TETSUYA – Do a miracle by yourself
An “Extra Heartening” event: His first release in three years and two months, Roulette, has finally arrived! This piece of work, already known as the opening theme to HEROMAN, is on-air everywhere TV TOKYO and affiliates broadcast. This top-class pop tune reaches out to the listeners and opens up a world of sparkle and light that colours the entire world.
Who’d have thought it would take this long? That financial crisis sure had a big impact (laughs).
– So this is your first solo release in three years and two months. How do you feel now that you’re finally restarting your solo activities?
[I wasn’t going to have such a long pause, really, it just happened to turn out that way. Of course, when L’Arc~en~Ciel is active, I don’t do any solo work whatsoever, but even when the band isn’t doing anything I don’t do much with my solo project either, and before I knew it a year and a half had gone right by.]
– Of course, you have been busy on the production side of things, working as leader of the band.
[I do a lot of work behind the scenes, out of the spotlight. Before going back to my solo project, I had to start by setting up my team of staff all over again. Compared to the great ship that is L’Arc~en~Ciel, my solo is just a little rowboat, but it still needs crew and I was busy getting the right people on board, that’s what took so much time.]
– Now that preparations are complete, are you ready to set sail once more?
[I don’t quite have a full crew on board yet, but I guess the ship’s already gone to sea. “It’s like… Hey you! Get up here! Follow me!” (laughs) ]
– Now, the new single, Roulette, is of course being used as the opening theme for HEROMAN on TV TOKYO, and I must say the song and series match up perfectly. They are both full of light, and HEROMAN has that ring, which is kind of like a roulette. They match.
[Everybody keeps saying that, and I actually agree.]
– But you wrote the song a long time ago, right? When exactly did you compose it?
[I composed the tune about four or five years ago, but I didn’t write the lyrics until last summer, in July or August. I had about four, five tunes that could have been singles and this was one of them.]
– Do you remember what inspired you to compose the main tune?
[Right, at that point, I was writing a whole bunch of songs. Lately, at all my lives, I’ve been doing two new songs(1), I wrote those songs and this one and a few other all at the same time. Epic productivity. But seriously. Who’d have thought it would take this long? That financial crisis sure had a big impact (laughs). That was a joke, but in the end, I suppose I found the best possible timing to release this.]
– During the arrangement stage, did you make many changes from your original composition?
[I sped up the tempo a bit, made it that much more danceable, gave it more sparkle, but the basics of the song were in place from the start almost exactly the way the final product sounds. Oh, and there were lots of chorus and harmony parts in it right from the start. It’s practically a twin vocal piece (laughs).]
– So you took a tune that was already very pop and made it even more pop. Where did you get the idea for the whole roulette motif?
[I came up with the melody first, then I listened to it, listened to that tune, trying to come up with lyrics. It’s like the song itself opened up and the word just came out naturally. Roulette; it’s a simple enough concept. The word itself is already pretty catchy.]
– The word “roulette” is itself quite symbolic, and I find that the song itself seems to grant the power to step up to the roulette that is life.
[I’ve always thought of life as a big gamble. You never know how the next spin will turn out, but you still have to pick a goal and bring your life to it, you know.]
– Making music is, itself, all a big gamble, in a sense.
[Becoming a pro musician is a huge gamble. There are no guarantees whatsoever, nothing in this line of work is ever certain. Even if you get lucky and manage to debut, it’s still hard to succeed and to keep on going.]
– But the fact that you, TETSUYA, are singing about this as someone who has stepped up to the table and challenged those odds, must surely bring some of that power forward to the listeners.
[I’m not filing any complaints, here. All I want to say is, hey, there are these choices, and this is one of many possible points of view. Personally, I think this is a very good thing, and I hope people will agree or at least empathise a little, that would make me very happy.]
– The arrangement for this song was a collaboration between you and Murohime Shin, wasn’t it? How exactly did you go about it?
[We sent the file back and forth, and gradually, it all came together, so then we went to the studio, and we recorded. So yeah, before we even got to the studio, we already had quite a complete demo done, so what we did at the studio really felt more like just polishing it up. While we were doing that, we got more good ideas and tried those out. Anything we could come up with to make the song a little bit cooler, we went for it while we were there.]
– The worldview expressed by the song matches your voice so perfectly, TETSUYA-san.
[I think I’m a picky person, but I think my own songs and voice fit together nicely, so I like it.]
– Is there anything in particular you have to keep in mind as you sing it?
[Starting last summer, I performed it live a bunch of times, so I got used to singing it long before the recording came around, and then I just sang it the same way. It’s just that, with the chorus and harmonies, I had a lot of parts to sing and it was kinda hard. There was so much to do, I forgot to do some of it. And the part I forgot was the highest line in the whole song, too, and I didn’t realize it until two or three in the morning, and of course my voice wouldn’t go that high, so even though it was just one line, I had to leave it for another day (laughs).]
– The bass part has a great feel as it drives the song forward. What did you focus on when you played it?
[For the lives, it’s Ikuo-kun that plays it. I have to say, he’s a great bassist, and you know, since I’m really a bassist, it sure takes guts for him to get up on stage behind me and play bass (laughs). But yeah, because I’m a bassist, too, I made it extra complicated to give Ikuo-kun a hard time at the lives (laughs).]
– This song has a unique groove to it that I find fascinating. Starting at the B-melody, the drums kick in and explode and it feels great.
[For the B-melody, I told the drummer, Muraishi (Masayuki) “It’s OK, you can go nuts on it,” and then recorded what he did.]
– It’s been a long time since you recorded anything for your solo work, so was there anything you savoured about the experience?
[When I’m working solo, then anything I approve is approved, you know? Everything’s that much more flexible, it all goes down faster. When I’m there, I get all sorts of new ideas just coming to me. I’ve never had everything jell like this before. It’s not just about music, you know I used to love to build things with my hands. Creating something out of nothing; that sense of joy that comes with completion is incomparable. I can’t get enough of that feeling.]
– The coupling track is your previous single, Can’t stop believing, in a new form remixed by RYUKYUDISKO. Any comments on that?
[I think a lot of people are going to find out about me through this song, so I thought I’d give them a remix of my last song, and hopefully get them to work backwards through my stuff and check it out. In a way, the past and future are both on display, here.]
– You have a tour coming up this summer. I think a lot of people are expecting to see more from you afterward.
[Sorry to keep everybody waiting so long. Though I think a lot of people don’t know about me at all. I want to go around and savour all these new encounters.]
I won a bowling tournament on the night of my high school graduation trip, you know (laughs)
– The Roulette PV imparts such a vision of light, I felt that it perfectly expressed the worldview from the melody. What kind of clip did you have in mind before actually filming it?
[At first, just listening to the music, I had a vague mental picture of lots of people coming in, and everybody would dance, you know, I wanted it to be an exciting, turbulent video. Then we actually got started on it, and it ended up the way you see it.]
– The scene where everything freezes is very effective, yet playful at the same time.
[I thought that scene up while we were recording the song at the studio. I wanted to pause the video, put in a little bonus, then start it up again, like that.]
– Why did you want to pause the video?
[Normally, if you’re casually watching videos on a music channel, having it suddenly freeze like that would have an impact. A while back, with L’Arc~en~Ciel, we used bullet time effects in the video for snow drop, that was 11 or 12 years ago now, and I was wondering how much farther ahead special effects like that had got since then. I’m interested.]
– Did you get a good feel for the progress in that area?
[Yes. Extremely much, even though it was all analog (laughs). Obviously, 12 years ago, bullet time was the big new thing all around the world, and we spend a ton of money on it, just so we could have it, but I figured using analog effects would be more fun. If you look at HEROES, a lot of those special effects are analog. Watch the making videos, everybody’s holding really still (laughs).]
– You mean it’s not CGI? There are people actually holding still?
[That’s right. It used to be you had to get a dozen cameras and take a whole bunch of shots all at once, and it was the very latest technology so it cost a lot to do, but really the analog way is more fun. In HEROES and The 4400, you see a lot of these freeze scenes, but actually the extras blink and stuff. “What the? Did he just blink? Gotta do another take.” (laughs).]
– In that entire bowling alley scene, you, and your clothes, are extremely sparkly, TETSUYA-san.
[That was actually a do-over, you know. The first time around, it didn’t turn out the way I pictured it, and since we were doing it over anyway, I figured I might as well change my hair and my whole look while I was at it. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out, but maybe I’d do better to tell people I planned it out that way right from the start (laughs).]
– I think you’re showing great form when you roll that bowling ball in the video. Do you have a lot of experience with bowling?
[Back in high school, I used to go bowling once in a while on the way home. I won a bowling tournament on the night of my high school graduation trip, you know (laughs). I kept saying “Why don’t we do a photoshoot in a bowling alley?” all the time. But the director never ever caught the hint and suggested we use one. So when we got to the point where we had to film again, I decided it was time for some bowling (laughs).]
– The spinning pins are very pop, and it all works well by doubling down on the roulette imagery.
[Bowling pins are so very pop, right. Maybe it’s because there’s ten of them, all lined up. Think of Andy Warhol’s artwork, he liked to line up identical things and I think that’s pop, so taking all of that together, I figure a bowling alley has to be a very pop sort of place.]
– The people spin, the mic stand spins, everything spins. The performance scenes, the bowling scene, the time freeze, the dance scenes, they all come together thematically, don’t they?
[These days, nobody spends two whole days filming a single music video, do they?]
– Was it that difficult to film?
[Oh, it was a lot of fun, all of it. It was the first time I’d worked with this director, so it took a little bit of time to get my ideas across to him, but in the end it all turned out nicely, and I’m happy with it. Making a music video is just like building something, it’s very enjoyable for me.]
Roulette – Spin the MUSIC CLIP!!
The special edition first press release of the Roulette single will include a DVD featuring the title track’s PV. We asked him all about the details he was so concerned with.
HEROMAN – TETSUYA’S COMMENT
[Everybody keeps saying the song and series fit together so well, it’s like they were made for each other. I agree. There haven’t been any pure superhero anime series lately, so I find it refreshing, it’s great. Personally, I love superheroes, especially Spider-Man, so I’m honoured to be involved in a Stan Lee project.]
FIRST TOUR 2010 Spin the Roulette – TETSUYA’S COMMENT
[This is my first tour, so I’m going to start with smaller venues. If I went straight for the big ones, my band members might get confused (laughs). These little clubs, they’re simple, they’re pure, they’re just right for me to do all of my songs. This is going to be a kind of training for me, and for the members too, so I think we’re going to see a lot of growth thanks to these clubs.]
Text: Hasegawa Makoto
Translation by Natalie Arnold
1. These would be Lonely Girl and the song sometimes known as FRESH.