Partie 2 :
Doesn't sound good, (laughs).
Quite bad, (laughs). The school has an architecture major, a machine major, and an electric engineering major, and I was in the electric major. When we had a big fight with the other schools, the head of the architecture major called many freshmen, and I remember 50 freshmen gathered there, and I was in that group too, (laughs). And the head told us like, "Okay. So for the fight, the guys in the architecture major should bring some wood (sticks), and the guys in the machine major should bring screwdrivers, and the guys in the electric major should think of what to bring by yourselves", (laughs). And we used to go to the other high schools for fights. In our school there was a boy who studied abroad for 2 years so that he was already 20 years old when he was in the 3rd year, (laughs). He was a really nasty one, so when a head of the opposing school came to him to talk, he beat him up. The person who was beaten up was paralyzed from the waist down for half-a-year, so when I saw that scene in person, I just felt it was unreasonable, and I suddenly felt scared of everything.
So you realized that you don't want to do this?
I agree that I often did fight in high school, but I've never beaten up someone. I just kept escaping from being hit. So after the incident in my elementary school, I couldn't hit a person strong, but when I try to escape from being hit, I just tried to push them away. I accidentally beat up someone's face with a disc, so I pushed someone through the glass window and he fell to the ground from the second floor.
So you were also problematic in high school.
How did you look like then? (laughs)
Maybe I looked young. Many people laugh when I say this, but when I entered high school, I had a haircut like an idol's (like Johnny's), (laughs). So I was always scouted by agents downtown, but I really hated it. I didn't like to look cute.
So you haven't tried some typical homeboy style?
I just felt that the people who do the stereotypical things are sad, very lonely people. So I didn't. At one point, I wore my hair permed.
So after giving up high school, you had to decide what to do next?
What I would do was a part-time job, so I just did everything to make a living. But I always felt meaningless. When I did errands in construction sites, I just felt, What was I doing? Why did I give up high school? So I wouldn't keep one specific job. I couldn't stay in one specific place. But what I kept doing was singing.
Did you form a band when you were in high school?
Yes. At that point, I met JUN (from DEEP). We made a band called SLAUGHTER.
But you guys went to different high schools?
Someone said there's a good guitarist in some school and he met him, and vice versa JUN heard about me, and he heard I was a good vocalist.
So you didn't make a band in your school.
No. But I always felt scared because I felt a very big gap between myself on stage, and myself working as part-time. But in order to do vocal, I just kept being patient.
So when you kept changing your part-time job, were you already independent from your parents?
No. They still took care of me. Since we talked a lot when I dropped out of high school, although we conflicted many times with each other, they really understood me so far and supported me. But I kept feeling bad so that I just tried to be independent. But I also thought, to me to become a musician is to experience various things, so if I thought I just want to ride a bike or motorcycle and feel the wind, I just bought it with installments (not in one lump sum). But since I couldn't stay in the same part-time place, my mother ended up paying the installments. So I really made her suffer. I did the same thing in my love relationship. I just felt I want to be honest when I feel I love someone. Or I just want to meet various women. So I was just very ambitious. But also very self-absorbed, so that I might have hurt several women's feelings. But at that point, I thought I really loved them, and I was curious about them, and I thought I needed them all. Every experience helped me mature I believe, so I just didn't want to express my feelings or desire. So I just felt, in the future, I want to clarify myself, and I want to have plenty of time as well. And I kept making lyrics (poems) from the experience of dating women, or my relationship with my mother, or some casual life experience, or my feelings, or whatever...
So you wrote lyrics from them?
Since I liked writing when I was in elementary school, I kept writing. But I didn't keep them. To me, writing something is just a process to clarify my feelings, so after clarifying myself, I just didn't need the process (i.e. what I wrote). So I didn't think of them as my piece, and I just kept throwing them away.
Were they different from your current ones?
I think so. The early lyrics were like, very vague. I just tried to mystify what I really wanted to say, because I doubted the straight expression of love and/or caring. At that time, I always hurt the one I love, and I felt my feelings might not be real love, (I might not know what love is). So I can't sing love songs. So I thought, if I can't sing love songs in a straight way, I might be able to sing love songs in a very vague and dark and subtle, enigmatic way. So I just couldn't say, 'Thank you', or 'I love you', even though I really loved the person.
So you couldn't be confident in your feelings? Does it have to do with what you said earlier, that you don't want to lie to the one you love?
I just felt like, I couldn't convince people in a straight way, and it might be a lie. So I just thought, I want to love my audience like my mother, and I want to be honest with people whom I love, and I don't want to lie to them. So my lyrics were really not understandable. To be honest, I really wanted to write my feelings in a straight way, but at the same time I felt like, "Remember," I told myself, "you don't love the person anymore whom you loved a couple of months ago." And I just felt like everything was not true.
So as your idea was maturing, you gradually became serious towards love itself?
Yes. But now I can understand than girls can be as tough boys, and since we loved each other and broke up with each other, I shouldn't have felt guilty. But at that point, I was 17, so I couldn't understand it. I might feel it's nothing that I am now struggling when I become 30 years old. But when I was 17, I was just depressed. I hated myself because I easily fell in love with many women.
You were jaded?
I don't know. But I remember, since I was a little kid, I really liked reading and going to the library often. And at first, I kept reading children's books, such as "Martians are Alive", but at one point, I happened to see a medical reference in which they intricately explained about female bodies. Even though the terms are too difficult to understand, it shocked me.
So, many trivial incidents such as that built up your eccentric personality?
Yeah. Maybe as I was getting to know music and books, I might have gradually lost idealistic ideas in reality.
So when was your first love?
Maybe when I was in the first or second year in elementary school. But after transferring school, I remember I kept bullying her, (laughs).
Oh, it often happens to kids.
Since we couldn't have a physical relationship, I still liked her. Since I was so young, I didn't realize I liked her very much, and I didn't even know I liked her, so without knowing it, I just became mean to her (the reverse of my true feelings). And while I was being mean to her, I just felt, 'Why am I doing this to her?' I just can't help being curious about her. And I also remember that that girl asked me to go to the amusement park together, and on the way there, we got along with each other, but in the end, she got angry and went home. Although we went to the same junior high school, I kept the same image of her being a first or second year. I really didn't like her in junior high, but I just kept her image as precious.
Maybe you idealized her in yourself?
Maybe. The same for my favorite vocalists. The image I keep is not the person himself; it's an image which I created. But I think it was the only love relationship in which I could maintain my feelings towards the other person.
In your voluptuous life, when did you understand each other's love?
Maybe around 18.
That's kind of late.
Yeah. I kept dating girls like writing letters, or exchanging diaries, or going to school together. But I now think that even though I really thought I loved the person, maybe I just needed the company not to be lonely. So when I was 18, I really needed the other not for consoling the loneliness. I gradually realised love is not just receiving, but giving also. But if the girlfriend gets too demanding, I just want to be free from her, and I just lose my feelings towards her. So during that time, I kept feeling guilty about it. Why can't I keep loving her since I loved her so much? But maybe because of that, I'm more experienced in terms of love relationships, (laughs). And through the experiences, I turned out to be a bad liar.
So you mean you lied a lot earlier?
Maybe I couldn't help lying. Maybe I knew how happy it is to convince myself to love some one. Maybe my various experiences from childhood, or my parents' divorce affected me, so I just felt like, if I liked someone, it's just easier to say, 'I like you' or 'I love you.' To be uncertain about my feelings towards someone and thinking over it might be tolerable now, but it was just too much for me as a teenager. So I just felt, it's just easier to say 'I love you' to the person whom I just got curious about. But if I thought it more seriously and asked myself if I really love her, it might not be a true love. I think men tend to say 'I love you' easily, but it's not good. And so, after I turned 20 years old, I became more confident in what I have to say.
I personally think people usually begin with the relationship from the point where they just care about each other, and through their relationship, they can deepen their feelings towards each other. So to me, it's a little bit too strict, your ways.
So I think it can happen that lovers lose their feelings towards each other in real life. If I date with someone for a year, and during the period, as I find her real life, I just think, 'I can't stay with her', I can't help feeling guilty that I might have been lying to her and myself, and hated myself. So then, I feel like, I shouldn't have said 'I love you' to that someone. People say this because they want to know the reaction and make themselves secure from the reaction. By saying 'I love you', they just care about the partner's reaction. And security makes people say 'I love you.' And if the lover responded to you negatively, you can end the relationship. But I believe that, without saying anything for a promise, people can keep a real love relationship. I think that's true love.
But one of the big elements of a love relationship is that people want to have a place to be secure or console themselves.
You mean the place where you can escape from the reality?
To 'escape' sounds too harsh, maybe. But I mean, if you can find happiness, comfortableness, and show even your weakness, the relationship could develop into marriage,
But to me, the word marriage or anything to do with security doesn't sound right. So to me, it would be best that I totally love her, but I don't want to make her secure. Instead, I kind of want to make her insecure so that I can feel freer. And if both can be free, and at the same time the relationship can be sustained, that's true love.
I don't know. I think, in your way of love, you would feel a different kind of conflict.
I certainly understand such a feeling. That's why I escape to writing lyrics. I thought like, since I can write, I can lose everything else. But I was the kind of person who can't express myself in order not offend other people's feelings, but lately, for these last couple of years, I don't feel that way. And I don't feel scared of what will happen to me. So I don't need to escape from anything. I just don't feel insecure alone. I don't know why it changed, but now I feel I'm a very happy person.
That's because you've had the output in which you can express yourself, such as your lyrics or songs.
Uhm, I think I kept escaping from something so I gave up soccer, tennis, and studying to become a teacher. Giving up everything was escaping from the things I was pursuing. I think since I had the next thing to do, if I really have to stop singing, I really can't imagine that, and probably I don't need to stop singing. I will not stop it. But if I face giving up singing, I feel I can just give it up without regret, not in order to do the next thing. So speaking of love relationships, since I have dated with someone out of loneliness, I couldn't break up with her unless I got someone else to love, or if I feel it's unbearable to stay with her. But now I feel, if I don't need the person, I don't need to make a promise to her, and so that I don't have to make her suffer. Anyway, marriage is very heavy to me. Maybe my parents' divorce affected me deeply.
I think your image of marriage is very negative.
Yeah. I don't like it. My mother is also presumptious, but she has a strong will so that I really respect her, and I want to be like her. But I hate love the relationship in which people just console each other's loneliness.
So what's the ultimate love relationship for you? Maybe giving up your life for your partner?
Well, maybe. But I've never thought about that. For the ideal image of my first love, I might be able to sacrifice myself. But I probably won't think about kidding myself no matter what happens to me. I'm not sure about it yet, but I don't think I will ever kill myself.
So what about your feelings for the other LUNA SEA members?
Well, they're very important to me and completely necessary to me.
It's different from love?
Yeah, maybe. Friendships can be sustained, so I might not take it seriously compared to love relationships. Speaking of love relationships, I might be too serious. To clarify myself, obviously we have many conflicts, so that I just can't stand the conflicts in myself (gap between the ideal and real life in terms of relationships). But I don't think about friendships so seriously. I might be able to keep myself.
Back to the story, when you dropped out of high school, before being in LUNA SEA, did you feel something wrong?
Are you talking about SLAUGHTER? Let me see. When I was singing at that time, I didn't feel so much that something was wrong because when I was singing songs as a solo, I kept the same position. But when I spent much time with the members, I understood them. When the other members were interested in other things, I used to worry about them because I was a kid. If one of them is a guitarist, I worried about him; for example, "Were you playing guitar seriously?" or Were you making a song seriously?" I couldn't believe him. I think this situation is a matter of how I trust him. Regarding music, I could trust the music from LUNA SEA (i.e. before LUNA SEA, I couldn't). I guess before that, my character was not straight.
Frankly speaking, your character was weird before high school.
That's true. I was scared myself because I was aloof, and now I'm better.
Compared to before, has something changed for you now? (For example, your favorite color.)
Now I'm back to before. For example, when I was a kid, I loved the color of the sky because I liked sports. I liked blue because of the stars. I liked black. On the other hand, I liked white too. The period I gave up something, I started making a band and gave up again, and also my character was distorted (warped). At the beginning of LUNA SEA, I was still distorted. At the same time, I liked the complete opposite of the color which I used to love; for example, murky colors. Mentally, I was back to my character in the pre-school era. And then now, I ask for something comfortable during the period I enjoyed.
So you dropped out of high school, found love and a band, and were having a part-time job, etc., and you met LUNA SEA. Were you particular about the kinds of songs you were singing?
I just sang any song. To be specific, until now, I just sang. If somebody asked me, "So why is your song like that?" (as in LUNA SEA), I think: Four other members make the song. I was just singing the song. If the song's background was just a keyboard, I would have made the melody a different way. Anyway, I want to do by the other four members, and the other four members also have the same idea. Even though they were playing, they mainly do the music. The core, their ideas, is the music.
Even though you say so, some percentage of LUNA SEA's songs come from you.
However, I don't know the theory of the song. And then, I just sing the song.
When you listen to the rips, and then gradually hum the melody, do you finally understand the idea of the song?
Well, let me see. During this time, I would talk with another member about the music.
So while you do a project with another LUNA SEA member, you release yourself?
Yeah, that's right.
So then you met the LUNA SEA members. But in the beginning, you were struggling in the situation. For example, LUNA SEA was not popular. However, did you feel confident about LUNA SEA, instead of before when you didn't get (confident)?
Yeah, I definitely felt confident. Another LUNA SEA member was singing songs at each part. I felt, we're friends in battle. So far, before LUNA SEA, I felt only I was fighting. And I also felt like, "Please, fight with me" (competitive). For example, the stage is a battleground. After the live, I was expecting other members to carry a gun. However, I couldn't find them because they carried other things and watched a different way, (so that's why I couldn't believe them and I worried about the situation). However, in LUNA SEA, each of the five members sing their own songs by themselves, without a conductor/leader. That's why I feel everybody is fighting together.
Didn't you join LUNA SEA because of their songs?
Yes. When somebody asked me what each of the five members are fighting, I would say, "Maybe we are fighting ourselves." For example, a conflict of words and mental part. That's why, in the beginning, I thought I had ambitions. The other members were friends who were looking for themselves.
Weren't you uncomfortable at the beginning because you were thinking too much about fighting?
Without a leader, each of the five members were fighting each other (but this is positive fighting).
How did you feel at that time?
I enjoyed it. That's why I left sentences and talking, and then I understood by myself, and then I followed myself (looked for myself). Therefore, I'm fighting with the members. And after I fought them, I understood what I was and what I'm thinking about because we're friends. What I did is necessary for the other. In my opinion, everybody in the world has their own idea and kindness to another person. Maybe the world is really like a heaven. Another person may say it's not heaven but confusion, but I don't think so. If you become kind for yourself, people would not think about hurting other people. When people truly love themselves, they will not envy others, and everybody will not worry about themselves. So people should be positive. If another person is positive, I will also do my own way.
When did LUNA SEA's cool (as in cold) aura go away?
It'd be false if I say we weren't conscious about it, but to tell you the truth, it's after we stood on the stage and saw the audience in front of us. Until then, we couldn't see them because our minds were blank.
In the early days, you didn't do MC.
No we didn't. Or maybe we did, but it was just like screaming or something.
Since when have you been able to actually talk MC then?
It's also when we started to become conscious of the audience. SUGIZO says that after the event in Omia Freaks (referring to the interview of all the members in the Main Book of Black Box), something changed there. It was around the time we wanted to convey something by words.
Back then, the MC sounded like an order (command).
Yeah. It actually changed. Poetry is everything. There's nothing like a song which can express "I love you." I know that in the first place. I don't know that I really think it, and I don't know if I sing it in persuading it to someone. I take the long way around, so it takes time. Then I go imagine that is the more we know and understand ourselves. So if the words "I love you" is loved at the end (of the live?-RA), that's what I really feel.
The famous MC "Kakattekoi" ('Come on!' like in encouraging a fight-RA), when did it start?
I was not aware when I made this phrase come out of my mouth. We enjoyed musical mock-fighting among ourselves (the band), so we wanted to play various catch with the audience.(?) This word means in a sense something like, "Show us your world." And as a result, you enjoy the word changed to "You are also one of our members."
But the difference is apparent when we see it on your stage. For example, in the chorus of "PRECIOUS...", you used to just scrutinize the audience (laughs). But now you whisper the song for them. You became tender and easy-going.
Maybe we were able to give more kindness or affection to the audience... We are confident that we really love our fans during our live. My affection to the fans is important and significant because it's one of the necessities of humanity to not exclude love. But now it's limited, so when we are confident in our love to fans is only during the live. But only during the period we want to convey many things to the fans. And I want to see what kinds of answers they have.
Your piercing gaze at the audience is the most unique trait of LUNA SEA (laughs). Does this come from your childhood?
When did you realize that your look keeps people away from you?
I don't know (laughs).
For example, when you fight, you show rage. Do you use it unconsciously then?
It's really exclusive (laughs).
Is it during the live? (laughs)
First of all, when you're on stage, you're now different. But you used to seem unapproachable or unfriendly, like someone who looks down on other people. But the piercing look you have entering the stage with your facial expression comes unconsiously or are you making it up?
Well, I don't know (laughs). When I see the live video, I myself think that I have a good gaze (laughs). Maybe nobody else has one.
Were you like that in the beginning?
In the beginning, at first I was blank. I couldn't even blink (laughs). I was trying to look, but I was blank. Before I opened my eyes widely, I remember that I tried to open my eyes wide and sang songs. I held the mic tightly and stiffened up.
During the photo-shoot, you could keep your eyes open for a long time without blinking.
I wonder why I could do that.
But those attitudes on stage has changed, don't you think so? You're becoming tender, don't you think?
Yeah. But I think you'll see a big change in my next album too.
In other words, the situation is stable, so are you happy?
Now it's kind of rough, but I'm happy. For me, the unhappiness I experienced is the fact that since I was born, I've always been happy, so I've never felt unhappiness ever. I think myself, 'I'm such a happy person.' THIS IS HAPPY', this is happy (laughs).
Was the high school year the worst?
Yeah, that's the only one because I couldn't show my attitudes or I didn't say anything to my beloved ones, Mother, etc. who cared about me. That's the most regretful thing. That was a failure. Besides that, even though I took part-time jobs because I don't have any money and experienced bad things, I could be positive about it. But high school is the only negative thing. I like to find the solution to forgive myself during my life. It will stick to me like karma if I'm reborn (laughs). But other than that, I can think everything positive and feel happy.
But from what I've read of your lyrics, you don't seem to be a happy person.
Like your gaze, you don't look happy (laughs). It's very stern or complex. The gap is something that you have to overcome.
Yeah. From everyone's point of view, what I have done and experienced is not really happy. But what I can be confident about is that I could think of these experiences positively, so that I could sing songs and I could put them into words. What I want to convey is not sorrow or hardship. I want to leave tenderness when I sing it. That is how cruel poem or scary poem or how much complicated poem I sing (?). I want everyone to go home with sorrow in their minds. When I started thinking that way, I thought I have to grow up earlier than my fans and become straightforward. If it's not, what I really think, what I really mean is replaced with different words. If I sing the way the poem is, someone might commit suicide. I think that it will give people a wish which a heroine in a sad drama has. So I persuade myself that "You really want to sing tenderness, kindness, or love instead of giving a sense of sadness, so be someone who can sing it straight."
Is it over-expressive?
Yes. That's why even though I sing sad songs, I can think of my life as a game. So it can be a little positive. I think things happen in my life positively. If everyone becomes confident, we're not scared of anything. We are not scared of death. The moment when you die is scary, and you will run away, but everyone is the same after death. It is sad that a life never comes after you're dead. You have one chance to live in this world, but we don't know it for sure. And conversely, on the other hand, others say that we can be reborn but we don't know this either. Anyway, it's a game, so we have to think of everything positively. It won't be good for us. If you insist a fate is for you, you have to do something positively. As for me, I've been practising it since I was a little kid. I understand everything which had happened between my mother and I positively. I thought everything positively when a girl I had a crush on in elementary school died of leukemia. I didn't think it negatively (probably he means he didn't mourn - RA). It doesn't mean I was stubborn, but I am here. That's why I can think that way. So I want to convey it, but singing straightforward sometimes conveys only sorrow. So that made a big change for me. I was very happy that I could sing "MOON" twice, which was thought to be negative in the past. I could sing the song which I really felt at the end. So after releasing "IMAGE", I hoped everyone could understand my idea a little bit more. And I hope you'll understand more in the next album.
So far, it seems you sing songs which are created by the other four members. But do you think you're going to deal with the songs?
Yeah, I'm thinking of it. We're kind of making a song together, but we're not sure yet.
Is it the same person who writes the lyrics and who makes the music?
In the sense of being enjoyed, having fun, it's the same, but I enjoy singing songs and I want to convey a poem. But I want to continue writing lyrics. If one of the members really wants to convey something or has a poem which he really wants to convey, I want to know it or understand it. J writes; so does SUGIZO; so does INORAN; and so does SHINYA too. If I can agree with the song they make - I mean, I want to play with them and I want to sing them as mine. I also want to sing a song written by another member. Conversely, I also want to experience if there's a pleasure of making music (laughs). So my vision has broadened.
I didn't favor any particular genre before, but do you feel that the melody you want to sing in your words comes from you?
Very close. The genre itself is vague. To tell you the truth, it doesn't matter who wrote the lyrics or melody unless they come from the heart. In other words, both the melody and poem which comes from the heart are the same things in me. So I agree with it, and I can sing it as my song. Also, we trust each other. I have never thought that I sing songs which I don't like. I think everyone is that way. No one in my band plays or sings something he doesn't want to. We are all doing whatever we want to do. If we know the aim, we can overcome it and we can be convinced by doing it. Everyone asks, "Who wrote this music?" or "Who's responsible for the lyrics?" But even if I write most of the lyrics in LUNA SEA's songs, that means that LUNA SEA out of all of us wrote it. Regarding LUNA SEA's music, no matter who writes a song, LUNA SEA makes it. I think that's what it means eventually. It is very clear, and I enjoy it.
Are you saying that a solo album will never be released? (laughs)
But the possibility is also up to us. So if in the future, someone says, "I want to sing along with this piano", or if another one says, "I want to have session with this drummer", we wouldn't say which is good or bad (compare). If we want to do it, and the time comes when we can think of different ways to do this, it's really up to us. But LUNA SEA has grown up together by making music. It is like our family name. It'll never change. But it's not a must, but neither is it unchangeable, and we wouldn't think it too uptight. But it's an unchangeable fact that who I am is because of them. So I think, no matter what happens, it's a very natural and an unchangeable thing, and LUNA SEA will constantly be together.
I think so.
Some people break up a band soon and quickly, and they say the reason why they broke up is because "we recognize our differences towards music" (gap in the music sense). That's what I don't understand. I am confident that when or if I love someone, then I also like something which the other person likes.
I want to talk about the unchangeable four. How about SUGIZO?
In terms of music, the sentiment that we feel is very close. I think he's the closest (in terms of feeling). Wherever I remember that I think things positively, I am optimistic. SUGIZO is the type of person who, even though he fails to do something, he keeps on doing it (persistent), and wins. This persistent fighting is positive. I think that way. I think he's a real fighter. I think I can accept him because he's different and beautiful. I found him to be strong, and a hard worker, and that made his worth to be like my idol, (so the difference that I don't have makes me want to look up to him). He's totally different from me, that's why I like him. I like people who are 'selfish'. I think that all the members of LUNA SEA are selfish, that's why (I'm) more tender, kind.
How about J?
I think that J's a very strong person. Humans feel fear. For example, when conversing with people, you have to cover up someone's mistake while following the conversation. Otherwise, the relationship breaks up, and that's why when we speak, we aren't straightforward. Like for instance, when someone brings a CD and asks, "Isn't this good?", and even though you don't think it's good, you say, "It wasn't really interesting to me." But at the moment when you realize that the person who brought the CD really cares about it, you say, even though you didn't listen to it very often, "It's alright." J is a person who expresses his feelings directly. In other words, in that sense, I think he's a strong person. J always answers questions without lying (i.e. straightforward, frank, honest). He doesn't beat around the bush. Even if he has the disadvantage by speaking directly, he's not afraid of saying it. He's straight to the point. In that sense, I think he's very mature. As I say that I want to be honest with my lover, I think J is the best qualified person who expresses this.
How about INORAN?
At first glance, he looks very quiet. LUNA SEA gets along with each other because of him. He steps back and views the overall picture. He has never failed to speak up whenever we need it. I understand as I see it. I think I can understand him or I can read his mind somehow. So whenever I talk to him about it, I really enjoy the atmosphere. I describe myself as a machinegun: After I fire one shot, I fire another 100 shots (laughs). Then, later on, I think, "Oh, I should have shot only 90 rounds" (laughs). I'm like that in a conversation or anything. But INORAN is like a .44 magnum, and he fires only one shot and directly hits the target. In the beginning, I said that he's a quiet person, but it doesn't mean that he's a weak person. His careful way of thinking is appropriate. Maybe he knows well that unnecessary stubbornness is what human beings need the most. He knows that it's a waste of his power in doing such things (like getting over-emotional and fighting), and he knows it in his mind. And he unconsciously thinks that way.
How about SHINYA?
In my opinion, if there's a thing he really wants to do, he innocently goes for it. He's like a child. I once also wanted to be like a child forever. In that sense, I think he's a nice person. No matter what happens, he jumps up to whatever he wants to do. He really loves the drums. He shines when he plays the drums. I learned from him a lot. My members love their own instruments and I like to sing a lot, so we're all determined. I think it's really nice, and I think we should do whatever we want to, no matter what it is. In that sense, he follows his curiosity with a childlike mentality. That's why he's a person you want to play with. He doesn't care about time. He thinks he can't shine without doing anything he wants to do. In that point, he's the second strongest member after me.
Recently, you haven't been doing things with the other members. You don't have the same schedule as the other members.
Yeah. There's a reason for it. The time I spend with the members is longer than the time I spend with anybody else, so I really want to hang out with them. But in a sense, we understand each other too much. I want to feel fresh or revived at some extent, so I sometimes control myself, but I see a member of the group once a day (laughs). I have about 10 days per year when I don't see anyone (laughs). Even though we are too busy to get together for drinks, it's sad. But I still see someone in the band.
Oh, so your instrument is your body, unlike the rest of the members. Isn't one of the reasons why you can't do things without the members because of this?
You know it (laughs).
But you neither drink nor smoke cigarettes. You drink a little bit, but how about tobacco?
Zero. But to tell you the truth, I used to smoke when I was in elementary or middle school for fun. Before Hoko-Ten, I smoked cigarettes and when I went home and tried to practice singing, I couldn't sing. At the same time I realized that smoking cigarettes makes songs corrupt. So I quit smoking. The wierd knowledge of vocals came up to my mind and, well since I smoked cigarettes, I can't sing this key. And I was relieved. And I thought that, "You are a weak person. You're excusing yourself for smoking cigarettes. This is your ability or skill." At that moment, I made up my mind to quit smoking. If I can be responsible (in excusing myself because of smoking), and just quit smoking, then I quit.
So you mean you didn't quit cigarettes because of your voice?
No. So I hung out the day before the live. I want an experience, so I go out, saving sleeping time during the tour. I do various things in terms of playing or anything else. But if I think that going out or things like that makes me unable to sing, I would quit. But I want to have a result that this is my ability at least, even when I don't feel good.
At the live which took place in Hiroshima in the "AFTER the IMAGE" Tour, was it the first time you had the flu which possibly affected the live? Wasn't it shocking?
Yeah, it was very shocking.
Because of the flu, you couldn't sing notes.
Yeah. I couldn't even talk. I could sing, but what bothered me was that I could only do 50% of all. Should I do the 50% or should I force myself to do 120%? I wanted to do 120%, but it's too strong so I could only do 45% instead of 50%. If so, I'd better do 50% on the day. Of course, if it's 100%, you should go for it with 100%. But when you're actually that way (i.e. ill), that's the only way you can do it. I just couldn't decide giving my full, even if I wanted to. And I asked my voice trainer, "What should I do?" on the phone, but he told me frankly that, "It's not your fault because you're only human. Isn't it a miracle that you only got (the flu) now for once? If you're spoiled with that, and are unable to take MC in the live, you should cancel the live and give the fans a refund." When I heard it, I thought, What am I worrying about? And if someone knows my 120%, let them think that I don't feel good, and smile. But if you use all your power on that day, today, this is one of the advice I received from my vocal trainer: Say thank you to the fans with a smile. When I did it, the live fans wrote Thank You on the questionnaire of the live as usual. This experience was very hard. My members also cared about me, and they covered me. I felt this love, and I had a moment when I wanted to cry. After I experienced it, I realized that I am a professional. I can't be spoiled.
Did your seeing the bottom make you become unafraid of anything?
It really depends on how much I showed the bottom positively. It's unprofessional if you can't fight or win at the very bottom. So at that level, I was kind of scared, and I thought, if all the fans wrote "You're worse today, RYUICHI" in the questionnaire, I had no idea what to do... But in fact, the words were really nice, "Thank you", so I thought I should be professional; I can't be spoiled to myself.
Over these past 3 years, you sound like you're growing day by day.
I don't want to stop. I just started, so I have never been satisfied. I mean, I don't think of myself from a distance. I will feel good when I do a live, but the more I remember myself, the more freely I can sing, and sing out comfortably. I want to get the pleasure as soon as possible.
In the lives, you can play catch with the audience. Do you want to that during recording?
I don't know.
For example, you said that in IMAGE, you can't sing without a dark booth (dark atmosphere). Is that an example of this?
I could only sing in vast darkness, like where you can get undressed (laughs). But I want to make the next album together with the members. In a sense, even if I give up my position, I could still be confident. Before, I used to be unable to listen to other people's advice, so I've changed since IMAGE, in both lives or whatever. In the beginning, I fought, but now I can listen. I think it's as if I could wrap the opinion or advice, especially the one I like. I could be happy. I became calm.
Is it different singing in recording compared to the live?
It's different. During lives, I can play catch with the audience (giving and receiving), but during recording, there's no audience (you can only use your imagination as if there's an audience). So in that sense, it's like singing to an illusion. That's the difference. But I have a rose-colored illusion (laughs). Inversely, fans don't know me. I think they also have an illusion of me. If someone asked me which one I liked, live or recording, I'd answer that I like live, but I like to imagine imitation, so either or both. Recording and live is okay.
Do you have any future plans?
Many things happen in one's life; even though one is a positive person, one still has worries. Aren't you saved when you go into nature? Then something happens. I have always been saved that way. I want to be a vocalist like this: I want to feel that someone who listens to my music is in the beach, or when the listener goes into the sea and sees the ocean and feels that human problems are so tiny. Basically, I want to be like that. That's very abstract and difficult. By listening to my lyrics or music, I want them to feel comfortable, like when you go see and feel relaxed. I want to convey a kind of tenderness. I don't want the listener to bother worrying like they did before and finally be positive - that's not what I want.
In the last half-year, from your behaviour or words, you seem to want to show (reveal) yourself visually. You took your wigs off during the live (in the tour). Usually, musicians tend to go with the same image throughout the tour, especially the vocalist (the main character of the band), but you broke it and changed your hairstyle. What made you do that?
I want to dress up and put on make-up. On the other hand, I respect people who hate that sort of thing, (wearing make-up and leather jackets, wearing black long hair and shades), and I respect their fashion. I don't think I became naked (i.e. revealed myself), but I felt power from the silver wig (I used to wear). It's obvious that that's RYUICHI's extensions, but it's not good to me for people to think that RYUICHI's extensions are good (laughs). For example, if someone said, "RYUICHI grew his hair up to his ankle, that's good", but what's good is if someone says "Do you know the guy who grew his hair up to his ankle? His name is RYUICHI." I had a dilemma, and I thought a lot. But then I talked to my hairstylist about it and he said, "If you're worrying about it, you better take it off." I myself thought that I could tell my message or I would get confidence or braveness if I wear my hair short and put on less make-up, not dressed up like I used to be. Just be who I am, like me in my everyday life, standing on stage as RYUICHI in LUNA SEA.
You're saying that what you want to tell in your expression/words in life is tenderness and easiness?
In words, it's just 'Be myself.' So AFTER the IMAGE Tour was the Tour where I was given the courage. In the live, I broke my throat(?) and I recovered, and I got courage again. And when I spoke to the fans (during the live), a girl answered me back, and again I got courage. So I found that the gaudy hair and costume wasn't the issue, but I have an existence with my naturalness (being myself). I wanted: This is me, I am alive. In other words, I can't miss anything, especially now, like facial expression. But I have never been spoiled, never. I am confident about that. Inside me, I completely thought that RYUICHI's extensions and putting on make-up is an extension of him. I had 100% confidence, but still, if I find out about such factors, I feel bad, as if I'm spoiled (or depending on something).
The thread of courage from struggling in elementary schoolhood became disentangled.
Yeah. I have the courage, so I can be confident. For example, if you feel you love someone but at the same time you think, it's not true, then you don't have courage. But I grew to be able to say that I like someone, and I think that is courage. During this tour, I could finally say "I love you" to the fans. That's my courage, and I think that's the truth. Everything is courage, and I want to sing the truth forever. And I want to push my way until I get it. So in this tour, if fans think that RYUICHI is turning more natural by changing his hair and fashion, but next time, whether I'll have a crewcut and stop wearing make-up, and wear only jeans and a T-shirt, this not who I am (laughs). From the courage that I was given, there is me who confidently wears another hairstyle or fashion. So I think that AFTER the IMAGE was for the courage that I should've reached (or gotten). Now I believe in that, and play with it in my mind, but I don't want to be a person who can't be outside or in front of the audience without something. That's a serious play within my limit. I think that's the visual concept. If serious expressions (which are a part of myself) became a chain of hiding myself, then it becomes nothing.
So you mean, before the tour, there was you who didn't have confidence in yourself?
I don't mean I wasn't confident. I don't know. But maybe I wanted to take steps with this process, to make outcomes with results perfect. I usually am like that because I think of life as a game of process-experiencing in the real world. So once you don't need the process, you can only enjoy the results and conjure a dead image (what?-RA). We need the process now in the world. In order to be a professional, you need to train yourself, and in order to achieve the pleasure, you need to take steps. That makes things fun. So this time, I changed my hair like this. I may do something different in the future, or I may stay this way, I don't know. Isn't it a process? I want to enjoy the process.
You're competitive. You're always challenging something (laughs). In the process, I have been looking for my own expression. Okay, lastly, do you have any message for the fans who look forward, who care about the process for you?
I love all the people who are my fans, who support us, and who shares my feelings mutually. I want courage to believe my real self. I want to show it for that - I think I have walked together until now. So I want to see many things together, I want to throw many things to each other and receiving each other. By receiving/giving many things to each other, I want to leave one box, and when you open the box, news things begin. I want to have that wonderful relationship forever.
~ fin ~
[Note: This is the end of the interview. The last 2 pages contain a personal message from RYUICHI, which you can read by buying BLACK BOX.-RA]