The Poem of June ──
Interview with Hoshino Hidehiko
Ongaku to Hito
text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photographs by Sasahara Kiyoaki_L MANAGEMENT
20 Years of Poems¹
To think that the annual June solo interviews with Hoshino Hidehiko would see its 20th year. The phrase “persistence pays off” must have been referring to this interview series. For such a memorable milestone, plans like visiting his favourite Southern island, releasing a photobook, or throwing a fancy party were in the making, but due to the emergency declaration and self-quarantine measures put in place in light of COVID-19, we found ourselves in a mood which leaves us unable to do interviews or anything with any pizzazz.
This segment ended up being handled the same way with a short photoshoot in the garden by Tama River, followed by a remote interview held on Zoom. We mainly talked about the band and their album recording which got put on hold, and about his usual laid-back everyday life, but we also hope that the days when we can relax and talk normally about these regular things will return soon. And next year, we’ll really go to a Southern island for this interview!
The album is hard to describe in one word (lol). It’s simple but there are songs that have new wave or techno influences too
―― What do you think? Your first Zoom interview.
Hoshino (H): I heard a lot about it. My soccer friends had a remote drinking party recently but I was late and didn’t get to join them (lol).
H: I want to join them next time, though.
―― I’ll be waiting to hear about it from you. Well, it’s the 20th year of this Poem of June interview and I was thinking of setting it on a Southern island but……
H: There you go again (lol).
―― No, no, no, I’m serious. We’re going to be a year late but let’s make it happen next year. We’ll publish Simply Life 2 as well (lol).
H: If only things would settle down, right?
―― Of course.
H: How’s Ongaku to Hito coping?
―― We only come to the office when we absolutely have to, but we’ve basically switched to working remotely. For shoots, they’re now mostly screenshots or selfies too, or like today; a quick photoshoot with a small group of people on short notice.
H: Yeah, even TV programs are either being recorded remotely or broadcasting reruns. Everyone’s struggling.
―― BUCK-TICK’s recording got suspended too, right?
H: Yeah. Recording quickly came to a halt the moment the state of emergency was declared in Tokyo. That was around the start of April, so I’ve been staying home for more than a month since then. I haven’t really left the house except to buy food.
―― What do you do at home?
H: Nothing special…… But in such a situation, don’t you get the urge to rearrange things at home?
―― Totally! I’ve been spending my days decluttering and making orders on Amazon.
H: Likewise (lol).
―― What kind of rearranging are you doing? I can see from the screen, in your background, that you’re in your home studio.
H: I didn’t really make any changes here, but I made other parts of the house, like the veranda more comfortable.
―― What did you do?
H: I DIY-ed, stuck tiles on the deck. And I bought a hammock.
―― A hammock for the veranda!
H: It turned out rather nicely (lol). I was also lacking in exercise, so I did yoga with videos on YouTube.
―― It’s the same in my house (lol).
H: If this goes on for another month, you’d definitely run out of things to do.
―― Since you’re a musician, have you seized this chance to write heaps of songs?
H: Somehow, I can’t get into the mood for that (lol).
―― Please get into it (lol). But when you look at Instagram, doesn’t it seem like Imai’s composing a lot?
H: I heard he is.
―― Do you check his Instagram account?
H: Soーmetimes (lol). A little bird told me that he collaborated with a different Hoshino-san² and I was like who, who?
―― You’re bandmates and yet someone else had to tell you!
H: Hahahahaha. That’s because we don’t contact each other all that frequently. But recently, since, you know, we’re in these circumstances, I asked them if we should hold a meeting on Zoom.
―― An invitation from Hoshino-san?
H: Yeah. But no one replied (lol).
H: I think I spoke about it with Yuta for a bit. Like, “What do you think?” But after that, we didn’t have any particular reason to hold meetings anyway; we’re just waiting to get back into recording.
―― But although it was suspended, I heard that you guys were actually making good progress.
H: Recording was going unusually smoothly (lol). All the songs were pretty much done and there were just a few songs left to record for the guitar, so it feels like if we had just a few more days [it would’ve been completed]. Though, I don’t know whether Imai-san might still be composing more.
―― Was it because the song compositions were simple that things went so well?
H: That’s right. The songs themselves were simple with lots of guitar parts and riffs too. Generally speaking, these songs aren’t the type that are jam packed with sounds. It’s more like playing guitar phrases rather than layering things on. That’s why the work itself is relatively simple.
―― How does Hoshino-san envision this album to turn out?
H: It’s hard to describe it in one word (lol). It’s simple, with less sounds, but there are songs that have new wave influences. There’s even a sort of techno song included, and stripped down songs like Datenshi. I think we’ve made this album from a different angle than the last.
―― What about Hoshino-san’s songs?
H: I’ve composed 3 songs and I think the recording’s all done already. But I still don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Because we don’t know when we can get back to work anyway, right? Besides, I don’t expect that we’ll be able to gather in the studio in a big group to work on things like we always had. We’d probably have to cut down the number of people and make sure it doesn’t get too crowded.
I hope that our future will be one where this time next year, we’ll be able to ask, “Shall we visit a Southern island?” and laugh about it
―― Makes you wonder what it’ll be like.
H: It’s hard to say. Because this isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved with us making some sort of effort and doing our best to work it out, right? The only way around it is to keep up with [safety] measures on a personal level. Like, washing your hands for 20 seconds, doing mouth rinses, bringing your own disinfectant alcohol solution when you go shopping.
―― But it’s tough to keep doing this too, isn’t it?
H: Isn’t it way unexpected that a pandemic of this scale would happen in our lifetime? Like, who would’ve thought that the kind of event that would show up in a history textbook would happen now. Now we can’t even do the things we used to take for granted. We can’t even go out and have a meal with our friends. We can’t have a face-to-face conversation. And especially in the case of livehouses…… I never realised how lucky we were to have had all these things we took for granted. Really makes you wonder what live concerts will be like in future too.
―― Because you can’t perform shows the same way anymore if we’re going to go with what they’re now calling the ‘new normal’, right?
H: What are they referring to?
―― Keeping at least a distance of 1 metre between you and another person, needing to be far enough from each other to allow singing or cheering or just holding it online, avoidance of crowding, close contact and closed spaces, etcetera.
H: Makes it difficult, doesn’t it? Thinking about it like that it seems like we can’t even start [putting on shows]……
―― Because this problem basically won’t go away unless we can get immunised or vaccines get distributed, right?
H: Isn’t that why we’re all in agony over this? At the same time, we can’t even go out for drinks, can’t even go exercising. And when that happens, we end up doing nothing but clicking the buy button on Amazon (lol). Since the hammock is working out well, I’m thinking about getting a high-pressure cleaner.
―― What a family man³!
H: Hahahahahahahaha. I’m just thinking that it’ll probably be necessary for us to live comfortably. Like, I want to do the things I normally won’t be able to do.
―― Speaking of which, how’s your health? You got hospitalised last year and lost quite a lot of weight but after that……
H: I started wondering about a bunch of things about myself so after our tour concluded the last year-end, I thought I should probably get another check-up at the start of this year so I went to the hospital, and everything’s good so.
―― That’s good then. We’ve both come to an age when we need to take care of our health.
H: Because once you pass the age of 50, it’s just a battle against yourself, isn’t it?
―― A battle against yourself!
H: Everyone feels the same, right? It’s something you come to understand once you’re over 50 (lol).
―― If, next year, I say, “Let’s go to a Southern island for our interview in June,” where would you like to go?
H: Shonan⁴ is good enough (lol).
H: I mean, I hope that our future will be one where this time next year, we’ll be able to mention that and laugh about it.
―― But the only thing we can do is to believe that’s how things will turn out and keep going. Although, I think I might continue working from home a little longer though.
H: We’ll have to stay home a bit more. Ah, come to think of it. I had a photoshoot at Tama River for a bit just now, right?
H: I just remembered; we also did it at Tama River 20 years ago, right?
―― Ah! Now I remember (lol).
H: Though, at the time, I was also wondering, “Why an interview with me now, at this timing?” (Lol)
―― And you’ve been wondering for 20 years (lol).
H: I didn’t think it would go on for so long.
―― I think the most significant thing to me back then was probably that you poured your heart out to me and said that you were happy to be in this band. Because those weren’t the kind of words you’d hear from band members⁵ in those days.
H: I suppose that’s true.
―― I hope that the band will continue being active for the next 5, 10, 15 years and that this Poem of June will keep going, and that our magazine will endure.
H: Let’s keep our fingers crossed (lol).
¹ Fuubutsushi (風物詩) is defined as “something which is reminiscent of a particular season” or “a poem about natural scenery or a particular season”.
² With Hoshino Gen. Imai actually posted thrice.
³ In Japanese, the phrase is straight up マイホームパパ (my home papa).
⁴ Shonan (湘南) is located southwest Kanagawa prefecture which is approx 1 hour away from central Tokyo. Shonan area is basically a seaside region of Sagami Bay from Enoshima to Oiso.
⁵ Not sure if he was talking specifically about BUCK-TICK or bands in general.
Scans: Patowinds on Tumblr