音楽と人 - March 2008
Interview with Sakurai Atsushi
Text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Translation: Lola

Here we are in 2008.
I wish nothing but good things for you this year.

And I for you. From the end of the year till now things have settled down haven't they?
They have. Well at the end of the year we had the customary show in Budoukan. Then met with friends after as we always do.

I remember you hugging Issay-san and kissing him while you walked shoulder to shoulder through Shibuya. *smiles*
It was fun *smiles*. It was a good end to a good year.

In 2007, you celebrated your 20th anniversary as a band. Without realizing you ended up having an extremely full year.
It was, yes. When I think about it now, we had a lot of people supporting us. I'm grateful. If I had to sum up last year with one word that's what I'd use, gratitude.

That's your word for last year? *smiles*
I wrote it with a big writing brush *smiles*.

And all this culminated this summer with the Buck-Tick fest.
I'm truly grateful for that.

You could really see that a lot of bands had the greatest respect for Buck-Tick at the fest. Did that end up making you feel more confident about the stuff you guys have done?
Not really......I've always felt that self-confidence is an illusion.

That part of you hasn't changed then.
It hasn't, no. But I think with experience I've been able to control it a little perhaps *smiles*. But even now I'm scared of getting too used to that feeling so I want to always keep myself busy with fresh and new inspiring things.

You'll always feel like there is absolutely nothing that is certain in this world won't you?
Yes that's it. I know there are people who believe in me but while I'm not aware of it I can't really accept it even though there are various examples of it. That's just my natural disposition.

It's really because of that, that you're so convinced you're not good enough.
I'm just not full of confidence. I'm too sensitive. Always wondering what I should do or if what I did was really ok. But it's because of that very sensitivity that, when things are progressing well like with recording I can really appreciate that one moment of happiness. And that's supreme bliss to me. But that changes each day, each minute, each second. That's why it's hard being with me *smiles*. Well, that's what I think everyone who spends time with me says.

It's difficult but it can change people for the better perhaps, that's what I saw with the 'Tenshi no Revolver' tour.
Ah, then that's a little improvement *smiles*. If I hadn't noticed it myself I would have said otherwise.

In the past did you used to feel like 'Sakurai Atsushi should be like this' and then feel trapped by that?
Yeah. But, I was an idiot. The way I thought I should be was just about wanting to be cool, I was forcing myself into being a certain way. I think that's why now I'm embarrassed when I look at myself back then.

In an interview the other day, Imai-san seemed to say the same thing.
Yes. Well we felt the same.

You thought things like death and despair were cool.
Yes. I was dazzled by it. Of course that part of me is dormant now but when I said I wanted to do something real, death was what came to mind. So I did that but then at the last moment when I was singing I just felt so fake, it was embarrassing. But I would rather make everyone smile. Even if it's just a few people, now, that's what I wish for.

Ok, it seems like there's something missing here, what influenced you to think like that?
It's not a thing. But rather, while I haven't interacted with them yet, of course I've seen and heard things. So many people have told me about them. Up till now I had never thought that I could touch someone's heart like that. It's that good thing that influenced me.

So you're saying there's a person who is that impressive? Who is it?
Someone who I must wait another year to meet due to human limitations *smiles*. But recently, Issay-san, Genet-san and Tsuchiya-san were at the finale in Budoukan and I got to talk to them....

The honour of spending time with them hasn't changed in 15 years has it....?
It hasn't. But, getting praise from them makes me happy. It's as simple as that. Of course the fest was a huge thing. I got the chance to talk with various artists. I've never experienced something like that up till now. The impression that I'm left with is how natural they were, their intonation, the words they used, the way they looked at me. Meeting and talking with those people, I was able to learn things I didn't know.

It seems like not that long ago, Imai-san told me the same thing but do you feel that had a great influence on you and the band?
Yes. Of course it did, at that time I thought I'd be able to show this rock feeling we're doing now, like we'd be able do it a little roughly. Because before that I still felt like it was still a little too serious. Now I feel like it's in the right place. Before there was just too much that was off or something.

So I guess that's why you came out on stage completely drunk hm?
No, ah now I'm shy! I didn't need to be drunk because I've learned how to act that way for shows. But now I'm embarrassed, I'm so not cool. I'm such a loser *bitter smile*.

But that's why people get the wrong idea.
It's because when the band formed, by the time I became the vocalist I would be so drunk when we performed at local live houses. Because if I didn't I'd be too scared and wouldn't be able to go out on stage. But now even if I don't need to do that...I act that way on purpose. But I want to sing properly and I want to put on a good show.

You feel very strongly about this I see.
Well it's discourteous to the audience if it's bad. I noticed that a long time ago. I've let go of being the type of person whose existence solely revolves around appearance and style.

I can see that.
Yes. Because I'm having fun with the band.

Imai-san said that he'd like to do more Buck-Tick stuff this year but it looks like you'd like to too.
Yes. I want to sing, I want to try to do more with the same feeling as now. There's this excitement inside me I want to channel well, I'm not sure exactly how it'll come out in the future but right now there's an ideal I'm aiming for. When I think about it, of course I think I could demonstrate this best with Buck-Tick. I think when the timing's right I'll do other various things but basically when I do things where I feel the most comfortable, that's what brings out the best in me.

You sound very convinced of that.
Because I have a strong reason to believe that. If I wasn't convinced then what I'm saying would just be lip service without any substance behind it.

And yet you still feel like a loser don't you?
No~ I know it's terrible. Like...how I'll get scared just because the phone is ringing unexpectedly. I've said it before but, because of previous experience, I keep thinking it's just going to be bad news. I think I'd like to have stronger nerves. Even in the band where I'm most comfortable there are times I become so tense.

Well Sakurai-san that's just part of who you are, you can't change it no matter what you do.
Just because I can't change it, doesn't mean it's a good thing.

True. So, you're looking forward to more Buck-Tick activity this year?
Yes. I'm looking forward to doing something that's even better than before. Previously, we showed off our serious side, but now I know we can do something fun too. So, that's what I'm looking forward to. It feels like we're just getting started *smiles*.

Imai-san certainly seems resolute in his decision for the theme of the next album but do you really think that's how you want to do things Sakurai-san?
Imai-san and I are on the same wavelength so whatever he gives me I accept naturally, especially now. Both '13 kai wa gekkou' 's gothic style and 'Tenshi no Revolver' 's rock star feeling are things that came to us naturally. Whether you see it as good or bad, I'm satisfied with the decisions that were made. I won't yield on that point but first before we discuss anything new, I have to get an email.

Because email is Imai-san's specialty you know *smiles*.

You don't think you'll take the initiative this time?
Not at this point in time but...I will when the time comes. Then of course when I do, I'll ignore everyone else's opinions and make my own decision and then we'll quarrel. Because if I don't speak up, nothing will happen. Because I can't really produce something real unless I drive my point in. Mm, and of course that's what I want, to do something real.

In order to do that within a certain limitation you really have to want to do something, especially for it to come out well.
You're thinking how much of my real self can I portray within fiction aren't you? Imai-san is skilled at giving me the right canvas for that. It doesn't have to be something that happened recently. Because of that we can do various things.

Even though you wanted to do those things you had to be patient due to being hindered in some ways but now it seems like that's no longer the case.
It isn't. I'm happy. Now because of that, I did things like my solo and that made me more comfortable with working with various other people and being introduced to their work. I think it felt something like the event we had last year. With all the guests taking part. Things went without a hitch and I think it was just good timing too. Like with Masami Tsuchiya-san, he's such an influential figure to me and he was kind enough to come all that way especially for us, moments like that, are too good to be wasted.