Kemonotachi no Yoru/RONDO Feature
PHY vol. 14
Photography: Hirano Takashi
Interview: Ishii Eriko, Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Hair & Makeup: Tanizaki Takayuki, Yamaji Chihiro (FatsBerry)
Styling: Shimizu Kenichi
As long as we think that something is interesting, all 5 of us will be looking in that same direction. We can do anything
After all, there’s no discomfort within the band; we’re a cluster of potential. Regardless of how old we get
– Imai Hisashi
As they welcome their 31st year together, BUCK-TICK announces a new start with the release of their double A-side single, “Kemonotachi no Yoru / RONDO”, on the 22nd of May, and their live concert, “Locus Solus no Kemonotachi” which will be held on the 25th and 26th of May at Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Halls 9, 10, and 11. One is a significant single while the other is a live show which holds much meaning.
Even after their 30th debut anniversary concluded last year, they show no sign that their activities are slowing down. Why has this rock band, BUCK-TICK been able to thrive for 30 years without any change in members? And furthermore, open new doors even now?
Their story has often been put away with the cheap assumption of “a miracle”, but that is not the case. Just one part of the “reality” is that they have acquired all of this because of the implicit trust that they (the members) have in the band. These interviews with each of the members done right before their live performances, once again, confirm that fact.
Come now, it’s a party for deviants. It’s time to rip through the curtain and let the night begin*.
* Reference to first 2 lines of Kemonotachi no Yoru.
- Sakurai Atsushi
- Imai Hisashi
- Hoshino Hidehiko
- Higuchi Yutaka
- Yagami Toll
- Sakurai Atsushi on his duet in Shiina Ringo’s Kakeochi-mono
I suppose these words came about because we had a concert like the one last year
To say that I’ll be there until the end, whether I’m laughing or crying, I’ll stay until the end
Interview by Ishii Eriko
―― Did your feelings towards concerts change after getting admitted into hospital last year?
Sakurai (S): Ah, I feel that yes. Like, “I can do this.” When I was younger, I used to have frivolous thoughts like, “The heck, I have to perform today?”. There was some defiance and I’d go up on stage without giving it much thought, though. But even before I got hospitalised, during these few years, I’ve been as conscientious as possible (about the things I do). Including recording, I have been thinking that I want to do things conscientiously, you know? For example, even if it’s painful, I’d want to bring out the vibrato just a little before that pain. Or, although this (part of the song) is of a key that’s right at my limits and I can’t always sing it, I want to somehow use my body to convey it. Something like that. That’s what I’ve come to feel.
―― Even with your actions, you’re conscious of your every move.
S: That’s true. Moment by moment, (with thoughts like) maybe if I paid a little more attention to this fingertip here it’ll look even more beautiful, and so on…… Although, I might also forget the lyrics.
S: In my case, that will happen if I think too much, though. But (I’d still find myself thinking), since the light is this colour now, if I go there my complexion will turn into that colour, and so on. I think I’m happiest when my brain works at full capacity while thinking about these things with each passing moment.
―― To even consider something like the angle of your fingertip is very meticulous of you indeed, but do you think the content of your performance changes when you put your heart into it and pay attention to those areas?
S: Yes. I believe it does change. Of course, 0 can only be conveyed as 0. I think if I were to (successfully) convey that, the receiving party probably has a very active imagination though. But if I were to go for 100, I can convey that through 1 or 2, and if (what I do) can resonate with those listening or watching…… That’s a really lucky thing, isn’t it? Because if (what I do resonates with them when) it’s 0, then (this result is) just a fluke.
―― So, the present Sakurai-san feels that in any case, he wants to conscientiously bring out that 100 even if he only conveys 1 or 2.
S: If possible. Of course, I don’t expect to attain 100, but…… I do aim to get around 95 points.
―― In terms of album releases, around when did you start keeping conscientiousness in mind?
S: Quite recently, actually. During the album Arui wa Anarchy, I did think that it might be nice should the particularly conscientious areas overlap with the spontaneous things. But we talk about works prior to that, when I listen to them, I do get a sense of, “Well, look at that, I’m capable of it, aren’t I?” But when I watch the live footage and listen to the live audio again…… I feel that it’s a mess (wry smile). Well, being in the heat of the moment is good, but if I listen to it on my own when I’m composed, there are parts that leave me disappointed. (I would think,) if I pushed a step further and held that lingering note for a bit during that difficult moment at that particular point in time, if I could use vibrato, I would be able to (perform) to my satisfaction. During recording, I can keep redoing things numerous times so that’s fine, but it’s the unfiltered things which I do live that shows the level of my actual ability, right?
―― In these statements, too, I can sense the weight which I felt from the lyrics “Tonight you stay on that stage till the end” and “Yes, that’s you*” in Kemonotachi no Yoru.
S: Yes. This is what I’m saying to myself.
―― It’s not “go on stage”, but rather, “stay on that stage till the end”.
S: Yeah. Well, I suppose these words came about because we had a concert like the one last year at DiverCity. To say that I’ll be there until the end; whether I’m laughing or crying, I’ll stay until the end. This comes from what I’ve experienced.
―― You’re making a strong statement with those lyrics, and they don’t tend towards hesitation or sadness or (self-)pity, do they?
S: That’s right. I wonder if I’ll exude that even if I kept quiet. My own personality. Because I think that mingled feelings of joy and sorrow are exuded with a single mention of the word “clown”, or pierrot. I’ve made it such that it won’t be explained any further than that.
―― Does Sakurai-san consciously desire to play the role of a pierrot?
S: That’s right. That’s because it’s a professional job, so to speak. To play the role of a clown or a pierrot as a part of BUCK-TICK. This is definitely not in the sense that we’re making fun (of these professions), but rather, it’s with respect (for them). To have such an ability to make people laugh while crying. I think it would be nice if I could (embody) such a role in spirit.
―― So you consider bringing laughter as part of your role too.
S: …… In my case, (people will) naturally laugh for me, so.
―― Hahahaha. You’re definitely aware of that.
S: (They would,) right? I think.
―― Yes (lol).
S: “Yes,” you say (lol). I have no intention of making people laugh. Also because it’d be really boring if I’m trying to make people laugh, right? In my case.
―― Yes…… is not something I can say, is it? (Lol). The stage where a pierrot belongs is, of course, the circus, and I can sense your yearning for it only grows stronger year after year.
S: That’s true. I suppose it’s the atmosphere that it possesses, or perhaps the unique appeal that it has. There’s the front stage that focuses on how they will entertain the audience, but there’s also a backstage where things are absolutely frantic. Of course, the front stage is where there won’t be a single hint of that franticness at all, though. And people from all over are gathered on this one stage. That’s similar to a concert where everyone is very excited and fired up, but time passes after all, and what’s left after that are seats without an audience and an empty stage…… Such moments are, again, melancholy. Even though that was where the spotlight shone, it ended up lonely in the end. I think that this feeling is even more depressing than a concert when it comes to a circus. Like, when there was a big top in this place just yesterday but now it’s already gone.
―― Because it’s turned into a vacant lot surprisingly quickly, right? And the troupe has already moved on to somewhere else.
S: Yeah. Really. That feeling which you get; as if that was all just a dream. It’s nice, isn’t it?
―― That’s different than the admiration that one might have for a rockstar who travels around the world on their private jet, isn’t it?
S: That’s right. A rockstar…… What’s that like? I wonder.
―― For example, the Rolling Stones, where the sight of their signature mouth logo** makes all their fans go crazy. And being able to sell a ticket for tens of thousands of yen just because, “Mick and Keith*** will be playing, it’s the real thing!” That side of the entertainment industry is distinctly different than that of a circus.
S: Yeah, yes. A rockstar…… That can’t be me, and I can’t describe myself as one either.
―― You still say that even though you’ve been in a band for 30 years?
S: I just can’t think of myself as someone like that at all. I’m not very good at meeting people, and even if people are going “kyaー kyaー” for me…… Well, it’s just for those two hours anyway (lol).
―― It’s probably those who want people to go “kyaー kyaー” for them throughout 24 hours who can stand before others as a rockstar.
S: That’s why I’m the opposite. I’m more of a “please leave me alone” type.
―― Yet despite this, when you put on the pierrot’s makeup, you’ll be able to stand before others without hesitation and stay on stage until the end.
S: That’s right. It’s like flipping a switch. But well, if you ask me what I’m capable of, or what is it I enjoy, that’s really the only thing. Maybe it sounds cool if I say, “The only thing I have is singing,” but that really is the only thing I have. In the end, being able to go up on stage and perform is all there is. Song by song, playing the different main characters in different settings. Performing until the very end and hoping that I managed to ignite the imaginations of those who were watching.
I can’t exactly make a decision on my own accord because we’re a band
I want to keep going for as long as all of us still want to keep performing together
―― Though, if I may, I believe there are people who are of the opinion that if a rock band says that they are “performing”, then, to put it bluntly, “They’re not being real.” How would Sakurai-san argue against that?
S: No, well…… I won’t argue. Because I don’t want to fight (lol).
―― I see (lol).
S: But everyone does things however they see fit, don’t they? So, I think that’s perfectly fine. I respect them, those people who have always done what they love. No matter the style, I think it’s alright as long as the person’s heart is in it.
―― Indeed. Also, the Sakurai Atsushi who Sakurai-san performs as is certainly no lie. No matter the song, you’re immersed in it and I think that’s great.
S: I don’t have the dexterity to detach myself to that extent.
―― And the other song, RONDO is already being aired on Gegege no Kitaro, but was it only composed because of the tie-up?
S: It came about because of the tie-up, yes. I think Imai-san was probably aware of that too and ended up composing the song for it. When I heard (that we were collaborating with Gegege no Kitaro)…… Well, I guess I’m like a yōkai too so I thought that would be interesting.
―― And as a result, you have two songs of beasts and yōkai.
―― But it certainly is a very beautiful song. Was it the melody which triggered the image of dancing endlessly in a dream for you?
S: That’s right. It’s because I wrote the lyrics while listening to the melody without really thinking about the yōkai. I thought that this, too, felt like one of the many sides of BUCK-TICK, like a signature song. Though in the beginning, I was worried about whether it was alright to go about it like this or whether I should twist it a bit and change the vibe instead.
―― But you wrote it in a straightforward way in the end.
S: That’s right. In the end, it was straightforward. I did try a few different ways, though. But I felt that this one fit best. Simple and like our typical selves. The working title had always been RONDO right from the start, so I simply wrote in consonance with the original image without needing to forcefully twist and bend it towards another direction. But then I thought that I should keep the words very simple. It feels as if I meandered through twists and turns and then came back to the starting point.
―― For many years, one of the themes that Sakurai-san has depicted (in your lyrics) is the sense of dreaming, or being in a dream that one cannot wake up from.
S: I suppose…… it’s because I’ve always been escaping from reality since I was young. (Diving into) things like worlds away from reality, fiction, fantasy, and that imagery of the Kitaro which I watched when I was a child. I was definitely immersed in it, that mysterious atmosphere, because I was a child. Because the old Kitaro was much more horrifying.
―― That would normally scare people, wouldn’t it?
S: Yeah. But (to me), it feels like that’s still better than reality. That said, although this isn’t my true starting point, I wrote the lyrics by returning to how I felt when I used to watch Kitaro.
―― Did you love it?
S: Yeah. That original touch of Mr. Mizuki’s^. There were quite a lot of tales of yōkai in the late 1960s and early 1970s^^. I loved those yōkai stories so I watched it a lot.
―― So before music, you were captivated by a mysterious, slightly scary world. What’s learned in the cradle is truly carried to the grave^^^.
S: Yes. I suppose that appears to be so.
―― And now, this single is leading into the 2-day event at Makuhari Messe. What is going to happen here?
S: Our staff came up with a variety of stunts based on things we haven’t yet done thus far. Though we ourselves are still kind of unclear about things (lol).
―― Does that mean that you’ll be preparing something that goes above and beyond what we would expect of a typical concert?
S: No? It’s a regular concert. However, there will be things that we have never done before. Though I think fans may have never seen it before either.
―― I wonder what it is. Can you give us a hint?
S: A hint……… But if I say it, I’d get in trouble if we end up not doing it during the concert (lol).
―― Ahh, as in, there’s quite a lot going on so you can’t do it in the end? (Lol)
S: As in, I think there might be some grown-up business` (in the way) (lol). Well, but, presentation style, you know? (That’s) one of them.
―― And now that your 30th anniversary has passed, does it feel like yet another fresh start, or perhaps, like you’re heading towards something new?
S: Mm…… Well, whatever it is, that’s what it’ll feel like in the end. Though it was a little bit irregular since 4 dates of our live house tour ended up getting pushed to this year. But, well, guess this year does have (the significance) of a fresh start and also a beginning after all.
―― The band will, of course, keep on going in future too, but honestly, have you thought about how much longer that can go on for?
S: …… Well, as long as my body and my voice can. Though I’m thinking that it would be nice if I could keep going until 60.
―― That’s a specific number, though.
S: Ah, noー, it’s just that when I get asked about it, that’s the nice, round number which comes to mind. That’s all. Of course, there are also people who are still going strong even at 70, so it’s not as if it’s a complete stop once I celebrate my Kanreki“, though.
―― Anii-san is also almost 60.
S: …… Ah, I guess it’s about time for us to get a red chanchanko`“ (for him).
―― (Lol) I suppose, with such an unprecedented existence, you no longer know how to end it, do you? Like, do you draw the curtains by your own hand, or do you keep going while you still can?
S: Well, because we’re a band, right? I can’t exactly make a decision on my own accord. But, well, my ideal is that I want to keep going for as long as all of us still want to keep performing together.
―― Is it scary to think about the end?
S: …… I can’t imagine it. I’ve also been sick before but…… There’s no other way I can put it except to say that if it happens, it happens. Though on the topic of dying, I think I’d prefer to be the first to die.
―― Ah, because you don’t want to be left behind?
S: Yes. It’s the same between a married couple, right? Where you’d feel that it’ll be more painful to be the one left behind.
―― But that, I think, is how everyone feels.
S: Hahahaha. That might be true. If that’s the case, then I’ll stay behind (lol).
* I usually take lyrics translations from This NOT Greatest Site, but for this line, I went with a more literal translation to fit into this context. The original text is “それがお前だ” (Sore ga omae da).
** This one.
*** Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
^ Mizuki Shigeru is the manga artist behind Gegege no Kitaro. He passed away November 2015.
^^ More specifically, 1965 to 1974. This period was referred to as the 40s of the Showa era.
^^^ The phrase used was “三つ子の魂” (mitsugo no tamashii), the shortened version of “三つ子の魂百まで”(mitsugo no tamashii hyaku made).
` Saying something is “grown-up business” may imply that something is “none of your business’” and is pretty much a pretext for not revealing something.
” Kanreki is the celebration of the 60th birthday. The 60th birthday of a person marks the end of one cycle in the zodiac calendar. which signifies returning to your birth year and beginning a new cycle. Part of the celebration includes the wearing of the red chanchanko (mentioned later) and cap by the person celebrating his 60th. Just imagine our old men wearing this.
“` A chanchanko is a sleeveless haori worn by children and the colour red is believed to have an effect of protection in Japan and people would put red clothes on newborn babies. In line with the significance that the 60th birthday means the return to your birth year.
“Locus Solus” gives the impression that we’re non-conformist, but on the other hand, we make our own way
When such people gather, it’s quite something, isn’t it?
Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
―― You’ve still got rescheduled concerts left to perform, but it’s about time for you to start rehearsals for Makuhari, isn’t it?
Imai (I): Mhm. Right now, I’m in the midst of arranging songs for the Makuhari live. About 3 of them.
―― Oh! You’ve decided to do a variety?
I: While having decided to include unusual songs that we haven’t performed recently, we also thought of trying arrangements that are different than what we’ve done thus far.
―― Did you intend to hold such a live performance from the very beginning?
I: Nope. Initially, we gave it a title which inspires intrigue and thought that it would probably be good if we could get an idea of what the live would be like from there.
―― I see. So, you expected something to come from the title of Locus Solus no Kemonotachi.
I: Yeah. And then our staff offered a lot of ideas which made us feel that things could definitely get interesting.
―― So, there’s no special meaning or anything like that attached to the title.
I: No, no. However, it’s not a tour anyway…… Well, the postponed concerts have been (added into this year’s schedule), but originally, it was a performance that was supposed to happen suddenly over 2 days in May, so I guess you could say that we wanted it to correspond to that. Like, I guess we wanted to make it feel like it’s something enthralling.
―― In other words, there’s no profound meaning behind “Locus Solus” in the title?
I: I just thought that it sounded intriguing. There’s no special meaning behind it. That book was published as a hardcover edition when I was in my 20s, and I thought that it seemed interesting so I bought it from Roppongi’s WAVE*.
―― Roppongi WAVE! How nostalgic.
I: There are a few volumes in that series but I was intrigued by the call of Locus Solus so I bought that one.
―― You know, I have an acquaintance who works in Heibonsha** and they suddenly called me and asked, “You know BUCK-TICK?”
I: Hyahahahaha, for real!
―― Apparently, it caused a stir because this foreign literature whose stocks don’t really move suddenly started receiving a ton of orders and they got wondering, “What happened?” (lol).
I: I heard about that (lol). It’s hilarious.
―― I also read Locus Solus when I was in university, but I gave up soon after I started. It was impossible to understand what the hell it was going on about.
I: It’s like it doesn’t really have a storyline and neither was there anything particularly interesting in it. No matter how much I read, I still didn’t quite understand it. But (the more you read it) the more it overflowed with images, like it exceeds your imagination. That’s why I think that it isn’t necessary to start reading it from the first page. I think you can just open a random page and look at what’s written there.
―― In short, are you saying that what’s interesting about “Locus Solus” is the way the sound of it makes people wonder what it is?
I: Yes, exactly. I didn’t know what it meant, so just as I was thinking that it would be good to use as the event title, I went to look it up. And it says that it means, “a solitary place”. I felt that it could also imply a non-conformist connotation too, so that was interesting.
―― Like a generic term which includes both BUCK-TICK as the band and the fans who follow you.
I: Exactly. It also gives the impression that we’re non-conformist but on the other hand, we make our own way.
―― But being non-conformist, doesn’t it bother you that you can’t really assimilate with those around you?
I: Not particularly. Isn’t it good? Non-conformity.
―― Do you feel that you’ve always been like that?
I: Nope, not at all. I might’ve noticed something before, but I don’t think I’ve thought of being in such a position in particular. But when such people gather, it’s quite something, isn’t it?
―― Indeed. And now, what you’re feeling and visualising from the words “Locus Solus” has been projected into the songs.
I: Exactly. Because we have 2 days (of performances). We want to have different setlists and try doing what we’ve never done before too.
―― But last year-end, Sakurai-san took ill and you had to postpone your tour.
I: I was shocked.
―― Was there no sign of it?
I: Not at all. My room backstage was separate from Sakurai-san’s too.
―― Right, you do that to focus.
I: Though, when we passed each other right before the performance in the corridor backstage, he had a hand on his hip. And I got the feeling that he seemed to be pressing heavier than usual. I did wonder, “Huh, what’s with him?” but he didn’t say anything, so I didn’t give it much thought. But the moment the performance started and he sang, I thought something was weird.
―― It was obviously different than usual, wasn’t it?
I: Like, he wasn’t quite pushing himself as hard.
―― I was worried.
I: Because (his condition is) something that only he would know best, right? It isn’t something that will somehow remedy itself just because you work hard, and I did consider that maybe we might have to stop halfway, and even if we did, it couldn’t really be helped. But that particular day, he said, “I’ll do this.”
―― It’s as if his will was just that strong.
I: I guess he didn’t want to feel like he messed up. I think he hated the idea of finishing only the main set and then making an announcement to forcibly bring the live to a close by skipping the encore. You see, we could only leave that decision to him. I guess, perhaps he felt that he could somehow make it to the very end.
―― Having such an incident occur, does it make you uneasy?
I: For the future? Well, maybe such things would happen. I suppose our physical strength would decline on its own anyway, and it’s only natural that the substance of our exterior would deteriorate too. But I haven’t gotten the feeling that my senses are waning yet, anyway.
―― Ahh, I see.
I: Well, I guess we can’t neglect our health (lol). But although I don’t really think about it, I suppose I’m alright. Because bands can take any form no matter how old we are.
Things I want to do come to me, and I’d wonder, “What should I do with this?”
But I have the confidence that if it’s us, we’ll be able to give it shape.
―― And you’ll be releasing a single. RONDO has a tie-up where it’ll be used as the ending theme song of Gegege no Kitaro, but what was your concept for Kemonotachi no Yoru?
I: This was in my stock. It’s completely different now, but the demo which was made from that riff was there. From start to end. But I completely forgot that it existed. I opened a folder in my PC and saw it, then when I wondered what it was and opened it up, this was in there (lol).
―― Right. Listening closely, this song is made of the one same riff going on from start to end. I thought that it’s got quite a crazy composition and it really turned into a good song (lol).
I: I thought, “Oh, right I made that. Ah, this is cool.” And making use of that guitar riff and the vibe of that demo, I redid it from the start and turned it into Kemonotachi no Yoru.
―― You completely forgot about its existence.
I: But that’s because the original melody was utterly uncool. I thought it’s a good thing that I didn’t forcibly turn that into a song and release it (lol).
―― Hahahahahaha! When was this demo from?
I: Probably STEPPERS -PARADE‐ (released January 2014) or sometime around there, I think. I thought maybe there was a bit of a riff left behind, but when I opened up the data, the whole song was there. When I listened to it, I thought it was reeally cool, and then I wondered if there might’ve been songs that I forgot about so I went looking around, but there wasn’t anything else (lol).
I: It’s the same with RONDO. This song had a previous melody too. But I completely changed up the tempo and all that, flipped the chords around, and redid it from scratch for it to be used for Kitaro. There’s no longer any sign of its original self though (lol).
―― It’s a song perfect for Kitaro, isn’t it?
I: Yeah, I didn’t expect it to fit so well. When I first heard that it was going to be the ending theme song, I got stuck wondering how we should do this, but after thinking about it for a bit, I realised, “Ah, this is something only we can do.” After realising that, I really wanted to do this.
―― Is it because the worldviews that you have are very similar?
I: Though don’t you think it’ll be really fun if we did the opening theme song instead (lol).
I: With an arrangement similar to DIABOLO’s (lol).
―― I’m imagining Sakurai-san singing “Ge, ge, gegege no geー” ^ (lol). Did you use to watch Kitaro a lot in the past?
I: It’s not as if I had to catch it, but I watched it. It’s the same as Sazae-san^^, like it’s only normal to watch it.
―― The characters look funny, or rather, they have a kind of cuteness to them, but there’s an air of creepiness in the background, like there’s a Japanese-style terror sleeping underneath.
I: That’s what I like about it.
―― It’s just like how BUCK-TICK sounds pop but there’s a creepiness somewhere in there, right?
I: I guess that’s how it’ll seem if you twist it that way (lol). Also, I was absolutely sure that it would be aired in the evening so I was surprised.
―― Ahh, that it was being broadcast at a time slot that’s more like Sazae-san’s?
I: Because I assumed that it was going to be during that kind of a melancholy time slot. But then it ended up getting broadcast in the morning. Quite a lot of kids watch it, don’t they? When I went to kindergarten to pick the children up, kids I didn’t know at all started coming up to me to say, “I watched Kitaro!”
I: So many of them started talking to me (lol). I never expected to get such a reaction from 4 year-olds.
―― You’ve opened up a new fan base (lol). Though, when we consider Sakurai-san’s lyrics too, I’ve said this numerous times, but there’s a sense of creepiness there and something similar to terror in the back, which makes it typical of BUCK-TICK, doesn’t it?
I: I knew that if it was Sakurai-san, he would fit in lyrics with a great vibe, so I wasn’t worried at all.
―― Did you intend right from the start to have Kokusyoku Sumire take part?
I: Not in the beginning, but after making the demo, I thought it might be better if we had a violin and an accordion in it as well. So, there wasn’t anything else to do except ask Sumire-san. Though, what I failed at was that I forgot to tell them that this was going to be the ending theme song for Kitaro (lol). Then I worried that they might insert something different (than what we were aiming for). But we liked it a lot in the end.
―― And for Kemonotachi no Yoru, it might’ve turned out the way it did as a result, but it seems like it was meant to be Makuhari’s theme song.
I: Uhhuh. I really like it.
―― What do you think of Sakurai-san’s lyrics?
I: I think it’s already a perfect fit. In the beginning, the working title for the demo was “Autobahn”. Then even after Sakurai-san gave it those lyrics and finished recording the song, it was still “Autobahn”. So I was getting worried about that. And then Sakurai-san said to me, “Hey, this isn’t going to be called ‘Autobahn’, is it? I think the lyrics are completely different (from that title) though,” and some days after that, I changed the title.
―― I see (lol). So after you release this single and finish the performance at Makuhari, what do you intend to do?
I: Huh, hasn’t our schedule already been decided? (lol)
I: Though I’m wondering about what we should do about our album. Like, what’s next? Just vaguely. I do have the desire to compose. (I’m just wondering about) what we should do following No.0, and how we should include the two songs from this single in the next album, and so on.
―― I think that No.0 was quite a masterpiece that fully brought out a certain side of BUCK-TICK, though.
I: I think so too. But I also think that we can soon do something from a different angle, or do something that goes beyond it. It’s always been like this, but I guess it’s because even after 30 years, all sorts of things I want to do just keep coming to me be it with a whisper or all at once. I suppose we can probably do something (else) soon because I get that.
―― When you shape those feelings, do you often feel that those can’t be executed unless it’s with the band?
I: That happens a lot. I’d wonder, “What should I do with this?” But I have the confidence that if it’s us, we’ll be able to give it shape.
―― You mean, you’ll eventually be able to shape things through the band?
I: It’s the same with our band sound and programming. Because the feeling that “we have to do this (or it wouldn’t work)” disappears. I get the feeling that we can do it.
―― “Why not?”, right? But isn’t the case that in a band, everyone’s style is basically aligned?
I: I don’t know, but there are those who absolutely hate programming, aren’t there? But for us, from some point onwards, we just felt, “Oh, well then, I guess we’ll use programming.” We came to accept that and started to think about how we’re going to present that sound when playing as a band and how we can make it work. As long as we think that something is interesting, all 5 of us will be looking in that same direction. I think that might be our strongest point.
―― So, although having a sense of it is the most important thing, it’s only because you can perform it with the band.
I: Of course, that’s very important. We can do anything. Besides, although we’re a band whose members are all above the age of 50, we wrote the ending theme song for Kitaro, didn’t we?
―― Hahahahaha. That is indeed so.
I: That’s why I think we can do anything. After all, there’s no discomfort within the band; we’re a cluster of potential. Regardless of how old we get.
* I managed to find a picture of it: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vigiem/2257341941
** A Japanese publisher.
^ From the opening theme song of the original run of Gegege no Kitaro.
^^ Sazae-san is a Japanese yonkoma manga series written and illustrated by Machiko Hasegawa which was turned into an anime in 1969 and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-running animated television series.
Now, we’re going on long tours but
I’ve come to wonder more often…… how long we can keep travelling like this
Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
―― This is probably considered as something from quite a while back, but to start, please tell us about last year’s No.0 tour.
Hoshino (H): The hall tour was very fulfilling. We’ve always been doing this, haven’t we? Sticking with the stance of completing the worldview of the album through a tour after we’ve produced one. This time, especially, gave me a strong sense of fulfilment. I’m very satisfied.
―― That’s because the album, No.0, was one which aroused the listeners’ imagination more than the usual production, right?
H: BUCK‐TICK has always done that since our early days but I guess this time, we managed to show it in an especially conceptual manner which included comprehensive visuals too.
―― Considering the video footage, that does indeed seem so.
H: And I think during the second half, the live house tour, the conceptual part of the performance was even more vividly expressed live.
―― But with an inconceivable incident, it made us realise that what this band expresses was something very real indeed.
H: That’s right. Well, a lot has happened (lol).
―― I was shocked.
H: But thank goodness that we were able to get through it all safely. There are a few more rescheduled performances (note: the interview was held on 19 April), but it looks like we’ll be able to do those well anyway, so they’re still good live performances even though they were rescheduled.
―― When did you realise that Sakurai-san’s condition wasn’t too good?
H: Vaguely, I did get the notion that he didn’t look well. When I saw his face during rehearsals, or when we met backstage before the actual performance, (I’d get a sense of,) “Huh? I wonder what’s wrong.”
―― I suppose he looked like he was having it rough.
H: But the tour was long too, so there were always minor worries like, maybe his throat is a little sore today, or, maybe he’s feeling a little feverish, and so on. But once the live performance started, the sight of a Sakurai-san I’ve never seen before, be it his movements or the way he sang, struck me and…… I was worried. When we withdrew offstage for the encore, we stood in a circle and it was said that apparently, his condition wasn’t so bad to the point that he can’t perform. That’s what I understood.
―― Knowing that, what did you think?
H: Honestly, I thought that even if we halted the encore, it wouldn’t make a difference. I thought that it would be better to ask Sakurai-san himself, because it could be that, probably, he wasn’t in a state where he can’t perform. But he said that he wanted to continue as far as he possibly could, so.
―― Perhaps he felt a sense of duty of having to finish “Kodou”, otherwise the worldview of No.0 would not be expressed in completion.
H: Perhaps. But I think, on the inside, he felt that he could do it since it was only 3 more songs. Though, that’s a question that only he himself would know the answer to. It’s not something that we can judge on our own, is it? Because you see, everyone has prepared themselves in their own ways before they perform.
―― The tour had been rescheduled following that incident, but situations which required such measures haven’t happened recently, have they?
H: Regarding postponement…… This might just be the first time when we had to reschedule the remaining dates when we’re in the middle of a tour. Though I think we did postpone a tour right before it started in the past.
―― That was when Sakurai-san had an intestinal blockage overseas, wasn’t it? But having had such a thing happen, does it make you feel that you all aren’t as invincible as you used to be?
H: That is something I especially felt recently. Now, we’re going on long tours but I’ve come to wonder more and more often how long we can keep travelling around like this.
―― That said, it appears that since the start of the year, a number of things happened to Hoshino-san too.
H: I’ve been sick in bed the whooole time, you know. Since the New Year.
―― You’ve even lost weight.
H: I’ve lost weight…… Maybe?
―― No matter how I look at you, you’ve lost weight. I was shocked when I saw your photos.
H: My condition isn’t particularly bad, but I can’t gain it back, my previous physique. Though I thought that’s fine anyway (lol).
―― What happened?
H: After our year-end live concluded, I thought of taking it easy during the New Year holidays, but on New Year’s Day, I passed bloody stools. So, wondering what that was about, I went to the hospital and then got diagnosed with ischemic colitis.
―― What kind of illness is that?
H: It’s not as severe as Sakurai-san’s, but it’s when the S-shape in the colon gets injured and it starts bleeding there. It wasn’t so severe that I had to get hospitalised, but I had to stay at home and live on porridge for quite a while.
―― Because you had to recuperate.
H: I just kept sleeping the whole time. I had to rest, so I couldn’t do anything, and my stomach hurt too. Then, when I felt like I was getting better from that, I went out to watch a movie since I haven’t yet caught Bohemian Rhapsody. I guess I let my guard down a little or something. And just as I thought that it was about time to start songwriting, some sort of rash started breaking out all over my body. It got me all lethargic so I went to the doctor’s, and this time, it was slapped cheek syndrome*.
―― Slapped cheek syndrome; isn’t that a common infection in children?
H: That’s true, but apparently, there have been more and more cases of adults catching it too. I think it’s probably something I caught at the hospital or something, though. My cheeks turned red and it wasn’t going away at all. So, because of that, I kept sleeping while sick in bed.
―― Your room had to be isolated too, right?
H: Exactly. Because it’d be awful if others caught it too, right? But the rash gradually went away, and I had a mild fever throughout the whole time too, so I thought that I would probably recover soon and get back to normal life, but at the very end came influenza (lol).
―― That’s a triple combo of illnesses (lol).
H: That’s why I’ve been sleeping and stuck in bed for almost a month. That was my situation in January. Well, since I’ve been a-year’s-worth of sick, I’ll just take it as a sign that perhaps I won’t get sick any more this year (lol).
―― You’ve rid yourself of misfortune (lol). But that was tough, wasn’t it? I heard that you had a meeting last year-end about the single and Makuhari, but in the end, you couldn’t do anything.
H: Yeah. It had been decided that the single was to be a tie-up, so I thought that I’d have to start songwriting once the New Year passed. Because we also spoke about producing demos and song selection. However, I was stuck in bed sick throughout the whole time in such circumstances, so without being able to do anything……
―― It was all left up to Imai-san.
H: Even though I wanted to compose. But, well, it couldn’t be helped, could it?
Living life without regrets is important, but everyone will definitely meet their end, won’t they?
That’s why it’s very much like BUCK-TICK to finish up whatever we can do now
―― What did you think of RONDO and Kemonotachi no Yoru when you heard them?
H: It was confirmed that RONDO would be a tie-up with Gegege no Kitaro, so I thought that it really matched the anime’s vibe. Then again, I guess to BUCK-TICK, that’s a genre that’s our forte (lol).
H: When I watched the anime, I was surprised by how modernised the characters had become (lol). But it’s somewhat eerie, or peculiar. That part remains the same. And I thought that suits the band very well.
―― Does that mean that even if Hide-san was present, you would’ve emphasised on that vibe?
H: Rather, I think that no matter what we do, it’ll turn out like that so it’s something that we’d compose without needing to think too much about. It wouldn’t feel good if we forced ourselves to lean towards such a worldview anyway, and I suppose we were naturally interested in this tie-up.
―― Was that how it felt since the demo stage?
H: Exactly. Kokusyoku Sumire’s accordion and violin had yet to be added but we’ve already said that we wanted those included since the demo stage, so there was already a sense that we could already envision its completed version.
―― What about Kemonotachi no Yoru?
H: It’s the opposite of RONDO, isn’t it? The vibes are completely different. I don’t know whether Imai-san consciously did that or not, but in the end, it’s great, isn’t it? The title of the song drew attention to the Makuhari live too, and we were also able to give it the perception of a kind of theme song. Even though they’re contrasting songs, both are BUCK-TICK-like, aren’t they?
―― Indeed. A song that goes round and round in circles while latched onto that which one can’t rid themselves of, and a song that says ‘this is where it begins’ and signals hope for the future. I guess we could say that it unexpectedly depicts the two sides that make this band.
H: So, don’t you think that this timing is just right? Initially, we thought that perhaps RONDO felt more like the lead track since there was a tie-up to go with it, but Kemonotachi no Yoru has a sense of speed too, and it was also a BUCK-TICK-like song, so that led the conversation to, “Why not make it a double A-side single?”
―― I think it’s especially meaningful that this single has turned out to be one that shows both sides of BUCK-TICK at the time when your live, Locus Solus no Kemonotachi (Locus Solus Bestia) will likely be a significant point for the band.
H: Exactly. The timing is perfect. Don’t you think it’s a good thing that I was stuck in bed sick? (Lol)
―― That’s not what this is supposed to mean (lol).
H: Also, for this single, there’s another mix of Kemonotachi no Yoru too. The single has Cube-kun’s (CubeJuice) version on it, but there exists another album version. That has yet another different vibe, so, I guess, maybe that might turn out to be a comparatively enjoyable song.
―― Eh, are you already looking that far ahead towards a new album?
H: Though it’s not as if we’re going to release it so soon, you know (lol). But after Makuhari ends, I expect we’d want to compose and start recording anyway.
―― Though, honestly, with your health in consideration too, don’t you think that it’s alright to take it easy for a little longer too?
H: No, no, we’re alright. Last year’s tour was lengthy, but the live performances were mainly held on the weekends anyway. In the past, we used to perform like hell**, so it’s not like this is anything to cry*** about. Being able to constantly release albums like this, to perform it on tours, to have people who await our activities; these are all great blessings.
―― That’s true.
H: I don’t think I’m that busy, so it’s alright. On the other hand, I think having things going at this pace is good for the elderly.
―― Don’t call yourself elderly (lol).
H: So, after Makuhari concludes at the end of May, I think you can probably assume that we’ll be composing and going into the studio for quite a while. After working for a bit more, maybe I’ll go for a vacation overseas (lol).
―― Hahahaha. But composing like that has become natural, hasn’t it?
H: You know, maybe it’s because I don’t want to break this present vibe. We celebrated our 30th anniversary and managed to carry out very fulfilling activities. And our 31st year has also started off well. It’s not that I’m affirming our intentions, but I think, within everyone, there is a desire to continue like this. If we wanted to rest, I suppose we would, but I want to cherish this band’s vibe.
―― Do you get the feeling that you have to perform whenever you can?
H: Ahh. Because we don’t know how long we can keep doing this considering the fact that band members may fall sick?
H: I guess not. It’s natural. Though I do think that maybe I should raise my health examination rank^ (lol).
H: Living life without regrets is important, but everyone will definitely meet their end, won’t they? That’s why we’re not rushing to do (more), neither are we particularly mindful of that, I think. Those days will eventually come, but they won’t be here until they’re here. I guess you could say that it’s very much like BUCK-TICK to finish up whatever we can do now without being affected by such things.
―― I think that’s probably something that you can feel because you’ve been working with the same members for more than 30 years without a break.
H: Perhaps. Probably because we don’t feel that that there’s an end. And I think things would surely remain like this from here on.
―― And so, to prevent that, you’ll have to raise your health check ranking (lol).
H: I’ve been working at it properly every day for these past 10 years so it’ll be fine (lol).
―― Yes. I’m sure you’re looking forward to Locus Solus no Kemonotachi.
H: Because, although we’ve performed at Makuhari Messe before at LUNATIC. Fest, this is the first time that we’re having a one-man there, right? Since we’re going to do this, we thought of trying things that we haven’t yet done after performing for over 30 years, and we’ve also been thinking about various stunts, so I think that this might be something that leaves quite the mark in the history of BUCK-TICK’s live performances.
―― Like, getting suspended by wires and flying through the air.
H: You mean Yuta, right? (Lol). We intend to make it something special, something that is different than THE DAY IN QUESTION and CLIMAX TOGETHER. So, I hope that everyone will look forward to it. Like our single, I believe that this live performance would evoke a sense of “Now, BUCK-TICK sets out again”.
* Slapped cheek syndrome, also called fifth disease or parvovirus B19, is known as ringo-byou in Japanese (lit. apple disease) because of how the patient’s cheeks would turn red from the rashes like an apple.
** The literal phrase would’ve been “performed (or worked) like a workhorse/carriage horse”, where the main implication is to mean that they were worked like slaves lol.
*** The original phrase was onomatopoeia for a baby’s wailing (ヒーヒー).
^ Annual health examinations are done in Japan. A grading system is used to denote the condition of each aspect of your health (e.g. weight, blood pressure, hearing, eyesight, etc.). The ranking ranges from ‘A’ to ‘H’, where ‘A’ means that everything is as per normal, and ‘H’ means that you’ll have to visit a specialist for further treatment.
I guess there’s a sense that it’s another start from here on. Like the direction that we’ll be headed towards
What will happen to us, or an indication of that
Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
―― What does Yuta-san think of last year’s tour for your album, No.0?
Yuta (Y): I mean, it’s something we do every time; this is how it’s always been where we basically have our hall tour and then make our rounds at live houses, right? Even though the same album remains as the theme for both tours, the presentation style will be different. A live which creates a worldview together with the set, and a live which lets (the audience) feel the band’s visual side more strongly. I think (we do this) because by performing these two sides, the songs in the album become complete. This time, since No.0 is quite a conceptual album, we were able to execute a different style of presentation for the live houses, so I guess that made me feel that it really turned into something amazing.
―― Indeed. Within that, last December, when you were left with 4 more performances to go, Sakurai-san took ill and the performances had to be postponed.
Y: I was surprised. I thought, we really have to take care of ourselves. Especially considering that for this tour, the second half was a bit tough. Maybe that fatigue had been building up in him.
―― After having such a thing happen, what came to mind?
Y: It’s of course, but my first thought was, “Is Acchan okay?” It was the 2nd day of our performances at Zepp DiverCity, right? Right before our performance, he certainly didn’t look too well, and even if he doesn’t typically show those mannerisms before we go up on stage, I could tell that he was in bad shape from the first song on. He kept withdrawing off-stage numerous times too, didn’t he?
―― The way the four of you followed up with that situation on stage was impressive.
Y: Because we got the feeling that Acchan most definitely wanted to see it to the end. When I heard that he went straight to the hospital after the live ended and immediately got hospitalised, I was extremely worried.
―― And then, you rescheduled 4 shows of the tour.
Y: Because it’d be better to perform in good health. It’s not good for us to make others worry while performing too, right? Though that caused a lot of trouble for our staff, thank goodness that they were able to hold down the venues for us and let us reschedule our performances.
―― Because you had to do them ahead of the Makuhari live too.
Y: I’m really grateful. That’s why things are no longer like how they were when we were young. That’s what I’ve been telling myself (lol).
―― But Sakurai-san was able to recover without complications too, and made his comeback at your annual 29th December performance at Nippon Budokan. There, you announced that you’ll be holding a 2-day performance at Makuhari Messe in May. And along with that, the announcement of your single was also made.
Y: Yeah. I think the songs turned out great on the single. I heard that (our song) was going to be the ending theme song for Gegege no Kitaro, and I felt that RONDO fit that vibe better. On the other hand, per its title, Kemonotachi no Yoru seemed like a song which was meant to be the theme of our Makuhari event, so I thought that it was being released at just the right time.
―― Well then, let’s talk about Locus Solus no Kemonotachi at Makuhari. What meaning does this live hold for Yuta-san?
Y: Well, let’s see…… Since this isn’t a live performance that’s being held around the period of an album release, I guess I’d want to do something special. We’ve always been holding such lives, haven’t we? THE DAY IN QUESTION is one that has always been going on, while CLIMAX TOGETHER is done once every 12 years. We’ve also had THE PARADE where we celebrate our anniversary with everyone, but we thought of doing one more other live where we can express ourselves.
―― It sounds like this live would be the one that has been put in that important position.
Y: That’s what we’re aiming for. We’re thinking of trying out stagings and presentation styles that we’ve never done before too.
―― Like hanging Yuta-san on a wire to fly through the air (lol).
Y: No, no (lol). That’s one thing that various people have been asking me about, but what the hell!
―― It’s a rumour (lol). But it looks to me that Locus Solus no Kemonotachi is turning into quite a significant turning point for the band, isn’t it?
Y: I don’t know whether it’s going to be a turning point, but I guess maybe there’s a sense that it’s another start from here on. Maybe, like the direction that we’ll be headed towards going forward, or what will happen to us, or an indication of that. BUCK-TICK has conceived a lot of songs in our 30 years, and among them, there are songs which we want to try playing once more. Considering that as well, I guess we want to make this a live where we, ourselves can also understand our flow going forward. You could say that we want to make this a significant live as the start of all that.
―― I see. So, Yuta-san has been in a band for over 30 years now, but going forward, what do you hope to do? What do you hope to become?
Y: Hmm. I guess I want the 5 of us to create something new. It sounds vague, but this is something that I’ve always felt.
―― Something new?
Y: Yeah. We’re not clouding over what we’ve done thus far either. We always want people who listen to us to realise, “Ah, there are songs like these too. Ah, there are songs like those too.” Because we also want to find something new, you know.
―― So, presenting that, are you going to make the old songs sound fresh once again?
Y: Yeah. We’re looking forward to it ourselves too. I think there are a variety of different ways we can do them. But I suppose we also have to create something that will be our core.
If we can continue as a band with the same members
And bring people joy by doing that, that’s the happiest thing for me
There’s nothing more valuable than that, is there? I don’t know any
―― Well then, how did the recording for the single go?
Y: I guess it wasn’t that tough. The songs were more or less done in January anyway. And we even had the leeway to listen to the songs ourselves and then tweak the riffs a bit too.
―― What did you think of RONDO the first time you listened to it?
Y: I thought, “This is Kitaro.” (Lol) For Kemonotachi no Yoru, it was, “This will certainly shine at our live.” Just as I thought that it sounded like it could be Makuhari’s theme song, it turned out that the song title leaned towards that too (lol).
―― It sure did.
Y: Also, I felt that this song lets the listener feel the strength of the band. That feeling of, “Let’s do this!”.
―― I guess it’s the kind of thing you can’t lose, or rather, you’ve always had it in you, right? Also, the lyrics in both of the songs are, in a way, BUCK-TICK’s royal road, expressing the midpoint of it all.
Y: I guess Acchan really thought of it all. Especially for RONDO, it matched perfectly with the image of Kitaro, which we were doing the tie-up with. Or rather, maybe there’s a part of Gegege no Kitaro and BUCK-TICK’s worldviews which are pretty close.
―― I guess it’s the way it’s a little eerie yet it’s pop and the way the theme of life and death sleeps (beneath the exterior).
Y: It overlaps with the worldview of Acchan’s lyrics, doesn’t it? They both have their own unique worlds and I guess what comes through from that matched up. I suppose life and death is an eternal theme for us human beings after all. Besides, don’t you think that the love which is included within this is something that the anime is trying to show as well?
―― That’s true. So, what about Kemonotachi no Yoru?
Y: As I’ve said earlier, it’s like the theme song for Makuhari. I wonder if Acchan wrote it that way with Makuhari in his sights. That’s why this time, the single can be seen as something that was done in conjunction with both Makuhari and Kitaro, you know? I thought it was great timing-wise too.
―― I see. Following your release of No.0 last year, you went on a tour that had quite a number of shows, but are you able to see the vision that you have for the future?
Y: We’ve often been told, “Wow, you don’t take time off at all, do you?”, but in the end, it’s because we want to do live performances, isn’t it? It’s especially so now, I suppose. I think the groove that we 5 have now is very good, and it feels great, so the more we perform, the more enjoyable it gets. But as expected, it won’t make sense for us to go on the No.0 tour another time, right? (Lol). Besides, we perform old songs every year during THE DAY IN QUESTION anyway, and I expect that we’ll perform quite a number of (those) songs for this time’s Makuhari performance too. That’s why we’d end up (thinking), we have to produce an album. That has been repeating these days.
―― Your activities have been uninterrupted, haven’t they?
Y: Because we, ourselves, have the desire to do it. Furthermore, each time is a little different from the last, isn’t it? For example, during the No.0 tour, even if we did recent past songs, the approach that we performed them with has changed.
―― What do they turn into?
Y: You know, they start to give the sense that they’re agglomerating. It feels like the more we perform them, the more it feels like our 5 parts are becoming one, rather than just being the vocal and the guitars and the bass and the drums. That’s why you’ll never get tired of it. Because it lets people feel that there is no doubt as we keep performing these songs, they turn into something great.
―― It’s amazing that you’ve continued to do that.
Y: Also, it’s because it’s fun to have everyone come together and create music together…… What are we, high schoolers? (Lol).
―― Hahahahaha. But isn’t that good!?
Y: That’s true. Because there’s no stress with regards to our activities recently, you know? The only thing I can say about it is that it feels good (lol).
―― That’s why it’d be great if that situation can remain as such.
Y: Yeah. That’s the dream (lol). That’s why I have to pay attention to my health.
―― Because you’ve also arrived at a ripe age too, despite being the youngest (in the band).
Y: It’s not something that I started thinking about following Acchan’s incident, but to keep the band going, to make sure it can keep going on is tough, and recently, I’ve often thought, “That’s not something we can easily do.”
―― I see.
Y: Because I still want to keep doing this.
―― That’s a dream that you absolutely have to fulfil, isn’t it?
Y: Yeah. I want to play in a band with everyone more, to play more great music, to go to all the places around the country where everyone is waiting for us, to have fun with everyone…… This is my biggest dream, or rather, it’s what I want to do most. There’s nothing greater than that. As long as I can live well and enjoy a little drink.
―― Because desires like vigorously earning money, or becoming famous, and so on don’t exist in this band, right?
Y: We’re fine with being ordinary people (lol). I’ve said it numerous times, but as long as we can continue as a band with the same members and bring people joy by doing that, that’s the happiest thing for me. There’s nothing more valuable than that, is there? I, at least, don’t know any.
―― Well said!
Y: But even though we’re often called a miracle, I don’t feel that way, you know? It’s the same with Great-kun’s (Great Maekawa) Flower Companyz, but we like it, without a doubt. Forming a band with your friends, performing live. And there’s also something that only those who have come this far know of. So, although it’s difficult to put into words, what’s for sure is that as long as you keep at it, you’d arrive at where we are today.
―― That’s the honour that you’ve acquired by continuing with one thing until now.
Y: That’s why I suppose I can only say that we’ll continue to do our best going forward (lol). In future, for sure…… We’ve also been doing this thus far, but I think the band will continue to evolve into something new.
―― I suppose you’re right. Staying the same is tough, after all, and on the other hand, you’d become a falsity, wouldn’t you?
Y: Since we’re doing this with documentation, I think that’s alright. Compared to what we were like 30 years ago, back then…… For example, we play songs like HURRY UP MODE on occasion, don’t we? It’s of course, but both the speed and the tempo are different too, aren’t they? But I think for us, because we’ve been playing that song all this time, it’s not the form, but the flow that has been developed. That’s why we can do it without feeling uncomfortable too. Like, (the song) is good as it is.
―― Even when it comes to your sound, be it new wave, or techno, or gothic, you have a flow that has always been there, so you can do anything and everything.
Y: Exactly. It’s fine as long as it brings out what makes the 5 of us, and as long as everyone thinks that it’s cool, it doesn’t matter what we do.
―― Maybe about 20 years later, you might perform cool enka music, and that’s also a possibility in itself, isn’t it?
Y: I don’t know about enka, though (lol). But if everyone thinks that way, that’s fine, isn’t it? Because the direction that everyone faces towards (in unison) is definitely a cool one. And that has never been wrong, has it?
―― Though, of course, if you perform the songs the way you played when you were in your 20s after you’ve turned 50 or 60, that’s probably not cool, is it?
Y: I guess you could say that in our present document, we decided that we’d perform without straining ourselves, without aiming too high. Because to do that and have various people listen to us and say that we’re wonderful or we’re cool is the best.
―― Today’s Yuta-san is so cool (lol).
Y: But, you see, people think that the present us who isn’t aiming too high is cool, right? That’s absolutely wonderful, isn’t it? That’s why we have to take care of our bodies to make sure that we can continue as long as possible, even if just by a little.
―― That is true. Considering that Sakurai-san and Hoshino-san have both fallen ill too.
Y: Put health as our top priority (lol). Because if we don’t properly care for our bodies, we’d end up losing the ability to do whatever we want, won’t we?
We don’t feel that being in a band has become a tedious routine, so we don’t become interested in other things
We were made in such a way that such a thing would never happen in this band
Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
―― You’re almost done with the rescheduled concerts, aren’t you?
Toll (T): We are. It was the Fukuoka one the day before yesterday so…… We’re left with Kyoto, I think. That was long. This isn’t exactly a tour, so the flow got interrupted and there were some areas which turned out to be a bit of a strain, but we were able to pull it off nicely. Everyone’s really looking forward to finishing off this tour properly and heading towards Makuhari Messe, you know?
―― How did you feel about the postponement of the 4 dates from last year-end’s tour and Sakurai-san’s condition?
T: Well, it’s got to do with his health, so. Since it happened, it can’t be helped, you know? Acchan fell ill before in the past too, so we know that he’s someone whose internal organs aren’t that resilient. But, really, thank goodness that it didn’t turn into anything big. It’s a good thing that it wasn’t a serious illness.
―― You’re, firstly, relieved.
T: Yeah. You could say, it’s a case of “good things tend to be followed by bad”. The state of the band is really great now, so we have to be careful. To add to that, we’re already a band whose members are all in their 50s. We can’t feel like we did when we were young forever. We’re a band that goes in for the attack at the very last minute. So we can’t afford (to take risks), you know? I think that showed a bit.
―― Indeed. But the songs that Imai-san composed, although I think those feelings could be sensed somewhere in them, they are also free-spirited, more youthful than any band, aren’t they?
T: Those parts, I think they’re amazing because Imai doesn’t run out of it. I’ve known him since we were in high school and it’s been such a long time, but I think he’s been becoming more and more exceptional as an artist with each year that passes. Musically, there’s no sign that he’s calming down at all, and it’s strange that he’s getting more and more playful but it can’t be helped (lol).
―― When a band has been around for 30 years, they’d usually settle down to a certain extent and (decide), “This is the kind of band we are”, though (that means) there are quite a lot of bands which no longer possess a sense of thrill, aren’t there?
T: But that doesn’t apply to this band. Don’t you think it’s quite something that we 5 are not tired of being in the band together? None of us has started investments, or started running shops, or going into producing for new bands. You don’t even hear of such things, and we’ve never even had the slightest desire to do any of that. It’s because we enjoy playing in a band…… That said, maybe I’m actually just unaware of those things (lol).
―― Hahahaha. Then again, Hoshino-san is the type who wouldn’t surprise us if it turned out that he had been renting out apartments this whole time (lol). I’ve never heard of such rumours before, though.
T: We don’t feel that being in a band has become a tedious routine, so we don’t become interested in other things. Because each time we find “Imai has yet again written some illogical song!”, it becomes a struggle here. When that happens, I get thrown back to how I felt in my teens, all the time (lol).
―― Hahahahaha. This might be too late now, but even though Yagami-san’s roots are in Carol* and Led Zeppelin and bands like them, I do think that you’ll be able to play songs like theirs in an interesting fashion.
T: Though there was a time when I would think, “Just tell me what you want me to do with this.” But, when I talk to other people of my age group, I often think that we were fickle with our taste in music during our era (lol). We listened to rock and folk and popular songs of the day too, be it Western or Japanese music. When I first formed a band and we couldn’t find people to join us, we would cover Yuming** while waiting.
―― You did your drumming research while listening to a variety of music too.
T: Yeah. Even if Imai brings me a weird song, he’d explain it to me by saying, “This is a song that’s something like this,” so I do get a sense of accomplishment from it, you know? In the past, there was a song with a completely incomprehensible rhythm which he gave the working title “Techno”. And when I asked, “What’s this?”, Imai explained to me what techno was from scratch.
T: I think it was Tight Rope. When I looked at the score recently for the first time in years, “Techno” was written on it too (lol). “Takahashi Yukihiro^ × Yamaki Hideo^^” was written there too. In other words, he meant that I was to drum cooly; without emotion. Also, “no groove” was also written there (lol).
―― Wahahahahaha, “no groove”!
T: Isn’t it the best (lol).
―― But to Yagami-san of those days, wouldn’t he have thought, “Telling me to drum with no groove, are you fucking with me!”?
T: Nope, not at all. Because instead, I wanted (those who heard it) to think, “These drums can’t have been played by Yagami Toll.” Because, you see, otherwise, it would mean that no matter what I do, you’ll be able to tell that it’s me, right? I’m the kind of person who wants people to wonder, “Who the hell drummed this?”
―― Like, “Was this really played by Yagami Toll?”
T: Exactly. I want to be a chameleon-like drummer. Rather than say that I want to change depending on the song, it’s more like I want to play a variety of drumming styles. That’s why the rhythms that Imai brings to me are what I hope for and are what realise my hopes. With this single too, isn’t Kemonotachi no Yoru a show of that guy at his best?
―― It’s quite a crazy song, isn’t it? Normally, the composition of the song begins the guitar riff coming in at the start and then it all builds up, but in Kemonotachi no Yoru, if you listen closely, the very first riff just goes on and on endlessly. But despite that, it appears that it still gets properly composed as a song.
T: And that’s amazing, isn’t it? I don’t know if Imai himself did that deliberately or not, but ultimately it turned into serious pop music, didn’t it? (He) always gets me wondering, “What the hell are you?”
T: RONDO has a tango beat but don’t you think that it’s probably (the song that is) the closest to BUCK-TICK’s nuances thus far? On the other hand, with Kemonotachi no Yoru, I can’t help but feel that he really created something amazing there.
―― Well, I guess that’s because RONDO was to also be the ending theme song for Gegege no Kitaro. When we put that worldview into perspective, you get something that’s very close to what (the band) possesses too, but when we look at Kemonotachi no Yoru together with the composition of the riff, you could say it’s like you’ve gone on the offensive. It’s a song that tells us that such compositions still exist in your repertoire.
T: That’s why I said he doesn’t dry up, does he (lol). Besides, I think the contrast between the two songs in this single is great. They’re opposites, but both of them are very BUCK-TICK-like, and they’re pop, but if you listen closely, they’re sort of strange. That’s why you’ll never tire (of us).
Personally, I want to get our revenge on Tokyo Dome with the present quality of our band
It’s like saying, “That’s not all that BUCK-TICK’s got, motherfucker!”
―― In the past, were songs which left you thinking “What the hell is this?” after hearing it once?
T: I’ve probably mentioned it before but I think I did get that impression with songs like SEVENTH HEAVEN’s “MEMORIES…” and other similar ones. Probably even with Kemonotachi no Yoru, while (Imai) thought, “This is a nice riff,” he simply continued on just like that and it turned into a song. Like, there’s zero music theory (lol).
―― But that’s fine as it is.
T: It is. Because with rock music, it’s a win as long as it gets heard. You don’t need theory nor do you need to show off your tricks, right? People listen to it, and if the listeners like it, then that’s fine. Come to think of it…… It just came to me. We have a song called Kimi ga Shin.. dara, but after we were done with the recording and all, we kept wondering, “Is that song really alright chord-wise?”, and we had quite a debate about.
―― The whole band?
T: Yeah. Like, “Ain’t there something weird with this?” (lol). Though indeed there’s something to do with the song’s melody or the arrangement which made it weird.
―― I guess there’s some sort of distorted progression going on.
T: Back then, we kept wondering, “Is this okay?” (lol).
―― The only one who can find it in himself to say that it fits is Imai-san, isn’t it?
T: But isn’t that because he’s the one who composed it (lol). That’s why as long as it’s a good song, as long as it’s an interesting one, it doesn’t matter what it’s like, it’s fine. It’s got nothing to do with things like theory. It’s because we say such things that we’re being treated as non-conformists, though (lol).
―― So, about the lyrics that Sakurai-san wrote for Kemonotachi no Yoru, what do you think about them?
T: To me, I thought that (it was written with) a complete awareness of the performance that we were going to give at Makuhari. I suppose although Locus Solus no Kemonotachi is a title that Imai came up with for the event, Acchan visualised it and shaped the lyrics from that.
T: The lyrics are Acchan’s style, but his intention of “Let’s start here” can be seen, and that’s great, isn’t it?
―― Then, what kind of a live performance do you think Makuhari’s Locus Solus no Kemonotachi will be?
T: We’re going into a new era and kicking it off…… That’s what I think it’ll turn into (lol). Since it’s a live show, I guess there’s also the possibility that it’ll turn into a sort of milestone in BUCK-TICK’s career.
―― That’s what the other band members said too. That it’s not exactly any sort of particular milestone, but performing this Makuhari live feels like a new story has begun.
T: To me, I do think that it might turn into a live event that sits in a similar position as CLIMAX TOGETHER, though. Because although our schedule was packed with a variety of events last year, we spoke a lot with the stage production staff about the content for this event and we thought of doing something we’ve never done before. We feel that our fans will definitely enjoy it.
―― We have high expectations for it.
T: Then again, until now, BUCK-TICK has never used those rather classic productions or performance styles, have we? There’s also the fact that even if we do use special effects like pillars of fire or silver streamers, we’ve been able to employ those without making it look like we use it frequently and have held lives by playing simple performances. Having done that for close to 30 years, I think it’s pretty interesting doing it now.
―― But why didn’t you do that all this while?
T: Because, you see, when we brought it up back then, I think Imai said, “What the hell is that…… Rather, how tacky.” and it ended just like that (lol). I suppose even I thought the same.
―― I see (lol).
T: But as we aged, we’ve changed bit by bit, and when we start thinking about what we’ve never done before, or what we can do to surprise and bring joy to our fans, we’d come to think that tacky performance styles might be fun too. And the band is confident to a certain extent too, so you’d get the idea that no matter what we do, it wouldn’t be tacky or disappointing, right?
―― Does Yagami-san, too, have the desire to do as much as possible?
T: Of course. Because if you search for it, there will always be something that has yet to be done. Or rather, going forward, we would like to present yet another new side of BUCK-TICK.
―― So what do you think about RONDO?
T: That song is precisely what BUCK-TICK’s royal road is. Also, I think having Kokusyoku Sumire join in only added to the BUCK-TICK-ness of the song. The violin at the start is really amazing. That was improvised on the fly but I think the pressure of doing that doesn’t show up in the music at all.
―― That was improvised?!
T: Sacchan (Sachi of Kokusyoku Sumire) is really amazing. Whether it’s rock or pop, she’s really good at adapting (to the genre). I was surprised.
ーー I didn’t expect to enjoy Gegege no Kitaro this much.
T: Probably because you didn’t expect our BUCK-TICK-ness to be identical to it in that way. Also, it’s probably also a good thing that we came back to Victor for our 30th anniversary. Because it was thanks to Victor that this band was made known to the general public. It might be that we’re compatible (with this company).
―― If Makuhari’s Locus Solus no Kemonotachi is to be another starting point for you, what do you think BUCK-TICK should become from that point on?
T: Well, I do feel that it would be nice if we 5 could continue playing as a band even if just for a little longer, and I do want to perform live on only in Japan but around Asia too, and…… Can I be frank?
―― Go ahead.
T: As Yagami Toll of BUCK-TICK, having been in this band for over 30 years, there’s only one more thing left undone, one thing that I want to get back at.
―― And that is?
T: ………… Tokyo Dome.
―― Ooh! You mean, you want to hold BUCK-TICK Genshou (BUCK-TICK Phenomenon) there once more.
T: Yes. That said, it’s not that I want a commemorative event or something like that. Rather, it’s just that I was disappointed with that performance. Although a ton of people came for the show, it’s the stage where we had our resurrection after a break in activities so, in other words, our sound was the worst. Due to the fact that it was when the Dome had just been built^^^ and the fact that we only had knowledge of putting on performances in live houses, we couldn’t even deliver the level of potential that we would normally perform at. The acoustics were just too horrible too.
―― This was something you’ve always talked about.
T: That’s why I want to get our revenge on Tokyo Dome with the present quality of our band. It’s like saying, “That’s not all that BUCK-TICK’s got, motherfucker!” (lol).
―― Hahahaha. I guess in other words, it’s something you want to clear from your bucket list. Or, that’s your dream or goal.
T: It’s what I want to get down properly before I drop (dead). I definitely want to perform at Tokyo Dome with proper production and acoustics. Otherwise, I won’t be able to rest in peace (lol).
* Carol (キャロル) is a Japanese rock band which formed in 1972 and disbanded in 1975. You will find that Anii mentions this band often. He covered their song, Funky Monkey Baby, in his first solo project album 1977 by Yagami Toll & Blue Sky.
** Yuming is the nickname of Matsutoya Yumi, a Japanese singer, composer, lyricist and pianist who is renowned for her idiosyncratic voice and live performances, and is an important figure in Japanese popular music.
^ Takahashi Yukihiro was the drummer and lead vocalist of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, and former drummer of the Sadistic Mika Band. He is currently a member of the group METAFIVE.
^^ Yamaki Hideo is a jazz drummer and percussionist who is known for being the long time drummer for the band Toshinori Kondo & IMA.
^^^ Tokyo Dome was first opened in March of 1988 and BUCK-TICK played there on 29th December of 1989, i.e. the first Day in Question.
On Shiina Ringo & Sakurai Atsushi’s Kakeochi-mono (Eloper)
I thought I should struggle with all my might rather than sing it well.
Because I suppose what she might’ve been looking for was the passion which is derived from that
Interview by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
The formidable presence of these two rose to the top without any crossing each other before finally colliding together at the end. The song Kakeochi-mono, from Shiina Ringo’s album Sandokushi which features Sakurai Atsushi on vocals, has turned out to be an extra-dimensional duet song. And today, we ask Sakurai to share his thoughts about it.
―― How did you feel when you received the request to take part as a guest vocalist from Shiina Ringo-san?
Sakurai (S): Why me (lol). That’s my very first thought. Like, why? But when I heard that Ringo-san said, “I wrote this song in Sakurai-san’s image,” I felt very honoured, and that really got me motivated.
―― Indeed, Kakeochi-mono’s sound is quite out of Shiina-san’s context with its industrial yet gothic flavour, so it stands out even within the album. What was the first demo like?
S: In the beginning, I was given the demo that Ringo-san produced to listen to, but it contained her temporary lyrics, so I thought that this was a true rarity (lol).
―― A rarity (lol).
S: Like, it’s something that you never really get to hear.
―― So, it was after that when the lyrics were written?
S: Yeah. I wonder if she put a lot of care into it. Because it was a demo tape of very high quality. Ringo-san was also absolutely perfect with both our melody lines in both pitch and musical notation. It’s of course, but I could sense that she’s someone who possesses an immense talent.
―― How did you feel after singing the lyrics?
S: I was told that they were written in my image, but it’s a very passionate song, isn’t it…… Am I really such a passionate man? (Lol).
―― Hahahaha. But I think that you’re rather passionate when you’re on the stage we call the demon realm performing as BUCK-TICK’s Sakurai Atsushi.
S: I suppose so (lol). But I felt that (the lyrics) illustrated a passion between a man and a woman which is very uniquely Ringo-san’s style; of a story about a man and a woman sharing feelings so intense that there is no choice but to resort to eloping and committing a lovers’ suicide.
―― What do you think about the elopement theme?
S: It may not be realistic in this era of Reiwa but well, since I was also born in the Showa era (lol). To be forced into a corner, to feel as if there’s nothing else you can trust and it’s just the two of us against the world…… I feel like I understand that desperate, tragic romance and grief. But somehow, there’s also a sense of sadness in there. When Ringo-san sings it, it’s very energetic. Although it’s scary that you can’t see what’s ahead and there’s nothing else you can believe in, the passion that drives you to take your partner along with you overcomes all of that. And I think that’s amazing.
―― Were you able to immerse yourself into this story that has such a theme?
S: I guess, maybe I did? But I was very nervous. Since it’s a story that I absolutely have to go deeper and deeper into with the energetic Ringo-san too, I had to have the image running away while being pulled along by my hand.
―― Like you were getting swallowed up (by the narrative)?
S: Exactly. That’s why I attended the recording with the notion that I had to express a passion similar to Ringo-san’s rather than only sing (her lyrics). And to do that, an explosive power was required. Also, I wanted to express something that was above and beyond what Ringo-san sought. That’s why I thought I should struggle with all my might rather than sing it well. Because I suppose what she might’ve been looking for was the passion which is derived from that (struggle).
―― When I first heard about this collaboration between you two, I thought that it would be similar to her works with other musicians where there is a clear separation between each person’s part and they are still duets despite the intensity, but instead, you both were at it head-to-head from start to end. It was like (a clash) between a lion and a tiger, or a decisive battle between Goku and Vegeta……
S: I’m not familiar with Dragon Ball, but Ringo-san is a technically adept and talented person, so I suppose she would be capable of conveying the sense of a morose couple too, but to me, I felt that she likely sought passion and war.
―― But I get the sense that until now, Sakurai-san can’t really jump into things if (the person you’re working with is) not someone who knows you well, like Tsuchiya Masami-san or ISSAY-san (Der Zibet). This time, even if feelings of respect were conveyed to you, I’d assume that this was an entirely unknown experience, though.
S: I guess that’s why I was nervous. Because even I found myself wondering why I was feeling so tense. She wasn’t a fellow dweller of the demon realm. Instead, it felt as if I was going up against a queen from somewhere. But it was an honour, and I really wanted to execute this at a standard that is above what she sought. This was a great experience for me.
―― Well then, if such an opportunity comes up again……
S: I’m of the mind that if I’m somehow good enough (for the work, then by all means).
―― Oh, you’re looking ahead, aren’t you!
S: But that is also something that I’ve only grown capable of after feeling the respect that Ringo-san has for me. She was very considerate. She came to the studio to say hi, and at first, I thought of singing an octave lower like one would with choruses, but she said, “Please try raising the octave.” So, I asked, “I think (doing that) will create quite a forceful impression. Is that okay with you?” And she said, “That’s my intention.” From then on, I went all out. Both physically and mentally. After singing 3 or 4 takes, I got the OK. Like a ‘thank you for the meal’ (lol).
―― Hahahaha. Well, I hope that there will be another opportunity for you (to do this) (lol).
S: Yes…… Also, lastly, Ringo-san, she’s a very beautiful person.
S: It’s something I’ve just got to say (lol).