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Their 'starting point' and 'present', which are reflected in 'ginga no oto'
In the end of their 10th live anniversary on August 23, 2015 at Fuji-Q Highland Conifer Forest, A9 left their previous management company and entered a year of public inactivity. A year after, bringing their START-UP EP 'ginga no oto', they will give their 11th anniversary live performance 'Re:birth~飛翔~' and finally make a full comeback. Talking about their latest work, which carries the concept of 'going back to their starting point' and filled with their current sound and feelings, we came to know the 11 years of the band, and their 'present'. This is a long interview which will delve into A9's celebrated first step.
I want to create something unique that only this band can do (Saga)
Q: Due to various reasons, Tora-san (G) is absent today, but it's nice meeting you. It's been a year since your 10th anniversary live performance last year. How would you describe this one year in a word?
Show: Literally, this one year my working buddies now share common destiny.
Saga: In past 10 years, this year was the longest time I stayed at home, so in one word it would be 'idle'. I feel that people become useless if they don't work. Well, I did everything I could do, I've got not place to show what I did to other people, so I felt as if I could die from idleness (laughs). It was difficult.
Hiroto: In one word, it would be 'people'. We went separate from the place which used to protect us, and worked with very small number of people as a team, that I can really feel the people close to us who really want to support what we think. It was a year which I really feel that music is born from 'people'.
Nao: This one year.. 'hope'. Being in this band for 10 years, with refreshed feelings I've got new dreams, things I want to do, things I have to do, new experiences. Of course all with music as the basis.
Q: Your START-UP EP 'ginga no oto' will be released, one and a half year after your previous work 'SUPERNOVA'. But before that, you made public the MV of 'Phoenix' quite early, on March 1st.
Show: Last year in November we gave a fanclub live performance, so even if it was only a few months, I really felt the fans' anxiety and that they were really waiting for us. So I wanted to give them a signal that "we are still here" as soon as possible. By making the song and video public quite early, it became something like a presence appeal.
Q: In the 'phoenix' making video which was uploaded afterwards, Saga-san said "Til now we've been making things which have a 'major' feeling in it, but right now we're not affiliated to anything so I want to show this feelings of liberty".
Saga: I think it came naturally. The atmosphere when making it was really different. In our current environment, we can compose songs freely without thinking of anything, and I don't know whether it's a good thing, but if the people listening to it think it's good, then it's good.
Hiroto: It's not that we put this 'freedom' in the centre (of our activities), but to do this in this current timing, which is the timing when we take a new step, when we look back at the last 10 years, I felt glad that we (chose to) do it now, like it was the (right) time to do it. Listening to the finished songs myself, I felt the highly concentrated essence of the 5 of us.. ah, it sounds dirty (laughs).
Nao: It's the male essence.
Hiroto: There are parts which were intentional and parts which naturally took shape, and it became a work in which there is barely any sound other than the 5 of us. The last time we did it was in our early years, really. I'm glad that this work reflects the 5 of us, or rather the mix of it with our early sounds.
Q: Your method of composing song was also different. Relay-method.
Saga: It was only in one song, 'SPIEGEL'. I don't want it to make something especially metal or pop or jazzy, but rather I want to create something that shows our peculiarity, something unique that only this band can do. When I think about it, I found that if only one person make it, it would end up having too much of that person's taste, so I wanted to change the way we do it. Besides, everyone were doing their individual projects so I wanted to make something in which they can show what they've earned individually. If we didn't do that, I felt that the individual projects would have no meaning.
Show: It wasn't logical, but there were a lot of meanings in doing this method. As expected, we wouldn't be able to experience the conflict in the band if we hadn't tried this method. Some people feel like intro is just as important as the hook, and the intro that Hiroto made felt as if it would swallow the hook. We wouldn't have been able to experience this kind of heat if not for this relay method.
Q: Did you have a talk about it before you made the song?
Saga: At first, I asked show to make a melody for the hook, to which I provided the backing. But it's not it was made because I said "let's make a song with relay method". But it ended up progressing in that way.
Hiroto: The trigger was something I said during our meeting.
Saga: Hiroto said he wanted to make a suite music. But as expected, it would be painful to make something like 'GEMINI' (laughs). ('Gemini -0- eternal', 'Gemini -I- the void', 'Gemini -II- the luv', which were recorded for the album 'GEMINI' released in February 2011). You can say that 'SPIEGEL' is a suite music, and the intro A-melody, and hook were all composed by different people. Hiroto composed the intro, and Tora composed the parts between the hook.
Hiroto: I really like 'GEMINI' and think it's epic. That time, we added into the songs that Saga-kun had made. For this (mini album), I said, what if we do something like that with all of us. Then Saga-kun gave the idea to condense it into one song.
Everyone's individual starting point (Show)
Q: On Show's interview regarding crowd funding, he said, "Now that I've been in this band for 10 years, I think that visual kei wouldn't be beautiful unless the concept, looks, and music are consistent". Did you make this mini-album with a concept in mind?
Show: We had a talk that 'Phoenix' would have a theme of "going back to our roots", so I asked Saga-kun to make a Japanese-themed song, and he came up with something with an alternative feeling to it, which is very much Saga-kun-like. Since I'm the one in charge of the lyric and artwork, if there is no consistency (with the music), then there would be no more valid reason to put on make-up, things like that. In Spiegel we brought in a lot of outside people such as cameraman and designer to do the artwork, and since all of us had a talk about the concept that we want to make, in a way I feel that turning it into a composite art is a way to present visual kei.
Q: Tell us about the concept in 'ginga no oto'.
Show: Starting from zero, going back to the starting points. For us in the early days, our starting point is a blend between Japanese and western music, but the fans might have started listening to us in various point of time, so even if we say 'starting point', people might have different interpretations of it. When I think about it, then, is there something common from all these, we have a lot of lyrics featuring stars and shining things, and when thinking about the Budokan live performance titled 'TOKYO GALAXY' which might have created a starting point for common perception among all of us, so I drew 'ginga' (galaxy) as the theme. We want to make each and every song shines, so in that sense we decided on 'ginga no oto' (sounds of galaxy) as the title. I hope it would be able to remind our fans about their own starting points. I want them to listen to it with a brand new feeling.
Q: Light and stars, it definitely sounds like you. And this mini albums tells about your current feelings and conditions.
Show: Saga-kun composes a lot of songs which brings out his inner side, like narrating about reality. In my opinion, Tora is actually a romanticist even though he looks tough, so the lyric for 'ryuuseigun' (composed by Tora) ended up becoming romantic. 'Phoenix' and 'Spiegel' are about our current condition, and we composed it, with 'wanting to become one with the fans' in mind, so I want them to listen to these songs.
Q: By the way, in previous interview when talking about how the lyrics were influenced by mood of the composer of the song, you said that with regards to Tora, that he had this 'flashy' feel.
Show: In 'Supernova', Tora composed this song titled 'Kid', and it has this 'party people♪' feel to it, so I had to say it (laughs). 'Ryuuseigun' is like, this slow-tempo song after getting all flashy (laughs).
Hiroto: But still there is flashiness in it (laughs).
Show: It's like you're judging Tora because he's absent (laughs).
Nao: But, by no means Tora is flashy.
Hiroto: On the contrary, it sounds fishy (laughs).
Show: This is difficult to follow (laughs).
Q: (laughs) did the composing method in 'Spiegel' have an effect in the lyric?
Show: It gave me a new approach to express myself. There are some parts with difficult expression, like 'ima, me no mae ni aru koto ga bokutachi no kotae sa' (the things in front of us now are our answer) is that we're here and want to be together with our fans, that kind of honest feelings. All of us composed this song so I thought I should include a lot of elements in the lyric.
Q: Even so, Tora-san doesn't come out.
Show: Somehow it's decided that I will make this song called 'Ryuuseigun' (mimicking Tora).
Saga: Somehow the melody just came to me, and after I do things with it somehow it got chosen (mimicking Tora)
Q: Even for 'Kid', Tora-san didn't say that he "wanted to do it" but instead something like "it ended up getting chosen".
Show: He isn't the type who pushes for things, like "I really want to do this"
Saga: Even though it's easier for us if he just says that he wants to do it.
Show: Because it's like, then what should we do.
Nao: Then, within 5 years I want to do a song which surpasses 'GEMINI'. I think I can do it now.
Saga: Nao-san looks stern when he's playing drums.
Nao: That's because that's the kind of play that people want (laughs)!
Saga: Even though he said that he wanted to be a cute character.
Q: Cute character!
Nao: Because somehow people expect that aura from me. But they expect me to do difficult drum plays, so naturally I ended up being serious. But then, I get told "Nao-san, are you in bad mood today?" (laughs).
Q: That is sad (laughs)
Show: You should have a fixed smile like Tora.
Nao: Maybe I should practice on that.
Show: He (Tora) already perfected that smile since our 3rd Shibuya performance (laughs).
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Translated by Val. Original interview here.