SIAM SHADE has been gathering attention from various media after their big hit "1/3 no junjou na kanjou". Lately, not only music magazines, but also newspapers and informational magazines have ran stories about them. They have also gained a lot of new fans and their presence on the j-rock scene is growing bigger every day.

I'm happy that a band that I've been supporting gets their big break now, but I have mixed feelings about them becoming the SIAM SHADE of "1/3 no junjou na kanjou" fame. Moreover, since they wear fashionable, stylish rock wear, the general public's image of SIAM SHADE is establishing itself as "a fashionable band that plays hard and pop music." That has indeed been a part of SIAM SHADE, but I feel a little uneasy about that being the only part that attracts attention. "They are not going to use this as their selling point, are they...?"

With their latest album SIAM SHADE IV - Zero out, SIAM SHADE has started the tour ZERO-ISM. It starts at Akasaka Blitz, which is also the place for the hastily announced additional concert. With the first floor as standing floor and seats on the second floor, its capacity is somewhere between a hall and a live house. It might just be the perfect venue for starting the tour. The first floor is jam-packed with excited boys and girls, who have left their hand luggage and coats at the lockers, and are now dressed in t-shirts, waiting for the concert to begin. On the second floor seats the people are by no means going to remain idle onlookers. Inside the Blitz lingers the unique tense atmosphere one feels at live houses before a concert. And then, a little behind the scheduled starting time, the lights of the audience side are suddenly turned off.

It was a fun show to watch. Concerning the quality of the show, as it was the first day of the tour, there were a few points that bothered me. The members were kind of feeling their way in the beginning and weren't in high spirits and pulling the crowd along right from the beginning like they usually are. But that didn't become a problem. After they got going, they gave us the usual hard and hot show. And, what I was glad about was that they gave us that "usual show". I especially liked the formation of the menu, which emphasized their harder side.

SIAM SHADE's songs, while being speedy numbers performed with superb technique, are by no means devoid of melodious and catchy parts. And the persuasive vocals of HIDEKI, that range from throat-ripping voices to falsetto, add great expressiveness to the songs. And pushing out that voice of HIDEKI are the clean backing vocals of KAZUMA. His presence is also big and the ballades that they sing together are a thing to hear. Behind them is the trustworthy iron wall of a rhythm section; JUNJI putting out an exact beat and NATIN with his earth-shaking bass. And on top of that basis is the bright guitar of DAITA which flexibly transforms from aggressive into elegant. When the five members give full play to their natural abilities, only then can the audience — including me — feel the brilliance of SIAM SHADE's songs at maximum. This surely is the true charm of SIAM SHADE's live shows.

As the show was drawing to a close, the audience, where shrill cheers and deep voices were constantly mixing, was getting all the more wilder. It was as wild as an audience at a hard rock or heavy metal gig. Because the tour is still ongoing, I regret that I can't touch the set list or the setup. But the ending of the main part of the concert clearly displayed "the hard rock band SIAM SHADE". I'm sure that it destroyed — in a good way — "the '1/3 no junjou na kanjou' SIAM SHADE" image that those people who had come to see them for the first time had. You can also say that it made even older fans re-realize that before the "1/3 no junjou na kanjou" there was the hard rock single "PASSION", and before SIAM SHADE IV - Zero there was the hard rock album SIAM SHADE III. Nevertheless, I'm very glad that it was the usual show SIAM SHADE gives. I experienced a feeling of relief seeing that they are a pure hard rock band instead of a hard pop band. And since it is a countrywide tour that has this menu, it means that they are going to make sure that fans all over the country realize that they are SIAM SHADE, the hard rock band. Thinking about that makes me glad.

Their single "1/3 no junjou na kanjou" was a big hit while their album SIAM SHADE IV - Zero was highly acclaimed. Saying that they are the band currently receiving the most attention from the scene is no exaggeration. The public is following SIAM SHADE closely. However, they are not a band that suddenly appeared on the scene with "1/3 no junjou na kanjou". After their debut in October 1995 they bumped into various walls, but they overcame them, and now they have come this far. And before their debut... during their amateur period they kept working while cherishing their own views and convictions. They are indeed a band with thick roots. In this interview I asked the members to talk about the band's birth and its history. There is of course all sorts of drama in there, but I'd like you to feel the unity of the band and the change in the members' consciousness. Doing so you should get a better understanding of the purehearted passion that the members of SIAM SHADE possess.

"We were distributing our demo tape for free, but it was a 'would you please take this?' situation"

●When you released your demo tape in May '93, you also changed the band name from Atar to SIAM SHADE. How did the band Atar come together?
NATIN(B): HIDEKI and I were searching for band members and we were introduced to the guitarist Ataru...

●So you named your band after that guitarist?
NATIN: Yeah (laughs). "Ataru" wouldn't be much of a band name; it's not "Cesar", but we decided it should be "Atar", nice and simple. Also there was the "Bazar" commercial with the monkey. We stole those flags and wrote "Ata" over them so that they said "Atar". (laughs) (1)
HIDEKI(Vo): Yay, yay (laughs). We considered many different names for the band, but couldn't find a good one. At that time we took part in a contest, so it went something like this: "Let's just go with this for the time being..."
NATIN: It kind of dragged along like that. And while we kept thinking that, "We'll change it at some point", we missed our chance. We decided to change it with our demo tape.

●Mr. KAZUMA, did you join the band when it was called Atar?
KAZUMA(Vo&G): Yes. I was singing in an another band, but I was told that "HIDEKI is going to quit, so join."
HIDEKI: KAZUMA was in a band with really old men. They were really old, weren't they?
KAZUMA: No, they were only about three years older. They were not old-timers. (laughs)
HIDEKI: But they looked really old. Back then you were also acting like an old man. (laughs) And so, we were saying that, "Wouldn't you be better off with us?" Back then I also received invitations from different bands. And, as I was pondering who should I join, I decided that I wouldn't until this band got on track... And here I am still. (laughs)

●What was Atar like musically?
HIDEKI: Basically it was much the same. We didn't get really started until we had made about four original songs. But those are the four songs that are on the demo tape and that's when we become SIAM SHADE. On that demo tape there are songs like "LOSE MY REASON" that we still perform live.

●Back then SIAM SHADE was a so-called "visual-kei" band, right?
HIDEKI: Were we doing make-up at that time? During Atar?
NATIN: During Atar we wore black jeans and torn t-shirts.
KAZUMA: No, I did once.
HIDEKI: It was when we wore polka-dotted clothing.
NATIN: Yeah, but it was only like one time during Atar. After we changed our name to SIAM SHADE we started putting on make-up.

●Why did you suddenly decide to do so?
HIDEKI: Those bands that perform in the clothing that they normally wear can't get any audience at all. And when you're putting on a show, it's pointless if there is no audience.

●Did the situation with the band change after you put out the demo tape?
NATIN: In hindsight, that's where it started, but at that time it was a "would you please take this" situation. As well as distributing it for free, we would hand out the demo tape by ourselves after performances. Even so, everyone was just passing by. So we would say, "Would you mind giving this a listen?", and they'd be like: "Don't want it." (laughs)

●That's very sad. (laughs)
HIDEKI: We got told straight. (laughs)

●Then, DAITA joins in July '93, right?
DAITA(G): I joined right before a live show, so learning was tough. I just tried copying the backing of the guitarist before me, Ata, and I changed the solos. (2)
NATIN: When DAITA joined we were booked for the first time in Ōsaka and Nagoya. Those were only a week after DAITA joined. (laughs)
DAITA: After Machida Play House it was Music Farm in Nagoya and YANTA Rokumeikan (now Brand New) in Ōsaka. And I didn't even have the so-called "black suit" we used as stage clothing, and I didn't know how to put on my make-up by myself. It was pretty horrible. At that time I had an exclusive staff member to do my make-up and stuff. (laughs)
HIDEKI: Now that I think of it, we were always wearing the same pants. Even if we tore our vinyl pants, we would fix them with packing tape from the inside. (laughs)
DAITA: We didn't have any money after all. I also used to borrow your clothes.

●Then in December that year you had your first headliner live show at Machida Play House, which was the base of your activity. Do you remember what it was like?
NATIN: That was when we decided to wear matching clothes. We were like, "OK, so, the bassist will wear white", and we made our own clothes. (laughs)
DAITA: I bought a shirt.
HIDEKI: At that gig we distributed a single CD that had "DOLL" and the instrumental we still use for opening. I don't have that, so I kinda want it. (laughs)
NATIN: It was limited to 150 copies and everyone that came that day got one for free.

●How was the live show itself?
DAITA: My foremost memory is that we broke the Machida Play House audience record. I don't know if it still holds. That J came had an impact and the party after the show is a good memory. (laughs)
HIDEKI: All of our seniors at the Machida Play House came and KAZUMA and I became their victims. (laughs) 'Cause wasn't that the last time KAZUMA got drunk?
NATIN: That has to be the fastest record for passing out. (laughs)
HIDEKI: I have recollection of only the first 15 minutes. When I came to, I was at home. (laughs)

●It seems like that the party had a greater impact on you than the show. (laughs)
HIDEKI: That's all I can remember. (laughs)

"How much people can we draw to our gigs without any recordings?"

●Then JUNJI joined in May '94. How did that happen?
JUNJI(Ds): I met HIDEKI and NATIN when we were about 18 or 19. I was in a "beat rock"(3) band, but because I liked hard rock, I also liked Atar's music. I was saying to them that, "I'd like to perform together sometime." And then, right at the time when SIAM SHADE was about to change drummers, the band I was in broke up. I said, "If you're gonna change drummers, take me."
NATIN: It was an abrupt change that time too. Right after JUNJI joined we recorded our first album SIAM SHADE.
DAITA: We also had a live show right after that.
HIDEKI: Let's not talk about that.
NATIN: It was a tough show...

●In July you succeeded in a two day headliner gig at Meguro Live Station. That kind of a thing increases a band's confidence, I suppose?
NATIN: I don't know about confidence. It was the only way of doing things we knew of back then. First we'd get the live house we performed in full, and then we'd say: "Next let's make it full for two days." In the end, word of mouth is good advertising. Although other amateur bands were putting out CDs one after another and gaining fame that way, for us it was: "How much people can we draw to a show without any recordings?" And when you put out a record, it will stay in the world. We had a strong feeling of not wanting to put out anything we didn't have faith in. That's why we didn't release anything for a long while.
HIDEKI: To release a CD and go on a countrywide tour would've been according to the manual... But we got lucky by chance. Luna Sea's RYUICHI was hosting this radio show called "Midnight Rock City", and we were guests in a segment called "Indies Night". He played songs from our demo tape then, and that got the word-of-mouth going. That was enough for us back then. The word got around really fast and 40 people would become 80. It would double all the time, and soon we could do a headliner gig.

●And in December '94 you released your first album SIAM SHADE. Did you feel that the time was right?
HIDEKI: It was like the result of our amateur time. We wanted to do something that would remain. And we were used to playing all the songs live.
JUNJI: "LOSE MY REASON" wasn't one of the candidates for the record. But I really liked that song and said that we should put that in.

●By the time you released this album, you weren't doing make-up anymore, right?
HIDEKI: We were all suntanned and really brown.
NATIN: The summer that year, DAITA was suddenly all brown and that's how it began.
HIDEKI: I wouldn't say that he was brown; it was more like his skin was all red and peeling.
JUNJI: It was really a sight. (laughs) He wore sunglasses even at our rehearsals.
NATIN: Then KAZUMA would get tanned on purpose, and we were like: "Let's just all get tanned."

●So you decided to give up on visual-kei?
KAZUMA: That's right. Because we didn't have money to go to a solarium, we would get tanned in a park. (laughs)
HIDEKI: I thought that, "If we're gonna quit that, let's make it obvious" and suggested we imitate dance music artists! (laughs)
NATIN: I even had my hair in dreadlocks.

●And then, a month after releasing your album, in January '95, you had a headliner gig at Power Station. Was that one of your goals?
NATIN: I personally went to Power Station to see Luna Sea and others, so I always thought that I would like to stand on that stage too. And Power Station also felt somewhat classier. That day also happened to be HIDEKI's birthday, so it left a strong impression.
DAITA: Since we didn't have enough songs back then, before the Power Station gig, I remember that we had a camp for practice, for the first time, and wrote about two new songs.

●How was the live show itself?
DAITA: The audience was really excited. At the end I threw a cake with candles in it at HIDEKI. (laughs)
HIDEKI: I don't mind you throwing one at my face, but please, not one with the candles still in it. (laughs) The cake will be crushed, but candles are hard.
DAITA: It was a show where that kind of stuff was OK. (laughs)

●In March there was your first countrywide tour "Preaching Love Tour '95 Spring". Did it feel that the band got stronger after a tour?
NATIN: Back then we were driving around in one car. They say that the more time you spend together... Well, we were already good friends and I don't think that the tour made the band closer. It was a blast though.

●While on tour, I suppose that the singer has to take good care of his voice.
HIDEKI: I don't really remember it all that well, but it must've been the opposite. You see, after the concerts I would just go drinking and have fun. And that's about the worst thing you can do to your throat. My voice would get rough and that's no good for a singer. Back then I was just carried away having fun.
KAZUMA: I don't drink alcohol, so it wasn't like that for me. But I really can't remember much. It was the first time I was traveling around in a car. I really hadn't gone more northward than Saitama or more eastward than Kyōto, so that was fresh and new for me. (laughs)

●In August there was the Shibuya Kōkaidō concert called "Stop that SIAM SHADE noo~ 500 yen". That was an impressive show where Takagi Boo appeared and it began with a Drifters skit.
HIDEKI: I think that it was good that we did it. It was pretty surprising for someone like us to be able to do a skit with someone from The Drifters.

●Why did you think of doing a Drifters skit at that gig?
HIDEKI: Just because it's fun. "What's something fun we could that is worth spending money on?"
DAITA: It's continuation from our amateur time. We were using such comical elements as a selling point. People around us started wanting more of that. And when we thought what more could we do, this was it. It was our first time in Shibuya and all.

●So, how was your "first time Shibuya" show?
HIDEKI: I can't remember. (laughs)
DAITA: We don't remember the show. (laughs)

●Although it was your first hall concert?
DAITA: Umm, I think we did pretty well, but we hadn't debuted yet, so it was like an extension of our amateur period.
HIDEKI: It was like we were cheered into doing it.
NATIN: That's right. Of course we had absolute confidence in what we did, but it feels like it wasn't a show that was thoroughly thought about.
HIDEKI: What I can say now is that it was no good. In my opinion. It felt like it was missing the core or something... It ends up being a sad story.
JUNJI: And I wore a tank top because my hands were still thin.

"We want to perform one more time at Yaon as soon as possible, to wipe out the regret of the past"

●In October '95 you accomplished your major label debut with the single RAIN. Why did you choose this song as your debut single?
NATIN: We had a few candidates, but after discussions with the members, the recording company and our agency, we decided to go with "RAIN". Well, if anything, we gave lot of value to the voices around us. And of course we were also satisfied ourselves. There wasn't such a song which absolutely had to be it. And the recording company insisted that "RAIN" would be easy to sell to people, so we let them go with that easy song then.

●Promoting this single you went on the countrywide tour "Immortal JUNJI - A Miraculous Recovery Buffalo Attack '95 Fall". Since this was your second countrywide tour, did you feel comfortable?
HIDEKI: It was right after JUNJI's accident, so that's what I remember the foremost.
NATIN: The accident made us panic. We didn't worry about our debut getting delayed, but we were really worried if he was going to die. It was a really big accident that was no joke.
HIDEKI: That's why I think that our state of mind wasn't all that good.

●The final performance of this tour was once again at Shibuya Kōkaidō; do you remember that?
DAITA: At that time, I think we did the life history diaries. We would show videos of the members' life histories.
NATIN: I remember that part.
HIDEKI: If we hadn't done that I would have forgotten it. One also forgets the tour titles, so we decided to give them funny names like this... That's why we won't forget them. But, when it comes to the contents of the concert... (laughs)
KAZUMA: You're forgetting the most important part. (laughs)
NATIN: What I remember... is that it was our so called major label debut show. Well, it might have to do with the fact that we had performed there once before our debut, but when we announced our debut between songs, we weren't expecting fans to burst into tears. I remember that HIDEKI then quickly said: "We'll make a contract with Ny-so..." (4)
DAITA: He did say "Ny-so". We were already part of the business. During our amateur time we had never said it backwards. (laughs)

●Your second album SIAM SHADE II was released around that time. Would it be fair to say that it was an extension of the style of your first one?
NATIN: Yes, I guess it was a kind of album where we did all kinds of stuff we could do now that we had a major label contract.
DAITA: There were songs that we had performed during our amateur period, and songs that we had played in rehearsals. It wasn't all newly written. For example, we had performed "Yume no naka e", "SADNESS" and "SHAKE ME DOWN" in live shows before.

●So it was more like you were making SIAM SHADE's second album, instead of making a major label debut album?
DAITA: That's right.

●Your second single TIME'S was cut from that album and released in February '96. It's a different version from that on the album, right?
DAITA: We did also write a song that we could use as a single... At this time "1/3 no junjou na kanjou" was already completed. But when "TIME'S" tie-up [with POP JAM] was decided, we decided to cut that. And instead of just remixing, we decided to record everything from drums to vocals anew. Various suggestions had come up during live shows, like: "Wouldn't it be better to do like this here?" And since "TIME'S" was a song that was hastily written for SIAM SHADE II, we felt that there were parts where we hadn't given our best. So we decided to do it as best as we could. I changed the guitar solo a little, and instead of a fade out, it ends normally. This version of "TIME'S" has more of a live feeling.

●And promoting this single, there was the countrywide tour that started in March, "Super KAZUMA Dr. Ultra's Great Adventure '96 Spring", which ended with three days at the Tokyo NISSIN Power Station, right?
DAITA: Those live shows were indeed hot. We changed the set-list for each of the three days.... Was it on the second day that Tim appeared? It started with "DREAMLESS WORLD", and we had the foreigner that did the English narration parts on the album do them live. It was quite a manly show. We used a Beastie Boys song as SE, so the rock was strong with this one.
KAZUMA: I remember that it was the first time that I sang lead vocals.
HIDEKI: Oh, it was already that time! I remember, I remember.
NATIN: Of this time our memories are vivid. (laughs)

Then you will remember that you performed at Hibiya Yagai Ongakudō [Hibiya Open-air Concert Hall, shortly: Yaon] in May?
KAZUMA: That was an additional concert to the Power Station ones; so that was the final. It was our first open-air concert, so it felt great.
DAITA: As a way of saying thanks, the last song we performed was "DOLL" that was on our indies single CD. Seeing the tear-stained faces of the people in the first row left quite an impression on me.
HIDEKI: I have regrets about Yaon. Our next tour's final performance will be there again. It's not like it'll be some kind of a humiliation match... Well, my attitude towards singing is totally different when compared to that time. So I cna't wait to perform there. I want to go wipe out that regret as soon as possible.
NATIN: I once went to see a concert in Yaon, so I had strong feelings for that place.

●So it left you with the feeling: "I have stood on the stage of Yaon!"?
NATIN: Yeah. But I feel the same as HIDEKI, that I want to wipe out that regret as soon as possible. After all, we haven't performed at Yaon since then.

"No matter how cool our live shows were, they didn't have persuasiveness"

●Then, in October '96, you released your third album SIAM SHADE III. The concept of that album was "HARD", right? Why did you introduce such a concept?
DAITA: We did what we wanted in our debut album. But listening to it now, it has a lot of songs intended for hall performances. Back then we hadn't yet performed in big places. We were touring live houses, and the scale of some of the songs was too big for them. Well, there's nothing wrong with that, but we wanted concentrate on getting wild in such a way that the fans could also participate... Although we were always thinking of live shows when creating songs, we decided to focus on that even more. Well, it also had a "letting off steam" aspect. (laughs)
NATIN: That we went to Los Angeles to do the mixing left a strong impression on me. On the other hand, I don't have many recollections of the recording. (laughs)

●Is it after all because you got David Bianco (engineer who has worked with Ozzy Osbourne and Mick Jagger, among others) and Steve Hall (mixer who has worked with Madonna et al.) to do the mixing?
NATIN: Yes. There were a lot of people involved in the recording. For example while recording the bass, we had the help of Mr. Nara (Nara Toshihiro: former bassist of SONHOUSE and SHEENA & THE ROKKETS). He could prepare a great sound even without any orders, so the feeling of having things done for us was strong. Since it was something we didn't do ourselves, the impression will eventually fade away. And when I listened to the finished mix, my impressions were just: "Sounds good".
DAITA: In any case, this album definitely sounds different. The clarity and everything else is totally different. It's not a sound you can get in Japan. Of course, we did the recording in Japan. It all came together in a really good balance, or how should I put it. And still, the voices don't collide.

●When this album was released you changed your name from CHACK to your real name HIDEKI, right?
HIDEKI: I thought that if we still can't get popular it's gotta be my name's fault. I restored the letter and stroke count. There was also the "why are you called CHACK when you're Japanese?" aspect. (laughs)

●Although it was you who named yourself CHACK?
HIDEKI: I don't have any policy when talking about that name. I was going to change it when we went on a major label, but with my radio show and all that, there just wasn't a good time to change it. I changed it when that radio show ended.

●In this year's December you had the male-fans-only gig "Otokogi". Why did you decide to do such a show?
HIDEKI: Since we were a visual-kei band before, it was awkward for male fans to come to see us. We thought that we should make it easier for them.

●And, how was that show?
HIDEKI: It really is different with guys. At first it was like "woo".
DAITA: Normally, before the SE starts, there is usually some music playing in the background. And when that fades out there's usually cheering, right? It was totally silent. I thought that it was a perfect example of "no private talk in the class". (laughs)
NATIN: And when we come out they get going.
DAITA: And the way they warm up is also different. When a song ends there's always cheering, but after that, silence. (laughs) But anyway, that show was great. I had never experienced guys getting that wild, they were holding up their fists even during love songs... It was really moving.
HIDEKI: The magazine reporters and others were saying that it smelled nasty. Since I was there at the center of it, I didn't notice that at all. But when I went to the toilet or something and then came back, it really did smell awful. (laughs) It reeked of male sweat. But the live show was really fun.

●After that concert you performed at NHK Hall. How did it feel like to perform in front of 4000 people?
JUNJI: I was totally nervous. Usually the tension vanishes when the first song starts. But that time I was nervous even after the song started and my arms and legs didn't feel like they were mine.

●Because you were in front of 4000 people?
JUNJI: I don't think it had to do with the number of people, but I couldn't feel at ease.
DAITA: The way it looked from the stage, it seemed like the people formed a mountain. Before the beginning of the show we showed a video where we parodied "Bebop High School", and when it ended the screen where it was projected fell and the first song "Sin" began... The mountain of people looked awesome at that moment.
KAZUMA: The only thing I remember is that it started with "Bebop High school" and "Sin". (laughs) But personally I think it was a good live show.
HIDEKI: Looking back at it now, I wonder if it was OK for me to sing at such a place. The only thing I had in my head while standing on that stage was: "I want to get money and women". I was like an empty shell. I think that the nervousness came from the pressure of whether it was OK for me to stand there. I think I was losing to that. Now my sense of duty toward singing has changed 180 degrees compared to that time. So I think that the sense of accomplishment and such will remain. It feels like no matter how cool our live shows were, they didn't have persuasiveness.

"Gigs are like sex where the venue is the bed"

●In February '97 you released your third single Why not? It is coupled with "I Believe", which was also on your indies demo tape. Why did you use this particular song as the second side?
DAITA: Although we did have a few new songs, there wasn't any particular one that we wanted to release. We just thought: "Let's do that". Also, this was the song that made me join SIAM SHADE. We rearranged it and... If I may say so myself, I think it's cooler than the original. (laughs) I remember this recording very well; it was really fun. Since "Why not?" was cut from SIAM SHADE III, we recorded only that one song. We had the chance to experiment with it, and because we recorded it at Char's studio, it turned out sounding very good, as expected.
HIDEKI: Because "I Believe" is an old song, I too had to show my development as a singer. And you can also see one reason that made DAITA join SIAM SHADE. I changed the lyrics a little, and since "I Believe" was already a cool song, it's really nice that we could release an even cooler version.

●And then your fourth single RISK was released in May.
HIDEKI: SIAM SHADE was kind of taking a chance with "RISK", like: "How about this!?" We wanted to go out into the world and become famous. To succeed as a pro musician, you have to put out the part of your musical range that will be the most popularly accepted. I made the original song that would become "RISK" and that song was popular among SIAM SHADE. If we didn't sell well here then we couldn't be able to experiment with recording different things. It got to the level of "instead of just doing it ourselves, maybe we should spend some money on it too?" That's why we asked Matsui Gorō to write the lyrics. He has also written lyrics for Himuro Kyōsuke and I thought that he would be the best among rock lyricists.

●What was it like to actually work with Matsui Gorō?
HIDEKI: We would fax lyrics back and forth. It was a great experience. In a way it awakened the poet inside me. Until that, it was out of the question to the band for an outsider to write the lyrics... That was when I started blaming myself, thinking that there's got to be some reason why we can't get popular. And I also started to think that I need to pay more attention to other people's opinions.

●Were you worried when the sales weren't going up?
HIDEKI: I now think that money is not everything, but back then I thought: "I want money, I want to be famous." I thought that that would happen when we went major. But if you can't get popular, you'll start to lose spirit.

●August this year, you had a three day live show at Shinjuku LIQUIDROOM. You had already performed succesfully at NHK Hall, so why LIQUIDROOM?
NATIN: It did make me think: "Why didn't we do a show here sooner?" I had never been there before, but HIDEKI and DAITA were saying that it would be perfect for us, so we tried. And I noticed that they were right!
JUNJI: Our seniors would first play at Power Stage, then at Nihon Seinenkan, then at Shibuya, and lastly at Budōkan. So it was obvious for us to start at Power Stage. That's why we didn't notice LIQUIDROOM. We might have been following the rails that people before us had created, but I think it was really great that we performed there.
NATIN: It's not about how many people will it fit? We had noticed that before, but that was when we started to put it into practice. That's where we ended up while searching for a venue that would suit us. Actually, I didn't like it at first. I was kind of afraid that the number of people that come to see us would drop, even temporarily. But now I don't think like that at all.

●So if you get the chance, you'll perform there?
NATIN: We will.
DAITA: I'd like to make it our holy land.
HIDEKI: Live shows are like sex. You mustn't come prematurely, and just making the audience come is boring. You gotta come together. And I think that the venue is the bed. I haven't had sex on a waterbed, so I don't know, but I think it would be too soft for it. And also, places that are too luxurios would be awkward too. Or places where the lights are too bright. The aim of our live shows is to really become one with the audience. In that sense it might be the best bed that we have found yet.

●It was a time when you found such a place, but also a time when "you felt like you were a glass ball", as you put it in a previous interview with Mr. Akashi.
HIDEKI: We had that even before that. Since we felt like we took a risk with "RISK", and if that has no effect, it would make us go "uh-oh?" At that time we were toning down the hard side of our playing and emphasizing the popness of the singing. And if that had no effect, it would make me think that, "Maybe it's my fault?"

●That was when Mr. Akashi (Masao) appeared and you joined forces for your fifth single PASSION, right?
HIDEKI: Nevertheless, I wasn't entirely convinced. I don't think that Mr. Akashi also completely understood us. We were both working uncomfortably. When it comes to the lyrics, I still think that the original lyrics had more persuasion. The chorus wasn't changed at all, but just because the A melody part changed, the lyrics can now be interpreted in a dirty way. I regret that a little. But it also gave us a lot of confidence, so it's a very important song.
DAITA: "PASSION" was a song, I think, that brought back parts that SIAM SHADE had forgotten. When we were selecting the song I too thought that "PASSION" should be it. But I also thought that we should put out another song like "RISK". I was worried that if we put out a hard song like "PASSION", we'd return to our harder style. Never mind the sales figures, it felt strange when this song, that sounds so different from other songs, came on the radio. I think it leads straight into "1/3 no junjou na kanjou".
HIDEKI: When you appear on TV, you can appeal with your visuals. But since radio is just for the ears, an outcome like that gave us the light of "maybe!?" (laughs)
DAITA: After a month or two, it rose to #11. That made me think that it's all about the power of the composition after all.

"I gained something big from the setbacks"

●And then, you released "1/3 no junjou na kanjou" in November '97. Did you learn different ways of getting a sound while working with Mr. Akashi?
DAITA: Yes, we did. In many ways there were both things like: "You have to do it like this or it won't turn out like that" and "So it necessarily didn't have to be like that?" At first I thought: "Oh, it's because of the tie-up [with Rurouni Kenshin]". But, like it was with "PASSION", we could see from the result that our direction as a band wasn't mistaken... Until that, the results hadn't been promising, and we were starting to get suspicious. But this gave us confidence. Not only does it give confidence to your songwriting, but also to your playing.
HIDEKI: It's not like the world finally gave us its approval, but without this we would have ended up thinking that maybe we are a juice company that makes juice that tastes like shit. When I first got into music, it was all about getting women and money. But because of the setbacks I had the time to think about what singing means to me? So I gained something big from the setbacks. And because I wrote the lyrics while having such feelings and because the band had been warming the song for a long time, it was lucky that it became a hit at the time it did. It was the perfect timing, and it made people admit that, "You guys are good", so now we have nothing to be afraid of.

●It's not like that frustration lasted for many years, and there were some good things too, right?
HIDEKI: If it had lasted any longer, I would have quit singing and just thought that I'm not fit for it. In that sense it felt like it was destined. It's like everything turned out well. But it's not because we became popular that we included the song "Dear", which is dedicated to fans, on our newest album SIAM SHADE IV - Zero. While in the depths of despair I really realized how important fans are, and I wrote that song with genuine feelings. You know how some fans will leave you when you get popular, right? But I'm really happy that we could dedicate a song to our fans at such a time, before we got popular.

●Now that all the members are writing songs, you've given the album the subtitle "Zero" to symbolize a fresh start.
DAITA: I think that we already had all what it takes.
HIDEKI: I don't think that we will get vain when we get big. I think that we were vain in the beginning, when we had our major label debut. Then we were brought down a peg or two, and we learned the weakness of humans. Now I think that even if we get big, we'll know exactly what we will do. It doesn't mean that we are vain, but that we are properly expressing what we think.

●Your latest album SIAM SHADE IV - Zero has also been appraised not only by music magazines, but also by informational magazines and newspapers. How do you feel about that?
HIDEKI: I think it's just natural. Because the album is so cool. I think that I put so much effort into every letter in the lyrics that I don't know if I could do it again. Also in my singing I feel that there is for the first time a strong feeling of wanting to reach people. SIAM SHADE IV - Zero is to me an album close to a miracle.
KAZUMA: The biggest thing is that we all wrote songs for it. There was a limit to what the three of us could write, and the other two would have faded... I think that it will only get better from here on.
JUNJI: Even if it's just the foundation, I've offered songs to the band... To put it other way, until now I was just a player, but now I can really say that I am a member of SIAM SHADE. I'll keep doing my best.
NATIN: We want to go on a tour as soon as possible. We did the recording at around May last year. PASSION, 1/3 no junjou na kanjou and SIAM SHADE IV - Zero were all jumbled together and I was thinking, "I want to perform these live asap" and "I wonder how surprised everybody will be?"
HIDEKI: During our previous tour "No, Way-out" we did perform "No! Marionette" and others and they were powerful. So the next tour "ZERO-ISM" might take the cake? It even feels that way to me. I can't help imagining a really cool SIAM SHADE. Anyway, I can't wait to stand on the stage. I want to return after memorizing all the faces of our fans one by one, and I want to give them something money can't buy.
DAITA: I think that even the people who like SIAM SHADE's music but don't have the courage to come see us live will think that, "I want hear that live!", after listening to SIAM SHADE IV - Zero. Because we were able to create an album like this, I think it'll become a show where you can witness our tenacity. I think that up until now we have had cool stagings and have made the audience enjoy and also had fun ourselves. This time, maybe I'll try performing so that even though I'm just standing there playing, it'll make you go whoa! The word "frustration" is no longer in my dictionary.

●This ends our look back at the history of SIAM SHADE. How did you feel, looking back at the road that you have walked?
HIDEKI: You know how Japanese, or Asians generally, only listen to the singing, right? I think that during this tour, there will be a lot of people who will come to see us live for the first time. I'd like them to feel that SIAM SHADE is all the five of us together... Of course we must remember not to show off and think about the balance. I think that a concert is the place where you can feel what SIAM SHADE really is. ...That wasn't really an answer to the question. But looking back at our history, I just think that because of all the five of us where there, SIAM SHADE is what it now is. (laughs) I think that we were challengers. We were doing things that people hadn't done before, and we just might have changed the times a little. There were times when it came back to bite us in the ass, but to do something like that at this age made us gain something that people who were afraid of doing that didn't. ...You mustn't worry about failing. What is important is this moment. In that sense, "keep your eyes forward." I'd like to make the people of the world feel that. I'm even thinking if there isn't something we can do to get over the language barrier. You may think that I'm just talking big, but I think it would be cool to accomplish that in my lifetime. I think that the word "frustration" doesn't apply to me anymore. "Anything but carrots, bring it on!" (laughs)
JUNJI: I'll continue giving my all as 1/5 of SIAM SHADE. Looking back, there really isn't anything special... (laughs) You just do your best at every moment.
NATIN: Until now, fans and staff members have said all kinds of things to us. But as we have always worked as hard as we can, I think that we don't have to pay much mind to such things anymore.
KAZUMA: There were good times and there were bad times. At any rate, I'm relieved that we now have a promising future. But that doesn't mean that the past was all bad. We had fun as a band and I'd like us to continue having fun even in the future. If one of us wasn't having fun we would have to call it quits. I'd like us to stay close even from now on.
DAITA: Considering everything until now, we have formed stronger bonds... Well, I think that all of us have had hard times, since we have created our own way. But, like NATIN said, we were told by different people that, "There is also another way". And I think there were some points when we were in doubt. However, I think that everyone has felt that this is the way for us. Now we just have to go forward on that road.

(1) The name アタール [Ataaru] "Atar". Also romanized as "atae:ru" around the net, and judging by this rare video, the official romanization seems to be "atǽ:ru". I've put it as "Atar" here, in accordance with the examples NATIN gives: セザール [Sezaaru] "Cesar", バザール [Bazaaru] "Bazar".
(2) It does read just Ata in the source. Probably missing "ru" by mistake?
(3) "beat rock", a category original to Japan of which the perfect example is Boøwy. (List of "beat rock" artists)
(4) "Ny-so" - Sony turned around. This sort of saying words "backwards" is part of showbusiness jargon.