well, I’d love to if I could, though…… But first, the immediate future; I’d like to ask for our next song as soon as possible (lol).
―― Imai-sa～n, Imai Hisashi sa～n (lol).
S: Ahahahahaha. But the fact that he mentioned his “60th” with “Tokyo Dome”, I have to say Anii’s rough plan is really great (lol). I think that’s also something that has been helping me, you know? It encourages me and makes me aware of things I haven’t thought of, things that I couldn’t have done alone.
―― So, what kind of dreams does Sakurai-san personally have?
S: Ah, well…… I don’t have any. You know this very well, don’t you? (Lol) I’m incapable of doing anything if I’m left to my own devices, and I’d probably be a man who won’t even leave his bed (lol). Though, going to a snowy mountain and freezing to death without anyone finding out about it…… I think it’s just so beautiful, that’ll be nice, I guess.
―― Please stop that (lol). Didn’t you say before that you’d like to live deep in the mountains in the middle of nowhere and spend your life making pottery?
S: But now, I think it’ll be troublesome to learn how to make pottery or even spin the potter’s wheel (lol).
―― You’re getting worse!
S: Because I’m a klutz (lol). Before (this interview), I happened to catch a glimpse of the footage on WOWOW (note: 29 December’s performance at Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium) and I thought, “You’re an idiot, man.” (lol).
―― Ahahahahaha. Was it the MC?
S: Yes (lol).
―― When you tripped on your words, and then had your embarrassed face show up on all the screens (lol).
S: Don’t you think that’s so stupid?
―― Nope. It’s cute.
―― Don’t everyone in the audience love this Sakurai-san?
S: I’m grateful for it. Although, I feel like I have to do my best and become something like that rockstar who everyone admires……
―― No, I don’t believe that everyone expects Sakurai Atsushi to be cool all the time.
S: I’ll try my best.
―― So what do you hope for this year?
S: I don’t think there’s anything (going on this year) that will bring in interview requests. I’d like for myself to remain healthy, both physically and mentally. Since I’ll feel down when I get sick, I just want to stay healthy as much as possible (lol).
―― You’ve announced that you’ll be releasing a new album this summer. I’d expect that you don’t have all the songs yet, but what do you hope for this album to be?
S: Earlier, I mentioned Imai-san’s song which was a candidate for the single, which wasn’t Datenshi. That was a really great song. It’s Imai Hisashi and Sakurai Atsushi’s music, and lyrics, and song. This might just be the best we’ve ever had…… That said, if we raise the bar too high, that might just be terrible (for the future) (lol).
―― No, no, no, it’s good!
S: I feel that it’s turned out to be a really great song. I think that it was a good thing that Datenshi was made this single, but we really had problems with deciding to the point that we were debating until the very very last minute so…… That’s why I want people to listen to it first as soon as possible.
―― What are the lyrics like for that song?
S: Ahh. You’d probably think, “This again?” (Lol). But although I do feel that I’m talking about the same things, I think there’s nothing I can do about that anymore. Because even if I try to twist things, I’d end up feeling that it isn’t me. It’s not that big a deal, but I do feel that the one who has to shoulder that burden is me. Because singing about it saves me.
―― In other words, it’s something that will never change no matter what happens, like your earliest childhood memory, something you learnt as a child that you’ll bring to the grave.
S: That’s right. I can’t force it. Even if I borrow a concept from somewhere else and decide to perform that, all the things I like are going to be similar anyway, so I can’t run away from it. I can’t be a professional (if I do that). But that does, indeed, appear to be my place. On the contrary, I don’t really know where I belong in everyday life (lol).
―― What do you mean?
S: If I’m working, I know for sure that my dressing room, the centre stage mic, and standing on stage with the other members to sing is where I belong, but when we revert to our regular lives, there are times when I don’t really know where I should go…… I’m pretty sure I come across as a serious man like this.
―― I know (lol).
S: When it comes to work, too, I’ve been late, but I really give my all, you know? (Lol). That’s why it ends up taking a toll on other areas, like family^, and so on.
―― Ah, I see. You’re trying too hard to be BUCK-TICK’s Sakurai Atsushi.
S: I’m normally as good as an invalid (lol).
―― Hahahahahaha. But it’d be distressing if it disappears, wouldn’t it? Your place of belonging.
S: That’s why I feel that I have to cherish it, whether I’m in my on- or off-mode. Because I’m thankful that there is a mic being placed centre stage for me, and that there’s even a light being shone on me.
―― For this person that you are (lol).
S: Yes. I’m happy.
―― And that is what everyone seeks. We feel that all is well if Sakurai-san is happy.
S: Thank you. I may make people wonder, “Is he alright……”, but I’m happy. I am.
* The phrase used here was “晴れる (hareru)”, which is usually used to describe sunny weather.
** The original phrase is “業みたいなもの” but the problem here is, I can’t tell if “業” is being read as “gou” or “gyou”. If read as “gou”, then it would mean “Karma”. While as “gyou”, the more common reading, it would generally mean “work” along with all other similar connotations. I’ve gone with “gyou” to say that it’s “routine”, as in something that is done/brought up on a regular basis – like work. Because I honestly don’t think Sakurai is being plagued by this out of some Karmic reasoning.
*** That’s apparently the abbreviation used in Japan.
^ Family here doesn’t literally mean familial relationships. “家庭 (katei)” rather than “家族 (kazoku)” was used, which refers to general nuance of having/starting a family.
Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
While I was figuring that out, somehow, what came out from inside of me was something that had been sort of sticking out like this which gave off a somewhat deviant feeling
Kind of like the enjoyment of things which fall outside of the rules. Somehow, that was the kind of image that came to mind
―― To start, how did you feel about the 5-show nationwide tour for THE DAY IN QUESTION?
I: Good. I thought it was good.
―― I got to watch your performance in Tokyo too. It felt strange seeing that it wasn’t in Budokan.
I: About that, since it was our first time performing there, I couldn’t really get a proper feel of the sound either. And I was performing without in-ear monitors.
―― Huh, you were?
I: Me and Hide, us two guitarists didn’t use them. That’s why I wondered how the sound would turn out in this case. Budokan is the venue that we’re most used to performing at after all, and while there’s a certain enjoyment in playing at Yoyogi, there was also a bit of unease. But after we gave it a shot, there was nothing to worry about, I guess.
―― Is there a reason why you performed without in-ear monitors? I’d assume that it’s more natural to use them when there’s that much noise being made and being played at the same time, though.
I: No, well, I’ve kind of always…… not used them (lol). I think it depends on the song, but if I’m wearing them, I feel that I can’t quite grasp the atmosphere around me, and I’d be hearing clicks in them…… Like, that’s not very fun is it?
―― Hahahaha! So rather than (wearing the in-ear monitors), your synchrony with the band and feeling the atmosphere in the venue is more important.
I: Yeah. So, well, I’d just do as much as I can anyway, until I have to ad lib. But, well, then…… I’d start wondering about whether in-ear monitors are really that essential or not, though.
―― Because it seems like it isn’t since you can go that far (lol).
I: But during Locus Solus at Makuhari, there was a point when I went all the way to the front without wearing in-ear monitors. I had to play based on intuition then.
―― Intuition. It’s amazing that you didn’t play out of time.
I: Naaah, I think I did? The others had quite a few things to say to me, though (wry smile).
―― Also, the setlist which you had for THE DAY IN QUESTION gave me the impression that it was the opposite of the setlist for Locus Solus.
I: Ahh, I guess you may be right. But it’s not as if we deliberately aimed to do that. THE DAY IN QUESTION doesn’t have any particular concept either. The closest (thing we have to a concept) is, “Let’s have fun every year.”
―― Or, “Let’s come together every year-end.”
I: Exactly. Although, that’s why there are also occasions when we’ll bring out lightly thematic stuff moment by moment. Also, we generally tend towards darker (themes) while at the same time leaning towards more upbeat (music). It feels as if we have everything, doesn’t it?
―― Yes. Well then, moving on to the topic of production, you’ve been composing since around last summer?
I: Yeah. Well, relatively early. I started composing at the stage when I started thinking that maybe it was about time for me to make preparations.
―― For Imai-san, do you compose only when you decide to? Or is it an accumulation (of compositions) regardless of when they come to you?
I: Nah, I don’t do accumulations. Although I do occasionally go into my workroom and write a memo or do something like that on a whim.
―― What kind of themes or hints came to mind when you decided to compose?
I: Mm…… There wasn’t really any in particular, but, well, I thought that as long as I started working on it, something might come up. So, while I was figuring that out, somehow, what came out from inside of me was something that had been sort of sticking out like this which gave off a somewhat deviant feeling. Kind of like the enjoyment of things which fall outside of the rules. Somehow, that was the kind of image that came to mind. Even now, I can’t quite put it into words though.
―― At the same time, “deviant” is, in other words, pretty much “the usual BUCK-TICK”, isn’t it?
I: That’s right. And that’s why the more I say it, the more I end up getting the feeling that we just keep going round and around the same things. When I talk about this feeling in this particular circumstance…… it feels like, “This isn’t all that much of a concept, though” (lol). That’s why I’d first start with an album that we had already made, and then take it somewhere different. To somewhere where (I can find) interesting elements.
―― So you’ll be taking No.0 somewhere different.
I: Yeah. I’ve been thinking that I want to do something interesting. We have 2 guitarists, a vocalist, and a drummer and a bassist. And I’m wondering if we can do something interesting with that structure, the way the sounds overlap and so on. Something like a slightly different kind of band sound than our usual. Whether or not that’s possible, I’m still figuring it out.
―― Are you talking about (looking for) something that is yet unknown from within your band’s style?
I: Yeah. Like, “is there still anything that’s kind of amazing, and intriguing (in here)?”
―― That’s a very interesting sense. And that’s despite that we’re in an era where bands as a structure is most certainly said to be, “Something old, a thing of the past”.
I: That’s true. But it’s also something that’s normally considered as cool; the sense that something which is cool, is cool. But if you’re too consumed by that and only that, then it’s like, getting your priorities wrong, like, you’d find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what the hell you’re doing (lol). That’s the feeling I have now. Maybe I’d go in a more electronic direction, or maybe I won’t even have guitars in (the music). Nothing has solidified yet, at all.
―― If we’re talking about Datenshi, it’s based on rock n’ roll, right?
I: Ahh. Well, because that very first riff is a riff that came from somewhere.
―― A riff from somewhere (lol).
I: You know, that’s a very simple riff, and it’s not as if I started composing the song because I thought, “Ah, this riff is cool.” It really is something that can already be found somewhere.
I think that if we do things in accordance to a demo, we won’t be able to go above and beyond. We can’t just follow what’s there
Instead, I think we need to break it down a little or take a little out and loosen up so that we will be able to do even bigger things
―― Though, it’s true that for a moment it sounded as if it bordered on becoming a parody. Like, (a parody of) T. Rex or something similar.
I: Exactly. It’s a very simple rock riff, like a representative of that. I’m really glad that it turned out like that. And from (that riff) came the image of (a song that’s) a slightly peculiar kind of pop which includes (elements which are) somewhat radical and cutting, and noisy and disquieting.
―― And that’s also a deviation from the image itself, isn’t it? This is a very extreme example, but Imai-san, have you ever thought of being in a band similar to Ramones?
I: Mm…… Well, I’ve released 2 albums with the band Lucy, though. For those, well, I ended up adding a variety of sounds into it once I started working on it, but it was originally a band which started out being tied to a simple rock n’ roll concept, you see. That’s why I got the idea that it might be interesting to go all out (with the concept). After all, there’s also beauty in being able to do nothing but that.
―― It’s the same with SCHAFT, too, right? It was tied to the industrial genre. Is no such thing in BUCK-TICK at all?
I: Yep. None. If anything, I guess you could say that these types of rock n’ roll and industrial genre music that you just mentioned, these old-school styles (of music) is not what (BUCK-TICK) goes for.
―― You don’t go for old-school styles (lol). To seriously and thoroughly pursue one particular genre is an engaging route to take too, but I suppose you’re not very interested in that?
I: Mm…………… Nah, I don’t really think about it.
I: I just go for whatever happens to catch my interest at that point in time. Because I think that’s how it naturally works. And the whole band comes together for a meeting before we start recording, but we don’t talk about things like, “This time, we’re doing this and this with that concept,” y’know? Though we always do it here.
―― Ah, in this room in Victor Studio?
I: Yeah. We talk here, and if we happen to have demo songs on hand, we’d listen to it, then we’d go for dinner…… That’s when the conversation gets serious, though (lol).
―― Yuta-san said this previously, that Imai-san’s demos are quite vague or something.
I: Recently. It depends on the song, but if it’s, let’s say, a song with a four-on-the-floor dance beat, I’d usually play the bass (first) with the root note. (Then I’d tell Yuta) something like, “I probably don’t have to say this but you’ll play something that hits hard, right?”
―― So you leave that to the band members.
I: Yeah. I think it’d still turn out to be an okay song even if I don’t go that far. Because I suppose they can already do it without needing me to fill in every single detail.
―― So, it’ll always turn into something with a BUCK-TICK flavour no matter what you do. But is this something that’s only came about recently?
I: It’s recent. It was like this with Kemonotachi no Yoru, and also, this new single. Before these, I’d put in a lot of effort to elaborate on things down to rather minute details, but it’s not quite…… Even I started to get the feeling that (being so particular) makes things kind of boring. It’s like, there were moments when I thought that maybe things would be more interesting if they were not done exclusively to my preferences. That’s why, when Yuta asks me, “What do you think about this?” I’d say, “I don’t really like it but it’s fine.”
―― Must you say that (lol)? But it seems to me that people who don’t get those notions can’t be in a band. Since there are also people who will create entire tracks on their own and think, “If I can play everything on my own I’d be my own band, though.”
I: Such people definitely don’t (belong in a band) (lol). But really, in the beginning, I was that sort of person too. I’d start composing the demo, put everything together on the computer, decide on how every melody should sound and say, “This part must not, cannot be changed.” That’s all I was like. I was really like that even up to just a few compositions ago, but gradually, I started to get moments that made me think that perhaps it would be more interesting if I loosened up a bit on that area. Also, when, for example, Anii gets a drum phrase wrong, I’d be like, “Ah, maybe sounds better that way,” and so on.
―― So, the singing changes a lot too? Compared to the demos?
I: It happens. Because Sakurai-san would mostly change what was initially sung in English into Japanese. When he does that, the vibe would definitely change, and when Sakurai-san picks up the notes in his own unique way, when he covers it the way only a vocalist can, he gets me saying, “Ah, it’s better like this.” I think, after all, a demo tape is just a demo and if we really do things in accordance to it, we won’t be able to go above and beyond. I guess we can’t just follow what’s there. Instead, I think we need to break it down a little or take a little out and loosen up so that we will be able to do even bigger things.
―― That’s also a kind of deviation, isn’t it? This might sound like a simplistic question, but why does Imai-san hate rules and lines* so much?
I: Nah, I don’t hate them. It’s more that I prefer to remove them. Because I sometimes do think that it can be interesting to be tied down by those and go along with it. That’s why I think, in the end, I guess what I’ve decided to do is to just ignore the rules.
―― What’s the best part of that, I wonder? I suppose it might be an exaggeration to compare it with the discovery of a new world, but I guess it’s the feeling of wanting to find something that has not yet been found by anyone else?
I: Ah, that, there is.
―― Or is it that you have a spirit that simply hates following a format and just wants to destroy that?
I: Ah. …… Nah, I think it’s even simpler than that. It’s just the desire to create something good, something cool. But it includes a feeling just like that “discovery of a new world” you mentioned which gets me wondering about whether I will find anything interesting. It’s vague, but that’s a thought I have all the time.
I: So I guess I do actually get that feeling. Of excavating something that has always been there and feeling like, “Ahh, I’ve found it.” It won’t be anything that I’ve come up with on my own. Rather, it’ll be something that was originally already there, and I’d occasionally manage to excavate it. Something like that. There are times when it feels like that.
―― So, you don’t come up with (music) in your own head?
I: Ah, of course, there are songs like that too. Songs which are shaped through my messing about. But also I think that there is a method of song composition which isn’t done like that; which is (done by) finding something or occasionally excavating something.
―― That’s the continuing adventure that the 5 of you are on.
I: That’s right. Also, while there are, of course, things that we need to spit out, we’re all making things, aren’t we? As creators. I think that every one of us have the mindset that we’re creating music as composers. I believe we’d stop if the thought of, “Ahh, this is troublesome, I don’t want to do it anymore” wins, but generally, we’re consciously writing music and lyrics, you know?
I: I think so. The other band members too, and Sakurai-san too. Everyone’s composing. Not that it comes naturally or automatically.
―― Even for Yuta-san and Anii-san who don’t compose music?
I: Yeah. Those two would first listen to what we give them and then they’d go into the studio and practice. Then, after they’re able to play or drum (their parts), they’d say, “What do you think about this phrase?”. And that’s when they compose. That’s how I think they keep creating. I also get the feeling that this probably wouldn’t happen if I was in a band with other people instead.
―― It’s because it’s the 5 of you that things are like this.
I: Yeah. Exactly, that.
―― It’s amazing that even now, this creative drive hasn’t stopped. When I heard that the band was going to take some time off after Locus Solus, I thought for a moment that you might start some other project or maybe Lucy would make a comeback.
I: Ahー, I didn’t think about that. Or rather, I didn’t actually consider taking time off at all.
―― Ah, I see. I thought maybe you got yourself refreshed in some way.
I: Nope…… Not really. Not in particular.
―― It’s just that when I consider the simplicity of Datenshi’s riffs, I thought, maybe, at the very least, darkness and weightiness isn’t what you seek now, is it? Less is better.
I: Ah, yeah. That’s right. That isn’t rock or anything close to rock, but (if we were to classify it) it’s more towards pop. I think I paid more attention to music that classify as pop songs (when composing), and even the lyrics too, they have a lightness unique to Sakurai-san. In the sense that I think that’s the sort of thing that he managed to put into them.
―― By the way, I heard that Sakurai-san was pretty depressed last year, though.
I: Ahh. Well…… There was a period when I thought that he kept silent for the longest time, though. But, well, not particularly. Around him, we just…… let him be.
―― Right (lol). But it indeed does sound like there’s a strong pop flavour in the song too. Especially at parts like the “Ah ha”.
I: Yes. Exactly.
―― Considering the melody of Luna Park too, can we say that “pop” is a hint of what your next release will sound like?
I: Well, I suppose. Yes. I believe we can deliver something really interesting.
* The loan word “レール” (rail) was used rather than line but I used line because it doesn’t quite make sense in English to say “rules and rails”.
Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
I guess, maybe I felt a sense of liberation within myself when I composed Luna Park?
It was a little before this, but I suppose I wanted to compose something that felt far out
―― Now, it’s just before the show at Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium (note: this interview was held on 26 December), but to start, tell us about the response you’ve had so far for this THE DAY IN QUESTION tour.
H: It’s our year-end live show that we’ve consistently held for 20 years, even as a tour too. It’s something we’ve been doing consistently so I think we’ve been able to make it unique to this year too.
―― Rather than simply being chock full of nostalgic songs, I was left with a middle era impression. Or rather, that there were a lot of songs from your BMG Funhouse* days.
H: It wasn’t intentional but that’s certainly true. When we band members picked the songs, lined up our choices and then sorted them out, that’s how it turned out. In the beginning…… I think it was probably Yuta who suggested that we start with Muma－The Nightmare. He said, “We’ve never done that before so don’t you think it would be interesting?” We then made our selection based on that and this is sort of the kind of setlist we settled on.
―― What songs did Hoshino-san request for?
H: None in particular (lol). But Dokudanjou Beauty -R.I.P.- wasn’t part of the initial song selection, so I guess I suggested that. Also, I wanted to perform Snow white but Yuta also brought that up so it’s not as if I made any particular appeal for it (lol).
―― Even though it’s Hoshino-san’s song (lol). How was the year 2019 for you?
H: Well, it wasn’t a year when we were constantly on the move due to live shows, so it was sort of a year when our flow got switched up. In the first half, there were a few rescheduled shows we had to do, but after we were done with Locus Solus no Kemonotachi at Makuhari, it felt like a grand closure to the flow which we kept up until then. It had the impression of, “Alright, off to whatever’s next.” But, well, going on such a trajectory is something that we’ve imagined and scheduled since some years ago, right?
―― So, in other words, it was a year of actively working on production.
H: Well, I can’t really say that either (lol). 2 songs were presented for the single this time around, but both of them were songs which had been sleeping in my PC (lol). We decided for Datenshi to be the single so we were looking for a song which would couple well, and we thought that this one was suitable.
―― Do you have a lot of those stock music?
H: Nope (lol). Though I’ve got some riffs and bits and pieces of stuff in there.
―― Well, then what kind of impression did Datenshi leave on you?
H: I guess it gave off a bit of a new wave vibe. It’s not exactly pumping rock music but neither is it light. That part is what reminds me of new wave. Also, it doesn’t feel as if it’s being filled up (with sounds), but there’s a stronger nuance that (if there was just a little less) it would break apart.
―― Imai-san used the word “deviant” (to describe it). In the sense that this song excludes bass lines where one would expect it.
―― I suppose that means he’s looking for intrigue that cannot be found by following (music) theory but have you heard about anything like this prior to recording?
H: He didn’t say anything in particular when we were previewing the demos, but maybe that topic came up while we were having drinks after that? In No.0, both the music and the worldview were built rigidly and it was a work that we can no longer add anything more to, so he wanted to do something a little more broken down next…… At least, I think that’s what he said. Probably. I can’t really remember (lol).
―― Why’s your memory fuzzy (lol).
H: Because we were drinking (lol). But because of that, this time around, we pulled back a little on the guitar bits too where we would normally go rugged on the riffs.
H: For example, during the interval, we raised the guitar bits up higher than usual around the middle to create a spaced out feeling and things like that. I think that these particularities which we applied in our production will only increase as we move towards the next album. Besides, Imai-san bought a weird effector and has been messing around with it too (lol).
―― Do you think that doing this will bring about something like a change within the band?
H: I do think so. I’m guessing that if we keep each of these areas in mind, we’ll be able to apply this to different songs so this might affect the album a lot. Whatever it is, we’re headed in that direction. I think it’s going to feel like everyone’s in step with each other.
―― But there’s also a completely unbreakable Hide melody in contrast to that, like in Luna Park.
H: You brought up the melody, but we didn’t have plans to include that song in the album, to begin with, because it was just a song that we thought would work well as a coupling. As something which matched Datenshi.
―― Ah, so it was a song that you put out for the sake of balance.
H: Yeah. I guess, maybe I felt a sense of liberation within myself when I composed Luna Park? It was a little before this, but I suppose I wanted to compose something that felt far out.
―― I see.
H: But before I put this song out, I had another that I had made a demo of up to its interlude, and I thought of going with that one but it felt too mid-tempo, you know? I figured that it wouldn’t match well as a coupling song so I pulled back on it and then brought Luna Park which had been sleeping in my PC.
―― Ah, you made that decision to reel it back yourself?
H: If I wasn’t told, I think it might’ve just gone out as it is (lol).
―― It’s just a balancer after all (lol).
H: But isn’t it of course that we want to do things well as a band? Although, we do intend to release a bigger variety of songs on the album.
―― But it’s true that in BUCK-TICK, you don’t eliminate songs or remove (ideas) from your heads just because it’s “wrong”. You basically give it a try anyway.
H: You’re right. We don’t really…… do that, I think. Everyone thinks rather positively with the notion that it’ll probably get better when we try it out. So the responsibility placed on me is greater in that sense, but all I’ve ever experienced is the result of my songs turning out better than I expected. That’s why no one denies (any ideas). (There’s this sense that) if we do it as a band, it’ll probably turn into something interesting.
―― So, that’s why if you think that it doesn’t work, you’ll pull the idea back yourself.
H: Yes, exactly. Also, I’ve recently been around Cube-kun (Cube Juice) and Yoko-chan (Yokoyama Kazutoshi) and YOW-ROW-kun (GARI). So there are now more people around me who do manipulator work for us. Each of their musical flavour is different, so we don’t really get the same things from them, and there’s also a part of me that looks forward to the changes (to the songs) which come from them. There’s a lot of that chemistry these days.
―― Are you saying that in other words, you’d throw them something that will serve as a sort of base and they’ll do a bit of arrangement with it, put in the music and return it to you, following which you’d get inspired by it and that will give shape to the song?
H: That’s right. I guess you could say that’s the recent trend. It’s something I really look forward to.
―― Both of these two songs involved Cube Juice, right?
H: Yeah, it just so happens. Perhaps it was Cube-kun who wanted songs, though.
―― I see. This special issue will be published in 2020, but I’m getting the feeling that you more or less know your direction for this (2020) year.
H: Well, there’s also a large possibility that there’ll be a 180-degree change, though (lol).
―― Hahahahaha. But you’ll be doing lots of things this year, right?
H: Yeah. We plan to produce the album and go on tours too. I think it’d be nice if we could announce that at Yoyogi, though (note: they announced the album’s projected summer release and a national hall tour in autumn).
―― Definitely. And in your upcoming 3rd tribute album, it’s given me the impression that you’ve gathered an even more unique and interesting lineup than ever before.
H: You’re right. It’s the most varied one we’ve had so far, isn’t it? There are quite a few female artists too, so that will probably bring about an impression unlike anything thus far. And there’s a wide range of genres too.
When I see the smiling or crying faces of our audience from the stage, I get reminded that this is why I do music
I get to see that this presence that is BUCK-TICK is so sought after by everyone
―― Are there any memorable songs for you?
H: Ringo-san’s Uta is amazing, isn’t it? People won’t normally go with such an approach; singing (our songs) in English and arranging it like that. It surprised me. Also, Fujimaki-san’s** song was nice too.
―― This also came up in my conversation with Imai-san too (note: the interview published in the February issue of Ongaku to Hito), but he said that there are 2 Fujimaki-san’s in this tribute album (lol).
H: Aah (lol). That’s true. Fujimaki-kun’s*** song was nice too, of course, but I’m talking about Fujimaki-san** who did Konayuki (lol). It’s only on occasion, but we meet for soccer so I thought I’d talk to him about this next time, but it feels as if the strength of that song comes through because he was singing while playing the guitar. I believe it’s something that one can’t do unless they have confidence in performing with that style.
―― This is an insight coming from BUCK-TICK’s acoustic master, huh (lol).
H: I thought it was really good. All the other participants carried it out in such unique ways and we wanted them to make the songs their way, so I’d say the album turned out really well. Listening to this made me feel once again that the merits of our band’s songs really stood out too.
―― That’s true. And you’ve also commenced recording work for your album.
H: Early, isn’t it? 2020 is an Olympic year too.
―― Are you going to watch the Olympics? (Lol).
H: I don’t think I can (lol). I’d assume that there’ll be a lot of people around during that period and I won’t be able to get around much, so I’d probably hole myself up and work in the basement. I think we might be going on tour after that too.
―― You won’t be able to go to the southern islands too.
H: I won’t be able to during that period, so I guess I’ll go after recording is done (lol).
―― You’re going? (Lol) But I believe you’re thinking of making this another solid year of activities for BUCK-TICK, right?
H: Yeah, for the second half.
―― I wondered if all of the band members might start getting the desire to do something that is different than the vibe they’d get from being in a band following the success of creating an album with as high a level of completion as No.0, but I’m getting the feeling that this isn’t the case.
H: Well, I don’t know about that. I would suppose that each of us has different thoughts, although it is true after all that we’d feel a sense of accomplishment after producing No.0 and performing our live shows. But I don’t think that this would be reason enough for us to feel like we want to try something outside of BUCK-TICK?
―― I do wonder why that is.
H: Hmmm, I wonder why. Based on what I personally feel, that (lack of desire for something else) is the reason why we’ve been performing live shows like THE DAY IN QUESTION for 20 years, and when I see the smiling or crying faces of our audience from the stage, I get reminded that this is why I do music. That is, in the past, whether we’re writing music or performing shows, it was mostly for ourselves. We would mostly do whatever we wanted to do at that point in time, so I suppose we were pretty egoistical, though. But seeing the audiences’ faces, realising that this presence that is BUCK-TICK is so sought after by everyone makes me want to share that space more and enjoy it with them.
―― I see.
H: My awareness of the band might’ve been slightly different in the past than now, but I will never ever get tired of this.
―― Those are strong words. I suppose we can say that whatever you’ve built up with the fans has become a strong motivation for you.
H: Yes, yes, exactly. Personally, I guess I want to see the faces of people who come and watch us. I’ve somehow come to feel that way, you know. Like, “Ah, I want to see them again. That was fun.” I feel that this is the kind of relationship that we have right now.
―― That’s a great story.
H: And that’s the moving tale that I’ve come up with (lol).
―― Don’t be shy, now (lol). Well then, I guess it looks like there won’t be a Hoshino Hidehiko solo anytime soon.
H: There’s no chance of that anymore.
―― Y-you made a vow (lol).
H: I didn’t, right? Surely (lol). I don’t feel any motivation towards that. And I think that’s the same for everyone now.
―― Indeed. I can feel that the unifying force within this band of 5 has grown even stronger after No.0. Like a strengthened resolve that you 5 will make things work no matter what happens.
H: That sums it all up. I don’t think there’s anything else aside from this, and I guess this alone is enough to keep us all filled. I suppose it’s important to direct our energies outwards too, but I’m getting a little old for that, you know. Didn’t both Sakurai-san and I fall ill in 2019? When I think about that, I feel that I’d rather give my all to working on what we already have and do the best I can. After all, I don’t know when I won’t be able to play as BUCK-TICK ever again.
―― I assume there’s a sort of a flipside to that.
H: There is. Well, it would be great if I had the energy to direct outwards too, though. Those who will leave us will leave us anyway (lol), but right now, I want to make sure that I do right by the band.
―― I can understand that. No one knows how long it can go on for, and that’s why you’re now exuding the desire to do whatever you can now while you can.
H: I think that’s precisely how everyone feels now. I’m not looking to confirm that this feeling exists, but I can sort of sense that everyone probably has that on their minds. The kind of sense you get from knowing each other for years (lol).
* BUCK-TICK was signed to BMG Japan between 2000 and 2010, which changed its name in 2009 to Ariola Japan. BMG Funhouse is a subsidiary of BMG Japan.
** Referring to Ryota Fujimaki who covered Just One More Kiss. He covered Konayuki (粉雪) with ToshI (X Japan) in December 2019’s edition of FNS Music Festival. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nipXhWb_Gs
*** Referring to Maki Fujii of minus(-), Soft Ballet. He worked on the cover of Keijijou Ryuusei with Chiai Fujikawa.
Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
I personally feel that there’s still a lot more we can do when it comes to creating music among the five of us
This feeling that there is still a lot we can show off is very much alive in me
―― We’ll start by looking back on last year. So, Locus Solus no Kemonotachi happened in the first half.
Y: Yes. Locus Solus wasn’t an album tour and neither was it our usual THE DAY IN QUESTION, so we started by coming up with a different title before we brainstormed. We also got to perform our new songs, so I think it was a great show.
―― There were some firsts too, weren’t there? Like performing your encore set at the centre stage, and that unbelievable pro-wrestling style entrance.
Y: Pro-wrestling style entrance (lol). That stage extension was pretty long, wasn’t it? And playing in the middle with everyone was fun too. Gathering there and squeezing together, we were even closer to each other than we’d usually be in our rehearsal studio (lol). We really haven’t performed together in such a small space in decades, so it was somehow nice in a way.
―― That space was probably as small as the studio you used in your early days, right? Do you remember those days?
Y: Ahー, Koenji’s…… I wonder if it’s still there? PAL Studio*. But I also think it’d be nice if we could do new things like these going forward.
―― Though, I’d expect that it can be stressful to do something for the first time or challenge new things.
Y: Yeah, well, but I want to do more of what we’re capable of. Because even I can feel that there’s still a lot that the five of us can do together, and that our live performances are only getting better and better. That’s why I want us to do more and more together.
―― You’ve come to realise that for yourself and can proudly say it here too. This is nice.
Y: After all, we’ve come all this way without stopping. Especially considering that I started out having only played bass for a year or two by the time we debuted. Keeping at it, I more or less grew to understand how to play well, but that’s not the focus of what I’m saying. Now, when the five of us come together and make music, I can distinctly feel that we’ve gotten good. That’s why I feel that we’ll only get even better. Yeah…… Although, it certainly is weird for me to say that myself (lol).
―― No, that’s a good thing. Doesn’t it often happen that it becomes difficult to see how else you can grow after doing the same thing for so many years? And instead, (rather than that,) you’d be thinking about your physical limitations first.
Y: No, well, it’s because I personally feel that there’s still a lot more we can do, you know? In terms of expressing something or creating music with the five of us involved. This feeling that we still have a lot we can show off to the people who are always waiting for us is very much alive in me.
―― You’re putting emphasis on “the five of us”, aren’t you?
Y: Yes. Isn’t BUCK-TICK made up of five people anyway? (Lol). Of course, we do have the support of our staff, but it’s always been the five of us going through all sorts of experiences together. The laughs…… Well, there weren’t many tears, but there were a lot of fun times. Even during our tours or rehearsals, we still get that same feeling when the sounds made by the five of us come together for the very first time. It’s not (the kind of feeling that) gets us grinning, but there’s a comfortable tension.
―― Is it something similar to the moment when high school students enter a studio and sound their instruments?
Y: Yeah. (It happens whenever) we do something together or play together. Would it be weird to say that this in itself brings me joy? I really enjoy it. I can’t quite explain it well, though.
―― It’s amazing that this hasn’t turned into a monotonous routine to you. Such feelings don’t last that long between a married couple, for example.
Y: As you’d expect, it’s because our composer Imai-kun has a lot to offer. And usually, there’d be things that I have to study up on too. That’s why, although it might be dependent on the song, the thought that something is a bore has never crossed my mind.
―― So, for this single’s Datenshi, what did you think of it when it first came up?
Y: A rock-flavoured song. In the demo tape stage, Imai-kun filled in the vocals so that (version) had quite a strong rock-flavour to it. And I thought it’d turn into something pretty good once Acchan sings it.
―― I heard that the initial candidate for the single was something different.
Y: Yes. It’s a slightly milder song, but when it came to deciding which we should release first, we went with Datenshi. Well, although Hide wrote a song too, (we went with this decision because this song is one where) Imai-kun wrote the music while Acchan wrote the lyrics. I believe, after all, that’s the image which the songwriter and the lyricist have when they think about what it is they want to put out at this point in time. So, I suppose in a way, (we’re making the decisions) according to that.
―― By the way, how do you see Imai-san as a composer?
―― Vague (lol).
Y: He always says, “Like this,” but he’s only got a skeleton of things like the bassline done, so when I change a certain part some way I like, he’d say, “Okay, okay.” He doesn’t really push for things to be done according to the demo he made himself. Maybe rather than that, it’s more about (composing) it together and expanding it to him. That’s why I say he’s vague.
―― I see. I haven’t asked everyone but the original demo is rather different than what goes on air, right?
Y: Exactly. Basically, the impression it leaves is different. After all, the bass is the part which gets recorded first, so with every song, I’m always wondering, “How will this song end up sounding?” This single’s Luna Park was (initially) completely different too. In the beginning, it was a British-sounding demo tape. Once the vocals and music were added in, the image of the song changed a lot and brightened up a lot.
―― Ahh, that electropop programming wasn’t there in the beginning, was it?
Y: It wasn’t there at the start. I think Hide probably did that through a manipulator’s mastery, but I really thought that it became very pop.
―― Does such a thing often happen?
Y: Yeah. It’s also because Imai-kun would steadily make changes along the way. Even though he’s the one making the demo tapes, he’d more often than not add in something completely different midway. It might sound strange when I say it like this, but this is why it feels as if the song gains its soul the very moment Acchan sings it. At that moment, I’d get that sense of “…… Ohh!”
―― I’ve got a weird question, but, have you ever thought, “What an awesome band I’m in”?
Y: Mn! That’s…… Nope, I respect them, but “awesome” has never crossed my mind.
―― But I think that a tag team like Imai-san and Sakurai-san isn’t something that can be found in just any other band, and there’s really something quite miraculous about it.
Y: Hmm. But we’ve been together since we were in high school, and I was even their junior too (lol). I don’t really think about those things. From then until now, nothing has changed. For example, back in high school, Imai-kun would tell me, “I’ve got this sorta music, I’ve got that sorta record,” and he’d let me listen to indies stuff that could only be procured in Tokyo in those days. I guess you could say that’s something which still goes on even now. It feels as if he’s a~lways telling me, “I’ve got something good.”
―― And that’s something which still interests Yuta-san even now.
Y: That’s right. And I’d be like, “Whoa, that’s amazing!” That’s why things haven’t really changed between then and now.
―― Though, now, I can’t quite imagine what Imai-san was like in his high school days.
Y: He was someone who didn’t talk much. Although, I guess all of us are the same in terms of not talking much. Hide isn’t the type to be all loud and rowdy anyway, and Acchan is even quieter than either of them.
―― When the five of you came together as a band, did a chemical reaction occur right off the bat?
Y: That’s right. Good vibes. Well, that was after we moved to Tokyo, though. After Acchan became our vocalist, the vibe changed. Ever since then, we’ve been performing with that same vibe, so I guess that’s why I enjoy it.
―― But that feeling that you’re getting better and better, I suppose that’s probably something that everyone feels too.
Y: Yes. Probably. We won’t say it out loud, though. But I think that those who’ve been watching us all this while probably think so too. Our band has definitely become better than we were before, and we want to be even better. Because we have so many people supporting us and coming to our shows, it makes us want to make it even more powerful and have everyone enjoy themselves even more.
―― I get this feeling that the ‘circus’ image is what you’ve firmly settled on in recent years.
Y: Kind of like a show; something that entertains, right? But that’s why it’s not simply about getting the audience into it. I guess as artists, we have a lot of songs and there are many different approaches (we can choose from), but in the end, (the response) we want to hear in the end is, “That was fun.” And also, things like, “That got me thinking.” I can’t really express it well in words, though.
―― Because it’s not just about entertainment that brings a smile, right? In the end, you want everyone to truly enjoy this world (of yours).
Y: Exactly. After all, we five members definitely have this desire to entertain.
If I was asked, ‘how far can you go?’ some decades ago, I’d be able to respond with ‘forever’ but
The older we get, the more it makes us think about things…… But I’d like to keep doing this for as long as I can
―― And among everyone, the one who smiles the most during shows is Yuta-san.
Y: That’s right. Because I think that if you feel great during the performance, you should feel free to smile. I think everyone naturally shows what they personally feel. Of course, I can’t laugh frivolously when it’s a surreal tune, though (lol). That’ll just make me a nuisance, so I’ll try to interpret it in my own way.
―― I think Yuta-san who has a wide range of connections across various genres and has done a serialised publication in support of Hanshin** has been actively doing things that are uncharacteristic of BUCK-TICK’s image.
Y: No, no, I’m actively being asked to do all of this (lol). Editor-in-chief Kanemitsu*** is making me do this. Although, I’m also (thinking, I’ll do it) to at least represent BUCK-TICK.
―― “At least”, you say (lol). But BUCK-TICK is completely detached, and you don’t have any obvious followers too. That’s why I feel this makes Yuta-san’s existence a cheerful window (into the band).
Y: Ahh~. If you say that, you’re (heaping) responsibility (onto me).
―― It’ll be fine since you have this smile of yours. It looks contrived anyway if everyone (in the band) has the kind of face that makes it feel you’re all in the demon world.
Y: Ahh, well, we had made those faces when we debuted. Glaring as if saying, “No laughing at us, don’t take us lightly!” But I think as we went along, we began to find our own style that is unique to us.
―― When did that start to change?
Y: Probably just a little bit before 2000. It just gradually changed within us. Maybe it was around the time of “ONE LIFE～”, just as we entered our Ariola (era). It’s not as if there was any particular event which made us change, but we got the sense that we can do what we want to do. That we should have more fun doing this.
―― Would you say that things became easier?
Y: Probably. Rather than easier, you could say we began to feel that we can express (what we want to) without creating (that sort of impression). Although, we don’t really do that much anymore anyway.
―― That’s true. When I think of the past, I get this image that makes it seem like no one (in the band) eats or uses the bathroom at all.
Y: …… If we don’t eat, we’ll die (lol).
―― At the very least, I couldn’t imagine you living a normal life at all.
Y: Ahh, we’re normal, though, right? Well, if you compare (us) with normal bands, there are those who (make their hair stand up) like this too, and there are also those who are always silent (lol). But I think that’s simply because a lot of us are shy and quiet people.
―― But can shy and quiet people endure on that stage?
Y: Mm, it feels like a switch gets turned on and I think this goes for us too, though. Although, it’s not as if we’d be in the wings going, “Let’s do this!” or, “Yeay!” and all that.
―― Hahaha. If you did, that’d be scary.
Y: We’re relaxed, though. But the moment we go up on stage, everyone suddenly snaps into gear with a “Bang!” I think that’s how it is for all 5 of us. Because this has already become the norm for us.
―― And you’ve been doing this for more than 30 years. It’s stunning.
Y: Mm… But you could say our 30th anniversary was more like a checkpoint. Like, it’s something that we’ll definitely get to as long as we keep at it. That’s why we’ve been thinking about what’s next and what comes after that since the year of our 30th anniversary. It’s quite common, isn’t it? Situations where a band’s members’ emotions which hit a climax on their anniversary and then start to wane after that, ending up with them doing nothing.
―― The typical anniversary waning (lol).
Y: Exactly. I’m also trying to avoid that personally. Which is why we did Locus Solus and also held the DAY IN QUESTION tour last year, and I thought that it was great that we didn’t slacken off. It’s like the feeling that if we keep this up, we’ll be able to carry these feelings over into the new year.
―― Although…… You only released one single in 2019, didn’t you?
Y: Oh, that’s right. It’s true. That’s why I’m thinking that in 2020, I want to first make our album something great and then go all around Japan to where fans are waiting for us. We didn’t do that many shows last year anyway. And besides, I believe it’s such a joy (for fans) when the band comes to the city where you live, isn’t it?
―― How’s the current stage of production?
Y: We’re at the stage where… our manager is asking us to please save up songs for the album.
Y: Imai-kun says things like, “They’re always on my mind.” Although, we always ask, “Where?” Like, are they in his Mac, or are they not in there yet…… I’ve no clue about that (lol).
―― I’ll be looking forward to your summer album. Also, I assume this is something that you’d have been asked numerous times in recent years, but do you think about how long you can do this and how far you can go?
Y: I don’t know, though. …… But if I was asked something like this some decades ago I’d be able to respond with ‘forever’, but you know, the older we get, the more it makes us think about things, so although I want to say forever, I also know that it’ll all end if (I) die after all. But I’d like to keep doing this for as long as I can.
―― Is it scary to think about the end?
Y: Mm, well, it’s almost as good as asking, “Are you afraid of death?”, isn’t it? But (if we’re afraid of the end), the band might end up becoming strained and all that, you know. Yet, like I said earlier, I know there’s still more to come going forward, so as long as I still feel like that, I want to keep going on.
―― Do you have an ideal ending?
Y: Ideal? ……… Uh…… I guess, it’s to end without disbanding.
―― Disband…… Are you going to do that now?!
Y: It gets people thinking, “…… What?” Doesn’t it? (Lol).
―― More like, “What the hell are you saying?”
Y: Or rather, “Huh, why make such an announcement when you could’ve just kept quiet?” For sure (lol).
* PAL Music Studio in Koenji, Shinjuku.
** Hanshin Tigers; baseball team.
*** The interviewer.
Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
No matter what type of song we play, it’s always being described as uniquely a BUCK-TICK song
But this is because of the honest work that the band members have put in throughout the years without growing conceited
―― The year-end THE DAY IN QUESTION has concluded. How was it, holding your final at Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium for the first time?
T: Shall I make this clear? It was the first time in a while that I messed up so much. Even I was shocked. Like, “Whoa! I’m so tense!”
―― Was that because it was your first time performing there?
T: Yeah. That venue was a first for us, and the pressure from the audience was incredible too.
―― Because the ones right at the back were pretty far away from the stage, weren’t they?
T: I’d guess it was difficult for them to see us too. The acoustics too, it’s pretty tough (to get right) since (the venue) was long sideways. But the condition of Acchan’s voice sounded great, didn’t it? I could tell with the in-ear monitors on. It’s the usual balance, but when he started singing, he could push his voice pretty low. In fact, when he did that, I thought, “Oh, he’s doing well”.
―― What concept did you have in mind when you were selecting the songs for the setlist?
T: This time, for me, I picked Aku no Hana and Jonathan Jet-Coaster. I figured we should play those kinds of fast-tempo songs while I still can (lol).
―― As a drummer, you mean?
T: Yeah. We put them into the setlist and I’ll practice to confirm that I can still perform them. When you watch old footage of songs like Aku no Hana, I didn’t use click tracks for any of the songs back then so the tempo was fast.
―― Now you’d use click tracks no matter the song, right?
T: The only exception would be Speed. Because it seems as if Imai would get uncomfortable if I drum that song too proper. For Aku no Hana’s final outro too, if I drum according to the click track, we’d go out of sync. That’s why I’d listen to Imai’s guitar and drum just for that last part. The nuances from those days have been ingrained into both of our bodies.
―― I see. But that was a great live show.
T: It was, wasn’t it? Despite my messing up (lol).
―― You seemed to be the liveliest one at the after-party too (lol).
T: I don’t really remember it, though. It appeared that we drank until 10 a.m. (lol). I get an adrenaline rush from performing live, so when it’s over and it’s all been released, I’d look like an idiot. And besides, since it’s the year-end, there’s an added sense of closure too (lol).
―― So how was the year 2019 for you?
T: There weren’t many live shows, but I’ve more or less practised consistently. I had my own solo activities too, and we started recording after September, so I didn’t really have time to waste. That in itself was good.
―― For drummers, you won’t be able to play well unless you drum every day, right?
T: Yeah. I mentioned this before in my autobiography too, but in the past, there was a period of time when the band was being suspended and we had no activities. Plus I couldn’t go out because there were tons of paparazzi so I didn’t get to drum for about half a year and (my drumming ability) ended up declining badly. A small percentage of geniuses may be fine even if they didn’t drum every day, but for someone like me, an average drummer, I have to work hard to make sure that this doesn’t happen. I’d ask for advice too. Kamiryou-kun (Kamiryou Wataru*) taught me some and that’s when I changed my drumming style to this present one.
―― Considering that you’re the senior bowing your head to a junior to ask for direction, doesn’t pride get in the way?
T: Not at all. Because to ask may be a moment’s shame, but not to ask and to remain ignorant is an everlasting shame. There’s also Bunta from TOTALFAT who’s about 30 years my junior but he bangs out ninelets without a problem, so I asked him to teach me with the V-Drums I have at home. I just stared and watched his drumming form (lol). Basically, if I’d like to take it in if I can absorb it.
―― That kind of effort is crucial, isn’t it?
T: That’s how it is for us all in this band. Although there are aliens like Imai too (lol).
―― Hahahaha. Well, then what did you think of your new song, Datenshi when you first heard it?
T: When I heard the initial demo, I thought that it sounded very Western. With the simple beat. But while listening to it, it felt as if there was something weird about it.
―― Because the bass was put in areas where it normally wouldn’t be, and at times it’d be removed.
T: I thought that approach was interesting. Although such a hollow feeling could turn out badly if there wasn’t a good (music) sense behind it, Imai can do it just fine, so it’s alright. Once again, this round’s demo for Datenshi made me think, “This guy definitely ain’t no regular person.” The music may sound empty but impactful phrases will hit you.
―― And that beat is very fresh, isn’t it?
T: For me, as a drummer, it was great. Luna Park was actually more difficult. It’s subtle, so I had to use a snare which was made in 1910. And made of real leather too.
―― A vintage you own.
T: In the past, I used it for Tight Rope and I broke it on the first hit. Since it’s made of real leather, it doesn’t last too long before it breaks. So I had to drum gingerly, very carefully (lol).
―― Did you get the impression that Imai-san was doing something new with Datenshi?
T: Rather than that, Imai’s demo sounded like a Western song in the first place so I couldn’t really tell (lol). (It was only after) Acchan sang, then I got the sense of, “So that’s how it goes. It got better.”
―― I see.
T: There’s a good balance. We even recorded 3 songs this time though; Datenshi, another nice mid-tempo song, and Luna Park. So it’s good because we have Hide’s songs too. Age-wise he’s younger (than Imai), so there were no clashes nor any obstinacy (with regards to switching his song for Imai’s Datenshi). I do wonder if things would be different if Hide and Imai were classmates, though. But (based on) his character, he isn’t the type to be driven by ego anyway.
―― That’s true. I guess you could say that he’s suited to writing songs for the band.
T: You see, no matter what type of song we play, it’s always being described as uniquely a BUCK-TICK song, but this is because of the honest work that the band members have put in throughout the years without growing conceited. If not for that, I don’t believe we could have found ourselves here.
―― What does Yagami-san personally think is the reason that you have been able to keep going without growing conceited?
T: Because those around us don’t let us (lol). If we get cocky** we’d get smacked.
―― So, if you stick your nose up too high, they’ll break it*** (lol).
T: I think there was a time when I was on the verge of becoming like that, though. But when I was in my slump, I could feel the members’ feelings and how they put up with me and supported me, so after that experience, there was no way I could become conceited. In my case, there was a period when a lot of things were going on in my private life and that dealt a huge blow to me mentally. It wasn’t that I was lacking in physical strength or anything, but I was mentally worthless. I think it must’ve been really tough for all those who stuck by me during those times.
―― In other words, you were unable to have a positive outlook about the band.
T: Yeah, I couldn’t. I had no motivation, I wasn’t at all happy with the way I drummed, and I even felt that it might be better if I wasn’t a part of the band. For real, from my early to mid-40s, I was afraid of being on stage. I was really terrified.
―― So this was around the time of Mona Lisa OVERDRIVE?
T: Exactly. It was awful back then. I kept thinking maybe it was time for me to quit, that it was a good time for me to go. Our manager and Yuta kept nagging (lol) at me for that, so I started going to the gym, changed my form, changed my drum sticks too. I tried out all sorts of things. Whatever I could easily do in my 20s and 30s I could no longer after I turned 40. It even got me feeling that maybe bad years^ really do exist (lol).
―― But you were able to shake it off and reset your emotions.
T: Yeah. The members waited for me with the feeling that (the band) can’t do it unless it’s me, so those bitter thoughts gradually went away. I guess it’s the same with age. As in, since we’re nearing the end, there’s no point in grumbling about the trivial things (lol).
I’m turning 58 this year, so every single moment, be it our live shows or our recording sessions, becomes precious
I’d only think about what I have to do to keep playing in the band, what should I do to bring joy
―― Come to think of it, I noticed that your drum solo, too, has gradually changed.
T: That’s right. I believe anyone can tell if they look back on our film releases or something, but in the past, I wouldn’t hit the cymbals with my bare hands. Because, you see, I felt that it’s tacky if I were to do exactly what John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) did. In a sort of not-daring-to-do-it-because-I-like-it sense. But I thought about it, and I came to feel that since I was influenced by him, it’s probably better to show (that influence). Like, if I was the audience, I think I would prefer to see me do it as it is instead of accommodating to my strange particularities. And that’s why I do it with this present style that I have. Besides, it’s probably weird for me to close things off without showing (that influence) at all.
―― Similarly, I’m also getting the feeling that all 5 members of your band can sense somewhere that the end is nigh and when everyone performs with that awareness, your bond grows stronger, doesn’t it?
T: That’s bound to happen when we grow old (lol). My father passed away at the age of 70 and taking that into consideration, I’m turning 58 this year, so that means that I’ve only got 12 years left. When I count backwards like this, every single moment, be it our live shows or our recording sessions, becomes precious. And rather than fretting about the details, I’d only think about what I have to do to keep playing in the band, what should I show (our audience), what should I do to bring joy.
―― Although Sakurai-san had a slightly different view of it, he spoke about something similar with regards to age, didn’t it?
T: I think everyone thinks the same, but I think if any one of us can no longer perform, this band can’t go on anymore.
―― So, more like Led Zeppelin after all than the Who.
T: Because BUCK-TICK isn’t a business, is it? (Lol). Although, I think something similar to Zeppelin’s Coda^^, a release which sort of says, “Everyone, this is goodbye,” can be done even if any one of us isn’t around.
―― I see.
T: Because in rock bands, it’s not a matter of whether you’re good or not at singing or playing an instrument, is it? I say this a lot, but we’re the ultimate amateurs, you see. And this nuance of ours can’t be brought out any more if we’re missing even just one of our members. Look, there’s no other guitar player like Imai anywhere else, is there?
―― I don’t suppose so (lol).
T: They say this about him often, don’t they? Even though Imai actually belongs in the “poor” category of guitar players, don’t you wonder why people call him a genius? It’s because he’s one of a kind. It’s because he has a uniqueness that cannot be replicated by anyone.
―― Because this is the only place where that uniqueness comes into play.
T: There are loads of people who can play in time with the metronome properly. But (he’s the one who goes), timing? What’s that? (Lol). And that’s BUCK-TICK’s groove. I mentioned it earlier, didn’t I? That nuance in Speed and Aku no Hana isn’t something that can be produced if it isn’t Imai and these band members playing it. This is something that I’ve only understood now. I’m glad I didn’t quit (lol).
―― Please say this to all the distressed band members (lol).
T: You’re prohibited against quitting your band! (Lol). Anyway, the punk genre has always been a gathering of people who aren’t good at anything from the very beginning. So if you keep at it, that’ll become your unique characteristic!
―― Compelling (lol).
T: It doesn’t only apply to bands, but to everything too, right? Theory is boring anyway.
―― Well, these days, the main platform (for music) to be listened to is YouTube or some sort of subscription service, so the theory is that you won’t be able to sell well unless your intro before the song is short and you cut out the guitar solo.
T: Even if that were true, it then begs the question of, “You may sell well, but are you having fun doing that?”
T: You may call it a gut feeling, but I think that no matter what you’re doing, what matters the most is your motivation, your complex, and who you’re doing it with. Because that’s how it is for us. We wanted to do this with these 5 people even though we were criticised mercilessly when we first debuted. (It also worked out) because the band members waited for me even when I wasn’t sure if I could do it any more. And thanks to that, I learnt humility and didn’t become conceited.
―― That’s true. When I listened to the tribute album, it was clear that (BUCK-TICK is) band unlike any other. Including what you’ve just said.
T: For me, I genuinely want (the participating artists) to take apart (our songs). I’m already grateful for their participation in the first place, but if I were to say what I really desire, it’s for them to destroy it all and turn it into a form of contradictory respect. Because that will become references for us. You see, back in the day, when we did karaoke, we didn’t use recorded playbacks. Instead, we had people playing (the music). Studio musicians would be playing the drums. I’d listen to those nuances and steal from them instead (lol).
―― And that’s humility, isn’t it? Because you won’t deny (their versions) and say that it’s wrong.
T: On the contrary, isn’t it one way to learn and realise that there’s another way to play something too? This is the style that BUCK-TICK’s music production has developed, so I felt that it’d be weird if there’s no quirkiness in this band’s drummer after all.
―― What does Yagami-san want to do in BUCK-TICK in future? Or, what would you like the band to become?
T: I want us to become sharp old men.
―― Sharp old men (lol).
T: The type who gets noticed by the youngins (lol). I want people to say, “They’re amazing,” even though we’re old men.
―― And for that to happen, health comes first.
T: Come to think of it, I haven’t gone for any health checkup recently (lol).
―― Please go!
T: But I haven’t had any symptoms (of illnesses) at all, see (lol). Look, I’m even drinking until 10 in the morning.
―― That’s not the point.
T: Yeah, yeah (lol).
* Support drummer originally of GRASS VALLEY and then SOFT BALLET. Other notable associated acts he has been involved with are P-MODEL, Kikkawa Koji, cali≠gari.
** The actual phrase is “天狗になったら” (tengu ni nattara). Literally: “If (we) turn into Tengu”. Tengu are long-nosed goblins in Japanese folklore.
*** This time I used a literal translation that references the English language of “sticking one’s nose up in the air”, which is a figure of speech to describe haughty behaviour. The “break(ing)” part of the translation also alludes to the Tengu imagery from the phrase Toll used in the last line. On the whole, the phrase “鼻を折る” (hana wo oru / lit. break a nose) basically means to humble a person’s pride.
^ “厄年” (yakudoshi) loosely translates into “bad/unlucky year”. It is generally known as the ages of calamity differ according to gender; 25 and 42 for men, and 19 and 33 for women.
^^ Coda is a rarities compilation album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It is a collection of unused tracks from various sessions during Led Zeppelin’s twelve-year career. It was released in 1982, two years after the group had officially disbanded following the death of drummer John Bonham. The word coda, meaning a passage that ends a musical piece following the main body, was therefore chosen as the title. (Wikipedia)
PARADE III ～RESPECTIVE TRACKS OF BUCK-TICK～
Higuchi Yutaka (BUCK-TICK) ✕ TOSHI-LOW (BRAHMAN)
text by Ishii Eriko
photographs by Sasahara Kiyoaki (L MANAGEMENT)
For real, all the bands who stand out from the rest
possess the resolution that, “If we’re going to do this, we’ll be number one at it.”
I think that in the end, this is what truly makes a band (Higuchi)
With the utmost respect for the band known as BUCK-TICK, BRAHMAN have fed listeners an intense counterpunch with a cover done their way. Out of this comes a peculiar conversation between TOSHI-LOW, the frontman with the nickname “Oni*” and bassist Yutaka Higuchi. What brings them together despite being completely different in terms of character, generation, and the music scene they grew up in?
Although the bassline remained the same, they managed to come up with something so different
This just says that the power this band possesses is very real (Higuchi)
―― Yuta-san’s, “I want to meet TOSHI-LOW-kun,” led to the planning of this interview. Was the first time you met at 2017’s Arabaki**?
Yuta (Y): Yes.
TOSHI-LOW (TL): No…… The actual (first encounter) was about 25 years ago.
TL: You know, at Shelter***, when THE POGO’s Ryota had just started JIGHEAD*** in their early days. That was BRAHMAN’s first live show.
Y: …… Wha――at!
TL: That was the summer of 1995, so it really was BRAHMAN’s very first show. Of course, you weren’t there to see (BRAHMAN), but we were at the afterparty.
Y: ……… Whoa, that gave me goosebumps (lol). Amazing. I remember that. Ryota-kun was there.
TL: JIGHEAD went bass-less a while after that, but back then, the bassist was around, some flashy guy wearing a sun visor. That person going involved with a woman or something and a huge fight started but it was stopped with the casual, “Stop it, stop doing that.” (Lol).
Y: Hahahaha! But I can clearly recall talking to Ryota-kun. We debuted with POGO in the same period and also performed at Shinjuku Loft and so on together.
TL: I’ve thought since then that (Yuta) was such a nice guy. I think I was someone who didn’t trust anyone at the time so I was very mean to everyone I came into contact with, though. But (Yuta) was suーper nice. Let me say this first; I’m glad (for that).
Y: …… That gave me chills (lol).
―― I’m sure you knew about BUCK-TICK’s existence since your early days.
TL: Of course. Although, their early days’ JUST ONE MORE KISS and Aku no Hana, and Speed was as far as that knowledge went. But that’s because my interests drastically shifted away after that. Though, RONZI (drums) liked them a lot. I always thought that we have no connection with each other and going from that perspective to now having this bring us together makes me nervous. You see, when talk about the tribute album reached me, I even thought, “They definitely made a mistake when choosing artists, right?” (Lol).
Y: Nah, but I run a blog too, and I often receive emails but (upon the release of the news), I had a ton of comments along the lines of, “I’m so happy that BRAHMAN is on board.”
TL: Ah, thank goodness. But on our end, we really had a lot of seesawing back and forth, though. It was first RONZI who decided that our song choice would be ICONOCLASM. “For sure,” he said. But it wasn’t a song I knew so I listened to it again and this song…… This song is a very difficult one to play, isn’t it (lol). We can’t do anything with the arrangement, right? This vibe goes on and on, and that dispassionate detachment is where its appeal lies, so if we mess with that, the song will be destroyed. And to add to that, RONZI said that he didn’t want the bassline to change and MAKOTO (bassist) agreed as well. We tried our best to do this cover while keeping the bassline intact, but it only resulted in our song sounding like a mere copy. So, at that point, I decided to give Yuutan a call.
Y: Heh heh heh heh heh heh.
TL: Yuutan gave me his LINE. I think it was around October of last year. He said something like, “I’m really looking forward to it!” And when I showed (his message) to RONZI, RONZI said, “Oh shit…… We’ll have to rearrange it and do it all over again……”. So, then we started back from square one again. We also figured that if you’re inviting us to take part in this, you’re expecting us to present something that’s been done our way.
―― Ah, so in the beginning, you just read the lines out quietly as they were?
TL: I just read it monotonously, without intonations. I decided to risk doing it with a mechanical sounding voice, but then it all changed from there. I figured that if this was our own song, we wouldn’t be doing it like this, so we tried bringing in more heat into the song. But it was difficult after all. Because only Acchan can produce those vocals, right? And even after we sent our song over, I didn’t receive any reply from Yuutan for the loooongest time. I was freaking out (lol).
Y: No, but it’s not what you think! I already wanted to send my reply upon receiving the sound source, but I thought it might probably be better to do that after the mastering has been properly done. So I just kept resisting the urge (to reply). And once mastering was completed, I immediately sent the message.
TL: And I was just so anxious throughout that period. Like, “Ahh… Did we get the arrangement wrong after all…?!”
Y: No, no, no. To that, all of my band members and I were in total agreement that, “This will definitely be the first track!”
―― It sounds like you ended up experiencing a hit and split rather than getting to quit while you’re ahead (lol).
TL: I was dying here! Because in fact, we worked harder on this than normal. Also, while we were working on the arrangement, I took the liberty to try and find some common ground (between our bands), but there are contrasts even within the band, aren’t there? For example, the music is pop although it may be dark, and even though it may come across as exclusionary, it’s actually very human. Because such front sides and undersides exist, it made me feel that it would be possible to execute this song with our kind of passion, and that’s what I put my belief in.
Y: Yeah. It was wonderful. Like you said earlier, the bassline remained the same, didn’t it? But despite that, they managed to come up with something so different. This just says that the power this band possesses is very real. Everyone (in BUCK-TICK) remarked that (the cover) was cool too.
TL: …… Thank goodness～.
Y: For real. I think this is the number one (example of what we’re hoping for) when we ask others to do this (with our music). It’s the same for all the bands who stand out from the rest. They all possess this one (resolution) that, “If we’re going to do this, we’ll be number one at it.” And I think that in the end, this is what truly makes a band.
TL: That’s what a band is all about. The music that is created by people who want to do music, those definitely have some sort of format, don’t they?
Y: Yes, yes.
TL: I listened to a lot of past recordings upon this time’s participation, but I found it very intriguing that somehow, what we sought was originality and novelty for ourselves rather than musicality. We’re better described as people who want to play in a band, rather than people who want to dabble in music. And that’s where my affinity (with BUCK-TICK) lies. We, too, don’t (create music) with the intention of writing good or sellable songs but instead, we want to find music that only we, only we 4 (BRAHMAN) can make.
Y: I understand that. There’s 5 of us (in BUCK-TICK), but that feeling of becoming one when all 5 of us come together is so very important. And also, not getting too personal with each other. That’s why I’d also go exploring for song arrangements myself.
TL: But it’s not as if you’re all disparate individuals. I felt that at the Arabaki afterparty too. You’re a band that’s been around for over 30 years, but it’s the after-afterparty and it’s already morning, you know? But all the band members are there? It went up little by little but in the end, the only ones left were me and the whole of BUCK-TICK. That was quite the sight (lol).
Y: That was fun. It was the first time in a long while that I was going home by bullet train, and I’m going home drunk too (lol).
Being in a band is already the goal and the ultimate form
That is what I can see in BUCK-TICK (TOSHI-LOW)
TL: But everyone (in BUCK-TICK) stayed all the way until morning, and you can see the relationship between the members from that, right? I’ve always thought that we don’t really have any role models or textbook examples to go by, but I felt that there were things that we could learn from BUCK-TICK. Somehow, it’s as if the band is not a mere means (to an end), but instead, the band itself gives me a very happy feeling, and it makes things super cosy. So I ended up getting so plastered and at the very end I even got to kiss Acchan――.
―― They’re gonna kill you, TOSHI-LOW-kun.
Y: Hahaha. We really had fun drinking.
TL: Well, but Imai Hisashi slept the whoーle time.
Y: These days he falls asleep fast, you know. He’d even fall asleep when we’re eating (lol).
TL: But what I thought was most amazing was when we woke him up and told him we’re leaving, he said, “Already?” with the straightest of faces. He had been sleeping for 2 hours (lol). If we’d known each other a little longer I think I would’ve teased him with an, “Oy!” But everyone ignores it. I thought that was some amazing teamwork. No matter the angle you consider them from, they’re a great band.
―― And that’s not just because of the existence of a drummer, bassist, guitarist(s), and a vocalist, right? This “great band” that TOSHI-LOW-kun speaks of.
TL: Putting it simply, it’s where being in a band on its own is already the goal and the ultimate form. That is what I can see in BUCK-TICK. And even within this, there’s always something they’re pursuing. Their goal isn’t to use music to become rich or famous. I believe that’s why they’re capable of doing something groundbreaking every time and why they aren’t afraid of change. But that said, they’ve always cherished their past and the way things have always been since the beginning. I mean, (your band’s story) starts from your hometown, right? From your stories in Gunma.
Y: Yeah. Talk about (our days in) Gunma tends to come up in conversation (lol). Since we’ve always been together since way back when, we’d be like, “That guy did this back then,” and, “Nah, that was decades ago.”
TL: The fact that you can still talk about your high school days even now is seriously amazing.
―― Also, in terms of common ground, the starting point (of both bands) is actually punk. BUCK-TICK originally started out as a cover band of THE STALIN^, right?
Y: Yes, that’s right. Imai-kun had (one of) their records. I think it was STOP JAP? He told me, “This is good stuff,” and I said, “So cool! A cover^^!” It was just right after I got my hands on a bass, but I figured, well, I can play that with just one finger, right (lol). You know, songs like Tempura (天プラ) and the like. And to that, everyone was like, “Let’s do this!”
TL: I bet Michiro-san was real happy about that.
Y: Michiro-san attended an event of ours’ during our 20th anniversary. And back then, we went on tour together in Kyushu too. We had a lot of fun, and he said he loved ramen, so we decided to go to a ramen stand^^^ to celebrate. And Michiro-san was so happy. In our band, all of us drink alcohol, right? So Michiro-san, he drank with us back then.
TL: I’ve never seen him drink before.
Y: Later on, we asked him, “Michiro-san, you usually don’t drink, though?” But he said, “Just one glass,“ and drank with us.
TL: …… So that’s what brought about his early passing…
TL: Like, you’d wonder, what if he didn’t drink back then (lol). There’s no way it would’ve made a difference, though. But that’s so nice. There’s that punk aura, isn’t there? I’m the one who didn’t go through the positive punk [goth] genre, but doing this cover, I understood that both our bands’ roots were never far from each other’s, to begin with.
Even back when you had to stop band activities, all your band members, everyone waited, didn’t they?
I think that this is what friendship is supposed to be
That’s why they’re a role model for these times
―― There’s also another common ground, which doesn’t really mean much, where the bassists of both bands are Hanshin⁰ fans.
TL: Yeah, that’s right. He goes all the time. If there’s a free day while we’re on tour, MAKOTO would definitely go to a Hanshin game. I think you two must’ve definitely passed each other by before.
Y: TOSHI-LOW-kun, you don’t like baseball?
TL: Not at all for me.
Y: But somehow, when Oh⁰⁰ and Nagashima’s⁰⁰ names show up in Oniben¹, don’t they?
TL: Well, it’s just that I said if I were to make a character bento, I’d want to use aonori¹¹ to make Nagashima’s stubble. And that I’d use the number 3 to form the eyes (lol).
Y: When I read that, I wondered if you were a Giants fan. But I really enjoyed reading Oniben. For me, my father had aーlways made bentos for me. He’s already passed away, though.
TL: If it was back in the day, it’s really rare for a father to prepare bentos for his children, isn’t it?
Y: It might’ve been because Anii didn’t really get bentos made for him much. Maybe he made them for me because he thought that it would be difficult for me, or maybe he felt sorry for me. When I was in elementary school, the lunchroom got closed for construction, so ever since then, he’s been preparing it for me from 4th grade in elementary school until my 3rd year in high school.
TL: What? Amazing! Isn’t that obviously because Yuutan was more adorable than Anii?
Y: Eehhhhhhh (lol).
Y: Ahh…… But I’ve never thought about what my father could’ve had in mind while preparing that until I read Oniben. Because back then, I thought it was only to be expected. So when I read it, I suddenly realised that my father must’ve been thinking about a bunch while preparing the bentos. But you’re amazing, you know, TOSHI-LOW-kun. BRAHMAN too; you’re all amazing. Your band has been putting out releases one after another, so I can’t really pose as your senior any more.
TL: No, no, no, I had such a great time listening to all your old stories you shared at Arabaki. Like recollections of your early days playing at Loft² and all that, I felt like I could listen to them until morning comes. In terms of era, I’m from the band-boom period, so it may be casual small talk to you all, but to me, all of it is precious. Imai Hisashi, too, he can be one of those opinionated characters now, can’t he? Like the sort to say, “Didn’t I say before that’s off limits!”²² on a gossip talk show.
TL: Even back when you had to stop band activities, the fact that you weren’t a band that broke up because of that is wonderful, isn’t it? Of course, I believe it was tough for the members, though. Come to think of it, that was during your first career peak, wasn’t it?
Y: We were really beyond busy at the time. Like, we were constantly in a situation where we would be producing our new album while still going on tour for our previous release.
Y: Our heads were already getting all messed up. With our hair put up, there’s no time to even let it down, so we’d sleep on high pillows³ for a little like warriors of the old days and then head straight out right after (lol). That’s why, although that incident wasn’t a good thing, I just think that our band was definitely headed in a bad direction. On the contrary, I guess you could say that making us stop once allowed us to properly shift back to normal.
TL: And all your band members, everyone waited, didn’t they? That’s the strength of a team.
Y: Instead, back then, we were worried, y’know, about Imai-kun. When we met him for the first time (since all of that happened,) he just clapped everyone on our shoulders going, “Mh, mh.” And I think there was even a part of it which turned into a sort of drive (which motivated us to get back up). Because we were in a situation where only our names were out there but we couldn’t appear in any form of media, and our promotional videos and all of that couldn’t be broadcast.
TL: I think that this is what friendship is supposed to be. Of course, things you shouldn’t do, you shouldn’t do, but (the band) didn’t simply cut that person off. Instead, you used (the incident) as a springboard and to move forward together once again. In that sense, BUCK-TICK is a role model for these times, aren’t they? That isn’t how things go at all nowadays. (The offending party) simply gets beaten up and discarded and that’s the end of it. Maybe it’s a sign of the times? My generation and those a little older than us, I think, definitely have a stronger sense of camaraderie. For better or for worse, there’s some “biker gang” left in us, so we’re people who will never do something like sacrificing one person while everyone else runs away scot-free. I think that’s how it should be even now.
Y: Because we’re all from the Showa era, right? And really, we grew up watching Showa era bands too. We’re of the generation who happened to get to watch Japan’s rock scene getting cooler and cooler. So I think that’s the root of it all for us.
TL: But even with that foundation there, you still keep bringing in new things, don’t you? If even your foundation changes, then you’d be simply going with the times, but say, for example, if you were to try playing The Stalin’s music with present-day equipment, or if you did it with music programming to see how it would turn out, or something like that, I get this really strong “BUCK-TICK” feeling. That’s why (you make) outlandish music, right? But there are a lot of eccentric parts, and although it’s experimental, it’s also music that is universal.
―― On the other hand, what does BRAHMAN’s music sound like to Yuta-san?
Y: It definitely leaves the impression of heavy rock and punk music. I’ve been invited (to their live show) once. Actor Katsumura (Masanobu) -san asked me to go and watch a BRAHMAN show with him and Sugimoto Tetta-san³³.
TL: Ahh, come, do come.
Y: Actually, I did ask him along too. But I couldn’t go because of work. Even now I feel like I’ve missed out. I definitely want to go to your show next time.
―― To add to that, by all means, please do perform together next time.
TL: For me, anytime. I really want to perform with you together in a band. But…… I guess I might end up showing the fans hell again (wry smile). Because we’ve done that before at Lunatic Fest, y’know.
Y: Did you mess up or something?
TL: Nah, it’s more like the discomfort, on the whole, was overwhelming.
―― Probably because you rudely stepped on the SLAVES⁴ (lol). Now, during BRAHMAN’s shows, TOSHI-LOW-kun leaps into the audience and stands up with his feet set apart on people.
Y: I know, I know. When I saw the pictures and the videos, I thought, “This…… What’s going on here?” Are you standing on their shoulders with that post?
TL: Uh, nope, anywhere will do.
Y: Anywhere (lol). You’re standing in a sea of people, right?
TL: Yeah. I wonder if I could do that and piggyback Acchan. I guess it might work if I can piggyback him.
―― Everyone will be supporting that, with all their might (lol).
TL: Indeed. Both of us are creatures of the underworld, but I’m of a lower rank (lol). Because our statuses are different, you know. An “Oni” is definitely ranked lower than the Demon King, right?
Y: But I most definitely want to perform with you too.
TL: Also, I might be pushing it with this but I’d be glad if you’d come to New Aco⁴⁴ too.
―― Ahh. Have the acoustic BUCK-TICK take part in New Acoustic Camp⁴⁴. That sounds great. I’d like to see that someday.
TL: Their melodies have always been elegant, and they’re really universal and beautiful. So I think their music would really sound great acoustic.
Y: When we previously performed (some songs) acoustically, it was really great. We normally have a variety of synchronicity, but (for that performance) it really felt like all 5 of us was breathing in sync. Also, I could really feel the audience’s breathing too. Yeah, I like that. If there’s any opportunity, I’d like to do that again.
* I thought of translating “鬼” (oni) into ogre or demon, but I think it works better if I just leave it as “Oni”.
** BUCK-TICK only performed at Arabaki Rock Fest in 2018 so maybe they attended the 2017 one on their own as an audience.
*** Ryota Ogawara is the frontman and guitarist of the mojo punk band JIGHEAD (formed 1995), and before that, rock band THE POGOS (formed 1985, disbanded 1933).
“Shelter” is the shortened name for Shimokitazawa SHELTER (下北沢SHELTER) where JIGHEAD and BRAHMAN played their first live shows.
^ Fronted by the late Michiro Endo, The Stalin were an influential Japanese punk rock band that formed in June 1980 and disbanded in February 1985. BUCK-TICK has previously taken part in a tribute album to The Stalin called Romanticist ~The Stalin/Endo Michiro Tribute Album~ (ロマンチスト〜The Stalin・遠藤ミチロウTribute Album〜). In it, they covered the song Omae No Inu Ni Naru (おまえの犬になる / I Wanna Be Your Dog).
Lyrics and trivia can be found here: http://www.bucktickzone.com/lyrics/uncategorized/omae-no-inu-ni-naru/
Listen to the cover here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOZXxjL9Ezo
^^ Yuta literally said “カバーだ！” (It’s a cover!) so I’ve got no idea exactly what he’s saying beyond this.
⁰ As in, the baseball team the Hanshin Tigers.
⁰⁰ Sadaharu Oh, also known as Wang Chen-chih, and Shigeo Nagashima are prominent names in Japanese baseball. Both of them played for the Yomiuri Giants. Notably, Oh holds the world lifetime home run record, having hit 868 home runs during his professional
¹ Oniben (鬼弁) is a book of TOSHI-LOW’s bento-making adventures for his eldest son which was released in 2019. Available here.
¹¹ A type of seaweed. Also known as green laver or just dried seaweed.
² The live house, Shinjuku LOFT.
²² The actual statement is, “一回でアウトとか言ってんじゃないよ！”
I honestly have no idea what it could mean but I suppose it’s some kind of common outburst or phrase on those shows.
³ Google “高い枕” for examples. There are other variations but I would assume he’s talking about this.
³³ Also an actor.
⁴ What LUNA SEA fans are called.
⁴⁴ New Acoustic Camp is a sort of not-really music festival which incorporates both the mountains and camping into the events. It is a local Gunma event.
Tokyo Weekender’s posting for the 2019 edition: https://www.tokyoweekender.com/events/new-acoustic-camp-2019-gunma/
ISSAY (Der Zibet)
text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photo&design by MISAKI JUN
Even among the many artists who participated in PARADE Ⅲ ～ RESPECTIVE TRACKS OF BUCK-TICK ～, Der Zibet’s Ai no Souretsu stands out from the crowd. It is, after all, because this band understands more than anyone else the one core that BUCK-TICK possesses and has tributed this song to them with love. To understand this band is to know the essence of BUCK-TICK.
That feeling of being at a loss, a vast, empty landscape came to mind
And I thought, ‘ah, I know this landscape very well’
―― Sakurai-san said, “Ai no Souretsu suits ISSAY-san better……”, and I also agree that in this tribute album, Der Zibet was the band who made (BUCK-TICK’s song) most like your own.
ISSAY (I): It’s very nice of you to say that. When I was told about the tribute album, I immediately replied with “I’ll do it!”, but it was such a terrible struggle.
―― The song selection?
I: Exactly. When I thought of picking a song, I guess, since they’re a band who has been constantly active for over 30 years, it’s expected that they’ve got a vast variety of options……
―― That’s true (lol).
I: I listened for days, but there were so many good songs that I found myself thinking, “Ah, this one’s good too. But that one’s good too. This is a problem……” so I texted Atsushi-kun (lol).
I: I said, “I’m in a bind.” (Lol). And he replied, “You can do it this way too, and there’s this other way to help you make your choice.”
―― So there’s that kind of advice too!
I: There is, but in the end, I ignored it (lol).
I: First, I decided that I’d stop trying to decide on a song by pinpointing it out. So I selected a few and then discussed with HIKARU (Yoshida Hikaru / Guitar) which from that list would be interesting for us to do as a band. As to how I chose, I picked 2 to 3 songs that I’d like to sing as a part of Der Zibet, and another song that I’d like to sing if I were doing this solo.
―― By the way, what song is it?
I: It’s an absolute secret!
I: I won’t ever tell Atsushi-kun either (lol). So I sent those songs to HIKARU, and he replied, “I think either one of these two would be good.” And out of those two, the song which grabbed first place was Ai no Souretsu. Actually, I did think that it’d be interesting to do this song with Der Zibet and I did want to try singing it so that’s why I chose it. I suppose what I was thinking of was pretty close to what HIKARU felt.
―― So what exactly were you thinking of?
I: The imagery which Ai no Souretsu has, you know? That isolation and loneliness that is also present in the lyrics. And the romanticism which he possesses. This, I thought, was very similar to our worldview. Also, I think it was 3 years ago? I watched him perform this song at Budokan and it left such a deep impression on me that it’s unforgettable. I was sure that if this was the song we were to do, we would definitely be able to perform it with Der Zibet’s sound without changing the fundamentals of BUCK-TICK’s expression.
―― What did you think of Ai no Souretsu the first time you heard it?
I: I thought it was very Atsushi-kun. That feeling of being at a loss…… A vast, empty landscape comes to mind, doesn’t it? This world view that he has painted, I thought, was extremely close to my own. The way we deal with this feeling of loneliness it brings is probably different, but I feel that I know this landscape very well.
―― What is ISSAY-san’s method of coping with it?
I: Instead of coping, I suppose it’s more accurate to say that in my case, such a landscape basically already exists. And rather than confronting it, I’d just acknowledge that this is something that will always be in me and not do anything about it. It is there as a given.
―― That’s not the case for Sakurai-san?
I: No, I believe it probably exists inside him too. Because (the imagery) wouldn’t have come out like that if it didn’t. However, I feel that the way his heart wavers, or the way it moves when he sees it, that behavioural pattern of his is different than mine.
―― What’s the difference?
I: Atsushi-kun is…… This is simply what I feel, but the first time he lays his eyes on that situation, his heart will be shaken by, for example, surprise and bewilderment. Then he would wonder what this emotional turmoil is about and endlessly pursue (an answer). I think that emotional capacity of his is interesting.
―― I see. So although he feels sad, he’d wonder about the reason behind his sadness or loneliness and get to the bottom of it, right?
I: Exactly. Also, I get the feeling that there’s always a question mark somewhere in his emotional turmoil.
―― A question mark?
I: Yeah. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this (lol).
―― That’s exactly what we’re looking for (lol).
I: Everyone has their own interpretation, and those aren’t answers, but the question I speak of is not about how things should be, rather, it’s a question mark pertaining to the question of what am “I” when in turmoil.
―― So, it’s about confronting one’s self.
I: I’m the type of person who acts out songs, to begin with, but he sincerely faces (himself) when on stage. There’s a slight difference (between the two of us) there, but since this is a landscape that is very familiar to me, it was easy for me to immerse myself in it.
―― I see.
I: But in these last few years, I can really feel his strength.
I: I immensely feel the strength that comes from him standing tall and firm on his two feet.
―― How were things in terms of sound production?
I: The final track-down took quite some time, but I think the fundamental areas went relatively smoothly. (We worked on it) while keeping in mind the romanticism and loneliness, and also that isolation which I spoke of earlier, and at the same time, remaining conscious of how much bleaker we can make it sound. Don’t you think that’s where HIKARU’s musical sense came through nicely?
―― That’s true.
I: Don’t you think that if we simply went ahead with taking the same approach to this song, it’ll become nothing more than a simple cover precisely because it’s a song with a world view close to mine? That’s why we went with a tango…… Then again, it’s more like a pseudo-tango, though (lol). Well, HIKARU came up with that idea and suggested, why not take it in that direction. And I was very sold on that, you know. It gives off the sense of an alternate zeitgeist too. I was just allowed to sing freely in that sound (lol).
―― Freely (lol).
I: Yes. I was able to see the scenery very clearly this time, so I decided to sing the lyrics naturally; without a single gratuitous gimmick in the song, nor any weird vibrato (lol). When I was thrown into it, I decided that I’d stand up straight and sing it.
―― Have you heard any response from BUCK-TICK about the song?
I: We spoke about it the other day when we were drinking after Yoyogi. I was pretty drunk (lol) but Atsushi-kun gave me a compliment; he said, “It was great.” At the time, he asked me, “This song…… was it difficult to sing?” (lol). And when I answered, “It was,” he said, “It’s difficult after all, isn’t it, this song?”
I: Our lyrical approaches are different, you see. In this song, Atsushi-kun put phrases with symbolic and impactful words in the chorus. I don’t really use that approach, but as a singer working with such lyrics, it’s very difficult. I could feel how amazing he is as a vocalist. So…… I can’t lose! (Lol).
―― But it’s already turned into ISSAY-san’s, or rather, Der Zibet’s song.
I: I’m glad you think so. Since it’s a favourite song of mine, I was even thinking of perhaps singing this song as my own in future live shows. As a vocalist, I’d be very happy if I could, one day, sing this song with Atsushi-kun be it in this arrangement or the original.
―― I would love to hear it. Also, aside from your world views being similar, it’s also filled with love, isn’t it?
I: When involved in a tribute, isn’t it truly frightful if you ended up doing it wrong? Because we’re essentially different, to begin with. But I think that it’ll turn out to be something really interesting as long as my love for the work and the musician(s) doesn’t go in the wrong direction. We’re not the same person, but it’s important to acknowledge one another, and as a vocalist, I thought a lot about how to put our differences into play.
―― It’s turned out to be a lovely tribute.
I: Because I sang it with all my love for the band BUCK-TICK, and Atsushi-kun (lol).
A One-Of-A-Kind Polyphony
by Okada Iku
Today I surrender to the “polyphony” that melts together into one
I chant the answer without a question, “Only BUCK-TICK is BUCK-TICK”
In 2019, when Ringo Shiina and Sakurai Atsushi performed Elopers on a music show, viewers who saw Sakurai’s performance for the first time screamed in delight on social media one after the other, causing a huge commotion. I, on the other hand, was reminded of the proverb “a borrowed cat¹” when I watched him take a step back for Ringo Shiina in the middle of the song. Because, after all, she did borrow him briefly for that little while.
Elopers is, simply put, very much a BUCK-TICK-styled song. The showy lyricist harmonises with Sakurai Atsushi, no, performs a unison where their voices do not intermingle. It’s an outstanding piece of work that could have been inadvertently inserted right after PINOA ICCHIO -Odoru Atom- as the 3rd track of Atom Miraiha No.9. But such a thing will never happen, because this is, after all, an external collaboration and “not” BUCK-TICK.
But if that’s the case, then what “is” BUCK-TICK on the other hand? It’s actually surprisingly difficult to define their musicality and answer this question. I find myself laughing at the contradiction that no sooner were they praised as “having remained the same for over 30 years,” than were they described as, “constantly evolving.” Although I have been listening to them for 27 years, even now, I’m always finding fresh surprises whenever I put all their songs on shuffle.
Nevertheless, if you arrange it all properly and trace the changes, there is one major factor that points to linear time and that is the voice of Imai Hisashi. Sakurai and Imai stand side by side and harmonise, no, perform a unison where their voices do not intermingle. Those moments are the instances when my auditory nerves take unparalleled pleasure in acknowledging, “This! This is BUCK-TICK!”
When I first listened to Kurutta Taiyou, I was amazed at Sakurai’s ability to express himself in a variety of different ways, starting with the opening track Speed. More than that, Imai’s “Open it onto Evolution Mode” in the B-side, Brain, Whisper, Head, Hate is noise was even more impressive. Imai Hisashi’s vocals are primitive; it’s a noise that strikes a chord with listeners. He descends suddenly like a deus ex machina, forcibly taking away the gaze that tends to be focused on frontman Sakurai and giving the audience a bird’s eye view of the whole performance. This looks like a monologue, not a solo act. It is not an ensemble of five people, but one Lingua Sounda. This was the “heavenly voice” which opened up the metaperspective to the lost lambs and allowed them to decipher the entirety of the band’s sound.
Also, Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari and Sid Vicious ON THE BEACH, where Imai performs as the main vocalist, are “foreign bodies” which were cleverly mixed in to prevent the balance and harmony of their respective albums from being boring. On the other hand, listening to Deep Slow, Madman Blues ~Minashigo no Yuu’utsu~, Living on the Net, and other songs of the like now leave the strong impression that they are masterpieces of “the lead actor of the BUCK-TICK theatre Sakurai Atsushi who has an intimate knowledge playwright Imai Hisashi’s direction.” Songs of Sakurai’s vocals give off the sense that if times were different, this might’ve been a stage performance with Imai as the main star.
The chorus work and banter in MY FUCKIN’ VALENTINE, Cyborg Dolly: Sora-Mimi: PHANTOM, 21st Cherry Boy, LADY SKELETON, and, of course, Memento mori also get the crowd excited at their live shows. A similar, but not identical, approach was taken in BUSTER and Les Enfants Terribles, where the same tunes are being repeated by different voices. With Sakurai going before and Imai going after, it is impossible to perform these songs without one or the other. Or, perhaps, they are a two-headed beast that rears its sickle-neck. From this point, the playwright gets in as a cameo in the signatory actor’s solo performance, establishing it as a fabulous two-man show.
During the interlude of Alice in Wonder Underground, Imai’s voice continues to sing DIABOLO -Lucifer- from their previous work 13th Kai wa Gekkou. In Tenshi wa Dare da, the same words which were previously sung by Imai are again pursued by Sakurai with a different melody. As we move onto the days of Tango Swanka, it’s no longer a simple relationship of Sakurai being the main star and Imai being the guest. And by the time we lead up to DADA DISCO -GJTHBKHTD-, the whole song is composed of dialogue between Imai and Sakurai. It is as extravagant as breaking two perfect, beautiful bowls into pieces on purpose and then putting them together once again by kintsugi². Surely the line in Elopers which reads “pH stays at seven as we bind each other up” is a homage to this? Ringo may not have said anything in relation to this, but I understand how Ringo feels. Because, I, too, love this.
Like a large flower blooming open from a bud, the presence of the polyphony of the BUCK-TICK theatre is only growing. Most noteworthy in their latest album, No.0, was the flow from Nostalgia -Vita Mechanicalis- to IGNITER. From “Open it onto Evolution Mode”, these double vocals have grown and built up over the years, overlapping to a point where rather than no longer getting surprised when they come up in various tracks, we are bathed in an amalgamation of sounds that makes it impossible to even tell where the five-man band is coming from.
In 1993, I watched Dress at some point which led me to check out all the old scores from the local ward library. As a 13-year-old who grew up with YMO as a lullaby but still couldn’t quite find music which hits the spot even after listening to any number of great rock albums, I was immediately hooked on them. The very first thing which moved my heart was, above all, the beauty of the melody woven by Hoshino Hidehiko, then, thanks to the “danceable” groove which Yagami Toll and Higuchi Yutaka created under the skin of a rock band, I can still listen to them without getting tired of them. And finally, my desire to spend the rest of my life watching the one who always craves for the “next one” to death no matter how satisfied he is with their new work; Imai Hisashi and Sakurai Atsushi side by side with each other.
Still, it’s a little late to be wondering what kind of planetary alignment occurred to draw me towards Hoshino’s aria, to peek into this band where Sakurai’s aesthetics coexist with Imai’s noises and the rhythm brothers Higuchi and Yagami. Where the scales and rhythms and festivities of all world music on earth are incorporated in an unadulterated and elaborate manner, primitive yet mechanical, letting you stand and headbang and shake your head side to side, and feel the groove moving you, swaying your hips as you dance with alternating steps. It’s hard to describe its musicality in one word. But today I surrender to the “polyphony” that melts together into one, and I chant the answer without a question, “Only BUCK-TICK is BUCK-TICK”.
Writer. Born in Tokyo and lives in New York. After working for a publishing company, she began penning essays. Author of Haji no Oi Jinsei, Yome e Iku Tsumori Jyanakatta, Tengoku Meshi to Jigoku Mimi, 40-sai Made ni Kore wo Yameru, and co-author with Nimura Hitoshi and Kaneda Junko for Otoko no Karada wa Kimochi Ii.
Lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site.
¹ 借りてきた猫 (karite kita neko) literally means a borrowed cat. It refers to a person-for-hire, or a person who appears meek and quiet, as if like a reserved cat in an unfamiliar environment.
² Kintsugi, also known as kintsukuroi, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.
Scans: spanielonthemoon on Tumblr