UV Vol. 31, May 1998
Interview with hide and J
Text by: Yusuke Kato
Translation: w_b

A year and a half ago we managed to get hide and J together for an interview. This time, we were initially planning to all meet up over drinks towards the end of 97, hide, J and Imai Hisashi (Buck-Tick). Sadly, Imai-kun wasn't able to join us because of hide's late return to Japan.

hide: This sucks, I'm always talking with Imai-kun but I never remember what about, you know?
Maybe your memory device is fried because you drink too much? *smiles*
hide: But the B-T team drinks! Excessively! Until finally, there goes Imai-kun with a thud, right? But Acchan will be completely unaffected, the sun will be coming up and I'll be dead tired and he'll go, "hide-kun, let's go back to my place" *laughs*. And so I'll ask, no way, is he being serious? And he'll go, "I am. Come on, hide-kun, let's go back to my place" *laughs*. It's not like his place is some black hole into the future and yet I'll somehow drink there until the next evening? It's unbelievable.
J: Maybe so but I've had a look at the results, these guys run on alcohol *laughs*. It's like their gasoline.

J, and when was your last gasoline refill?
J: There hasn't been any. I've stopped drinking for good.
hide: Why?
J: The others don't really get why either but for a while I drank pretty recklessly and when I'd wake up I'd regret everything, every single time.
hide: That's half my life right there. Happens 99% of the time after I drink. You'll never hear me say how wow, yesterday I had so much fun ! It's the bad stuff that'll stay with me the next day, even if I had a lot of fun.

Then J, you've had enough?
J: Yes. I've thought this over and personally, I don't find that too good. So, among my fans there are those girls who'll ask me to go drinking with them, right? I get fed up after something like the third outing *laughs*.
hide: I'm sure I'd be put off after a single night *laughs*.

I'm not so certain myself *smiles*. Moving on, have you listened to each other's new releases?
J: Rocket Dive is excellent. I love that song, to me it's the best by far. I find hide-nii's (1)pop style explosive.
hide: Will you stop saying that? *laughs* Will you stop arguing with me? *laughs*

Never! *laughs* J, if I remember correctly, Damage was your favorite song until last year.
J: It was. But he didn't play it when I went to see him live. It damaged me *laughs*.
hide: But when I sing it it's me who gets damamged *laughs*. All it takes is this one song for me to have no voice left the next day *laughs*.

Is that why you didn't sing it on the second of 2 Days?
hide: Yeah *smiles*. But I'm terrible about it. The keys go up so gradually that I'm always trying to decide whether I can sing it or whether I should wait. Then I won't have decided on anything in the end *laughs*. Instead I'll tell everyone to assume that we'll be doing it and this whole big issue will completely slip my mind *laughs*.

hide, recently you've been more than a vocalist, you've also stepped into the world of bassists. Let's hear about that from you *smiles*.
J: Hey, are you playing bass on all your songs?
hide: On about 7 this time. Probably because I find recording the bass parts pretty easy? When they asked what kind of amp to get me I told them to bring me the same one J has *laughs*.
J: Ahahahaha *laughs*!

J is your favorite bassist?
hide: If you're talking about the sound, then yes. A while back I saw him play at the Yokohama Stadium and wow, he was cool!

And then you secretly copied him *smiles*.
J: I don't think so *laughs*!
hide: You know, I might not copy his songs but sometimes I'll mute the strings and I'll imitate him, within limits.

And what do you think of Luna Sea's new release?
hide: I thought the bottom parts on Shine were strong.
J: Thank you.
hide: It's J's melodies. That's why I like him best in Wish, you see, both in Wish and Rosier. I had no idea whether they were his or not but that happens a lot.

Should you round up at all of your favorite Luna Sea songs would a lot of them be written by J?
hide: Yes. They hit just the right note. That's why when I first listened to the demo tape for his solo I found it very different from what I had expected.

Did you expect the songs to sound like Wish and Rosier?
hide: No, it's not about the style of his songs. When was it? Was it the day J came to L.A. that he made me listen to his tape? Is that it? Did we first meet up in L.A.?
J:Yeah yeah yeah.
hide: "I'll make you listen to my demo tape!" You dropped in uninvited *laughs*.
J: Into my own room *laughs*.

You wrote your thoughts on the demo on your homepage.
hide: I was too excited when I wrote about it. I was hooked. It hit the perfect note. This might seem obvious to you but it's because I already liked J's music in Luna Sea and the solo was 100% J.
J: I remember we weren't allowed to smoke in the studio I was sharing with hide-nii. So we'd smoke right outside the entrance, it probably looked like some high school students' get together *laughs*.
hide: Few of my foreign colleagues smoke but whenever me or some of the japanese guys come we ask them out for one. We turn them all back into smokers *laughs*.

Weren't you taken for a hooker when you were smoking like that outside the studio? *laughs*
J: Did they ask you how much? *laughs*
hide: Yeah yeah yeah *laughs*.
J: Ahahahaha *laughs*.

J, I heard you suspended all solo activity for a year and went back to Luna Sea.
J: I did.

In your case, hide, in the past you have gone back to X after long periods of absence without putting your own projects on hold, haven't you?
hide: Yes, I have.

And how did you feel about that, at the time?
hide: How do you think I felt?
J: Has it been 8 years already for Luna Sea? We've come all this way together. I've been around Inoran all these years since we were 13 or 14, Sugizo and Shinya-kun come from the same area, so, whatever we did we were always together. And so doing something without them seemed fresh just in itself. Ultimately, if you spend all your time with the same woman, isn't it inevitable that you'll start feeling smothered, no matter how much you love her? I had been rolling along with Luna Sea for so long that I found doing the solo positively refreshing. But this why I felt incredibly embarrassed when we got together again *smiles*.
hide: Yup, yup *smiles*.
J:I felt as if my summer vacation had ended and the second semester had begun. I don't know whether in the end it will have been for the better or for the worse but none of us five had ever played outside the group and if we had continued playing together I might not have had the chance to meet Scott or Franz. (2) As for whatever that might mean for me now, I simply feel that I don't have to limit myself anymore.

You feel that starting now you can be yourself in whatever it is you undertake?
J: Yeah. Because I love music and that's one thing that hasn't changed over time, whether it was then or now.

hide, haven't you said before that as a guitarist you're free to act like a lunatic but for your solo you have to somehow keep your cool because you're the one singing?
hide: Yup.

So what about you, J?
J: Oh yeah, that was driven home alright. I know about role sharing, of course. What I do in Luna Sea is write music and play the bass, try to make my parts sound the best they can and make sure to take care of my own stuff. From there we go and work on things as Luna Sea the band but when it came to my solo, I had to take care of everything and that really forced me to step up. On the other hand, you can't question my dedication to Luna Sea. But I kind of feel like my perspective is different for each project. So far I've never compared them and you see, if I did then it'd seem like I was trying to pick one over the other. But I wouldn't try to, I was following my heart for Luna Sea and for my solo.

I take it then that you have the same approach to music, whether you're with Luna Sea or your solo band?
J: Yes I do. Personally, I never approach music with the band's name in mind. I only consider the things I've gone through or places shown to me by hide-nii when I was in L.A. for my solo, or by other people, you know? Of course, things were very different before I tried doing a solo. And because of all this, I'm really interested to see what I'll be able to do with Luna Sea this time.

It seems you've taken a liking to L.A..
J: It's my favorite, out of all the countries I've been to so far. Plus I've made friends with interesting people. I'm particularily biased towards hide-nii's colleagues *smiles*.

Like attracts like *smiles*. You found the band members for your solo tour in those circles?
J: I did. I asked hide-nii and I asked around among his friends.
hide: Scott even plays the drums in four of zilch's songs. Oh, right before I came back I went to see the Space Age Cowboys and some band called Soul (3) and Dave Grohl came.
J:Wow, really!?
hide: Yeah but Franz wasn't there.
J: Last time the Foo Fighters came to Japan I somehow ended up as the night's coordinator *laughs*.

I heard the lineup has been decided on for this summer's Mix LEMONeD Jelly.
J: I heard far from it *laughs*.
hide: I really don't want to start arguing *laughs*.

During last year's Mix LEMONeD Jelly event a dream came true when you two played together.
J: Yeah, it did.

Then on the spur of the moment hide joined in on J's live at the Akasaka Blitz.
hide: All I did was crash the show *laughs*. Cause I couldn't remember the keys or the chords. I thought, New Rose? Ok! Ok! I've played that a lot, I've done it how many times back when I used to play at the Rock Maykan? I thought about it more and decided to do the whole song *laughs*. I was trying to remember it once I went on stage when suddenly hey, how did that modulation go? *laughs*
J: Ahahahaha *laughs*. Although, at the time I felt just as incredibly moved as when I was back in L.A.. I really could feel the joy that came from the music. During hide-nii's event as well, the girls who came to see him looked so incredibly happy, it felt amazing.

So that's why you started that exchange of cheers with the crowd at the end of your show? You seemed out of your element *smiles*.
hide: No he wasn't. J, I mean he wants Luna Sea to be number 1. You don't get what makes a number 1 in the rock world.

Of course you're not going to leave it at that *smiles*.
hide: How should I put it, if you're going to be at the forefront then it's good if you're sympathetic to people. I'm not talking about getting people together with a project in mind, it's simply good if people are able to feel empathy towards others while respecting their territory. And it's even better if you have a vision.
J: No, wait, you've said enough. I mean, when you put it like that you sound horribly stiff. And I know you're not and we haven't talked about this recently but doesn't it feel like something we'd talk about over drinks, you, me and Imai-san? What I mean is, that's what I really like, no matter what's going on I like the atmosphere to be natural. I kind of feel like I'm always looking for people like that. No matter what they do. I look for the same in friends, even when I do lives I look for this type of girl among the fans. People who'll think along the same lines as I do. That's what I always look for.
hide: That's right. So when they listen to my music they'll get it right away. And if I listen to their music I'll understand everything. Plus I can tell them whatever I want to.

You'll both be busy touring this summer.
hide: Should we synchronize our schedules?
J: Let's? *laughs* One day we'll be doing lives in different places and the next we'll meet up halfway during the move *laughs*.

You'll be starting parties all over the country *laughs*.
hide: I suspect I will~! *laughs*
J: Do you now! *laughs* The girls will be looking to join in on these parties as well, you know. I wonder if they'll know what they'll be getting themselves into should they come.

Notes: 1. J considered hide an older brother. That's what the "nii" stands for. :)
2. Drummer Scott Garrett, formerly of The Cult, and guitarist Franz Stahl, formerly of the Foo Fighters.
3. Ok, honestly, this could be either Soul or Seoul. I haven't found anything on this band so if you know which it is, tell me? :)