音楽と人- August 2003
Interview with Sakurai Atsushi
Text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Translation: Lola

During this tour Sakurai-san, you used the words "Love and Peace" during your MC and I thought there must be some reasoning behind using them?
Yes. Well, basically I was hearing a lot on the news during the tour. But those songs had been written beforehand, and we'd even rehearsed them so the setlist was planned like that but......I just, I didn't want to say those kinds of words just because it was the trend at the time.

I didn't want to dig myself into a hole you know, since I am responsible for what I say. Even in my lyrics recently, each kanji used has a meaning so I paid attention to that, I checked each word's meaning one by one. Even the ones I use all the time and then I wrote. By doing that, I expressed what I wanted. My MC was mostly spur of the moment but it is part of the show in a sense too so, I knew what I wanted to do, what I wanted to be done, and I was aware of what I was saying. I wanted to direct those words to the audience.

But the fact is, bad things happen in the end. Like people killing each other in war. So I wonder, how does that make you feel Sakurai-san?
A lot of it seems based on religion if you look through history but I'm no expert on the subject so it would be presumptuous of me to offer a firm standpoint. But to say it simply, seeing it is unpleasant for me.

Watching it happen is unpleasant. That's all.

Does it make you think you should convey your feelings more sincerely then?
Yeah......but I don't want to sound heroic either you know. Because then I'd be distressed if someone asked me, well then what are you gonna do about it? *smiles*

So basically, you're worried about confessing your thoughts as an individual human being?
Yes. I know it's only a small number of people who come to the shows in the grand scheme of things but, if you drop a stone into a pond, it causes ripples to spread and even if they're tiny ripples they still reach various places and I think that's a good thing. Even though I hate tellling other people what to do and despise being told myself.......when I'm able to stand up and say something...like if I say something on stage although I already feel like I'm expressing my feelings clearly, what I say gets lumped in as part of the entertainment. But if even so it causes waves to spread then good. That's what I think.

Is that why for instance you played video clips of bombings in the background during the live and why you selected to sing 'Muchi no Namida' (A song from [SEXY STREAM LINER] with a war theme) Sakurai-san? And when you did decide you would do that, even though you knew it wouldn't make a difference now, somehow, even though time has passed, your songs still reflect reality don't they? Why do you feel that is?
I think too much to begin with though but I thought let's try not to close our mind to things. The truth is......reality is right before our eyes every day but for some that reality is like a story but by not closing our minds to the story, maybe we won't turn our backs on each other either without any reason. For instance with 'Muchi no Namida', it didn't exceed the confines of my imagination when I wrote it and while I did make it with the intent of entertaining people, it does come from a place that is real. These things do happen. Just be aware this isn't the only way they happen, so don't purposefully ignore it. It's a song aimed at people saying, if you do nothing, nothing will change but also, if you do act, be conscious of how your actions affect others.

But it goes beyond reality by moments in the end doesn't it?
That's why the most important thing is to take action. When it comes to people taking sides, there are a lot of different people so of course they have many varying views......there are some who take things very seriously and there are others who just genuinely enjoy what I do and I think having those various views is good. It's just that, I want people to act how they feel, I want them to take action.

I thought this when I saw the live and I'm always saying it but, BUCK-TICK or rather, the outlook in your lyrics Sakurai-san is of 'Love and Death' while being very strongly countered by 'Life'.
Yes. I always think it's so brutal of me.

Because I'm forever venting about the sadness and pain around me. But if I didn't have that around me, perhaps it would be difficult for me to express myself and to be open about my feelings.

Would it really be difficult?
Yes. When it comes to things like 'light' and 'hope' no matter how I seek them out I end up being negative and thinking of 'darkness' and 'despair' ......and that's bad because it's not from there that I'll find it. However, searching for it or rather, approaching it from the dark side is my strong point *bitter smile*. But when I say what I can, in a way, other people's unhappiness and my own misfortune switches, and then I have the drive to express myself......well, I'm exaggerating but......it's my mission *smiles*.

That's quite the mission *smiles*. So how did you come about deciding you would write and sing those kinds of lyrics?
At first I thought it was ok to just sing love songs but, that was around the time of our debut. Then around the time of our second album I felt like what I was doing was a complete lie and I hated it so I wondered what I should do. When I thought about what I wanted to do, simply put, I thought from then on I wanted to do something dark *smiles*. Perhaps what I wanted was to be able to be described as one thing.

What do you mean?
Like BUCK-TICK is like this, that's what I wanted people to say and I wanted it to be something powerful. But I honestly thought the other members would think it was too heavy as a theme to try *smiles*.

Ha ha ha ha ha.
But it was what I wanted.

So you wanted it but was it something you had to sing about? Like was it something you felt you were born to do?
It's something I've always liked, it's part of my natural disposition and character, so it's the easiest material for me to work with. Ah how it tortures me......*smiles*

You masochist *smiles*.
But there's a sadistic part to it too. Because I'm torturing myself see. Of course......If I were to give a concrete example of that, I'd say you see it in [Aku no Hana].

I know.
*laughs bitterly* Even the music and the atmosphere that album has, it might be the most popular sales wise but honestly......I hate it! Ugh, I just absolutely despise it. My voice on it especially *smiles*.

And *smiles*, and why is that?
I was too into the fashion of it. It was like I was intoxicated by the idea of decadence. Well I brought it upon myself but, because of that album people ended up paying more attention to my appearance. And no matter who listened, even if they thought I wasn't being deep at all, they would never come out and say it. But it was due to that that gradually I began to see what was real, and felt that it would be better to have something real at the core of the music. I don't know how I looked to the people who listen but after [Aku no Hana], I changed dramatically. I was completely different. Probably because I knew the direction I wanted to go in.

It's like you were deceived by decadence weren't you? But even though it was something you sought perhaps, you knew it wasn't the truth, and so were able to take a fresh standpoint afterwards, right?

By realizing it's not all about aesthetics, and moving more towards a human feel, I would say you found your true essence.
It seems like I wanted the real thing, even if it was just a little. Inside me. Whether it was good or bad, as long as it was real......that's what I wanted. And then that tiny branch grew in various ways, it blossomed with flowers, decorations adorned it but the point is, it's still the same branch, it hasn't changed in essence.

If we're speaking about your base then I'd definetely say that 'Life and Death' are the words to describe it but why do you think that is?
I wonder......of course it's probably because I'm so uncouth. I'm as unrefined as humans come.........I mean look at me now.

Yeah, yeah we know *smiles*.
*giggles* I know I'm not stylish at all. I get your joke but I just......can't really find any meaning in being fashionable. But I do understand it. But that's why there are times when people see me and think I look horrible I guess. And that's ok. But then I wonder how can I possibly be stylish now! *smiles*

When you think that, do you think you should sing a certain way perhaps?
Basically, I am human too *smiles*. And so I act human as well. But there's more to it than that. There are sweet parts and some stupid parts of being human. And that's what I'm trying to capture the most.

And that's not only about 'death' and 'despair' right? So how do you end up writing about that then?
God, this is really a bad habit with you isn't it? Asking this question all~ the time *smiles*.

*smiles* Yes, so answer it once again now.
Of course it's not just about 'despair'. Despair is something that, I really hate giving into but of course when my mother died I had no dreams or hopes anymore. We weren't even a happy or wealthy family. If you wanted me to paint a picture of my childhood, that's how it was. But that shock of despair is something that even people in completely different situations feel as well. Still it was quite damaging to me. It felt like everything was racing away from me and I would wonder 'why can't I find happiness anywhere?'. Even when I would hang out with friends or go on field trips and athletic meets, or even after festivals I would think about that. I'd think about it before I even went too *smiles bitterly*. I could never seem to change my way of thinking. Even now the pain is still with me, I've no doubt of that.

Your mother is supremely important for you.
I don't know how many times I've said it but, I thought I was different from my family. So it felt even stranger being connected to them. Then throughout junior and senior high school I was basically embarassed by my parents existence, they even began to get on my nerves you know? It was good in a way that that happened but my mother and I, just being in that family was painful. Our bond was different though but I still felt different. When I went abroad, I felt that was natural to feel that way but, once again I felt like there was something wrong with me. Because nothing ever changed no matter where I went.

So losing the one strong bond that you did have was a big deal for you.
Yes, that's right. But when I say that people think I have a mother complex but it's not quite like that you know. An actual mother complex is when even though you're an adult, you're dependent on your mother......but when people hear 'mother complex' they automatically feel disturbed don't they? The thing is, people with actual complexes can't do anything about it, and they can't do anything for anyone else either. My complex is to forever feel as though no one feels the same as I do. And that will always be a part of me.

Generally though it's not just anyone who can be labelled as having a mother complex right, and while we can't do anything to help them, we still feel guilty for not being able to.
That's why even if you give love sometimes it doesn't make a difference......because what happened was in the past. That's the root of the complex you know.

For instance in a previous interview you divulged to me that seeing children cry on tv makes you feel something, because they seem helpless and pitiful you feel sad don't you......?
Yes. I think because I've felt like that at some point. So seeing it before my eyes again and not being able to do anything about it, makes me feel powerless and completely useless......

And part of you is trying to convey that through your songs right?
Geez, you really make me sound so tortured when you say it like that. Hahahahahahahaha.

What a dry laugh *smiles*.
Because it's so annoying you know, even to me. I hate that part of myself.

On the opposite spectrum what kind of person was your father?
The same as me. He was a bad father but.....I say we're the same because he was pathetic. He was socially awkward, and when it came to expressing love well, he was completely inept......I'd say because of that he was rather lonely.

But you're not right Sakurai-san?
No, no, no......well I'm not sure how to explain it. But I was too young to understand. Guess that's why......I have a father complex too *smiles bitterly*.

But now that you're 38 years old......
I'm 37!

Sorry. For instance you're not the same person you were when you did [Kurutta Taiyou] in your mid twenties, so that's why now you've come to understand things.
Well, I think it'd be presumptuous of me to say that but......at least now I'm honest about my feelings.

At least now?
Yes. When I was around 24~25 I just threw away all my feelings...... Even though I'm just as emotional now as I was then, now I've come to understand that part of my feelings and part of who I am are those feelings I had as a child.

Are you really able to understand that?
......it's a bit tricky *smiles*. But I do know things like love and affection make me shine.

With that as your base as you sing, within your lyrics the loss of your relatives plays a major part doesn't it?
But if it were only that, I really would just be accepting the sadness. As I said awhile ago, for me love and hate play a greater part. And that's not going to go away.

But since that's what you're pursuing now, don't you think you should sing about things like 'love and peace'?
Ah, but even I can't seem to do anything good for those closest to me no matter how I try. Well, I do what I think is good and what's convenient for me. But then I feel extremely guilty afterwards because it's not enough.

But like you said just before, "you can't do anything to help them" right.
Said like that it sounds cool but now......I'm embarrased *smiles shyly*.

Pff, you're not shy.
Right *smiles*. Well fine, but you know ~ now~ I'm gonna hafta try to be cool my whole life!

Ahahahaha! Well then, please continue to try to be cool as you speak to me.

But you know I have this feeling you were being honest when you said that.
I'm always self-depricating. I mean I know I can't do anything for those closest to me......but there's a reason for that as well. It's because I can't express myself properly. But if I could then something could be done.

You mean you could do something?

But at the same time, the things you do express certainly can help and give relief to others.
Yes, but it's really not enough to just help them.

Now you're going in circles. So Sakurai-san, would you say you're trying to sing about what you yourself can't do then?
Yes......I think that's why it was bad when I didn't restrain myself.

You mean with your singing?
Yes. Restraint was necessary. When I didn't have any, I didn't try to go anywhere *smiles bitterly*. And by not going anywhere, I ended up confining myself.

Ah and now.......
I'm happy. I know I should be grateful but, when things inevitably come full circle I know it will end. Especially if I'm not careful *smiles*.

*smiles* Since I felt so worthless you know. In my teens through to my mid twenties. After that it was like I got pushed in the right direction.

So in a sense you could say that it was your mother's life that pushed you right?
Yes. My mother is the one who made me walk in the right direction.

Do you think that's why you sought the things you sing about?
No, I don't think that's why. It was for a completely different reason. When I was little, I felt worthless, I would hide in the shadows, I didn't want to stand out, I didn't want to meet people's eyes, I mean I didn't even want to talk to people *pained smile*, my life was one of hiding......I led a quiet life you know.

But that's how it is in Gunma.......
Yes but my life was a little less peaceful than the average person living there *smiles bitterly*.

Because of your family *smiles*.
Basically my dream for the future was to be a salary man when I was in grade school *smiles*.

Ha ha ha ha. And yet here you are singing the things you do.
I was so utterly aloof so in some ways my singing was probably a reaction to that. When I was around 18~19, I played the drums but I wanted to be the vocalist and even though I said as much I think I was still reluctant about it. And that's the part of me that wrote that I wanted to be a salary man, that reluctant part *smiles*.

But even so, it was something you had to do.
I wonder why you know.

Perhaps because that's the part of you that was missing.
Ah......I guess I should say something cool now hm~?

Ah, yes. Since we're ending the interview. Please do!
Well~ hmm.........................damn *smiles*.

You know, you bring out the maternal instinct in me......but don't tell anyone I said that.
Ahahahahahaha! Ya~y!!