音楽と人 - December 1993
Interview with hide
Text by Ichikawa Tetsushi
Translation: W_B

This interview was conducted over the phone soon after hide arrived in LA.

Hello, I am Ichikawa, the company founder.
My congratulations. What was it again, "Ongaku no tomo (1)"?

Ah, but that one's about classical music.
*laughs* What?

We're the Ongaku to Hito corporation, actually....
Ooh. *laughs* The band and I noticed the "Ongaku to Hito" printed in your liner notes for Art of Life, we were wondering what that was. So what's your magazine's name again?

Ongaku to Hito.
Ahahahahahaha. Of course it is. *laughs* Will you be doing a Drinking Diaries revival?

Of course.
Really? Coo~l. Please, do come to my shows regularly. *laughs* Too bad I just got to LA, I'd buy a few drinks and wait for you.

It's alright. Now, I've been told you started recording your album yesterday... You made your solo debut a while ago with the two singles that were released in August but do tell, when did you decide to go solo in the first place?
X was completely inactive at the time....We had all set up office separately (April 1992), right, for an indefinite time. You remember Yocchan (Yoshiki) playing with V2 (a project with TMN's Komuro Tetsuya, their single "Haitoku no hitomi" came out December 1991)? That's when I vaguely started thinking about doing something of the kind as well.

You had no concrete plans?
Not at the time. *smiles* It's just that, as a listener, I didn't find guitarists' solo albums very interesting you know? So I started by picking all my favorite vocalists, I would've been happy to let them sing my songs but then I started wondering about the album's style......See, my personal favorite is Ace Frehley's (ex-KISS guitarist with the silver alien makeup) solo album. *laughs*

Wahahahaha. His solo's too cute and pop for me.
Very different from KISS isn't it.

Exactly when did you start your solo?
Since I had no songs put together ......it started with contract talks. *laughs*

But it was either that or do absolutely nothing. Guess that's why I started it back in spring.

Of course had X been doing anything, that naturally would have been your priority.
Yeah, that's the premise, for Toshi, Pata, Yoshiki and for me.

But...there were the 3 days X played consecutively at Tokyo Dome in January 1992, the press conference about your push abroad, the Red and White stage battle in December, Art of Life released this August, you might *laughs* be releasing the single "Tears" in October, and you're telling me that's nothing? Why, you have all the time in the world for your solo, feels like you're positively free of priorities or any other crap.
No~ *laughs* But it's actually hard you know? Because I never know when I'll be able to start recording or whether it'll get postponed. *smiles* Toshi-kun (the first in the band to do a solo, "Made in Heaven" was released November 1992), he said that too, that it's incredibly hard to coordinate both schedules, there's always mountains of work to be done. It all tends to come at once.

I never would have guessed.
It was the same this time around, first I had to hold off on going into the drum studio for my solo, then it was X's turn to give way......something always has to give doesn't it. *laughs*

Wahahahaha. To say the truth though, it seems like X is hardly ever active.
You know, that's because there's no one in LA who'd help us gain a firmer footing in America. Yoshiki's essentially the one who does it all... It's just like when we were indies back here in Japan, right now he's the one who does everything. He does take our individual plans into consideration before meeting with agents and attorneys but in the end he's the one doing everything for us.

I see nothing has changed.
It hasn't. *laughs*

And you're cheering him on from the sidelines.
Call me if anything happens~ *laughs*

Hahahahaha. And in this time you're released two singles, made a video with TUSK (2) and just now, you've charged right into recording for your album...you sound reliable alright.
I was serious. But...that's what seems to happen when I'm left alone. *laughs*

Alright, I want to talk about those two singles first, "50%&50%" and "Eyes Love You"... How come they were put out so suddenly and without any promotion, it's making me think they must be exceptional if the artist himself won't talk about them.
Well, recording went in a flash but I had trouble with the vocals......because it was my first time ever doing them. I recorded the melody then sang, for the first time. *laughs*

What are you talking about?
And then I thought that n..no, I can't do it. *laughs*

*laughs* And why exactly did you think that?
Because, that was the first time I really heard my voice.

But you've sang before during X lives.
But I'm not the main singer, I do backup noises. *laughs*

Right, you're in charge of the extras.
Yup yup. *laughs* So I was in trouble but, uh...luckily Toshi-kun let me see his vocal coach a few times.

It was smart of you to take proper lessons.
To train my voice, right. That's when I saw the light, once the teacher told me that anyone can sing actually. I thought hey, true! *laughs*

Those words, they kept my spirits up......They were the reason I managed and never even realized how difficult some things could be. *laughs*

Moving on, if we were to categorize the singles we could say that both A-sides, "Eyes~" and "50%&~", are catchy perverted rock songs and both B-sides, Doubt and Oblaat, are heavy avant-garde rock that comes from the depths of your heart.
Yup. And together both sides make an infernal cacophony of highs and lows. *laughs* Though I have no idea which one's the high and which one's the low. *laughs* I'm thinking it could be either but it's still too early to judge......We'll just have to wait until I'm recording the album, won't we? *laughs*

There you go, stressing yourself out again.
Bah, it's ok, that was just an afterthought. *laughs*

*laughs* You're no fun. It was easy to guess the A-sides were yours......they have a lot in common with "Joker" and "Celebration" which you've written with X.
I know. They sound like something I'd write for Toshi-kun......Actually, at first I thought I'd have someone else sing them.

Ah, that's why you said you were in trouble when the time came to sing them yourself. For you they were pretty hard.
To be honest, every song's hard for me. *laughs* But well, I sang them anyway because this way they'll be original! *laughs*

"Eyes~" and the other A-side aren't off the charts though, they sound unsophisticated. You can tell it's a guitarist's solo.
What, really? Hehehehehehe.

They're rather cute.
Hehehehe, well then.

At first "Eyes Love You" made me think of a late *laughs* Sawada Kenji(3) tribute....
What are you talking about! *laughs*

The verdict is out, it's pop rock.
I don't get you. But Sawada Kenji is the only one I ever sing in karaoke.

You actually sing karaoke?
What? *laughs* I hate it but if I can't escape it I'll sing, "Toki no sugiyuku mama ni(4)", nothing else.

Hahaha. Isn't that song over 30 years old?
It seems to be the least welcome in karaoke. *laughs*

Still, that song is a symbol of your taste for dirty pop, you can't deny that.
Yup, I thought about putting out some crass pop songs but the type of lyrics I write didn't fit the melody. I mean, there was no way I'd ever make all of the words fit. But I hated the thought of combining a pop melody with pop lyrics, I wanted that contrast of something that wasn't pop against a pop background so for the lyrics, I tried outsourcing...to Mori Yukinojo-san. I had this one album as a kid, Bow Wow's Warning From Stardust(5)... The A-side was in English and the B-side in Japanese. I adored the Japanese lyrics, they were unlike anything else by Bow Wow. And behold, they happened to be written by Yukinojo-san. I knew my master lyricist seemed somehow familiar. *laughs*

Was Yukinojo-san aware of what you were looking for when he wrote lines like "in the city of Sodom" or "a mosaic of madness and despair"? *smiles*
We talked about the concept and wrote them together and I'd tell him if, let's say, I wasn't ok with singing a particular line. *smiles*

Well, you wrote pretty nice pop tunes.
Hmm......Maybe so......I tried.

What's that about? *laughs* But I have to say I like your lyrics for Doubt better, they really suit you.
Hey, you're making me look bad! *laughs*

What do you expect, you're the one who wrote it. Things like that will reflect on you.
I thought that too when I was singing it. *laughs*

Ah, but don't you find you've used words in an interesting way? In lines like "come on, show me the fish you've collected in your pond", "Give up that dirty, juicy/fishy secret", "your henoheno moheji faces/whose true colors I've never seen", "if they let you slaughter a lump of meat you'd even cut through the bone".... (6)
Well......I sure tried.

Hey, but I paid you a compliment?
......did you?

Are you...embarrassed?
Hahahahaha. Once I was on this radio show with Toshi-kun and when they told me to go ahead and introduce the song, what comes out of my mouth but "this is Eyes Love You by hide". I burst out laughing *laughs*, I was laughing at myself. What in the world did I just say? *laughs*

It's because you're not used to the situation yet.
Absolutely not used to it. *laughs*

With your Hide no heya (7) solo corner is all about ad-libbing, with "Love Replica" on X's Jealousy album you got us to associate this weird, experimental feel with you......does having the B-sides from your singles in that style make them easier to play?
Easy to play is just that, easy to play. I mean, even with pop, I can write it very easily for other people but for me it's hard to sing. I'd have that problem even if I had always favored pop.

Still, you've mastered all of the vocals.
Not really, I'm still puzzling as to exactly how I should sing. *laughs*

What do you think of your other pop song, "50%&50%"?
I wrote that one after recording "Eyes Love You" and "Oblaat".

Why did you feel that you needed a second pop track?
Let's see... Because I needed an A-side? Hahaha, like my answer?

I think you're making things up~
But...think about it, wouldn't doing the single be pointless if it wasn't pop? Typically it's the singles that are universal. That's why I did pop, even if it's outside my comfort zone.

I see you've thought it all through.
Thank you.

Actually...what kind of response did you get after releasing work under your own name?
I don't know, I went back to LA right after the release. *laughs* I have no idea what the response was... Actually, maybe that's not such a bad thing. *laughs*

I hightailed it out of there. *laughs* (8)

Because you're scared of criticism?
Oh come on... *laughs*

You seem not to care about criticism when you're with X but now that you're doing a solo, do you find yourself vulnerable?
Maybe I've always been...

How satisfied are you with your work? ...personally, I feel that when it comes to the songs themselves, their degree of perfection, your methodology, the lyrics, all those things are great. However, there are moments when the arrangement and the sound quality leave something to be desired. Ah, but you're probably not the one to blame for those problems.
Hmm...well...let's leave this for another time. *laughs* There are some things I'd like to say but...there's not much I can do about them now, I mean, this is my music so shouldn't I accept what's been done and learn the appropriate lessons? *laughs*

*smiles* So you're not only embarrassed but you also regret a few things.
Because for now this is what I'm known for. Because I was the one who gave the all clear.

Moving on, Toshi completed his solo debut about 10 months before you started yours so tell me, what's your perspective?
I can't really say, I only heard him play one guitar solo once during the taping of a TV show. The only thing I vaguely remember thinking is how it must've been hard...but for me it's different.

I didn't think he had it in him. But his songs ended up really good. *laughs* Although, of course doing a solo is hard. You have to play your own drums, play your own base, play your own guitar. *smiles* With the band you can split it all into five but when you're alone you only have yourself to rely on. Plus you have to harmonize all of the arrangements yourself.... But I finally get it, see...and maybe it's a good thing, maybe it's not, *laughs* but...for some reason the best arrangement will always be the one that I liked initially. The moment I start picking at details I lose sight of the whole.

Ah, isn't Yoshiki your exact opposite, focusing on the details instead? One song takes him a pretty long time.
He's one to try every arrangement, he'll work on a song until the last possible moment. I know it takes me a long time to polish one song too but usually I'll spend all of it trying to fit one specific sound into the melody. *laughs* Vocals always come second, I'm like some amateur that way. *laughs*

*laughs* Until now I didn't think you had any confidence in yourself, since you seemed to think your singles weren't universal.
And that's...why I'm in trouble now. *laughs*

You take your work too seriously.
Did you know I haven't been drinking at all since I started working on the album?

It's because I felt like all I needed to be happy was to spend my time in LA working on songs. *smiles*

It was in the spring if I remember, you impressed me with your talk of having to assume your responsibilities in X...... Back in the day X used to be an extreme, a hardcore band. Then you became a huge commercial success and suddenly the band's universality seemed increasingly stressed. Even Yoshiki toned down his madman side and let his sensitive artistic side show. And that's why there was talk of you having to abandon your loud, hardcore style as well, for X to gain stability.
But that's what I did! *laughs* It's why I gave my singles a pop feel, precisely because pop's the highest common denominator. Then after they were done I started wondering if maybe I should incorporate pop into my style.

That's some sound reasoning and honestly, more and more I wish you'd get rid of your extreme side. You know, since the rest of X has mellowed out these days....
What are you telling me to do now? *laughs*

I'm just saying, since everything's been completely turned on its head.
Yeah, it's true you know, sometimes I look at myself, I look at other bands and feel that ah hell, we've all become boring.

Right? But actually, when it comes to your solo it looks like we can expect the unexpected.
Can you really? That's not much fun for me either. I thought people might expect the singles to be loud and aggressive, kind of like "Frozen Bug", that song that I played with J and Inoran of Luna Sea. So I made the A-sides pop instead...... I hate going along with people's expectations. *laughs*

Ok, please have fun surprising us then.
*laughs* You do remember that I have a live at the Tokyo Dome at the end of December? I want to be in rehearsal by the beginning of the month even if that's already late......and if I haven't finished my solo by then......ooh, you'll hear me whining about that in interviews! *laughs*

And I hope that once the album comes out you'll promote it properly. *laughs*
But I'm terrible~ at speaking in public, even when it's with people I know. *laughs* Unless I drink, otherwise there's no way I can do it. *laughs*

Notes: (1) "Ongaku no tomo" is a classical music magazine, its title translates to "Friends With Music", or "Music's Friend". Its homepage is http://www.ongakunotomo.co.jp
(2) The video in question is Seth & Holth, a story of two angels cast down into the world of man. It was released in 1992.
(3) Sawada Kenji is very much alive and well today. The interviewer is simply having a bit of fun teasing hide.
(4) Toki no sugiyuku mama ni is a Sawada Kenji single, released August 1975.
(5) Bow Wow happens to be a Japanese metal band. You might have heard of them as Vow Wow, actually. You can find some basic information about them on this page: Metal Archives
(6) 'i no naka no kawazu', or a big fish in a small pond. It's a saying that means to be ignorant of the ways of the world. Therefore, 'show me the fish you've collected in your pond' can pretty much be taken as 'show me how ignorant you are of the world'. A henoheno moheji is a cartoon/caricature face drawn with phonetic hiragana characters. Henohenomoheji: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henohenomoheji
(7) "Hide no heya", or "Hide's room", was the name of hide's solo corner during X concerts.
(8) The literal expression hide uses here translates as 'a fuck and run'. Mostly used after sleeping with a woman and running away. ^^;

Timeline of releases:
January 5th to 7th, 1992: Live - X at Tokyo Dome 3 Days
November 1992: Toshi - Made In Heaven
August 1993: X - Art of Life
August 1993: hide - 50%&50% and Eyes Love You
October 1993: X - Tears
December 30th and 31st, 1993: Live - X's New Year shows
February 1994: hide - Hide Your Face