As always, if you have any comments or corrections, please let me know.
Both of the same generation?
So the plan is you both have thirty minutes to talk about anything you like.
Ruki: Hahaha. That's a high hurdle (laughs). It's a really wide range.
Shou: I can feel the strain.
Ruki: So let’s relax (laughs). It's better to be rough for this kind of thing, right?
That's right. That's what I think anyway (laughs).
Ruki: Okay, so, first of all, thanks for interviewing me.
Shou: Oh, excuse me. Sorry.
Ruki: Why are you apologising all of a sudden (laughs)?
Shou: No, no. Sorry! (laughs)
Ruki: There you go! (laughs)
Shou: No (laughs). Of course I'm going to be nervous if just the two of us are going to start talking together. We've had the chance to talk together when other people are around. But this will be a first doing this again just the two of us.
Ruki: Yeah, it will be the first time we really talked together, actually.
Shou: When Alice Nine started Gazette had been going for about a year already. We were both playing the same liveshow at Takadanobaba PHAZE. We were still in the early days of being a band, but Gazette were really amazing. Those were fun times back then.
Ruki: A little. It's best that that's over though, right Shou? (laughs)
Ah, that's Ruki's role (laughs).
Shou: Ah, sorry. We were really raw back then. Gazette really are our way better senpais.
Ruki: Hey, wait a minute (laughs). We're not old men! Both of us are the same generation.
Shou: Yeah, that's right actually.
Ruki: We never talked before you joined Alice Nine, Shou. But I knew who you were.
Shou: Thank you!
The Gazette were formed in 2002 and Alice Nine were formed in 2004. That makes Ruki two years' Shou's senpai.
Ruki: Yeah, but that's not enough to make me his senpai.
Shou: Yeah, but two years is definitely a lot. I played in my first visual kei band in 2002 but we really were just starting out as a band.
So what were the first impressions you both had of each other?
Shou: No, I don't want to hear this.
Ruki: Why? (laughs) Well, I don't really have an impression from when we talked or when they were signed to PS Company. But my biggest impression of them was thinking "Wow, they're all so tall!" (laughs).
Apart from Hiroto.
Ruki: Ah, yeah (laughs). We're all quite short in Gazette. When we were in the elevator with Alice Nine it looked like they were keeping us captive (laughs). Uruha is the tallest out of us but Shou is at least that tall too. Tora was standing next to me that day and he definitely looked like he kept me captive (laughs).
Shou: Tora's the tallest out of us. He's about 182 cm (5'11'').
Ruki: 182cm?! It must be like living on Gulliver's Island for him.
Shou: Ahahaha! Gulliver's Island (laughs).
So talking about families now, Ruki, you're the younger of two brothers, and Shou, you're the eldest with a younger sister. There's a change on who's the older brother now (laughs).
Ruki: Ah, that's right. But even though my position is changed from a kouhai to someone's senpai, I'm still more of a younger brother type character (laughs).
Shou: Yeah. Even though I seem like a little brother to my senpai, I really do act like an older brother (laughs).
You were both brought up in strictly too, weren't you?
Ruki: Yeah, it was strict.
Shou: So was mine, yeah.
And yet you both became musicians...
Ruki: Ahahaha! Rebellion, it was rebellion (laughs). I was lonely so it resulted in my expressing myself out of home. It's why I bleached my hair. Was it like that for you too, Shou?
Shou: Yeah, it was lonely for me too. Study, study, study. I rebelled around middle school. But I was very moody back then and it didn't change much.
Ruki: You? Moody? (laughs)
Shou: Yeah. But it didn't stick.
Ruki: Yeah... but it makes me happy to hear you say that (laughs). But you're a vocalist so you're supposed to be charming. Aren't I charming too (laughs).
Shou: But surely that's rebellion too. If part of your heart is dark, you want more light. But my turning point was when I was in middle school. I was on the basketball team and if it hadn't been for an accident I wouldn't have missed playing matches.
Ruki: What accident?
Shou: I was hit by a car. I had to miss matches after that and because I couldn't do anything I got depressed. Then I watched Luna Sea playing in Yokohama Stadium and everything went numb. That was in my third year of middle school. So I started thinking more positively after that.
Ruki: Oh really? So you didn't get into basketball then?
Shou: Yeah. Basketball wasn't for me. This is me, I think! Are you into Luna Sea Ruki?
Ruki: Of course, of course. I guess that means that by talking about it, my music is influenced by them, huh?
Shou: That's right.
Ruki: This conversation doesn't have any feeling (laughs). You're really reserved, Shou. You should be more informal, talk more frankly.
Shou: Ah, yes. Sorry!
Ruki: See, you're still so rigid! (laughs) Maybe we should rename the theme of the interview to "getting Shou to talk".
Shou: No, no, no. Talking openly like that is something you do when you're out drinking with people (laughs).
Ruki: Talk more! Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn! But maybe this is your personality. Maybe you're usually serious. But that's a good thing, too. See, in our generation of bands, the relationship between the older bands and the newer ones is disordered. It’s ingrained into us. Because we're of the same generation we understand each other.
But you're serious too, Ruki.
Ruki: Serious, serious. I don't call myself that but I am too, really.
Shou: That's right. But actually, it wasn't until I was signed to PS Company that I became so serious over the years. When I first started working with PS Company, I used to be an idiot (laughs). But in order to get the band further in the music business and play more, we had to be more like our senpais. We had a deeper respect for them after that.
Ruki: Yeah, when Alice Nine were signed we were pretty on edge around them. They seemed to have an aura that made us not want to associate with them.
Shou: We did that when we were first starting out. We were scared.
Ruki: When you were first signed to PS Company, you seemed to not be too pleased about having to work up the hierarchy. So maybe that's why you put out a "don't talk to us!" aura. I don't know why but that's the image that seems to have stuck with you (laughs). But now that we're adults you've gotten calmer. So when people first meet you they're surprised that you're so chatty (laughs).
Shou: Ahahaha. But I think that hierarchy is essential, but maybe I'm wrong.
Ruki: That's right. It's not something for normal society, but people need someone higher than them. Something to work towards. From that, not talking about your songs, but how you look, you seem to be really manly. But sitting here listening to you, you seem to have a soft side. You don't seem to be the first you raise your hand in anger.
Shou: Ahahaha. No, no.
The type of people you're interested in are...
You're usually mild mannered but you can be surprisingly stubborn too, right Shou? (laughs)
Shou: Yeah. I'm very stubborn.
Ruki: That’s good, I think. That's the kind of thing I don't do. So why is it taboo lately? Ah! Oh no! Personally, the only think I keep saying lately is "ah, that's for young people" (laughs).
Shou: I think that too! We share a lot of opinions.
Ruki: We realise this much because of this talk. But where is it going? I'm okay, but is your reputation okay ? (laughs)
Shou: Ahahaha! It's fine!
Ruki: But of course we have a hierarchy structured according to age. We definitely know this from experience. But you, you're not on the level of shyness. And I'm not on a level of awkwardness.
Shou: Yeah, yeah. I definitely understand. And of course you shouldn't retaliate. That's what I think.
Ruki: Yeah, yeah. Be shy and don't fight back. We're told to live more stoically. That's what it's like, right, Shou?
Ah, so an escape (laughs).
Ruki: No, no. I'm just talking stupid (laughs).
Shou: I don't think kids today don't make a whole lot of effort in being sincerely honest.
Ruki: Ahahaha! This is turning into an old man discussion (laughs).
Shou: That's why they're always searching for the shortcut to a fun life.
Ruki: That's right. I get it. I get that. When we talk about a Yutori lifestyle *, if we take a Saturday off, does that mean we're starting to be part of it? So of course you can say that we're part of that Yutori lifestyle. It's Neo Yutori.
Shou: It's Neo Yutori! Definitely. When I was younger everyone competed with each other good naturedly. You don't see that anymore.
Ruki: No, no, no. You don't. I understand. Our generation are more passionate. People got on well with each other but they were rivals too. It was brighter. But it's never like that anymore. It's gone stagnant. There's no approaching crisis and no reason to grow up. So Shou, we should teach them not to be so soft. Scary right?
Shou: Ahahaha! Normally.
Ruki: Though, when I was looking for members for the band ages ago, I wrote "must think professionally! (laughs).
Shou: Ahahaha. You did. "Must be professional. No girls" (laughs).
Ruki: Yeah, yeah. We had that hungry mindset. It wasn't good enough that you went major and got signed to a label. Nothing you did was by yourself. Now that we were signed to the company we weren't doing everything for ourselves anymore.
Shou: For us, we were signed to PS Company after the Gazette. So of course we'd heard of the brand. Knowing that, it was an honour to be signed. But on the other hand, not that you were part of the company, there was no room for error. There was a lot of frantic practising.
Ruki: There! That's it! That’s that hungry mindset. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. That's what makes Alice Nine great. You stuck to making music you like, so you grew up. I want to stick to creating songs I like. If you didn't agree about where you are now you wouldn't nod your head. Even if you're an annoying band, you stick to your principles.
Shou: That's right.
Ruki: So we're serious.
Shou: We're serious.
You both seem to share a common trait of being unsociable.
Ruki: I'm not sociable.
Shou: Me neither.
Ruki: I don't take an interest in people. I don't have a lot of deep conversations.
Shou: I completely understand that too.
Ruki: Right? It's different from guessing how you're going to get along with someone but I don't really know a lot of people who share the same interests as me, so I often don't form a deep connection to have deep conversations.
So what kind of people are you drawn to?
Ruki: When I'm designing CD covers and looking for direction, I'm drawn to people who are helping with that. So if no one within the band is interested in it, no one else will be. Sensitivity is important.
Shou, you'd understand that from working part time in a clothes shop. You're usually the one who designs Alice Nine's look.
Shou: That's right, I usually do it. But Ruki is way better than me, of course. I go with a concept I think would be good. But I don't know if that's how Ruki does it lately. Usually it's annoying to think that I've deceived you. But I have to capture Ruki's interest.
What do fans think when they see that?
Shou: He's a weirdo, isn’t he?
Ruki: I don't think so!
So you're not a prince?
Ruki: Yeah, definitely. I wonder if I am.
Ruki definitely isn't one.
Ruki: Ahahaha. I don't think I am. I think Saga is missing from this (laughs). Shou is a flawless prince.
Shou: I thought I was really cool when I was a kid but I wasn't really.
Ruki: I don't know about that. You are cool.
Shou: No, no. I not. I hate thinking I am, it will destroy me.
Ruki: Oh yeah? I know the feeling. I watch live shows and feel the same. You have to come to a clear decision and enforce your will so you can be cool.
Shou: No, nothing like that!
Ruki: Are you a shy person?
Ruki: That's cute (laughs).
Well, that's thirty minutes. Time up!
Shou: Ah, were we good for the first round? I think all I wanted to do was listen to Ruki (laughs).
Ruki: You're too kind (laughs).
Shou: How did you get your image everywhere? You have to teach me how you got your antenna stretching that far. If you can teach me that I'd reach Nirvana.
Ruki: Reach Nirvana? Am I reaching Nirvana? (laughs) But where am I putting out an antenna? I'm not purposely doing anything like that. I mostly listen to the music or how our band sounds. For me, I usually set the music and the design together. But I don't get the feeling that separately I'm keeping an eye out for anything else... But I like a messy inside story (laughs). I love gossip (laughs). So because of that, I know a lot about different things (laughs). Even though I'm not sociable, I like hearing about certain things.
Shou: Ruki, you talk a lot about human nature in your lyrics. Even if you are clean and beautiful, something dark can dirty you. So you seem like someone with beautiful heart, judging from your lyrics. In my case I can write a lot of lyrics about beauty, but on the other hand they can get rough.
Ruki: That's right.
Shou: So Ruki's a good person.
Ruki: Ahahaha, I don't know about that (laughs). But thanks for the praise (laughs).
Shou: I want to talk more. We should go out drinking more often.
Ruki: Yeah. We should go today. I really want Alice Nine to do their best. And Gazette will do our best too. If we don't our label won't support us, right?
Shou: Yes, I'll do my best. Thank you for today!
Ruki: I should say the same. When we go drinking, let's try for deeper conversations.
Shou: We'll do our best (laughs).
Yuttori lifestyle: lit. "cram-free lifestyle. Trying to eliminate the culture of constantly cramming for exams etc. Trying to live more relaxed, more "western" as opposed to the "traditional" Japanese lifestyle of always studying and working as hard as possible.