Awoi Exclusive Interview [日本語あり]
ROKKYUU got together with Awoi for the inside scoop on the band's secrets and habits. Don't miss their Osaka sight-seeing recommendations or passionate answers about their favorite songs and compositions. Do these dark, dreary guys have any bright contradictions? Photographs courtesy of Akina Takagi.
69: Please introduce yourself and tell us an interesting habit you have.
Saki: I’m bassist Saki. An interesting story… Habit? Interesting habits. I don’t have any.
Saki: Let me think about it for a minute!
Ryo: I’m drummer Ryo. My habit is that when I look hard at people’s faces, I tuck my chin down.
Sin: I’m guitarist Shin. Every day when I get home the first thing I do is wash my feet.
Otogi: I’m vocalist Otogi. I mutter to myself when I walk.
Sho: I’m guitarist Sho! I talk to my TV!
Saki: Oh! I’m bassist Saki. There is that one thing. When I brush my teeth, I do it in the bath tub. I’m really bad at brushing my teeth.
69: It’s not often ROKKYUU get to interview a band from Osaka. Do you have any recommendations for people who go to Osaka to see your shows?
Otogi: Osaka has great food, like delicious takoyaki stands. Near Namba, there’s Grand Kagetsu, and there’s a takoyaki stand called Wanaka. In Japan, there’s a ranking of tasty takoyaki and that place was number one.It’s the best takoyaki in Japan. I want to go there. Anything else, guys?
Ryo: Personally, I like the Tempozan area, and the aquarium, Kaiyukan.
Sin: Most people recommend Minami (the southern district), but I like the northern area around Umeda better. It’s a bit out of the way, but Nakazakicho is an old-style town, very classic and cool.
Saki: A bit below Minami there’s a place called Shinsekai. You can drink there twenty-four hours a day!
Sho: Osaka… has a lot of covered shopping streets, so I recommend those.
69: Recently you’ve been playing a lot in Tokyo.
Otogi: That’s right.
69: Do you see a difference between the crowds in Osaka and in Tokyo?
Otogi: A difference? Really, I don’t think there’s a difference. Maybe Tokyo people and Osaka people have different characters, but in a live everyone is the same no matter where we perform. They have the same passion.
69: What interests or hobbies do you have outside of music?
Saki: This is bassist Saki. I like movies, video games, and reading.
Ryo: [Laughs] This is drummer Ryo. Hobby? Recently I like drinking. Yeah, drinking.
Sin: Just recently? [Laughs] When I’m at home I read, but lately when I go out I like to pet stray cats.
Otogi: I really like Kamen Rider, so I like anything to do with Kamen Rider. Also, I like potted plants.
Sho: I like to grow foliage plants and take care of my “wooper looper” [a type of salamander].
69: When you’re performing, do you prefer hard, heavy numbers like “under a skin” or sweet ballads like “Shuuyatou”?
Sho: That’s hard! For me, songs like “under a skin.” I want to explode and let my energy out.
Otogi: Well, as a vocalist, with songs like “Shuuyatou” I can really prove myself vocally but I spend much more of myself in the heavy numbers so they’re really fun.
Sin: Each type has its own virtues so it’s hard to choose between one or the other but if we’re talking about fun, it would be the heavy songs.
Ryo: I like both, too.
Saki: As a bassist, the slow songs like “Shuuyatou” are fun.
69: Awoi has a very dark image so do you have any contrasting points that might surprise people?
Sho: You want something bright? [Laughs]
Otogi: We’re not very bright, but I smile a lot when I’m eating. [Laughs]
Sho: See, we’re all really dark people.
Otogi: But when we’re noisy, we’re noisy…
Sho: Like if we’re drinking!
Ryo: We’re not bright; we’re noisy or we’re dark.
Sho: Cheerfulness... You could say we’re sober?
69: Do you like anything cute at all?
Sho: Actually we really like them.
Ryo: Yeah, we do.
69: Your motto is “Underground Black Rock.” What does that mean to you?
Otogi: Of course, we have various types [of songs] where if you listen in, you may hear a bright moment and those are bright but even in that, we have our darkness. We want to keep “underground” as our personal “axis” and express all sorts of things from there. That’s how we feel about it.
69: What song do you think most defines Awoi?
Otogi: Maybe “Kanashii Uta”?
Sho: An Awoi-like sound…?
69: Right, a song that shows Awoi’s strength.
Sho: Then it’s got to be “Kanashii Uta.”
Otogi: It’s a very heavy song butit incorporates a lot of melodic influence from traditional Japanese Kayoukyoku [old Japanese pop music]. The lyrics are very real and straightforwardly express things everyone has felt: loneliness, sadness. When I’m writing lyrics, the basis is very dark but at the heart of those lyrics, in all sorts of songs without fail, is the message that you have to keep living, you have to keep going.No matter how the difficult or sadthe things in life, you have to suffer on living. That’s the most direct part of the lyrics and I think that’s Awoi’s key point.
69: What’s your personal favorite Awoi song?
All: [Laughing] Eeeeh?That’s hard!
Sho: This is really, really just my personal choice but “kaleido.”
Otogi: Your own song? [Laughs]
Sho: Yeah, I love my “kaleido” the best.
Otogi: We have this song, “Ikirutame no Uta,” and of my lyrics, those are my favorite. For the first time, I almost cried over lyrics I wrote myself because the words I produced were so gut-wrenching. I love it.
Sin: A song called “Wasurenagusa.”
Sho: Your song?
Ryo: I like all of them but… I guess “under a skin.”
Sho: Your song?
Saki: All of them.
69: What is special about Awoi fans?
Sin: They’re very powerful.
Otogi: If we underestimated them [energy-wise] we’d probably lose!
Sho: After shows,everyone’s faces are filthy and covered in sweat.
69: What are your musical influences or personal favorite artists?
Saki: It’s always been Luna Sea for me.
Ryo: Same for me, Luna Sea forever.
Sin: I listen to both western and Japanese music. I really like blues, etc.
Otogi: I… really admire Kenji Ohtsuki. More than his vocal style, his world view etc. has influenced me. As for songs or genre, I’ve alwayslistened to a lot of metal.
Sho: The artist who influenced me to pick up the guitar was hide. X Japan’s hide was the very first. Now, what I listen to a lot is–I listen to a wide range of music–but mostly computer generated sounds like techno and club music.
69: You recently covered X JAPAN’s “Forever Love” for Counteraction: V Anime Rocks. What made you choose that song, and what was it like to cover it?
Otogi: Well, it had to be an anime theme song orused in an anime so there was a limit to what we could choose. From that selection, we wanted to do something completely improbable that would make people say “I can’t believe they chose that song!” We thought about what we could do with different songs and wanted to challenge ourselves. That’s how we chose it. As for actually doing it, what should I say, my voice is really different to the original song, and we were worried we’d destroy the original but I feel like we made it a different song with its own good points.
69: You really like sad songs, huh.
Otogi: [Laugh] I guess. While singing, I realized this song really does link back to us.
69: You’re releasing a new album with a lot of older songs.Why did you decide on that?
Otogi: The songs are basically the same as those on a previous album, Awoi, released as a kind of selection album. Around two years ago we went through a change of members but these are all songs from before the change. We play many of them live still but since that time, the arrangements have changed and we felt that the current arrangements and the sound we can create now with five members makes even cooler music so we re-recorded them all. The previous album was fourteen songs but this time we wanted to put in songs popular at lives and some that didn’t make it into the original fourteen. We wanted to put in songs important to Awoi. I thought it would be good to include “Ikirutame no Uta” which I mentioned earlier.By playing the older songs, we can show the evolution and growth of the current Awoi which is really cool.
69: For one last question, we’re an overseas magazine, so what foreign food do you like?
Sho: Foreign food? Like what?
Otogi: I like Thai food.
Ryo: I think I really like Italian pasta.
Saki: Maybe Italian.
Sin: Maybe Italian.
Sho: I don’t like to eat or sleep, so wine.
69: Okay, so wine from where?
Sho: Where does wine come from? Recently I’ve been drinking red wine.
69: From France?
Sho: France…? Ok, France. France! [Laughs]
69: Please give a message to ROKKYUU’s readers.
Saki: We’re a weird band but please like us anyway.
Ryo:Please watch over our growth as a five member band from now on.
Sin: There are a lot of great bands overseas but Japan has great bands, too. We’re going to work hard to get onto the world stage, so please support us.
Otogi: We’re going to try to make music from Japan that no one in the world has done before, so we’d like your support.
Sho: Now we’re performing in Japan but we want to release music and perform overseas someday, so please look forward to it!