Because Dave Fromm is a good interviewer who asks good questions, we bring you a (mostly complete) translation of Mr. Sakurai's second appearance on the Dave Fromm Show. This one goes out to all your brand whores and haters of green peppers in particular. As last year, feel free to share this by linking to Blog-Tick, but please DO NOT re-post it elsewhere. Read an English translation of Mr. Sakurai's previous appearance on the Dave Fromm show here.
Dave: How fast time passes! It's already been nearly a year since he's been on the show. This is Mr. Sakurai Atsushi!
Dave: Good evening.
Sakurai: Thanks for having me.
Dave: No, thank you. It's been a year.
Sakurai: It has. Though it feels like hardly any time has passed.
Dave: Really? Last time you were on here for The Mortal.
Sakurai: That's right.
Dave: But this time you're going to talk about Buck-Tick and give us lots of color.
Joe: How have you been?
Sakurai: We safely finished recording, and I made it here through the typhoon.
Dave: I'm amazed you made it here in one piece. What bad timing! Surely you were the one who summoned the typhoon.
Joe: Mr. Sakurai definitely summoned the typhoon.
Sakurai: I'm accepting of many different events.
Joe: Your eyes are practically swimming, Mr. Sakurai. "I'm accepting"...honestly...
Dave: So, did you start recording right after you came on the show last year? Or even before then?
Dave: After that?
Sakurai: We started from spring of this year, and worked through the summer till fall.
Dave: I see.
Joe: Does that mean the recording took unusually long?
Sakurai: No, it was the same as usual. A little under three months.
Joe: Last time, we had a good listen to the album you released with The Mortal...that album was extremely focused on death. We could even describe it as your primal scream. It seems like managed to spit out all your trauma on that album. So, to make another album after that...how did that feel?
Sakurai: Well, with The Mortal, I was able to do exactly what I wanted, so I felt completely empty.
Joe: Completely empty?
Sakurai: I didn't know what to do with myself. Like I didn't have anything left.
Dave: If you lost everything, how did you continue with Buck-Tick?
Sakurai: Well, once I heard the new sound, you could say I got into a new mode.
Joe: So hearing the music set off your inspiration, and you were able to write new lyrics?
Sakurai: Yes, that's about right.
Joe: And tomorrow is Buck-Tick's 29th anniversary since your debut!
Sakurai: That's right.
Joe: It's your anniversary! Do you and the other band members have an awareness of that?
Sakurai: No, well, I don't, personally, but the Higuchis seem to enjoy "historical events," so to speak, and they know all that stuff.
Dave: They know what you did, when.
Sakurai: Yes, yes.
Dave: So they keep the archive.
Sakurai: That's right. Personally, I have absolutely no idea.
Dave: (laughs) So if today's your 29th anniversary, does that mean you released an album on the same day? How did you debut? Do you remember?
Joe: He probably has no idea.
Dave: But the Higuchis know.
Joe: Then let's ask them.
Sakurai: I think it was a VHS debut.
Joe: A VHS?
Sakurai: That's right. Our video tape debut was September 21st, I think. I think the album came out after that.
Dave: I see. So if this is the 29th anniversary, that means next year is your 30th, right?
Joe: It must be.
Sakurai: Well, yes.
Dave: Do you have any sort of awareness of that fact that you've been going for 30 years?
Sakurai: Personally, I just pass right over it...
Joe: But the people around you won't let you forget...
Sakurai: That's right.
Joe: But when you think about it, 29 years with the same members, without ever going on hiatus...that's, well...and in addition to that, you've got this originality, this one-of-a-kind status, and you've kept that...
Sakurai: When it's your own life, it just feels like yesterday, today, regular days passing. But of course, other people tend to be surprised.
Joe: I am surprised!
Sakurai: They tell us it's disgusting.
Joe: (laughs) Disgusting? It's none of their business, is it?
Dave: So over the course of these 29 years, I'm sure you've had some ups and downs in your life...have there been ups and downs with the band, too?
Sakurai: All kinds of things have happened.
Dave: Have you ever felt like, "I don't want to ever see these guys again"?
Sakurai: That kind of thing...
Dave: There were times when you felt it?
Sakurai: Sometimes, a bit, probably. After all, if there aren't times like that, when things are going well and we're feeling good, where do we get that rush and feeling of power from? We're all just human.
Dave: But it's a bit different from a typical work situation in that you get to take breaks, right? As a band, you're not together every single day for 40 hours a week.
Joe: Of course not.
Dave: To do that for 30 years...if I had to look at Joe's face for the next 30 years, I'm sure I'd punch him.
Joe: Don't use that analogy!
Sakurai: Yeah, if you had to be together every day...
Joe: But as a band, you get to take breaks.
Dave: So you did The Mortal, and you get to refresh a bit between tours, etc. I'm sure that's very important.
Sakurai: Yes, it's very important. After all, now we're coworkers...that's what our relationship has become. At first, we were just kidding around, having fun, that kind of thing, but now that we're all grown up, we have a more serious focus on work as work. So it ends up like "sorry, I want time to myself this weekend."
Joe: Is that how it is? (laughs)
Sakurai: It's something we need.
Joe: That's what they call balance.
Dave: I guess so. But when Buck-Tick were a young band, you got into a lot of trouble, eh?
Sakurai: Not really. I suppose we had that image, but...
Dave: You never got drunk and smashed things...
Sakurai: We never did that "American rock" style thing.
Dave: Not at all?
Sakurai: Not at all. I suppose we broke a few small items here and there, but that's about it.
Joe: So you just messed up a little and passed it off as a joke?
Sakurai: We were pretty serious. I mean, maybe you couldn't have called us "serious," exactly, but we were never violent.
Dave: I feel like he's boring into me with his eyes right now.
Sakurai: No, it's fine.
Dave: I've gotten a number of emails...over the course of the past 29 years, I'm sure your fans have changed...
Dave: But for you to continue your activities, you have to make a marketable product, because it's business. So what that means is that Buck-Tick as a band have continued to sell...that's extremely difficult to pull off, especially these days...
Joe: The cycle is fast.
Dave: Even as a DJ, following these bands as they're continually popping up...it's very hard to keep up. So for you to maintain your popularity, in your opinion, in your personal opinion, do you ever think about it? Is there anything you wished you hadn't paid attention to?
Sakurai: Me, myself...it's bad for business that I should say this, but though I wanted the band to sell when we were still indie, but I never went so far as to think about what we should do in order to sell. Really, we just did what we wanted to do, and we were lucky enough that we picked up a lot of great fans, and the record companies and staff liked us and wanted to support us.
Joe: No, but really. I just interviewed you and Imai for the latest issue of Rolling Stone, but the Japanese music scene these days is full of a lot of bands who are very similar, and in the midst of that, Buck-Tick have a very unique position. But when I hear you talk about it, it seems like you weren't really thinking about that - it's just a question of your specific aesthetics. I think that's something that probably no one can imitate, and on the flip side, the fact that you've been honing that sensibility for the past 29 years is really amazing.
Sakurai: (laughs) Thank you. Definitely, Imai's songwriting sensibility...he's definitely got his antenna up. But on the other hand, you've got me, and I'm just all natural...when I like something, it's "like!" and when I hate something it's "hate!"...that's me. So for balance...he's methodical, but I just burst out with what I like, and I guess...what can I say. Twenty-nine years passed.
Dave: So, over the course of the past 29 years, do you think something has changed within you?
Sakurai: Well, with regard to music, and the things I can do, I've gotten more serious about it, and put my mind and body into it. When I was young, I just thought "okay, whatever" and let it go. But as an adult, I've become more aggressive. Like, "can't I do better than this?"
Joe: I see. Like, more, more!
Dave: So now, an email from a fan. "Congratulations on your album release. This is a question for Mr. Sakurai. Currently, the Buck-Tick Tower Records Cafe is open on Omotesando. Mr. Sakurai, do you like to go shopping at places like Omotesando, or other fashionable areas? Personally, I love Yohji Yamamoto and other such brands. Lately, do you have a favorite brand? If so, what is it?
Sakurai: Oh, it's a question about brands? I wondered if it was a question about Omotesando.
Joe: That was just the lead-in to the question.
Sakurai: I really have trouble with styles and trends, and I really can't stand shopping.
Sakurai: Really. I just wear the same things...I'm wearing all black again today...
Dave: You are. A black t-shirt, and a black jacket...I'm pretty sure you wore something similar last time, too.
Sakurai: Yes, I'm sure I did.
Joe: I feel like you were wearing that same t-shirt for the Rolling Stone interview, too.
Sakurai: It's possible that I was. I'm always wearing the same outfit.
Joe: So you basically don't care about fashion, is that it?
Sakurai: That's right. I hate that thing where people try to get people to like them by showing off how trendy they are.
Joe: I see what you're saying.
Sakurai: Like, "I just bought the latest hot item!" I... quite heartily cannot stand it. [Note from Cayce: He deliberately put on fancy keigo to say this, probably as a nod to not offending any fashionistas who happen to be listening in.] But, I love Yves St-Laurent.
Joe: So does that mean you go shopping to Yves St-Laurent?
Sakurai: I do.
Dave: I've been wearing the Yves St-Laurent cologne for about 20 years.
Sakurai: Oh really?
Joe: He's just trying to claim something in common with you.
Dave: No, I'm embarrassed about it! Because to buy it, you have to go to the ladies' makeup counter area in one of those department stores...
Joe: You do?
Dave: And to go to a place like that...I mean, look at me. The women who work there always give me strange looks.
Joe: They don't believe you're actually there to buy.
Sakurai: But they have men's cologne.
Dave: But it's in the back. Why do they hide it?
Joe: Right? I wonder that too.
Sakurai: So you have to go into a busy spot with lots of people...
Dave: Under all those bright lights and sparkles...it's hard to bring myself to go there, but I do.
Sakurai: I want to see you in a place like that, Dave Fromm.
[Dave takes a break to play Buck-Tick's new single, "New World."]
Dave: So, I've gotten a lot of emails. Can I read you some of them?
Dave: Everyone's calling you Acchan.
Joe: Can we call you Acchan, too?
Sakurai: Of course.
Sakurai: Go right ahead.
Dave: From Rumi-san. "I went to your show on September 11th. It was the first show you've played since last year, and I had a great time. You were awesome."
Sakurai: Thank you.
Dave: "This is a question for Acchan. Do you drink sweet potato shochu as a highball? [Note: a highball is a cocktail, usually involving soda water, lemon juice, and whiskey, but in this case the whiskey would be replaced with shochu.]
Sakurai: A highball?
Dave: That's right.
Sakurai: I don't really drink highballs. I like sweet potato shochu mixed with soda water these days.
Dave: Is that your recommended drink for this fall?
Sakurai: I guess so?
Joe: "I guess so," he says! (laughs)
Dave: How much do you drink?
Joe: I want to ask that, too.
Dave: Aren't you drinking less these days?
Sakurai: Not really. When I'm alone in my house, I drink, it's inevitable.
Joe: Don't tell me you drink a whole bottle by yourself.
Sakurai: Not a whole big bottle, not. [Note from Cayce: Sakurai is talking about an isshobin, a 1.8 liter bottle in which shochu and sake are commonly sold. For reference: shochu is generally about 20% alcohol by volume.]
Dave: I see, I see.
Sakurai: I'm an idiot. I drink too much.
Joe: So you basically drink every day, is that right?
Sakurai: That's right.
Joe: Clearly you love booze.
Dave: Let's go drinking sometimes!
Joe: Let's go!
Sakurai: You're right. It's healthier to drink with others.
Joe: But drinking at home is nice too, sometimes.
Sakurai: Sure, seriously, invite me out.
Joe: We'll invite you out as "Acchan"!
Dave: So do you eat snacks when you drink? What do you like?
Sakurai: Snacks...I eat them.
Dave: What do you like?
Sakurai: I like anything. Hors d'oeuvres...there's a shop in my neighborhood...
Joe: You go to a shop in your neighborhood to buy hors d'oeuvres?
Sakurai: Sometimes I go.
Sakurai: I do.
Dave: Wow. So, I hear you have a new cat these days...what's its name?
Sakurai: That was fast.
Dave: Don't you have a cat?
Sakurai: I do. Last month...the month after last...her name is Kurumi-chan.
Dave: What kind of cat is she?
Sakurai: She's a Bengal.
Joe: A Bengal? What kind of cat is that?
Sakurai: She's spotted like a leopard.
Joe: So in your house...do you, you know, talk in "cat-speak"? Like, "Kurumi-chan!!"
Sakurai: I do!
Dave: So she's tiny? Was she just born?
Sakurai: Actually, the day after tomorrow, she's one year old.
Dave: So will she continue to grow bigger?
Sakurai: Yes, when I've seen pictures of them, they get quite big.
Dave: I see!
Sakurai: They're ferocious.
Dave: Ferocious, are they? Moving on, from Harubou, we have, "To Acchan: I went to see Climax Together 3rd at Yokohama Arena. I was very impressed with all the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and the set list was the best. I can't stop listening to 'Muchi no Namida' on repeat. Please tell us what your favorite song is on Atom Miraiha No. 9. I will be going to the tour and am looking forward to it!"
Joe: And that's the title of the album that's coming out next week, Atom Miraiha No. 9.
Sakurai: Yes, that's right. Well, you know me...I like very dark things...there's a song called "Ai no Souretsu," which I really love. And as an arranger and guest musician, we got Fujii Maki from minus (-) to participate in the making of the song.
Dave: Another email question. "What are your favorite ingredients for spaghetti Napolitan? My favorite is green pepper. I'll be going to the Buck-Tick Cafe, so I look forward to trying the Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete Napolitan." So they have Napolitan at the cafe, then?
Joe: They do. I have a Napolitan fetish.
Dave: You do?
Joe: It's my favorite.
Sakurai: I'll treat you, so feel free to eat five or six of them.
Dave: You can eat that much?
Sakurai: It's true that the green pepper has a nice texture. And in Sendai, there's a place with really great Napolitan...we often do our after parties there...well, I won't say the name. [Note from Cayce: The Japanese fanbase practically exploded over this comment. FYI, Buck-Tick's parties are invite-only. You can't just waltz in. The security staff will literally murder you.]
Sakurai: Anyway, there's a place like that. And they bring it out on those old-fashioned aluminum plates...it has ham, and those red octopus-cut hot dogs, so it's very old-fashioned. I like it because it's old fashioned, I guess.
Dave: I know what you mean.
Joe: And you sprinkle as much Parmesan on it as you can!
Sakurai: That's right.
Joe: And if you're wearing white clothing it's sure to get stained.
[Dave talks about the tour dates for the Atom Miraiha Hall Tour, and remarks on the name of the Nagoya venue.]
Dave: So when you look at your tour schedule, do you think, "this looks fun" or "I want to try this out" or anything like that?
Sakurai: It's really hard on my throat, which makes me very nervous, and I get a bit neurotic about it.
Dave: What about now?
Sakurai: Not yet, but when the tour starts, I can't really get loud and roudy at the after parties with everyone else.
Joe: As a vocalist, I guess you can't.
Sakurai: I can't. Though I intend to enjoy things in my own way.
Dave: When I look at this kind of schedule, I just think about the delicious local cuisine in each city...
Joe: That's what I think about when I think Niigata. That's the first thing in my head. [Note from Cayce: All Japanese men are exactly the same in this regard.]
Sakurai: Food is important.
Joe: Yes, it is! It's an important motivation!
Dave: And you're going to Hokkaido...now I'm thinking about Susukino! [Note from Cayce: Susukino is Sapporo's happening bar district. We've been there. It's cool.]
Joe: That's all Dave and I have by way of motivation.
Sakurai: I think it's very important.
[Dave and Joe thank Sakurai and say their goodbyes. Dave plays "Devil's Wings."]
END OF INTERVIEW