The rock band Nightmare focuses strongly on its live performances including countless nationwide tours. Now the members have chosen their favorite compositions among those they've released over their six-year career and released them on a new greatest hits compilation, "Gianism." "Gianism" represents the mental spirit of the band, drawing its name from the popular "Doraemon" character Gian and his motto, "What's mine is mine, what's yours is mine." Nightmare's new greatest hits album represents a veritable history of Nighmare, presenting their peerless sound in the chronological order of release. The first track on the album, "Believe," is also the band's major label debut single. Overflowing with the charging sound of melodic guitar, "Believe" is dense with the sensation of arrival. Beginning with an introduction, the sound builds into a voluminous chorus. The fervor never threatens to abide, dashing straight to the end in a rush I'm speechless to describe. The lyrics capture the sentiments of the band just on the brink of their major debut--tired of everyday life and unsure about the way forward, and yet urging even the most casual listener with its poetic lyrics and sound.
The final song "livEVIL" is the latest single from the band. Starting with the cutting sound of a guitar, the song adds in the bass and drums. The genius of "livEVIL" is in the vast instrumentation, building in dramatic ways unimaginable for a single song. Only Nightmare can create such a condensed composition in a mere four minutes. It's been a busy three years for the band since the release of "Believe"--you can hear it in "livEVIL."
But, hearing is believing. If you've heard Nightmare's violent yet melodic sound before, you absolutely have to see them perform live.
Nightmare will be performing in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka coming May of 2006. If you've got a jist of the band through "Gianism," all you have left is to see them play. Now is the perfect time for them to have released a greatest hits album. I absolutely recommend this one disc, "Gianism."
YOMI on Vocal
Birth: July 14
Blood type: A
Sakito on Guitar
Birth: June 29
Blood type: O
Hitsugi on Guitar
Birth: March 5
Blood type: AB
Ni-ya on Bass
Birth: June 23
Blood type: A
Ruka on Drums
Birth: June 9
Blood type: O
It's been six years since your band Nightmare formed (2000). What do you have to say about your work so far?
Ni-ya: At first, I didn't think we'd make it six years. It's a miracle.
Hitsugi: Yeah. We weren't thinking five or six years into the future at that time. We just thought that whatever happens, happens. (Laughs)
Sakito: I feel like these last six years have gone really fast. It seems like we were just playing small shows in Sendai.
Ni-ya: We were still high school students.
Sakito: We were a cover band at first.
RUKA: I don't really feel like it went fast. I'd even say it took a while. (Laughs)
Do you think you've changed the way you play your old songs after playing live for so long?
Sakito: We've never played any of the songs on our demo tapes. We do play songs from our indie debut era, though.
Ni-ya: The tempos of most of our older songs have gotten faster. The arrangements have changed as well.
Sakito: I'd say the arrangements for each of our songs have changed.
What did you think when you first heard you were going to release your greatest hits album "Gianism"?
Sakito: I thought it would be an easy-to-follow way for all of the people who have recently become fans of ours to hear the songs we play live.
What sort of album is your greatest hits album?
Sakito: I imagine that by listening to this one album one could, to a certain extent, understand Nightmare's perspective on things up to this point.
How did you decide on what songs to include?
YOMI: We each decided what songs we wanted on the album and then talked about it until we could decide on a list.
Ni-ya: We all pretty much agreed.
YOMI: Then, we asked our development staff what they thought and out came the album.
So there weren't many objections to tracks? Or did you have to think about the track list a lot?
Sakito: The presumption was that we'd include our singles, so we put those in first. Then we put in the songs that we focus on live. As for the song "TRAVEL" off of our second album "Libido," we haven't been playing it live recently but it does have a different atmosphere to what we usually play.
Why is it that your greatest hits album "Gianism" doesn't include your great song "Gianism"?
Hitsugi: Ha ha ha!
Ni-ya: You got us in our weak spot. (Laughs)
YOMI: That's what the word "Gianism" is all about! (Laughs)
The songs are included in the order they were released. How do you feel about the change in sound between your major debut single "Believe" and your latest single "livEVIL"?
Sakito: We still aren't doing anything too spectacular, but when I listen to our old songs I think "Wow, that was simple." It might just be me, but I really feel like we got by awfully well for putting out such simple songs. (Laughs) So, I think we've gradually grown as a band.
Ni-ya: But when you compare "Believe" to "livEVIL," you can hear exactly that, it feels like our sound has completely changed.
Hitsugi: I feel like I've gone from level 1 to level 18. I can't say for sure, (laughs) but I'd say "livEVIL" is level 18.
RUKA: I haven't listened through the entire greatest hits album yet but . . . uhhhh. The impression of our songs comes through stronger in our performances than in our recordings. We're currently active with our concerts, right? So I'd say the impression at our shows is stronger, where as our recordings don't leave much of an impression at all. It might just be that I'm focusing more on what were doing now, I guess. (Laughs)
YOMI: With most artists' greatest hits albums, their old songs don't sound that different in quality from their new songs, right? In that respect, I'd say our greatest hits album "Gianism" shows more about how we've progressed than other artists' best albums.
Have there been changes to your singing style in between "Believe" and "livEVIL," YOMI?
YOMI: Well, I haven't done anything consciously, but I do think my singing has changed. But if you were to ask me what has changed, I couldn't tell you. However, the difference post-"Believe" would be that our sounds and rhythms have become easier to follow. So, our songs have become easier to sing to, and as a result my singing style may have changed.
Ni-ya: But YOMI is more of the type of person to find his style live, not in the studio.
YOMI: Ah, well, yeah . . . live.
Would you say that you've been influenced by the crowds and spaces you've played in?
Ni-ya: Yes. It's definitely not a small part of our band.
As the band Nightmare or as members of the band Nightmare, what song would be the turning point for you?
Hitsugi: I'd say "Varuna." It turned out quite delicate.
Sakito: I'd say "Traumerei." That was the first time I really wrote out our lyrics. From then on I consciously considered the lyrics while writing our songs.
Ni-ya: Which one would I choose . . . I've steadily changed my approach as a bassist between "Believe" and "livEVIL," whether it be focusing on the style or sound that mixes with the sound of a song. Sometimes I'll choose to play with a pick, and sometimes with my fingers. So, if you ask me where exactly the turning point was, all I can say is "where indeed?" (Laughs) Every song is a turning point.
RUKA: I'd say "HATE." It was there that I discovered what kind of lyrics I want to write.
YOMI: Uh, I . . . I'd say we changed the most environmentally on "Believe." "Believe" was the song that brought us from indies to major. I have a lot of memories about that song.
Ni-ya: At that time we were playing heavily at the venue AREA in Takadanobaba.
YOMI: Yeah, at AREA.
Everyone seems to have chosen songs from Nightmare's early and middle period. Personally, I feel the difference with the songs "Varuna" and "Jibun no Hana."
Ni-ya: Yeah. We change it up again on "Jibun no Hana."
Sakito: Both "Varuna" and "Jibun no Hana" were the first singles to be released after the release of their respective albums. I guess something does change with every album. (Laughs) "Dasei Boogie" felt very natural. Everything up to "Travel" is from our second album "Libido," but after that point we felt confident that whatever song we made, whatever melody we played, we'd still sound like Nightmare. So, we stopped thinking about the need for breadth in our melodies, stopped thinking about what other sorts of songs we wanted to make.
What does this new greatest hits album represent for you?
Hitsugi: It's the end of an era.
RUKA: I think of it like a commemorative item. It commemorates our last six years of work.
Hitsugi: Yeah. When we released our two indies compilations we included an unreleased or rearranged track. But with "Gianism," we've only included what we've already recorded, so it sounds more like a commemorative release.
Sakito: I'm sure there are people who know our name but haven't been to one of our concerts or listened to one of our albums . . . like, "I've heard of them but . . ." We want them to hear this release. If you listen to this one album you'll be able to understand about half of what Nightmare is about.
Ni-ya: I think this is the same for every artist. For example, if you think, "I'm interested in this artist," the first thing you'll buy will be a best album, right?
Hitsugi: Or a singles collection. People figure the greatest hits albums are a good place to start.
Ni-ya: Yeah, yeah. If it says "Best of Whatever," people tend to think, "well, I'll pick this up for now," right?
Sakito: It's a little scary to buy a single. (Laughs)
Ni-ya: Yeah, yeah. (Laughs) But buying a full-length album is scary too. I guess it really is best to start from the greatest hits.
Hitsugi: If I like the greatest hits album, then I'll think about buying something else.
Ni-ya: Yeah, we wanted more people to hear us, to get into us through this album.
Sakito: It's an easy-to-jump-into, easy-to-understand disc.
While most bands rely on their lead singers for lyrics, Nightmare uses works from both YOMI and the other members. Do you perform songs written by other people the way you perform your own songs?
YOMI: If we're talking about when I sing, no, there's not much difference. I don't feel strange because Nightmare has worked like this from the start. It feels natural.
Looking past your greatest hits album, what sort of works will Nightmare want to make in the future?
Sakito: At a minimum, I don't want to go about rehashing the songs on this greatest hits album. I feel like there's still plenty of Nightmare-ishness on this greatest hits album, but I want to bring out more of the core Nightmare-ishness in the future. To just say it straight, I want to get to the point where people hear something and think, "This sounds like Nightmare."
Ni-ya: With this greatest hits album we've had a chance to look back on our career. Now I want to run straightforward.
Hitsugi: First things first, I want to make something we can enjoy ourselves.
YOMI: I'd say the best thing about Nightmare is that we have well-defined melodies. I want to extend what we do best in the future, make songs with fantastic melodic lines.
RUKA: I just want to work with whatever comes out of my mind. (Laughs) I can't make anything if I think about it.
So RUKA likes to make songs by feeling. Sakito, do you put emphasis on feeling, or are you more of the type to think things through?
Sakito: I'd say both. I like to think when I'm working on an arrangement, but the most core standard is whether I like or hate what I hear. My songwriting is fundamentally about whether I enjoy or don't enjoy listening to what I've written. Sometimes things just pop out of my head, but I can't recall just coming up with an original song. It feels more like the songs come together over time. (Laughs)
What do you think about people who hear this greatest hits album and become fans?
Ni-ya: This greatest hits album is certainly not all there is to us. There are plenty of other songs. I'd like them to come out to a concert and really enjoy what these songs sound like live.
Sakito: We've focused on our concerts from the start, so there are definitely some parts of Nightmare that don't come through on the recordings. But I feel confident that anyone who comes to our shows will absolutely enjoy his or herself. So, first listen to this album, and then, if you like it, definitely come see us play.
Hitsugi: I do definitely want people to see us live, but more so, we've already developed a bit since "Believe" and I think we'll keep developing in the future. I'd like the band to develop alongside the people who are introduced to us through this album.
RUKA: I don't really have anything to say. For now just recommend the album to five of your friends. Five times five . . . about 25 people.
Ni-ya: That's a pyramid scheme! (Laughs)
RUKA: Hey, grassroots marketing! Don't call it a pyramid scheme. (Laughs)
Hitsugi: If you put it nicely it's grassroots marketing. (Laughs)
Ni-ya: And to put it not nicely, it's a pyramid scheme. (Laughs)
Finally, can you give me a message for your fans?
YOMI: I'm sure that listening to "Gianism," you'll come to understand how we've developed over time. We are going to keep on developing so please keep on supporting us.
RUKA: This is always the hardest part for me. Everyone else is always so good at putting out messages. Um . . . I guess, everyone, recommend the album to five friends. (Laughs)
Ni-ya: Again? (Laughs)
Hitsugi: I'll be waiting for you at the tour. I'll see you there.
Ni-ya: I think it would be great if you listened to "Gianism," then went out and listened to our other albums, and then came to check out our tour.
Sakito: I want people to feel like our music has helped them after listening to our albums. People definitely feed off of what we do. I want to convey to people how I've been encouraged by the influence of people in the past, and I want people to feel that in what we do.
Everybody: Thank you!
(Written and interviewed by Denno. Translated by Szkoropad)