Sendai Kamotsu are back with their first new release in over a year. With their latest mini-album "Jinsei Game" out on July 12, their July 19 single "Kamisama Mo Sukoshi Dake" blazing through the video charts, and the band on the brink of their latest Japanese tour, what's going through the mind of the band that defined itself with the phrase "Se-n-da-i-Ka-mo-tsu Everybody Gay"?
One word: "Shipping"
Get the low-down on the new album, single, possibly unsafe-for-TV music video, and tour by reading this CDJapan exclusive interview with Sendai Kamotsu. This time around we beg the question, can one of the craziest bands in the J-Rock scene deliver?
An Interview With Sendai Kamotsu
Looking back, it's been two years since the release of your album "Okuru Kotoba." Congratulations on your new release!
Chiba (Vo): Thanks, son.
It's also been over a year since your last performance at the Ebisu Liquid Room on March 4, 2005. What did everyone do during this time?
Chiba: Y'know, our real job is delivery, so everyday we were shippin'. Felt good.
So Sendai Kamotsu's real occupation is shipping parcels?
Chiba: Yeah, that's what we do.
Your new album "Jinsei Game" features elements of pop, rock, metal, and even enka. What did you want to do when you first set out making this album?
Chiba: I uh, didn't think about it.
Satty (Gt): Yeah. (Laughs)
Chiba: I didn't think much. Gigaflare and Satty, well they pretty much wrote down all the words and tunes. I think they wanted to do it themselves.
Satty: I just tried to keep it interesting and as a result we pulled in elements from all these genres. I just wanted to see what would happen if Sendai Kamotsu tried all these genres. "Jinsei Game" is what happened.
Fullface (Gt): But we wanted Satty's version of "interesting." Chiba's usually the interesting one. Once he enters a song it changes completely. You might think a song is cool, you might like a song a lot, but once the vocals come in, it's just . . .
Chiba: I break it, uh? (Laughs)
Fullface: (Laughs) You said yourself you were good at breaking things. (Laughs)
But Chiba's the soul of Sendai Kamotsu.
Chiba: Yeah kid, the sooouuul.
Gigaflare (Dr): We don't think much when we're writing--as long as it sounds good, it's fine. (Laughs) We just went off of instinct for "Jinsei Game."
Wang Chen-Chen (Ba): Forget the shipping, we did. (Laughs) We have fun for making.
When do you write your songs, Satty?
Satty: They just come out. Bu sometimes I'll lock myself in my room and write. And while shipping. I think a lot of them up when we're delivering . . . I'll space out while we're driving around in the car, and flash. I write them down in a notebook if I don't have a guitar around.
When do you write, Gigaflare?
Gigaflare: I write once we've decided on a deadline.
That's good, being able to writing for the deadline.
Gigaflare: Well, sometimes I'm not able, too. (Laughs)
I see. (Laughs) Now I'll ask Chiba. Satty and Gigaflare were central to the lyrics for this album. Once they finished, once they handed you the lyric sheet, what did you find the most shocking about what they had written?
Chiba: It wasn't, well . . . but "Kuririn Manson," right. It's the true story of how we met Kurihara. I recollect being a might bit surprised at how well they wrote it.
Chiba: Kurihara came in later, as our sixth performer. He manipulates the parts, plays special effects on his keyboard. He's now a real member.
Speaking of which, where's Kurihara?
Chiba: Kurihara just right couldn't be here today. (Laughs)
(Actually, Kurihara left the room just before the start of the interview to deliver packages while the other members were busy. He's very thoughtful of his fellow band members.)
I see Chiba wrote the lyrics for "Country Boy." Was there anything in particular you tried to do with the song?
Chiba: Not, well uh, . . . but I shot to make people laugh and I wanted to say "you should live your life positively."
Do your lyrics come to you in a Miyagi prefecture accent as well?
Chiba: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . I don't get standard Japanese. I reckon I darn think in Miyagi-ben.
Is there anything difficult about singing in a Miyagi prefecture accent?
Chiba: Not particularly, kid. I reckon I couldn't sing any other way.
I see. (Laughs) How do you feel about the recent trend of fans picking up your accent?
Chiba: Well uh, it's how the folk talk in my hometown. I'm glad to bring it out to y'all.
It says the first edition version of "Jinsei Game" features a special, deluxe package design. Could you tell me what to expect?
Chiba: It includes "Sugoroku" dice and a different case. What did they call it?
Satty: Digipak, in a bonus box.
That's definitely deluxe. Have you already had a chance to view the completed product?
Chiba: I ain't seen it yet. But I'm lookin' forward to it. Please, absolutely, play "Sugoroku" when you listen to our album.
So it's "Sugoroku" for when you're listening to the album. (Laughs)
Chiba: Yeah, darn right. (Laughs)[At this point a staff member brought out an actual CD case]
Chiba: Hey!? Is this the real thing!?
Staff: No, it's a test design.
Chiba: Oh, I've already seen the test designs.
And how did you feel when you saw it?
Chiba: This guy rocks. You open the box and a dog mug pops out at you.
You were the model for the dog, correct?
Chiba: Yeah, that's me. Then, the back of the lyric sheet turns into "Sugoroku" dice and the back of the box has the pattern for "Sugoroku" pieces printed on it.
So the fans have to cut the box with scissors? (Laughs)
Chiba: Yeah, or you could just make a copy.
Satty: First you gotta peel off the plastic on the CD case.
Chiba: Yeah, do that first.
So you have to damage the case before you can play around? (Laughs)
Chiba: Yeah, and if you don't buy two copies . . . (Laughs)
Now I see, excellent plan! Gigaflare, what do you think?
Gigaflare: I saw it a little while ago . . . (Gigaflare stares sullen at the jacket art) it's disturbing.
Gigaflare: I don't get where Chen-Chen is . . . where is he?
Wang Chen-Chen: On the right side, I am . . . just bit.
You've radically aged, Wang.
Wang Chen-Chen: No, this my character. It's "Jinsei Game (Life Game)," so Chiba said be old man!
Chiba: I forced him. (Laughs)
Wang Chen-Chen: Cry, cry, and now, here I am. (Laughs)
The limited edition version of your single "Kamisama Mo Sukoshi Dake" includes a bonus DVD with Sendai Kamotsu's first music video. How was it to make a video?
Gigaflare: There was too much footage we couldn't use.
Chiba: Yeah, too hardcore for y'all. We had a mountain's worth of stuff to tell ya, and we TRIED to say it with our bodies, but we done went to far. (Laughs) But, y'know, we really did go right on up to the edge. They nearly got us on the broadcastin' standards code.
I'm starting to wonder about the unreleased footage . . .
Chiba: Yeah, you won't stop laughin'. Everyone who sees it runs away. (Laughs) I darn well reckon the world's split between them runner and laughers.
Could you tell me what tracks come to mind when you think of the new album?
Chiba: We used to play "N.M.N - No More Nayami Muyou" and "Akai Kaze no Ballad" at our shows and released 'em on a two-song, concert-only single, so I gotta say those.
Satty: I really like "Country Boy." Right before the guitar solo we do this bit that I really liked.
Fullface: "Kamisama Mo Sukoshi Dake" and "Kuririn Manson." We actually recorded these songs a year and a half ago. I've been listening to them forever now so I rememember them.
Gigaflare: I'd say "Kamisama Mo Sukoshi Dake." When we dropped in the keyboards and I got to hear the finished song, I felt like crying. "Why did it have to turn out like this . . . (Sob)" (Laughs)
Wang Chen-Chen: I saying "Kamisama Mo Sukoshi Dake" too. It our first music video. The song, final chorus and then the guitar like BOOM!
How was recording this time?
Chiba: We'd already recorded "N.M.N - No More Nayami Muyou" and "Akai Kaze no Ballad" so we all were fine. We'd also got "Kamisama Mo Sukoshi Dake" and "Kuririn Manson" down, right?
Chiba: So it only took us about a fortnight to get the other six.
Satty: Yeah, we got through it without too much pain.
Fullface: Yeah, really got through it. (Laughs) Once Chiba got to recording, all I could do was laugh.
Chiba: You gotta record the sound effects too, right? Handclaps and whatever. We do stuff for fun that most bands wouldn't even touch with a ten-foot-pole.
Gigaflare: I ain't really got anything to say about Sendai Kamotsu--whether we're good or bad, it doesn't stick with me. Just rock along with the moment and wonder what happened later.
Wang Chen-Chen: Playing drums on the record, fun it was!
Wait a second. (Laughs) Don't you play bass, Wang?
Wang Chen-Chen: It happens on one song, actually. (Laughs)
Fullface: Oh, "Kuririn Manson"?
Wang Chen-Chen: "Kuririn Manson." Two places, crazy drum, right? Hear it you understand! Mad was Kurihara, so say "Play, it doesn't matter what!" I say "OK" and whatever I play. Fun it was!
Seeing as how you are in the same rhythm section as drummer Gigaflare, how did it feel to try the drums?
Wang Chen-Chen: Hard it is, playing no listening rhythm. Gigaflare drummer, right? He say "I could never play crazy drum like that!" You no play drum so you do it, he say. I play and thinking, "Maybe I understand." But maybe difficult, too. (Laughs) Example, I play tom tom, and then next . . . floor tom? I no know what playing next. (Laughs)
Aaaah. (Laughs) What did you think after hearing all this, Gigaflare?
Gigaflare: Uh, I just wondered how we were going to do this live. I'm not sure if we should try to do it again or not.
Wang Chen-Chen: Not just drum, too! All parts crazy!
Gigaflare: Yes they are.
Satty: We really played on "Kuririn Manson." It takes me a while to remember how to play it since we recorded the song so long ago. (Laughs)
Ok, lets take a break for a second and talk about something else. What music would you recommend outside of Sendai Kamotsu?
Chiba: A recommendation, eh? Well, er, my bro's got this band, Nightmare. I hear they just put out a greatest hits album, y'know? If I gotta recommend something, I recommend that.
Have you had a chance to listen to the album?
Chiba: Yeah, a little. I think it's some sorta reissue of songs from their independant era. I used to listen to 'em a lot.
I guess you brothers know each other.
Chiba: Yeah, 'cuz we're brothers.
I've heard reports that the Nightmare album is remastered. How does it feel to hear the songs in their new form?
Chiba: Well, I reckon it's a might bit easier to listen to.
Nightmare are known for being a very active band. Do you know any of the other members?
Chiba: I ain't got nothin to do with those other fellows. I don't even know who they are. (Laughs)
All: (Shook their heads firmly)
You'll be kicking off your eight-venue tour as Sendai Kamotsu on July 20. What kind of show can we expect?
Chiba: Well, the title's "Jinsei (Life) Game." Life ain't just fun and games, y'know? But we wanna tell y'all to be positive. We'll make you laugh with our tour.
Satty: First and foremost we want to have fun.
Fullface: This is our first nationwide tour so we're a little worried what people out in the country are going to think about us.
Gigaflare: But, uh, we don't mind as long as you keep coming out.
I don't think you have to worry. (Laughs)
Gigaflare: But we are seriously worried about people leaving. (Laughs)
Really? But your tickets sold out so fast.
Gigaflare: They did sell out fast. But the music video comes out the day before the tour starts on the 19th, right? What if they see the video and lose their desire to see us. What if the concert hall is completely empty? (Laughs)
Is the music video really that shocking? (Laughs)
Gigaflare: Yes. (Laughs) We really truly worry about this. This is an actual fear. (Laughs)
So it's that graphic? (Laughs)
Chiba: I was surprised after I saw it. (Laughs)
Gigaflare: Me too. I couldn't speak. (Laughs)
Chiba: But even if we fail with this thing, that's life.
Gigaflare: Haaaaaaa Haaaaaaaaa Haaaaaaaaa. (Dry Laughing)
Chiba: Life's a game! (Laughs)
Are you saying you'd like your fans to view the video before they make the decision to attend you're concert?
Gigaflare: No, we'd prefer you didn't watch the video before coming. (Laughs)
Chiba: It's one of those "People with heart problems . . ." sort of videos. (Laughs) I wanna put up a warning.
Gigaflare: Definitely. (Laughs)
I understand. (Laughs) Wang, what do you think about the tour?
Wang Chen-Chen: Well. What say? Sapporo, Hiroshima, Fukuoka are my first time. How they see us, we enjoy later. (Laughs) All up to Chiba.
Chiba: Now, I gotta do somethin'. (Laughs)
Finally, can I get a word from each of you to your fans?
Satty: Chiba may look weird, but we're strangely serious about music. I'd like all of you to see that as well.
Fullface: Keep us all in your warm hearts . . . especially Chiba.
Gigaflare: It's hard for us too. Please don't make fun of Chiba.
Wang Chen-Chen: Please not judge on outside. But, maybe OK with Chiba.
Chiba: (Laughs). Well, uh, people'll think I'm stupid to dress like this, but I'm actually a good guy.
Chiba: I wanna make as many people laugh as my bones'll let me. I'm gonna set off some high fallutin' comedy terrorism! Y'all gotta check out the CD, music video and tour!
Thank you very much.
All: Thank you!
Chiba: Ah, I really gotta mosey on over to little cowboys room.
(Written and interviewed by Denno / Translated by Dan) 2006
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