In accordance to what Hoshino said in the last issue, the album and the single "Dress" are of different atmospheres.
Hide: They're different(laughs).
It's a very aggressive, rock music album and Imai wrote most of the songs. What's the most striking part about it?
Imai: The aggressive part and the frenzy the band has... We wanted to show both our performance and a break through sort of mood. I wanted to do something as "Decadence" and "End of century" themes, like a veil thrown over. I really wanted to do that. And, there's no doubt that I had to mix rock music with house music, to have that indecisive sort of feeling. I think, everyone wanted to go in that direction, we wanted to break up our conventional style.
You had a presentiment that this album would become 'heavy'?
Yuta: Yes, but, we were always saying that we wanted to do it like that. Previously, there have been times were we approached this sound of rock music and house music, but that was only very "lukewarm". This time it is truly a very aggressive album. It's strange to say it like this but, it's a sound full of 'high determination'.
Imai-san has said somewhere that this is an "angry album", the cause of this 'anger', some time ago you said it. The circumstances around you became half-hearted and B-T's perception didn't make sense?
Imai: Yeah. It was a very hesitant sort of feeling.
Sakurai: Imai's impressions and sense are also the driving force behind the band. Even though I have a passive attitude, I can understand it very well. We don't really have to exchange any words to understand each other.
So, there are some of your best in "Kurutta Taiyou", you recreated these songs in "Koroshi no Shirabe". Did you have the wish to go for the destruction of that route of "Koroshi no Shirabe"?
Imai: Yes. And, of course, "Kurutta Taiyou" & "Koroshi no Shirabe" had this sort of 'collage' type of sound, on this album we avoided that. I already had the guitar sound in mind, so just putting it down as I imagined was good.
Surely, to some extent, there has been a refining of the sound, there's a difference between "Kurutta Taiyou" and the new album.
Toll: Always, when we are releasing a new album, we don't really think about the previous album. But speaking about it, this time we played some of our best songs, and the quality of this work is high.
Hide: If you are always stuck in the same form, it's not possible to make a new work.
'Darker than Darkness' is a strong title. How did it come about?
Imai: Using the middle dots itself, was an idea I had at the time we released the Climax Together live video, it was supposed to be the title. 「闇より暗い」"Darker than darkness" is because, it's too suited for that video, everything is kind of hidden(laughs). Well, on the new album, I had the wish to break through this "darkness", I think it was a precise choice.
For Buck-Tick, what's the meaning of "darkness"?
Imai: It's something that is around us, tangled around us. In our image, our songs and our lyrics.
Yuta: After the title there's "Style-93-" part. When Imai said it, we thought "Oh, is that so?", but now after releasing this album we understand it now. Isn't Buck-Tick a band that doesn't have a fixed style? We're always chasing after new things. I think that explains it better.
I see. One thing I thought was interesting is the difference between Hoshino and Imai songs. They're clearly different from one another. Hoshino songs are more of the songs you can sing along to. This time, because the single "Dress" and the jazz influenced "Yuuwaku" are there, the album has a different nature to it.
Hide: Aa, really. Well, that's right(laughs). I think about the melodies thoroughly.
Now, I want to hear about the lyrics. This time, did the music bring about any themes?
Sakurai: Looking at it whole, this time there wasn't any. Every song is unique of itself.
As for that, the lyrics seem to share something in common. There are many considerably serious songs. About ephemeral pleasures, songs that express "death".
Sakurai: Aa, right. 'Enjoyment and death' are 'back to back' things. If I should say, pleasure equals death, that's not a very good expression but, the path of rescue from 'death' is the path of enjoyment/comfort. As for me, it's still a world of secret, an unknown world, so there is also a kind of glorification there, I think.
So, for Sakurai, maybe in the other side of 'darkness', there might be death?
Sakurai: That is too romantic, fantastic and glorified, I think. I interpret it like that.
The words come out well in "Kirameki..." but, could it be meant as the ultimate pleasure in the moment of dying?
Sakurai: Yeah. This time, I think I'm explaining 'death' and 'pleasure' to people in my own way, with fantasy. So heavily, it's exhausting.
This time we also have, since a long time, two lyrics written by Imai.
Imai: In "Madman Blues...", the first line "オレノ名ハ反動"('My name is Reaction'), was always something I thought of, when I began to write the song, it was quickly completed in around 2 hours. I wonder if was all accumulated(laughs). As for "Kamikaze", at first, I didn't have plans to write it. The high point of the song didn't sound well in japanese, I thought, and Acchan also thought that too. Then I thought, "I'll only write the hook and Acchan will write the A and B melodies", but that was too troublesome, so it would be better to write myself after all.
Even so, your lyrics are very punk.
Imai: They are(laughs).
Some time ago you said that they were only "musical", but are they projecting anger towards the world/society?
Imai: It's depressing to think too much about it. Anger... Well, there is some anger.
You also wanted to break through that emotional aspect.
Imai: Yes. the 'style-93-' part... I'd want to go straight ahead the year 2000, that sort of feeling. Like, if everyone also wanted to go and it turns to be the year 1999. I wanted to give it that sort of nonsensical sense.
Ah, like, not knowing the way out but even so doing whatever you please, that sort of sense?
Imai: Yeah, I don't really know, I thought of something different.
Ok, I understand. I'd like to hear about the album's sound. Everyone, one by one, I'd like to know if there was anything notable. First, Higuchi-san?
Yuta: I think, the most notable thing is that with Hide and Imai's songs, the rhythm is very danceable, and also I play half of the song without a pick, because it feels more appropriate. I don't think I have ever done this as extensively before.
The sound is richer but, by any chance, so far, this playing is where you've felt most self-assured?
Yuta: Yes. I think so. In the case of Hide playing the keyboards, I wonder if this has ever happened before.
About this rhythm, is it also the same for Yagami-san?
Toll: Yeah, until now, when I played the drums it was rougher. This time the drumming was more moderately played, it was actually a recording time where we accomplished many things. It was also like I was playing without a drum stick, like as if I were playing with my hands only. That was excellent.
Hide: We haven't had any guest musicians for this record, the recording was only the 5 of us. That was the notable thing. There was also me playing the keyboards. As for guitar playing, previously I use a lot of effects on my playing, and this time Imai also did, but this time they're songs easy to play, easy sounds.
Imai: Well, this is a bad way to say it, but, carelessly, if there was a guitar before me, I would just start playing it, even without a pick.
Playing it in the most 'raw' way?
Imai: I was very conscious of that. A raw sound with hi-tech equipment. But I didn't want it to sound antique, but to sound like the hi-tech equipment of a rock band of the year 2000.
(In the subject of hi-tech, you might also want to know that Imai's inspiration for the intro of 青の世界 was the image of the bike gang from the animated movie AKIRA.)
And the vocal parts?
Sakurai: The time was short, so I kept asking myself how I should do it. I was worried about it. On the contrary, because the time was surely short, the vocal parts were suitable.
There are many songs where you shout.
Sakurai: Ah, that too. The songs were done in one take each, and there wasn't any kind of agreement. The shouting and other things, were perfectly unplanned, just a take with frantic singing, whatever else would be good anyhow.
At the time of the single release, you said that you wanted to sing 'lightly', but in the album there are songs where you seem to exorcize some evil.
Sakurai: Yeah, I wanted to go for the 'cool' style, but it happened unconsciously(laughs).
But I think this time you show a deep side of B-T.
Yuta: Yes, that's true.
Toll: So, it's because we hadn't captured the image of "decadence" and such. We want to stablish a sound that is not like anybody else. This album is a step further, but it hasn't become closer.
Sakurai: Until now, hazy things we've done came to be clear. That sort of sense.
Well, the single "Dress" and the album are painted in different colors, people may get a different perception, like highly enthusiastic/maniac. The rock music shade is strong. What are you thoughts on this?
Yuta: Musically, I think it is more pop than "Aku no Hana" and "Kurutta Tayou" etc. Before, we made easy to listen music with eccentric sounds, but now this album is easy to listen to but with a sharp component. That's why, some might say "Ah, this is such a 'maniac' album", but I'd reply, "Strange, it's really pop".
Hide: Well, but, In that case, it is a happy thing, and even more of a happy thing when the same musicians have this empathy, to put the finishing touches together, I think.
Sakurai: I don't have much free time to think about it being pop or maniac, because it is an album made impulsively, with results. If someone said "It's maniac" I'd say, "Really", something like that.
In this session they talk about the following words.
* Nightmare *
Yuta: I have these real-like dreams, where it seems I'll lose myself or something(laughs) Nightmares where I'm being chased by something, I'm running but then there's a dead end and below is a bottom of a valley and I think "What do I do?" and jump out. That's always scary. Normally, I wake up in the jumping part, but I've had dreams where I've landed.
Toll: Of course, dreams where I can't play drums. In recordings, rehearsals etc, where I am supposed to play, but can't. Dreams where even if I can play, somehow my body won't move freely.
Hide: I've had many, but I can't remember them very well. There's dreams where I'm running, but I'm not going forward at all(laughs). Hm, I think that as I got older I haven't been able to have many dreams. When I was a kid, I had dreams of being chased, but now it doesn't happen. Even a good dream itself, I don't really have them. There have been dreams where I saw a friend of mine from my childhood in Gunma(sad smile). Nightmares, the impression I have of a nightmare is that, running, running and getting nowhere.
Imai: I've had many, the type of dreams where I have to cross a huge river. Cross over by walking. They're not profound rivers, even transparent, but they're extremely wide. Then I cross these lakes over, diagonally. There's also dreams where I jump. I jump but the height gets higher and higher. I think "that's too high", and falling is also scary, and then I jump, but it gets much higher and in the way I wake up. Also, I've had sleep paralysis, when I wake up and it's like I'm floating in my room. They're always dreams related to moving and movement.
Sakurai: Scary dreams, I have them often. Dreams where I'm killing someone etc. those have happened a few times. I wake up but even so my heart won't calm down. Also, dreams where I see a demon's face. When I was in primary school, I had my first experience of sleep paralysis. That day I remember being sick. In the darkness, I heard a deep sound of something like a tree being cut, "Kaan kaan". At the same time, in fast speed, a demon's face approached me. To this day I haven't forgotten that dream.
* Ghost encounter *
Yuta: At the time of senior high school, we always want the things we can't seem to have, isn't it? At that time, in the station near my parent's house, there was one of these signs like "Shibuya←→Yoyogi", and I had an interest in one of these and ended up stealing it. So, I put it nearby my bed. These signs are bright and reflect like mirrors. One day, when I was lying down, and I saw a face reflected there. At first I thought it was my face, but seeing it well, the eyes were different. That was a woman's face. Then, as I was scared, I quickly went under the covers and when I looked again, the face vanished completely. After that, I threw that sign away.
Toll: I had one happen in the London recording time. The studio was like a house, and when I went to bed, somehow, there was a weight over my stomach. I was perfectly conscious, and when I felt it, even the mattress sunk. It was the weight of another person. After that, I thought, "what should I do", the sensation persisted, even after rising. That was the first experience I had, and since that time, there is no way I can deny the existence of ghosts/spirits.
Hide: I've seen about 2 times. My grandmother was sitting and I saw a light, a white light in the shape of a hand. That was in senior high school. When it happened, I got goosebumps. Since then I haven't seen more.
Imai: At the time of primary school, I saw a disembodied soul*. I was with a friend, play catch in the neighborhood, when suddenly this friend stopped and I thought "what's wrong with them?", we were surrounded by concrete walls but then it appeared. Apparently the family of a house had died. And then we desperately ran away back to home. And I've also seen a real spirit photography, a neighbor used to do nude photographing and in this photograph she was in the path to a mountain and behind her a person holding a child appeared in the picture. My parents called me out to see it and at first I wondered "why are they showing a me such a picture" because of course my attention was drawn to the nude woman(laughs). But I saw it, the ghostly reflection.
(* Disembodied souls have usually the appearance of a floating fire ball, not always in the color of fire, but green, white, purple... It is one of the most common reported apparitions, many people see them.)
Sakurai: I have never had the experience of seeing a ghost. Do I really seem to have(laughs)? But to say the truth, no.
... What? Everyone said they have? I'm slow I guess. I really want to see one.
* Death *
Yuta: When I came to live in Tokyo, I thought about it a lot. Facing death is such an extremely fearful thing, I don't want to die. But, recently death is not something I fear very much. At the time of this new album recording, there have been times where I was unexpectedly, almost run over by cars and bikes. Death is something I am conscious about, but it is really a thing of fate.
Toll: I'm not Tamba Tetsurou*, but I believe in the spiritual world. It's scare, it's said that because you are human, you have no choice but to die sooner or later. Until the day I die, I want to live a life without leaving regrets behind.
(* Actor known for being follower of Spiritualism)
Hide: I've thought about death, but well, it is something that nature will take care of, it is something I entrust to destiny, that's how I feel. But I don't really have much interest in things like the spiritual world.
Imai: It is something I think about deeply sometimes, like a revolving lantern, but it does make me feel depressed. It's like, I think "What if I were to die now" and such. And I also think, what if it's the greatest feeling you can have? Maybe if so, then everyone would have a peaceful face at the time of their own death.
Sakurai: Dying, if you think about it painfully, realistically, is a dreadful thing. On the other hand, I have an interest in it. If there's perhaps something after. It's difficult to perceive it realistically. Like as if in a dream, the soul and the body being free, there is also a glorification of it.
* Past life *
Yuta: Reincarnation(the soul moves to another person), I believe in it. But past life, I don't. It's a strange thing, "You were a desk in your past life". That's a sad thing(laughs). But I also believe that everyone has a color aura. I had an acquaintance who told me about it, people with a black aura usually die or will go missing. People with a white aura are very lovable people. This person said I had a gray aura. Gray is the in between of white and black... It does seem to be the case too that when you are exhausted, the color changes.
Toll: I had a friend who had a strong supernatural perception tell me what was mine. I was a samurai warrior, in the period of 'warring states'(a period in history of the years 1467-1568).
Hide: I don't really believe in past life. I haven't thought about it seriously.
Imai: Well, there are various things in my imagination about what could be it that happens after death. There could be an afterlife, maybe there is reincarnation, but I really have no idea. I haven't been told if I had a past life.
Sakurai: I have been told what I was in a past life, but I don't remember. After death, there's a potentiality of there being so many things, of course, past life too, there are many possibilities. I find it amusing to think about this sort of thing.
* Madness *
Toll: If there has been a time where I felt madness in me? I don't think so. Maybe when I was dreaming. But now, no. I thought I was mad in my teenage years.
Hide: If there was a time I've felt madness. Not really. It's not like there isn't a part of me that is mad(laughs). There hasn't been a time where I've lost sight of myself.
Imai: I think, it's the time when I feel depressed. When the depression is really strong. When I don't even know why I feel depressed. When I feel like shouting, but nothing comes out. I think that's a time where I might have felt madness.
Sakurai: There have been times, when I get on stage and feel something weird. Or when I ask myself, "What am I going to say?". Also when there are times when I feel like the field of vision of the world is too narrow. Now, off stage, I don't really feel anything. At the time of elementary school, I was a coward, afraid to approach people. I always had this fear inside me, "Uwa...", these times I also felt something strange.