Interview with Sakurai Atsushi
Text by Onojima Dai
Translation by Lola

When you first formed the band, was there more to it than just wanting to do music?
Yes well at felt like I was just going along with the flow of things. One day I stayed late at Imai's house and it was those of us who stayed that decided we'd form a band together.

It seems like a natural thing to do among close friends.
Yeah it was and it was a big thing for me personally. Before that, I had nothing, I had no purpose.

It sounds like you were bored of everyday life and so wanted to do something interesting.

So how did the image for a rock band come about? that time I had all this much so, I didn't know what to do with myself so I thought it'd be good for me to put that energy to use.

You had so much, you were willing to put it anywhere.
Yes, exactly.

But nothing left you feeling fulfilled other than the band?
Not, but I did a lot of things *smiles*. But those things...just left me feeling lost in the end and the friends who were around me at that time became scattered in the end too. Mostly, it was my friends who didn't go to school who weren't around anymore. That's when I noticed that I had been putting all my energy into doing stuff with that crowd. And we weren't even doing anything altruistic.

It was a bad crowd.
*smiles* Yes.

So losing that made the band become your emotional outlet. Do you remember doing your first live?
Yes. I remember......being very aware of the fact that people could see me, it made me feel light headed. I didn't know what to do.

But, standing out isn't such a bad thing perhaps. long as you're not standing out for doing something bad......but anyway, regardless of that I wasn't really against being in the lead. It's more that I was hesitant or rather I was disillusioned......I hadn't thought at all before on whether I would like public attention or not.

So being part of the band wasn't about wanting to stand out for you.
Mm. I thought more about standing out when I wanted to be the vocalist. I thought I could put more energy into that you know (when the band first formed, Sakurai was the drummer). I wanted to feel more complete.

Do you remember what you wore for the first live?
Yes~ *smiles*, I had on this old second hand suit. My hair was styled to look like David Sylvian. From his Japan era look. But I wasn't that flashy.

So, were you really fussy about your personal appearance?
No. I never really cared about that.

In those days Buck-Tick was known for being visually oriented and rather showy but not for being particularly stylish.
I think we were rather showy. Each in our own way. Of course Imai was always the flashiest. With his bright yellow hair. Then there was Yuuta with his torn leather jacket and Hide in something like...a stained white lab coat *smiles*.

It felt like you guys were trying to look like hooligans.
*smiles* Because we were trying to be like the Stalin you know. That's why we looked that way.

In those days, people were really obsessed with trying to peg you guys as a visual band but you really weren't were you?
No, we were not. We were just trying to follow the Stalin and Boowy and since they had makeup on, so did we. It just seemed natural for us to do it too.

How did you feel the first time you put on makeup?
Hmm.......I think you can do some really cool things with it *smiles*. For's good for making yourself stand out.

Cosmetics can really be used for all sorts of things. They can be used to make people more beautiful, they can be used when you want to change your look, but there are also people who use it more in a kitsch sense.
At first, I really only used it to stand out. But became about wanting to change. I wanted to become beautiful. I wanted to show people something pretty and so gradually that's what came through, once I took the place as vocalist.

Buck-Tick had a visual image of sorts, especially during your indies days. When did you establish your image?
After I became the vocalist, which was roughly after about a year of being indies. Within that first year, the idea formed in my mind. Even before that, our vocalist at the time and I had completely different images in our minds.

How was being on stage for the first time as a vocalist?
It was different. Hmm......or rather I should say, it was scary. When everything went felt like the air was so dry, and it looked like.......people were bored.

Ah, so you thought you had to say something.
Yeah.......but because I was scared, I reacted by screaming at them to try to get their attention *smiles*. I was really intense. But then when it was over, it felt like I was going to burst.

Spiked up hair, and flashy makeup are a part of Buck-Tick's early visual image but didn't all that become a burden after a time?
Yes. Gradually, as people came to know about our band, doing those things began to feel like an obligation. It took about two years until our debut right. Of course during that time when we did various lives or concerts we weren't always made up like that you know. But then starting from our debut, it was like we did nothing but that. For interviews and even during fan meets *smiles*.

*smiles* I see it still really bothers you *smiles*.
Yeah, I mean after awhile it really made me feel trapped.

Was it because the makeup and the hairdo was so different from your real self?
Hmm......yeah, well of course at that time I was very different from my stage .......but all five of us did it, we disguised ourselves from the beginning because we figured....other it so, we did too, for interviews and for fan meets. We didn't think we could do anything about it.

Did you all discuss what image you wanted for the band together?
No, we didn't. Everyone liked doing their own thing.

Because you had been labeled as visual, people expected that of you, and as a result, it became a burden to you. So was that the excuse you needed to wear your hair down?
It was, yes. Plus it was just annoying to maintain.

Was it that you wanted to be the same, both on and off stage?
No, it wasn't really about that. Because.......I wasn't even aware that my on and off look was the same. I was just really sick and tired of having my hair up. I wanted a change, something that wouldn't be complicated to do.

You put your hair down, but you still continued to wear makeup didn't you. What did wearing makeup mean to you? Was it because you were uneasy without it?
No.......not way........was fine to me. Personally......well, I just thought it went well with what we were doing at the time.

I guess your pickiness about your outward appearance dwindled over time. If you compare now to the past.
Yes, I pretty much thought anything was good......hmm......of course, I thought that doing something is better than doing nothing though.

But using makeup and flashy costumes can sometimes allow you to do things that ordinarily you could not do right? Didn't you realize that?
I did, yes. But I think I also came to realize that it wasn't absolutely necessary. I simply didn't want to only rely on that you know. Of course it is useful. But I thought it'd be better not to depend only on those things.

I guess you were starting to get more confident in yourself.
No~, not at all. I think it's the opposite.

But usually when people who wear makeup stop and show their natural faces, that means they've gained confidence. Well with women it's like that anyway.
Ah.......I don't think I've reached that point yet.

*smiles* I think everyone has that issue until senior high at least.

People struggle to mask that issue in various ways I think. But then, the closer they are to being adults, they tend to calm down about it. They begin to understand who they are as people.'re saying those who hide, are those who want to see. That's why they stop putting such emphasis on their looks. So, those who know that they hide........are those who know themselves. And it's like, the idea of being completely exposed is mortifying to them.

We all have our faults but, knowing the things that we can do, can help us gain confidence right?
You really think so........yeah, well anyway, being exposed is really scary. Because it makes me you feel so small you know. .........perhaps I can think about what I can do in terms of makeup and costumes now. Just as those who can't, won't. Even if they intend to wear makeup, they will resist it.

The other members have gradually calmed down in regards to their outward appearance too haven't they. So naturally, you did as well Sakurai-san.
Mm, perhaps. I would say we've become more subtle.

Do you think there are parts of your personal appearance that you should change?
Yeah, I think so.

What do you think would make you more appealing now? of course because I'm in a band.......I want to do things that will work well...on stage.

And how do you think you'd be if the band broke up?
......if perchance that happened, I don't think I'd be any different.

So you wouldn't try to keep yourself in check?
No, I would not.

Well what would you do if the band broke up?
I don't know really......I don't think I'd do anything.

For instance, something like working for a company, being gloomy because you get bitched at by your superiors everyday. Everyone has those things they have to do, even though they say 'this isn't the real me'. So what would it be for you Sakurai-san?
Nothing *smiles*. Things are going smoothly *smiles*.

So, there's nothing that you feel you've had to give up because of being in the band?
.......yeah......but they're such tiny little things. I think that's the case for everyone. But we think these things through before we decide what direction to go in.

Have you changed how you think about the fans?
Yes. ......even if I intend on doing something, it's not just about me. In the past, I'd just do what I wanted. You know, 'I'm doing this! Look at me!' whereas now, I entrust things to others.

You know, even if you think things through more, there will still be people who won't understand you.
I'm trying not to be so pessimistic. But I'd rather that, than force people to do things they have no interest in.......since I hate that myself. Just by doing what I like.......I feel so much better about things. Naturally.

Imai-kun seemed to say the same thing. It felt like you guys were such pushovers before, but no longer. Now, it looks like you want to do things honestly and frankly. Because of that, the whole band can do things naturally.
Yes,'s because of what we put into it. Like now both Hide and Imai include me in things, even for words and sound......we include Anii and Yuuta too......when they listen to the sound and the words, we ask each other what we want and that's how we're able to understand each other.

So gradually you seem to be going in this natural direction, and I think that's very clear in your music. Imai-kun said that was the main factor in the sound for 'Kurutta Taiyou' but what do you think of that Sakurai-kun?
Part of the band's strong point is that we don't only think about what would sell......we think about what we like and what we're good at, 'TABOO' was born from our desire to do that. And that led us on the way to 'Kurutta Taiyou'. That's how the things I express became directly connected to the band's style.

You weren't able to completely express yourself before?
No, not fully. It's only by writing lyrics and singing that I can express myself.

Buck-Tick is widely seen as having a very strong visual image but that's not really how it is.
No it isn't. At least I don't think so.

So, you've explained it but, I think perhaps people will still wonder why it is then that you guys still wear such strong makeup *smiles*. While you still feel the need to wear makeup, you no longer feel the need to hide, isn't that better?
......well, it takes time but I think it gets better, little by little.