JOE, Thank you very much for this interview!
Can you tell us more about your world view?
My own view of the world…? I haven’t really thought about it before, but I guess it’s like taking what expressions that came out of me (such as; poetry and music), honestly without making any decisions. I also like lots of various kinds of music styles, so I guess I also don’t want to be tied to just one genre myself.
What’s your favorite kanji?
I haven’t really thought about it, but if I really need to choose one, I would say “dream (夢)” or “gentle (優)”
How has the Coronavirus impacted your music?
Corona really hasn’t directly influenced my music. Maybe in about a few years, I might be able to make a song about the virus, but I don’t know if I will do that yet.
What inspired you to start making music? Why did you want to become an artist?
When I was a kid, I listened to various music and started thinking “I want to make it myself”. At that time, I was influenced by ROCK’N’ROLL of the 50’s and punk music of the 70’s.
So you started as a bassist? Also do you still own your first bass?
My first guitar was a borrowed folk guitar, but I didn’t know how to play it at all, so I started playing drums and played in various bands. When I entered high school, I bought a bass guitar and enjoyed playing it, so I became a bassist. Unfortunately, many years ago I broke the bass, so I no longer have the bass anymore.
Do you remember your first day on stage? Also how was the underground live house scene in Tokyo back in the day?
I do remember it and it was really fun. But unlike how it is now, the scene in Tokyo at those times was really scary.
Scary? In what way was the scene scary at that time?
It was scary because there were only a few women, and people dressed up radically and were just scary.
Do you think the underground live house scene has changed much?
I think now it’s a friendly and fun scene unlike in the past, it’s a good change.
In the early days you also went to the USA for a tour with JetBoys. Do you remember how you were invited to play in the USA? Back then there was no SNS yet.
That’s right at that time, there was no SNS and we communicated with people overseas by correspondence. We didn’t have any set dates for our US tour, so we just took our tapes and records to clubs while we were in the US, and the gigs were set (laughs). ONO’s spirit (THE JET BOYS) was amazing!
Why was ONO’s spirit amazing?
His spirit was amazing because he just decided to go to the USA even though the schedule for a planned tour wasn’t even set in stone at all.
Oh, you played in a band(KING ROCKER)with EDDIE (Mad3) and Toru (Guitar wolf). I searched the internet, I found an old interview, which was very interesting to read. Sadly I couldn’t find music, but EDDIE said a wonderful thing
「I hope that the music of KING ROCKER will be a chance for kids nowadays to get to know their music roots. Last time we played the ROCK’N’ROLL style which was born before we were even born, but this time we tried to play PUNK ROCK, which we experienced ourselves in real time.」 If I listen to nowadays music, I keep hoping that the older generation doesn’t stop introducing the true roots of music. Don’t you also miss the “true roots” in nowadays music of the young generation bands?
Yes. I don’t think I miss anything in nowadays music. I still like punk and R&R the most.
I think EDDIE says that young kids these days don’t like old style rock music very much. And that EDDIE wants to convey the older rock spirit to the younger generation. If you listen to recent music you notice that there aren’t many true young rockers with the spirit of the 70’s and 80’s. What do you think about it?
I don’t know about that unless I ask the younger generation … I think the music after the 90’s was much more exciting for them.
The song 『CHERISHED MEMORIES』 was even used as GTO ending song! GTO is still a famous anime and manga overseas too! So, how was this song selected for the Ending? Please tell us the story.
Back then I had a contract with KING RECORD, and the person in charge talked to me. Since Great Teacher Onizuka was a popular anime that aired during prime time on Sundays, there were many contract offers, but it was overall a very good experience.
Also the song『LOVE ME!!』 , which was the ending theme of 闇の末裔, was really famous overseas. (smile) How was this song selected for the ending? Please tell us the story.
This song was selected the same way as GTO’s. I decided to do it immediately because the image of the show totally fit to a song which I was working on at that time.
Your solo career also sounds wonderful! What’s some of your biggest solo highlights?
The biggest highlight for me is when I see the happy faces of my fans at my live shows.
In February 2012, you started your current band THE WONDERFUL WORLD. How did you meet the members? And why did you decide to start a band together?
We all know each other from our musical careers by meeting each other via lives shows.
Dr. KYO EX/MAD3 now MOSQUITO SPIRAL
Ba. HIDE EX/S.D.S(SOCIETIC DEATH SLAUGHTER)
Gt. SYU. BAREBONES
On January 31st, the ONEMAN live [KICK OUT THE VIRUS] was held. Can you please tell me a memory of that day?
Sure, during the show, everything was socially distanced; microphones were equipped with splash-proof frames, and plastic curtains were used in the sales booths and PA. It was a good experience, but I wish the corona fiasco would end soon.
I’ve noticed that “Shinjuku LOFT” is an important venue to many “senior” bands. Why is this venue even today so important and still loved by everyone?
Shinjuku Loft has always been a very caring place and was always a great help to the bands that perform there.
Nowadays, young people do love to support artists the “digital” way. Will it be possible in the near future too to support you buying your solo music via the digital way?
Yes, it is. I don’t like it too much because it’s somewhat tasteless. But I think I should continue to distribute digitally for the pieces of music that I own the copyright to.
You really have some interesting and great merchandise. Who designs them?
Most of the designs are my own. I’m also able to design them after getting ideas from the staff too.
What’s the most fun thing about playing lives?
The stage is a place where someone who doesn’t usually shine can shine. Also, when you are on the stage, it gives you a wonderful and fun memory of living in the moment.
What is the biggest difficulty in continuing activities?
The most difficult thing to keep the band alive is…. keeping a good relationship with each other and taking care of your own health.
You started your own music career in the 80’s right? The music industry has changed a lot, what has been the biggest change?
The biggest difference is that there is almost no difference between major labels and indie labels.
Why is the difference between major and indie not so big?
It simply means that indie label bands have become a force to be reckoned with.
What are the biggest challenges when recording music?
I always try to package the sparkling moment without worrying too much about the technical details.
What makes you smile?
What makes me smile is when CDs and merchandise I have made are produced and are for sale.
What’s your favorite Japanese food?
My favorites are Sushi, Tempura, Soba, Yakiniku…. I like everything. (laugh)
What are the most precious and memorable memories of all the years you have made music?
For me it was being able to tour in the US, we didn’t speak the language at all, but still our band got signed to a major label.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in your life as an artist?
The biggest challenge was to change from being a simple bass player, to change my musical abilities to become a vocalist & guitarist in order to form a band.
What did you learn from your artist activities?
What I have learned is that whatever situation you are in, you should never give up.
Is there any advice you wish to give to the young generation of artists?
Please enjoy what you are doing and do whatever you want.
Please tell your fans if you have any beliefs or motto as an artist.
Sorry, I don’t have anything like that in particular.
And lastly, your message to your fans and readers!
I am very grateful for the opportunity to have such an interview with someone like me. I hope this will be the start of you picking up a CD of mine or Wonderful World, or coming to one of our live performances. I’d be very happy! After Corona settles down, I’d like to have fun with everyone again. Take care of yourselves! I’ll see you soon!
Thanks again for this wonderful interview! We wish you continued success in your future activities.