Ongaku to Hito
text by Ishii Eriko
photographs by Sasahara Kiyosaki_L MANAGEMENT
hair & make-up by Tanizaki Takayuki_Fats Berry (Sakurai/Imai)
styling by Shimizu Kenichi (Sakurai/Imai)
I can’t run away
There’s nowhere else to go¹
BUCK-TICK’s 23rd album finally arrives. 23rd. It’s a truly impressive figure. In the sense that it inspires awe and reverence as something that cannot be easily imitated, and a fair amount of intense apprehension. Having experienced stagnancy because of COVID-19 and the reality of how easily a whole tour gets derailed from just one single illness or injury, it’s next to impossible to be optimistic about anything. And yet the heavier reality weighs, the further human mind soars. Or perhaps it’s the irresolvable reality that allows our imagination to spread its wings.
This is a different sky. A different space. Named 異空 -IZORA-, this album is a masterpiece, to say the least. To start, the way they found a balance between the unending darkness and fantastical popness, messages extracted from war and stories from real life experiences is nothing short of exquisite. Simply put, they have found a way to transmute the realities we rather shy away from into vivid narratives. How else will we find the strength to live on if not through the escape that is the entertainment craft. That is probably BUCK-TICK’s here and now.
Sakurai Atsushi is the first person we’ll hear from since the completion of this album.
Ultimately…… somehow, I think this is uncharacteristic of me too
but I feel that children cannot do without hope and dreams
――Have you been well?
Sakurai (S): Yes. Somehow, I’m managing.
――The last time we had an interview, we were talking about how your new song, Sayonara Shelter was going to be released within the concept best-of album last year. We speculated about the kind of reaction you might get from releasing such a song to the world we live in now, but what comments have you heard after its actual release?
S: Right. Well, I mostly get to hear these comments only through indirect means, like letters from fans and all that but it would seem that it’s precisely because we’re living in this day and age that everyone accepts [this song] with open arms. Even though I hesitated a little because I wondered whether it would be better if we should be doing something different so that people can forget about the sad world that we’re in. Precisely because this is the day and age we’re in. But everyone, the majority took the song in their strides so that made me feel that we can’t give up just yet.
――Yes. The impression this song leaves has gradually transformed throughout the 35th anniversary national tour after it was first performed at Yokohama Arena. What the audience takes away from it has changed with the performance and where it sits in your setlist despite the fact that it’s still the same song.
S: That’s right. Perhaps, in the beginning, even I could only capture the despair in it but the more we perform this song, it’s as if, bit by bit, with each iteration, I’ve gained the ability to emphasise the hopeful side of it too.
――Yeah. While [the song] is a compelling chronicle, a beautiful story reverberates from it too. That’s the impression it gives me.
S: Ah. Personally, I also feel like I’ve been cleansed. Reality is what it is, but like you said, I think it would be nice if it would work its way into our audience as a story. Uh, I’ve been giving my all to make that happen. Fufufuh. I’ve been gritting my teeth, really putting my back into it, so that this song wouldn’t end up going in circles (lol).
――I sense the potential of entertainment. That it can take something which originates from heartbreaking reality and turn it into a beautiful story through expressionism.
S: Ah…… I’m glad to hear you say that. I, myself have also had some tedious experiences and had really bad relationships with people too. But whenever I listen to beautiful music or watch someone perform, I feel liberated from it all. So even though the world remains as turbulent as ever, I believe that everyone wants to hear or see something beautiful that allows them to forget our transient world and feel cleansed of it. It’s not my intention to meet that expectation, but I think it’s something I naturally end up doing anyway.
――I think the album version of Sayonara Shelter with the violins in it pretty much represents what we’re talking about right now.
S: Agreed. This was also an idea that came from our director, Tanaka-san. Based on what I heard, he felt a very strong connection [between this song and] John Lenon’s ♪So this is Xmas~ (note: Happy Xmas (War Is Over)). Tanaka-san also suggested the idea of adding the angelic voices of a choir. We really liked that idea but we were kind of short on time. Although, with this violin, it really brings the image of yet another beautiful scene to mind, doesn’t it?
ーーYes. So even though I was initially apprehensive about just how dark this album might get……
S: Ah, I think it’s dark enough as it is.
――Yes(lol). But even so, not all of the songs are raw or painfully cutting. Like Campanella Hanataba wo Kimi ni (Campanella 花束を君に / A Bouquet for You), it’s a song from the perspective of a very lovable child even though it’s a song about war.
S: Ahh. That’s right. Ultimately…… somehow, I think this is uncharacteristic of me too, but I feel that children cannot do without hope and dreams and the sort.
――I actually think that’s just like you. When faced with the harsh reality of war, Sakurai-san’s pen will turn its focus to the children and their families.
S: That’s true. Because even soldiers have fathers and mothers. Mm…… All the same, I don’t want to end this topic with a, “There’s nothing we can do about it.” Of course, there will be people who say that they don’t want to hear about anything related to politics, but I just wanted to sing one song with the perspective that we were all children. That’s the idea of it. If people were to call me a hypocrite, then I might as well go all the way with it.
――It’s very strong of you to say that.
S: …… I don’t give a shit. Hahahah.
――Even the single, Taiyou to Icarus (太陽とイカ口ス / The Sun and Icarus) could be interpreted as a song about war. From the perspective of Zero² pilots of the Special Attack Units.
S: Right. But Special Attack Units aren’t the only ones involved in a war, and there may be those who get upset by my beautification of it all. But also, I just hope that everyone can enjoy the story and the shadow theatrics of it all.
――You’ve written a good story for a pop song like this.
S: …… At first, that, made me feel a bit embarrassed. Because, this song, is it really something that we old men in our 50s make?
――Ahaha. It’s been quite a while since we heard something this cheerful from Hide-san (Hoshino Hidehiko/guitar).
S: Yes. (Our manipulator,) YOW-ROW-kun’s (GARI) sound already gets me wondering things like, “What’s wrong with pop?”, and it’s difficult for me to add more meat to it. I got really lost with what I should do here. No characters were coming to mind either. Then, I figured that instead of going along with the music, maybe I should do a 180 degree change on how I think about this and do what I have in mind at the moment. And that I should try and have fun with this contrast.
――That’s a thing BUCK-TICK established.
S: Uh…… We had no choice but to make that breakthrough. Hahahahaha! It was less of a stretch or be stretched, and more of a “Let’s completely distort ourselves”.
――The only other alternative to stretching (lol). Here you wrote about death before our eyes being “a celebration” and “freedom”, but what kind of emotions are these?
S: Ahh… But honestly, it’s the negative emotion of wishing you could actually run away from things. So that it would end without the need for me to kill people. A freedom… from yourself, from your consciousness, where everything disappears into nothingness. I might’ve been called unpatriotic 70 years ago though.
――Is this ultimately an imaginary story? Or emotions that Sakurai-san actually experiences?
S: …… I can’t dismiss it by saying that there’s none of that. In the end, I can imagine it. It’s only my imagination but, of course. I’m quite…… ill, so.
――In other words, this and the other songs in this album aren’t in reckless pursuit of death, are they? There are surprisingly few tracks fantasising about the nether world and frolicking there. If I had to name one, I’d think it was Ai no Harem (愛のハレム / Harem of Love).
S: Ahh…… It’s probably because there’s a part that personally holds no sense of reality to me. Because although I’ve experienced in real-life coming to the verge of death, anything that comes after that are only my fantasies. In the past, I might’ve had fun with it but these days, it’s less about what comes next and more about being on the precipice. Like this side of the Sanzu River³ versus the opposite side. Mm…… I’m not as young or naive to be attracted to invisible things anymore, and although I can play around with capturing it in the form of fantasies, when it’s something I write and sing myself…… Recently, I don’t feel very grounded to reality. [I need] more of, things that rouse my emotions, like words that stab me. That’s what would bring me to the edge of the Sanzu River.
Recalling what things were like back then, part of it is also because it’s our 35th anniversary
There’s also the implied sense within the story that things were really different back then
――That’s why Sakurai-san’s struggles in the real world rush forth right from the very start in the songs from this album.
S: Yeah…… I’d expect people to find me problematic though (lol). I cannot help that I’m struggling even at this age. But that’s all there is to it. Because on the other hand, if I lose this, then I’d be at a loss as to what I should do.
――Would you lose the ability to sing?
S: If that happens, then Taiyou to Icarus wouldn’t come to be. The song would lean even more towards pop…… I might sing words like, “You are the one～”, perhaps?
――Please stop (lol). This is a vague question, but what is Sakurai-san currently struggling with?
S: ……… It’s definitely, well, I always say this, but it’s PTSD⁴. And HSP⁵. I’m neurotic so I’ll feel deeply affected by all kinds of things, to the point where I’d drive myself deeper and deeper into a corner. People might probably look at me and wonder, “Huh? Really?” This might sound weird, but…… I get nightmares, right, a lot. I always drink but if I decide that I’ll go to bed without drinking today because I’m tired, I’ll very quickly have two, three terrifying dreams.
――May I ask about them? What happens in these dreams.
S: The dreams with people are lame, y’know? Dreams of a………… person with a steel bar in hand would come after me, and the whole time, I’d be like this, holding my breath and hiding.
――Fuh (lol). …… Sorry, I laughed a bit.
S: Hahaha! But it’s really the kind of dream a grade schooler would have. So, it’s okay, do laugh. I would jump out of bed breaking out in sweat and wheezing. But when I describe it in a sentence like this it’s really lame (lol).
――Even now, you still can’t run away from that part of yourself, can you?
S: In the end…… I really think it all boils down to trauma. My dreams are generally set in my parents’ home too. And the area around it. This is really something that has never changed even now when I’m in my mid-50s.
――In addition to the ever-present darkness, the songs in this album have a strong, overwhelming sense of solitude. Like SCARECROW and Warukyuure no Kikou (ワルキューレの騎行 / Ride of the Valkyries) in the first half.
S: Mm…… Well, but these are far-fetched imaginations and, at the same time, very real situations from my childhood to me. SCARECROW isn’t about anything cool or impressive, but rather, a figurehead. In a rural farming village. The image of standing there alone and staring at it came to mind and stuck very firmly. I also had the idea that [the scarecrow] might possess human intellect or could have even “witnessed” a murder before. I believe that everyone has some darkness lying within them, so maybe what I’m trying to say here is that [these possibilities] are scary.
――That said, this is a song and it’s also entertainment, as you said earlier. How do you weigh this balance?
S: Ahh. That might be where I help myself. I go around in circles, but I save myself through singing, through writing [lyrics] and singing. To say I’m consoling myself…… makes it sound like I’m a useless person, doesn’t it? Although, I might be running away through the words I write.
――No, I think it’s something far more positive than what you’re saying.
S: Is it? I don’t think my negative self listening to something that was created by my negative self would magically turn me into a positive person though. When it’s tough to write it’s just tough anyway. But…… mm… there are also times when I love what I produce when it’s done well.
――Yes. Next, Boogie Woogie which plays in the middle of the album is a bit of an oddball, isn’t it? This song is about the band, and touring, right?
S: That’s right. Really simply put, it’s a song that says “That’s what it was like in the past”, more or less. Deciding to recall what things were like back then, well, part of it is also because it’s our 35th anniversary. There’s also the implied sense within the story that things were really different back then. I’d say the song’s done its job if everyone, like our fans and even including the band members, find themselves nodding in agreement to it.
――By “back then”, do you mean the time you made your debut?
S: This song is set during our indies era when we were touring between Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. In a beat up van. That’s why the line with the “junk-heap of a van is out of gas” is a real story.
――Wahaha. ……Uh, so what happened after that?
S: Um, we travelled with two vehicles; a rented car and one other transporting our instruments. I was driving the rented car. Back then, there were no smartphones or car navigation systems yet, so we simply decided, “There should be a parking area a little further down so let’s make a pit stop there and take a break.” It felt like we arrived at the full-service rest area soon enough, like after around ten kilometres of driving. So, we arrived. Then, we waited and waited and waited but the vehicle behind us wasn’t arriving. So we decided to go and check on them…… only to find them far away, desperately pushing the vehicle along the road shoulder.
――Ahahahaha! What a story!
S: Sounds like something out of a manga, doesn’t it? Even the vehicle was breaking out in a sweat. Fufufuh.
――You mentioned that things have changed since then, but what do you think is the one thing that changed the most for you and the band?
S: It’s definitely what we capture and present in our professional work. Like our approach, how we make progress and all that. Getting things done based on momentum was our method around our 20s and 30s. The fact that we actually want to understand more about music itself, think about what we want to express; all these things we’re doing now is the biggest change to us. When we feel like something’s not quite right about a particular piece of music, when we’re not entirely satisfied; turning such thoughts and feelings into our fuel is how we arrived at where we are today.
――Yes. Also, I’m especially intrigued by Hizumi (ヒズミ) from the latter half of the album. It’s got me curious, and it’s also a song I personally like.
S: I like this song too.
――Not only is it dark, it also gives me this feeling that…… there’s no escape, or something.
S: Yes. Well, I was also deliberating on how much I should write here, but. At this point, we’ll just blame it on the work, right? Like, “Don’t loads of people die in this movie?”, or, “[They’ve] been dead all along in this novel, right?” So, I think it’s probably okay.
S: In my mind, I have a protagonist [for this song] called “Hizumi-chan”.
――Hizumi-chan! Is it a girl?
S: No, not a girl, but a boy, yet like I wrote at the start, “Hizumi-chan” is putting on make-up. Although, not very well, right? Since he’s got a stubble and all. Fufufu.
――At the end of this song, it sounds like you’re singing, “The next train is coming (次の電車が来る / Tsugi no densha ga kuru) but in actual face, the lyrics say “狂う (to go mad or crazy / kuruu)”. This is something else that appears significant.
S: I think [that line] initially said “The next train is coming (電車が来る)” but I was hung up on that part. Just the [choice of] word. I guess, “coming (来る)” comes across lighter in a way. While “going crazy (狂う)”…… Ah, this is completely unrelated, but where I live, there are a lot of railroad crossings, right?
S: There’s some near the park too, so I’d somehow or rather see a lot of trains. It’s a quiet body, but when you see it rushing past with all that speed, you’d have reason to look at it with a sense of fear. So I guess this “going crazy (狂う)” could also be interpreted as “going out of control (暴走する)”. And, this is another unrelated thing, but there are a lot of public housing complexes, near my home, you know?
S: Some years ago there was a murder which happened in the vicinity, and a robbery at the post office, so it’s got me feeling like the level of public security there is pretty bad. There are times when I’d space out in the park alone, thinking about all these things. Then, when evening comes around, the lights would come on in the apartment complexes but…… there will be a number of rooms that won’t light up, right? Then I can’t help imagining things. Like, wondering whether something happened, whether it’s simply that there are people who don’t want to turn on the lights, things like that. And the more my mind wanders, the more frightful these musings become. That is “Hizumi-chan” ‘s world.
――Although Sakurai-san can look at this bleak reality with such a perspective, you’re not running away from it, nor do you think of looking for an easy way to end it. It’s as I’ve said numerous times before, you no longer long for the netherworld.
――Adding to this, I think you have a desire to live.
S: ……That might be true. I think that’s why I warp [myself] and will feel scared. What I’m about to say may not sound ethical, but aren’t there times when you feel like saying, “It’ll be easier if I die.”? But I’m scared. [At the same time,] I still feel that death is terrifying. I still feel that if a person has the courage to jump in front of a train, why not live instead? But I guess there are a lot of people who have it tougher than what I imagine. That’s why I think it’s scary. Being born is scary, living is also scary. I think there are times when it’s really not the right circumstance to sing about the afterlife.
――Do you feel joy at having been able to produce an album with such a state of mind?
S: That’s right. Yeah. Because the direct opposite of joy, stresses outside of music, all these things will exist as long as we’re alive. But I guess, because there’s something that I have to do, I can shut those things out and focus. Somehow there’s something about this that redirects the energy I’d spend hurting myself for the sake of it…… I’m grateful for it.
――No matter how much pain you’re in, how much you’re struggling, I believe there are things you’re capable of doing because there’s someone else to think of, like your fans.
S: You’re right. Truly, the fact that everyone celebrated so much with us. When they tell us things like how they’re waiting for us to come on stage again…… the only thing I can do is stand firm and hold on, you know? If I can bring joy to people, then this job is a truly blessed one; that’s something I’m also thinking about recently.
¹ Lines from SCARECROW: 逃げられない もう何処へも (Nigerarenai Mou doko e mo)
² The Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” long-range carrier-based fighter aircraft which was usually referred to by its pilots as the Reisen (零戦, zero fighter). It was mainly used in World War II, towards the end of which, it was adapted for use in kamikaze operations (suicide missions).
³ The Buddhist equivalent of the River Styx, i.e. the river you cross after death, or the boundary between life and death.
⁴ Post traumatic stress disorder.
⁵ Highly sensitive person. A personality disorder.
⁶ A line from Boogie Woogie: オンボロ車はガス欠 (Onborosha wa gasu ke)
Imai Hisashi (BUCK-TICK) ✕ Ueda Takeshi (AA=)
As the teen, so the man.¹
Looking at Ueda Takeshi’s journey from all the way back in 1990 when his previous band was formed to now when he goes by the name AA＝, it is clear to see that he is one of the pioneers of the rock and punk scene and an unparalleled composer when it comes to utilising digital beats. Now, he is releasing a cover album in his own name for the first time.
YMO, The Stalin, Aburadako, RC Succession, Sheena & The Rokkets…… This collection of covers of popular songs exclusively from the 70s and 80s is straight up entitled TEENAGE DREAMS. It is the strong influence of his predecessors who once rewrote what rock music is that gave him the radical spirit of his early debut years that drove his determination to bring bold changes to the sounds of his own generation.
BUCK-TICK’s name is probably considered as one of his few compeers in this. Imai Hisashi plays his guitar in INU’s Merry Go Round, one of the songs covered within this album. This duet probably came about “because we’re friends”.
In this issue, we bring a special conversation between these two people who continue to hone their edge, and have remained the same at heart throughout all this time.
While covering a particular song, over and over again, I’d keep getting the feeling
that this is where my fundamentals come from; my values, way of life, philosophy, all that
――In this album, Imai-san played the guitar for the cover of INU’s song at the behest of Takeshi-san.
Ueda Takeshi (U): That’s right. INU is a band I love to begin with, so I really wanted to include them in this work which was meant to be a collection of covers of songs that make up my roots. But the one singing was Machizou-san (vocalist / Machida Machizou), so I can’t exactly do as the original song did. So while choosing a song, I was thinking about how I should go about this. I wanted to play the bass riffs of Merry Go Round myself, but as for something that could rival Machizou-san’s voice, something that wouldn’t lose out to it…… I started thinking that maybe what I wanted was something weird, and at that moment, this man’s guitar playing came to mind.
――Fufufu. Something weird, huh? (Lol)
U: Isn’t there this part in BUCK-TICK concerts that’s a weird segment where it’s noisy and the sound just hits you? I associated that with what Machizou-san’s singing feels like. So [I reached out] to Imai-kun out of nowhere.
Imai Hisashi (I): Through email.
U: Yeah. I said, “Please play weird sounds for me.” (Lol) That’s the request I made.
――The original song doesn’t have such guitar playing, so did you have to make it a carefully thought out composition? Or was it more of a spur-of-the-moment thing?
U: Ah, that’s something I’m very curious about! “Noise” in my idea of a compliment is what I would call “weird sounds”. There’s no doubt that it sounds like something created by Imai-kun, but it also turned out to be something that sounds even more cutting that hits you in the gut. Did you already have this whole thing planned out in mind ahead of time?
I: Well, that, I come up with it through vague ideas of combinations. Even though it’s noise, I took the liberty of assuming it wasn’t just a messy flow he was looking for and decided that I would compose something rough. It just so happened that the entire recording system in my PC died at the same time. So this was the first recording I did at home since I did the full replacement. In that sense, it was a good thing I took the opportunity then to upgrade everything to the latest versions available (lol).
U: You know, when I was putting that cutting in, I thought, “Thank goodness I asked Imai-kun for help.” (Lol)
――Without focusing exclusively on the one song that Imai-san is involved in, how does Takeshi-san feel about the cover album on the whole?
I: Ah, I thought it was really interesting. Because there’s a part of it that covers my roots too. It was so much fun. I really liked working on it.
――The both of you are only 3 years apart in age so both of your generations probably listened to almost the same music.
U: That’s right. YMO was probably your middle school years?
I: Yeah. It was YMO’s influence that got me started on listening to all sorts of music.
U: Me too. I came across them in elementary school. In other words, the first music that I came to know of that wasn’t popular pop songs but band-type of music was YMO. I would think that there’s quite a number of us from this generation who experienced the same thing. For me, it was through this that I came to know of Sakamoto Ryuichi-san and (Imawano) Kiyoshiro-san’s Ikenai Rouge Magic, and then RC Succession, and even more about punk music from there.
I: Personally, I heard YMO and thereafter started looking for technopop and new wave and all sorts of other music that became my roots. Then, RC, it was some other chain of events that just so happened led me to hear ELPL on cassette.
U: EPLP. That was a good one, wasn’t it?
I: That made a quick fan out of me. Then Sakamoto Ryuichi and Imawano Kiyoshiro had that collaboration. That was surprising. I was all, “Ah, here’s their connection!” Yeah, so (Ueda’s covers of) Darlin’ Mishin, and TIGHTEN UP…… I love them all.
U: If it were up to Imai-kun, what songs would you choose?
I: Ah… that’s tough, isn’t it?
U: It is. It was tough for me too. I had fun though.
I: Auh…… But even I were the one choosing, I think most of the bands [I’d pick] would overlap [with yours]. Because I’d include RC, The Stalin, YMO, all of those.
U: All of them have been covered here (lol).
――This is turning out to be a pure conversation between fans (lol). Do you think it’s as they say, that whatever you pick up in your teens are forever?
U: I, think so. Definitely.
I: That’s something we can’t deny, I think.
――Not limited to musical experiences, but everything in that timeframe would become part of your personal development.
U: Ah, that’s something I felt all over again this time around. While covering a particular song, I’d keep getting the feeling that, “I knew it, this is where my fundamentals come from,” over and over again. And that’s what makes my values, way of life, philosophy, all that. In the sense that [these songs] define punk rock, or that this person’s style of rock deeply influenced me.
I: It’s also, because the amount of information that we have access to at the time is different than what things are like now. If we didn’t make the effort to go and look for it, there was no way we would’ve found anything. I guess we, ourselves also enjoyed that feeling of getting more and more exposed to these thorny aspects.
As long as you personally think it’s good, just do it. Because our ultimate goal is originality, something like that
――Was it the spirit of punk and rebellion what you learnt from the bands of that era? Or would you call it something else?
I: Ahh. An abnormal spirit? Or something…… I wonder if that influenced me in any way? Because that’s an element that has always been inside of me since the beginning, so maybe [these bands] made me like that part of me even more instead.
U: Yeah. Also, the concept of walking your own way, right? Something like believing in my values and what I want to do. I’ve been influenced in many different ways, but within it all, I think all this music taught me to ask, “What’s uniquely me?” None of them are similar to the other, neither can you put them all in the same category. Each of them are so different whether music or stance that it muddles what the answer as to what the concept of punk is, but at the same time, that’s what they all had in common.
――You mean that abnormality?
U: I guess it’s the opinion that it doesn’t matter even if they were being presented as abnormal. I don’t have the intention to be abnormal, but if I were to come through with that’s uniquely me, then my values would differ from the vast majority of people. In this case, people might look at me and think I’m abnormal anyway. But even so, I would just say that, “Well, no. This is who I am.” So I feel like it’s these people [bands] who taught me that it doesn’t matter.
――Rather than being abnormal, it’s being true to yourself, right?
U: That’s what it is. I’ve been playing bass for punk music all this while, but when I started using programming, people began telling me that, “This isn’t punk music.” as if that’s the natural order of things. But all I felt was, “So?” It doesn’t matter at all to me that people are saying this. Because I believe that doing what I like and expressing what I enjoy is punk.
I: Yeah. Like, as long as you personally think it’s good, just do it. I realise that’s what I think too. Another thing I have to consider is how I should arrange the music so that it sounds good being played by a band with two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer. Even now, I’m still figuring that out through trial and error. Like, maybe I want to include a combination of rhythm loops and live drums, or a synth bass-like sound, but we have a live bassist here. I have fun working around this and that and figuring things out though.
――It’s clear that the two of you are also the driving force behind the bold introduction of techno and digital elements into the world of rock bands. What are your respective thoughts towards the other’s sound?
U: Personally, BUCK-TICK, or rather, Imai-kun gives off a really enigmatic vibe. The music he makes is also…… how do I describe it? Genre-less? Or, well, he makes music that can only be described as “BUCK-TICK”. I think there are rare few people who are like him, and I aspire to be like him too. His interests take precedence over others’ opinions, otherwise he wouldn’t find value in what he makes. I understand that sentiment very well, and, this may sound presumptuous, but I think it’s because I’m the same kind of person as he is. …… For better or for worse (lol).
――For better or for worse, valuing camaraderie and a sense of unity with the audience is quite unlike the current festival culture that we have these days.
U: Yes. I’m keenly aware of what people value these days, though. But I think we’re people who look for enjoyment that isn’t of this nature. Both myself, and Imai-kun too.
I: Yeah. Because our ultimate goal is originality, something like that.
――So, what does Imai-san think of Takeshi-san?
I: Well, there are elements in the music he makes that become influences to me too, so even now, he’s still a musician who I’m excited to hear new work from. When I first heard Takeshi’s sounds, I had a very strong feeling that he had definitely been influenced by techno or digital music. And after actually meeting him and speaking with him, as I expected, it was YMO after all.
――The first time you met each other was when you were young, both in your early 20s, right? Do you remember what was the first thing you talked about?
U: What I remember is…… not talking about anything at all.
――Hahahaha! What do you mean?
U: The first time we met was at a pub somewhere, and we had a mutual acquaintance who said to me, “Hey, Takeshi, Imai’s calling for you over there.”
I: Really? We met at a pub?
U: Yeah. Then I went to Imai-kun’s table and sat down next to him because, well, he called me over, right? But we just stared ahead and never said a single word. A few minutes later, I was like, “…… Okay, then.” And I left the seat. That was the very first meeting. Ahahaha!
I: I don’t remember that at all (lol).
U: After that, we grew to have conversations like this because of our mutual acquaintances though. It’s just that at the very, very first meeting I was like, “This vibe…… what’s this?” “He called me over, but what should I do?” (Lol) Now that I think about it, I suppose it would’ve worked if I said something first, but because I couldn’t bring myself to.
I: Nah, back then, I guess we were really young when we got to know each other…… in other words, flippant (lol).
U: For sure (lol).
I: Fuhahaha. Like, “I know what it should be, but I’m still going to do this anyway.”
――Truthfully, was your first impression [of Takeshi] bad?
I: Nah, it wasn’t bad. Not at all.
U: Imai-kun has always been this thoughtful. Ever since the first time I met BUCK-TICK, these people have never changed a bit. They take it easy, they’re peculiar. In a good way.
I: Even since those days, he’s always been coming over to my place when I get home after rehearsals. He’d often call me and ask, “Can I come over now?”
U: And if I went over, I wouldn’t be able to go home. I have to wait for Imai-kun to fall asleep (lol).
I: Fuhahaha. Waiting until I’m dead drunk.
U: I can’t drink, so I’d get absolutely trashed playing games with Imai-kun while he gradually gets drunk (lol). Then, after I’ve confirmed that “Ah…… he’s asleep”, I can go home. We had a lot of fun like that, didn’t we?
――Fufufu. Another thing that the two of you have in common is that the things you fancy will never change. There’s no such thing as “growing to enjoy the finer things as you age” with you, is there?
I: Ahh. Like trying out blues?
U: Not really. I guess you could say that new things that I start to like are actually an extension of the things I originally liked. Even if I come across new music, in the end, I’ll only like it if it has a similar vibe.
――Like techno, or punk.
U: Yeah. Even when dubstep came about and I liked it, even when I found myself liking breakcore, what I was truly after in these genres were ultimately the power in the music, something similar to punk.
I: I think I’m like that too. And as I said, I’m ultimately a guitarist, so when I really pursue something, it’s like, the guitar is still the route I would take…… to achieve a form it that is nothing like its original form. What I’m looking for is definitely not blues to begin with.
U: Imai-kun, do you change your equipment a lot? Like your amps.
I: Nope. More often than not, I’d leave it be, indifferent to it. Although there are times when I’d go on a spending spree when something effective suddenly becomes popular. Speaking of which, in terms of amps and the sort…… I think I just leave them alone.
U: Likewise. Even now, I’m still using the amp that I bought when I was 20.
――Rather than saying that you’re indifferent to it, I’d say you have something unshakeable within you that has decided, “This is so me!”
U: That’s right. I don’t understand other amps, neither am I interested in them.
I: You could also say that I’m not particularly concerned about it. Besides, I believe that people don’t change so easily.
U: Right, what’s at your very core doesn’t change. So following that logic, I like the sounds that I make myself.
¹ The phrase featured here is “ティーンエイジの魂百まで (tiin’eiji no tamashii hyaku made)”, a play on the Japanese saying 三つ子の魂百まで (mitsugo no tamashii hyaku made), the English equivalent of which is “the child is father to the man”, meaning that the qualities and personality traits one acquires as a child are carried over into adulthood. Another way to phrase this proverb in English is “as the boy, so the man”, which is also how I formatted this particular translation.
Sakurai Atsushi | BUCK-TICK
After concluding another photoshoot, Sakurai-san arrives at this studio lit by natural light. As soon as he walks in, he utters, “Oof, so bright.” Could this be proof that he’s of a certain……? This is a rare situation that saw Sakurai Atsushi doing a photoshoot under the sun. And because the pictures turned out so otherworldly beautiful, we saw editor-in-chief Kanemitsu very strongly advocating for it to be featured on the back cover of the magazine. Then, when Kanemitsu asked him to, “Write something (一言)” on the polaroid that would be distributed to readers as a gift, he took a moment to think about it before eventually writing, “Something (一言)”. That’s the world’s most adorable Devil King Acchan for you ♡
Imai Hisashi | BUCK-TICK ✕ Ueda Takeshi | AA=
This dialogue took place at the venue of the front cover photoshoot for the special issue PHY so Takeshi-san travelled all the way here for it. Since the PHY photoshoot and filming was taking place within the same studio on this day, we rented an assembly hall adjacent to the studio for the dialogue. Takeshi-san arrives on site. With the intention to start with saying hello to the members of BUCK-TICK, he popped into the studio. Spotting him, Sakurai-san called out to him with, “Oh, hey, Take-chan. Long time no see〜”. Then proceeding to greet each of the members, Takeshi-san naturally gave off the disposition of a much-beloved junior but such a sight in itself was a rather rare one. Then, we moved ourselves into the assembly hall for the dialogue session, but this assembly hall turned out to be a large Japanese-style room the size of about 20 tatami mats. It was more like a banquet hall steeped in Showa-era charm. The moment our two interviewees walked in, they instinctively let out a “Whoa” and laughed. Here, we set up a seating area and sitting on their respective zabuton, Imai-san and Takeshi-san had their chat――That was the kind of surreal setting it turned out to be.