|Newsmail | View Cart | Saved Items | Customer Account | Help|
New customer? Click here to register!
|Offers | How to Order | Site Map | CDJapan Rewards|
An exclusive interview with The Back Horn on the release of their latest album "Headphone Children." All their appeal packed tightly into this long interview covering everything from their beginnings to their latest songs. Don't miss a word!!
>> See More
-First, I'd like to start by asking you why you came to Tokyo.
Matsuda (Dr.)-I'd spent my life in Fukushima but I'd always wanted to go to Tokyo. In elementary school I saw the TV drama series "Tokyo Love Story" and thought that all sorts of things happen there, you might walk past someone and fall in love-you pass by people all the time so it was a town that fostered falling in love (Laughs), right? So I thought I had to go and see it. I wanted to go as soon as I graduated from high school, but for a number of reasons I ended up looking for a job around my hometown. But more than anything I wanted to go to Tokyo. I was in a band during high school, so half the reason I went was to make my mark in music and the other half of me just wanted to be in Tokyo. So eventually that's how I ended up coming here.
-Did you actually find love? (Laughs)
Suganami (Gt.)-No.. (Laughs)
Matsuda-(Laughs) For a while I didn't meet anyone in Tokyo, so I talked with one of my friends and he said I had to go out looking on my own. Then I started actively searching. (Laughs)
-(Laughs) But everything is all right now, right? Even your love life.. (Laughs)
Matsuda-Yeah, sure.. (Laughs) But ultimately I'm on TV a lot so it would be nice if something melodramatic like that would happen to me. (Laughs) Something like in the anime "Kimagure Orange Road" where I'd turn a corner and run into a girl, accidentally kissing her. (Laughs)
Suganami-That happens sometimes. (Laughs) Right? (Laughs)
Matsuda-I don't think that ever happens.. ever. (Laughs)
Matsuda-But country kids embrace those sorts of ideas. (Laughs) They're like, "There's got to be something out there."
-I know. I'm from the country too. (Laughs)
Matsuda-Really? (Laughs) Anyway, I realized quickly that I had to go out and find someone myself. (Laughs)
-I see. (Laughs) Thank you.
Suganami-With me, I wanted to be in a band.. a really popular band, and the right band members are important for making a good band. I didn't think I could do well with only myself, and I figured that the people that could do well were all in some place like Tokyo.
Matsuda-They definitely aren't out in the country, in Fukushima.
Suganami-There can't be anyone out in Fukushima that could make really good music.
Okamine (Ba.)-Yeah, our whole band ain't nothing but country kids. (Laughs)
Suganami-A heh heh, yeah.(Laughs) Yeah, we forgot to mention that everyone in our band is from out in the country (Laughs) And we all ended up coming to Tokyo.
-Why did you think you couldn't do well alone?
Suganami-Uh, well.. Nah, I just knew objectively I couldn't.
All band members-A ha ha (Laughs)
-So ultimately you preferred to be in a band then, right?
Suganami-Yeah, I definitely had a preference. I really wanted to be in a band.
-Thank you. Well, Mr. Okamine, what about you?
Okamine-I went to college in Tokyo. Or, under the guise of coming to Tokyo, I went to college. Tokyo was far away, so it was difficult to just say, "I want to go to Tokyo."
-So you came to Tokyo for college?
Yamada (Vo.)-Didn't you just say you were going to college so you could go to Tokyo?
Okamine-Yeah, yeah, under the guise of going to college, I came to Tokyo. I couldn't come out and say I just wanted to move to Tokyo.
-So you didn't have any other reasons for coming to Tokyo?
Okamine-Well, I figured that after four years something was bound to happen. So I thought I could go to college until then. (Laughs)
-Thank you. Now, what about you Mr. Yamada?
Yamada-My senior year of high school I thought about what I wanted to do with my life and decided that I really wanted to sing. So, with that enthusiasm I enrolled in a special vocalist training school and ended up moving to Tokyo.
-You studied singing at a private school?
Yamada-Well not exactly study, more so I just met these three guys there (everyone but Okamine). I didn't go to class much though.
-Oh really? (Laughs)
Yamada-I met these guys pretty much the day after I entered school.
-Did you start talking about forming a band right from the start?
-Did they have that certain feeling to them?
Suganami-Nah, not like that.
Suganami-Nah, I didn't really know much about feeling at the time. I just wanted to start a band so I wanted to get a hold of these guys before some other band got them. I sort of skipped over the getting to know them part so that we could start a band faster, so when I first met them I was already saying, "Hey, let's start a band."
-And they just said O.K. to that?
Suganami-Yeah, they basically just said O.K. but it seemed like at the time everyone was deep down thinking, "If this doesn't work out I can just leave." (Laughs) I'm glad that we were able to get everyone together though.
-I see. So when did you first meet Mr. Okamine?
Okamine-Their first bass player left right before the major label debut, so at that point someone from one of the concert halls introduced me to the band.
-And at that point they just told you O.K.?
Okamine-No, I also told them I really wanted to do it.
-What was everyone else in the band thinking about at that time?
Yamada-We'd gone into the studio with a bunch of different candidates to be our bass player. Of all those people, we thought Okamine fit in the most so we invited him into the band. We were really looking for someone we could enjoy playing with.
-I see. Now I'm going to ask you about something that happened before Mr. Okamine entered the band. Before you came up with the name "The Back Horn" how many other band names did you think up?
Matsuda-At first we went by the name "Gyorai" (Torpedo), but, well, that was only a couple of months. Once we started making more and more songs, started doing the band for real, we all got together to rethink the name. I was the one that came up with the name "Gyorai," but I started thinking about how we'd look to the world if we kept using the name.
Suganami-Not that we've really broken out into the world much yet. (Laughs)
Matsuda-(Laughs) Well, when we first decided to go for our big break, I guess. (Laughs) I thought it might be better if we had a little cooler name, and I said, "How about eBack Horn'?" I thought it was catchy too; I liked the sound of it. The truth is we were originally going to go by the name "Back Hoe," like the shovel on the back of a tractor, but I kept messing up saying "Back Horn." It was like something that destroys all sorts of things, and then rebuilds them, so I asked everyone what they thought of it, and everyone thought it sounded good.
-Were there any other candidates for your name?
Matsuda-Not at all. We just ended up using the name, and then ended up keeping with it.
Suganami-But I think we are way better off as "The Back Horn." I actually don't understand the name but..
-So "Gyorai" didn't work for you guys? (Laughs)
Suganami-I like "Gyorai" a lot, but our band might have changed a lot if we had kept using that name.
Suganami-It sounded like the name of a skinhead band.. (Laughs)
Yamada-I thought people would get a weird image of us just based on the sound of our name.
Suganami-People get pulled in by the name, right?
Matsuda-But, now that I think back, I guess it was a pretty normal band name. I guess it might have been catchy once we made it big, but I worried about how it would sound next to the other artists on our label like Quruli and Remioromen. Now I guess it was a pretty standard name. It seems like someone should have used it already.
-But I get a strong image of brass instruments when I hear the name "Back Horn"
Matsuda-Everyone thinks we should have a horn section, but the truth is we were really thinking of "horn" as in antlers. Like a wild animal. Then, we thought of this later, but it sounds a little like an explosion. We thought that up later though.. (Laughs)
Suginami-That's the first time we've said that. (Laughs)
Matsuda-We were definitely enthusiastic about the name, I don't know how many votes it got, but uh, for example, "Jackson" only got two votes.
Suginami-(Laughs) Man, I hate the name "Jackson." (Laughs)
- A ha ha ha (Everyone laughs)
Suginami-I just don't like it. (Laughs)
Matsuda-(Laughs) We just couldn't avoid such strong opinions. (Laughs)
-A ha ha ha (Everyone laughs)
-(Laughs) You just mentioned "Jackson," Was that a real candidate for the band name? (Laughs)
Suginami-It was rough (Laughs)
Suginami--"Jackson".. (Laughs) I mean, it's somebody's name.. (Laughs)
Matsuda-It's still a name. (Laughs) Meh, I guess anything would have worked.
-I wonder what sort of direction you would have gone in had you chosen "Jackson." (Laughs)
Matsuda-We'd probably sound a bit different. (Laughs)
-When did you guys first decide to work together as a band?
Matsuda-Well first we just started making songs and then ended up performing live, so I don't think anyone has an exact moment where we decided to really go for it. But bit by bit we ended up putting together a bunch of songs, and when we started performing we all decided it would have been bad for all of us if we weren't serious about playing. We all just gradually got absorbed into it. I think- yeah that's about right.
Suginami-Everyone was like that.
-So once you started performing, you began to think about making a living together as a band? Did anyone think of doing something else?
All band members-Noooo, I don't think we thought about that at all at the time.
Matsuda-However now I'll occasionally think about doing something on the side. (Laughs)
Suginami-Yeah, I think more about it now. (Laughs)
Matsuda-I worry much more now about where our money is going to come from. (Laughs)
Suginami-We're like, we'll have to get our money from making picture books! (Laughs)
-So when's the picture book coming out? (Laughs)
Suginami-No, no, there isn't one. (Laughs)
Matsuda-At the time we were like, we're going to do this as a band. We didn't think much at the time about whether we could really survive solely off of our own skills. For the time being we thought only about how many more customers we could bring in if we handed out flyers.
-Ah.. Did you often hand out flyers?
All band members together-Yes.
Matsuda-At the time we put all our effort into making flyers. But a half-year or so later we enlisted with the new artists development department of a recording company and used them to print up plenty of copies of our flyers. They also let us make plenty of copies of our demo tape-I think something like 5000 copies. It got to the point where if anyone was in the copy room it had to be one of us.. (Laughs)
Suginami-But, we were in a band so it wasn't hard, it was fun.
Matsuda-I'd say it was like we were playing around, or, maybe making tapes was just fun. Then, after we made the tapes, when we'd sell one we'd feel happy.
-That process sounds fun.
-Right now you guys are working together as a band. Is there anyone who's thought of going solo here?
Suginami-I'll be surprised if Okamine says yes. (Laughs)
Okamine-As a lone bassist. (Laughs)
Suginami-You wanted to play as a lone bassist? (Laughs)
Okamine-I thought of doing it way before that guy Hanawa.
-What do you find attractive about being in a band?
Yamada-It's got to be the great feeling I get when we bring together all sorts of things into a cohesive whole. Different instruments and different sorts of people .. When I say different sorts of people I mean that people bring all their different experiences and lifestyles with them..
-So when that all comes together, it feels good?
Yamada-I think so. Matsuda-Other than that, aren't there some songs that you just can't make without a band? There's definitely some people that think you can do it normally with just one person, but I think we're able to make our best songs, play the best live when all four members of the band are working together. When I'm alone I don't feel motivated, there's nothing that I want to do, but when we all connect it's like, things get more complicated, but as a result we make a better product. I ultimately think it's better when things get complicated.
-So, have there been any times where you wanted to get away from what you're doing now and maybe try another instrument?
Suginami-I kinda want to try doing something in the rhythm section. Drums or bass. Or, more than "want," I just started noticing what's happening outside of what I'm doing and got interested in what everyone else is doing. Drums look fun.. It's interesting, I thought playing the bass looked interesting as well.
Matsuda-Do you think there's a possibility the bass and guitar players are going to switch up?
Suginami-Next time you see us we'll both be holding different instruments!.. You'll be like, "What?"
Matsuda-What about the drums and vocals.. !?
Yamada-It might happen, right? (Laughs)
Okamine-We're just changing up where the sounds come from.
Suginami-Sorry, but don't you think that'll sell poorly? I'll say this first (Laughs) a while ago we put out a bonus track where we had a similar change around with the instrument players.
Yamada-Was I on the drums? I don't think I played the drums but I do remember switching around for the song.
-When do you plan to switch up again? (Laughs)
Okamine-We weren't talking seriously, you know. (Laughs)
Matsuda-If we ever do get serious about it, it will be like we're playing our last card. Like we wanted to try out the ultimate stimulus.. (Laughs)
Okamine-Yeah, it'll be for us. (Laughs)
Matsuda-Yeah, for us. (Laughs) I can't imagine that happening though; we're doing pretty well right now. (Laughs)
-Yes. (Laughs) Well then, now I'd like to ask you how it felt once you had your major debut.
Suginami-Right at the moment we went for our major debut, when we first decided to put out a single, the bass player that had been with us all through the time we were indie decided to leave. So, we didn't have much time to think about what a major label debut was, we were suddenly in a tight spot trying to find a bass player. I didn't feel strongly about the debut because of the timing of all the other things that happened.
-So you wouldn't say you were particularly happy?
Suginami-Actually, it was pretty terrible. We were all wondering what was going to happen.
Matsuda-It was good to finally get out there, but, truthfully, it seemed like the road forward was pitch black.
Yamada-Yeah, we were suddenly off to a stormy start ..
Matsuda-Yeah, yeah (Laughs) But after that, and this was a good thing, the record company sent us on a retreat together.
Matsuda-Before we could even think about it they had dragged us out to Yamanakako and left us alone together, the three of us.
Matsuda-So we spent the whole time complaining, "This place sucks"-the three of us complaining pretty much all day.
Matsuda-We were like, "What do we do now!?" (Laughs) But at that point we all decided to stick with it. I guess we didn't really have a choice, we were like, "Damn it! If we can start making more songs we won't have to do this again." But since that was the start of our major label career, we didn't get dramatic like, "We finally did it!" or "We made it this far!" as if the major debut was a step.
-So you'd say it was more of painful memory.. ? (Laughs)
Suginami-You might say it was painful.. well, our debut wasn't exactly painful but I wouldn't say it was a fun memory either.
Matsuda-We had been looking forward to it for a while though. (Laughs)
Suginami-Yeah, yeah. (Laughs) We'd been looking forward to it and yet.. (Laughs)
-How long did they leave you out in Yamanakako?
Matsuda-It was about a week, right? Weren't we there a while? And the whole time it rained outside.
Suginami-We were like, "Why does it have to be raining" (Laughs)
Yamada-We completely wrote the song "Ame" (Rain) there
-So you were stuffed up in your room the whole week..
Matsuda-But, if we hadn't been holed up together, we still would have debuted, but, call it the power of anger or whatever, but we wouldn't have been able to continue as band if they hadn't herded us all in. When I think about it now, I'm sure it was probably for the best.
-So you make more music when you're holed up together?
Matsuda-No, after all that happened we kept on working, whereas had we been taken care of a little better and given a chance to really think about what was going on we might have decided to call it quits. But once we decided to give it another chance everyone was like, "Let's go!"
-So you didn't have any staff with you on the trip?
Matsuda-No one. Even our manager went home. (Laughs)
-I see. (Laughs) It seems like your major debut isn't that good of a memory after all. So, when did you think people started reacting to you guys as a band?
Matsuda-I think people first started responding to our band when.. uh.. when was it? Probably around the time of our one-man tour. It was before Okamine joined the band, but I had finally started to feel intimate with the other band member and it felt like we had finally moved a step forward as a band. I finally felt like we had moved ahead a little.
Okamine-The cheers for you guys at Club Quattro were clearly impressive. They were like, YEAAAAAAAYY!!
Matsuda-What, for us? (Laughs)
Yamada-It was our first time being treated that way.
Okamine-But that performance was really good, now that I think about it We were all exhausted at the end.
-Club Quattro is very popular. Had you wanted to play there?
Matsuda-Nah, we'll play anywhere!
Suginami-Yeah, we don't really have preferences for where we play.
Matsuda-Before that we'd done a one-man concert at Club Shelter, then we played Loft so after that we just ended up doing Club Quattro.
(Interview: M. Isoyama, Translated by Daniel)