Awoi Futekigouna Ringo Interview [日本語あり]

Interview

by Leela McMullen, Chika Yoshizawa, posted May 9, 2014

English日本語

If you were to imagine the music that we create as an apple then it is the “apple” which is a bundle of humanity that we non-conformists brought into this world.

69: First, please introduce yourselves. However, in addition to your self introduction, based on the dark impressions that are very strong in your music, please choose the genre of horror movie you think your life could relate to – or that you would like to be in.
Otogi: I’m vocalist, Otogi. If I was to imagine based on my life… Well, this is a movie that I like but “Interview with a Vampire.” Always in the shadows for untold years watching the various absurdities of the world pass by, always living through it. Something like that.
Sho: I’m guitarist, Sho. I wanted to be a vampire. That’s why I gave myself fangs. It’s kind of like cosplay.
Ryo: I’m drummer, Ryo. For me, it would be “Ge Ge Ge no Kitarou.” Although I’m not certain it counts as a horror movie… [All laugh]
Sho: So that’s why one of your eyes is hidden.
Ryo: That’s the kind of happy life I lead.
Saki: I’m bassist, Saki. That I have been surrounded by enemies but remained untainted thus far leads to “Dawn of the Dead.”
Sin: Oh, I know that one! The zombies are really fast, right?
Ryo: Aren’t the zombies slow?
Saki: I’m talking about the original.

69: Why specifically the original?
Saki: Quite simply, there’s the fact that I prefer it although I like the remake as a remake… The original has more of a sense of total shutdown, more despair. The remake has a strong action component and is more modern.
Sin: I’m guitarist, Sin. My life isn’t over yet but looking back thus far, I think I’m pretty much a jiang shi (a Chinese “hopping vampire”).
Ryo: It’s like Yuugen Doushi! [Note: A Taiwanese movie.]

69: Thank you! Well then, before we get into the nit and grit, I’d like to pinpoint one particular word. What does the word and object “apple” symbolize to you?
Otogi: Something sweet and sour.
Sin: Kindness.
Sho: For me, I think of it as the beginning of the sin of humanity.

69: Ok, so on that note, your new mini album is called Futekigouna Ringo (non-conforming apple) but what exactly is the concept behind it?
Otogi: Firstly, regarding the “Futekigou” part, we, ourselves, are difficult to classify among the visual kei music scene of the world. We don’t really overlap much with other bands and wherever we go it feels like an “away game.” We stick out. I’ve thought that it’s as if we are a collection of the non-conformists of visual kei and perhaps that’s our uniqueness. The music and point of view that this group creates represent “humanity,” what humans are all about, through our lyrics and our live performances. In the story of Adam and Eve, God first creates Adam and Eve. At that point, they are extremely pure beings. Despite being people they could be called unsullied beings. Then they eat the apple and you could say that humanity; shame, attraction to people, love, or else hatred of others… That which could be called human emotion all came to be. You could say that they changed from pure beings to human beings. Based on that story, the explanation is that the apple in particular represents the bundle of humanity itself. If you were to imagine the music that we create as an apple then it is the “apple” which is a bundle of humanity that we non-conformists brought into this world.
 
69: Having mentioned Adam and Eve… The calmest song from this release is without a doubt “Eve.” In the lyrics is the phrase “Ano hi no haha” (my mother, that day). One might guess the lyrics were written from Eve’s perspective but in light of these lyrics, it seems doubtful. Whose perspective are they written from?
Otogi: Going back to the point when one was born; in this life where the self one receives from their mothers may someday become another’s parents, even though receiving like that or being born out of something is such an important thing, people treat their own existences so lightly, throwing away their selves and blaming themselves or regretting. It’s about denying that oneself is in fact humanity and regretting that self.

69: A little earlier we spoke about horror movies… The song “SAW” wouldn’t happen to be related to the movie, would it?
Otogi: There’s no relation to the movie but this song is all about cutting through and tearing up all the irritating and ridiculous parts of the world. This is also a part of our band style but this song expresses the shredding of all that useless social etiquette and emotions ready to blow up. That’s why there’s a chainsaw. The nuance is about destroying those sorts of things.

69: Now, this one really piqued our interest but what on earth is the title “Gozen Reiji no Ari to Shortcake” all about?
Otogi: The lyrics and title of this one are pretty complicated but among the lyrics is the twisted mood of someone touched by madness. It’s got a sense of the bizarre. That kind of thing is expressed from an extremely unsavory and strange point of view and there’s some pretty grotesque stuff written in there. I thought that if you substituted in something really cute like shortcake and strawberries, then extremely bizarre and uncomfortable moments would come about.

69: And why “Gozen Reiji (00:00/12:00am)?”
Otogi: People have a certain kind of mood late at night, right? In the middle of the night they’re more hyper than usual, things get a little weird. I thought perhaps that that is the time slot when people’s true selves come to light.

69: So… why “ant?”—even for visual kei this feels like a very unusual title…
Otogi: I lined up a bunch of words that to me would have been appropriate to old school visual kei but the way I see it, everyone loves shortcake. It’s a symbol or cute and pretty things. The ants are the black mob that swarm it—that gross sense of crawling swarming. I wrote “ano ko (that kid/girl)” but in a way that’s a sarcastic jab at the trends of today which I link to it and speak of cynically. I wrote it with the intention that if you read the lyrics, you would wonder what it’s all about so I’d like for people to listen to those parts and feel it and imagine for themselves what’s going on.

69: Now we’d like to ask you each about the songs you composed and what to listen for in them.
Sho: I don’t think there’s any particular musical highlight in “SAW.” It’s just fast.

69: It has the feel of a live song.
Sho: Yeah, that’s how I imagined it. It’s not that I wrote it specifically for lives or anything—I just crammed it full of everything about society that pisses me off so I didn’t really design it as a piece of music. I just took the liberty of letting all my emotions blow up.

69: Was there anything in particular bugging you that prompted you to write it?
Sho: No, just everything. I hate this kind of Japan. [All laugh] I just took everything that makes me go “AHHHHHHHHH!!!” picked up my guitar and sat before the computer where I did it all at once and that’s how it turned out. The point to listen out for is probably the bass section right before the vocals come in. I’ve been pushing that part since I made the demo.
Otogi: I actually wrote “Haikei, Itoshiku mo Tsumetai Zetsubou no Ame” about two years ago and have since waited for the opportunity to release it into the world. I confident that it could be released this time so I rearranged it a little. The songs I’ve written recently have a lot of metal elements or death voice but this time there’s a proper A section, B section, and chorus, and you can clearly hear the melody. I wanted to make something like that for the first time in a while. There’s a harsh sense to the sound but I focused on making it easier to enjoy at lives and easy to hear the vocals.
Saki: I’m always saying this, but for “Gozen Reiji no Ari to Shortcake,” the point to listen for is the drums. I felt that the drums were already expressing everything necessary so I just popped the bass and guitar over the top. They’re just messing around. This song is about the drums.
Ryo: Apparently. [All laugh] When I heard it completed, all of the sounds were mixed and I had the impression that it had just started to sound like a really great, gross song.
Saki: At first it didn’t make any sense, right? “Is this gonna be ok?” I always listen first to Ryo’s drums but just listening to the drums in this song, I thought “Wait, where’s it up to?”
Otogi: The techniques and rhythms are a little bit off so it feels like if you were to just tune in, you’d lose track of the song in a second. You get a weird feeling when you listen to it.
Ryo: The highlight of “Eve” is the wide sense it has.

69: A waltz is quite rare for Awoi.
Ryo: That’s right. There’s also a touch of orchestral music in there. I wanted to give it a bit of a grand feeling but I hope that, hearing the grandness of it, people might feel as if the things they are worried about are actually small and insignificant.
Sin: I wrote “Yume” for the purpose of listening to the melody. I wanted Otogi to really sing the song.

69: Regarding the lyrics; dreams (Yume) are usually considered positive things but the lyrics to this are quite dark, aren’t they?
Otogi: Actually, for me, the title “Yume” has the sarcastic meaning of dreams. The lyrics came later but the music itself has a lovely melody and is easy to listen to. It’s catchy. Most bands would probably stick sweet and moving lyrics to a song like this but if we were to put painful, dark, and negative lyrics to it a gap would appear and I think that gap is what we’re all about. That’s why I wrote all-out dark lyrics to it. I aimed for the shock that would come from reading the lyrics after just hearing the title “Yume.”

69: So, last up is “bakemono.” What should people listen for in this one?
Sho: I think it has to be the exquisite balance. The two guitarists are doing totally different things and there are hidden sounds here and there. It’s the development of the song. I think it takes on a turn of “What? This is what comes next!?” That’s what I think people should listen for.

69: Is there a reason you decided to write the title “bakemono” in roman characters?
Otogi: At first we gave it the title “Bakemono” in kanji (化け物) but when I typed it into the computer, it just happened to not be able to process the shift (to kanji)—I’m not good at touch typing—so it went in as “bakemono” and when I glanced at the screen it was in roman characters. I thought, “Ah!” but when I saw that “bakemono,” I saw it as a very unique word and thought it might be interesting to display it that way. Just writing Bakemono (in kanji) is very normal but considering the impact when I glanced at it, the roman characters looked far more interesting so I simply adopted the roman characters.

69: Who do you think is the most monstrous (bakemono) of you?
Sho: I think we all have monstrous sides…

69: Sin is clearly pointing to Otogi, though. [Laughs]
Saki: Yet psychologically, I would have to say Sho. No?
Sho: What the heck is a psychological monster? [Laughs]
Saki: Literally, it would be Otogi, though.
Sho: Otogi is easy to pin as a monster. [Laughs]
Saki: On the inside, it would be Sho…
Sho: What? Why? [Laughs] I think I’m extremely pure, though!
Otogi: A pure monster. [All laugh]
Sho: But all of us have something. A part that’s monstrous.
Otogi: My face during lives, of course. [All laugh] All of the live photos are pretty monstrous.
Saki: There’s a lot of miraculous shots, too.
Sho: Once, it was like you were singing amidst lighting, right? Because of the lights. [Laughs]

69: How about you, Sin? Do you have anything?
Sin: I’ve never once thought I was a monster. [All laugh]

69: How about Ryo, then?
Ryo: I’d have to agree with Sin on that one. [Laughs] I can’t think of anything I’d consider to be monstrous.
 
69: Do you not have anything you’re passionate about?
Sin: He’s a drum arrangement monster.
Saki: Ryo’s (rhythmic) phrases are definitely messed up.
Ryo: But to me they’re just rule of thumb…
Sin: That’s what we’re talking about. Things the rest of us can’t even fathom are just standard for you. [All laugh]
Sho: You’re doing a pretty good job of matching your sound to what you can’t understand. [All laugh]
Sin: That’s why I’m saying it’s amazing.

69: So out of these songs, are there any which you think are especially suited to listening to at home, or suited to live performance?
Sho:Haikei, Itoshiku mo Tsumetai Zetsubou no Ame” might be the simplest to guess.
Otogi: As the vocalist, I want to get the crowd on board while singing “Haikei, Itoshiku mo Tsumetai Zetsubou no Ame” so I wrote this one in particular with the aim of getting the crowd involved. There are points where you can toss your head around violently but there are also somewhat danceable moments and points where you can throw in steps. The chorus is fast so even if the crowd get fucked up, it should be fun. It’s something the crowd can really move to.
 
69: On the other hand, are there any songs you would like for people to listen closely to on CD?
Otogi: I think there are more of those sorts of songs this time.
Sho: Yeah, all of them have something of that.
Otogi: For Ryo-chan’s “Eve” or Sho-chan’s “bakemono,” I’d prefer for people to immerse themselves in the world rather than getting into them at lives. Of course, I want them to get immersed in those worlds at lives, too, but I think those two songs are the likeliest to have people say “Oh, I get it…” while listening at home.

69: Are there any new techniques, sounds, or ideas you decided to try out in this release?
Ryo: I experimented a bit with the drums. I’m always deciding on a goal or a theme for each piece and this time that was to return to my original intentions. It was more about the approach than the technique but I think I was able to do that.
Otogi: I always do this, but I’m quite obviously trying out new things in the vocals. If I improve, it becomes clear, but every time I try to change my character to fit each song. For example, the me that sings “SAW” and the me that sings “Eve” are almost inconceivable as being sung by the same person, they’re so different. Even though they’re both quiet, the me that sings both ”Eve” and “bakemono” is totally different. I always divide the characters up like that and there are never repeats of songs so I think I was able to come up with some new styles of expression.
 
69: Is there a song you found particularly difficult to express?
Otogi: In order to produce the grandness of “Eve,” while stretching my voice, I had to cater to the rise and fall of emotional moments as well and getting that across properly was very difficult. Originally, the melody itself was written by the composer, Ryo-chan, but it was a very difficult melody so it was extremely tough to make that my own whilst achieving that kind of expression.

69: Could you tell us about the member solo version of the music video on the B-type limited edition?
Sho: For example, if it’s Saki, it would be a video featuring Saki. We each produced them ourselves so we don’t know what the others’ videos turned out like. Some might have just the one member all the way through while others might have put in some shots of the other members while their own cuts were the most common.
Otogi: Music videos are aimed at the fans but instead of having the members they like appear only occasionally, now they can watch that member from start to finish. All five patterns for the five of us are included on the one DVD.

69: Thank you. Now, before we head to the last question, we’d like to play a little game. Please choose one song title for the person to your left. That person must then reveal the first word that comes to mind. So, shall we start from the most sadistic of the group? [Laughs]
Sin: Ok, then. “Haikei.
Otogi: “My song.” [All laugh]
Otogi:Gozen Reiji
Ryo: “Ant!” [All laugh]
Otogi: That’s just the title! What word do you think of next?
Ryo: Oh, sorry about that.
Saki: That’s the interesting part.
Ryo:Yume.”
Sho: Oh, there is a song called “Yume,” huh. “Yume…” “9 Millimeter Parabelum Bullet!” The image of the intro. Actually, there’s no relation. [Laughs] I just thought that when I first heard it. Hmmm, what shall I choose? Ok, “Yume.”
Saki: What!? “Illusion.” Huh? [All laugh]
Saki: Eve,” then.
Sin: “Ryo’s song.”
Ryo: We have a lot of literal answers. [Laughs]
Sin: That’s because it’s about association.
Ryo: Well, that’s true. That’s just what comes out.

69: Shall we do another lap?
Sin: Haikei…”
Otogi: Whaaat… “Melancholy heaviness.” That’s what we’ve been spouting for ages, though.

69: That’s your concept, right?
Otogi: That’s the kind of thing we’re advertising. [All laugh]
Sho: Lately, it’s been a bit different, though.
Otogi: Yeah. Lately, we’ve strayed a bit but I think we’ve come back to melancholy heaviness once more.
Sho: That’s it. Melancholy heaviness. Correct!
Otogi: SAW.”
Ryo: “Juon! (The Grudge)” That shouting in the beginning is a little horror movie-like. Ok, “bakemono.”
Sho: Chainsaw. “Eve.”
Saki: “Back alley.” Ok, “Gozen Reiji!”
Sin: “Nostalgic.”

69: Why nostalgic?
Sin: It’s the closest to the era of visual kei I used to listen to in this day and age. Ok… “Haikei!” [All laugh]

69: For this last round, why don’t we use songs from Awoi’s entire repertoire?
All: Ooh!
Ryo: Gotta be careful with that.
Sho: There are songs Ryo and Sin don’t know, after all.
Ryo: This could work! I’ll have nothing but the image.
Sho: Oh, I see. I don’t get to give you anything, though. [All laugh]
Sin: From me again? “Haikei.” [All laugh] Just kidding. [Laughs]
Otogi: I’d like to try something new sometime soon. [Laughs]
Saki: It’s been the same the whole time.

69: We really did start with the most sadistic. [All laugh]
Sin:Cult
Otogi: That! “Dictator.” We used to do this kind of choreography. [Laughs and raises hand from chest similar to a Haile Hitler salute.]
Ryo: Oh, we did!
Otogi: Ok, “Senkou Hanabi.”
Ryo: Senkou Hanabi.” “Senkou Hanabi,” right? That’s unexpected. “Senkou Hanabi,” yeah? [All laugh] Ummm “candle.” From the image that comes to mind. “Momoiro Sanrinsha.”
Sho: OTG’s choreography! [Note: OTG = Otogi] [All laugh]
Sin: What was it?
Saki: How did it go?
Sho: It was like this. [Reaches out both arms and beats the time one after the other with hands flat.] There’s no other image for that than of Otogi’s choreography.
Sin: Incidentally, Ryo and I don’t know that song.
Otogi: It never went to CD so we’ve only ever played it live. It’s from about 9 years ago.
Sho: Even though it was a standard at lives and really revved things up. It was fun, too.
Ryo: It’s like bon odori. [Note: obon festival dancing]
Sho: Now for a song. What shall I choose? “Zessei, Yami no Naka de!”
Saki: Whaaat!? [Sho laughs]
Ryo: That’s a tough one.
Saki: I wonder… What suddenly came to mind was “bolt,” though. [All laugh]
Sin: I think “bolt” makes sense, though.
Saki: For me, too. Ok, “bolt.” [All laugh] And, “Zessei…”
Sin: “Bolt…” [All laugh]
Saki: I changed my mind. “Kanashii Uta.”
Sin: “Umeda!”

69: Why Umeda?
Sin: The place name in Osaka comes up in the lyrics. It has a very strong impression.
で。
Otogi: Probably because it’s the only visual kei song in which Umeda appears.

69: Thank you! Well then, lastly, we’d like to ask you for a message for ROKKYUU’s readers.
Ryo: Once again, I think we have made a very Awoi-like work—or you could say the kind of fresh, never-before seen, or over-reaching work… is not what this is. Please, get your hands on it and listen. Those who can come to our lives, please come. Thank you. Rock you!
Sho: You rock-lovers who love ROKKYUU Magazine! [Laughs]
Saki: Love on top of love…? [Laughs]
Sho: Rock lovers. People who love ROKKYUU. We have produced a mini album that will set your rock-loving soul to violently tremble and drop you into the deepest pits of terror so please relish it at least once. [Sin laughs silently]
Ryo: Someone else is violently trembling for another reason… [All laugh]
Sho: No, it’s really a great album so please get it and listen to it and I’d love to meet you at our lives! We’re waiting!
Saki: I think this is the CD that most realistically packages up our live atmosphere. I think there’s a certain synergy that if you listen to it first then come to our lives, you’ll enjoy it even more so please come along to our lives, too. Thank you very much.
Sin: The personalities of our five members are well-mixed to become the one personality of Awoi in this great mini album we have brought to life. Please try doing the title association game. It’s unexpectedly entertaining.
Otogi: This time, I am confident that you will find the variation within the album and the incredible negativity and dark world that is common to all of the lyrics in all of the songs is very Awoi-like so please listen to this one CD. I would be thrilled if you came to think “Awoi really is a band that is unique but also has very different sides and really cherishes music.” Please listen!

69: Thank you very much!

Leela McMullen is a strong believer in the philosophy "no music, no life." Having traversed the range of Japanese fandoms, she found her home at last in visual kei and has made it her mission to share what she loves most with the world. Leela completed her B.A. in Japanese language from Griffith University in Gold Coast Australia. She now lives and works in Japan, striving to bring you the goods, hot from the scene. Follow her on twitter for juicy hints of upcoming articles if you've got a bit of Japanese language under your belt! http://twitter.com/#!/LeelaInTokyo

Chika has been interested in visual kei music since VK bands first began holding free lives the Hokoten area in Harajuku. She was too young to go watch them back then in the early 90s, but the scenes on TV caught her eye. Since then, she has loved the passion of VK music and, of course, music in general. She majored in English literature in Japan and learned to speak English in the UK. After graduating from university, she has worked for both American and Japanese companies in IT and as a translator and continues various translations today.

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