Vogue Editor’s Ano Hito ni Aitai!
16 July 2015
Photos: Tak Sugita at Sept
Stylist: Satoshi Hirota
Hair&Makeup: Takayuki Tanizaki at Fats Berry
Special Thanks to Le Baron de Paris www.lebaron.jp/
The highly influential, and uniquely original BUCK-TICK celebrates 28 years since their major debut. This time, we will be interviewing guitarist Imai Hisashi, who, even among the band’s 5 members, has, by far, the most individualistic visual sense, and is also the composer of their avant-garde sound. We will ask the man himself about his continued creativity in challenging new styles over the years, and his eccentric personality that galvanises the hearts of many!
When I was a child, I thought of myself as an inconspicuous existence.
—— Since young, were you a child who liked things that others normally don’t?
During my childhood, I wasn’t like that at all. Like, it was only natural for me to, I guess, be inconspicuous, or just be normal. You could say I was quiet. I think I was like that.
—— Around when did you start expressing your individuality?
So, hmm, around the time when I was in elementary school, I think, I gradually began to start stating what my preferences were though. For example, even with clothes, little by little I was able to say what I liked. Also, I liked drawing (more than people). In the beginning, I’d be drawing sketches on the back of flyers and the sort. Since I’ve loved drawing since I was in kindergarten, I think that’s where it started. Probably.
—— Around when did you start having an interest in music?
Well, if it’s so-called rock that you’re talking about, then it’ll be when I was a middle school student. It sparked from the technopop that was popular at the time
—— Back then, were there people around Imai-san who listened to the same kind of music as you?
Sure there were but, as expected, most of my friends listened to it because it was popular. For example, even if they bought the album, they’ll only listen to the song that was the single and things like that.
—— I see. At the time, were there people who you looked up to in music and fashion?
I guess it was the fashion of those people back then. With the 3 members of YMO, it wasn’t their stage outfits but their plainclothes dressing that they wore in their private lives that I liked a lot. Since there were photo books that were released too, I wouldn’t say that I went as far as to do research but I was influenced by them. And, Hotei-san. I referred to Hotei-san’s hair and make-up, and his fashion a lot. I thought that he was someone who possessed a unique sensibility. Back then, when I went to watch BOOWY’s live, I really scrutinised the clothes that they wore, like their suits and even their shoes.
—— Imai-san often wears pointed shoes, so was that inspired by someone?
(Laughs). No, that’s just because, well, since they can make shoes that clowns wear I thought, well, why not make it for me to try.
—— That is to say, you had an original made.
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It’s also good that there are people within the band who give off this haphazard feeling.
—— I think that Imai-san gives off the image that you are someone who is often challenging new things. Though, the fans probably think so too. Be it with your hairstyle, or your music, and so on.
Somehow it just naturally turned out that way, yeah. Because I think that it’s boring if I were to stick to the same hairstyle all the time anyway. I’ve been doing things like changing my hair colour every week since my teens (lol) What is it (lol). I like doing things like that, you see.
—— Have you ever wondered, “what will the people around me think when I do something different like that?”, or “do I really look cool like that?”, or things like that?
I’ve had thoughts like “I guess I’ll give it a thought” but. I don’t…… really think about that, I guess (lol).
—— You’re basically an optimist, aren’t you? (lol)
Ah, relatively so (lol). I do want to be like that.
—— Is it something like, “my style is different from the other members’, but, oh well”?
But I do think “I guess it’s good that things are like this” though. That there are so many people within the band who give off this haphazard feeling (lol). If U-ta (BUCK-TICK’s bassist, Higuchi Yutaka-san) did something like that I think it’d probably turn out that he wouldn’t stop (lol).
—— Because all 5 members of BUCK-TICK have their own style, don’t they?
I think that it’s more interesting because everyone has their own, I guess you could say, individuality, or personality.
—— That’s true. Also, I’ve noticed that Imai-san often says “cool” in interviews and such. For example, when you said Lingua Sounda (BUCK-TICK’s original label with Tokuma Japan Communications) “sounds cool”, or when other songs are released and you say they’re “definitely cool”. What Imai-san’s criteria to consider something “cool”?
I don’t know whether it’s a criterion or not, but. Say, for example, the name “Lingua Sounda”. That was something that we decided to put out into the world, so, in it is the strength to exist in the world. This is what makes me think that it’s interesting. That’s why the meaning or reason in it is…… In the beginning, it did mean something to me too, but it turns out that I’ve gradually come to lose it (lol). Like, it’s nice, just because (lol).
—— I believe that there are many youngsters who have been influenced by Imai-san too, but how do you feel when you see those people? I’d think that you’ve often collaborated for lives and things like that though.
I think there are lots of people who make me go, “Amazing”.
Shirt, ¥38,000 / Pants, ¥43,000 / Belt, ¥32,000 / Shoes, ¥48,000
All from TOGA VIRILIS (TOGA Harajuku Store 03-6419-8136)
I do hope that the words will be read and noticed properly.
—— In the past, there was a book that wrote about the history of BUCK-TICK, and in it was a question that asked, “There are people who say ‘I don’t think that Imai-san actually plays the guitar’. How do you feel about hearing that?”. I can’t remember the exact words though (lol).
—— And then, to that question you answered, “The guitar isn’t something to compete with. I believe that it is my job to deliver phrases and melodies that resound in the hearts of people”.
That, somehow…… feels serious, doesn’t it (lol).
—— I was so moved. Because of how clearly it captured the meaning behind why you play your own style of music and that resolution and purity, it has become the one scene that represents “coolness” to me.
Seriously speaking, I guess that’s what it feels like, yeah. To me, I think that it’s a means…… whether it’s my expression or my way; whether it’s the guitar or the music, yep.
—— Do you write songs with the sentiment of “I want to convey something to people”, or thoughts like that?
There’s a part that does think like that though, but there isn’t really a message-like meaning…… nor a heavy or critical sentiment either. Of course, the words…… I do hope that the lines and lyrics will be read and noticed properly too, but I guess, nowadays people don’t read it at all (lol) That, I do think, too. Well, I think about a lot of things while composing.
—— Does Imai-san consider both the melody and the lyrics to be equally important parts?
—— At the end of the day, what is music to Imai-san?
Well, (this) started from me having the thought of wanting to play in a band and wanting to make it my profession since young. I already thought about these things when I couldn’t play an instrument or anything at all. That’s why, in the end, you could say that it’s like a method or a means (to me)…… I guess.
—— The visual part of it too is also a means for your own expression……
Like makeup and so on, I do think of wanting to do it, but I suppose you could say that it’s necessary for music as a job; there’s a reason for doing it. In the end, I’m doing things because I like it, right? It’s of course, though.
—— This is a strange question but (lol) have there ever been times when you wonder whether you came from another planet? Personally, there are times when I do feel like maybe Imai-san came from another planet (lol)
Lol. Um…… I’ve been told, very strange things (lol). By that…… those people (lol). Sort of.
—— I knew it! (lol) Do you have any stars that you’re interested in? For me, when Andromeda appeared in the lyrics, I wondered if Imai-san came from Andromeda (lol)
Lol. Nah, but you see, that’s only because the number of syllables is just right (lol). But it does seem like they exist, doesn’t it? Aliens.
—— Yes. I’d say so. Do you feel like you’ve got a special sense, or have you ever felt anything like that? (lol)
Lol. I have the openness to accept such things (lol)
It’d be great if I could influence, with an inclusion of various misunderstandings
—— Going back to music, I believe that you compose each song with care, so is there a particular song that is close to Imai-san’s heart?
It’s not coming to me right now though. I suppose, say, for example, when the melody of a chorus naturally comes to me without much difficulty and it is one that makes me feel that it’s the best melody that could be, it feels really great. You could say that it’s something I created, but it turns into a feeling of discovering something that was originally already there and that makes me feel happy.
—— So, there are times when it comes out smoothly, and there are other times when you have to work hard for it?
Yeah. There are times when I get very distressed. But when I get distressed, in its own way there is, to a certain extent, what you could call a compromise; like, I guess I should just worry about it and something will come out of it. That’s what I think, though.
—— Sorry for talking about myself, but for me, the song that I’ve got the strongest love for in my life is “Brain, Whisper, Head, Hate is Noise” (from the album Kurutta Taiyou). Listening to it again since I became an adult, I thought that it really is such a great song, so much so that I wanted to praise my middle school self who said that they liked this song (lol) So, about that song, how do you feel about it?
Lol. I like it a lot too. Ah (lol) Somehow, now, I feel so very rewarded though (lol)
—— Both the music and the lyrics in that song made me think, “How did those ideas!”. It’s really amazing!
Ahh, it’s great, ain’t it, that song.
—— What kind of image does Imai-san have of that song?
For that, the chorus is rather melodious, but other portions are pretty much only made up of one chord and were given an ethnic ambience. I suppose it’s got a relatively psychedelic image.
—— I see. Thank you (lol) So, regarding your activities going forward. Is there anything you want to do or want to challenge?
In the end, with music, it’ll be about BUCK-TICK though. Challenges and such…… It’d become quite weird if I were to say that there are none (lol). But I guess it’s not like that, I think. Of course, I’m going to compose new songs, one by one, with all my energy for each album though.
—— So, to say, that’ll go on from now on and forever.
Yes. That’s right.
—— For Imai-san’s fans. When it comes to Imai-san, it is expected that you are seen as someone with a charismatic image, but what kind of existence do you want to stay on as?
I think it’d be great if I could (continue to) influence, with an inclusion of various misunderstandings.
—— A word for the readers of VOGUE, if you would please.
I’d be glad if you’d find (me) interesting.