Monday, 17 October 2011

Rock and Read vol. 036. Kouki [D=OUT] Interview: Part 1 of 2

I've decided to keep on the trend of translating Rock and Read articles for now, instead of translating stuff from just one particular band. For now, at least. (゜∇ ゜)We'll see how I feel after I run out of articles. So far I've got a few others lined up, so we'll see how they go. Anyway, here's the first part of Kouki's interview with Rock and Read from volume 36. I haven't seen any translations of this around so far, so I thought I'd go for it. As always, feedback and corrections are welcome.

Hope you enjoy! 
ヽ(‘ ∇‘ )ノ


Birthday: 21 October
Blood Type: AB type
Kouki has been D=OUT’s vocalist since their formation in March 2007. Other members include Ibuki (gt.), Hikaru (gt.), Reika (ba), and Minase (dr). Describing themselves as “Patriotic entertainers”, their music is a fusion of traditional Japanese music and rock, which has earned them their popularity. In May they finished their oneman live in C.C. Lemon Hall with huge success. The 27th of July marks the release of their major debut single ROMAN REVOLUTION.

Vocalist Kouki has been chasing the dream of a major debut for five years. Successful in both leading and playing music, his one weakness is never showing anyone his faults. He is a perfectionist and a passionate musician. He describes himself as “a typical musician”. He yearns for a transformation through sincerity. He’s been playing with D=OUT for four years but this is the first time any member has mentioned any arguements. A “happy tree” personality, Kouki exposes it all to us.

Where were you born?
I was born in Nishinomiya in Hyougo Prefecture but when I was about four years old my family moved to Kobe, which is where I lived up to university.

Did you move to Tokyo after you graduated from university?
Yeah. It took me a while to move to Tokyo. My parents always said that  the only reason for graduating university was filial piety [1], but I thought that there must be another reason for graduating other than that. I wasn’t getting credit for my first two years. I was quite lazy about my credits when I first entered university, but I realised in third year that I wouldn’t be able to graduate if I wasn’t careful, so my last two years I was frantically trying to make up the credits. My classmates were looking for employment when I was doing full days of classes (laugh).

But you graduated with a really good grade?
My grades were incredibly average (laugh). It was a grade befitting a musician, which is what I am (laugh).   I liked theme music for films. I could empathise with the “unfortunately unfortunate” kind of theme they had. A lot of dramas and anime have a lot of unhappiness in their stories. My mum was very diligent and my dad was very strict, so I had an uneventful upbringing. I was disappointed I didn’t have a dramatic life.

That is disappointing (laugh). But is that not a good thing really?
 Yeah, but when I was younger I would have given anything to say I‘d gone through hardships. I didn’t know if that might be a hardship in itself, but for me, there were no difficulties living in Kobe. My father was born in Kyushu, but his house burnt down when he was younger. It seemed like his life was very dismal and out of his control. He gained great strength from that adversity. He became a P.E teacher and called his students “XX Demons”. [2]

So you had a strict upbringing?
I did. But I joined the Japanese under 30’s track and field team. I became more interested in sport. Although I was interested in track and field, I soon became immersed in baseball. The first goal I had in life up until high school was to be a professional baseball player.

When you were in high school did you get bored of the idea?
Yeah. At the time there was a manga called “H2” by Mitsuru Adachi which was about baseball. I loved it. There was a baseball team who was terrible apart from their pitcher and how he eventually made it to Koshien [3]. I wrongly believed that because I was also a pitcher I was talented enough do that too at the time. In high school there were very good private school teams but there were also very bad public school teams. I stared to lose faith in the manga because the team in the story were from a public school. Of course, fantasy quickly gives way to reality and I realised I couldn’t do it with my strength alone, so I sadly lost interest in playing baseball. It was frustrating…

Oh really?
But then a friend introduced me to visual kei music in my second year of high school. He invited me to join his band since we got on so well together. That was how I started looking towards music. I’d liked music up until then but I never thought of playing it before. I wasn’t going to play baseball and bands were people on the TV that were so distant to me. Because of that I didn’t believe that was my future, I felt no desire to do it. In a way, I didn’t think I was motivated to play in a band.  However, my friend who had invited me to play with him gave me an opportunity to see into the workings of a band and showed me the way into the industry. At first I had no intention of playing as a professional. Because I had no knowledge, I thought of my first time playing in a band to be as a guest member. Because we were in high school, we couldn’t dye or hair permanently so we used that dye that rinses out after one wash. Anyway, one day my father yelled at me and said I was cut off from the family if I dyed my hair a colour I liked. He told me I’d have to leave the house.

And was that as your first time as a vocalist?
No, I was a guitarist in my first band. There were three of us playing guitar at the time. But then we decided that whoever was the worst at guitar should be the vocalist, so I ended up singing. I started to really fall out of liking baseball around that time. My character was really starting to change.

In high school you took the opportunity to join a band. Was it frustrating, looking back?
No. There was an indie label in Osaka, back near my hometown.  All I did was play in bands from my third year in high school up until I graduated university. I only stopped once and that was to move up to Tokyo, so that was playing for about four years.

So your strict father was happy to let you do this?
No, I lied to him. He thought I was going to Tokyo to find a job. My mum knew what was going on really. My dad would say stuff like “so when are you going to start earning more than me? When you do you should take us out to drink.” It was fun not saying anything about what I was really doing. I had to be more and more careful in that situation though (laugh). He supports me now, though. Lately I ask him what he things of our songs and he’ll give me advice on them (laugh). For some reason he’s taught me a lot about Latin music (laugh). But when it really comes down to talking about serious stuff, he wouldn’t have let me come up to Tokyo. My mum often sent my letters. At the end she always wrote “even though it’s painful, you can always come home anytime you need to.” Those words always really did save me. Every time I did go back home it was always a happy time. It’s what kept me going strong. It gave me the same feeling that I got from playing onstage at a live with the band. Having somewhere to go back home to really made me happy. I didn’t depend on the kindness of others, and those feelings didn’t become that. I think it was in my personality to have that one place. A lot of fans wait outside where I live now, and I’m really very grateful for that. To me, it revives the place. I really think that the moment the place is revived is so important. I have the words “keep going” printed outside my front door. If you live to experience things you can feel a lot of real emotions. I’ve lived in Tokyo for four years now and I’ve personally experienced feelings of revival. I live to feel experiences.

I see. That’s a very typical way of thinking from you. But why have you been doing the same thing for four years?
When I first moved to Tokyo, I didn’t think the band I played in was typically visual kei. We played everything. However each of the people who I had gathered to form a band all shared the same vision – to play in a band in the visual kei scene. That mutual want made the decision easy. But usually during the formation of a band, there are so many different influences that it’s hard to settle on something and you cannot have a band go on for four years like that. Before we advanced at all we were completely useless. It was worth savouring that frustration.

Translator's Notes

[1] As in, the only reason to graduate was so you could look after your parents.
[2] ○○の鬼
[3] The location of Koshien Stadium, where the Japan National High School Baseball Tournament is held.


  1. thank you that was an immense pleasure to read ♥

  2. Thank you so much for translating this! I really appreciate it <3

  3. thanks for taking the time to translate this~