Razzle Dazzle Feature
Photography: Ikeda Tomohide
Interview: Ishii Eriko, Kanemitsu Hirofumi, Takahashi Miho
Hair & Makeup: Tanizaki Takayuki (FatsBerry)
Styling: Shimizu Kenichi
I suppose I’ve always liked music and lyrics that are detached from reality
Anyway, fun things somehow soon come to an end
This album, RAZZLE DAZZLE, is something that slightly shifted the course of BUCK-TICK’s direction thus far. With Juusankai wa Gekkou (十三階は月光 / 13th Floor With Moonshine), Tenshi no Revolver (天使のリボルバー / Angel’s Revolver), and their most recent preceding work memento mori, they have been emphasising on their “band sound”, turning it into the reigning theme on their albums. There are subtle differences between their interpretations of the world, but memento mori, which bears that theme in its nucleus, has turned out to be a masterpiece.
And as they head into producing their new work, the band once again began their search for something new. This is evidence that they do not feel that there is any meaning against overwriting their present state. This voracious attitude that they display despite this being their 25th year in the industry is a flipside to the inferiority complex that they’ve experienced themselves during this time.
How does each member feel about their new album of dazzling pleasure? The interview content is split up into individual dialogues with each of the 5 members, but there is one certain thing that they have kept in these long 25 years that they have been active for. It is the confidence that comes from possessing something that is firmly unshakeable. With the individual member interviews, RAZZLE DAZZLE song commentaries, a dialogue between ISSAY (Der Zibet) and Sakurai Atsushi, and even an interview with Aquirax Uno who designed the album jacket, we shall unravel RAZZLE DAZZLE.
- Sakurai Atsushi
- Imai Hisashi
- Hoshino Hidehiko
- Higuchi Yutaka
- Yagami Toll
- Special Talk Session: ISSAY X Sakurai Atsushi
- Interview with Aquirax Uno
- Band’s comments on Album Tracks
As a person, I possess quite an evil darkness……
But I do think that it’s the same for everyone
I’ve gradually come to understand that
its human to possess such dark facets
Interview by Ishii Eriko
What catches my ear when I listen to their new work, RAZZLE DAZZLE is Sakurai Atsushi’s skill as a singer to use different vocal tonalities for each track. Steeped in the world of each song, his performance ability spirits listeners away into another word. His ability is far from decline. Instead, it continues to grow without limits. However, on the other hand, there is something that remains consistent as well; his gothic lyrical world that has fallen into darkness, his aesthetical spirit that breathes romanticism into blood and the scent of death. And so, we draw closer to the origin of this immutable soul.
ーー So, it appears that Imai-san brought up the keywords “something new” for this album.
Yeah. But it’s just that it’s an external term or a phrase that he used to explain it simply for an interview. Within us five, there really was no occurrence of a conversation that was that concrete, or rather, that constructive that went on. “Something new”, well, it’s always like this anyway (smiles).
ーー It is indeed vague, isn’t it? Were there any other phrases that hinted at how things were to turn out?
Ah, I believe there were a number of those. Though it was more like asking what we made of those. For example, things like “Acchan, have you watched this movie?”, and so on.
ーー Uh-huh. Incidentally, what are they?
A variety. For example, there was Chicago*, a musical. Well, he’s watched quite a lot of movies just by picking out random ones himself without relation to the album. He’s asked me, “Have you seen this movie? What about this one?”, but…… I’ve not watched a single one (smiles).
ーー Hahaha. But it does, in fact, have a musical-like ambience and a groove similar to that of 80’s disco as well. Especially after you go through the first half.
ーー I’ve wondered if it’s okay to jump in, but in Kyouki no Deadheat (狂気のデッドヒート / Crazy Deadheat)’s lyrics, the “What!?” and “No way!!” are……
Fufufu. I suppose you can say that up till here, it’s the feeling of being bewitched. Like, ‘who knew that something like this existed within me too’. This song has been intensely positive since the demo tape stage, so that’s why I seriously considered the idea of trying to do this with a comical singing style. If I decided to do that, I’d want to make sure I’m thorough with it too.
ーー Setting such an amplitude and a new stage, it’s all mainly due to Imai-san, isn’t it? Sakurai-san will, of course, cope with it but within your own lyrics, your usual elements are, as expected, in there.
Ah…… I guess they are indeed there.
ーー If I may make these comparisons, in Dokudanjou Beauty (独壇場Beauty / Beauty the Stage is Yours), Imai-san writes “Our life is in the moment / At the end, just eat it all / Makes me laugh to see it”. While in Sakuran Baby (錯乱Baby / Lunatic Baby)”, Sakurai-san writes “Drink it, drink it / Last drop, last drop, drink it down / This life, this life / Might make me laugh”. I believe that these two sets of lyrics probably refer to the same things.
Yes, that’s right.
ーー However, before and after these words, Imai-san sprinkles “Yeah Yeah” and “Go Go”, while Sakurai-san uses “blood so red so red” and “Angel of Death”. This difference is very intriguing.
Ah. When you think about it like this it might sound childish but…… But I guess I like it. Be it “Blood” or “Death” or so on, somehow, whenever I have free time, it comes up.
ーー (Smiles) What kind of free time is that?
I guess it’s times when I feel “I’m bored, isn’t there anything to do～” (smiles). I suppose spirited words like “Go Go” are understood, so there’s an intuition that it can be used. That’s why I think it’s identical. “Yeah Yeah” and “Go Go” and “blood and death”.
ーー Is it identical? Hahahahahahaha!
…… I said it a little too vaguely (smiles).
ーー Do you perhaps mean that they’re like keywords that switch you on or get you high?
…… Perhaps. Maybe. It might be that I already have such words prepared when I first start from the point where things are different than reality. Music and lyrics that are detached from reality. I guess those are what I like. Since a long time ago.
ーー It was in your teens when you decided on your values, wasn’t it? To the Sakurai-san of those days, was reality something that he wanted to run away from?
That’s right. I’ve already said this numerous times but…… As far back as I can remember, until in my teens, or perhaps my early 20s. Until then, I lived with an impression like ‘ah, whatever, it doesn’t matter’, so.
ーー Why do you think that was the case?
Fun things somehow soon come to an end anyway. Yeah……^ Like, I didn’t know what I was living for. Somehow, people who say similar things are damaged and were interesting though. (While flipping through the pages of the Ongaku to Hito sample) My father’s……^ Ah, this person. I had a father who was a vicious drunk, like this person. As far back as I can remember, that kind of……^ It repeated before my eyes every day. And that went on until my father’s death so, that was when I was 18. When you’re being shown that every single day…… I suppose it feels as if merriment and the sort are contrived. No matter what I did, I had no enthusiasm at all. I didn’t play outside, and all I did was read manga or watch TV, or play with figurines on my own the whole time.
ーー Did you never feel like you had fun even when you were with friends from school or around the area?
Well, since I was still a kid, I did think that it seemed fun when I saw everyone making a ruckus together though. But there was always hell at home. So I did let loose and have fun, but I’d soon wake up from that. But I didn’t want to, you know? I hated that person that I was but…… That’s just how it was. After all, I was young.
ーー Children are powerless, aren’t they?
Yeah. That’s why, until now, that, I wouldn’t say that it’s bred in my bones, but I think that it still remains in me though.
ーー At that point, did you run along with impulses to do something, like for example, getting obsessed with punk culture or running away from home?
Ah…… I should have gone in those healthy directions though. Well, when I was in junior high, I started feeling sexual attraction, and I did enjoy music on my own too though. But there was this domestic reality that would ruin all of these things. It was the feeling of “that guy will……”^, you know? I would even think, “If I ran away from home, my mother would be…”^. Because she seemed to be someone who had nothing but her children.
ーー Ah, like an anchor?
Yeah. Something to cling to. So, naively, I just stayed at home being angry the whole time. I had anger in me, but I couldn’t vent it in a healthy manner. That’s why I was a really unpleasant child. I thought that everyone should be unhappy. Though I still do say that as a joke (smiles), like ‘it would be nice if it rained’, or ‘I hope the typhoon arrives early’. It’s because that was how I thought as a child.
ーー You mentioned feeling sexual attraction in junior high, so doesn’t that mean that you were exposed to the world of having a girlfriend and having sex as well? Did you get completely absorbed in it?
Well, about that, things like getting together with someone I like or my first time, well, like everyone else, I did have those experiences though. However, the values that were instilled in me, I suppose, that happiness is contrived, or that things like ‘I like you’ or ‘I love you’ are……^ Something like that, I guess. I’ve always felt like that.
ーー But Sakurai-san, don’t girls flock to you even if you were left alone?
ーー It’s difficult to say “That’s right” to this point, isn’t it?
Hahaha. But when it comes to puberty, isn’t it useless if it isn’t healthy after all? I’m very introverted, so…… I couldn’t show off that ability.
Then again, it becomes a question of what ability am I talking about when I mention ability (smiles). But isn’t the focus normally on the popular people in class or something? I’d look at them with an attitude, like “hmph”, and think that they’re nasty kids, you know.
ーー I see. Well, I understand the escapism from reality and the household, but when it comes to loving or the warmth of sex, even those seem to disappear like illusions in Sakurai-san’s lyrics, don’t they? It makes me wonder why you’re running away from loving others too.
…… It was cowardice, very much so. Well, even now, I’m still afraid though. Being absorbed in something or getting obsessed with something is scary. Therein also lies self-restraint, or perhaps a conditioned reflex of rejection. Like, if I were to become obsessed with this, I won’t be able to turn back later. That’s how I’d end up thinking. And that’s why I was afraid of being deeply involved, be it with people or with music. Well, for music, I’ve come to be deeply absorbed in it, but there was an initial phase of self-restraint in the beginning too.
ーー Considering that history, wouldn’t you say that forming the band BUCK-TICK and becoming its vocalist is nothing short of a miraculous dynamism?
That’s right. Somehow, a miracle happened. Initially, I participated in the band with an ‘I don’t quite care, I guess I’ll just play the drums’ attitude. I was of the sentiment that I’ll just keep up with it anyway. Then all of a sudden, just like that, I was around 19 or 20 at the time, but when I watched the singers and bands that appeared on TV and looked at them in magazines…… Something came to mind, you know. That notion that even though I liked using my body with the drums, I wanted to do something that could get the audience more excited and more riled up in a more direct, more dedicated manner.
ーー Was that the first time in your life that you spontaneously made a straightforward expression of your desires?
That’s right. After my father died, well, my mother gently told me “You should do what you want to”. I came to Tokyo feeling like I took advantage of those words. Somehow, it’s not like a reaction to the present, but I suppose it’s something like wanting to burn hotter. It was the first time that such a desire came out of me. And I believe I’ve always had the habit of holding back in this area, but at that point in time, it’s like I forced my way into becoming the vocalist with an attitude of “I want to it”.
ーー But it seemed that perhaps BUCK-TICK was unorthodox right from the start because of the fact that Sakurai-san was the frontman. It was novel to be raising fists in a rock band while calling ‘Yay’s and ‘Woo’s and that sort of enthusiasm while not singing at all. Perhaps it could be said that you were theatrical from the get-go.
Ah…… As expected, I’m bad with those kinds of positive things. I have a very strong adverse reaction to being made to seek approval or come in with a ruckus. In my personal world, like how I used to play with figurines alone when I was a child, I suppose I naturally choose things that lie along that same line. The world that I like is now socially acceptable in different ways, but back then, there were people who would really think “How dark!”. Like, “Is this music?” (smiles). But I’m attracted to those kinds of things.
ーー The word ‘gothic’ was not part of the general public’s vocabulary, was it? Even if it was, it was something that belonged to niche enthusiasts.
That’s right. It’s not adjectival, but personally, that’s the kind of thing that I like. Halfway through, I’ve even said to Imai-san, “I want to do something dark”.
ーー Ah, so that was a suggestion that came from Sakurai-san.
Yeah. Since then, it was similar to how things are now. I thought that it felt like something BUCK-TICK-ish was beginning. It was around the time of our 3rd album TABOO when I was found something that made me think ‘this feels more comfortable’ (smiles). After that, it felt like I can no longer turn back.
ーー Did you feel like you were besottedly digging into the darkness? Not because you had a goal as something to aim for.
That’s right. I didn’t have any particular groundwork, because I didn’t know anything, you see. It’s just that the people from the record company kept telling us all sorts of things. Like, we have to do things that would sell otherwise it’s pointless, and so on. Though it felt like things like that are naturally the case, that they go without saying. I kind of hated appearing on TV, and in our 20s, we were often asked “What do you usually do?” or “How do you make your hair stand?” and so on. …… It made me want to say “I don’t know!” (smiles). Well, now it’s just indulgent talk. Though I do think that perhaps it’s because those things happened that I could end up doing whatever I liked.
ーー Now that you mention it, I think “what do you usually do?” has become one of the questions that can’t be asked now.
Ah……… Do I answer?
ーー No, it’s alright (smiles). To that extent, the world of BUCK-TICK has become something that no one can imitate even if they were to plunge in. Although there are youngsters who were influenced by you and got themselves tied up in Visual-Kei, BUCK-TICK cannot be defined by those words. Thinking about it, you really do stand apart.
Ah…… It’s true that now, there is the sense that we naturally stand in that space. But even so, I can’t look at it with a bird’s-eye view so…… On the contrary, I’d like to ask you this. Has that image of ours really remained the same?
ーー I think that it hasn’t changed.
I suppose that…… those things from when I was 3, what was bred in my bones are always here after all, aren’t they? That’s the only way I can think of saying this though.
ーー Do you, to this day, still think that everyone should be unhappy?
Hm…… As you’d expect, I don’t have the same impressions as I did back then though. It’s just that when I look at my surroundings and happen to think that things are a little odd to me, that disturbed heart comes out. I might’ve grown stubborn as I grow older, but I think that things like natures and dispositions might come forth more clearly. Even at work and in other areas, as a person, I possess quite an evil darkness too. But I do think that it’s the same for everyone. I’ve gradually come to understand that it is human to possess such dark facets. But, well…… I think I’ve changed quite a fair bit after all.
ーー I think what changed is that you’ve probably come to accept happiness and reality. This is an odd question, but is it fun to sing with BUCK-TICK now?
Fufufu. That’s right, singing songs is more or less fun too. I suppose, being in BUCK-TICK with all 5 of us, being given the opportunity to sing and being able to sing till now…… It makes me feel very happy.
Fun…… The word fun comes across a little differently though (smiles). Because if anything, those times are tough. But it’s fun when I look back on it, I guess that’s the kind of feeling it gives me. Of course, I don’t think that everything will always be smooth sailing going forward though. But no matter what happens, well, I think that it would be nice to do it until I die.
ーー Until death. Those are some strong words.
Is that so? I spoke without thinking much about it though (smiles). But it’s already been over 20 years, hasn’t it? …… 25 years? I don’t know how much longer I have left anyway. But, yes. Unless something unexpected happens, I definitely want to continue at it, yup.
All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site
* Chicago is American musical crime comedy-drama film based on the stage musical of the same name. It was released in 2002.
^ In the original text, there were insinuations that hinted at Sakurai stopping himself from speaking before he puts negative thoughts into spoken words.
For both Sakurai-san and myself…… at this age,
if we simply let go and let the words come out naturally without giving it much thought
our lyrics end up being about life, or the cycle of life and death,
or how there is no eternity and how things are fleeting
Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Needless to say, Imai Hisashi is the one who holds the key to the band’s direction and their sound. In their new work RAZZLE DAZZLE, he, who has made the previous 3 albums with the theme of a human-powered ‘band sound’, has headed towards ‘something new’; different from what they have done thus far, towards a slightly bizarre, out-of-the-ordinary party. What does he seek in there that he has yet to obtain till now? Perhaps it is something that Imai hopes to get this time through rock and roll. That particularity, along with his hairstyle, is what we will be looking at this time.
ーー Imai-san spoke about quite a variety of things in last month’s Ongaku to Hito (OtH) too, didn’t you?
And that’s why I’m wondering what we’re supposed to talk about today……
ーー Shall we start with talking about your hairstyle?
ーー It reminds me of the Portrait of Reiko*, and it has an impact that feels like it’s something appears in my dreams.
Fuhahaha (smiles). If you feel that it’s out-of-the-ordinary and that it’s something that’s different from what you’ve seen so far, that I suppose that it’s a success.
ーー That you’re not imitating anyone else, right?
I’m not…… I think (smiles).
ーー Well, I think that’s the aim. In that sense, asking Uno Akira-san to work on the album jacket is also an emphasis on the fact that this work is one that is different from the previous ones, isn’t it?
That’s not the reason why, but if that’s how it seems, then that’s the case.
ーー How did you first meet Uno-san?
I initially had a mutual acquaintance with Uno-san. And that person was selling works by various artists at an art gallery or something…… Ah, I take photos of my own personal belongings so I’ve brought them……
ーー Oh! Are these displayed in your home? (Note: Refer to November issue of OtH)
Yeah. This was dealt by that acquaintance. So then, this time, he said that Uno-san is holding a little gathering and he invited me to his house. Like he said, “So why don’t you come and join us?”. Following that flow of events, I met him, and I thought that it would be nice if he would draw for our new album.
ーー I see. So that was the trigger.
But since he’s an amazing person, I thought that it might be better for me to meet him myself and talk about it instead of going through the office to make the request, and I received that opportunity. It was only for a brief period of time, but I got to speak to him. And then he said, “I basically do not turn down work”. Whaaaaat? (smiles)
ーー Hahahaha, just as you thought that he was a more obstinate and unapproachable person than that!
He’s an exceptionally affable person. Our conversation progressed swimmingly. I thought, “this even though I had the image that he would be someone who would willfully make decisions”.
ーー Did you talk about RAZZLE DAZZLE’s image?
I conveyed the keywords to him. Like an out-of-the-ordinary feeling, and a hedonic sense, and “scattered”, those kinds of words were what I told him. Since Uno-san himself has different types of drawings as well, I also told him things like how I wanted the jacket’s flavour to possess the eroticism of the 60s or 70s, and that it’s that kind of feeling that I’m looking for from the illustration.
ーー I saw the colour proof just now, and it looked exactly like what RAZZLE DAZZLE would feel like, it was very nice, wasn’t it?
It’s nice, isn’t it? Having it put on a poster feels nice too. Though instead of a rounded poster, having it on one that is crumpled in the middle, that feels nice too.
ーー Because it fits the worldview.
That’s right. Yeah, it looks good.
ーー I believe that being able to see the jacket like this makes it feel like that image has finally been embodied, but this time around, this RAZZLE DAZZLE possesses the connotations of ―hedonic and dazzling― but why did such an image come to mind?
Because I already had it before we even entered the composition period; since around spring, I believe. If I’m not mistaken, it was sometime before that when a vague image actually appeared.
ーー What kind of image was that?
Like a… secret meeting…… where strange, dodgy artists gather, something like that. But the very first image that I had was probably something out-of-the-ordinary that deviates from reality.
ーー Ah, does the first track, the instrumental RAZZLE DAZZLE FRAGILE, have the image of such a meeting being held?
It feels like chamber music, doesn’t it?
ーー When you say ‘reality’, are you referring a state similar to that of wandering around in this world?
Yeah. Something like “that’s what everyone seeks in the end”.
ーー When you say ‘that’, are you referring to the extraordinary?
That’s right. That’s why I think that’s the direction I’m approaching from. In the sense of ‘I wonder what constitutes as extraordinary’. I suppose we don’t know the reason for that, do we?
ーー The extraordinary is fun too, isn’t it?
I wonder…… Doesn’t it seem like more fun than our present reality?
ーー I don’t know if these match the keyword ‘extraordinary’, but I could strongly feel that ephemera of things, be it life or death, in the songs Dokudanjou Beauty (独壇場Beauty / Beauty the Stage is Yours), Hamushi no You ni (羽虫のように / Like the Tiny Insects), and BOLERO.
I wonder. Dokudanjou～… well, look, it was a song that we wrote quite some time ago. Though adding R.I.P to it made it clear that it leaned more towards that side. Besides, although we requested RAZZLE DAZZLE to be put together as an album with a hedonistic, out-of-the-ordinary image, it’s not like we worked on each song to make sure that all of them fit into that concept anyway.
ーー I see.
That’s why, personally, I have the impression that it is something that is filled with a lot of variety.
ーー Ah, that’s indeed true.
I guess… I suppose the content of the lyrics already encompasses things like life and death. With the music, it’s not that I wanted to it to be rich in variety, but it just ended up like this when I composed it. I think it was the same for Hide but I suppose this time, there was a greater awareness of wanting to do something that is different than our previous work after all. As composers, you know. I do think that in Hide’s case, he composed the 4 songs Kyouki no Deadheat (狂気のデッドヒート / Crazy Deadheat), PIXY, Mugen (夢幻 / Reverie), and Yougetsu (妖月‐ようげつ‐ / Mystery Moon) with that awareness. I guess that’s why, when it was completed, it feels as if we’ve created a new band sound for BUCK-TICK.
ーー A new band sound!
That’s right. That’s why it was kind of like not wanting to drag out the feel of our previous work, memento mori. We didn’t have any intention of completely cutting things off, but the level of completion for that album was high, so it felt like if we didn’t destroy it, we wouldn’t be able to move to the next one, and even if we did continue on with that feel, how things would turn out becomes a real question mark so…… Those were the kind of thoughts that we had. But whichever it is, becoming too comfortable in it felt like something that isn’t us. As a band.
ーー So you’re saying that it’s not as if you’re creating a new music genre to break free of feeling that exceptional novelty.
Yeah. I think that’s why we came to want to do this strange rock and roll, or rather, this new band sound. The second track, RAZZLE DAZZLE, is the very first song that was composed with that awareness in mind. Like, something’s beginning.
ーー Something like giving this strange rock and roll a form?
ーー And that’s why you went with this hairstyle, why you even had Uno Akira-san to work on the album jacket to bring out that “strangeness”, right? A kind of bizarre, out-of-the-ordinary……
Also, an unhealthy feeling.
Yeah. A completely nocturnal one (smiles).
ーー If that’s the case, then this is a meeting of strange and dodgy artists at night, isn’t it?
Yeah. The image that everyone can’t quite blend into society (smiles).
ーー But the lyrics are exceptionally real, or should I say, the feeling that I get when I hear it is strikingly more raw or vivid than fantastical.
Ah…… Because I want to bring out that part of a human more now. And that’s why, even after we add in Sakurai-san’s vocals, it doesn’t feel as if the song is being delivered to the listener from someone of a higher position. Rather, it’s like we’re on the same level as the listener, I guess. There’s a part of me that seeks that kind of ambience.
ーー That’s why I think that it’s not all that sublime, nor does it feel like it comes from above. It’s closer, and the emotions and vividness of a human come through. It was especially so for the last track, solaris.
ーー Like the emptiness of death, and the feelings that one must not forget. I think these things appear in the lyrics and the song and the melody, in all of those parts.
After all, now, for both Sakurai-san and myself…… I think everyone probably feels like this, but at this age, I think that if we simply let go and let the words come out naturally without giving it much thought, our lyrics end up being about life, or the cycle of life and death, or how there is no eternity and how things are fleeting.
ーー Well, because it is indeed true that even if innocent dreams and hopes come from the present BUCK-TICK, there’s no reality in it, right? As compared to when you were in your teens.
Aside from that, if you consider the story on your own, for example, I think that it will turn into lyrics about a well-constructed world. But now, I guess you could say that lyrics which go in that direction don’t really excite me.
ーー I see.
And that’s why I think what that is now is giving a form to whatever happens to spring up from my mind without setting any themes to abide by.
ーー I feel that although externally, the theme is very clearly shown with a very unambiguous image, be it on the album jacket or in the visuals provided, when we dig into the lyrics of each song, be it Imai-san’s or Sakurai-san’s, there are many songs which are of the type where your own sentiments just come through naturally without being too conscious of what is being sung.
Yean. But letting go like in Django!!!, writing, thinking, and attempting to consciously head towards the fantastical is fun too. As well as doing things that way.
ーー The Latin beat was fresh too and casting a spell to a conga rhythm with “BIBBIDI-BOBBIDI-BOO” (smiles).
And that’s why, I guess there’s this feeling that within myself, as much as possible, I’ve lost the dividing line between what there is and what there isn’t. Though there is a part that naturally made the title of the previous album, memento mori, a huge theme.
ーー Because it means to live while being conscious of death, right?
Yeah. I think that I’ve become a little freer in a number of areas this time.
ーー With this being your 18th, I think that this has turned out to be an album that is bursting with freedom, mixing a variety of elements and is similar to your present selves.
Eh, the album?
ーー With this work, you’ve produced your 18th original album.
Ah…… But it still feels likes like that……
ーー Hahahahahaha. But, well, I believe that you’ve always been told this though. The existence of BUCK-TICK has already become that of a special band that doesn’t fit anywhere, hasn’t it?
I wonder…… I suppose it’s calling a misunderstanding a misunderstanding.
ーー Hahahahaha. A misunderstanding!
I wonder what is it…… It’s because we’re making songs that don’t feel normal, right?
ーー You knew! (smiles)
When I realise it (smiles). Even if I think ‘isn’t this normal?’, it’s not all that normal at all anyway. Because what the world considers to be normal is even much more superbly normal, right?
ーー You’re saying that your band’s standard is not aligned with the general perception of it (smiles).
Rather than saying it’s not aligned…… Right, it’s a misunderstanding. The general public’s misunderstanding! (smiles)
ーー So that’s why you do things that are different from what others do.
But people don’t really show off their eccentricity and create weird works, do they? Like going ahead with a song even though it’s very weird, or not particularly aiming for such a thing on the whole even though it exists, and so on. Well, I do think that things might end up having a slightly peculiar feeling though.
ーー That peculiar feeling is……
When an outsider looks at it and thinks it’s extremely peculiar?
ーー Hahahahaha. Well, although I suppose that births originality.
I’ve never really thought much about it though.
ーー But have you ever had the thought of wanting to be of another level?
I’ve used such a term before in the past, but even if I say that I don’t think that I want to be a part of that, you know. Because I’ve always thought of it as the opposite. Because wanting to be of another level is like saying that your songs and such have parts that cannot be imitated by anyone after all. I suppose I don’t think things like, ‘I don’t want to be understood’.
ーー But you’ve often been labelled as alternative, right?
Yeah. You see, a point like that is saying that we want to be people who have our own genre, well, in the past I said that without anything to back it up to sound cool, but I think, somehow, by continuing on like this, I guess it just took shape as we went on.
ーー I think that is something that you get for continuing activities for such a long time after all.
Right? …… Well, having come this far, there are others who have disappeared along the way though, right? During the course of 25 years? And despite letting people think that they’re gone, they pop up again, don’t they? Hey, look, these days its the norm! They just turn up as if nothing happened.
ーー Wahahahaha. But doing things like that, there is, again, a different value that you have compared to those who just come back as if nothing happened. Those who last long have value.
And that’s a good album.
All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site
* Portrait of Reiko is the work of Kishida Ryusei, a Japanese painter in the Taisho and Showa period. He was best known for Western-style painting (Youga), and notable works of his include portraits of his daughter Reiko.
I get the feeling that it comes down to believing in myself and the work that I produce
I think that everyone possesses such a core, and perhaps that’s why we don’t go astray
Interview by Takahashi Miho
Together with Imai Hisashi, sharing the responsibility of composing for BUCK-TICK is Hoshino Hidehiko. In this album, he worked on the 4 songs Kyouki no Deadheat (狂気のデッドヒート / Crazy Deadheat), Yougetsu (妖月‐ようげつ‐ / Mystery Moon), PIXY, and Mugen (夢幻 / Reverie). He has said himself that “a rare pop-like melody has come out from me”, but in this brilliantly coloured album, much of the tunes seem to turn into a sweet essence. As we look into the reason behind this, words like ‘spontaneity’ and ‘freedom’ pop up a lot. Perhaps such a door has opened because he has been freed from concept. I believe that this is a major factor that lets us feel this album’s theme of ‘freshness’ that comes from a different direction than Imai’s tunes.
ーー First off, will you please share your honest opinion about the completed album?
Hmm…… Something like, I guess we’ve made another interesting album (smiles). Frankly, that’s what it feels like.
ーー In the interview with Imai-san that will be published in this issue of Ongaku to Hito (OtH), he said that the theme was ‘something new that is different from everything else thus far’, so how did Hoshino-san interpret this ‘something new’?
Hmm, well…… We had a meeting before we composed the album, but it wasn’t that concrete, or rather…… we weren’t able to have a deep discussion. And so, this ‘something new’ was not that…… At that point in time, we simply only had the understanding that we’re going to do our usual ‘something new’.
ーー So, did Hoshino-san lay out some kind of theme over the songs that you composed?
This time, it could be said that there it doesn’t feel like [we were producing a] concept album, so I didn’t think with such a precise feeling. That’s why, when composing, most of it spontaneously came to be. There is the sense that it gradually changed during the course of recording from there.
ーー How did the changes come about?
I made a demo tape as usual, and at that point in time, it already had new elements in it, but it feels rougher…… That’s also the same as usual, but there’s that part of playing around after we start recording too, so I guess there were more trials and errors this time around.
ーー Is that an area that is different from previous cases for Hoshino-san?
That’s right. This is in recent times, but I guess I played around more. In the past, I composed with the idea that it has to be this certain way, but recently, within myself, I’ve grown accepting of others’ opinions and so on. I guess you could say that I’ve become capable of thinking “Ah, this is good”, or “I guess we’ll try it in this way”, or “Let’s turn that into a composition” while all kinds of ideas are being tossed around.
ーー In the past, would you already have a firm image during the demo stage and have no intention of bending over even in the band?
It was unexpectedly so. I’d have drawn up the phrasings and the tonalities in my mind, and you could say that I’d hate it if things weren’t done that way. It was that way for the timbres of the instruments, and the same for the notes as well, if it’s jutting out from inside of me in an odd manner, there would be times when I’d grudgingly fix it too, but recently, those feelings have disappeared.
ーー Why do you think that happened?
Mm…… I wonder why (smiles). Maybe I opened up more, I don’t know (smiles).
ーー (Smiles) There’s also a part where the way you enjoy music and the way you look at it has changed, right?
That’s right, I noticed that I’ve found a form of enjoyment in new discoveries or being able to see a new side of a tune though.
ーー That is also one of the triggers that led to the birth of what Imai-san called ‘something new’, right?
That’s right. Though it’s psychological (smiles).
ーー Were you influenced by Imai-san’s compositions when you were inspired to make changes at the demo stage?
Mm…… I did consider the balance [between our songs] though. Originally, if we’re talking about the keyword that came in the very beginning of things, it would be “danceable”, and there would be an issue with the rhythm and all too, but the basic idea of it was captured, so that wasn’t changed. That’s why there is a uniformity though. Perhaps, you could say that in other words, it was the surface elements that were changed.
ーー What do you think of Imai-san’s approach this time around?
I think he said it himself that when we started composing, we didn’t know what the image of this album was. For some reason, we didn’t really think too deeply about it, huh, even when asked about it, yeah. It’s something like this.
ーー But ‘danceable’ was there as a subject, wasn’t it?
During our very first meeting…… we had it over drinks as usual, but such a keyword was brought up there and then. I think that’s where Dokudanjou Beauty (独壇場Beauty / Beauty the Stage is Yours) and other such songs came from though.
ーー And that is also reflected in Hoshino-san’s compositions.
That’s right. I composed them while being conscious of making them such that you’ll spontaneously get into the groove of it, or it’ll move your body [when you listen to it] without needing to pay much attention to it.
ーー That’s something different from the sound creation that is wholly devoted to the recent band sound, right?
That’s right, the sounds of these two albums were focused on the band, and I did wonder if it’s about time that we were done with this, or maybe we should change, but it’s not about those restrictions, neither is it just the band. We’ve added in a variety of sounds and so on…… We played around quite a bit anyway, this time.
ーー Between having restrictions or having the ability to play around, in terms of a Hoshino composition, is there a preference?
Well, I guess you could say whichever is fine. I feel like I can work with both either way (smiles). After all, if there are restrictions, it’ll be easy to get into it and start composing, but on the other hand, I do like having the freedom to create as well.
ーー BUCK-TICK has been active for so long too, but instead of taking the same route, I often feel that sense of wanting change.
Hmm…… That’s natural because that’s how we’ve made it our way here. I believe that having played our band sound this whole way, it’s super fun in itself and I suppose there’s that way of doing things too anyway, since that’s how we’ve been since the very beginning (smiles).
ーー There’s also the method of making the same homogeneous-sounding music all the time, isn’t there? But BUCK-TICK doesn’t do that. Though it feels as if you’ve chosen a difficult path to take.
Uhhuh. Although there are the throes of creation. But I guess we unexpectedly crossed that mountain. Though it feels like it really wasn’t as bad as I expected (smiles).
ーー Is it that this suffering has become something that naturally comes as a part of producing?
Mm…… But this time around, personally, I don’t think it’s that bad, though [it’s correct] in that sense (smiles). I end up feeling like I did it with a lot of freedom.
ーー So that’s how it was. For Hoshino-san, when is music created?
Ah well, when I decide to compose. Most times it’s me shutting myself in the room, thinking “I guess I’ll compose”, and then starting it.
ーー It’s more of focusing and creating than having something suddenly drop in on you at random times then.
That’s right. I’ll get into the mood of “well, let’s compose today”, and then get fired up about it (smiles).
ーー Though I’d think that without restrictions, it’ll reflect your preferences and mood at that point in time.
I do think that it does come out more than I’d expect. Rather than preferences, I guess I’d say that it’s really feeling free because [the sounds] that make me think that it’s something I’m looking for comes out while I’m just playing around with the guitar as per normal.
ーー I think that doing it like that and regularly coming up with new things, be it in terms of the band or yourself, is amazing though.
Mm…… Well, perhaps it’s a habit, but it comes out every time, doesn’t it? No matter what I do that human-ness will come through, and it’s good in its own way, and the melody is like that too, but I guess it happens that when it comes to the instruments and such, various changes will be made to those.
ーー Isn’t that because the desire to evolve exists within you, both personally and in the band after all?
It does exist after all. It’s especially so for the band, isn’t it? I do have that in myself too but…… I suppose for the band, the expectations that others have of us is huge and I guess everyone would probably hate it if we did the same thing again (smiles), so perhaps there is the burden of having to come up with new forms all the time.
ーー So it’s the feeling that there are expectations of you after all?
(Smiles) Well, I guess so, there are times when I do feel it. When I hear such words, I’ll feel happy, and it gives me energy too.
ーー More than pressure, you feel happiness?
That’s right. Simply put, I guess I’m happy when getting critiqued, and then next time I compose again, unexpectedly, I end up being able to do it (smiles). I’m naturally like that, so there is no such uneasiness.
ーー Even when I listen to this work, I think that you’ve met that expectation (smiles). BUCK-TICK is, after all, always of another level, no matter the era, or rather it leaves the impression of an existence unlike any other.
Ah…… Indeed, though recently, I haven’t really had much opportunity to hear what the younger generation has produced, but in that sense, there is that feeling of another level, isn’t there? I do listen to the music that is played on TV though……
ーー Do you ever think of contrasting yourself or BUCK-TICK with the world when composing?
Nope, I don’t. Almost never. I might’ve had that intent in the past, but in recent years, I’ve come to barely even consider it. I get the feeling that it comes down to believing in myself and the work that I produce.
ーー That might be the reason why you’ve established an inimitable position. But since the past, you’ve always had this image of being unaffected by the world, right?
I think that everyone possesses such a core, and perhaps that’s why we don’t go astray, neither does that part of us ever change.
ーー Simply put, aren’t there all kinds of things in the world? Were there ever moments when you get confused by those things and feel like you would go astray?
Hmm…… I wonder. I suppose I don’t think so deeply about it though (smiles), since it’s just a spontaneous flow.
ーー Have you ever thought about the position of your band?
What is it? I wonder. On the contrary, I’d like to ask about that (smiles).
ーー Is that so (smiles).
But, I do wonder, how are we captured? I’m curious. On occasion, when we take part in fests and so on, I do wonder, how do they see us? When people who don’t know us look at us, when people who only know us by name but don’t really know us as people look at us, what do they think? I do wonder about that though.
ーー By the way, is there a fixed distribution in song composing responsibility between Imai-san and Hoshino-san?
Nope, there basically isn’t one, but we don’t have meetings about such things either, and it’s something that just happens spontaneously as it is anyway. But we both have our strengths and weaknesses, so I get the feeling that it comes together with a nice balance.
ーー How was it this time?
Well, but this time, I submitted songs first, so. Usually, there’d be times when I’ll compose a song because I think that there isn’t enough of that type in the album too, but this time, there’s a part where I didn’t think too much about things and just did it. The result, well, it depends on the arrangement, but I felt that it was arranged well. This time, Imai-san was… slow…… Simply put, that’s that though (smiles). So [it was like that] from the start.
ーー There was an urgency to the overall flow, right?
That’s right, and even deciding on the track order, it was quite difficult but in the end, we all did it together while drinking, just sluggishly deciding with a sense of “I wonder if this is okay”, but the result came out well (smiles).
ーー Did you work overnight to decide on it?
That’s right. At a rather late time.
ーー You made the decision while drunk? (smiles)
Exactly (smiles). We were drawing close to the submission day for all our content, so that’s how it felt (smiles).
ーー What is it normally like?
Hmm, we normally have more time, so we’d come up with our own track orders and we’d ask everyone about it, but this time, we didn’t have time. Everyone brought the track orders that they’ve thought of beforehand, cut up [a piece of paper with the song titles], and decided on it while changing and replacing songs here and there like ‘this isn’t it’, ‘that isn’t it’.
ーー I wonder why you didn’t have enough time.
What was the reason…… come to think of it.
Staff: There were signs that you’ve been pressed for recording time. Observing from the side.
As they said (smiles).
ーー Not that you were stuck or something?
Yes, it wasn’t that. Before I knew it, the number of songs grew, and recording too……
ーー There are a lot of songs, aren’t there?
That’s right. There are many.
ーー This voluminous feeling too……
It’s just how things turned out (smiles).
ーー I see (smiles). Simply put, did this happen because you did the songs you wanted to do?
Well, that’s what happened, isn’t it? But while recording, we didn’t reject anything, so for us, if we were to record a song, we treat it as something that will be used in the album, and we ended up with 15 songs like that.
ーー This album will make it the 18th that you have released, and looking at the number again, it’s amazing, isn’t it? Despite that, considering that it has 15 tracks, it’s turned out to be something voluminous in content.
You’re right. If we just think about the number of songs, how many do we have…… about 200?
ーー And repeating the process of evolution and change in all of that is a truly great feat, after all, that’s what I think.
That is…… right (smiles).
ーー No, really (smiles). I’m sure you’re looking forward to the listeners’ reactions too. Though I believe that they’d be surprised again.
You’re right. I’d be pleased if they are.
There are a lot of people who kind of misunderstand……
But we get along well, you know. We do get along well, but……
Perhaps I should say that it’s very harsh as a performing musician
On the contrary, I think that it’s harsher [here] than any other band.
Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Higuchi Yutaka, the youngest member in the band, is an eternally much-loved character in BUCK-TICK (smiles). Even after years have passed, he is still being addressed as “Yuta”. Having such a character in the band could be, in a good way, part of the reason why they have not changed even after 25 years, but like Imai, with RAZZLE DAZZLE, Higuchi too was driven by the impulse that he had to change as well. This will be an interview were we get a glimpse of both Yuta’s kindness and harshness, along with how he looks at the band with solemnity.
ーー First off, your thoughts about RAZZLE DAZZLE.
I think this is the usual, but as always, it has a variety of songs. Also, it’s also the first time in a while since I heard Imai-kun saying “I still want to compose more” “But I’m still coming up with songs” (smiles).
Thanks to that, it felt like our recording period stretched out a lot..
ーー So the songs just sprang up?
They did, but I was like, “Imai-kun…… This is great but we’ve already started recording though” (smiles).
ーー That’s just like “slow starter” Imai, huh? Did things progress smoothly after that , despite him getting a broken bone?
We’ve been in recording mode the all the way ever since we released Dokudanjou Beauty (独壇場Beauty / Beauty the Stage is Yours) before year end. That’s why I have to admit that even though we didn’t really have all that much time for recording, it felt like, “Ah… This is going on for so long…”. We recorded Dokudanjou～, had our Budokan live, bade goodbye to each other saying ‘Well, see you for recording next year~”, and then just as the year began, an injury occurred (smiles). I think that’s why Imai-kun was so very motivated. [He] probably also had the intention of “I’m gonna redeem myself!”.
ーー That grasshopper* guy!?
Well, because he had a clear goal, you know?
ーー Come to think of it, the other day, in interview with Ongaku to Hito (OtH), Imai-san did say that the bassist was exceptionally happy and energetic though.
No no no (shy). That’s simply because the headphones were slightly loose! How embarrassing. I’m going to buy new headphones (smiles).
ーー And I heard that Imai-san said “We’ll be doing something new” before recording began for this album.
I don’t know what the rest thought about it though……
ーー No no, this is a personal interview anyway!
Usually, I’d feel like an album’s world view is only complete after we’ve made the album, gone on tour, and performed in front of our audience, but during memento mori, even I felt a sense of achievement that I haven’t felt in these past few years.
ーー Like, “this is what we wanted to express with the album!”?
Exactly. We had an immediate response, and the songs that I was unsure of how they would sound live turned out surprisingly well too. I thought, “we’d have to show the audience something even better than this when the next live comes around”. And that’s why I got the sense that it wouldn’t be good if we did the same thing next time.
ーー I see.
Imai-kun has said this too, but this is why I, too, thought that I’d definitely have to change something too as we move forward.
ーー So you’re saying that even though it’s vague, when the direction of “doing something new” came up, Yuta-san thought the same too.
That’s because when Imai-kun brought up the topic of ‘doing something new’ and ‘doing something that is different from what we’ve done so far’, I understood that very well.
ーー Then the question becomes, ‘so what is it?’.
Personally, I thought that there are more songs where the melody touches you emotionally, as per both our singles Dokudanjou～ and Kuchizuke (くちづけ / Kiss), instead of songs where the riffs aggressively attack you. Don’t you think that there are more of such songs in this album? Songs where the melody is strong but the groove comes through as well. The ambience is completely different too.
ーー What were you mindful of as a performing musician?
I placed more emphasis on the groove than before. There were a lot of songs with the four-on-the-floor beat this time, and it may seem like it’s the easiest kind to get into the groove to, but for a performing musician, it’s surprisingly difficult. And also with regards to the sound production, like how it has to be simple and so on. But while doing that, certain idea like how it might be interesting if it was tangled up with the melody a little more did cross my mind. After all, it’s a human who’s playing it.
ーー I see.
Otherwise it’ll turn mechanical, won’t it? It’s not a bad thing, but I think that it’ll head towards a weird direction. There’s quite a lot of danceability to it, but I did think about how add my own human flavour into it. Though calling something human yet danceable is a weird way of putting it.
ーー Understood. That is despite that you’re driving it in manually.
I thought that it would be nice if i could bring that feeling into it. Because that’s found in the melodies that Imai-kun and Hide composed. Also, I’ll know from there just how much human flavour there is [in the songs], and I’d want to make more use of it.
ーー Like, “let’s bring out that part even more prominently”.
Yeah. Spontaneously speaking. It’s not that we try to avoid going there, but it just naturally turns out like that. The more we create, the more we started getting the idea that perhaps it might be better if we don’t do things conventionally. Simply put, in a band, we shouldn’t be asserting ourselves on producing the sounds, instead it should be on how we convey the sounds; that’s what I believe we’ve come to understand the more we do this. Without a doubt. Well, for myself, I’m not the one who should be asserting myself anyway.
ーー Hahahaha, I understand.
That’s why I think that it would be good if we placed a little more emphasis on things like emotional communication too. Doing so is not to say that my own sound will be compromised, but it has turned out to be that my role in the band is to create an environment that makes it easy for Acchan to sing.
ーー You’re saying the exact same thing as Ani did when we interviewed him the other day.
Ah, can’t fight what’s in our blood after all (smiles).
But our roots have not changed one bit though. The idea that we should perform comfortably has grown stronger. I guess that, too, came after we went on tour for memento mori. Occurrences of Acchan saying “Let’s have fun” or “Let’s party” has increased too.
ーー I see.
I suppose, memento mori became a turning point for a number of reasons after all. I guess you could say it was something like a new evolution. I think everyone had confidence in different areas. Being able to do something new, something unknown with this confidence is one amazing thing about this band.
ーー The meaning of the title, RAZZLE DAZZLE, includes the hedonistic, and it gives the feeling of dazzling merriment, but was that something that was a conscious focus of the album on the whole?
Well, yes. It was the same for Acchan as well, but I guess we stuck on a hell lot of inflections (smiles). I believe there were a variety of singing styles too, and each of our incoherent speech patterns are weird, but it felt like we wanted to try all sorts of things, or to just do what we wanted to do.
ーー So you’re saying that’s what you put out?
Uhhuh. But no matter how incoherent it gets, we’d somehow set it straight eventually. I think that it’s because Acchan’s vocal ability is amazing, and at the same time, I believe that Imai-kun and Hide would somehow find a natural balance in some marginal area. Since we’ve been doing this for 25 years anyway.
ーー It’s been a long while, hasn’t it?
Even if it gets to a point where we decide that it’s okay to do whatever we like or something new, no matter how new this something is, I believe that our BUCK-TICK-ness will be ingrained in it. But I think that those possibilities are impressively broad.
ーー BUCK-TICK’s framework isn’t based on the perspective of genres or types of sounds, is it?
Because, you see, when it comes to our orientation, even if I were to try and explain it, I don’t really understand it myself.
It’s embarrassing! (smiles) But maybe that’s why we can do the things that we really truly like without being affected as long as it has us thinking that it’s cool. It’s the same with regards to things I come up with myself too. Even if I’m not sure about whether doing it a particular way would work or not, I don’t really come up with something that would get criticised. Because I’d just get told “Sounds good, doesn’t it?” (smiles).
ーー I believe that parts of the band has changed, including your sound, but during this past 25 years, have you ever encountered occasions that make you think “This isn’t quite suitable”?
Things like that don’t really come up. However, we’re always changing with regards to our music.
ーー Because BUCK-TICK doesn’t really have a specific kind of music that you’d call your backbone, right?
We don’t really have that, but I guess there’s something a little more complex too. And maybe that’s why we keep changing and keep on rolling.
ーー I see.
But there are parts of us that don’t change as well. Maybe we’re looking for the parts of us that don’t change even as we keep changing (smiles). I guess it’s because playing music together is still enjoyable after all. When we come into the studio to rehearse for our lives, I’d definitely start grinning the moment all our sounds come together for the very first time. This can’t be put into wooooooords (smiles).
ーー Like,’ this is great’.
Yeah. When Acchan gets that delighted look on his face, it just makes me so happy.
ーー Hahahahaha, is that something that has not changed in 25 years?
Indeed, that hasn’t changed. Well, I guess my body more or less gets tired quicker though (smiles).
ーー (Wry smile) Well, that’s age-appropriate, isn’t it? 25 years has passed since you came together, but have you ever thought that you would be able to continue like this?
We didn’t think of anything when we debuted (smiles). Though, more than that, I did wonder why there was alcohol even though we were supposedly just eating out.
ーー Wahahahahaha. How innocent!
But every time we stepped out, we solely thought of doing our best and performing a good one so it’s a feeling of “Oh, hey. By the time I noticed it, we’ve already come this far”. I didn’t really think along the lines of “10 years later, I want to play with this bass style……” or anything of the like (smiles).
ーー Hahahahahaha. So you simply focused on doing the things that were right in front of you well.
ーー Does that mean that instead of having ideas of doing something really big or being ambitious, you were diligently thinking of wanting to be better than you were before?
That’s right. That I wanted to be better than I was, and that I wanted to let everyone hear good music.
ーー It feels like an accumulation of those simple parts. Though I do think that this is the origin of how your unique existence came to be, by simply continuing on like this.
ーー Isn’t it? For sure. Because, you see, there is no other existence like yours, is there? Being band that has been active all this while that once again produces a new album with a different approach.
I suppose you’re right. I don’t really have any confidence in myself, but when the five of us stand on stage together, I do find myself feeling something like “Now, this is it!”.
ーー Hahahahaha. How about if you were on your own?
Let’s see. If I were to do it on my own………… Yeaaah.
ーー What do you mean “yeaaah” (smiles).
Somehow, the more I do it, the more I feel like I want to cherish the parts that have clustered together. I wonder how the others feel. After having done this for 25 years, I guess instead of growing confident, I find that I don’t know what to do if I were alone (smiles).
ーー Wahahahaha. But that’s what it means to be a band member, isn’t it?
That’s how I feel, personally. Because while I feel pride in it, there’s also self-confidence.
ーー Do you think that it’s important to do things step by step after all?
Yes. I want to create something good every year, piece by piece.
ーー Were you already this type of person when you were a child?
That’s right. My position was a right fielder** too, and I was number 2 as well (smiles).
ーー The type to unflaggingly lead things to the next properly, right? Not only Yuta, but everyone in the band, too, gives off that kind of feeling somewhere, somehow, right?
I guess you’re right. I think that’s why it feels like we simply gather each of the sounds that we make. I guess, as a performing musician, a strong point is in respecting each person. Because the composers write the songs to a certain extent, but after that, it’s up to the performing musicians. It’s a no-touch*** until there, that’s what it feels like.
ーー So you’re saying that it’s something that you’ve created yourselves from that point on.
Yeah. So, there are a lot of people who kind of misunderstand, but we get along well, you know? We get along well, but…… Perhaps I should say that it’s very harsh as a performing musician. I think that it’s harsher [here] than any other band. On the contrary.
ーー I see.
When we’ve constructed the sound and things have solidified, I’d oftentimes find myself understanding, like “Oh, I see!”. When that happens, each of our individual egoes don’t really show, but on the other hand, there are instead a lot of things that we have to do.
ーー From Yuta-san’s point of view, have those pieces of individuality never shown up before?
I’ve really never thought of things like “I want to do something like this” or anything along those lines.
ーー Personally speaking, right?
Mhmm. Earlier, I mentioned ‘clusters’, and somehow, I like being a part of a group. So there’s no reason for me to want to veer away from what they want to do. Because, for example, even when I start think “I want to lengthen the phrase” or something like that, it’s not that I’d hate it, but I’ll be able to come to the conclusion of “Ah, I see. This is nice”.
ーー I see. So you’re saying that this is why you won’t go off course, neither will you be dissatisfied.
Yeah. Wanting to create something with the 5 of us together, that’s what I’ve always felt strongly about.
All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site
* Calling someone a ‘grasshopper’ is in reference to one of Aesop’s Fables, The Ant and The Grasshopper, where the grasshopper is depicted as an idling, improvident character in contrast to the hardworking, forward-planning ant.
** In reference to baseball.
*** No-touch as in where “a fielder with a ball can not touch a runner or base”. (Yuta, you killing me with your baseball references)
Everyone knew nothing
That’s why we aimed for something over a timeframe as long as 25 years
Things would’ve been completely different if we had even one proper musical elite among us
Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
No matter how you look at him, Ani is a respectable man and band member through and through. Perhaps that is why he has a spot that makes it seem as if he looks over BUCK-TICK. Talking about RAZZLE DAZZLE and hearing his answers regarding why they repeat their musical changes to this extent and how they’ve managed to stay together thus far without breaking up, I am struck with the thought, “Now I see!”. Them getting along well is not the sole reason for this. It is the complex that the five of them have carried with them all this while, along with rigour and the resolution that comes from more than a close relationship. Everyone knows it somewhere, somehow. Ah, bands sure are interesting.
ーー RAZZLE DAZZLE is a pivotal work, isn’t it?
When I heard the completed version, I felt like we’ve created something great (smiles). Ultimately, my position is that of a performing musician, so I didn’t really feel anything in particular when we were recording the drums, but when I heard the final rough mix with Acchan’s singing via the stereo of Yuta’s car, I ended up blurting, “Whoa, this is amazing!”. We were in the area of the outer gardens, right outside from here (Note: the recording company) (smiles).
ーー Kukuku. Did you not talk to the other members about the theme or the direction?
I heard that we were going to do something new but I guess it wasn’t as if it wasn’t already decided that this was what we were going to do. I even thought, “Aren’t we already doing new things all the time?!”, and even after playing together for 25 years, whatever is inside Imai’s head soon stops making sense to me anyway (smiles).
ーー Hahahahaha. In other words, Ani is a thorough drummer belonging to the performing musician side.
Yeah. Even when tuning the drums, if Imai listens to it and says “this isn’t right”, I’d redo it from the top again. Because when it comes to the sound of the drums, the final judge is the composer. Each of our preferences are different I can change the playing method anyway. For example, Kyouki no Deadheat (狂気のデッドヒート / Crazy Deadheat) is Hide’s song, but we initially did a rough recording using the snare that was provided. After hearing that, if he said that it would be better if the pitch was higher, then I’d raise the pitch. If it was the other way around, I’d switch it lower. Because that’s my role.
ーー As a performing musician on that end, do you think that you’ve changed while playing in a band for such a long time?
The way we recorded in the past was different, wasn’t it? Before the time of our 2nd album, you’d dub the singing and the guitar solos while everyone plays together and records everything in one shot. Anyway, now, the norm is to take the sounds of each part and overlap them together.
ーー And the band sound has been the theme in these past three works or so, but do you think that it’s a little different this time around?
As a performing musician, I don’t really feel any difference. I’m playing with the same faces so I don’t feel all that uncomfortable, and eventually, once Acchan sings, it’ll become BUCK-TICK-like anyway. I suppose you could say that I didn’t feel worried about anything at all. Acchan, you can tell that he gets better with each year.
ーー I see. Well then, from Yagami-san’s point of view, what’s the evolving image of the band in these past few years?
Ahh…… Yeah… For me, the band changed around the time of 13th Floor With Moonshine and left me the impression that we’ve become really good. Even while we were playing it ourselves. I guess it’s something like… we’re finally able to come close to the music that we envisioned. The ensemble, the way the sounds came together, it was all good. We didn’t go off course. I suppose it’s like each and every one of the sounds came through very well.
ーー It was right during the period of time when Imai-san clearly expressed the direction of the band’s sound, wasn’t it?
Yeah. The moment that I felt it the most was when we did the trackdown for Alice in Wonder Underground (note: single from 2007). I was listening to it. I thought, ‘this is impressive’. And, ‘I guess we’ve gone past the choppy waves’, in terms of the band. Everyone is now capable of playing stably. This is really recent, y’know? The fact that they’ve finally become pro-ish (smiles).
Because we did have really awful days in the past, y’know. After a live ends, we’d get really depressed and think, “This is no good…… Oh well, let’s drink!”. And we’ve been repeating this for the past 25 years (smiles).
ーー But finally, after playing for 25 years, you’ve recently come to understand things?
I only began to think “I’m starting to get a good feeling about this” after about 20 years have passed (smiles). But the more we do this, the more knowledgeable we get. The things that I can do as a performing musician is infinite, so I do think about how I can utilise the band.
ーー I see.
If I were a ceramic artist, perhaps it would be similar to me thinking, ‘I finally managed to fire it up nicely’, and beginning to puff my chest out a little and feel proud of myself (smiles).
We’re still in training. Recently, when we took part in an event in Osaka, I saw Ukadan* and char-san’s** performances and I thought, “I guess we’re still rookies!” (smiles).
ーー Ahahahaha. But as the years pass, you’ll have more and more juniors, and I’m sure that at times you’ll sense how much you’ve influenced them, right?
Well, I suppose there are juniors that we get along well with who were influenced by us when they were in junior high and high school though. Recently, some of them and Dir en Grey’s Shinya-kun celebrated my birthday with me the day before he went to America (smiles).
ーーDo you feel that such adoration is the result of what you’ve achieved so far?
Not really. After all, I’m an active musician. And if they come into the same arena as me, that means they’re all professional musicians and that we’re all playing together in the same arena. I’d also want to be influenced by my juniors, and I’d want them to think that we’re a band who does interesting music. When thinking about that, in the end, I think that we really were lucky (wry smile).
ーー And what luck is that?
When we first came together, weren’t we a band who really didn’t know left from right? We didn’t know music theory, neither did we have anyone who was academically inclined. If Imai graduated from Berkeley (note: famous American music school), then things would’ve been different, but he’s just a brat from a corner tobacco store, right (smiles)?
ーー Ahahahaha. With everyone coming from the rural Gunma (smiles).
Because it’s a band that Acchan from that side of Gunma put together, isn’t it (smiles). But in a good way, everyone knew nothing. That’s why we aimed for something over a timeframe as long as 25 years. Perhaps, fundamentally speaking, our driving force for that is our complex, isn’t it? Something like a negative power. That’s why I think that things would’ve been completely different if we had even one proper musical elite among us.
ーー So you’re saying that this complex has stayed with you all the way, even until now?
Because, you see, when we debuted, the critique that we got were terrible. And they were saying things like how we’re just a band with looks and zero musicality (wry smile). I was like, “Just you wait and see, you bastard writer!”.
The first thing that writer who came to interview us said to us was, “I don’t acknowledge you guys as a rock band”. I got pissed and went home. That guy’s name. I still remember it (smiles).
ーー Those are some deep-seated feelings.
Because we were seen as unorthodox when we debuted. There was an article that wrote about us, saying “That band definitely stands at the station platform eating standing soba with their hair up like that”. “Don’t write things that aren’t true, you fucking bastard!” (smiles).
ーー But on the other hand, while being spoken of and written off like that is vexatious, it’s because your own musicality definitely wasn’t something to be proud of at that point in time that now, you’ve also found self-confidence that came from having struggled before, right?
But you see, it’s because we were a band that all those people in mass media evaluated as having zero musicality (smiles).
ーー How persistent (smiles).
We sure are. But around 15 years ago, I was completely absorbed for a period of time. I loved watching drumming instructional videos, so I ended up collecting quite a number of them. When I watch musicians from our father’s era like jazz drummer Inomata Takeshi-san*** playing, I’d get immersed, thinking “Ah… How wonderful”.
ーー Was there a lot for you to learn from there?
A hell lot. Isn’t he still energetically drumming at 70? Like, how does that even add up (smiles). In the end, it’s all about technique. It’s because he has technique that he can still drum at 70.
ーー Having spent 25 years like this, has Yagami-san’s playstyle changed as well?
It’s completely different now. After all, in my 20s, I was putting in excess energy and all. Because all I had was enthusiasm. That’s why blisters naturally formed, and when we debuted, I often had tape on my hands to drum but now, blisters don’t form anymore. Because I’m not gripping too tightly.
ーー I see.
And gripping tightly leads to your drums getting muted in the end. And it’ll stop your sound too. That’s why when your grip is light and you hit your drums with a ‘bang!’, it’ll turn out differently. That’s what seniors like Takahashi Makoto-san^ and (Murakami) Ponta-san^^ taught me among other things.
ーー And you found your own style as you did all of that?
That’s right. Gradually.
ーー When I watch recent BUCK-TICK lives, there are times when I do think that you’ve changed the way you drum. Like, it’s exceptionally simple, or something.
That’s because I realised that there’s no need for me to do anything extra. In the first place, BUCK-TICK is a song-based band; we have a vocalist, so we’re a band that focuses on how we make him stand out and how comfortably he can sing. No matter how much our overall theme changes, that’s what we are in the end.
ーー Ah, like what you said in the beginning; it’s because you’re a band that comes to life with Sakurai-san’s singing.
Drummers are funny people; we have an urge to drum on whatever’s here.
ーー Ah. Things that are right in front of you?
Yeah. But in reality, as long as the people who are listening to us think that it’s sufficient even if we don’t hit everything that’s before us, then there’s no need to do that. So, an ultimate theme for me is to play the hi-hat once with a <chicchi>, end the drumming with that, and have everyone feel satisfied. That’s my ideal drummer form.
ーー In other words, you’re saying that even if you don’t show off your ego and things like that, it’s all good as long as you’re able to ride on the song and come to life as a band.
Yeah. I often say this to my juniors, but in Carpenters’ “(They Long To Be) Close to You”, only the tom-toms, the hi-hat, and the cymbals are used; the snare does not once make a sound. But when you listen to it normally, you won’t notice that at all, would you?
ーー But even without that, the song itself comes to life, doesn’t it?
Exactly. That’s why I was shocked when I first heard it. But this song is nice, isn’t it? That’s the point; it’s exactly what I’m aiming for.
ーー The way you think has changed quite a lot.
It has. The song SILENT NIGHT from TABOO, it’s drumless, right? When we did that song, they initially told me, “I want to do a song that doesn’t have drums”, and I retorted, “Oh, really now? I guess you don’t need me then”. I got peeved and started sulking (smiles).
ーー You were still a kid (smiles).
But when I think about it, that’s something like ego. Because if the song turns out well, there’s no need for drums or bass then. Singing with a guitar is good too. That’s why it’s not a must for all 5 of us to be playing all at once. What’s important is that Acchan delivers a good song. That’s why I’d like to tell Imai and Hide, “Continue writing those good songs”.
To Acchan, I’d say, “Keep writing good lyrics”. I wrote lyrics in the past too, but I only wrote it to reduce the burden on Acchan since we were so terribly busy. Because, you see, when we were producing TABOO, we were still on tour for SEVENTH HEAVEN. Like, we won an award, then we took the trophy we got from the awards ceremony and went straight into recording and rehearsals. Like, “this doesn’t make sense!” That’s the kind of era it was.
ーー Ah, what about your younger brother?
Yuta is…… a good person so, I’d say, “Assert yourself more!” (smiles).
ーー Hahahahaha. But I feel like I’m beginning to see the origin of the main reason behind your band’s endurance through time and how your musicality changes in different ways.
I suppose. If we’re a band that was highly acclaimed for our musicality since our debut, I think that there might be a possibility that we wouldn’t have stuck together for over 20 years (smiles). Because I think that excuses would’ve been made from that area of “musicality”. Like we might say things like “This is wrong” and chuck things right out.
ーー You’d say you’ve done all you could, right? So this is where you started having the notion of wanting to make things cool because things felt dull and your musicality wasn’t all that strong……
Exactly. Because we were being given 0 points, we worked hard to try and get 100 points. It’s the same even now. You know, I hated being told, “Look, those bands that make their hair stand up, they’ve all disappeared in the end, haven’t they?”.
ーー Ah, could it be that your hairstyle too……
That’s right. Back then, I kept being told “You’re making your hair stand like that just to attract attention” “If you’ve got so much time on your hands to do that, then go practice” and stuff like that, so this is also my obstinacy. I thought, “I’ll definitely make my hair stand like this even 10 years later”. Like, “If I go bald I’ll wear a wig and make it stand” (smiles). Maybe it’s thanks to that indignation that this has been settled without me going bald though (smiles).
ーー Kukuku. I feel like I now understand why this band continues changing and is still evolving even now. That’s because something like an easily comprehensible image of BUCK-TICK has not been set, right?
We’ve come this far, haven’t we? That reminds me, a senior drummer said this to me. He said, “Ah, come to think of it! It’s weird for BUCK-TICK to do blues. Do blues next, blues!” (smiles).
All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site
* Ukadan (憂歌団) is a Japanese blues band that was formed in 1975 by Kimura Atsuki, Uchida Kantaro, Hanaoka Kenji, and Shimada Kazuo.
** Char is a Japanese musician who is known for being a guitarist, singer-songwriter, and music producer. He was part of the Japanese rock band PINK CLOUD, and is also the father of JESSE from RIZE.
*** Inomata Takeshi is a Japanese jazz drummer and bandleader who played in played in the Six Joses and the West Liners until he moved to the United States early in the 1960s, where he studied with Alan Dawson. Following his return to Japan, he founded a jazz education program called Rhythm Clinic Center.
^ Takahashi Makoto was BOØWY’s drummer. Following BOØWY’s disbanding, he joined Chu-ya as part of the band De-LAX. He has also been involved with other acts like AUTO-MOD, GEENA, and THE AURIS (SUPER) BAND.
^^ Murakami “Ponta” Shuichi is a Japanese jazz drummer and session musician who worked extensively as a sideman on jazz sessions in the 1970s and 1980s, and later founded the group Ponta Box which recorded three albums for JVC Victor and appeared at the 1995 Montreux Jazz Festival. He also has recorded several albums under his own name.
Special Talk Session: ISSAY X Sakurai Atsushi
The fallen aristocrat type of decadence is what I like. Someone so rotten that as long as they are around, their surroundings will be corrupted by them as well, that in itself is good, isn’t it
When epicureanism is mentioned, there’s a feeling of European flair, but in my case, it’s like I’ve been corrupted by an archaic Japanese darkness
Der Zibet’s latest release, 懐古的未来~NOSTALGIC FUTURE (Kaikoteki Mirai~Nostalgic Future), is a collection of self-covers, newly recorded versions of their classics thus far. Among them is “Masquerade”, a song from 思春期 II-Downer Side- (Shishunki II-Downer Side-), in which Sakurai Atsushi was invited to participate in as a guest vocalist 19 years ago. This time, Sakurai has once again been asked to take part for the re-recording. The version from 19 years ago was tense, while the new version tenderly disintegrates. And 19 years ago, both of their voices resonated with a similar silhouette, like shadows overlapping each other, but now, their intertwined figures rise to the surface even as they contend with each of their own shadows in tow. As close kindred spirits, words are not needed to convey their disposition regarding this re-recording and their friendly rivalry.
We trace back to the time when the two of them first met when BUCK-TICK debuted. Der Zibet fan Sakurai’s greeting to ISSAY was the start of it all. It goes without saying that they sensed how similar they were to each other and grew closer over time. Putting it into words, one might say it is solitude and debauchery, but the chassis of the hearts that hold onto that appear to resonate to each other. What transpired here was a decadent overnight discussion between what must be the top two people in Japanese rock’s decadent scene, as they talk over glass after glass of alcohol.
When it comes to ISSAY-san, it’s dangerous to look at him, isn’t it. He’s the real thing, and it’s like he has a magnetism that pulls people in strongly
ーー The both of you performed a duet in the self-cover song, “Masquerade”, off Der Zibet’s 懐古的未来~NOSTALGIC FUTURE (Kaikoteki Mirai~Nostalgic Future). So how was this experience of recording and performing this song together again, considering that it was last released in Der Zibet’s 1991 album 思春期 II-Downer Side- (Shishunki II-Downer Side-)?
ISSAY (I): Y’know, this was a conspiracy by HIKARU (smiles). We originally spoke of releasing a self-cover album and decided on it last year though. I went to BUCK-TICK’s year end Budokan live with HIKARU last year, then as we were drinking and discussing, I think the idea somehow came up. And he was asked right there and then, like “Atsushi-kun, will you do it?”.
ーー As the one being asked, how did Sakurai-san feel?
Sakurai (S): Well, you know, I was honoured. For them to say to me “If you don’t mind, shall we”, at this point in time when Der Zibet is restarting their activities again after this much time has passed, I was truly honoured. I’m happy that such a place has been offered to me. I always have it in my iPod too, and I listen to it when I’m sad (smiles).
ーー When you’re sad, huh (smiles).
S: Well, but, I do listen to it as I’m drinking too, even now.
ーー (Smiles) 19 years ago, after the album was released, you performed this song together at Der Zibet’s live at Kudan Kaikan in December as well. To add to that, the audience got to watch a passionate love scene.
I: I was organising Der Zibet-related things from the past when I happened to find the video from Kudan Kaikan. I thought, “Ahhh, come to think of it, this is what it was like”. It’s not something that has been released so I was enjoying it on my own.
S: Back then, ISSAY-san has already been switched on, you see. Just as I began to wonder, “What should I do with this tension”, he came from behind and my arms were bound (smiles). It was something like, since we probably were already being frowned upon or something, I’ll just keep singing as we were. And so I was forcibly hugged (smiles).
I: When it comes to Atsushi-kun, he’s a person who has a unique energy when he’s on stage, you see. That clash between both our energies feels wonderful, truly. It’s like a case where you would be swept off your feet if you lost focus for even just a moment. Because that was just how much tension there was. And as such, there was a kind of overwhelming compulsion that I had to extend my energy out or else.
S: Rather than saying that the energy was high, I think it was more like getting nervous from the tension. Also, it was like ISSAY-san said, I inherently have this concept of “I’ll show you” inside of me. And it’s not only just me, even ISSAY-san feels like it’s make or break (smiles). The best situation is when the audience watching us have their mouths agape as they stare blankly.
ーー So it’s a question of how far you can exceed the expectations and imaginations of those watching?
S: That time at Kudan Kaikan, was it a complete secret?
I: I think we probably didn’t announce your name up front.
S: If that’s the case, I guess everyone would’ve been surprised. And then we did one hell of a thing (smiles).
ーー After that, ISSAY-san too appeared on BUCK-TICK’s stage. And your close relationship, different than that between simple friends or band members, continued on, didn’t it.
S: In my case, one-sidedly, I was a fan anyway. Der Zibet had already debuted before we had our own debut. An acquaintance left behind a Der Zibet cassette at the house that I lived at back then. That was their first album, VIOLETTER BALL. I casually gave it a listen but I found myself very much drawn to it. After that, I happened to pass by the outside of Shibuya’s Eggman when I saw “Der Zibet Live” written there. I thought, “Do coincidences like these actually happen?”. So I went in and they were in the middle of a live but I watched them. And there was a masked man singing on stage.
S: I thought, “Whoa, that’s a homerun!” (smiles). Ever since then, one-sidedly, I’ve been listening to their work like their number one listener or number one fan, something like that.
ーー Have BUCK-TICK’s activities already begun back then?
S: It’s when we just grew capable of performing our own one-man shows in live houses. Around the time when we were about to release a record.
I: There was a live program recording at Rokumeikan. That was when we first met.
S: There, he spoke to us. We had just debuted so we were super nervous, the group of us. Because Der Zibet was like the rock band of rock bands. To us, who were amateurs at the time, there was this air of “This is what a rock band should be”. We thought that even if we greeted them, they’d probably just turn their noses up at us. But such an amiable smiles were given in return…… I was very happy.
I: And after that we bumped into each other at a highway service stop.
S: Somehow the coincidences just lined up. After that, was it London where we met next?
I: Yup. The name “BACK & TICK” showed up at TIME OUT (smiles).
ーー Did you choose to perform under a different name on purpose?
S: Hmm, I think it was carelessly written (smiles)?
I: The only band that me and HIKARU saw in London was BUCK-TICK, y’know.
S: That also occurred by chance, didn’t it. The day of that live performance was on your only off day though. And aside from that day, you were recording all the time, weren’t you. But I really didn’t expect that you’d come to that live. That gave me courage, you know. It’s that feeling that I belonged after all. That I have someone I know from Japan there. It really gave me a lot of power.
ーー An unusual aura from the audience area?
S: Yeah, there was that.
I: That which indicated the presence of a weird Asian (smiles)?
ーー (Smiles) How was the BUCK-TICK live that you saw in London?
I: At the end of it, they handled it aggressively. This I mean in a good way. Like they really belonged. But they were amazingly powerful. Because even with the groove of the music, there was this vigour that made it feel as if that they were doing as they pleased. At the end of it, the pulled the audience in. As I was watching, I thought it was amazing. The energy was amazing. After all, isn’t this the part that defines rock? I don’t quite like this phrase but, they had fighting spirit, like a challenge of how high they can bring the energy and how long they can sustain it. That was the beautiful visage that I got to see.
ーー To be able to hear the words “fighting spirit” from ISSAY-san’s mouth (smiles). Anyway, back to our original topic, hasn’t it been a long time since Sakurai-san being involved in a production as a guest?
S: That’s right…… It was in 1998 when I took part in Tsuchiya Masami-san’s* work so…… It’s been 12 years, hasn’t it? Other people don’t really call on me……
I: Isn’t that most probably because they’re in awe of you though? But perhaps it’s also because vocalists aren’t often being called on. If we’re talking about “Masquerade”, it’s like “This is obviously decadence so let’s call Atsushi-kun” (smiles).
ーー Let’s say, for example, if we were to have a dedecance themed event, who else would you call aside from BUCK-TICK? I would expect Chu-ya-san (LOOPUS, De+LAX), and Genet-san (AUTO-MOD), and anyone else?
I: I do think that Genet-san and Chu-ya-san emanate a strong aura of decadence but. The decadence that I have in mind is a little different from that, y’know.
ーー Different in what sense?
I: The fallen aristocrat type of decadence is what I like, you see. Epicureal, yet flaunting nobility, something like that. Along with the air that as long as this person is around, their surroundings will be corrupted by them as well. Someone that rotten is good though, isn’t it.
S: That was exactly what drew me to him. Because when it comes to ISSAY-san, it’s dangerous to look at him, isn’t it. He’s the real thing, because it feels like he’s really going to enter his coffin (smiles). That part of him is so strong~~~~.
I: The scent of decay?
S: Fufufufufu. I’d say it’s more like you have a magnetism that pulls people in strongly.
I: Oh, I see. But I don’t want Atsushi-kun to be the one telling me that~ (smiles).
S: No, no, no.
Even though they make a wide variety of music, it’s still BUCK-TICK, and it’s his voice that is found in the centre of it all. I think that presence is something amazing
ーー What’s sad about Sakurai-san (smiles), is that he has unfortunately entered this decadent world, isn’t it?
I: She said it’s saaaaaad.
ーー (Smiles) Weren’t you originally a rambunctious biker boy?
I: Is that so?
S: No, I wasn’t rambunctious. That was the only place I could say I belonged to. Normally waking up to friends and music, getting to ride bikes with them. Then my relations with those friends ended because of a certain incident. And as I was wondering “Well then, what should I do now”, I found myself going to Imai Hisashi’s home.
ーー The tobacco shop in front of the station.
S: That’s right. Like, I guess I’ll go since there’ll be cigarettes and coffee (smiles). No matter what, I give off a gloomy feeling, don’t I? And at that time, I wasn’t as promiscuous** as to go for girls yet, you see. So I guess you can say that this was a step forward into music.
ーー It became a kind of catharsis for you, didn’t it?
S: That’s right. And back then, BOØWY was a big thing. We started talking about something like “They’re from Gunma too, whoa!” and then eventually we were all fiddling around with instruments. Back then, the epicurean aura was something that we only ever saw in fashion. However, gradually, it grew more and more comfortable to me.
ーー Like you were drawing close to this decadent world.
S: Well… I entered through various fronts. I thought of becoming a vocalist because I became envious of the cool, good-lookers and the divergent people. So, if you asked me what were the kinds of people I was envious of…… At that time, I was still in my early 20s so I don’t really know for sure, but people with a darkness in them…… a black lustre, something like that.
I: But Japan’s rock scene in those days felt like a place where the sun shone. Like BOØWY has begun selling well, and the sun has started shining down on us.
S: Ahh. It’s true that around the period of time when we just debuted with our first two releases, it indeed felt like we were headed towards sunny days. But my preferences were established by then. It might’ve just been a vocal style but wouldn’t a person want to emulate what they like after all? To understand why it’s beautiful? Like a precariousness on the flip side of that beauty.
I: Or a rot (smiles).
S: (smiles) If I were to do that, I might be capable of it up to a certain extent, but unless I am truly corrupted, I’ll never achieve authencity, and I won’t be able to keep things up for long. I suppose I’ll just die away. And so, I got more and more attracted to it. Attracted to that voice, and I suppose it’s ‘pop’ despite the fact that the music itself is dark. Actually, I don’t know whether ‘pop’ is the right word for this…… It’s like it just went straight into me. Since then, I collected everything Bauhaus with what little money I had (smiles). Now I wonder why.
I: But dark passions like those do exist, right. I wonder what that’s about. That dark ardor.
ーー Is it the kind of feeling where it doesn’t matter even if no one else understands you, since this is where your own world exists?
I: That’s right. You see, it’s something that is far removed from common communication. I think that music is a form of communication in itself, but I guess that kind of music gives the feeling that it seeks dis-communication instead. I have a part of me that’s very close to that as well but I think that this dark passion is something that doesn’t connect at all..
ーー Paradoxically speaking, you’re using that to communicate.
S: Because of this, that’s what Der Zibet was to me. When I listened to “沈みたい (I want to sink*** / Shizumitai)”, it makes me feel like I really do want to sink~~ (smiles). But I also think that because “Shizumitai” exists, I narrowly escaped from truly sinking away. If I had never encountered “Shizumitai”, I might have already gone under.
I: Really? I’m so glad.
S: When epicureanism is mentioned, there’s a feeling of European flair, but in my case, it’s because I’m coming from the position that’s something like an old-fashioned, Japanese, parent-child relationship, like this depravity was brought out from inside to corrupt. And that’s why, when asked about the root of my decadence, I simply have to start the conversation from there in the end (smiles). That’s why I definitely don’t have that sense of flair of nobility, like what ISSAY-san has.
I: Uh… But I don’t even have all that much of flair though.
ーー You wore makeup to school, right?
I: Yup. When I was in high school.
ーー When speaking of decadence, it comes with a flair but in the end, isn’t it something that comes from the darkness that’s inside of you? And I think that it’s something that everyone has.
S: So, you see, when that music touches your heartstrings, you’ll feel like “Ahh, I’ve been saved”, right?
ーー The both of you attend each other’s lives but do you have exchanges with each other in your personal lives?
I: Private exchanges…… not so much. I guess it’s more like we have meetings and drink and chat.
S: If there’s nothing like that to start it off, I’m too embarrassed to after all (smiles). Although, if there something really amusing that I want to talk about, then I’ll be able to ask him out, like “How about going for a drink today”.
I: Then ask me out~. Though in these past 10 years or so, I’ve often gone for BUCK-TICK’s year end Budokan lives. There’s also something that leads to that. Around 4 or 5 in the morning, I think? All of a sudden, my phone would ring. And then I’d wonder, “Who’s calling at such a time?”, and it turns out to be a call from Atsushi-kun. “I have a live todaaay,” he’d say (smiles). “If you like, please do come,” he’d tell me, so I’d say, “Yes, I’ll go”.
ーー 5 in the morning at that. It feels like he probably drank quite a bit.
S: It does seem like it, doesn’t it (wry smile). I felt that I’d definitely need the courage.
ーー Isn’t it wonderful that your relationship has continued for so long because you understand each other?
S: I’m bad at it though, socialising. It’s unusual that I’ve been with ISSAY-san for so long.
ーー Like a good senpai?
S: Mmh…… Putting it like that, it’s difficult to say but. Fufufu. The Japanese form of a senpai/kouhai relationship is…… if I can call it a nuisance, that’s what I’d say it is, you know. But I have a lot of respect and admiration for him. He’s authentic. Beautiful. Furthermore, he has the substance to back it up. That’s what I’ve loved from the very beginning. And I think I was blessed to have been acquainted with someone like that in my 20s.
ーー It made you feel like you’ve found a brethren?
S: Instead of brethren, it’s more like a back to rely on, something like that (smiles).
I: I apologise for having such a small and narrow back.
S: No no no. It’s broad to me!
I: How flattering (smiles).
S: But I think that the Western society’s idea of it is really great, don’t you? Whether you’re the senpai or the kouhai, you address each other by name and they go straight to the point. But in Japan, this is just how our cultural background is, so it can’t be helped though. Speaking in the format of “OO-san, aren’t you so and so”, and things like that. But there are also people who get offended if you don’t do these things properly, so you’d have to be careful.
I: But for us, once we get drunk, our relationship becomes that of “Acchan” and “Icchama”.
S: (Shy smile)
I: Well~ I rather like being called Icchama. It’s cute, somehow.
S: Is it the, butchering, of -sama****…… (smiles). In the first place, I’m no good with going out with friends for a casual drink and things like that. Because I have absolutely no idea what the recent trending topics. But the conversations that I have with ISSAY-san, which are mostly of few words, are very delightful to me. But ISSAY-san is sociable, right?
I: Well, compared to Atsushi-kun, I guess. But whether you can really call me sociable…… (smiles).
S: Fufufu, that’s true.
I: You know, Atsushi-kun came and watched Der Zibet’s live last March. And when we were drinking after that, he said to me, “To have such a man with such an air singing “Der Rhein”! There’s nothing more compelling than that”. That gave me a lot of confidence. Like, ah, I’m on the right track.
S: No no no no. It’s the same for me. As I was watching that live, I too…… I guess you can say that I was again, reassured, that “this person is the real deal”. But well, I don’t know if this is the right way to put it but he stood proper on stage with ringlet curls, you know. There’s no chance of beating that, you know.
ーー Ringlet curls, as in, hairstyle (smiles)?
S: He just has this strong sense of self. Like it doesn’t matter how the people around him thinks of him. Seriously, it’s that part of him that I’ve always admired from the start. Because he is so sure of himself. Well, the ringlet curls were just a metaphor though (lol).
S: Since the time I saw him singing with a mask on Eggman’s stage, his principles have never changed. It’s important to have a sense of self after all. And that’s a part of him that I really admire a lot.
ーー But isn’t Sakurai-san on par too?
S: No way, I don’t know myself, you see.
I: No no, you’re a person who’s very clear with what you like and what you don’t. When I look at you on stage, y’know.
S: Um, well… In the sense that…… I don’t really change my mind about what I like, I guess?
I: Even if you do change your mind, you know yourself quite well, so you’re capable of making the choice of what’s necessary for yourself, right? Whenever I watch BUCK-TICK as a band, new music gets incorporated each time, but I can strongly feel the part where you earnestly stick to your own aesthetic sensibilities. I suppose that’s why I’ve never felt tired of them even if I attend their Budokan lives every year end. It’s like “So this is the mode they’re in now. But it’s still BUCK-TICK after all”. I think that it’s amazing. This part of them where even if they make a wide variety of music, it’s still BUCK-TICK. And his voice is found in the centre of it all. I think that it’s an amazingly wonderful voice, and his presence is amazing.
S: Ah…… I’d say the same to you.
I: Thank you!
ーー Well, what a beautiful relationship (smiles). Is there any possibility of performing together again?
I: If the timing’s right, I’d definitely want to do it together again though.
* Sakurai took part in Tsuchiya’s Forest People (森の人 / Mori no Hito) in 1998, providing lyrics and vocals for the song A Midsummer Night’s Forest (真夏の夜の森の人 / Manatsu no Yo no Mori no Hito). The song can be heard on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ2A_s_zNzY
** The term Sakurai used was ふしだら (fushidara), which quite literally means “slut/slutty”.
*** The base form of 沈みたい (shizumitai) is 沈む (shizumu), which can be simply translated as “to sink”. But it should be noted that this term also comes with the connotations of “to go under”, “to submerge”, or “to feel depressed”. It also comes with the nuance of drowning. This reflects strongly in the next statement where Sakurai talks about himself “sinking”.
**** Basically the “chama” in “Icchama” is like a baby-talk version of the “sama” suffix. I suppose you could say Sakurai uwu’s ISSAY
Interview with Aquirax Uno
Not by drawing an object realistically, but by deviating from the norm
I like giving a sequence a makeover, turning it into something fantastical
I sensed that kind of sentiment from BUCK-TICK too
Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
This time, Akira Uno was tasked to work on RAZZLE DAZZLE’s album jacket. Uno, who is 76 this year, is the representative graphic designer of Showa period Japan and a genius who collaborated with Shūji Terayama and his experimental theatre. In this interview, we spoke to Uno about how he captured BUCK-TICK, the band after listening to this album.
ーー Uno-san was put in charge of creating the jacket for RAZZLE DAZZLE this time around, but what image did you initially have of BUCK-TICK?
Their name, of course, I have heard of a long time ago. But for me, I don’t really attend Japanese rock concerts nor watch them. That is despite the fact that I have worked on album jackets for bands like MERRY and SHAKALABBITS before. That’s why my initial impression of them was that they’re amazing because of how they’re still making music like this.
ーー What do you think of when you’re turning their music into an art piece given that this is how you see it?
I’ve been doing this for over 50 years, so the first thing I have to do is to find what captures my interest. For example, my perspective in the 60s, in the 80s, and now, they all vary in different areas. So it’s a question of where and what I’m looking for as a tangent. While listening to their music and reading the lyrics, I also do try and find out whether there are shared motifs. If they were to tell me their preferences; like whether they wanted it to be excessively decorative, or whether they wanted something aesthetically pleasing, or whether they wanted something grotesque, I’d listen to all of that while relating with the motifs in the lyrics that capture my interest to myself before drawing.
ーー What are those areas when we speak of BUCK-TICK’s album?
First off, in the beginning, I had a discussion with Imai-san, Sakurai-san, and the designer. That person is the same designer who was involved in MERRY’s project too. So, let’s take for example the theatre work that I did in the 70s. It doesn’t only have one theme, instead, it has a number of themes. It’s like what they said at the time; something psychedelic, or akin to a nightmare…… Furthermore, when you put them decoratively yet in parallel to one another, I’ll end up with a few motifs. These are what I got because of the kind of theme that I was headed towards.
ーー So you’re saying that there is, to a certain extent, a shared image that materialised as the album jacket while you picked up on the image of the band’s sound at the same time.
Yeah. There definitely was a tangent that existed and that I relied on too. And I suppose to them, on the other hand, there was something in me that caught their interest. That’s what I found out when we met and spoke. I’m not conscious of this, but personally speaking, the phenomenon of me proactively drawing includes, to a certain extent, the process of making something. This may sound like an odd way of putting it, but my line of work revolves around shaping themes that are derived from other parties. It is a phenomenon where two different predispositions; of starting masochistically while ending sadistically and aggressively, are experienced in one piece of work. That’s why, during the process of delineating the motif here, when I catch that sense of ‘This would feel good like this’ or ‘I can draw this’, I’m not in a state where I’m doing this according to what was ordered. It’s a time when a kind of sadistic joy has been found. Such periods of time did emerge when I was working on this jacket too.
ーー I see. Was that meeting with Imai-san the only conversation you had with the band members for your work on this album?
I think I met Imai-san around 3 times. There was also one night when we stayed up drinking. Though I think we couldn’t help but end up talking about the 70s and things like that.
ーー I heard that Uno-san, too, dabbled in music in the past as well.
About that, it was between Yokoo Tadanori*, me, and Yoko Ono’s ex-husband, composer Ichiyanagi Toshi**. The three of us talked about starting a band and I had no confidence in that at all but we all gathered at Harajuku Central Apartment where I worked out of. An instrument known as the Indian Sitar was left at my workplace for a while. Though I didn’t even know how to play it (smiles). Ichiyanagi-san brought a Doors*** record over and we spoke about how we wanted it to sound like that but in the end, the project ended without a single sound produced (smiles).
ーー The expression of drawing an illustration, of course, involves a different method than the expression of producing music but the intention to do it doesn’t change, right?
Hm, I wonder. I made a Pink Floyd poster in the past but…… I’m deviating from the topic a bit, but Dark Ducks^ were the opening act.
ーー Eh is that so! (smiles).
Yeah. And the DJ Goro Itoi appeared on stage to be the emcee. Perhaps they didn’t understand Pink Floyd at all. Anyway, that was the kind of era it was (smiles). But back to our topic, I thought that even if one didn’t know how to play an instrument, it would be possible to produce things like effects and creating surrealism for the ears. Well…… I don’t really like to say that something can be ‘conveyed’ though.
For example, in the past, when I heard Joan Baez sing, I thought, “A woman like her is pleasant; someone who’s slender and sentimental”. Yet when I read translations of her songs, I felt that she’s quite contentious.
ーー Because she sings protest songs, right?
People can convey things not because you speak well or make people laugh or tell someone something. Instead, no matter what sound you use, well, be it an animalistic scream, or perhaps even a conveyance in the form of a Floyd-like theatrical sound would work, but somewhere in there is a level of abstraction and what I like about it is the will or emotion that exists within. I can’t deal with types who convey that through words.
ーー So it’s better that the sound evokes an image.
That’s right. I prefer music of that nature.
ーー Do you find it enjoyable to create works that are reminiscent of fantastical things and fictional worlds?
It is enjoyable. I draw a variety of things but, take for example, if I were to draw a realistic apple, or if I were to draw a cucumber that looks like a cucumber, well, it’d be fun in its own way but I prefer to ideas that deviate from the norm, like using a rotting apple as a motif or something. Like, if that was one of the themes that were given to me. For example, I wouldn’t draw vegetables as they would look on the sign of a greengrocer’s. I would add some kind of image to it, like making them rot, or speak, or turning them into something fantastical. I very much enjoy giving a sequence a makeover.
ーー That over simply drawing a certain theme as it is.
Yeah. If it was left as it is, it wouldn’t be eye-catching and I feel that my job is to capture people’s attention. I suppose it might be the same for music as well. Though I assume that there are many who don’t think so (smiles). There may be people who are indifferent to the act of drawing an apple, but when I am being asked for something romantic, I’d want to do something out of the ordinary, like a girl living in the apple or something like that. We’re talking about BUCK-TICK this time, but I sensed that kind of sentiment from them.
ーー Does Uno-san keep in mind the era and consider how to incorporate that into your illustrations and graphic designs?
I think there was a time when I did, but now, not at all. At this age, I don’t think about using the younger generations’ sensibilities nor ideas (in my work) any more. Instead, I try to use as little effort as possible. For example, if I’m drawing a girl, I don’t analytically observe what the recent trend in skirt length is, or how high that should end from the knee, and such things any more. I place importance on whether a girl is in the art piece, whether she’s pretty, what part of the feeling that it exudes will remain in me, and things like that. It feels better to leave it to my feelings.
ーー Having had such a long career as a graphic designer and illustrator, what kinds of expressions have you continued to use or alienated?
Ah, on the contrary, I’ve never had the feeling of alienation. In other words, what I want to do aren’t unexpected to me. I’m already at this age anyway, and this is something that I’ve been doing all my life so saying that this is enjoyable…… I more or less agree. The enjoyable thing about being requested for something is basically that whatever is being asked of me can still be found within me; it has common ground with society and it is not something to be discarded. I think that I’d be a painter if I became someone who simply draws whatever I wanted to. So I get asked for something because there’s something in me that is needed or because I am being relied on to imagine something. You can say that there’s nothing that makes me happier than this.
ーー Are you saying that, in other words, there is gratification in being sought after?
That’s right. For example, I’ve said that I’d like to spontaneously draw a piece of historical drama art and I’ve done such work before. I’ve been asked to draw for picture books too, and even for Oniroku Dan’s^^ SM too. The editors ask this of me because they sense more potential in me than I do, so I’d be thinking, ‘Does such an element exist?’ while I’m drawing. If it’s a painter who’s doing this, then they will have the direction of deciding on things based on their own ideas, but in my case, the motifs are presented to me. And finding the potential in it when I’m working on it is the most interesting phenomenon of all.
ーー I saw the jacket for this album and it made me wonder what was the image that you formed for this album.
They had an image that is reminiscent of going to a place that is sort of like a kind of crazy club. In other words, it’s out of the ordinary. It’s like going a kind of snobbish place, a place with an image that is far too absurd to be found in daily life, and the debauchery and disarrayment found there. That’s the kind of mood that I drew.
ーー Yes, I think that’s exactly what is shown on the jacket artwork.
I draw the illustration, then I leave the rest to the designer you see. After all, it isn’t just masochism. It’s because I want to let them do things the way they want to. Though I don’t really go and take a look at what the result of that is. But I’ve seen a number of presentations and it seems like things are turning out to be rather interesting. Having a folded poster included in it, that’s nice, isn’t it?
ーー It is. I felt that it was exceptionally fitting for the music industry.
But we’ve worked hard, haven’t we? These people too. Them asking me to draw a piece for them, it’s definitely because there is a sentiment of…… ‘I want to change’, or something like that. I’ve often heard that we’re now in an era when CDs don’t really sell, but if you release something that is overcalculated on the basis of whether it sells, it doesn’t feel very good, does it? You have to feel that you’re doing it because you want to
Akira Uno a.k.a Aquirax Uno
Born on 13 March 1934 in Nagoya. The representative illustrator and graphic designer of Showa Era Japan. Major works by him include “AQUIRAX UNO POSTERS 1959−1975”, “MONO AQUIRAX＋”, “A letter from a girl”, picture book “Ano Ko [あの子] (Text: Imae Yoshitomo)”, “Fruits of Passion (Text: Terayama Shuji)” and more. As mentioned during the interview, the jacket artworks for MERRY’s single, “Komorebi ga Boku wo Sagashiteru…”, and the first press limited edition of their album “M.E.R.R.Y.” was created by him. He also worked on the jacket of SHAKALABBITS’s Dazzling Soup / Silk.
*Yokoo Tadanori is a graphic designer, illustrator, printmaker and painter whose work is influenced by Surrealism, American Pop Art, contemporary Japanese culture, and ukiyo-e prints. His recent works can be found here.
**Ichiyanagi Toshi is a composer and pianist who is the recipient of the 33rd Suntory Music Award (2001) and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts John Cage Award (2018).
*** Referring to the American rock band The Doors.
^ Dark Ducks are a male Japanese vocal group who were characterized by strikingly close harmony and middle-of-the-road smoothness that match their gentlemanship. They were active from 1951 to 2016.
^^ Oniroku Dan was a celebrated novelist and maker of eiga-pinku and Sadomasochism films in Japan. He was also called “the most celebrated writer of popular SM novels in Japan”.
Band’s comments on Album Tracks
Interview by: Ishii Eriko, Kanemitsu Hirofumi, Takahashi Miho
Brief comments by the band members about all 15 tracks of RAZZLE DAZZLE has been captured! As you listen to the album, read their comments and visualise their impressions of these songs.
1. RAZZLE DAZZLE FRAGILE
Sakurai (S): Our manipulator, Yokoyama-san put his heart into all the SE (sound effects). Well, this one feels like an embodiment of something like Imai-san’s theme.
Imai (I): The image of chamber music that plays at a dodgy meeting. Music like this will be playing in the hall.
Hoshino (H): I suppose it gives the feeling of “And so, it begins”.
Higuchi (Y): I knew that they said: “We’re composing a SE”, but our manager suddenly sent the data to me out of nowhere. I had no idea what this was at first (lol).
Yagami (T): I didn’t know that there was such a SE at all (lol). Before I knew it, Imai made this. I was surprised when I first heard it on the track down.
2. RAZZLE DAZZLE
S: Past the middle stage of recording, Imai’s world surged forth and this is one of those songs. I was rather pumped up when I sang it.
I: This is the first song that I wrote with the album in mind. Like, “ah, I guess it’s something like this”, and the music aptly came to me. With “Action!”, this fictional world or something begins.
H: I think this was probably the first song that came from Imai-san but I suppose (it all started) from an energetic song like this without knowing at that point in time that it was going to become the title song.
Y: I had the feeling that this was going to be the first track. I think once we play it live, a clearer image will steadily come up.
T: The image of a super flashy fancy-dress party where all hell breaks loose. I somehow think that’s the kind of set that our live will have.
3. Kyouki no Deadheat (狂気のデッドヒート / Crazy Deadheat)
S: You could say that I sang in an enraptured manner. I suppose something like this exists in me as well. I think I gradually found the initiative to want to try and sing in a manner that’s both serious yet comical.
I: A Hide-like song. I thought that it was rough when I head the demo, but there was nothing at all electronic about it in the beginning. Once we did that, it’s ska but it turned out very cool.
H: In the demo, the guitar was distorted in a rock-sounding manner but with a voluble, rhythmic dance beat that feels playful.
Y: When I heard it with Acchan’s words added to the music, for the first time in ages, I thought, “What great lyrics” (lol). But it’s well balanced with the other songs, so it’s interesting.
T: When I first heard the demo, it felt like 80s pop and I matched the tuning of my drums to that and elevated that a little more.
4. Dokudanjou Beauty -R.I.P.- (独壇場Beauty -R.I.P.- / Beauty the Stage is Yours -R.I.P.-)
S: Because of the high-spirited melody, the recording session concluded in the blink of an eye.
I: R.I.P. (was added) because I thought that it would be better to make it clear. Adding Lucy-chan’s (LAZY guns BRISKY) chorus made it younger, didn’t it (lol).
H: He (Imai) said that it’s got a sparkly image, and perhaps with an 80s dance beat, and I was like, “I got it”, and I played it (lol).
Y: Even though it’s melodious, the riff comes through. There aren’t many songs like this. This time, we played it for the first time at a summer event but if it’s a live, it’ll pump the audience up.
T: It starts off sounding Ramones-ish but when the tune comes in it sounds disco-ish. That development is interesting. The chorus is nice too, isn’t it? It’s youthful (lol).
5. Hamushi no You ni (羽虫のように / Like the Tiny Insects)
S: We’ve always had the pop-like and melodious elements, but I think that in this song, we made it very simple and managed to put the melody at the forefront
I: I thought that it would be nice if winged insects could represent fragility or something like the brevity of life. Since what I wanted to express was clear, the lyrics came to me in a snap.
H: It feels like it tugs at your heart, doesn’t it (lol). The lyrics are unique too.
Y: I initially had the impression that it was quite techno-like but again, when Acchan’s vocals are added in, the image really changes, doesn’t it?
T: When I played the drums, it reminded me of “Baby, I want you”. Imai said that he wanted me to make it sound ‘man-made’. I basically drive it in, but since I’m drumming fill-ins, it’s more human.
6. Yougetsu (妖月‐ようげつ‐ / Mystery Moon)
S: It was coupled with a single that we wrote as an anime theme song, so the world view in this song also aligns with that. It’s a personal favourite.
I: This song’s arrangement was also changed from that of its single version. It’s become noisy in a good way (lol).
H: The arrangement was adjusted for it to be in the album. We had CUBE JUICE-kun working on the rhythm and all that for us. We casually added a CUBE-like melody(lol). It’s turned out nicely.
Y: The tag team between Acchan and Hide results in this brilliantly addictive song. Compared to the single, I think the arrangement here draws us closer to the image of the song.
T: Drums that were drummed my way. The image behind it is Ringo Starr (lol). I’m influenced by him, so that comes out no matter what when the song is a ballad like this.
S: At first, the image of singing while playing the guitar comes to mind. Till now, I think we’ve boldly broken down and destroyed (things), but stopping that is also one of our new aspects.
I: This song always possessed the image of ‘Bolero’ since it’s working title. As if it represents a heartbeat.
H: I suppose you could say it’s very an Imai-like melody, though the song feels like something people, in general, would like. The lyrics seem deep too, don’t they?
Y: Initially Imai-kun sang for the scratch track but once Acchan’s voice comes in, it changed. Or rather, I guess Imai-kun understands Acchan well (lol).
T: When I heard it during rhythm rehearsals, I thought that this song sounded fun. I initially made it feel like I’m drumming with tom-toms but halfway through, I made it rhythmic.
8. Django!!! –Genwaku no Django- (Django!!! -幻惑のジャンゴ- / Django!!! –Django the Dazzler–)
S: I sang it with a suspicious light-heartedness (lol). It’s Latin. I like it.
I: A Latin-like image; think of the rhythmic pattern of conga or something. Initially, I thought, “We’ve never done something like this before so I suppose this might be difficult” (lol).
H: It’s something that we’ve never done before, isn’t it? Considering the rhythm and whatnot. I suppose it’s a very difficult song but personally, I like it, the groove.
Y: This is the first time we’ve done a Latin beat so playing the bassline was fun. It’s been a delight to play it too since I heard the demo.
T: I suppose this is a first for Imai too. Going with a latin beat and all that. I enjoyed it. I kept in mind the sense of fusion that master (Murakami) Ponta-san had (lol).
9. Sakuran Baby (錯乱Baby / Lunatic Baby)
S: This is probably the most similar to what we’ve been doing all this while. Regarding the lyrics, I wrote them nonsensical, with a nicely incoherent story.
I: ‘Life is fleeting’, or I suppose it’s the usual consistent theme that Sakurai-san always sings about. It’s that kind of song, isn’t it?
H: I guess it’s comparatively similar to our previous work, or you could say that it’s similar to rock. That imagery is strong, in terms of the music. The riff too, actually.
Y: In the beginning, I wondered if it’s alright for the bass to be this distorted, but it’s quite a curt song, so the distorted bass fits perfectly.
T: It makes me think, ‘Acchan’s lyrics sure are great’. At one time, it felt like it was kept inside of him but recently, it feels like it’s being brought out instead. It’s raw in a good way.
S: This time, the melody stands out quite a bit in Hide’s songs as well. This melody determines the world of the lyrics, so that comes all the way through to the end.
I: I really understood Hide’s thoughts about wanting to do something that is different from what was done previously. Things like the rhythm, the composition of the guitar riffs, they were all clearly different from previous works.
H: I had the idea that putting psychedelia in 4/4 time together might be interesting, and I suppose that clicked well with the rhythm.
Y: The bass was unexpectedly difficult for this song. There’s an expressionless feeling to it. There are many songs among Hide’s that are bouncy, but despite that, it’s difficult to drop the expressions and play it.
T: This is a song that came about after we made a variety of revisions to its rhythm when Hide joined our rhythm rehearsal and us 3 rehearsed together.
11. Kuchizuke -SERIAL THRILL KILLER- (くちづけ -SERIAL THRILL KILLER- / Kiss -SERIAL THRILL KILLER-)
S: This is a single that was written as an anime theme song. We normally play music like this but in the context of this album, it might instead come off as something unusual.
I: I suppose we changed the arrangement of the synth and increased how electronic it sounded. We went towards the direction of techno. We pretty much left it to (him*) though.
H: It feels spirited, even though it’s dark (lol), and this is also an album-exclusive version, so I think it can be enjoyed differently.
Y: When I heard this song in the beginning, I thought, “I see, I guess the album will turn out to be something like this”, but (my expectations) were betrayed in a good way (lol).
T: This is a song that Imai wrote based on the anime (Shiki) during the time when the full picture of the album was still completely invisible to us. But it’s been nicely absorbed into the album, hasn’t it?
12. Gekka Reijin (月下麗人 / Lady of the Moonlight)
S: It was initially a danceable song, but gradually, it’s turned into a song that feels like it’s saying ‘(we’re) tired, so please rest and listen to this’ (lol). It’s a dreamy, fairy-tale-like song.
I: It’s a sombre ~ song (lol). This album has quite a variety of songs in it but having one like this wraps it all up, doesn’t it?
H: This is the most profound one, isn’t it? But I think that it’s fundamentally something that (Imai) possesses. I like it too though.
Y: With this song too, the impression that it gives changes drastically when Acchan’s vocals come in. The expression with Imai-kun’s vocals was great too though.
T: Seriously, Acchan’s nihilistic singing really gets you, doesn’t it? It’s because this is his absolute strongest area, isn’t it? It feels like he’s saying ‘I am Sakurai!’ (lol).
13. Mugen (夢幻 / Reverie)
S: If I remember correctly, I think this song was a candidate for a single since the time of Dokudanjou～. Because of that, it’s quite pop-ish, isn’t it?
I: If I’m not wrong, this is a song that Hide had brewing since early on. He probably changed the arrangement a number of times too. It’s always been a candidate for a single.
H: It gives the image of lifting up your emotions at the chorus. It’s unusual that I came up with a pop melody, isn’t it? I do it on occasion though (lol).
Y: I somehow thought that it wasn’t a Hide-like song in the beginning. I thought that perhaps he started to think of something that was new to him.
T: This song was initially esoterically programmed with a Hide-like progression. When I heard it, I remember asking him, “Wouldn’t this be difficult for Acchan to sing?”, and then adjusting the rhythm after that.
14. TANGO Swanka
S: It’s got nothing to do with tango at all (lol). This laidback style of singing, perhaps I’d have done it with more precision in the past. I guess such an ability has grown in depth too.
I: I wanted to do something noisy yet simple. It’s a song that united that with lyrics that didn’t have a set theme.
H: The Imai world has exploded (lol). Though I think it’s normal to have songs like this coming to the forefront.
Y: It’s a song with a good rhythm that naturally makes you move your body. I think that will definitely be a song with a good feel when played live so I’d like you to look forward to it.
T: In the beginning, a CDR where Imai sang all the parts was distributed to me. And I kept listening to it…… and I remember getting nervous and thinking, “It can’t be that Imai intends to sing all of it, right?” (lol).
S: Dream, forever.
I: When I told our manipulator, Yoko-chan that the way the bass should entwine with the synth is like a solitary street light in a park in the middle of the night or a highway lamp on the freeway in the middle of the night, he got super confused (lol).
H: You could say that it’s a royal road-type of song, and deliberately putting TANGO Swanka before this song brings you back to life, doesn’t it?
Y: This is the song where I dropped my headphones. I got into the groove of this ballad and it somehow fell off (lol). But with the intonation used in it, it really raises your spirits.
T: Acchan’s voice is nice and vivid. When the flow of the music was decided, I considered it carefully and I thought that I’d definitely make this song the last track. It’s a song that closes off the album. It’s great that this brought about the denouement.
All song title and lyric translations come from This is NOT Greatest Site
* I assume he’s referring to CUBE JUICE
Scans: morgianasama on LiveJournal