Monday, 20 February 2012

Rock and Read vol. 038 Reno [Vivid] Interview Part 1

I know I promised this a loooong time ago, but better late than never, eh? For some reason this article gave me trouble, I'm not too sure why. But enough excuses. Hope you all enjoy the article. It's interesting to see how Reno got to where he is now. It's definitely and interesting read.

So, here we are~

Name: Reno

Birthday: 4th of June

Blood type: A

Reno has been Vivid’s guitarist since their formation in 2009, along with other members Shin(vo.), Ryouga (gt.), IV (Ba.) and Ko-ki (dr.). They have found a new sound with their major second single BLUE. On 23rd of October they performed in the Saitama Super Arena for the V-Rock Festival ’11. November marks their Asia tour of Hong Kong and Taiwan and on 7th January 2012 Vivid will perform their one man live “TAKE OFF ~Birth to the NEW WORLD~” at Budoukan.

Guitar = Life

Next January’s one man in Budoukan draws all the more closer for Vivid. Part of a charming new band, Reno bewitches fans with amazing skill and performance. He is an interesting new type of Guitar Hero-esque musicians. Leading fellow members with his strength, he is as attentive like a parent to the music he pours his soul into, this is the Reno who is making his first appearances in these pages. From his upbringing and passion for guitar to the individualistic thinking of the meaning of Vivid, here is our animated, powerful conversation.

What was it like growing up when you were a child?
I’m an only child and my parents were every easy going. Although I was scolded when I did something wrong but basically I was left to do what I wanted. We weren’t really rich or anything, just a normal family. Because I was the only child I was given responsibilities. And because it was just me, I was a very meek child when I was little. Even though I was shy, I used to watch people a lot (laughs). I’d always stare at my mum and dad and they had to teach me that that was bad, I shouldn’t do that. Even thought I was a little naughty, I wasn’t a brat who was always doing bad things. When I went to a relative’s house I’d never complain about it. I was the type of kid who usually sat straight [1] next to my parents.

So you were a nice, obedient child. Were you shy in primary school too? 

No, I wasn’t. I started playing soccer after kindergarten. When I was in primary school I played soccer every Saturday and I was relay anchor for sports’ days . I was a kid who saw himself as a cavalry general when it came to sports (ie. competitive and took the lead). I seemed uncontrollable to the residents of the apartment complex where I lived. I hung out in the car park outside the apartment block with kids from the same school as me who liked the same things I did. We hung out and make a basket ball hoop there so when we came back from school we could play basket ball. I ended up having to go to cram school but sports were all I could think about. I really liked games but I was interested in working out too.

Ah, so your best subject in school was P.E then?
P.E and maths were my strongest subjects. In primary school my weakest subject was music, so because I couldn’t do it, I didn’t like it. So when I was in primary school I never would’ve thought I would be a musician (laugh). My parents weren’t big into music, so I never had to spend time practicing a piano. But my dad used to listen to a lot of stuff like Eric Clapton and Al Di Meola as well as the blues so from a young age I had a lot of contact with Western music.

When did you start getting interested in rock music?
My fifth year in elementary school. I had childhood friends who lived in the same neighbourhood as me. Three of us were like brothers and used to play together every day after school up until our third year of elementary school. I had to go to cram school, so that stopped me hanging out with them for a while. Then in fifth year of elementary school, I kind of looked like an older kid hanging out with his younger brothers because I was taller than everyone else, my voice was starting to change and my hair was longer. When I started middle school I joined the music club and took up electric guitar. I must’ve looked like the older brother teaching the younger kids (laugh). We all quickly started to feel more grown up, surprisingly, just like the kids who take up wrestling at that age. I liked a lot of rock because of my dad’s influence, but I soon started to get into the same music my peers were listening to. I started covering bands like Glay and Luna Sea, I thought I was really cool. My friends would hand me a guitar and ask me to play a certain song. I’d take it and think “sure, okay”. I couldn’t play everything and I wasn’t the only kid in school who could play guitar but I definitely acted like I was (laugh). That was the only think I thought made me cool (laugh). But it made me want an electric guitar of my own even more, so at the end of my 6th year in elementary school I told my parents I wanted one for my next birthday. So we went shopping for a guitar not long after my birthday in June and I got my own guitar. But I didn’t really start playing guitar on a regular basis until around my second, third year of high school. Up until then I pursued soccer. Guitar was more of a hobby to me then. Not that I thought I was that great at soccer, but in elementary school I was chosen to play for regionals and I was captain of the school team in middle school.

So why did you stop playing soccer and start taking guitar more seriously?
In my second year of high school I got into an accident. I wasn’t that much of a group person, more of a loner type, but on the other hand I got on with everyone. I’m the type who gets on well with anyone. I had no problem talking to girls generally and older kids thought I was cute so it made some guys jealous. Some of them were in the same class as me but they were mostly from the soccer team. They weren’t always that bad but they started acting out towards me. One of the guys flung a stack of papers and stuff in my face. I got really mad and grabbed him by the collar all “ what the fuck did you do that for?” It just escalated from there. He was the type to hang around with a gang all the time, so a fight went down.

So high school was very rough for you?
Yeah. That guy and his gang really hated me so they really started focusing on me, doing really nasty things. I thought they really wanted to make me suffer. Not long after my teacher called my parents in to come and talk about things because I used to lose my temper and get upset because of everything and I found it hard to calm back down. I wanted to change schools because if it all. My parents found me a high school that was like a vocational school that had a guitar and voice training course. They had a five aside team and I thought the school seemed good so I was enrolled. Because I was put into a guitar course, my eyes were opened to just how interesting guitar was. The school seemed great but there were nothing but Yanki and Gyaru in my class (laugh). I ended up bleaching my hair, wearing fake tan and shaving off my eyebrows (laugh). My eyes had been open to rock music and guitar so I really started to work hard on my homework (laugh).

That’s a sudden change from being a soccer player (laugh). What music did you like around that time?
Who did I like? Well, I really like stuff like Eric Clapton but I listened to all sorts of stuff. In primary school I listened to a lot of Japanese music like Deen and Wands, but then in middle school I began to listen to music like Siam Shade and Jeanne D’Arc. It’s all mostly rock music but I listened to Hamasaki Ayumi too because she was part of the Gyaru look (laugh). I even used to do para para dances to her songs (laugh). My school friends used to invite me out to clubs with them. At the time I was a real flirt (laugh). Anyway, around this time there was a guy in my class who was into Dream Theatre and was really good at drums. I had two friends from my neighbourhood who were good at singing and playing bass too so we all got together and formed a band. Our music sounded a lot like Siam Shade or Jeanne D’Arc. That’s when I really gave guitar practice my all. I bought loads of different teach yourself books and used them as a basis for practice. I’d typically spend about six hours practicing a day. After school every day my friends and I would go to karaoke and go and eat. I’d get home at about 10pm and practice guitar until about four or five in the morning. I’d get some sleep and then get up in the morning to get ready for school. That was how my days went. I was still learning so I wasn’t anywhere near as good as I am now. I couldn’t do arpeggios or play really fast but I got there in the end with all that practice.

You have such great ambition. Were you that passionate about soccer practice too?
No, apart from guitar, I’m lazy with everything else. I liked soccer but I didn’t put in more effort than anyone else. I found it a bother practicing soccer that much all the time. I really am quite lazy. I spoiled myself when I changed school. I didn’t really push myself to do anything. I think that’s why I decided to master guitar. By thinking that way it made me unique so I really wanted to master guitar.

So while you were getting better at playing guitar, did you still go out with your friends?
I’m was never the kind of person who stays in all the time. I’m the type who loves going out so I never stopped going out with friends. I wanted to master guitar but at the time I never thought I’d end up playing on a professional level. I juggled both guitar practice and going out with friends and I think I did it well.

When did you play your first live?
When I was about eighteen. We played our first live in a live house in Yokohama. It was just like a middle school concert so we couldn’t even say anything during our own performance (laugh). Because it was our first live, there were problems from the beginning. We didn’t understand anything about sound checks or monitors so we watched the band before us do everything first. I remember someone asked us to put the three-piece*[a drum kit made of the three basic parts of a kit; bass, snare and high hat.] back but we had no idea what they meant (laugh). We were so clueless we asked someone if it was okay to borrow theirs instead (laugh). Anyway, as it got closer and closer to our turn to perform we were all really nervous. But our friends had come to see us and it ended up being really fun. Being up on stage, playing guitar and looking out at everyone from up there I thought, “Yeah, this is what rock is” (laugh). Playing live made me want more of what being in a band had to offer.

Once you graduated high school did you just focus solely on playing in the band?
No, I went to university. I got relatively good grades even though I didn’t study so I got recommendation for our designated university [2]. I got accepted but travelling there took about two and a half hours every day. Isn’t that ridiculous? After going for about half a year I wondered to myself what was the point in my going to university. Of course I had friends and I enjoyed going out and such, but was that worth travelling two and a half hours for one way? So I started thinking, especially about my future. Even then I knew I didn’t want to become a salary man, I wanted to be in a band. So I went to my parents and humbly asked to quit university.

Did your parents understand why you wanted to quit university?
It was difficult. My dad was furious; he said he’d kick me out and disown me. My mum reasoned with him and managed to get me to stay. I caused lot of trouble for them.

Because you’re an only child it must’ve been a big shock for your father. He must’ve been worried.
Yeah. Usually you’re supposed to choose a job with a stable income, but followed my heart and quit university . So I went to my dad and told him I really was sorry, but I felt that quitting school to be in a band was more important to me than quitting the band instead. I played in a band and threw myself back into guitar completely. It was a horribly chaotic feeling.

Translator's Notes:

 [1] Kneeling with the tops of the feet flat on the floor, and sitting on the soles with your back straight.

 [2] From what I gather, in Japan many high schools are affiliated with certain universities, granting students of these high schools preference into studying at the affiliated university over students who are not affiliated.


  1. Really thanks for the translation! Great job!

    Anyway, I have a silly question. Isn't Reno's interview is in RR038? I thought RR036 is Shin's?

  2. Whoops! You're right. It is Vol. 38.
    Thanks for pointing it out!