Ongaku to Hito
November 2023

Imai Hisashi
AFTERSHOWS

Cut through this Endless Darkness¹
Interview with Imai Hisashi

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photos by Yamauchi Hiroe, Aoki Hayaka

 

The final performances of BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA- happened over two days, on the 17th and the 18th of September at Gunma Music Center. There’s a lot of significance behind concluding their tour and closing off their 35th anniversary year which started with a 2-day event at Yokohama Arena last year in this hometown venue where the band used to often perform; it’s a preface indicating that this is not an “ending” but a “beginning”.

And three days after the final show was the 21st of September. That’s right, on this very anniversary day marking the band’s debut, I interviewed guitarist Imai Hisashi. Rather than fixate on the concluded tour, he’s already looking ahead, feeling his way to his next vision. This is precisely why the last song of their final show had to be New World. The 異空 -IZORA- that Imai speaks of, the tour, and also a formidable hope towards something new; these are what he shared with us in great detail.

 

I couldn’t wrap my head around what kind of album this is
But I just knew that it was nothing like anything we’ve done before
Then we started touring and I started to get a feel of the response

ーーIt just occurred to me that today is the 21st of September. That’s BUCK-TICK’s debut anniversary day, right!

Imai (I): Ah, huh…… Congrats.

ーーThat’s my line (lol). While there’s still one rescheduled Nagoya show left, for now, the 異空 -IZORA- tour has come to an end. I think the concerts were exquisitely executed and they really showed us the album’s world, but I’d like to hear Imai-san’s perspective on it.

I: I composed a bunch of different things myself and, you know, in the beginning, I couldn’t wrap my head around what kind of album this is at all. But I just knew that it was nothing like anything we’ve done before. Then we started touring and I started to get a feel of the [audience’s] response, and I guess you could say, the more shows we played, the more I got into it?…… Yeah. I just felt really strongly that it’s an album like nothing we’ve done before.

ーーAs you mentioned in [past] interviews, the concert was structured to start with the first track of the album, QUANTUM Ⅰ and end with the last track, QUANTUM Ⅱ. Your first show at Hachioji barely had any MC segments, neither was there member introductions or a drum solo.

I: Ah, right, that’s what the very first one was like? Not doing the drum solo was most likely an idea that came from Sakurai-san (vocalist Sakurai Atsushi), probably. This time, it was Sakurai-san who posed the suggestion that since we’ll basically do away with member introductions, we should start the encore with a drum solo.

ーーI see. But I felt that structure coupled with the content made this concert a thorough approach to bringing the world of the album to life.

I: That, definitely. But it’s also because we gradually got a better grasp of it as time went on. When the first show concluded, I thought, this is unlike anything we’ve done before. I wasn’t sure what it would turn into but as the shows went on, things got more and more interesting. And the [audience’s] reception was good too, right?

ーーIn it, the character “Hizumi-chan” takes over Sakurai-san and starts taking on a life of its own. There’s no arguing that was the highlight of this tour.

I: It didn’t feel like that in the beginning though. But it really is amazing that Sakurai-san gets up on stage and puts on such a performance on his own volition as a vocalist, isn’t it?

ーーThat’s one of the things everyone goes along with as long as it’s what Sakurai-san wants to do, right?

I: Yeah. I don’t [say] I want him to do something in particular or anything like that. I never have.

ーーI think the timing of this tour happens right when the COVID-19 pandemic has settled and the audience can cheer, when concerts are going back to normal. How has the response been?

I: As expected, I got the feeling that people haven’t quite gotten used to it or something in the beginning, but they were reserved, you know? I guess everyone was watching us with the vibe that they weren’t too sure what they should do. Things haven’t completely gone back to the way they were originally but we’re slowly getting there.

ーーAnd the final shows of this tour were held in BUCK-TICK’s home town, at Gunma Music Centre.

I: Those two days were really fun. At the very end, it finally sank in that this is how everything ended up. It was an album that was nothing like what we had done, but I didn’t foresee that this is what it would become either. As I said earlier, I couldn’t grasp what it would become, up until the very end.

ーーI wonder why.

I: Not because it was influenced by something else but while composing the songs, first, my PC broke.

ーーAh, right (lol).

I: So my music composing environment at home changed, you see? I wasn’t familiar with the new system and I couldn’t use the workspace I set up for my work PC, so I ended up having to compose in a really really inconvenient space (lol).

ーーNot at the basement work den where your PC was set up?

I: Not there, but at a low table near the sofa at the back (lol). I set the system up there but since it’s on a low table, it was a bit of a stoop while working so I had to hunch while programming (lol).

ーーHahahahahahaha.

I: It was sooo uncomfortable (lol). Then, we initially wanted to release two CDs so our original goal was something else entirely too. That’s why I say that 異空 -IZORA- is [an album] that didn’t have anything; not a plan nor a theme nor even a concept. And we just went along with the idea that we’ll keep recording whatever we made. Then halfway through came the decision to make it one CD so even I couldn’t really make sense of what kind of work this would be after we put all the songs we recorded together.

ーーSo starting with QUANTUM Ⅰ and ending with QUANTUM Ⅱ was how you gave it some coherence.

I: Yeah. And while we were performing, I guess I found myself understanding better what [the album] was supposed to be.

ーーThat’s really how it went, right? Also, going a little off topic, since you dropped the idea of releasing two CDs, what happened to the unreleased songs and the half-recorded songs that didn’t make the cut?

I: With those, we’d probably have another look at them or redo them, I think.

ーーA relook!

I: If they were already recorded in full, I might think they’re OK as they are, but there are only a few tracks that has Yuta’s (Higuchi Yutaka) bass and Hide’s (Hoshino Hidehiko) guitar recorded, and don’t have my guitar or Sakurai-san’s voice recorded yet. So I’m thinking I could incorporate the ideas that I’m getting now and the things I want to try in these songs.

At first, we planned to end the same way we did with the tour shows
But I thought, we always play New World at the end of these milestone shows

ーーI see. So, was it always part of the plan to celebrate the final at Gunma Music Centre?

I: You could say we wanted some sort of closure after all. And if we were to do that, then our hometown’s the place, I suppose. There were a number of different venues in the running, but Gunma Music Centre is one where we will almost always play whenever we go on tour anyway. Since it’s getting older and people are saying that soon it wouldn’t be able to host concerts anymore, we decided that it was probably a good idea to do this here and now. Besides, it’s also our anniversary.

ーーI see.

I: Back in my high school days, I went there to watch something for a school event. So that’s exactly how long it’s been around. The changing rooms are small, and it gets really really cold in winter (lol). But it’s nice to perform there after once in a while.

ーーYou’ve also switched out quite a few songs from the tour’s regular setlist.

I: I think we put in more songs that weren’t from this album.

ーーAmong them was New World which came at the very end of the encore. I think that made a huge impact.

I: It wasn’t in the original setlist, was it? Everyone brought up the songs they wanted to perform, we picked a few to change things up, and we planned to end the show with Na mo Naki Watashi, same as the tour. But we always play New World at the end of these milestone shows though…… that’s what I felt. So I requested this song and ICONOCLASM, and said, why don’t we play New World at the end.

ーーHaving New World at the end not only wraps up 異空 -IZORA-, but it also creates the sense that the band is start up again from that point on, doesn’t it?

I: I just thought that it’d be so good. When you think about it, even the venue is a place in our hometown that we’ve always played at since ages ago too. It’s great, isn’t it?

ーーThe way it brings out memories of how the five of you felt 35 years ago?

I: Yeah…… Maybe that’s the feeling.

ーーSo the tour has ended, it’s been announced that there’s a documentary movie in production and that the annual Nippon Budokan show will be happening, but do you, Imai-san, have a vision of what you’re going to do next already?

I: I’m really getting heaps of the “I want to create something” feeling.

ーーActually, I want to hear about the contents of the “heaps” (lol).

I: I don’t know exactly what they are but I’m thinking it’d be great if we could do something new again that feels different. Like, I think I can create something like that again.

ーーWith BUCK-TICK?

I: Yeah.

ーーI always say this but that’s the amazing thing [about you guys]. If you wanted to do something that feels different, you’d more likely work with different musicians instead of the same band members, which I think would make it easier to get a hold of that change though.

I: Nah, if we can do it, I want to give it a try with this and that. Right when we just started going on tour, Raymond (Raymond Watts / PIG) came to Japan and together with Sakurai-san, we met up, went for food and drinks, and got buzzed with talk about doing SCHWEIN again. At the time we didn’t really have the time and energy to think about doing that properly yet so we stopped the conversion there and told him to wait a bit until we wrapped up the tour.

ーーWhat did Raymond say?

I: He said, “Let’s do a SCHWEIN US tour.” (Lol)

ーーBefore the album was released, SCHAFT also came up in conversation when we were having drinks after the dialogue interview with Takeshi-kun (Ueda Takeshi / AA=).

I: Right. So, you see, I’ve always harboured the desire to continue activities with SCHAFT and SCHWEIN and Lucy. But it’s all about timing with all of them. At the same time, I want to do whatever I can do while I can. But I hate being so busy that I’m pressed for time, and more than that, the band I want to work on the most is BUCK-TICK, you see.

ーーI really wonder why you feel so strongly about BUCK-TICK’s activities.

I: Hurhur. I forgot (lol).

ーーBut obviously things aren’t the same as they were 35 years ago. Oddly enough, even though everyone’s grown older and even started their own families, everyone’s still dedicated to the one same goal. And that’s really difficult to have, I think.

I: But our roots have never changed. I don’t think it’s something that can be changed all that easily.

ーーWhen I reflect on myself, I feel like a lot has changed. I realise that I can’t dedicate a hundred percent of myself to magazine work because other than that, I still have to deal with my family and children, the company, and management of it too.

I: Isn’t that an occupational difference? It’s probably not the same.

ーーSo what’s different for a band?

I: We’re more selfish² (lol). We do of course take into consideration things like we can and cannot do, our families. We do that, but we have freedom, you know? There’s no rigidity. Because what a band needs are things like artistic qualities and creativity. Things like these, you can’t really use force to squeeze something out or we’d end up getting constrained and stifled, you know?

ーーI see.

I: All’s good as long as we can enjoy ourselves. Probably because there are many different ways to have fun. Because it’s not about how long we spend, but the quality [of what we do].

ーーThat’s true.

I: That’s why I want to have fun as a band. While we can and are doing it. Because I don’t want to find myself one day going, “Ahー I should’ve done that,” and regret.

ーーDo you feel distant within the band? Did that change?

I: Of course it changed. Because it’s no longer just the band [in our lives]. But when it comes to the band, what hasn’t changed is our dedication to creating.

ーーAny interest in doing concerts that recreate albums, or re-recording stuff?

I: Hm…… Like?

ーーLike a concert where the main segment is made up of only songs from Six/Nine or something like that. That kind of an approach.

I: Why would we do that?

ーーThere are a lot of bands who have been at it for a long time and aren’t there people saying that they want to hear the vibe of this album [from the past] or hear you do songs that you rarely play? Or even doing this just to generate some buzz. Things like that?

I: Huーm……… Boring.

ーーHahahahahahaha.

I: Although it might be interesting if we went with the approach of going all out to change the arrangement [of our songs] like what we did with Koroshi no Shirabe (This is NOT Greatest Hits) (note: their self-cover album released in 1992). But I did try to envision such a concert before. For example, what would it be like if we did a concert in the world of 13-Kai wa Gekkou and did it like that throughout? I gave it some thought but…… I think I’d really hate it.

ーーHahahahahahaha!

I: Like, it’d make me gloomy, I think. Because that would definitely make me want to do something new.

ーーAfter being in the same band for so long, others tend to do those reprisal concerts or do re-recordings to find some change in perspective or a breath of fresh air, but that’s not how it works [for you], right?

I: I think our old songs are things that belong to those days so that’s  enough. Even if one day I find myself thinking we should try recreating things, it wouldn’t be a direct reproduction and in the end, I feel like it’d just end up becoming all tied up in gothic nuances.

ーーSo instead of doing that, you’d rather go with the approach of doing whatever catches your fancy.

I: New things are always more fun.

ーーThat’s why you want to create something new.

I: That’s right. Which is why after this, we still have the live house tour and all but I want to start on the next thing already. And when I think about that, the ones that can bring it to life are BUCK-TICK after all.

ーーI would think so.

I: We’ll soon start creating next year so.

ーーHave you spoken to the band?

I: Not yet (lol). But we’ll definitely create.

 

 

Notes:

¹ Lyrics from New World: 無限の闇 切り裂いてゆけ (Mugen no yami kiri saite yuke)

² More than just “selfish”, 勝手 (katte) also carries the nuance of “doing whatever one pleases” and a certain degree of “freedom”.

 

 

 

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AFTERSHOWS

2023.09.21
Imai Hisashi BUCK-TICK

Since you’ve wrapped up your tour, let’s do an interview — that was the suggestion. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of conducting an interview over drinks when it comes to BUCK-TICK has recently been lost. But just when we thought that this tradition had come to an end, Imai raised the request, “…… Let’s go drink!”. We even went to the ramen place that we often frequented in the middle of the night back then, and before we knew it, seven hours had gone by. That’s right. This is how interviews with Imai go…… But without [Imai] even turning into a Jizo statue* halfway, the party ended before the last train. To Kanemitsu, this might just be a [sign of] significant improvement [on Imai’s part], or perhaps, something entirely revolutionary? Could this mean that next time, [Imai would hold up] until the last train before leaving too!?

 

 

Notes:

* Oftentimes, Imai would space out and fall asleep pretty early on during drinking parties. When he spaces out, people say he’s a Jizo statue.

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki

In Memoriam — Sakurai Atsushi

Ongaku to Hito
December 2023

Text=Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Photo=Nakano Hirohisa

See you later, Acchan

I knew this day would someday come.

Because nothing lasts forever.

Yet, having witnessed the effort and the miracle of how you stayed in a band with the same members for 35 years, there were times when I started to believe that maybe something like this could last forever.

But suddenly, that day arrived.

Now, I can dream no longer. The sadness is too great.

You were kind. You always considered how others felt before yourself. Especially when it came to your fans. The person who was Sakurai Atsushi left deep impressions in each and everyone’s hearts; never turning his gaze away from what supports life, he always faced it head on, and never betrayed these feelings. This sincerity is something that no one could ever imitate. And I believe there were many fans who had also been saved by him.

At the same time, the innocent demeanour he showed on occasion was loved by all. Instead of playing the role of BUCK-TICK’s vocalist, that was probably the closest to him being his normal self. In the past, when I used to drink with just the band until daybreak, I often got to see the gentle smile that he would only ever show the people he could trust.

But he could never wipe away the hurt that he carried with him since childhood. He had a heart as fragile as glass. He was plagued by anxiety over death and endings. He piled all of this into a world that represented him, where we saw his struggles. But it is precisely because he understood such emotions that his song could touch the hearts of those fraught with scars. And somewhere in there existed an intense hope.

A person who lived a moment as if it were eternity. Whose story curtains suddenly descended upon. On stage, under the watch of his fellow bandmates. Such an ending was not something anyone could’ve imagined nor wanted. But if we were to say farewell one day, we were saved by the fact that the four people who spent 35 years with us are here…… That’s all I think.

 

He said that he liked parting with the words, “See you later.”

We don’t know whether we’ll meet again. We might not be able to see each other, and promising such a future is sad. But we can live on because there’s that possibility.

The words we should say to this person he was isn’t “goodbye”. Neither is it “thank you”, or “you’ve done well”.

 

See you later, Acchan.

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki

 

 

Concert report of Yagami Toll’s 61st birthday celebration

Ongaku to Hito
October 2023

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi, photographs by Shibata Eri

Medal of a 61-year old

Yagami Toll’s annual birthday live was held at Shimokitazawa Shangri-La. Participating artists were originally announced as “Yagami Toll & His Merry Friends” (lol) but the drum session and band performance with these friends of his made for an interesting combination of blessings and insight into Anii’s history.

 

 

The connections that Yagami Toll forged was shown through music in this show
I hope we’ll always get to see his shy smile as he drums

 

The annual birthday live held on August 19, Yagami Toll’s birthday. Just like 2021, this year’s event was held at Shimokitazawa Shangri-La.

The show was divided into two parts. The first part was a competitive jam session which gave us a stripped down look at “Yagami Toll, the drummer”. Interspersed with some words by the emcee, the first to come on stage was Tetsu (D’ ERLANGER) who looks up to Yagami as his aniki. As they performed Sayonara Shelter without drums in the backing music and Yagami Toll & Blue Sky’s Oh!My God!, we could see the unique characteristics in each drummer’s drumming style through their double performance. In this, we could also get a sense of the history of how they changed over the years to match each band’s sound. Even so, just stepping on the bass drum emits a thunderous “don!” which shakes up the atmosphere in the hall and gets the audience abuzz. Rarely do we get the chance to experience drumming in such an enclosed space.

Next to come on stage was Minato Masafumi, known to be Yagami’s sworn brother and part of the “Led Zeppelin Symposium” with whom he would always end up talking about John Bonham when drinking together. It needs no saying that the song to play was Mune Ippai no Ai wo (胸いっぱいの愛を). Blue Sky’s KANAME and Yagi Masato joined them. But unlike Tetsu’s who came earlier, this was a session where they competed against each other to prove who loved Bonzo more through the drums, rather than giving and taking because of  seniority.

And last for the first part was Higuchi Yutaka. Every year, Higuchi would make an appearance as the birthday boy bearing the cake but today, he came on stage as a bassist. He was shy when he spoke but playing to the bass-less and drum-less backing tracks of Mugen LOOP and Taiyou to Icarus, his rhythm was steady. Seeing this, it was clear to me that Yagami’s drumming was rooted in Led Zeppelin and Japan’s old-school rock music; a world apart from BUCK-TICK’s type of music. In other words, it was only after he was dragged out to Tokyo by Higuchi and became a member of BUCK-TICK that he started to drum in BUCK-TICK’s unique style.

Then came the second half. This started with a performance by Yagami Toll & Blue Sky. Joining them on keyboards was Nakayama Tsutomu, the very same producer who worked with BUCK-TICK in their early days (and a person Yagami labelled, “someone who could help if I ever needed a hand” (lol)), and guitarist Yonezawa Seiichirou. This painted a beautiful story that could only be told on this day, connecting past and present. At the same time, Suzuki Momoko (COSA NOSTRA), Kiyama Yusaku, and Tago Kunio’s involvement in Blue Sky was also a result of that “fate”. Suzuki provided the lyrics to the song Blow Wind which was recorded in their 2019 album, WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder&CoId wind-, and band member KANAME was also a part of COSA NOSTRA. Their biggest hit song, home was sung by Kiyama and produced by Tago, and Tago runs TAGO STUDIO TAKASAKI in Gunma, where Yagami recorded his own album.

The connections that Yagami Toll forged was shown through music in this show. In the encore, Yagami himself sings Carol’s Funky Monkey Baby in a grand finale. Next year, he will hold his 62nd birthday’s show. I hope we’ll always get to see his shy smile as he drums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki

 

 

In search of a place to belong
Interview with ISSAY

ROCK AND READ
January 2006

Interview/Text: Yamamoto Hiroko
Photos: Ogiso Takeo

 

I thought that I never had a place to belong, but as I went through life, what I learnt is that a place of belonging isn’t something you search for, but something you can make for yourself.

This year marks the 20th debut anniversary for the high-energy ISSAY who calls his present musical activities with various bands and units “an abnormal circumstance”. Self-described as a “musicians’ musician”, we take a dive into his life where he originally had an inhibition over his eye-catching appearance.

 

ISSAY

Profile
Vocalist of the band DER ZIBET which went on a hiatus in 1996. Upcoming shows as the  presently-active band LYNX are happening on Saturday, the 31st of December at Yokohama 7th Avenue, and on the 14th and 15th of January at Omotesando FAB. He will also perform with his other unit, ISSAY meets DOLLY on Saturday, the 17th of December at Minami Aoyama MANDARA, as well as for HAMLET MACHINE on Tuesday, the 27th of December at Hatsudai DOORS.
www.issay-works.com

 

 

――You were born in Shizuoka Prefecture’s Numazu City?

ISSAY (I): That’s right.

――And you grew up in that warm climate?

I: Yes. Warm climate and warm people all around (lol).

――So were you a sprightly elementary schooler who would go swimming in the sea every summer?

I: Well, I can’t really say though. It was as if my introverted and extroverted selves took turns coming out. “Noisy” would be written in a column of my report card for the first semester, then in the second semester, it would say that I was too quiet so my teachers would be worried, you know?

――Was it because you were affected by being described as noisy?

I: Nah, it wasn’t anything like that. I don’t think it was a reaction.

――Or you made such a racket that you burnt out.

I: (Lol) I don’t know, but I think my mood swings were violent. Since, well, I was so full of worries, you know?

――What had you worried as a child?

I: My parents divorced before I started elementary school and I went with my mother but in my 4th year, I was brought back to my father…… So, that pretty much meant I’ve been witness to my parents’ discord since I was in preschool, see?

――So your emotional ups and downs likely had something to do with that. Then, how did you have fun in such a situation?

I: By playing with imaginary monsters, I guess. I was always playing by making all sorts of things up. Also, I dug holes in the garden.

――Holes?

I: You see, I wanted to create an underground kingdom.

――So, holes that you could go into?

I: So, you see, I dug with my spade with everything I could muster but I didn’t have the strength so once I dug up to my knees, I wouldn’t be able to get any further.

――Because the ground would get harder, right?

I: Right. So I would think the soil was bad here and decide to dig somewhere else which meant that I was digging holes all over in there (lol).

――In a garden that’s covered in holes.

I: I wanted to build a secret underground base like a prairie dog’s (lol). My mother got angry but she seemed to find that the holes were just right for throwing rubbish in (lol). When I start to dig another hole, she’d tell me it’s still too soon (lol). I did get the help of my younger brother who was under a year-old with the digging holes, but if we couldn’t do that, we’d do things like play in the wardrobe with a flashlight.

――You’re quite the introvert, aren’t you?

I: Seems like it, doesn’t it?

――I think so. What about friends?

I: I had a few in class, but I moved houses a lot so while I did live near school for the first two years or so, once I lived further away, my friends wouldn’t come over and play. When I started living with my father, it was a place so faraway that I couldn’t get to school except by car, so I was really alone. But there was a lot of nature around so finding somewhere to play wasn’t a problem. Although, as you’d expect, I didn’t go around digging holes in land that belonged to someone else (lol).

――But it’s tough for children who are separated from their mothers because they’re powerless so they can’t do anything about it.

I: That’s true. When I lived with my father, I had a new mother, but I’d be badly beaten if I was gloomy or wouldn’t stop crying so I decided to tread cautiously just in case. You see, my old man was a million times more of a rocker than I am.

――How severe was it?

I: There’s nothing I could say. If I didn’t do what I was told, violence would erupt.

――To do things like, study hard for your future?

I: So, my family runs a construction company. And since I’m the eldest son, everyone around me naturally assumed that I was probably going to take over and even I unquestioningly could only believe that I would take over too.

――By the way, what about coming into contact with music?

I: None. The closest contact was via music programs on TV, and besides, I loved reading books. All kinds, including the popular Edogawa Ranpo series. Everyday I would go to the school’s library room and borrow one book at a time while on Saturdays, I’d borrow a thick book which I can read over two days. At least my parents wouldn’t get angry at me for reading books.

――I think there’s a part of you that unconsciously suppresses your emotions, but was there something which shaped the person who you are today?

I: It’s always been like that ever since I was in elementary school, but my father was, to some extent, a person with both money and status so my homeroom teachers would all be on good terms with him. So when I told my teacher something that I told them not to tell my parents about, they would expose me to my father and I would end up getting beaten like hell so I would never ever trust them. All the adults around me were also relying on my father’s patronage so I believed that they were only being nice to me to let my father see it.

――That’s the way you thought even as a child?

I: That’s how I thought. That adults had no qualms with lying to protect themselves. So, anyway, when I entered middle school, I joined the Kendo club since my father was someone who was both accomplished in academics and sports. And since it was stifling being at home, I would go to school ahead of everyone. So I’d wake up at five thirty or six in the morning and arrive just as the school gates were about to open, then try to stay back for club activities until as late as possible.

I was in a fight when they were trying to insult me by calling me “Faggot!” The awareness that my face wasn’t particularly manly became such a complex that I decided, “I’ll just wear makeup if that’s the way it is”.

――Were you not saved by music?

I: In terms of music, I did listen to whatever was being played on the radio, but I didn’t like rock.

――Why?

I: It was noisy (lol). Hard rock is what was being played back then. I didn’t like the high-pitched voices and the loquacious guitars so the only thing I could listen to were the guitar solos by Queen’s Brian May. Other than that, I listened to movie music.

――Music without singing. Does that mean the thought of singing never once crossed your mind?

I: That’s right. So, for high school, I attended a boarding school. I happened to see their pamphlet and thought my father wouldn’t have anything to complain about since it was a prep school…… They were super strict there but it was better than being at home. School classes went on until the 7th period and there were no club activities at all. Once [classes] ended, dinner came right after and then we were to study until eleven at night. There were guards who would patrol around to see whether we were doing anything we weren’t supposed to.

――Sounds like prison.

I: Well, I’d just read my books while pretending to study anyway.

――What if you read manga or played games?

I: If we were found to have those in our possession, you’d either get asked to leave the dormitory or get expelled. There were snitches among us too so we couldn’t trust anyone around us either.

――All this just makes you grow more and more distrustful, doesn’t it? Weren’t you a high schooler when you started wearing makeup?

I: It was when I was in that high school. I was in a fight when they were trying to insult me by calling me “Faggot!” Up until then I wasn’t even aware that (my face) wasn’t particularly manly and it became such a complex for me that I snapped and decided, “I’ll just wear makeup if that’s the way it is”.

――I think other [boys] would normally head in the opposite direction and decide, “Then I’ll train my body!” or something.

I: Instead, the part of me that wanted to make them look like idiots came out. So once I did that, no one said anything like that to me again.

――You were in full makeup in the boarding school.

I: There weren’t any men who wore makeup back then so they thought I was mentally ill, you know? When I was in the push-up position for physical education class, the teacher questioned me, “What with your hands?!” And when I replied, “Manicure,” he didn’t say anything else (lol). Also, during that period of time, we’d sneak out of the dormitory every Saturday and go drink at a bar where gay people gather so I was aware of the culture behind [painting my nails and wearing makeup]. On the other hand, the simple fact that these people exist made me feel better and I thought they were cool for living their lives openly so I didn’t have any sort of reservations about wearing makeup.

――So having been called a faggot, wearing makeup was an attack in kind saying, “What’s wrong with looking like one?”

I: That’s right. No one said anything back so I took that as a win for me. Also, my friends brought me to this place they called a rock cafe and that was where I first listened to David Bowie’s STATION TO STATION album. It was the first time I heard rock music that wasn’t noisy and that made me realise, “Oh, so this is viable [as rock] too.”

――Did you know what David Bowie looked like?

I: I didn’t. But later on I saw a photo of him and thought, “This guy’s face sure looks a lot like the devil’s.” (Lol)

――So you only started growing an interest in rock when you became a high schooler.

I: Yeah. But when I was a second year student, an incident occurred and I had to withdraw from that high school. Well, it was found that we were doing something and scores of us were implicated but a junior who I got along well with was called out by the teachers and got caught. When that happened, he said, “The others made me do all that.”

――Were you caught for something like drinking together?

I: Something along those lines. And although about half of all the students in the dormitory were involved in this one way or another, all of it was pinned on me. I suppose from the school’s perspective, there was no way they could expel all these students so they probably needed to make someone the scapegoat, right? I myself was also questioned by the teachers in their bid to find out who else was involved, but I didn’t want to be someone who sells out my friends.

――It’s disappointing, isn’t it? Rather, a let down. And even though you’ve experienced so many occasions that left you distrustful of other people?

I: Although, my father is the only person I told the whole truth to. That man isn’t rigid through and through; he’s someone who holds chivalry in high regard so he understood why I felt the way I did. Except, he’d keep saying to me, “You think you protected your friends but it was your friends who betrayed you.” So after I quit that high school, he told me to go work while looking out for a school I wanted to attend and so I lived in Tokyo for a while delivering newspapers.

――Kind of like telling you to go learn some self-discipline.

I: Yeah. Since I’m good at waking up early to begin with (lol), I’d get up at four in the morning, deliver newspapers, come home and then drink gin while listening to music. Like JAPAN and Gary Numan and King Crimson and so on. And I also wrote.

――As a diary?

I: Well, I wrote down whatever came to mind. Instead of writing about daily happenings like a diary, it’s more of [asking myself] things like “Why do I have to do this”, or what I felt while listening to music, or what part of a song’s lyrics stuck with me, things like that.

――It was a tough period but at the same time, important, wasn’t it?

I: Yeah. It was really huge. So I worked for about two to three months, but during that time, I became friends with people from political groups, you know? Although, once again, my parents found out about it and they made me go home with them.

――But listening to what you’ve said thus far, you hated adults and when you couldn’t trust your peers in your age group, you went deeper into your shell and yet, you made friends with gay people and political participants. It’s as if you’ve got such a strong curiosity that you didn’t despair, at all?

I: Who knows? In any case, I wasn’t forgiven for getting expelled from high school anyway. Well, at this point in life I think I had no choice but to try and protect myself but that wasn’t how I thought at the time. So I was made to go back with them again, and this time it was a period of confinement.

――Like a period of house arrest where you weren’t allowed to go out?

I: Well sometimes I have to go help out with my father’s work, but everytime he saw my face, he’d say, “Useless. You’re useless.” so I didn’t want to step out of my room at all, you know? But I would also feel suffocated staying in my room so I’d just say, “I’m going for a walk,” and ride my bicycle to the beach.

――…… From there to a beach in Numazu.

I: So while in my room, it’s the same as usual; I was writing whatever, listening to music, reading books.

――Turning whatever was trapped in your heart into words and regurgitating them on paper.

I: Yeah, that’s right. Besides, I hadn’t yet thought of doing music at the time.

――You were a hollow vessel, weren’t you?

I: I didn’t know what I should do. I didn’t really want to go to school, neither did I want to go to work. I was in a total moratorium. And just right then, my younger brother who was living elsewhere because of my parents’ divorce also dropped out of high school, and once that happened, everyone started to say that it was because of his elder brother’s influence so it became difficult to stay for long no matter which family home I went to. I think that’s why there’s little sense of familial kinship to me.

When I started going on stage, I was called “good looking” for the first time.  That got me thinking, “This is where I’m meant to be. As long as I’m standing on stage, I’m not weird.”

――You never had a place where you belonged.

I: None at all. Knowing where I belonged was something that came much much later though. So, this situation continued for about three months or so until I couldn’t stand being alone in my room any longer and went back to high school. I had to do a year over again, but [I was allowed to go back] on the condition that “If [you] caused any problems this time, it’s the end.”

――So you enrolled in a local public high school?

I: Yeah. As usual, I’d go early in the morning, riding my bicycle as I hummed songs. Like David Bowie, Gary Numan, so on. But even though I was going to a new high school, I was a bundle of distrust, you know? Since I was a transfer student, [other students] would tell me, “If there’s anything you’re not sure about, you can ask us anytime.” But on the inside, I was being all, “Shut up, you idiot.”

――Everything looked like hypocrisy.

I: Yeah. I thought, “When push comes to shove, you’d all betray anyone,” you know? Also, I continued to write so I started getting the vague notion that I wanted to become an “author” but I didn’t know whether I had the talent for it. But my modern Japanese language teacher at the time, who was also my homeroom teacher, saw the things I wrote and said, “I rarely see anyone who’s both opinionated and writes this much so do keep writing more.” They also showed me the novel they were writing.

――That was the first time you met an adult who said such things to you, wasn’t it?

I: You’re right. The guys in school were good guys too, and I’m still friends with them to this day.

――You had a distorted experience in human relationships but here were people who received you with open arms.

I: Yeah. It’s the good-naturedness that we call “being Shizuokan!” (Lol) No matter how much I doubted them or how much suspicion I had in me, they were all people who stuck around proper. If anything, they found me interesting, saying things like, “This guy’s something else.” For example, if something happened that I couldn’t take lying down, I would butt heads with the teacher or would typically get sent to the staff room and start a big fight in there, but even that they found amusing.

――Despite being brought up in an environment that promotes social withdrawal, you’re direct, aren’t you?

I: Because I don’t like what I don’t like. And maybe I did some reflection at some point. Since I couldn’t express that I didn’t like something when I was little. Anyway, it was at that time when my teacher suggested, “How about you try writing poetry?” But I said, “I’ve never written anything ike poetry before.” To which he said, “Because your writing is similar to poetry. If you just cut some words out, it’ll turn into poetry.” Even though I understood what he meant, I didn’t have the confidence for it, except, that was when I started using ISSAY as my name.

――As a pen name?

I: Because, you see, I always sign off my writings and poetry with ISSAY. Anyway, that was when I came across T. Rex. And at the same time, I gave Sex Pistols another listen and that’s when I thought, “If we’re talking about something like this, I might just be able to do it too.”

――As in, you could probably sing like this?

I: I could probably make songs like these. That I might be able to write poetry. Thinking about it now, that’s one astounding idea, isn’t it (lol).

――(Lol) It certainly is. Also because you weren’t even doing anything band-related.

I: (Lol) Because I wasn’t. As to why rock music, it’s because I thought such simple rock music was within my abilities, and also because it’s a genre that lets these people turn themselves into their own form of expression. When I realised that “I can dress however I like, wear makeup, and say whatever I like!”, it was instant enlightenment for me, you know?

――Like you’re finally liberated from your gloomy everyday life?

I: And the next thing was figuring out what to do, you know? So, there was this senior who was graduating ahead of me who played the guitar, so I told him, “I’ll definitely go to a university in Tokyo next year.” This senior’s friend also played the guitar but I told him, “Go practice playing bass for me. I’ll find a drummer in university.” And that marked the end of my  second year in high school.

――All of a sudden you’re displaying initiative that looks like it comes from someone else.

I: Because, you see, I had to improve my academic abilities to a level that would get me accepted into a university, something I had never needed to do before. I figured that the only way I could leave home legally was to attend a Tokyo university. Furthermore, it would mean that I could eat for free for four years (lol). I thought I’d see what I could do there.

――Without telling your parents that you’d be doing music?

I: There’s no way I could tell them. So when I got to Tokyo, those were the days when YMO and all that new wave were all the rage. Like Bauhaus and bands like them were popular. It was a battle of ideas and as long as you had good taste, it would work out. And also, [much of it depended on] what the people who saw you thought of you. Anyway, since I’m abnormal¹, I knew that I would draw people’s attention no matter what so I found a drummer and started a band. That was ISSAY&THE SUICIDES.

――What kind of band was it?

I: Glam punk. Initially I said, “Why don’t we cover T. Rex. songs,” and then we went into a studio but then a melody came to mind while I was humming, and so we played an original song in our very first rehearsal. That got me convinced that I was a genius (lol).

――Do you remember what that song was?

I: Um, it was… MAD POET. It means “a crazy² poet”. After that, we went on to perform in a live house and that was the very first time someone said I was “good looking³”. Because I always thought I was a weird person.

――And those were the days before visual-kei was even a word, right?

I: It wasn’t, and while there were people getting up on stage wearing makeup, in my case, I wasn’t just wearing makeup because of music; I was wearing makeup because it’s my lifestyle. So having someone say that I’m “good looking” for the first time, that really got me thinking, “As I thought, this is where I’m meant to be. At the very least, as long as I’m standing on stage, I’m not weird.”

――So you grasped the chance to enter this universe once you performed in a livehouse?

I: Nah, that SUICIDES disbanded and I started my own solo project. That was when Morioka Ken (Soft Ballet) joined me as a member of my band, and bassist HAL, who later on formed DER ZIBET with me. So, during those days, I started getting covered in music magazines and featured in bishonen magazines, and that was how people in certain circles grew to know of my name.

We debuted when I was in my fourth year of university so thank goodness for that. Because if we didn’t, I think I’d just die.

――The bishonen magazines (e.g. JUNE), you were featured as a model, right?

I: Yeah. As a model, even though I’m a rock musician. At the time, I thought I needed to do something, whatever it was so I decided to do anything and everything for the sake of it. During that period of time, I happened to get to know my first manager. And later, I got acquainted with my pantomime mentor who asked, “Come join our next show?” I said, “I can’t do pantomime though.” but he said, “I’ll only have you do what’s within your abilities.” So I said, “Sure, I’ll do it.” Besides, I also had the idea that it would be interesting to incorporate pantomime into my performances. And so from then on, I started wearing two hats, being a musician and also doing pantomime.

――So, after the solo project came the formation of DER ZIBET?

I: That’s right. I was getting tired of playing in a band where the member line-up kept changing more and more often, so I asked my staff at the time to help me look for band members. And that person was present in a meeting for Macoto Tezka’s first movie, The Legend of the Stardust Brothers; you know, the one that Chikada Haruo-san composed music for. The two of them were looking for a substitute for an actor who suddenly couldn’t take the job, but anyway, what I heard was that my staff happened to drop my photo before their eyes. And that made them ask, “Who’s this guy?”

――You were a perfect fit for the portrayal of this character.

I: Yeah. My staff told them that they had my profile on hand for the purpose of recruiting band members but they decided that, “Let’s meet him anyway.” So I met them and they said it’s a rock musical so I said okay to it.

――Which means before DER ZIBET, came the movie, The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (1984).

I: So when filming just about wrapped up, we settled on the members of DER ZIBET and when Chikada-san came to watch us play live, he really liked us so he introduced us to the president of the record company he was going to start. And the next year, we made our debut with them as their very first artist.

――After the band was formed, everything quickly fell into place, didn’t it?

I: We debuted when I was in my fourth year of university so thank goodness for that. Because if we didn’t, I think I’d just die.

――……

I: Because, you see, I thought there was no point in living otherwise. And also because on the inside, I decided that if nothing was decided within this period of time then… you know?

I absolutely hated singing in front of people (lol). I wanted to do something that turns a person’s existence into a performance.

――So what plans did you envision for DER ZIBET?

I: [I wanted us to be] a covetous band who is absorbed and incorporated music that isn’t rock too. These words hadn’t come to my mind yet at the time, but [we were to play] “rock music that is an extension of cabaret music”. With classical bits, vulgar parts, and pantomime incorporated, I wanted to do something completely new. Like I said earlier, it’s because those were the days of competing with ideas. In terms of whether I was good at singing or not, that was probably not mentioned anywhere (lol).

――(Lol) Besides, [your case is] unlike that of those who became vocalists because they liked singing, right?

I: Yeah. Especially because I absolutely hated singing in front of people (lol). And also because I wanted to do something that turns a person’s existence into a performance.

――Just by standing on stage?

I: No, what I wanted to do was to the extent that even just regular walking is a performance.

――You mentioned this earlier, but this was in the mid-80s when visual-kei had yet to be coined as a word.

I: In those days, I changed the colour of my hair almost every week; one time it would be purple and the next thing you know, it’s green, then gold (lol). Even when I was young, I’ve always been told, “You’re probably doing this because you think it’s cool, but anyone who looks at you would just think you’re strange.”

――After debut, your performances have been described as European decadence, theatrical, along these lines. I heard that you even had a street lamp mounted on stage, and used masks too.

I: We came on stage carrying hand lamps, right?

――At the same time, you had 16-beat songs, incorporated tango and jazz into your music; I remember thinking I’ve never seen such a band before.

I: And adding to that, we are wearing tuxedos, right? (Lol)

――Later on, people started saying that you’re one of the forefathers of visual-kei.

I: But back then, there were already bands like Auto-Mod and Madame Edwarda in the underground scene. Although it was still sometime before they became more mainstream.

――But the fact is, BUCK-TICK’s Sakurai-san went to watch your show when you debut, and in your first solo album which was released in 1994, Sakurai-san and hide-san and LUNA SEA’s SUGIZO-san, and even Kiyoharu-san who was in Kuroyume at the time were all guest artists too. While DER ZIBET was at first deemed to be uniquely distinctive, don’t you think that as your activities continued, you grew to become a band which musicians look up to?

I: Mm, but I think it’s just that we happened to debut early and that this culture would’ve come about sooner or later anyway. Although, to this day, I must say that I am grateful to Chikada-san and his record company friend who took an interest in us back then. Because even though we didn’t really make many hits, they really took good care of us.

――I think that’s because you had so much originality. We’re switching topics a lot, but it was also a surprise when you released two mini albums titled Shishunki (思春期) in 1991. Because back then, no one would’ve ever thought the Japanese word for “adolescence” (思春期) could appear in rock music.

I: Well, there sure were a mix of opinions, weren’t there? The whole band was made up of people who wouldn’t be satisfied unless we kept doing something new, but while there’s no doubt that we had good taste, when you listen to it now, it’s definitely pop music. A while ago (October 2005), I played a show in Numazu for my 20th debut anniversary where I performed only self-covers of DER ZIBET songs, and [that’s when I realised that] despite how everyone kept going on about how niche and outlandish we were, it’s so curious how it’s just pop music now.

――Yes, yes. So, DER ZIBET announced an indefinite hiatus in 1996. But apart from your solo album release while DER ZIBET was active, you also formed the electronic-rock unit Hamlet Machine.

I: That was a period (1991) of time when DER ZIBET barely did any shows. So I’d say that Hamlet Machine was a new unit that was formed as a result of the explosion of my desire to fulfil my needs. I’m a stage performer so I can’t live without live performances.

――Which is why other than the one solo album, you stuck with performing in bands after going on hiatus.

I: Perhaps. After we announced the hiatus, I did form the band Φ -PHI-.

――With ex. 44MAGNUM band member Hirose Satoshi-san on guitar.

I: A band with two frontmen. But we broke up in three years anyway.

――So now, you’re involved in activities for three bands at the same time; Hamlet Machine which has been around for quite a while now, LYNX and ISSAY meets DOLLY.

I: Yes. It’s an extraordinary state of affairs (lol). With DOLLY, [it came about] because I wanted to play in this type of band no matter what, you know?

――Meaning?

I: Cabaret music through and through. I wanted to be infused in that kind of a world that lives outside of the field of rock music.

――Would you say that the original idea you had in mind was something along the lines of the movie Cabaret (starring Liza Minnelli)?

I: That, and the musical version of Cabaret too. And there’s also some influences that come from glam rock musicians too.

――I see. With a keyboard and violins included in the arrangements, the performances are a combination of acoustic and band music, right?

I: Yeah. There are classical elements included as well, but it’s also got the raunchiness of glam rock which makes it sort of decadent. I guess you could call it neo-classical romanticism. I’m doing this with the feeling that I might be the only person who can bring out the beautiful and the grotesque, the gaudy and the raunchy in such a manner.

――I’m getting the impression that DOLLY and LYNX seem to exist on different vectors.

I: LYNX, we started out playing sessions together and this year, we officially formed the band. They invited me for events a number of times and I was thinking it felt engaging when bassist heath (ex. X JAPAN) suggested, “Let’s form a band.” And I said, “You be the leader then.” (Lol) I’ve never been in a masculine band like LYNX so it’s pretty interesting, you know?

――It’s rock with a manly vibe. Can you share a little bit about the members?

I: On bass is heath, while on guitar is SAY→ICHIRO who was from HUSH and is now in w.a.r.p., and on drums is test-NO.’s Matarow. Sometime last year I thought I should do this while I could, you know? That I wouldn’t reject it if it ever came up (lol). LYNX is still a rough stine but I’m pretty interested to see how each of our characteristics would come together from here on out. Just a while ago, we performed in Numazu as a cover band.

――Yes, yes. The Numazu show where LYNX performed DER ZIBET songs and an original member of DER ZIBET, HIKARU participated as a special guest, right?

I: Yeah. Drummer Matarow was the one who came up with the idea and SAY→ICHIRO was the one who suggested performing in Numazu (lol). I didn’t think that HIKARU would really show up, but it so happened that I met him for the first time in a while at a mutual acquaintance’s party. And when I asked him, “Should we play [those songs]?”, he said, “Just do it,”  so then I said, “I wonder if you’d wanna perform too,” and he replied with, “Ah, well, DZ songs are hard, aren’t they.” (Lol)

――Even though the ones who arranged those songs were you, yourselves.

I: But once I mentioned that we’re playing in Numazu, he said, “If that’s the case then maybe I’ll do it.” (Lol) With that 20th anniversary show, I was happy that [the other members of] LYNX wanted to celebrate the occasion for me and we didn’t want to make too big a deal out of it which is why it was held in Numazu. Besides, those who really wanted to come would come for it anyway.

――In any case, you still look the same as you did back then. Including your figure. What’s your secret to maintaining it?

I: Willpower (lol). I can’t give you a good answer to that question. Because I drink, I don’t do diets, I don’t even go to the gym. Well, but I don’t have calmness or composure (lol). The kind of social responsibility or something that people in their 40s have.

――(Strained laugh) People who feel the burden of life.

I: Maybe I don’t have it? Probably.

――But do you incorporate pantomime into your daily life? Like in your postures or something.

I: That, yes. Also, I’ve been exclusively [playing the role] “ISSAY” for over 20 years now, you know? Earlier, I said that I never had a place to belong, but as I went through life, what I learnt is that a place of belonging isn’t something you search for, but something you can make for yourself. Perhaps the biggest winners are the ones who say, “This is my place.”

――I see. Based on what I’m hearing, I get the feeling that ever since you started using the name ISSAY for your poetry, you stuck the label of “puberty (思春期 / shishunki)” on yourself and continued to keep to the promise that you made to yourself all those years back.

I: What a wonderful way to put it (lol). But I’m too embarrassed to let such words come out of my own mouth.

――When the ISSAY-HIKARU duo came back to life at the 20th anniversary event, were there those among your fans who started speculating a return?

I: Firstly, I have no intention of doing DER ZIBET again right now. Because there’s no point unless each of us are at our best, and besides, I live in the moment. There are things I have to do with Hamlet Machine, DOLLY, and LYNX respectively, and there’s also significant meaning for me to be in each of these bands, so I want to do them all right. And we being humans, we never know what will happen when, so I want to do whatever I can. Anyway, I’ll just stop if it’s not working out. I have quite a lot of shows to do, so I hope you’ll come and watch. Because you never know when real rock bands will cease to exist.

――Whatever the band?

I: Yeah. Because bands would break up over any sort of ridiculous reason. Which is why I say that it doesn’t have to have anything to do with me, but if there is a band you want to see, I hope that you’ll go and see them against all odds. I don’t want people to say things like, “I should’ve gone back then.” Because there’s nothing sadder than hearing that a band has broken up.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

¹ I chose to translate this part as “abnormal” but the specific word he used to describe himself with was 奇形 (kikei) which is more along the lines of “deformed”, “freak”, “monstrosity”.

² The original text actually censored the Japanese (キチガイ / kichigai), writing it as キ★ガイinstead. While simply translated as “mad/crazy/lunatic”, it is also used to describe a person who has thoughts that are different from other people or slightly divergent from them, and has been interpreted (maliciously or excessively) to simply refer to a person whose behaviour is seen as abnormal by society, or behaviour that is socially unacceptable, or even to that person itself. Although there’s no written rule, this word was supposedly banned from use in mass media in the 1970s after family members of mentally disabled persons protested strongly against its use, calling it discriminatory and hurtful. To this day, you apparently can’t even name characters with this word in games. 

³ カッコいい (kakkoii) was the word here and since “cool” wasn’t exactly the kind of word you’d use back in the 80s, I went with the much more literal translation of “good looking”.

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Image scans: wilhelmina111 on LJ
Text scans: Yoshiyuki

Dedicated to Sakurai Atsushi—
The forever five, believing in the future of BUCK-TICK

Rockin’ On Japan
January 2024

Text = Tae Omae

 

This manuscript was written on the 19th of November. Exactly a month ago, I was shocked by the news that Sakurai Atsushi had to be rushed to the hospital after performing the third song on the stage of a fan club-exclusive show. I prayed for his recovery. But the sad news reached me a few days later. Even now, I’m having difficulty accepting the fact that Sakurai-san’s body is no longer in this world.

As the vocalist who spun the lyrics to more than half of BUCK-TICK’s songs, death was a recurring theme in his work and although he sometimes looked like he was toeing a dangerously thin line at the edge of a precipice, he would always return to the realm of the living without fail. While he peered into the abyss of death, his desire to live was stronger than anyone’s. Perhaps the energy and friction of this continued attachment [to both life and death] is the true nature [of his] which birthed that immeasurable darkness and beauty.

A person’s soul is immortal. The life that each and everyone of us lives in a physical body is precious. Sakurai Atsushi was an artist unlike any other who believed in both of these sentiments equally.

 

Nicknamed the “Demon King”, he had darkness-tinged, beautiful good looks which were breathtaking, but he was untouched by narcissism. Whenever I asked him about music recording work during interviews, he would search for the right words with an almost naive sincerity, and then a shy, gentle smile appears on his face before he answers. 

The band celebrated their 35th debut anniversary in 2022. During their national tour for their latest album, 異空 – IZORA – which was released this year, he displayed depth of a whole other league as a performer with his phantasmagorical singing, his poetic narratives between songs, and his eloquent miming with the use of eye contact and even the very tips of his fingers. 

Life is love and death (Vita est amor et mors / 人生は愛と死).  Death is not that which separates but rather, an extension of life. Everyone should be free to themselves, to live the way they want. Watching his performance of Sayonara Shelter alone and the way it embodies the sadness, pain, joys and love, senselessness and magnanimousness, resignation and hope of war in their entirety, the heights to which he brings his performance gives me shivers. The peerlessly handsome man who was as good as the incarnation of Eros had transcended gender and anything and everything to exude the compassion and mercy of the Virgin Mary.

 

On the 14th of November came a news flash; on the 29th of December, the originally announced annual concert at the Nippon Budokan being cancelled and in place, a concert named “バクチク現象-2023- (BakuChiku Genshou / BUCK-TICK Phenomenon)” will be held. バクチク現象 is a special concept that was applied to shows like the commemorative concert that was held in 1987 for the release of their album, HURRY UP MODE, and their comeback concert at the Tokyo Dome in 1989.

The October 2012 edition of this magazine featured BUCK-TICK who were celebrating their 25th anniversary at the time. Group interviews and photo sessions were held for it. Varied in appearance and demeanour, the five of them were tied together by a red string…… Or rather, there seemed to be hints that they were all holding on tightly to the red string, each with their own willpower.

There’s no way to predict the specifics of バクチク現象, but I cannot forget the words that Sakurai-san said in recent concerts. “The Parade goes on until we die. [And] even when we die it continues.” Whatever shape the future which the five of them envisioned takes, I believe they intend to see it though.

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki

ROCK AND READ 108
August 2023

 

 

BUCK-TICK
TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA-

Text◎Koji Yoshida
Photography◎Seitaro Tanaka

 

The tour for their 23rd album, 異空 -IZORA-. There’s still a postponed show in Aichi and the grand finale in Gunma, but it could be said that the 2-day show in Tokyo marks the end of a chapter. This piece is a report on the first Tokyo show.


The venue was a large, eight thousand-seat capacity hall, but the stage setup was very simple. There were no large screens to show the band on, neither were there decorative elements. In this setting, the opening instrumental QUANTUM Ⅰ started playing and a psychedelic video played on the LED screen in the back of the stage. As the words “異空 (izora)” appear, the members of the band come on stage and Hoshino Hidehiko plays an arpeggio, Sakurai starts to softly sing, “Nigerarenai, Nigerarenai, Ore wa mou doko e mo (逃げられない 逃げられない 俺はもう何処へも)”. Keeping in line with the flow of the album, the first song was SCARECROW. Hoshino and Imai Hisashi’s guitar ensemble seem to toe the line between harmony and dissonance alongside the precise drumming of Yagami Toll and Higuchi Yutaka’s calm and collected bass. And there’s Sakurai, singing melancholically with his face hidden under a hat. Shown on the screen was a scarecrow, or perhaps, a crucifix. Whether they wanted to or not, from the very beginning the audience was sucked into the relentless story that BUCK-TICK had woven in 異空 -IZORA-.

Warukyuure no Kikou starts with pipe organ music. Grossly distorted guitar sounds playing to a steady drumbeat and bass groove reminiscent of a marching procession made for an unsettling atmosphere. Removing his hat, Sakurai sang passionately, as if possessed. In short, this second song continued to give me chills like the first.

It wasn’t a bombardment of songs which came afterwards; there was a short pause after each song as the show progressed. Whether it was to let the audience’s cheers rain down on them with the ban lifted, to take some time to shift focus for the next song, or simply for a change of guitars, this was different from the typical rock concerts which attack vigorously. At the same time, it all felt very solemn.

Imai and Sakurai’s duet, IGNITER featured kanji sync-ed with the lyrics swirling on the screen. Sakurai shone a light in the audience area while singing Uta. And then, the first MC.

“Hello darling? Hello baby? Do have fun~.”

Sakurai whispered with a voice which transcends gender and age. Before I knew it, there he was wearing knee-high stockings and garter belts……

A torch lit up in the back of the stage and I thought he was about to give an erotic performance of Ai no Harem but instead, he performed a glimmer of hope in a disastrous situation to violin music under a screen of a star-filled sky with Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix, followed by Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni which felt like the breaking of dawn. Although dressed in a basic jet black, Sakurai’s ability to express himself in red, white, light blue and yellow was simply overwhelming.

Sandwiched between Imai’s surf music playing before and after was THE SEASIDE STORY, followed by the BUCK-TICK-flavoured city pop song Mugen LOOP -LEAP-. After that, Sakurai said, “Thank you for all your cheers. Everyone can now make a little more noise again, there’s even some part of me that isn’t sure what I should do…… But, anyway, let’s have fun. With that, the band moved into Boogie Woogie. Then, towards the end of the Showa-era jazz flavoured Noraneko Blue, Sakurai crouched and hissed like a cat.

I’ve said this before, but Sakurai really looked as if he was possessed by something. Transcending attributes like gender and age, and even human or cat, it was amazing how he changed completely with each song he delves into. Even during Taiyou to Icarus which came after THE FALLING DOWN, Jonathan Jet-Coaster, Sakurai looked like he really became a bird, or perhaps an angel soaring through the skies as his figure merged with images of the cosmos on the screen.

Just as he said, “Thank you for today,” in a friendly voice, Sakurai started to whisper in repeat, “I want to die… I want to live…”. Hoshino’s gentle acoustic guitar, Imai’s spacey noise, Yagami’s cool beats, and Higuchi’s solid groove; the heavenly universe named BUCK-TICK grows, ever-expanding. When the screen turns a blank white at the end, Sakurai turns and walks in its direction, disappearing into the halation. After that, only feedback noise remains as the other members of the band also leave the stage in the backlight of the screen. It was as if they were each going back into the BUCK-TICK universe.

The stage reopens with a drum solo by Yagami. The other members then came on stage and after Imai and Higuchi’s usual habit of taking photos and videos of the audience from the stage, the second part of this concert, the encore began with the beautiful ballad Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru.

After CLIMAX TOGETHER, ONCE UPON A TIME, and Kogoeru, Sakurai said, “My name is Hizumi. Correct, I’m sad. I wear my favourite dresses, put on pretty makeup; I’m just living my life. But everyone laughs at this. Even though I’m just living…… Father, Mother, I love you…… Thank you…… Goodbye……”. Then starts the amazing Hizumi. It’s BUCK-TICK’s style of a lullaby. Coupled with Imai playing his guitar while dancing the hopscotch-like jenkka, the twisted worldview which seemed to be tickled by childish wonder left me with breathless surprise.

“Thank you very much for [coming] tonight. We appreciate it. Thank you.” With that, they proceeded into the final song, Na mo Naki Watashi. A single stalk of a white flower appeared on screen. Whether it gets blown by the wind, gets rained on, or has countless flower petals flying around it, the flower doesn’t fall. In Sakurai’s interview which was published in issue 106, he spoke about this song, saying, “It is enough to bloom and exist as you are.” Each and everyone of us live differently under different skies. There will likely be tough or agonising days. But it’s okay, because the fact that you are here is more than enough――That’s the kind of message the song seemed to send. Then, the ending instrumental QUANTUM Ⅱ played and the curtains closed on the concert.

Despite the contrast between the main show and the encore, it was a complete story. What kind of sky did you see here? There were likely those who got a painful reminder of reality too. Yet it’s likely not an exaggeration to say that there were likely others who felt some sense of hope for life. But it goes without saying that all these different thoughts and emotions are all precious in their own way.

 

TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA
2023.7.22-23 Tokyo Garden Theatre

1. QUANTUM I
2. SCARECROW
3. Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries)
4. IGNITER
5. Uta
6. Ai no Harem (Harem of Love)
7. Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix
8. Campanella  Hanataba wo Kimi ni (A Bouquet For You)
9. THE SEASIDE STORY
10. Mugen LOOP -LEAP-
11. Boogie Woogie
12. Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue)
13. THE FALLING DOWN
14. Jonathan Jet-Coaster
15. Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus)
16. Die

―encore―
1. Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru
2. CLIMAX TOGETHER
3. ONCE UPON A TIME (22nd)/MISTY ZONE (23rd)
4. Kogoeru
5. Hizumi
6. Na mo Naki Watashi
SE QUANTUM II

 

profile & information
Formed in 1985. Members of the band are vocalist Sakurai Atsushi, guitarist Imai Hisashi, guitarist Hoshino Hidehiko, bassist Higuchi Yutaka, and drummer Yagami Toll. “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO” will be held on Sunday, the 17th and Monday, the 18th of September at Gunma Music Center. Following, the livehouse tour “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- ALTERNATIVE SUN” will start on Friday, the 20th of October.
buck-tick.com

※An interview with Higuchi Yutaka which was conducted prior to this concert comes next.

 

 

 

 

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Higuchi Yutaka
BUCK-TICK

Text◎Okubo Yuka
Photography◎MASA (Alegre), Yamauchi Hiroe (PROGRESS-M)

 

profile & information
Born 24 January 1967. Blood type A. Bassist of BUCK-TICK which was formed in 1985. Other members of the band are vocalist Sakurai Atsushi, guitarist Imai Hisashi, guitarist Hoshino Hidehiko, and drummer Yagami Toll.
buck-tick.com

 

To all our fans

BUCK-TICK will wrap up the tour for their 23rd album, 異空 -IZORA- in July with the shows at Tokyo Garden Theatre before concluding the 35th anniversary year of their major debut with two shows on 17 and 18 September in their hometown of Gunma.

In this issue, we spoke to bassist Higuchi Yutaka about his journey with BUCK-TICK. From details about their first show at Shinjuku JAM to the real reason behind holding their comeback concert at Tokyo Dome, some things are being talked about for the first time in this interview but he would also constantly mention their gratitude to the fans who would wait for them no matter when.

And now, BUCK-TICK steadily heads towards their 36th year together.


I want for us to keep going for as long as we can. Because there are people who will wait for us.
That’s why I really want to cherish this, all of this.

——Following the release of the album, 異空 -IZORA-¹ we’re now in the midst of your national tour “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA”². At the juncture of this interview (mid-July), you’re left with five more shows to go. How do you feel about this?

Yutaka (Y): I think we pulled it off really well, it also feels like it’s all gone by really fast.

——With this tour spanning 20 shows, it’s not exactly a short tour, though.

Y: Maybe it’s because we had a lot of weekend shows, but I find myself thinking, “It’s already ending?” I gradually got comfortable as we went along, so maybe that’s all the more why I feel like this.

——The 異空 -IZORA- album encapsulates the currents and atmosphere of this era. Is there anything you feel even more strongly about now that you’ve brought this perspective all around the country?

Y: It’s definitely impossible to pretend I don’t know, right? The current state of society. But something I’ve felt from the very beginning is that it might be better not to hold on too tightly to that. There are some songs that touch on it, but we don’t have to keep bringing it up across the whole show. And I think we managed to do this.

——I assume that’s coming from the consideration about how your audience would feel. There’s a storyline in the setlist for this tour, so I thought it was meant to make it easier to bring a message across.

Y: That’s right. We kept deliberating about whether we should make the main part of the show the story or include the encore as well and turn the whole concert into one big story though. We didn’t really split it into two parts, but we decided not to do a double encore and instead perform 異空 -IZORA- properly with just the main show and one encore.

——I see. I think it became even richer when you mixed in past songs.

Y: Also, the audience is now allowed to cheer starting this tour, so I think the way people enjoy the concert has also changed bit by bit.

——Cheering definitely adds to the atmosphere.

Y: And we can still hear everyone even wearing the ear monitors. I felt all, “Ah~, this is what it felt like.”

——Your 35th debut anniversary year also comes to an end in September. Looking back on this past year, how do you feel?

Y: First of all is that we have a lot to be grateful for. Because there was a lot we couldn’t do during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even last September’s show at Yokohama Arena³ feels like it happened three years ago. These are things to be happy about, definitely. Like being able to see our fans, like the way the whole country waited for us. All that.

——For this 35th anniversary year, ROCK AND READ first had Yagami-san⁴ tell us about the band’s 35-year history. Then, Hoshino-san⁴ looked back on these 35 years with a focus on the music he wrote. This time, with Higuchi-san, I’d like to focus on the stage from your perspective and how the view from your position has changed. Do you remember the first time you got on stage?

Y: The first time was as a member of BUCK-TICK’s predecessor band (Hinan GO-GO), when we performed at a music store in Gunma. At the time, we were covering songs by THE STALIN, but I didn’t feel nervous or anything like that. Before I knew it, we were done (lol). That was during the band boom back then and Mentai rock and bands like THE MODS were popular so it felt as if everyone was covering those. At that gig, cover bands who covered THE MODS or HOUND DOG and all those were there too. So, right after the HOUND DOG cover band sang Namida no Birthday, you’d have us performing THE STALIN’s Tenpura. It really was quite the event (lol). The audience were somehow mistaken for punks too because it looked like they were entirely made up of Keganin (怪我人, lit. injured person).

——That event sounds like a blast. What are Keganin?

Y: They’re guys wrapped up in bandages and stuff. A misinterpretation of punk. Just Keganin (lol). This wasn’t a school event but there were a lot of kids from other schools who came too.

——So after the band becomes BUCK-TICK, which venue comes to mind?

Y: In our early days, I’d say it’s definitely Shinjuku JAM. It’s the very first venue we performed at in Tokyo, and when Acchan (Sakurai Atsushi) became our vocalist with Anii (Yagami Toll) playing drums, our first show⁵ was at JAM too. At first, there were chairs lined up on the audience floor. The stage at JAM was low so if the audience stands, their view barely changes. We also often performed at Shibuya’s YANEURA and Shinjuku ABC Hall. In the beginning, all we had was a tiny stage so when we performed, it was like we were all squished together in a packed train carriage. So close together that the necks of our guitars would clash (lol). We step on pedals to tune without making any sound, but it was so cramped that there were times when (the front row audience would) keep stepping on them too.

——How did you increase the audience turnout?

Y: When Acchan became our vocalist, we’ve been in Tokyo for a while now and we made friends with all kinds of people. As we got invited to perform in joint gig shows, our audience numbers also steadily grew, something like that. …… I think we probably never held one-man shows. We certainly didn’t at YANEURA, and I’m of the feeling that we didn’t at JAM either. The one-man show we did at LOFT only happened after we debuted anyway.

——Does that mean you received an offer from a major label before you even did a one-man show?

Y: I guess we got into the habit of doing events or joint-gigs. When we released HURRY UP MODE⁶ under an indie label, we did a show at Toshima Civic Center⁷ but there were a few other bands who performed then too. It’s just that we were the main act. Then just before we debuted, we did that one-man show at Shibuya LIVE INN⁸.

We started with fifteen people or so (in the audience), then a hundred months later, and then two hundred the next time.
Seeing our audience grow every time we go, that was when I thought, “Maybe this’ll work out?”

——While seeing your audience grow, around when did Higuchi-san start feeling convinced that this band could make it?

Y: That’s got to be some time right after we made our debut. Especially because we started travelling to other regions. Because people wouldn’t come at all in the very beginning, you know? We’d do joint-gigs with those who are locally popular and steadily build our audience. After debuting, I had the impression that the regional areas were more peculiar than Tokyo.

——Peculiar in what way?

Y: For example, so, we often toured the Tohoku area. Back then, Tohoku had the most rock music lovers in Japan so it was pretty exciting. There were huge festivals, and we even participated in a live tour called Tohoku Rock Circuit⁹. There weren’t many regional TV stations so I remember very well that we made a guest appearance on one of Iwate’s TV programs which was broadcast on Fridays at 7 p.m.. Even though we just made our debut, we were making a guest appearance at prime time (lol).

——I want to see that (lol).

Y: I think we got quite the viewership numbers (lol). Going on tour right after we debuted, Tohoko was the one region where we held one-man shows right from the get go. We started with only fifteen people or so in the audience but when we went back months later, that grew to about a hundred, and the next time we went again, it became two hundred. Seeing our audience grow everytime we go, that was when I thought, “Maybe this’ll work out?” Because there were probably more in the audience than in other areas like Osaka or Nagoya too.

——So, the flame of BUCK-TICK was first lit in Tohoku.

Y: It’s actually the same even now. What makes me happiest is seeing people come together to see us when we go somewhere we don’t know about or we’ve never been to. It energises us, in a way. This is about the first time we went to Sendai for a show at Yamaha Hall¹⁰ at the start of the tour, but when the instrumental track started playing we couldn’t make a single sound right from the start (lol).

——That’s something you’ll certainly remember clearly (lol).

Y: Yeah, it’s like, “Problems right from the beginning!” (Lol) These things happened quite a lot too.

We didn’t want to make it such that people who wanted to get in couldn’t.
That’s why I remember we said that we wanted to perform where everyone could enter.

——In the midst of it all, just a year after debut, you stood in the Nippon Budokan for the first time¹² for the final show of your SEVENTH HEAVEN¹¹ tour.

Y: We actually weren’t all that emotional about it. Maybe it’s because we didn’t really have much of an impression of the Nippon Budokan as a venue. The reason for that is because the bands we like didn’t play at the Nippon Budokan anyway. Maybe the only one who did was BOØWY.

——So it wasn’t exactly a venue you’d aim to perform at back then

Y: Comparatively, I felt more when we played at Shibuya Public Hall for the first time¹³, like, “We’re really performing in a hall.” I think that was for the SEVENTH HEAVEN tour too. Besides, BOØWY had also performed there before, along with ARB and musicians of the like.

——Speaking of Shibuya Public Hall, that’s where BOØWY announced their split, wasn’t it?

Y: I went and saw BOØWY performing there too. Back then, the audience would crowd at the front of the entrance. I remember seeing band members of ROGUE and PERSONZ there too.

——How was the performance at Tokyo Dome¹⁴ for your comeback?

Y: It felt like it ended pretty quickly, actually. There was no concept at the time, but we said that we didn’t want to make it such that people who wanted to get in couldn’t. Since we had to go on hiatus just before that, we didn’t want to let down anyone who wanted to come. That’s why I remember we said that we wanted to perform where everyone could enter.

——I see. In the past, I think someone said something along the lines of, “The adults (record company) had helped clinch [the venue] for us”, but I didn’t know that everyone in the band held such a hope.

Y: I believe that’s what it was. And also…… Tokyo Dome had only been open for about a year at the time, and I have a strong memory of how bad the sound system was (lol). In ROMANESQUE¹⁵, there’s a break after the “dan”, but the sound was reverberating and it turned into a “dandada~n” so there was no break at all (lol). It’s a venue that wasn’t originally made for concerts, so the sound engineer had to figure things out along the way too.

——I want to hear ROMANESQUE being played by the present BUCK-TICK too.

Y: Eh? Because it’s quite the song, isn’t it? And the hi-hat can’t be hit for that break. It makes you wonder how it all fits together (lol).

——So what happened in Tokyo Dome?

Y: I think the hi-hat was put in at Tokyo Dome. The ROMANESQUE we did in our amateur era had no hi-hat but we released a mini album, didn’t we? That was when we started including the hi-hat, I believe. It turned into something impossible (lol).

――It gets more difficult as the venue grows bigger, doesn’t it?Y: Because we all had our eyes on Anii back then (lol).

――BUCK-TICK tends to stage elaborate performances too. I’ve even heard that once something new can be utilised, it’ll very likely be employed in BUCK-TICK’s shows.

Y: That’s right. When the opportunity presents itself, our stage planner would want to try doing something interesting. One of our shows, there was spider silk, right? Where it flys out together with tape streamers. That was something our stage planner came up with. I heard that it would be out of this world if he owned the rights to that one. Apparently he got the idea when he went to watch a kabuki performance, he saw that white spider silk flying through the air and started wondering whether there was a way he could somehow employ that effectively. That started from BUCK-TICK’s stage. After that, he thought projectiles were really fun to work with, so next, he sent Cyalume (glow-in-the-dark materials) flying. He wanted to make Cyalume-filled pill capsules that were slightly bigger than medicinal ones fly with special effects, but they shot out [of the cannons] so quickly that there were no [visual] effects at all (lol). There wasn’t enough light intensity so they all fell to the ground before they could even start glowing.

――To think there were such failures too (lol).

Y: We also had artificial roses falling. Since they were artificial, they were heavy so they just dropped to the ground with a thud. He wondered if there was something he could do about it but, since they had already been made, we decided to just go ahead with it and let them drop down on us. I had them fall on my head and get stuck too (lol). Basically, if the stage was small, the flowers would drop above me too. I guess the correct solution to that might’ve probably been to lay them out on the floor.

――Appearing on stage from the inside of a giant balloon, rain falling down only on Sakurai-san’s head in a live house; you had a lot of jaw dropping stage productions.

Y: That was during our live house tour¹⁶, right. Depending on the venue, sometimes we could use that equipment and sometimes we couldn’t, yeah.

――The stage production in recent years seems to give the impression that you’re using the power and beauty of images and videos to further expand the world of the songs.

Y: The stage planner who worked with us throughout all this time thinking about all kinds of production had passed away so there’s now a new person in-charge which could’ve been the reason why there’s a slight change in the atmosphere of our recent concerts. And also that the resolution had gone up in the past three to four years which allows us to create particularly beautiful videos.

――Concert production has evolved considerably alongside the technological advances made in LED visuals.

Y: That’s right. Even for music videos; we had always recorded them on film and when we suddenly switched to filming digitally, everything was captured so clearly. It somehow felt unpleasant so we would make those sharp images a little bit grainier.

――Around when was that?

Y: Probably 21st Cherry Boy¹⁷. It was around that time when we suddenly went digital. I remember feeling like it’s a TV.

――Being in business for 35 years, you’ve been directly affected by the shift from analogue to digital, and later on, the further advancements of digital recording. What do you think about this present era we’re in where people can listen to music for free?

Y: We are still releasing CDs even now, but we’re definitely trending in that direction, aren’t we? Like David Bowie said, in the end, music itself is going to become like running water or electricity.

――How does Higuchi-san usually listen to music?

Y: I import CDs into my PC to listen to them.

――What kind of music do you listen to in your own time?

Y: Instead of new releases, I more often dig up old music to listen to these days.

――When you go back as an adult to listen to the music you used to listen to, you’d sometimes come across new discoveries, right? Like meanings in the lyrics.

Y: And that happens with the music we make too. Something would be playing and just when I think that this particular track sounds pretty cool, I’d realise, “Huh? Is this BUCK-TICK?” (Lol) There and then I’d become aware that a particular song had been arranged in a particular way, or something.

――And you’ve got an impressive catalogue too.

Y: That’s why I’m doing my best to listen to our own music now (lol). I have to get it all in, don’t I? Since last September’s shows at Yokohama Arena, we’ve been performing throughout this whole time and if I don’t take something out, nothing can go in (lol).  That’s why whenever we start touring, I’ll try my best not to listen to other music. I’ll listen to the songs that we’re performing for the tour, but I won’t listen to anything else. Even Anii says, “Don’t listen.” (Lol)

――You’re focused (lol). There’s a lot that makes me think that BUCK-TICK’s really amazing, like how you keep revamping yourselves with calling each release “the newest is the best”, but looking at your 35-year history, things weren’t always looking up and there even were times when your audience numbers dropped. I’m hoping that you could touch on that a little.

Y: We definitely felt it, back then. Since we weren’t making many appearances on TV and broadcast, suburbs won’t receive much information. I think music magazines were having their best days during that period, though. People living in the suburbs would probably get their information through magazines even if there’s no TV, but that was gradually on the decline which meant that information wasn’t getting to them and so started the situation of our drop in audience numbers.

――Were you anxious or anything like that at the time?

Y: Nope, we weren’t. Because it’s not as if there’s zero people. If we had zero then I think we’d definitely have to start thinking about things though (lol). What we were doing in Tokyo worked here [in Tokyo] so we said we would create this sort of a stage set to travel around the country with, but if we picked smaller venues in the suburbs because of a smaller turnout, the set wouldn’t be able to fit. Since we had to perform in venues that could fit the set, we didn’t have much of a choice except to go with the larger halls. Doing that is what led to empty seats.

――I see, so that’s the situation. How did you stay motivated then?

Y: Hmm… It’s more like, we weren’t all that disheartened (lol). We just continued business as usual. On the contrary, even in such a situation, we just feel happy that we were doing what we’re doing, all of us.

――While most bands would go on hiatus or disband because they couldn’t quite overcome such a period, BUCK-TICK made a comeback and have continued to see success since. That’s another part of BUCK-TICK that amazes me.

Y: You could say that our good points can be seen precisely because we’ve been at this for a long time. I don’t think that we’re all growing together. Let’s say, when everyone runs out at the  “Get ready, and start!” call, you could start out great but wither away towards the midpoint, and one by one, everyone would pull out or something. At the same time, there’s no way that everyone can always stay on the same page, is there? Even if you’re all, “Alright, let’s get going!!”, there are times when you’d realise that, “Huh? I’m the only one who went?” Right? When that happens, you’d tend to stop whatever you’re doing once you realise that something isn’t quite right, wouldn’t you? Then starts the blame game and all that.

――There’s none of that in BUCK-TICK.

Y: That’s right. Also because we left our [then] management and had the resolution that we’ll be giving our all going forward.

――Right, it was around that same period of time, wasn’t it?

Y: It was. We left that office and completely changed the way we did things.

――Perhaps it was good that you did a full reboot or something at that time. When I spoke to Yagami-san, he said that he had thought of quitting twice thus far, but has Higuchi-san ever had the desire to quit in the past?

Y: Nope, I’ve never thought of quitting. Although I have felt that things were a struggle, or rather, that it was difficult to raise my own spirits. There were times when I was having difficulties with my playing, or have found myself at a loss as to what to do, but I also feel that since the five of us have made it this far together, this is something I should cherish. I think Anii has never been better than now. Because everyone’s doing well, you know? Although, we can’t really push ourselves too much (lol).

Because we were kids when we debuted. Like elementary school kids feeling like, “I wouldn’t die even if I got run over by a truck”, “I’m invincible!” (lol)

――Has Higuchi-san ever experienced a change in your on-stage mindset?

Y: My personal turning point is around the time of 13-Kai wa Gekkou¹⁸; that’s when the change happened.

――How so?

Y: I started feeling like maybe it’s better if I don’t put on an act. That maybe, it might be a good idea to be my own usual self. Putting on an act as in, I’m all cheerful backstage but I have to put on a sullen face on stage, something like that. I guess that’s the kind of change that happened to me.

――That it’s okay to show your smile.

Y: That’s right. You could say we started communicating with each other. From another perspective, I guess it could also mean that I could see better now, the audience side. Before then, I might’ve been too preoccupied with my side of things alone.

――I’d say that’s a sign that you’ve grown more relaxed on stage. Because Higuchi-san and Imai-san coming out during the encore to take photos and videos from the stage was another thing that never happened in the past.

Y: We started doing that some years ago, but it was an initiative that came about from the idea that it would be nice if we could convey the atmosphere in the concert venue to those who weren’t able to come. Obviously, if we took photos of the stage set, there would those who feel like [the surprise has been] spoiled for them if they’re attending the next day or sometime in the near future, so we decided to take shots of the audience instead.

――How considerate (lol). But it’s true that the overall atmosphere of the concert changed. Like how you held huge festivals¹⁹ during your 20th and 25th anniversaries. Did such an experience influence you in any way?

Y: Ah, it did, yes. The more we went on with it, it really sank in that we’re not alone [in this].

――To close off your current 35th anniversary year, you’ll be putting on a show on the 17th and 18th of September at Gunma Music Center²⁰ in your hometown. Celebrating the end of the 35th anniversary year in your hometown; did this decision come from the whole band’s feelings?

Y: Didn’t we do a collaboration with Fujioka-shi²¹ this year too? While thinking about what would be a good way for us to head into our 36th year, we came to the conclusion that this was probably the best.

――Gunma Music Center is also a place of many fond memories for you too, isn’t it?

Y: That’s right. Because Gunma only had the Music Center back in the day. When we got to perform there²², it was definitely a very emotional experience. Despite the fact that it’s small, right. Both backstage and the stage itself. I hope we’ll be able to do something interesting there.

――After that, your live house tour²³, “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA- ALTERNATIVE SUN” will start.

Y: I’m looking forward to the live houses. Specifically, how we’ll present this 異空 -IZORA- vibe. I really wonder how we’ll portray in an environment without videos, especially because we could use videos for the hall tour.

――That’s true. I’m looking forward to it. The fact that you’ve continued to be forerunners as a rock band for 35 years is amazing in itself, but what does Higuchi-san hope for the band to achieve going forward?

Y: I want for us to keep going for as long as we can. Acchan also said the same thing in this tour’s MC, but essentially, we do our thing, we do our best  because there are people who will wait for us. Having been doing this for 35 years, I get emails, right, saying things like, “I came (to your shows) again because my children have all grown up and I have more time to myself now.” As long as these people stick around for us, I want to keep going, you know?

――Because there are people who will wait for you…… That’s exactly what’s written in the lyrics to Boogie Woogie²⁴.

Y: Exactly. I believe that too.

――Where you are now at this time in your life, would you say that this state of affairs is a dream come true for the whole band?

Y: That’s right. Besides, we started this all with the desire to have fun with lots of people in a concert.

――I think this not only applies to BUCK-TICK but to other long-running bands too, but while it’s true that the members of the band are fulfilling their own dreams, at the same time, I believe they’re also making someone else’s dreams come true. Like the dreams of not only musicians, but anyone who dreams of working with BUCK-TICK someday and works hard to forge their path to it. Because if the band ceases to exist, those hopes will never come true.

Y: Previously, when we went to a radio or TV station in Osaka, there were staff members there who said that to us too. They said, “I’m a long-time fan. Keep up the good work (これからも頑張ってください).” And their boss who was listening in on the side said, “You work hard (お前が頑張れ).” That made me laugh (lol).

――What a story (lol). Wasn’t there some controversy going on in the comedian industry about half-hearted generational baton-passing just a while ago? In the music industry, there are other bands from the genre-less BUCK-TICK’s generation who are still very active. I kind of wondered whether some band members of the younger generation might’ve sympathised with this controversy (lol).

Y: You mean bitching about other people? Don’t even think about it (lol).

――It’s just that there’s something about BUCK-TICK that doesn’t allow people to say such things, right? Even teenagers think you’re cool when they look at you. Everyone will still kowtow to [BUCK-TICK’s brand of] beauty. Do you have some sort of secret behind it?

Y: Maybe it’s because we don’t really want to get old? On the contrary, I think there are probably musicians in our generation who actually want to grow old. Because you’d give off this cultured vibe, and that’s attractive or something. There are people who think this way, right?

――Do you wonder how many more times you’ll be able to do this, things like that?

Y: I’ve started feeling like this isn’t forever. I didn’t think that about these things when we debuted, neither did I think that we’d find ourselves here, now. Because we were kids, weren’t we? Like elementary school kids feeling like I wouldn’t die even if I got run over by a truck (lol).

――That was certainly a thing at that age (lol).

Y: Like, “I’m invincible!” And yet [the kids would] start crying the moment they fell over (lol). I think that’s what it felt like, when we debuted. I guess you could say that we were so busy that we couldn’t really think that far ahead. But as the years pass, you’d sooner or later start to think about these things, right? Looking at the bands who came before us, there are those who have passed on too. That’s why I really want to cherish this, all of this.

 

 

Notes:

¹ 異空 -IZORA- = Their 23rd album which was released in April.

² “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA” = Their tour named, “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA” which ran from April to July, 2023.

³ show at Yokohama Arena = The show named, “BUCK-TICK 2022 “THE PARADE” 〜35th anniversary〜” which was held on 23rd and 24th of September, 2022.

Yagami-san, Hoshino-san = Their respective interviews were featured in issue #102, published August 2022 and issue #104, published December, 2022.

our first show = Their performance, “BEAT FOR BEAT FOR BEAT Vol.2” which was held at Shinjuku JAM on 4th of December, 1985.

HURRY UP MODE = Their indie album which was released in January, 1987 (and later re-released with a major label as a remix version, HURRY UP MODE(1990 MIX) in February).

Toshima Civic Center = “BUCK-TICK現象 (BUCK-TICK Genshou)” which was held on 1st of April, 1987; the day HURRY UP MODE was released.

Shibuya LIVE INN = “BUCK-TICK 現象 Ⅱ at LIVE INN” which was held on 16th of June, 1987.

Tohoku Rock Circuit = An event tour which was held in March and April of 1988.

¹⁰ Yamaha Hall = Their performance in Sendai for the “BUCK-TICK 現象 TOUR” which was held on the 22nd of September, 1987.

¹¹ SEVENTH HEAVEN = Their 2nd album which was released in June, 1988.

¹² in the Nippon Budokan for the first time = Two days of shows which where held on the 19th and 20th of January, 1989 as the final of their “SEVENTH HEAVEN TOUR” which started in October, 1988.

¹³ Shibuya Public Hall for the first time = Their performance in Tokyo for the “SEVENTH HEAVEN TOUR” which was held on 13th of October, 1988.

¹⁴ Tokyo Dome = “バクチク現象 (Baku-chiku Genshou)” which was held on 29th December, 1989.

¹⁵ ROMANESQUE = A track recorded on their mini album, ROMANESQUE which was released in March, 1988.

¹⁶ live house tour = Their tour named, “TOUR2013 COSMIC DREAMER” which ran from January to March, 2013.

¹⁷ 21st Cherry Boy = Their 18th single which was released in November, 2001.

¹⁸ 13-Kai wa Gekkou = Their 14th album which was released in April, 2005.

¹⁹ festivals = “BUCK-TICK FEST 2012 ON PARADE” was held at Chiba Port Park on 22nd and 23rd of September, 2012. “BUCK-TICK 2017 “THE PARADE” ~30th anniversary~” was held at Odaiba Yagai Tokusetsu Kaijo J Chiku on 23rd and 24th of September, 2017.

²⁰ Gunma Music Center = For “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA- FINALO” which will be held on the 17th and 18th of September, 2023.

²¹ a collaboration with Fujioka-shi =A BUCK-TICK-themed flowerbed and more were featured in Haru no Fujioka Hana Meguri (Flower Tour in Springtime Fujioka / 春の藤岡花めぐり), a special event that was held between March to May, 2023.

²² got to perform there = Their first performance there was the Gunma show for their “SEVENTH HEAVEN TOUR” which happened on the 15th of October, 1988.

²³ live house tour = Their tour, “BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空 -IZORA- ALTERNATIVE SUN” which will run from October to December, 2023.

²⁴ Boogie Woogie = A track recorded on the album, 異空 -IZORA-.

 

 

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Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki

DER ZIBET Tribute Update Vol. 7
20 February 2024

ISSAY—A Brother & A Kindred Soul
A Gentle, Dignified, & Beautiful Bosom Friend for Eternity

by Chu-ya

 

Having been born and lived in the same era together, DER ZIBET is a rival and brethren (to me). I also admired them as icons glittering in darkness and decadence. ISSAY can only be described as my brother and kindred soul. Gentle, dignified, and beautiful; my bosom friend for eternity.
—Chu-ya

 

This update talks about the story and history behind a lavish event which was held jointly by ISSAY (DER ZIBET), and Chu-ya (LOOPUS〜FAR EAST PHALLUS KICKER) and Genet (AUTO-MOD), both of whom are participating in the tribute album. This event occurred regularly in recent years. It is a pity that we will no longer be able to see these three unorthodox and charming artists in performance, but we on the project team hope that activities by these legends will continue in the future. Also included are comments from Chu-ya, a sworn brother and most frequent co-performer to ISSAY.

BUCK-TICK’s Anii (Toll)’s birthday event leads to the birth of the Dark Triad of ISSAY, Genet, and Chu-ya.

 

Joint performances by ISSAY, Genet, and Chu-ya date back to the late 1980s. The three of them came together again for the first time in a long while in 2012 at BUCK-TICK’s drummer Yagami’s 50th birthday concert celebration (DER ZIBET, AUTO-MOD, and LOOPUS were guest performers). Afterwards, these three bands began to hold events together regularly. The momentous first was in 2014 at FREAKS OF LEGEND Vol.6, hosted by Genet.

Perhaps as a result of their overly potent presences, these three who tremendously influenced the new wave, goth, glam, and positive punk music scenes were known by monikers like  “The Dark Triad (闇御三家)“, “The Trio of Heinous Specters (三妖怪)“, and “The Decadent Three (デカダン三人男)“. Following the first, they made the agreement that each band would take turns hosting events. In 2017, it was DER ZIBET’s LIVE MANIA act.4, in 2018, it was Chu-ya’s Jashin no Kyouen 〜Better An Old Demon Than A New God (Feast of Fiends/邪神の狂宴), and in 2019, it was Genet’s FREAKS OF LEGEND 2019. All these were annual balls which were held at Koenji HIGH.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, a talk session hosted by FOOL’S MATE Channel was held instead of a live concert.

In 2023, Chu-ya got in contact with ISSAY and Genet to plan their return after a four-year break, but with ISSAY’s passing, the two bands, LOOPUS and AUTO-MOD held the event titled, “Rebirth!! Jashin no Kyouen (-1)” on the 4th of November at Kichijoji ROCK JOINT GB. The special guest guitarist on this day was Yukino (krishnablue / ex. AUTO-MOD), who is also participating in the tribute album. Notably, Yukino was also the creator of the illustration of these three. It was sold as character merchandise during the 2019 event.

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: DER ZIBET Tribute Update Vol.7

 

 

BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- Concert Report

JVC Music
5 January 2024

Text = Okubo Yuka
Photos = Seitaro Tanaka

 

【LIVE REPORT】
BUCK-TICK “BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023-” (BUCK-TICK Phenomenon 2023 / バクチク現象-2023-)
2023.12.29 at the Nippon Budokan

 

 

Come, let’s get started──

When 29 December’s BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- at the Nippon Budokan was announced with those words, it felt as if they lifted our gaze which had been downcast for so long. This was three weeks after the news came on 24 October that their vocalist, Sakurai Atsushi had passed on.

This was a period when everyone quietly watched and waited to see what BUCK-TICK would do going forward after being hit by the greatest sadness in their history. Honestly speaking, that announcement was such a bright light that I subconsciously wanted to look away. Given that no details were announced about the show itself, I believe there were many who felt worried too about how it would turn out.

But it’s easy for us to imagine the extraordinary determination the band members had put into this show title. BUCK-TICK Genshou (BUCK-TICK Phenomenon / バクチク現象) is a title that they also used in 1987 for gigs they played around the time of their major debut, and for the first show they played after a six-month hiatus on 29 December 1989 at the Tokyo Dome. In other words, this term represents turning points for them.

Imai Hisashi (guitarist) appeared on the BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- stage with the same bright red hair he had 34 years ago at their show in Tokyo Dome. The moment I saw him, my anxieties were blown away despite tears welling up in my eyes.

As the hall turned dark, powerful clapping sounded in time to the SE which played; THEME OF B-T. Higuchi Yutaka (bassist), Yagami Toll (drummer), Hoshino Hidehiko (gutarist), and Imai Hisashi came on stage in that order. After the words reading “バクチク現象 (BUCK-TICK Genshou)” came up on the crimson red screen, Sakurai’s silhouette appeared on the centre platform where he always stood.

“Come let’s get started, we’re BUCK-TICK!” With Imai’s shout, the first song started; Shippuu no Blade Runner. Instead of a mic stand in the centre of the stage, a few spotlights came together to shine down. Perhaps it’s because there’s no mic there, but it felt as if Sakurai’s singing came down upon us from the skies above.

Like a ray of light in the midst of despair, the glittering rock melody sings, “Tonight  (I) bring to you  a treasure  a promise (今夜 お前に届けよう 宝物だ 約束だ)”; a perfect description of this show. It felt as if they handed “hope” to us in the palm of their hands. A string of up-beat songs were played Dokudanjo Beauty-R.I.P.-, Go-Go B-T TRAIN, GUSTAVE, telling the audience to raise their heads and look up even if they are tearful.

Both Imai and Hoshino fired up the stage with more aggressive performances than usual. The energy in the hall went up every time Imai said a few words, like “Don’t miss the ride!” during Go-Go B-T TRAIN, and “Miaows. Hope you all have a good time today.” during GUSTAVE. During FUTURE SONG -Mirai ga Tooru- which features Sakurai and Imai’s duet, Higuchi tried imitating Sakurai’s movements, and Hoshino also sang, overlapping with Sakurai’s voice.

Most unexpected of all was when I realised during Boogie Woogie and Yagami’s powerful up-beat drumming that at some point my tears had rescinded and I was genuinely enjoying the show. I have nothing but admiration for the band and their ability to fire up the audience like this even though they all must have been in deep sadness at the beginning of the show.

The atmosphere took a turn in the mid-section of the show, reflecting vividly and sadly Sakurai’s absence by beginning with Itoshi no Rock Star where he sang alongside ISSAY (DER ZIBET) who passed away last August. During Itoshi no Rock Star, unbearable sobbing in the audience grew louder as we watched concert footage of the two of them on that day on screen.

Next was Sakura which started with an oriental-sounding instrumental by Imai. In this song, the screen and even the ceiling of the Budokan was filled with cherry blossoms dancing in the air; a sight so beautiful yet it added to the sadness. Adding on, Lullaby-Ⅲ and ROMANCE came after that like a sort of funeral march, letting us listen to the songs which strongly accentuated Sakurai’s aesthetic perspective one after another.

This show did not feature Sakurai’s footage throughout. Rather, there were a few songs where we could only feel Sakurai’s presence with his voice. Especially towards the end when they put together songs during which you could almost see him singing right in front of you.

Like the Latin-style dance track Django!!! -Genwaku no Django-, Taiyou to Icarus where he flies freely through the sky with arms spread wide, and during Memento mori where the audience actually had lights shining on them as if in sync with Sakurai’s movements in the video footage.

Smoke carpeted the stage floor in Muma -The Nightmare and the audience raised their arms into the air as if he reigned before our eyes, while during DIABOLO, the four members of the band looked like a circus troupe elevating Sakurai as the ringmaster. It was a moment when they distinctly carved out his profile as a vocalist precisely because he’s not around.

The encore started with Yagami’s drum solo and after the first song, STEPPERS -PARADE- was played, the band members who have yet to make any public statement thus far began to talk about their present feelings one by one.

Choking on his tears, Higuchi said, “BUCK-TICK is a live band so I believe we grew through our live shows. And it’s also something that’s created together with everyone. Although Acchan has gone to heaven, BUCK-TICK will always be five. I don’t know what kind of future it will be, but one thing I know for sure is that we’ll continue as BUCK-TICK with everyone.”

Yagami eased the air when he commented, “I never thought my delinquent younger brother would say such admirable things.” Then, he added, “You could say it’s unprecedented, the situation it’s turned out to be. Should we continue, or is it better to stop? We gave it a lot of thought. But given that we have all of you fans like this… we would like to keep going as BUCK-TICK.”

“We managed to take a new step forward today. My sincere thanks to all of you for making your way to the Budokan despite the uncertainty. You were worried, weren’t you? Everyone was worried. But the Parade will still continue from here on out. I’ll say again:

The Parade goes on,” said Hoshino.

After him was Imai. “Life sure is unforgiving, huh? So dramatic it’s almost hilarious. But it isn’t funny. Hell, you really died. Huh? It’s okay, because we can go on. We’ll go together,” he said to a loud round of applause. “Acchan’s died but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a fact of life. So we may be sad, we may cry, but don’t agonise over it. Rather than focus on his death, that he’s not here anymore, instead cherish the fact that he lived, that he existed with us in the same space,” he went on. “Next year, BUCK-TICK will make new music, and a new album. It’ll be the newest, bestest BUCK-TICK so please look forward to it. But please be prepared. Next, we’ll be three. But even then, the Parade continues. Then it’ll be two, then one, I think I’ll probably be the last one standing. And even then, we can keep going, so I want to take everyone along,” finished Imai with this powerful statement.

After that, they moved on to flying the words “LOVE” and “PEACE” high in Eureka before going into LOVE ME which began with Sakurai’s MC where he said, “Everyone, let’s love ourselves.” It was here when a hiccup happened for the first time where Sakurai’s singing and the video footage differed from the four members’ live playing. The band looked determined to find some way to turn this around. It was the most human expression I had ever seen on them.

Coincidentally, Sakurai in the video also seemed to have a bit of a bitter smile on his face. Even though anxious, the audience also tried their best to help by singing the chorus with all their strength. When the singing ended, the playing did too in perfect timing, and we saw Sakurai off the stage as he waved, saying, “See you soon. We’ll meet again. For sure.”

The last two songs were COSMOS and Na mo Naki Watashi; what seemed to be a deliberate choice of two songs which massively filled the hall with messages from Sakurai. And the second encore, started with Sakurai’s words of “Let’s go! Into the future!” as the band leapt into New World. The light from countless mirror balls spread throughout the venue and the powerful light of the five’s performance brightly illuminated a future yet to be seen.

After the show, past music videos were shown on the screen, followed by an announcement that they will be holding a concert at the Nippon Budokan on Sunday, 29 December 2024. I believe every single promise like this one would become the hope which leads into the future going forward. BUCK-TICK has walked into unprecedented territory. I hope to continue enjoying the Parade led by this band who has decided to continue forward as five. Because it’s always BUCK-TICK who stirs our hearts with surprise and emotion.

Although we can wipe away the tears
we will never be able to wipe away the loneliness, so
let’s go and see BUCK-TICK again
in a place where we can share our sorrows and joys
let’s go and see BUCK-TICK again

 

BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023-
Date/Time: Friday, 29 December 2023  Doors open 17:30, show starts 18:30
Venue: Nippon Budokan

【SET LIST】

SE. THEME OF B-T

1. Shippuu no Blade Runner
2. Dokudanjou Beauty-R.I.P.-
3. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
4. GUSTAVE
5. FUTURE SONG – Mirai ga tooru
6. Boogie Woogie
7. Itoshi no Rock Star
8. Sakura
9. Lullaby-III
10. ROMANCE
11. Django!!! – Genwaku no Django
12. Taiyou to Icarus
13. Memento mori
14. Muma -The Nightmare
15. DIABOLO

<EN1>

1. STEPPERS -PARADE-
2. Eureka
3. LOVE ME
4. COSMOS
5. Na mo Naki Watashi

<EN2>

1. New World

 

 

 

 

Translation: Yoshiyuki
Source: JVC Music

 

Passing Stories to the Next Generation~
In Memory of Illustrious Rock Poet ISSAY
DER ZIBET Tribute Album Production Project

Motion Gallery

Presented by
DER ZIBET Tribute Project

From 20 January 2024 to 29 February 2024
Funding goal: 5,000,000 yen
Pledged amount: 11,248,218 yen
No. of backers: 870

Crowdfunding page: https://motion-gallery.net/projects/DERZIBET

Related posts:
DER ZIBET Tribute Update Vol. 7: ISSAY—A Brother & A Kindred Soul by Chu-ya

 

 

The Project

This is a tribute album dedicated to ISSAY, vocalist of DER ZIBET who suddenly passed away last August. Funds are being raised for the production of a CD featuring many artists covering a collection of works which embody ISSAY’s soul, which the late Sakurai Atsushi is known to have adored.

To prevent proof that phenomenal artist ISSAY existed from fading away.

【A message from DER ZIBET Tribute Project】

We are made up of volunteers from the music industry who have been involved with DER ZIBET, and we have unequivocal reasons for forming this committee; because we feel strongly that ISSAY, the charismatic figure in the rock scene who died suddenly in an accident, and DER ZIBET, a band that continued to produce classic albums that inspired a wide range of musicians “cannot fade away just like that”, “needs a tangible memorial”, and that “there must be other musicians who share these feelings too”. Even if the life is scattered, the music will continue to resonate in the hearts of those who listen to it, and will continue to radiate an eternal luster. With mixed feelings of loss and determination, we set about planning this tribute album.

DER ZIBET:Left to right – MAHITO(Key.) HAL(B.) ISSAY(Vo.) HIKARU (G.) MAYUMI(Dr.)

【The revolutionary vocalist, ISSAY】

Respected by scores of musicians including BUCK-TICK‘s late Sakurai Atsushi,  the well-loved ISSAY made his debut as DER ZIBET’s vocalist in 1985. Despite being described by the media as “a rock band ahead of their time”, the band was a significant influence on numerous of bands, including those which were later known as Visual Kei.

Penning beautiful lyrics which echo the perspectives of Mishima Yukio and The Doors’ Jim Morrison, he was aptly nicknamed the “rock poet”, bringing affirmation to those living with loneliness and alienation.  Incorporating pantomime (which he studied under Mochizuki Akira since his teens) in his performances, it could be said that ISSAY was a “revolutionary” of the music scene.

Before he debuted with DER ZIBET, he starred in director Macoto Tezuka’s first theatrical film “The Legend of the Stardust Brothers” as an actor. Even on screen, his strong personality came through, and in recent years, he also acted in “Tezuka’s Barbara” which starred Inagaki Goro and Nikaido Fumi. The late director Obayashi Nobuhiko also recognised his talent, describing him as a “phenomenal artist”.

【Okano Hajime; the producer of the tribute album】

Producing this album is Okano Hajime, who worked on the past two DER ZIBET releases and has worked with many other artists like L’Arc~en~Ciel. Alongside him is Koni-young (one of Japan’s top sound engineers who worked with the late Imawano Kiyoshiro, BUCK-TICK, LUNA SEA and many more) who will take on the role of main sound engineer.

Numerous musicians have come forward with love and expressed their interest in participating.  Now, we are working on the living testimony of the legend ISSAY and the multifaceted and original songs of DER ZIBET, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, to ensure that they all carry on into the future.

What kind of chemical reactions will be born from this unprecedented combination of musicians? (List will be updated as and when on this website and on the official X account @DZ__TP)

The tribute album, ISSAY gave life to FLOWERS – TRIBUTE to DER ZIBET – (working title) is slated for release on the 6th of July, ISSAY’s birthday. Our goal is to create a tribute album beyond anyone’s expectations. (※To be released under the POP MANIA label presided by DER ZIBET)

We would like to bring this album to fruition together with those who are interested in this project, and everyone who has been supporting [the band] throughout all this time. Everyone’s help will be greatly appreciated. We thank you in advance.

※FOOL’S MATE channel archive series: From the premium one-man live show A day before 35th trip, organised by DER ZIBET in collaboration with FOOL’S MATE channel, timed to coincide with the 35th anniversary of their debut.

 

I first got to know ISSAY when he acted in the movie The Legend of the Stardust Brothers as NIji Kaworu. Later on, he let me listen to the music he made with his own band, DER ZIBET and I was blown away by their musicality and execution. Even now, I can’t forget how I tried all ways and means wanting to help them make their major debut. This all happened before the genre that is Visual Kei came about. It’s clichéd, but he was a man ahead of his time. As an old friend of his, I am indeed glad that so many musicians have voiced their support for this project to produce the tribute album.

— Chikada Haruo

Celebrated musicians across generations are participating!

【The tribute album to commemorate ISSAY will involve over 40 musicians】

To start, we have ZIGGY’s Morishige Juichi (vocalist), RED WARRIORS’ DIAMOND☆YUKAI (vocalist),  Kogure “SHAKE” Takehiko (guitarist), and PERSONZ’s Honda Takeshi (guitarist) who are all contemporaries of DER ZIBET.

Also participating are AUTO-MOD’s GENET and now FAR-EAST PHALLUS KICKER’s Chu-ya, both of which are close friends with whom he had regularly held events with in recent years, as well as Chiwaki Mayumi (vocalist) who ISSAY had been friends with since pre-debut, and Fukuhara Mari (pianist) who worked with him in the unit, ISSAY meets DOLLY.

Adding on is a strong group of musicians led by michiaki (Ra:iN/bassist) who are part of the sessions which ISSAY regularly holds at live house Club Sensation in Yokohama.

We also have his juniors, D’ERLANGER’s kyo (vocalist), SOPHIA’s Matsuoka Mitsuru (vocalist)who had been inspired by him since he was in his hometown of Osaka pre-debut, and ZEPPET STORE’s Kimura Seizi (vocalist & guitarist) who first came to Tokyo with a DER ZIBET single.

The list grows with cali≠gari‘s Sakurai Ao (guitarist) and Ishii Shuji (vocalist), Matarow (drummer) & Yonezawa Seiichirou (guitarist) who were members of Lynx which ISSAY formed with the late HEATH (bassist) of X JAPAN during DER ZIBET’s hiatus, and Kaya (vocalist) who has left a comment below. Updates on participating artists will be provided as and when going forward.

Too soon has ISSAY left for heaven. I hope that everyone will support this new interpretation of ISSAY’s world from musicians who adore him. I sincerely hope for the successful completion of this tribute and that the original work will be released in the near future.

— Chiwaki Mayumi

【Participating Musicians ※in no particular order

Shimoyama Jun (ROCK’N’ROLL GYPSIES, ex. THE ROOSTERZ/Guitarist)

“CRAZY” COOL-JOE (ex. DEAD END/Bassist)

Kamiryo Wataru (NeoBallad/Drummer)

Sumida Takeshi (VooDoo Hawaiians/Guitarist)

Louie (Rose Noire/Violinist)

Tsuchiya Masami (Guitarist)

MORRIE (Vocalist)

Hirose Satoshi (44MAGNUM, ex. Φ/Guitarist)

PATA (X JAPAN, Ra:IN/Guitarist)

SUGIZO (LUNA SEA, X JAPAN, THE LAST ROCKSTARS, SHAG/Violinist)

Ken-ichi (Valentine D.C., VERTUEUX/Vocalist)

Yukino (krishnablue, ex. AUTO-MOD/Guitarist)

Umeda Kazuya (BEAST, nüe, fromDER ZIBET/Drummer)

Keith Yokohama (Demi Semi Quaver, Rock’n roll Big Band The Thrill, エロヒム, Devil Dalipop/Bassist)

Hoppy Kamiyama (“GOD MOUNTAIN” label, arranger, producer/Keyboardist)

Morishige Juichi (ZIGGY/Vocalist)

DIAMOND☆YUKAI (Diamond Shake, RED WARRIORS/Vocalist)

Kogure “SHAKE” Takehiko (Diamond Shake, RED WARRIORS/Guitarist)

GENET (AUTO-MOD/Vocalist)

Chu-ya (ALLERGY, De-LAX, LOOPUS, FAR-EAST PHALLUS KICKER /Vocalist)

Chiwaki Mayumi (Vocalist)

Honda Takeshi (PERSONZ , Effectric Guitar/Guitarist)

Okano Hajime (Bassist)

michiaki (Ra:iN/Bassist)

Mikuni Yoshitaka (GENSHI-SHINBO 〜 PINK FLOYD TRIPS 〜/Keyboardist)

Kashiwabara Katsumi (GENSHI-SHINBO 〜 PINK FLOYD TRIPS 〜/Drummer)

SATOU MINORU (MINORUMOKY, ex. φ, ex. Fliction/Drummer) 

Emi Eleonola (Epf. & Ac.)

Fukuhara Mari (ISSAY meets DOLLY/Pianist)

DIE (Ra:iN, hide with Spread Beaver/Keyboardist & Programming)

kyo (D’ERLANGER/Vocalist)

Matsuoka Mitsuru (SOPHIA/Vocalist)

Kimura Seizi (ZEPPET STORE/Vocalist & Guitarist)

NARASAKI (COALTAR OF THE DEEPERS/Guitarist & Track)

Ishii Shuji (GOATBED,  cali≠gari/Vocalist)

Sakurai Ao (cali≠gari, L.TB, hector/Guitarist)

Yamahana Asaki (AGE of PUNK/Guitarist)

Hashizume Akito (the superlative degree, HUSH, ex. ALL I NEED/Vocalist)

tezya (tezya & the sightz, Euphoria, ex. FiX/Vocalist)

michi. (MASCHERA, S.Q.F, ALICE IN MENSWEAR/Vocalist)

Kaya (Vocalist)

Arase Dai (dieS/Vocalist)

Yonezawa Seiichirou (W.A.R.P., the superlative degree, HUSH, ex. Lynx /Guitarist)

JUN (Valentine D.C./Bassist)

RIKIJI (OBLIVION DUST/MOCD!/Bassist)

Nakanishi Tomoko (Ulful Keisuke Band, SION’S SQUAD/Bassist)

Minato Masafumi (ex.  DEAD END/Drummer)

Koseki Sumitada (MATILDA RODRIGUEZ/Drummer)

Matarow (ex. Lynx/Drummer)

Jill (Rose Noire, Unlucky Morpheus/Violinist)

Dantoudai no MELODY(participating as a band)
・Vocalist YUTAKA (Kneuklid Romance)
・Guitarist Ogasawara Kenichi (Kneuklid Romance)
・Bassist Ryo-Ta
・Drummer HIME

MAHITO (DER ZIBET/Programming)

 

Far away, Have your way, the wind sings
The stars, the clouds, and the woods watched you
When you were at your most beautiful, you wounded little thing

It was 1994. I was all about LUNA SEA and BUCK-TICK when a friend introduced Der Zibet to me, saying, “There’s this amazing band”. The cover of HOMO DEMENS left a strong impression on me, and knowing that ISSAY-san was featured in the aesthetic magazine JUNE which I secretly loved reading as an influence by my older sister, I was bursting with interest when I excitedly purchased “Nire no Ki no Ue”. Delicately beautiful lyrics and music, and that voice unlike any other. Addicted in a moment, I’ve been infatuated ever since. Later, I came to know lots of Der Zibet’s wonderful music, but ultimately, the best one of all to me has to be “Nire no Ki no Ue”. The melody, the music, the lyrics, the voice. It is a lovely piece of music filled with strong emotions. And it will definitely continue to be, forever.

— Kaya

 

Crowdfunding page: https://motion-gallery.net/projects/DERZIBET

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Backer Rewards

【Basic tier】(common to all tiers)

1. Everyone’s names will be credited in the DER ZIBET tribute album which is slated to be released on 6 July, and will be dispatched for delivery about 2 weeks ahead of that.

2. Production diary e-newsletter distribution 〜 In order allow all backers to follow the progress of the production closely, Itoharu or “the middle man”, who is in charge of production and was a member of the initial DER ZIBET staff, will provide detailed reports in the newsletter.

 

DER ZIBET T-shirt

Album covers of all 19 (+1) of their original works including the 12-inch release “Girls” from their first album, “Violetter Ball” arranged in a lizard-shaped collage.

On the back is the tribute album title and all of the participating musicians along with the five members of DER ZIBET in alphabetical order.

Sizes up to 3XL are availble. Measurements are as follows:
(length, width, shoulder width, sleeve length)
S 66cm 49cm 44cm 19cm
M 70cm 52cm 47cm 20cm
L 74cm 55cm 50cm 22cm
XL 78cm 58cm 53cm 24cm
2XL 82cm 61cm 56cm 26cm
3XL 84cm 64cm 59cm 26cm

ISSAY T-shirt

Photo of ISSAY by Masaaki Otake in 1985 at debut.

Text on the back:
ISSAY
1962.7.6 – 2023.8.5

Sizes up to 3XL are availble. Measurements are as follows:
(length, width, shoulder width, sleeve length)
S 66cm 49cm 44cm 19cm
M 70cm 52cm 47cm 20cm
L 74cm 55cm 50cm 22cm
XL 78cm 58cm 53cm 24cm
2XL 82cm 61cm 56cm 26cm
3XL 84cm 64cm 59cm 26cm

DER ZIBET Silver Cross &ISSAY Lizard

A plate engraved with DER ZIBET sits behind the cross while the cross is engraved with ISSAY. Comes with a 50cm chain. Your name can be engraved on the back of the removable lizard (up to 6 English characters).

Made by Big Black Maria.

Dimensions:
Cross: Length 42mm / Width 22mm
Lizard: Length 30mm / Width 16mm

DER ZIBET Cross &Lizard w/ Diamond inlay

A diamond will be in-laid in the middle of the cross. Comes with a 50cm chain, name engraving on the lizard.

Made by Big Black Maria.

DER ZIBET Cross & Lizard w/ Big Ruby (ISSAY’s birthstone) inlay

A ruby, ISSAY’s birth stone will be in-laid in the middle of the cross. Comes with a 50cm chain, name engraving on the lizard.

Made by Big Black Maria.

【Outfits worn by ISSAY have been provided as backer rewards】

On this occasion, the person in charge of making and storing all of ISSAY’s outfits over these years have provided the following pieces which he used to wear with the words, “I hope they can contribute to the album production costs.” It is his hope that they will go to only those who will take good care of them. Please do not purchase them for the purpose of reselling. If anyone finds these pieces being put up for resale, please contact @DZ TP . With your help, we believe that we will be able to prevent such acts from happening.

Each outfit will go on a “first-come, first-served” basis. We hope for your understanding on this matter.

Black Glitter  Long Coat ①

Material: Glittery fabric

Detail: Similar to a velvet coat, except that pleats are concentrated in three areas at the back. Made with a light-weight material.

“Often worn for gigs, shoots, and many occasions. Commonly paired with a feather boa. The long coat series is a favourite style and eight pieces had been made, including those for everyday wear. The material of this coat in particular is light and reflective, so it creates a cyber-like atmosphere on stage. ISSAY also particularly liked wearing a feather boa with it.”

— ISSAY’s Costume Designer

Velvet Long Coat (Black / Purple) ②③

Material: Crushed velvet

Detail: Deep breeches at the centre and sides of the back to create a fuller look when moving.

“Made around 2009 when ISSAY started keeping his hair long. Frequently worn at various gigs, in photographic collections, as a model for paintings, etc. Inspired by the coat Julia Roberts wore over her dress in the movie Mary Reilly (adaptation of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). The way her coat spreads wide in the scene where she walks through the storm is breathtaking, and I made the coat wondering if it could be recreated on stage. Stretched out, the hems are almost five meters in length which creates a significant effect when the coat is lifted or fluttered during a performance.

— ISSAY’s Costume Designer

Black Tuxedo with Wide Trousers (3-piece) ④