Interview with Hoshino Hidehiko
Text by Kojima Satoshi
Translation by Lola

When you first had your major debut, suddenly Buck-Tick was thrust into the media spotlight. During your indies days you never had that much exposure as I recall but, right after you went major suddenly you guys were everywhere, it was one thing after another so...what was your impression of that time? Did you think 'oh that was sudden' or things like 'now that the band has made its debut, I'll have money' *smiles*.
*smiles* Well, I was happy about it. Of course there's a huge difference between trying to pay for your own ads in magazines and then being part of a big company that does it for you......From that point on, we weren't just in music magazines, we had a wide variety of media exposure.

When you guys were still indies, you could basically control the level of media exposure you got right but after that, you didn't really have any more say once you hit the big time. Like having your pictures used for advertising in magazines without your knowledge, or involvement. Did you have any kind of misunderstandings like that?
At that time.......well to be honest I didn't really care. Of course in those days, when we'd go to bars to hang out with other bands, we'd compare how things were going but we were more concerned about doing music properly than advertising , we hadn't really placed any real importance on that kind of thing yet. So......we didn't really care that we had no leeway with it.

Buck-Tick also came from the generation of people who watched Beatles movies and within that generation, there were a lot of people who formed bands at that time wanting to be like The Beatles. While that might have been a part of it for some...for others it soon became about wanting to do their own music. While your desire to write your own music was strong, did you have any vision of what you wanted to do other than that? Like did you have a certain goal you wanted to reach or something you wanted to be praised for in particular Hoshino-san?
Not really, odd isn't it? I didn't really have anything like that around the time of our debut but we were relatively treated as nonconformists. People felt there was a gap between our music and our visual side. But, we were happy with the way we were doing were satisfied with our position and felt like things were going relatively well at that time.

At that time, your appearances in music magazines really increased, almost every magazine had Buck-Tick in it. Even though I didn't really think the band's natural image was being conveyed in all of them, I still looked forward to reading them. Would you say that you felt the same, like you didn't care how they put things, as long as you were in it?
Well I didn't understand how it worked between the record companies and the media back was more a time of trial and error, I mean I hadn't thought about it until then so I just basically thought 'I guess this is how things are....' you know. But of course, because of what appeared in the magazines we were also able to learn about fan response during lives to an extent that we couldn't by ourselves and that made us understand how to capture the audience better which is a really important thing you know. It was from then that we were able to think about it.

From the moment Buck-Tick first made its debut, you seemed to have special attention from the media which is understandable given that what you did was pretty new at the time. It was never said but it seems likely to me that it was due to the great importance people placed on your appearance that the visual scene grew so much. Maybe this is a silly question but, do you think perhaps the importance placed on the visual element of bands came from those days?
It seems like it. Either way a lot of bands were visual, you'd see it in magazines, and on TV too and that made us want to be like that too. It wasn't just about music, it was about appealing on all levels and that's rather important isn't it. So say for live performances, you try to pair the visual with the musical for the greatest effect that will move people. In truth, I think that's absolutely necessary. Of course, it's not complete without the right sound and ideally you should have that down before you perform.

That's why you guys are always in good form when you perform and can stay together. Take KISS for example, at one time they were really known for all their makeup. But keeping that up for such a long time is hard. Do you think the reason Buck-Tick is still together is because the members haven't changed?
Yes...... For ten years. Man that's long *smiles*. Well, it's because.......we've always valued freedom as the most important thing so.......we don't limit each other. With music too, we all have our own assertions and that can be a point of argument but.......we don't fight over it. We really weigh the good and the bad of each person's with that as our fundamental way of doing things, that's why we never really have misunderstandings within our group.

I'd like to ask you a little more about your visual stance because whenever I ask the younger generation of bands about the visual scene, they always mention Buck-Tick. Wearing makeup on stage can make you look cool but it shouldn't overshadow the music. In a way, it sounds like you're warning people against it. For you personally Hoshino-san, when it comes to Buck-Tick's visual expression, would you say you're wary?
Saying that I'm warning people against being visual is a bit of an exaggeration *smiles*. Well I mean of course back in the day we were rather green when it came to musical performance, even now we're still new to it but back then, we were just did our best. Because there were sets on stage and things like that, I guess I was kind of aware of things be honest I didn't really give it much thought you know. Naturally now.......we know that the visual element goes well with the music so that's why we continue to use it. So, now when I think about performance, I also think about the stage, something relatively simple and then from that, we decide on how to make a set like that together, something that will appeal to people and with the visual aspect going along with our theme too.

There was a point in the past where you guys were considered, "A band that puts the visual before the musical". What do you think of that?
There's just no way that's true......but I think there are people who grasp that so that's good. Of course because the set is important to the performance too, perhaps people get confused. Maybe because it also makes us look better or something. We're just trying to figure out how to use the set well......and how to make it work with the music. I think it's something we're slowly getting.

In a way, the fact that you do place the same level of importance on music as you do on the visual aspect of performing is what makes it easy for people to become bewitched by your public image. To say it simply, because of your unique visual sense the way you end up being portrayed in various magazines is similar. What do you think of that?
Nothing really, when I said that I didn't really care, I meant I really don't care. But of course, it's true that when I do look at magazines, nearly all of them say the same thing *smiles*. But for me, it's just fun to read you know because it's just more publicity you know. Even's not something that we ourselves planned on. So I think that's a pretty clear explanation of how I feel about it. Besides, with music I think it's good to have exposure.

Perhaps this is just my own personal view of Buck-Tick but, with 'Kurutta Taiyou' and 'Koroshi no Shirabe' I think my way of seeing each member changed a little bit. From that point on there was an honest quality to the music and it was remarkably better. Up till then you did have a visual aspect, a band presence, a certain atmosphere of sorts but from that point on the subject at the centre of it all became the focus even more, at least for me but tell me Hoshino-san, did you feel there was a change during that period?
It certainly seemed as you said, there was more or less as you said that feeling of things coming to be better from that point on. But how I became aware of it was that......every music critic's review was suddenly different so, it was like 'Hm, I see......'. But even though their assessments may have changed, I didn't let myself get overly caught up in that. It wouldn't do any good if I had. So for me personally, I don't really listen to the reviews.......because the fact is, it honestly doesn't concern me.

So what if someone reviewed an album after really giving it an in depth analysis, and their assessment was right on, you wouldn't let that affect your self confidence?
Well in the past that would really affect me *smiles*. Certainly, if I read an article like that I'd simply feel happy that there was one more person who understood our music. But of course even though I'm happy at good reviews, I can't just only rely on what they say and it's not like I'm competing to get good reviews either.

Well personally for me, I know I started listening to the albums more closely from that point on and diligently going to concerts too but, the truth is, I think it's because it was from then on that Buck-Tick started being reviewed properly. But what bothered me a little bit, was how much you were being compared with popular foreign music from that period. At that time House music had adopted a very bold digital element, for instance some people thought you were conforming to the music of Jesus Jones (1) but when I thought about it, I found that the sound you had when you first debuted was more new wave.
Yes, well to be honest I like foreign music so it seems natural to me that you'd hear that in our sound and because Imai-kun is the type to want to put in new things all the time, I think that shows too you know. So for me, when I see we're being compared to foreign musicians, it's satisfying. I just think it's good to be seen on that international level. So I mean it really doesn't bother me......because it's natural given the music we make.

What about your most recent work, 'Shapeless'? Because of the sound used for these bold remixes of past works, they've changed into something quite original. How do you predict fans who have followed Buck-Tick up till now will react to this album?
How should I know? *smiles* I think it's something amazingly fresh and interesting but I know there are people who don't like songs without I guess there will be mixed reviews. Perhaps it'll be a work that fans will have a hard time understanding but the music is enjoyable so because of that I think people might sort of get it you know, well, at least I hope they can just feel good about it.

It's hard to say yet if the whole remixing concept has really picked up in Japan among rock fans even though Buck-Tick seems to have a love for it. Now you've tried to do it and you've paired the CD with this serious, conceptual photo book......which is different than anything else you've ever done so, to me it all has this very strong nuance of being 'planned'. But even though it has been released, it seems like perhaps you don't really want to explain this work Hoshino-san?
Maybe so. Because even if I explain how we made the sound, there's no clear meaning behind it *smiles*. So there's nothing that I can really tell you that that would make you understand. I'd just like if people thought, 'Ah, they can do this too' you know. Well at first I didn't even know what to think about it when I listened to it, except that I felt good about it so, I think it's a work that you don't just listen to, it's something that I want people to feel in their skin. So because we enjoyed it, we would like others to like it and try to enjoy it too.

(1) British rock group.