Go-Go B-T Train Feature
PHY Vol. 19
Although we can’t see where our final stop is, I hope that everyone will ride with us until the very end
text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
photographs by Chito Yoshida
hair & make-up by Tanizaki Takayuki (Yagami), Yamaji Chihiro (Sakurai, Hoshino, Higuchi)_Fat’s Berry
styling by Shimizu Kenichi
LAD MUSICIAN HARAJUKU_03-3470-6760
Komatsu Yosuke (Imai)
A fixation on life emerged, and when I start obsessing about the future, I get lonely
That’s why, we have a song that says let’s run, let’s not think about anything else and just go
When it comes to music releases, BUCK-TICK’s latest single Go-Go B-T TRAIN is due to be released on September 22. It will be their first release in the one year since the release of their album ABRACADABRA. Last year, they held concerts in the form of a livestream and a film concert tour in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but only managed to hold one single concert with a live audience present at Nippon Budokan at year end.
After maintaining the constant of touring the country with the release of every album for nearly 35 years, there is no doubt that inimitable this band must have felt as if something cherished has been snatched away from them in the past year. We still can’t go back fully to what things were like in the past, but they have scheduled a national tour and they are finally going to get things started again. The single that they were releasing on the opening day of the tour included a song reaffirming the deep bonds we have with our loved ones and another leading us into tomorrow with gusto. At the same time, the band, who will be celebrating their 35th anniversary next year, would be showing their true emotions on stage. Part of the tour has been postponed to give Imai HIsashi (guitarist) two months to fully recover from a fracture, but it doesn’t change the fact that this single is a sign of beginnings.
In this front cover special feature, we look into ours’ and BUCK-TICK’s future through these extended interviews with the members of the band, including Imai.
BUCK-TICK Solo Interviews
And we’re showing age in all sorts of ways but until we’re irreparable, the five of us will keep on running into the unknown
I thought it’d be nice to tell such a story
―― A terrible thing has happened around the departure timing for this train, hasn’t it?
Sakurai (S): Yes. We have to talk about that first, don’t we? We’ve inconvenienced a number of parties with Imai-san’s (Imai Hisashi, guitarist) fracture.
―― No, don’t say that. Although, when I look at Imai-san’s social media [Instagram], I can see that he’s living a healthy life in hospital.
S: Ah, really? I’ve never looked at any of anyone’s media things. How does he look? Well?
―― Yes. Well, or it could be that he just doesn’t want us to worry.
S: Because there’s nothing else we can do except wait, right? It’s not as if he’d get better faster if we spank his butt and say, “Hisashi, what do you think you’re doing!” (Lol). We’d rather that he gets to fully recover without worrying about us.
―― So many things start to happen as we grow older.
S: A few times I’ve missed concerts myself due to illness, so it’s not as if I don’t understand how Imai-san feels right now. The hospital is a place that really makes you feel cut off from society, so there’s nothing to do but focus on getting well. Thankfully, it appears that he’s received a lot of warm well wishes from our fans. So that’s probably a relief for him.
―― Indeed. Now, about your single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN. The impact of this title is something else!
S: Everyone tells me that (lol). At first, we planned to kick off the concert for the members of our fan club on the September date of our debut, and then we started talking about coordinating to release our single on that date as well. So at the sample stage, Imai-san brought two songs while Hide brought one, but with Imai’s songs, both songs had a lot of momentum in them. The other song had the same speedy feeling that Eureka from ABRACADABRA had. Going in that direction was possible too, but personally, I felt that Go-Go B-T TRAIN left an impression unlike any other before. What I felt from the information I gleaned from the scant few bits of sounds in the sample tape was…… I’m going to start saying weird things again (lol).
―― Hahahahaha, go ahead.
S: It kind of reminded me of an attraction at an amusement park. You know how there are those roller coasters that look like a train?
―― That aren’t flashy and speedy like Space Mountain¹.
S: Exactly. The ones that feel more clickety-clack (lol). And get you wondering whether this train is really okay for riding. When children climb in for a ride, it’s a whole lot of noise and commotion and nail-biting thrills (lol). That’s the kind of atmosphere that comes to mind.
―― And that’s connected to the keyword ‘train’.
S: That’s right. Because even the bass progression felt like it was bumping and rumbling into me. It’s like, this ‘train’ is a metaphor for BUCK-TICK, and we’re saying that we’re going to keep going from here on out. And we’re showing age in all sorts of ways but until we’re irreparable, the five of us will keep on running into the unknown. I thought it’d be nice to tell such a story.
―― That the present BUCK-TICK is like a train rumbling as it goes.
S: Remember, there were certainly periods when we played it high-tech (lol). But I felt that doesn’t match what we’re like now.
―― That’s also the case when we look at your music, isn’t it? With simple compositions that have more emphasis on a human touch from the band rather than the electronic feeling that programming gives.
S: Eh…… I’m going to say something weird again, but (lol). Aren’t there lots of people who come across as electrical? (Lol)
S: No matter how cool or how great their sensibilities are, once the power goes out, once the plug gets pulled, you won’t even get the slightest response out of them (lol). Regardless of how attractive they are, they won’t be able to get their message across. I don’t think that’s what we’re like now. It’s like…… we’re powered differently? (Lol)
―― Like pedalling like hell on a bicycle instead of running a machine with the push of a button?
S: That’s right. That’s the manual, hands-on flavour I got from this song. Like we’re breaking a sweat to run in this era where it’s the default to go green and high-tech. Burning coal with blackened faces as we sweat it out in a manually-run steam locomotive. Seeing the bullet train overtake us in an instant on the side, even as we envy, we know that each mode has its own virtues. That’s the kind of train I’d like us to be.
―― So where do you think your virtues lie?
S: I think it’s got to be in our humanity where we’re alive and tinged with excitement. No matter how hot or cold it gets, our body temperature remains around 36.5 degrees celsius, and if we get injured, blood will flow. It’s obvious, but I guess you could say that we shouldn’t forget about these kinds of people and the things they do. Especially for me, because I sing and there’s a part of me that will let my heart out through my emotions and my psyche. And that’s something I have to cherish.
―― And why do you think it’s possible to do that with this band?
S: Because this band, to me, is my musical life. Because it is nothing more or less than what’s at the very root of me. I believe all the members feel the same way too. This is where I tried all sorts of things. Things that didn’t work out, we learned from them and now, we’re here. That’s also why we’re still not done yet.
―― Even if it’s tacky, it’s really great that you’ve chosen such an obnoxiously human theme and you’re singing about boarding the B-T TRAIN and heading off together in this era where people are becoming increasingly separated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
S: Yeah. It’s easy to be cynical and I’ve been like that before as well, but I don’t think I am right now. I just feel that people like us who make music can’t afford to be cynical. While some of our fans have been with us for decades, there are also those who only became fans after watching that recent dialogue program (lol).
―― Hahahaha, by seeing you camping?
S: That’s right (lol). Although we can’t see where our final stop is, I hope that all these people will stay on the ride with us until the very end.
―― Like, “I’m the train conductor” (lol).
S: Hahahahaha! That’s right.
I guess what we want to bring across is, in the end,
the beauty of people which shows itself in many different forms
―― Now, it’s B-side, Koi (恋). The sound approach Hoshino-san took was fresh, but the tenderness portrayed in this song, and that sense of drawing level with sorrow is just wonderful.
S: Hide’s (Hoshino Hidehiko, guitarist) sample was really so simple. All it had were the music, the rhythm, the chords, and the vocal melody. What would decide the song’s direction from there would be dependent on the story and the lyrics I write, but recently, the frame of reference that I get from my first impression upon listening to the sample stays true until the song is complete. It happened with this song too. It’s relaxed, with that gentle rhythm and melody in medium tempo that Hide is so good at.
―― It certainly is.
S: So once I’ve decided on the story, I’ll write the lyrics to it, and while doing that, I just can’t help but be influenced by reality, like what’s happening around me at the time and events that have happened. During that period, there were a number of people in recent years who…… like people I worked closely with and close friends, or their family who passed away. When I heard that melody, I thought it’d be nice if I could turn this into a story of remembrance for them. I also felt strongly that it’s something I’d be able to execute better if I went with what I think I feel inspired to sing about the moment I listened to it, than go with something I prepared beforehand.
―― It sounds like somewhere in you was a feeling that you can’t do this unless it’s realistic to you.
S: I believe so. For example, when I use the words “Tengoku e no tobira wo tataite iru”², it feels very irresponsible if I just used them without any form of personal basis. Perhaps it feels rude to do that without expressing experiences and emotions that I actually went through. I wouldn’t even be able to convince myself, you know?
―― While it’s a requiem to the departed, it’s not just about them but also about the people who were left behind. I thought that was nice, and that it’s a perspective that’s quite typical Sakurai-san.
S: Yeah. Unintentionally, the perspective of both the departed and the bereaved were…… If I put it into words, it’s going to sound misleading, but the bereaved’s perspective came to me quite easily too.
―― That there are parts of yourself that can be replaced too, right? I guess you could say it’s the feeling of being left behind.
S: What I feel is definitely that helpless sense of loss. Waking up after a night of sleep and feeling, “Ah, I hope that it was all just a dream,” but then, it gets shattered. And it’s that feeling of, “So it wasn’t a dream……”
―― It’s accepting the reality that the person is no longer where they’ve always been.
S: It is. Putting it dryly, “All living things are bound to die”. So it’s a natural process, but the sense of loss that the ones left behind feel, of course, depends on the relationship between the bereaved and the departed, but if the bereaved was really close to the departed, then the pain is, I believe, indescribable. But as we keep cycling between, “It can’t be helped.” and “Just, why?”, we gradually arrive at resignation and acceptance. We’d come to think that it’s okay to forget. And it’s also okay to remember. But I’m just talking about going in circles now (lol).
―― But while they’re going in circles, we don’t know what we should say to the bereaved, and that’s what you’ve taken and put it into the form of this song.
S: That’s right. While dwelling and worrying about nothing. Isn’t this just about beautifying death and making myself feel better…… I’ve wondered about that, but in the end, I personally feel that perhaps it’s okay to leave it as a pretty story. That’s how I managed to find resolution.
―― You couldn’t say it directly but you wanted to convey something to these people so much that this is what came of it.
S: That’s right. Hm…… Different scenes will come to mind, and if there are those among our listeners who had experiences with goodbyes, I think it’d be good if they’d synchronise these scenes with the song and let their emotions overflow. So, I’m going to say something weird again, but whenever I catch the scent of summer, I just can’t help but wonder if this is the scent of death, and get the sense that souls are close by. Although, I remember watching my parents preparing for the first day of the Bon Festival when I was young.
―― On the first, we want them to come home quickly so we display a cucumber horse. And on the last day, we display an eggplant cow to let them go home slowly, right?
S: Yes, exactly. When I was young, I thought it was strange and I’d wonder what it’s about, but as time passed, I gradually came to understand that hanging paper lanterns, decorating the altar with Hozuki are the different things that tell us that our ancestors are coming from the nether world to visit us. That’s why summer, to me, is a season when we’re made to realise that death is close at hand. I don’t say this lightly, but it’s the same; bombs being dropped during the war, or when the war ended, or the Japan Airlines crash³. You’ll feel souls close by. And it overlapped with those dates too, this time’s production period.
―― I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think it’s just wonderful that you’re in touch with the feelings of the bereaved rather than just singing about how it’s sad.
S: Thank you.
―― The melody has Hoshino-san’s signature style, but the composition is so very simple and the cadence controlled. Such music is rare.
S: It is. The verses express the quiet feelings of the ones doing the sending off, then when we get to the chorus, composure is lost. And finally, in the end, serenity. I got the feeling that this series of development was probably there from the start.
―― So, part of your tour has been postponed but it’s been a while since you’ve gone on tour. About a year and a half?
S: That’s right. The film tour was just a screening, so it’ll be the first actual tour in a while. I’d be happy if we could really do this. Of course, we still have to do it in accordance with the rules, but I think we’ve been very physically and mentally restricted until now with all sorts of invisible constraints put in place, like not being allowed to go out, and limits on the number of people who can gather or meet in one place. So it’d be nice if we could relieve ourselves of it, even if just a little.
―― I suppose Sakurai-san, you also felt that lack of freedom and that’s why, in a bid to inspire yourself, you titled the song Go-Go B-T TRAIN, right?
S: I indeed felt that very strongly. By choosing such a title, I make myself feel like I have to go somewhere, I need to go. Honestly speaking, I did feel a little uncertain about whether it would work. But no matter how many times I thought it over, I kept coming back to this title in the end. I felt that this was the only one that would work now, at this point in time.
―― Although the words feel tacky at first glance, you felt that it’s better to bring across that power, or that message of “Let’s go!” strongly.
S: That’s right. Without playing it cool, without being condescending. We’re still going (lol), but it’s that we’re commencing our last spurt.
―― Do you feel like you’re running out of time?
S: For me, personally, both of my parents passed away early, I’ve ravaged my own body all this time, and I’ve even had some major illnesses so what I feel is more like, anything can happen at any time and it will be what it will be.
―― Well, I suppose.
S: Although, no one knows when something would happen, right? I just find myself thinking about these kinds of things a lot these days. Even though they’ve never happened before. There’s this particular desire to keep living, like a fixation that started to emerge from somewhere. And when I start obsessing about the future, I get lonely (lol).
―― I completely relate to that. You’re happy with what you have in front of you, but you start to have expectations for the future.
S: I think that’s why, we have a song like Go-Go B-T TRAIN that says let’s run, let’s not think about anything else and just go.
―― Indeed. Behind the notion of setting off without thinking is also the feeling of counteracting the worries and anxieties that may come, right?
S: Cancelling them out is one, but there’s also the sense of packing them all into your luggage and bringing them with you aboard this train.
―― Ah, that’s right. That train-like area is very characteristic to this band.
S: Well, it’s because I’m the one responsible for those train-like areas.
S: The high-tech, high energy sensibilities we leave to Imai-san. I’ll just be chugging along…… Ah, right. Once, when I went to an amusement park, there was a parade with all the different character mascots and among them was a vehicle shaped like a turtle. And right in the middle of the parade, that turtle vehicle lost power so not only did the lights which decorated it go out, it couldn’t move at all (lol).
S: Then, as if to try and keep us unbeknownst to it, the staff started pushing the turtle vehicle themselves and kept the parade going. That impressed me. That amidst all the flashy, pretty mascots smiling at you, there were people giving their all to move that turtle vehicle that stopped moving. That contrast was just so beautiful. It really got me thinking that this is what being human is.
―― It’s so much like Sakurai-san to think of that as beautiful.
S: I guess what we want to bring across is, in the end, the beauty of people which shows itself in many different forms.
¹ Tokyo Disneyland’s Space Mountain ride.
² A line from Koi’s chorus: 天国への扉を叩いている / I’m knocking on heaven’s door
³ The JAL 123 crash.
Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
That’s how it always goes. This is the kind of song it becomes because we’re performing it as a band
Because the 5 of us are doing it together. That’s a good thing, and besides, that’s how we’ve always been doing things anyway.
―― It’s been a while. Although, I’m greeting you in your hospital bed through zoom. But how’s life in hospital?
Imai (I): Uh…… Normal (lol).
―― As far as I can tell from your social media posts, you’re having healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Looks like you’re living healthily every day.
I: Because there’s nothing else to do besides going for rehabilitation and eating, right?
―― Have you had surgery?
I: Long ago. Now it’s just rehabilitation training every day. I can tell that I’m gradually recovering. But even though I can’t move my leg, I’m in perfect health, so it’s kind of…… weird (lol).
―― It sounds like you’ve got lots of time to spare, so how are you spending it?
I: I read books, watch YouTube when I feel like it, listen to music. As to what I’m reading and consuming, I won’t tell you yet (lol).
―― Can’t play the guitar?
I: Not yet (lol). I’m thinking of asking them to bring me a silent guitar next time.
―― Alright then. This is the first interview with Imai-san since the release of ABRACADABRA, and in this past year, your only performance with a live audience present was the year-end one at Nippon Budokan. And it couldn’t even be carried out the way it used to.
I: There’s nothing we can do about that. Since COVID-19 is around. Although, not to say that it’s a good thing, but [because of it] we also got to do some interesting stuff with live streaming.
―― Like that day’s Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ～SHOW AFTER DARK～.
I: Yeah. I’m glad we got to do that. The point of doing a live stream, I think, is because we get to present things in a way that can only be done through that format. I think live streaming itself isn’t bad. Likewise with the film concert. But I’d say that it’s something completely different from a live concert.
―― So you’re saying that while it’s a valid format, it’s no replacement.
―― How did you feel when you got to perform before an audience at Budokan last year-end?
I: It really hit me. That it’s definitely different when we perform with an audience. It’s obvious, but it just feels different compared to performing with no audience.
―― Were you thinking that after the Budokan show, when the new year comes around, you’ll be able to tour with an audience attending your shows like they used to?
I: I don’t think I really did think like that. Because I don’t expect that we’re in a situation where we can soon say that we can hold concerts like we used to from this month and this day on. And besides, I’d think we’ll remain in this state of things for quite a while more.
―― This time around, you’ll be releasing Go-Go B-T TRAIN. Did you have some sort of plan, like, when the new year comes around we’ll compose something, or, we should go with this particular theme for our next release?
I: I think I probably did think about those things, but I can’t remember anymore (lol).
I: I guess there was the idea of doing something new again.
―― So, rather than something that shows your overall direction as part of a [potential] album, Go-Go B-T TRAIN is just a new song to be released at this point in time.
I: That’s right. We started talking about how it’s about time to release a new single, so I started thinking about the music.
―― Like, since you’re going to tour from autumn through to winter, you should release something before that.
I: That might’ve been it. I thought I should just compose something anyway, and I had 2 songs done, but both of them were equally upbeat. I don’t know why, but I guess that’s just the kind of mode I was in.
―― It’s like the kind of rock melody that a youngster who just formed a band would write with that motivation.
I: Compared to the other song, Go-Go B-T TRAIN has the same riff repeating over and over, and a part of me thought such a song could be fun too.
―― I heard from Sakurai-san that Go-Go B-T TRAIN’s working title was rebels.
I: That was just a working title. No particular meaning behind. But I did wonder if Sakurai-san got some sort of idea from the working title.
―― Like, a group of renegades?
I: It doesn’t make sense though, does it? Hm. Hearing the song again with the lyrics, I thought it was nice.
―― That readiness to go somewhere with your trusted friends, running towards your dreams, yet there’s a moment that lingers somewhere in there?
I: Exactly…… isn’t that nice?
―― I also thought the carefree-feeling parts with the whistle added in were quite like Imai-san’s style.
I: The whistle was an idea that came from Tanaka-san (director). I thought it had a good feeling and I quite liked it.
―― When I asked Sakurai-san about his impression of the sample, he had his own interpretation of it and thinking about it, I’d guess that it’s the band that turned that into the song that it is now.
I: It is the band (lol). That’s how it always goes. This is the kind of song it becomes because we’re performing it as a band, because the 5 of us are doing it together. That’s a good thing, and besides, that’s how we’ve always been doing things anyway.
―― The simple, stripped-down band sound like that of this song appears to be the trend right now, so is this something that Imai-san is looking to do, or is this perhaps the theme going forward?
I: No, it’s nothing like that. As for an album…… Actually, I do currently have a rough idea of what might be good to do, but I can’t really explain it.
―― But you have a vague idea.
I: Yeah. But once I put it into words, it’ll just sound like the same thing as usual. But this, whatever I’m thinking of when I work on a single versus now, it’s completely different, I think
―― So what were you thinking of when you were working on the single?
I: I forgot.
―― Hahahaha, please remember!
I: Well, we spoke about producing a single. At the time, we weren’t thinking about what we should do or what kind of music we should make next at all. While wondering what could come out of such a situation, I picked up the guitar and came up with that riff, so I based [the next song] on that and kept the idea as it is, letting it take shape without getting too hung up on details.
―― And what about Hoshino-san’s song, Koi?
I: The song he composed is quite the opposite to mine, so I thought it’d be good to include that in the single as one of the songs.
―― Alongside these new songs, you’ve also included the newly rearranged Uta Ver. 2021 and JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver. 2021 which were unveiled during Misemono-goya～. First of all, what got you thinking about rearranging them like that and recording them again?
I: I don’t remember the details, but when we decided to do our second live stream, our staff were giving us suggestions about what venues would be good. From there, we began to get all kinds of ideas of what would make Misemono-goya～, like the staging and the costumes and the sort. We thought that performing half of the entire set acoustically would fit this image and that it would bring an interesting feel into this BUCK-TICK’s concert, like another new perspective or something. But it would be boring if we were to just perform acoustic versions, so I guess I probably thought that I should create new versions of the songs with new arrangements.
―― And since the response to Misemono-goya～ was great, you figured that this could work.
I: That’s right. When we started talking about producing the single, I said, “Then, maybe we should include those too?”
―― When it comes to BUCK-TICK, you’ve often had your songs remixed by other people, but looking back, it’s surprisingly rare for you to make bold rearrangements of existing songs.
I: That’s right. So, we did something like unplugged arrangements of our songs on a centre stage for an encore at Locus Solus no Kemono-tachi at Makuhari 2 years ago, right?
―― They were Suzumebachi, BOY septem peccata mortalia, and Keijijo Ryuusei, right?
I: Since then, I started to get the feeling that changing the arrangements of more past songs and recording them might be interesting too. Like, we executed that well, didn’t we?
―― Makuhari’s show was already 2 years ago, but you’ve never really approached things that way even though the band is in your 34th year of activity, right?
I: Ahh. But it’s not like we didn’t want to anyway. Look, there’s SANE.
―― Ah, that’s true (Note: They rearranged SANE from the 1996 album COSMOS and recorded it for their 2012 single, Elise no Tame ni as SANE ーtype Ⅱー). That’s rare though (lol). To the extent that I’m under the impression that new things attract you.
I: But I felt that doing stuff like this isn’t bad either. Besides, I do also like the arrangement of that ICONOCLASM that we didn’t record for the single. I think we’ll probably want to do it again at a different time in future.
Right now, in terms of things I want to do, it’s not as if tons and tons of this and that keep springing up
but I just feel like they’ll come to me from time to time. I’m pretty sure we’ll definitely be okay like this.
―― A few of your tour dates got postponed, but Imai-san, you’ve already got an idea of what you’re aiming for, right?
I: Yeah. I was looking forward to it. Besides, I’ve already told them the songs I want to perform.
―― You couldn’t conclude ABRACADABRA in the form of a tour, but do you on the inside feel like you’re ready to move on to whatever’s next?
I: Because although I want to wrap it up properly, that urge to compose new music is already welling up, you know? And this will be our first tour in quite a while too, so I’d expect that there are quite a number of songs that everyone wants to hear us play. Of course, we will perform songs from the ABRACADABRA album, but I don’t think we really thought to keep that as a focus of our setlist or anything like that.
―― And your recording process didn’t change at all?
I: Yeah. We didn’t change anything in particular. Since we’re recording in the middle of the pandemic, we’d do things like regularly ventilate the room and wouldn’t stay till late, or make sure that we don’t crowd in the studio or share the same mic, but we didn’t make any changes to the way we carry out our recording.
―― Got it. Although, the title Go-Go B-T TRAIN was rather surprising, wasn’t it?
I: [We went with it] because Sakurai-san said it’s the best one to go with given the kind of song we’re making. We had samples of all the songs and when we were deciding on which song to record, Sakurai-san voted for rebels and Hide’s song so I think he already had an image [of the final product] at that stage. That’s why I went along with it, like, “Alright, then let’s go with that.”
―― Like the lyrics “You should hop on too Come on The departure bell is ringing”¹, would Imai-san say that you’re also feeling rather strongly that sense of ‘we’re going to keep moving forward together’?
I: Of course. Besides, I believe that there’s still a lot that we want to do.
―― And as long as you do feel like that, you’ll be okay. Ah, but didn’t Charlie Watts (the Rolling Stones) pass away just the other day?
I: Right. How old was he?
―― 80, I believe.
I: Well, I guess I have another 30 years or so.
―― Right (lol). From that perspective, do you feel like you’ve still got time?
I: Yeah. But I don’t know for sure (lol). Right now, in terms of things I want to do, it’s not as if tons and tons of this and that keep springing up, but I just feel like they’ll come to me from time to time. I’m pretty sure we’ll definitely be okay like this.
―― You feel certain of it.
I: Yeah, I do. I don’t know why, though.
―― Maybe it’s because that’s how it’s always been all this while.
I: Yeah. I guess it’s also because I’m quite sure that I definitely won’t ever feel that I don’t ever want to do anything ever again. I might get like that if I worked alone and I fell ill, but not as long as I’m healthy.
―― The fact that you’re saying that from a hospital bed (lol).
―― Well, I suppose since you’re there, there’s no denying that you’ll get healthier(lol).
I: Yeah. Since I’m not drinking(lol). And I don’t feel like drinking at all anyway. Or rather, in the first place, I gave up on it.
―― What. I even thought to be mindful today and drank my beer from a mug.
I: It doesn’t matter (lol). It pisses me off more when people do things like that because of me!
―― My deepest apologies (lol). But I never thought the day would come when I’d be interviewing Imai-san through a screen.
I: Not something I expected either (lol).
―― Ah, come to think of it, Ishigaki-kun (Ishigaki Ai / guitarist) quit music, didn’t he?
I: I heard about that from others too.
―― I wonder why.
I: It’s because I have a band, right? That’s why I can keep going.
―― So are you saying that if you didn’t have a band, you’d probably be thinking that it’s about time to go home to take over the store?
I: I wouldn’t take over the store(lol), but the band’s existence is certainly a significant reason.
―― Is it because you feel that there are things you can do because you have your bandmates?
I: Yeah. Even when I think about everything we’ve done until now, they’re kind of impossible if I worked alone, aren’t they? Funny story, [if I were a solo artist,] I’d have to make all the decisions myself, the behind-the-scenes stuff, produce everything myself, right? That’s impossible for me. Doing everything alone requires a whole lot of power.
―― Is that why you feel that the five of you working together like this brings a good balance of things?
I: In a band, if it’s made up of 5 people, everything gets cut down to a fifth, right?
―― Whether money, or time, or happiness and frustrations, or sorrows and joys; everything.
I: In a band, there’s a vast range of possibilities for things that I can’t do on my own. Besides, looking back, there were quite a few things that couldn’t have possibly been endured if I were working alone, you know?
―― I understand that well. Anyway, I suppose you’ll probably be hospitalised for a little longer.
I: I wonder. Because for me, I’d rather get discharged once I’m more or less done.
―― Done with what?
I: My leg. Rather than leaving the hospital halfway through (rehabilitation) and fumbling around while holding concerts, I’d prefer to properly recover.
―― Because that’s an issue that comes before concerts. Anyway, take your time to recuperate.
I: I’ll do my best (lol). Eh… Sorry to everyone for the inconvenience caused.
―― Hahahahaha. It’s okay.
I: The shoot; it was just the four of them?
―― It went without a hitch. Sakurai-san wrote ‘Imai Hisashi’ on the polaroid for the lucky draw (lol).
I: Hahahahahaha! Good then (lol).
¹ 2nd line of Go-Go B-T Train: 君も乗りなよ さあ 発車のベルが鳴る (Kimi mo nori na yo Saa Hassha no beru ga naru)
Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
I have fragments of other songs, but I didn’t finish all of them and just focused on this song.
A more minor-sounding song would work too. But for some reason, this was the most fitting one
―― Thank you for joining me on Zoom today.
Hoshino (H): My pleasure.
―― I’ve really grown accustomed to seeing Hoshino-san’s home studio on screen.
H: Nothing changes (lol). Ah, have you interviewed Imai-san? How’s he?
―― He looks like he’s doing well. You haven’t spoken to him?
H: I haven’t. I got a missed call from him the day he got injured. That’s the only time we spoke, I think.
―― What did he say?
H: I thought he was calling to confirm something about the songs for the coming tour, but when I returned the call, he said, “Sorry…… I broke my leg.”
―― How did you respond?
H: I said, “What! I see…… Take care.” (Lol)
―― How composed (lol).
H: I was shocked, though. At first, I thought he hurt his ankle or something because he simply said that he broke his leg, but after a while, I heard that it was actually his femur. That’s essentially a major joint of the leg, isn’t it? That’s quite serious, isn’t it?
―― At a time when you’re about to release a single and have confirmed your concert tour, it’s quite tough, isn’t it?
H: Well, yeah. But when we think about what we can do, the only thing there is is to give him time. Him getting well is the most important (lol).
―― That’s true. Now, I’d like to start my conversation with Hoshino-san by talking about Koi, the song you wrote as the B-side to the single.
H: Ahh, yes.
―― This is the one that you mentioned during our annual Ongaku to Hito interview in June, where you said, “The new song is pretty good.”
H: How did it go…… I can’t remember (lol).
―― You spoke about it (lol). True to those words, it’s really very good, and it’s a bit of a new frontier for a Hoshino song too, I’d say.
H: I don’t have many major chord songs in the first place, so this one might be a slightly different type, I suppose.
―― When did you write this song?
H: This, I worked on at the start of this year. At first, we were talking about releasing a single on our debut anniversary and going on tour from autumn to year-end. So I thought, “Then I need to compose something.” And at the start of this year, I started putting together the sample track. I began how I always did, with my guitar first, but I gradually incorporated things like a synthesiser melody in the intro and so on. Then, in the plug-in (note: general term for additional instrumental sounds and effects installed as an add-on to desktop music/computer music), there was a nice programming tune that I thought was suitable for this song, so I decided to compose the song around that. It’s a song with quite a major-chord feel, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it at first.
―― Isn’t it okay anyway, even if it’s major sounding (lol)?
H: It’s okay but, you know (lol). But, see, there are colours within the band, right? That’s why I was kind of agonising over it. Although, I thought it was pretty good when I was composing it, so I decided to continue with this direction.
―― Maybe it’s the synthesiser tune in the intro, but for the tone of the song to be brought to the forefront like this, I don’t recall that it’s something that happens a lot in Hoshino-san’s music.
H: I suppose you’re right. With this song, things around the synth music, the programming’s rhythm pattern and all that were pretty much done at the sample stage, so I decided to present it [to the band] just the way it sounded as a sample without replacing anything with my guitar. And that’s why the guitars are deliberately made to sound subdued.
―― I can tell that it’s quite elaborate. I had a feeling that it doesn’t stray far from the image that Hoshino-san had in the beginning when putting the sample together.
H: You’re right. I suppose it’s also true that it’s more elaborate than usual. I had Cube-kun (Cube Juice) work on the manipulation for me and he added a bunch of other things in too. That’s probably what gave the song it’s accentuation and added depth to the music.
―― Like the way Sakurai-san’s voice sounded unruffled until came in with a bang at the chorus.
H: That part was composed with the guitar in focus at the sample stage but I asked for it to be replaced by the synth melody and it worked out very well. In the end, that became the crux of the song. I suppose you’re probably right in that a song like this is fresh.
―― I’ve noticed a particular trend, especially in your singles but does Hoshino-san make a deliberate effort to write songs that contrast Imai-san’s?
H: Right. Although, these days, I start by thinking about what kind of melodies I want to compose then go ahead with that in mind. Because doing that brings out the songs in the album and makes them better. The assumption of making an album is based on the premise (of Imai-san’s songs).
―― Was Koi the only song Hoshino-san presented this time around at the sample stage?
H: This was the only one I let everyone hear. I have fragments of other songs, but I didn’t finish all of them and stopped working on them halfway to focus on this song. Of course I do have more minor-sounding songs, but for some reason, this song was the most fitting one.
―― This is very fresh even for a superfan of Hoshino’s songs like me!
H: Ah, really?
―― The tone or the impression of the synth melody in the intro is something that you’ve probably never done before.
H: Maybe, yeah. Because I wrote this song with the thought that perhaps it might be good to keep the guitars in the background.
―― So how do you feel about Sakurai-san naming this song Koi and writing the lyrics he did for it?
H: It’s a pretty good name, isn’t it? Koi. I kind of assumed that he would give it that thoughtful frame.
―― It sure is a compassionate song that looks at the feelings of those who have lost people close to them.
H: It’s a coincidence but don’t you think the music also exudes a similar ambience? I thought [the music] matched [the lyrics] surprisingly well. Even though I left the lyrical content entirely up to him.
―― Next, what about Go-Go B-T TRAIN?
H: The title’s pretty bold (lol).
―― Well, I thought so too (lol).
H: There’s quite some courage there. I also thought it’s quite like Sakurai-san to present it so upfront.
―― It’s like a song by a band who just found its members and went straight into a studio to write something with that enthusiasm (lol).
H: Hahahahaha, that’s true.
―― The sustaining riff leaves quite the impression despite its simple composition.
H: It is, because it’s something that’s Imai-san’s specialty and it’s got a good groove too. Normally I would think that the song would start at the chorus with a bang, but there wasn’t any of that. Brazenly running in yelling, “Hey hey hey!” comes across pretty nicely too, doesn’t it? (Lol)
―― I thought it’s pretty amazing that you’re releasing such a song in the band’s 34th year (lol).
H: Amazing, isn’t it (lol). Imai-san had a sample for another song and it’s also another up-tempo one. It’s not bad, but this turned out well, didn’t it?
―― What do you think about the lyrics?
H: It’s definitely a sort of a message to everyone in the midst of this pandemic. I suppose it’s only natural that these are the kind of lyrics that come about when musicians are agonising [over our situation].
―― Are you referring to the lyrics that inspire determination with words like, “Come on, this is where we begin, let’s go!”?
H: That’s right. Because we haven’t been able to meet our fans through concerts since our show at Nippon Budokan last year, so I’m sure that’s a feeling that’s been growing in everyone.
We’ll have to do this with less than half our usual audience, and our audience can’t cheer or shout or move about much, right?
And despite that, they’re willing to come and see us. I feel like we’ll be complementing each other with something more important, or rather building a deeper and stronger relationship with the other.
―― I’ve asked you before, but does such a reality trouble Hoshino-san?
H: Of course it does. It’s like there’s this…… unsettling feeling that drags on and on.
―― You want to hold concerts but you can’t really. Is that what causes it?
H: It’s also because that’s something we’ve been doing for over 30 years, right? We’re still recording and releasing quite a bit of music, but in the end, we pride ourselves on being a band who mostly does live shows. So we’re just bearing with the fact that we can’t do that now.
―― We’re still right in the midst of the pandemic, but do you think it’s possible to change the style of such activities?
H: Ah, well, who knows. I want to do whatever we can but that’s all there is, right? No matter how you look at it, it’s impossible for us to do nothing but live streams. And there’s no point in thinking about what we should do for a live stream unless we can use [the technology] well. Because it’s definitely not something that can replace live concerts.
―― Reason being it’s not good enough if all you can do is stream no-audience concerts, right?
―― Also, Go-Go B-T TRAIN feels manual, it gives me the impression that everyone is really putting their back into making the train move.
H: Right. This is my personal opinion, but this song might just become a significant juncture for the band, I think. It even reminds me of our early days.
―― Exactly. I’m really getting that from it but rather than a throwback, I feel like there’s also a sense of looking towards the end and preparing for it.
H: Since next year will also be the year of our 35th anniversary, I suppose there’s also some form of motivation to give our all as we approach it.
―― But to break a bone at such a time……
H: Perhaps that’s a sign from god. Whatever it is (lol). Well, but we can’t do anything about falling sick or getting injured, right (lol).
―― Because once we cross the age of 50, everyone starts getting all these problems like it’s the most normal thing (lol). Hoshino-san seems to be the most reliable one in the band, even down to your life plans (lol).
H: I don’t think so (lol). Look, look at this (note: he shows his finger on screen). It recently got caught in the door and bled internally, and now the nail’s turned all black.
―― That’s so risky! The idea of one guitarist fracturing his thigh bone while the other fractured his pinky finger, this is just bad.
H: It’s the first time my finger nail turned all black like this.
―― Please be careful. But really it’s because you’re in a band that things work out, isn’t it? For everyone.
H: I suppose we’ve got a good balance going (lol). But that’s because all of us, we don’t really know much about making music outside of this band. We don’t know how long we can keep going for, but I think we all want to keep on running for as long as we’re able to.
―― Yeah, and there’s whistling in these two songs too (lol).
H: It was originally in Koi’s sample. I thought of asking Sakurai-san to do that in the actual recording. Then, somehow, at some point, it also turned up in Go-Go B-T TRAIN (lol).
―― Hahahaha. Also, you’ve recorded anew Uta Ver. 2021 and JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver. 2021, which you performed on Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara 〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜 as B-sides to this single.
H: We’ve done acoustic arrangements of our own songs before but those arrangements that we did just for this time’s Misemono-goya〜, it was pretty enjoyable. Or you could say, interesting. So I think there’s a possibility that we’ll make use of them again on different occasions in future though.
―― I can’t really think of times when BUCK-TICK changed the arrangement of your songs and performed them. Performing an acoustic set was also a first for you at Makuhari.
H: Because we’ve never spoken about rearranging our songs before Makuhari happened. There were probably a few songs recorded, I think?
―― Like SANE.
H: I think there’s also My baby Japanese ーtype Ⅱー. But that performance at Makuhari really sparked it off.
―― Thinking about it, I really wonder why you’ve never done this until Makuhari.
H: BUCK-TICK without fail releases a new album every year or two and then goes on tour after that. This is the schedule we’ve established, so I think there’s just never been space for us to think about daring to change up the arrangements. If we did, we’ll be talking about making new music anyway. That’s why, I suppose this is a good place for us to start things off too, isn’t it?
―― I guess no matter the band, when they reach a standstill, when they can’t figure out what else they want to do, the’y d turn to doing acoustic versions or rearrangements of their songs.
H: Now that I think about it, I don’t think we’ve experienced that before. But I think it’s not a bad idea to try out such an approach from different points going forward.
―― Actually, how do you feel about it, after having done Uta, JUST ONE MORE KISS, and the unrecorded version of ICONOCLASM this way?
H: It really highlighted to me how great the melodies are. Even ICONOCLASM. It’s a song that revolves around that one riff, but I feel like I really got to know the most important aspects of this song.
―― Although the soundscapes for both Go Go～ and Koi are completely different, it’s true that their melodies are what stands out.
H: You’re right. BUCK-TICK’s approach to music production is varied and we do lots of things, but everything revolves around the melody. It’ll inevitably come through when we change the arrangement.
―― And your tour is about to start. Although, the first half has been postponed. Of course, the situation we’re living in in this day and age is indescribable, but it looks like you can perform with a live audience now, right?
H: In our present situation, yes. I think we plan to do it with half capacity, though.
―― How do you feel about getting to perform with a live audience again?
H: Happy yet uneasy, a mix of these two. It’s just that, because we don’t know what things will be like later on. While I think it’s a good idea to do this while we can, there’s a lot of uncertainty, you know?
―― You just can’t say that you’re feeling nothing but happy that you can perform again, right?
H: It’s not entirely a celebratory thing, is it? It’s difficult. But since we’re performing and people are coming to see us under these circumstances, I think both our fans and we, the band are willing to complement each other where the other falls short.
H: We’ll have to do this with less than half our usual audience, and our audience can’t cheer or shout or move about much, right? And despite that, they’re willing to come and see us. I feel like we’ll be complementing each other with something more important, or rather building a deeper and stronger relationship with the other.
H: We just want to do this carefully, you know.
―― Another thing, it doesn’t look like songs from ABRACADABRA will be taking centre stage in this tour, does it?
H: We had a few ideas, but considering the current situation, we decided that we’ll be performing a variety of songs. While it’s true that we didn’t get to tour for ABRACADABRA, we managed to do a livestream, a film concert tour, and a Budokan show for it anyway. Although Budokan was the only live in-person show, there’s more or less the feeling that we’ve gotten a reaction to it. And also, it’s precisely because we’re in these circumstances that we feel like people will be more excited to hear a variety of songs instead.
―― I see. I assume that you’ll probably be looking towards your next release following the tour, but where do you see the band going?
H: I still don’t know regarding the music, but there’s a bunch of different influences showing up in the lyrics, don’t you think? Since Sakurai-san is a person who only writes about what he’s really experienced.
―― I suppose he would write about that. Since these are huge changes we’re going through.
H: That’s why I’m looking forward to it.
―― Thank you for your work on the photoshoot. (Note: This was the only interview which took place right after the photoshoot.)
Yutaka (Y): Yeah. But it feels so weird doing a shoot with just the four of us (lol). Like, “Huh……? Oh, right, four.”
―― Imai-san had surgery for that fracture he got in the trochanteric section of his left femur, right?
Y: Somehow, just the name of that diagnosis makes it sound very serious and I was really worried when I first caught wind of it.
―― Part of your tour got postponed. And you can’t even do a photoshoot with all five of you present now.
Y: I feel sorry towards everyone who has been looking forward to the concerts, but [we had to postpone them] because we want to do this with all five of us together in perfect shape. That’s why we wanted to make sure that Imai-kun could focus on getting well.
―― Let’s talk about your new single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN; what does Yuta-san think of it?
Y: Go-Go B-T TRAIN is a good song but the b-side that Hide wrote, Koi, was also wonderful, wasn’t it?
―― It was.
Y: Even the new arrangements in Uta Ver. 2021 and JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver. 2021, I thought they were interesting because they reflect our present. The world has started to feel a little dark since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but [these songs] feel like a motivational pat on the back, like a “How are you!”
―― BUCK-TICK＝ Theory of Antonio Inoki¹ (lol).
Y: Oh, stop it (lol). But I do think that’s the role they play. That it would be nice if they’re helpful towards helping someone be more optimistic, even if just a tiny bit.
―― So how did you arrive at the decision to record these 4 songs?
Y: To start, we planned to hold a fan club-only concert on 21 September at Toyosu PIT. Then a national tour that starts in October would follow. And since that date is the anniversary date for our major debut, we spoke about releasing a single on the same date too.
―― Nothing related to starting work on a new album?
Y: We didn’t go there. I thought that’ll probably be what we’re moving towards next after the tour concludes. Because when the new year came around, Imai-kun and Hide presented their samples, then Acchan wrote the lyrics and we recorded them in May. The two songs. And a little before that we had rehearsals for Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara 〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜. Around March, I believe. Using an image of the venue as a reference, we formed a clearer picture [of what we wanted to do] and found that everyone responded really well to the old songs that we rearranged for our show.
―― You’ve made bold new arrangements for quite a few songs in that stream, but setting Uta and ICONOCLASM to a shuffle and the melodious JUST ONE MORE KISS left a particularly strong impression.
Y: Yeah. And the band felt confident about those three songs too. After we were done with recording in April, the suggestion to include those arrangements into the single came up since we’ve worked those out anyway. Then we recorded those too. There’s more than enough swing with 2 songs sounding like that already so maybe we’ll keep ICONOCLASM for next time when the opportunity comes around.
―― That’s easy to grasp (lol). How does Yuta-san feel about the unplugged-style arrangements for Misemono-goya～?
Y: They were great. But in the beginning, I thought it might be difficult to keep that concert vibe going if we only did acoustic arrangements throughout. Yet, although we generally call it “acoustic”, we managed to do swing and a variety of other arrangements too. Also, I think it went well, having done it in a two-part format.
Y: But personally, I’ve always wanted to do acoustic versions since before. That was probably 2 years ago? When we did it for the first time on a substage during the encore at Makuhari?
―― Locus Solus no Kemonotachi at Makuhari Messe, right?
Y: It was so good, like, I could really feel that it was the five of us performing together. I mean, it’s always been the five of us on stage, but there are other sounds going on too, and we tend to be using in-ear monitors, so we can’t really get to feel the sounds and music that each one of us are making. But with acoustic arrangements, we can have an awareness of each other’s breathing as we perform. And that’s where its great.
―― You enjoyed it largely because you could sense that the five of you were playing together on stage, rather than showing the world what you could do.
Y: Yeah. That’s a sensation I hadn’t had in a while.
―― There’s some of that in Go-Go B-T TRAIN too, right? Of course, there are added sound effects and all, but there’s also a part of it that sounds like the kind of simplicity a band produces.
Y: That’s right. And it’d also be great if it gave people the idea that this band is still going to do more. Because that’s how I feel too when I listen to this song.
Y: Meaning there’s still a lot we can do, I suppose. That, although we’re a band who will be celebrating our 35th anniversary next year, we’re not tired of this at all, and there’s still much we’ve yet to try.
―― Conversely, we could also say that this is proof that this band has been able to do interesting things all these years without the need to switch up the member line-up or make all kinds of changes to your approach.
Y: That’s true. We never really gave much thought to whether acoustic versions or rearranging old songs to record them again would be of interest (lol).
―― Now, Go-Go B-T TRAIN. What was it called when Yuta started recording work on it?
Y: The name was yet decided. I think even the lyrics probably weren’t written yet. It’s a song with a riff that leaves a strong impression, so I didn’t really do much in the way of inputting my own ideas or trying to change up the bass line. I just held onto this 16-beat rhythm and kept playing. It was surprisingly difficult (lol).
―― Because it’s not like your bass is humming along with the momentum, right? You have to keep a tight hold on the rhythm behind the jangling guitar.
Y: Please write that although it looks simple, it’s actually really tough (lol).
―― Driving home the point, huーh (lol).
Y: Because, you see, the bass in this song plays far in the background so you unfortunately won’t really be able to hear the nuances at all, you know? That’s kinda sad for me (lol).
It’s great that we’ve all been able to dream together all this time.
That’s why I hope to continue dreaming, with everyone.
―― So what do you think about naming such a song Go-Go B-T TRAIN?
Y: I thought it was interesting. That Acchan probably felt a strong sense of, “Alright, everyone, let’s go!” I don’t think there are many who would use such a song title.
―― Right (lol).
Y: I suppose he wanted to convey that feeling no matter what others might think of it. That feeling of departing on a journey together.
―― It’s as if he wants to take us somewhere.
Y: Maybe to a world unlike the one we live in now. That inspires hope, and brings a sense of determination. We had a song called PARADE previously. This song is sort of like a different version of that. Although we’re a band who thrives on performing live through these decades, we’ve been unable to see anyone or go anywhere, and we know that it’s not going to be easy to go back to how things used to be. I believe that’s what we had no choice but to reckon with in this past year and a half of COVID-19.
Y: It took time, and circumstances are still not perfect but we finally scheduled a tour and will be heading to everyone’s cities, and I believe [the song is] Acchan’s feelings about this put into words. The whole band feels the same. Getting to perform live only once a year is as good as not breathing to us.
―― Because all of a sudden, you can’t carry out what’s as good as the regular life you’ve had in the 34 years since you’ve debuted, right?
Y: I even felt sad, you know? We want to visit everyone’s hometowns and breathe the same air with them but we can’t and that’s really just sad. There are some places we still can’t go in this tour, but we definitely have the intention to make it next time. Because we always make the promise that we’ll come back again every time we conclude shows in that place. So we have to [make good our promises].
―― Because that’s been the band’s principle all this time, right?
Y: Because [it’s important to us to] be in the same space with our fans. Because I also know how special it feels when a band [I like] comes to my city. The first concert I’ve ever watched was Yazawa Eikichi’s show at Numata in Gunma, and yet I can still remember it all clearly. Since then, it’s now easier to go to Tokyo and all the different areas, but I still feel that it’s something special when a band visits the city I live in, you know?
―― So it’s like Yuta-san travelling to meet your younger self.
Y: That might just happen. It’s been decades but I don’t want anyone to feel left out or alone like I did. Feeling like [the band] will never come to my hometown again and things like that. Especially in this situation with the pandemic, there’s likely only a limited number of bands who are actually on tour so I very simply just want to bring them joy.
―― Just as described with Go-Go B-T TRAIN.
Y: From our perspective, it’s the kick-off declaration of, “Let’s go!”, telling everyone that we’ll be riding this B-T TRAIN into everyone’s cities. That’s all it is. I believe that’s the reason why the lyrics were written with simple words; to convey those feelings of Acchan’s.
―― So, Koi written by Hoshino-san.
Y: It’s a good song, isn’t it? It’s like the complete opposite of Go-Go B-T TRAIN.
―― It’s really good. A whole new world.
Y: Acchan’s kindness comes through the lyrics, doesn’t it? I feel like it really conveys Acchan’s open mindedness and his gentle nature that we personally know.
Y: The goodness of Hide’s mid-tempo music and Acchan’s lyrics really came together well. You can really sense the individual qualities of each song.
―― These two songs bundled with the newly arranged two really brings that across, and I think this single, on the whole, seems to reaffirm something while bringing hope in the midst of this situation where you’re performing concerts only once a year.
Y: I think so too. Although the tour has been postponed, I’m really happy. That we’ll be able to see [our fans]. It would be great if this could be a start.
―― A start in many ways.
Y: That’s right. But all we’ve got is hope. Although we can only hold concerts in halls at half capacity and the audience can’t cheer, this is a start.
―― I think all the bands had no choice but to reset themselves in a way during this pandemic, so this is like putting things back together again, isn’t it?
Y: I guess other artists are dealing with this too, aren’t they? I think in the end, we have to think of something, you know? While stopping tours and concerts is understandably part of infection control measures, it’s like death [to us]. And there are people who have been waiting for us [to return], so we want to somehow bring concerts to them and let them know that we haven’t forgotten about them. That’s all it is.
―― And so you had your very first live streamed concert, and film concert tour, and Misemono-goya〜 too, right?
Y: Holding concerts in those ways are valid but we’ll finally be able to do it in the way it’s meant to be done.
―― We all hope that Imai-san will make a full recovery and make a proper return with perfect performances on tour.
Y: I believe it’s going to be a wonderful tour. Because this is where it all begins.
―― But even in this situation, Yuta-san is always positive, aren’t you?
Y: Because what’s going to get done if we wallow in despair? If we don’t believe [that things will work out], all those who have been waiting for us can’t move forward either, can they? We’ve had to postpone the first few shows, but we want to make this tour a huge success. That’s the goal. Besides, compared to a band whose members are in their 20s, we’re obviously left with a limited amount of time where we can still do this.
―― Well, that’s an undeniable fact of growing older for myself included.
Y: That’s why rather than going backwards, I always think that there’s something that we can do. Which is why we want to put on as many concerts as we can now. Borrowing Kuroda’s (Kuroda Hiroki / Pitcher for Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Retired.) words, I don’t have all that many pitches left in me (Note: When Kuroda returned to his old club, Hiroshima, after being held back by Major League Baseball, he said, “I don’t think I have many pitches left, so (pitching for the Carps is more) fulfilling.”), but concerts are the most satisfying of times for me.
―― Such a band singing Go-Go B-T TRAIN is a good way to prepare for the worst.
Y: Because things are pretty harsh for us now, in these circumstances where we can’t really hold concerts the way we hope to. Every one show we do is very very precious to us. And that’s why, it’s always been this way to us but more than ever, it’s both our dream and our duty to cherish live concerts and carry that out to bring joy to everyone, even if just a little.
Y: It’s great that we’ve all been able to dream together all this time. With the members of the band, with all our fans. Besides, next year will be our band’s 35th anniversary. We want to continue going strong.
―― It certainly is wonderful. Hopefully, you’ll be able to throw a big celebration.
Y: Yeah. But I’m truly grateful, that’s all I can say. That’s why I hope to continue dreaming, with everyone.
¹ Muhammad Hussain Inoki is a Japanese retired professional wrestler, martial artist, politician, and promoter of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. He is best known by the ring name Antonio Inoki, a homage to fellow professional wrestler Antonino Rocca.
This particular line probably has something to do with Inoki’s personality and his impression on general society. There have been many parodies/impersonators when it comes to him so watching some of them might shed some light on the impression to be made here.
Interview by: Kanemitsu Hirofumi
We can’t really go back to the normal we used to live before, so I believe everyone’s feeling melancholy
I felt that it’s a good thing for us to be singing, “Let’s board the B-T train and move out!” like this.
―― A photoshoot without Imai-san.
Toll (T): I was shocked. I think it was right before the shoot? I received a call from Imai out of the blue too. He’s not usually a guy who calls, so I was fretting. I asked him, “What! What happened!” and he said, “Anii, I’m sorry…… I fractured a bone, in my leg. I think I probably won’t be able to do concerts.” (Lol).
―― That’s bound to be a shock.
T: Nah. I think receiving a call from Imai shocked me so much that all I thought of it was, “Huh, so it’s a fracture.” (Lol)
T: And it was his femur, wasn’t it? The first thing that came to mind was how he was supposed to live life normally. Concerts come after that. He could probably just stand there and play or sit in a chair and play, but he would probably need some time before he can go back to performing the way he usually does in live concerts. That, I’m a little worried about, though.
T: Well, the bone will eventually heal itself anyway (lol). So we just have to think about what we can now when the time comes and do it. Most important is that all five of us are doing it together.
―― All there is to do is wait. Anyway, Yagami-san, you held your annual birthday concert the other day. And you actually managed to get Yoshida Minako-san as a guest performer this year!
T: I was over the moon (lol). I invited Minako-san with nothing to lose, and initially, she apparently had another appointment scheduled on that date so I was rejected. But then that appointment was cancelled and like a miracle, she became available. I’ve been a fan of hers since I was in high school…… You know, I even asked her to autograph the FLAPPER LP (released 1976) that I bought over 40 years ago when it first came out. Look. Here, look (shows a photo of it in his phone).
―― You’re grinning like a middle schooler (lol).
T: I was absolutely delighted. I also requested to perform Yume de Aetara and Toki Yo, where I’d of course be the one playing backing drums but I was even more nervous [for this] than BUCK-TICK (lol).
T: Those kinds of city pop songs are difficult. Drums for Yume de Aetara were played by Hayashi Tatsuo-san (Tin Pan Alley) and I wanted myself to stay true to that era so I drummed while listening to the clicks of the original tempo (lol). Ponta-san (Murakami “Ponta” Shuichi) drummed in Toki Yo and the tempo in this song was difficult too. It wouldn’t sound good unless I’m super laid back playing it, so that was a tough one.
―― Let’s hope we can make your 60th birthday concert next year a big one. Now, about your new song, Go-Go B-T TRAIN.
T: What about it?
―― To start, the song title is a surprise (lol).
T: I suppose so. Since this Go-Go here comes from Hinan GO-GO (lol).
―― Let’s pause the jokes here (lol) before we end up making those kinds of ideas sound credible. So, the song, it’s got a pretty simple rock and roll beat, doesn’t it?
T: The riff repeats a lot. And from a drummer’s perspective, there’s a lot of cymbals going on. I have to hit them about once per bar, and when I let Imai listen to hear his thoughts on it, he said, “Hmm…… Feels a little lacking.” (Lol). Then he asked me, “Anii, do you think you can hit the cymbals even more?” and I had to politely decline him with, “Apologies. That won’t be possible unless I have three arms.” (Lol)
T: I suppose he probably wanted it to sound noisy. To replicate that noisy banging that comes with manual labour at work. That’s why he made such an impossible request for more than one hit of the cymbal per bar (lol).
―― How do you feel about this song sounding like it’s built on the enthusiasm of a newly-formed band?
T: I thought it was interesting. You could probably say it feels like Imai Hisashi’s restlessness. It’s great that there’s still a part of him that’s mischievous even as he grows older. Although he got too playful and ended up fracturing a bone (lol).
―― …… We shouldn’t be laughing at that (lol).
T: But you can see a healthy Imai in the MV (lol). Ah, right, that. This single’s MV was the first time in a good while that the whole band came together for a shoot. These days, we’ve been doing our shoots individually and then editing them later, but [this time] all of us gathered at the same place and filmed our performance shots. That felt great. In a way, it’s also connected to the band’s perspective of this song. Like a “whoa, everyone’s here” kind of vibe (lol).
―― It does indeed align.
T: I’d think that maybe our fans might’ve been looking forward to an MV where we’re all performing together.
―― With these lyrics that say invites everyone onto this train to ride into the future, although things may be tough. What did you think when you heard this coming from Sakurai-san?
T: When I first head the sample, I thought it’s been a while since we’ve got a song with such a good vibe, but I never expected that it would be named Go-Go B-T TRAIN so I was surprised by that. The first thing that came to mind was Hagiwara Kenichi’s SHOKEN TRAIN (lol).
―― Ah, that’s true. But the SHOKEN song is steeped in that dandy-ism that calls for everyone to follow him but here, it’s more of heading off together, isn’t it?
T: You’re right. There’s someone who’s missed the train though (lol).
―― Stop it (lol).
T: But, well, living in a pandemic like this, we can’t really go back to the normal we used to live before, so I believe everyone’s feeling melancholy. So I felt that it’s a good thing for us to be singing, “Let’s board the B-T train and move out!” like this.
―― And the B-side, Koi. What did you think of it?
T: It’s a good song. I never expected it to hit the way it does.
―― It really strikes a chord, doesn’t it?
T: He’s kind, isn’t he? Acchan. In recent times, we’ve lost a lot of people close to us. It’s only natural at this age and we can’t really do anything about it, but these are people who have been working with us all this time as concert staff and people around the country who we’ve grown close to…… After all this time, there are now more farewells than congratulations. Dedicating [this song] to all these close acquaintances who have passed, and the people who mourn their passing. It’s a nice gesture, isn’t it?
―― I’d say it’s very much like Sakurai-san to write the lyrics from that perspective.
T: Because that person is very sensitive, and that’s just the type of person he is. No matter what he pens, it all comes from his own experiences. And that’s what makes it good.
There are many joys that come with being in a band, but this I can say for sure
To keep doing this with the same group of friends. Nothing beats that.
―― How did recording go for your drums this time around?
T: It was quick. The drums were recorded last this time around too, but both songs were done in a day (lol).
―― You were recording in the midst of this pandemic, so all of you couldn’t be in the studio together at the same time when you started studio work, right?
T: We went in at different times. The composer would definitely be there, and if it’s my recording day, then he’d listen to how the drums sound for me, we’d discuss and decide on what’s good or what needs to be changed. We’d be switching up this and that, change the snare a few times. And in the end, we went back to the original setup because we figured that’s the one that worked best after all.
―― This time, you’ve also got Uta and JUST ONE MORE KISS recorded with their new arrangements. These came about because the band was doing Misemono-goya〜 and made the effort to fit the songs into its theme, but what’s Yagami-san’s perspective on rearranging old songs like this and recording them again?
T: I thought it was interesting, and besides, didn’t we have an acoustic set at Makuhari back when we did Locus Solus no Kemonotachi? After doing that, we had the feeling that [things like the songs in this single] might be interesting too.
―― Because it’s rare that there’s anything that you’ve never really done during this long a career, right?
T: I think all of us think the same way, but we’ve probably always felt that when a song is labelled done, that includes its arrangement. It’s like how you’d immediately know “It’s that song!” the moment the guitar intro starts playing. If you rearrange it, then no one would know, right? Maybe that’s why the topic of boldly messing around with a song never really came up.
―― And that idea only came about as a result of deciding to make the live thematic because you thought it’d be boring to do the same old for a livestream in a pandemic.
T: Maybe they began to feel that something like that could work too.
―― Yagami-san, you’ll be celebrating your 60th next year. Is there anything you’d like to do?
T: I’d want to do an unplugged kind of thing. It’s easier to execute live too (lol).
―― That’s not the point (lol).
T: But actually, I’ve been thinking about a few things. Didn’t the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts suddenly pass away just recently?
―― That’s right.
T: And it happened to Ponta-san too. Rather than just feeling sad, it’s a loss that such amazing people have left us. Because we can never hear those drums of theirs anymore. But people have a limited amount of time to live, so we can’t do anything about that. In Ponta-san’s case, I actually received an email from him in January with New Year greetings. In the email, he said that his doctor had advised him to stop work for the time being but “I’m doing great!” along with the punching emoji. Then he passed on in March. I was shocked.
―― With both Charlie Watts and Ponta-san, from an outsider’s perspective, we’d feel like they’ve already done it all, but only they would know whether or not that’s true.
T: Because they’ve built an era, right? And we’re still in the midst of it. That is, until the B-T TRAIN departs.
―― It’s still quite there, is it?
T: But we don’t have forever, do we? I just said earlier that there doesn’t exist a person who won’t die. If anyone of us goes that way, we’d probably quit. But for some reason I’m the eldest one in the band and yet I’m the healthiest of all. I’ve never even been hospitalised before (lol).
―― Please stay healthy!
T: I’ve always been a paranoid person, so the moment I feel like my body’s a little weird, I’d immediately go and see a doctor. I think it was about 3 or 4 years ago when I cough influenza but I didn’t realise it at all (lol). In the beginning, I intended to visit my usual doctor to inquire about administering a garlic injection and when they did a flu test, I was told, “Yagami-san, you’ve caught Type A.” (Lol)
―― And that’s why you recovered quickly.
T: They gave me the prescription there and then and I did recover quickly. Also, I’m taking 4 types of supplements everyday. So I’m healthy. My knees aren’t deteriorating, and my bloodwork’s all perfect!
―― Because the train is still running.
T: But isn’t there a common saying? That it’s always calm before the storm. I also broke my pinky toe before, right in the middle of a tour. I was half-asleep, going to the bathroom half-asleep in the hotel when I busted it against a corner of the wash basin. It swelled up like hell. I thought that it was definitely broke but when I went to the doctor’s for a checkup, they apparently told me, “It won’t affect your concerts at all!” So I had a roadie tape up my pinky toe with the 4th. I think I did about 3 shows like that. Since then, I’ve always stuck sponge to the corners of the washbasin (lol).
―― But even with Charlie Watts’ passing, aren’t the Rolling Stones still going on tour with Steve Jordan as support?
T: I wonder about that. But in the end, the Rolling Stones are a business so there’s no way to end it, is there?
―― Well, I guess that’s more or less the case.
T: And in fact, even after Brian Jones died and Bill Wyman left, they’ve changed members a number of times. That’s the kind of history the Rolling Stones have. Even if the members of the band changes, the band itself still goes on and maybe that’s group’s creed. I think the Rolling Stones will continue on until Mick Jagger passes away. Even if Keith Richards dies, they’ll still keep going.
―― That’s true.
T: This is my own opinion, but in our case, it’s the end if anyone of us are no longer involved. I’d say it’s probably better that we stop too. Not a break up, but a cessation. I think that’s a better way to put it.
―― Because you’ve been together for 35 years ever since your major debut, right?
T: In my mind, I’m doing this in a way that will leave me no regrets no matter when it all ends. Say, if tomorrow, for some reason, anyone of us in BUCK-TICK can’t keep going anymore, then in that case, we wouldn’t want to keep things going with a member replacement…… That said, I believe everyone feels the same way. If we were to continue even if that happens, then I would probably quit.
―― I see.
T: Then I’ll finally go back to Gunma (lol).
―― Because that’s your dream retirement, right (lol).
T: It’s been 36 years since I was abducted by Yuta. I’ll soon be 60; it’s about time for me to build a house in Gunma and stay there. If I’m not in BUCK-TICK, then it’s even more likely that I’d have already done that (lol).
―― But doing this, believing so strongly that the band’s existence is tied to the 5 of you working together is the band’s resolve, like a sincere conviction soaked with ephemerality. I think all of those are connected.
T: Yeah. There are many joys that come with being in a band, like selling well, becoming popular, writing a good song, playing at large venues, but this I can say for sure. To keep doing this with the same group of friends. Nothing beats that. Having come this far, we’ve been through all sorts of things; like musical differences, reaching our limits as an instrumentalist, things related to our families, our views on life, but being able to keep this band going with the same members, to make music and perform concerts together is truly wonderful.
T: I think if we were more scheming, if we wanted to get rich and live in big houses, if those were the kinds of goals we had, we might be able to achieve them but we definitely won’t be happy. What makes me glad that I’m still in this band with these four also includes things apart from simply performing together. Time and again, I realised how big a deal this is to me.
―― I see.
T: They’re kind, all of them. Looking at it from another perspective, you could say that they’re not greedy. For the band as a whole, we might’ve become bigger if we did have that hunger, but I think it’s great that we’re able to celebrate our 35th anniversary like this.
―― Because the answer is that you’ve kept this going together.
T: You see, we’ve done a photoshoot with just four of us since Imai broke his leg, right? Somehow, the vibes are weird. Like, “Huh……? Ah, oh, right.” (Lol). We can’t be missing any one. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again; with my 60th just around the corner, I can’t be happier that I feel this way now.
We will keep hoping to never wake up from these dreams as we keep swaying in this chugging B-T TRAIN
text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
“Huh……? Ah, oh, right.”
Realising that someone is absent, that he isn’t there brings confusion to everyone on site. The ones standing in front of the camera lens looked uncomfortable, and on our end, we can’t quite decide where the members of the band should stand. A peculiar wrongness has a hold over this place where something that should normally be there is missing.
“Isn’t this the first time we’re doing a shoot with only four members?”
Someone said that. And it might just be true. Looking at the group photo of the four of them, the sense of absence comes through so strongly that you’d just know. Yet on the other hand, there is also the certainty that it’s just not them without all five members involved. The fact that the same members have kept it going for nearly 35 years gives it that strong impetus.
The unexpected accident that Imai got into right before the interview was a reminder that this band is neither rock solid nor stable, but rather a miraculous balance and a result of their individual efforts. This is something that could easily happen to any band. It might be too much of an exaggeration to say this, but this highlights a very important part of the band who is approaching their 35th anniversary.
It’s something that is close to what we can sense from their single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN. This song leaves quite the impact with the fine line that is the title, while its content holds the call to board the train named BUCK-TICK and venture into the uncertain future together. Twenty years ago, Imai wrote the line “Let’s speed through the springtime of youth”¹ in Shippuu no Blade Runner and this is similar to that. However, there is a difference between then and now; sincerity. While Sakurai and Imai’s contrasting perspectives still exist, they aren’t happenings of a far-off world. I dare say that Go-Go B-T Train has the aftertaste of resolution that follows hope. And as it rushes along with everyone’s dreams onboard, it’s a “a fabulous one-way-only TRIP”². That’s right, there’s no turning back. Bluntly speaking, it’s a song about a suicide pact painted in a positive light.
As to what birthed such a song, it’s the inescapable reality of the COVID-19 pandemic that is its’ backdrop. A world divided by COVID-19 with no sign of things returning to normal. Restrictions have been placed on band activities, reducing the amount of time a band gets to share with their fans through concerts to almost zero. Although it looks like it’ll take some time before things can revert fully to how they used to be, a national tour for a live audience is finally about to begin. That joy was, in a large part, a contributor to this song, announcing that they’re going to depart on a journey for the same dream with everyone who’s coming aboard the BUCK-TICK train.
But it is not all hopes and dreams there. It’s a ticket for a one-way trip. This is a final spurt towards the invisible goal that is the end. To the band, they’ve sung about life and death, making it their theme thus far and it’s drawing closer to reality, rather than simply existing as a concept. This song is steeped in this too. Furthermore, it reminds us that the dynamism of this almost-35 years old band where “It has to be these five members” and “It’s the end if anyone of us are no longer involved”, along with the love and trust for these five men are in the coming days.
―〈The dream continues Oh Baby Fiery flashing To the ends of the world〉―³
That’s right, BUCK-TICK is made up of these five’s and our dreams. And B-T TRAIN is the train that runs with these dreams. It’ll take on all forms of reality and everything that comes in its way to run endlessly. Its final destination is when the dream ends. When it’ll happen, no one knows. And that’s why we will keep hoping to never wake up from these dreams as we keep swaying in this chugging B-T TRAIN.
¹ 共に青い春を駆け抜けよう / Tomo ni aoi haru wo kakenuke you
² Line from Go-Go B-T Train: 片道だけの素敵な TRIP / Kata michi dake no suteki na TRIP
³ Last line from Go-Go B-T Train: 夢は続くよ Baby ランランラン 何処までも / Yume wa tsudzuku yo Baby Ranranran Doko made mo
BUCK-TICK NOW ON SALE
Go-Go B T TRAIN
- Go-Go B-T TRAIN ［Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi／Music: Imai Hisashi］
- 恋 (Koi)［Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi／Music: Hoshino Hidehiko］
- 唄 Ver.2021 (Uta Ver.2021)
- JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021
［Included in both limited and regular editions］
Audio discs are SHM-CD format (superior quality CD fully compatible with all CD players).
Includes download card for easy playback of the SHM-CD recording on smartphones.
PlayPass® compatible (Valid until: 30 September 2022)
［Limited edition exclusives (for both type A and B)］
◎A: Blu-ray included／B: DVD included
- 「Go-Go B-T TRAIN」(MUSIC VIDEO)
- 「唄 Ver.2021」（Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ～SHOW AFTER DARK～)
- 「JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021」（Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ～SHOW AFTER DARK～)
They had a photoshoot at Scott Hall, a historical auditorium in Waseda Hoshien. And my pure chance, in the same vicinity was AVACO STUDIO where BUCK_TICK recorded the first album they released with a major label. “Isn’t this where AVACO STUDIO is?” The moment the four of them entered the waiting room, they started to reminisce. The photoshoot started off with the two-shot featuring Anii and Yuta first. While checking the pictures that were taken, Anii burst out laughing, “Yuta, send this to mom!” Yuta-san responded with, “I wonder if this counts as being filial?” Ah, what a beautiful show of brotherly love. Then, Sakurai-san who was being photographed at a piano suddenly pressed the keys. It doesn’t form any particular melody, but it has a strange ambient feel to it. Perhaps editor-in-chief Kanemitsu recorded that sound on his phone and listens to it on occasion. After the shoot concluded, he autographed the polariod that would be the lucky draw gift to our readers. After a while, Yuta-san brought it over with a, “Acchan’s signed it!” When he showed it to us, a signature for “Imai Hisashi” who wasn’t here on this day was also there! “O-ho!” Kanemitsu’s cry of delight could be heard while the Devil King’s smile appeared on Acchan’s face with a grin.
Interviews were subsequently held. As printed, Imai-san’s was held from the his hospital room, while Sakurai-san and Hide-san had their interviews remotely conducted from home but both Sakurai & Hoshino were, for some reason, particularly talkative. Or rather, they chatted with a more relaxed vibe than usual. Perhaps being at home makes them drop their guard after all?
Text images: Yoshiyuki
Photo images: meghararayanneh.sakurai on VK.com