Closing in on the state of “oblivion” with an overwhelming persuasiveness
02 February 2018
Interview text by Kyosuke Tsuchiya
I personally felt that they were iconic songs
Following the conclusion of a series of performances celebrating their 30th debut anniversary, they announced the release of their new album『No.0』. While the simple title was surprising, it represented BUCK-TICK’s widely varied musicality, and in the content itself, their unwavering assertiveness.
──Preparations for this time’s『No.0』was ongoing in the midst of the 30th-anniversary activities, so it seemed to me that this wasn’t something that was produced based on a specific concept…
Imai (I): Yes. Like, we decided to create something great from what we’ve already made. However, looking at them after they were finished, I personally felt that they were iconic songs. I guess that’s kind of interesting. Also, I think we have become more capable of successfully incorporating things like discordant sounds and protruding sounds.
──Aren’t those things that have always been present in past works as well?
I: But personally, I felt that it was in this album that we were truly and comfortably able to work those in well. It’s not like there was a particular theme or anything like that though.
──What kind of approach did Sakurai-san take towards this?
Sakurai (S): One that’s sharper than usual, with the performance, carefully, even stronger, more beautifully… I seek stronger, more beautiful words, to bring things closer to the perfection that I can create within myself now. That’s why, for the lyrics and the singing… I normally do concentrate on them but this time, I was extremely focused on it, so that was quite tiring. Words that fit together more beautifully, words that are right on the verge of piercing into people’s hearts more deeply… Just so that it doesn’t cause hurt. I kept thinking and thinking about all those things in this manner. Even with the song itself I’m careful with the vibrato down to the last note, careful with the pronunciation too, and such. If I can do it to the point where I don’t feel regret when listening to it again at a later point in time, I think that the people who listen to it will be able to get the feeling of “ah, this is nice” from it. It’s okay if they don’t get the feeling that “this is amazingly good”. Just “ah, this is nice”.
──From Sakurai-san’s perspective, how do you view Imai-san’s recording scenes?
S: As expected, he’s been highly particular towards the sound with these few [songs], and he’s become rather strict with his orders and requests towards the sound manipulator Yokoyama Kazutoshi (lol). He’s both an artisan and an artist, and as each of the sounds get stacked up on each other, he doesn’t compromise. Poor Yoko-chan (lol).
I: Hahaha. I won’t give an ‘OK’ until the end (lol). That said, I don’t think that we’re doing anything difficult since I’m really just going along freely, as I please.
──After the『BUCK-TICK 2017 “THE PARADE” ～30th anniversary～』at Odaiba concluded, didn’t Sakurai-san say “I think that its an album where you’d feel like you like (the author)”? I seemed to me that there was a point made by Sakurai-san about the album in the root of that remark.
S: Was it not to your liking? (lol) If I have to say, I think that you’d like it if it’s as if the character is shrouded in smoke, flitting around here and there, making you wonder which is the real Sakurai-san (lol), I believe that’s why I said that.
──I see. Was there a song that became the key to this time’s production?
I: I don’t think there was anything in particular that was like that. But with “Guernica no Yoru (The Night of Guernica)” and “Reishiki 13-Gata ‘Ai’ (Type-Zero Model 13 ‘Love’)”, things like 6/8 and 3/8 time signatures naturally came out, and even I, myself, thought that that was interesting. Because that was a sensation that never came up before. I didn’t even think that much about the melody, and it just immediately came out smoothly. The songs that were written in the earlier stages were “Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete (Moon Tell Me Goodbye)”, “BABEL”, “Bishuu LOVE (Love the Beautiful and the Ugly)”, and the sort.
──Why was “BABEL” chosen as the very first single to be released?
I: During the point in time when the demos were made, I already had the single candidates in my mind but after we entered the studio and worked the sound in, I thought that this type of songs probably aren’t suitable to be used as singles, and while I was thinking about that… “Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete” was also one of the single candidates but considering that this single would be the first one for our 30th anniversary, I also had the thought that a powerful song might be better after all. Following that, it wasn’t a challenge, but having a song like “BABEL” as a single is quite like us too.
──It sure is a song that can only be BUCK-TICK’s. Also, the theme of “BABEL” is one with profound meaning too.
S: “BABEL” became the working title of the demo, didn’t it. I felt the impact of it there, and it just so happened that there was Bruegel’s『The Tower of Babel』exhibition going on at the same time. It seems like it has been held overseas as well, but lots of fans said things like “Did you go for (the) Babel (exhibition)?” to us, and they even sent lots of gifts over. In such a situation, I got brainwashed (lol), and wrote my own interpretation of what “BABEL” is.
I: We’re worried whenever we set a working title. Because Sakurai-san can get influenced by it too (lol). However, in this case, the idea that the image of this song was “BABEL” just popped up and floated there. Then as when we were looking up what the general idea of “BABEL” is, it happens that『The Tower of Babel』exhibition was being held, I wondered if somehow it called out to us.
──So it overlapped with such coincidence. The verse《Call me Babel (Ware wa BABEL)》is quite powerful too, isn’t it.
S: Well, this is in the Tower of Babel story but in it exists the theory that aiming for the sky in an attempt to draw closer to God is a foolish endeavour. That’s to say that the symbol of that foolishness is me, its human.
──The words《I embody oblivion (Watashi wa nu de aru)》in the beginning leave quite an impression but the “oblivion (無*)” exemplifies Sakurai-san in recent years, doesn’t it.
S: Interesting isn’t it. It is as imagined. Because, instead of me explaining it, I want it to be something that belongs to those who have listened to it.
I want to say “anti-war” like it’s only natural to
── Once again, you’re shrouded in smoke… Was the decision to put “Reishiki 13-Gata ‘Ai’” as the opening song made early on?
S: That’s right. When the song came up, there was a conversation about how it would be nice if this was the first song, so I said: “Alright, I’ll write the song lyrics for that purpose”. This is a little off-topic but I thought that it would be good for “Tainai Kaiki (Return to the Womb)” to be the last song. Because of that, I don’t think that it’s far-fetched but if it is, then let’s make it the first song in the womb. Of coming into existence. I did wonder whether it’s also an intro with that kind of a beginning. I wanted the title to create a feeling that is similar to a take-off, that the first code from the uterus really came with the nuance of “It’s a new model!”.
──Much like how “BABEL” is about how foolish humans are, “Bishuu LOVE”, which comes after “Reishiki 13-Gata ‘Ai’”, questions just what love is, and I wonder if it could be preaching as well.
S: No no, that’s just presumptuous (lol). I suppose when you think about what makes love stand out… In the past, you’d talk about darkness and light and so forth, but don’t you think that love resonates more beautifully when there’s a great deal of darkness or the ugly. It creates an unpleasant feeling when something like that gets emphasised and love buoys up, making the basis of it difficult to see, doesn’t it.
──The beginning starts with sound effects that sound like you’re communicating with the universe, it gives a decadent spread of industrial flavours, doesn’t it?
I: Yeah. It gives a rather creepy feeling, I like it quite a lot. It’s not a discordant sound, but I wondered if I could construct something like a cluster of noises, like a bass riff clashing against a guitar.
──In the 3rd song, “GUSTAVE”, as well, you’ve woven together yet another different form of love. Furthermore, you even draw our eyes to true meaning hidden behind the pop style of the song. It’s the same in “Barairo Juujidan -Rosen kreuzer-” as well though.
I: With Hide (nickname for Hoshino Hidehiko), when it comes to his songs, I would receive things like the chord chard or the tablature from, then I’d make a copy of it and go into the studio but this time, he wrote “up to you” on areas like the intro and the verse (lol). Even though he says “up to you”, he’s already done everything up in a mess (lol).
S: For some reason, recently, we’ve put in one song that isn’t completely agreeable, and probably, I thought that I should mess up with the same feeling (lol). Like I even wanted to write the kind of the lyrics that would make you go “What the hell is this!?”.
──However, I think that “Bara (Rose/薔薇)” is a keyword that holds meaning, since it also appeared in the next song, “Salome -femme fatale-”.
S: Although the characters in the song itself are subtly different, there is love symbolised in the typical way, and in the case of “Salome”, it is a dangerous thing, or a dangerous person slipping into your chest and the like… Even in “Barairo Juujidan -Rosen kreuzer-”, there was the intention of wanting to create an atmosphere that exudes danger, that it really was an unrighteous, evil organisation.
──The existence of that Rosenkreuzer came from Germany, and through that, I can see that it is linked to “Guernica no Yoru”, which is reminiscent of Picasso’s masterpiece. The meaning behind that is not hedonistic either, is it?
S: Instead of having me explain it, I would definitely prefer it if you would feel it for yourself after all, but it’s not for sure that Rosenkreuzer actually existed. It was something that was going to help in a variety of areas, and I’ll be happy if you could imagine such a link while enjoying it.
──“Guernica no Yoru” is a song that you can’t listen to without tears, isn’t it?
I: As I passed it to him, I thought and hoped that he would do this song with the title “Guernica”… but I didn’t say anything about that. Personally, it was comparatively, I suppose, a masterpiece to me, and since it’s a song, I wondered what kind of lyrics he would deliver… and it was as expected of him (lol).
S: Thank you (lol).
I: It really felt like it was a dream or something, in our common ground it was like “ah, I see”. I think it turned out to be a good song.
──I’m surprised by Imai-san’s sense that he already wanted to give the song the title “Guernica” when he was writing the song, but with regards to the actual lyrics, we’ve clearly seen parent-child relationships, especially in the last few works, and it has once again become a major theme.
S: From the title, no matter how you try, Picasso’s『Guernica』will come to mind. As to why Picasso painted『Guernica』, I had a vague idea of what he thought, but as I went along digging deeper… Recently, this is indirect but, I want to say that I am against war, like it’s only natural to. I wondered how I should turn that into music, a song, as an opus. But you’d loathe something that’s too far removed from yourself, wouldn’t you? At that point, what I suddenly remembered was watching the very first movie that I ever saw in the theatre “Benji,” which is a film about a dog, in the one and only theatre in my hometown, Fujioka in Gunma Prefecture. It was the 3 of us, parent and children. But it played double features, and the other movie was『The Clocks Were Alive』, which about the bombing of Maebashi, and the impact was so great that it blew『Benji』far away to some other place, you could say I was almost frozen in place. It was as if I was experiencing sleep paralysis. In the past, we put provisional lyrics in our song “Kirameki no Naka de… (Into the glittering…)”(song from the album『darker than darkness -style 93-』, released in June, 1996）before, back then, I spoke of having watched a sad movie with my older brother. From those experiences, air raids, Guernica, my older brother, and the theatre got tied together and turned into this.
──So this song’s persuasive power stems from actual, personal experiences.
S: Yes. And that’s why, I, myself, am not making it in such a way that’s completely pleasing to the sense, you could say that I’m poking at the core of it. However, I put a lot of thought into the words as I chose them. To avoid creating unease, or to prevent misconceptions.
──This topic seems to be related to “Tainai Kaiki” as well…
S: No, I don’t have such an intention but we did also talk about how it might be nice to have “Guernica no Yoru” as the last song. But, no, since we wanted to end with “Tainai Kaiki”, “Guernica no Yoru” naturally became the second last song. That also happened naturally, didn’t it? It was as if it was meant to sit in that position.
I: When we were deciding between song during mastering, we also decided on the length of time that it would take the get back to the first song from “Tainai Kaiki” to make it feel like you can listen to it on repeat. I think that this turned out to be one interesting album.
Credits to This is NOT Greatest Site for the English versions of song titles and lyrics featured in this article.
* 無 can also be interpreted as “nothing/null/zero”