音楽と人 - June 1995
Interview with Sakurai Atsushi
Translation: Lola

So I hear you had a hell of a time trying to finish up recording this time around.
As you know, my part of writing the lyrics and singing comes last so, when it's done it feels like sliding to home.

Imai's eyeing you *smiles*.
*turns towards Imai* It's like sliding to home! *smiles* For both of us.

This time you were able to write lyrics no one objected to right?
Well...they were pretty straightforward.

You already expressed your will at the time of the first single 'Uta' by saying "B-T and I want to change" but basically, the album expresses this as well doesn't it?
Yes...perhaps we've been ready to go in this direction since 'darker than darkness' but I couldn't allow myself to change then.

Was there a reason why you thought that you couldn't allow yourself the chance? Or was it that you had to choose the easy way?
Nn...in a way I had to scrape off the stench that clung to me...yeah, I wanted to burn it away. Absolutely. You know there are many types of opportunities out there. For instance, we get to perform, we get to chat in magazines...and then there are personal ones.

Personal ones? *smiles*
...like getting the girl you like.

Ah, so you got one again?
I did! Occasionally I can get the girl *smiles*.

I'm sure you've learnt from experience.
I haven't learnt from experience. If I had then I'd be out of a job *smiles*.

*bitter smile* Basically you're taking a more positive attitude now.

So then this positivism is the perfection you were aiming for.
Yeah...that's right.

But one thing about this goal is that it is an abandonment of B-T's idiom of the past.
Yes, yes...basically, there is of course the desire to be original. Not that it's impossible to change but, you have to still be comfortable with yourself. In this way, you'll find supreme satisfaction.

But then, if you're scraping some parts away isn't there also a slight chance that you might scrape away a part of yourself?
Of course you have to know yourself first, like I know not to use words I don't know the meaning of. When you say something in a vague manner, then anything can come from it.

What did you have to do now, for the concept of this album?
I don't really think we had to do anything. I think we just got into our own style.

A style that's comfortable for you all.
That's right...but of course this time...there were also things I wasn't comfortable with. The problem isn't Otsuki Kenji-kun(1) but rather that he referred me to a hospital. Because I said "I'm severely depressed" *smiles*.

Ah, did he really?
Yeah. But he doesn't remember saying anything because we went to get drunk after *smiles*.

Then it doesn't matter does it *laughs*.

Why were you worried about going to the hospital?
I'm not, it's more that...well it's not my field of expertise but...if I analyze it, hospitals are on my mind a lot because I found myself there.

When you were searching for a new self?
Yeah, I think I even get terribly nervous just talking about it. When I got Issay-san to sing in 'Itoshii no Rockstar', I pondered what to say because I didn't want to offend him or anything but I was so nervous that when I called to ask him he said 'You sound like you're about to die' *smiles*. I didn't think it would happen under such circumstances but, that's when I went to the hospital to get a little bit of stability.

Is there also self-hatred when you say things like 'Eventually, I wonder why I'm always writing about this in the end'?
Yeah, always.

Well you think that now but, at the very beginning you declared 'Mine is the aesthetic of a terrible human being' which, at that time I think you needed a lot of nerve to say that but I also think it's from that that your style took form. I don't think you can deny that saying things like 'I'm terrible' reinforces your dependency on others.
Yeah yeah.

That seems to mean then, that while being a part of B-T's reformations previously, now we can say that it boils down to Sakurai Atsushi's personal realization of 'I understand that I'm at an impasse, but what should I do?'.
Certainly at the beginning...I had nerve but I think there was a part of me that needed to sound things out, like 'I wonder if this is good'. And then...I can't buy people's sympathy but, that's also part of why I went.

To buy sympathy?
No, no, of course...if I say it in a serious way I end up looking like a beggar. Don't I?

I think the whole story behind your work is really easy to understand this time. First, with 'Uta' is the rejection of your personal idiom, next in 'Kodou' you're returning to the starting point of life, an embryo. Then before that in "Dance2Noise002" you announced a solo song, 'Yokan' so you're returning to the basics, to the maternal.
Yes, perhaps.

And then the other crucial details probably came after you were in the hospital.
Yup, sometime after that. But now what it boiled down to was that I wrote 'Itoshii no Rockstar', 'Mienai Mono~' and the incoherent 'Kagirinaku Nezumi' in a day so when I listened to them recently with everyone's parts I thought it would be bad.

All three of them thoroughly laugh at how small we are.
Yeah. Hide's songs were difficult. Because I didn't know what to say in his songs.

How are Imai's songs that ignore deadlines?
Imai-chan's songs are good, they have character.

Even when they're done at the last minute, that's ok?
(*next to Sakurai, Imai nods eagerly*)
No that's never ok! *smiles*

*smiles* Right, now, another characteristic that you yourself spoke of, was the pure lyrics. You've gone from simple self denial and living peacefully to a broader range of self ridicule.
Ah, it's true isn't it. Yeah...but I wish I could be separated from myself somehow or other.

For example, if you could separate the rockstar from the individual but the fact is that you'll only worry more about it until you die. You just have to leave the singing part of yourself be.
Yeah *smiles*.

It means that I can really see your will as you would from the point of view of your separated self, then when you perceive yourself as the other at the same time as you're expressing yourself, that is when lyrical metaphors are born.
Yes, that's right. Perhaps until now I only looked at myself as being inside a house, but now it feels as though the part of me that was confined is coming out.

What kind of house did you see yourself in?
...it felt like I was rolling around in Microman's house *smiles*.

*smiles* I'm asking this bluntly but, now that you can look at it objectively, do you think seeing yourself that way is just in fact a desire to be tiny and unseen?
Not really...I don't know if I'm just kidding myself but, I thought 'I wonder if I can see myself in another way if I imagine it'. But it just happened that I imagined myself playing in a room with Microman *smiles*.

And how do you see yourself now?
Riding a bicycle in a garden. But of course, I think I want to go further. So now I think that, somehow or other I'd really like to go somewhere. Anywhere.

Where would you go?
Where indeed...perhaps anywhere I could. And for those I couldn't, there are songs.

Like in the song you said you wrote half-heartedly, 'Kagirinaku Nezumi', it's pretty easy to see that. The real intent behind the song just comes with these lines 'Again I say goodbye to the sweet faced boy, the cute faced boy. Already I'm tired of looking at the boy who pretends to be lonely, the boy who pretends to be mysterious'.
When you say it like that, you make me look like Ichikawa-san.

Is that good? *smiles*
It's good, I'm just shy at the compliment.

You've thrown away your safety blanket.
Yes, it's gone.

It must have taken a lot of courage to throw it away.
No, it was easy for me. Throwing it away was actually an act of self-preservation.

So then why didn't you get rid of it sooner?
Yes I know...I guess because now I have a lot of support with Imai-chan's songs. *looks at Imai with a boyish smile* It's all because of Imai-chan's songs, for sure! *smiles*

Even when I listen now I can hear the new sound, there's an amazing freshness since 'Kurutta Taiyou'.
Yes, yes, yes.

I think it shows that you and Imai both had the will to change, that takes inner strength.
It does, of course. That's why when he was pleased with my lyrics, I was really happy.

Just in 'Loop' and 'Somewhere Nowhere' you can see that the lyrics, which don't make it onto the CD, depend on who is writing them. They're the kind of songs that of course lead to many possible conclusions and interpretations but that was what you were going for right?
Yes that's right...that's why I want people to listen because 'Somewhere Nowhere' is certainly a song that can do that. I wrote the title of this song when Imai's head was on the chopping block and everyone was mad at him and he was writing all the songs at once *smiles*. I went to the studio and asked him to let me listen to it, then after one listen, got it and recorded it in one shot.
Imai: You know my guitar playing is random. So I played in my dissonant way and Acchan sang, both of us freaking out while the staff giggled 'Amazing, they did it! It's a miracle!' *smiles*.

Oo, for the first time B-T did something amazingly band-like *smiles*. I guess you hadn't until now, so this new energy is the result of chance.
Yup. 'Detarame Yarou' seems that way too. The melody was also left to me.
Imai: Because Acchan wanted to think of 'Detarame Yarou' and 'Loop' himself, it was for that reason, and because I thought it'd be interesting that I entrusted him with it. The moment I listened to 'Detarame Yarou' I thought, 'I want to scream too!' so I did. Kukukukuku.

It's strange but Imai's screams sound so young *smiles*.
Imai: Maybe my voice hasn't changed yet *smiles*.

Well now that you've dispelled the mystery around the recording process *smiles*, do you think you achieved your initial goal of wanting to get rid of a part of yourself? Did you succeed?
...I don't know whether or not I'd word it as wanting to get rid of a part of myself but, there's also a part of me that is undecided.

I'm talking about the part of Sakurai Atsushi that until now was undecided about being able to live.
Ah, if that's what you mean then of course I want to get rid of that.

What was best about performing this time?
Mmn...the lack of time!

...oh no wait it's the opposite! Damn I said the wrong thing but you probably knew that *smiles*. Lack of time.

No, I meant more like do you find trying to express yourself when you perform good or bad?
Hmm...of course it's a good thing...but I didn't really have to explain myself, I think that I just have that sort of connection with Imai when recording. It's been the best so far...but maybe it's really too much if I explain as complete harmony between us.
Imai: Ah, but that's because when you're in the same band, of course you're sensitive to these things.

I think it's natural for B-T to have this sensitivity but the plus side is that now we can clearly see the results of it. So, I think that what really comes out in this album is the relationship of trust between the two of you.
Exactly! That's the rumor flying around. That's why recently I've taken to calling him Imai-chan *smiles*.

You give me the creeps.
*smiles* But I think until now my biggest mistake has been wanting to listen to album carefully by myself.

Perhaps it's necessary to reaffirm your work, so that you can ask yourself 'why did I write these lyrics here?'. And then maybe even after doing that you'll still be happy with your work.
Yes, yes. So maybe...to the listener it seems I don't have enough emotional support. Like Imai can produce music and Ani, Yuuta and Hide have that musician spirit but I think I'm the one most lacking that this time. Well not only this time. So rather than enjoy it as a listener...it's better if I think about it or something. Like I want to think about what Ichiyou-san would think of the songs. Ah, and think of another interviewer's thoughts on it too. So then I'd have incorporated various people's thoughts on how it is, even the manager's and the engineer's.

When you say that now, it's just a part of you that thinks that. Talking about your favourite line or one you don't like, or what's easy to understand and what's not, these things aren't actually discussing your work. But perhaps it's forbidden for a professional to say more.

The fact is, you just have to make your own opportunities Sakurai. Sooner or later. On the other hand, because of the new and interesting sound this time, you've done a service to the listeners. I think it's the perfect chance to follow up on.
Yeah yeah.

I also think the lyrics whether long or short had a degree of completeness to them this time.
They're not very interesting though.

You think? Well only if you end up singing the same thing next time as now, yeah that would be bad. Since what people get from this performance is the statement 'This is how I am now', I think next time you have to follow up on that and make a conclusion. I just think it'd be better to keep that in mind.
Yes, I'll take care to.

When you make another such achievement, the persuasive power of your work grows.
I agree with you. It really seems that way.

Now you can put the most of yourself into it.
I already gave my all. Maybe Imai and the others already want to think of what to do next but, I'm already running on empty *smiles*.

Well that's not good is it? You just can't go around with a price on your head. The point is, because of the big talk being spread about you being together you have to say 'Look, there's nothing left anymore. This is just how I am now'.
It feels like that yeah but...I'm a little scared of saying that, perhaps because it feels like anything can be drawn from it. The truth is I think 'Loop''s lyrics say it best with 'Living in desperation' perhaps...because I already feel I may die when performing.

(1) Otsuki Kenji is a novelist, actor and musician born on February 6th, 1966. He wrote a novel titled 'Stacy' and appeared in 'Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies' in 2001.