DAITA

Of course you can't know what is going to happen in the future.
Even now, we were able to prove that the five of us can stand on the stage together, and perform together.

——First I'd like to hear how you are feeling now, after the concert in Saitama Super Arena.

“To tell you the truth, I feel relieved that it's over safely. I was worrying about things like who would take responsibility if by a chance we would not be able to perform; the purpose being what it is.”

——You took the lead to make this a reality, right?

“Yes. Basically all the members felt the same. I happened to be in America when the earthquake happened. Because I didn't experience the earthquake itself, I was able to look at the situation calmly. So, I personally thought that we should do something, and shortly before I returned to Japan, I was contacted by Natchin, who said he wanted to talk with me when I got back. And so we all got together to talk about what to do. We had to start with 'Can we really do it?', since it's been nine years since our breakup. There was the matter of our schedules, and we weren't sure how many people would actually show up. We talked about if we were willing to take that risk.”

——And it ended up becoming your biggest live show.

“Normally it wouldn't have been possible. We had no idea how big an audience we would draw, but in the end it turned out just like we had hoped. Honestly, I wasn't sure if we could really perform in that hall. Actually, we reunited in 2007 also, but back then the motive was special too. (Memorial for their former manager, Nakamura Shin'ichi, who had suddenly passed away that same year) This time we're returning a favor in a different sense from that. The point being that we're a band who doesn't get together for ourselves. (wry smile) If it's for someone else, we will. Maybe we have that kind of chivalry in us.”

——In a way, you're indebted to Sendai?

“Yes. We were able to debut from a major label after achieving good results as an independent band. Back then we didn't think that much of it. We thought that once we had got on the right track we would surely get big in a few years. (laughs) But in reality, although our concerts did well, our CDs didn't sell that well. We ended up remaining in obscurity for about three years. At a time like that a TV station in Sendai happened to run a show on us, which got a great response. After that we started performing in various parts of Tōhoku, with Sendai as our base, sort of. We did things like public radio shows and we went there a lot to do promotion campaigns. It was also because the person in our label who was in charge of that area was really enthusiastic. Because of such a past we just couldn't help doing something. It's not that simple for a band that has broken up once to reunite with the motive of giving people courage. Just doing a free concert is really hard. But there's no stopping once it got going. I do think that the reason Saitama went well was because Sendai was a success.”

——What was the biggest difficulty?

“I'd have to say time. Due to the disjointed schedule, it's difficult to keep the members' enthusiasm high. Of course we're doing it to aid in the recovery, but we aren't all working together all of the time, you know. We had very few rehearsals where everyone was present; in the end we had no choice but to make them more substantial. And since this was our first time in Saitama Super Arena, we didn't know what kind of an atmosphere the place would have.”

——Nevertheless, you did manage to prepare a new instrumental.

“That was actually completed just a few days before the concert. I guess we are a very service-minded band at the bottom. The one who brought that up was actually Junji. Four years ago, at Budōkan, we performed the instrumental suite 'THE Budō'. He wanted to do something similar to that, and said he'd also like to play a small drum solo. That was the request he brought up, and I had to make it up in a rush. It was work round-the-clock. (laughs) Since we didn't have time to work all together to make something completely new, I put it together by copy-pasting together excerpt from our CDs. Since the number of songs was already big, it was really hard to get it ready, but I felt that it would really shine when performed on a big stage like that. In the end we played it together for the first time at the very last rehearsal.”

——All that is not something you can accomplish halfheartedly.

“Everything Siam Shade does is something that you can't do unless you keep doing it. It's not something you can just do on the side. I think that this is probably the most difficult piece of work among all the situations I've played in after we disbanded. Back then there was nothing to it, but now that I come back here after everyone has started doing something new, I feel surprised at all the things I was playing. It kinda feels like I've got too many roles.”

——I see. This may not be the right way to say it, but in the end I had so much fun that I very much forgot the earthquake. But that's OK, right?

“Yeah. I bet everyone was looking forward to that day since they got the tickets. For Sendai, we were supposed to have gone there to give people something, but we ended up receiving something too. It felt like people were saying, 'Do your best in Saitama too,' to us. Anyway, because it's been many years since we last played together, there were many details I'm not satisfied with, but that's just the way I am. (laughs) However, I'm sure of the fact that we were able to present people with something good. It would be a different situation if we were to suppose that we would keep doing this in the future. In any case, I believe that the live show was good enough to make people say: 'Siam Shade is still really cool!' And I think that our feelings of wanting to put up such show reached people.”

——I believe that no one would object if you announced here and now that “we have decided to keep performing”. Even though you know that people want that, you won't change the premise that the reunion is temporary?

“No. It all comes down to what the members want — me included of course. I feel that this is just not the right time. It might come in a few years, or it might not come in decades. It might be that we want to play together again when no one wants to see us anymore. (laughs) Anyway, it's safe to say that we are not a normal band. Music-wise, too. I think that we were a rare thing in Japan back then, trying our luck with songs like these. Since that's basically how we are, there must be something twisted in our personalities too. But we are sincere though. We're a band whose curtains were brought down so that each of us could expand their musician spirit.”

——Do you feel that you don't want people to lump you together with other reunions?

“Honestly speaking, yes. You know that we were a band that kept from performing at Budōkan for a long time, right? The same kind of thing may apply to our reunion also. Of course breakups and reunions are different for everyone; it comes down to what they want to do with their lives, and it's not my place to say something about that, but it feels like in Siam Shade's case the weight of our name is something else or how should I put it. Unless all of us want to carry it equally enthusiastically, it won't work out. Once you start doing something, you've no choice but to keep at it, right? Treating it as something transient just wouldn't feel right. That has always been my personal opinion.”

——That would also mean that you'll play when you feel like playing just for yourselves?

“Yes. However, suppose that we played at certain occasions, then it would be no different from what we're doing now. For a reunion you would have to start creating something new. And because we're not feeling like that, in that sense this is not a reunion. It would require quite a strong will from all of the five members for us to go: 'All right, let's get back at it!' However, I believe that only Siam Shade has gone so far as to reunite in order to play a free concert at the disaster area. In my opinion that's how we've managed to stand out.”

——Indeed. There are many people who have become interested in the band after you broke up. How do you feel about that?

“You've got something like the Internet nowadays. I guess that there are a lot of people who have found out about us on YouTube. Yuuya from SID is like that, he knows a lot about us but says that he doesn't have any of our CDs. (laughs) It's quite surprising. That's why I gave him the box-set that came out when we disbanded. ABC(Acid Black Cherry)'s Yasu also often mentions how much he respects us. Calling them my kōhai would be weird since I myself don't really have many associations like that. It makes me feel that it was all worth doing when I realize that people listen to our music like that. We were a pretty esoteric band in the first place, or a band that was popular with the people in the business. When '1/3 no junjō na kanjō' became popular, we got a bit more famous with common people, but in the end, there was no other rock band as radical as us, a band delving into music from a genre considered somewhat unpopular. Our idea was to see if we could make the thing we wanted to do more than anything work on the Japanese market.”

——Where should the people whose Siam Shade-fever has recurred seek their remedy?

“It hasn't been officially decided yet, but a video of the concert is going to be released in the not-so-distant future. Other than that, all of us are doing our own thing. In any case, we are a band that has broken up already. Of course you can't know what is going to happen in the future. With this we were able to prove that the five of us can stand on the stage together, and perform together. And everyone could see that that's not the reason why we won't reunite. My own major label career began with this band, and now almost ten years have gone by since its breakup. During that time I've been doing all sorts of things during my solo career... And by returning to the starting point like this, we were able to prove that what we were doing wasn't mistaken. It was also a good time to take a new look at myself. I noticed things like: back then I was playing music with that kind of motivation, or that I've always liked things like this, and so on. Moments of inspiration are unique. It felt like I was confronted with all that again. It also made me wonder what's up with ending a concert like this with a song I made when I was 18? (laughs) It does have the destructive power unique to the time when it was created. There's no knowing how many songs like that you can write during your lifetime. Besides, it wasn't at all unpleasant or embarrassing to play that song now. None of the songs were like that. I was glad to realize that, and using that as my nourishment, I will keep on pursuing originality.”

Junji

After the concert that day was over, I could look into the eyes of each of the members and say "Thanks".
That's all the celebration I needed for a job well done.

——This was your first concert at Saitama Super Arena. How did you feel after it was over?

“Man, did I feel refreshed, I was filled with exhilaration. I stood on that stage with my own legs. Not in somebody else's shoes. After playing in Siam Shade for such a long time, I put to sea alone after it broke up, and because of that here I am now. It kinda feels like my sense of responsibility, or whatever you want to call it, for the name Siam Shade is very different. Honestly speaking, I'm not really the kind of 'good Samaritan' type who always keeps charity work in mind. But I enjoyed myself to the full at the stage, and the people there could share that enjoyment to the full... If it turns out that it helps someone in the end, then what could be more wonderful than that? That's how I feel.”

——When I talked to you on the occasion of your Sendai concert, you said: “I'm satisfied if we can give people smiles”, didn't you?

“Yeah. If you want to talk about donations, there's no way to avoid talking about numbers. Then there's going to be people who can give a billion yen and there'll be those who can only afford to donate a hundred yen. Of course I think that someone who can donate a billion is amazing, but I don't think that there's much sense in it if it ends up being like a competition. For me, that show was nothing other than seeing all the old members healthy, continuing to do music, and being wanted by everybody... And I also played there; it was absolutely great that we were able to present people with that show. When you're on the stage there's no point in not having fun, right? But still, of course I feel a responsibility. I have to make everyone say: 'Siam Shade is still Siam Shade no matter how many years go by.' I would never want to present fans with playing that would fall short of their expectations. And also, personally I had the feeling of not wanting to blend into that nostalgic image. You could certainly call this a class reunion, but I'm not a person in some sepia photograph. That's why I didn't want to stint on showing the newest sides of myself. Well, I do suppose that all of us must have felt that way.”

——As a matter of fact, it didn't seem like the concert of a reunited band.

“And that's a good thing. Many of the managers and such people were asking us, 'What should we do with the next schedule?' (laughs) But in reality, both the members and the people watching and also the staff members who supported us, everyone had a good time. Before we got on the stage, a staff member who has worked with us for a long time was crying at the wing of the stage and when I asked him why he was crying, he answered: 'You should take a look at the audience.' I took a peek and the audience seats were filled all the way to the back. When I saw that even I felt a lump in my throat. I didn't have the time to shed tears though. (laughs) I was really moved. When you think that this many people have gathered together for this group called Siam Shade... Normally it would be inconceivable, to get that many people. (laughs) Well, I guess it had to do with the fact that it was a one time only concert.”

——Are you aware of your new fans?

“Of course. In my case, I often play as a support drummer in different places and there are fans who have started to like me because of that. For example, the fans of ABC; I guess there's a lot of young girls. Apparently such girls also came to see us.”

——I guess that everyone who saw the concert wants to see “what's next”.

“I suppose so. But when you're still just a bit hungry is the best time to stop, right? You mustn't overeat. In any case, I felt refreshed. As a matter of fact, it wasn't an easy road to make this show a reality. It's not that simple to hang up the sign of Siam Shade again. It's not something you can do on an impulse, like: 'Let's do it' 'Oh, OK.' We had a lot of meetings with everybody present... There were all kinds of negotiations. I'm sure a lot also happened without us knowing about it. However, Daita was generally in charge this time, and that made a lot of things happen. I'm grateful for him for that. There is no one else to who could have done it. Right from the beginning, nobody had any objections when Daita said that, 'I'll do it, if you let me be in charge. Just let me handle everything.'”

——I suppose you had to keep the scheme simple in order to get it in motion.

“Yeah. After all, all five of us have each worked around ten years focusing just on ourselves. Now that we got back together, it might have been even harder to make unanimous decisions than it was back then. We had an opportunity to talk about things before we decided on whether we do it or not, but somehow the atmosphere then wasn't the most relaxed. (laughs) We were sort of embarrassed to talk after such a long time. It was like having a drink alone with your father on Father's Day. (laughs) It was a feeling like that; I was a little nervous. It's a weird thing, on the other hand, the second we start playing together, we go straight back to those days. It was nice, however, to feel freshness instead of nostalgia on that moment. I could feel how the members had grown. I guess it was possible because we spent that much time together back then.”

——I heard that your rehearsals were also short and intense.

“They were. Oftentimes someone was not present. Daita mostly handled the set-list also, focusing on songs that people want to hear. However, instrumentals were a question mark. In place of what we did, we originally planned on doing 'Virtuoso'. But when we had only three rehearsals left, I blurted out to Daita: 'When we have played instrumentals in big places like this, we've never played just one existing song, right?' Of course people would be glad to hear 'Virtuoso', but I thought that it wasn't quite like Siam Shade. That's why I said that, well aware that it was probably asking too much. I knew we were short on time, but even if it didn't work out in the end, I didn't want to give up without even trying. Even if making something completely new from scratch was impossible, we could at least make a medley from the intros and interludes of the songs not on the set-list. All of us already know all those parts by heart. We decided to just try if it would work.”

——I bet it was a tense moment.

“Yes. I personally would have absolutely hated something like just playing it through but then making a mistake at the performance. I felt so especially about Daita. I really respect him, and that's why I want to experience music on the same level as him. I've always felt like that. And I guess I still do. That's why we have maintained a really good relationship. In fact, if it's not music, we don't care about what the other one thinks. Because we intersect at the 'point' of music, there's no problem as long as we respect each other in that aspect. I like him genuinely as a musician; and of course I feel the same way about the other members. As for Hideki, he is a really charismatic guy, and I thought that his stage performance was exactly what you'd expect from him.”

——Did you discover any new things in your music?

“No, it's the same impression as the past. If I had to re-analyze the songs, all I could do is to say how I feel about my playing as a drummer. Though in that sense you could say it was new. After all, as I've gone through various playing situations I've always been pursuing what you could call strategies as a drummer... However, what I realized this time is that Hideki's singing is after all what makes us what we are. I think that back when I played in bands, I always played with the feeling of someone watching me. But this time it feels like I played as a proper drummer. In that sense this might be the best live show among the hundreds of Siam Shade shows we've played. Of course you can't surpass our farewell concert at Budōkan. That has turned into a 'memory', and there is nothing more powerful than a memory. But I feel that this concert is, if not equal, then at least a good match for it.”

——You can never experience exactly the same feeling twice.

“Yeah. That's why for those who had never seen us before, what had been zero became one, and they should treasure that memory. I myself feel that this was a really precious experience. I feel like the first Japanese that has landed on the moon. (laughs) I'm really happy, there's absolutely no ill feelings or regrets, and I don't feel anything was lacking. Year by year, I'm turning into someone who doesn't look back over the past. I'm nothing but forward-looking. Nowhere is there darkness inside me. (laughs) In the end, there's no use in losing yourself in the happiness of the past. Having it as good memory is enough. As for now, I would like to restore that happiness into Bull Zeichen 88 and ABC. Because I think that I should use that happiness for my future self, starting from this moment.”

——In other words, what you gained from that concert becomes the energy to face the things that tomorrow has to give.

“Exactly. You see, that day, when everyone had gone partying, I went back home to sleep. Since I had a concert the next day. I had to change my way of thinking right there. After the concert, I could look into the eyes of each of the members and say, 'Thanks'. I guess that's all the celebration I needed for a job well done. Well, it's also because I don't drink alcohol. (laughs)”

——However, since it made you so happy, doesn't it make you want to keep Siam Shade together at least a day longer in order to keep feeling that happiness?

“That's how I felt, up until the day we disbanded. I kept saying, 'I don't want to break up,' until the last moment. But I guess everyone was like that and all of us had to accept it with really strong determination. That's why I was like a zombie for about half a year after our breakup. Because Siam Shade, which meant everyday life for me, was no longer and I no longer had a place to return to, I had to make a new start from 'Who exactly am I?' That's why I think it was a good thing in the end that we broke up at that moment. After that, I for one, in a way, became a full-fledged member of society for the first time. Just before turning 30 I went out into the world for the first time, and many times I had to work in situations where no one would side with me. But there was no way I would lose to something like that, after I had been in Siam Shade; it was nothing. And going through that, I met a lot of great people, and because of that I am where I am right now. Even if Siam Shade were to came back right now, I can't go back to what I was back then, and there is no need to. It's better to end it with saying, 'It was fun', that's the way I think. In the end, whatever I do, I do it because it's fun, and if there's a reason I'm doing music, it's for myself. And, for the time being, when I'm having fun, other people enjoy it too. That kind of equation holds true. That's where I find the reason to keep doing it.”

KAZUMA

It was like when we were striving for our major label debut...
The feeling of all of us aiming for a common goal.

——When I met you after your concert in Sendai, you said, “Right from the rehearsals, my theme has been how to have as much fun as possible. But since there were some sloppy parts tonight, I'd like to improve my precision for Saitama.”

“Yeah, I remember saying something like that.”

——Well, did you have fun at the concert in Saitama?

“It was really fun. But if you're gonna talk about the accuracy..... (wry smile) The bigger the place is the more demanding it gets, you'll have to to move around more. Listening to the tapes of that day might not be the most comfortable experience. (laughs) But in the end, I had lots of fun.”

——How was the view from the stage?

“One word: amazing. That's the only way I can describe it. It feels like we were able to accomplish something like this because we, in the height of our fame, waited until we were fully prepared to perform at Budōkan. And we were also able to have our final concert there. That is, when you think about it objectively. But at the same time there were lots of new fans too, and I think that about 60% of the audience were men. Young people who heard about us after we had disbanded must have thought that, 'I'd like to see them at least once, now that there's a chance'. That's how it must have been, I think.”

——However, having found out about Siam Shade like that, they wouldn't have come to see you if they hadn't felt attracted. What do you think was the thing they were attracted to, that made them come to see you?

“Who knows? Legendariness? (laughs) But really, something like that might have been at the bottom. The truth is that I don't really know what to answer if I had to think about what makes us good. Maybe it was things like our accuracy of playing progressive stuff and our twin vocals; elements that were the selling points of Siam Shade back then. Maybe they just hit home right now. It just so happened that the current generation embraced them, although we have been doing them since we were amateurs. But like I said, the truth is that I don't really know.”

——Doesn't it also hint at the fact that your fortes still work even now?

“I wonder if that's the case. The music that was natural to us was actually something quite unique to the general public. I too have experienced what its like to start liking a band that has already broken up. Because of reasons like their music being close to that what I personally want to make. There might also be people who listen us with a mindset like that.”

——How did it feel like, actually standing on the stage of Saitama Super Arena?

“To be absolutely honest, you couldn't really see all the way to the back, or at least you couldn't make out any details. The fans were kinda far away. That's why for the first half I had the feeling: 'Are people really having fun or what?' But at the very moment I got on the stage I felt really impressed. Since I currently happen to be touring live houses around the country, the difference in the size must have felt even more excessive. However, that feeling gradually faded away and the time when I most felt the reaction of the audience was during the instrumental. The excitement of the crowd really reached my ears. That's when I felt that, 'Oh, they're really having fun.' Of course I was also having fun myself. It really is fitting for this band. To feel like that during an instrumental. (laughs) About that, I really think that it was well done in the little time we had. Well, Daita was the one who did all the hard work. And we only had a few rehearsals with all five present. I was able to be present at four rehearsals for the Super Arena. That means that we were all present just four times. Since Junji was also doing two things at the same time, there were days when we only had 3~4 hours.”

——Didn't you feel uneasy because of that?

“I don't know. As a player, or as someone who stands on the stage, I didn't feel at all uneasy. Of course we all might think differently, but after all, each of us has been gathering experience. Personally, at points, I even thought that I could move around even more than in the past. But it doesn't mean that all that moving around always had a point. (laughs) It actually means that the atmosphere made me want to move around that much. In our case, not all of us can move around, due to performance reasons. Among us, I've always considered myself as the 'mover and provoker', and that's what I was doing this time too. Daita has his part and insists on not using a wireless which results in him not being able to move around. It would probably be boring if I didn't move around, so that inevitably becomes my role. Although it is difficult to also maintain balance while doing that. But nothing hard enough to make me feel uneasy.”

——In a way, an extended version of a live house gig would have been okay at Sendai, but I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't work out at this huge arena.

“You're right. That's why I think that there was certain stiffness. I think that applies to all of us. However, it didn't become much of a problem.”

——I'm sure that the people who first saw you thought that, “I didn't know that there was a guitarist who can sing and dance like this!”

“Probably. (laughs) What people of the staff and equipment manufacturers, who have been watching us since way back, said was, that if anything, I seemed even more agile than in the past. That made me glad. Not bad from someone who's soon forty.”

——In fact, I'm sure that you didn't even think of still playing in Siam Shade at that age.

“That's true. I think that at 20 I couldn't have even been able to imagine myself at 40, and I didn't even think that I would be playing in Siam Shade after it had disbanded.”

——Watching the show made at least myself forget about the charity aspect or that the band was only together for a limited time.

“The members probably also..... Even if they couldn't forget them completely, I'm sure that when they were actually playing on the stage, they had so much fun that they didn't need to be conscious of those facts. I for one can say that of myself.”

——That's why, when watching the show, I'd think: “When was the next one again?” (laughs) Surely you feel that you would still like to keep doing it?

“In all sincerity, personally I had various feelings. You see, even after this many years since our breakup, this many people will gather to see us. I would be lying if I said that I absolutely didn't want to keep playing. However, it depends on all five of us. To put it differently, it also means that we can do so if we all want to. It doesn't matter who brings it up, if at that time we all want to do it, then there's no reason why we shouldn't.”

——However, nobody can tell when that time will come.

“That's true. As you know, last time the trigger was our manager's death and this time there was the earthquake. You could say that we have a kind of chivalry in us that we want to do things for someone else. But still, of course we all have our ways, and I don't know if it really is possible that all five of us will feel like wanting to do it. This might not happen again, but at the same time you can't say that it will never happen. We can't promise you that we'll certainly do it again sometime. That's—like they say—something that God only knows.”

——I guess that nine years ago at Budōkan you must have thought that it would never happen....

“Yeah. And it was the same thing four years ago. Now that we have reunited two times like this, no one can definitely say that a reunion is impossible. But still, I don't really want us to get together for reasons like this. It's not like I want things like this to happen so that they'd work as the trigger.”

——Yes, indeed. By the way, last year a tribute album by foreign artists was released. How did you feel about that?

“I simply felt glad. It included a lot of such artists that we have been listening to. It feels like a dream to have them cover our songs. Back when we started, Hideki was really into Sebastian Bach and even called himself Imastian Chack. (laughs) I guess that we all felt glad about that.”

——I see. What I think is the greatest thing for me is that none of the members had stopped to rest on their laurels. That is why you can get into step even if you come together at a moment's notice. What do you personally think has changed during these nine years?

“Let's see... I don't think that my stance has changed that much from the time of Siam Shade. Since I started working as a support musician, and playing together with various musicians, I think that my level as a guitarist must have gone up at least a little. I think that's about the only change. Of course, all of us have improved our skills. Since we're all still practicing musicians. But if you talk about mindsets, it feels like I could face this live show with a feeling that was quite close to how I felt back then. I'm referring to human relations; facing the other members. It was.... not really exactly like when we were striving for our major label debut, but on the inside it felt that way. We were all together aiming at a common goal. In that sense, I think that not only our skills, but also our mental side has developed.”

——And now for the last question. What kind of an effect do you think this experience will have on you in the future?

“Honestly speaking, I don't think that working on Siam Shade like this will have any definite benefit to my solo career. I don't think there will be that much direct influence on Kazuma the solo artist. I personally will just keep on doing this in my forties, like I have until now. Of course, I can't say that I'm not at all worried about what the case will be when I'm in my fifties, if I keep at it like this. (laughs) In the end, I just like live concerts. I don't think that that will ever change. In our first videos, I'm saying things like 'live is life', and that hasn't changed during the nearly 20 years that have gone by. It would be great if that didn't change for another ten years or so. That's why, as long as I can move, I'll keep at it.”

NATCHIN

If one of us is missing it won't work; there is a delicate balance.
We're not something you can imitate just like that. I do think you can call us a miraculous group.

——I heard that you originally didn't intend to give any interviews during this reunion. Is that true?

“Yes. I don't think we would have felt like doing interviews if the concert hadn't went as satisfyingly as it did. There was also the thing of how unified our opinions would be when interviewed separately. That's why we put out the initial press release in our joint names and decided not to speak our minds anywhere else.”

——And it is because the concert was such a phenomenal success that we are now able to hear your opinions like this, right?

“I really do think it went great. We had the experience from the concert in Sendai in July, without getting too overambitious there. Since this was our first time here, and in my life I've never played in a place with a bigger capacity, I was worried how it would work out, but in the end it went pretty much same like it always does. It didn't feel like it has already been nine years since our breakup. I think it was also a big help that we got together once for the memorial service for Mr. Shin'ichi in '07. If there really had been a gap of nine years, I don't think we would have been able to get into it this naturally. Also, looking from the stage, I could see how there were people who had become our fans after we broke up, and people who probably came to see us for the first time. That's when I first felt how time had passed. You know, I don't really check up on what everyone says about us on the net.”

——You must have been aware of the comments of people asking for your reunion?

“Of course I had heard about it indirectly, and I had sensed that there is such a wish. But it is just something that..... you know. Now it was because something like this happened that made all of the members act. It was just something that no one expected.”

——In fact, watching the concert, you didn't seem at all like a band that has broken up.

“And the truth is that we went for it without decent rehearsals. (laughs) However, since the motive or the objective was aiding in the recovery, what would be the point of us taking our time with numerous rehearsals? It's a weird thing, for every day we spend gathering at the studio for rehearsals, there will also be people who quit. It would be a different story if there was only us five, but there are all kinds of people involved. I do think that our decision about the matter was also just what one would expect of Siam Shade. Practically, it was not the scale of a concert that only five people could organize.”

——Certainly aiding the recovery was the purpose. However, I think that it was such a show that it wouldn't be odd if people forgot about that.

“Possibly. Actually, most of what I knew about the earthquake came from TV footage and from the news, but, when I was returning from the Sendai concert, I happened to meet a long-time fan at the Sendai station and I heard what it was like to actually experience it. He/she had lost a friend, things like that. At that moment my sense of mission was all the more strengthened. I realized that it had effects even this close to me. Thanks to that, I was able work more stoically for the Saitama concert. And also, I tend to get carried away when it's 'for someone else'. I'm just like that. It's not limited to live shows though. And then there's Daita—since we've known each other since primary school, I know well how he thinks. For example, if someone in our class was being bullied, he'd be the first guy to help them. And it feels like the same boy has grown up into a fourty-year-old just like that.”

——So you get carried away if it's for someone else's sake.

“I think humans are like that. And Japanese people are especially like that it seems. They've always given food to the needy even if it meant there would be none left for themselves. That's why I'd like to think that what we did was just something obvious. Though it might not actually be enough for the people who wanted to come to Sendai or Saitama but couldn't, this limited time reunion is the conclusion we members reached after considering various aspects. Although it was just two concerts, I think we proceeded in a way fitting to Siam Shade.”

——I'm sure the audience still wants this 'limited time' to continue. Do you think it would be possible for you five to gather together under one roof for the pure reason of doing music?

“So, you're going to ask that question? (laughs) To tell you the truth, realistically, I don't see that happening. It probably would have happened already if it was going to happen. During our meeting right after the earthquake had happened, we plainly decided that this would last until Saitama in October. However, there was the possibility that if it went well in Sendai, or the response from Saitama was good, someone would bring that up, but in the end, nobody took action. No matter what, we tend to insist on what's expected of Siam Shade. We don't want to reverse our decisions, and it wouldn't be like us to keep doing it perfunctorily.”

——But you do understand that people want you to get together?

“Of course. But I don't think that that's a valid reason to do it. I don't know what the other members think, but I think that continuing our musical activities separately is also one way of giving hope to such people. Of course our individual activities and Siam Shade are completely different; you can't compare them. That's what this concert in Saitama made me realize once again.”

——Were you expecting for that huge arena to be jam-packed?

“No I didn't. Honestly I wasn't expecting that many people to gather. The odd thing is, it wasn't even a weekend. I don't know about the young people, but people my age must have had some difficulties to come see us on a weekday evening. Taking that into account, way more people gathered then I would have expected.”

——What do you think was the reason for that?

“I guess it has to be the sound. Sound, music, lyrics. Things like that were handed down or inherited even after our breakup. I think that that is probably the reason for the turnout. And also, even after breaking up, we all work with the pride of being Siam Shade in our hearts, and even now, each of us have had big jobs..... I think such things also gained us recognition. For example, the people who first see Daita playing as a support musician with Himuro Kyousuke know nothing about Siam Shade, right? If they then think that, 'That guitarist is good. Who is he?' and set to find out more about him, they'll also learn about our band. I'm sure that such a thing has happened to all of us quite a few times. I suppose that was also another factor.”

——Why do you think it is that currently there are no bands like Siam Shade? Even if they have been influenced by you they just don't turn out like you.

“Why indeed? I guess there is after all something in us that cannot be imitated. Even for me, it was surprising to find out that even though we've been working in different job situations, have formed our own bands and done all kinds things that should have made us grow as artists, when it comes to playing Siam Shade's songs, it's really difficult. (laughs) 'Were we really playing things this hard?' (laughs) If it makes even ourselves feel like that, then I think there's no way it can be imitated easily. Then there is the question of balance. People make think lightly of me for saying this myself, but I really think that we are a miraculous group. However, surely you could say that about all bands that have made it big. It won't work if someone's missing, there's always a delicate balance. For example, if you had already pretty much established your own style and then tried to gather members and act as a leader, I don't think that it would work out. Furthermore, if you get on a major label, there's going to be a lot of people involved, and you'll have to value their opinions. I think we were able to handle such things without deviating from our style.”

——So you neither unconditionally obeyed nor unreasonably rebelled against what the grown-ups had to say?

“Yeah. You could say that we didn't turn a deaf ear to them. Or maybe we were just good at pretending to listen. (laughs) It probably wouldn't have worked out if we all had been cool-headed, and the opposite wouldn't also work. It requires a delicate balance like I said.”

——Even if you are together for only a limited time, I suppose that playing your old songs would evoke nostalgia in you?

“That was not the case. That the purpose was aiding the recovery was clearly stated, and that's also why we played that many single songs one after the other. It was absolutely businesslike. I'm sure that hard-core fans are aware of this, but we were known as a band that didn't play their single songs very much. (laughs) Also, I think that the reason we increased the number of songs that are from before we had our so-called break, was because we wanted to evoke the feeling of those days. Even though you forget many things in 16 years' time, for some reason the memories from Sendai haven't disappeared. Playing in live houses that didn't even have a backstage, we would gradually gain recognition.... Hideki became a regular on a radio show, things like that. Although I'm forgetting about other places, the memories from Sendai still remain vivid. Also, I remember that when we had our fan club tour-thingy, among the fans there was only one male fan, and he was from Sendai. And, when we were drinking together, we said to him, 'You spread the word about Siam Shade as our representative in Sendai!' Actually, I became friends with him afterwards and I would occasionally get in touch with him. And furthermore, about five days before 3.11 he came to Tokyo and we had dinner together. Right after the earthquake I couldn't get a hold of him. Only after about a week I found out that he was all right, but he told me that he had lost his firm.... Because of things like that, although I wasn't there personally, I felt the earthquake really close to myself.”

——I see. I'm sure this experience will greatly affect your life from now on.

“Yes. After Saitama, I feel more on the edge. Although I don't mean to say that I've wasted time until now, I've been a little soft on myself. From now on, there might not be any concrete change, but I intend to treasure each moment even more. About Siam Shade, honestly, I don't know. After we finished playing at Budōkan, I thought that it would never happen again. But as you can see, we have now reunited two times like this. That's why, even if it isn't absolutely impossible, I can't promise anything. That's the honest truth. From the moment we decided get together in order to aid the recovery, it was a rule that it would end here. That's something that the five of us decided. We haven't discussed at all what comes after this destination. Of course I feel responsible. That's why, while we are all working on our own thing, I don't want to cause shame on the name of Siam Shade. I feel that way even stronger as time goes by.”

Hideki

I want everyone to live until they die. Hardships are no different from happiness.
Neither of them lasts that long. After clouds there will be sunshine.

——First I'd like you to look back on your concert in Saitama.

“Actually, that we were able to book that venue for that day was almost a miracle in itself. Thanks to the enthusiasm and endeavors of the staff involved, we were able to win the understanding of various people and make it a reality. In the end, there's nothing we can do just by ourselves, right? We'll be the ones doing the playing, but we can't even book the venue ourselves. And those staff members themselves didn't really say what kind of hardships they had doing it. That's why I was moved when I heard about what had been happening behind the scenes. Since it actually has been nine years since we broke up, so at first we were all saying that maybe we should book a venue that is a bit smaller. But as it turned out, other places weren't available, so we had no choice but to perform there. I was worried if it would work out. Playing in the biggest place we ever have at this point, when you think about it, it is pretty stupid, right? (laughs) But if it means that everyone who wants to come to see us will be able to, then that's good I thought. And at any rate, the more people will come, the more we will be able to donate. But honestly speaking, I guess what I was really hoping was that it wouldn't end up being an embarrassment. At all costs I wanted to avoid situations like where volunteers would stop being volunteers. And so, even on the day in question, I didn't ask how many people there were. But when I went to the side of the stage before the concert, I could see how the place was crowded with people. That made me hyped up, even before we went on the stage.”

——While watching the concert, I found myself thinking, “When was it again that I can see you again?” I mean to say that there were no signs that it was a temporary reunion.

“And some people, like the president of the company doing our promotion, actually came to our dressing room right after the concert ended and asked us, 'So, when's the next one?' (laughs) But everyone also knew that there is no next time. It did feel a little sad after all. I think that breakups are kind of like divorces. But I guess I don't really know since I haven't even gotten married. (laughs) I believe that it's pretty rare, for example, to remarry the same person you divorced. I guess it's like that. Although I'm glad that people ask us to perform again, when the scale gets this big, we won't be able to do it by ourselves just like that, and all kinds of annoyances will probably come up too. There are many things happening behind the scenes. Of course, if there will come a time when we decide to do it, I think it will start with us five saying, 'Let's do it!' However, in the real world, just that won't get us anywhere.”

——But why do you think it actually is that a concert of that scale was realized? I heard you didn't even have time to practice thoroughly.

“I think it must be that each of us is able to take into consideration the other party. We were originally friends, and each of us knows who likes what and who dislikes what. I too was more attentive than usually. That's why after the concert I come down with a fever. (laughs) I guess I was pretty exhausted.”

——You must have been tense in a way different from normal.

“Yeah. Of course it also had to do with the fact that the purpose of the live show was to aid in the recovery. And since Sendai especially was a place where we went regularly—this was before Siam Shade became famous—for example to do public live radio shows. Since we are greatly indebted to them, we as a band wanted to repay their kindness for our band. After all, what am I but a mere delinquent, to put it bluntly. It's just that I've grown up. However, even someone such as myself wants to be of help in someway. So it also gave me a feeling of relief that I could be of help even if only a little. Actually, a while ago, there were some drunken university student taking a leak on the sidewalk in front of my house. When I noticed that, I felt like opening a can of whoop ass on them. But if I had done that, it would have meant trouble for Siam Shade I thought. (laughs) It was a little before Saitama, so if I had gotten into a fight then, it would have been a real problem. In the end, I made them sprinkle water and that was it, but really I wanted to sock them. It's on such sudden moments when you can lose control of yourself.”

——I see. But you didn't end up in a state of “No Control” at that moment.

“Hahaha! Yeah. After all, a band that had once broken up was now working together on a common goal. Although I've always been the type who causes trouble, I'd like to hope that I've grown up a little. If it just hadn't been for the concert, I would have kicked their asses. What I'm saying is that they got lucky. They should be grateful to Siam Shade. (laughs) It kind of felt like that i was a trial to test me. It was good also to notice that I've changed too, if but a little.”

——Although this is diffrent from being a trial, there is an impression that the reunion came about because you were again pulled together by some great force.

“Everyone probably thinks so. It was also the same for Mr. Shin'ichi's memorial concert. I once thought that what would Mr. Shin'ichi have done at a time like this if he was still here. He was the kind of person who, if there was an earthquake somewhere, would grab a backpack and head for the disaster area. We were all aware that he was that kind of a person. I'm sure that if he was still here, he would have done something. We all respect him, so I guess that that is also something that made us act. We have, after all, already broken up, you know? I myself don't like it when disbanded bands do something half-assed. Breaking up is something the band does of their own free will, so if your going to do something half-hearted, then don't break up in the first place is what I think. However, something like this isn't embarrassing at all, and at least you can bring about a greater effect than you could by trying to do it just by yourself.”

——Honestly speaking, watching that wonderful live show, I thought how I'd like to hear this band creating something new. I believe that your fans feel the same way. Don't you feel like answering that call?

“To put it honestly, before this was decided, I had absolutely no intentions of starting up the band again or something like that. Since I'm someone who likes to settle things for good, for people that have once broken up to get back together again would normally be out of the question for me. But I also think that maybe how I feel isn't actually all that important after all. By creating something, I'm of course doing something that I like, but at bottom I'm looking to be needed by someone I guess. Being needed by someone is something that means a lot more to me than money. And that many people actually gathered..... I guess there's no way they could all have been extras. (laughs) In a way, I think that that was a sight that I shouldn't have seen. Seeing it made me realize how amazing our band was after all. However, when it comes to the crunch, this band can be pretty troublesome. (laughs) We're not really normal. Back when I had only worked on Siam Shade, I thought that this was the standard, but after we broke up, I could see how things were elsewhere and it made me realize that we were the ones that weren't normal.”

——Do you mean musically?

“That's the first thing. There's no accidents in Siam Shade's music. Since we work on it until it's rock-solid, if someone else tried to take part in it, I don't think they could keep up. However, that was something that we just took for granted. Junji was also saying that during the rehearsals. 'Daita is something precious, you know?' (laughs) For example, even if Junji thought that he was keeping perfect time, if Daita said that it was wrong, then it would be wrong. You can certainly say that in a way we were trained by him. Of course, I'm sure that Daita too was able to do the things that he did because of Siam Shade, and that's why we were able to come as far as we did. And also, if the purpose of our band had been to just have fun, we wouldn't have talked this openly with each other about everything. One reason we are able to do that is because, even before music, we go a long way back as friends. I think we work really well as a band. I guess I have become able to objectively see the good in us after seeing how things are elsewhere.”

——Practically speaking, what would be the problem if you decided to reunite?

“Simply put, I don't know what kind of a face I should put on. There's just so much selfish stuff I can get away with. I'm an adult after all. Maybe you could say that breaking up and then reuniting again is very much rock 'n' roll. Although that kind of thing suits some people, I don't think that Siam Shade should be doing it. We're stubborn, as are many of our fans. So if we were to talk about things like that lightly, our fans would go, 'Hey! What's that all about!?' Birds of a feather flock together, like they say. (laughs)”

——And this concert proved that there are more and more of those “birds”.

“I was glad to find out that there were many who had come to see us for the first time. However, since new people don't know things like which part to sing during duets, 'Pride' for example was pretty much a jumble. (laughs) But on the other hand, it's because people like that came see us that we were able to fill the place. I think it's because the things we have been particular about, and the things we have been singing about have reached them. My intention was to have sung more about things that would give people light and chances in their lives, rather than of love and things like that. It would make me glad if our music gave people something, like I once received from the music of those I respect. I believe that songs carry strong memories for some people, like, hearing that song changed my life, or, because of this song I was able to hang in there. I don't think this would have been possible, had I sung nothing but love songs. Rather than some romantic songs, I wanted to sing about love that is something bigger, hope and things like that.”

——And because your songs are like that, they now carry a strong message.

“Yeah. That's why I was able to sing them without any discomfort or shame whatsoever. To tell you the truth, a close friend of mine, who also came to see us at our concert for Mr. Shin'ichi, committed suicide a while ago. At that time I was saying things like, 'Please live', like I am now. But in the end, I couldn't reach someone who is closer to me than the other fans. I was really mortified, I had to endure it, and in the end I thought that I wasn't able to do anything. What I'm saying is, I want everyone to live until they die. Hardships are no different from happiness, neither of them lasts that long. After clouds there will be sunshine. I don't know how well that has reached people, or how much I have been able to give, or if I have just been on the receiving end. There's no choice but to believe in what you're doing. That's what I believe I should sing about. Sometimes I want to riposte myself for saying the same thing over and over. But in the end, that's always where arrive at. After all is said and done, that is who I am.”


Source:
Fool's Mate magazine #363 (January 2012)

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