Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Rock and Read vol 025. Shuu [Girugamesh] Interview Part 1 of 3

This is the first translation I've posted online. It turned out to be quite a long translation [14 pages, oh my!] I've decided to post it in sections due to the length. I also live in the hope that people will come back for the other parts. (。◕‿◕。) Feedback is, of course, appreciated.

Name: Shuu
Birthday: 26th December
Blood Type: O type
Shuu has been Girugamesh’s bassist since their formation in 2004, with other members Satoshi (vo.), Nii (gt.) and Ryo (dr.).November 2008 marked the release of their third full length album MUSIC. Since then they have been engaged in a 47 Prefectural tour across Japan. The 10th of June marks the release date of ALIVE, the first of three singles the band intend to release in succession.  They will also be playing venues in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka in August and September.

Onstage Shuu comes across as wild and rebellious, however he is actually quite the opposite. Referred to by everyone as the ‘leader’ of Girugamesh, Shuu is really a very friendly, sweet natured character. It seems he has had this dual personality since childhood. Living with a strict father, he was quite quiet and timid at home, but in school he was a cheerful boy who would always take the initiative when it came to leadership. His goal is to choose originality over popularity. Shuu has been chasing this for half a lifetime.

First of all, what’s your most recent memory?
I remember putting on a cassette and singing “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”[*1] into a mike when I was about 3 or 4 (laugh).

That’s really adorable (laughs). So even from the very beginning music was the first thing you recall.

So, did you like music when you were little?
Yeah. My dad liked music too. He had a guitar at home. Dad liked carols and unorthodox music, like bad underground bands from the 70s. He even had “heretic” written on his guitar. I didn’t know what it meant at the time so I’d still strum it (laughs).

So, as well as what music you listened to your father influenced you in how to look?
Yeah. Even now I want the typical Punch Perm [*2](laugh). Just like on an Ei-chan [*3] towel.

Oh, your dad influenced you in what you listened to?
No, we didn’t talk much. But he did used to collect records from the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and the Carpenters. Even now, if I hear a song by one of those people I’ll think “Oh! I know this song!” or something.

We’ve been talking about your father, but what was your family structure like?
There’s both my parents and my little brother, and we were really poor (wry smile). I didn’t realise it at the time, but our apartment was really small. I remember all of us sleeping in the one 7 or 8 tatami room. [*4]I never spoke to my father, he was really scary. When I was in elementary school, he would suddenly grab me by the hair, call me an idiot and hit me (bitter smirk). “Don’t talk to me like that!” he’d yell. Ever since then I’ve been too afraid to speak to him.

Still?! So even now does your father have an effect on you?
Yeah (dry smirk). He is king. When I was in school, I would go to my friends’ houses and see them getting on well with their dads, talking about porn and stuff, and I was so jealous. I tried to have that kind of friendly connection, but I just got beaten for it (dry smirk). I was afraid after that.

So was your mother really gentle and kind - the exact opposite?
No, my mum was really strict. My grandmother was a single parent, who raised my mother on her own, and I don’t know exactly what their relationship was like but she was very strict with me and with etiquette. In elementary school, we discussed the topic of abuse, and I didn’t understand at all, so I said to my mother “Mum, I’m abused too, right?” I was hit for thinking that way (dry smirk).

That sounds about right (dry smirk). So what about your brother?
When we were little I remember we used to always sing and play together, but now we don’t really talk a lot. Recently we went out to get ramen together for the first time in ages.  We were both really quiet and played with our mobiles. It was like it was a first date or something (laugh).

So life was like that since you were little?
Yeah. Neither of my parents would be there when I came home from school because they both worked. I was what you’d call a Latchkey kid.

So, would everyone be there for dinner?
I remember family dinner being very on edge. My father would instantly overturn the table. Mum would get agitated over it, and we kids would make sure to be careful.

Weren’t you lonely?
I used to go and hang out with friends after school, so I didn’t feel that lonely. I did feel a bit lonely at night though.
Did you ever get up to any mischief with your friends?

Yeah. See, when I came home, I was a quiet boy. School was fun. It’s supposed to be the other way around (laugh).

Did you ever bully anyone?
 No. I didn’t go that far. I was quite adventurous, so I’d help people from when I was little. That was normal in elementary school, playing baseball, soccer and tag.

That’s lovely (smile). So it was normal elementary school life?
Yeah. Covered in mud (laugh).

So what did you want to be when you grew up in elementary school?
 I really wanted to be a professional baseball player.

Oh, so you joined the Little League?
Yeah, yeah. I’m still proud of it now. If we won one game in front of a city representative, selected players got to go to America. We had a very good team.

Oh wow. Were you an active member of the team?
I was captain (laugh). Whether I was a pitcher or a catcher, I’d hit about 4.

You’re an Ace! So people put a lot of faith in you as captain, right?
I don’t know about that. I just did what the coach or the chairman of the animal breeding committee felt was the best.

Animal breeding committee?
I liked animals. I had a pet rabbit at home. He was a New Years’ resent. I remember going down to the pet shop nearby to buy him (smile).

So to recap, you were Ace in baseball and you love rabbits. The image of a sweet young boy comes to mind (laugh). A lot happened at home. Did you grow up quickly?
Yeah, I did. But I was blessed with really great friends.

Were you any good at studying?
I didn’t hate it. I was interested in everything. I even went to abacus cram school [*5].

It’s all about being organised, isn’t it?
I liked numbers. Back then I was god at maths.

So, was it a dramatic change when you entered middle school?
It was (dry smile). That was around the time when the hierarchical order was born, especially between the boys. More of us went our separate ways. Having said that, a lot of people also started mingling with others. I’d get along well with these people and talk with the gloomy, quiet kids too. I didn’t discriminate.

Doesn’t that mean that you were associated with both groups?
Yeah. I didn’t have a guitar at home, so up until the first year of middle school we’d join the baseball club together. We were in shape from practicing all summer. It was difficult so we thought it was lame at the time. I didn’t really care for studying either then. But it was around that time that I started listening to music. I really got into bands like Luna Sea, Glay and L’arc en Ciel. It was usually that and JPop. I listened to everything then.

So, you broke free from both baseball and study. Were your sights set on music then?
Yeah. I started collecting CDs and magazines. I had an acoustic guitar at home so I’d play Yuzu, 19 and Mister Children with my friend.

Translator's Notes:

[*1]「森のくまさん」in Japanese. I’m guessing it’s a song along the same lines.

[*2] A type of perm popular with Japanese men. It was once associated with Yakuza and other hardcore types before being assimilated into popular fashion.

[*3] A term of endearment used by fans of singer songwriter Yazawa Eikichi. 

[*4] About 10 – 12 square metres.

[*5] Cram schools are private schools for extra study after normal school hours. Despite the increasing use of calculators, most Japanese prefer to use abacuses for simple maths calculations. A lot of kids go to cram school to learn how to use abacuses properly. 


  1. Thanks for translating! I never knew anything of Shuu's history, in a way I like reading this because I can identify with him much more now.

  2. You're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I liked finding out more about him too, he never talks about himself so it's interesting to see his background.