Crossing the BLACK LINE, Exclusive Interview [日本語あり]
Just who are BLACK LINE? ROKKYUU struck the gold mine in pop-culture and Western music reference in just thirty-minutes while simultaneously learning about the four members of this exciting new band, not to mention the concept behind their music.
ROKKYUU is always on the lookout for up and coming new bands but we keep a close eye out for those well-known artists gathering new projects, too. BLACK LINE is the perfect combination of these two finds: Mikaru (ex Dio Distraught Overlord) and Syu (a.k.a. Denka, ex Dio Distraught Overlord) are back in the game with some new players, Yudai and Jun. The band have yet to release their music but are performing regularly and ROKKYUU got the jump on them with an interview guaranteed to satisfy both the geek and the rocker inside.
69: First of all, please introduce each other in pairs.
Syu: Our guitarist Yudai is a guitar freak who loves Gundam and LUNA SEA.
Yudai: O-Syu-san [drums] is a strange person.
Syu: Very good!
Jun: Our vocalist, Mikaru-san…
Syu: [Laughs] Why so formal?
Jun: Oh, yeah. He’s mysterious. I don’t understand him at all.
Mikaru: Our bassist, Jun, is a man who is very sexy naked.
Syu: Then… Disney. From Disneyland… I’d be Stitch, I think. An alien. [Points] Donald Duck. [Yudai] Winnie the Pooh. [Mikaru] Mickey Mouse. [Jun]
Jun: I’d have to be a movie or a manga, I think… Die Hard?
Syu: Try something major.
Jun: Major? … I need ‘thinking time.’
Yudai: A lot comes to mind. I have lots of ideas for Gundam, but right now I’m stuck on Slam Dunk.
Syu: Who am I?
Yudai: I haven’t thought about O-Syu-san but that guy [Mikaru] would be Rukawa.
Syu: What? Why?
Yudai: And this guy [Jun] would be Miyagi Ryota.
Yudai: Oh, don’t you know? Michi, then. How’s that? Hm……. Mikaru is Sazabi [Char's Counter-Attack].
Syu: It’s Gundam.
Yudai: O-Jun is cute, so Char’s Z-GOK. [Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Char's Counter-Attack]. O-Syu-san would be…
Yudai: No, I already used Char. So, O-Syu-san is… Rick-Dias [Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam], I think.
Syu: I don’t know it. And you?
Yudai: I’m…Hyaku Shiki [Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam].
Mikaru: Here we go. Lord of the Rings.
[All exclaim and laugh.]
Mikaru: [Chuckles and points] Pippin! [Jun]
Jun: Who’s that?
Mikaru: Pippin! Frodo. [Syu] Gandalf. [Yudai] [Laughs] I’m… What’s his name? The boss.
Mikaru: Aragorn! Wait… no.
Mikaru: The bad guy in the mask.
Mikaru: Sauron, Sauron. I’m Sauron.
Jun: Following along with the live action, I’ll go with Prison Break.
Syu: You’re choosing to make it really hard for yourself!
Jun: I can’t remember the characters’ names, though.
Syu: Don’t worry. I know.
Yudai: Don’t you think I’m Sucre?
Jun: Oh yeah, I can see that. Then, Mikaru is Michael’s brother.
Mikaru: The big guy?
Syu: Lincoln Burrows.
Jun: And Syu’s-
Syu: I’m Mahone!
Jun: No you’re not. Who’s that guy who’s like a mafia boss? Abruzzi?
Yudai: I think he should be the warden.
Syu: Doesn’t he die?
Jun: The warden? What was his name?
Syu: I can’t remember. Never mind, I’ll be Abruzzi.
Jun: And I’m T-Bag.
Syu: Can you impersonate T-Bag somehow?
Jun: I can! It’s in the dubbed version, though.
Syu: In season one?
Jyu: At the end of the season one dubbed version, T-Bag gets his arm cut off with an axe.
[Jun does an impression of spurting blood from his arm and everyone laughs.]
69: Well, getting back on track. What’s the concept of BLACK LINE?
Mikaru: Well we originally decided what the “black line” was, didn’t we? Something about a boundary line.
Yudai: [laughs] I wasn’t there back then.
Syu: We came to the conclusion of BLACK LINE from the concept of a boundary line.
Mikaru: A boundary you can’t cross? A boundary you can’t exceed?
Syu: A boundary you can’t exceed.
Mikaru: If you exceed it you can never go back.
69: And the name itself?
Mikaru: Let’s see… [laughs] Why did BLACK LINE become BLACK LINE?
Syu: We wanted something simple. We talked about wanting to make it a simple word or two, easy to say but cool sounding. Looking at ourselves and the impressions and colors we might exude, we thought “black” was suitable. So we wanted to use “black” no matter what. From there, after discussing it, the rather fitting words “black line” developed.
69: Sometimes you shorten BLACK LINE to “BL”… [All laugh] Did you happen to think that out before deciding on the name?
Yudai: It’s quite easy to remember. I think it has a lot of impact. [Laughs] We didn’t really think about it, though.
Mikaru: You see, there are many people in Japan who like “Boys Love.” [laughs]
69: If you were to search BL on the internet…
Mikaru: You’d find a lot of that.
Yudai: Besides, that guy on bass…
Syu: He has a nice backside. It’s targeted by all sorts of people.
Jun: [English] Nice hip.
Yudai: [English] We love it!
Jun: [English] Nice body.
Syu: What the hell?
69: Your music so far seems to be very varied from softer music to very energetic music with a touch of electronic sound and recently a harder, headbanging number. Do you have a particular sound in mind?
Yudai: When I’m writing music, I stop working on any songs that don’t bring a picture to mind. I only complete and bring to everyone the songs that bring up a picture.
Syu: He’s the main composer, you see. The songs are all based on what he writes.
69: Despite the variety, both BLACK LINE’s music and image are very different from Mikaru and Syu’s Dio Distraught Overlord. Is this an intentional break?
Yudai: On the contrary, the one writing the songs didn’t have much to do with it [Dio Distraught Overlord] so… I’m just writing the same music I always have and I hope that people will come to like that, too. That’s how our music is made neutral for the feel we have now.
Mikaru: Dio had a theme of violence and pain that we had decided to express but BLACK LINE doesn’t have any such walls. We want to do many things, any kinds of songs to the point that each song is independent. Not settling on any one theme is what BLACK LINE is all about.
69: Mikaru and Syu were previously in Dio together, but how about Yudai and Jun? Have you been in any bands before?
Yudai: I have.
Jun: Yeah, I have.
Syu: What kind of band?
Yudai: What kind? A catchy Japanese screamo band.
Jun: My old band? It was kote kote visual kei.
Syu: [Laughs] Their make-up was really heavy!
69: How did these members come together?
Syu: While searching for members—we had a real hard time finding them—we began consulting with the managers of livehouses. It would be like, “I know someone good,” and we would have them introduce us. That’s how it happened.
Mikaru: That’s realistic…
Syu: And that was how we four gathered by coincidence.
Yudai: We didn’t really know each other.
Syu: That’s right. It’s not like our old bands played together or anything. We really formed upon meeting each other for the first time.
Yudai: That’s what actually made it interesting, that we couldn’t predict anything.
Mikaru: Up until that point, we met all sorts of people but I think what finally decided it, rather than musicianship, was personality.
69: What inspired you each to become a musician?
Yudai: I wanted to be LUNA SEA.
Syu: When I was a child and saw X JAPAN live, I watched YOSHIKI’s heavy drumming and thought “Woah, that’s cool!” and before I realized it, I was a drummer. [laughs]
Jun: I love L’Arc~en~Ciel. BUT! Though I’m a bassist, the one I like is Hyde.
Mikaru: I am the reincarnation of John Lennon. [Laughs]
69: BLACK LINE is a relatively new band, having debuted in December 2011. Could you share some memories about your debut live?
Yudai: Ummm…. We’ll continue working hard from now on!
69: How is that a memory?
Syu: Well, the road to our debut live for this band was very long. But somehow, finally being able to stand onstage and have everyone listen to our songs, there was a sense of relief.
Jun: Our first live? Our first live! I feel like I’m going to forget the memory but I don’t want to. [laughs] It was fun.
Mikaru: For two… Or was it a year and a half? For a year and a half I hadn’t done any lives but the people who came, the many people who had waited for me was touching. I was so nervous I thought my heart would leap into my mouth. I don’t remember anything.
Yudai: Let’s say that everyone being that nervous was interesting.
69: As Mikaru just mentioned, how did it feel for you all being onstage again after such a long time?
Yudai: It’s like, “I’m back!”
Syu: I’m simply happy. Over a year before I was standing onstage like that was the obvious thing to do. With such a break in between, I feel like I was able to truly appreciate the value of being able to stand onstage.
Jun: I hadn’t been doing lives, so I think that performing live as I am now, I’m at my most alive.
Mikaru: While I wasn’t performing, it was like being in the middle of an abyss so I feel like I finally got my life back.
69: Even before your debut, you began a show on Youtube called Black Line TV. Could you tell us a little about that?
Yudai: We thought that it would be good to knock down that barrier right away resulting in surrealism.
Syu: Since I’m sure most people don’t know who we are, I wanted to do something that would show everyone even a little faster, a side of the members that you can’t see onstage which would also serve as an introduction.
69: Do you plan to continue it now the band has begun performing?
Mikaru: For now, that’s the end. [Laughs] I think we’ll pursue a new project and if we come up with something good, then we’ll try that.
69: What goals do you have as a band for 2012?
Yudai: I wanna do a oneman! Oh, and I want to release a CD.
Syu: I want to go on a tour. I want to believe there are people waiting for us in cities all over the country, [laughs] so I want to go!
Mikaru: [English] Oneman sold out!
Jun: My old band never went on tour so I want to go to different places this time. I want to go overseas! [Yudai and Syu whisper to him.] Oh, and I want to get a drivers licence at the same time! [Yudai and Syu whisper to him.] I want to develop a nice ass. [Yudai laughs]
69: Well, since you apparently already have one, a better one at least.
Yudai: [English] More, more!
Syu: He’s going to upgrade.
69: Mikaru and Syu, we know you’ve been abroad with Dio. Do you have any memories from those trips to share?
Mikaru: It was… very hard, but… when the live started, so many people had come to see us that all of that just blew away. You feel, “That’s what a real live is!” As a bandman, the way that fans overseas react is what really makes a great live. That’s the real reason I want to return to Europe.
Syu: We were able to go to different countries, and depending on the country the reaction to a live was very different. The reaction in Germany was very similar to that of Japanese fans. It was like, “Wow, they really understand Japan.” But in France etc. it went beyond fever. There were lots of crazy boys. Enjoying that difference in the reactions of different countries became another memory.
69: Have you been overseas aside from touring?
Mikaru: Aside from the band, I’ve been a little. To China, Hong Kong and other Southern countries.
Yudai: The three of us have never been.
Jun: I don’t have a passport.
69: Is there a country you’d like to visit?
Yudai: America! There’s a lot of bands I like in America, bands I want to see and perform with. Oh, and I want to see a huge red bull.
69: What band would you most like to perform with?
Yudai: Story of the Year.
Syu: I want to go to Taiwan. I heard there’s a close relationship between Taiwan and Japan, so I’d like to try going there.
Jun: I want to go the Eifel Tower.
Jun: The Eifel Tower. I want to see it.
Yudai: So you want to see the Eifel Tower but not the country.
Jun: I don’t know what country it is.
(69: [Whispers] That would be France.)
Yudai: That’s one of his good points, right?
Syu: That’s his good point.
Jun: France, then. My favorite French movie is Taxi.
Syu: Oh, Taxi!
Yudai: The movies he likes are the important part…
Syu: He likes action movies.
Jun: My favorite movie is Die Hard.
Jun: Bruce Willis!
Mikaru: If it’s a personal trip, I want to see the pyramids in Egypt.
[Syu and Yudai agree]
Mikaru: And I want to see Alaska’s aurora and… India.
Yudai: I want to go to Beijing!
Syu: Machu Pichu!
69: So who are your favorite Western artists?
Yudai&Syu: There’s lots!
Yudai: Story of the year and… Saosin. They toured with Taste of Chaos, too. The name came from Chinese and was made into English. [Sounds out the Chinese] Shaoshin? But they’re called “say-o-shin.”
Syu: Then there’s Cold Play. And Linkin Park.
Yudai: Oh, Linkin Park! Lost Prophets!
Mikaru: Marilyn Manson. KoRn.
Jun: What was it? Buretto…
Syu: Bullet for my Valentine.
Jun: Buletto- fo- mai Varentain?
Yudai: Lost Prophets! Thirty Seconds to Mars.
69: There are some English lyrics in your music here and there and some of you like to tweet or post blogs in English sometimes…[Syu laughs] Are you actively trying to learn English?
Syu: Rather than studying, it’s more like watching a movie and listening to the actors’ pronunciation and thinking “Oh, so this is what you’d say at a time like this…” I’m just learning by myself.
Mikaru: I want to be able to speak English but…
Yudai: [English] Oh! How are you?
69: What’s your favorite word or phrase in English?
Syu: Like lyrics or something… [Yudai whispers to him.][English] “Love!”
Jun: [Syu whispers to him][English] “Hip.”
Syu: [To Mikaru] S…
Yudai: [English] “Hip!” Me too! Me too, “hip!”
Yudai: [English] Hip brothers. [Jun laughs] Ah! Hip sisters!
Syu: [Laughing] This is really dangerous.
Jun: It’s dangerous!
69: Well then, of BLACK LINE’s songs, could you each recommend your favorite for people to get a feel for the band?
Syu: It’s hardest for the composer to choose.
Yudai: That’s right. I think the latest song is the best, so “GLAD EYE.”
Syu: “ALBA.” It’s a fairly recent song but it’s cool.
Jun: We played it at our first live but “DEEP INSIDE” is good.
Mikaru: Hmmm…“Furimukeba Itsumo.”
Syu: I knew he’d say that.
Mikaru: Because it’s really sad. The lyrics.
69: Lastly, please give a message to ROKKYUU’s readers!
Yudai: We’ll definitely come to see you, so please wait!
Syu: Hello readers!
Syu: I think there will be many people who will hear of us for the first time but we’ll write more and more cool songs so please look forward to them!
Jun: I love you!
Mikaru: Well, to everyone in Europe and America, countries we’ve been to are a given, but my dream is also to someday do a world tour and go to countries we haven’t been to before, too! We’ll come for sure, so please wait!
There are 17 photos in this visual kei exclusive.