First in the special personal interview series is the drummer, Nao. In this interview, taking place just three days after their 11th Anniversary Live 「Re:birth-飛翔」on August 23rd, Nao told us everything about his current feelings openly while exchanging jokes, which is just like himself. Moreover, he told us about his grand dream stemmed from pursuing his own sound.
This isn't what we've been storing this one year.
Q: It's only been 3 days since the live performance on August 23rd. Tell us how you feel.
Nao: First of all, I'm glad the 5 of us were able to come back to the stage and fulfil the promise we made a year ago. There are still lots of issues, and we'll have to work hard on them.
Q: Do you feel like you had completely come back?
Nao: I don't feel like we've completely come back just yet, like "this isn't what we've been storing this one year". We're going to show the energy we've been storing this past year from now on.
Q: The opening was really impressive. How did you feel the moment the curtain dropped after "PRAY" and you saw the audience?
Nao: I could hear the cheering from my spot even though I was wearing earphones. If it isn't just my imagination, it was the loudest cheering I've ever heard til now. I was like "ooh"
Q: How was it like to perform your new songs for the first time?
Nao: I think there are songs that will still grow and develop during the tour. But I felt good about the drum parts. It was difficult during the recording, there were many strokes and (the parts) were too fast. But (when I played again) before the live performance, it was a piece of cake. I could perform with ease. I only felt like, "oh, it's starting" in the beginning but I wasn't particularly nervous or anything, like it was natural for me to be there.
Q: In the previous interview, you said that you had trouble with "juudan" in particular.
Nao: On the live performance it was as easy as a pie. But I have a funny episode with the song, in which I was unable to play (the drums part) until I had eel for meal, and I feel like laughing whenever I remember it (laughs). People who know about that story also told me "so it was that kind of song", and I think knowing about the behind-the-scene of the songs will give you a different way to enjoy the song. So I want to make more stories like that (laughs).
Q: Did you get reactions from audience which exceeded your expectation, or you did not expect?
Nao: I think the audience had become more expressive. Like, I thought they would silently watch and listen here (in this song) but it turns out, they were cheering, like the reactions we got in our performances abroad. It's like, they would react every time we did something. I thought, "Eh? Did we always get this kind of reaction?" (laughs). Well, maybe it's because they were really looking forward to it, but I'd be glad if this continues.
Q: They also kept requesting for encore even when it had been announced that the performance was over.
Nao: I guess there were many reasons for it. Like, they wanted to hear the voice of all the members, or finally we came back so they didn't want it to end. Everyone's voice reached the backstage, and I was really happy. It powered me up for the tour.
Q: They must be expecting a lot of things, since it's been a year.
Nao: We also have a lot of things we want to do and show, but it's not something that can be done in one day (laughs). We can't show everything in one go, just like in romance (laughs). We have to make them want us to show more.
Q: (laughs). Tell us about the most memorable moment, the one which touched you the most.
Nao: I think it was during "subete e". On the very end, the feeling "Ah, we did manage to come back. I'm so glad" was overflowing. There were other moments as well. For me, the peak was during the 2nd song, "RUMWOLF" (laughs). It was when I got nervous the most. The song has 4 bars of drum solo. It's very fast and difficult, so it really depends on the drums' tension on that day. The rebound is different depending on the drums' tension, so it's difficult to grasp the feeling. I was quite nervous. But I could perform it neatly, so I thought, with this today I would be fine, and after that I could perform brimming with confidence.
Q: Good thing it was the second song (laughs).
Nao: Yeah, I'm glad I overcame it quite early into the performance (laughs). Had I failed, it would've affected my subsequent plays. Like, ah.. I failed..
Q: But in last interview you proclaimed, "I will perform with a smile (on my face)
Nao: I did! I'm sure people could see it.
Q: I was surprised to see your session with Saga-san.
Nao: He (Saga) suddenly came to me a few days (before the performance) and said, "I want to hit (the drums)"
Q: Oh really?! I thought the two of you had had an extensive practice beforehand.
Nao: Nah, just a little (laughs).
Saga: It couldn't be called a practice (laughs) *Saga was waiting for the next interview
Nao: I didn't remember the rhythm until just before the performance. I couldn't remember (laughs). I kept saying "dandada dadan dan dadan".
Q: Ah, so this is what you tweeted about.
Nao: That's right.
Q: But your timing was perfect.
Nao: His drumming was unexpectedly good, so it was easy to match him! (laughs)
Q: (laughs) By the way, what did you have for breakfast on August 23rd? When talking about Nao-san, I get the image of "food". So I thought, why not talk about it (laughs).
Nao: What did I have... I think I had the bento provided when we reached the venue. The day before that I had some free time. I felt relieved after finishing the things I had to do, and had a lot of beer afterwards so I felt sick. I didn't feel hungry when I woke up in the morning. So I thought, I had no choice but to just go to the venue. That's why, when I was having my hair and make-up done I said, "I drank too much yesterday, you must be thinking I'm fatter now"
Q: And what was the reply?
Nao: They said, "Nothing like that". Well, I don't know what they really thought though (laughs).
I want us to become a representative of 'a cool band'
Q: Your latest work "ginga no oto" was finally released as a package at the venue on August 23rd. How did people around you react to it? *before the release of the CD on August 23rd, it was distributed in advance to those participating in their crowdfunding project
Nao: I've got some reactions when the digital version was out, but not regarding the package (laughs). But since it was a work we devoted ourselves into, my parents were worried, like, "Are you really ok with it being (only) 2700 yen?! Isn't it (too) cheap?! Are you ok with making something like this?!" It's a packaging that we could because of what we are now, as we (could) select the prices of our things. I want us to do something like this in the future as well. Isn't it good as goods? I'm sure it will be more premium from now on. Because it's not like we produce tens of thousands of them. I should also buy one soon (laughs).
Q: Looks like it will become a valuable thing. Well then, how do you feel now after the live performance on August 23rd and towards your tour that will start on September 3rd?
Nao: I just want to properly present the things we want to do and the things we want to show.. It's really just that. I want to perform with my feelings, and I'll be glad if it reaches. I'm excited. We also did Asia Tour last year so I've gotten used to it, or more like, I had no worries, and it looked like it reached (the audience) so I guess it will be ok. This time I want to try more food, and go to places I didn't go last time. Because it's much awaited, so I want to enjoy it. But maybe there won't be (enough) time.
Q: I hope you would be able to enjoy it.
Nao: Asia... yen is cheap so I want to buy some instruments. Before I also went to a few music shops. They have brands that are also sold in Japan, and sometimes the mainstream ones are the ones unavailable in Japan, so I think there are still many good instruments that haven't entered Japan yet. I want to make a discovery. Finding sounds that only I can make. Now I want to procure right from the material, so I'm looking for land abroad.
Nao: I want to grow a forest. And make drums out of the woods.
Q: That's a grand dream.
Nao: Nah, I'm sure I can do it! In countries with low humidity, the trees are dry, so they will create a sound different from the ones in Japan. Crisp and dry, and do-n. I'm searching for it. Land, wait for me!
Q: (laughs). Maybe you'll really end up going.
Nao: Like, "Nao, is this good? Stamp here" (Nao mimicking foreigner speaking in Japan)
Saga: Nao-san is famous abroad, isn't he.
Nao: No, no. I'm not famous (laughs).
Q: Maybe you'll get a mail saying "You can have my land" (laughs).
Nao: I'll go. Dream has to be big. But really, I think it's not impossible. Even though it's still far into the future. It seems sometimes instrument makers abroad are, unexpectedly, not companies but rather home-made. Because they're home-made, it takes long to produce, and they can only make a few in a year. But, some are really good. So maybe I can do it.
Q: I hope it will come true
Nao: Original brand, Nao bura (laughs).
Q: (laughs). Lastly, what kind of band do you want A9 to be in the future?
Nao: I simply want us to be cool. Bit by bit, I want people to say "A9 are surprisingly cool aren't they?" and want us to be associated as 'a cool band'. Even after we grow old, or rather, after we grow old. Not only to look good or cool, but I want our manliness to show too.
Q: The kind of cool men that you can only achieve with age and experience.
Nao: That's right. (one that is) even the wrinkle are cool. I want us to be a band who looks good in sweat.
Translated by Val. Original interview here.
Also read: Nao | Saga | Tora | Hiroto | Show