Fool's Mate September 2000
Interview with Yagami Toll & Higuchi Yutaka
Translation: Lola

Before recording, the two of you usually practice the rhythm you're going to put in the song right? Did you do the same thing this time?
Yagami: Yeah, we did. We did it in Gunma and for me, practicing there at the end of last year also doubled as a return home. Since now our studio is in the capital(1). Basically how it usually worked was that if we were always doing lives then I figured there's no need to practice but then we didn't end up doing an event last year. So because we haven't really been doing any lives since then I'm kinda out of shape now *laughs*.

I see. So how did you spend your free time then?
Yagami: I did nothing, took it completely off. Now that I think about it, it was too long of a break *laughs* but I can't really take it back even if it wasn't such a good idea to go that long without practicing.

So after that you combined your part with Higuchi-san's right. How did you feel then?
Higuchi: I couldn't wait *smiles*, I was really looking forward to it.

So then Imai-san and Hoshino-san slowly add their parts and then you record right. What was your reaction to the new song?
Higuchi: I thought it was very melodious. Until now I found the guitar riffs would take away from the song but this time you can feel the song's melody above all else.

What did you think when you first listened to the 'Glamorous' single?
Yagami: I thought it was simple with 8 beats, I didn't really get it when I listened to the demo tape but then when Acchan's vocals were added of course I thought it was good.

Of course it sounds better when all the sounds come together right?
Higuchi: Yes. It feels more like a band when it's all together.

Was there any particular difference with rhythm this time?
Higuchi: Since the melody is really at the forefront, there wasn't really a need for heavy bass as that might only take away from the melody.

Hoshino's song 'Trans' makes me think of the Cocteau Twins(2), it's such a pretty song don't you think?
Higuchi: It seems that way because of the arpeggio the bass is playing *smiles*. I'm not really playing so low so it gives that floating feeling to the song.
Yagami: 'Glamorous' and 'Trans' hit me a lot harder than previous songs. Because the tone is so good *smiles*.

When I interviewed Hoshino-san last time, he said that he had a particular interest in using the high hat for the drums but did he discuss that with you?
Yagami: He did, yeah. But it's not like it's the first time you know. I always use the high hat. It was more a question of how I'd hit it.

What was the image he was going for then?
Higuchi: If I say he wanted a loose sounds kinda strange but that's basically it. He didn't want it to sound stiff.

What was the approach for the bass?
Higuchi: In a way what I did this time was new. I played the main chords for the low parts, which was interesting. Since we have two guitarists, I thought one of them should do it but when I asked Hide if it was really ok for me to play the low chords he said yes, as long as it didn't come out sounding monotonous.

Were there any other orders from the composers when recording?
Yagami: Of course the composer has some say with the sound of the drums as well. Because in the end the raw sound of the drums has a great effect on the song. So you have to care about the sound they make. That's why the composer must be present when we record the rhythm. So say like with Imai, once the bass and drum parts have been decided, then he'll go back to writing the song *smiles*.

So in the end the sound he wants is really distinct in each song isn't it?
Yagami: Yeah it is.
Higuchi: Especially with the drums because once the sound is decided for the drums it's easy to make little alterations to the other parts so that they will gel as a whole.

From what the two of you have seen, which member is the most involved in the recording process?
Higuchi:Imai-san. He's always doing things over again and rechecking them *laughs*.
Yagami: Seriously? That's because he's single-minded *laughs*.

I've heard that. But if we compare with last time, the amount of mechanization has decreased hasn't it?(3)
Yagami:And you want to know why right? Because after the rhythm is recorded and has been put in, I don't know why but it can sound awkward in parts. It's like with a loop too. When you record it and then when you listen to it, doesn't it sound a bit off? It's because the original sound is different.

What kind of album do you think your next will turn out to be?
Higuchi: Melodious but with depth, perhaps a bit heavy...but the level of seriousness will depend on the song order we decide on.

Does that mean the songs will be diverse?
Higuchi: Yeah. Usually when we make an album, there's a main point to focus on that we base the song order on, kind of like the batting order in baseball *smiles*. But we don't really that this time.

I see. From what I've heard of the two songs from the single, it feels like once again Buck-Tick is creating a new world and I'm looking forward to the album but as a whole, what is your response to the songs?
Higuchi: The emphasis is on a pop sound but a very unique kind of pop. Even though the songs are played in E minor, it's like there is something strangely familiar about them. And that means they're easy to understand and relate to, which in turn means that maybe we can reach more people right? That's how I feel anyway.
Yagami: Personally, this is the first time in about three years that I'm happy with my physical appearance. Usually, I was always exhausted half-way through but not this time.

What brought you down those three years?
Yagami: All that effort to be dark *smiles*.

Were you doubting yourself?
Yagami: I realized I'm an old man *laughs* and it was like I panicked and thought 'But I don't wanna get old!'. Because of that I looked my worst around the time of the 'Bran-New Lover' single. I was doubting my ability.

Yagami: When was it? When my form became strange? I'm not sure of the exact moment but around the time when I watched the live video for 'Sexy Stream Liner', I noticed I had a hunched back. But it was only me who noticed.

You changed your drumming form?
Yagami: Yeah. I thought I wanted to go back to my old style but our schedule was so packed I couldn't really. So I couldn't fix it then. So this time I practiced with synthesized drums. Because with real drums, I have to hit hard and step on the pedal with all my strength to get the sound and that can't be good for me all the time. But with synthesized drums, there's like a padding, it lets me hit each beat precisely without force and because of that it's better.

I see.
Yagami: Also because then I don't hurt myself. Like on the last tour I injured my Achilles tendon. I thought it was kinda funny at the time but sadly it's not something that can be fixed you know.

So then you felt useless as a drummer?
Yagami: Of course, that's why I had to revise my form. I didn't expect my strength to suddenly fail me. For sure I thought there had to be some reason for this. My friends agreed that it was strange, that it happened all of a sudden and so while I was thinking about it, that's when I thought to watch old live videos.

But in the end the rhythm was all recorded perfectly right?
Higuchi: Well we nearly gave our Manager a heart attack though because we were late *laughs*.

What do you think this year holds for Buck-Tick, activity wise?
Higuchi: We'll go on tour, I'm looking forward to that, and since by then all our new songs will be completed, the live should be interesting. Plus we'll play our old songs too which will go well I think.

You've split this tour in two right? The first half in concert halls and the second in live houses, which do you prefer?
Higuchi: Last year we did a standing room only live with Pig and we all thought that it's much more fun when the audience is close.

Sakurai-san said that he'd be interested in doing lives in the rest of Asia but how do you two feel about that?
Higuchi: Ah I'd love to try that.
Yagami: Yeah I'd be interested. It seems like the rest of the world is starting to take an interest in Japanese music.
Manager: They're featured regularly in a magazine in South Korea actually.

Wha? Really?
Yagami: There was a whole presentation about Japanese music in South Korea in 'Rockin' Japan' and how it regularly features memoirs in its magazines.
Higuchi:What do you mean memoirs? *laughs*
Yagami: It's because I'm an old man *laughs*.

I'm changing the subject but, what do you think of today's music scene?
Yagami: It's boring as hell *laughs*. It's like everything is half-baked or something you know...
Higuchi: Yeah like there aren't that many bands. Or at least there aren't really any to be in awe over. Not like when I was young and I remember being so inspired by the Street Sliders(4) appearing on tv *smiles*. Until then there had never really been anything like that, it was so non-Japanese, like Western music.
Yagami: I really think so too. But then that shows that Japan isn't very original is it?

It just means that rock as a culture is not anchored in Japan, which only makes me think that Buck-Tick is even more amazing, moreso because you continue to give us good music. That more than anything is what I think makes you great.
Yagami: How so? It's difficult to see that when it's about yourself I guess.
Higuchi:Because each time we put out something we want to show something different and at the same time we're constantly discovering new things about ourselves in the process.

(1)The capital meaning Tokyo. I have no idea as to the previous recording arrangements but based on this interview it seems that they used to actually record in Gunma until around the time of 'Glamorous'.
(2) Learn more about them and their music here. Their site provides a very extensive history of the band and their music so it's really a good thing to read if you want to know more about them.
(3) I'm not entirely sure what the interviewer means here by 'mechanization'. I'm guessing that he means the sound is a lot less digital and computerized than in their previous album but I opted to keep the wording as is just in case he means something completely different. But from Toll's answer...I'm thinking that they mean B-T moved away from digital sounds for more natural raw sounds for this single. But as I said, I'm speculating here.
(4) This is the name of an 80s band. You can check them out here.