SUGIZO: His upcoming solo tour – Part 1 of 2
SUGIZO TOUR 2013 THRIVE TO REALIZE, starting in December, is a culmination of SUGIZO’s 2013 solo activity. In between his studio sessions, we interviewed SUGIZO about the recording of the LUNA SEA album and being musical director of the Japanese theatrical production of “Frankenstein”. We talked about wide-ranging topics such as the “ultimate purification” aspect of his solo work and his views on the revival of LUNA SEA.
- Getting inspiration from scenes and dialogue
- The joy in making music that makes him say, “This is it!”
I know you’re busy as usual. Are you producing theater music now?
SUGIZO: Yes, I’m producing the music for “Frankenstein” now.
How did you become the musical director for “Frankenstein”?
SGZ: The producer for “Frankenstein” also produced last year’s theater production of “7DOOR~AOHIGIKO NO SHIRO~”, for which I was the musical director and the actor for. He believed the gothic feel of “Frankenstein” was up my alley, so he asked me again. I am a fan of gothic horror, and being able to make music for the world-renown “Frankenstein” is like a dream. This production is based on the Mary Shelley novel. I really liked the Boris Karloff film version from 1931, and the Coppola produced film starring Robert De Niro from 1994. The British theatrical production was said to be amazing, so being asked to do the music for the Japanese version made me feel like, “Are you sure you want me?” It happened to be at the same time as the production of the LUNA SEA album, so I had to record the band, and also think of musical motifs for the play at the same time.
Does the music to “Frankenstein” have a heavy gothic feel?
SGZ: It is dark. Frankenstein is a terrifying creature, but it is essentially based on a sad story, isn’t it? The loneliness and sadness of the creature that Victor Frankenstein created is the most important part. I believe that Victor regrets creating a monster, so the music I made is based on the lonely screams of people who do not know how to love.
It seems like very sad music. How is the process of making theater music different from when you make music for your solo and band projects?
SGZ: There is not much difference between the solo and band creative processes. The difference is in the technical process of whether it’s a live band sound, or a sequence-based dance tune. Making a soundtrack is completely different. A lot of fragmented ideas come to me in the beginning. Sometimes, a melody will suddenly pop in my head, and sometimes, loads of phrases come to me while I am holding the guitar. I start by collecting all of these fragmented sketches. It grows from there, and sometimes orchestration comes out of it… There are no rules to the style, so there is freedom there. A song is born when the vision of the script, the director, and the producer all come together. With a band, the people you play with are the most important. When we play together, how gripping the song is, and how well the other members can express the song are crucial.
I see. You are expanding your musical platforms, aren’t you?
SGZ: I am growing as a composer. The director and producer come from a non-musical background. So to describe an idea for a song, they will say something like, “Lonely and sad, but angry with a bit of humor”. Ideas like these are fun, and I get a kick out of using scenes and dialogue as inspiration to come up with music that makes us go, “That’s it!”
It seems like it could be used as film soundtrack as well.
SGZ: I want to do a film score. But what makes theater music fun is that you can’t fake it. In that sense, it’s a lot like our live shows.
Earlier, you talked a bit about the recording of the LUNA SEA album. Can you tell us a bit about the new single, “RAN” that is due out on November 13.
SGZ: The melody for “RAN” just popped in my head. The title track for our first single after our reunion focused heavily on our up-tempo band sound. This time, we focused a little bit more on the song itself. It was important that RYUICHI could passionately and freely sing over the music. It’s got a nostalgic 90’s melody to it, in a good way. But we imagined the instruments creating a fiery background for the vocals.
The song seems to have a very LUNA SEA message to it, doesn’t it?
SGZ: I believe that, perhaps, it’s a reflection of how the world is moving. We could have made it into a catchy song about relationships, but you can’t really make that type of song in these restless times, can you? The coupled song, “ECHO” is also very good. Shinya created the original idea, and INORAN led us into making into a complete song. INORAN and I switched our roles on guitar, and I hope people like it.
I mean this in a good way, but I can’t seem to pinpoint which one of you wrote the songs on this post-reunion single. What do you think has changed about LUNA SEA? What do you think stayed the same?
SGZ: There are more things that have changed than stayed the same. We haven’t made an album in over 10 years. Our personalities and lifestyles have changed naturally with time. We are all a natural evolution of ourselves now. We don’t have to bind ourselves together like before. Each of us have become accomplished artists on our own, and it is more like we are all coming together as solo artists to make a LUNA SEA album.
I think there are other bands that have been doing the same thing since they started.
SGZ: You’re right. We disbanded once and went through our ups and downs, and we experienced many things on our own before reuniting as LUNA SEA. I think it is fantastic that others can keep their band from changing over the years, and I also think that is wonderful to be able to start over from scratch like we did. Even if we have achieved a lot as solo artists, we all need to have a rock band to be in. There is no other place for us to be than in LUNA SEA.
The catharsis that comes from creating something between five people seems like a special thing.
SGZ: Simply put, being in a rock band is cool. When I was in my teens, I started playing in bands because I was enamored with the idea of it.
I can feel the romance of being in a rock band in your new single.
SGZ: Passion, beauty, and sensuality. I want to make sensual noises with my guitar.
It’s as though intensity and sweetness are co-existing.
SGZ: It’s like sweet honey, but with poison… Maybe an aphrodisiac…
Report & text: Hiroko Yamamoto