Monday, August 19, 2013

VISUAL ROCK PERFECT DISC GUIDE 500: “Crossing Generations!” Discussion Part 1

Before you get started on this segment, check out the FORWARD!

That said, let's jump right in -- Chisato (PENICILLIN), Keiyuu (Kra), and Subaru (Royz) were gathered up by Ms. Oshima as three members of the visual kei scene from three different generations, to talk about... anything related to the scene! They make some interesting observations and bring up some things that many modern fans might not really put any thought into, so it makes for a good read.

The interview/talk is so long that I've split it into two parts. It spans 8 pages in the book, with photos, so this entry contains the first 4 pages' worth of content.

Page 6-9
“Crossing Generations!” Discussion

Chisato (Penicillin) x Keiyuu (Kra) x Subaru (Royz)

Though there are differences in their histories of activity, there is no difference among the hearts that love visual kei! Three people whose debuts were each about 10 years apart talk at length about the appeal of visual kei!

Since its birth in the early 90s, visual kei holds a history of more than twenty years. From veterans to newcomers, there are many bands energetically participating in the scene. Actually, although it’s the first time for these three to have spoken at length, they hit it off in the blink of an eye. Even though their generations and histories of activity are different, we took off with these musician peers who share the same will and values into a deeply interesting talk!

Interviewer: Akemi Oshima
Photographer: Yoshika Horita

“Everything was so shocking.”

Chisato: When I first listened to music, it wasn’t CDs but records. And they were donut-discs.

Keiyuu: What did you buy?

Chisato: Pink Lady’s “UFO” (laugh). Subaru-kun, do you know about donut-discs?

Subaru: Are they the things you listen to with a needle?

Chisato: Yeah yeah. Do you know LPs?

Subaru: I do.

Chisato: Until around the 80s, little LPs were sold as singles and since the holes in the middle were big, they were called donut-discs (laugh). My awakening to rock was around junior high, but the record shop in my town didn’t sell things like radical Japanese rock or bands that wore makeup, so it was a time when the West was considerably big in rock. I liked straightforward rock like Bruce Springsteen and Brian Adams, all lumped in with bands that wore makeup, like Duran Duran and Culture Club. At the same time I didn’t have any money, so I’d ask a friend, and got songs copied onto cassette tape.

Keiyuu: Oh, I got that too.

Subaru: I got copies on MD [mini disc].

Keiyuu: If the tape gets tangled in a cassette, you’d wind it with a pencil.

Chisato: I did that (laugh). Around high school we finally got a rental CD shop and I got to listen to those kinds of domestic rock bands with ease, but generally getting information [about them] was difficult. For that, girls are really good huh.

Keiyuu: I think it’s the same now, too.

Chisato: Keiyuu-kun, what was your first?

Keiyuu: My first was classical; I hadn’t really listened to typical music. The first pop I heard was Toshinobu Kubota and TUBE, etc., which my big sister listened to; it wasn’t really close to rock. There was X and LUNA SEA, too, but there was absolutely no information [about them].

Chisato: They were unknown, huh.

Keiyuu: My high school was almost all boys, and it was already the visual kei boom but things like “You listen to that stuff?” would be said. At that time, LUNA SEA had gotten popular to the extent that the X faction and LUNA SEA faction were separate.

Chisato: I was already doing PENICILLIN then (laugh). There was a conversation with band peers at a live after party, like, “You heard LUNA SEA’s new record?” Since [bands like] X and LUNA SEA had twin guitars they had the image of the royal road [taking the easy route], but we only had one guitar so it was rare.

Keiyuu: Even if you look at the visual kei scene that progressed after that there aren’t many four-member bands.

Chisato: Kra has four, right?

Keiyuu: That’s right. Our office has nothing but four-member bands.

Chisato: Subaru-kun, your first was…?

Subaru: My older sister played piano and violin, but originally I had no interest in music. But when my mom would drive me in the car she listened to songs she liked so I know oldies really well.

Keiyuu: Oldies, from when?

Subaru: Like TUBE.

Keiyuu: Well, that is oldies…

Subaru: The first CD I bought is embarrassing, but it’s Shingo Mama’s “Oharock.”

Chisato: Huh? Isn’t that pretty recent? Subaru-kun, how old were you?

Subaru: [I was in] elementary school. I didn’t often get pocket money from my mother…

Chisato: Hmm, I can only feel like it was recent.

Keiyuu: Me too; I can’t help feeling like it’s current.

Subaru: I remember really well – since it was really in fashion I thought if I took the CD to school I’d be popular, and I scraped up my New Year’s money and went to Book-Off.

Keiyuu: You bought CDs at Book-Off?

Subaru: Yes. Shortly after that I carried out a life unrelated to music, but when I was in high school a senpai sung a DIR EN GREY song with a PV at karaoke. At first it went on with a really heavy shout, but when it came to the chorus it was really catchy and I was deceived by that gap. When I thought about how anything might exist in this genre, my interest was really piqued. Then I started looking for different songs but to me, at that time, everything was so shocking. And then relatively soon after, I joined my current band, so I have a strong feeling that I joined a band without being touched by music much at all. Since until just a little bit before I was thinking of taking university entrance exams, now I can’t help thinking that it’s a marvel that I’m here now.

Chisato: So before you listened to much you were suddenly putting it into practice.

Subaru: That’s right. From the moment I encountered DIR EN GREY, I’ve thought, “I want to put on a huge performance like these guys.” Since I’ve been someone who wants to stand out for a long time. Moreover, I think saying this will surprise you, but all of the members of my band met on mixi [social website].

Chisato, Keiyuu: Ehh!!

Keiyuu: It’s different from when I met my band[mates], huh.

Chisato: In my time, band member recruitment was just the member recruitment column in “Player” or “Rokkin’ f,” or member recruitment fliers at the rehearsal studio.
Subaru: I wooed the members I met on mixi with, “I’ll definitely move you up so let’s play together” (laugh).

Keiyuu: The medium has changed but the wooing words of member recruitment hasn’t.

Chisato: But joining members via mixi, that’s amazing.

Keiyuu: The fliers at studios still exist.

Subaru: They do, they do.

Chisato: But, if you really think about magazine recruitment at the same time, there is so much personal information put out recklessly. Contact information – and without cell phones, home phone numbers – are written carelessly.

“Visual kei, which has everything.”

Keiyuu: In my time, by the way, finding a drummer was tough.

Chisato: Usually there’re no drummers or vocalists. But there are tons of guitarists.

Subaru: What I heard from a senpai is that now there seem to be no guitarists.

Chisato: Then I won’t worry about finding my next job (laugh).

Subaru: There were so few drummers so the number has gone up.

Keiyuu: In the past we pushed each other into it. Like, “You, get on the drums” (laugh).

Chisato: My drummer was originally a bassist, but we were in need of a drummer so he changed to drums.

Keiyuu: Huh, is that so?

Subaru: My reason for starting music is so trivial.

Chisato: That’s not true; because vocals in particular take natural ability, I think any reason’s a good one. If a person who’s good at singing can become a good musician, Anyone who wins karaoke competitions or singing contests can become a good vocalist, right? When that’s not the case, I think it’s interesting. What I think is enjoyable about Subaru-kun’s “anything might exist in visual kei” is that it’s really easy to understand.

“Even with different periods, visual kei has endured and lived on, so I absolutely think it won’t go away now.”
Profile: The guitarist of PENICILLIN, which formed in 1992. With their major debut in ’96, “Romance” became a huge hit in ’98. Contrary to their handsome looks, they adopted a comedic and friendly MC [routine] at lives, and afterwards made it the standard for visual kei bands’ MCs. Since their formation they’ve continued activity on the front lines, and faced their 20th anniversary in 2012. [Chisato] is also active in his solo project, Crack6.
PENICILLIN “20th Anniversary Member Selection Best Album PHOENIX STAR”
B-mode/Avex (On sale December 2012)

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