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Isshi, Vocals

Isshi Born December 7 in Shinshu.
Rumor has it that one of his ancestors was a demon. From infancy Isshi has been interested in ancient Japan including folklore and Buddhist imagery. This interest manifests itself in the unique stories he tells through the lyrics he writes today. He's also an avid reader, especially ghost stories and the occult; fragments of which show up all over the world of Kagrra. Isshi is currently expanding the scope of his writing and producing essays for a monthly article in a music magazine.

Akiya, Guitar

Akiya Born August 25 in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Owner of a boundless variety of ideas, Akiya is the most sensitive to the tastes of modern times. Expanding well past music, his field of view allows him to endlessly absorb new things and make them a part of himself. Even limiting the discussion to music, he likes and listens to a vast variety of genres. His sensitivity to the world shows greatly in the compositions of Kagrra, bringing about a number of styles of music from rock to pop.

Shin, Guitar

Shin Born September 11 in Saitama Prefecture.
Shin figures centrally in Kagrra's composition process. He gives off a calm, unique aura, but is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to musical technology. Shin's knowledge and skill is indispensable to Kagrra's song writing. His personality drives him to investigate to the very end of whatever subject holds his interest and he is eternally curious.

Nao, Bass

Nao Born February 2 in Hokkaido Prefecture.
With a sunny disposition, Nao is the mood-maker of Kagrra. His innocent smile and kind words harmonize those around him. As a radio DJ and event announcer, Nao further shows off his unique abilities in the art of conversation. His natural command of a wide range of areas drives his activity in music and the media. His motto, "Whatever you do, do it your best" leads him with ambition to give everything his all.

Izumi, Drums

Izumi Born February 11 in Hokkaido Prefecture.
The leader of Kagrra. Izumi has a calm demeanor and is quick to forgive, but at his core he's levelheaded. Easily the central pillar of Kagrra, Izumi's eternal coolness, skill at judging his surroundings, and fervor of his work supports Kagrra. Also wearing the hat of visual creator for the band, Izumi constantly is expanding the places where he can express himself-well past the confines of music.

+ An Interview with Kagrra on their Second Album "San"
-- First of all I'd like each of you to introduce yourselves.

Isshi: I'm the vocalist, Isshi.
Akiya: Guitarist, Akiya.
Nao: Bassist, Nao.
Shin: Guitarist, Shin.
Izumi: Drums, Izumi.

-- Now I'd like each of you to tell me your impressions of the other members in the band.

Isshi: Um, I'd say Aki's a very curious person, and Shin's a machine. Yeah.

-- (Laughs)

Isshi: Naoran keeps talking about how he's going to leave Kagrra any day now. (Laughs) He's like that sometimes. (Pointing to Izumi) Um, he's the leader. (Laughs)

Everyone: (Laughs)

Izumi: That's what I thought, now I see . (Laughs)
Akiya: Isshi reminds me of high school baseball.

-- (Laughs) Is that so?

Akiya: He's zealous. Then, I'd say Naoran feels more like soccer to me. (Laughs)

Everyone: (Laughs)

Akiya: He likes soccer a lot. Then, Shin likes basketball, and our fearless leader likes manga.
Nao: So, Isshi ,right? He's always like, "I'm awesome, that's so me." Are you trying to convince yourself?

Everyone: (Laughs)

Isshi: Wha!? (Laughs)

Everyone: (Laughs)

Nao: What am I trying to say here ... he wants people to follow him around?

-- So you can rely on him?

Nao: No, you can't rely on him much. He has a knack for getting everyone to go along with him.

-- I see.

Nao: Aki's a really curious guy and is always doing something new for us, including his compositions. Now, if I'm a tone-deaf machine, then Shin's a computer-always giving me advice about my instrument. He's the center of song-writing for the band. Izumi is an all around ... to wrap him up in one word, he's an amazing man.

Everyone: (Laughs)

Nao: You can rely on him for anything. He has firm control of all the facets of Kagrra-completely dependable.
Shin: Isshi's a strange man ... his habits and such.
Isshi: I'm no different than anyone else. Regular, right? Just a normal person.

Everyone: (Laughs)

Shin: No, no, no, he's a kanji otaku.

-- Aaaaah.

Isshi: Hey, don't use the word otaku.

Everyone: (Laughs)

Shin: Kanji mania.
Isshi: Mania's a better word.
Shin: He's darn professor of kanji. The things he collects as well, they aren't normal. They're ... interesting.

-- So they're a little strange?

Shin: A little strange indeed.

-- I can't visualize this.

Shin: Well, lots of normal people collect things like accessories. He likes Buddha figures.
Isshi: (Laughs)

Shin: His like for Japanese things goes right down to the roots. Aki brings in all sorts of new things. He's full of ideas, very interesting. Nao-chan's has a great aura, or maybe he's just really easy to get along with. I'm not sure what to say exactly, but Nao really feels good. (Laughs) He's like that on stage, too-the guy with the good aura. Izumi's the guy you leave stuff too-at least he's always there when you have something you need him to do. He's reliable, incredibly. I guess that's about all for me.

Izumi: Isshi seems completely straight-forward and likes enthusiastic people. Everyone's already said so much about Aki, but he really has novel ideas, the kind that will get you out of a jam. Nao is Kagrra's lethal weapon.

-- Oh really? (Laughs)

Izumi: Yes, he's full of stuff human beings don't have. Then Shin, whenever you have a question about audio ... he's also definitely older than his years.

-- I see. So when everyone gets together it all balances out. Everyone's unique, but Kagrra comes together when everyone is asserting themselves in different places.

Izumi: Definitely.

-- This year marks the fifth anniversary since the start of the Kagrra. Looking back, how have the last five years been for everyone?

Isshi: It's gone by so fast, but in a way it's been like going back to school with all our human interactions. Of course, we've grown a lot as a band in the last five years. It's been a vivid five years.

-- Looking back, has it felt like the time was short?

Isshi: Just off the top of my head I'd say it was short, but when I think about our ages now it must have been a long time.

-- (Laughs)

Everyone: (Laughs)

Isshi: Five years. Man, I'm getting old. (Laughs)

-- That's to be expected, though. (Laughs) Now then, your new album "San," what sort of piece is it?

Isshi: It feels like we've shed off a layer of our old skin. Up until this point we've been working inside of Japan. This time we got out a little and absorbed some different things. Kagrra is no longer "Japanese," but "Japanese" is Kagrra on our latest album.

-- What are the origins behind the album title?

Isshi: The word "San" comes from the Japanese word for "brilliant ('Sansan')," as though to be shining in the sun. The album was coming out in the summer, and similarly all the songs are permeated by a certain light.

-- This album definitely sounds like it's directed more outside.

Isshi: Yeah. Not just incorporating "Japan," but all sorts of things. Fans that have been with us since the start will probably think, "Hey, it's Kagrra" and just take it as our normal Japanese sound, but people who are hearing us for the first time will listen to it a little differently than if they had heard us before. I think it's that sort of album.

-- So the album is directed to more people than just your current fans.

Isshi: Yes.

-- Was there anything you were trying to do with the production of this album in terms of sound, composition, or lyrics?

Isshi: Yes, we wanted the lyrics to touch on a lot of subjects. It's considerably adventurous.

-- And your lyrics always have such difficult words ... (Laughs)

Isshi: Ha ha ha. Yes, that's still there. But we also made some really straight forward songs. Stuff that was never inside me before.

-- How about everyone else? Tell me about the compositions, etc.

Akiya: Yeah, we had a concept for our first album, which we always considered when writing our songs. But, if last time was about looking in on ourselves, this time is the exact opposite. Personally, I think we made a broader album. More, "Japan" then "Japanese."

-- I see.

Akiya: Since we weren't bound to anything when we were making the album. It came about pleasantly. Yep. (Laughs)

-- (Laughs) How was it for you, Nao?

Nao: I like what we did with this album. Kagrra's always trying to do new things as a band. So, I thought we showed everyone a new face of Kagrra with this album. I think the album appeals to people of any age.

-- What about Shin?

Shin: I feel the same way that everyone else does. We went major and got a chance to work with a number of different producers. Lately, we've been doing everything ourselves, but I think we'll be doing this more. We've gotten a new foothold on this album. We'd like to work with even more people in the future. This album is different from what we ourselves had imagined.

Izumi: Up until now we've released albums and then gone on tour. With this one we focused more on making every song something we like. There's a ton of cool songs on there so I want everyone to hear them as soon as possible. That's about it.

-- Now, I'd like each of you to choose one song from the album that you'd like to recommend to your fans.

Isshi: The song "Meguru." Shin really plays the koto in the song.

-- So it's not a sample ...

Shin: Yes, I played it.

-- Did you study koto?

Shin: A little while ago I started studying under a master. Well, that's why we put the koto in the song in the first place.

-- Oh really.

Shin: They let me play live and then recorded it. (Laughs)

-- You're the first young person I've met who plays the koto.

Shin: But, well uh, yeah, I guess that's true. It's a really primitive instrument but makes a fantastic sound. Everyone should give it a chance. (Laughs)

-- (Laughs)

Akiya: This time I wanted to do whatever I wanted for the guitar solos. All the songs turned out like that. Then, on the first track I played a 12-string guitar for the first time during recording. I'm happy we've increased the number of instruments we use in our compositions. I guess most people won't be able to tell it's a 12-string when they hear it, but, uh, it is. (Laughs)
Everyone: (Laughs)
Akiya: Anyone who can tell the difference in comparison, please remember!

-- Are you using a 12-string when you play live as well?

Akiya: Yes, I am.

-- I look forward to seeing it.

Nao: The more I listen to the whole album; the more the songs seem to fit perfectly together. I think they are all wonderful. Yeah.
Shin: I was going to say "Meguru," but someone else already said it. (Laughs) I think the balance between the lyrics, sound, and vocals on the song "Poufura" is interesting. It's Kagrra-ish. I'm not sure how everyone else will feel about it, but I'd like to point it out here.

-- Ok, "Poufura." (Laughs) Ok, what about Izumi?

Izumi: Yeah. For me, I'd like to mention the third song, "Ibitsu." The drums are different from the left and right speakers. You'll know if you block out one of the channels or turn off the speaker. I thought it was interesting.

-- I noticed it when I was listening to the album.

Izumi: I'm glad you noticed.

-- If there were any interesting stories that happened during recording, would you be kind enough to share them with us?

Isshi: Well, when we first started recording the vocals I felt asthmatic. I was scared about how it would turn out, but I went through with the rest of that session. We split the recording up into a number of sessions, but just as I finished the first session the asthma completely healed itself. I think I've sang the hardest of my whole career when we were making the song "Satsuki." I wanted to find a vocal tone I liked, and performed the track the most intricately I ever have. I think that's about it ... why does take-out always taste so strong?

Everyone: (Laughs)

Isshi: Also, I opened up my own little corner on our website, "Isshi no Hitorigoto." I wrote there every day.

-- I saw it. You wrote every single day.

Isshi: Yeah, now I'm done! (Laughs)

Everyone: (Laughs)

-- You're not going to keep doing it? (Laughs)

Isshi: No, I'm still ... (Laughs) Sometimes ... . I'll write a little ...

-- I thought it was remarkable. (Laughs)

Isshi: I wrote every day.

-- You wrote a ton every day.

Isshi: Yes. I was stuck at the end because there wasn't any more news. But I felt a sense of accomplishment!

-- A round of applause!

Isshi: Thank you.
Nao: This is just my experience, but when we were writing the first track "Murakumo," Akiyo, Shin, and Izumi all went into the booth to work on it. I felt really lonely by myself.

Everyone: (Laughs)

Nao: I felt like I had been locked out of the room. I was like, I guess it's OK, and then started to feel lonely. Then I forgot why it was OK in the first place, (Laughs) and just watched wrestling by myself.
Izumi: Stories. (Laughs)

-- So you watched wrestling to divert yourself away from your loneliness ...

Nao: Probably, yeah. I watch wrestling the whole time.
Akiya: There are all sorts of things to do during recording, but when we weren't recording ... We danced and stuff.
Isshi: Yes, we did.

-- A dance?

Akiya: A dance. The three of us would dance in front of this mirror.

-- Aaahhh. I kind of want to see that on the DVD.

Akiya: A ha ha. I don't think anyone filmed it.
Nao: It was amazing. The three of us.
Akiya: We were absurdly good. Absurdly ... break-dancing. (Laughs)
Nao: We looked it up on the internet ... so this is how you break-dance.
Akiya: During break.

-- So you aren't going to take advantage of your newfound skills during your shows, right?

Akiya: Naaaaah, but maybe the hip movements. (Laughs)

-- Ohhh, so everyone look out for that! (Laughs)

Akiya: Yes. (Laughs)

-- How about Shin?

Shin: There was so much stuff to do.

-- Work?

Shin: Lot's of work. What did I do the whole time ... sit in front of a computer mostly. Lately I've been trying to get away from giving up sleep for work. I tried my hardest not to do it this time, but this was the first case in a while where I sometimes didn't have enough time to sleep. We shut ourselves up in this underground studio where not even our cell phones could get through.

-- So you didn't see the sun?

Shin: No sun and we didn't get to breath any fresh air.

-- What's the record for the most number of days you've spent like that?

Shin: How many days was it? We probably worked like that for five or six days.

-- That's incredible.

Shin: Yes. I lost track of day and night. Generally, I don't like to work like that, but we had to. (Laughs) We really locked ourselves up for the album.

-- It sounds like discipline practice, or asceticism.

Shin: Well, I guess were a little ascetic. Not that we got anything from working like that though.

-- But what about the album?

Shin: Well, there's that. (Laughs) I feel like we were up so long just recording the thing.

-- A heart wrenching tale.

Shin: I wouldn't go that far. (Laughs) I did some of the engineering work and some of the assistant's work, so I was really busy.

-- I see. How about Izumi?

Izumi: I bought this new cymbal for the album. Which song was it ... probably the fourth or the fifth. I put a little too much energy into my playing and CRASH!! I hit it and BYUuuuu it fell down. The cymbal I had just bought ...

-- And you'd just bought it too ...

Izumi: I looked at it just after I hear it go BWAAAN and it's cracks.

-- Oh no!

Izumi: It's like, GAAAAAAAAAAN (Weeps). Yeah. (Laughs)

-- That's sad. Such a sad story.

Izumi: Sad ... yes.

-- Well then, you guys will be releasing a concert DVD on August 3, right? Could you tell us a little about what's on the disk?

Isshi: There's a ton of stuff on there. Up until now we haven't shown much of our private lives, so we included some of that too. Up until now it's been like our private lives and then Kagrra, but now you'll see both sides of us. (Laughs) Yes.

-- Then it sounds like something your fans will have to check out. Now then, I'd like to ask you some personal questions. First, tell me the one thing you want most right now.

Isshi: Freddie Mercury's soul. (Laughs)

Everyone: (Laughs)

Isshi: I'm like, come on, possess me! (Laughs)

Everyone: Hmmm, what to wish for ...

-- What about a cymbal?

Izumi: I can still play my other cymbals.
Isshi: Oh, a Pomeranian!

-- A Pomeranian. (Laughs)

Everyone: (Laughs)

-- That's right, you raise dogs, right?

Isshi: Yes. I've got three right now.

-- So you want to add another.

Isshi: Yes.

-- Wouldn't it be tough to take care of four dogs?

Isshi: Yeah, I guess I don't need it. (Laughs)

Everyone: (Laughs)

Isshi: Oh yeah. Monitor speakers.
Izumi: Buy them yourself. (Laughs)
Akiya: Me, too.

-- So both of you want speakers? (Laughs)

Isshi: Uh, I'm fine with that. (Laughs)
Akiya: A huge TV. I could watch soccer on it. I guess I'd prefer a huge TV.

-- Ok then, a huge TV.

Akiya: I'm going to save up and buy one. (Laughs)

-- What about Nao?

Nao: Uh, something I want ... bi ...
Isshi: Bi?
Nao: Bi. A Motorbike.

-- A bike.

Nao: Uh, a moped.

-- Wishes.

Nao: Wish, er, I want.

-- OK, a moped.

Nao: A motorized bicycle.

Everyone: Now he's getting specific.

-- OK, a motorized bicycle. Shin, what about you?

Shin: Right now, I want a PowerBook.

-- So everyone wants electronics?

Shin: I used to always think that I'd never want to use a computer for work, but now I can't say that's the truth anymore. I should probably get one soon. (Laughs)

-- OK, a PowerBook.

Izumi: Uh, what do I want? I want another drum set.

-- Oh.

Izumi: This time I used a different set than normal, and I really liked it. I want some kits from other manufactures now.

-- Drums are different from guitars in that you can't collect so many of them. So, for the time being, you're only working off of one set?

Izumi: Yes.

-- Changing pace, now I'd like to hear each of you recommend one album to your fans.

Isshi: "Anzenchitai II"

-- That's a surprise.

Isshi: Really? "Anzenchitai II" is so good. Tamaki had such a good voice when he was young. I'd also recommend anything by Queen.

-- All right.

Akiya: Lately, I've been getting into Susumu Hirasawa's "Kenja no Propeller" album. It's Asian techno.
Isshi: The guy from "Millennium Actress"?
Akiya: Yes, yes, yes. He's also played with the band P-Model. It seems like he does a lot of work for film soundtracks and stuff.
Nao: I'll recommend Kobukuro's new album, "MUSIC MAN SHIP."
Shin: Uh, I guess Yamagen. Yamagen's latest album, "Island made" is good.

-- Everyone has such great choices.

Shin: A little too good. (Laughs) Ooh, but if we could just be them.

-- You just have to work hard!

Shin: I guess that's true. (Laughs)
Isshi: Oooh! They're hot.
Izumi: They're four disk set, "Ijin Den" is full of hot tracks.

-- OK. Well then, you're scheduled to begin your solo concert tour in August, correct? Can you tell me what to look forward to on this tour?

Isshi: This time will be playing only halls, so that's something to see. This is also our release tour for the latest album. I'm happy to be able to share our new album, "San" with everyone at these smaller concert halls. Definitely look forward to it.

Akiya: Yeah, we're probably going to play tracks from our albums, and our fans will probably be coming to hear that. I'm sure everyone has his or her own favorite songs, so I'll be glad if we can put together a show that will please everyone. We're practicing up right now.

Nao: This is our first hall tour, so I'm wondering how it's going to turn out. We want to do sizzling performance for you guys, and get as many people as we can worked up for us. I'm looking forward to it so I'm putting a lot of effort in to getting ready.

Shin: We're promoting our new album, so naturally we'll be adding the new songs to our set list. I think that both people who are seeing us for the first time and people who have been coming for a while will get to see something new in our performances. We work out our set lists through trial and error, but ultimately everyone will be hearing the whole thing at once at the shows. I hope we show everyone a good time at the show.

Izumi: We want to give you the best total show. I'll be glad if everyone says, "Now, that was a good show," once we've finished.

-- I look forward to it.

Izumi: Good.

-- Well then, finally I'd like to ask each of you for a message to your fans.

Isshi: A very long amount of time has passed for us. I think we've been incubating something superb and now we can finally show it to you. We've changed everything from small stuff like our hairstyles to the very depth of our compositions. Without regrets, I want to show this album to everyone. So, everybody, hang in just a little bit longer, it'll be out soon!
Akiya: Everyone give the album an honest listen. Well, I'm sure you'll listen to it anyway, but ... (Laughs)

-- (Laughs)

Everyone: (Laughs)

Akiya: Whatever's fine, just listen to it! Even on the train. You'll probably listen to it anyway, but still. Listen to it a ton and then come to our concerts; I think it'll be a great time. Of course, the CD probably has a better sound to it.

-- Probably.

Akiya: That's normal though.

-- There's the joy of possessing the CD as well.

Akiya: That's true. The packaging on the album is gorgeous as well.

-- (Laughs)

Nao: We'll be selling our album "San" and a DVD, so definitely look forward to them. Finally, our five years as Kagrra has gone by so fast, however we're going to keep giving you the energetic Kagrra you know and love, so keep an eye out for us.

Shin: We've been working under wraps, away from the eyes of our fans for a while now. We're going to get a chance to meet you all on our new tour, so I'd like to ask you all for your support.

Izumi: To all of you who are hearing us for the first time, and those of you who might have a little bit of interest in our band, definitely come out and see one of our shows or try out our album.

-- Thank you very much.

(Interview: Takahashi)

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