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
1. Typo in original magazine. Go back.
2. Saitama Stadium 2002 is a football stadium in Saitama that was built for the 2002 World Cup, hence the name. Go back.