音楽と人 - October 2007
Interview with Imai Hisashi
Text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Translation: Lola

So how was your first time participating in the Rising Sun Rock Festival?
Ah, it was fun. Both Sakurai-san and I were tipsy though.

Hahahaha. I can understand why given the circumstances.
We were on fire.

Oh yeah the live was really good. But I imagine it was a different feeling for you guys?
I guess you mean because it wasn't just our fans that came but other people too. But you know they were all there to enjoy the fest. So we all just went with the mood.

But you didn't really get to watch the other performances did you?
Not at all. We were there about 3 hours before our turn and then left right after we were done. But because I was drinking the whole time I had a great time!

I bet *smiles*.
I think I'd like to do it again.

I thought you had a really great set list too.
It was chosen for the lightest mood. We had the fest in mind.

Personally, because of the place I thought songs like 'Aku no Hana' and 'Jupiter' would have been good so I was glad you used them in the end.
Ah, I thought that maybe something with acoustic guitars would have been good too but when I asked the staff about it they said it'd be too difficult to adjust the sound given that it was an outdoor event and then they wouldn't stop apologizing about it. So I had to say, ok ok, I forgive you *smiles*.

But I had some songs in mind from the very beginning. Like 'Jupiter'. I just thought it'd really fit the atmosphere outside.

It's brilliant when performed on a big stage.

You guys were really aggressive on stage.
I know. I think that's pretty rare for us.

Well it was pretty clear that Sakurai-san was drunk when he came on but it seemed to work well for the show in the end.
It feels like we're al~ways drinking *smiles*. When we went I drank at the airport. I had to otherwise there was no way I could ride the plane. Then, I drank white wine in the plane and then after that when I was drinking canned beer on the bus, Sakurai-san was starting to get all fidgety in the seat in front me and I wanted to get out too so we got the bus to stop and went off to pee together.

It was slightly awkward after though because there were other bands on the bus with us *smiles*.

Well in any case *smiles* I think it'd be good if Buck-Tick went there again.
Yeah me too. Of course I'm not completely satisfied with how things went so it's a good reason to go back.

So go again next year.
Well I'll try to go but fests are so hard to do~.

Hahahahahahaha! You should try organizing one!
Well if I did it'd be a success. Everyone would have time on stage and with my system everything would be beautiful. Well, as long as people came. I'll have to get started on that.

You could have little shops too.
With what?

Imai-brand Thai curry *smiles*.
Hyahahaha. I think that'd be sooooooo tedious though. An acquaintance of mine opened their own shop actually and it's really busy.

Well the Buck-Tick fest is coming soon.
I'm looking forward to it.

But did going to this fest influence your plans for how you'd do the B-T fest?
I think so. How can we not be influenced by it, even more so because we're a pretty secluded band.

Recently you haven't been doing much, is it because personally, you have no interest in collaborating with anyone?
There just isn't anything that I've felt I wanted to do, nothing specific. Perhaps there's Lucy. But because I'm not especially dissatisfied with where we left off, I can leave it for now. Also because it seems like something I'll always be able to do as long as the timing's right.

That's why I thought once Buck-Tick's tour is over next year that you'd drop everything and go straight back to Lucy.
Mm. But I don't feel like I'm done with Buck-Tick yet. Maybe because it hasn't been that long since I did Lucy. I just want to do something better. With both Buck-Tick an Lucy, something that feels light.

But the image you had when you started Lucy was slightly different. It was like you just stopped, then more than half a year later it was like you were struggling to come to grips with something.
Because I don't deal with things very well so during that time what I needed was balance.

Isn't that what you're doing now?
Not really because now there isn't anything stopping me. During the time when everyone was doing solo projects, of course I felt that I finally had the chance to say what I needed to say. Now that I think about it, I think that was the case for all of us. Because of that coming back to the band is a good feeling. I want to continue doing a lot of lives with high energy. I can't even thi~nk about stopping now.

Why do you think that is?
After 20 years, it's something like an addiction.

....... after 20 years you're blaming it on habit? *laughs*
Hyahahahaha! Which reminds me, this year, I've noticed there are a few things I haven't done.

Such as?
I haven't made things like Iwashita's fresh ginger (1).

Hya-hya-hya! And I haven't played Final Fantasy.

By all means, I think you should make Iwashita's ginger *smiles*.
'Tenshi no Revolver', brought to you by Iwashita's fresh ginger *smiles*.

So anyway, you doing something outside of Buck-Tick lead to the current situation right?

So you understood that being in Buck-Tick was a good thing after.
Well the whole atmosphere in Buck-Tick is completely different you know. That's true even when we're not working together musically because we're friends and it's from that friendship that we became the band that we are. That makes for an overwhelmingly different atmosphere. You can never run away from something like that.

I guess that became painfully clear when you tried working outside of Buck-Tick.
Kacchan and Kiyoshi and I are good friends and drinking buddies so it seemed natural for us to form Lucy but there were moments when I felt a subtle sort of ache with them. I could feel it in my skin during recording and even when on tour. Of course I knew it'd be different but there was this nervousness. Whenever I'd get that feeling I'd get slightly homesick and wonder why *smiles*.

You didn't feel that way with Buck-Tick.
No because even if I was with another member, like Hide and he didn't say one word to me all day it never bothered me, it was a comfortable silence. Whereas with Lucy, whenever that happened I couldn't help but feel uneasy. Like, is it just me? Or are they in a bad mood?

That band formed from your personal needs musically but now do you feel like it's a burden?
No I'm happy with what I did with Lucy, I've never thought of it as a burden. Because I'm not restricted with it as a band. I feel I can do anything.

Lucy and Buck-Tick even seem to be constructed around two different world views.
In regards to Lucy, it began with what Kiyoshi and I needed to get out and that's where the image came from but somewhere along the way I began to notice that that wasn't what I was doing. What I was doing wasn't good at all. It's not good if I keep slipping from the image we had decided on for Lucy. Obviously.

You're talking about it being 'rock'n'?
Yeah. Maybe that's always how it was. If so, then good. But the thing with Buck-Tick is each time we do a new album our perspective changes and so our work does too. I think I've said it a number of times already but during '13 kai wa gekkou', when we were going to live houses, even though we were doing a gothic album strangely, we performed with this rock and roll image. That ended up developing into what we're doing now. The idea for 'Tenshi no Revolver'.......really all started when we were at a certain party performing 'Romance'....

What 'certain' party is that? *smiles*
Just a certain party *smiles*. I think we played 'Romance' and 'Diabolo'. Anyway, because it was a typical party place we didn't bring our equipment, we just brought our instruments and we thought we'd try to just do a raw performance. I was curious to see what it would sound like like that. With that sort of weak sound. But because of that handicap, the sound was more authentic than ever and the performance felt light. Up till now I've been trying to get that image and then somehow or other we embodied it then. It was basic, just guitar, bass, drums and singing and with a little bit of keyboard at parts but nothing else. Yet with that lack of enhancement came an all-out pure sort of sound. That fascinated me.

Within all the various sounds you've created, you've come back to this one.
Maybe using this band sound is my way of returning to our early albums. Because at the time of 'Sexual XXXXX!' and 'Seventh Heaven' I didn't really know how to do it properly. I just wasn't aware of it then.

So this lack of enhancement is a good thing?
Yeah. Because it limits the sound, there are things I can't do but actually, those restrictions are what makes it easy. Because from there I can decide what I'll do. After that, well we put in the keyboards and decide how we'll do the arrangement.

Once you've decided what to do, I guess what matters then is the natural power you guys have as people in the band.

You've explained about your limitations but within the range of what you can do, did you try do push to the max?
Yeah. I think we've really gone and done something extremely original as a rock and roll band.

So, from there you'll hone it to get what you really want out of it right. Essentially you're not finished with it, seems you still got a bit of ways to go.
Ah but honing it is what I'm best at.

Frankly, if you're saying that the band is honing its core and that '13kai wa gekkou' led to 'Tenshi no Revolver' then I have to say that's a pretty radical result.
Yeah. Steadily, it feels like we're becoming more beautiful as a band (2). But I see what you mean, you're wondering how I ended up with this given what I started with.

Because I've only begun to understand Buck-Tick well recently.
But in the end before I made the album I knew I wanted to do something like this because what we did before made me think of what we'd do next and I thought this would be interesting. It's almost never like that for me. First, I think about what I want, then from there gradually an image forms and I get filled with all these wild ideas. But I don't know, maybe that's why things turned out how they did in the end.

So in some respects, you're honing both Buck-Tick and Lucy aren't you?
Yeah. But only because it interests me. If I wasn't aiming at something that was inside me then what would the subject be for the album? I have to feel I'm aiming at something right? As long as what I can imagine in my head is interesting for the band.

I think your imagination has really grown in songs like 'Alice in Wonder Underground'.
At the beginning, while I was writing the lyrics for it I wanted the phrase at the high point of the song to be melodious, to be a symbol, like some sort of magical incantation. I just let the image grow from there, but there's a hide and seek feel to it now. And that's dangerous.

Hide and seek.
Hide and seek is kinda scary to me.

It reminded me of Jan Svankmajer.

Didn't he make a movie called 'Alice' too?
I have that on dvd. I let it play while I was drinking. But when I was writing this song I hadn't seen the movie yet.

Well then where did the idea for Alice come from?
The bank.

I went to the bank and while I was waiting for my number to be called, I saw they had these illustrated books for kids. And they had 'Alice in Wonderland' (3). So I read it and then that image grew. Then I realized that hey, I didn't know anything about the true story of Alice.

But when I was listening to another one of your songs, the first track, 'Mr. Darkness & Mrs. Moonlight', it felt like something from '13 kai wa gekkou' to me.

Because of the line 'Pierced by the Devil's horns'.
It's just an amazing pop song but with this strange feel to it that I think is great. You've got the drums, then the bass comes in, then the guitars and the vocals. I love that the high point of the song is so plain *smiles*.

How about 'Montage'? Even when I heard it during the Rising Sun fest I thought it was a good song.
I like the lyrics myself but while I was writing them I kept wondering 'what kind of song is this turning out to be?' *smiles*. Then I was nervous about the feeling the title 'Montage' would give in katakana.

What about Oswald?
Well when I wrote about being under suspicion like him, it was because he seems to be seen that way internationally *smiles*. I was nervous about that too though, I kept thinking this song is turning out to be something Sakurai-san would write *smiles*.

In 'Lily' it seems like your current tension is really being expressed.
How so?

With lines like 'suddenly, it's just the two of us in the world'.
Kukuku. When I first wrote the music for it I gave the demo to Sakurai-san but then for some reason more and more I couldn't get it out of my head. So I e-mailed him saying 'I kinda want to write the lyrics for this because I have something I need to get out'. Then he replied, 'It's ok, I'll leave it to you then.' Then about an hour later I wrote again saying, 'Actually, I've already written the lyrics. What should I do?' and because of what I had already said he told me, 'Use them!' *smiles*.

Especially with words like 'the two of us' and 'eternity', it sounds like a song about happiness.
Yeah, but well that's normal for a love song. It's just because, personally, I like lyrics like that, that are just very straightforward.

Do you feel your fixation with band things is steadily growing stronger?
No, it hasn't really changed has it?

So in 20 years nothing's changed?
Well, when you compare things to how they were at the very beginning I guess they've changed a little. Like my way of approaching recording and playing guitar. But I don't think we've really changed.

So even though you've had various images with Lucy, Schwein and Schaft you're saying that in regards to Buck-Tick, your feelings haven't swayed?
Yeah. Well, I can't escape that. Even if I wanted to *wry smile*.

Why do you think that is?
I wonder. To a great extent, it just feels natural at this point. So I want to keep going.

It seems like you're saying it's only good as long as it serves a purpose for you but what will you do when Buck-Tick can't deliver the sound you long for Imai-san?
Nothing, I can do anything in the band. That's what's good about working with them. Even with 'Tenshi no Revolver', we're all getting older but *smiles* nevertheless we still put out the band sound I wanted. I've said it before but I'll say it again, in this band, there's nothing we can't do. Not. One.

(1) Iwashita's ginger recipe can be found here if you want to see.
(2) Ah, I feel I need to explain this. It's...it's very simply said but it means so much more. Literally 'becoming pretty'. It's something that is often said to women in Japan after they've gotten married. It's something to do with...being complete. Once you're complete, fulfilled, you're happy and therefore, beautiful. So it does make sense in the context.
(3) The Japanese title being 'Fushigi no koku no Alice' or '不思議の国のアリス'.