Posted by: on: May 21 2010 • Categorized in: Tetsuyaku
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. Go back.
Posted by: on: May 16 2010 • Categorized in: Tetsuyaku
Breaking three years of silence – his solo project returns!
The leader and bassist of L’Arc~en~Ciel, TESTUYA (1) is now finally stepping in with a full-scale project!! Given his unmatched, unparalleled pop sense, his works create a dazzling, sparkling world!
TETSUYA’s solo project, with an approach completely different to L’Arc~en~Ciel’s, has already brought us a succession of clever gimmicks and tasteful visuals along with original T-shirts, figurines and other goodies.
Since the March 2007 release of Can’t stop believing, an interval of three years passed until the realisation of this new offering, Roulette. No doubt many of us have already heard the song thanks to its appearance as the opening song of HEROMAN (on TV TOKYO and affiliates). This series, created by Stan Lee, the master of American comics who also gave the world Spider-Man and X-Men, is a true blue superhero action show, yet the series and song match up perfectly in their worldview. From the instant the theme song starts to play, the listener feels that frantic rushing sense come up through the sound, melody, and lyrics, all of which fit the images in an organic and genuine way. It’s enough to make one realize the full extent of the universe, spreading out into boundless infinity with every instant since the Big Bang. After a single listen, this song will make you captive of its far-reaching world.
I gotta do better, improve myself day by day
– The opening video for HEROMAN matches up perfectly with your song. Had you seen a pilot episode of the series before writing it?
[I’ve had this song written for a long time, actually, but I agree that the song and the anime really do fit together nicely. Anime series these days have a lot of death, blood, and violence, so I heard they want to use heavier songs most of the time. Even still, HEROMAN is perfect for this song, though I had Roulette in stock for years ahead of time. I’m really happy it turned out this way.]
– Did you have the anime opening in mind when you were working on the arrangement?
[The arrangement? Well no, I had just about everything already finished a long time ago as a demo that I used as the base, so I can’t say that the anime had any impact on it that way. When I went in for recording, we’d already decided that it would be paired with HEROMAN, I wasn’t watching it in the studio or anything, but I did get to see some background materials for the show.]
– Did you have the title and the lyrics for Roulette already done?
[Yes, yes I did.]
– How did you come up with “roulette” as a theme for the song?
[For me, the music comes first, 100%. I had a demo that was almost exactly like the final version of the song and I was listening to that to come up with lyrics. It must have been that sparkly atmosphere that made me think a “roulette” would work. And then I got to the chorus and came up with “KIRAKIRA Maware! Roulette” and I fell in love with that line, so I made Roulette the title. The rest just flowed from there.]
– Please don’t think I’m being facetious because I truly am not: the lyrics are quite deep. Putting your fate up to a spin of the roulette; I think it shows something about your inner character and sends a message through the entire atmosphere.
[Hold on a minute. Let me read these lyrics again…….. (he reads the lyrics)……. Hey, these are pretty good lyrics (laughs). You know, I surprise myself by writing better lyrics than I expect to; always have.]
– Yes, I know (laughs). Once you start writing, can you get a song finished quickly?
[If I can find a theme, then I’m fast, so I start out going “What am I gonna write about?” to get started, but sometimes it can take a while to reach that point. For this song, as soon as I decided on the line “KIRAKIRA Maware! Roulette”, that set the tone for everything else. I had a hard time with the metre for the lines “Naite nanka inaide” and “Unmei no Shunkan wo”, I struggled a bit even though it’s in Japanese.]
– When you sing the line “Naite nanka inaide”, it sounds like “NaiteI nanka inaide”, as though you were adding another “i” to it. That line hooked me and I can’t get it out of my head.
[Yeah, I add an “i” when I sing it.]
– TETSUYA-san, the impression I have of you is that you plan things out carefully and exercise a lot of self-control to reach your goals. Are you really more of a roulette type, leaving things up to chance?
[I don’t make any plans. I take things as they come. It’s just that, when I do something, I insist on doing every last part of it exactly right, but that doesn’t mean I had it all planned out from day one, and every time I decide to do something or start something, I tell myself I gotta do better, improve myself day by day.]
– Would also say that deciding too much ahead of time limits your flexibility later on?
[Yeah, there is that, but it’s mostly just that I can’t bring myself to make up my mind ahead of time. I keep thinking things up and can’t imagine the outcome, and I just can’t decide until I reach that point, a lot of the time I can’t see far enough ahead to decide anything.]
– Would you say that you may not know what’s going to happen, but no matter what it is, you’ll be sure to enjoy it?
[I’m not sure I know how to answer that question; sometimes you fall and can’t just get back up again, and sometimes unexpected things just happen and you have to turn them into something positive….. I make it look like I have everything under control, and in the end I really do.]
– Is your life much of a roulette?
[I think life is a gamble, so in that sense, it might be. I hate gambling, though, I don’t want to waste my luck on that sort of thing, so I don’t do it.]
– How did the vocal recording go?
[This song has a lot of harmonies and chorus parts, so I couldn’t get it all done in one day. Actually, I completely forgot to do the harmony for the highest part of the song. “Oh no! I forgot a part!” I didn’t realize until 2 or 3 a.m. Then I tried to record it right away, but at that point I’d lost my (vocal) smoothness and even though it was really just one little line, I had to give up and leave it for another day.]
It takes me about two weeks to get my voice back into the right condition.
– Everyone forgets things, sometimes.
[When you’re in a band, you can count on the other members to remind you about things like this, at least up to a certain point, even though everybody has their own part to think about. With solo projects, you get to do everything exactly the way you want, it’s up to you 100%. I play all the guitar and bass parts myself, and I do a lot of singing, too, so I go through each aspect and focus on them one at a time, and then remember “Oh no! I forgot something!” (laughs). It was the middle of the night and I got hungry so I ordered some snacks, and we were all eating and relaxing and then I went “Ack!” and it was kind of a shock to realize.]
– These things do happen. When I watched the HEROMAN opening, it felt like everything in the universe was spreading out to infinity. I think your voice is a powerful factor in causing that effect.
[When a recording comes up, it takes me about two weeks to get my voice back into the right condition for it. Most of my songs, including this one, are pretty difficult. Even pro vocalists have told me they’re hard. So you know what? I’m really a bassist, and so when I sing, it’s always hard! (laughs) But really, when I decide to sing a melody, to sing in a certain key, then it stops being about how I can or can’t sing it, I just have to do it, so I have to practice until I manage to pull it off.]
– I always look forward to the accompanying visuals. The PV for this song is very pop and I found it very fun to watch. Was it all your idea?
[I wanted some moshing, or at least a good buzz to go with the song, so at first I was going to get a lot of people to come and be in the PV. But then, the director had a different idea and there weren’t any people in it at all (laughs). So, the hallway scenes and the bowling alley scenes are all there because I requested them, but you know I’m actually the producer for the video, too, so I had to think about the budget…]
– Ahaha, so that’s why it’s in a hallway!
[Yeah, yeah. You know, it’s easy enough to rent out a hall that fits 1000 people and then get 1000 people to come and fill it and then film a scene full of people, but for budget reasons it was better to take a small space because then it can be full of people without needing as many people to fill it, so I thought “Use the hallway!”. That hallway was in Saitama Statdium 2002 (2), but I got a little greedy, I wanted to get a space with more space in it and keep moving forward, closer and closer, like a roulette, you know. But when I actually had a look, the space we had to film in was pretty closed-off, and it didn’t turn out anything like what I’d been picturing. I’m a bit sorry it had to be that way.]
– Your outfit during that pause in the bowling alley is amazing.
[The whole mood of the song changes during that break, so I figured the video should be completely different, too. Go to a bowling alley and stop time; that was all my idea, I suggested it so that there would be a break that’s not on the CD version and give the PV version a different feel.]
– By the way, if you could really stop time like in this PV, what would you do with the power?
[Oh, you know, I’m like Hiro Nakamura, I wanna save the world. I can stop time and control space-time, so I can do anything I want.]
– That’s a very impressive ability. If you were going to be a superhero, what kind of superpowers would you want to have?
[Well, if you’re going to put it that way, then I’ll be like Sylar.]
[Oh, didn’t you catch the reference to Hiro Nakamura?]
– All I know is that he’s a character from HEROES….. I’m sorry.
[Sylar is a character from HEROES, too, he can steal other peoples’ abilities. So over time, he gets to have everybody else’s powers all at once.]
– You certainly enjoy your American dramas. Do you also like to read American comics, such as Stan Lee’s works…?
[Yeah, I do. I really like Stan Lee and I’m so glad he’s behind HEROMAN, I’m so honoured to get my song in as the theme song for the series.]
– Where do you find your motivation, TETSUYA-san?
[It comes from compliments. I level up when people praise and compliment me (laughs).]
*FIRST TOUR 2010 – Spin the Roulette!!*
This my first solo tour ever, even including my time as TETSU69. I did do some solo shows before, like back in January at LIQUIDROOM, and it’s a lot of fun, but I also worry about whether I can pull off a whole entire show on my own, even though it’s relatively short… You see what I mean. I don’t have much of a plan for the tour yet, but there is one thing I can announce! The band name is going to be TETSUYA & The Juicy-Bananas. The reason for that is back at Summer JACK, all the members wore T-shirts that said BANANAS on them. They’re all the same brand, DIET BUTCHERS SLIM SKIN, they made shirts with fictional bands on them, and anyway I got to know the designer and got those special shirts made. I thought BANANAS was a good idea, and I kept thinking it needed another word to make the Something Bananas and then I came up with the Juicy-Bananas. Isn’t it great?
Text by Washizu Noriko
Translated by Natalie Arnold
Posted by: on: March 13 2010 • Categorized in: Tetsuyaku
Ongaku to Hito Special Issue – JACK IN THE BOX 2009
– Good morning!
Clad in his rough, ordinary street clothing and wearing his usual shades, TETSUYA enters the dressing room from the Budokan’s rear entrance. Since so many bands are performing, they all share one giant dressing room. There, in the corner, stands a booth just for TETSUYA.
First, He greets his band.
Guitar: Murohime Shin; Guitar: Nakamura Yoshitsugu; Bass: IKUO; Keyboards: Kishi Toshiyuki; Drums: Shinya. With the members He knows best, the light chatter soon brings a blossom of laughter to his face.
Checking the timetable posted on the wall, He confers with the staff about the comings and goings of the day.
“We behind schedule?”
-“We’re about 15 minutes behind schedule.”
“Well then, let’s rush through this bit, okay?”
He appears to be visualizing the arrangements in his head. Then He announces, “I’m going to HQ to say hi,” and leaves the dressing room.
In the hallway, a voice calls out “Hey! TETSUYA”; it is SAKURA, with fortuitous timing.
“I didn’t recognize you.” He laughs and hurries off to the dressing room himself. His turn on stage must be near; in full makeup and stage clothing, SAKURA, too, looks like a completely different person.
TETSUYA turns away with a laugh and waves as if to say “I barely recognized you myself.”
The operating HQ was set up one floor below the artists’ dressing room. How many times has He explored the Budoukan by now? Though He has passed through these backstage halls time and time again, today his usual guide is not by his side.
Today, there is no one beside him to say “This way, TETSUYA-san.”
He may have been thinking this very thought as He made his way down the steps. So I found myself pondering as I followed close behind.
Reaching HQ, TETSUYA casually greets the assembled staff. He verifies the course of the show, asks about the crowd’s response, and quickly grasps every detail of the goings-on up on the stage itself. In the space of instant, I catch a glimpse of another TETSUYA, completely different from the person who will soon be glittering in the spotlight.
With everything under control, He returns to the dressing room and, for the first time today, reverts to his usual relaxed expression.
-“So? How is everything?” I ask him after a moment’s pause.
“We had rehearsal yesterday, but all the members are so busy, you know? All in all, it’s really hard to line up all our schedules. Obviously, we had rehearsal yesterday, but they (the staff) have to pack up all our gear around 10 p.m. and ship it (to the Budoukan), but we can only start making noise at 6. Personally, just for once I’d like to do a full rehearsal… But I can’t ask for that much, can I? You know. All things considered.” He laughs, somewhat pained.
A statement befitting the perfectionist that is TETSUYA. He holds practice after practice until completely satisfied, and only then does He take to the stage. He thinks everything through. He plans and arranges. He does not compromise. He will consider only the best options of all those available. TETSUYA conducts his affairs with the utmost professional conscientiousness.
A hasty meeting with the sound manipulator begins. They seem to be checking the sequences for today’s show. Headphones in place, He goes through them bit by bit. He listens closely despite having heard it all innumerable times. For the time being, the noise all around him does not reach his ears. “Don’t need that bit.” “Add that in there.” He instructs the manipulator seated beside him at his Mac.
“I’m checking the sequence for Can’t stop believing right now. It’s such an old song, you know, even I forget bits of it (laughs). Ehh? So don’t do it, you say? I guess you have a points (laughs). Honestly, it’s one of those things I have to do myself, and somehow, I have a lot of things to do.” He explains himself with an embarrassed smile.
He truly does have a lot to do. He is not just another artist. He is all things at once. For JACK IN THE BOX, He is both producer and performer. He has taken on the role of organizer for the entire event.
“A lot of the time, I’m also the director.” So TETSUYA tells me.
To act as director is to think. It is to investigate and review case studies to make the best choice. He must keep the overall picture in mind at all times.
As preparations begin for his makeup session, He receives a message from a staff member. Only an hour and a half to go until He takes the stage.
His makeup finished, TETSUYA dresses.
His band members get dressed as well. Preparations are almost complete.
“I wanted to make Kishi-kun wear his a.b.s. outfit, actually (laughs).”
Speaking of a.b.s., last year Nishikawa Takanori appeared at JACK IN THE BOX as a surprise guest. Of course, everyone is well aware of this.
This year’s surprise is in a SESSION featuring – Vocals: Mao (SID); Guitar: Shirota Kazuhide (ex-PRESENCE, Ken BAND); Drums: Shinya (LUNA SEA); and the bass, tetsuya (L’Arc~en~Ciel). A special band that exists only for tonight.
Checking the set list, I see two songs listed.
M-1. Can’t stop believing
M-2. Shinkirou (song by PRESENCE)
And I had to wonder. Who was it that selected these songs? I heard that Can’t stop believing is being performed at Mao’s request. However, the PRESENCE song, Shinkirou, despite being from Shirota’s former band, is undeniably an unexpected choice. So, I decided to ask.
-“Who picked this song?”
Then, after a moment’s delay, TETSUYA replies.
“…I have my reasons. If you watch the session, you’ll understand. Just wait a bit.”
In spare moments, the artists sign the colourful balls that are by now a staple of JACK IN THE BOX.
“Come on, guys, let’s make this a team project!” TETSUYA shares his suggestion. Surely it is meant as a gesture of sincerity for the audience gathered in the stands.
-“Used to your new autograph yet?” A voice asks him in passing.
“Yeah, no, not really…” He replies with a chuckle.
“I’m gonna go do some voice training in my car, okay?” With slight trepidation showing through his voice, He departs from the dressing room. He intends to be in the best possible shape before taking the stage. Perhaps it is his way of changing over completely into vocalist mode.
All the members of TETSUYA band are waiting in the wings. Each of them has his own way of ridding his body of nervous tension. Once, I heard that the world’s best athletes approach the start of their events with something completely unrelated in mind, in order to get rid of any energy their bodies will not need. I believe it is the same for these men. Though they exhibit moderate tension, the atmosphere is by no means thick with it. Moreover, they are smiling.
“I gotta do my stretches. You know, last time, at JCB Hall, my foot got all hung up.” He explains to me with a laugh.
I can now hear shouts, or perhaps cries, coming from the audience. They must have seen TETSUYA’s name appear on the screen. The entire band gathers in a close circle. They stack their right hands in the middle and begin to breathe as one. Then the members walk onto the stage ahead of him.
At that moment, He looked up to the distance and closed his eyes.
He seemed almost to be praying to someone unseen.
From the audience were heard endless cries of encouragement and impatience, brimming with the hope that each passing second would bring him on stage.
TETSUYA took a single deep breath, then ran out into the spotlight.
I would like you to read the report of his performance enclosed in the main part of this magazine.
I must make it clear that He was not there as a member of L’Arc~en~Ciel; he stood in the Budoukan as a vocalist, as a single artist. Every time He takes to the stage, He steps up his performance and expressiveness as a vocalist. He is forward-looking in thought and mind. Perhaps it is the mark of his self-confidence. The voice He brings forth into his hand-held microphone grows into song to fill the entire hall. The man before me is not tetsuya of L’Arc~en~Ciel, it is the unique vocalist TETSUYA; I am certain that the audience has not failed to grasp this distinction.
TETSUYA’s turn on stage ended within 30 minutes.
However, He cannot relax yet. Of course. SESSION E is still to come. Obviously. It is a special session for this day only. Though I repeat myself, this an assembly of distinguished performers. The rhythm team combines LUNA SEA and L’Arc~en~Ciel to form a rock-solid foundation upon which the guitar from Ken BAND’s Shirota will build for Mao to SiD will sing the song. Who could have imagined such a thing?
Excitement swells among the four of them.
-“I haven’t been this nervous since the first time I got to come to JACK IN THE BOX.” Mao confesses between repeated deep breaths. Perhaps as a soothing gesture, He responds with a smile, “I’ll do some of the MC too, but I’m expecting you to take care of most of it, okay, Mao?” He then continues, invitingly, “Or maybe we should make Shinya-kun do all of it.” He laughs, nonchalantly comforting Mao with the kindness of a senior artist.
Shinji’s solo act has just come to a close.
At long last, the Dream Team will perform.
When they stood together on stage, the crowd’s excitement came to a climax.
Their first song was TETSUYA’s original piece, Can’t stop believing. Upon hearing it, my first thought was that it didn’t sound strange at all. They performed this song as though it had always been part of their repertoire. Astounding.
“What? You think Mao sings it better than me?” He solicits a laugh from the audience. Mao interreupts – “I could hardly sleep last night,” thus confessing his own nervousness.
The rapport between tetsuya and Mao is splendid. Before long, they guide the MC to the introduction of the second song, Shinkirou.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the true meaning of this session was summed up in this MC.
“This next song, it’s a song that somebody who helped me decide what songs to do for this session really liked.”
It seemed to me that his words were intended for a fallen comrade.
I heard that his name change was done in honour of that same fallen friend, by taking a single syllable from the departed one’s name.
I believe there are layers of meaning here. Of course there are. As much as some people will be moved, others will frown and wonder why He alone is doing so much. Nonetheless, for him to change his name is very nearly to change the name of the band itself. To make such a conclusive decision surely took a great amount of determination on his part.
I think that TETSUYA is frequently misunderstood. Because of his inherent purity, he can be perceived wrongly. Yet today, there is no doubt that every single person who heard his words understood his purity of emotion. I am certain, now, that Shinkirou is now a song that none of us will ever be able to forget.
SESSION E has ended and He returns to the wings, fluttering dizzily and smiling, looking relieved as though a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
“What did you think of the SESSION?” TETSUYA asks.
-“You said you had your reasons… I understand, now.”
“I decided that I absolutely had to get this across.”
Wiping away his sweat in a corner of the Budoukan hallway, He continues.
“We were watching youtube together. I was wondering what song I could pick for a session with Mao-kun. On youtube, you get linked to songs by a whole bunch of artists, you know? I was watching videos with him, we were going, wow, haven’t heard this song in ages! One of the songs we dug up was this one, Shinkirou. It has the same title as one of my songs, so I wondered what it was and clicked on it. Turns out it was Shinkirou by PRESENCE. I recognized it once I heard it. I remembered it because, a long time ago, it was included on a flexi disc in a rockin’f issue (1). I got all nostalgic and excited. That’s when he told me that he really loved this song. That’s why I wanted to do this song so badly tonight, and it suits Mao-kun’s voice, too, and so I asked Shirota-san directly if it was okay and sent an email to Shinya-kun, asking him to play.”
I thought I saw his eyes water.
This year’s JACK IN THE BOX had one more surprise in store. This time, TETSUYA came out during the MAVERICK DC SUPER ALL STARS segment. Even though there have been seven of these events so far, this is the first time TETSUYA has taken part in the grand finale.
The artists taking part in ALL STARS are all gathered backstage. Of course, they are many. When discussing the label MAVERICK DC, one cannot ignore 44 MAGNUM. This last session centers on them and is the final crowning glory of JACK IN THE BOX, complete with fireworks.
“Every year, he would stand in the wings, see how I wasn’t going out there, and give me this sad look. So I decided that this year, I’d go.”
I can no longer recall when exactly He told me this tidbit.
TETSUYA took part in singing STREET ROCK ‘N ROLLER with everybody else. Can I be the only one who saw in his blushing profile the likeness of a bashful young man? The MAVERICK DC SUPER ALL STARS exploded like fireworks onto the 360-degree Budoukan stage. It was the perfect ending, bringing a close to the year.
The final act has ended, and the artists flow back to the dressing room one by one. They salute each other with beer. They hug and rejoice together. Some sit quietly, exhausted. Their heat and sweat pervades the air, thickly filling the room.
On his way backstage, a relieved expression on his face, He wipes away the sweat and whispers, to no one in particular.
“I wonder if he’s happy?”
And so ended JACK IN THE BOX 2009 with TETSUYA.
words by Tanaka Manabu
translated by Natalie Arnold
1. A flexi disc is an ultra thin record that was often included in magazines. rockin’f was a rock magazine that existed from the late 70’s to the late 1990s. After multiple changes in ownership and publishing company, it was reborn as WeROCK, which still exists today. Go back.
Posted by: on: February 1 2010 • Categorized in: Tetsuyaku
– This time, we discuss BLESS, the first new single to be released in a year and a half, and also take a look back at 2009. Last August, you got some attention due to JACK IN THE BOX 2009 SUMMER. I heard you unveiled a new song there. Have you been spending your time writing songs?
[No. I’ve already got at least 10 new songs. Some years back, I was writing songs and saving them, writing songs and saving them. The song I performed, Roulette, is a song I wrote back in ’03. I’ve had it longer than Can’t stop believing (5th single, released March ’07), so it’s pretty old, actually. No releases, no lives, I haven’t worked on anything new. You know, I only have one album. And it’s under TETSU69 (Suite November, released November ’02). So yeah, I’ve got to do something new before it all gets old. Even still, I didn’t do all that much in ’09. I didn’t have any headlining solo lives. I didn’t release any solo work at all, you know. There was a L’Arc~en~Ciel DVD release, though. I didn’t do anything up on stage, but I was still busy. I spent the first half the year working on the L’Arc~en~Ciel DVDs, editing the LIVE in PARIS DVD and the Documentary DVD. It was a lot of work.]
– You do the editing yourself? What an amazing leader!
[I’m not doing it all by myself, of course, there are a lot of staff members working, too, on all these boring leader jobs. That’s what’s kept me busy, anyway.]
– I’ve heard editing live footage is very tiresome.
[It is (his eyes widen). It is such a bother! Putting decent footage together can be such a pain, really. Same with picking out the best cuts.]
– Do you enjoy working on this sort of thing?
[I do. I get to say “Didn’t we have a cut like that? Use that here.” and “We’re not using that cut for anything, right?” I remember so much detail, the director was surprised. “Wow, you’ve got a great memory!” he said.]
– For the technicians, it must be quite pleasant to have the artist work with them and take such an interest in what they do.
[I’m all about improvement. Improve, improve, improve. Do better, do better every time. I’m a picky perfectionist. I figure I must be a hard person to work with. I’m probably a pain. Because I’m so picky.]
– I know.
[(laughs) It takes courage and determination to work with me, I guess. I take everything seriously, you know. You have to be just as serious or it won’t work out. Lots of people try to escape. I ring people up as soon as I get an idea (laughs). “Dontcha think we should be doing this, instead of that?” Or like, if I’m driving around, and I happen to find a nice piece of open land, I might go “Hey, I found a really nice piece of land. Think we could have a summer music festival here?” (laughs) ]
– Speaking of which, I heard it was your idea to have a summer version of the JACK events that are usually held every winter.
[I’m pretty sure a lot of us artists were wanting to do it in the summer, I’m not really sure, but anyway, there was talk about having it in the summer for a long time before it actually happened.]
– You have planning skills for any occasion, don’t you?
[I just like doing that sort of thing. I’m the one who thought up the name JACK IN THE BOX in the first place, and I think of the whole show, about how to put it together and make it more interesting. I wanted it to be bigger. It’s an event for our label, but I didn’t want the sessions to be only for us, I wanted it to be flashy, more spectacular. I suggested putting the sessions in between the regular acts instead of sticking them all at the end.]
– You certainly spend a lot of time working behind the scenes.
[I’m a very fussy person. I just want every last detail to be perfect. Every detail. I make sure everything is just right. That’s all. When I write music, I pour my soul into it until I’m satisfied, and when there’s a show, I think hard about every element, and ask myself what the fans will enjoy, and then I just go and see to it that everything that needs doing is done exactly right. It’s got nothing to do with knowledge or experience. It’s a simple question of getting everything done right. That’s what gets results.]
– Why didn’t you release any solo work last year? I believe you’re keeping your fans waiting.
[Glad as I am to hear you say that, and grateful as I am to have even a handful of fans who look forward to my solo work, I think what people really want is L’Arc~en~Ciel, not my solo.]
– I am certain the fans will be delighted to hear that. Not that they don’t like your solo work, but many people will be happy to know you understand how they feel.
[I may be the leader, but that doesn’t mean I have complete control over L’Arc~en~Ciel.]
– As leader, you get the responsibility as well as the blame. I’m sure the fans understand your position. Now, let me ask you about INAZUMA ROCK FES. 2009, in which you appeared last September.
[Inazuma was pure joy for me. I was coming in from outside, so I didn’t have to worry about anything (laughs). It must have been a lot of work for Nishikawa-kun, though. There were food stalls backstage, just for the artists. I got to eat some Omi beef(1). It was wonderful. The okonomiyaki stands we had at summer JACK were pretty great, too~]
– Ahahaha. What were you up to in late 2009?
[Later in the year, I was working on BLESS, mostly.]
– It’s the theme song for NHK’s Vancouver 2010 broadcast, right? It’s a beautiful song.
[When I first heard it, the tempo wasn’t quite what it ended up being in the final version, but the melody was excellent; I knew we had something good. I’m very happy to hear you like it.]
– There’s a remarkable sensation, like a curtain being drawn, when the chorus begins. Was it present in the demo?
[No. In the demo, it just had a regular guitar intro and started with the A-melody like any other song, but then ken-chan had this idea that it should start off with the chorus.]
– Starting with the chorus isn’t exactly unusual, but this song doesn’t head off with a whole mouthful of chorus…
[It’s just a taste, just a taste.]
To bring out that L’Arc~en~Ciel feeling, I play my bass the way I drive.
– Right (laughs). That taste is quite superb. Then, you have the A-melody, which is lovely and gentle. Quite warm. It feels to me as though the drums and bass create a great flow of warmth; is that anything like what you had in mind, tetsuya-san?
[It is. For ballads, I play long bass tones, but if it ever got monotonous, then it wouldn’t sound like L’Arc~en~Ciel, so given this key and the tone of my bass, I made it a little, or rather, a lot, distorted, and anyway, I play my bass the way I drive.]
– The chorus goes on later in the song, but during the first chorus, the flowing bass sound feels very welcoming, and then comes the oboe to link it to the second chorus. The oboe tone struck me as quite powerful, playing alongside the band’s sound. After that comes ken-san’s signature crying guitar. That resonated for me, I felt as though I could cry, myself. After the third chorus comes the very long outro; it had me closing my eyes and drifting off in my head.
[We’re all pros, I think we can make a good song whenever we decide to.]
– I like the way the lyrics aren’t simple encouragement, but express a warm gaze. In competition, it’s natural to want to win, but when someone is cheering from the heart, it ceases to matter whether the athlete wins or loses, it instead becomes an expression of deep love. That’s how I felt, reading the lyrics. I felt the same thing listening to hyde-san sing them.
[Strictly speaking, when I was recording my bass part, the lyrics hadn’t been finished yet, but I put the same kind of feeling into my playing that would end up in the final version. The long way the athletes have come, the support from everyone around them; I don’t think there’s ever been a theme song that put the spotlight on that side of things before. There have been lots of cheering songs, though. It’s a theme song for the Olympics, but it’s also a song that I think non-athletes will appreciate, and get emotionally involved.]
– Indeed. By the way, do you watch the Olympics?
[I do. I watch soccer. They don’t play in winter, though (laughs). I guess I’ll watch the figure skating.]
– If you were going to participate, what sport would you pick?
[Maybe shooting. Wait, they don’t have that in winter, either. When I was little, I did some skating, so I guess I’d skate. Oh hey, it’s Vancouver, this year. I wanna go there to watch the games. I have relatives in Canada. My Grandma’s brother emigrated there.]
– Oh? That would make a lovely trip!
[Yeah. I think it’d be nice. The Vancouver Olympics. My Grandma is very happy about the theme song.]
– You wanted her to hear it, I’m sure.
– Now, ROUTE 666 -2010- is your standard P’UNK~EN~CIEL number, correct?
[It totally wrecks any lingering feeling from BLESS (laughs). Our last single, NEXUS 4/SHINE, was a Double-Side-A release so we didn’t get to make a P’UNK~EN~CIEL track for it. I’m sure some people thought “Oh good, they’re done with that P’UNK~EN~CIEL thing,” but nope, we’re not gonna stop doing it! (laughs)]
– Ahahahaha. You’ve been doing it since ’04, I’d expect you have enough songs for a whole show by now.
[I know, right. We’ve got at least 10 songs, right?]
– Yes. This will be the 11th one.
[Oh. We can make an album now! Well. That’s been the plan this whole time, actually (laughs).]
– I will look forward to it! Now, this time, the track has an 80’s L.A. metal sound to it, it felt like a full dose of Mötley Crüe (laughs). It was a real treat for me, as a metal fan.
[Felt like Mötley Crüe, more like we turned into Mötley Crüe (laughs).]
– This one was arranged by YUKI P’UNK, yes?
[Yeah. We take turns, so yeah. Next time, it’ll be me. What should I go for?]
– You’ll choose the song, as well?
[That’s right. Everything, from picking the song through the arrangement.]
– I’m hooked on your vocals, now.
[But, I’m not even adjusting my key, I just sang it in the same key as hyde.]
– Even so, I’m completely hooked. Now, there was about a year and a half between this single and your previous one, so there must have also been long intervals where the four of you didn’t play together at all. Is it hard for you to switch between solo mode and band mode, or have you learned to adjust right away?
[Oh, we’re all used to that, by now. We’re even used to not getting together for long stretches, and I’m used to the differences between bass days and singing days, now. I guess it’s normal. We’re not like office workers, we don’t do a specific job at a specific time. Being L’Arc~en~Ciel involves doing all sorts of things at different times, and because there are so many things to do, we’re all used to switching between them and we can work with that, it’s nothing like as special as everybody seems to think.]
– Last December, you were a special guest at Ken-san’s Birthday Live at JCB Hall, as TETSUYA. The Vice Editor-in-Chief of this magazine said: “TET-chan sings low notes so beautifully. Singing suits him.” He quite approved.
[He should tell me so himself (laughs).]
– Indeed (laughs). Do you go to the studio to practice on your own?
[You know, I have this hobby room at home, there’s this room, and in there, I have a massage chair, and a screen for watching movies, and I have a karaoke booth in the corner, too (laughs). In my soundproof room, I have a JOYSOUND machine, just like the ones in karaoke boxes, the transmitter kind. I have this space where I can sing at top volume in the middle of the night, so that’s where I sing. For I solo, I don’t actually get together with the band to practice very often. Plus, for my solo, I don’t have the kind of budget L’Arc~en~Ciel gets. I have to stop being tetsuya of L’Arc~en~Ciel and go to a tiny rehearsal studio.]
– Well then, in closing, how do you want this year to go, for tetsuya?
[Let me see, I think I’ll be working behind the scenes a lot on things people can’t see, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be doing anything at all, so don’t get mad (laughs). I can’t announce anything yet, but I have a lot of things in mind. Everybody, look forward to it.]
If I don’t, then I’ll never be able to move on.
In December 2009, it was announced that tetsu was changing his name to tetsuya. At first, I thought this was merely a whimsical change, simply done for the fun of it, and perhaps done to surprise people, as he is quite fond of a teasing style of entertainment. I was certainly surprised myself. Yet. As I listened to his words, I realized there was something more there: a strong and willful resolve.
Then came this interview. When I asked about the name change, his expression went blank. He had this to say.
[I had no idea that I would be changing my name from tetsu to tetsuya in 2009. This is something I needed to do.]
A name change unexpected, even for him.
[I lost someone very dear to me, and so I took up a piece of his name. There was a lot going on, and I decided I had to do this. Of course, I knew there would be mixed reactions. Some people think it’s too much, others think “Don’t carry on like you’re the only one hurting.” Other people think there’s no good reason for me to do this. But. I know I’m the only one who can. I want to do this. If I don’t, then I’ll never be able to move on.]
Mixed emotions flashed through his eyes with every word. Those who stand with the stoic and uncompromising tetsuya require a resolve every bit as strong as his, and a passion just as intense, if not more so. The person tetsuya holds so dear never backed down and always held his ground until he was satisfied. He was trusted wholeheartedly. Every day, he looked ahead and drove forward, for which all were grateful. When he was gone, I heard his family tell of the unsuspected ways in which he had been looking out for them; once again, I sensed hidden depths. He is the only one who can carry on that will. Therein lies the true meaning. This is what he was prepared to take on by changing his name. Yet, in changing his name, he will be affecting the band. He spoke with the other members and with the head of their label, as well as the staff members closest to them, and even had meetings with the head of the company, to explain his wishes. The members agreed readily, of course, and in all the meetings, not a single voice was raised in criticism.
And so tetsu became tetsuya.
I found his clumsy resolve quite fitting. I am surely not the only one. Memories, now engraved into his being, unfading as he faces the future and walks toward what lies ahead. Resolve, indelible as a tattoo. However, this is not a personal mark, so as not to forget him; it is much more a sign to others, so as to not let him be forgotten. That is the sign of his true self.
[I want this to be the first and last time I talk about the name change. But, I’m still going to talk about him. The saddest thing about dying is the idea of being forgotten. To never be talked about, to gradually fade from people’s memories, that’s the scariest thing, for me. I think that being forgotten is the worst thing that can happen to a person. That’s why I will never forget him, I won’t allow him to be forgotten. I want to keep talking about him, as though he were still here with me. That’s how I feel. As long as he’s a part of my name, he’ll go on as a part of L’Arc~en~Ciel.]
It may be a clumsy way to express love. Still. That, too, is a part of “tetsuya.” All of his memories. It is truly fitting. His choice, and his way of life. Surely, he, too, loved the clumsy side of tetsu, even as he tried to correct it.
I felt I had learned something of the importance of facing forward and holding on.
May the feelings come through clearly.
Interview: Takechi Naoko
Translated by Natalie Arnold
1. Omi beef is one of the three types of high-class Japanese beef. The other two, Kobe beef and Matsuzaka beef, are better known. Omi is the former name of Shiga. Go back.
Posted by: on: January 29 2010 • Categorized in: Tetsuyaku
This is a transcribed translation of the video comment that appeared on So-net on January 20, 2010, on the occasion of the release of BLESS.
The text below was translated without any official transcript; please understand that there may be errors.
hyde: Everybody watching So-net, Hi!
hyde: This is L’Arc~en~Ciel, I’m hyde and
tetsuya: I’m tetsuya, and –
ken: – I’m ken and!
yukihiro: I’m yukihiro.
hyde: Okay. On January 27, we’ve got a new single coming out: BLESS. This song is going to be the theme song for NHK’s coverage of the Vancouver Olympics this winter. Have you ever been to Vancouver?
tetsuya: Vancouver? No, I haven’t!
hyde: Me neither.
tetsuya: I wanna go.
hyde: Me too.
tetsuya: Let’s go.
hyde: I wanna.
hyde: So the topic this time is… *sniffs* Coming-of-age day. (1)
hyde: You know I, …I made it all the way up to the front of the building, you know.
tetsuya: ….The front of what?
hyde: The place.
tetsuya: Oh, for the ceremony!
hyde: The place for the ceremony. I got all the way up there, then I stood around outside talking.
tetsuya: At the hall? At the Civic Center or something like that?
hyde: Yeah, that.
tetsuya: I was wondering.
hyde: There was a hall there. The ceremony ended while I was outside.
hyde: What do you remember?
tetsuya: Remember? Let me see… Hmm… Coming-of-age day. I went to mine. Yeah.
tetsuya: Hmmm… Come to think of it, I went with a very strange hairdo. Yeah.
tetsuya: Yeah, it hurts.
hyde: A pompadour? (2)
tetsuya: No. I never had a pompadour, but I had this weird, kinda, odd, sort of long thing. …Yeah.
tetsuya: And everybody else?
ken: Oh man, coming-of-age day… I can’t remember any of it. Must not have gone.
ken: And you, yukihiro?
yukihiro: I was… Oh, I was working.
ken and hyde: *laugh*
yukihiro: There was this piano recital, and my job was to point the spotlight at the piano players.
ken: Heh, sounds great.
hyde: You put spotlights on other people?
tetsuya: And now the spotlights are on us.
hyde: That’s it from L’Arc~en~Ciel.
Transcribed and translated by Natalie Arnold.
1. Coming-of-age Day is a holiday where everyone who is turning 20 in a given year celebrates their entry into adulthood. Typically involves dressing up in formal wear and attending a ceremony with local officials. hyde and tetsuya would have had theirs on January 15, 1989.Go back.
Posted by: on: January 29 2010 • Categorized in: Tetsuyaku
This is a transcribed translation of the video comment that appeared on the homepage of Sony Music on January 27, 2010. The top page was taken over by L’Arc on the occasion of the release of BLESS.
The text below was translated without any official transcript; please understand that there may be errors.
yukihiro: Hi everybody watching SonyMusic Online Japan, this is L’Arc~en~Ciel.
yukihiro: Aren’t you going to introduce yourselves?
tetsuya: tetsuya here.
hyde: hyde here.
ken: *stops laughing* ken here. *resumes laughing*
yukihiro: yukihiro here.
yukihiro: Okay, on January tweneven, twenty seven, we’ve got a new single, BLESS, released~
ken: *laugh of distraction*
yukihiro: This single is, er… For the Olympics……… It was made for cheering. …Yeah.
yukihiro: And the recording, the recording was… …..Hmmmm…. Yeah…
hyde: You did about 60 takes. Of drumming.
yukihiro: I drummed.
hyde: Take No. 42 was the one you approved.
ken: Wow, good memory.
hyde: I know, right?
yukihiro: But you know, I, er, actually… I took the last take back home with me, as a souvenir.
yukihiro: That was a secret.
yukihiro: Yeah. We are L’Arc~en~Ciel.
Posted by: on: January 23 2010 • Categorized in: Tetsuyaku
This is a translation of the talk segment that aired on Pop Jam’s final episode, March 16, 2007. The talk was hosted by Takanori Nishikawa and was aired between the two song performances. This translation was done without an official transcript and so may contain errors.
Takanori: And now for tonight’s Pop Jam, I’ve been given some truly wonderful guests. Here are the members of L’Arc~en~Ciel!
Takanori: So how about it? This is the show’s final episode.
Takanori: You know? It’s sad, I just think it’s so sad.
hyde: Hmm hmm. It is. You know, this was the first program we ever came on.
Takanori: Yeah yeah yeah! Me too, actually. Me too. The first program I was ever on was this one, Pop Jam. To think this program… Well you know? There are lots of other music programs now, but the one that started it, for a lot of people, a lot of artists working right now, it was Pop Jam. I think a lot of people would say that. Remember the nervousness?
hyde: I was on pins and needles.
Takanori: Right?! Back then it was like… Well I’m sure that all of you were mystified and amazed at the thought of going on TV, but…
Takanori: It changes with time.
hyde: Oh but it hasn’t changed.
Takanori: NO WAY.
hyde: It’s still amazing.
Takanori: It barely registers!
hyde: No no, no no.
Takanori: So, do you have any memories to share? Any last message? One last thing to say on this show?
hyde: It was always fun to see people’s hair half-done.
Takanori: That was fun. It IS fun.
Takanori: You like it?
hyde: Yeah, like “Hey look at that idol!” (laughs)
Takanori: Yeah yeah, um (laughs)
hyde: No makeup!
Takanori: Oh and, seeing what they wear, normally.
Takanori: Know what I mean? Sometimes, their casual clothing was nicer.
hyde: Yeah, I know.
Takanori: And um… Ever since I got to be the host of this show, I’ve wanted to do something about this distance. Let’s close the distance. If that’s alright. I want to be a member of L’Arc~en~Ciel, too.
(hyde nods, the others laugh)
Takanori: Why are you laughing? I want to, you know! Let me in!
Takanori: Just call me and I’ll come on tour with you.
Takanori: Yes really. I always meant to do it, but I never could.
hyde: So, should I be afraid?
Takanori: No no no no! I’ll just take up a tambourine or something, in the back. Yeah, yeah, yeah!!
Posted by: on: August 1 2009 • Categorized in: Tetsuyaku
This interview was published in the months leading to INAZUMA ROCK 2009, a music fest held in Shiga prefecture in September 2009. Since Nishikawa is the main promoter of the event, the interview is mainly about him.
The following extract is the portion where he is discussing the event with tetsu.
Inazuma ROCK Special Interview – tetsu x Nishikawa Takanori
[You know, technically, I haven’t actually been invited, yet.]
Nishikawa and tetsu have been friends for nearly 20 years. Surely we have all wondered about this event. Whose idea was it to appear together…?
tetsu: [You know, technically, I haven’t actually been invited, yet.]
Nishikawa: [Pff, there you go with ridiculous complaints, again (laughs). For me, it’s just, well, of course I’m gonna be there, obviously? So yeah, that’s how it all got started.]
tetsu: [I thought it was obvious for me, too, and I’ve had every intention of being there, from the start, but I still haven’t received an official invitation (laughs).]
Nishikawa: [Fine, then I’ll invite you right now. (laughs) Please come! …But hey, we’ve been discussing this show ever since it started looking like it was gonna be possible.]
tetsu: [Yeah. Whenever we’d go out to eat, you told me so much about it. …Back when he first became the sightseeing ambassador (1) for Shiga, I thought it would be a great idea to have a rock fest there, and whaddya know, he was thinking the same thing.]
Nishikawa: [That’s us… It’s not surprising, considering how we eat together and talk together normally. Now we even have a radio show together, so we see each other every week, oh and our offices are right next to each other.]
tetsu: [That’s a recent development (laughs). We both have columns in CD-DATA that have been running for a long time, and on the radio, besides the show we do together, there’s another show that we both work on, but not together (2)
. …I know you’re copying everything I do. When you admire someone this much, it’s only natural. I understand your feelings, just don’t do -that- to me (laughs).]
Nishikawa: [Okay, okay (laughs). Well, considering our relationship, it would be weird if we didn’t both show up.]
– The last time you took to the stage together was at the year-end event held by L’Arc~en~Ciel’s office, correct? (3)
tetsu: [We did one T.M.Revolution song and one L’Arc~en~Ciel song, that time.]
Nishikawa: [The year before, GLAY turned up. I heard that tet-chan really wanted to invite me that time, but I had a concert; I have a lot of shows to do at that time of year, so our schedules were impossible to line up. So, apparently he had given up… That’s why I decided to come, and changed everything around so I could go, and I told him I’d do whatever it took to make it happen. In the end, I still had a concert on the same day, but I worked it out so when I was done, I just ran off and went straight to the event.]
tetsu: [By the way, I went to check out the venue [for Inazuma] a few days ago. I was thinking we should have a barbecue for the entire two days, but I had to go home before I could figure out how to pull it off.]
(Editor’s note: BBQs are not allowed at the venue. Still, you never know!)
Nishikawa: [A barbecue! (laughs) Okay, you can be in charge of that. It’s all up to you. …So I guess that means we should look out for a barbecue grill in the next tetsu’s PRESS (laughs)]
[Fine, then I’ll invite you right now… Please come! (laughs)]
Translated by Natalie Arnold
1. A sightseeing ambassador is a person who does promotional work for a particular place, usually a city or prefecture, and is recognized as an official promoter of the area by the local govermnent. Nishikawa Takanori does this for Shiga Prefecture. Go back.
2. The first radio show, where they appear together, is Yakiguri BanBan Comma 3. They appear on it Thursday nights. The second radio show mentioned is Gocha Maze!. It currently airs on Saturday nights, but tetsu and Takanori appear at different times during the three-hour show. Both are on MBS in the Kansai region. Go back.
3. This event is of course, JACK IN THE BOX (formerly: DANGER), Maverick DC’s annual party. Go back.
Posted by: on: February 22 2009 • Categorized in: Tetsuyaku
In this segment, they will begin by looking back on their various activities from 2008, discuss the present state of the music world, covering the differences between solo and band work, even detailing Nishikawa’s recent move, graciously providing the contents of this interview. They both held many lives in 2008. But then, what does 2009 hold in store for them?
[We saw a lot of each other in private, too.]
[I’m still sort of a consultant, when it comes to moving.]
Released November 21, 2007, the 11th album, KISS, led L’Arc~en~Ciel into TOUR 2007-2008 THEATER OF KISS, which was swiftly followed by a first-ever concert in Paris as part of of TOUR 2008 L’7 ～Trans ASIA via PARIS ～. At the same time, abingdon boys school held a single tour and participated in an event tour, while Nishikawa Takanori had a tour of his own as T.M.Revolution.
It can then be said that 2008 was a year mostly composed of lives for both of our participants. Yet we must ask how they have been able to face this long and tiring year.
To them, who are well acquainted with not only band activities but also solo projects, how do the differences come across?
Furthermore, in this era where delivery soars ever higher in importance above and beyond CD sales, how do artists, those who deliver the musical product, feel about their position? In the midst of their extremely busy work load, what kind of stimulation did they obtain in their private lives? In this segment, they will examine the year 2008 from multiple angles! And then, what could their goals for 2009 be?!
– How was 2008, for you? tetsu [2008 was a year of tours. I even went overseas for a tour. It was really great. It’s always fun, any time I get to go overseas. I’m the kind of person who can sleep anywhere, so long trips don’t even bother me. It was lots of fun, really. And the lives were great, too.]
– That setup you had a Tokyo Dome, did you bring it with you to all the lives? tetsu [Of course it’s not possible to take that entire thing all over the place, but we took as much as we could. We worked pretty hard, didn’t we? We had to work really hard to get some of that stuff taken over, but we got it moved anyway.] Nishikawa [When we go overseas, we just rent all the equipment we need once we get there. We just carry the essentials (i.e. guitars) over with us.] tetsu [Well yeah, if you don’t take those with you, you’ve got problems. The truth is, we really wanted to take the entire set with us and have the overseas lives be the same as the ones in Japan, but of course that’s not possible, is it? But you know, we really took a lot of that stuff over with us, it was pretty crazy (laughs).] Nishikawa [That’s awesome! But, don’t you run into problems when stuff that’s common sense in Japan just isn’t, over there? In Japan, they’d automatically set up punch carpet, that really course stuff, on the stage, but apparently it’s not common, and when I went to New York, I was all like “Why did they put this fluffy stuff all over the stage?” It was white, shaggy, and fluffy (laughs). Aw man, that stuff is so hard to move around on! That’s pretty much what happened (laughs).] tetsu [Sounds like it was one gigantic carpet. (laughs)] Nishikawa [‘Cause it was! (laughs) I was totally shocked (laughs).]
– It made you wish you had brought your own carpet, did it? (laughs) tetsu [When we go on tour overseas, even the drinks we have backstage were brought over from Japan. We bring over everything we can.]
– Though since you need motivation to do the show, it’s important not to let anything stress you, right? tetsu [Guess so. But you know, that’s not good enough a reason, we need to sit down with a calculator and calculate all the costs, too. I think it’s important.]
– It shows that you’re the leader! Now, Nishikawa-san, you also spent almost all of 2008 on tour, correct? Nishikawa [The first half of the year was band stuff, and the second half was solo stuff, yeah.] tetsu [To think you’re still in the middle of a tour, right now. That’s amazing. You do so much. You have to do tour stuff every weekend right? Your live last night was great.] Nishikawa [You were there last night?! (laughs)] tetsu [In Oomiya, right? Two days? Of course I know～ I was there in spirit.] Nishikawa [“Your feelings go out to me!” Hey! How about that! (laughs) But yeah, 2008 was really a year of tours. I only had one live overseas, but I did go overseas a bunch of times for other work-related things, and by the way I was in a movie for the first time ever, a lot of stuff happened. Since I like moving around, though, it was a pretty fun year.]
– Do you actually go to each other’s lives? Nishikawa [I go to L’Arc lives every time I get the chance.] tetsu [I’ve been to his lives, too.] Nishikawa [But about three songs in you came down with a fever and had to go home! (laughs)] tetsu [I couldn’t help it! (laughs) I went straight to the hospital, actually (laughs). It just shows how hot your lives are. It’s pretty amazing.] Nishikawa [What kind of an excuse is that? (laughs)]
– (laughs). As for your personal lives, what kind of year did it turn out to be? Nishikawa [I’d say it was quite fulfilling.] tetsu [We saw a lot of each other in private, too.] Nishikawa [Yes we did～ Since he still does some consulting when it comes to moving, we saw a lot of each other in secret. (laughs)]
– tetsu-san, you enjoy moving, right? tetsu [That’s right (laughs). So yeah. I’d send him mails saying “Hey this is a good place.”] Nishikawa [He knows so many things! If I sent him a mail saying “I found this place, what do you think?” he’d always answer “Oh that place, yeah I know it!” My real estate agent even told me “That tetsu-san has been over here to have a look, too” while I was out looking (laughs).] tetsu [You should take that place, though! The one with the glass around the bath (laughs).] Nishikawa [No, no. (laughs) That place has a glassed-in bath right next to the entrance, so if company came over while I was in the bath, I’d be like, peeking through the glass, going “Oh hi. Come on in.” That’s totally what would happen. (laughs)] tetsu [You’ve danced around naked, so I’m telling you, you gotta live in a place that has at least that much impact (laughs).] Nishikawa [I don’t wanna. I wanna live someplace normal. (laughs).]
– Ahahaha. I can see you have a great relationship, but it has happened for you to send an email and have it bounce back, hasn’t it, Nishikawa-san? Nishikawa [Yes! That was last year, right? I sent tetchan a mail, and just got an error message like “Please check the recipient’s address.” What the – He changed his address!!! (laughs)] tetsu [That was, well, I told you all about it, and I had meant to give you my new details but I just forgot. And you know, even I only found out about that thing from the sports newspaper (laughs). Oh? Didn’t I tell him? (laughs) So then I rushed to get in touch with you. But man, getting in touch through a sports newspaper is a pretty revolutionary way of using the newspaper (laughs).] Nishikawa [And yet I couldn’t get them to write up the good stuff (laughs) Even though it’s so revolutionary! Guess I discovered something new (laughs)]
– Indeed (laughs). In 2008, several rock bands from the 80s such as Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe released new music and even came to Japan; it was an excellent year for rock. What are your thoughts about that? Nishikawa [Oh yeah, even Madonna came to Japan, it was a year full of powerful performances by all kinds of 80s artists. I can’t say it had any kind of direct influence on me though, but I have to say it was stimulating. Obviously. But on the other hand, it also made me wonder why there aren’t any artists around to surpass those old acts, it makes me think we ought to be trying harder.] tetsu [That’s harsh.] Nishikawa [No no, I mean, well, we do need to try our best. Back in the day, we couldn’t even imagine what we’d be like in our 30s and 40s, much less figure that the bands we had around would still be active when we got to that age. But now, while I’m grateful that it’s still possible for them to still have lives and tours, I really do feel that we ought to be working hard to improve our skills.]
[I guess that just might be my one weakness (laughs).]
– I see. Recently, the music market has changed so that while download sales are soaring, CD sales are plummeting. Could I ask you both for your opinions on this trend? Nishikawa [The actual number of people listening to music hasn’t gone down, though. And yet, when people get to thinking that it’s enough if they can just sing the songs at karaoke, to be honest I find it pretty sad. Oh, and also the people can find a song that’s on their minds by searching a video site. “Oh hey, there’s that song! Yeah, it’s a good song,” and that’s the end of it.] tetsu [Yeah. That’s no good. It’s really too bad, because if the sound quality isn’t high enough, they’ll never get to experience the music properly.]
– That’s a good point. I’m sure that both of you have your own preoccupations with the art form, but personally that each packaged product has merit as a whole, and as downloading becomes mainstream, it’s becoming a sadder world lacking that aspect. Now, changing the subject, both of you are active in bands and in solo projects, so I’d like to ask your thoughts about each of those activity styles. Nishikawa [Oh yeah, I think it’s much harder to work in a band. For example, if you were going to build something together, you start by saying “Okay! Let’s build something like this!” and then when you draw up the blueprints together, it’s like “Eh? Why are we putting toilet over here?!” and even if you think along the lines of lifestyle convenience it’s still a mystery, why put a toilet there??? “But why do you want to put a toilet by the living room instead of the entrance?!”] tetsu [No no no, it’s better that way.] Nishikawa [Ahahaha. Oh really? (laughs) But it’s way better to have the toilet by the entrance! But anyway, even when I get around to explaining “Yeah, I think the toilet ought to be by the entrance, not by the living room”, the others still go “Oh, really?” and everyone has their own opinion, you know. But yeah, I guess when you finally combine everyone’s ideas together, you can end up with something that makes you go “Oh yeah, I guess it is more interesting this way.” and make some new discoveries. That’s the fun part of being in a band. And hey, my band right now is full of grumpy old men.] tetsu [Grumpy old men? (laughs) If yours is, then so is mine (laughs).] Nishikawa [Ahahahaha! Well, then we’re even (laughs). But because the band is full of old men, even when there’s a clash of opinions, once you’ve gotten all snippy and “What the hell (｀^´)” you can just take a bit of time to cool off, and then go back saying “Okay so how about we do this instead?” and actually build something new out of your diverging opinions, that takes a bit of distance, and it seems like something a band can only have when it’s composed of adults, which is interesting.]
– Indeed. When you’re young, no matter how much you may respect each other, it feels much more important to assert yourself, after all. Nishikawa [When you put it that way, it makes me extremely jealous of how L’Arc has been able to last so many years together, like that. I’m sure that there have been a lot of conflicts along the way, but the band managed to surpass all of that and is still going strong; I think that’s so incredibly wonderful.]
[I am gentler than Bufferin (laughs).]
– I see. tetsu-san, did you make any discoveries while working solo? tetsu [Solo means I’m on my own, so everything moves faster. If I give the OK, then the decision is made, and that’s much easier on me so in that sense I could say that it’s fun. That’s probably why people who have been doing solo work all along end up wanting to start bands somewhere down the road (laughs).] Nishikawa [Oh, you mean me? (laughs) Well yeah. But in my band, the other three members are a real musican’s musicians, so when it comes time to decide things like what we’ll wear on stage for a live, or what the album jacket will look like, they just go “Whatever, we don’t care about that stuff,” and they leave it all up to me, which is pretty sweet. If every member had a strong opinion about that sort of thing, I’d probably give up in frustration, “Whatever! I don’t give a damn! Fuck off (｀^´)!” and throw a table at them or something (laughs). I guess it’s precisely because they let me control all the non-musical stuff that things are going so well.] tetsu [I see. I figured you were putting lots of effort into making them all wear those outfits.] Nishikawa [Hey…. They do talk back sometimes (laughs). “Is this outfit really okay?” and stuff (laughs) I answer “It’s okay! Really! Just keep wearing it and you’ll get used to it eventually!” (laughs)] tetsu [Ahahahaha! Figures (laughs)] Nishikawa [It’s kind of like when you’re in a taxi and the driver farts, but it’s cold outside so you can’t open the window, but then after a little while your nose gets used to it, you know! It’s the same thing; humans are an adaptable species.] tetsu [I don’t understand your explanation (laughs).]
– Indeed, it is rather strange (laughs). Nishikawa [How come! (laughs) That kinda thing happens! Even though you can smell the fart clearly, you know you have to be in the same car with that driver for another 30, 40 minutes, so instead of causing another stink, you don’t open the window and just endure it; you know you can stand it because you know you’ll get used to it (laughs).] tetsu [Endure it?! I’m so shocked～ If it was me, I’d say something like “Could you cut that out!” (laughs) It’s an enclosed space, right? I couldn’t stand it. (laughs) I guess that just might be my one weakness (laughs).]
– Medicine does get less effective as one builds a resistance to it, though (laughs). When it comes to enduring things, you are total opposites (laughs). Are your personalities otherwise similar, tetsu-san? Nishikawa-san? tetsu [Personalities, eh?] Nishikawa [I wonder myself.] tetsu [Well, we do like the same things, and wear the same stuff (laughs). Sometimes I think “Oh? That’s so something Nishikawa-kun would wear!” (laughs).]
– Earlier, you mentioned that you like to go to the same select shop. Nishikawa [That’s right. First of all, it’s a MANIAC shop, and I like to wear stuff that nobody else would ever wear (laughs). I go to the hardcore zones in the hardcore shops (makes a hand motion as if flipping something over); I guess we both like to find hardcore stuff.] tetsu [Nishikawa-kun, you could probably name all the brands I wear, couldn’t you?] Nishikawa [Yes of course (laughs). That’s how much our tastes are similar, you know (laughs).]
– That much, really (laughs). Now, can I ask your goals for 2009? tetsu [2009, eh. I think I will work hard. How much longer is your tour going to last, dear?] Nishikawa [Until March. You gonna come? Not just in spirit, I want you to come for real (laughs). L’Arc has some releases lined up, right?] tetsu [Yep, we do. I think that in 2009, we’ll keep right on stimulating each other, and I hope we can keep this open relationship going.: Nishikawa [I want the same thing. Next time you change your contact info, let me know what’s going on with you before the sports magazines do, okay～ (laughs).]
Interviewer not identified.
Translated by Natalie Arnold