DaVinci March 2009
Interview with Sakurai Atsushi
Text by Miya Shoutarou
Translation: Lola

Sakurai-san's choice of book for this discussion is Natsume Souseki's novel, 'Kokoro'.
"When I first read it, I guess I was in my twenties but I didn't really get what it was about at the time. But then some years ago, when I was talking with an acquaintance of mine, the subject of 'Kokoro' came up. So I decided to re-read it again and when I did, it all fell into place. It was like this huge wave of emotion crashed over me, that's how sharp it all felt *smiles*."

So began my talk with the vocalist of Buck-Tick, Sakurai Atsushi. The book he chose to talk about was Natsume Souseki's 'Kokoro'. This book is an example of a Japanese modern literary masterpiece.
"Of course when I first read it, the young protagonist made me feel oddly uncomfortable. While on the other hand, Sensei's philosophical viewpoint I felt, was used to create a contrast between the characters. You see that clearly in Sensei's testamentary letter(1). Up till that point, the protagonist's principle interest seems to revolve around pursuing Sensei and it gets to be quite comical almost yet at the same time, there is that sense that he is steadily penetrating Sensei's shell....... I mean it's the story of a person who won't be helped but wants to be helped and I couldn't reason that logic out, but I like that feeling of thinking until I'm exhausted *smiles*."

He talked about how usually he only reads mystery novels by his favourite authors, Ayatsuji Yukito, Kyougoku Natsuhiko and Sakuraba Kazuki to name a few but that Souseki's 'Kokoro' was a book that would always remain special to him.
"If I say, 'A good book has to have this' then what I mean is, it has to have that minus with minus becomes a plus feeling *smiles*. A book like that."

Moreover, he said he felt Souseki's words keenly, it was that range of words that made him go on reading while between the lines he began to see glimpses of the 'darkness' that Sensei carried with him. 'Kokoro' depicts a story that transcends time, whether you read it now, in the 90s or beyond that and he could have never imagined a book that so brilliantly brings the reader's heart to light. He then went on to say it is that direct quality that Buck-Tick wanted to express in their 17th album, 'memento mori'.
"Of course in the past, I would use words that had a strong impact and I would borrow words from other languages to achieve that at least, that's what I thought when I wrote the lyrics. I think we felt forced into the labelled role of a pretty band. But for a few years now, it seems like my words have at last been discovered and so, suddenly so much more became possible. Of course, that also comes from experience with the band. In this way I am exposed to various stories and perhaps I can build on those ideas."

Sakurai-san then went on to discuss the previously released single, 'HEAVEN' and how people may imagine it's about the dance of angels who fall in love as they flutter in the sky. While the single 'GALAXY' they will see as the complete opposite, an intensely heartbreaking and dark love song and though these are different songs, they may inspire the same feelings in the listener as was intended(2)....... The scenes were sung with the emphasis being on the band sound, as is Buck-Tick's way, while remaining strongly firm and consistent in their desire to convey their flexibility in doing something "pop".
"Perhaps if you had asked me before if there was light in my work I would have said, 'No, there's nothing like that'. I used to find satisfaction in purposefully hiding those elements and yet, even more than that I wanted everyone to find that light, like an opening window. Be that as it may, people always took it negatively *smiles*."

It's been 23 years since the formation of the band, and Buck-Tick's world continues to grow. Their aim is to of course try to touch old fans with their sound and also to try to get those who haven't listened yet to experience their music.

Notes: (1) 'Kokoro' is divided into three main parts. The last part of the novel is Sensei's letter to the 'I' character. In my opinion I would say this is the part where it all culminates, where the veil is pulled aside and you get a clear view of Sensei and why he is as he is.
(2) This is a very convoluted way of saying that two opposite things, in this case songs, may evoke the same feelings in a person. He may not have intended 'HEAVEN' to be about angels falling in love while they dance but if it makes people happy...then their reaction is what was intended.